by Delos

Fragged Empire: Review Part 3

Last time I covered “stuff” and the time before I covered character creation. Now we’re looking at how Fragged Empire does combat. At first glance it seems like combat is done like D&D in terms of combat with minis and the like so I’ll be referring to D&D/Pathfinder rules a bunch since that’s the game I know best that has combat with minis.

Movement, Conditions, and Enviroment

The first thing that’s covered is movement. Fragged Empire goes with grid combat by default, but there are rules for theatre of the mind combat which I’ll get to later. Movement comes down to “You can move X number of squares per action” (you get two actions per turn). Diagonal movement doesn’t affect your speed, but moving through allies cost an extra movement. It’s pretty much the same as 4e D&D sans the extra movement through allies. I thought that 4e’s movement rules worked just fine as is, so nothing ground breaking here, but it’s solid.

Also covered is conditions, effects, and the environment. Minor actions such as opening a door or picking up an item costs some of your movement. This is a little different way of doing things since D&D usually just gives you a minor action in addition to your standard and move action to cover these actions, but since FE doesn’t do different types of actions and instead just give you two per turn, it makes sense to roll them into your movement.

The rules for hazardous environments is cover here, with all the little rules and target numbers needed to bypass these obstacles. There is a lot of crunch here, but the good news is that you don’t need to come up with the numbers yourself, which I’ve seen in some RPGs and you end up guessing on the numbers. Hopefully there is a GM cheat sheet with all these numbers to look on. Conditions are in the same boat. There’s a lot of them with their own rules, but most of them are covered in two lines. Cheat sheet would make them really easy to keep track of.

MCE tl;dr

  • You get two actions per turn
  • You move X number of squares per action dedicated to movement
    • X equal to your movement stat
  • Interacting with the environment costs movement
  • Lots of crunch (bout the same as Pathfinder) but all of the numbers are laid out for you

Attacking (Pew Pew)

So you wanna smoke some poor sod who got in your way? Here’s how we do it.

Each weapon has a +Hit stat. Add that and your Personal Combat Skill to your roll. Then you subtract any range penalties you have and compare to your targets defense (which is a static number, like AC).

Nothing ground breaking and maybe a little more complicated than D&D, but not unmanageable. I get the feeling ranged weapons are the go to in this game, what with it being sci-fi and there is a lack of Jedi running around.

Some weapons can fire off more than once per action. All weapons have a Rate of Fire (ROF) of at least one, but those with more than one you can increase the number of dice you roll, but you chew through ammo quickly. It’s a nice way to let a character rustle some jimmies in a hurry.

Also if your weapon has a ROF of 2 or more you can pray and spray and try to strike multiple opponents by dividing your dice up between them. I find this a neat way to allow players to control how they are using their guns. The system is fairly simple and really opens up possibilities.

When a target takes a hit, it loses endurance based on the weapon it was just smoked with. Hit with no endurance? Take a critical hit.

Once again the Strong Hit rules apply and you can also deal crits via the 6’s you roll. Strong Hits are spent like currency to determine what exactly happens to the target. By default PCs only have the three base effects available (Crit Hit, Crit Boost, and Effort), but there are traits you can pick up to open up more possibilities.

Defenses are calculated by taking 10 and adding a certain stat (usually Reflexes). You gain a bonus to Defense if you have cover (+2 – +6). This feels a lot like D&D, static defenses vs active attacks. Nothing wrong with that, and it’s familiar to D&D vets like myself.

Now as for crits, when a target takes a crit one of their attributes is lowered. This in turn lowers any score or roll that is associated with that attribute.

Just based on reading, that sounds…like a lot of book keeping all of a sudden. Maybe it’s as bad as it sounds but I could see myself erasing and redoing my scores until I rip a hole in my character sheet. Haven’t played the game yet though I can’t say for sure.

So now when one of your attributes hits 0 you are bleeding out. Every turn you take 1 attribute damage to a random attribute. If any attribute his -5, you’re dead.

Healing is covered in combat with a simple roll. Out of combat healing can be done with time, resources, and a little luck.

pew pew tl;dr

  • Roll +Wep and +Combat stat
    • Compare to Target’s Defense
      • Hit=Lost endurance
      • 0 Endurance=Crit hit
      • Crit hit=loss of attribute
      • Any attribute at -5=dead
  • Healing=Not dead

Theatre of the Mind Combat

This is the way I like to play my RPGs. So I’m going to be a little biased towards it.

It’s only a few pages so the quick version is:

  • The GM sets the scene (bad guys, guns, environment)
  • PC’s explain how they are going to tackle this
  • Players roll dice per normal
  • GM explains outcome
  • Failed roll = 2 damage to random attribute (this damage can be applied to anyone)
  • 2 Successes per character = Victory!

Wow ok that’s a lot faster than the default way of doing combat. It also feels like it could get a little bland. I could see it turning into a few rolls without much going for it. The book suggests using this when the party splits or the combat isn’t super important to the plot. While I’m a fan of Theatre of the Mind, this game doesn’t feel like it could shine based only on this. On the other hand, the gear and traits are much more simplified so maybe if I was running this as a quick one shot I might consider it.

Combat Turns & Actions

This part of combat covers all the little things you can spend your actions on. There are 15 actions all together. Some of them I’ve already covered, now they are spelled out in detail. I’m not going to go into great detail on this chapter since a lot of it is rehashing what was mentioned previously.

Initiative is determined by your Intelligence attribute, surprise round gives you one free action, and each form of attack has a lot of little nuances.

In Closing

Ok so FE has some crunch to it when it comes to kicking butt, but it’s really no worse than D&D/Pathfinder. Veterans of those games will find a bunch of things they can easily relate to. The Theatre of the Mind rules seem wanting, but I could definitely see their merit for quick/less important combat. If I had a tactical combat itch, I feel that this game would scratch it well.

Overall, very well done. Just a few things that make me hesitate.

Alright this is getting long so I’m going to call it here for now. Equipment is the next chapter and that get’s into the nitty gritty of gear stats. For a review there probably won’t be much for me to comment on so I’ll try to hit up the next chapter as well. Thanks for reading.

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