Nov 132010

So, I love our semi-abstract method of zone maps in Fate, but playing and running (far more run than play) 4e has left me a little bit bitten by the maps-and-minis bug. There are times when I’d like to see Fate happen withย  a little more of a rooted, concrete, tactical map-reality.

So that’s been banging around in my head. How to do it?ย  Pretty easily.

Two rules, up front, then I’ll explain:

  • One zone = 5 squares.
  • Single target = Add 2 more squares.

That’s all it takes. These proceed from the notion that each character stands at the center of a 5 square by 5 square “zone”.

The second rule comes from what that implies: any square within two squares of the character’s position is within that 5×5 zone.

Combine them and you get these effects:

  • If you’re going to move one zone, move up to 5 squares on the map.
  • If you’re going to move more than one zone (e.g., sprint), multiply that by 5 squares and that’s how far you can move.
  • If you’re making a melee attack, you can attack a character within 2 squares of your position.
  • If you’re using a weapon that lets you attack someone in an adjacent zone, you can attack a character up to 7 squares away. (Think about it: the next zone over has a center that’s 5 squares away from yours. Anything within 2 squares of that zone’s center is within that zone, so “one zone away” is anywhere between 3 and 7 squares away from you. Therefore, the range in squares of a single-target weapon with a range of one zone is 7 squares. Two zones is 12, three zones is 17, etc.)
  • If you’re using an attack that “affects all targets in a zone”, then take its range (say, 2 zones), multiply by 5 (so, 10 squares), and that’s how far you can place the center of the 5×5 square effect. (You don’t get the +2 squares for placing the center because the 5×5 square would reach beyond the maximum single target range.)

Once you’ve got something like this going you can start looking at appropriating some of 4e’s map movement notions into stunts, introducing pushes and pulls and attack-of-opportunity rules and whatnot if you really want to get hackin’. At the least, you could add a “zero-zone move” to the vocabulary — since “the same zone” is within 2 squares of your current position, you could introduce a rule that allows the character to move up to 2 squares without taking the -1 penalty for a supplemental move action.

But even without that, the hack lets you make use of all those maps you’ve got stacked up for your maps-and-minis gaming, which for me and that map bug that done bit me is potentially really nice.

I’m also intrigued by the notion that this means the dividing lines between zones are more flexible and are relative to each character in this model. Each character is at the center of his or her own 5sq x 5sq zone, so the dividing lines for that guy who’s three squares away from me don’t fall in the same places.

If anyone gets a chance to try this out at home, let me know how it goes. ๐Ÿ™‚


  23 Responses to “Hack: Use Your Grid-Maps With Fate”

  1. Hey, Fred, have you seen the Castle Ravenloft board game with its in-game use of “tiles” (that is, an entire map tile) as well as “squares”? Therein movement is often measured as 1 or 2 tiles and effects often work on everything on your tile, or an adjacent tile. Similar in some ways.

    • I have heard good things about Ravenloft but don’t have a copy myself and haven’t had a chance to play it with someone who does, yet. Thanks for the tip. ๐Ÿ™‚

  2. Um, you mean:

    – One zone = 5 hexes.
    – Single Target = Add two more hexes.

    Each character stands in the center of a 2-hex radius zone. And since this zone has 12 hexes on the periphery, you can use clock references for direction, i.e there’s incoming fire from 1 o’clock, watch your six, etc.

  3. Ha! That’s pretty great.

    I have to say that I really appreciate all this pro-D&D/Gamma World talk from guys like you and Rob. So much of the “indie” gaming scene likes to look down on D&D — gamers and designers alike — that it’s refreshing to see prominent designers just having fun with it and not getting bogged down by notions of superiority or inferiority. My gaming shelves have dozens of games, from Amber, Mouse Guard, and Apocalypse World (and SotC, Diaspora, Legends of Anglerre, and DFRPG) to AD&D, 4E, and Champions, and I enjoy them all. So I especially like hacks like this one that attempt to mix elements from games that normally sit on relatively opposite ends of the spectrum.

    • It’s funny (funny-weird) to me whenever I hear things like this, because if I were to pick one community that appeared to have an unalloyed enthusiasm and interest in 4th Ed when it came out… it would be the indie folks. Most of the heel-digging I’ve run across has been in the diehard traditionalist camp. Different circles, I guess; I’m assuming it’s not hearsay and you have specific indie folks you’re thinking of when you say that …

      But in general, yeah, I’m a big tent gamer, and I think anyone who’s working at being a publisher *should* be. It’s important to know the field and to find what’s valuable in each part of it.

    • That’s true — there’s definitely an indie contingent that recognizes the narrative direction 4E’s taken, especially compared with the previous edition. But I also know plenty of gamers/designers who make ridiculous pronouncements like “It’s not even a roleplaying game — it’s a boardgame!” with casual contempt. Some of them are people I otherwise respect, or are even friends of mine. It just seems ludicrous to me.

      Anyway. Sorry to get off on a tangent when all I really wanted to say was “This is a fun FATE hack — thanks!”

    • No worries, dude. (Though for that matter, I LIKE a little boardgameness in my RPG sometimes, even a lot of times. Getting rooted in the actual physical acts of play, or looking at how player power flows in a boardgame and applying that to an RPG design — man, that’s a recipe for a better game, a grippier game, a more successful product. IMO.)

  4. Oh, absolutely — I love the tactical elements of 4E. In that regard, games like Descent and DragonStrike (!) scratch the same itch. Castle Ravenloft does too, to a lesser extent — it’s a bit more abstract, but still a lot of fun.

    That’s one of the things I like about FATE, too. It’s definitely tactical, but not in a conventional way. And the question “How can I make this non-combat element of this other game as engaging as combat in 4E?” is a good one to ask, as a designer.

  5. Another source of potential lycool stunts or powers: adjusting the size of a character’s zone. I could see a really large creature getting a size 7 zone or a really small creature getting a size 3 zone. This would be the equivalent to reach or size modifiers in D&D.

    The only possible problem with this is that it would inherently change the range of the ranged weapons as well, but that’s not that much of a stretch: a really big cross bow probably could shoot further than a normal sized cross bow.

    • I’d go more subtle: I’d simply increase the large character’s “single target” bonus, rather than the zone-into-squares multiplier. But this is a good thought.

    • Tho really, that’s implicit in using a larger figure for the big character, now that I think about it. Within two squares of a character that occupies a 2×2 space is a bigger total area. ๐Ÿ™‚

  6. Also sounds a lot like Marvel FASERIP Super-Heroes “Area”‘s. (For all us OLD old-school gamers)
    And equally as basic and ready to use “out of the box” as it were.

  7. […] is a bit of a companion piece to Hack: Use Your Grid-Maps With Fate. […]

  8. Fred, can I use this information in a Fate derivative game I’m developing? I love the tactical feel of a map and minis.

  9. It would be my pleasure, thanks for the fantastic idea.

  10. Wonderful idea and I’m totally gonna try this out. I love narrative movement but at the same time I do love me some minis and maps. I think this might be just the ticket for introducing Dresden Files to my D&D group.

    How does this mesh with the idea of a room as a zone? If I have a 5×10 room is that one or two zones? Or do we only concern ourselves with the zones of creatures? Could you then target either the area zone or the creature zone?

  11. Hey Fred, I’m curious: has anything more come of this over the years since you posted it? Not sure if anybody ever gave it a serious workout or not.

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