I have a hypothesis: People like rolling for damage. Not necessarily everyone, certainly, but for a certain category of player, there is something neat and appropriate that damage output is not merely varied by success, but also by means. They want the difference between a dagger and a rocket launcher that is no mere number, but rather something meaty and gamey, like a d4 vs 3d12.
I have no idea if there’s any real instinct for this, or if it’s just a behavior that’s been wired in by exposure to D&D, but for a lot of players (myself included) there is something compelling about damage with a degree of variability.
Now, it would be EASY to add this kind of damage to Fate. Multiply the stress pool times 5. Consequences ablate 10 points per tick. Damage is by weapon, tool or situation and is ranked in die tie, ascending as d1, d4, d6, d8, d10, d12 and d20. The die sized rolled is based on the type of attack (bigger equaling more dangerous) and the number of dice rolled equals the margin of success.
Bam, done. Tweak the exact numbers to taste.
There is absolutely a kind of player who would DELIGHT in their pistol being d6, their rifle d8 and their grenade a d12. It would introduce all kinds of fun options (Stunt: Anything’s a weapon – if you hold it in your hands, your damage die can’t be smaller than a d6) and even other upgrades. Whose to say you can’t have a +1 sword which does d8+1 per margin of success. Lots you can do.
I admit, while I dig the sentiment, I’d balk at this. I think I’d hesitate to being in all the other dice. Not that I dislike them – I love them in other games – but I like the simplicity of the fate kit as it stands, and I would hate to bulk it up more than necessary.
If really pressed, I suppose I could add a d6 based damage system. Could simplify the previous damage system so it’s all d6’s, where weapons add extra dice (rather than flat modifiers). Easy peasy, but maybe a little dull.
If I were feeling fiddly, I’d do this: every weapon rolls a certain number of d6s (let’s say, 1–20). That is how many dice you roll for damage, and your margin of success is the number of dice you keep. This has a curiously limiting effect on the rocket launchers of the world – they’ll roll lots of dice, but unless it’s a solid hit, that only helps so much. Of course, from a cinematic perspective, that’s probably just about right.
Of course, that still requires going outside the fate kit, if only a little.
The real temptation is to use Tally Dice. Tally dice are an idea born from the fact that fate dice are, effectively, d3s, but they’re hard to read that way unless you want to do some quick math (and slow rolling is bad rolling). It just involves looking at Fate dice a little bit differently, and if you do it, it becomes easy to read it as follows:
Some of you may have already seen the pattern, but this trick is this: don’t think of the lines as plusses and minuses, think of them as tally marks. A minus is one mark, a plus is two marks (think of it as an X), a blank is none. No math required, just a slightly different perspective.
Now, here’s the fun thing – since it’s got an average result of 1, it can be seamlessly inserted into vanilla fate if you want. Simply roll a number of tally dice (dT) equal to the margin of success. On average, the outcome will be the same, but there’s a bit more swinginess. For example, if I beat a goblin by 2, I roll 2dT and roll -+, for 3 damage!. Of course, it does not get you the other part of damage systems (reflection off weapon size), but it would not take a lot to combine this idea with the previous one and come up with swords that are more dangerous than daggers.
If that’s your thing.
- Yes, it’s a bad numerical jump, but this is the preposterous die. Cannonballs, falling buildings, death rays and so on. ↩
- Ok, tiny bit of math. You can’t get true equivalency with this system because the lack of equivalency is the point. What you can do is decide what “average” damage looks like (probably a d6 or a d8), take the average roll of that and figure that’s about one “box” of stress. I’d also round it up a little (which I did to get 5x) because a little more durability is a better outcome than too much fragility. ↩
- If you invert the model (so weapons have a fixed number of kept dice, and the number of d6’s rolled is based on the margin of success) then that gets a little bit weirder to predict. I’m not sure I’d mess with it. ↩