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I've always been partial to darkmantles, because nobody looks at the ceiling, and because they modified combat without directly affecting hitpoints in D&D.

I would like to use them in an upcoming Fate-session. While I think they should be straightforward in such a setting, I am somewhat unclear on the details, being new to the system.

Here's how I imagine the conflict: The darkmantle attacks an unsuspecting PC. Since the PC is surprised, they only offer passive opposition. The attack is likely to succeed. Instead of dealing damage, the darkmantle wraps around the PC's head, creating the blinded aspect. If the darkmantle succeeds with style, it wraps itself around the PC so well, that the PC cannot breathe.

Here's where I have questions:

  • Can the PC being blinded/suffocated use their own blinded or cannot breathe aspect for a self-compel? Something like:

    I wanted to defend against that other enemy, but now that I'm blinded / cannot breathe, I have to take care of the darkmantle first

  • Can an aspect deal damage? Being unable to breathe should make you suffer some consequences, eventually, no?

  • Do opponents of the PC have to be allies to pass a free invocation of the blinded aspects among themselves?
  • Do the rules actually allow me to create two aspects?
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There may be a slight misconception about "compel"; players compel other players, not themselves. In your example, the PC wouldn't be able to use that as a compel, since they would be compelling themselves [to do... what?]. –  Emrakul Oct 17 '13 at 22:37
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@Emrakul Players can compel NPCs too. The GM is a player. –  Jonathan Hobbs Oct 18 '13 at 1:23
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@Jonathan While that is true, the player wouldn't compel the darkmantle. The darkmantle isn't the creature that can't breathe, so compelling it with the blinded aspect (on the player) wouldn't have much meaning. At least as far as I can tell/have read into it. –  Emrakul Oct 18 '13 at 1:49
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@Emrakul I don't think he's talking about compelling the Darkmantle; he's talking about compelling the guy being blinded. I agree that needs clarification or confirmation though. –  Jonathan Hobbs Oct 18 '13 at 1:54
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Your turn, @Jonas ;] –  Emrakul Oct 18 '13 at 2:08
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3 Answers 3

up vote 5 down vote accepted

I'll answer your questions and respond to what appear to be some misconceptions you have.

 

Surprise attacks

Here's how I imagine the conflict: The darkmantle attacks an unsuspecting PC. Since the PC is surprised, they only offer passive opposition. The attack is likely to succeed. Instead of dealing damage, the darkmantle wraps around the PC's head, creating the blinded aspect. If the darkmantle succeeds with style, it wraps itself around the PC so well, that the PC cannot breathe.

Your target might be caught by surprise, but that's purely a story detail. If you have nothing to invoke, surprising them won't necessarily have any influence on your roll. Fate Core doesn't have anything like, say, D&D's mechanic of being caught flat-footed.

If you want to surprise someone and get a bonus to some action for it, you'll have to work for it somehow:

  • Create an Advantage and place an aspect on yourself like Well Hidden. As a Darkmantle, you might even have a stunt to that lets you place a stealth-themed aspect on yourself for free! Then you're hidden, and you can invoke that when you take the enemy by surprise.
  • Invoke your Darkmantle high concept, and get a high concept for being such a sneaky attacker. Remember that you can use Create an Advantage to place free invocations on any of your existing aspects - including this one.

As a Darkmantle, you could further improve this with a stunt like one of the following:

Death's Approach. Gain a +2 bonus to any attack using Fight, whenever you're hidden from your target. ("Attack" here refers exclusively to the attack action; see Fate Core p90)

Backstab. You can use Stealth to make physical attacks, provided your target isn't already aware of your presence. (This one's actually from the book! Page 89)

 

Self-Compelling being attacked

Can the PC being blinded/suffocated use their own blinded or cannot breathe aspect for a self-compel? Something like:

I wanted to defend against that other enemy, but now that I'm blinded / cannot breathe, I have to take care of the darkmantle first

No - unless there's more to it than that.

In a straightforward fight with some enemies, focusing on the person attacking you instead of someone else doesn't really complicate your life or introduce any drama. That alone doesn't make for a good compel.

Compels are supposed to make someone's life complicated and introduce unexpected drama - they're introduced this way on Fate Core page 14. Their examples include failure at a goal, someone's choices being restricted, or unintended consequences springing from an action. Their gameplay example features someone having poor manners at a very important diplomatic occasion. Compels exist to encourage players to accept hardship and failure where it would be positive for the story, because they still get something out of it.

Let's make this more dramatic.

You're the PC being suffocated by a Darkmantle. You still must pursue the Six Fingered Man who's escaping (The Six Fingered Man Killed My Father), or you absolutely need to reach that lever and save the others (My Crew Is My Family).

This is a situation with dramatic tension, and either way works for a good self-compel. You could self-compel to pursue your goal, struggling despite the fact you're being strangled, or you could self-compel to deal with the person strangling you first - meanwhile risking letting the Six Fingered Man escape or putting your crew in harm's way.

 

Can an aspect deal damage?

Being unable to breathe should make you suffer some consequences, eventually, no?

Well, yes and no. Yes because you can create aspects like On Fire which hurt the character in question. But...

Fate Core has no concept of hit points or damage.

Consequences and stress are not hit points or health. They're a very different beast. Think of them as your staying power in a conflict. The more Stress you can take, the more you can shrug off or handle before you have to start taking Consequences and attacks begin to really affect you. Stress and Consequences together are a measure of how much you can handle before you are Taken Out or need to surrender.

So the NPC in question might be genuinely being suffocated. Likewise, someone with an Acid Burns aspect on themselves (however they got it) is genuinely hurting - but they're not taking damage, because damage doesn't exist.

Then how do you take out a guy you're suffocating?

Use the Attack action! Use it to suffocate him, and burn through your free invocations to hit harder give them more stress to soak up.

The Cannot Breathe aspect alone does nothing more than make something true. He won't get taken out. If he's still hanging in there after ten turns, you must just be really lousy at suffocating people - he's clearly managed to get a breath in here and there.

Because of this, it makes more sense to pick an aspect like Suffocated by a Darkmantle.

 

Passing Free Invocations

Do opponents of the PC have to be allies to pass a free invocation of the blinded aspects among themselves?

You can pass free invocations to anyone. Fate Core p70 has this to say about Free Invocations, in a paragraph on the bottom left:

If you want, you can pass your free invocation to another character. That allows you to get some teamwork going between you and a buddy. This is really useful in a conflict if you want to set someone up for a big blow—have everyone create an advantage and pass their free invocations onto one person, then that person stacks all of them up at once for a huge bonus.

 

Can you create two aspects?

Yes, but you can't create two at once in the same action.

The (sort of) exception would be if you made an Attack With Style, you took a boost, and your target took a consequence. That's two aspects created.

That said, if your fellow players are happy to introduce some new mechanics, you could borrow the Overflow mechanic from Dresden Files: BESW describes it here. This would let you take the excess margin by which you succeeded at an action and perform one extra action, given it meets certain conditions. Both could be Create Advantage actions, letting you place two aspects at once.

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In that order

  • Compels are for altering someone else's action. You or anyone else can compel the afflicted PC as long as you have a fate point to spare and a plausible alternative story involving the aspect being compelled. If the blinded PC attempts to run away for example, you can offer a FP and say that all he can do is stumble around without getting anywhere significant because there's a darkmantle over his eyes. He may accept it and take the FP and that means he forfeits his original action and stumbles around instead. Or he rejects it and gives you a FP instead. This means he is somehow entitled to his attempt despite still being blinded by the darkmantle. Of course this may still be subject to an overcome roll, which may be made harder by invoking the blinded aspect. (upon your edit, a "self-compel" is technically not a compel. The compeller must offer a fate point to the compelled, so it is kinda pointless if you offer yourself a FP. But of course you may suggest to the GM or some other player that it's a good opportunity to compel your character, but it is still up to them to do that or not)
  • Aspects do not deal damage. As a matter of fact, damage is not modeled at all in Fate mechanics. It is left to the narrative. Stress on the other hand, is not damage. Stress in Fate is "narrative stress" in your story, not the representation of a pysiological or psychological state of the character. It represents how much another player or the GM must insist before the story of your character goes the way they want instead of the way you want. Being "taken out" has nothing to do with the character being knocked cold or such. It just means that the player loses his jurisdiction over his character for the scene, and the opposing player can now say what happens regarding that character, within reason.
  • Free invocations can be used by anyone as long as the owner permits it. Of course it still has to make narrative sense.
  • The rules say that one "Create Advantage" action creates one aspect. But there's nothing wrong with a single aspect describing more than one thing. "Blinded and suffocating" would be a perfectly fine aspect for a darkmantle to put on an opponent.
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In Fate Core, there is such a thing as a self-compel (unless I completely misread that) - they state it used to be called "invoking for effect". –  Jonas Oct 22 '13 at 9:12
    
There is a self-compel, you're right. –  Jonathan Hobbs Oct 22 '13 at 9:19
    
Check out the last sentence in this chapter, "any player can propose a compel on his or her own character for free", which is, they ask for it, not do it themselves. More like, "Hey GM, I have this blinded aspect on me, so why don't you gimme a fate point and I'll spend this exchange just bonking around instead of trying to get rid of the darkmantle.", where the GM may reply "yeah, cool here's your FP", or "nope, just do what you will". –  edgerunner Oct 22 '13 at 10:16
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I know this is an old thread, but I wanted to post an answer to address a couple of issues that seemed to be missed.

Ambush/Sneak Attacks

In FATE Core, sneak attacks work by invoking an aspect related to being hidden.

The darkmantle starts with an aspect cloaked in shadows. The PCs look around and roll an Overcome action with Notice to see if they spot anything unusual (assuming that they in fact narratively look around). If they succeed the darkmantle loses its aspect. If they fail, then when it decides to attack the GM can invoke the aspect for a +2.

Questions

Can the PC being blinded/suffocated use their own blinded or cannot breathe aspect for a self-compel? Something like:

I wanted to defend against that other enemy, but now that I'm blinded / cannot breathe, I have to take care of the darkmantle first

Yes they can self compel, but your example isnt' a good example, it's just a normal fact of the fiction. Think more along the lines of:

Because I'm blinded, I don't see the other enemies coming through the far entrance (Now an additional complication has been introduced making it a compel.)

Next question:

Can an aspect deal damage? Being unable to breathe should make you suffer some consequences, eventually, no?

An aspect as an aspect, can't deal damage. An aspect that's been fractalled out (google FATE fractal), can have an attack skill, or the darkmantle can invoke the "suffocating" aspect when it makes an attack to make it's attack more effective.

In addition, a character who cannot breathe likely cannot do anything else except try to breathe, therefore the GM would be justified narratively in preventing the character from taking any action except trying to free themselves from the darkmantle.

Do opponents of the PC have to be allies to pass a free invocation of the blinded aspects among themselves?

No the invocation doesn't belong to the NPC, it belongs to the NPC's player (the GM). Similarly, when a PC gets an invoke it is the PC's player, not the character.

Do the rules actually allow me to create two aspects?

The rules allow you to give your darkmantle a stunt which could allow it to create a secondary aspect or boost, or to spend 2 turns creating advantages.

Stunt: Cover - The darkmantle may attempt to cover an opponents face to limit their vision and possibly impair their breathing. To do so attempt to Create an Advantage with your fighting skill. Normal success places the blinded aspect on your target. If you succeed with style, you may place a boost on your target named suffocating. Then see about the fractal on letting the suffocating aspect attack.

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