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OK, I keep going around in circles. In Dresden Files RPG, how do you work out punching someone vs using a knife/sword/weapon vs using a gun?

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up vote 31 down vote accepted

See DFRPG:

  • p.200 for Attacks
  • p.207 for Maneuvers

    • Whenever you attack someone, you choose the appropriate Skill to roll - Fists for punches, Weapons for knives/swords, Guns for guns, etc.. Roll 4dF (the 4 Fudge dice) and add the result of the roll, which will be between -4 and +4 to the Skill you chose.

    • The defender gets to make a defense roll with an appropriate Skill - Athletics to dodge bullets, Fists to block punches, Weapons to parry your blade, etc.. Roll 4dF for the defender just like the attacker did above.

    • If the attacker's total of Skill + roll is equal to or greater than the defender's total, the attack was a hit. Add the difference between the totals (which can be 0, that's fine) and the Weapon value (if any) of the attacker's weapon. That's how much Stress the defender takes from the hit.

I sense that an example is in order.

Let's say we've got Bonnie Green, local occult investigator, cornered in an alley by a couple of purely-mortal thralls of a local Red Court baddie. The thralls are there to deliver a warning in the form of a beating - not to kill her, but they've each got one of those telescoping club things. Bonnie's got only her fists.

The thralls have: Weapons - Good (+3), 3 Physical Stress slots, and Weapon:1 clubs.

Bonnie has Fists - Great(+4) [it turns out that knowing how to handle yourself in a fight is useful for an occult investigator], 4 Physical Stress slots, and a couple of Fate points.

I forget the real Initiative rules at the moment, but I'm gonna let the thralls go first because there are 2 of them and they have her cornered.

Thrall 1 swings his club at Bonnie. He rolls a -1, so his total is +2. Bonnie dodges the blow with her Fists, rolling a -1 also. Her total is +3 - she sidestepped the thrall's blow. Thrall 2 aims a blow at her knees - rolling a +2 for a total of 5. Bonnie rolls Fists again, getting +1 for a total of 5 - she's hit. The difference between the totals is zero, but the Weapon:1 means she takes 1 physical stress. She has some Fate points that would let her change that, but she's saving them for offense. Bonnie's player marks off the first stress box in her physical track.

Bonnie wants to even the odds here so she decides to maneuver instead of attack, raking the eyes of one thrall to put the "Blinded" Aspect on him. She rolls her Fists and gets a total of 4 (rolled a 0). The thrall rolls his Weapons to block and gets a 4 - her Maneuver succeeded, she rakes her nails across his eyes and the thrall now has the Aspect "Blinded". The thralls get to go again.

Undamaged thrall gets a total of 4, Bonnie gets a 2 - she's hit again. With the bonus from the weapon, she takes 3 stress, marking off the 3rd box in her physical track. The blinded thrall swings wildly, getting a total of 5, and Bonnie rolls a 4 - another hit she can ill-afford. But she tags the "Blinded" aspect she put on the attacker (tags are the 1 free invoke you get from placing an Aspect) and uses it to add 2 to her roll - 6 is plenty and she dodged the thrall's wild, blind swing, but she used up the free invoke she had hoped to use to turn the tables.

She decides to maneuver again. She wants to move so that the two attackers are in a line, with only one able to reach her and she wants the close one to be the blinded one. She's going to try to put the Aspect, "In each other's way" on both attackers. This is a common fighting tactic when outnumbered, so the GM rules that Fists applies. She rolls a total of 5. Each thrall rolls Weapons against her (again, it's a common fighting thing). The blinded one gets a 4, the other a 7(!). Bonnie decides to spend a Fate point and invoke her "catlike grace" aspect for +2 to get the other thrall tangled up. Now both attackers are in each other's way.

They attack again, rolling a 3 that Bonnie defends against, and a 6 that she doesn't, defending with only a miserable 1. The thrall cracks her across the temple with the club, her forearm block inadequate against it. Along with the Weapon bonus, she's got 6 points of stress to deal with (6-1+1 = 6). She decides to mark off the 4 in her stress track (leaving only the 2) and take a mild consequence "Seeing double" from the blow.

Things are looking grim now, so Bonnie decides to try take one of them out and see if that will let her escape. She aims a swinging elbow at the head of the blinded attacker and rolls 0, for a total of 4. The thrall rolls a +1, which gives him 4. Since the Weapon bonus of fists is 0, Bonnie won't hurt him at all. But she tags his "in each other's way" aspect, gaining +2 on the roll. And she hands her final Fate point over to the GM to invoke "Blinded" again. Now, unable to see and tangled in his buddy's weapon arm, the thrall couldn't defend himself and is due 4 points of stress from Bonnie's elbow. That's more than he's got, so he goes down.

The odds have evened, but Bonnie is hurt and the remaining thrall isn't. And he's armed. And she handed him a Fate point to get him tangled up in the first place. If she has to fight, she's probably going to get hurt further. So she tags the "in each other's way" Aspect on the remaining thrall (1 tag is free, remember?) - invoking it for effect and declaring that other guy took him down when he fell. The GM accepts it and Bonnie runs out of that alley as fast as she can - hopefully to someplace where she can rest her poor head!

I tried to address the question of Bonnie putting an aspect on two foes with one roll in the comments below, but I ran out of characters! So here's my reply to SevenSidedDie's concern:

I don't think that's out of line. You could put an Aspect on the environment with a single maneuver, and each thrall got a roll to defend. Plus she spent the Fate point on it, which would have been enough for a declaration in any case. I was making it up as I went along, and I would have run it this way at the table rather than stopping to look up the rule. Regardless, the point of this example was to show how FATE and the DFRPG can be used to create exciting combats that consist of far more than "I hit you. You hit me." In my experience, new players take way too long to figure out how maneuvers turn defeat into victory - or at least escape! Also, I got to show how invocations for effect work. Anyhow, this off-the-top-of-my-head example is open for edits, so, please, edit away!

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