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One of the things that I love about the FATE system is how flexible it is; even given the less than crunchy nature of the system, you have options galore. That's given one of my players analysis paralysis: in combat, she can't really function all that effectively and it's not satisfying to her coming from a very limited gaming background and all of that being DnD 4e where her options are laid out before her.

I'm looking for ways to give a player more structured options during play; sort of a cheat-sheet or combat strategy-guide for the narrative paradigm FATE inhabits. Narrative ideas for storytelling combat are good, but some sort of cheat sheet of structured fight options would go very far in helping her to get her mind around the combat concepts and options.

Any ideas on how I might be able to help her rectify this? She's playing a Red Court Infected in my Dresden Files game.


I took Mxyzplk's suggestion below, and created the Action Cards for the combat options that she had, and it worked perfectly!

If anyone else wants to do this for their FATE game, I've made the Word Templates available, with instructions included.

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You might also want to direct her to some examples of the system in action. This answer of mine was well received on the topic of how attacks work. – gomad Aug 24 '11 at 15:52
up vote 29 down vote accepted

Write out a starter set of "power cards" on index cards, formatted somewhat like the D&D 4e power cards for familiarity. They can have some normal FATE combat options, and also some tailored to her Aspects - you can make these up yourself, or based on things you've heard her say she'd think her character could do.

After each combat, tell he she "leveled" and give her a blank card to write a new power of her own design on (help for the first couple times). Eventually as she gets more and more and realizes that she is making them up anyway, it'll wean her off them. The second she asks "can I do this, it's not on a card..." you say "Yes!" and think "Hallelujah!"

I will note for posterity that this isn't ideal - ideally the player would catch on to the world of more freewheeling roleplaying without requiring this. But if they've been mentally scarred by restrictive games to the point where they're just not catching on and need structure, which is the scenario the OP presents, then this can work.

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+1 for therapeutic RPGs – the dark wanderer Mar 17 '15 at 17:08

Ask her for her character's intentions.

Then guide her through the game system towards the result she strives for.

The FATE system is quite different than many other RPG engines, and the great amount of creative licence granted to players can be overwhelming for newcomers used to other game systems. Some hand holding may be necessary until they get used to using aspects, maneuvers, assessments and declarations.

Just ask her about how she wants to see the result of the fight, and suggest some actions. Let the first couple of exchanges be a tutorial, and let her make her own calls afterwards, but provide feedback on what else she could have done. She will probably get the hang of it after a couple of scenes.

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This. Don't ask her what she does mechanically. Instead, ask her what her character does, and then find the mechanics that help accomplish that. – Mike Riverso Sep 7 '11 at 12:15

I assume that the player does not shoot guns, fight with weapons, or has any martial art training whatsoever. This is quiet common as we do live in peaceful societies where only weirdos like me do these things ^_-.

Ask her to look at some "adventure" books. Things like Alistair MacLean (Where Eagles Dare), Arturo Perez-Riverte (The Fencing Master, Alatriste set), and of course Alexander Dumas (The Three Musketeers, and everything else he ever wrote!) are prime examples. Tell her to look at how the author describe combat. Then tell her to improvise based on that. Make sure she understands that the better her description of her character's actions, the more bonus she gets on her dice roll (+1, +2, or even +3).

If she feels either silly or still unsure of doing so, then do provide her with some tactical analysis. Show her where things are, what people are doing, and offer an insight into the minds of the oppositions. "I know twelve moves to take him down from here. Eleven will kill, one will hurt. I chose this one" -- Batman.

Finally, there's the Anime style. Anime fighting has a lot of special moves, shown in great details and whole episodes can be spend in learning the Ultimate++ move. If the player wanted to, tell her that she learned "Bigwangdo" and she has a whole tree of moves: Crane kicks frog, blade of mercy, furry of fists, hail of bullet, whatever... then she can use these names to tell you what she does. The rest is up to you to blend into the narrative based on here dice roll. This may answer your question more. You and your player could come up with something like that easily enough -- look at some martial arts (Aikido, MuayThai, kendo) syllabus if you wanted inspirations.

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When we made the change from dnd 4e to dfrpg, we ran the Neutral Grounds casefile a couple of times to get the hang of the system and for people to get the feel of how to interact in combat. You might be better off having a session where everyone has a premade character to start and just take the whole session casually.

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