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The House Rule Proposed

I'm intent on making the following rule addition/change in my campaigns:

In addition to parries and blocks in mêlée combat, the Fight skill also covers training in dodging projectiles and avoiding lines of fire. Thus it can be used to defend against both Fight and Shoot attacks. This doesn't require a Stunt.

The Question

I would like to know the consequences of such a change, particularly unintended and/or undesirable consequences, in order to predict whether it's a worthwhile house rule for my campaigns. Conversely, if there aren't any consequences I overlooked, I'd like confirmation.

I'm seeking answer that are one or more of:

  • Actual experience with making such a change and witnessing the actual, tangible results (Good Subjective).
  • Sound, logically constructed reasoning for why the change may be unbalanced or otherwise undesirable (as opposed to Bad Subjective feels-based statements, or dismissals of balance entirely, or appeals to contrived and/or rare situations that would significantly strain willing suspension of disbelief if encountered repeatedly).
  • Mathematical theorycraft that proves that the way things are is more balanced than the houseruled state of affairs.

Addendum: the Reasoning Behind the Change

This idea of mine didn't come out of nowhere, but rather is a consequence of analysing the incentives the system provides for skill distribution - both in theory and in actual experience. Explaining my reasoning behind the change may prove useful to constructing a better answer.

Right now, for a rounded combatant, Athletics is a must-have skill, which indirectly makes Shoot much more desirable than Fight. I'm trying to reduce the pressure on combatants to prefer Shoot/Athletics, make defences slightly more variable, and make getting by on Fight alone viable (for those hulking, slow combatants).

Key points that make Athletics a must-have and/or make Fight underwhelming in the RAW:

  • For rounded defence, everyone needs Athletics anyway: fighters need it to defend against ranged attacks, while shooters need it to defend against any attacks.
  • For slow, heavy, close-in concepts, Physique doesn't provide anywhere near as much protection as Athletics: extra stress boxes are drastically inferior to having a higher defence roll under the overwhelming majority of circumstances.
  • Close-in fighters also happen to need closing in before the attack more quickly (especially when facing shooters), and thus can benefit from Athletics for its movement effects. Also, even if Fight can be used to interfere with a shooter's aim while close in, by RAW one still needs Athletics to dodge while charging into close combat.
  • Sure, Fight can be used to Create Advantages, but so can Shoot and especially Athletics, so it's not a counterbalancing factor in Fight's favour.
  • Sure, unlike Shoot, Fight can be used to prevent an enemy from moving out of a zone you're in, that's a dubious benefit: Athletics can be used similarly, and someone with Shoot usually doesn't care that an enemy moves out of close combat.
  • Using ammo scarcity and/or disarming to bring Shoot and Fight in line requires being really heavy-handed to reach parity, and starts looking contrived fast in many (most?) settings.

I'm hoping my change will mitigate the first two points without breaking anything important.

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"Defense" means "nothing happens".

There's a lot of rhetorical circling I could do, but that's the heart of it. I mean, a lot of times "nothing happens" is a good thing when it could be happening to you, but all the same. This will strictly increase defense rolls, and as a result nothing will be happening more often. Ultimately the impact is going to depend on your campaign variety.

It's more likely to be a good thing if your campaign is pretty eclectic - you've got a Face, a Driver, a Techie, and a Bruiser, and each of their respective domains gets approximately equal screen time - then the fight scenes will take a little longer, and full-pyramid antagonists built for fighting will take a little longer to wear down in them, which can make them feel more climactic when they do happen.

It's more likely to be a bad thing if your campaign is already heavily weighted toward physical conflict, with everyone being a fairly good bruiser or shootist. "Nothing" will happen proportionately more often; fights against full-pyramid antagonists built for fighting are routine and they're all just going to take longer to resolve.

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