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I've always had trouble understanding where Blocks are useful in the Dresden Files RPG (and Fate in general). It seems like a character that can create a Block to save themselves is not going to have any better of a defense than if they use the same skill when rolling to defend. Even worse: if you're going to spend Fate chips or tag aspects to help the Block, you have to spend them before the attacking roll arrives, so spending Fate is a matter of guesswork.

Here's a concrete example, to narrow the scope a bit: I was fighting a magically-amped biker in a museum on fire, and I was up close and personal because I'm more survivable than my fellow party members. My highest skills are Weapon and Athletics, which I was using to good effect in Attack actions and defense rolls. I was spending Fate fairly often (about one per roll?), because the other guy was bigger than me. Given that, is there a case where setting up a Block would help more than Attacking or Maneuvering?

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I think you've got a fundamental misunderstanding about how blocks and defenses work. A block prevents the person from taking a specific type or set of action, which means it can be used to assist someone else, and can be done with any applicable skill. Magical blocks are even more effective, due to their ability to cover a wide range of potential situations over multiple rounds with a single action. Defense, on the other hand, is only responsive and can only be done with certain skills (predominantly Athletics) unless you have an applicable stunt. The primary reason to use blocks, then, is when you don't expect yourself to be the target or when you want to use a different skill, or if you want to block the opponent from doing something besides attacking. Not every character is going to max out their Athletics.

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Blocks can be incredibly useful in melee combat. For example, a swordsman may charge into melee with a gunman and place a block to keep him from targeting anyone else with his weapon -- essentially protecting the rest of the party with his personal weapons skill!

In the situation given above, you could try to put a block on the ability of the attacker to roll at all, but it would be of limited utility (since if they beat the roll, they're free to attack you -- you've gained the advantage of two 'defense' rolls and not much more). The advantage would be if multiple players were in melee, or if you think he's about to run. The rule of thumb is that a block can be broad (lots of targets, one action) or deep (one target, lots of actions). If you put a block on the enemy, he has to beat that roll to do anything -- which lets you essentially lock him down if you can pull it off. (Given that you're spending fate points, you probably can't, so I'm hoping this is a 'boss' type enemy...)

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