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I'm presently running a Legend of Zelda game in Fate Core.

This of course means that Clay Jars Abound, and people love to throw and break them.

My players want to use the jars to hit ranged targets, but we're not sure how that would work. Forgive me if it's in the rules; I can't seem to find anything on it.

Do you use Shoot because it's a ranged attack? Athletics because it requires physical strength? Should the roll be different if the target is in "melee range?"

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    \$\begingroup\$ Legend of Zelda in Fate sounds so awesome. \$\endgroup\$ – KRyan May 18 '15 at 20:43
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    \$\begingroup\$ I want to play in your game now. I'm tempted to +1 just because it's LoZ but I don't know Fate so can't tell if the question is actually a good one. I'm going to look into Fate now though because of you. \$\endgroup\$ – Marc Dingena May 18 '15 at 20:45
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What is your player trying to accomplish?

Skills have trappings unique to themselves, and that's important: you can attack with Shoot but not with Athletics, barring a particular stunt or what-have-you. So before you choose your skill, determine what mechanical action the player's narrative act is best modelled by (attack, defend, create advantage, overcome).

If your player is trying to concuss the enemy by smashing a jar over his head, that's creating an advantage--perhaps Dazed. That sounds like you want to use Athletics or Physique--depending on whether it's a precision throw or a brute force smash.

If instead the goal is to take the enemy out with the action, that needs to be an attack so it can inflict stress. Shoot then becomes your go-to skill. Athletics and Physique aren't set up to inflict stress; Shoot's the "attack at range" skill.

And, of course, physical skills aren't always appropriate for physical actions. If you're smashing pots to get the obsessive archaeologist to back down so you'll stop, that's probably a use of Provoke.

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    \$\begingroup\$ Smashing pots for rupees is, of course, how use your Resources skill. \$\endgroup\$ – GMJoe May 19 '15 at 1:14
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You use whichever of those makes sense in the context of the narrative at your table. There is no hard and fast rule for that.

However, it's important to remember the Golden Rule:

Decide what you’re trying to accomplish first, then consult the rules to help you do it.

Shoot is about precision and tactics. Athletics is about power and finesse. Fight is about willpower and awareness, and so on. Have your player narrate what they're doing, and choose the skill accordingly. Alternately, you may want to work with your players to pick on skill that's in line with the flavor you want in your game and stick with it for the sake of consistency, until a player comes up with an interesting narrative that begs for one of the other skills. Either way, the mechanic being used should emerge from the story being told.

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  • \$\begingroup\$ Yeah, I understand that much, but I still don't know which skill best fits "I pick up a jar and try to bash in a Gerudo's head from across the room" better—Shoot or Athletics. We're going narrative-first, but we don't know what rule fits. \$\endgroup\$ – Robert May 18 '15 at 21:07
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    \$\begingroup\$ Throwing jars seems so much more about Athletics than Shoot from the description given by edgerunner. \$\endgroup\$ – Marc Dingena May 18 '15 at 21:14
  • \$\begingroup\$ It sounds mostly like Athletics, but that could change based on the situation (like, a really big thing thrown a short distance would probably be Physique). Really, any kind of action->skill mapping should be considered situational, and the most firm "rule" you should put on it is "this will usually be this skill". \$\endgroup\$ – kyoryu May 18 '15 at 23:55
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If the goal is to "toss a heavy object to hurt an opponent", that seems like a pretty clear application of the Shoot skill to me. It governs all the ranged weapons.

I wouldn't really use Athletics for it, at any rate. If you want to emphasise "these things are heavy" then it would be better to use Physique, as that represents muscle and general toughness.

(Although having a good shoot skill usually implies the character already has a good ranged weapon to make these attacks with, so throwing Clay Jars is probably more something for the less able ranged attackers to do.)

As for throwing into melee; that's allowed and works the same, although it might be reasonable for your opponents to Invoke being in melee in order to up its defenses. (Or for your ally to Invoke it to help you by shoving the guy in front of the jar)

That said; throwing something really big and heavy is unlikely to inflict actual damage. It seems far more fitting to use them to Create Advantages (depending on the contents of said barrels) as enemies jump out of the way, clouds of flour float around the room, grain rolls over the floor or swarms of angry scorpions sting everyone in range. (Legend of Zelda features jars that are full of scorpions for no reason, right?)

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The goal or intention of the character's action is the primary factor, modified by the circumstances of the setting. What is the character really attempting to achieve, and what modifying requirements are imposed by the situation and the environment? This is excellently elucidated by @BESW.

But there is another modifying factor. Consider also the character's class/profession/nature/habits etc. I.e., a professional archer or a circus knife thrower might have practiced skills and reflexes so they would automatically go into a skill-oriented "shoot" mode of operation. But someone else, a wizard or a merchant or a blacksmith might not have a pre-existing path of action, and so might operate from a cruder, more general mode of operation, so maybe their "general" athletic ability, or even just raw strength.

So in other words, unless the player is very deliberate in their description, invoking key verbs and ajectives, their default mode of action might be determined by their character background.

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