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FATE: 15th Century Warfare

Page history last edited by Adrian 9 years, 4 months ago



“So where do we find the rebel?” the knight asked. Mounted on a snorting chestnut warhorse, Sir Wolmar cast his eyes impatiently overly the motley crew of mercenaries studiously ignoring him. 


“Answer me, damn your eyes!” he snarled, leaning down from the saddle and clamping a gauntled hand on the shoulder of a tall mountain of a man standing beside him. The mercenary regarded Wolmar with an incurious gaze, disdain barely concealed beneath his enormous moustaches. 


“The rebel will be watching us now,” the man answered in a low guttural. “He will have seen you coming a way off in that shiny armour of yours.” 


“I thought it was your job to smoke him out, not the other way round,” Wolmar growled. “What kind of a fool of a commander are you?” 


The big mercenary broke into a gap-toothed grin beneath his moustaches. “Commander? I’m no commander. Captain Bauer leads us,” he laughed, pointing to a short figure in half-plate and sallet. Turning at mention of her name, Captain Bauer regarded Wolmar with a baleful eye, revealing the badly-healed wound slitting the edge of her mouth an unnatural inch further than it should. Wolmar flinched at the sight of the wound, the teeth beneath visible in a rictus grin. 


“A woman! No wonder the rebel has held his ground. What joke is this?” Wolmar demanded. 


Frowning, the big mercenary spat on the snow-crusted ground. “The Captain’s led us to victory and plunder plenty times. She may be small, but she’s cunning,” he said, tapping the side of his helm with one dirty forefinger. “That’s why she let you bring that horse of yours, along with that shiny armour. Draw the bastard rebel like flies to shit,” he grinned lopsidedly. 


“Eh?” Wolmar spat, swinging round to look more closely at Bauer. “Is that true woman? I’m some kind of bait – “ Wolmar’s anger switched to confusion as his mount screamed in pain and reared onto its hind legs. Caught by surprise, the noble flailed at the reins to no avail. Crying out, he thudded into the hard-packed snow flat on his back, with the wind driven from his lungs as his warhorse clattered over the icy cobbles and out of sight, blood spattering the snow-dusted ground in its wake. 


Captain Bauer looked pointedly at a lanky crow of a man in battered wide-brimmed hat and a pair of brigandines. Returning her gaze, he nodded his lean face in affirmation.“It’s him – that’s the marksman who got Hansel last Monksday,” Bauer called to her men. “Spread out, and hope that Dragan is in position.” Squatting in the lee of a ruined building, she readied her buckler and drew her arming sword in anticipation of battle as the big tower of a man ran to her side, drawing a massive longsword and crouching protectively at her flank. “The rich boy,” she said, “he okay Olaf?” 


“No harm done, ‘cept to the horse,” the huge Olaf answered, “Winded. Shame about the horse, worth a small fortune that. Likely marked as a meal for the rebel now.”


“Ha!” Bauer smirked. Glancing at the stirring Wolmar, she yelled across. “Keep your head down Sir Knight, he’s a good shot and he has your measure. Stay where you are ‘til my men have done their work.”


Personal Combat


Who acts first?

Missile weapons and magic at range act first, in order of Alertness. Melee actions act next, in order of Reach (highest to lowest usually, unless the environment is particularly cramped or otherwise favours shorter weapons over longer.) Ties are decided in order of Alertness.


Neither magic nor missile weapons can be used at melee range – to do so, the character must first successfully disengage through the Distance manoeuvre, then use their magic or missile weapon next turn.


Making an attack

Roll 4dF and add the relevant attacking skill, usually Melee, Firearms or Bow. The result is opposed by the defender’s 4dF roll augmented by their defending skill, usually Melee or Athletics, although Bow or Riding could also apply in the right circumstances. As in Diaspora, defence rolls stand for the entire turn unless circumstances dictate that a different skill should be rolled against (for instance, resisting a magical attack usually involves Resolve, not Melee, so a character who has already rolled to parry a sword thrust makes a second, new roll to resist the sorcery).


Unlike Diaspora, Harm and Protection are not factored in until it is clear the attack is successful – a more damaging weapon doesn’t make it more likely to land a blow on an opponent for example.


Weapon Reach

Melee weapons have a Reach number, listed in the table. In addition: 


  • Fighting from horseback: +1 Reach against unmounted opponents.
  • Fighting while prone: -1 Reach against standing opponents.
  • For every level of Scale difference: +1 Reach to the larger character


The character with the best-suited Reach, usually the wielder of the longer weapon unless fighting in circumstances that would reverse this, receives a ‘Reach Advantage’ Aspect. If the difference in weapon reach is 2 or more, then this Aspect comes with a free tag. When using a zone map, it may be easiest to write an 'R' on the map next to the combatant with the Reach advantage to remember who is currently holding this, with a free tag indicated by an asterisk or coloured bead.


Reach can change during a combat, usually as a result of the Close/Distance manoeuvre. If an opponent closes or distances to a different Reach range, the Reach Aspect is not automatically conferred. To avoid a Reach disadvantage, a character must have a ready weapon in their offhand they can switch to, be wielding a weapon of variable Reach (such as 'half-swording' a longsword to Reach 3 instead of 4), or draw an alternate weapon. Drawing an alternate weapon is a supplemental action, meaning a -1 penalty to other actions that turn. Otherwise the Reach advantage Aspect, and a free tag due to the manoeuvre, are conferred to the closing or distancing character. One thing to bear in mind (from Diaspora), is that free tags are not as robust as their associated Aspect and a character can spend an action to remove a free tag working against them - so if you don't use a free tag on a Reach Aspect advantage pretty swiftly, if the opposition is willing to forgo an attack they can remove the free tag.


In most cases it will be the combatant with the shorter-length weapon at a disadvantage at the beginning of a melee. The smart character in this situation will seek to reverse this disadvantage from the outset. A valid tactic is to hide in wait and ambush an enemy, and if the ambush is successful (usually a Stealth vs Alertness manoeuvre) then the Reach advantage - along with a free tag for the successful manoeuvre - will go to the ambusher instead as he or she jumps within the ideal Reach of their opponent's weapon.



As mentioned above, a variety of skills can be used to defend against attakc, most often Melee, Athletics, Riding, Bow or Guns (to lay down covering fire). One of the key rules of Diaspora is that whatever skill is chosen to attack with cannot also be used to defend with. However, in Uprising the same skill can be used for both, but at -2 penalty to one of them. There are two exceptions to this rule in the form of the Versatile and Clumsy weapon stunts, which in the former allow attack and defend with the same skill at no penalty, and in the latter, preclude using the same skill twice altogether.


For example, to someone with professional training, a sword is a Versatile weapon and Melee can be used for both attack and defence rolls in a single turn without penalty. However, a warhammer, with the Clumsy stunt, is sufficiently unwieldy that it can be used to either attack or defend in a turn, not both.


Aborting to a defence

Sometimes a slower-acting character can find themselves in the unenviable position of rolling a low defence result, and thus attracting attacks from multiple opponents over the turn. One remedy is to invoke Aspects to improve the defence score, but another option is to forgo the character’s later attack that turn to reroll their defence – even switching to a different skill if appropriate. This is referred to as ‘aborting to a defence’.


Full Defend

If a character decides at the beginning of a turn to opt for defence only, they get a bonus of +2 to their defence roll. Full defending precludes the option to abort an attack for a defence re-roll, or any other attack, manoeuvre r other non-supplemental action in the turn. Tactically, there are only two longer-term benefits from the full defend: it allows the character to 'play for time' if rescue is at hand, and it makes it more likely that the character will accumulate Spin through successful defence, although they must be used next turn or lost.


Ganging Up

An outnumbered character gets an 'Outnumbered' Aspect placed against them. If outnumbered by 2 or more opponents, or worse, flanked and surrounded, then the outnumbering side gets a free tag on the Aspect. Tactical use of manoeuvres is probably the best remedy, either negating the advantage through another, equal advantage (securing a 'High Ground' Aspect for example) or by rendering it implausible, for example, by manoeuvreing into a narrow alley where opponents can only come at you one at a time.



On a successful hit, the victim takes as many stress boxes in damage as the victor's shifts + weapon Harm + weapon's Penetration vs. victim's armour type (light (L) or hard (H)) - victim's armour Protection. The resulting stress damage is applied to the victim's track just as in Diaspora, except Consequences cannot be stacked to reduce the effect of a single hit. For example, you cannot reduce an 8-stress hit to 1 stress by taking a Mild (-1), Moderate (-2) and Severe (-4) Consequence all at once - the best you can do is reduce it to 4 stress by using a Severe Consequence. This means an averagely-strong guy (3 box stress track) is Taken Out by a 8 stress hit, no matter what.



In addition to the usual allowable manoeuvres in FATE, Uprising tends to see several combat manoeuvres recur: 


  • Close/Distance: Instead of inflicting damage, a character may manoeuvre to change the relative Reach distance between themselves and melee opponents. If successful, they choose a new Reach, possibly gaining the Reach advantage from opponents and a free tag, as per the usual manoeuvre rules.
  • Hook: Used to pull a mounted opponent from their horse or trip an opponent fighting on foot. Weapons with the Hook stunt gain a +1 bonus to this manoeuvre. If successful, the opponent is treated as Prone for Reach purposes and receives a suitable ’Unhorsed’ or ‘Tripped ’ Aspect and free tag. The aspect can be removed by standing next turn, incurring a -1 penalty to non-defending actions as the felled character fights their way to their feet.
  • Entangle: Similar to Hook, but used to disarm pr entangle an opponent. Success generates shifts which act as a Block to recovering the weapon or breaking free, as in Spirit of the Century. Of course, if a character is disarmed he or she can choose to draw another weapon instead, in which case he or she suffers from a -1 unready penalty in the turn they unsheathe the new weapon.


Unlike Diaspora, manoeuvres performed on another character are resisted by an opposed roll, not against target zero. Manoeuvres targeting a zone or the scene are performed against a static target zero, as per Diaspora.



Unlike Diaspora, Uprising uses the blocking rules from Spirit of the Century. Rather than manoeuvre to place an Aspect and then compel it to block an opponent’s action, characters use their action result as a difficulty level that must be overcome before the resisting opponents can be successful.


For example, if defending a comrade from attack, the bodyguard’s Melee result serves as an additional defence result for the protected character, with all attacks having to overcome the greater of the protected character’s own defence and that of the bodyguard.



Any character can move 1 zone per turn, although this is considered a supplemental action (i.e. -1 to the primary action) unless the character is charging into melee combat, in which case ignore the penalty. Mounted characters may move 2 zones as a supplemental action.


Moving any further than this limit is a full turn’s action and requires an Athletics roll, with each shift equalling an additional zone’s movement or eroding a border pass value by 1, up to a maximum of 2 extra zones total movement.


Other factors may influence this Athletics roll, such as the penalty of any armour worn. Other modifiers includes:


  • Wielding a cumbersome, heavy weapon, e,g, a pike: -1
  • Moving in formation: -1
  • Failing the Athletics roll whilst moving in formation may have other consequences than just failing to advance, including breaking up the integrity of the formation and exposing members to attack (treat as a ‘Broken Formation’ Aspect).


Mounted movement uses Riding rather than Athletics, ignores armour and weapon weight penalties, and the number of additional zones moved is limited to 3 zones additional movement (i.e. a maximum total movement of 5 zones).


Creature of larger or smaller scale might move faster or slower than above. Generally, 1 zone movement as a supplemental action should always be allowed.


Fighting on Horseback

Mounted combatants follow slightly different rules:


  • Combat skills are capped by the character’s Riding skill
  • Riding generally replaces Athletics for similar defence rolls whilst on horseback.
  • Melee weapon Reach is considered 1 higher when fighting from horseback
  • Anytime the mount is injured or the rider sustains a Consequence as a result of a physical attack, he or she must make a Riding roll of be unhorsed.
  • A successful Riding roll is needed to persuade a horse to charge a formation of polearms, target x if halberds, bills, long spears or pollaxes, target y if pikes.
  • If charging on horseback, any damage inflicted is applied to both Composure and Health stress tracks, just as with the First Blood rule.


Weapons and Armour

A full list of weapons and armour for the setting is here: Weapons and Armour





Superior Armour

Armour is heavy, so long-term wear saps energy. Apply a -1 penalty to endurance or speed-based athletics rolls at level 2, -2 at level 3. This rule may need some refinement, but should reflect that men-at-arms on the march will be more lightly armoured than when preparing for battle. Similarly, moving stealthily is penalised to the same degree, due to the clanking of interlocking plates, jingling mail, etc.


Platoon-level combat: could be a better way of reflecting zweihander benefits over locked pikemen. Pike formations without halberdiers or zweihanders get a penalty when encountering pikemen who do have them







Athletics for thrown

MG Firearms: Fire every 2nd exchange instead of every 3rd (Powerful enough?)


Damage: get rid of stress tracks and replace with 2/4/6 Consequences? Extra Resolve, etc gives an extra Consequence, minor initially but ramping up as stress boxes do. Along with Harm, this means being big is not much help against swords and up (without armour), but is good at the fist fight level. Sounds about right. As before, Consequences can't be stacked against a single hit, 7+ damage = auto taken out - but that's as it was in FATE 2.0.


Idea from rpg.net: have social and physical Consequence of each type (also an Asset Consequence?), so that characters might escalate from social to physical if they're losing the argument (since they access more Consequences to soak shifts). However, what if the opposition continues to target social traits (e.g. parrying with a sword, but continuing to goad the enemy verbally)? If they run out of social Consequences are they still out of the fight? Probably, in which case could leave as is - you have (by default) one 'slot' for each level of Consequence, and you're taken out regardless of whether these slots are filled by social, wealth or physical Consequences.


(Seems like it would be pretty easy to adapt to Cold City/Hot War's Tool rules: instead of adding a flat 2D bonus, having the superior weapon or armour addes 1D bonus, reach advantage adds 1D and Stunts/Aspects add a further 1D where they apply. 'Versatile' is handled as superior to weapons of equal length except when facing an opponent with heavy armour.


+ higher of Harm or Pen vs. opponent's armour type (so Pen needs to be restated)

+ your Protection

+1D for superior Reach.

+1D for each applicable Stunt/Aspect

Versatile weapons get +1D against all Clumsy weapons.

Exhausting: when worn for any length of time opponents not in Exhausting armour get +1D in physical conflicts.

Some others (High Capacity, etc.) may need removing/altering.


Check net effect of Harm/Pen versus Protection - hopefully leaves level of bonus still in region of Cold City's Tools.


Another alternative idea if want to break up conflicts more: potential conflicts have either one of three outcomes: produce Consequences (i.e. are pivotal conflicts); support future pivotal conflicts, in which case successes confer bonus dice to future conflicts; or do neither, in which case they are not worth rolling for.









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