OD&D: Fate Points and Combat Systems

Fate Points
A lot of old-school DMs will blanch at this idea, but I wanted to give my Age of Conan game a more over-the-top, heroic and pulpy feel this time around...plus I wanted a way to give a little something back to my players since the pre-written module I'm running is at places quite railroady, and I haven't been able to come up with good ways to fix that.

So, I've implemented Fate Points, mostly as found in the Castles & Crusades Castle Keeper's Guide.

Fate points are a character control/storytelling tool that have become very popular in the last decade or so, and let characters perform over-the-top feats of bravado, and mitigate the sheer randomness of the dice when things are just going really bad.

For Age of Conan, my implementation is thus:

Heroic Feat: Characters can spend 1 FP to add an extra die to their roll, keeping the normal amount (that is, if they're rolling 2d6 for an attack, they roll 3d6 and keep the best 2d6). Heroic Feat can be used for damage, if the player wishes.This must be declared before the roll.

Mitigate Disaster: They can spend 1 FP to reroll any die roll, but must keep the re-roll result.

Lucky Break: One Fate Point also allows them to engage in "dramatic editing" to gain a small plot twist of their choice (subject to my approval).

That Was Too Close!  They can spend two FPs to automatically make a saving throw or negate one attack against them.

Down But Not Out: Finally, they can spend three FPs to avoid death, instead being stabilized and "left for dead."  Characters may "borrow against the bank" for this usage, if they do not have three Fate Points left, and are not already at negatives.

I gave them all 3 FPs to start, and they will gain d6-1 FPs each level (yes, this can result in a gain of zero).  In addition, I hand them out on occasion for good role playing, good ideas, overly railroady sections of the module that I can't seem to avoid, etc.

"Named" bad guys will have Fate Points to use as well, the number dependent upon how powerful and/or badass the enemy is.

Combat Systems
I used the "Troop Type" application of combat to adjudicate the battle between the 7 heroes and the 18 Vanir warriors.  I found it to be fast, but flavorless and a little confusing to my players, switching systems up as we did. 

As such, I think I may be foregoing that format and sticking with 2d6-based combat (that is, Man-to-Man and Fantasy systems) as we move forward, using the Troop Type system only in actual mass combat situations or where it's the PCs facing a true horde of enemies and trying to hack their way through.  While the Man to Man rules will take longer moving forward as the PCs gain ever more attacks, they enjoy much more, I think, firing four arrows or slashing four times with a sword, rolling dice for damage on each hit, far more than they enjoy, "I rolled four dice and got one success...that's one kill."

Now that they are all at or approaching Hero-level, I am still looking forward to playing out the Fantasy Combat rules, which will only apply to powerful enemies--high level heroes and sorcerers, demons from the Outer Dark, etc. In the end, however, it may be that I even ditch that system in favor of straight-up Man to Man combat, which seems to be working out just fine. 


  1. Quite good!! I totally endorse the idea of fate/karma points. Adds so much more feel to the game.

    call Sri Lanka


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