How It Worked Before
In the original Castle Falkenstein book, weapons did a certain number of damage points which were automatically dealt on a success. There were three ranks of success:
- Partial success, when the attack action result was equal to or greater than the defense action result;
- Full success, when the attack result was equal to or greater than half again the defense result; and
- High success, when the attack result was equal to or greater than twice the defense result.
Armour was described as rarely used, providing at most one point of protection and restricting movement.
Then in the excellent supplement Comme Il Faut (essentially the player’s guide to Castle Falkenstein), an alternate harm system was offered. Different types of attacks were assigned a harm rank, which was cross-referenced with the ability rank, range, or feat difficulty and, optionally, the hit location, to determine the narrative result (wounded, incapacitated, etc.)
A new option provided light, medium and heavy armour ratings which would stop all hits up to a certain harm rank (B, C, and D respectively), but for anyone but dragons or people inside vehicles, armour remained pretty much non-existent for most player characters.
The charm of this approach, however, is that it provided a us with a table that neatly groups weapons according to a ladder and compares to the damage value from the original system, thereby providing possibilities for use in Fate:
|Harm Rank||Typical Attacks||Partial||Full||High|
|A||Small hatpins, needles, darts, stumbles, most animal bites, blows, clubs, life preservers.||1||2||3|
|B||Daggers, large hatpins, knives, bayonets, arrows, falls>10 ft, large bites, EXC/EXT blows, trampled.||2||3||4|
|C||Small swords, small pistols, large arrows, fire, acid, electric shock, falls>20 ft, being hit by automotive.||3||4||5|
|D||Heavy swords, light rifles, heavy pistols, spears, PR/AV Dragon breath, very large bites, reciprocators, falls>35 ft, crash damage.||4||5||7|
|E||Heavy rifles, shotguns, GD/GR Dragon breath, falls>50 ft||7||8||9|
|F||Artillery, shrapnel, bombs, being crushed, falls>100 ft, EXC/EXT Dragon breath.||8||9||10|
How Should It Work in Fate?
Castle Falkenstein was intended to be swashbuckling and dramatic, which is a perfect match for Fate Core; but I’m not sure it can be done in the same way here. Yes, we could assign damage point values to weapons like the option discussed in Fate Core, pp. 277-278, but in Fate this would give a much deadlier result, especially without armour to counter the damage.
The harm ranks from Comme Il Faut suggest use of the Fate ladder, but their description is also non-linear. We could skip a couple of rungs on the ladder and establish a correspondence like this:
|Harm Rank||Fate Rank|
But I’m really wondering whether this will help or hinder, whether it’s too lethal, and whether it’s an unnecessary complication added merely because it was there 20 years ago. For one thing, the harm rank table from Comme Il Faut describes action results, not just intrinsic values. It could certainly serve as a useful guideline for creating a new weapon damage table, and I can see why we wouldn’t expect damage landed by a hatpin, a pepperbox revolver, and a sabre to look the same. But we could also handle that through consequences, couldn’t we?
What do you think, how would you choose to handle damage in your own “Fate of Falkenstein” game?
Image by William Eaken, 1994 from Castle Falkenstein (R. Talsorian Games). Used without permission, no copyright challenge intended.