Fight! The Fighting Game RPG
(Disclaimer beforehand: I wrote the Arenas supplement for the game, and have backed the game's 2nd edition, currently on Kickstarter)
Short Short Version: Fight! is basically the closest thing we'll have to a modern-day "Create your own Street Fighter Video Game" outside of MUGEN. The system is very modular, and is element-driven, especially in building maneuvers. This is great if you love customization, but if you have an obsessive min-maxer in your group, you may want to monitor them closely. This game pretty well imitates the ebb and flow of modern day fighting games, which is positive (the system allows you to do Mortal Kombat, Street Fighter, Tekken, Final Fight, etcetera easily), and negative (tons of fiddly bits). The first time you play this, you may bounce off HARD.
This sets the tone, right on the first page:
Rather than present a specific style of story to tell, the rules for Fight! allow players to emulate the conventions and story tropes of the video game genre known as fighting games. While the play style of these video games almost exclusively focuses on a series of one-on-one combats utilizing colorful characters, each with their own distinctive fighting styles and special moves, the stories that provide the backdrop for these combats constitutes a genre of its own. Fight! emulates this genre in both its tone and its rules.
What does this mean?
Well, it makes some assumptions at the beginning.
One in a Million - Basically, the characters are the strongest martial artists around. Even Comedic fighters (the Dan's of your game) should be good martial artists, in most cases being able to handle large groups of low ranking enemies (think the average Bruce Lee fight scene where he takes down 20 or more mooks in about 2 minutes.
The Human Body is The Most Powerful Weapon - You know that bit in the Street Fighter Bonus Round where you destroy some schlub's car in 20 seconds with your bare fists (and feet)? Guns and Swords and that kinda stuff can be powerful in the right hands, but nothing is more powerful then a trained martial artist (except for a trained martial artist using a sword, a gun, etcetera)
Super Powered Basically, Fighters are larger than life. Think of a wuxia movie. They can defy physics, leaping multiple stories into the air, enduring blows that should rightly break a wall, etcetera.
Supernatural and Super Science: From Street Fighter, for example, consider Rose and M.Bison (Balrog in Japan), they tap into the supernatural for their abilities, or Blanka. Basically, it's saying that don't limit your self to "Guy with a sword" if you don't want to.
Drama and Melodrama: Fighters tend to have PERSONAL reasons to fight.
Fighting is Life: Even the people who do things OTHER than fight for a living tend to spend most of their time either fighting or training. "Why do you fight?" can sometimes answer the question "Who Are you"
Glory and Ego Matter: Especially with the next assumption, Honor and Glory mean a lot to characters. It suggests that even a fighter who struggles with self-doubt should realize that they are amongst the top fighters in your game's universe. They also suggest as a metagaming thing that your players should look to demonstrate flexibility by using their full move set rather then spamming one move over and over and over.
Combat is Unavoidable: "So, you want to find out where they took your brother? I'll help you, but first, we will fight so I can see your strength!" Think of how many fighting game stories would easily be resolved by negotiation or just talking, but yeah, they are fighters, and fighting is what they do.
(sidebar: Gaming and Metagaming)
Basically, this reinforces the assumptions above that if your player goes "That's not possible? How could he jump 20 feet into the air?", that you smack them in the nose with a rolled up newspaper, and remind them that they're in a RPG that emulates fighting games.
Gaming and Metagaming
Every role-playing game strives for some sort of balance between playability and realism. Oftentimes, the realism (or lack thereof) of a game’s rules is a deliberate choice meant to emulate the genre in which the game is set. Fight! is in no way an accurate representation of real-world martial arts combat. In fact, it’s not even an accurate representation of martial arts as seen in wuxia movies. Rather, Fight! takes its perspective solely from fighting video games. This means that not only is the treatment of martial arts so heavily stylized as to bear little resemblance to the real world, but even the mechanics of the game are influenced by the conventions of these video games.
In addition to prioritizing specific special moves for each character and the use of strings of attacks in combination (to cite just two examples), there is even an “invisible filter” layered over the rules that occasionally allows one to presume the presence of a hypothetical “player” playing the video game in which the character is a part. This metagame is not intended to encourage the breaking of the so-called “fourth wall” in order to have the characters “speak” to their “players” as if the
latter were divine beings (though there’s nothing wrong with that if that’s what you want to do). Rather, it is a way to understand how some of the rules work and why certain design choices were made in the game. In deciding between how something would work in “the real world” as opposed to how it would work in a fighting video game, the rules almost always favor the latter.
Chapter 1: Character Generation next
I am Li Kwan, of Hanjing village. I have studied the Thousand Fists under Master Li Su. You have dishonored the Hanjing elders teaching, using them for personal gain, and dishonored your ancestors. You have corrupted the world and have no remorse. For those crimes and more, I will defeat you in combat. However, you have killed my master by means of treachery and ambush. For that, I will do more than defeat you. I will send your blackened soul screaming to the Lower Realms where you will know no peace forevermore!
(From Fight Unlockables-Arenas)
Basically, in the space of a couple lines, I have set up the four main categories of a character concept in Fight!
Martial Arts Style
Reason to Fight
Characters have three stats: Speed, Strength and Stamina.
Stats range from -1 (weak) to 0 (game average) to 2 (Excessive)
Choosing stats are fairly easy, you have two options.
A: 2 stats at 1, and the third at 0 (Balanced)
B: 1 stat at 2, one stat at -1, and the third at 0 (Unbalanced).
Most fighters are balanced, but consider fighters like Hugo Andore (who is excessively slow, but has a superhuman stamina).
The game uses basic dice: You usually START at 1d6 for most rolls, but this can be modified by your stats, or your opponent's stats)
Strength and Stamina: If you have 1 or 2, then you raise the damage you do or lower the damage you take by 1 or 2 steps (depending on the stat)
Speed is broken down into two sub-bonuses: Initiative and Control. For each point you have in speed, it modifies either Initiative (going first), or Control (being able to do more powerful maneuvers/combos). So if you have 2 points in Speed, you can boost your Initiative by 1 die size and your control by 1 die size, or spend both to increase 1 stat by two sizes (So if you have Speed 2 and put both points into Initiative, versus a speed 0 character, you will be rolling a d10 for Initiative versus his d6, so you will have a significant chance of going first.
Fighters range in power level from 1 to 10. Most characters at the same power level will have roughly the same "base stats": Fighting Spirit, Life Bar, etcetera. So, the stats are VERY important for combat, so deciding your starting stats is pivotal (you cannot increase stats during game play)
Qualities: Each character starts the game with up to four qualities (they can trade in qualities for more fighting skills/non-combat Skills, or Fighting Spirit)
A lot of these qualities are appearance related, and some of them are.. well.. They're not super modern, let's say. I'm going to post one of the appearance related qualities (don't worry, there are male and female qualities)
Buxom: (females only) There is a stereotype in many fighting games in which some or all of the female Fighters are blessed (or cursed) with chests that seem to defy gravity, flowing gracefully (and totally unrealistically) about as they fight.
This implausible physical characteristic has no purpose in the video game other than providing gratuitous fan service, attracting the attention of male characters. Thus, a Buxom character receives +2 on interaction skill checks when dealing with males.
The down side of this Quality is that such characters will also have to deal with men speaking directly to their chests, the accosting hands of horny old and young men and, in darker campaigns, unusually bleak treatment at the hands of lecherous villains. A player can allow her character to willingly suffer this negative attention during a story to earn a Story Point.
If the character spends one Story Point at the start of a combat, then male opponents are so enthralled by the character’s unnatural “poetry in motion” that they suffer a one die size penalty on Control (not Initiative) on the first turn in which they fight a Buxom opponent.
Ugh. I guess it does emulate fighting games (dead or alive, anyone? :P), but.. yeah.
Not all the qualities are appearance related, but they all have in game impact, such as Fame, followers, Intimidating, etcetera.
They can also select a couple quirks, which they can roleplay to earn story points.
After that, they have a number of points to spend in Combat Skills (Defense/Evasion/Tactics/Combo/Ki) and Non-Combat Skills (sub-classed into two: Those that have a mechanical effect, and those with a narrative effect). Mechanical ones are GENERALLY fighting-related, such as Property Damage and Thug Thrashing (defeating large groups of mooks), Narrative ones are what your characters does OTHER than fighting, (so Chun-Li would have levels in Occupation: Police))
Skill checks against Narrative Skill are generally 1d10+Skill Level versus a GM assigned target number (Trivial 4, Average 8, Challenging, 12, Very Challenging 16, Generally Impossible 20).
Example: Fighter A wants to smash through a locked door the game's villain just disappeared behind. The GM decides that for a skilled fighter, this would be an average Property Damage Skill Check (setting the target number at 8). Fighter A would roll 1d10 and add his Property Damage Skill to the roll, and if the total is 8 or better, the door flies off its hinges)
Starting characters have 10 points of special maneuvers to spend on their special maneuvers. But this is a HUGE section of Crunch (and one that your players may bounce off during character creation), so I'm going to save that for next time.
Fight! The Fighting Game RPG: Character Creation exampleStep One: The concept
Unlike games where you roll dice for stats, Fight works the other way around, it has you come up with the idea of the character, and then work to create it from your concept.
The Big Four when it comes to concept are:
Martial Arts Style
Reason to Fight
So, for the sake of this post, I'm going to bring back a character from my "Throw every fighting game into a blender, hit puree, and don't take too seriously" setting from Fight Unlockables Arenas: KING OF THE FIGHTING STREET MEGAMIX ALPHA ZERO XII SPECIAL EDITION. Introducing...
IVAN THE TERRIBAD!
The concept for Ivan is that he's a deep-south Texan who idolizes Russian fighting, so pretends to be Russian. He doesn't quite pull it off (and anyone who mention the faux pas when he says "Dasvidaniya, y'all" usually ends up being crushed).. but he is a weird mixture of the prototypical cowboy, and Zangief.
Appearance: Again, this is Texas-ized Zangief (and everything is bigger in Texas), so he wears the furry hat, and furry cowboy boots as well. (People who mention that cowboy boots aren't quite russian.. well we mentioned him crushing people who make "fun" of him, right?) But yeah, big hulking character, slow, powerful... that will help in determining attributes.
Martial Arts Style: This helps you visualize the type of special moves you're going to be creating for your character. Since the concept is "A Texas Zangief", that means he fights in a style similar to that Russian Fighter's style. Lots of grabs, lots of powerful hitting moves (There's that Crush thing again. It's a reoccurring concept with ol'Ivan)
Training Background: This helps realize the skills you're going to be taking, as well as "What do they do besides fight?". So, since Ivan is a Texan who acts russian, obviously he saw one too many Russian fighting movies (are there many Russian Fighting Movies? well, in Ivan's case there are), so decided that since Russian Fighting is #1 and the best, that obviously, he must train to be the ultimate Russian-style fighter, no matter what it takes, even if it involves wearing furry hats, furry cowboy boots, and crushing people who make fun of the first two. I make a note that he probably will take at least some levels of the thug trashing skill.. he's probably started (and starred in) more bar brawls then he can count. (Usually started by a sentence like "What's with the Russian get up? You some kinda commie?")
Reason to Fight: Obviously to prove that Russia is #1 and the best! He doesn't mind helping others (usually while proselytizing about the glory of Russia), so he's not a bad guy, but he just wants to seek out the toughest fighters of all other styles and nations and CRUSH them. (and then help them up afterwards, and share many glasses of vodka and beer afterwards with them)
So, now, we've got a concept, and it all looks good in that part, but now we need to convert Ivan's concept into game stats. Without insulting him, of course (I'm not sure if Ivan can reach through the fictional world of my brain and CRUSH me, but you know what? I'm not going to take chances)
Step 2: Basic Qualities
There are three main Basic Qualities (or attributes) in Fight!, and all of them are fighting focused (fitting for fighting games). Strength, Speed, and Stamina. So, for this step, I'll guide you throw on how to cover your character's SSS. (I'm sorry for the pun. I would have mentioned that Speed breaks down into Control and Initiative, but that would have ruined the SSS pun)
Stats are relatively basic (Just remember, these stats are compared to the average fighter in your universe, not the average person)
-1 (below game average)
0 (Game Average)
+1 (Above average for the game)
With Strength and Stamina, a positive rating means that die rolls against that trait will be adjusted in your favor. For example, if you have a 0 strength, you would roll 1d6 damage, if you have 1, it would be 1d8, if you have 2, it would be 1d10!). Stamina works to lower the dice the opponent rolls against you for damage. (Of course, if you have a -1 in stat, you would reduce YOUR rolls to damage by 1 size, or your opponent would increase THEIR damage rolls against you by 1 size)
Speed is the same, but breaks down into two categories: Initiative and Control. if you have +1 or -1 speed, you can increase (or decrease) your initiative die one size (moving faster), or your control die one size (allowing you to do a bigger move when it's your turn). If you have +2 Speed you can either add +1 to each, or +2 to one of them.
This is very important to note: These attributes DO NOT GET CHANGED DURING GAMEPLAY WITH EXPERIENCE. so, make sure you have a good concept of what your character's going to be (most wise and benevolent GM's will allow you to retcon your character should you find yourself playing a character type that you don't really like.
There are two sets of attributes you can assign, depending on if you want a balanced or unbalanced character setup.
A) Balanced: This means your character has two stats at +1 (Above average), and the third at 0 (Average). This allows your character to be a jack of all trades, and has no glaring holes in their basic setup.
B) Unbalanced. This means your character has one stat at 2 (Excellent), one at 0 (Average), and one at -1 (Below Average/Weak)
So, getting back to Ivan. Obviously, he's a big hulking character, so I probably want an unbalanced attribute set. That means that I'll have a stat at 2, a stat at 0, and a stat at -1. So, let's look at his concept. I decide since he's big, hulking and slow, I probably want to make speed his weak spot. I put the -1 in Speed (so I have to either take a die size penalty in either Initiative or Control. I decide that I'll put it in Initiative. That fits in with a slow plodding character. Usually his opponents can run circles around him, but when he catches them, the aforementioned CRUSH-ing begins). So, I have a stat at 2 and a stat at 0 left to spend, and strength and stamina left to assign. Once again, let's look at his concept. Is he a good fighter because he can take all kinds of punishment before CRUSHing them, or does he just decimate them with a few big hits? I decide that his Stamina is average for the game (he takes about the same amount of damage as other fighters would from moves), but he's a heavy hitter, so I put the 2 in Strength.
So, this is what Ivan the Terribad looks like so far:
IVAN THE TERRIBAD
Speed -1 (Initiative)
(as an aside, I love Ivan. He's only my second favorite character from that game/setting/campaign/whatever however. (My favorite? The Dan-equivalent, Eric. My description for him is: Has been zapped, pummeled, bent, spindled and in one case disintegrated... but for whatever reason, he always comes back in the next tournament, and promising that this time he will win the tournament! (Spoiler: He won't))
Step 2: Choose four additional Qualities.
Basically, the breakdown for this section would be "Name some words that would describe the character if you were describing them to someone who didn't play the fighting game involved. This can be physical qualities (Big/Tall/Short etcetera) , Social qualities (Charming, Fame, Followers), Character descriptors (Lucky, Connections, Gun Expert), or personal appearance (I'll avoid that part right now, because from what I understand, that's getting a rework in 2nd edition, so I don't want to get into a sidetrack that won't reflect the changes for 2nd edition)
But, let's see what are Ivan's qualities.. looking at the list of qualities in the book well, I mentioned several of them in the character concept. I don't know if people want me to mention the in game effects, but right now, more than creating a super-fighter, I just want to show how easy it is to pull qualities from the character concept above
Big: A character with this Quality is huge. He is often as broad as he is tall and covered with bulky muscles or fat. Sometimes the character is tall as well. The character’s proportions are definitely beyond human. This Trait is often possessed by wrestlers and bruisers who rely more on force than technique.
Tall: Some fighting game characters tower over their opposition. This Quality represents the effects of this height. Such characters are not necessarily huge, just tall. However, many characters that have the Tall Quality also have the Big Quality.
Intimidating: The character is intimidating, whether through a cold stare, a disturbing presence, or a demanding demeanor. This has nothing to do directly with the character’s appearance, though an Intimidating character often has a “look” about him.
Driven: Characters with this Quality are dynamos of self-motivation. They tend to be rigid in their habits and utterly addicted to training.
Weaknesses are major flaws to the character (for example, for those of you who are a fan of the anime Ranma 1/2, in Fight! terms, he has Phobia: Cats, and Akane would have the quirk: Cooking). Quirks are again character descriptors, for example, the Street Fighter Movie version of Zangief would have the quirk: Clueless (any one remember "QUICK! CHANGE THE CHANNEL!")
I'm going to add a couple of quirks for Ivan (you get a story point when you roleplay your quirks). Distinctive Appearance (Large, hulking Texan dressed like a Russian? Yeah, that's going to be easy to spot him in a crowd Short-Tempered (Wait, did he make fun of my boots? CRUSH THEM!)
Now, I could select Weaknesses and quirks to earn more qualities, but I'm pretty satisfied with what I came up with.
Our first thing is five points of Combat Skills
Defense: This is the default "Defend against attacks" skill, how well you block/parry/endure attacks, Evasion and Tactics are more powerful (they can come with bonuses in Combat), but there are circumstances where the Fight GM may disallow one of them)
Evasion: The character's ability to dodge, duck and side step attacks
Tactics: The ability to maneuver your opponents to restrict their attacks (or to counter attack their missed strikes on your next turn)
Combo: The number of moves you can string together (you can combine basic attacks with your special maneuvers during combat, but can only do a combo equal to your Combo skill:
Ki: This is mostly aimed at characters that have special moves with the ranged element.
So, I think, with all due respect to good ol' Ivan.. we can all agree that Tactics, Ki, and Evasion are not things that he's really proficient at. So, we're going to split those 5 points between Defense and Combo. The character concept is firming up here, where Ivan will just stalk his opponent down, and hope to corner him, so I'm going to put three points into Defense, making him pretty hard to hit (at least at the beginning power level), and two points in Combo (so he can hit someone long enough to grab them, at which point,t he crushing will begin)
The next step is 15 points in "Other Skills" Now, a lot of them DO have possible benefits in Fights, but they are not specific to fights. Pulling from his concept, and looking at the skill list, these are some of the things that jump out at me.
Thug Thrashing: Did I mention the Bar Fights? Yeah.. I did. Ivan gets into a lot of them, which means he's pretty good at beating up non-fighters (like, the average Joes that he meets at the Bar, shortly before the bar fights begin)
Property Damage: Some of it is because well, he's big and tall and strong (and inclined to crush people who make fun of him). the other part is well, when he gets involved in CRUSHING people, things usually get damaged. That gives him a good idea on how to bust down a door (even if it's not by grabbing some poor soul and throwing him through it)
Intimidation: "My Yankee Imperialist friend, in my world, there are two types of people in places like this. People who I would be glad to have a drink of strong Russian Vodka with, and those I crush. Would you like to reconsider what type of person you are?"
Occupation: Cowboy "Unfortunately, Texas does not have Russian Bears to train with. I make do with bulls instead. Is not traditional, da, but it works"
Animal Handling "Bull, you will do what I say, or I will crush you"
The Fighting World (Mostly for keeping up with his favorite Russian Fighters, and those that defeat his favorite russian fighters (which inevitably go on his "To Be Crushed" List.)
Skill checks are 1d10+Skill Level (Trivial is 4, Average is 8, Challenging is 12, etcetera)
So, I decide on the following skills, Thug Thrashing and Property damage at 4, Intimidation, Occupation: Cowboy, and the Fighting World at 2 each, and Animal Handling: 1)
Since all characters at the same power level have the same base stats, we're just about done creating the character.
So, all that's left to do is create 10 Levels worth of special movesbut, here's Ivan's character sheet leading up to adding his special maneuvers:
IVAN THE TERRIBAD
Speed -1 (Initiative)
Power Level 1
Life Bar 30 Fighting Spirit 10 (Max Defensive Skill: 3)
Glory: 0 Full Defense +1
Combat Bonuses: 0 Super Moves: 0
Qualities: BIG, TALL, INTIMIDATING, DRIVEN
Quirks: DISTINCTIVE APPEARANCE (Texas Sized Russian), SHORT-TEMPERED (Ivan CRUSH!)
Combat Skills: Defense 3, Tactics 0, Evasion 0, Combo 2, Ki 0
Thug Thrashing 4
Property Damage 4
Occupation Cowboy 2
The Fighting World 2
Animal Handling 1
So, we've created the Power Level 1 version of Ivan the Terribad.
If we're starting at a higher power level, then we would use the rule on page 24 where a fighter gets an additional 3 points to be spent on Combat Skills, another 10 points to spend on Non-Combat Skills, and another 10 points to spend on Special Moves for each Power Level. So if I was creating the level 5 version for Ivan (4 Power Levels higher), I would add 12 more combat skill points, 40 more non-combat skills, and another 40 points of special maneuvers. (I would also increase his Fighting Spirit, Life Bar, etcetera to that of a Power Level 5 fighter_
As he grows in power, he learns new and exciting ways to CRUSH all that oppose him (even super moves), and learns new things that might be useful to the group (for example, when NOT to crush people).