Fight! 2nd edition is a revision and enhancement of the best tabletop emulation of the characters, combat, and stories found in traditional 2-D and 3-D fighting games. This genre shares some similarities with superhero RPGs, as the main characters are powerful, possess powers beyond the limit of human capacity, and face off against similar characters in stories where the fate of their neighborhood, city, world, or even the universe is at stake.
In fighting game stories, there is a focus on martial arts and fighting spirit as the greatest sources of power in the setting. Fighting game characters live in worlds in which martial artists are greater weapons than high-tech armies, fighting spirit is a revolutionary source of power, and major events in world history can be decided by the winner of a tournament.
The mechanics of Fight! prioritize elements of the genre to enable each character to really feel and play like a unique character in a fighting video game. Even with this focus, the genre itself allows for tremendous flexibility to tell stories involving street gangs in a bad part of town, celebrity fighters as rivals on the world stage, black ops espionage missions, fantasy epics, space opera, or even cosmic battles between gods!
Want to read an example of play and see a character? Check it out here!
Want to actually try out the combat rules for yourself? Get the Quickstart here!
Have you looked at the rules and want to see how combat actually plays? Check out the Tutorial video channel here!
Characters in this game are all Fighters. There is no “zero-to-hero” progression here; the Fighters start the game as the most powerful martial artists in the setting and are only really challenged by another one of their own.
A Fighter is made up of three Basic Qualities: Strength, Speed, and Stamina. These are rated between -1 and 2, with an average Fighter rated as 0. This small range allows players to realize traditional fighting game archetypes more easily. Fighters are further defined by their Qualities, Weaknesses, Combat Skills, and Narrative Skills.
However, the most important aspect of any Fighter is their move list: the unique Special Moves that define that character’s abilities in combat. Fight! uses a robust effects-based system to enable players to define each Special Move as its own distinctive attack or utility power. If you have seen it in a fighting video game, it can be created in Fight!
While characters start as vastly powerful combatants, they still accumulate Glory through combat and other adventures, allowing them to further advance in Power Level, gaining new moves, Super Moves, and Combat Bonuses to help fine-tune the character’s individual fighting style.
While characters in Fight! can participate in all kinds of adventures throughout an infinite variety of campaign settings, the obvious heart of such adventures is action-packed fight scenes!
Fight! spares no effort in providing an easy-to-use system that captures all the elements of fighting video game combat. Characters roll for initiative, but also roll Control to determine what kinds of Moves and Combos are available to them for that turn. Positioning also matters, as certain attacks can only be used at certain distances from an opponent.
Attacks include Basic Moves, which are standard punches and kicks, but more importantly also include powerful Special Moves and Super Moves, as well as the ability to string moves together in devastating Combos. Opponents can respond by blocking, evading, or launching counter-attacks. When combatants are hit, they suffer Hit Stun, which severely limits their ability to act during the turn. The result is a combat system with a significantly different flow than traditional “I-go-then-you-go” RPG mechanics.
In addition to the Main Combat System, there are two sub-systems for special situations. The first is a system for fighting Thugs: mooks, minions, monsters, and machines – anything that’s not a Fighter. A skilled Fighter can face off against a roomful of thugs, a marauding band of ogres, or a squad of attack helicopters. The scale is moveable, so characters might be challenged just by being outnumbered in a bar or they might be gods capable of annihilating literally thousands of soldiers in a single battle!
The other sub-system is called Dramatic Combat. This system exchanges the technical aspects of video game combat for explosive anime-style action with less emphasis on positioning and Combos and more on stylized descriptions and action choices that specifically reference common visual tropes of the shonen anime genre.
Overall, Fight! offers a system that is designed for fast storytelling, but is especially made for players who enjoy playing out the tactical depth possible in fighting video games…without having to spend hours and hours mastering lightning-fast controller motions!
The 2nd edition core rules are about 40% longer than the 1st edition; the book is presently over 300 pages long. The breakdown of the chapters is as follows:
Introduction: Introduction to conventions of the fighting game genre and the design philosophy of the rules.
Chapter 1: Character Generation: Details how to make your own unique Fighter, as well as how to advance in Power Level.
Chapter 2: Qualities, Weaknesses, and Quirks: Includes all the possible traits of a Fighter aside from his or her Special Moves. These traits have all been drawn specifically from the source material to make characters that feel like they belong in a fighting game.
Chapter 3: Skills: Provides the system used for all skill use outside of combat along with skill descriptions. Similar to the last chapter, the skill list has been specifically developed with the fighting game genre in mind.
Chapter 4: Basic Moves, Special Moves, and Super Moves: The longest section in the book, this chapter provides a comprehensive effects-based system for building unique Special Moves for any character, as well as a host of general options to add to the game so you can capture the feel of your favorite fighting game. If you have seen a character perform a move in a fighting game, you can build it with these rules.
Chapter 5: Combat: The heart of a game called Fight!, this chapter details the Main Combat System, focused on core fighting game components like positioning, combos, hit stun, blocks, and counters, but also with rules for multiple combatants and terrain effects. This chapter also includes special sub-systems for when Fighters face lesser opponents or when a scene is better suited for the action seen in shonen anime.
Chapter 6: The Worlds of Fight: The last chapter includes descriptions of the tropes of the genre and how they work at the table, as well as guidelines for making NPC Fighters, pacing the campaign, and how to prep the sequel when it’s over!
The book ends with a series of appendices containing useful summaries, example characters, example special moves, and example Thugs.
The goal of this 2nd edition was to make a revision that was fully compatible with the previous version of the rules. During the work on the new book, however, it became clear that there were inconsistencies and rules that interacted poorly or unclearly with one another. The final version is still fully compatible with most previously designed characters with only minor adjustments. Overall, the new version is far superior in its consistency throughout the whole book.
The most significant rules changes can be summarized as follows:
- Many Qualities now have specific mechanical effects in the game, rather than relying on the fiat of the Director.
- Almost all of the Special Move Elements and Liabilities from Round 2 were integrated into the core rules, along with several new additions. There are 50% more options for making Special Moves than in the 1st edition!
- All Elements and Liabilities are explained through Keywords, providing a consistent language for how Special Moves work in the game.
- The combat system was overhauled especially to make it easier to play fights with multiple combatants on each side on dynamic battlefields with optional environmental effects.
There are quite a few RPGs available that purport to do “anime” role-playing, as well as generic or point-buy systems that can work for fighting game characters. The specific reason to use Fight! for these kinds of characters and stories is twofold:
First, all the content in the book is entirely geared toward the subject matter. This is a game about Fighters and their super-powered martial arts adventures and nothing else. A whole chapter is dedicated to designing a campaign with the proper feel.
Second, the rules are specifically designed to emulate the feel of a fighting game. Players design their own Special Moves for their characters, while the Director can choose from a host of options to build a game engine that plays like his or her favorite fighting game. The combat system allows you an experience like playing a fighting game without having to memorize tricky Combos or master split-second timing. Fight! is the closest thing to designing your own fighting game without having to learn coding!
Fight! began in 1996. My original motivation for designing the game was to improve an existing RPG that was supposed to be about fighting video games, but just didn’t feel right. I set out to design a game that was more faithful to the source material with a system better suited to the way fighting game combat actually plays out. This original version of the game was enjoyed by my own gaming group until the early 2000s, when my desire to tinker with the rules led to a significant re-design. As I added more and more ideas, Fight! became an increasingly complicated set of rules with tables and flow charts and minutiae that mercifully never left the playtest stage.
Then, one afternoon in 2006 while playing some fighting games, I realized what an unplayable monster my own game had become. I continued playing and analyzed what was happening on-screen during the fight and came up with brand new, much more streamlined ideas. In fact, I ended up blowing up most of the system and just started over. That new version was heavily playtested and became the version that was released in 2010. Now it’s time for a fine-tuning of the system that has worked so well to emulate fighting game combat!
“Fight! is a game designed to do one thing and do it well…absolutely no effort was spared in making the combat system as robust and varied as possible without sacrificing ease of play. In short, the combat system rocks on toast. – FaerieGodfather, 8 out of 10 on rpg.net.
"I love the Special Move system...A very strong effort at genre emulation." - Tommy Brownell, 8 out of 10 on rpg.net
"Fight! certainly succeeds in emulating the chosen genre to the hilt, as well as shifting combat tactics in a new and interesting direction." - Ashok Dean, KoDT #162
“I love fighting games, though I suck at them. I’ve always wanted to be able to capture some of that energy for tabletop play. Fight! manages to echo many of those elements.” - Lowell Francis, A What the What? Review
Here is an interview I did with Mitchell from Penny for a Tale:
Here is the transcript from the Chat I did at Dan Davenport's #randomworlds.
Here is an interview I did with Midgardia RPG's Cool Crowdfunding:
The text of the rulebook is 100% finished. This Kickstarter campaign is to raise funds specifically for the publication of the book. In addition to taxes and fees, the money raised in this campaign is paying for the graphic design and layout work and, most especially, the full-color art used throughout this long text.
The art costs account for about 85% of the total amount sought after taxes and fees. Art for this project is especially important: the game seeks to emulate a highly-visual genre, so the book should also be a visually attractive inspiration for players and GMs alike.
Christopher Peter is an academic who has been role-playing since the beginning of the hobby. Wake was his first published work for Neoplastic Press’ Dread and Spite systems. The first edition of Fight! was published shortly after that and he has written three additional supplements and helped developed a fourth for the game so far. In terms of game design, he is especially interested in using mechanics to enhance genre emulation. When he is not gaming, Christopher spends his time writing journal articles and books in his field. A longtime fan of fighting video games, he maintains a collection exceeding 200 distinct titles. He enjoys competitive play, but he’s not very good. Because he was always more interested in the characters and stories than mastering technical skills, he wrote an RPG where he could easily pull off the feats he never could perform with a controller in his hand. When not designing, he enjoys playing games with his wife and two sons, and with his gaming group that has been together for over 30 years.
Alejo Marello is a software developer by trade and role-player by heart. He started roleplaying when he was 12 years old and has never stopped since. For years prior, he had experimented with many different systems trying to emulate the fighting video game genre. He discovered Fight! shortly before it was published and instantly fell in love. He made his way to the Divine Madness Press staff, participating as a collaborator on the three supplements that followed. As a game designer, he approaches game rules the same way he approaches programming: trying to make them robust and balanced, yet flexible and modular with a strong emphasis on genre emulation. In his free time, Alejo enjoys all kind of games, on tabletop and consoles, reading comics and novels, and sharing time with his partner and their daughter. He loves the fighting video game genre as a whole but lacks the skills to be any good at them, so the approach to them using dice and words to tell stories makes sense.
Royce "FooRay" Southerland is a freelance artist who will be handling all of the art duties for the new book. His work has been featured in both Udon and Image publications. Check out more of his work here.
Layout is being handled by Craig Judd Art and Design. Craig Judd is a graphic designer by trade, and has been freelancing for the last few years with a focus on small-press RPGs, doing everything from illustration and design to editing and layout. Craig has also released several games and products under PowerFrame Games including the PowerFrame Roleplaying System and Blade Bind. He lives in Tasmania, Australia, with his partner and two cats. He’s always on the lookout for new projects, and can be contacted here.
Risks and challenges
The only foreseeable obstacle to getting this project delivered on time would be the art production. I have chosen to use a single artist for this project to give the book a consistent feel throughout, and the art demands are significant. Furthermore, only a fraction of the art is ready at this time. I believe that I have placed a delivery date that should accommodate these demands, but I can’t guarantee this.
Aside from art, layout is ready to go and, more importantly, the text of the rules is 100% finished. Within 10 days from the successful completion of the campaign, I will send out Pre-Release Beta PDFs of the rules so backers can begin trying out the new rules immediately.
While this is my first Kickstarter campaign, I have produced six role-playing books before this one, so I am confident in my ability to see this through to completion.Learn about accountability on Kickstarter
- (35 days)