WWII Tank Warfare in Fate Core
I saw Fury recently and really enjoyed it. I was impressed with the attempt to bring home some of the realities of war from the perspective of a tank crew – a sector that has not historically received much attention. That got me to thinking, how would I handle a game where the players are a WWII tank crew?
The Sherman tank as depicted in Fury had the following crew:
- The Commander – directed the crew, maintained discipline, called out targets and tactics etc. Can also emerge from the tank to use one of the two hull-mounted machine guns.
- The Driver – responsible for actually driving the tank
- The Gunner – responsible for aiming and firing the main gun and can also emerge from the tank to use one of the two anti-personnel machine guns.
- The Loader – responsible for fetching the required ammunition from storage and loading the gun.
- The Co-Driver – responsible for taking over driving duties if something happens to the driver, and manning the bow anti-personnel machine gun.
Crew roles in Conflicts
- The Commander calls out targets and tactics, ensuring that the crew works as a well-oiled machine. Mechanically this means that each exchange he rolls to create advantages relating to tactics or crew morale or provides a teamwork bonus to another member of the crew. If the crew is going up against infantry he can man one of the machine guns outside the tank to make direct attack actions.
- The Driver is responsible for putting the tank where it needs to be in order to out-manoeuvre its opponents, reach a destination in time and so on. Mechanically this means that he is usually either taking movement actions for the tank or creating advantages relating to positioning that can be utilised by the main gunner.
- The Gunner is responsible for the tank’s main attacks, though he can also create advantages with special ammunition types or by causing rockslides etc.
- The Loader selects and supplies the right ammunition type to the gunner. If the tank sustains damage he can take actions to provide first aid, fight fires, suppress leaks or generally keep the tank running in addition to loading a shell in each exchange; this applies +1 opposition to actions taken.
- The Co-Driver mans the anti-personnel bow machine gun. He can directly attack lightly armoured targets or he can create advantages using tracer fire to assist the Gunner in aiming at the designated target.
Crew versus Tank Actions
Each character only gets one action in each exchange of a tank conflict (with the exception of the Loader, who can take actions other than loading the gun at +1 opposition). If one of the crew wants to take another action (for example pitching in to put out a fire) then he or she can’t take the action relating to their primary role in that exchange.
Tanks as Characters
Each tank is treated as its own character, right down to giving it a name.
Tank aspects reflect the tactical strengths and weaknesses of each vehicle. For example Sherman tanks have Medium Tank, Manoeuvrable and Spacious Interior while Tigers have Vulnerable Rear, Heavy Tank and Cramped Interior.
Armour is one of:
- Light Armour (Armoured personnel carrier)
- Medium Armour (Sherman tank)
- Heavy Armour (Tiger tank)
- Super-Heavy Armour (Concrete bunkers etc.)
Tanks have armour according to their type, so for a Sherman that’s Medium and for a Tiger it’s Heavy.
Weapons and Ammunition:
A tank’s main gun has a weight class equal to its own weight class. To determine the effectiveness of an attack compare the weapon’s weight class to its target’s armour weight class:
- If the weapon’s class is lower then armour piercing ammunition must be used AND an aspect invoked.
- If the weapon’s class is equal then armour piercing ammunition must be used.
- If the weapon’s class is higher then Weapon:2 for each difference in weight class.
That means a Tiger with its Heavy Main Gun would get Weapon:2 against a Sherman tank and wouldn’t need to invoke an aspect or use armour piercing ammunition to penetrate its armour. If it did use armour piercing ammunition it would get Weapon:4.
There are five main types of ammunition available for the tanks’ main guns:
- High Explosive: This is effective against lightly armoured targets, installations, and groups of infantry. Mechanically it attacks an entire zone.
- Armour Piercing: Armour piercing ammunition allows a tank to harm a target of a heavier class. If used on a target of a lower weight class then Weapon:+2.
- Smoke: Used to create vision-obscuring aspects on a zone of the gunner’s choice.
- White Phosphorous (AKA Willy Pete): Used to burn trees, buildings, people, etc. Used to create advantages like On Fire which then attack over subsequent exchanges.
- Cannister: Used against infantry, this is essentially a giant shotgun shell. Doesn’t significantly damage buildings or other hard targets but completely obliterates infantry in a zone. Attacks all unarmoured targets in a single zone.
The tank’s main gun cannot be used on any target that isn’t at least 2 zones away.
Pick three ammunition types; those are the ones your tank is loaded out with. You can instead pick four ammunition types, but doing so gives your tank a Limited Ammunition aspect that can be used against you.
The tank’s bow gun and top-mounted machine guns can attack multiple targets in a zone if you split your shifts. On the Sherman tank all but one of these is counted as a Light weapon (and therefore gets Weapon:2 against unarmoured targets); the 50-calibre machine gun manned by the tank commander is a Medium weapon.
Stress and Consequences:
Each tank starts with three stress boxes and a set of Mild, Moderate and Severe consequences. These may be modified by stunts.
Whenever the tank would take a consequence, one of its crew can take the consequence instead. If the tank would be taken out one of the crew can be taken out instead. If the tank is taken out then each surviving crew member is also taken out unless they spend a fate point.
Stunts reflect specialties that each tank has or design features that make it stronger, faster, tougher etc. For example the Tiger Tank has a stunt giving it an extra Mild consequence. Build tank stunts with the usual rules for stunt construction, with each stunt noting whether it applies to the tank as a whole or to one of the crew’s tasks.
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