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Wednesday, October 14, 2009

FATE - Court Cases

A court cases is a conflict between two lawyers. This is still really rough, one of the players in my game is a lawyer and I wanted to make sure there would be an interesting Court Case for him to take part in.

They lawyers take turns presenting their arguments and then refuting their opponent’s argument.

The lawyer declares the difficulty of his argument and described the argument he is making. He then makes a roll against that difficulty.

If he succeeds, he manages to convince the jury. If he fails then the jury fails to find your argument convincing and the Case takes stress equal to the number of shifts the character missed the difficulty by.

Next, the other lawyer rolls against the same difficulty. If successful, their Case takes no stress and inflicts stress to the first lawyer’s Case according to the shifts on its roll as he manages to convince the Jury of the flaws in his opponent’s argument. If he fails then his Case takes stress equal to the number of shift the character missed the difficulty by.

Eventually one party of the other will have taken three consequences. Once this has happened the case is almost over and it is time for the closing arguments.

Closing Arguments

Each Lawyer makes one final argument. They both make their argument and then the judge and jury retreat to make their decision. After deliberations they return and both players make a Rapport roll. However unlike a normal roll, all Aspects must be invoked before the roll is made and all the consequences of the opponent’s Case may be tagged at no cost. Once all both players are done invoking aspects then they both roll. The winner of the roll and won the Court Case, although they must still abide by any consequences that they might have taken.


Witnesses, both NPC and PC, are a common component in a Court Case. Each exchange the first lawyer may call out a witness to be examined. A witness may assist the lawyer, provided he wants to and has a means to do so. This allows the witness to contribute to the court case, as long as he finds a way to describe it, such as explaining the forensic report (Science). The witness rolls his skill while the lawyer rolls his Rapport (Leadership can not be rolled for examining witnesses), and the lawyer may use the higher of the two results. A single Witness may only be called once per Court Case. Obviously, a Witness may not be called on during the Closing Arguments.

Jury Bias

The Jury is unfortunately sometimes biased. They tend to already have an idea about who is innocent and who is guilty. By default, a Case has 5 boxes for their stress track. The Rapport of the defendant (or plaintiff) increases the number of stress boxes the same way as Resolve or Endurance.


Evidence takes the form of aspects. Each piece of important evidence that the lawyer has gets one free invoke, after that the lawyer is forced to spend a FATE point as usual. Evidence is usually accrued before the Court Case has begun and the opponent Lawyer usually has evidence as well.


Lawyers use Rapport to convince the Judge and Jury that his position is correct. They can also use the Bureaucracy trapping of Leadership to remember laws and precedent set in previous court cases.

Designer Notes

Court Cases are modeled after the Chases in the core rules.

The closing arguments mechanic is added to provide some of the uncertainty of fictional court cases. Neither side really knows what the result will finally be until the judge finally delivers the line about the person’s guilt. Even if one side is winning there shouldn’t be complete certainty until the very end.

Witnesses is an adaptation of the Passengers rules.