New Ideas For Fraction Columns

The Fraction Columns in The Artifact are pretty central to the game having contested rolls between characters. In the spirit of expanding or consolidating rules for a third edition, I was thinking of a few cool rules that fraction columns could throw into the mix.

Quick Review

If you’re not familiar with the system (which is a high probability) Fraction Columns come in four flavors Full, Half, Quarter and Eighth. The lower the column the better you did in a roll and therefore the better the character did at the task assigned. Primarily this is used in contested rolls like firing and dodging. There is some equipment that effect fraction columns and some effects that require certain column results.

Hit Locations

Right now, a player can make a called shot before they roll and take a penalty -15 to declare where they would like to hit. It works. Does that mean I shouldn’t fiddle with it? Sorry I can’t hear you.

My thought is, if the character gets a fraction column result they can move their hit location by one location if they roll a half on the little man shaped chart on the character sheet. A foot hit can be made a leg hit. A leg hit could become a groin hit (ouch) etc. If a Quarter result is made then the hit can be moved two locations. Eighth results can migrate three locations so foot hits can become body hits.

Should both systems stay in place? I’ll talk about that a little later.


This is a more radical thought that I kind of like because it would do things that are possible in real life. Armor is a big deal in the game but it should be possible to hit weak spots in armor but it’s not possible under the current rules. My thought is, if a character gets a Half result, they can choose to avoid either the Armor Rating or the Hit Points of the armor for that roll. If they roll under their quarter, they can avoid both and bypass the armor entirely. That will make combat a good deal more dangerous but I’m okay with that.

I’d also like to do something like this for vehicles but I’m still formulating that thought. It could play a part in getting critical hits on vehicles.

Edit: Maybe instead of an on/off kind of thing, maybe the fraction column result allows the hit to avoid a certain amount of armor, say up to half the weapon damage? This would make it slightly more complicated but would also make it scaleable.

In Combination?

If I went with both the options, the player would have the choice of which effect to go with, Avoid Armor, Move Hit Location or if they fire a burst use the multiple action chart (which already exists but would become mutually exclusive to these other options). Maybe a player could mix and match? A Quarter result could allow them to move the hit one location and avoid the armor’s Hit Points? Maybe instead of the Multiple Action chart, the result allowed the player to pick one more hit in a burst of every five shots? In other words, a Half column result would allow for six hits in a burst of fifteen. Now mix that in with the other two rules.

Get rid of roll modifiers?

When Tarnoc started GMing, he was using the fraction columns as a difficulty rating. Thinking that if an action was extra hard, it should require a Half or Quarter roll. I didn’t originally imagine using the fraction columns that way, thats what modifiers are for. Maybe I should rethink that. Having two systems causes confusion and the roll modifiers are a legacy of the BRP like system that I started with. If there’s a way to consolidate and make the system simpler I probably should go with it. What I want is power tools that can do a lot of things. My problem with that is it breaks other effects like CDFs (persistent modifiers like being tired) and technically skills. Getting rid of CDFs would completely break my survival rules as they are written now. The effects on survival could in theory be modeled by Stress Points and bring one more element much closer to center stage.

This is by far the most cannon breaking idea and would require a good amount of rewriting of sourcebooks. (Yuck) I like it because it reduces the moving parts in the game but reduces the granularity of the game which I am fond of.


Filed under Experimental Mechanics

4 Responses to New Ideas For Fraction Columns

  1. Tarnoc

    For the sake of time, lets just look at how the proposed ideas would affect the game at basic lvl’s.

    So how would all this work out for a basic NPC with stats at 30?

    In my head this comes out to the fraction columns being more of a bonus effect rather than a goal. and in reality they would rarely come into effect except with our heroic PC’s.
    Things like armor mean more to a PC taking the basic shots an NPC has to offer. High end equipment could also really change how deadly any could be…

    • Loc

      One of the big strengths of the fraction columns is that even low level characters can get them. That’s what in essence makes them different from a roll over contested system (where the highest roll wins). So your question of how would this work with an NPC with stats of 30’s answer follows that strength.

      Even an NPC or a low level PC has the ability to do really cool things, they just do them less frequently. Now as for a challenge to the players, now one out of ten of those Geetin gets a quarter result and a PC might just be in trouble.

      The contest between characters and the one with the lowest fraction column winning is unchanged. This just lets the player that won the contest do something more than a few points of damage. It makes that Eighth roll all the more sweet.

  2. Tarnoc

    in effect we are simply raising the stakes…

    • Loc

      Now that I think of it, only the armor avoidance really ups the stakes. The other elements were already there, they were just handled with a different mechanism.

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