Hack: Use Fate’s Zones with 4e

So, you like Fate‘s idea of zones, and you’re not a fan of the one-inch-square map gig, but you’re playing 4e, and you definitely want to see a map get some action, just not one with all of that regimentation and orderly geometry. How to mix 4e play with Fate’s zones? This is a very brisk exploration of my initial thoughts about that.

Your Map

First off, let’s adopt our earlier idea that roughly 5-6 squares equals a zone. When eyeballing a combat space and drawing up your zone-ified maps, something to keep in mind. But really, you can stick with your developed-in-Fate instincts for drawing our your maps, too.


Anyone who could do a 5 square movement can move one zone; anyone who can do a 10-square movement can move two; etc. This is your guiding principle. You’ll need to think long and hard about what this does for characters who can only move 4 squares (I say let ‘em anyway), or have a base move more like 7 squares. Maybe you divide by 4 instead of 5, and round generously for the ones that come out at x.75; clearly someone built for a base 7 move is looking to get some extra pizazz from that.

“Running” is simply doubling the number of zones you can move normally (usually going from 1 to 2).

Engagement: Opportunity, Flanking, Pushes, Pulls, Slides, Shifts

So, attacks of opportunity and all the elements of shifting or forced movement. Interesting, tricky things when your space is more abstractly defined. To preserve that element, I’d do something like the following.

You can use a move action to engage a target occupying the same zone as you. This places the “engaged” condition on the target, and the target places the “engaged” condition on you as well. (I’m calling & framing this as a condition; maybe there’s a better way?)


  • If the target makes a ranged or area attack, it triggers an attack of opportunity by the character that engaged him.
  • If the target moves out of its current zone, it triggers an attack of opportunity by the character that engaged him. This condition is then cleared.
  • If two or more characters have engaged a target, the target provides combat advantage to those characters.
  • The target may use a move action to clear one instance of the engaged condition.
  • If the character that has engaged the target no longer possesses the reciprocal condition, this condition clears.

Targets may shift or be pushed/pulled/slid into or out of engagement within their current zone, essentially converting every 2 or 3 squares (2.5) of effect into one instance of the engaged condition either created or shed. If the target’s movement is 5 squares or more — in other words, a zone — then that principle may not apply, with all engaged conditions simply dropping as the character leaves the zone. (That said, I could see someone with, say, a 8-square push effect pushing a target into the next zone, and then into an engaged position with one of the characters in that zone with the remaining 3 squares of effect.)

Maybe there’s a more elegant way to do this, by introducing the idea of block actions, by playing with the idea of borders, etc, but I’m not swiftly seeing the path to that. If you do, pipe up. I think the bookkeeping part of it could be elided simply by using your figures/markers on the map and grouping them close to each other when “engaged”. Visually simpler than writing down “Engaged by X” each time it happens.

Range, Close Effects, Area Effects, Wall Effects

Ranges usually divide up into increments of 5, so turning that into zones of range is pretty easy.

Bursts and Blasts are interesting, but not too hard to work out a good equivalence for. If something affects an area that’s up to 5×5 (so, up to blast 5 or up to burst 2), that’s a zone, 6×6 on up is 2, etc.

Small-sized close blast (1) and burst (2 or 3) effects might warrant some kind of sub-selection of targets — say, all targets currently engaged by/engaging the character.

Walls are almost nonsensical in this setup, but I might say that you can hit one target within a zone for every 2 or 3 squares (2.5) of wall, and you can extend the effect into another zone for a similar cost (so a wall of length 10 could hit two targets in one zone, cross into a neighboring zone, and hit one more).