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Fight to Survive: Martial Arts Meets Heart -- Diceless, Multi-generational, Rules medium --

edited May 2023 in Canadian RPGs

Fight to Survive: Martial Arts Meets Heart, commonly abbreviated F2S, currently gets my vote for most innovative game design of 2023. A statement I do not make lightly.

It's available here on the CDG Marketplace.

Yesterday we took delivery of the first proper print run and wow do the interior colours pop. Vastly better than the pre-release POD option we had a handful of back in March.

It's a rules medium diceless game.
You have ratings in martial arts techniques that also correspond to other game uses. For example your rating in Punch is also your rating in Heart. In social and even some other context your approach and rating is sufficient for a ruling, but in a fight you select a few moves, and then reveal them gradually against your opponent. Certain moves trump others, but if both select say "punch" then you compare ratings.
It just sings perfectly for what it is emulating.

It's also multi-generational -- most sessions are meant to cover a year or two. Your Fighter ages and gains injuries so eventually they pass on into the "mentor" phase. The game makes cool use of training places (stages), and mentors.

If you are a fan of Kobra Kai, or any classic 80s and 90s action and martial arts movies, this is a great game for you.

I have a friend who is getting married in June. I'll be buying him a copy, and will aim to run it for his (pre?) bachelor party.

It's exactly the sort of thing he wold love based on his taste in movies and love of mixed martial arts.

James Kerr posts here occasionally, and we have a (possibly working) feed from his blog. You can learn more about the game and what he's up to at


  • So, F2S is pretty different, and on first read I wasn't sure I got part of the exchange of blows. I had played it before. So I asked James to chime in.
    Here's the basic setup:

    We have two Fighters, the smaller faster "Quickfoot" and the larger harder hitting "Giantfist".
    Here's each of their techniques, though it shouldn't matter for the initial question:

    Small, Age 21
    Grapple: 0  | Punch: 0 | Kick: 3 | Block: 2 | Footwork: 3 
    Huge, Age 17
    Grapple: 2  | Punch: 4 | Kick: 0 | Block: 1 | Footwork: 0 

    I mostly believe that my "or" below is correct. But I want to make sure I get the flow right between moves in an exchange of blows.

    Giantfist picked 2 punches and grapple
    Quickfoot picked 2 kicks and footwork. In F2S selection of moves is hidden from other players, then revealed trying to trump each other.

    Giantfist -- Quickfoot
    Aggressor Punches -- Responder Kicks --> this goes to the responder
    Does Giantfist take a hit and then:

    Quickfoot -- Giantfist
    Aggressor Kicks -- Responder Grapples --> this goes to the responder
    Or in this case is the correct sequence to have Quickfoot get a chance to select a move that can beat the grapple?

    Quickfoot responds to Grapple with Footwork - wherein we compare both's technique?
    Put another way if I am about to get hit and still have moves, I get to respond with another move to try and prevent it?

  • To briefly reiterate what I responded: If you're about to get Hit and still have Moves, respond with another Move to try and prevent it. The only case where you get Hit and still have Moves left is if you issued a Bad Move. Otherwise, you need to run out of Moves to be Hit. Rah-rah-rah.

  • edited September 2023

    F2S got a nomination for "Best Setting" in the Indie Groundbreaker awards!

    Let's see if I can work through a full fight example without mistakes ;)

    Alright so continuing with Quickfoot and Giantfist.
    Giantfist picked 2 punches and grapple | Quickfoot picked 2 kicks and footwork

    In F2S if a fight doesn't have someone surprising the other, the slower (larger) combatant issues the first move. This gives the faster character an advantage in being able to select their response.
    Larger combatants advantage is that they hit harder if they do get a strike.

    Giantfist issues Punch -- Quickfoot has 2 kicks and a footwork, since punch beats footwork outright issuing this would be a "bad move" and Quickfoot would take immediate damage. Instead, Quickfoot responds with a Kick, which beats punch.

    Quickfoot's response Kick -- Giantfist has a punch and a grapple left. Fortunately Grapple beats Kick, so Giantfist responds with a Grapple.

    Gianfist's response Grapple -- Quickfoot has a kick and a footwork left. Issuing a kick in response would be a bad move - causing him to take damage. Footwork is a toss up -- it could go either way. Quickfoot issues his Footwork.
    The combatants compare technique Giantfists grapple of 2 loses to Quickfoots Footwork of 3.

    Quickfoot's response Footwork -- Giantfist only has a punch left. Fortunately, it's a punch, which he issues, trumping the footwork.

    Giantfist's response Punch -- Quickfoot's final move is a Kick, which beats punch! He issues his kick.
    Kick --> Giantfist has no moves left, so this deals damage.

    Quickfoot's "force" rating for Kick is 1, so Giantfist ticks off one health box. This finishes the round, and Quickfoot being the last to deal damage, becomes the Agressor. This means he will have to issue the first move of the new round.
    Both opponents pick three moves again, and Quickfoot selects his move first.

    If they picked the exact same moves this round, here's how that could go:

    Q kick - G grapple
    - Q footwork
    - G punch
    - Q kick
    - G Punch
    Giantfist is huge so his punch probably packs a wallop. This could be 2 force or even 3. Quickfoot has to mark off that many health boxes.

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