The following are miscellaneous adjustments to/replacements for standard Fate rules to fit the setting, the online medium, and just to try a few things out with the social and stress systems. This is meant to support the previous posts on skills and character creation.

Stress

Character Stress tracks are done in the old pyramid-style from Fate 2: characters have more boxes for lower-Stress hits than for higher ones. Effectively, characters can take a few minimal-Stress hits before they start rolling up to serious damage, and taking Consequences to reduce Stress is more likely to find a spare box at lower levels to check off.

A standard character’s Stress track looks like:

  1. OOO
  2. OO
  3. O
  4. Taken Out

If a character has a bigger Stress track (such as from the Grimson mutation), one box is added on each level:

  1. OOOO
  2. OOO
  3. OO
  4. O
  5. Taken Out

Obviously, increasing someone’s track makes them much harder to take out, so it should be reserved for benefits on the same order of “I am a seven-foot-tall mutant designed only for war.”

Otherwise, Stress works basically normally (i.e., it resets at the end of a scene, but Consequences persist). A special modification is that most intrigue-based social situations should immediately advance the “scene” as soon as a target is Taken Out. This is explained in more detail below, but often being Taken Out by a social attack starts out with minimal consequences but serves as a method to start on a bigger social attack soon after. Effectively, an attacking social character should never get a benefit from taking a target out and then immediately get to use that benefit to attack an already damaged social Stress track.

Physical Conflict

Other than the difference in Stress tracks and skills, combat works about the same as in Dresden Files. To wit:

  1. On your action, compare the result of an attack skill to the target’s defense skill.
  2. If the result was equal or greater, add your weapon bonus to the shifts of success to generate a Stress number.
  3. Reduce that Stress by the target’s armor bonus.
  4. Whatever number is left, check off that box on the target’s Stress track (rolling up if all boxes on that level are checked).

Weapons

Weapons have standard damage ratings. However, scene aspects might be tagged for attacks with appropriate weapons (e.g., tagging a “Confined” aspect for a bonus when attacking with a knife).

  • 0: Unarmed or using an unwieldy improvised weapon
  • 1: Knife, Club, Light Bow, Slug Pistol
  • 2: Sword, Mace, Axe, Heavy Bow, Slug Rifle/Shotgun, Energy Pistol
  • 3: Two Handed Melee Weapon, Energy Melee Weapon, Energy Rifle/Shotgun

Armor

  • -1: Unarmored (Light clothing or less): target actually takes +1 Stress on successful physical attack
  • 0: Synthsilk, Spacesuit, or Heavy Clothing
  • 1: Stiffsynth, Half-plate, or Scale
  • 2: Chain, Full Plate
  • 3: Ceramsteel (full suit)

Energy Shields

Energy shields cannot typically be worn with armor heavier than 0. They work similarly to armor. Melee attacks and energy/fire attacks can only be reduce to 1 Stress, not to 0, by an energy shield. Most shields can only trigger a limited number of times before running out of power.

  • 2: Standard; 10 hits
  • 3: Dueling; 15 hits
  • 4: Assault; 20 hits, can be worn with Armor 1 (applied after Stress is reduced by the shield)
  • 5: Battle; 30 hits, can be worn with any armor

Note that assault and battle shields effectively require either overwhelming force or the attacker to rely on maneuvers. Against a full-out frontal assault, heavily shielded troops are functionally invulnerable until the power runs out.

Social Conflict

These are heavily borrowed from the Song of Ice and Fire RPG.

All social actions can include a bonus or penalty based on the target’s friendliness/disposition:

  • -4: The target despises you
  • -2: The target doesn’t like you and would rather work against you
  • 0: The target has no particular opinion about you
  • +2: The target likes and trusts you
  • +4: The target loves you and places your needs above his or her own

This effect is flipped if you’re trying to Provoke the target to try to harm you or Convince the target of something horrible about yourself.

Many players may balk at losing a social conflict and having to believe something or take certain action. The GM may wish to deliver these as Compels, allowing the player to either pay Wyrd to avoid the action or get bonus Wyrd for playing along.

Bargain

Bargain is used to establish an exchange of goods or services. It is mostly a straight contest between both parties’ Bargain skills plus modifiers. However, other social skills might be used before bargaining (e.g., Entertain to make the opponent friendlier or Convince to inflate the value of an item for trade).

In addition to the disposition effect, modify your Bargain total by the following chart:

  • -4: Your offering not only has no value to the target, accepting it would cause some kind of harm
  • -2: Your offering has no value to the target
  • 0: Your offering is valuable, but not overwhelmingly so
  • +2: Your offering is something that would significantly help the target/something he or she really wants
  • +4: Your offering is something that the target would literally risk death or worse to obtain

Compare each side’s Bargain total. If they are unequal, the higher side can reduce what is being offered or the lower side must figure out a way to increase the value of what is offered.

If the conversation is a simple monetary exchange, don’t use the chart above. Instead, modify Bargain by Disposition and then compare the buyer’s total to the seller’s:

  • -4: Pay double what the item is worth
  • -2: Pay half again what the item is worth
  • 0: Pay what the item is worth
  • +2: Pay 2/3 what the item is worth
  • +4: Pay 1/3 what the item is worth

In any kind of Bargain contest, either side can choose to walk away from the deal: the ratio of Bargain scores merely indicates the best deal you’re going to get if you do trade.

Entertain

(Note: On consideration of the system and similarities to Provoke, I replaced Seduce with this skill here and on the skills post.)

Entertain is used to make friends prior to influencing people. It represents being witty, fun, and engaging, and also figuring out how best to loosen up the target.

You can use a simple check of Entertain to keep a target from leaving a social situation (so you have more time to make other social attacks). Make an Entertain check (modified by Disposition) against the target’s Empathy. The target may receive a bonus of up to +4 for legitimate reasons to leave the social situation (e.g., +2 for being tired and wanting to sleep, +4 for needing to make it to an appointment). If you succeed, the target must stay for at least one more exchange of social conflict.

If you take out the target with Entertain attacks, you gain a +2 bonus on social attacks for the next scene (as if his or her disposition had gone up one step). If you don’t immediately trick the target and otherwise maintain the new friendship, this disposition increase may become permanent. Entertain attacks can target either Empathy or Poise, depending on whether you’re trying to work up to manipulating the target (Empathy) or genuinely trying to make friends (Poise).

Convince

Convince is used to establish beliefs. A simple check is used to convince the target that you believe something. A social combat is used to make the target believe it. This can be used for lying to the target, establishing things that are actually true, or intimidating the target by presenting a lie or truth that scares the target.

All Convince rolls take modifiers based on the following:

  • -4: The target is holding inarguable proof that what you say is false (possibly a really good forgery if what you’re saying is actually true)
  • -2: The target has a firmly held belief or previous evidence that what you say is false
  • 0: The target has no firm evidence about what you’re saying, but is disinclined to believe it automatically
  • +2: The target would really like to believe you
  • +4: The target secretly already believes what you’re saying

If you’re lying, your rolls are opposed by the target’s Empathy. If you’re telling the truth, they’re against a base number of 0 (still modified by the target’s beliefs and disposition).

Provoke

Provoke is used to get the target to take action rather than sitting idle. You can generally only Provoke the target to do something that he or she (perhaps secretly) wants to do anyway. Thus, if your target isn’t already primed, it’s often prudent to only Provoke after you’ve successfully Convinced. If the target does not want to take the action you’re trying to Provoke, you cannot make a roll (and attempting to do so may lower the target’s disposition).

All Provoke rolls are a social conflict, with “Taken Out” indicating the target taking the action you specify. However, they might be “one shot” attacks if the target is already primed and ready to go (e.g., the +4 bonus to get your enemies to attack you means that you’ll have a good chance of taking them out for this purpose on the first roll). They are made against the target’s Poise (and the target can use Empathy, if higher, if he or she suspects you’re trying to be manipulative).

Provoke rolls generally take modifiers based on the following:

  • -4: The target believes taking that action would result in death or worse
  • -2: The target would get in serious trouble by acting
  • 0: The target would face consequences, but not major ones, by acting
  • +2: The target has no reason not to act other than inertia
  • +4: The target secretly was already planning the action and just needs a nudge

Provoke rolls are also a great place to use compels (if you can get the target “Drunk” or “Impassioned” before an attack, it makes it way easier to get past the danger).

Intrigue Examples

Baroness Erica Decados is trying to set up a perfect patsy. She uses Bargain to arrange for a small contingent of Brother Battle church knights as security for one of her enterprises. While they’re unable to abandon their posts, she spends a great deal of time working to Entertain them and overcome their native distrust of her house. Meanwhile, she uses Empathy to try to figure out which holds beliefs most helpful to her cause. These she keeps in contact with after the posting, maintaining her new relationship. During this time, she gradually uses Convince to drop facts about various individuals she suspects of perfidy within her house. Once they believe her, she uses Provoke to convince them to deal with the problem. Weeks later, when her rivals are removed by the Inquisition backed by church knights, there is very little to tie her to the deed.

Jonin Skorpios Ben-Hadir of the Scravers is trying to get some leverage within the Byzantium Secondus nobility. He manages a meeting with one of the secondary sons of a Hawkwood functionary, and uses Convince to get him to believe that they should continue the conversation over drinks, and that it will be purely business. He makes use of Entertain to keep the noble around for longer than he would otherwise plan to, Empathy to get a sense of what he’s interested in, and Provoke to convince him to drink more than he’d planned (maneuvers to place Aspects to be tagged later). At the end of the night, the final Provoke challenge with tagged Aspects places the noble with some Scraver-owned courtesans with sufficient recording equipment for later blackmail. Future Bargain challenges will be a lot easier for the Scravers…

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