Monday, May 3, 2010

Supers: Escape from Fake Prom Vines

This is something I meant to mention in my last post, and although it's labeled with the "supers" tag, it isn't really supers-specific. However, it did grow out of something that happened in that last FATE Supers game I ran.

Here's the situation: Prodigy takes a section of iron railing and wraps it around the Headmaster to restrain him. This is, under standard FATE 3.0 rules (as far as I know), a kind of Block. The problem is that Blocks are supposed to be maintained every round, whereas the circumstances of this Block clearly don't require that. Anyway, Prodigy rolls his Superhuman Might and gets a 16 -- which is what the super-intelligent ape and his Extraordinary Might will have to beat to break free. Hard, but not impossible. (In fact, thanks to a good roll and a couple Fate Points, he does indeed break free to wreak a little more simian havoc in that scene.)

Before that happened, though, Prodigy pulls a similar trick with Temper, a villainous metal-manipulator, only this time he ties him up with some decorative vines (...the scene is a jungle-themed prom, so decorative vines are readily available). This time Prodigy gets a 17 -- and Temper has literally no chance to break free without spending, like, six Fate Points. From fake prom vines.

This, to me, is a problem. Fake vines should be inherently easier to deal with than an iron railing. At the same time, wrapping someone in iron should be harder than tying them up with vines.

So here's what I'd do if I had to do it all over again: I'd steal from HERO.
  • Assign the material in question a difficulty: Mediocre, Fair, Great, Fantastic, or Legendary.
  • The material's difficulty is the target number when using it to restrain someone with a Might roll. For example, that iron railing would be Fantastic, while the fake vines would be Mediocre (they aren't made to be sturdy, after all).
  • If the wrapper-upper's Might roll beats the difficulty, the restraint has a stress track with a number of boxes equal to the shifts obtained. For example, Prodigy's roll of 16 for the Headmaster's restraints would mean a stress track with 10 boxes, whereas the stress track for Temper's vine restraints would have 17 boxes.
  • When the restrainee attempts to escape, roll Might against the material's difficulty. Shifts obtained are stress dealt to the restraint's stress track. So the iron railing, with its Fantastic difficulty, is difficult to budge; the average person will have a tough time making progress. The Headmaster, with his Extraordinary Might, will have an easier time of it, but it'll still probably take him a round or three. The fake vines, on the other hand, can be escaped by anyone given time (Temper included).


Morgan said...

It's an interesting dilemma, I think I'd be inclined to just give the different blocks different Aspects. Give the iron railing the Aspect "Made of Iron" that Prodigy can Invoke with fate when he sets up the block, and give the vines the Aspect "Decorative Fake Vines" that Temper can Tag when he attempts to break through the block. I'd even be inclined to let him get a free tag on it.

Basically if the material doing the blocking is strong let the player setting up the block pay some fate to enhance the block. But if the material is weak then let the person breaking through the block either pay some fate or get a free tag to overcome it easier.

Mike Olson said...

Y'know, handling the difference via aspects didn't even occur to me -- I think because this is one of those circumstances where an aspect just doesn't seem to be enough to me to reflect the difference.

Also, if I made Andy pay a Fate Point every time he wanted to, as Diaspora would put it, compel the Headmaster to inaction, I'd never hear the end of it. Like, even right now, he'd be on the phone with me complaining about it.

And wouldn't it also mean that anyone could wrap him up in an iron railing, as long as they had the Fate Points to pay for the tags-for-effect? Likewise, it might be hard for the player (and me, even) to swallow if Prodigy's Superhuman Might couldn't avail him unless he also had a surfeit of Fate Points to spend.

Morgan said...

I see your point, though I would say that it is the superhuman might that lets him take such a block action in the first place. If anyone without super strength tried to set up a block by wrapping someone with Iron railing I probably wouldn't allow it. But if they wanted to try anyway I'd say the aspect "Made of Iron" would be compelled against them making the block that much more difficult.

Meanwhile the anyone could wrap someone up with fake prom vines, but being as they're not that sturdy the super strong simian could easily tag their aspect as a bonus to break the block.

Also I wasn't suggesting that he would have to pay fate to block/wrap up the headmaster, just that he could pay fate to make the block stronger by tagging a scene aspect.

Orion Games said...

I think I would treat this as an attack using strength, rather than a block. Strength of the material may give you bonus or malus. Consequences could be: "Web of fake prom vines" - minor; "I'm chained!" - major; "Locked up in iron" - extreme. You might tag them for a malus on moving, attacking and maneuvering, or, more radically, tag them for effect to state that the target can't move at all and has to opt for another action.
Considering that a direct superstrength attack is likely to inflict high levels of stress, with the d6 rule and all, Strong Guy will be more capable than Mr Agile to bind his targets with steel.