Friday, September 20, 2013

[Thrilling Fate!] Some Trouble In This Place

This post does indeed reek of trouble.

If you're one of those poor unfortunates who isn't already familiar with Sparks Nevada, Marshal on Mars, that guy on the right up there, the one speaking trepidatiously about the mere possibility of trouble, is the Barkeep. (He has a name, but it was a fairly recent revelation on the podcast, and I'm embarrassed to admit I don't remember it.) "I don't want no trouble in my place!" is the Barkeep's catchphrase, defining character trait, and probably his concept aspect as well.

So there's no way I'm not using trouble as this hack's term for "damage." So let's talk about damage.

First of all: no stress tracks. Just troubles, which will sub in for consequences in every way that matters. I'm not completely clear yet on how they'll work, but the basic idea is that you have so many trouble boxes, like six. Checking a box reduces a hit by 2 shifts.

But! When you take a hit, you can write down any number of troubles and check any number of boxes for each trouble. For example, if the Binary Kid nails you with a 6-shift hit, you could write down a single trouble, like Broken Ribs, and check three boxes -- or you could take three troubles, like Winded, Embarrassed, and Caught Off Guard, and check one box for each. Either way, you've dealt with all six shifts.

(This is a character sheet design issue: It has to be clear that you can have several troubles, and that each trouble has its own track of boxes, but that you can't have more than six boxes checked at a time.)

So if these work like consequences, why would you ever take three one-box troubles instead of one three-box trouble? Because the fewer boxes a trouble has, the faster it goes away.

  • When you have a moment to breathe, like at the end of a scene, erase one one-box trouble.
  • At the end of some currently unspecified longer period of time, like after a night's sleep or something, do all of these:
    • Erase all  your one-box troubles.
    • Clear one box on each of your troubles that has two or more checked boxes.
  • A trouble can be treated much the same way a consequence can, with a difficulty equal to twice the number of boxes it has.

Now look, I'll admit that this is a little more complicated than consequences as written in Fate Core or FAE, but it's also a little less complicated in that you only have one option for damage mitigation (troubles) instead of two (stress and consequences). In my experience, new players -- my expected audience -- have an easier time with "When you get hit, take a consequence" than they do with "When you get hit, check a stress box or take a consequence, or both, or take two consequences." Plus, I dunno, it seems fun, so I'm going with it.

I also like the flexibility of it, and it makes things like Sparks' make-them-check-another-trouble-box stunt and Croach's clear-an-additional-trouble-box stunt viable and engaging without being difficult to grasp. There are other potential hooks too, like saying that if you take two troubles at once from a physical attack, one of them has to be mental (which is pretty typical of Sparks Nevada characters, who, Cactoid Jim aside, tend to have their share of insecurities). Or maybe a success with style on anything lets you immediately clear a mental trouble box. Just spitballing here -- this whole thing needs more thought, and obviously some refinement of terminology.

Anyway, this looks like the end of the hacking for this hack, but... I guess I'll post a few characters? Next week or something?

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