Friday, February 5, 2010

Supers: Consequence Pools

I was thinking about this team of supervillain-types the PCs will encounter in my FATE supers OrcCon game, and two things occurred to me:
  1. These aren't minions, but neither are they important enough to the story to warrant full PC-like treatment. Stress tracks, sans consequences, seem like a disservice.
  2. I don't want to track consequences for five or six named NPCs at once.
So it hit me: I already effectively have a "pool" of consequences for the campaign. Why not have something similar shared by the team? Say, four Minor and three Moderate -- enough that everyone should have the chance to take one, but not so many that more than one or two of them could take more than one.

Logistically, I'd fill in the consequences as they were taken and indicate with initials or something who'd taken which ones, so they can still be tagged without confusion. I think it's kinda interesting for a group of traditionally selfish badguys to share survivability like that. It'd be interesting on the player side, too, but not for this game. (Y'know what I bet it'd work great for? Survival horror.)

Then I thought of this other thing: Tie it into the Fate Point economy. Normally, as a GM, I allot Fate Points to myself on a per-scene basis, not per-character. It feels more appropriate from a narrative point of view and makes it easy to control how tough, long, or important a conflict will be. For every one of these shared consequences I take, I lose a Fate Point. I can continue to take consequences after I'm out of Fate Points, though.

What about making it weirder than that? What about being able to take a consequence in lieu of spending a Fate Point? What about not giving myself Fate Points at all, and only having consequences? On a single-character basis, this wouldn't work, but if I'd have 10 Fate Points spread between five characters, how much would it screw things up to give myself, say, six Minor consequences and four Moderate consequences instead? Or fewer than that, but Minor consequences give me the usual +2 bonus and Moderate consequences give me a +4? It'd definitely make the badguys more vulnerable, since they're going to rack up consequences with trivial ease, but I could temper it by making the Minor consequences fragile -- they can't be "spent" again, but once they're tagged they're gone. And tagging a Moderate consequence frees up a Minor consequence slot.

In essence, it'd be a Fate Point economy without the Fate Points. I can't figure out if I like it or if it's just an odd idea that I'm curious to see in play.

Either way, I'm feeling pretty good about the shared consequence pool on a conceptual level. Anyone have experience with doing this kind of thing?


Unknown said...

I dig the idea of something between minions and "named characters". I'll have to try this out tomorrow (SoG game day, baby!) and I'll report any findings of note.

Anonymous said...

a "pool" of consequences
This sounds a bit like Diaspora's Platoon Combat mini-game. A unit is taken out when it takes a hit past the end of it's stress track but the stress can by mitigated by Platoon consequences before applying it to the stress track.

I like the idea but I think I would tie it to the Leadership skill - wandering mooks don't get this, they need a leader to toughen them up. Maybe a Team Leader stunt that gives the team a number of consequences based on the Leadership skill - the same way Endurance and Resolve add to stress tracks.

"take a consequence in lieu of spending a Fate Point"
I already use this as a general rule. You can take a bonus to any skill roll by taking a consequence. I make a reckless attack (+4 bonus for a Moderate consequence).