Damage and Consequences
I’m borrowing some concepts from FATE for this version of the rules.
Any time a character takes damage, he may opt to take a consequence to reduce the amount of damage received from the attack. The exact nature of the consequence depends upon the conflict – an injury might be appropriate for a physical struggle, but an emotional state might be apt for a social one. Whatever the consequence, it is noted on the character sheet. Normally, the player taking the consequence gets to describe what it is, so long as it’s compatible with the nature of the attack that inflicted the harm. The GM arbitrates the appropriateness of a consequence and there may be some back and forth conversation before settling on one. The GM is the final authority on whether a player’s suggested consequence is reasonable for the circumstances and severity.
There are four levels of consequence severity, each of which cancels out a greater amount of damage from an attack. Consequences may not be taken after the fact to cancel damage already taken. Consequences linger for varying lengths of time after appropriate justification is established to begin recovery.
• Mild consequences cancel out 2 Boxes. They last (minimum) for one scene after the end of the conflict. Think of things that are bad enough to make you say “Walk it off/ rub some dirt in it!” (Examples: Bruised Hand, Nasty Shiner, Winded, Flustered, Distracted.)
• Moderate consequences cancel out 4 Boxes. They last until the end of the next session (minimum) after the end of the conflict. Think of things that are bad enough to make you say, “Man, you really should go take care of that/get some rest.” (Examples: Belly Slash, Bad First Degree Burn, Twisted Ankle, Exhausted, Drunk.)
• Severe consequences cancel out 6 Boxes. They last for the next scenario (or two to three sessions, or even longer) after the end of the conflict. Think of things that are bad enough to make you say, “Man, you really need to go to the ER/get serious help.” (Examples: Broken Leg, Bad Second-Degree Burn, Crippling Shame, Trauma-Induced Phobia.)
Multiple consequences can be “stacked” at a time, combining their rating for the purposes of absorbing an attack. So instead of taking a severe consequence to cancel 6 damage, a player might take a mild (2 damage) and a moderate (4 damage) which would add up to cancel 6 damage.
When your character takes a consequence, remove the appropriate amount of damage from the attack. If that reduces the damage to zero or below, you absorb the hit completely. If there is any damage left over, you need to mark it on your Condition monitor.
So, if your character gets hit for 5 Damage and you decide to take a moderate consequence, you’re left with 1 box of damage.
Also keep in mind that, because a consequence is an aspect, it can be tagged, invoked, and compelled like any other aspect. Opponents with Drama Points will take advantage of this, because invoking a consequence to help win a fight is very easy to justify.
Extreme Consequences (The Last Resort): If your character is in extremely dire straits, and it’s really, really important to stay in the fight, there is one last-ditch option you have available. This is called an extreme consequence, but it’s set apart from the others because it operates as more of a plot device than a normal consequence and isn’t affected by any of the normal rules for recovery. You can only have one extreme consequence at a time, and the slot will only ever clear when the GM deems appropriate.
When you use this option, you can cancel out 8 Boxes from any attack. In exchange, you must add an aspect that reflects the outcome of the attack. That’s right – taking this level of consequence changes who your character is on a fundamental level. Because of this, you should reserve it for the greatest of sacrifices or the most heinous of traumas – for those times when you absolutely must push to the bitter end and have no other choice.
There are a few other limitations to extreme consequences:
• Your Concept Aspect cannot be changed as a result of an extreme consequence, unless the attack in question is deliberately targeting that aspect. In other words, you can’t change Wizard of the White Council unless the attack is specifically trying to permanently strip you of magical ability.
• No amount of supernatural healing or other abilities can speed up the recovery of an extreme consequence, and you cannot take another extreme consequence until this one is removed, regardless of your powers.
• The new aspect is effectively treated as one of your permanent aspects. Even when your extreme consequence slot resets, the consequence aspect remains on your sheet – it doesn’t just go away or reset your old one. You might get to rename the aspect later, but you’d have to justify the renaming as something that reflects how the experience changed your character.
Sometimes, pursuing a goal in a conflict comes at too high a price. Heaven knows what might happen to your character if he gets taken out and has a bunch of consequences to deal with later. Losing can be a very daunting thing – possibly more than you want to deal with at the moment.
If loss seems to be inevitable, you can offer a concession instead of continuing the conflict. A concession is basically a special form of being taken out – you lose the conflict, but you get to decide your character’s fate on your own terms instead of your opponent’s. That way, your character doesn’t have to take any consequences you’re not willing to take and can avoid fates that might arise from being taken out by the opponent, such as getting captured, killed, humiliated, etc.
A concession has to pass muster with the group before it is accepted – the conditions of the loss still have to represent a clear and decisive disadvantage for your character. If the group (note that your opponent is part of the group for this!) feels like your character is getting off easy, you’ll need to rework the concession until it’s acceptable.
Here are some guidelines for determining what constitutes a “clear and decisive disadvantage.” These may also be used to represent defeat conditions if the character is taken out:
The character has at least one moderate or worse consequence as a result of the conflict.
The outcome creates significant difficulty for the character in the future. The character might offer a concession to avoid getting maimed, but maybe that means an artifact he was protecting gets stolen, or something along those lines.
The outcome creates a situation that restricts the character’s behavior in some significant way, like owing a large debt to someone. This may require adding an additional, long-term, temporary aspect to the character, separate from his consequence track, so that the defeat can be enforced via compels.
Finally, a character cannot be saved from a roll that takes him out by offering a concession. You have to offer the concession before the roll that takes out your character. Otherwise, it’s cheating the opponent out of victory.
Losing a conflict, either by concession or by being taken out, grants the player one Drama Point per consequence taken in the conflict. This is called cashing out of the conflict. You can think of this as a compel of each aspect taken in the conflict, because the assumption is that those consequences directly contributed to the character’s defeat.