Polyhedral Stress in Fate
This is an idea I’ve been kicking around for years, and solidified itself a bit in the shower. One of the things that is inherent to Fate conflicts is certainty — we know how many shifts we’re going to take once the attack and defense rolls come down, between and after invocations hit the table. This is something that many Fate fans love and some people who aren’t Fate fans see a problem, so it’s very much a feature/bug depending on your perspective.
But I’m always interested in uncertainty dials, so I keep wondering what happens when you decouple attack success and damage inflicted in Fate. Here’s one thought.
First, you turn stress from boxes into a pool akin to hit points. A small pool, maybe 10-ish points. When you attack and succeed, you do whatever damage the situation merits using polyhedral, like (as a totally out-of-my-ass example):
- Baseline: 1d3
- Particularly bruising: 1d3+1
- Dangerous: 1d6 (or 2d3, mathematically more interesting but rather ugly)
- Especially dangerous 1d6+2
(Maybe there are some 1d4 steps in there, depending on how granular a given dynamic needs. Hell, it’s almost ladder-able: Average danger vs Fair danger, etc.)
And whatever weapon you’re using versus whatever sense of protection the other person has merits these things. Maybe you’d have tags a la Dungeon World to better denote these things, I don’t know. This is a riff on the whole “a weapon is either lethal or not depending on narrative circumstance” that works better in Fate than saying “X type of weapon does Y damage.” Gotta respect that Fate isn’t a system of minutia. Hell, maybe something causes an attack that would normally be at one level to be harder. Narrative, baby.
Now, you keep the consequence system as ways of absorbing stress, and the rule of being taken out if damage goes past stress. So, really, none of the other conflict rules change. Just the stress component. (Which also means that a severe consequence can absorb an entire “dangerous” or most of an “especially dangerous” roll, when the results are at their highest.)
So, if the amount of stress you do is decoupled from the shifts of success you have, you can also mirror attacks in the same way that you do overcome and advantages: success or success with style. SWS maybe bumps up the lethality of it or grants an advantage — whatever works, but it’s in line with how SWS works elsewhere.
The reason this might work is that once you let an attack roll go, you don’t know how hard you’ll be hit. It adds some push-your-luck to the game, which sometimes I prefer. Which also means the decisions surrounding invoking to succeed on a defense (or, hell, on an attack)
I know there are Fate folks who will hate this because OMG POLYHEDRALS I FLED THAT NATION IN FEAR, but this came to mind so I wanted to note it down. Any thoughts that aren’t just immediate kneejerk rejections? :)