Fate: Location Stunts

There are a number of design spaces in Fate that exist, but don’t appear to because of the way Core and Accelerated are written. Of course, that’s by design: any game that dives deep in its own design space starts to alienate newcomers trying to learn the game to play for the first time and to enhance understanding in following sessions.

One of these spaces is where you place stunts. They’re naturally a character extension, of course, but the Fate community and various Fate builds have placed stunts on equipment as well as on meta-character constructs like spaceships. Working on a project recently got me thinking about attaching stunts to other game elements—namely, locations—and what effects that would have.

And because I was listening to Ken & Robin Talk About Stuff this morning, my examples will have a Feng Shui bent to them.

All stunts have three components: how you gain permission to use it, how you trigger the stunt’s effect, and the stunt’s effect itself. The first one is implied in all character stunts, and is kinda implied with equipment, but with other stuff you’ll have to spell it out. The other two are inherent to stunt language, often collapsed into a single sentence.

On Refresh: Just as equipment stunts typically don’t take up a character’s refresh, neither do location stunts.


The Dragon’s Den

This bar is a hit with the local chi reality fighters, who use its basement as a place to plot and store supplies. If you’re a Dragon, once per scene[1] you have +2 to creating an advantage when you’re doing so through supplying or planning.

Top of the Space Needle

When the weather’s good, the view from the Seattle Space Needle is breathtaking. But when the weather isn’t good… there’s still quite a reason to go up there. Once per session[2], a mage and go to the top of the Space Needle to meditate during particularly stormy weather, you gain Attuned to the Storm with a free invocation. This lasts for the rest of the session or when the storm moves on (which might be coincidentally the same time).

How These Differ: Control

In the first example, I stipulate who can use the stunt: a Dragon, who in Feng Shui are the PCs fighting to protect reality. Anyone can use it if they qualify, and it’s got a mild effect. If we tie that to a location aspect like Safe Haven… For Now, then we can track the “health” of this stunt by if the PCs are able to keep that aspect from becoming something like Haven Under Fire. Maybe if the state of the location changes, then the stunt is removed—temporarily or permanently.

(Fun fact: the stunt’s also possibly broken, if you assume that everyone in the group is a Dragon and they are get their +2 to planning/equipping advantages in that scene. You could fix that in any number of ways, each of which changes the stunt’s story, so I didn’t want to insist on a single remedy in this write-up.)

In the second example, the location becomes interesting in the Unknown Armies Cliomancy way, in that you could have various groups competing for the same resource, thus sparking a turf war around the Needle. Everyone wants to be the person to tap that power when it happens, so it’s easy to see the Needle as being Hotly Contested.

Other Uses

There are other ways to use this stunt dynamic, such as for a personal holding you have. A stunt could also have a cost associated with it—that’s the fundamental problem with the Dragon’s Den one, now that I think about it, as the Space Needle one has the inherent cost of conflict. (Note that character stunts have the cost of refresh, so cost is in the base model.) Perhaps you have some rules for contests to attune a site to you, robbing someone else of that power a la Feng Shui.

There are a bunch of weird ways you can use stunts in way. Making these stunts is probably in the hands of the GM, as extension of world revelation… but we all know that Fate doesn’t demand strong player/GM lines in that regard. :)

If you play with this idea, let me know!

– Ryan

(First post-wedding post! Wow, does planning/doing a wedding wipe you out.)

Image: From lostgirlsworld.com/2011/10/what-to-do-in-baltimore, talking about what looks like a neat bar in Baltimore.

[1]Which is actually something with a more complicated definition, as in Fate “scene” is effectively broken by the ability to remove stress. If one moment carries over right into another without the pause needed to remove stress, it’s the same scene.

[2]Which, as with the note above, is actually better defined as “between milestones,” which is usually a session but cliffhangers can break it, and you could have multiple mild milestones in a convention session.


One Response to Fate: Location Stunts

  1. Ryan Macklin says:

    The idea a bit expanded upon in the Fate G+ community: https://plus.google.com/u/0/+RyanMacklin/posts/CEYS5mfPnWc