2.9 Benefits and Consequences

Contests, in addition to deciding whether you overcome a story obstacle, carry additional consequences. These are negative if you lose, and positive if you win.

Your GM may simply determine these from what makes fictional sense, given the agreed prize for the contest, as described above. Optionally your GM may impose consequences of defeat or provide benefits of victory if they desire ongoing penalties or bonuses. This rule is used in conjunction with degree of victory or defeat. Your GM should always respond to the flow of the story, if narrative consequences are enough, they should not reach for additional mechanical penalties.

2.9.1 The Consequences of Defeat

When you lose a contest, you may suffer consequences: literal or metaphorical injuries which make it harder for you to use related abilities.

  • In a fight or test of physical mettle, you wind up literally wounded.
  • In a social contest, you suffer damage to your reputation.
  • If commanding a war, you lose battalions, equipment, or territories.
  • In an economic struggle, you lose money, other resources, or opportunities.
  • In a morale crisis, you may suffer bouts of crippling self-doubt.

From the least to the most punishing, the five states of adversity are: hurt, impaired, injured, dying, and dead. The first four are possible consequences of any contest. Dying PCs become dead, unless they receive intervention of some sort.

Although the levels refer to physical states of adversity, the consequences can be emotional, social, spiritual, magical, and so on.

2.9.1.2 Hurt

If you are hurt, you show signs of adversity and find it harder to succeed at contests related to your defeat. Either your flesh or pride may be bruised. Until you recover, you suffer a –3 penalty to all related abilities.

You may suffer multiple hurts to the same ability. These are cumulative until recovery occurs.

Unless your GM has a dramatic reason to decide otherwise, your hurts vanish at the end of a session, after one day of rest per accumulated hurt, or when in-game events justify their removal.

2.9.1.3 Impaired

If you are impaired, you have taken a jarring blow, physically, socially, or emotionally, and you are much likelier to fail when attempting similar actions in the future. You suffer a –6 penalty to all related abilities. Impairments combine with hurts and with other impairments.

As bad as your condition may be, there’s nothing wrong with you that some prolonged inactivity won’t fix. A single impairment goes away after one week of rest, or when an in-game event (like miraculous or extraordinary treatment) occurs to make their removal seem believable.

2.9.1.4 Injured

If you are injured, you have suffered a debilitating blow which leaves you reeling. Physically you may have lost the use of a limb or sense, socially you may be shunned, and emotionally you may in shock. Although you should heal with time, you suffer a -9 penalty to all related abilities. Injuries combine with impairments and hurts.

A single injury goes away after a month’s rest, or by miraculous intervention, as above.

2.9.1.5 Dying

If you are dying you will, without rapid and appropriate intervention, expire. To save you, the other PCs must overcome a story obstacle. Their attempt must be credible, using medicine or magic, as defined by your genre. Your GM should use a very high resistance for this contest, unless the story suggests otherwise. According to the conventions of dramatic storytelling, the character typically has just enough time left for the other characters to make this one attempt.

Successful intervention leaves the PC injured. Depending on the narrative circumstances, a complete victory on the intervention attempt may leave them merely impaired.

If intervention fails, you will die, but not necessarily immediately. Although irrevocably doomed, your GM may rule that the story suggests that you survive long enough to take one final, heroic, action.

To even take that final action if the GM offers you the chance, then you must succeed at a prior contest of wherewithal to rouse yourself to action. Appropriate abilities for the contest of wherewithal include:

  • Physical action: Endurance, High Pain Threshold, Grim Determination, etc.
  • Intellectual activity: Concentration, Iron Will, Love of Country (if action to be attempted is patriotic), etc.
  • Social humiliation: Savoir Faire, Unflappable, Stoic Dignity

A contest of wherewithal faces a moderate resistance. Even if you succeed at the contest of wherewithal, you take an automatic bump down penalty whenever you use any related ability in a contest. (The bump down does not apply to the contest of wherewithal itself.) Where it seems apt, your GM may choose to ignore the bump down if you score a major or complete victory on the contest of wherewithal.)

Any active hurts or impairments continue to be counted against you as well.

Your final action cannot reverse the outcome of the contest that you lost, it must involve a new story obstacle. Your GM will rule if your action is allowable.

Like other states of adversity, dying may be literal or metaphorical. Your standing in society, business or politics may be on the brink of permanent extinction. You may be facing mental death — a permanent lapse into madness or senility.

2.9.1.6 Dead

If you die as a consequence of physical injuries, you are gone from the game, period.

Death from a non-physical contest will likely be metaphorical. If you die in an economic, social, spiritual, or artistic contest, you permanently lose abilities.

Even only metaphorically dead, your GM may declare that you have undergone changes so dire as to make your PC unplayable. You may be incurably insane, or be so socially shamed that you retire to a life of obscurity or religious meditation. You may be shunned by all around you, sent into permanent exile, or sentenced to long-term imprisonment with no hope of escape.

2.9.1.7 CONSEQUENCES OF DEFEAT TABLE

Defeat Level State of Adversity Penalty
Marginal Hurt –3 penalty to appropriate abilities
Minor Impaired –6 penalty to appropriate abilities
Major injured –9 penalty to appropriate abilities
Complete Dying No actions allowed. If ‘final action’, automatic bump down on uses of appropriate ability

2.9.2 Benefits of Victory

Just as when you experience defeat you can suffer ongoing ill effects in addition to the loss of the prize at hand, when you win you can gain benefits from that victory.

A benefit of victory gives you a bonus on the selected abilities, or in the specified situation, as determined by your victory level.

  • In a fight or test of physical mettle, your workout leaves you sharp for the next encounter.
  • In a social contest, you gain confidence and admiration from your triumph.
  • If commanding a war, you gain strategic advantage over your enemy.
  • In an economic struggle, your profits can be re-invested, or you drive competitors into the ground.
  • In a morale crisis, you are buoyed up by success, nothing can stop you now.

Remember that the benefit does not have to be directly related to the ability used. Look to the goal of the contest. The abilities or situation should reflect the story obstacle that was overcome and the tactic used to overcome it.

  • In a fight or test of physical mettle, your triumph has everyone rallying to your cause.
  • In a social contest, you win powerful allies who will strengthen you in your fight against your enemies.
  • If commanding a war, you pillage the enemy city and enrich your army.
  • In an economic struggle, you gain status as one of the wealthy elite.
  • In a morale crisis, your rallied troops strengthen your army.

A PC may apply bonuses from multiple benefits to a single contest.

From the least to the most robust the four states of fortune are: fresh, pumped, invigorated, and heroic.

2.9.2.1 Fresh

If you are fresh, you are lively and find it easier to succeed at contests related to your victory. You are on a roll and feel confident and able. Until you are defeated, you gain a +3 bonus to all related abilities.

You may be refreshed multiple times on the same ability. These are cumulative until defeat occurs.

Unless your GM has a dramatic reason to decide otherwise, your freshness vanishes at the end of a session, after one day of idleness, or when in-game events justify their removal.

2.9.1.3 Pumped

If you are pumped, you are energized, physically, socially, or emotionally, and you are much likelier to succeed when attempting similar actions in the future. You gain a +6 bonus to all related abilities. Pumped combines with fresh and pumped.

As good as your condition may be, an extended period of idleness will cause you to lose your edge. A single pumped goes away after one week of idleness, or when an in-game event (like long drunken party) occurs to make their removal seem believable.

2.9.1.4 Invigorated

If you are invigorated, you are pulsing with hormones, mentally focused, or exuding confidence. Physically you can push your body to new personal bests of achievement, socially confidant and exuding charisma, and emotionally you are in touch with your feelings and resonate with those of others. Although this will fade with time, you gain a +9 bonus to all related abilities. Invigorated combines with pumped and fresh.

Being invigorated goes away after a month’s idleness, or an in-game event, as above.

2.9.1.5 Heroic

If you are heroic, you have become unstoppable, physically at peak performance, socially, everyone wants to be you or be with you, and emotionally you have gained new insights into yourself and others around you. Although this will fade with time, you gain a bump bonus to all related abilities. Being heroic combines with invigorated, pumped and fresh.

Being heroic goes away after a season’s idleness, or an in-game event, as above.

2.9.1.6 BENEFITS OF VICTORY TABLE

Victory Level State of Fortune Benefit
Marginal Fresh +3
Minor Pumped +6
Major Invigorated +9
Complete Heroic You receive an automatic bump up on uses of an appropriate ability

2.9.2 Clearly Inferior Opponents

Defeating clearly inferior opponents neither teaches you anything nor significantly enhances your reputation; you are ineligible for a benefit of victory if the resistance you used in the contest exceeded the resistance by 6 or more. If, in the case of a long contest, you or your opponent used multiple abilities, compare the best ability you used to their worst.

2.9.3 Recovery and Healing

Consequences of injured or less lapse on their own with the passage of time. However, you’ll often want to remove them ahead of schedule, with the use of abilities.

2.9.3.1 Healing Abilities

The ability used to bring about recovery from a state of adversity must relate to the type of harm.

You can heal physical injuries with medical or extraordinary abilities.

You can remove mental traumas, including those of confidence and morale, with mundane psychology or through extraordinary abilities. You might also remove them through a dramatic confrontation between the victim and the source of the psychic injury.

You use social abilities to heal social injuries. You probably have to make a public apology of some sort, often including a negotiation with the offended parties and the payment of compensation, either in disposable wealth or something more symbolic.

You can fix damage to items and equipment with some sort of repair ability. If you want to fix an extraordinary item, you may require genre-specific expertise: a broken magic ring may require a ritual to reforge.

Your GM should almost always resolve healing attempts as simple contests. An exception might be a medical drama, in which surgeries would comprise the suspenseful set-piece sequences of the game, and your GM might chose a long contest.

2.9.3.2 Healing Resistances

Default resistances to remove states of adversity are as follows:

2.9.3.3 HEALING RESISTANCES TABLE

Consequence of Defeat Difficulty
Hurt Low
Impaired Moderate
Injured High
Dying Very High

2.9.3.4 Outcomes of Healing

When you make a successful healing attempt, you remove one level of adversity for each level of victory. A major defeat increases the subject’s consequences of defeat by 1; a complete defeat adds an additional 2 levels to the state of adversity.

2.9.4 Waning Benefits

Just as you recover from consequences with time, or through healing, so benefits fade with time.

At the end of a storyline, especially when a significant period of game-world time passes between the conclusion of one episode and the beginning of the next, the GM may declare that all benefits have expired.

2.9.5 Benefits Meet Consequences

Because it is confusing to track both benefits and consequences against the same ability your GM may simply rule that one cancels the other out. This is particularly true of social contests where a moment of shame can erase your previous triumphs, or your confidence eroded by a failure. Physical benefits may cancel out, flushed with victory you may be able to ignore pain, but it may defy credibility for wounds to be healed by an athletic performance.

Your GM may simply rule that benefits and consequences cancel out, or they may take the difference between the two benefits and create a new one. For example if you are invigorated by your previous performance in the dance contest, but then suffer a hurt, your GM may rule that your twisted ankle cancels out your energy from the last performance, or your GM might rule that your success sees you through the pain, but you are now only pumped.

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