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But I've tended to avoid really heavy combat, and all the while, I've been increasing the amounts of Fate people get as I've opened up more CharGen options (minor nobles with vast wealth and restrictions on how the ref can interfere with your backstory are the key things). In the Alpha Playtest version, a character with modest social status and 625 silver coins' worth of starting wealth would have 36 points of Fate. That has now more than doubled, to 79, as a base figure, and people can additionally get up to +20 points of Fate by genning up their own characters and letting the ref tamper with their backstory without their knowledge. So from 36, to 99, the Fate score of a fairly typical sort of character has more than doubled, nearly tripled. Would these ever be depleted? Is there really much value to having more than, say, 70 points of Fate?
So yesterday evening we had a game where I really pushed as much combat as I could bear, taking up perhaps a third or maybe even half of the game. We ploughed through 84 points of Fate between 4 PCs. Thing is though, that meant a lot of re-rolls. I felt the re-rolling wasn't going down great with the players, although only the a-ref said anything, and described it as a minor niggle. Well, I don't want minor niggles.
So, this is my current draft of an alternative that I'm considering. [Edited.]
Double Rolls:- The ref can improve a PC's dice-check result for a cost in Fate to whichever PC most directly benefits - usually that PC, but could be another PC if e.g. the recipient of healing magic from the first PC. The base cost is equal to however many even totals the PC and their opponent (usually the ref) got between them on the dice (minimum 1). So, if you have a stat of 7 and get totals of 14 and 17, and I have a stat of 5 and get totals of 7 and 8, we got two even numbers between us (14 and 8, including stats), so the base cost is 2 Fate. That base amount of Fate gets the PC a 1-step improvement in their dice-check:- from Fail to Bare success, from Bare to Middling, from Middling to Clear or from Clear to Perfect. The ref can give a PC as many steps of improvement as the ref sees fit, but each for that cost. However, if between the PC and their opponent the four dice came up with exactly 3 even numbers (after adding any applicable stats), this option is not available. Instead, if you get a Fail, in that scenario the ref can let the player or a-ref re-roll for 1 Fate, and that result stands. Even that option is not available if your opponent got a double-natural-12 and you got one odd total.
Single Rolls:- The ref can improve a PC's dice-check result from Fail to Perfect for 3 Fate if both they and their opponent got odd totals, or 9 Fate if one got odd and the other got even (again, charged to whichever PC most directly benefits). If both got even totals and the PC got a Fail, the ref can let the player or a-ref re-roll for 1 Fate, and that result stands. Even that option is not available if your opponent got a natural 12 and you got a natural 2.
Spending Fate is always the ref's decision, not the player's. However A-refs may be consulted on this where it affects only their PC.
For casting magic, the two aspects of the roll, (a) how your magic primarily works, and (b) how it weakens you, are bumped separately. A Fate bump to either aspect (or both) of your invocation check does not prevent you from facing an eldritch backlash (consumption), but the roll for that effect can itself be bumped in the normal way.
Fate bumps are done after any non-Fate re-rolls. You cannot have a Fate re-roll then a Fate bump.
I am hoping that the outlawing of pure Fate bumps on 1 out of 4 rolls, and to a lesser extent the random Fate costs, will mitigate the magic tea party feeling from the heavy element of referee's discretion here. Otherwise the danger would be that this could lead to excessively predictable outcomes, and moral pressure on the ref for the PCs to "win" whenever it mattered most.
This system also maintains a minimum 1 in 290 chance of even the lowliest mook killing (outright) the mightiest PC if attacking using the war of attrition rules, so there is always some danger.
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