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[Fate Core + Strands of Fate + crunch] Powers, WR/AR, single set stress and the Zero Sum (oh, and Mass Effect homebrew)


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Brace for rambling crunch discussion. You have been warned.

The tl;dr verison: in Strands of Fate, how do you scale powers causing stress to deal with the greatly reduced stress capacity of the upgrading single-set optional rules?

Super tl;dr version: Mass Effect's Biotics in Strands of Fate. Go.

So I'm a FATE fan. I own, if you count FATE Core and Accelerated as two different games, 5 different iterations of the rules because everyone takes a different spin on it, shows wonderful new ways to make FATE represent different settings and genres. It's like a toolkit of toolkits.

So my current project is a homebrew Mass Effect game. Weapons and tech powers are easy; even shields are simple enough with a little bit of tinkering. My sticking point is balancing Biotics against mundane guns/armour and my torn love between the elegant simplicity of FATE Core and the complexity of Strands.

For those not in the know (and seriously, just go play Mass Effect already. Yeesh.) Biotics is basically mental manipulation of gravity. Telekinetic blasts, limited flight, defense shields, miniature black holes, even short-range teleportation. Kinda.

Now here's where I'm torn between two rulesets (which I was planning on mashing together in any case): FATE Core has a very abstract and simple philosophy when it comes to powers by using the zero sum and parity. For example, if you put all the guns and shiny that a soldier uses next to a Biotic's range of telekinetic mayhem, it becomes clear that if you add a Biotic skill in place of the soldier's needed Resources skill, it becomes at a basic level a zero sum equation and likely shouldn't cost anything; it's a stylistic choice. A soldier uses the Resources skill to buy guns and armour. A Biotic uses the Biotics skill to project mass effect fields and telekinetic strikes. They're an even match.

Throw in Strands of Fate's more complex weapon statistics and power structure and the question gets a lot more complicated.

While Strands does come with rules for upgrading single-set Stress tracks, the rules (especially from Strands of Power) tend to assume the full set of stress, which is [Attr.] + [Attr.] x 5. Let's say for a combatant, 3 Strength and 3 Endurance. That's 30 stress. The same character under single-set stress would have only SIX. Counting consequences (sans Extreme consequence, which exists I feel due to Strands TL sliding scale - zero sum FTW) they would have 18, which is good but still less. In addition, those consequences remain of static value while stress can increase. For Strands default that's 5 boxes per increase. For upgrading single-set, it's statistically a little less than one.

Now powers in Strands can do you a lot of self-inflicted stress if you push it. I mean, a LOT. When you fail an activation roll for a power, the power still goes off, but you take stress from the effort. (This is an awesome mechanic, btw. Love it.) But when you're dealing with a higher baseline of stress but with severely diminishing returns (upgrading single-set) how do you recalculate all that? How does a Biotic character not knock themselves out trying to attack someone? I wonder if I am missing something crucial here.

Two examples. Our comparison point will be a WR +8 weapon (basic gauss rifle).

Telekinesis is AP 3 (2 Refresh), and has a base activation difficulty of 4 + WR. So in order to match the assault rifle for power, this sets the target difficulty to 12. Strands sets the best human attriibute at 5, and sets the top of the skill pyramid at 4. So on an average roll, the Biotic effectively gets shot with said assault rifle just to keep up with it in terms of effectiveless.

My other option was Control. A WR +8 attack at range weighs in with an activation roll of 10. So this time they're only taking a pistol round, but still taking an impressive 6 stress just to make an attack.

Oh, then you have to roll to hit. On top of that, you've paid good AP for the privelidge of knocking yourself unconscious.

This can't be right. I have to be missing something here. Mechalus, if you're out there, help a brother out. :confused:

In the end though, as much as I want to use Strands' crunchier version of FATE (for gear and powers) with FATE Core's refinements (clarified terminology, reduced aspect roster, clarified skill mechanics) I cannot seem to get the powers to work without basically throwing out Strands and starting fresh which, again, can't be right.

Okay. rant over. GO. :cool:


Registered User
Validated User
You've got a lot of math in there, but it's not really clear from reading that how you actually want Biotics to be different, except for "different math".

You might get some more responses if your end goal was more clear. How do you actually want this to play out differently at the table?


Validated User
If you're trying to model an attack, why wouldn't you buy it as Power Attack, Ranged?

The Activation roll for that is only 4 no matter what the WR is.

And for only two AP you would get it at WR 7 if you assume Mass Effect to be TL 6.
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