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I renamed this question because I didn't estimate the problem correctly, which actually seems to be localized to assisted healing. The old title was "How do I restrain Inspiring Leadership".

(Strands of Fate has a different System tracking stress and consequences than most FATE games; the page numbers are taken from Strands of Fate (SoF) second printing and Strands of Power (SoP).)

So I ran a Strands of Fate game, and am already in need of advice.

One of our players wanted to play a bardish character, the other one a cleric-type character.

Clerics (People who purchase the Cleric Powers package from SoP 179 and work divine miracles) get their "magic" from FP, as I understand; they are not limited in their applications of miracles in other ways (SoP 281).

Our bard picked Inspiring Leadership (SoP 19; if the quote is not fair use, please revert):

Inspiring Leadership

You have a gift for getting your friends back on their feet, dusting them off, and putting them back into the fight. You are a natural leader and an inspiration to those around you.

Spend a Fate Point. You are granted a number of Fate Points equal to your Persuasion to freely distribute to PC or NPC allies who can hear your commands or words of encouragement. This is a free action, and these extra Fate Points must be spent during this scene or be wasted.

Your Allies may not later give these Fate Points away or trade them using other advantages.

From its wording, you can do this as many times as the character has FP. The FP have to be used in this scene or be lost. Note that it does not forbid using the FP for powers, it just forbids trading them using powers. Our Bard has a Persuasion of 4.

The divine "Cure" miracle instantly degrades a consequence (SoP 284); its description does not restrict this in any way.

Do I understand the rules correctly in the following points:

  • A character with IL can activate the IL as many times as they have FP (SoP 19)
  • A character with Cure can therefore use cure as many times as they have FP and as many times as the IL player has FP times four
  • Cure degrades ANY consequence of ANY severity, instantly (SoP 284)
  • Therefore, a character with long-term physical consequences like Defeated(P) is instantly brought back to full health (SoF 237, consequences degraded into a slot already having a consequence in it degrade that consequence as well)
  • So is his whole party, in fact. The FP usually suffice to do this four to five times per character. No, they didn't hog them.
  • A GM can never ever endanger a party playing that combination

How am I going to address that situation in the future? Is this a hole in the rules? Do I misread these examples?

Should I just forbid Inspiring Leadership? Should I reword it to only allow the FP to be spent for aspects, not powers?

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2 Answers 2

up vote 5 down vote accepted

I am going to offer an answer to my own question, but I am open to other points of view. Therefore I am going to leave the question open for at least a week.

This is what I came up with:

  • The rule with consequences degrading all other consequences is, for assisted ("artificial") healing like the Heal and Cure powers, fundamentally broken in my opinion. It applies to natural healing (SoF 237 is probably meant for that case) only.

So I am going to have things reworded as follows to reflect this:

Cure

Activation Cost: 1 FP

Select a consequence on one character in range. The consequence is downgraded if the slot it would downgrade into is not occupied by another consequence. If you want to downgrade multiple tiers of consequences, you have to start with the lowest consequence that can be degraded in this fashion, or with the Minor consequence, which can always be degraded (it vanishes).

  • [optional] Your GM might veto treating Defeated (P) consequences in this manner.
  • [optional] Your GM might impose that the miracle takes some time for various tier consequences.

[heal should be reworded as an analogue to that.]

If a consequence heals naturally though, I am going to have the rule of global degradation apply, because it's natural that a character spending several weeks to heal an Extreme (P) consequence also heals other consequences. I will also have IL be reworded to

Inspiring Leadership

[Natural leader, put allies on their feet, yada yada]

Once per scene, you can spend a fate point to gain an amount of FP equal to your Persuasion, which you can distribute to any PCs or NPCs who can perceive your encouragement.

  • Using this power is a free action.
  • These FP must be spent in this scene or be wasted.
  • These FP may not later be redistributed.
  • [optional] These FP are usable for invoking or compelling aspects or to aid dice rolls without an aspect with a +1. You cannot use them to activate powers.

I think that fixes all issues I had with that combo, without taking away the role-playing value of IL.

This post got edited so many times because of Feedback I got, sorry.

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There's sort of a universal answer to your players having found a power combination so brokenly powerful you're unable to challenge them properly anymore. It's to sit down with them and say:

We have a problem we need to resolve. You've found a power combination that is so brokenly powerful I'm unable to challenge you properly anymore. It's pretty awesome, but we need to figure out what to do so that I can still challenge you.

Then work it out with them.

Getting them involved in this is important - and it would still be important if this was an RPG other than Fate. You are the GM, but they spend as much time in the game as you and have a significant stake in it as well. It's their game as well.

Being heavy-handed with authority here and just breaking their stuff, without consulting them at all, may upset them. It could impact the tone of your relationship with your players and possibly contribute to a players-vs-GM mentality. Worse of all: the trust you all have that the others will be fair to you and each other, which is critical in a Fate game, may be impacted.

So don't do this without their consultation. Speak to them on an equal footing, extend your trust, and involve them in the resolution.

What might the resolution look like?

There's a lot of different ways to go about it.

  • Your players agreeing not to perform this power combo. Depending on how well you trust your players, this may be enough.

    Some players may do it again in the future. If they're using this power combo again to do something completely awesome like healing the dying Final Guardian of the Elder Forest, you might well just permit it because of the rule of cool. If not, you may want to firmly remind them about their agreement. If they insist on doing it, consider letting it happen to see what comes of it, but if you feel the agreement has been broken, you need to speak to them again about this and possibly work out another solution.

  • You and your players agree to change the rules - and you agree, together, on how they should be changed. The changes in your answer are pretty sensible. However, make sure you present them as an option - "I think it should work this way. What do you think?" - and not as a decree.
  • You find out your players actually really want this. Maybe they like the idea of being nigh-unkillable super-somethings. If so, keep this combo, and talk with them about the possibility of making this a major theme of the game.
    • If they're nigh-unkillable, perhaps they should have a nemesis who's also nigh-unkillable.
    • Maybe their challenges should be primarily moral or mental (and if so, you may have to make a rules change so they can't mend certain kinds of consequences - emotional scars run their course).
    • Maybe they should be opposing a small legion of super-soldiers.
    • Maybe they're just The Great Paladins of the Land, no doubt touched by and shining with the light of The Powers That Be, given divine might necessary to help with the woes of the people.
    • A combination of the above?
  • Your players adjust their characters. They agree not to use Inspiring Leadership (and you might decide with them to ban it), and they find something else instead.
  • You and your players peacefully agree to retire one or both of these characters. Sometimes, this is the best resolution. In the D&D 4e games of one of our fellow members, BESW, one player steadily put together a character built around stunning opponents, tripping them and otherwise making them unable to do anything. It eventually reached the point where this character was so effective, most enemies couldn't do much more than go cry in the corner until they were defeated. In this instance, BESW and the player eventually reached a point where they agreed to let the character retire into the story's background - and the character rolled up a very different character.
  • It may be something else entirely unexpected, so keep an open and inquiring mind and try to understand what's going on and be open to big changes.

Whatever the solution, find something you and your players are both content with, and go from there.

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It's important to note that while this answer is not the accepted answer, it's of course still sound advice. I accepted my own answer because the fix I came up with works very well and provides immediate, ready-to-go-to alternative rulings, and it got voted highest. –  CONTRACT SAYS I'M RIGHT Oct 7 '13 at 16:35
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