I want to run a Neverwhere style game (kind of an underworld fantasy) where players start as regular humans trapped in the Neverwhere where their refresh is their connection to the mundane world but are able to trade their refresh points in play for powers. I'm using the Dresden system for it the aspects system which I think fits Neverwhere style play.

What I'm looking for are good ideas for the following:

  1. I like the idea of 'stealing' powers from another, but lack a good system for it. What are some of my options here?
  2. I want the players to be able to refresh for powers, but need a story hook for those bartering the powers away. How are the traders getting these powers to begin with?
  3. Should I allow players to trade their own powers for refresh or other powers? Should I give them a penalty?

EDIT: Moving this question to a new topic:

How can I make their connections to the mundane world matter to the players and characters?

The last three were answered by gomad.

  • \$\begingroup\$ I've made a pass at answering the first now, too. \$\endgroup\$
    – gomad
    May 10, 2012 at 21:28

2 Answers 2


I think you've got a good start here - DFRPG sounds like a good match for you.

  • Refresh works exactly as you're describing it - you give up control over your destiny in exchange for powers.

  • I'm not up on Neverwhere, so I can't tell you how the traders get the powers in the fiction. But if that's not part of the source canon, go with whatever feels right for your setting. Maybe it's like the thing in the spoiler text? Whether they can trade powers back and forth is more about the fiction you want to model than the system, I think.

  • Making the connections to the outside world matter sounds like a combination of two things to me:

    • You already have reduced Refresh making the choice to give up connections to the mundane world a tough choice for the players - Refresh is a limited resource! Especially at lower starting levels of power.

    • Aspects! Put some requirements on Aspects when creating characters. Something like "No orphaned loners! You must have a relationship with a normal human and a job at the start of the game!" FATE and DFRPG are good at making those Aspects important - either by providing strength or causing trouble for the PCs.

  • As far as a good system for stealing powers, I think you've already got it: It's the regular conflict system. On Your Story p.203, it says:

If the damage exceeds the character’s stress track, or occupied boxes “push” the stress off the right side of the stress track, the character is taken out, meaning the character has decisively lost the conflict. His fate is in the hands of the opponent, who may decide how the character loses.

If losing powers in this world is a real threat, I would go ahead and let the winner decide that's how the loser suffers for the loss. If there's a time limit on this, like when Rogue steals someone's powers, you can implement the lost powers as Consequences (see YS p.203).

Whether to give the loser some or all of the Refresh cost of the lost power back is up to you and the fiction of the world. I would do it, because all those Fate points give the loser some of the wherewithal to go get his powers back! I would also make winners follow the Refresh limits, which means that human NPCs might have to "drop" excess powers to stay under the cap, but that monstrous NPCs could have huge collections of powers!

Misfits explanation behind spoilerthingy:

At some point in the show, the kids meet up with a man who can give and take powers. He just buys them and sells them - no muss, no fuss, no special effects. He has some way of storing them, too. He's a shrewd businessman and makes a fortune at it. Because, when someone sells you a power and then wants it back, you know the price has gone way, way up!

  • \$\begingroup\$ I've not played Misfits. How do they trade powers there? Neverwhere doesn't really talk about trading powers, but I'm more drawing on other fantasy like Stardust and Dead Inside where you can. If you haven't watched/read Neverwhere, I recommend it. \$\endgroup\$ May 10, 2012 at 19:04
  • \$\begingroup\$ Misfits is a BBC show about a bunch of juvenile delinquents who get superpowers. Answer updated! You've also got me thinking I should go read Unknown Armies again... \$\endgroup\$
    – gomad
    May 10, 2012 at 19:40
  • \$\begingroup\$ OH! You mean the show Misfits. That I've seen! It's not a bad idea, having a handful of power brokers as opposed to anyone just being able to trade powers with each other. \$\endgroup\$ May 10, 2012 at 19:50
  • 2
    \$\begingroup\$ That Misfits episode is a good basis. For a Neverwhere style approach, consider the Marquis de Carabas. At least half his livelihood is trading in items that grant magical powers, at a substantial cost to the buyer. \$\endgroup\$
    – Tynam
    May 10, 2012 at 20:55
  • \$\begingroup\$ @Tynam I could have sworn that the Marquis traded in favours, with the power-trading being done at the Floating Market, with one of the old men. \$\endgroup\$
    – Vatine
    Oct 16, 2012 at 14:17

I would take a look at the changeling template, and see about letting it go both ways. The changelings start play with only a small power, but can quickly get more as they need at the cost of refresh. In the rules as written, they cannot give up any of those powers and gain more refresh without giving up all of the powers permanently, but that would be pretty easy to change. Just allow any player to gain new powers at the cost of refresh, but someone (another player or npc) has to have the power and give it to them. Powers can be traded of course, and if you go over refresh, you become an immutable part of the city.


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