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9 stress is certainly more than you can mark at once, but clearing out all of your stress between scores can be a bit of a gamble in overindulgence if it's on the low side.

So let's say that one of my PCs, Candlestick, starts a score with like 2 or 3 stress, pushes themselves once, and then has exceptionally bad luck leading a group action or on a resistance roll. That could just be it, right there, marking Trauma on the first roll of the score.

My first read of the rules I thought that meant they were out of the score, but going over the section again, it doesn't seem like that's necessarily the case:

When you suffer TRAUMA, you're taken out of action. You're "left for dead" or otherwise dropped out of the current conflict, only to come back later, shaken and drained. When you return, you have zero stress and your vice has been satisfied for the next downtime.

-- "Trauma", p.13

The mention of downtime is what got me thinking "score", but all that it mentions for scope here is dropping out of "the current conflict", whatever that is. I checked the index for mentions of "conflict" but it only comes up in resolving disagreements between players, which I'm pretty sure doesn't apply here.

So: how long is a character supposed to be out of action when they mark Trauma? The entire score? Less? But if so, how much less?

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How long would it take someone "left for dead" to get back into the score?

This is not a trick question; it's what you have to answer for yourself as a GM when deciding if and how somebody who's marked Trauma should be able to come back into the score.

In general, if you think one more pass around the table would be enough to wrap up the score, let it finish without Candlestick and catch back up with them during downtime. If it's going to be longer than that, take a second to figure out when and how there can be a break in the action of the current score so Candlestick can show back up.

What "conflict" means in this case is informal - a string of uninterrupted action. In some later games in this engine Trauma notes you're out for at least "the scene", which means about the same thing - the current string of actions.

But isn't the entire score a string of uninterrupted action?

That's an easy impression to get, sure! Clocks are ticking over the entire length of a score, and you explicitly haven't got the time to resupply, de-stress, or recover from harm.

As a GM you're encouraged by the GM section to cut to the action and not get caught up in minutia, but all that means is you're fast-forwarding past time that would otherwise be uneventful. That time still exists!

So, if you're more than "once around the table" from the end of a score, figure out where there's going to be some of that skippable time. Maybe after a score clock resolves in the players' favor. Maybe after they make a big important roll. Maybe they could fill a clock or make a big roll in order to create the time for Candlestick to get back into the score! That could be fun, especially if they were banking on Candlestick's particular talents to finish out the score in the first place.

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