Consider the lowly garden gnome. He's got the Diminutive Size [-1] power, which means he is

Wee. [...] When your size is a factor in combat, you can only inflict 1 physical stress per attack (but this could be improved by damage bonuses from weapons and the like). (YS163)

So he shouldn't be too much of a threat, unless he brings a lot of friends. However, this little guy has nasty needle-sharp teeth which are represented by the Claws [-1] power, and give him

Natural Weapons. You have claws (or something similar) that do +1 physical stress on a successful hit. This bonus stacks with any advantages due to Strength abilities (page 183) or other powers or stunts that boost the damage of a Fists attack. (YS162)

I'm pretty sure this is functionally identical to having a rating of Fists:1 and means he has a physical stress potential of 2. But the wording on Claws seems odd, and I'm wondering if I'm missing something.

Does the "+1 physical stress on a successful hit" granted by Natural Weapons overcome the physical stress cap imposed by Wee? If not, why not?


2 Answers 2


Note the wording on Wee:

When your size is a factor in combat…

This conditional won't always be true. It means that the gnome is at a distinct disadvantage when trying to damage with weight or strength, but they will rarely fight that way. Under normal circumstances and tactics, Wee and Claws won't both be relevant to the current situation. In unusual circumstances when Wee is relevant at the same time, it will override everything including Claws. If that seems strange for a particular situation, then that's a good indicator that Wee isn't actually relevant.

A couple examples illustrating the difference:

Harry is skulking about on a property, doing investigative stuff. He rounds a corner in the front yard while trying to get an angle through the living room window, only to step on a sleeping garden gnome. Startled, the gnome whacks Harry in the shins with the fake fishing rod that it "fishes" with in the nearby fountain during the day.

Size/strength is a factor in this case, so stress dealt will be capped at 1, with probably no bonus or max +1 (maybe it has a sharp metal hook moulded into it) for the "weapon" in this case.

Harry is skulking about in a warehouse. He pops opens a ventilation cover and pulls himself up a short vertical air duct. He pulls himself up until his head is level with the connecting horizontal air duct, and comes face-to-face with a very angry gnome who was standing there at the junction. He gets a faceful of tiny, razor-sharp nails and plummets back down the duct.

Size isn't a factor in the attack in this case, so stress dealt is the full number of shifts rolled in the gnome's favour, +1 for claws.

  • \$\begingroup\$ Okay, I really like this idea but I'm having trouble coming up with a specific scenario where that would clearly be the case. Could you provide an example? \$\endgroup\$
    – BESW
    Feb 4, 2013 at 22:19
  • \$\begingroup\$ I'll try to come up with one for each, but I'm having a hard time thinking of when Wee would be relevant. A gnome is rarely going to use tactics where their size matters to how much stress they inflict… \$\endgroup\$ Feb 4, 2013 at 23:32
  • \$\begingroup\$ Why does size not matter in the second example? Even in that setting, the only significant damage something like that could do is take out an eyeball - which is a Consequence that should be unlikely unless that player has been really battered by something else. \$\endgroup\$
    – Simon Gill
    Feb 4, 2013 at 23:47
  • \$\begingroup\$ @SimonGill Are you falling into the trap of thinking in D&D terms? Strength isn't a core, relevant part of how damage works in DFRPG, unlike most RPGs. Size is irrelevant to the second example, because it's not attempting to injure with the application of power backed up by physical mass; it's injuring with fiendishly sharp, nasty claws. Gnomes aren't combat pushovers due to size (just physically push-overable). Remember that stress =/= physical damage until you're already narratively compromised. A gnome can deal stress just fine, unless it foolishly tries to throw its weight around to do it. \$\endgroup\$ Feb 4, 2013 at 23:51
  • 1
    \$\begingroup\$ @Simon Sure. The potential consequences does not in any way limit the amount of stress that can be dished out in that situation, though. (And you missed consequences of the fall—the claws are only part of how that attack deals stress.) \$\endgroup\$ Feb 5, 2013 at 0:21

It stacks. So Wolverine the Gnome (David the Gnome's much surlier cousin) can do 2 points of physical stress per attack.

As for why... natural weapons increase the stress you can inflict, just like a plain old weapony weapon can (as referenced in the Wee... bit your quoted). Anything else that got you a damage bonus, like powers or stunts could also up the capped stress amount. A very tiny man with Mythic Strength is by its very nature more dangerous, scary and inherently funny, than a very tiny man with no supernatural strength power.

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    \$\begingroup\$ A very tiny man with Mytich Strength... Nac Mac Feegle wha hae! \$\endgroup\$
    – Tacroy
    Feb 4, 2013 at 21:50

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