So, I'm planning out a Misfits-style game using the rules from the Kerberos Club in Fate. Misfits is about a bunch of young offenders who get super powers. And the part of Kerberos Club I'm using is basically the one where you can build custom skills out of different trappings. So I'm really just using a lot of the rules from Kerberos Club with none of the setting.

Some of the NPCs I want to make have powers that allow them to "take" and/or "give" powers (represented as skills). Is there a good way to model this in FATE? For example, a power "dealer" that can take powers from people (but not use them) and then give them to others. Characters that can take skills and use them themselves are easy enough to model using Variable trappings, but I'm not sure how to handle removing skills or gaining new ones, especially since they'd cost refresh.


1 Answer 1


In the series - and in most approaches I can envision to the game - gaining or losing powers is a big deal. It won't be occurring every two seconds.

I suggest that you tie this in to Fate's normal system for gaining, changing and losing powers - milestones.

Your NPC simply has a trapping "Power Transfer" which is a plot-enabler - it constitutes an excuse for the character being able to gain, lose or change a power at a milestone. If you want you can then let the change happen mid-play according to the events of the game, with the refresh and mechanics being adjusted at the next milestone to match.

If you do want powers to transfer frequently, you need to look at the entire system, because that's a major change to the style of the game. (Potentially a very interesting one!)

Mechanical balance of powers is actually a bit less important, though, if nobody's going to hang on to them.

So: Losing powers, or trading for lower-refresh cost, is obviously not a problem. Give the player back the difference in refresh at end-of-session, and you're done.

Gaining powers, or trading for higher-cost ones, could easily be implemented using the approach from Dresden Files: if you have the refresh to pay for it, you just lose the refresh (and fate points) immediately.

And if you don't, Really Bad Things happen. In Dresden your character falls to supernatural lack-of-self-control, and that's a theme that fits really well with Misfits - minus the supernatural.

So: a character's refresh represents the maximum amount of power they're stable enough to handle. If their refresh is reduced to 0 - or below - by extra powers, they become rapidly unstable, violent, sociopathic or otherwise relegated to dangerous-threat-NPC territory. (There are several good examples of this in the show - Tony, Brian, arguably Simon, and more.)

I suggest the player gains an extra Consequence reflecting their deteriorating sanity, and then has until the next milestone to either gain more refresh, or reduce the cost of their powers - before they become an enemy NPC.

  • \$\begingroup\$ Alright, thanks! I plan for it to be a huge gamechanger. Mostly as a major switch-up like the end of the Christmas Special, so PCs (that have lived that long) can take some new abilities. Obviously that COULD be abused to be used frequently, but a base character could also be able to do literally anything at 4d6 + 4, so it's not like the system can't be broken already. \$\endgroup\$
    – CSturgess
    Apr 21, 2014 at 19:35
  • \$\begingroup\$ Do you have any more info on custom trappings? I don't think I've seen that technique referenced before, and wasn't really aware you could do it. \$\endgroup\$
    – CSturgess
    Apr 21, 2014 at 19:36
  • \$\begingroup\$ One more thing, what about skill points? If a player loses the skill, would they get the points back? Some of the skills can be really expensive if they're custom (which they almost definitely will be). \$\endgroup\$
    – CSturgess
    Apr 21, 2014 at 19:38
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    \$\begingroup\$ Technically, it's an Extra rather than a custom trapping. But since it's a GM-controlled plot-driving Extra, you don't need to care about the details - just declare that the ability exists. Then go with the first approach. The end of the Christmas special is pretty much the definition of a Major milestone. So let the players reorganise their characters as need be, and your NPC is just the plot-enabling-excuse for being able to rearrange their powers. \$\endgroup\$
    – Tynam
    Apr 21, 2014 at 19:39
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    \$\begingroup\$ Don't be concerned. Fate takes plot changes in stride. "Oh no, I can't shoot fire! Now I feel really motivated to run like hell." Or if the change is coming soon, make the character leave the points "banked" until they get to reallocate them to the new skill. (We're starting to ramble; I'll try to edit all this into the answer later, so we can delete comments.) \$\endgroup\$
    – Tynam
    Apr 21, 2014 at 19:50

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