It's not just a question of "have you done it in your game or not", but rather I'm wondering about the rationale behind the rules.

What's the desired effect of this restriction and what effect on the game does it have if it's removed?

  • This isn't really a question that we as a community can answer, you'd have to ask the game designers. There are a lot of guesses, but only those who wrote the rules can answer it definitively. – Christopher Jun 11 '15 at 21:16
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    @Christopher Fate's developers are very open about their design intents. Fate Core and the Fate System Toolkit are basically gamestyle manifestos examining each mechanic and its role in the narrative engine. Additionally, while "desired effect" is something that attributes intent to the developers, "effect on the game if removed" can be easily answered by anyone with relevant experience. – BESW Jun 11 '15 at 21:18
  • I'm well aware of the openness of the devs, having chatted with a few of them on several occasions. I was more speaking to the "I'm wondering about the rationale behind the rules" part. The questions can easily be answered, but the rationale I don't think can be discerned. – Christopher Jun 11 '15 at 21:21
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    Dunno if this is worth posting as an answer, but have you tried asking the devs themselves? They're pretty good about answering their E-mail or randomly popping into Fate threads here on SE. – Sandalfoot Jun 12 '15 at 1:11

Stress is a pacing mechanic. It's a way to control how fast and intense your conflicts are. Messing with this changes the kind of stories Fate tells, by changing how seriously PCs take conflicts.

Increasing the speed at which you can use stress boxes shifts the pace of conflict. Characters with multiple stress boxes become much less squishy against large hits: they don't have to absorb stress with consequences very often if they can leverage all their stress boxes against a single attack. Since usually NPCs have fewer stress boxes than PCs, this means that PCs become less concerned about the fallout when they enter conflicts. This, in turn, reduces the "dramatic" part of the dramatic/proactive/competent paradigm for Fate PCs.

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    I would probably also suggest that stress is more like successes in a Contest than HP in D&D. – kyoryu Jun 12 '15 at 4:41

(This started as a comment on BESW's answer, but I ran up against the character limit, so...)

In addition to the combat balance considerations, I think there's a narrative/game design aspect to this question:

With the current rule, Fate combat often involves several turns spent setting up beneficial aspects. DFRPG calls this 'maneuvering', Fate Core rolls it into the 'Create an Advantage' action. Once they're set up, one character tags them all at once for a single powerful attack that either takes out the enemy, or at least forces them to take consequences.

This is (IMHO) a good thing, and I get the sense that it's part of the intended combat dynamic for the system - it helps keep combat interesting and narratively-driven.

If multiple stress boxes could be used per hit, it would become more effective to simply attack every turn, and just try to gradually run the enemy out of stress boxes. By removing the incentive for maneuvers, you would also be removing an incentive for players to help construct the narrative of combat. The game would be less interesting that way, I think.

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