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In one of my previous Fate games we used a Social Stress tracks, which was regular-size track. The players on average had 3 boxes in that track. Some powerful factions we encountered had 5 or 6 slots in the stress track and players considered them to be "social bosses" so it worked as intended.

There was, however, a movement to have players increase their average Stress Track length to about 5 boxes, in an attempt to model how the characters were unusually socially savvy, able to engage factions with more resources than they do by social engineering alone. We decided against it, as we didn't have much time left in the game.

I saw some mentions of problems when having larger than usual player stress tracks. Assuming track lengths are not much different between the players (+/-1 box from average) and opposition has appropriately similar length, what would the impact on the game be?

An average stress track would therefore look like that: [1][2][3][4][5]

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  • \$\begingroup\$ @doppelgreener Good catch. It's indeed about tracks going from 1-7. \$\endgroup\$ – eimyr May 9 '16 at 10:44
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Well the obvious answers is social encounters will take longer and your players will be more powerful(provided you don't increase the enemies the same amount). Depending on how you run encounters, mostly as 1 or 2 players at a time or the whole group involved it can greatly over balance your party's power.

If they are all able to act, increasing their tracks by 2 will actually result in the opponent needing to overcome an extra 8 stress if you have a party of 4. This is probably 2 good rolls and 4 or more average rolls. So you've given your party an extra 2-4 rounds, from which they can act, so an extra 4-16 "attacks."

It should also change the way players act in the encounter. With a 3-4 hit box they are fairly close to taking consequences or perhaps being taken out after taking a hit or to. At 5-6 they have alot more room to breath both because they can take 5 and 6 stress hits without consequence and because getting repetitive low hits isn't nearly as dangerous. This should mean they spend the first few round just stacking up aspects, until they are ready for a mega attack to drop the bad guy in a single hit. Normally they would only be able to stack a few aspects before having to risk taking an attack otherwise they might find themselves choosing between being taken out, conceding, or taking a consequence they might not have room for.

The other major effect on play is that longer encounter may mean the scene's scope needs to enlarge. I usually did social scenes over a couple of hours rarely going to days. This might need them go to days and occasionally weeks or longer.

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  • 2
    \$\begingroup\$ A suggestion: Consider giving characters additional social consequence slot(s), rather than longer tracks. This still allows them more 'staying power' in social conflicts, but as consequences are lasting and can be invoked against them, it retains the sense that each action in a conflict is 'meaningful'. \$\endgroup\$ – MrTheWalrus May 11 '16 at 20:31
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Instead of inflating faction stress tracks, and having to increase the player ones to keep up, how about modelling the difference of faction to individual (or even between factions) by scale rules ?

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