Saturday, March 15, 2014

Fate Points In Saga of the Splintered Realm

For Saga of the Splintered Realm, I want a simple mechanic for a fate point plug in. This would not appear in the core rules, but would instead be reserved for the campaign sourcebook (book 2). Here are some ideas about this mechanic (although I’m open to suggestions, as with all things at this point!):

- You earn 1d4 Fate Points every time you level (including level 1). NPCs and monsters do not have fate points (although it would be worth considering primary antagonists as being deserving of fate points, too)…
- You spend Fate Points in situations where you really need a good roll.
- You can use a Fate Point to replace any roll with the best possible result for that roll (even a natural 1 on an attack). You could only use a fate point to affect your rolls, not those of your allies or enemies. Examples include:
- You fail a save and will die from a poisoned bite; a fate point allows you to make the save with a natural roll of 1.
- You roll a natural 20 to hit with a strike with your 2-handed sword, but on the damage you roll a 1 on 1d10. You use a Fate Point to take a 10 on the die, which doubles to 20 due to the critical hit.
- Replace a low roll for hit points (at level advancement) with the maximum possible result.
You could NOT use a Fate Point to:
- Force a foe to fail a save, miss with an attack, or deal less damage.
- Go back in time. You would need to declare your use of a Fate Point before any follow up rolls. For example, if you fail a roll to find a trap, you cannot (after the trap goes off) ask to go back in time and use a Fate point to avoid that from happening. If you deem that you didn’t roll well to find a trap, and use a Fate Point to be sure to find it, then you find it if it’s there – if there was no trap to begin with, sorry… you just wasted a Fate point.

The GM could award Fate points in extraordinary circumstances, but in general these would be reserved for when you level.

The drawback is that, while you have Fate points, you are not going to die by poison, be petrified, or fail a save vs. dragon breath. This makes you a bit hardier, for sure. However, you eventually will run out of Fate Points, and luck will eventually take center stage again.

I like the mechanic because it becomes a simple mechanic that puts the player in positions whereby they have to make difficult decisions in play that have long-term consequences. Do I accept the botch on the attack roll I just made, or do I burn a Fate Point to turn this to a natural 20? Can I survive another round to maybe mitigate this miss, or am I running out of time, and need to damn the torpedoes?

I especially like how this plays into level advancement. It makes lower-level characters a bit more hardy (they are not going to automatically die the first time they are bit by a spider), and odds are good that a character can level up before (or shortly after) exhausting all fate points. However, by higher levels, when the rate of progress slows, those few fate points you get every level are going to have to last a long time, and I would expect that you’d become more loathe to waste them unless absolutely necessary. Again, I like the dramatic impact this has on character decisions in play, and takes the place of such house rules as divine intervention and the like.

I could also see this tying into a subclass option, such as ‘fateful warrior’ or somesuch, which would allow you to take bonus fate points every level (by giving up some xp).