Stress is a transitory thing, but sometimes conflicts will have lasting effects on a char-acter —serious injuries, embarrassments, phobias, and the like. These effects are collectively called consequences, and they are a special kind of aspect.
Any time a character takes stress, he may opt to take a consequence to reduce the amount of stress received from the attack. The exact nature of the consequence depends upon the conflict — an injury might be appropriate for a physical struggle, but an emotional state might be apt for a social one. Whatever the consequence, it is written down under the stress track.
Normally, the player taking the consequence gets to describe what it is, so long as it’s compatible with the nature of the attack that inflicted the harm. The GM arbitrates the appropriateness of a consequence and there may be some back and forth conversation before settling on one. The GM is the final authority on whether a player’s suggested consequence is reasonable for the circumstances and severity.
There are four levels of consequence severity, each of which cancels out a greater amount of stress from an attack. Consequences may not be taken after the fact to cancel stress already recorded on a character’s stress track. Consequences linger for varying lengths of time after appropriate justification is established to begin recovery:
Mild consequences cancel out 2 stress. They last for one scene after recovery starts. Think of things that are bad enough to make you say “Walk it off/ rub some dirt in it!”
Moderate consequences cancel out 4 stress. They last until the end of the next session after recovery starts. Think of things that are bad enough to make you say, “Man, you really should go take care of that/get some rest.”
Severe consequences cancel out 6 stress. They last for the next scenario (or two to three sessions, whichever is longer) after recovery starts. Think of things that are bad enough to make you say, “Man, you really need to go to the ER/get serious help.”
Each character may take one of each severity (though some stunts and very high skills may increase the number of consequences that can be taken at a certain severity); once the consequence slot is used, it cannot be used again until the current consequence is removed. Multiple consequences can be “stacked” at a time, combining their rating for the purposes of absorbing an attack. So instead of taking a severe consequence to cancel 6 stress, a player might take a mild (2 stress) and a moderate (4 stress) which would add up to cancel 6 stress.
When your character takes a consequence, remove the appropriate amount of stress from the attack. If that reduces the stress to zero or below, you absorb the hit completely. If there is any stress left over, you need to mark it on your stress track. So, if your character gets hit for 5 stress and you decide to take a moderate consequence, you’re left with a 1 stress hit. Keep in mind that the normal rules for taking stress apply for this — empty boxes get filled in, filled boxes “roll up” to the right. That means that, even if you take a consequence, the leftover stress might take you out anyway… be careful about this!
Also keep in mind that, because a consequence is an aspect, it can be tagged, invoked, and compelled like any other aspect. Opponents with fate points will take advantage of this, because invoking a consequence to help win a fight is very easy to justify. Further, the attacker that inflicted the consequence gets one tag on it (which he may give to an ally), just like aspects placed by a maneuver.
Some skills (like Science) and some supernatural powers (like Inhuman Recovery) can provide easy justification to start the recovery process (for skills) or reduce recovery times for consequences (for powers). See the appropriate skill or power descriptions for details.
Extreme Consequences The Last Resort
If your character is in extremely dire straits, and it’s really, really important to stay in the fight, there is one last-ditch option you have available. This is called an extreme consequence, but it’s set apart from the others because it operates as more of a plot device than a normal consequence and isn’t affected by any of the normal rules for recovery. You can only have one extreme consequence at a time, and the slot will only ever clear with a major milestone or every three scenarios, based on the consequence taken and the logical recovery time dictated by the GM.
When you use this option, you can cancel out 8 stress from any attack. In exchange, you must delete one of the seven aspects from your character sheet and replace it with an aspect that reflects the outcome of the attack. That’s right — taking this level of consequence changes who your character is on a fundamental level. Because of this, you should reserve it for the greatest of sacrifices or the most heinous of traumas — for those times when you absolutely must push to the bitter end and have no other choice.
There are a few other limitations to extreme consequences:
Your high concept cannot be changed as a result of an extreme consequence, unless the attack in question is deliberately targeting that aspect. In other words, you can’t change WIZARD OF THEWHITECOUNCIL unless the attack is specifically trying to permanently strip you of magical ability.
You cannot change your trouble aspect as a result of an extreme consequence.
No amount of supernatural healing or other abilities can speed up the recovery of an extreme consequence, and you cannot take another extreme consequence until after the next major milestone in the game, regardless of your powers.
The new aspect is effectively treated as one of your permanent aspects. Even when your extreme consequence slot resets, the consequence aspect remains on your sheet — it doesn’t just go away or reset your old one. You might rename the aspect during a subsequent minor milestone as part of Advancement, but you’d have to justify the renaming as something that reflects how the experience changed your character. You can’t just say, “Well, it’s been three scenarios, so I want my old aspect back.”
Recovery from Consequences
Recovering from consequences is a bit involved. It basically requires two things — some in-game circumstance that justifies that the character can start the recovery process and a certain amount of time in scenes or sessions before the consequence in question goes away. An appropriate in-game circumstance depends largely on the consequence that’s been taken — most physical consequences require medical attention or rest, while mental consequences might require therapy, counseling, or extended time spent in the healing presence of a loved one. Social consequences can vary widely and are situational; a consequence like FRAZZLED might only need a night at the bar and a chance to unwind, while a consequence like BADREPUTATION might require your character to spend time doing very public acts of charity to rebuild the good faith he’s lost.
Once this circumstance is established, the recovery time can begin.
Mild consequences usually last until the end of the next scene after recovery begins.
Moderate consquences last until the end of the next session after recovery begins.
Severe consequences last until the end of the next scenario (or few sessions, as you prefer) after recovery begins.
Extreme consequences are, of course, their own special kind of beast.
In certain cases, it’d be more appropriate to measure recovery with in-game time, like days or weeks.
Some powers affect either recovery time or the establishment of an appropriate circumstance (like Inhuman Recovery, Wizard’s Constitution, et al.). See those individual descriptions for details.
LIST OF CONSEQUENSES
Tongue-tied; Embarrassed; What’s Wrong With Me Today?; What an Idiot!; Intimidated; Going Off Half-Cocked; Gullible; Unkempt; Watchful Eye of the Law;Awkward, Looking Weak, Reluctantly Impressed, Stuttering, Blushing, Annoyed
Nothing Comes Out Right; Introverted; Antisocial; Leave Me Alone, I Need My Space; Party Foul; Clearly Out of My Depth; Mouth Writing Checks My Body Can’t Cash; Taking This Out on the Next Person I See; Glum; Unclean; In the Doghouse with my [significant other]; Wanted for Questioning, Scared For My Life, Totally Misguided, Seeing Your Point All Too Well, Enraged
Everybody’s Talking About It; I Hate People Right Now; Office Pariah; Nobody’s Talking to Me; Roll Over and Give Up; Depressed; Serious, Self-Neglect; Marital Strife; Suspect Number One, Serious Self-Doubt, My Secret’s Out, Kneeling Before Zod, Time In Heaven Taught Me Earth Is Hell
Scandal!; Not the Cover Story I Was Hoping For; I’m So Alone; Thoughts of Suicide; *Post-Traumatic Stress Disorder; All Doors are Closed to Me; Getting a Divorce; On the Police’s ‘Usual Suspects’ List; Kicked Out of the Yacht Club, Lost-My-Soul Sociopath; Locked-In Syndrome
Headache; Distracted; Forgetful; Missing Some Facts; Not Connecting the Dots Well Today, Odd twitch, Weird/Dark thoughts, A bit tamed, My head hurts, Irritable, Hurt, Reckless
Gullible; Not Thinking Things Through; I Can’t Keep My Mind Off of [insert event]; Can’t Concentrate; Mind Racing; Mentally Checked Out; Haunted; Insomnia; Restless, Weakened Control, Must.. Not.. Obey, The world is spinning, Angry, Sad, Crazy
Dependent Upon [insert name] for Guidance; Beginning to See Patterns in Everything; Paranoid; Not Really Here Right Now; I Can’t Sleep Until I Figure This Out, (insert name here)’s got a hold on me, I.. feel.. numb, Why keep fighting?, Cold/violent fury, Deep depression, Maniac
Crippling Visions; Mental Breakdown; *Post-Traumatic Stress Disorder; *Personality Schism; Devil on my Shoulder; *Paranoid Schizophrenia, My mind goes to the shadows, Mental Scars, Does not play well with others, M1 Regular, Look out he’s got a knife!, Stockholm’s Syndrom
Bell Rung; Off-Balance; Dizzy; Bloody Nose; Sprained Joint; Cold/Flu, Bruised Knuckle, Frostbitten, That Hurts!, Cut, Grazed, Bleeding, Bruised, fat lip, sore, sprained, winded, tired, banged up, looks worse than it really is, wincing, Tis but a scratch
Bleeding; I Think I Fractured Something; Mild Concussion; Food Poisoning, Pulled My Back, Dislocated Shoulder, Broken Nose , Cracked Ribs, Concussion, tasting blood, can’t wear that any more, shouldn’t be walking on that, making a mess, ragged breathing, don’t touch me there, partly blinded, partly deafened, cussing, It’s just a flesh wound
State of Shock; Broken Leg; Severe Blood Loss; Head Wound; Serious Concussion; Hypothermia; Heart Attack, External Internal Organs, There’s A Hole In Me, Crushed Ribcage, Bent the wrong way, Bloody Mess, is that bone showing, Crippling Pain, Internal Bleeding, Hemorrhaging, picking up teeth, can’t walk on that, holding it shut, gasping for air, punch drunk, tunnel vision, moaning agony
Where’s My Arm?; Coma; Serious Disease; I’ll Never Play the Guitar Again; Hooked on Pain Pills; Stroke, I Can’t Find My Eyes, Wheelchair-Bound, Disfiguring Scars, Legless, Armless, Slit Vocal Cords, Hamstrung, Lost a Lung, Body-Switch; Withered To Old Age; Imperfect “Resurrection”; Irradiated