Disposable Stunts

A recent conversation made me consider the possibility of having stunts in Fate that players could choose to exercise in a way that produces a greater, or a more situationally useful, effect the cost of them losing the stunt. Then presumably at some later point they can get a new stunt (to replace the one they lost) in some narrative-appropriate way.

Stunts can have constraints that limit their use, like once per encounter or something … and I think in this case the stunt has its normal application with those constraints, but the action to burn the stunt is kind of an alternative way to use it.

I’m curious if anybody has applied this kind of thing or how if it might backfire or just not be very fun?

One example might be that someone has stone or gen that glows to provide light – as a way to illuminate a room or something. But if they throw it, it will explode with an effect like a flashbang. But then it’s gone forever.

That might be a bad example because it’s better to implement that a different way; I’m not sure, that’s why I’m asking.

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I :heart: disposable stunts. I mostly use them as rewards for players doing cool things or to help reinforce the narrative.

Since you spoke with Senator Oswalt, you get +2 to present your case in front of the Senate tomorrow.

You returned the communities stolen goods after you defeated the bandits. As a thank you, the next Resources roll in this community gets +2.

The wizard’s staff has some residual magic left. In the next session when you Attack with electricity magic, you get a +2 to the roll. At the end of that session the magic is gone from the staff.

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I’ve toyed with the idea, but never used it in practice. I was thinking, if you’ve got a refresh slot open, once per session, if you can narrate a flashback that makes sense with your character and would give you some special advantage, you can do one stunty thing for free. If you’ve got 3 refresh slots, you could do this 3 times a session. And maybe you can use the stunt multiple times until the end of the session?

Stunty things: get a +2, get a reroll, change a boost to an aspect with a free invoke, get Weapon:2 or Armor:2, force an opponent to take a consequence instead of marking stress.

I think a disposable powerful game mechanic is a cool idea. That’s essentially how I designed Props.

I don’t (although this is entirely a matter of subjective preference) like the idea of viewing stunts as disposable. It cuts against the narrative impact that stunts \ have in defining a character.

If I wanted to give characters “stuff” that something cool and goes away, I’d just do that. I don’t think one need to morph something from the character sheet to make a glowing/exploding stone, just because there isn’t anything *more like that * in the core rules. I suspect it’s better just to make the thing you want. (But this is really me thinking about it from the perspective of what I’d publish. Obviously in a campaign, do what ever you like and call it whatever you want.

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I actually used something similar to this in our last adventure. Our party was exploring “Crystal Con”. Before bad stuff started to go down, they went shopping for random minor one-shot “magic items”. Depending on their resources role they had a broader selection of items—but essentially they all worked like a “fragile stunt.” For example, someone picked up a crystal figurine of the “lucky driving God”. They could use it to make a declaration about their parking space, street lights, etc. or give them a +2 on drive. If they wanted to “spend” a stunt slot however, that effect would be permanent (at least until they decide to reassign that slot to something else).

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Boosts and free invokes on created advantages are temporary, and they are mechanically similar to stunts (they give you a +2). I don’t think it would break anything to make a homebrew rule that you don’t have to use boosts and free invokes on created advantages for a re-roll or a +2, you can use them for some other “stunty” stuff. You would want to limit this to specific options that make sense in your game, and any use would have to make narrative sense.

When you take an appropriate action, you could mark off the boost or the free invoke, and do one of the following:

  • After attacking, force an opponent to use a consequence slot instead of checking stress
  • Before using a skill, use a skill that’s an edge case instead of the skill you would normally use
  • As an action, bump the effect of another aspect up to +3 until the end of the scene
  • Instead of taking a boost if you succeed with style on defense, you can inflict a 2-shift hit on your opponent
  • Instead of taking a boost if you tie on creating an advantage, you get an aspect with a free invoke
  • As an action, erase one checked stress box

I’m not necessarily recommending any of this. To me, Fate out-of-the-box has enough mechanics to make conflicts intense and force players to think. But if you’re doing a martial arts game and/or you want fights with lots of mechanical juice, it might be cool. And if one of my players said, “Hey, this guy is Off Balance. Instead of attacking this guy, can I just use that boost to catch my breath, crack my neck, shrug my shoulders, and uncheck one of my stress boxes?” I might say, “That sounds like a cool thing to do, I like your description, and it seems like a fair trade. Let’s do that.”