Collateral Damage

Ponderings and notes about how to run a superhero setting using FATE.

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Wyvern
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Collateral Damage

Post by Wyvern »

It's a super-hero setting. Collateral damage happens; missed attacks are obvious, of course, but even a strike that hits dead on might still leave a person-shaped crater in the ground.

Some of the mechanics for this are obvious - every scene gets a stress track (and perhaps an armor rating?), and attacks (or attack-themed maneuvers) have some chance of damaging the scene.

What's less obvious is what that stress track means, how it recovers, what that 'chance of damaging the scene' is, and what sort of consequences come from going past it. I don't yet have worked out exactly how I want these mechanics to work; suggestions are welcome.

Some forms of collateral damage would be just obvious and automatic - if you throw around a zone-wide electrical attack in a computer lab, that's going to fry things regardless of what it does to the scene's stress track. Similarly, if you punch through a water main as a maneuver to put an aspect of 'flooding tunnels' on a scene - well, that's surely going to put stress and perhaps consequences on the scene, but it's also going to flood those tunnels.

I'd also like for this mechanic to include things like police response; a big building-breaking brawl downtown is going to get government response teams on scene relatively quickly, while the same brawl in an abandoned factory building won't get nearly as much attention or response priority.

Wyvern
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Re: Collateral Damage

Post by Wyvern »

Come to think of it, there are also two separate scales of collateral damage effects.

First, there's small(er)-scale scene-local stuff. The pyrokinetic set the room on fire. The hulking brute smashed through delicate chemical equipment and now there's poisonous vapors filling the lab. The climactic final battle with the villain got a bit out of hand and now their lair is collapsing because it's lost too many structural supports.

And second, there's larger-scale long-term problems. An overly destructive fight leaving downtown in rubble, changing the face of the city - even when rebuilding is complete, it's never going to be quite the same. Perhaps one of the heroes is now on the police's list of dangerous supers to be apprehended, or just finds their insurance premiums soaring to almost-unmanageable levels. Civilian casualties of any level would fall into this category as well.

kitsunenotsume
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Re: Collateral Damage

Post by kitsunenotsume »

Just a thought here for record:

Scenes could have multiples of various Consequence levels. Minor consequences are damage that can be recovered in a scene or two, Moderate consequences are things that will last for maybe a couple weeks, and Extreme consequences are things that pretty much represent a dramatic and semipermanent change.

So minor consequences are probably property damage that insurance will probably cover easily or can be 'resolved' by shifting to the next street over.
Moderate consiquences might be getting the local police involved or throwing out a structural wall or few, and extreme consiquences are something that gets you on national or international news.

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Joshua
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Re: Collateral Damage

Post by Joshua »

As a note, Venture City (Fate Supers) added Collateral Damage Effects to powers. As a standard effect, supers can 'supercharge' their powers and well, make a general mess of things. Not sure if this is something you'd want, but it's an interesting idea. Heck Batman uses one of these to dodge Darkseid's omega beams.

Wyvern
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Re: Collateral Damage

Post by Wyvern »

Ah, yes, that's a good point - while it should be safe to assume that the PCs will -generally- want to minimize collateral damage... sometimes you find a godzilla threshold, or someone hits a berserk button, and there should definitely be an option to go all-out at the cost of higher collateral damage.

Also, I should go re-read Venture City; I remember not being very impressed with its mechanics, but there are probably other things in there I can get some inspiration from.

Also-also, there needs to be an option to reduce collateral damage by preparing a battlefield; thinking, for example, of Tokyo 3 in Evangelion, where the entire city could evacuate to underground bunkers on surprisingly minimal notice. Bomb shelters in the real world may have become mostly ignored since the end of the cold war, but in a super setting... I could see such shelters being part of building codes, or mandated by insurance companies. Even simple things like "Well, yeah, I got blast shutters installed across my storefront - I'll make back the price of that in just two years of insurance premiums." ...Of course, that only really applies to more well-off sections of a city.

Wyvern
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Re: Collateral Damage

Post by Wyvern »

A thought, that may or may not go anywhere:

DFRPG had the thematic element of free will vs. nature matched up against the refresh level; the more power you had, the less free will you had, and zero refresh meant going NPC.

For a supers game, I'm thinking the right thematic element might be control vs. power; use free refresh (or perhaps free refresh + 1/2 stunts or something?) as the control parameter, and hitting zero refresh means losing control entirely.

...Of course, there's no way to accidentally spend refresh, so hitting that point would have to be a player choice. Unlike DF's version, though, going entirely out of control isn't necessarily a one-way street; a player whose character is temporarily unplayable should get the opportunity to make and play a new character, but their original character can be rendered playable again - perhaps by the game just progressing enough for their refresh total to rise above zero, perhaps by a concerted effort by everyone else to track them down and (partially?) de-power them.

And there should be a way to get some of this effect short of going completely off the deep end; perhaps a mechanism that lets a character trade off consequences for greater effect? (In particular, someone willing to spend an extreme consequence should be able to - at least mostly - dictate how a scene ends.)

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