Some of you know that I use Freebooters for long-term campaign style play. I’m over fifty sessions in with one group, and approaching 25 with another.
This gives me the chance to see the rules across many different scenarios. The game adapts and evolves. Today, I’m looking to discuss the mechanics of DURATION and INFLICTED CONDITIONS and how I find myself wanting to fine tune them.
As a FotF Fighter, you can spend one METTLE to “Inflict a condition–stunned, hindered, etc.–of your choice on your foe (subject to Judge approval), with a Duration equal to 1+INT (minimum 1).” Mage and Cleric players make the valid argument that their spells/invocations should be able to inflict conditions too. I buy it. I’ve seen thieves use poison to inflict conditions, and I’ve even been tempted to add it as one of the items in the list for “Backstab”.
The condition STUNNED–suggested in the move’s own language–is a powerful and effective one to inflict. A stunned creature is unable to react or respond in any way. I have no problem therefore, allowing conditions that mimic the same mechanic. We’ve used PARALYZED, BLINDED, BEWILDERED, DAZED, KNOCKED DOWN, etc. Spell conditions can be more creative: TERRIFIED may actually cause an opponent to flee, while CHARMED can change the course of an encounter altogether.
I’ve noticed, however, especially at DURATIONS of 2+, that the right condition can run away from you. When players inflict a condition and then subsequently avoid rolling, or roll moves against their best abilities, this can (mechanically) go too far in blocking the failures that deplete DURATION counters. This can be done artfully in the context of well-crafted fiction, or it can be done in a more exploitative way. In any case, DAZED, Duration 3, can turn a dragon to mincemeat while player misses and partial successes merely chip away at DURATION, even when–as described in a previous discussion of DURATION as a “shield”–you also make players MAKE A SAVING THROW to deal with the immediate fallout of the failures that also deplete duration.
Imagine a great protracted antagonist, the Dragon Agazbek, STUNNED by an intelligent fighter (Duration 3) and then lallygagging helplessly while players “take a moment to rest and catch [their] breath,” “brood and plot in silence,” drink some potions, cherrypick a treasure or two” then poison her nest and slip away. There is an implicit danger that she might snap out if it, but everyone rolls Defy Danger/Make a Saving Throw, and after a few successes and an keen eye on the duration counter?
I am therefore considering a house rule as follows:
FLIRTING WITH DISASTER
When you make any move that worsens the state or stakes of a creature whose instinct is suppressed by a condition or effect, reduce the duration of that condition by one.