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Consequential Contests in Fate Core

The Dresden Files RPG included the idea of consequential contests, that is opposed actions between two parties that could result in a lasting consequence to the losing side. While they work differently now than in Dresden, contests made their way into Fate Core. Consequential contests, however, did not. Here, then, is one look at running them in the new paradigm.

Consequential Contest

In a consequential contest, the outcome has a lasting impact on the losing side in the form of a situation aspect that functions like a consequence. Run a consequential contest like any normal contest. One side wins when they reach 3 victories. The difference in victories between the two sides determines the severity of the resulting situation aspect.
  • Difference of 3The loser receives a situation aspect that is treated in all ways like a severe consequence, except it doesn't take up a consequence slot.
  • Difference of 2: The loser receives a situation aspect that is treated in all ways like a moderate consequence, except it doesn't take up a consequence slot.
  • Difference of 1: The loser receives a situation aspect that is treated in all ways like a mild consequence, except it doesn't take up a consequence slot.
If more than one character takes part in the contest on the losing side (whether making the actual overcome action, providing a Teamwork bonus, or creating advantages), the situation aspect applies equally to all of them. In all cases, the winner of the contest can invoke the resulting situation aspect once for free, just as if they had created it with an action.

Parties may enter a consequential contest with an idea of the aspect they want to inflict, or they may wait to see how events play out. Twists that occur on a tie alter the nature of the contest (turning social maneuvering into a physical race, for example), and they should also affect what situation aspects may reasonably result.

Design Notes

Why create a situation aspect instead of just inflicting a consequence? For all the reasons +Ryan Macklin discusses in this blog post. And since multiple characters can be involved in a contest on the same side, inflicting a consequence on each of them would compound those concerns and be potentially overwhelming. Creating a situation aspect mitigates these problems and makes consequential contests more flexible and approachable even to groups that are nervous about their limited pool of consequences.

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