As most of you are probably aware, Fate has what it calls Consequences for tracking how “damaged” characters are. There are a few really awesome benefits to this system over others that I’ve seen. Let’s have a look-see, shall we?
Consequences are Descriptive
Consequences need a name that describes the “injury”. This makes it so that it’s a fact in the game that the character has the given injury. And, given that it a completely blank spot for the name, it’s not limited to a list with predefined mechanics. It’s open and story-driven.
Consequences are Aspects
The previous section talks indirectly about some of what’s great about Aspects, but I’ll expand here. Aspects are facts that dictate what a character can or cannot do. That’s pretty awesome in and of itself, but then there’s the really awesome part about Aspects: compelling and invoking. These two actions that can be done for bonuses are story twists are the major engine behind everything Fate. No matter what edition it is, whether you use Skill, Approaches, or nothing at all for simple roll modifiers, Fate will allow you to compel or invoke Aspects. This is what makes Fate such a compelling game to play.
Consequences are Not Called Injuries
This is my favorite reason. Sure, earlier on, I used the words “damaged” and “injury” to describe the idea that Consequences are meant to represent, but that’s an extremely limited view of what Consequences are used for.
Consequences cover mental as well as physical injuries. But it can cover even more than that. Ryan M. Danks first brought it to my attention in his post about how to make Superman be truly invulnerable in Fate. Taking a Consequence doesn’t necessarily mean that the attack directly affected you. It means that your inability to stop the attack causes you harm.
If you didn’t feel like reading the post in the link, I’ll give you a super quick overview. Superman is usually unharmed by attacks against him (magic can affect him, and he’ll take damage if he’s around Kryptonite, but those are exceptions). So, when you direct an attack “at” Superman under normal circumstances, he’s most likely going to be “hurt” by the aftermath than any direct physical harm. Usually, this is collateral damage.
Whatever happens, the Consequence has to be the consequence of not stopping the attack that will affect the character in some way. In some cases, this may be difficult to figure out in some cases, but discussion between the players and the GM should be able to figure something out.
Consequences are much more versatile than they seem at first glance, and they’re just one of the pieces of genius that makes Fate such a great game.