[Fate] Fractalized Poisons

As I’ve been working on a lot of poisonous insects for Fate/Fate Freeport of late, I brainstormed a bit on using the Fate Fractal to replicate poisons, rather than just giving a character an Aspect like Poisoned! or Embedded Stinger or something.

You can also apply the same theory to things like curses and diseases; I wouldn’t recommend having every poison or disease used as its own character, but it’s a good way to represent problems generated by a lasting ill-effect more than how they’re replicated in, say, D&D, where poisonous and disease-ridden monsters are rather common.

Fate Core Cover

The idea is that at various times—usually inconvenient or dramatic ones—the poison may affect its target (e.g., make a roll for the fatigue or confusion the poison causes), and each poison can have different effects. As with everything else using the Fractal, they’re built like characters; they have their own stress tracks and skills; I simplified those a bit since there’s only three things a poison does:

  • Attack represents the damage it’s doing to a person’s body; as with any other damage, it deals physical stress and can be soaked with Consequences.
  • Create Advantage is used to represent things like fatigue, disorientation, dehydration, hallucinations, sluggishness, loss of motor skills, and other ways a poison can affect someone.
  • Defend represents how hard it is for its victim’s body or medicinal treatment to purge the poison.

A poison’s Attack and Create Advantage skills are resisted by the target’s Physique (CON if you’re using Fate Freeport).

The poison itself has a number of stress boxes, and the poison is removed when all of its stress boxes are filled. Spells can remove a poison in part or in its entirety, and good old bed rest and recuperation can also save off its effects. The victim can use Physique against the poison’s Defend to have their body fight it off, though someone else could do something healing related (Lore, if the game doesn’t have its own Heal/Medicine-type skill). Alternately, magic and high-tech healing devices (or even gear like antitoxin) work wonders.

In those Physique/Lore vs Defend checks, successes deal damage to the poison’s stress track—the poison is getting diluted and purged, the victim’s system is starting to recover, or it’s otherwise losing its potency. Should be pretty straightforward. When a poison’s stress boxes are full and it’s Taken Out, the victim’s body has fought off and purged the toxin. When the poison is Taken Out, it and any Aspects or Consequences it’s placed on the victim are removed. Yay!

The Aspects these place on their victim are mostly a suggestion, as they were left a bit generic for situational use. Alternately, consider having them deal automatic Consequences instead of temporary Aspects if you really want to bring the pain—those eat up valuable elements of the characters’ defenses, making them more susceptible to damage from other sources.

Insect Poison
Aspects: Natural Toxin
Stress: OOO
Attack: Feeling Sluggish (Fair +2) Once per day, the poison can use this skill to attack the poisoned creature’s stress track.
Defend: Infectious Toxin (Fair +2) Blocks attempts to cure or resist the poison.
Deadly Nightshade
Aspects: Ingested Poison, Sweet Sickly Nightmares
Stress: OOOOO
Create Advantage: Madness Reigns (Great +4) Once each scene, the poison can attempt to make its victim Delirious.
Defend: Systematic Confusion (Good +3) Blocks attempts to cure or resist the poison.
Wyvern Sting
Aspects: Sadistic Stinger
Stress: OOOOO OO
Attack: My Blood Boils! (Great +4) Every day, the poison attacks its victim’s stress track. It can also use this skill after an attempt to cure it, provided the poison still has stress boxes remaining.
Create Advantage: Strength-Sapping (Fair +2) During each scene, the poison can attempt to make its victim Weakened.
Defend: Hard To Purge (Good +3) Blocks attempts to cure or resist the poison.

Alternate Option: Simpler Poisons

If you want poison rules that aren’t as mechanically complicated, especially for FAE, consider this method instead. Each poison has a Potency score, which is rolled against the target’s Physique (or an applicable FAE approach). Success means that the body has fought off the poison, while Failure gives the victim a temporary Aspect or Consequence to represent the toll the poison’s taking on their body—Disoriented, Distracted, Sickened, Poisoned, perhaps even just the name of the poison will suffice.

To remove a poison, you can receive healing (gear or Create Advantage), or roll a Physique or Will check against its Potency every day, hour, week, whatever increment of time makes sense.

Some sample poisons, their Potencies, and possible Aspects:

Insect Poison: Potency 2 (Sluggish, Burning Enzymes)
Deadly Nightshade: Potency 4 (Hallucinations, Noxious Nightmares)
Wyvern Sting: Potency 6 (Weakened, Boiling Blood)

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