Game Design: Disadvantaged Actions
I explained how character’s generate a challenge total by allocating resources and guts, and getting a boost if using a factor emphasis. And I have explained how Challenges versus the environment have a set Rating. I didn’t clarify however that they always have that rating. A task that is herculean is not cosmic in scope because you are attempting it blind-folded. So that precludes any sort of negative or positive modifiers to tasks. Either a task is easy, hard or improbably difficult to some degree. It’s not a harder task because you have a broken leg, but you are disadvantaged for trying to run while you have a broken leg.
Disadvantaged actions are all sorts of situations where the hero can’t operate at their best: blocking a bullet with your bare hand, firing blind, attempting to do too much at once, acting while wounded, and so forth. When you make an attempt and the Game Master tells you that you are disadvantaged, you have to ante up an additional resource point. Usually this surcharge is paid with Guts, although certain extremely talented characters don’t have to worry about this.
Some of you are doing the math and are telling yourself, well that’s a negative modifier! It increases the total allocation needed to succeed by 1, so effectively the Rating goes up by 1! That’s where the clever bit is. It requires an actual additional expenditure of a Resource to attempt a disadvantaged action. That extra resource point does not go into your Challenge Total, and if you had a Factor you don’t get to use the Strength of your Factor to pay the surcharge.
For example, an extremely powerful character might have a Strength 4 Factor for Super Strength. If that character was seriously injured and wanted to lift something the Game Master decided was a Rating of 3, they won’t succeed unless they ante up an additional point of Resource to begin with. It doesn’t matter that their Factor of 4 is higher than the Rating by itself. Thus it is possible for even gods to fail at the most simple of tasks, if they are unable to muster up the required Resources to attempt an action.