Game Design: Health, Spirit and Resistances
Characters have Resource Pools, and Guts. They have factors composed of predefined super-maneuvers to accomplish actions. So what happens when you are up against another character? Then your Health, Spirit and Resistances come into play. Every character has Health, a measure of how much physical damage they can take, and Spirit, a measure of how much emotional/spiritual damage they can take. When you go too far negative into Health you are Incapacitated. When you go super negative into Spirit, you are Depressed.
Mechanically, they have the same effect. If you have negative Health or Spirit, all of your actions are Disadvantaged. If you are both, all of your actions would be considered Very Disadvantaged, a condition that is exactly twice a bad as Disadvantaged. By design, you can’t be worse off than Very Disadvantaged. This stops things from getting out of hand with keeping track of how many Resource points have to be anted to make actions. If you are Incapacitated or Depressed, you can’t act at all.
Health and Spirit are figured characteristics, based on a simple math formula using some of your Resources, and heroes can function deeper into the negatives than most other characters. You can recover Health by using certain factors, or by recovering outside of combat. The important thing here is that you can’t buy extra levels, and it’s hard to get a high rating in either.
Resistances are 5 different forms of natural armor: Physical, Energy, Mental, Emotional and Spiritual. They protect against damage and more subtle abilities that are keyed to these damage types. The first two are pretty obvious. If it’s a concussive force it’s Physical. If it’s electricity, heat, or radiation it’s Energy. If it’s mental pain, psychic feedback, mind domination, etc. it’s Mental. If it’s fear, or other raw emotions or attacks which cause such emotions it’s Emotional. If it’s long term mental damage or magic, it’s Spiritual. All characters have ratings in these, and they start at 0, which is the normal amount. That is, nobody is even partially immune unless they pay to increase them.
When you are hit with an emphasis you are able to subtract your Resistance from the Result before it affects you. A character who bathes in lava isn’t going to be affected by Energy attacks very much, and a character who has skin as tough as iron isn’t going to be affected by Physical attacks very much. Given how some emphasis options operate, this can lead to some unusual situations where the Iron Body character is hard to grapple, but there are ways to build emphases that overcome Resistance, so it is balanced as well. Most of the time, a character with good Mental defenses is expected to be hard to Paralyze with a Thought, so the few times it doesn’t make much sense are excusable.
That said, in the character creation process Energy, Mental and Spiritual Resistances are more expensive. This is because they are either inherently dominant or generally rare enough that possessing a thick skin against them should be a hallmark of greatness. In general a sorcerer might have a high Spiritual Resistance, but he trains specifically to attain it. Your average Brawler won’t have much of that at all. Likewise, you can learn to brush off emotions and close yourself off. Some people learn to do so easily, and can work in trying conditions and let it out later. But it’s not easy to become resistant to fire.