Social combat and groups in Strands of Flesh and Spirit

One of the themes that I personally have wanted to explore in Tribe 8 is the interaction of the various political and social groups. The entire game is predicated on people with something in common – birth, blood, ideology, survival – banding together. It is not the kind of world where many loners survive for  long. The idea of the PCs forming a Cell at the beginning of the game is already there in Tribe 8, it just doesn’t have a lot of mechanical support.

So I have been doing some thinking and reading about the FATE “fractal” and how that might fit into Tribe 8. There are a lot of variations of FATE out there and sometimes one of those has something that is pretty darn useful if adapted correctly. Strands of Fate already has organization rules. Diaspora has some nifty social combat rules. Strange Fate has a concept of Collateral Consequences. All of these concepts are independently pretty cool, but the right mix might enable me to cook up a really awesome version of the FATE fractal that allows the PCs to operate as a Cell when the situation calls for it.

As of right now, I am thinking that at the very beginning the players create a Cell per the Unit rules in Strands of Fate. Whenever the characters act as a group, the Cell’s attributes are used as per the Unit rules. This includes travel, foraging, large scale debates, etc. In addition, anything that would affect the PCs as a group also uses the Unit rules. For example, the Cell getting caught in a Rust Storm could affect the Cell as a whole; the same for surviving the Winter.

Organizations, including Units, take stress to their physical stress track at intervals determined by their size. Basically, the larger a unit (or organization is) the more often they take stress. While the stress is physical by default, under certain circumstances it may be mental or social. This stress represents normal attrition – for organizations, expenditure of resources, recruitment to replace lost members, etc. For Cells, it represents the activities required to survive, including finding food, water, clothing, shelter and equipment. Consequences reflect a need that isn’t being fulfilled or a resource that has become scarce. Stress can also be inflicted by specific conditions that the unit meets – for example, weathering a winter storm might be represented as an attack on a stress track. These Consequences are healed per the Unit rules.

The mechanism for transferring stress inflicted on the Cell to the characters is already covered in Strands of Fate. However, the idea of Collateral Consequences opens up a possible scenario – the character diverting Consequences from themselves to the cell. I’m not sure exactly how it would work compared to the Collateral Consequences from Strange Fate as I understand them. The simple method would be to transfer the consequence to the Cell directly; the second would be to reduce incoming stress ala Strange Fate, resulting in an appropriate Consequence against the Cell. A third might be to allow the character to downgrade a Consequence at the expense of inflicting the same amount of stress against an appropriate Cell stress track. That option actually might make sense. The example would be the PCs on a scouting mission in the Outlands. They get into a fight with some Squats, and one of the characters takes 6 stress and suffers a Major Consequence. He downgrades it to Minor, and the Cell takes 6 stress and likewise takes a Minor Consequence. Since the character was the group’s primary hunter, it is decided that the Cell’s Consequence is One Less In the Pot to represent food being scarce until the Consequence is cleared. If the group switches to skirmish scale and then back to personal before the Consequence is cleared, they would suffer an attack based on the inflicted stress as per the Unit rules.

That’s about that for my thinking on how Cells can be incorporated into Tribe 8. Later on I’ll examine how I might adapt other social combat rules than Strands of Fate’s to both personal and Cell level social conflicts, in order to get effective politicking and Ranting going on if a group should so choose.

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