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Stress slots define how much temporary damage a character can take in some domain. Physical Stress (PS) and Mental Stress (MS) are common to almost all characters. Characters that buy wealth also have Financial Stress slots (FS). Other kinds of stress may be defined to add resilience to a character's approaches or abilities. Stress is relatively trivial to heal or remove during a break in the action. When a character is hit with too much stress damage they must take a consequence or be removed from the scene.

See Combat for details on how damage is done and recovered from.

How Stress Works

All types of stress work the same way. Each Stress Slot cost 1R, and is 1 shift larger than the last one until you reach an [8] shift slot. Each additional slot is an additional [8] slot. Stress is noted in a few formats.

  • When damage is done or healed the number of points of damage and type of damage are abbreviated as #Type - as in 5PS or 3FS.
  • Stress slots are noted as a string of single digit with the type at the end: 123456PS.[1]
  • When damage has been soaked the slot number is replaced with an 'x': 1234x5xPS.[1]

Stress usually adds resilience against mental, physical, and financial damage, but stress slots are flexible: they can be purchased to reinforce Approaches and Abilities as well. For example, a cyborg with indefatigable physical strength might spend 3R to add 123Forceful slots. Attacks that would normally drain Forceful can now be soaked first. A hacker might need a hardened portable computer system - so spending 2R to give it 12S slots could make sense.

Stress and Abilities

Abilities like Damage Resistence (DR) are often associated with stuff that can take some hits before just falling apart. TALOS armour has a SCHEP layer that provides DR+3 vs Environmental Hazards, and Royal Guard Armour has DR+3 vs Kinetic attacks. If a special attack targets the ability itself, treat it as having 2 stress slots for each point of ability. This is can be written as 123456DR+3 Env or 123456DR+3 Kinetic. When the ability loses two stress slots, its effectiveness is reduced by 1: x2x456DR+2 Env, for example.

It may not make sense for an ability to be able to take stress. Aim to apply stress to the character as a whole before applying it to narrower abilities or approaches. If that's the case, don't do it. Narrative always wins.

Stress and Story

Stress lets our heroes shake off an otherwise crippling blow. To calibrate how bad a hit is, consider that a normal human NPCs has 1PS or 12PS 1MS or 12MS (3R total). A handgun (+1PS) could easily do +3PS or +4PS even after the person defends against the attack. An NPC in that situation is going to be gravely wounded, having to take a stress slot and a consequence to stay in the scene. A normal PC starts with 123MS and 123PS. A handgun is much less likely to be able to do +3PR or +4PS to the PC because they have higher approaches, stunts, and so on. The heroes narrative naturally makes a scratch out of a hit that would kill or seriously injure a normal person.

Additional stress slots from armour and other abilities is noted in it's own chunk: 123.4567PS shows the stress the character's body can take and the stress their shield can take. This is important for dealing with situations like dropping your broken shield and grabbing a fresh one from the battlefield.

Stress slots cap out at 8 shifts. A hit that does 8PS is equivalent to a naval bombardment. A MS or FS hit of that magnitude should be equally devistating.

Being able to soak that kind of hit as PS at all takes something astonishingly tough. Hits that are significantly larger have consequences even for heavily armoured fortifications. A character might have many [8]PS slots through a combination of their own PS slots and armour they wear. They could have add-on MS through a lace, drugs, special training, etc. FS can be added in the form of a budget from a corporation, government, religion, transhumanist sect, or other organization.

Most characters have [0]FS. This means that the only way to absorb financial damage is through consequences. If Miranda's lab equipment were vandalized as a financial attack might end up taking a +5FS hit. With no FS slots, she has to take a six point consequence ([6]Con) to stay in the scene. If she'd spent 5R to have access to millions in cash at the drop of a hat she could shake off the hit, and e.g., switch to the backup lab.

  1. 1.0 1.1 Some pages my note stress slots with square brackets around the numbers: [1][2][3][4][5][6][7][8]PS. This notation is depricated since there are no double digit stress slots.