Using Focus/Mana as Debt

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Using Focus/Mana as Debt

Postby othercourt » Wed Sep 09, 2009 11:32 am

So I've been mucking about with an RPG idea from about a year ago, something not set in the Factions multiverse. About playing minor gods in a modern setting, something akin to the Endless. Anyway, I struck upon a notion about using Powers. Most of the time, a game that has magic "points" of any kind uses them like a currency. Factions is like this. You have X number of points, you spend them to do things, and once you are out of points, you can't do the special things until you replenish your points.

I'm looking at trying a different way of going about this.

Instead of saying the Character has 10 points to spend, he starts off with 0 "debt." This is the equivalent of being "full."

When the Character uses Powers, he accumulates Mana "debt." The GM can call in this "debt" as the universe attempts to balance out what the character has spent. If the GM doesn't call in the points of debt, the Character pays it off automatically at a rate of 1 point per day. When the GM "spends" the debt points, there is a roll to see if the points spent result in an Effect. The more points spent at once means the more chance for multiple levels of Effect, with exponential badness attached to it.


Character uses a bunch of Powers, and has 5 points of "debt" (currently called Strain). The GM can just let the 5 points sit there and see if he can get the Character to spend more, or he can spend the Strain now.

If the GM spends the Strain right away, he's got 5d6 to roll, looking for 1's. Any dice that don't come up 1's, he rolls a second (and final) time. So, it's possible for there to be 5 Strain Successes rolled, but odds are it will be 1 or 2 Successes.

If he waits, maybe the Character will take on 4 more points of Stain, for a total of 9. Again, if the GM calls these Strain in now, it's possible to get 9 Successes, but odds say it will be 2 or 3 Successes.

1 Strain Success isn't that bad, but 3 is a bit painful and longer lasting.

What I like about this sort of system is that there is no hard limit as to how much Power usage (and therefore, Strain) a Character can engage in. It's all a matter of balancing risk of Strain Effects against how badly you want to accomplish the task at hand. Frankly, I wish there was a simple way to incorporate this into Factions without too much system-cracking (for 2nd Edition), but I don't see how to do this easily. Perhaps allowing for a Gifted to instantly regain Focus, but at a similar sort of risk cost?
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