What Mega-Stunts Are
In most respects, mega-stunts are like stunts, in that they let you bend the rules in character-specific ways. But mega-stunts can also surpass what stunts normally offer—they can confer superhuman abilities, like extraordinary strength, enhanced sensory perception, or incredible toughness.
Moreover, unlike stunts, a single mega-stunt can provide more than one benefit.
However, you can’t take a mega-stunt unless unless you have permission.
To have permission, your character needs a weird mode and an appropriate concept aspect. Both of these must suggest the sorts of benefits that mega-stunts can provide. In turn, your character’s mega-stunts must be logical extensions of the mode and aspect.
Each mega-stunt takes up one stunt slot, regardless of how many benefits that mega-stunt provides.
The total number of benefits a PC has affects the GM’s fate point reserve. See that section for more detail on how that works.
Mega-Stunts, Stunt Slots, and Refresh
These rules presume that a PC has a certain number of “stunt slots” instead of paying refresh for them. The exact number varies depending on the power level of the individual game, but a range of one to five slots works for most settings. (Five mega-stunts is more than enough to cover the range of a typical superhero.)
In place of refresh, these rules assign a flat number of starting fate points to each PC. The specifics of this are up to your group. Possibilities include:
- One per aspect the PC has. If a PC starts with one or more of their aspects left blank—say, everything apart from their concept, or their concept and trouble—they’ll start with fewer fate points, but every time the player fills one in during play, they immediately gain a fate point.
- Make refresh inversely proportional to the number of stunt slots the PC has, from one to five. For example, if the PCs have five stunt slots, their effective refresh is 1. If they have two stunt slots, their effective refresh is 4.
- Three. Nice round number. It’s simple and people like threes.
Weaknesses and Costs
Some of these benefits are so powerful that they require a weakness or a cost. These provide a specific circumstance under which one of the PC’s aspects can be invoked or compelled. So they’re similar in function, but flavored in different ways.
A weakness specifies an attack or effect against which you’re vulnerable—your defense is Mediocre (+0). When writing the mega-stunt on your sheet, indicate a weakness by writing “but weak against...” after the benefit.
A cost is a minor cost (see Fate Core for more on costs) the GM can introduce by compelling your concept aspect. It’s always a minor cost, but the exact form it takes depends on the PC’s concept aspect, the circumstances, and common sense, and can differ from one instance to another. When writing the mega-stunt on your sheet, indicate a cost by writing “but at a cost” after the absolute benefit.
When the GM initiates a compel that stems from a weakness or cost, the player can refuse it, as usual.
What Mega-Stunts Can Do
Each benefit provided by a mega-stunt takes one of four basic forms. It can give the character an innate Weapon or Armor rating, provide an absolute ability with one skill to exceed what normal humans can do, render them bulletproof, or duplicate a stunt benefit.
Weapon or Armor Rating
Get a 2-shift bonus to a successful attack or a 1-shift bonus to defend.
Benefit: Gain Weapon:2 or Armor:1 due to some inherent quality.
Normally, a Weapon or Armor rating is the result of special equipment, like from the Personal Hardware stunt. This benefit, however, is for characters who hit harder or are more resistant to damage simply because of their very nature.
If you choose a Weapon rating, specify the circumstances under which it applies, such as “when using strength” or “with eyebeams.” If you choose an Armor rating, specify physical or mental harm.
You can select this stunt benefit more than once for a single mega-stunt. Its effects can be cumulative, or applied to different forms of attack or defense.
Be superior to humans in one area
Benefit: Choose a skill. When using that skill for an overcome action, you can exceed what normal humans can accomplish. Under the specified conditions, that action is always considered a success, no roll required.
You can’t apply this benefit to a skill without the overcome action, such as Combat. (In other words, no fair getting absolute accuracy with an attack.)
When using your absolute in an opposed roll against an opponent who isn’t on your level—that is, one without an equivalent mega-stunt—you automatically win with a success (as opposed to a tie or a success with style).
The GM is the final arbiter of where “normal human ability” ends and “superhuman ability” begins. Your PC may be stronger than the world’s strongest human, sure, but is she stronger than the world’s ten strongest humans, working together against her? Or a giant ape? When in doubt, make a skill roll. (Borderline cases are good opportunities to let the dice decide anyway.)
When you take this benefit, it always comes with a weakness or cost. (There’s no getting around this—every absolute ability is required to have one or the other.)
Ignore a type of damage
Benefit: Bullets? They bounce off of you. So do conventional weapons less-powerful than bullets, like swords and vampire teeth. You have Armor:∞ against all of them.
Roll for the attack and defense as normal. If the attack ties, succeeds, or succeeds with style, the attacker gets a boost. If the defense succeeds with style, the defender gets a boost.
Let your common sense draw the line between “conventional weapons” and “dangerously unconventional implements of destruction.” As one example—pistols, rifles, and machine guns may only annoy a bulletproof robot, but a simple steel rod becomes a real threat to his safety when wielded by a super-strong warbot, and a high-speed collision with a satellite is nearly enough to destroy him altogether.
And of course, if the attacker’s intent is to create an advantage, being Bulletproof is irrelevant and the defender has to defend as usual.
If you need to make a character even tougher, give them an Armor rating on top of Bulletproof that applies to attacks more powerful than mere bullets.
A mega-stunt with this benefit requires a weakness or cost, just as with absolute abilities.
Bulletproof is the most common type of “-proof” found in fiction, but you can easily repurpose the Bulletproof benefit to apply to other types of harm, like Fearproof (immune to threats and other fear-based mental attacks) or Fireproof (immune to fire and high temperatures). Apply the same common sense to these as you would to Bulletproof. For example, even a Fearproof character will have a hard time keeping it together when confronted by a truly extraordinary threat, such as an ancient awakened deity or a world-eating dragon. Under circumstances such as these, it’s totally fine to call for a roll despite being Fearproof (but a bonus to that roll will help the GM’s medicine go down more easily).
Do what a stunt does
Benefit: Choose one of these stunts: Add a Bonus, Add a Game Action, Add a Rules Exception, Personal Hardware. Add that stunt’s benefit to the mega-stunt.
Note that Personal Hardware confers bigger Weapon and Armor ratings than the Weapon and Armor Rating stunt benefit above does. That’s intentional
Paying for Mega-Stunts
To recap: Each mega-stunt takes up one stunt slot. A single stunt has a single benefit, but a single mega-stunt can have two or more benefits.
So if characters in your game have five stunt slots, one with five stunts and no mega-stunts will have a maximum of five benefits. But a character with mega-stunts can easily end up with more than five benefits. For example, if a character has two stunts and three mega-stunts, and each of those mega-stunts has two benefits, that’s a total of eight benefits—three more than usual maximum of five.
When a character has more than the usual maximum of stunt benefits from stunts and mega-stunts, add one fate point to the GM’s reserve for each benefit in excess of the usual maximum.
The GM reserve is a pool of extra Fate points the GM can use to increase their budget for any scene in a session.
For example, that PC with the eight benefits? When he’s in a session, the GM gets another three fate points for her reserve. During the session, the GM may remove Fate points from the reserve and add them to any scene. The mere presence of this character means things are harder for everyone.
Option: Voluntary Weaknesses and Costs
With this option, you can tack a weakness or a cost onto a mega-stunt even if it doesn’t require one. For each of these voluntary costs, reduce the number of fate points added to the GM’s reserve by one, to a minimum of zero. You can’t have both a weakness and a cost on the same benefit, though.