Fate System Toolkit
Sidekicks vs. Allies
Table of Contents
Players can select both sidekicks and allies as extras, but differentiating a boy wonder from a squad of professional agents can be tough. Here are a few ways to distinguish sidekicks, who work closely with the PCs, from trained allies that they may call upon in specific situations.
Permissions and Costs
While both sidekicks and allies are extras (see Extras in Fate Core), sidekicks tend to be unlocked through personal relationships and allies tend to arise from organizational or resource-driven permissions. For example, Sherlock Holmes might select the aspect Good Friend of Dr. Watson to add Watson to his sheet as a sidekick, while selecting the aspect Patron of the Baker Street Irregulars would add the mostly nameless children he uses as spies and couriers. As for costs, sidekicks tend to impose social and relational costs on the characters—asking them to contribute to important causes or aid them in times of need—while allies usually require more direct payment, favors, or other resources.
Stress Tracks and Consequences
One great place to differentiate sidekicks and allies is with stress tracks and consequences in conflicts. Sidekicks are like supporting characters—give them a limited stress track with one mild (or perhaps moderate) consequence slot and one extreme consequence that might change the character’s sheet in a dramatic moment.
Allies, on the other hand, are usually faceless mobs that have a stress box for each member of the gang. Stress inflicted on allies typically knocks them out of the fight completely instead of leaving them with consequences that carry from scene to scene. This distinction makes it harder to take out a gang of allies in a single attack, but makes sidekicks more flexible and resilient across a variety of social and physical situations in which they can utilize their consequence slots to protect or defend the PCs.
Permanent vs. Temporary Allies
Sidekicks are almost always permanent parts of a character’s sheet, but allies might be temporary, depending on the needs of the PC. For example, an intelligence officer might take the aspect Sent by the Feds to have a set of Federal Agents on call, at the cost of a point of refresh. It’s equally feasible that such a character could forgo such permanent allies in favor of creating an advantage for an upcoming scene, using Contacts or Resources. Of course, permanent allies should be much more powerful, with more stress boxes, additional aspects, and additional stunts, than temporary allies who are little better than a weak nameless mob.