The Edge Die
Imagine a white room. A perfect arena of objective judgment, where the best will rise to the top and the losers will be weeded out. Now throw that idea away because it’ll never happen. The Edge Die acknowledges that in the real world, circumstances change constantly, and every single variable can shift the dynamics of power significantly.
The Edge die tracks the flow of power from side to side, tracking who currently has fortune on their side.
There are three basic ways to get the edge:
- Start with it, through overwhelming odds being stacked in your favor. All things the same, monsters always start with the edge.
- Gain it through an overcome action. This is always actively opposed.
- Seize it by overwhelming defense. Any time you defend against someone who has the edge and you succeed with style, you can take the edge from them.
No Starting Edge?
At the beginning of an encounter, the GM decides where the Edge starts out. The default state is technically that nobody has the edge. But that’s very rare. That’s addressed under “Start With It” below. The GM has to determine sides, and weigh the scenario. But sometimes, just sometimes, nobody has the edge to start. This doesn’t necessarily mean that everyone’s on perfect, exact, equal white room footing. It does mean a couple of things, though:
- Neither side has a significant advantage, or both sides have significant advantages.
- There aren’t any inherent, easily exploitable advantages in play.
If those two things are true, the GM can choose to start a scene with neither side having the edge. In those cases, an overcome action or a defend action succeeded with style will decide the first side with the edge.
Now the other case for not starting with the edge in play is if there’s no active opposition. If nothing’s actually trying to stop the players from getting what they want, then there’s not really a need for the edge. But, if that’s the case, why even bother rolling? Or, alternatively, figure out what is actually trying to stop them.
Start with It
Most of the time, one side in a scene starts with the edge. The GM determines this by a few basic criteria:
- All things equal, the side with a significant advantage get the edge.
- If both sides have monsters, give it to the side with the more powerful monster.
- If the characters have established situational aspects to use against their opposition, then they start with the edge.
Characters can seize the edge with a dedicated overcome action. This is usually just a normal overcome action with an active opposition from the person with the edge. In practice, this means it’s often very difficult to seize the edge from stronger opposition, and usually requires invoking aspects to do. Even when it works out, succeeding with style is exceedingly rare.
Opponents can seize the edge back this way, rolling against the player's defend roll.
Any time someone with the edge is coming at you and you have a valid defend action available, you have a chance of seizing the edge. If you successfully defend with style, the edge switches hands.
Note that this is always valid—the opponent doesn’t have to actually be using the edge die on the action you’re defending from. Otherwise, defending with style would be almost impossible. Also, if you choose to seize the edge, you don’t get the normal boost from succeeding with style. You already get the edge die. That’s a good enough bonus.
The Edge Die
When you use the edge, you get to replace one of the four fate dice in your dice roll with the edge die. The edge die is a single, regular six-sided die.
So, instead of the normal fate die result of +, -, or 0, you get a result of 1 to 6. So while the normal roll results in a -4 to +4 result, with the edge die, it’s -2 to +9. The edge die is valid on any action you wish, be it an overcome, create an advantage, attack, or defend action. You can use it with stunts as well, unless the stunt says otherwise.
Joey Fullmoon, the college defensive linebacker turned werewolf heartthrob who totally named himself like a stereotypical native american which is really gross even if you leave aside the snarling cannibal part of his story, goes to bite Lana’s throat. He’s a monster, so he starts with the edge.
The GM rolls for him using the edge die, and gets +--1 with +2 for his Fighter skill set for a total of 2. Liv rolls for Lana and gets ++++ and adds her Athlete skill set of +2 for 6. She not only defends herself, but she does so with style. So she gets the edge.
He growls at her, and Lana comes back with, “You know dreadlocks on a white guy are really culturally insensitive, right?”
He pauses and says, “But my ancestors were Celtic. They had dreads.” One of his friends says, “Celts didn’t have dreads, Joey. Besides, your family’s from Italy, by way of New Jersey.”
Lana points and nods condescendingly. Liv rolls ++06 and adds Lana’s Influencer skill set for +3, for a total 11. The Director rolls Joey’s defend and gets ++0- with his Survivor skill set at +1, for a total 2. Lana wipes the floor with him. He’s utterly humiliated in front of his werewolf pack. He’s almost taken out of the scene entirely.
Lana starts mouthing off again, but this time doesn’t have a free edge die, and Liv doesn’t have any free fate points. So Liv rolls and gets ---- and adds Influencer for +3, for -1. This time the Director rolls ++++ for Joey with +1 for Survivor, totaling 5. This means he not only defends himself from Lana’s verbal onslaught, he also seizes the edge back. Since Lana had used the edge die on her first action, that means Joey gets a free edge die upon reclaiming the edge.
One Free Use
The edge can’t just be used over and over freely—it’s an immensely powerful mechanic. Every time your side gets the edge, you get one free use of it. In some scenes, the edge will shift from one side to the other and back again a few times; each time the new ‘owner’ gets a free use. However, if the opponent didn’t actually get to use the edge die, and you take it, you don’t get a free use. You can’t just lock the opponent in a loop of gaining the edge and taking it back from them before they get a chance to use it for effectively infinite edge dice.
After the free use, additional uses of the edge cost fate points.
An individual doesn’t have an edge—a “side” does. The free use of the edge each time a side gets it has to be shared; one person gets to use it, the others have to spend fate points. If this is ever up for debate, the person who seized the edge should take precedence. They can either take the free edge die, or choose who gets it.
Sharing is Caring
One thing we like to do is use a single, dedicated edge die instead of having every player keep their own. When someone seizes the edge, they literally take the edge die from whomever had it.
This serves double duty at the table.
First off, it helps to keep track of where the edge is at any given time. If you get in the practice of handing the edge die around whenever it switches hands in the narrative, you’ll never forget where it was, because it’s wherever it physically is. This is especially nice for scenes where someone needs to step aside for a quick break, a phone call, whatever.
It also helps to remind the players of the camaraderie in play in the story. If one player just recently took the edge, and another’s taking an important action, the first player can physically hold it up, offering it for use. This is like a physical representation of “handing off the baton” and letting one character’s effort bolster another’s. Sure, the rules don’t change at all, but it feels better.
Multiple Sides in a Scene
Okay so we know how the edge switches hands from one side to another and back again. What if there’s are tons of different sides, all working in their own interests?
Basically it works exactly the same. Every “side” counts as its own separate entity, and can possess the edge. Any given side of a conflict can take the edge through the same methods, and each side has access to a free use of the edge die every time they get it.
The only real guideline here is that it’s best to simplify groups where possible. If there are two groups that are working toward the same goal despite not being inherently affiliated, they’re still one side for the conflict. Most often, this means two groups of monsters going after the player team. But if the players split them up and turn it into a three-way struggle, then they’re separate sides.
This doesn’t make things inherently easier for the players, but it means the two other “sides” are struggling to shift the edge between each other, taking some heat off the players.