[CFMS] When Bad Things Happen

When you are running your manor, you’ll be making a series of dice rolls. You’ll be rolling to see how many crops you plant or harvest. You roll to exploit your resources: cutting down trees and quarrying stone. You’ll roll to turn those extracted materials into structures like castles, bridges, and churches.

When you roll well and win successes, your manor is doing well. You are rewarded with more materials and better productivity.

When you roll poorly and fail, you don’t generate materials and you don’t produce. And to keep the manor system from being just a game of numbers, we ask ourselves why? What caused the loss of production that season? And we make up some fiction to explain the cause of the failure. You lost crops because there was a rash of crows that ravaged your fields or you couldn’t make progress on building the keep because of the terrible weather that kept everyone indoors.

We codify these explanations as something called a hardship. A hardship might be famine, disease, a rash of crows, tumultuous weather, something that is making life on your manor hard and miserable.

You generate a hardship when:

  • You fail a roll.
  • You push your tenants: either by asking for more week work or demand higher rents.
  • You do not generate enough food to feed a population your are responsible for.

Hardships are a subtype of aspect: like a condition or injury. They are ranked and generally they will need to be endured the next time that population makes a roll. They sound like bad things, right? Well, they are bad things. Enduring hardships penalizes your dice rolls, leading to more failures, leading to worse hardships. But at the same time, hardships are good things in disguise. These are FATE mechanics. Aspects that work against you earn your manor Ardor points! Hardships are Ardor factories. Each time you endure a hardship, that’s an Ardor point you can use to invoke something later.

Besides being endured, hardships may also be compelled. This is one way in which we can transition from the manor system rules into the core role-playing rules. You have a hardship on the table: let’s say it’s a Terrible sickness that is rapidly spreading amongst your tenants. The GM can pay you an Ardor and compel the hardship to create an issue. The issue is some matter that has to be solved through role-playing; at the very least a conflict should be played out to resolve it. In this case, let’s say the GM compels the Terrible sickness hardship to create an issue in which neighboring merchants are reluctant to come to your town for a trade fair because they are fearful of catching the sickness. The protagonists must now convince the merchants to attend. Once the issue is resolved, the hardship goes away and we may return to normal manor rules play.

To summarize:

  • Hardships are created as the explanation for failed rolls or inadequate food supplies.
  • Hardships are endured, making future rolls harder. This earns you Ardor.
  • Hardships may be compelled in order to create adventure hooks for role-playing sessions. This also earns you Ardor.

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