Young Justice v. fate/hero points

I’ve had an excuse due to the school holidays to watch/absorb the latest season (2) of Young Justice. Never saw season one, but that didn’t stop me from enjoying season two anyway.

Around the end of the season you get to a big (inevitable?) finale where the bad guys are foiled. The interesting part is that they are foiled by a flashback from Nightwing which explains, in good pulp-serial style, how the heroes were a step ahead of the villains the whole time, which explains how so many heroes managed to turn up for the final battle right en-cue!

My first reaction to this scene was yeah… sure… but… it really smacks of “deus ex machina” and a ret-con.

My second reaction was to ask could this actually be a valid game mechanic?

After all, the hero who led the exposition was Nightwing/Dick Grayson, who in lieu of superpowers is an ace detective (up there is Batman for skills, and actually more believable as a concept.)

Do, what if ‘ret-con’ actually was his superpower?

Should Fate/Hero points be mandated to actually work this way?

In in Dark Heresy, fate points can be used to re-roll, BUT they be used to ret-con a character death into a vaguely plausible reason that they survived. Likewise for Infamy points.)

In Savage Worlds, bennies are the equivalent, and they are universally a game mechanic, not a story device (although I tried to inject story into them in The Lantern setting.)

If you have any other examples of story-based fate/hero points them please drop me a line…


One thought on “Young Justice v. fate/hero points

  1. Two systems that I will mention here… the first is from the Leverage role playing game (based on the TV series). If you’re familiar with the TV show, you’ll know there are often flashback scenes that show how the heroes actually planned for the current set of circumstances to happen (ie – even though the police have just shown up to arrest the good guys, the have in face already been given proof of the bad guys guilt).

    The RPG (which I believe uses a system called Cortex Plus) allows the players to at various points in the game call for flash back scenes where they can play out exactly how the characters engineered the current set of circumstances in the style of the classic heist film. I own the game, but haven’t played it so I can speak to how well it works in practice.

    Another system I’ll mention is the Destiny Points mechanic from the recent Star Wars systems from Fantasy Flight Games. The systems themselves use custom dice in a way that is very similar to the recent Warhammer Fantasy Role Play system, only good. The intent is that the dice don’t so much generate results as they do narrative concepts that the players and GM have to interpret together.

    The Destiny Points mechanic is a resource shared between the players and the GM. It is generated at the start of play and will have a certain number of dark side points and light side points. The dark side points can be used by the GM, but when they are, they are flipped to the light side. Likewise, light side points can be used by the players, but then they are flipped to the dark side, so the balance of power is constantly shifting in the game.

    The most common use of Destiny Points in the game is to adjust dice rolls. Generally speaking, they can only be used before the dice are rolled to “upgrade” a number of ability dice (when used by the players) or difficulty dice (when used by the GM). These upgraded dice have the possibility of bringing in additional narrative concepts known as “Triumphs” or “Despairs”. These concepts can enter play regardless of what the rest of the dice pool generates.

    An example of play from my first game experience at GenCon in 2014. My character was shooting at a squad of stormtroopers. My dice pool produced an overall failure (which means that no matter what, no actual hit was scored), however I generated a Triumph. We decided that the shot had instead hit a console which controlled the lift platform the stormtroopers were standing on, causing it to descend out of the room, effectively removing the group from the combat for several rounds without actually causing damage.

    Dice modification aside, the other purpose of the Destiny Points mechanic is to give players control over the narrative. Once the GM has described a scene, players can flip Destiny Points to contribute their own adjustments to the narrative. For example, in an early game of our Tuesday night group, one player dove behind the bar during a firefight in a Cantina. The player flipped a Destiny Point to add to the scene the fact that the barkeep kept a weapon behind the bar that they could now arm themselves with.

    Just some thoughts on a couple of good systems.


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