Hudson City Chronicles
Each Ability has a die rating that you can roll in any Test or Contest that might benefit from the assistance of your Ability. The Effect helps establish how you can use an Ability’s die. However, that’s not the be-all and end-all of an Ability’s benefits. In addition to its Effect, each Ability has three other elements (Descriptors, Limits, and Special Effects) that all work together to flesh out the extent of the Ability’s usefulness.
The Ability’s Effect suggests ways that you might roll the Ability into a Test or Contest. There are six Effect types.
- Attack Effects are pretty cut and dry. Dice from this Effect hurt people; you use them in rolls to give others Stress.
- Sensory Effects allow the character to better perceive and understand his surroundings; you roll them into perception-based Tests and Contests.
- Movement Effects help characters get from place to place in unusual ways, so roll the dice into Tests or Contests that depend on speed or travel.
- Control Effects allow characters to manipulate aspects of their surroundings. Use the Ability die to influence the outcome of a Test or Contest by altering the environment.
- Defense Effects protect the character from some type of harm. Roll the die when it would help you against attacks or rolls to inflict Stress.
- Enhancement Effects let you change, shift, boost, or alter your body or talents in some amazing way. Roll in this Ability when your enhancements give you an advantage.
Descriptors establish the details of how and why an Ability works or specify something about how the Ability contributes to the story.
Limits show the chink hidden in the armor. Even powerful magic may be useless if the character doesn’t have the use of her hands or voice. If someone appropriately uses your Limit against you, he triples the die representing that Limit, or shuts down the Ability – possibly giving you a plot point in the process.
In addition to the Effect, each Ability also starts with one Special Effect. When you’re creating a Lead with Abilities, you choose a Special Effect for each Ability when you add it to your Lead sheet. To use a Special Effect that’s listed on your sheet, just spend a Plot Point. You don’t need to roll dice or succeed at a Test.
Some Special Effects mimic trigger elements from Distinctions, notably Increase, Decrease, and Reveal. You can spend as many Plot Points as you like to stack these Special Effects; if you have Invulnerability, for instance, you could spend three Plot Points to Decrease an opponent’s Stress pool three times.
A few Special Effects allow you to affect a lot of people at once. We call this a sweep effect. When this happens, you’re forcing everybody in the area to make a Test. Roll your own dice (including the Ability die) instead of Trouble. Each affected character must win the Test to avoid the outcome, which is usually Stress.
There are several ways to acquire new Special Effects or use those that you don’t have listed. First, some Heritage Distinctions have a trigger that lets you use Special Effects from Heritage-connected Abilities you don’t have. This can represent those occasions when you draw on the untapped potential of your bloodline or culture in some spectacular way.
Whether or not you have a Heritage Distinction, you can spend a die directly out of your Growth pool to gain a new Special Effect. You may do this in the middle of a scene, and afterwards you may add the new Special Effect to your sheet. Leads and Features rarely have more than two or three Special Effects for each of their Abilities.
In addition, a special effect can do things such as:
- Make you immune to a certain kind of Stress for the scene.
- Remove a certain kind of Stress entirely.
- Provide you with a 2d8 Resource for one scene (it goes away completely when the scene is over).
- Allow you to do a sweep effect—choose the characters you want to affect and force them to roll a Test, inflicting Stress on whoever fails.
- Automatically inflict the highest die in your pool as Stress.
Some Abilities thematically fit together into sets called Heritage-connected Abilities. These are associated with a Heritage Distinction that gives them all a common source, usually based on the character’s history or lineage. Abilities like this all get a Limit associated with the Heritage Distinction, such as iron (Fae), fire (Martian), or dehydration (Atlantean).
If this Limit is used to Shutdown the character’s Abilities, all Abilities associated with the Heritage Distinction are Shutdown.
See Heritage Distinctions on page 99 for more information about which Abilities are connected to which Heritage Distinctions, and Limits earlier in this section for more details on Shutting down Abilities connected to Heritages.