Flowers in the Garden of Bones
Stress is what happens when you’re on the losing side of a Contest. You didn’t Give In, you stuck to your guns, but you just didn’t prevail. That hurts—sometimes physically, if the Contest was a fight, but other times it’s your heart or head or confidence that comes away bruised. There are five kinds of Stress: Corrupt, Emotional, Hungry, Indecisive, and Undesirable. They’re rated in dice just like other Traits. As you get Stressed, the die ratings increase.
Whenever you roll dice, your opposition may add your Stress to her pool if it’s appropriate. If she’s playing on your fear, for instance, she can roll in your Unnerved rating. If she’s trying to outrun you, she can roll in your Hungry. The higher your Stress, the greater the advantage it gives your opposition. When you inflict Stress, pick the kind of Stress that is most appropriate to what you did when you rolled dice. If you were accusing Tess of endangering the Masquerade, for instance, you might have made her Emotional. If you were lying to Charles about your involvement in a certain missing artifact, you might cause him to become Indecisive.
The rating of the Stress you inflict comes from the dice pool you rolled. You pick up the same dice pool (sans Complications) and roll it again. This is called the Stress pool. Some Assets allow you to fiddle with the dice pool by stepping up or stepping back dice, or even adding or removing dice, before you roll for the Stress rating. If you have Vicious, for instance, you can step up the lowest die in your Stress pool. If your opponent has Invulnerability, he can spend a Plot Point to step back the highest die from your pool if the selected Stress is Hungry or Indecisive. Once the fiddling is over, roll the Stress pool and find which one rolled highest. That die’s size becomes your opponent’s rating in the Stress you selected. If your opponent already has a higher rating for that Stress, it increases by one step. If the selected Stress is already at d12, you may decide that your opposition is Stressed Out.
Example: Let’s run with the what-if of Cam rolling the 12 and Mary getting the 8. Cam decides that Charles’s going to give Tess some Emotional Stress. He picks up his die pool. He rolled a d10, a d8, and a d6. Neither Charles nor Tess have any Assets that affect the die pool, so Cam rolls the pool as-is. The d6 rolls a 2, the d10 rolls a 4, and the d8 rolls a 6. Clark gives Tess Angry d8. For the rest of the game, whenever anybody plays off of Tess’ anger issues, they’ll be rolling in an extra d8 to their pool.
Or perhaps Tess had the 12 and Clark the 8. Cam decides to react, trying to beat that 12, but comes up with a 10. Now Charles’s in for some Stress. Mary looks at her pool. She rolled 2d8 and a d6. Tess also has the Vicious Distinction, however, so she can step up that d6 to a d8 before rolling for Stress. She does so, and now she’s guaranteed to hand over a d8 for Stress since they’re the only type of dice in her Stress pool. Therefore, she gives Charles Indecisive d8. Mary starts making plans on how to play on Charles’s uncertainty for the rest of the adventure.