Fatigue Pools

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This system uses seven pools to represent a character's fatigue and energy level -- three physical pools, three mental pools, and one bonus pool. The more energy you have in a pool, the better for your character. Engaging in vigorous or difficult activity tends to quickly deplete your pools, whereas resting, relaxing, or sleeping can slowly regenerate them. Appropriate medical care can also help you recover your fatigue pools.

All characters default to having 100 points in each pool (you can sort of think of them as percentages of fully rested), but these numbers may be affected by Characteristics.

The physical and mental pools are chained, or linked, so that short-term, temporary pools can be replenished by drawing energy out of deeper, long-term pools. For example, if you run out of Wind, a shallow pool, you can get more Wind by lowering your Stamina, which is the intermediate pool.

_ Rapid Moderate Long-Term
Physical Wind Stamina Health
Mental Wit Focus Sanity

Each flavor of effort has its own pool. Each pool has a maximum level and a current level for each character. The default maximum level for all pools is 100. Thus, if Bob is an ordinary guy who is moderately tired after a tough day of gardening, he might have a current Stamina of 60 and a maximum Stamina of 100. As Bob kicks back with a beer in front of the TV, his current Stamina will slowly climb back up from 60 to its maximum of 100.

In the rules below, a percentage refers to that percentage of a the pool's normal maximum value.


Physical Pools


The shallowest physical pool; it represents your capacity for anaerobic activity, sharp reflexes, and quick action. This pool refreshes in just a few seconds, when you catch your breath. A character whose wind pool is half empty is breathing hard, and when it is empty they are badly winded.

Wind recovers at 5% per second.

At 75% wind you are breathing hard and take a -1 penalty on most skills

At 50% wind you are winded and take a -2 penalty

At 25% wind you are badly winded and take a -3

At 0% wind you are breathless and take a -4


The intermediate physical pool; it represents your capacity to march on, sustain aerobic activity, or do a hard day's physical labor. This pool can be mostly replenished by an hour's rest. A character whose stamina pool is half empty is tired and sore, and when it is entirely empty the character collapses to the ground and cannot move major muscle groups.

Stamina recovers at 10% per hour.

75%: Tired: -1 50%: Fatigued: -2 25%: Exausted: -3 0%: Beat: -4


The deepest physical pool; it represents your body's inner reserves, which are only drawn on when in great need. This pool replenishes only four points a day without active medical care. A character whose Health pool is half depleted would be bruised, low on blood, and suffering from nonspecific minor injuries. A character whose Health pool drops into its last few positive points has likely begun to take some specific major Wounds, such as broken bones, brain damage, failing organs, and so on. A character whose Health pool drops to 0 or below immediately falls unconscious and cannot take any actions whatsoever. If you are deep into negative Health points, you are at risk of dying, and may have to roll Constitution skill checks every few ticks in order to survive.

75%: Hurt: -1 50%: Injured: -2 25%: Badly wounded: -3 0%: Battered (unconscious): -4

Health recovers 5% of your maximum value per day. Competent medical care can approximately double this rate (+ 1x (nursing check/30))

Mental Pools


The shallowest mental pool; it represents your ability to be at the top of your game, to think and react quickly, and to appear cool and untroubled. Taking ten seconds to center or recollect yourself allows you to recover 5 Wit at the cost of 1 Focus. A character whose Wit pool is half empty begins to miss opportunities for repartee and may appear grumpy. A character whose Wit is entirely depleted will stutter, stare, or generally fail to respond promptly to new stimuli.

Wit recovers at 10% / minute

75%: Off your game: -1

50%: Dazed: -2

25%: Confused: -3



The intermediate mental pool; it represents your ability to concentrate, maintain sustained intellectual exertion, and solve difficult problems. Spending 15 minutes doing something entertaining or meditative allows you to recover 5 points of Focus at the cost of one Sanity. A character whose Focus pool is half-empty will be weary, forgetful, and somewhat less motivated than usual. A character whose Focus pool is entirely empty will be unable to sustain attention on any non-trivial task, and thus will automatically fail any skill check that cannot be completed in a single tick.

Focus recovers at 5% / hour

75%: Tired (Mental): -1

50%: Fatigued (Mental): -2

25%: Exausted (Mental): -3

0%: Mindless: -4


The deepest mental pool; it represents your ability to respond constructively to life's challenges, to continue in the face of adversity, and just generally keep yourself together through difficult, hazardous, or otherwise trying situations. It replenishes by two points for a full night's sleep, plus an additional point for a relaxing night out or a chat with a good friend, and up to three additional points for a deeply life-affirming experience. Professional mental health counseling can help Sanity recover faster.

A character whose Sanity pool is half-empty will behave somewhat erratically, appear noticeably frayed, and be more likely to give up or despair when the going gets tough. A character whose Sanity drops into its last few points will temporarily forfeit the ability to make new friends, learn new skills, or inspire or encourage teammates. A character with a negative Sanity score has lost all capacity for reliable self-control, and may indulge in violent, counterproductive, or extremely strange behavior as dictated by the GM. A substantially negative Sanity score risks a psychotic breakdown that could inspire realistic, persistent hallucinations and/or require institutionalization.

Sanity recovers at 5% / day. Good psychiatric care, and especially enjoyable or life affirming experiences can approximately double this rate.

75%: Frazzled: -1

50%: Scared, Cooky, Sad: -2

25%: Depressed, loony, terrified: -3

0%: Insane, Suicidal, Cowed

Bonus Pool


Bursts of strength from rage, adrenaline surges, and the like. Characters do not start with any surge, it comes from specific actions and situations. This swell of energy fades quickly, 1/4 (round up) of a character's surge pool is lost at the end of each of their turns. Characters have a starting surge of 0 (it only comes from specific situations).


Typically, attempting to perform a task is not trivially easy will require you to spend some Wit, Focus, Wind, or Stamina in order to complete the task well in a reasonable period of time.

To avoid spending down any of your pools, you must beat the difficulty level of an ordinary skill check by 10 points. For example, driving a large van full of noisy passengers has a DC of 5. To drive the van effortlessly, you would need a skill of 15 or above. If your skill plus your die roll totals less than 15 points, then for every point you fall short you will need to either make some kind of story-based concession on you part ("I spend twice as much for quality parts / I take twice as long and do a careful job") or one point of depletion from one of your pools.

You are usually entitled to spend points from the shallowest relevant pool. E.g., to drive the van for a few minutes, you could use your Wit. However, if you are out of points in a pool but still wish to perform a non-trivial task, you must dig down into the next deepest pool. For example, if you were out of Wit and wanted to drive the van, you could spend Focus directly instead, at a 1:1 ratio. This is very expensive and inefficient, since Focus can usually be converted into Wit at a rate of up to 5:1 in your favor.

Sometimes, the situation will indicate that you must spend from a higher-level pool even if you have points remaining in a lower-level pool. For example, driving the van through the night without a break would necessarily entail spending Focus, if not Sanity. Marching through the night would similarly drain your Stamina, regardless of how much Wind you have left. This is not a penalty; it just reflects the higher impact and longer duration of the task.

Some skill checks are especially critical, so that attempting to compensate for inadequate skill will rapidly drain your fatigue pools. Effortlessly dodging bullets in combat, for example, requires beating the difficulty level of the dodge check by 15 points or more. Effortlessly dodging bullets without cover means beating a skill check by 20 points or more. Thus, if you are shot at by someone with a total Aim skill of 3 and an Aim roll of 5 in an open field, you would need to muster 3 + 5 + 20 = 28 points from your Dodge skills and Dodge roll in order to dodge the bullets without spending down your fatigue pools. If, instead, you only manage to scrape 9 skill points together, you would spend down 28 - 9 = 19 Wind points, or over half a typical Wind reserve, which will make most players breathe hard and maybe even crouch down for a moment. Attempting to handle delicate negotiations without a backup plan or integrate a fuel-depletion function in your head while preparing to bluff about the contents of your fuel tank might put a similar drain on your Wit reserves.

You can also take damage to your pools when you suffer certain kinds of attacks. Physical damage (e.g., taking a bullet to the leg) can sharply drain all three of your physical fatigue pools whether you like it or not, and can also inflict a wound. Mental damage, when acute, (e.g., finding out that your best friend is trying to kill you) can directly and rapidly drain your Sanity. Less acute forms of mental damage, like being forced to work in a spaceship where the thermostat is set to 10 degrees Celsius for weeks on end, will slowly drain all three of your mental fatigue pools.

Fatigue Penalties

As pools empty a character becomes more tired, and this fatigue interferes with their actions. Each character will have a mental and a physical fatigue penalty. Your physical fatigue penalty is the sum of that from Wind, Stamina and Health, your mental from Wit, Focus, and Sanity. Penalties are -1 for every quarter of the pool that is empty:

Pool Value 76 % + 75-51 % 50-26 % 25-1 % 0 or less
Penalty 0 -1 -2 -3 -4

If for some reason you are making checks with a pool that is negative, penalties continue to accumulate for every quarter of your total you go negative.

Physical/Mental penalties apply to any skill which draws effort from one of the related pools (if a task draws from both, average the two penalties).

If a bone-weary Bob were reduced to 2 Health, -6 Stamina, and 35 Wind at the hands of an angry Viet Cong torture squad, he would suffer a -3 + -4 + -2 = -9 to all physical difficulty checks. This would make it very difficult for Bob to mow the lawn until he'd had some good R&R.

<update these for the new pool sizes -tgd 2011/07/07>

For example, Diplomacy requires Wit. If a player's Wit pool holds 32 Wit when full, then she can conduct Diplomacy as normal as long as she has between 25 and 32 Wit left. If Wit is between 17 and 24, the player will suffer -1 to Diplomacy skill checks. If Wit is between 9 and 16, the player will suffer -2 to Diplomacy skill checks. If Wit is between 1 and 8, the player will suffer -3 to Diplomacy skill checks. If Wit is zero or negative, the player will suffer -4 to Diplomacy skill checks.

Note that fatigue penalties are cumulative. If a skill draws on Wit, Wind, and Focus (e.g., dancing), and all three of those pools are completely empty, then the player would suffer a whopping -12 to his Dancing skill checks. This will likely cause him to automatically fail most dancing skill checks. Health and Sanity are usually relevant to all skill checks, so letting those pools drop significantly will carry a pretty general penalty.

On the other hand, irrelevant fatigue pools usually do not carry penalties for depletion; for example, a low Stamina pool will not interfere with your ability to draw up blueprints, although it might interfere somewhat with your ability to repair a car engine using hand tools. Fatigue penalties can be increased or decreased by a constant multiplier based on how tightly the fatigue pool is connected to the skill. Distance running, for example, is so tightly connected to Stamina that it might get a x2 multiplier for fatigue points, so that a three-quarters empty Stamina pool would carry a -6 penalty instead of the usual -3 penalty. There is a list of standard multipliers in the Skills section.

Certain skills ("Train Wind," "Train Stamina," etc.) allow you to avoid or reduce the effect of fatigue penalties. Although these skills will rarely allow you to overcome a completely empty or negative pool, they will allow you to perform tasks well when your Wind and Wit are at, e.g., half-mast.

Recovering Energy

In general, one point of a higher-level pool can be spent to gain 5 points in the next shallowest pool. For example, you could spend 1 point of Stamina to gain 5 points of Wind.

This always requires both a certain amount of time and a degree of relative peacefulness. You cannot convert Stamina into Wind while you are running; the point is that you stop for a moment to catch your breath.

The higher the pool you are converting, the more time and the more peace you need. For example, converting Stamina into Wind just requires a steady place to stand and a couple of ticks per point; converting Health into Stamina might require a place to lie down, a chance to eat or drink, and half an hour or so per point of Health being converted.

If you lack either the time or the appropriate conditions for converting one pool into another, you suffer penalties to your conversion rate. For example, converting 1 point of Health into Stamina using only ten minutes while floating in a freshwater lake might yield only 3 points of Stamina, instead of the usual five. At the limit, if you allow yourself no chance to rest and simply press on with whatever you were doing, you will start spending down points from the next-highest pool at a 1:1 ratio after you have depleted the lower-level pool. This is only rarely a good idea.

If you are trying to recover energy while you are low on the next-deepest pool, your conversion rate will also suffer, at the same rate as your fatigue penalty. For example, if you have a maximum Health of 36, and you currently have only 20 Health, you would suffer a fatigue penalty of -1 to Health, because the first quarter of your Health 'tank' is entirely empty. This means that you could only convert Health into Stamina at a ratio of 4:1. If you had only 2 Health points remaining, you would suffer a fatigue penalty of -3 to Health, and so you could only convert Health into Stamina at a ratio of 2:1.

This could make sense in a life-threatening emergency where you need to lift your character's overall fatigue penalty by a modest amount as soon as humanly possible, since recovering two points of Stamina will lift your Stamina fatigue penalties faster than recovering one point of Health will lift your equivalent Health fatigue penalty. However, it is deeply inefficient in terms of overall recovery; so if your concern is getting your character back up to full power as soon as you can, then it will usually make sense to recover fatigue pools evenly, or even to prioritize recovery of deeper-level pools for a few cycles.

Pools, but only body can go negative, Only body and focus can be spent into negative, the others only end up negative through damage. If the pool is negative, its refresh rate is halved. Focus continues to accumulate -1 penalties for every quarter of the character's total (so a normal character with 30 focus pool will be at -5 when focus is at -8, -6 when focus is at -16, and so on). If a character's body is less than half their maximum negative, they are battered, but in no danger of dying. Once a character's body is < -body/2, they must make an endure check every round to avoid dying. The check gets progressively more difficult the more negative the character's body total is.

Dangerously Low Pools

Results of Constitution Check:

Pass: Repeat check in 8 ticks, gain cumulative +1 on check

x: gain +x/2 on next check

(??) 5 req: increase interval by one step

-x: suffer a -x/2 on the next check

-10 req: die

If you take new damage any bonuses you have accumulated are wiped out, and you return to an 8 tick interval. Yes this means if you are bleeding you are most likely toast.

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