The Consequences of Dead FoNs

Okay, I made up a big, long post about this, but I decided to simplify it. So if a GMFoN is killed then the GM is down one set of scenes? If an FoN’s spotlight phase hasn’t happened yet then there’s no prequel check to add successes into dispo?

And can a GM ever regain his lost scenes by burning up a new character to take the place of a lost FoN? Could he spend his color or interstitial scenes on flashbacks (as long as it doesn’t get too cheesy)? Is this left up to the groups to decide? What about a posthumous prequel check, like finding the battle plans of a dead Invasion FoN General?

IIRC the GM always has her scenes. She loses only the Phase FoN dispo roll at the beginning of the dead FoN’s phase.

Losing a GMFON is way harsher than losing a PCFON. PCs can make new characters and those characters can still lend help dice, but they can’t make the pre-phase dispo bonus roll. GMs can make new characters but those characters do not count toward the “GMFON appeared in a scene” math for the Infection roll (and also lose the chance to make the pre-Phase dispo roll).

Other than that, the scene economy is unchanged. It’s just something that hits the dispo changes at the end.


Ah, okay. So if the GM loses an FoN then he loses one character able to give him helping dice for the maneuver checks. That could definitely be painful.

So what are the rules for burning up new characters? Does it have to wait until the phase is over, or can it happen in between sessions? Can the GM introduce as many fully burned characters he wants? It seems like that could undermine the Circles mechanic. Is this one reason why the GM has a reserve of Circles points, so that he can buy a new relationship and burn up a new character in a pinch?

New PCFONs between Phases; new GM characters whenever he wants to cash in the Circles reserve.

I’ve kept Circles in reserve both to bolster lost GMFONs as well as to handle need-them-NOW NPCs that I hadn’t anticipated needing when the game started.


Ahh. I can’t wait to try out this game. It’s so complex, and yet whenever I sit down and pick it apart I find how tightly designed and interconnected all the rules really are. In a really good way.

The notion that the GM’s side of the conflict only has three individuals, ever, who can make Maneuver rolls during the Infection has never sat well with me. Especially when the players’ side of the conflict gets a never-replenishing supply. “We’re this alien, ominous, unfathomable, unstoppable menace… and if these three people die we’re going to pack up and call it a day.” Boggle.

My preference, given the way the Infection works, would be as follows:

  • If a GM FoN dies during a maneuver, he’s out for the rest of that maneuver. Can’t make Maneuver rolls, can’t add helping dice even if he appeared in an Interstitial or Building scene prior to his death. (Common sense. Also rewards good player play, in that if they notice the GM’s been working all Maneuver towards having his master orator pull a propaganda coup they can stage a late-session Corner Him And Stab Him In The Face to shift the Maneuver roll to some chump.)
  • A ‘replacement’ FoN can be introduced in the next Maneuver. This character requires a color scene and either an interstitial or building scene just to be introduced, during which the character either talks about his capabilities or shows them off with some Tests. This scene cannot be counted for Help dice. (You get your replacement… but he’s going to take some time to get up to speed. Makes it harder for you to pull off that ‘glory’ role in the Infection, and to manage your scene economy.)
  • ‘Replacement’ FoNs, unlike regular GM-burned characters, can’t be burned up with more Lifepaths than the highest-Lifepath PC. They don’t start with any Artha, and have to buy Relationships to existing members of the cast with Circles points in the way that PCs normally do. They must buy a Relationship to at least one PC, exact nature decided on by consensus between the GM and the player of the PC in question. (You get your replacement, but he’s got less stuff, mechanically speaking, than GM FoNs who’ve been around since the beginning. Players get to input as to who this Johnny-come-lately is and why he’s important to the story.)

Put it together, and there’s still mechanical and story benefit from attacking and killing GMFoNs… but it’s not nearly as harsh as the published rules. As written, a player tactic in the Infection of “Let’s suicide our PCs into the GM FoNs so that everyone dies! Then have our replacement characters Conserve our dispo back up to max, Take Action every faction in the game onto our side, and Inundate the enemy into the pavement, 'cause nobody on the other side can DO anything in response!” is cheesily effective metagaming blocked only by “Don’t be a dick”. You want a Vaylen FoN out of the way permanently, make it a Phase Objective and play the Maneuvers to win. If all you’ve done is won a Conflict scene, your advantage should be only a temporary one. My take, at least.

It’d be something worth experimenting with, that’s for sure.

As a GM my instinct is to be absolutely terrified of losing my GMFONs. They’re precious cargo and it feels like the only thing keeping the players from just gunning for them from scene 1 maneuver 1 is their good graces. I like it at one level because it makes me much more invested in my stuff than I might otherwise be.

A couple thoughts, none of which are intended to refute your ideas (which I would be very interested in experimenting with):

  • It’s much harder to kill a FON than it seems. This only becomes obvious in actual play – I’m not sure how much AP experience you have, but seriously, a player has to spectacularly fuck up (no 2iC, no defensive instincts, no Artha, no building rolls, no tech) to get greased.

  • If the GMFONs can be replenished with the same ease as PCFONs, the price of losing them might actually need to be higher and not lower. Certainly it should cost at least 2 points from the GM’s Circles reserve in any case.


I’m tempted by that reasoning, and it was something I was concerned about (it’s the reason I made this thread). If the players “zerg” my FoNs, which I’m not convinced would be easy, I might consider a ruling like yours, Gyrfalcon.

As it stands, I’m still concerned that the loss of a GMFoN is too harsh, but I’m willing to try it as is. If it feels too harsh in play, I might change it so the GM gets some sort of replenishment between phases (and maybe between sessions/maneuvers, if necessary).

Players get a replenishing supply of PCs? I thought they only got their main character and a 2iC relationship.


Well, you get to change PCs in between phases, right?

We went through this in detail a few months ago for my own game. I can go dig up the thread if necessary. I think Luke’s got Blossoms on the brain.


i think there’s a disconnect between the idea of ‘fairness’ and the design intent of the game. the game is designed to tell a story. the infection maneuver disposition simply provides the arc for that narrative. if a player dies, he is out for the phase unless he has a 2iC or another relationship he’d like to play. his relationship does not become a FoN (ie. can’t roll for the phase prequel), though he can help or even make the maneuver rolls for either side.

if a GM FoN dies, the GM’s stable is down one FoN permanently. his best hope is to survive with his two remaining FoN, to convert a player to his side, and perhaps to start killing off the rest of the players. is it ‘fair?’ Hells yeah. it’s damn tough to kill a FoN. all they have to do is save one persona point. it’s even harder to kill a GM FoN. especially if they’re vaylen, unless it’s accomplished in the VERY last scene of a maneuver when they’re all out.

the ‘unbalance’ of ousting a GM FoN is just the rewards for pulling off such a difficult feat. trust me, it’ll turn the story into a very interesting direction, so everybody wins.

as for the ‘unbalance’ of only 3 GM FoN, this is far outweighed by how easy it is for them to help each other. PCs have to have the right skill/wise and help the primary character in a scene. not as easy as it sounds. and the GM can always turn the PCs as long as they aren’t the phase FoN…

it defintely works out to tell the story, even if it SEEMS ‘unfair’ mechanically. the story benefits, and that’s what’s important.