Weapon that falls apart

Recently, one of my players pillaged a tomb to recover a legendary quarterstaff that he could use to replace his old one. I decided to make things interesting my giving it a balance die, but also saying that because it is so old, it is weak and prone to falling apart on use. He can try to get it reinforced, but mundane blacksmithery will likely also remove the balance die, since the reinforcement will throw off the balance. (One of the other PCs is a blacksmith. I’m hoping this will lead to some interesting interaction between the two.)

My initial thought was to make this work kinda like armor, depleting a cache of pips whenever he rolls a 1. When the pips run out, the staff breaks. Then I realized that this was kind of silly, since his b6 skill means he’s pretty likely to get a 1 every time he rolls, even without FoRKs and so on. The balance die works against him here, too. My next thought was to leave it to the DoF, and give it a 1/6 chance of losing a pip every time he uses it. 1/6 odds seems kind of low, though, and the DoF is kind of impersonal.
Right now, I’m leaning back towards the original idea. Give him some incentive to FoRK in fewer dice and so forth, and decide when he wants the greater likelihood of success enough to make up for the greater likelihood of losing pips on the staff. But it would be nice to have a way to make the odds more exciting. Something closer to 50/50. I guess I could treat it like superior quality armor and change the failure range for the reroll, but that doesn’t really change the basic problem that ones are pretty likely to come up every roll with the number of dice he’ll be rolling.
As far as the number of pips before it fails, I want enough to give him some flexibility, but not enough to make him complacent. Maybe something in the neighborhood of 5, with this approach. Maybe more, though. He used his old one a lot. As a player, he likes to beat people up.
Also, I’m thinking about this in terms of regular die rolls, but in practice, it’ll be Bloody Versus and Fight. Both seem problematic. I particularly don’t want to penalize him for using Fight, since we haven’t been using it enough as it is.

Any thoughts?

What about open-ending down on a 1 on the balance die? On a 1-3 after 1, reduce power by 1 (or whatever).

I like that idea Luke.

I have a complcated add on idea. Give is some armor dice [lets say B4]. When you roll a successful hit or parry but the balance die came up 1, roll the armor dice against the other successes. Each failure whittles down one armor die as fine cracks and splinters appear, failed armor dice downgrade like normal, but once it’s lost it’s armor die it looses it’s special balance die as the end falls off or something. Interestingly this makes bigger successful hits, or parries of bigger blows more likely the frak up the staff.

Too complex?

Durand, I like how that one snowballs - the more the staff breaks, the more fragile it is and likely to break more. There’s something nicely dramatic about that.

I think I would start with the fiction. So the staff has nice balance but is fragile. How fragile? Will it just shatter at some point? What is the fictional significance of the staff?

If I was running a game and had an idea like this, I could think of a variety of ways to handle the fragility. I might just make it a DoF after each fight (treat it like any other consumable piece of equipment). I might make it’s breakage a result of failure of a resources cycle test, or maybe failure of some other test (maybe even a failure consequence during a combat situation).


You could always give it a trait that can earn fate through complications.

I like Durand’s idea, but it’s a lot of dice rolling. A quick and simple way to do it is that every time the staff lands a Mark or Superior hit it loses a pip. For every action there is an equal and opposite reaction.

Regardless of the exact mechanics, I’d say don’t make rules that lets the player roll after the fight to see if it breaks but something that can happen as it is being used. The possible drama here is that the staff might break in the middle of a fight, not after it.

Storapan, yes! I like the way you think.
I’m thinking I’ll go with Durand’s idea. I like the way it balances, and I don’t think it’ll be too much more complicated in practice.

My concern was my method introduces too much complication into the system of it, but I do like a bit of crunch for some special circumstance play. I imagine the player loosing that first Die off it’s condition and then writing a belief to quest to repair the damned thing.

Let us know what you go with and how it pans out.

C/p’d from his character sheet:
*Brittle With Age: Currently has (8) integrity dice. On a successful hit,
roll integrity dice versus hit successes. The quarterstaff loses
integrity dice equal to the margin of failure. When all dice are gone,
the staff breaks and is unusable. This trait can be removed by having
the staff reinforced, but this will also remove the balance die unless
there are extraordinary circumstances.

So far, his response has been to just use his fists for everything, rather than risk breaking it.
I did a very bad thing during character creation: I told him he could use his Martial Arts skill for his quarterstaff as well as his fists. He has Martial Arts at B6. I’m regretting letting him get away with that now, or he’d probably have more incentive to go with his quarterstaff.

To be fair, he has a belief about getting the staff fixed up so he can use it. So it’s not like he doesn’t care.

Maybe I should more explicitly point out that this is meant to be a trait he can earn artha with? I’m not sure that was at all clear to him. I’m not sure I’ve been remembering that myself.

The quarterstaff also does get better I/M/S results than his bare fists, of course. Maybe I can emphasize the value of that to him, too.

This is fine. What does he have to do to follow his belief about fixing it up?

Well, his Belief is as follows:

“I need to find a way to remove the negative aspect of the staff of rikkard.”

So his first step is for him to figure out what he has to do, apparently.
I have a couple of leads I plan to dangle in front of him and see what he bites at. Though I’m not really challenging his belief if I just say “Here, do this! This is the way!” So, hmm.

Why not ask him to write it into his belief himself?

“I need to find a way to remove the negative aspect of the staff of rikkard, I must seek knowledge from Brother Augustine in his mountain fastness.”

“I need to find a way to remove the negative aspect of the staff of rikkard, I must gain admittance to the Great Library and learn its history.”


Aha, of course! I’ll suggest he do so.

Making the player do the work is the BW way, after all!

But what if he goes, “Nah, my belief is fine as is, I’ma leave it alone”?

If you know how to challenge it and he knows how to push it, it’s a good belief. If either of you doesn’t know what to do with it, it needs to be tweaked, or the game will suffer.