Fates Worse Than Death:
Frequently Asked Questions

What are the rules for healing damage?

Sorry, no rules for that. Why? Healing damage varies on too many points:

Update: Apparently, this wasn't a good enough answer. So, we created some Healing Rules.
Where did you get your ideas for Fates Worse Than Death?

Well, I started writing the game that FWTD evolved from when I was… in maybe elementary school or middle school. Except it’s been completely rewritten so many times that if you looked at it you wouldn’t think it had anything to do with Fates Worse Than Death.

A lot of research went in to Fates Worse Than Death. I checked out a lot of books from the library about the neighborhoods and architecture of Manhattan. The Encyclopedia of New York was a great resource. I even went to New York as research for the book, and took a lot of pictures (the background in the cover is based partially on a picture I took).

A lot of the future-tech stuff came from Wired magazine and SlashDot. I also worked for several years as an IT professional, so that helped me understand how networks worked and where technology might be heading. There are two TV series about history, both by James Burke, that do a really excellent job of showing how technology changes society. One is called Connections and the other is The Day The Universe Changed.

I read every book I could get a hold of and watched every documentary on life in prison, which led to concepts like shivs, rippers, razormouth, back-to-wall, etc.

I also read every book I could find about homelessness. My favorite book is Street Lives by Steven Vanderstaay. I think every non-fiction book should be modeled after this book: each section has a bit of statistics and historical background (so you can get the big-picture perspective) and then has life-stories as told by several homeless people (so you can get the feel for individual experiences). There’s a book called The Bridge People by Underwood that’s an ethnography of homeless winos living under a bridge in LA, written by a guy who went and lived with them. That book really showed me the day-to-day details of how to survive on the streets. I also listen to the Homelessness Marathon on public radio every year, and got a lot of ideas from that (including much of the state of Sex Workers and the relationship between Sex Workers and Sexologists). The books Grand Central Winter and Living at the Edge of the World are two personal narratives of homeless people in New York. The documentary Dark Days is about homeless people living in a tunnel under New York. There’s another documentary called Sunshine Hotel that taught me about SROs (skid row hotels).

I got a lot of my knowledge about abandoned spaces from reading the zine Infiltration, as well as books like Invisible Frontier and The Tunnel. I read every book I could find about the history and geography of the various tunnels under New York. The book Underneath New York gave me some historical perspective. There’s an incredible non-fiction children’s book called Underground by David Macaulay that, while not specifically about New York, really allowed me to visualize New York’s underground.

I read some stuff on gangs. The only one I really remember is Monster, which is an autobiography by a LA gang member. These helped me understand the gang lifestyle and code of revenge. Gangs of New York, the non-fiction book, helped me realize what gangs had been before crack and what they could be again if the shadow of drug sales was removed from them.

The book London’s Underworld by Henry Mayhew is a treatise on the criminal classes of Victorian London. That book showed me how sophisticated and specialized a criminal class can become over a few generations of stable joblessness. That book gave me ideas for the culture of the Street People classes.

Bomb the Suburbs (a non-fiction book) and Oath of Fealty (a sci-fi book) got me thinking about gated communities.

I’ve also read tons of books on Hacking and on Poisons. Those weren’t specifically research for Fates, but a lot of the material from them ended up in Fates (e.g. the hacking rules, the Crackers, the Drakes, the black market poisons).

And, of course, I stole anything I liked from cyberpunk fiction, especially William Gibson.

Is there an endurance cost for specialty skills like Sense Impurity?

Remember, only manipulative psychic skills have an END cost. Sensory skills don't. Also, keep in mind that many special skills are not psychic at all, or are only marginally psychic (take Sex Workers' Bad Trick Sense, it may involve some small amount of 'human intuition', which may be partly psychic, but 99% of it is just experience). The only special skills that I would think would have an END cost would be:

Is there a duration for Psychic skills or do they last as long as you continue to concentrate?

For manipulative psychic skills, the actual psychic manipulation shouldn't last more than a round (with the exception of Insanity Attack, which can take a while). The effect, however, can last quite a while. Unless the duration of the effect is specifically listed, GMs should have the effect last based on how many points the victim failed by. E.g. Hatey the Skin Borg is attacked by an Emotion Attack and fails her save by 10 points, she might be paralyzed by dysphoria for 10 rounds.

For sensory psychic skills, the duration should only last a moment, as if you just snapped a picture. If the psychic wants to see something else, he or she has to make another roll.

What is the population of ethnic groups in 2080? Where are they located in the city? Are there still any ethnic gangs?

In the US, most people are multiracial. Most city residents who are one ethnicity are recent immigrants. If you look on the Ancestry section on the random NPC generator (p.452) you will see the breakdown of primary ethnicities. About a third of people don’t have any one particular ancestry. Other people are “mostly causasian” or “mostly african”, etc. There are some traces left of the economic disparity between ethnic groups: Indies are more likely to be mostly white then Wells or Street People.

There are no major ethnic sections of the city like there are today, mostly because so many people are multiracial. New immigrants no longer create large ethnic enclaves, they seek out small insular enclaves spread throughout the city. This is mostly because immigrants are trickling in from many different countries (as opposed to the city’s past, where there was a wave of Irish immigration, a wave of German, a wave of Italian, a wave of Puerto Rican, etc.) There are some echoes left of the old ethnic neighborhoods: people living in Harlem are slightly more likely to be mostly African, people living on the East side of Harlem are slightly more likely to be mostly Hispanic, people living in Chinatown in the Bowery are slightly more likely to be Chinese, etc.

There are no ethnicity-based gangs in New York. In some other inner cities in the country, descendents of these gangs may still exist (though it is hard for them to segregate along racial lines when so many of the members are multiracial). In New York, though, any gangs descended from these old ethnicity-based-gangs went away when the Drug Lords consolidated.

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