Special Ability Limitations

These limitations can be associated with special abilities, restricting their functionality and reducing their total cost (base cost plus the cost for additional ranks plus any enhancements — not the per rank cost). For example, the total cost of two ranks of Iron Will in a game where special abilities are uncommon is four, and in a game where they are common, the cost is three.

Limitations may not lower a special ability’s total cost below one, and all limitations must have some sort of effect on play — just like disadvantages. Each of a character’s special abilities may have more than one of each limitation, as they can either describe similar but distinct negative situations or, in some cases, stack the effects.

Ability Loss (3 for 1 rank; 4 for 2 ranks): The character temporarily loses his special ability at regular intervals or, when the special ability is used, he loses the ability to use a common skill in which he has experience (that is, additional pips or dice). Examples include: a character who cannot shapeshift when the sun is out; a character who cannot use his natural weapons on a particular day of the month or during a certain phase of the moon. The character is aware of what the circumstances are that will cause this. For an additional point and additional rank, the character must undergo some sort of (fairly simple) procedure to regain his ability or skill use. A special ability may only have a maximum of two ranks in a single variation of this limitation, but a character may have it multiple times for different special abilities, circumstances, or combinations of special abilities and skills.

Allergy (3 for 1 rank; 4 for 2 ranks): The character has a fairly minor allergy. Exposure to a fairly common substance (smoke, sunlight, particular food, etc.) causes the character to lose all critical success rerolls until the condition is removed. For an additional point and additional rank, the effects are worse, and the character loses all actions due to coughing fits, watering eyes, or similar discomfort until she can get away from the allergen. A special ability may only have one rank in this limitation, though it may have several different Allergies.

Cybernetics (0): An artificial limb or organ provides the character’s special ability. As a cybernetic improvement is impossible to accidentally drop or remove, this limitation has no cost. Characters may have only one rank in it.

Mechanical implants exist as the most common means for
an unmutated Human (and possibly some other species of
the gamemaster’s devising) to gain Special Abilities. Read the
“Cybernetics” chapter for details on how to include Special
Abilities in your character by replacing an organic part with
a mechanical construct.

Burn-out (1): See the Disadvantage by this name for suggestions that could also be applied to a special ability. The more likely the burn-out, the greater the number of ranks in this limitation. A special ability may have multiple variations of this limitation, representing different triggers for the Burn-out.

Debt (3): Someone (or, more likely, some entity) gave the character the special ability. See the Debt (R3) disadvantage for suggestions. A special ability may only have one rank in this limitation.

Flaw (1): All difficulties associated with using the special ability are increased by +2 per rank. The greater the rank associated with this Flaw, the greater the difficulty modifier.

Minor Stigma (3): The character cannot use the special ability without performing the “proper rituals” before or after (someone with a natural weapon who must sketch an image of his intended victim before hunting him down; a shapeshifter who must be purified by his cult after killing someone). A special ability may only have one rank in this limitation.

Others Only (2 for 1 rank; 3 for 2 ranks; 4 for 3 ranks): The character may not use the special ability himself; he may only allow others to use it. The value of this limitation depends on how many groups of “others” he can use it on: For two points and one rank, the character may affect sentient living, non-sentient living, or nonliving targets. For three points and two ranks, the character can affect only two of the three groups. For four points and three ranks, the character can affect only one of the three groups. This limitation may not be taken more than once per special ability. Additionally, like the Bestow enhancement, some special abilities may require valid reasons before the Game Master will allow the limitation’s inclusion. Some abilities, such as Immortality and Longevity, may not have this limitation. The target who gets the special ability has control over its use as if she actually had the ability, for as long as the giving character allows.

Price (1): The character must fulfill certain obligations in order to use the special ability. Perhaps when using Water Breathing, the character must remain in the water for at least 24 hours for every 24 hours out of it or suffer -4 modifier per rank in this limitation to his damage resistance total for changing environments so quickly. Alternatively, there could be a Character or Fate Point fee of three Character Points per rank or one Fate Point per rank in the limitation.

Restricted (1): The special ability is hindered in a way not covered by any other limitation. The more restrictive the situation, the greater the number of ranks in this limitation. For instance, a Natural Weapon (either kind) may only be useful against certain items. A special ability may have multiple variations of this limitation, each representing a different restraint.

Side Effect (2): One of the character’s special abilities has some sort of annoying side effect that appears with its use, such as constant whistling, a continuous glow, or a terrible stench. Add 4 per rank to the difficulty of all stealth attempts when the special ability is in use, as everyone can figure out she’s coming. This will also affect interaction attempts, adding at least a +1 per rank to the difficulty.

Singularity (1 per special ability): The character may use only one of a group of two or more special abilities each round. It does not take an action to switch special abilities. He may change the special ability in use at the beginning of his turn in a round, and he may rely on the chosen special ability until the next time he changes it. For a second rank (and an additional one point per special ability), it does take an action to switch special abilities. A special ability may not have more than two ranks in this limitation and all special abilities in the same group must have this limitation at the same rank. Not all of a character’s special abilities need be in the same Singularity group.

Super-science (2): The special ability is contained in a piece of equipment — such as a gun, a staff, or a ring — developed through a technological means not readily available and certainly experimental. The item could be lent to another character or taken away with a successful grab and used by someone else, though at a +5 to the difficulty. On a critical failure, the item malfunctions and requires repair. Unless combined with the Burn-out limitation, a destroyed item may be recreated in a number of days equal to the total cost of the special ability (including all ranks, enhancements, and limitations). Characters who wish to have special abilities in their cybernetic implants may not take this limitation, as cybernetic implants are impossible to remove without serious and extended effort. (See the Cybernetic limitation, described herein.)