It would be cool to have a healing mechanic for FATE so a character could take an action and translate his shifts into the reduction of stress and consequences. Healing is a pretty pervasive mechanic in many games, but including it can have, heh, consequences. The availability of extraordinary healing is one of those things that can seem trivial but have a profound impact on your setting. It can radically change the overall narrative, as I’m sure you are aware. (Remember leaving a dungeon to go find healing potions and recover until your characters are well enough to go back?) Given that we want healing to be possible, but generally extraordinary to avoid such consequences, how might we structure such a mechanic? What could a healing mechanic apply to?
Stress is a quickly refreshed resource. The only meaningful way to heal stress would be during a conflict, but what are the consequences of that? What if a character, lets call him The Healer, could remove all his stress every exchange? That’s fairly powerful, but it requires an action and only applies to attacks that don’t score more shifts then The Healer has stress. If the healing effect is passive then we can remove the action requirement, and we get a character who can take a lot of damage unless the attacks are powerful enough to exceed his stress track, or he gets totally pasted by enough attacks in one exchange to overcome his healing before he can recover. Overall, this is mechanically similar to armor, so a similar cost would seem to make sense.
Say, you can clear your track up to the Nth stress mark for N shifts.
For example, The Healer has a stress track that is 6 marks long and he’s taken a serious beating in a fight with some Black Pack werewolves. Only his fourth stress mark is unused so he takes a moment and rolls to heal himself. He rolls a 5, which means he can clear his stress track from the 1st to the 5th mark. His 6th mark will remain used. For now.
For a more restricting option we might say, the rank of each stress mark is it’s difficulty to clear.
In this version of the example, The Healer would have to spend shifts to clear each stress mark from 1 to 5 and so it would cost him 11 (1 + 2 + 3 + 5) shifts instead of 5 for the same effect.
Healing consequences is substantially more consequential in FATE because being stuck with them for some length of time is a huge part of their purpose. So, removing consequences should be fairly difficult.
Perhaps, for shifts equal to the value of the consequence (2, 4 or 6) you can reduce the consequence’s severity by one. Or remove it if it is already minor.
Then to completely heal a severe consequence in a single roll would be 12 shifts (6 + 4 + 2). Which is fairly tough, even for The Healer.
For a more restricting option we might include the pre-text for recovery and require shifts equal to the severity to begin recovery before healing a consequence.
That make healing a severe consequence cost 18 shifts. That’s likely going to require more than one roll. Even a minor consequence would require 4 shifts to get rid of in a single action.
Another possible restriction on healing consequences would be to only allow a consequence to be reduced if the character has an open slot for it to fill. Basically requiring less serious consequences to be healed first.
The Healer has 2 Minor, 1 Moderate, and 1 Severe consequence slots. And after tangling with the Black Pack, he has only 1 Minor slot free. He can’t reduce his Severe consequence to a Moderate one because that slot is already used. He will first have to heal his Moderate consequence by one degree and then heal his Severe consequence. He needs to do this in a hurry because the Pack has almost found him so after burning some fate points, he rolls 10 shifts in healing. This is just enough to reduce his Moderate consequence to Minor (4), and reduce his Severe consequence to Moderate (6). Now only his Severe slot is left open.