Stress mechanics for World of Dungeons hacks?

I’m running Mothership’s Dead Planet module but using the Offworlders (i.e. WoDu) rules. I’d like to tack-on some kind of simple stress mechanics with the aim of encouraging player characters to act somewhat like a character from a sci-fi horror movie (say Aliens) does when under extreme stress. So running, unloading a whole clip, etc.

I’m comfortable with doing this fictionally, but I’d like something with a little more bite. I couldn’t find any discussion of stress mechanics in any existing WoDu hack - does anyone know of any or have simple stress rules I could lift from another game?

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In my spy drama hack World of Secrets, players progressively cross out the highest levels of success on their sheet for different methods of acting. So after some stress, you can’t get a critical success. Then you can’t achieve a full success, then a partial success. So over time, things tend to get worse.

You would have to decide how levels of success are lost and recovered, and how they apply. (In my game it applies to each attribute separately but you might make it one big stress level that applies to all rolls.) But it might fit with what you want.


I see yes. So instead of modifying the chance of success in subsequent rolls, you make a cap on success level?

I forget where I read this, but I quite like the idea of a stress meter that puts the character in one of several worsening levels of stress. Then when you fail a subsequent roll (on an action that could trigger you?) this level drops back one and the PC acts out appropriately (unloading their clip, etc). The severity of what you do is dependent on the stress level. So you hope to fail earlier and have a minor reaction.

EDIT: is it Spire I wonder?

I think @Pandatheist ran Mothership in Offworlders and posted about it on Twitter. Not sure if he’s still active here, but he may have some ideas.

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Yeah, so after two hits of stress, your result chart goes from
6- Fail
7-9 Partial success
10-11 full success
12+ critical

To just
6- Fail
7+ Partial success

Just like how skills push a miss up to count as a partial success, stress pushes results down toward partial success

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I’ll just add a stress mechanic here : Alien and the Power of Asymmetrical Rules
The general idea is stress points enhance your capacities but increase critical fails.
I like the double-edged incentive : it’s a signal to players that they can play cool headed or drop the flashlight, there’s no one true way (and yet it’s not just flavour). It makes acquiring the first stress more relaxed.
You can also make stress extend the critical fail range : you want some edge, but not too much edginess.