Stress represents how much you’re hurting in a wide range of areas. Stress is rated by a die same as all mechanics in the cortex+ system. There are three kinds of stress: physical, mental, emotional.
▼ Physical Stress is bodily injury, exhaustion, the effects of toxins or chemicals, etc. Physical trauma includes serious wounds, broken limbs, system-‐wide infection, and worse.
▼ Mental Stress is confusion, lack of concentration, mental fatigue, and the results of telepathic assault. Mental trauma includes memory lapses, identity crisis, or impaired reasoning.
▼ Emotional Stress is despair, fear, anger, or any number of negative emotional states. Emotional trauma means severe phobias, crippling depression, or persistent rage.
There are two reasons you don’t want Stress. First, whenever someone rolls dice against you, they can add the die rating of one of your Stresses to their pool. If you have Angry d6, your enemy won’t hesitate to use your own anger against you.
Second, once any stress exceeds D12 or the opponent critically succeeds, the character is stressed out and can’t take any actions or do anything until they recover. They also pick up a D6 of trauma, or long-‐term stress, which takes longer to recover from. Being stressed out multiple times will step up Trauma by one until it exceeds D12; at which point the character dies, comatose or otherwise unable to continue being played in the normal sense.
You receive stress whenever your character loses a round of conflict and you choose to persist instead of giving in. The victorious side of a conflict would reroll his dice pool and find which one rolled highest. That die’s size becomes your opponent’s rating in the Stress you selected. If your opponent already has a higher rating for that Stress, it increases by one step.
Stressing Out can mean many things. It may simply mean you fall unconscious. It may mean you collapse in doubt and angst. When you Stress Out, it’s up to you to decide what it means in the story.
When you are Stressed Out, you may not make any die rolls or spend Plot Points for the rest of the scene. Additionally, you may not be able to reliably remember what happened later. You may be there and you may still be able to roleplay and react within the bounds of what’s happening in the story.
Giving In is letting your opposition have her way. Your character either gives up or refuses to fight. This is the only way that a Contest can be stopped before it gets ugly; if nobody Gives In, somebody will get Stress.
If you Give In without ever picking up dice to react, Giving In is free. However, if you roll dice to react even once, it costs you a Plot Point to Give In. Give the Plot Point to your opposition. Alternately, you may keep your Plot Point by stepping back one die step of your Values or Relationships—sacrificing your friendships or letting the worm of doubt erode your principles.
When you Give In, you must comply with your opposition’s most recent telegraphed action. If she was demanding information, you must describe your character spilling the beans. If she was throwing a punch, you must describe your character taking that hit. When you Give In, it’s your job to sell the opposition’s victory. It costs you nothing to make her look awesome, and the more awesome at the table, the more fun everybody will have.
|Recovering from Stress|
There are many ways to reduce stress. Some processes are natural like those below:
▼ Stress steps back by one dice at the beginning of the next scene if appropriate
▼ If you stressed out last scene, all of your stress in that category is gone
Other processes require teamwork. Characters can relieve stress faster by spending time with any person or means that is appropriate. This can be talking to another player about girl problems or going to the doctors. This requires you to give whomever helped you 1 plot point.
Though a Death of a character is in many ways inevitable, that may not mean the end of the story. Whenever the time comes, speak to your GM in private about character death and how that will affect the plot.