Looking for feedback on my Trust/Betrayal mechanic

A little background. I’m working on a FitD game that’s sort of Atomic Blonde meets Chernobyl. It’s like 70s/80s Berlin but there was a nuclear accident decades ago and all cities are now encased in enormous concrete domes to protect from radiation. The totalitarian government is falling and all sorts of factions are rising up to overthrow them.

With a bunch of spies and revolutionaries not everyone’s agendas are going to be aligned. So I came up with a trust and conflict mechanism that I think works well. The idea is you have to cooperate to survive and to do that you need to trust each other. However you also want to pursue your own agenda or even sabotage someone else’s agenda. I’m interested in that tension between trust and betrayal. Much of this was adapted from The Mountain Witch and Smallville rpgs. Please give any feedback you have.

When generating your character you get a number of Trust points equal to the number of party members. You may divide them up among any number of the other characters. You can not start with more than 2 Trust in another character.

You can increase or decrease your Trust in other characters during Downtime. As a Downtime activity you can give +1 Trust to one or more other characters. You can only take this action once per Downtime. You can also decrease your Trust in a character by any amount for no cost. Other characters can also do this by placing or removing their Trust in you.

You may spend Trust points but only on the character that put their Trust in you. You must be with that character and able to explain how you are using their trust to help or hurt them. Listed below are the ways you can spend Trust points.

  • Give +1D on their roll (once per roll)
  • Allow them to resist a consequence without having to roll
  • Give -1D on their roll for each Trust you spend
  • Add or subtract dice in a Conflict (see below)

A Conflict happens when two characters are at odds and can not agree how to resolve it. The character that instigated the Conflict is the Attacker and the other character is the Defender. The Attacker describes what they are trying to do and rolls dice as usual. The highest number rolled is the Target Number. The Defender then describes how they fight back and rolls their own dice. Characters do not have to use the same Attribute when rolling.

If the roll is > or = to the Target Number, then that becomes the new Target Number and the other player must roll to beat it.

If the roll is < the Target Number, the character takes Stress equal to the Stakes. The Stakes start at 1 and increase by 1 each time someone takes stress.

Each player must continue rolling back and forth until one of them Gives In or can no longer take Stress. When this happens they allow their opponent to narrate the scene and the Conflict ends. A player can only Give In immediately after they have taken Stress, otherwise they must continue rolling.

During a Conflict, players may spend Trust their opponent has previously given them. For each Trust they spend, they may give themselves +1D or their opponent -1D on a roll. Your opponent may also do the same with any Trust you have given them. Other players may also spend Trust they have from either character in the Conflict to do the same. However, they may only spend one Trust per roll.

First of all, the setting sounds awesome!
Now, the trust mechanic is certainly interesting, though it requires some playtesting to see what works. My concern thus far would be that it seems like a lot of gameplay is going to revolve around PCs being at odds with each other. What conflicts do you actually have in mind? And would lots of conflicts between PCs not destroy/ break-up the crew or end with dead PCs on a regular basis? Serious PC vs. PC conflicts can lead to player conflicts. That’s dangerous.
Another question: why would I spend a Downtime activity on handing out Trust?
And how does this dynamic affect scores?

I usually ban PvP in my sessions for that reason. But there will be a bunch of spies, informants, etc in this setting so I think some conflict is going to be inevitable. I want to see if I can design a system where we can have some interesting conflicts without it spilling over to the players. I think it can be done but tbh I’m not sure.

The conflicts would probably be differences in character goals. Maybe one person wants to lead an open revolution but others want to take down the system from the inside. Not sure yet. I imagine a looser collection of people than the typical Blades crew.

I think the Trust system will hopefully be a counterbalance to keep everyone together. Your max stress will be lower than usual. That means if you go off on your own you probably can’t survive. However if you stick together then you can use the Trust they put in you to help each other. Probably also have some hidden agenda that you want to advance for xp. So there’s a tension between sticking together or advancing your own goals. It’s like the Prisoners Dilemma.

The Conflict mechanism also works with this. I need to put trust in others for all of us to survive. However that trust can come back to hurt me if I get in a conflict with them. I think that will provide some nice opportunities for paranoia and double crossing that works in the setting. However it definitely is not for everyone. You’ll need to buy into this kind of game.

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