The rules for Nevermore include a resource or meta-currency called Fortune (or Fortune tokens) which players can use to give their protagonist an edge and to employ their Cabal Gifts. Fortune’s flip side is Doom (or Doom tokens), which the narrator gains when a player spends Fortune. Tokens of some sort (poker chips, coins, or even buttons) are placed into a pool on the table which becomes the Fortune Pool.
At the beginning of a story, five Fortune tokens are placed in the Fortune Pool for every protagonist. (If you have three players, there are 15 Fortune tokens in the pool.) Before play begins, each player gets to take one Fortune token from the pool, and the narrator takes one token (which becomes a Doom token) for each player.
The primary means for players to earn more Fortune is when making tests. As you may recall, players earn successes during a test by playing cards with a numerical value equal to or less than the appropriate Quality. Or, they can play cards of the same suit. If a card is both of the same suit and of the appropriate numerical value they earn a Fortune token which they can keep to use later or spend immediately for an additional success. If this Fortune is spent immediately, it returns to the Fortune Pool. However, any other time that Fortune is spent it becomes Doom and goes into the narrator’s Doom Pool.
(If you aren’t familiar with the basic rules for Nevermore, you can check out previous blog posts, especially this one: https://nepenthegames.com/cards-not-dice/)
As previously mentioned, Fortune is required to activate most Cabal Gifts. Now, we don’t want our protagonists to not be able to use their cool abilities, so players can always take a Fortune token from the pool and spend it immediately. However, when this is done, that token goes immediately to the Doom Pool along with an additional token from the Fortune Pool. That’s right! The narrator gets two Doom instead of just one.
Before I get into exactly what Fortune and Doom can do, let’s discuss some design theory around meta-currencies. Meta-currencies have become popular in RPGs in recent years with varying degrees of success. One of the popular means of distributing meta-currencies is for good roleplaying, humor, or playing your character by defined guidelines. As much as I like this concept, in theory, I find that it often fails at the table. The result is often that most of the meta-currency goes to the loudest and most outgoing players. A quieter and more reserved player might be playing their character perfectly, but the more outgoing players get all the rewards.
These roleplaying-based methods feel terribly unbalanced, not to mention being yet another thing the GM needs to keep track of. For this reason, all of the meta-currency transactions Nevermore are the result of tests and character actions. There is no fuzzy area as to whether a player earns Fortune or not.
How to Use Fortune
Now back to Fortune and what it can do. A player can spend Fortune to gain additional successes in a test, reduce the time a task takes, take a follow-up action, shuffle your deck, reduce incoming damage conditions, and for miraculous survival. And finally, Fortune is necessary to activate most Cabal Gifts.
So, what about Doom? The narrator can use Doom in much the same way as a player. They can use it to increase the Risk of a task, reduce a damage condition taken by a villain, shuffle their deck, activate an antagonist’s Dark Gifts, or even allow a villain to miraculously survive under certain circumstances. However, there is also an impetus for a narrator to not spend Doom.
If at any point during a story the Fortune Pool runs out, the protagonist’s Doom falls upon them. The narrator empties their Doom Pool completely (returning all tokens to the Fortune Pool), but something tragic befalls the characters. Each successive time this happens during a story, the more horrific the effects. Early effects might be something as simple as a random attack by a group of minions, or a supporting character becoming annoyed with the protagonists, or even the arrival of a new villain or an ally betraying the protagonists.
So, there you have it; a summary of how Doom and Fortune work in Nevermore. As usual, if you have any questions, feel free to ask in the comments.