- They should always fucking matter. No such thing as a free lunch.
- If you tie it to character currency[i.e., build points], whether getting some more or paying some, you’re encouraging uninteresting — no, I’ll go as far as to say bullshit — behavior.
- The player should not be powerless to incorporate them, especially if they are tied to a reward cycle.
- And frankly, let’s tie them to reward cycles, whether it’s growth currency (XP) or competence currency (things like Fate points).
The principle reason being is that disadvantages put the work on the GM, generally, to take advantage of them, so they should be few in number. Advantages? Well, the player will WANT to remember to implement those at every opportunity.
Advantages got less attention - I think my favorite implementation, at least conceptually has been Adventure!'s implementation, which effectively added a sixth dot. This supercharged the advantage - You didn't have Resources: 6, you had "Wealth Beyond Avarice"; you didn't have "Contacts: 6" you had "Kingpin" and so on and so forth. The idea of titles and names for these backgrounds traits just caught my imagine, and even years later I have a certain fondness for the concept of playing a Daredevil who's power is buried in the wealth of backgrounds.
I think my ideal would be a four tiered system - something that gave you a minor/moderate/major advantage in a conflict or challenge, with the fourth tier being "overwhelming", and basically if you weren't equally matched in advantages you were going to lose. For something like resources it would be something like $100/$1000/10,000/500,000 of extra spending money or something equally ridiculous. Overwhelming should break the step increases.