Resources stipulate how often you can make use of your more significant powers and how tough you are to subdue.
The most fundamental resource is your vitality. This represents how much damage your character can take before succumbing to their wounds. Your race will grant you a minimum number of vitality. You can raise this level by spending character points. Each point of vitality costs 5 points. You cannot gain more than triple your race’s base vitality in this way.
Alternately, a GM may wish to implement a wound system where the character takes penalties (typically to their dice pools) when they get hit proportional to the margin of success their enemy gets when hitting them. A sufficiently successful hit will result in death (for one of the best versions of this EVER, check out Riddle of Steel). While this does lend a gritty realism to the game, there is some significant overhead to such systems. Firstly, damage is generally resolved by referencing a table (which is more complex than simply subtracting from a hit point pool). Secondly, as soon as non-human anatomy enters play, the types of hit locations expands dramatically. Still, this is a very good system if the GM wants fast, deadly combat.
The other essential resource for running combat is initiative. Initiative represents how quick your character’s reflexes are. Each point of initiative grants you one additional or one special action per bout of combat. Characters begin with 5 points of initiative. Each point of initiative costs 5 points.
There are three ways of managing energy. If the GM wishes, they may incorporate none or all of these types of energy into their mod for a setting. The first is bout based energy, the second is encounter based energy, and the third is condition based energy.
First, the question should be asked, why energy? Energy is a way of rationing how often a character can perform great feats of prowess. This is about choices.
Bout based energy works just like initiative. The combatant gets a certain amount of energy that they can spend at the beginning of the bout. Certain powers consume this energy, but the supply will soon refresh itself (at the end of the bout and the beginning of the next). In fact, this is so similar to initiative, that initiative could be considered a form of energy. However, initiative is supposed to represent how quickly a character moves, while this form of energy represents how much exertion a character can put forth in a similar amount of time. Initiative represents how many quick attacks a kung fu master can perform, while energy represents how much effort a wrestler can put into grappling his opponent.
Bout based energy works best to represent a plentiful supply of energy that is constantly refreshing. Something like what a power plant would supply. In that sense, bout based energy could represent someone’s metabolism and fitness.
In game play, bout based energy relieves players of a tough choice of when to use their powerful attacks. Essentially, players will use their strong powers early and often because they know they will soon have access to them again. This does mean a little more paperwork tracking the player’s energy, however. This can be fun and liberating for players. They know they can keep using an effective tactic over and over again. To balance the powerful nature of this, the GM should ensure that an empowered attack is only 20-100% better than a simple attack.
Encounter based energy is energy that requires a short rest to recharge. Characters can reasonably expect to have the same supply of energy every time they fight. Certain powers consume this energy, but these powers are only going to be used a few times in any given fight.
Encounter based energy works best to represent a fast charging battery. Once the characters aren’t exerting themselves, the energy comes back fairly quickly, but in the meantime, they can get dangerously low on energy. In that sense, encounter based energy represents the fatiguing effects of overexertion. When a person uses up their quick supply of energy, they have to rest for a time to recharge the energy.
In game play, encounter based energy allows the players to come up with consistent tactics. Each battle, the players have the same powers available to them. This will end up producing consistency that the GM may rely on. It lends strong characterization to the PCs. This consistency will help players to exercise their character’s abilities frequently enough to form a basis for their tactics, but infrequently enough to deter them from using the attack too quickly. They’ll wait for the best strategic moment to show their trump card. The special abilities of this type should be exciting, but not overwhelming, around 2-4 times more powerful than simple abilities.
Condition based energy is recharged only when specific conditions are met. The most typical type of condition is simply sleep. However, there are many other ways that this can be seen. Perhaps a paladin must recharge his faith through giving to the poor. A vampire must recharge his blood by feeding on the innocent. A monk must recharge his chi by meditation. In any case, the condition should be time-consuming or risky.
This type of energy best represents a slow charging battery, or one that is not always being charged. In that sense, the energy could be something that must be carefully gathered, or requires great focus to gather.
When characters have this sort of decision to make, they may face paralysis. It’s hard to use up a resource that’s so difficult to gain when you don’t know what’s around the corner. Because this is such a burden on the players, they should be well rewarded when they do use the abilities associated with this energy source. The abilities should be doing 5-10 times as much as a simple ability.