New Merit: Fort (+)

Effect: A fort is a place where kids can retreat to where they can hide, relax, have fun with others, grab a stashed snack and occasionally be protected. It can be anywhere that is away from the eyes and ears of parents and many times other kids, or may actually have been provided by a child's parents. This can provide a place to plan how to deal with the next really weird thing that stalks the neighborhood, or perhaps a place to hole-up and defend against one that has found you...

There are three categories that points spent into this merit fall under and a large number of potential points that could be spent. The actual number of points for a fort are likely to fall far under this number. Most forts excel in one of the categories or are modestly balanced. Some sample forts are listed below:

Sample Forts

A single character's fort is likely to be to dots.

- "A tree fort that your father helped you build. It has a knotted rope for access, a roof, a couple of windows, and is just big enough for 2-3 friends to visit. You have added some old pillows, a small endtable and some left-over carpet for the floor."

A group of 4-5 kids are likely to have a fort worth + dots.

- "An old tool shed discovered amongst overgrown grass, bushes and weeds not far from a farmer's barn. The shed has no windows, but does have some rusty holes that allow peeking out. An extension cord has been run from the barn and buried a couple of inches into the ground (to avoid it being discovered or mowed over) providing power to the old rusty shed. Chairs and a card table have been added. A hammock hangs along one side and a mini-fridge in one corner with soda and sandwich fixings in it."

- "A small abandoned house, mostly forgotten about. Surrounded by overgrowth, no one is going to easily notice anyone coming or going. A house key was found in the house that works on the back door so it can be locked and unlocked as needed. It is a small house with only one bedroom, a living room, kitchen, bathroom, pantry and dining room. There are a couch, loveseat, fridge, stove and dining room table. The fridge and stove work well enough and there is some food (mostly snack foods) and drinks in the kitchen. Since moving in you covered the windows inside with black cloth so no one can tell the house is being used. Currently there is power to the house, but no telling how long that will last..."

Fort Size ( to )

Forts can vary drastically in size from a shack or natural cave just large enough for a few kids to huddle in to a boarded over, forgotten house that has a loose board at one of the doors or windows.

About the size of a closet (up to 6' x 6')
One room (up to 12' x 12')
Two to three rooms; a multi-chamber cave or an apartment (up to 24' x 24')
Four to eight rooms; a small house (up to 50' x 50')
Nine or more rooms or a really large area; a large house, barn or small warehouse (up to 100' x 100')
a large barn, old warehouse or other large area

Fort Security (+)

Most forts are setup with ways to keep out unwanted guests such as trap doors that can be blocked off from within the fort, being built up in a tree where it is difficult to get too, concealed from view in a variety of ways, or make use of naturally occurring defenses (a discovered cave, concealment behind trees and bushes, requires a boat to get to, etc.). More than 3 dots should involve some really good camouflage or actual defenses of some sort.

Someone can see the fort without difficulty and can enter the fort without much effort. There are no penalties to find or enter the fort.
The fort is difficult to access or is partially hidden from view. There is a 2 dice penalty to find or access the fort (as appropriate).
The fort is very difficult to access or is completely hidden from view. There is a 4 dice penalty to find or access the fort (as appropriate).
Some combination of the first two (hidden & difficult to access) totaling three points. There is a 6 dice penalty to find or access the fort (as appropriate).
Both of the two point ratings (hidden & difficult to access). There is a 6 dice penalty to find or access the fort (as appropriate).
Ratings higher than in concealment or defense require that there be fairly sophisticated camouflage or something that presents a danger to those entering the fort (other than the actions of the characters).

Fort Amenities ( to )

Food, water, a dry place and comfort are very important to the fort that sees a lot of use. Many forts have a stash of snackable items replenished by the group or naturally occurring food such as the cherries growing on the tree where the fort is built. Some may have a working faucet or a decent stream nearby for water. Kids frequently will leave things in their fort that can provide comfort for future stays (whether it is to spend while skipping a day at school or hiding from a monster) such as a mattress, pillows, blankets, chairs, a table, etc. A source of electricity can increase the possibilities dramatically: space heaters, televisions, mini-fridges, etc.

With ingenuity kids can manage to scavenge or haphazardly construct/repair enough to end up with a rather extensive fort (see sidebars).

The fort provides no food or water, minimal protection from the elements, nothing that provides any level of comfort (everyone sits on the floor or stands), and no source of power.
All of the items listed below cost a dot:
Comfort: Comfort is provided that allows the kids to relax, recuperate and spend more time at the fort. This may be in the form of chairs and a table, a mattress or sleeping bag(s), blankets, pillows, or anything else that would make staying at the fort more comfortable.
Food: Provides food in the form of natural food (berries, nuts, etc.) and/or food brought and left at the fort someplace dry and covered.
Juice: A source of electricity is available, allowing for modern conveniences: space heaters, fans, televisions, game machines, mini-fridge, recharging of mobile phones (and other rechargeable devices), etc.
Shelter: The fort is generally rainproof, cuts down on wind and keeps at least somewhat cool/warm (but will still be uncomfortable during extreme weather).
Water: Provides a source of water (water bottles that are refilled periodically, a working faucet at or near the fort, a stream, etc.).