To be honest, If I’d redesign the game from scratch, I’d implement fear levels, as a self-increasing mechanism (allowing player interaction with it), that served as a hard game-ender to avoid games taking too long.
I remember some of the interactions with Fear Level; if I recall correctly, increasing it gave the Whateleys Victory Points (counted like a permanent control point, but really permanent, i.e. the player gained them), and maybe reducing the Fear Level gave the Sioux Union Victory Points…? can’t recall exactly, but it worked that way too in the RPG, when a character managed to reduce the Fear Level in an area, they could gain a Legendary Chip. Didn’t happen often, but was awesome when it did.
A problem I see with Fear Levels, though, is that implementing it might require to make it a central element in the game, not just a timer with a fancy name
The major gameplay elements are Control, Influence and Movement (Combat and Economy, also). I can see ways Fear Levels help/hamper each of those elements, and I can see many implementations that might encourage passive/defensive/turtling gameplay (keeping FLs down until you’re ready to win).
I wonder if it’s possible to make Fear Levels distinct enough to add a layer of complexity without breaking the game, all while interacting with other mechanics, or adding an overarching objective that goes beyond control of the city (that pretty much was the point of Victory Points: having Outfit specific objectives to achieve).
For now, I think house rules are the way to go I’m going to think of something for the next weeks. High FLs might reduce cost/upkeep of Abominations, make Harrowed dudes crazier(extra bullets), give more influence to truly horrific Abominations. Low FLs might make Miracles/Spirits easier to perform, lower Abominations’ influence, make Harrowed dudes tougher (count for an extra casualty).
Maybe the 4th ring could only increase Fear Levels (and benefit from a high FL), while Eagles Wardens could only decrease it (and gain Victory Points). Morgan’s mad scientists could do anything “accidentally”, and Law Dogs, Sloane Gang could go both ways (having access to Blessed, Hucksters and Mad Scientists). The 108 bandits… dunno about them yet
Somehow the puzzle pieces are falling together (at least in my head)
There are already many cards that deal with control points. Some of these, like Fiery Rethoric or Summoning just scream “Reduce/Raise Fear Level”.
All the servitors do, too.
A generic approach : the relevant outfit cards might just add “When card type Y(dude, deed, good,…) gains X (permanent?) control point due to effect from card type Z(spell, action, dude, …), raise/lower(depending on the outfit) Fear Level by X”.
There could be a more personalized approach… it all seems more feasible than I first thought.