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In Fate Core, resolving a compel has three basic steps (p.71):

  1. Somebody proposes the compel. If a player compels another character, it costs a fate point.
  2. The GM and players involved negotiate, potentially overruling or dropping the compel.
  3. The victim gets a fate point for accepting the compel or pays a point to counter it.

I'm not sure exactly when fate points get paid or where they go:

  • When a player compels another character, do you pay the fate point in step 1, or do you only pay if the compel makes it past step 2? If the compel fails step 2, you don't pay to counter it, but I'm not sure whether you still pay to propose it.

  • When you counter a compel, do you pay the person who proposed it, or do you simply spend (lose) it? For example, if Alice pays a fate point to compel Bob, and he counters, does Bob pay his point to Alice, or do they both lose a point?

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Related, but not duplicate: this Q is about compels, while the other Q is about invokes. – BESW May 31 '13 at 11:15
up vote 9 down vote accepted

rules based opinion:

Since Fate Core is explicit about earning them, and having your compel rejected is not on that list, unlike prior fate, and barring errata to the contrary, I'd rule it goes away.

You only earn Fate for 3 things per page 81:

  • accepting a compel
  • having your aspect invoked against you
  • conceding in a conflict.

Note that the GM can only use the restricted pool when refusing compels or triggering stunts, and that pool has a shorter list...

  • accepting a compel. (If it's a scene ender, it goes to the next scene's pool)
  • conceding a conflict when it ends a scene (and that point goes to the next scene's pool)

Note that, on page 71, there is a bold text bit in the last paragraph (emphasis original):

Finally, and this is very important: if a player wants to compel another character, it costs a fate point to propose the complication. The GM can always compel for free, and any player can propose a compel on his or her own character for free.

Supposition on why

This means that there is no longer advantage in proposing unfair compels, as you no longer stand to gain a Fate from the unfair compel being rejected.

As a player in SOTC, I proposed a few compels I expected to be rejected, simply to fuel my need for Fate Points. (I was playing REALLY hard core...) I knew that if the GM, Jerry, accepted them, Jerry's NPC's would be badly hosed, and also that Jerry wasn't hard limited on rejecting them... so I'd propose, he'd reject, I'd walk away with an extra Fate.

This small subtle change (and it's present in the preview, as well) isn't explicitly stated as a change but it is a huge alteration for a more fair approach by munchkins like me.

As for why pay for the proposal, rather than the GM accepting it as valid? It looks to me to be the price for interrupting the narrative flow, rather than for getting things done. It disincentivizes wild grabs at compels.

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Thanks! That makes a lot of sense. Any ideas as to whether you need to pay for compels that are invalid/dropped, rather than countered? – Bradd Szonye May 31 '13 at 15:23
that's really a different question, but based upon page 71, the proposal is the cost. In other FATE games, you pay the "victim" of the compel directly, or they pay you. Fate Core, you pay for the proposal, not the acceptance. The GM pays from the stock for accepted compels. So I strongly suspect, based upon page 71's wording, that Fate Core has you lose to the stock for a proposed compel. – aramis Jun 1 '13 at 21:40
I'm not talking about accepted vs countered compels, but rather the case where the GM vetoes the compel, or the players can't decide on terms so they drop it entirely. – Bradd Szonye Jun 3 '13 at 8:45
You spend the point, in the rules wording, "it costs a fate point to propose the complication." Note, propose. Not "get accepted or rejected." – aramis Jun 3 '13 at 18:37
@BraddSzonye Despite the wording, I would treat that as a negotiation that's external to the game's rules, at least with a group new to Fate Core. Generally I'd avoid proposing compels that are likely to make the group want to "rewind" the game so that the proposal effectively never happened, but when getting the hang of the game, that's something I'd cut a lot of slack for. – SevenSidedDie Jun 3 '13 at 19:20

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