Here's my understanding of how compelling works in Fate Accelerated (not sure if it works the same in Core). It's the rejection part I'm not too clear on.

  • Any player (including the GM) can offer a Fate Point to compel a character (including their own) based on one of their Aspects to make their life more complicated and dramatic. These can be of a few kinds:
    • Decision Compels: When a character has to make a decision, compel them to make it a certain way because of an Aspect they have.
    • Event Compels: When a character is prone to some problematic action, or there’s something in their past that causes them trouble from time to time, compel that thing to happen.
  • If they are compelling themselves, they automatically accept the compel. Otherwise, the compelled player can accept or reject the compel.
    • Accept: take the Fate Point and narrate the compelled decision or event.
    • Reject: pay a Fate Point to ignore the compel. The compelled player gets their Fate Point back? They lose the Point anyway?

4 Answers 4


The original player keeps it

The fate point was offered, not given. It doesn't go anywhere if the offer is rejected, so it stays right where it is, in the original player's pool of fate points.

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    \$\begingroup\$ Awesome. As I thought. FAE isn't always super clear on things (eg. It never says the compeller keeps the Point they offeres or anything). \$\endgroup\$ Jul 27, 2017 at 16:49
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    \$\begingroup\$ It doesn't say that because it's implied in what "offer" means. It means "If you do X, you get this, otherwise you don't, so I keep it." \$\endgroup\$
    – Airk
    Jul 27, 2017 at 18:01
  • \$\begingroup\$ Yeah, I know. It's pretty easy to make it air-tight though. People could read "offer" as "give" pretty easily just in everyday language. It's technically correct, but there are other ways of writing it that cannot be misunderstood. /shrug/ \^^ \$\endgroup\$ Jul 27, 2017 at 19:14
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    \$\begingroup\$ This is not actually correct, according to the SRD, unless I'm misunderstanding the question. \$\endgroup\$
    – Paul
    Jul 27, 2017 at 22:18
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    \$\begingroup\$ @InternetHobo I don't think so, I'm saying that SevenSidedDice's answer is incorrect because of the line from the SRD "Finally, and this is very important: if a player wants to compel another character, it costs a fate point to propose the complication". I think the clarification you cite in your answer expands upon that concept, but even before that clarification it was clear to me that the player offering the compel loses their Fate Point regardless of whether its accepted or rejected, unless that player is the GM. \$\endgroup\$
    – Paul
    Apr 17, 2020 at 14:25

The rejected Fate point disappears.

This is specifically addressed in a sidebar Clarification about players compelling players

When you pay to propose a compel, the point you paid returns to the GM's infinite pool of fate points. The proposed compel is then negotiated with the target of the compel. Once the compel is agreed, a fate point is paid from the infinite pool of fate points to the target player. If the target player rejects the compel, their fate point is also paid to the infinite pool of fate points.

If this were not the rule, you would be able to propose compels risk-free to drain other people's fate points.

(emphasis mine)


The GM keeps it. The player may have to spend it.

p.71, Fate Core: "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."

This doesn't stop, say, suggesting a compel for another player to propose on their character, but it's only free if they agree to call it on themselves.

(The more obvious mechanical hook is that if a player wants to burn down the GM's Fate Point reserve for the scene, they have to spend 1-for-1 to do it.)

  • \$\begingroup\$ The GM has infinite fate points for compels. The hook you suggest only applies to players compelling other players. \$\endgroup\$ Apr 14, 2020 at 20:13
  • \$\begingroup\$ @InternetHobo If a player compels a GM character, and the GM refuses the compel on the character's behalf, they do so by spending out of the scene pool, rather than their infinite reserve. \$\endgroup\$
    – Glazius
    Apr 14, 2020 at 20:26
  • \$\begingroup\$ Ahh, yes.I hadn't considered the NPCs refusing compels, objection withdrawn. \$\endgroup\$ Apr 14, 2020 at 20:32

If a Compel is offered, it's subject to tweaking by the table, but once it's actually offered, the only way to refuse it is to pay another point.


If you refuse, you must pay a fate point from your own supply. Yes, this means that if you don’t have any fate points, you can’t refuse a compel!

It doesn't explicitly say in the SRD what happens to the point paid for refusing a compel, but based on the subsequent block about how the GM gets Fate Points for NPCs, it's reasonable to assume that points spent (by anyone) for refusing a Compel just go away.

The Fate Point offered to the character is never spent, and remains in whatever pool it came from.

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    \$\begingroup\$ The querent doesn't seem to be asking what happens to the point spent to refuse the compel, or how to refuse a compel, but only what happens to the point that was refused. \$\endgroup\$
    – BESW
    Jul 27, 2017 at 22:35
  • \$\begingroup\$ A good overall explanation overall, though ^^ \$\endgroup\$ Jul 28, 2017 at 9:48

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