I recently watched an abridged playthrough of a one-session Fate Core game on Tabletop.

In the session, the GM, Ryan Macklin, uses a version of compel I haven't seen before. Macklin essentially hands a player a Fate point and an aspect—potentially with free invocations and potentially temporary. The video calls these compels, but in my understanding of Fate Core, a compel can only be created by targeting an existing aspect; you can't create a new aspect with a Fate point.

There are a couple of examples at 28m10s and at 29m01s.

Now to be clear, I'm not arguing that I think Macklin broke the rules (if there are such a thing as "rules" in a game of Fate!). In fact, I really like this spin on a compel. Macklin uses the aspects to drive the story and complicate the characters' lives, which is completely in keeping with the principle of compels.

My questions are these: Does this version of a compel have any precedent? Is this mechanic balanced?


1 Answer 1


What Ryan did in that video was suggest that there was an Aspect in the game that wasn't written down but was obviously there based on what was being roleplayed. Wil and the others at the table agreed, and so Ryan compelled the aspect at the same time that he brought it up.

See Creating and Discovering New Aspects In Play

If you’re not looking for a free invocation, and you just think it’d make sense if there were a particular situation aspect in play, you don’t need to roll the dice or anything to make new aspects—just suggest them, and if the group thinks they’re interesting, write them down.

Here is another example that I just made up:

"The cavern entrance is quite small and has the aspect 'Covered with Slime'", says the GM. Tormund decides that he wants to make his barbarian's life more complicated and asks, "Could we make another aspect 'Tight Corridor'? I'd like to compel myself for a Fate point to get stuck."

Suggesting an Aspect is valid from GMs and players, however suggesting one just to compel it is tricky for the GM. Be mindful of your group dynamic. Perhaps your players won't appreciate these "surprise compels", or maybe they welcome you making their lives more complicated.

  • 1
    \$\begingroup\$ Agreed. I'd also throw in there (I don't think it's worthy of a separate answer) is that it's a bit touchy there as one of the purposes of aspects is information economy, and being the "plant" part of the "plant/payoff" cycle in fiction. creativewriting.wikia.com/wiki/Plants_and_Payoffs Without the plant, the payoff doesn't feel natural and smooth. In GotG, we see the crazy geysers over the planet in the opening scene - highlighting this is basically an aspect. This makes it feel natural and smooth when Star-Lord's ship gets caught in one later. \$\endgroup\$
    – kyoryu
    Sep 13, 2017 at 16:01

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