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I think I understand how it works when the GM compels a PC (or when a GM compels an NPC they control), but I'm unclear on how the Fate Points are handled when a player tries to compel an NPC or another character. The rules say:

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. Fate SRD

This sounds like it would mean the player has to pay the Fate Point just for proposing the compel, even if it's rejected. Is that true? And if it is, is this Fate Point separate from the one that gets awarded to the compelled character if the compel is accepted?

Some example scenarios:

  • If a player compels an NPC, and the compel is accepted, how many Fate Points does the player have to give up? And where do those Fate Points go? (I'm guessing at least one goes into the NPC pool?)

  • If a player compels an NPC (and the GM agrees it's a reasonable compel to suggest), but the compel is rejected, does the player have to give up any Fate Points for proposing it? Does the NPC pool have to give up any Fate Points for rejecting it? And if the answer to either of those is yes, who gets the points that were given up? (Is an NPC even allowed to reject a compel that the players and GM both agree is reasonable?)

  • If a player compels another player character, and they accept, who gives up and who receives Fate Points? Is this basically just a mechanism to let one player transfer one of their Fate Points to another player, but requiring a complication as a side effect? If so, couldn't the other player just propose the compel on their own character, and get the Fate Point from the infinite GM pool rather than from the other player?

  • If a player compels another player character, but they refuse, who gives up a Fate Point? Both of them? Just the player refusing it? And where do those Fate Points go?

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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.

Fred Hicks, the publisher and one of the main developers of Fate Core, agrees with this interpretation (in a comment to a now deleted answer):

The GM always runs the compel; FPs spent and gained go into or come out from the GM's infinite pool for compels. The proposer never gets a payout.

This has now been added as a clarification on the Fate SRD.

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    \$\begingroup\$ This is the correct answer. \$\endgroup\$ – Fred Hicks Jul 3 '18 at 19:56
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    \$\begingroup\$ Can you add some textual references to support this? \$\endgroup\$ – Rubiksmoose Jul 3 '18 at 20:20
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    \$\begingroup\$ Fred Hicks is the publisher and one of the main developers of Fate Core. The book itself is a little ambiguous on the subject, which is how the wrong rule above has been reached, but this is the way the rules as written are intended to work. I know that appeals to authority in most areas of life are not valid, but when it comes to the intended rules of an RPG I think you have to accept them? \$\endgroup\$ – Richard Bellingham Jul 3 '18 at 21:01
  • \$\begingroup\$ @RichardBellingham fair enough. I have added Fred's previous comment into your answer since comments can be deleted at any time to give some authority to the answer. \$\endgroup\$ – Rubiksmoose Jul 5 '18 at 15:22
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    \$\begingroup\$ Thanks. Randy Oest is also going to be adding a sidebar to the Fate SRD website. I'll edit my answer when that happens. \$\endgroup\$ – Richard Bellingham Jul 5 '18 at 18:04

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