In my fate core campaign, one of my players keeps trying to use rapport for situations where I call for deceive rolls. He's not saying "I want to roll a rapport check", but he words his actions in ways that make it clear he's trying to get around the use of deceive, and gets upset when I call for deceive checks anyway. I'm taking curated honesty to try and manipulate someone, or attempting to befuddle an adversary at the start of combat by acting like they are still friends. I've asked in a different question on this site how to provide clear boundaries between deceive and rapport, but it's clear that this player isn't going to be happy with where I put them and really wants his character to lie by making friends.

Our group proposed to him that he take a stunt which allows him to use rapport instead of deceive. Seems fine to me, using one skill in place of another in certain circumstances is one of the examples of stunts given in the fate core rules. But I'm having trouble figuring out how to capture the spirit of his desire without defining the scope of the stunt too broadly - I don't want him to just be able to replace deceive with rapport entirely.


2 Answers 2


As you point out, the sample stunts include many examples of using one skill in place of another in specific circumstances. There are examples for both Deceive and Rapport that should help:

  • Mind Games (Fate Core, p 104) allows Deceive to replace Provoke for mental attacks “as long as you make up a clever lie as part of the attack”.
  • Popular (Fate Core, p 121) allows Rapport to be used instead of Contacts “if you’re in an area where you’re popular and well-liked”. It specifies this can be established via spending a Fate Point to declare a story detail, as well as it being a natural consequence of the narrative.
  • Friendly Liar (Fate Core, p 300 - Zird the Arcane’s sample character sheet) is pretty close to what your player wants: “Can use Rapport in place of Deceive to create advantages predicated on a lie.”

These are useful examples. Mind Games sets out a simple limitation based on both the type of action and the player and/or character’s own actions; the player understands what it can do and how they can justify its use. It also allows a use of the skill that normally isn’t possible (making an Attack). Popular is broader, though note it replaces a skill that has similar restrictions (no attacks), and requires a much bigger hurdle of satisfying the narrative - something that is either in the GM’s (or group’s collective) control, or which costs the player a Fate Point to take control of themselves. And Friendly Liar shows that what your player is doing requires a stunt, according to the game’s default assumptions about the two skills involved - and similarly to Mind Games, it has restrictions on the game action and the player’s narrative action for when it comes into play.

I’d recommend offering him a variation on Friendly Liar (perhaps with the narrative restriction being that he is creative with the truth to a friend, rather than lying), and telling him he can extend it with future stacking or branching stunts, as covered on pages 94 and 95 of Fate Core.

Another option would be to creat an Aspect usable by anyone who sees him do this: they’re not going to trust him after all, and no-one gets away with this kind of fair-weather friendship forever. If his character genuinely sees friendships as disposable and as resources, that ought to be having a larger narrative effect beyond just his skill selection.


So, you want to balance stunt utility...

If you look at most of the example stunts, you'll notice that the circumstances under which you can use them are pretty narrow compared to the base skills they modify. That's the sweet spot you want to shoot for with your own stunts - you want them to be limited enough in scope that it feels special when you use them, but not so narrow that you never see them come up after you take them.

If the stunt effectively takes over all of the skill's base actions, it's not limited enough. You don't want a stunt replacing the skill it modifies.

The two main ways to limit a stunt are by keeping its effects to a specific action or pair of actions (only creating an advantage or only attack and defend rolls), or by limiting the situations in which you can use it (only when you're among nobles, only when it deals with the supernatural, and so on).

For the best results, use both - have the stunt restricted to a specific action, which can only be used in a very specific in-game situation. If you're worried about the situation being too narrow, back up and think of the ways the skill might be used in play. If you can see the stunt being relevant to one of those uses, you're probably on the right track. If you can't, you may need to adjust the stunt a little to make sure it'll come up.

-- "Balancing Stunt Utility", from the Fate SRD

So, looking at a replacement stunt from the game's sample character sheets:

Friendly Liar. Can use Rapport instead of Deceive to create advantages predicated on a lie.

And that kind of seems like it just replaces all uses of Deceive to Create an Advantage? But Deceive's Create an Advantage actions span combat feints, momentary distractions in for example contests, and longer cover identities. You might say that the Friendly Liar stunt is only limited to the last use of it, since saying "look over there!" isn't really a super-friendly thing?

The guidance applies both to replacement and to +2s, so if you wanted to come at this from another direction, you could say something like:

Why Can't We Be Friends? +2 to Rapport when you try to charm or persuade someone hostile to you.

And before you recoil back, all like "oh lord the player's already doing that and you want to make it easier?", I'd like to introduce you to an often-overlooked friend of mine called passive opposition.

Sometimes stuff's just hard.

When you shoot at somebody in pitch blackness, trying to hit them based on how well you can pin down their location without vision, how is that different from shooting at somebody in the middle of an open field?

Well, when you shoot at somebody in the middle of an open field, what makes it hard is how good they are at getting out of the way. When you shoot at somebody in pitch blackness, what makes it hard is that it's freakin' dark. The darkness is providing a passive opposition, and it doesn't matter if your target's rubbish at dodging, it's +7 Epic to be on target in pitch blackness.

You can treat hostility in a similar way. Rapport's function is kind of predicated on a positive or at least a neutral social atmosphere, right? It doesn't matter how susceptible somebody might be to a friendly smile on a regular day, they've been ordered to kill you and that puts up a passive opposition.


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