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For a while, I assumed that all Free Invocations, just like FP-powered Invocations, are 'owned' by players and GMs (not characters), and can always be passed around at will to benefit another character so long as it makes sense based on what's happening in the game world (Condensed page 19):

A free invoke, as the name suggests, lets you invoke an aspect without spending a fate point. You can even let your allies use free invokes you have created.

However, yesterday after a game, a player pointed out that the text about Consequences (on Condensed page 36) uses a different wording:

And, just like the aspects you make when you create an advantage, the character that created the consequence—that is, whoever shot you—gets one free invoke on that consequence.

(Bolding mine.)

So does that override the default assumption that invocations are 'owned' on a meta level and can be passed around by the players in whatever way makes sense, or does the player of said character retain the usual freedom to transfer the invocations?

The distinction becomes relevant for at least two situations:

  • When another character in the same Conflict could benefit from the invocation in question. Whether the character (not player) who inflicted the Consequence needs to do something to pass over the invocation (and even can do so at all) makes a major tactical difference.
  • When the initial successful attacker perished in the Conflict. If the Invocation is tied to the character (not player), then presumably it expires with the character, thus being much less of a concern for the opposing side.

Also, if this one of the small differences between the different implementation variants of the system (Condensed, Core, FAE etc.), I would like to know. (Current campaign is using Condensed and I'm trying to avoid dragging in stuff from other implementations in order to keep things clear and simple for everyone.)

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Free invokes always belong to the character that made them. Whether to let someone else use them is a decision made by the player because there is a meta element to that decision and it doesn't always make sense for the character to decide.

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You didn't find anything new.

The consequence written in the slot is an aspect that represents the lasting effect incurred from the attack. The opponent who forced you to take a consequence gets a free invocation, and the aspect remains on your character sheet until you've recovered the consequence slot.

-- "Consequences", from the Fate SRD (or Core p.162), emphasis mine

The primary way you're going to use aspects in a game of Fate is to invoke them. If you're in a situation where an aspect is beneficial to your character somehow, you can invoke it.

-- "Invoking Aspects", from the Fate SRD (or Core p.68), emphasis mine

If you want, you can pass your free invocation to another character. That allows you to get some teamwork going between you and a buddy. This is really useful in a conflict if you want to set someone up for a big blow—have everyone create an advantage and pass their free invocations onto one person, then that person stacks all of them up at once for a huge bonus.

-- "Free Invocations" from the Fate SRD (or Core p. 70), emphasis mine

Invokes don't exist for characters, they exist for players. Fate kind of blurs the line between "you" and "the character you're playing" when an example would have to swap between them rapidly, because usually those two concepts don't come into conflict. The main purpose of assigning an invoke to be "owned" by a character is to give the associated player the right of first refusal on using that invoke - if you use your Physique to set up a Braced Pile of Crates to block movement, someone trying to hide from you doesn't get to steal your freebies because the Braced Pile of Crates would block your line of sight.

On invalidating free invokes:

Free invokes drop out of play when their aspects drop out of play. If you set up I Have the High Ground and then get sniped off of it and drop out of the conflict, nobody else on your side has the high ground - the aspect is gone and so is the free invoke. If somebody deals you a consequence and you drop out of the conflict without the free invoke being hit, it's not going to play into the rest of the conflict but it will stay there until you get the consequence taken care of.

It might be possible to make a free invoke less likely to be hit by selectively targeting only those enemy combatants who can make use of the aspect it's attached to, but usually consequences are written to be broadly applicable enough to inhibit the character across the board and thus benefit everyone.

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