I'm GMing a Fate game set in space, with Starhound, Athens, and Twilliam (the names have been changed to protect the innocent) helping a stalwart band of rebels break the yoke of the Black Hole Empire. One of Starhound's aspects is Flew the Prix Stella Out Of The Underworld, which does triple duty in reminding everyone that he's

  • a great pilot, who
  • won a famous race, that had also
  • been famously rigged by galactic organized crime, so he's on their bad side too

So suppose they're all waiting in some seedy dive bar for a contact and it's quiet -- too quiet -- and suddenly Athens' player says "hey, what if the Empire hired one of the other racers from the Prix Stella to track down the guy who Flew the Prix Stella Out Of The Underworld? That'd really make it hard to hook up with our contact in a shady place like this, darn the luck." And then - because this is the first time this has come up - Starhound's player gets excited and builds on it, all "oh! Yeah, probably Egil Darkheart, the guy who was supposed to come in first. He misses that payout and there's not a lot he won't do for credits."

Athens' player has been kind of an instigator so far, as far as creative expansions on the characters and universe go so far.


At the time I accepted the compel, handed Starhound a Fate Point, and gave them a little challenge to give Egil the slip - Starhound tried to remain inconspicuous, Twilliam distracted Egil, Athens compromised the barbot to hand over some false information. But I was looking over the rules and I don't think I ruled it right. Specifically, they say

Finally, and this is very important: if a player wants to compel another character, it costs a fate point to propose the complication.

-- Fate SRD, "Invoking and Compelling Aspects", emphasis original

Should I have charged Athens' player a Fate Point for coming up with the idea in the first place? That doesn't feel right. It's like charging them a tax for either me or Starhound being short on creativity... but it seems to be what the rules say.


1 Answer 1


Athens' player should only pay if they must propose the compel.

There's a difference between table conversation and game action: not everything that everybody says at the table is actually part of gameplay, and not everything everybody says at the table needs game rules pointed at it. You've probably hit this already, right? Starhound half-jokingly says "well, maybe we should just ask the Black Hole Empire nicely to stop taking slaves", that doesn't mean you force-frame him into a scene where he's using Rapport to ask the Black Hole Empire nicely to stop taking slaves.

The only way the conversation would come out with Athens having to propose the compel, as a game action, is if the series of events after the compel worked to Starhound's detriment and Athens' benefit. But as you've described it, everybody had to deal with the events brought about by the compel, it didn't benefit Athens at all, so it was fine to treat it as Starhound proposing the compel on himself.

As a game action, the result of the conversation your players had is that Starhound accepted the idea of the compel and proposed it on himself. It doesn't matter who started the conversation.

All the same, take care to make sure you're calling it right when you're translating table conversation into game action; make sure that you're charging based on how the game changes rather than how the conversation turns out. Not that it was actually happening here, but if there's a situation where a compel clearly works to Athens' advantage, you shouldn't let their player fast-talk Starhound's or Twilliam's player into taking it as a self-compel.


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