I find that occasionally during a conflict, when trying to create an advantage or land a successful attack, the players involved will enter into an "arms race" of competing to stack the most invocations:

Player: "I invoke Caught Off Guard that I created earlier and attack at +3."
GM (on behalf of NPC): "I rolled +2, but I invoke Magically Enhanced Senses for +4."
Player: "Okay, I'll take a free boost from Fighting Dirty, that brings me up to +5."
GM: "All right, I'll invoke..."

This goes on until one of the characters involved runs out of FATE points or boosts to invoke, sometimes escalating the bonuses well beyond the FATE scale. This seems counter-intuitive and a lot like powergaming, but is it expected or encouraged behavior within the system? If so, what is the appropriate way to resolve this so that the invoked bonuses on both sides make sense in context of the story?

  • \$\begingroup\$ As a player I ended up engaged in one of these in my first session. I'd like to know this too! \$\endgroup\$ – doppelgreener Jun 5 '13 at 15:20
  • \$\begingroup\$ As the tags refer to three different versions and this question applies to all three, added them back. \$\endgroup\$ – Chuck Dee Jun 5 '13 at 16:06
  • \$\begingroup\$ @wraith808 Actually, the fate tag applies to all forms of FATE - read the tag description. I'm rolling it back. \$\endgroup\$ – Dakeyras Jun 5 '13 at 16:17
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    \$\begingroup\$ Meta question is up re: fate protocols. \$\endgroup\$ – BESW Jun 5 '13 at 16:20

is a narrative system. If the narrative for how each character gets these boosts doesn't work, the GM can simply disallow it. It's that easy - no fluent narrative to get all the boosts, and the player doesn't get all the boosts. This is especially important for situations where a player tries to use conflicting aspects or compels. If Bob wants to use Quick fists and Sniper Training for the same roll, he'd better have a very good explanation.

However, in some cases this would be a good/accurate way for an encounter to play. If one person attacks another from an ambush, he will use any means at his disposal to quickly take out his target. Likewise, the target will put all his efforts into avoiding the first blow. So, if it makes narrative sense, there shouldn't be a problem with it.

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    \$\begingroup\$ Yeah, this is pretty much it, I think. If you can't figure out how to invoke an Aspect, you can't invoke it. It's as simple as that. If your invoking seems far-fetched, you can't invoke it. It's ultimately the GM's call, but depending on the group that you have you could also let the group vote on it (this is especially helpful if someone is rules-lawyering, which kind of needs to not be a thing if you're going to play FATE anyway). \$\endgroup\$ – NotVonKaiser Jun 6 '13 at 16:27

As Dakeyras pointed out, Fate is all about the narrative. This doesn't just mean that there has to be a justification for invokes : said justification should probably be included in the description. It's not just "I invoke Cyber Legs for a +2 to my Attack" but "I'm kicking him square in the face ****rolls, sees a success with style just out of reach****... using my Cyber Legs at full power for maximum effect".

On the Arms race side of things, it's more of a player mentality issue to me. Generally, a player should let his competitiveness aside when playing Fate. Of course Pwning is awesome, but Fate characters are not supposed to be awesome all the time. Where's the Drama in that ? That's why aspects can be compelled against them. That's why failing a roll can still be a success but at a high cost. That's why at some point, you stop piling the Fate points and take your Miss as an opportunity for Interesting Failure. So you were Focused on the target, Lurking in the shadows, using an Enhanced Scope and still missed your shot ? Time to wonder what went wrong. Was the quarry prepared for you, maybe ? Were you double crossed ? It's possible that in the next few exchanges, you're going to get a nasty shot to the shoulder, concede by hitting the dirt and swear revenge on whoever it was that made this fiasco possible.

So... while nothing in the RAW prevents anyone from doing this, this behavior should be reserved for instances where the players/GM want to absolutely, entirely focus on a few rolls, such as a final showdown with the Dragon, or the one time in the spotlight where you want to show off your aptitude in the most awesome of manners, fully knowing that you'll be draining a lot of your resources (which may be very scarce to begin with depending on how many stunts you started with).

  • \$\begingroup\$ I like your idea of limiting one-upping, although I think it would be reasonable to allow a little back and forth between players – maybe one raise and one re-raise, just not a continuous back-and-forth. \$\endgroup\$ – Bradd Szonye Jun 5 '13 at 21:42
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    \$\begingroup\$ I strongly disagree with the single round of one-upping, as it directly conflicts with the philosophy that Fate points shouldn't be wasted. Other than that, I'm in agreement about the narrative and drama... but I'd be interested to hear why you think that escalation isn't "expected or encouraged behavior within the system" in the first place. \$\endgroup\$ – BESW Jun 5 '13 at 22:01
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    \$\begingroup\$ No, funk that. The entire point of what makes FATE different/cool is that at the end of a big scenario a PC with lots of Fate Points to spare and an NPC with the same get to have one of those crazy battles of one-upmanship that literally bring in each and every thing the "writer" can think of about the characters, the environment, the game world, and so on. \$\endgroup\$ – NotVonKaiser Jun 11 '13 at 14:13
  • \$\begingroup\$ Okay, a lot of people seem to focus on the last part of my answer, which was there more as an aside than anything else, so I'll be removing that. Anyone wants to argue about why I think this doesn't in fact impede the flow of Fate Points, I'll be lurking in the General Chatroom in the evening (GMT +2) the next few days. \$\endgroup\$ – Nigralbus Jun 11 '13 at 14:32

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