Last night, I was GMing a game of Fate Accelerated Edition with my friends, and their characters were up against a gang of mooks: the mooks had only 2 stress boxes each and could not take consequences.

At some point, one of them made a clever attack on one mook. They rolled +1, with a +3 approach and a +2 stunt. And to top it all off: the best the mook could manage was a -2 for defence. Adding that up: they just made a legendary (+8) success.

The mook was taken out with quite some drama, and the player took a boost to make another mook distraught. But this was a legendary attack with an entire five shifts available, only one of which was spent on a boost, and it feels like we did not do such an amazing success justice. If it had been against a regular character, they would've almost entirely been taken out on the spot, and that would be impressive - but this was just a mook.

What can I do to do this attack justice? Specifically, what is the scope of an appropriate response, if any, for these five leftover shifts in this context?

I considered afterwards: I could have allocated the remaining shifts to a second mook, or allowed the remaining shifts to be used in a free create advantage action, or paused and talked to my players to see if this attack should have had a narrative ripple effect on the entire scene. I am not sure if these are appropriately sized responses though, or which are most in the spirit of Fate Accelerated, so some input on these would be appreciated.


5 Answers 5


In-fiction awesomeness is more appropriate as a reward than mechanical advantages. Players love to see their characters being awesome. Doing this leverages Fate's essential design, which is to move in a regular oscillation from narration to mechanics and back again. There are mechanical rewards possible, but Fate doesn't provide any guidance for what mechanics are most appropriate to follow up a very good roll – it expects the roll to have a fictional outcome, which will then suggest mechanical rewards.

Reward the player with the game's currency of awesomeness: fictional awesomeness. The player gets a reputation in the underworld as a legendary fighter is one way you can do this, but any way that you might call "minor plot" effects would be a great way to reward a good attack like that with awesomeness. As a follow-on to that fictional awesomeness you will notice obvious mechanics to hang on the fiction, such as giving the PC a aspect such as Infamous in the Underworld. Or, if the fictional outcome you followed the legendary roll with was to decribe the mook going sprawling into the rest of the mooks, then the mechanical followup might be to treat them all as prone (possibly with an aspect to underline just how disadvantaged they are).

Mechanics follows narration, and narration follows mechanics, and they'll tumble along like dominoes if they're paired up like that at every moment you ask yourself "what should happen next?" Fate is a two-stroke engine, and the narrative and mechanics have to fire in alternation or it stalls. Looking for mechanical awesomeness to follow a mechanically-awesome event will leave you wondering what's right, because Fate provides so many equally-good options with no guidance. By mediating that decision via a new piece of narration, choosing the mechanics to follow the narrative awesome that follows the mechanical awesome becomes effortless.

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    \$\begingroup\$ Although you seem to be paraphrasing from Fate Core 193 "Dealing with Extraordinary Success," in which it suggests that the group "go gonzo with the narration," that same section provides two mechanical options which are given equal emphasis as possibilities. So I'm not sure where you're getting the idea that a mechanical reward for awesomeness in this situation is not appropriate to the "spirit" of the game. \$\endgroup\$
    – BESW
    Commented Aug 15, 2013 at 23:05
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    \$\begingroup\$ @SevenSidedDie I am aware Fate places importance on the narrative, but how much is immaterial: it has mechanics, they are important, and I am seeking to understand them. A lot of narrative stuff does exist through mechanics, which are almost impossible to use "dry" due to the fact they inherently have narrative importance. This answer seems to be telling me that I should ignore the rules because it is Fate, and that is not helpful. Please read this meta question and wax eagle's reply. \$\endgroup\$ Commented Aug 17, 2013 at 2:08
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    \$\begingroup\$ I am going to copy this here; it is from a comment SSD made elsewhere and its incorporation into this answer would significantly clarify the answer's starting point: "The answer to what to do with five spare shifts is to stop staring at the shifts. They are not important. That's taking a mechanic (roll the dice) and looking for a fallout mechanic (what do I do with these shifts) that doesn't exist, because that's not how the game works. Shifts are thrown away. The roll has a narrative effect, and that has a mechanical effect. The shifts are not mechanically important in this mechanical event." \$\endgroup\$
    – BESW
    Commented Aug 21, 2013 at 8:11
  • \$\begingroup\$ @SevenSidedDie After playing with Fate Core some more, I've come to understand the point you're making here. I do believe the quote BESW provided just above would be a great addition to this answer, in some form. Do you mind if I attempt to edit it in? \$\endgroup\$ Commented Jun 2, 2014 at 12:32

DFRPG had mechanics for situations similar to this, and I think you could adapt them easily to Fate Core. Naturally, codifying them into house rules is probably to be avoided, but they're good options to have in mind because they give you an idea of the narrative/mechanical scope that previous Fate systems have expected this kind of thing to produce.

Overflow (YS214-5)

If you roll more shifts than you need or want in order to accomplish the action you rolled for, DFRPG calls that "overflow" and says that "you are allowed to spend them to take an additional, after-the-roll action" provided it's not an offensive action and it makes sense in the narrative. The action is automatic, with the number of overflow shifts becoming the effective roll for the overflow action. Overflow must be by chance; you can't spend Fate points just to get overflow. Sprinting through several zones is a common example; I suspect that placing a non-offensive boost (on yourself, probably) might also be a good use.

Spin (YS214)

Spin is an optional rule for groups that think a roll which normally doesn't have any effect if it succeeds dramatically (like a super-high defensive roll) ought to do something: "any defense roll that beats the attack by three or more confers a +1 or –1 to the very next action taken in the exchange." If this sounds similar to "with style," it probably should.

Stacking Style

This is more my own idea: take the cap off "with style" boosts. For every additional 3 shifts after the first, grant another tag on the boost you got for succeeding with style in the first place. You could do this with spin, too.


Be creative.

Have some sort of super flashy, outside of the rules effect occur.

To illustrate, in a recent World Of Darkness game I was in, whenever someone got 5 or more successes on a roll, the ST declared that "The Eye of Odin appears," and then proceeded to describe the most outlandish, hilarious, and flashy way to resolve a situation. (trying to bust a door down, eye of odin appears and from it emerges a fairly burly gentleman, who removes a monocle from his coat, puts it on, then strolls over to the door and roundkicks it off its hinges. turning to you and bowing, he then walks away, over the hill and into the sunset.)

Stuff like that.

Bonus example: A character found themselves without pants, and while rolling to search, they got "an odin". the eye appeared in the sky, and from it floated down one of the party's old, dead members. this member was a thief who was WAY too good at what he did, and basically went around stealing the pants off of people. Anyway, thief-angel-odinthing descends from on high, and hands a package over to the party member. He catches my character's eyes, and we both nod in greeting (i was the only one left from the original party that included him) and then he rose back up to the eye, which closed once more. The pants came with a belt, stamped prominently with an image of the eye.


Personally I would imagine something physically impossible but cinematically fitting, i.e. kicking that mook hard enough to send him flying into another mook and ricochet off into another one, dealing damage to all of them.


When you're extraordinary, you've got to do extraordinary things.

The core rules have a section for what you should do when you're running the game and one of your players gets an extraordinary success. It says that it doesn't apply to attacks, generally, but an attack that went that far into overkill counts pretty well, I'd think. Two of its parts apply here:

Go Gonzo with the Narration: It might seem superfluous, but it’s important to celebrate a great roll with a suitable narration of over the top success. This is a great time to take the suggestions above for Making Failure Awesome and applying them here. Let the success affect something else, in addition to what the PC was going for, and bring the player into the process of selling it by prompting them to make up cool details. [...]

Add an Aspect: You can express additional effects of a good roll by placing an aspect on the PC or on the scene, essentially letting them create an advantage for free.

So: this is not a trick, you did not get lucky, you are Gilgamesh Wulfenbach and You Are In Control. And everyone runs.

Or, you know, whatever else makes sense at the time. But do stop play and think for a bit. You got to cackle and pet fluffy cats whenever you were dropping compels and swinging for the fences, it's only fair you spend some time to share in the players' joy, too.


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