I currently have one player and he wanted to have some allies. He liked that from Savage Worlds, but for our current campaign, Fate is DEFINITELY the system of choice.

Yesterday he was facing the enemy and I told him his allies were fighting alongside him, so all the damage he dished out would be represented as "your friends helped you do so." However he thinks that the NPCs are too interesting to be represented that way - a ninja school teacher, a magical artist and a fierce luchador - and he's right.

Still, there are not rules for creation of allies, and using the "Mooks" rules from the Fate Accelerated manual seems boring since you create characters that are so similar and tremendously situational, but creating full characters as allies would carry the risk that he would get confused from controlling the actions of the other three. (The manual says I should control NPCs anyway.) Or he would wait for me, as the GM, to use the other characters for stuff he usually forgets to do, like using "Create an Advantage" to know more about the opponent.

What should we do?


2 Answers 2


Make his allies part of his character.

This isn't always going to work, and exactly how it works best will depend on the nature of his relationship with his allies. I think this strategy is best when his allies are well-defined but aren't supposed to actually do a lot of game-changing stuff themselves: they're strong support characters, not equal party members.

Allies as aspects

Give the character sheet some additional aspect slots (on top of the usual 3 to 5 aspects Fate gives every PC) which can only be used for allies. Each ally is described by one of these character aspects, describing the player character's relationship to the ally and the ally's specialty or both:

  • Sensei Ping, Master of the Wu-Han Thumb of Death
  • My best friend El Sapo Dorado of the Mexican Luchadores
  • The wizard Dallben, my foster father

What does this mean?

  • As with any aspect, this means certain things are just true (perhaps the wizard Dallben being in the party means they can all fly whenever they like).
  • Aspects provide new contexts for action. Just like The Last Kryptonian can justify Perception checks to notice something on the other side of a wall, El Sapo Dorado's aspect can justify Rapport checks with someone who only speaks Spanish.
  • You can spend Fate points to get bonuses or make things be true (declare a story detail) because you have your allies with you (for a Fate point, Sensei Ping knows the ancient language of Shangri-La).
  • Aspects also modify the target difficulties for rolls (El Sapo Dorado probably lowers the difficulty for breaking open doors, but increases difficulties for squeezing through ventilation shafts).

As always, these aspects imply a lot that they don't say explicitly: we're wrapping a whole person into a single aspect. If Sensei Ping is sensitive about his age, that's something everyone needs to understand is implied by the narrative, and so it can be invoked and compelled through his aspect even though the aspect doesn't say he's sensitive about his age.

What if my ally leaves?

If the absence is permanent, you can modify the aspect to reflect this (I must honor the late Sensei Ping's sacrifice), or have an empty aspect slot, until you pick up another friend and use the slot to describe your new ally.

If the absence is temporary, you modify the aspect to reflect this. Sensei Ping is conferring with the Clan of the Pointed Stick still gives you all manner of benefits because Ping is still your sensei.

Does this mean my allies can't be attacked?

Not at all! They're part of your character's fractal and so attacks against you can be narrated as targeting your allies (and may actually provide opportunities for you to be attacked when your character isn't in the room but Sensei Ping is!).

Naturally, attacks against your allies are defended by your own skill rolls, and attacks which hit your allies still inflict stress on your own stress track.

So how can my allies be hurt, stymied, or defeated?

Through consequences or the Create an Aspect action, or both.

Consequences can make allies less useful, and can create interesting plot twists. Remember, your allies are part of your character so they share your limited consequence slots.

  • If Sensei Ping lost his cool (+2 consequence) that means he's no longer able to perform his most deadly moves, which require inner peace and utter self-control, until he calms down.
  • When El Sapo Dorado is unmasked (+4 consequence) his shame may cripple his ability to participate for the rest of the mission. If you're playing Fate Core instead of Accelerated then the recovery action is probably retrieving his mask or killing those who saw his face.
  • Dallben is kidnapped (+6 consequence) is pretty major: you lose nearly every benefit his aspect gives you, and the next part of the story is firmly dictated. Time to rescue the old man.

Your enemies can also (probably with great difficulty and usually with active opposition) Create an Aspect which hinders your allies, like Caer Dallben is under attack or La Cage De Lumiere can trap the untrappable El Sapo Dorado, or I am immune to the Wu-Han Thumb of Death.

Isn't this overcomplicated or unbalanced?

Not really. Previous Fate games like gave players eight or ten aspects by default. I'm glad Fate reduced it to five, but players CAN handle more aspects if the aspects are backing up an interesting narrative. And it's a lot less complicated than running a handful of mooks, or full characters.

We're talking about a single-player campaign so there's no other PCs to get jealous of your bonus aspect slots. The GM has to take your extra aspects into account when creating encounters but it's not a big deal.

If you're really concerned about balance --perhaps you want to use this conceit in a multiplayer game later on-- I'd make an extra called "Allies" which costs one Refresh for every two ally-only aspect slots you get.

  • 1
    \$\begingroup\$ I would add "sub-aspects" to ally Aspects. They are not additional Aspects, just descriptions of what each ally is all about. You would still invoke/compel the ally Aspect. Just a way to help remember their details. \$\endgroup\$
    – leokhorn
    Commented Oct 16, 2013 at 14:17
  • 3
    \$\begingroup\$ @leokhorn All aspects are only as useful as their agreed-upon narrative significance. It's just easier to remember what "Perpetually Broke" implies than to remember what "Second Magus of the Ivory Tower on the Hill" implies. If making bullet-point lists helps a group, that's great. \$\endgroup\$
    – BESW
    Commented Oct 16, 2013 at 14:27

There is no ultimate right answer, you could do a number of things:

Player controls them all

If you are just starting a game, have the player create more than once character at creation and play them all. If you already started the game, either have the player create new characters to play, or take some characters that are already in the story and give control to the player.

Advantages: The player can really feel like he controls his team, and be able to influence the game more, by being able to control multiple characters, the player also has more input and effect on the game than by just controlling one.

Disadvantages: It is still a single player game, and most of the fun is in having opposing character ideologies and opinions, having everything go their way might be fun at first, but it will become less and less engaging.

Storyteller controls them all

If you are just starting a game, you should create a character or two as well, and participate in the process just like a player would. If you already started, you can create new characters to be allies, or just use those that already exist in the story.

Advantages: The player can interact with the allies without knowing how they will react, creating interesting points of friction in the game which increase overall enjoyment.

Disadvantages: As a storyteller, you already control much of the world, controlling the allies of the character means that much of the game will be you rolling against yourself, and the story will feel stagnated when the ally characters are talking to an NPC, again - you will be interacting with yourself, and the player will feel entirely left out of most of the game.

Mixed control

By mixing up the allies so that some of them are controlled by the player, and some by the storyteller, you can mitigate some of the disadvantages, while not losing any of the advantages.

More players

By including more players in the game, you obviously remove all of the disadvantages, and are left only with advantages. However, this is probably something you have tried, which leads right into the more interesting part of this...

Get external input

Find a friend, family member, magic 8 ball, random number generator, dice, whatever kind of external input (the more complex the better) and "ask it a question" the more complex the external device the more complex a question (and answer) you can recieve, it can be as simple as "should I attack? (yes/no)" - flip a coin, to "what do you think about this?.... - ask a friend.

They don't need to be role players to give input on a situation, this solution can be used when the character in question is controlled by a player or a storyteller, and allows for more interesting dynamic based less on personal opinions and more on external input.


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