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I'm running a new game, with just my friend and I on roll20. We're attempting to figure out the mechanics, while running a small game together.

I'm having issues with the Fate Point system. Does someone spend a Fate Point to "discover" an aspect? "It's stormy on the deck of this ship, there are dark clouds overhead this cultist should have a hard time identifying me. I should be able to get very close before he sees I'm not another cultist." The player spends a fate point, and discovers the aspect "Hard to see up here" as part of his sneaky attack.

Now, from what I gather he can still attack- because he didn't do the "Create Advantage" action, instead he discovered an aspect that's logical on a scene with "Dark and Stormy" on it. Now does he spend a FP to invoke that aspect?

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  • \$\begingroup\$ Please clarify what he did to actually discover the "Hard to see up here" aspect, because you didn't say. Did he spend a fate point? \$\endgroup\$ – doppelgreener Jun 14 '14 at 0:29
  • \$\begingroup\$ Actually, based on your comment below, I'm assuming yes and editing the question accordingly. \$\endgroup\$ – doppelgreener Jun 14 '14 at 0:43
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I'm having issues with the Fate Point system. Does someone spend a Fate Point to "discover" an aspect?

Yes, you can spend a Fate point to "discover" an aspect. That's called Declaring a Story Detail.

That's not the only way to discover an aspect, though: you can also create an advantage, or use a stunt that creates aspects. One of the examples for Creating an Advantage with Crafts is "discovering" a vulnerability in a crafted work.

Now, from what I gather he can still attack- because he didn't do the "Create Advantage" action, instead he discovered an aspect that's logical on a scene with "Dark and Stormy" on it. Now does he spend a FP to invoke that aspect?

There answer here depends on the method he used to create the aspect.

He used a fate point to declare a story detail and get that aspect for free. That doesn't come with any free invocations, so he'll have to spend another fate point to invoke that aspect.

You might find that pretty hefty, but declaring a story detail is pretty powerful. You can create aspects your own stunts or skills don't allow you to create, and aspects are always true, which means the aspect can immediately begin to have mechanical and narrative impact. You just don't get a free invocation along with all of that: that would be effectively giving you a refund on your fate point, and make all that other stuff just happen for free.

If he had taken a turn to use Create an Advantage and succeeded, however, he would have received a free invocation on that aspect, or two if he succeeded with style. Then in his next turn, he could use a free invocation as part of his sneaky attack.

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  • \$\begingroup\$ Another alternative would be for the player to skip declaring the story detail entirely, and the GM to require a cultist's-Alertness-vs-player's-Deceit-or-Stealth contest to see if the cultist spots the player before the player attacks. Then "Dark and Stormy" could be invoked with a Fate for a +2-or-reroll on the stealth check, or later on the stealthy attack if the stealth check is successful. \$\endgroup\$ – PotatoEngineer Jun 14 '14 at 1:20
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    \$\begingroup\$ Just a summary from what I understand. Creating an Advantage means the new Aspect becomes a thing through character skill, whether you realize something through knowledge or observation or you fabricate it through action. Declaring an Aspect with a Fate Point is narrative power, it's meta and outside your character's control. "It's raining today". \$\endgroup\$ – leokhorn Jun 14 '14 at 9:32
  • \$\begingroup\$ @leokhorn Yes, that's a pretty good way to summarise it. In that example specifically, you might use Notice to observe it's raining today, but if for some reason you can't do that, it's totally appropriate to use a fate point instead to say it's raining at meta level. \$\endgroup\$ – doppelgreener Jun 14 '14 at 10:09
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Players don't spend Fate points to create aspects.

doppelgreener suggested what the player was trying to do is declare a story detail, however nothing in that section says it creates an aspect. Story details are just that, a detail about the story you're telling together.

Invoking for story details is only needed when it's a stretch of the imagination to suggest that an aspect (which is being invoked, and inherently true in and of itself,) means that something it's not explicitly stating. You don't spend Fate points to spin extra detail out of whole cloth.

Just because Aspects are true doesn't mean all true things are automatically aspects. To borrow from The Book of Hanz

-an aspect is something that gets camera focus in describing the scene.

To put it another way, there's a difference between a scene being dark, and a scene being Dark. A dark scene may be a poorly lit bar -but the lighting is just ambience. [sic] It doesn't influence the plot in any way. It doesn't really impact how the characters do things. It's just there to set a mood.

A Dark scene is different. In a Dark scene, we can expect somebody to jump out of the shadows at some point, or disappear into them.

What your player is attempting is called Creating and Discovering New Aspects In Play. In particular:

If you’re not looking for a free invocation, and you just think it’d make sense if there were a particular situation aspect in play, you don’t need to roll the dice or anything to make new aspects—just suggest them, and if the group thinks they’re interesting, write them down.

If your group decides "Hard to see up here" makes sense as an aspect, it is one. No additional mechanics required. However, a player will still need to spend a Fate point to invoke it as normal.


There's no need to create a new aspect anyway.

Now, from what I gather he can still attack- because he didn't do the "Create Advantage" action, instead he discovered an aspect that's logical on a scene with "Dark and Stormy" on it.

Since there's already a "Dark and Stormy" aspect on this scene, the player can just invoke that. Aspects are meant to encompass various details and don't need to be broken up into bits and pieces to be functional. Just as there would be no need to create another aspect for "It's Pretty Windy Out Here Too." If the scene is "Dark and Stormy", it implies we can expect somebody to jump out of the shadows at some point.


Consider an alternative.

If allowing players to invoke "Dark and Stormy" to mean it's hard to see an attack coming seems like a stretch, consider implementing Scaled Invocations.

With Scaled Invocations the relevance of the aspect is important. A relevant invocation works in the standard way. A tenuous invocation is a big stretch and you can only use it for a reroll. A perfect invocation is exactly what it sounds like and you automatically succeed with no roll needed.

If you're new to Fate I'd probably recommend minimal fiddling with dials until you get used to them but it may be the best option depending on the group.

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