I haven't found the section in the DFRPG Your Story Core Rule book that specifically talks about if a Spell could fully replace Skills. Can anybody point me to the specific section in the book that shows an example or details of a Spell Effect granting a full Skill Rating for the Spell Duration (either Evocation or Thaumaturgy)?

I have the following issue I'm having a hard time making a ruling on the below Player Request.

Example: I have a player that wants to brew a potion: "I Know Kung Fu". He's got a Lore of 5 with a Crafting Specialization and wants the potion to cause the Mild Mental Consequence of "Badly Dubbed" (spell side effect of not being able to speak clearly and on a delay). With Lore of 5 + 1 for the Specialization and Tagging the Consequence for an additional +2 it results with a +8 shift effect that could be reduced to +7 and last for one extra exchange. Therefore the imbiber of the potion would get a Skill of 7 in Fists lasting for 2 exchanges.

My knee jerk reaction was to rule that the spell could not work that way, but struggled finding details in the book to say a definitive yes or no, and while I will make a ruling based on my judgement, I also endeavor to backup my rulings with details from the core rules whenever possible, and want a run a game where I say "Yes you can" more than "No, that can't work that way". —Thus, I don't know what to do. The Rules as Written in the Core Rule Book are at times pretty obscure, and I don't know if this is an instance of if I should institute a new House Rule.

I found the following Question/Answer: What good is magic if your skill is better? —but didn't see that any source material from the Rule Book was quoted, thus I'm speculating about the ruling in that Q/A and I'm currently leaning towards not allowing a Spell Effect to replace a skill for a number of reasons.

  1. Primarily, the Skill Limit on the game is currently at Superb and having a spell that breaks that limitation just seems imbalanced. -Why should a spell caster be able to be better (albeit for a brief instance) at martial arts than a Kung Fu expert that has studied her whole life and skill only has a base Fists Skill of 5?
  2. Also, it seems to step over other game balance boundaries as well. Essentially, the caster with a high Lore is generating more effective skill with a Skill Trapping not associated with it by running a shell game of sorts.

My current ruling will be: Maybe (based on feedback below). (I'd prefer to be pointed to some source material that more clearly defines the subject)

My Reasoning in addition to what is above: A Stunt (and by extension Refresh) is useds to add a new trapping to a skill. Essentially letting the chacter do things with one skill that that normally couldn't be done with that skill.

Using a spell to give you access to another skill at a high value or for attack for more than just an instance is out of balance with the above game mechanic in my opinion.

I may allow temporary access to some effects in the same way temporary powers are gained (p. 92). Thus Spend Fate points to get the power you're seeking. The caveat is that access to temporary powers is to be done in RARE circumstances (See Below). If this is a common function or part of your regular use of power then you should pay the refresh for it.

Otherwise temporary access to power will need to be granted in a similar method to the way the book describes:

"...In rare circumstances, it might be appropriate for a character to temporarily take on supernatural powers. Usually, this happens when a supernatural entity imbues someone with power for a short time in order to take on a threat or fulfill some part of its agendas..."

Thus, using Thuamaturgy to replace other skills you don't have is pretty difficult, but not impossible. Like everything in this game, it's an issue of judgement call based on the reasoning for the spells use and funciton, and the fate points to spend to be able to access the skill you want but don't currently have.

EDIT BASED ON CURRENT FEEDBACK: I'm planning on "ruling" that Spell Effects to modify or replace skill rolls must be specific in use or trapping and can't grant access to the whole skill and all of it's uses/trappings. The effect will last for one exchange plus one extra exchange per shift of energy channeled for duration unless it is a special circumstance that makes sense to extend for a longer period of time. Furthermore, I'll be planning on instituting a rough guideline that a spell can't exceed the skill limit as far as the bonus granted unless the character has a very good reason to and it fits within the story/game. I also intend to be a bit more of a stickler on spell effects that have an attack function of some type as the outline for building stunts advises that attack functions need to be more specific/limiting in the situations where they can be used, as I feel the spirit of that guideline is that attack modifications need to be dealt with carefully.

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    \$\begingroup\$ Just a note - it's usually worth waiting a while before accepting an answer, particularly for longer and more involved questions such as this. You will tend to find that once an answer has been accepted it will discourage others from offering additional solutions to your question, which might turn out to be better. \$\endgroup\$
    – Wibbs
    Commented Jul 2, 2014 at 21:27
  • \$\begingroup\$ I'll have to wait until I have more time to pin down a RAW example/explanation (although I believe the "Escape" potion in the Your Story uses it) for Skill Replacement spells/potions/items but it is a generally accepted principle on the official DFRPG forums. jimbutcheronline.com/bb/index.php/board,5.0.html \$\endgroup\$ Commented Jul 2, 2014 at 21:41
  • \$\begingroup\$ Thanks. I looked at the Escape Potion, and it is a very narrow use granting a specific movement power vs zone barriers, and isn't carte blanche access to the whole Athletics skill, as it only helps the imbiber for moving past barriers and not dodging attacks (a different Athletics Trapping) \$\endgroup\$ Commented Jul 2, 2014 at 22:00
  • \$\begingroup\$ @WesleyObenshain - The escape potion doesn't mention a skill check; there is another question based on the escape potion that might also be of help. \$\endgroup\$
    – Chuck Dee
    Commented Jul 2, 2014 at 23:11
  • \$\begingroup\$ @wraith808 No, but that is what I precisely what I was referring to. I don't think there's an official rule saying that you can make that sort of spell/potion/item but as I said, it's been generally accepted by the folks on the official forum that you can and it's honestly probably a better source of information on the question. I would tend to agree with the trappings, probably as any spell (and thus potion) effect should be fairly specific. \$\endgroup\$ Commented Jul 3, 2014 at 4:09

2 Answers 2


In general, potions and other enchanted items are like stored evocations, i.e. intended to hold a single, pre-generated effect that is stored until released (YS279).

But what can this effect be?

  • As to the point of whether it can replicate a skill, that part I'd say is true.
  • As to how long it can last, it can be for an extended period of time.

RAW isn't very clear on this, but the example of magical effects is. Look at (YS304). True Seeing Ointment grants a +6 to alertness checks for an extended period of time. Looking closer at the rulebook, for a potion, you get this blurb: "The effect strength of a potion, like enchanted items, is equal to the wizard’s Lore." (YS280) You can also boost that, by devoting more potion slots, and/or taking a compel.

So within those limitations on the effect level, I'd say that he can.

There's another important bit in play, that I think is worth mentioning.

My current ruling will be: No. (unless somebody can point me to some source material that more clearly defines the subject)

My Reasoning in addition to what is above: A Stunt (and by extension Refresh) is useds to add a new trapping to a skill. Essentially letting the chacter do things with one skill that that normally couldn't be done with that skill.

I've never ruled on anything in DFRPG. I've talked it over with players, consulted outside interpretation, and discussed rules. But Fate in general is a game where you have to take into account the story that the players and yourself are creating in a coordinated effort.

I'd advise that you be careful with making 'rulings', and instead consult your players and make clarifications and extensions to the world with them.

  • \$\begingroup\$ Thanks for the Feedback. The example of the unguent helps me a great deal. The unguent is both limited in its focus (a specific use or Trapping of Alertness—like Passive Awareness) and the duration is based on Veils which are longer lasting than normal spells based on the sidebar on p. 255: “Duration with Evocation veils is largely a matter of GM judgment call. Personally I wouldn’t go for “1 shift gets you one extra exchange” with a veil; I’d just let it hang around until something pierces it, or until the end of the scene...” \$\endgroup\$ Commented Jul 2, 2014 at 20:52
  • \$\begingroup\$ I think I'll allow a spell effect to apply to a specific skill trapping, and each trapping of a skill to be bought separately in shifts of power, with the standard short term duration for effects usable in combat—a few exchanges based on shifts unless its a special circumstance that warrants a long duration. \$\endgroup\$ Commented Jul 2, 2014 at 20:56

Potions in general

Pg 280 "Potions are very similar to enchanted items in terms of function"

Pg 279 "Nearly any effect within the range of thaumaturgy or evocation is allowed"

I'm going to ignore thaumaturgic effects for a minute because 8 shifts just isn't a whole lot when you get into anything complex enough to need thaumaturgy.

pg 250 " Describe the effect in terms of the following basic conflict actions: attack, block, maneuver, or counterspell."

pg 252 "By default, pulling off most maneuvers requires 3 shifts of power,"

Now going by RAW this is going to give an aspect that he can invoke for a suitable supply of FP, however, I would then look at the idea from Fate Core that would let him get extra free invokes per every 2 shifts he exceeds the requirement by.

Since you said he could get 8 shifts, 8 - 3 = 5 extra shifts = 2 extra invokes which means 3 times in the same scene he could get a free invoke on his "combat juice" aspect to get a +2 to his fighting roll.

In this case, the 8 is actually overkill so if you don't want to let him get the extra invokes he can skip the consequence for a total of 6.

One possible alternative take is an 8 shift thaumaturgy effect. At 8 shifts, the effect can't be terribly complex, and I would argue that spontaneously importing memories and thought processes is pretty complex. With thaumaturgy I would still argue that a basic aspect has a complexity of 3, so to affect his combat rolls for any length of time starts at 3, meaning he only has 5 shifts left for the strength of the effect. If he wants it to last more than a single action, he'll have to trade a shift or 2, giving him:

1 round at +5

2 rounds at +4

3 rounds at +3

4 rounds at +2

It could be interpreted as a muscle growth (extreme HGH) or a speed potion, or to keep in the theme he was going for "Iron Palm in a bottle". Either way since it can only be used once per session, it's not going to be any more game breaking than stacking some free invokes.

  • \$\begingroup\$ I don't have the FATE Core book—yet. Would you advise getting it and having the rules there overrule the details in DFRPG: Your Story? I ask because this is the first time I've seen the game mechanic of extra free invokes per every 2 shifts of success past the target. \$\endgroup\$ Commented Jul 3, 2014 at 19:53
  • \$\begingroup\$ I apologize for my prolonged absence. I'd be hesitant to say let Fate Core override DFRPG because DFRPG is only somewhat based on Fate Core, but it should give you options on how to interpret things. \$\endgroup\$
    – cdm014
    Commented Jan 22, 2015 at 4:35

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