The Scenerio

Player is lured into the woods by a creature disguised as a nymph, basically. Player then allows creature to wrap its arms around him. Creature decides this is a great time to unhinge its jaw and begin to devour its prey. The rogue, who was not being very stealthy at the time decides to fire at the creature's mouth.

Creature, knowing that the rogue is there has planned for this, and wants to use its prey (another PC) to block the arrow with his face, so it can then devour a slightly warm corpse.

How is this handled by the fate rules? This is a point of disagreement between myself and the group (which required me to negate the whole situation so as to not hold up the game).

How the dice actually played out:

Rogue - Used 3 free invokes on an Aim aspect to give himself a result of 11 on his shoot roll.

Creature - Invoked 4 separate aspects (some on the player's sheets, one on her own, and one scene aspect), to come up with a 12 on a physique maneuver

My Interpretation:

I would have modeled this as the creature succeeded on a Defend action, and now the player who is being used as a shield needs to contend with the entire 11 points of attack (being allowed to make a Defend action as normal).

Player's interpretation

While the creature did indeed succeed on a Defend action, the player only needs to deal with the difference between the attack and defend rolls, namely 1 point of stress.

Are either of these interpretations correct in either FATE Core or The FATE System Toolkit?

n.b. It should also be noted that the players are pretty averse to taking consequences and this kind of situation where they attempt to turn the rules around so that they don't comes up pretty often.

  • \$\begingroup\$ Aside, how did the rogue invoke the same Aim aspect three times, free or not? \$\endgroup\$ Commented Aug 20, 2014 at 21:34
  • \$\begingroup\$ @SevenSidedDie Success with style for the Aim action for 2 free invokes, + a stunt which gives an extra free invoke on aim actions. You can stack free invokes multiple times in Fate Core: fate-srd.com/fate-core/…. 4th paragraph in that section. \$\endgroup\$
    – Cthos
    Commented Aug 20, 2014 at 22:48
  • \$\begingroup\$ @Cthos No you can't. You can stack a free invoke with a regular invoke of the same aspect, as described in that 4th paragraph. You can't stack two free invokes of the same aspect, though. \$\endgroup\$ Commented Aug 21, 2014 at 2:29
  • \$\begingroup\$ @doppelgreener - Yes. You can. The last sentence of that paragraph: "You can also stack multiple free invocations together." There is no limitation on that. And later in the book under teamwork, they do this very thing. \$\endgroup\$
    – Cthos
    Commented Aug 21, 2014 at 2:59
  • 1
    \$\begingroup\$ @Cthos Whoa, I never saw that. Very well! Thanks! \$\endgroup\$ Commented Aug 21, 2014 at 3:03

2 Answers 2


This isn't handled specifically in the rulebook, as far as I know, but I think the answers to this question point towards a workable solution.

If the nymph is holding the player character between herself and the rogue, she is effectively forcing the PC to Defend on her behalf. The rules for defending on behalf of others, according to page 159 of the Fate Core rulebook say:

You can even make defend actions on behalf of others, so long as you fulfill two conditions: it has to be reasonable for you to interpose yourself between the attack and its target, and you have to suffer the effects of any failed rolls.

The first condition is easy: the PC is already interposed between the nymph and the rogue. The second condition implies that the PC should get a separate Defend roll (which you could probably find aspects to invoke against), and take whatever damage results from that roll. The Nymph's Defend roll (which presumably models the nymph trying to take cover behind the PC) shouldn't have an effect on the damage the PC takes, since the nymph isn't trying to keep the PC out of harm's way, only herself.

Now, Defending on behalf of others is generally a voluntary action. Since it's involuntary in this situation, it would be reasonable to let the human shield make an Overcome roll to escape the grapple. That probably wouldn't happen until the PC's next turn.

But really, if the PC followed an evil wood nymph into the woods and then tried to make out with her, he deserves what's coming to him. That's amateur hour. No amount of rules-lawyering can change that fact.

Basically, you did right. Your players are just being babies.

  • \$\begingroup\$ I should mention that I compelled the PC to get lured out into the woods. Even so, trying to get out of it and gaining 4 FATE points in the process was a little cheese-weasely, I thought. \$\endgroup\$
    – Cthos
    Commented Aug 21, 2014 at 15:05
  • \$\begingroup\$ Yeah, if he really didn't want to do it, he coulda spent the fate point at the outset. \$\endgroup\$
    – Tack
    Commented Aug 21, 2014 at 18:16

I wrote an implementation of this very scenario for telekinetics in our Fate version of Interface Zero. I didn't go with it making the human shield involuntarily defend for the target because that removes any risk of the original target being hurt (as one someone defends on your behalf they become the new target of the attack). Instead, I went with this system:

  1. The attacker rolls their attack normally.
  2. The target rolls their defence, which is described as putting their shield in the path of the attack.
  3. The shield makes a defend roll against the target's defend roll: they don't want to be hit by the attack! The shield reduces the hit they take by their result, and passes these shifts back to the target.
  4. If the shield rolls higher than the target, they add their shifts on to the hit and the defender gets hurt worse than they would have if they hadn't used the shield.

So in your nymph example:

The attacker rolls +11.

The nymph target rolls +12. She has succeeded on her defence, so all 11 shifts of the hit are directed to her human shield.

The shield gets to defend. If he shield rolls Great (+4) that means he avoids 4 shifts of the hit and passes them back to the original target.

The final result is that the defender takes 4 shifts and the shield takes 7 shifts.

If the shield had somehow rolled +13, that would have given her a shift over the defender which, in my rules, would get added on to the original attack for a total of 12 shifts. That's the risk of using someone else as a shield.


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