The rules talk briefly of players compelling multiple targets and how they have to pay a fate point for each one. Similarly, it makes sense that if the GM wished to, say, knock the entire party out with Sleeping Curse, they'd each get a fate point. But what about event compels?

To provide an example from the game I'm currently running, one of the setting aspects we have is The Great Convergence is Coming - without going into details that would be spoiler-y for my players, a trans-dimensional catastrophe. It has its own prophet of sorts, Celestial Geometer. He can show up wherever and whenever he wishes. Rather than just declaring he appears out of thin air (as is his wont), I want to offer it as a compel. Obviously, the entire party would be affected. Should the entire party get fate points?

While that seems to follow from the cited rules, and this question agrees, that many fate points can offset a lot of nastiness the villain could bring about. That's not necessarily a problem, and I have no issues with heroes winning the day, but I don't want it to be an easy win, either. Instead of sweetening a bad situation or offering a chance to avoid it, such group compel becomes an overwhelming advantage.

A similar situation which is also about to come up in the game: PCs have an ally, who could show up to help but is being compelled not to. As this indirectly affects the party, I'm inclined to consider it a compel against them, even though it's NPC's aspect that is being compelled: "Wouldn't it be unfortunate if X chose their career over you? He would have been so useful right about now." But once again it doesn't feel like it's worth 4 fate points - going either way!

Both of these cases could be solved by only having a single fate point tied to the compel, but there's no clear single character being affected, so no way to assign the fate point.

So how should I handle event compels which affect the entire party?


Make the compel worth the price.

If the Geometer simply showing up means Fate points are handed out like candy, make him challenging enough that they'll need those four points whenever he shows up! Giving him more stunts, or more powerful stunts, would be a decent place to start in doing that.

Compels aren't always the right choice.

If you're struggling to make compels seem like the right mechanic for the job, maybe they aren't the right mechanic for the job. For the NPC ally, often his appearance would be triggered by a player spending a Fate point to make a declaration. You can counter that by giving him a Fate point instead of taking his. While other players could technically try to do the same, each gaining a new Fate point for your refusal, that would cheapen the first player's transaction. Players in a Fate game should be open to recognising this and acting accordingly: one of Fate's core concepts is that something which fails should not be tried again with no variation until it succeeds.


Compels Have Teeth

The thing with compels is that they are only worth fate points if they have teeth. The end of each mad-lib is the most important part:

Unfortunately, [blank] would happen to you. Damn your luck.


This goes wrong when [blank] happens.

That blank is the important part; it tells us what complication is happening.

If there are no complications, there are no fate points given out. With this in mind, only pay out if the situation gets more complicated because of the compel.

Compels Pay Out To The Character(s) Affected

Most of the time, only one character is affected by a compel, so only one character gets a fate point. There are times when the entire party can be compelled—it's almost always on an individual basis.

For example, if the entire party is in a room filled with knockout gas, you can compel them all to lose consciousness (this goes wrong when you're captured and put in an interrogation cell. Damn your luck). Each player can individually make the decision to accept or reject the compel, so some might succome whilst others don't.

There are very rare times when a group compel is all-or-nothing. If it comes up in your game, you'll know it when one player rejects the compel and the rest of the group say something like, "well, how can I accept it then?"

Compels Only Pay Out When the Blank is Filled In

Remember that if there are no teeth to the compel, no fate points are exchanged. If something would be nice to have happen but doesn't, it isn't a valid compel—often called a "weaksauce compel." Fill in the blank, though, and you're good to go.

OPs Two Examples

Campaign-Level Aspects

For the most part The Great Convergence is Coming is a weaksauce compel to have the big bad show up. Just having the big bad show up is more of a plot device than a compel. Unless they are in the middle of something, and the big bad showing up makes it more complicated/interesting. In such a case, only the player who is affected by the complication gets the fate point. It's possible for it to be an all-or-nothing compel, but that's going to be rare.


Just because an ally is busy doesn't mean it's a compel. Again, it's more plot device. It's a compel if the lack of availability causes a complication. "He would have been so useful right about now" is a weaksauce compel. How does this make things more difficult for the PCs? If it doesn't—usually because the PCs can do what the NPC was going to do—then there is no compel.


You must log in to answer this question.

Not the answer you're looking for? Browse other questions tagged .