Lots of RPGs have the kind of thing where you effectively power up in combat and get a bonus to a certain stat.

The "Create an Advantage" aspect in Fate Core seems to do something similar but not entirely the same. If in an exchange I wanted to say, "I stretch my legs and gain the limbered up aspect," I would have to make a roll, right?

My question: How do I set balanced Difficulties for something like that? Should it be the same every time? The rules say that Difficulty should depend on the scene, but actions like this don't seem to necessitate variance.

It seems weird, because for example, one of my characters has a stunt that says "Get +2 to Athletics to Create Advantages by sprinting to various distances throughout a zone." This character's Athletics is already +4; a roll of ---- would result in a total of +2 if the Stunt were used. Should it even be impossible to fail?


4 Answers 4


Don't worry about balancing this with numbers. Balance it with story.

Remember that aspects created through the Create Advantage action usually only last one scene, so my character can't prep at the beginning of the session to stack free invokes for the whole session: instead I'm using precious scene time, and that's the balancing factor.

Placing aspects on myself is usually a +1 or +2 if nobody's trying to stop me, but I have to know what's coming to get the right kind of aspect so the free invoke is useful... and I have to have the opportunity. Getting five minutes to stretch before combat isn't common, and if that's how I want to use that time then that's a meaningful choice.

Fate is invested in the idea that preparation is rewarded, but at the cost of time spent. If your players can always take however long they want to prep at the start of a scene, maybe consider increasing the pressure by making their foes more proactive. If I have to act fast before the villain does something horrific, my pre-combat prep choices have more dramatic "bite" and become more meaningful.

And don't worry about "impossible to fail" rolls. Remember that Fate's not about the success/failure duality. Poor rolls can still succeed at cost, and compels create complications without ever rolling. Fate characters are competent! That means some actions are super-easy for them. Give them the win, because they'll need it in order to succeed against the real dramatic challenges they face later on.


As per the "Setting Difficulties" section of the SRD, if you can't think of an appropriate difficulty for a task, default to Average or Fair.

Unopposed efforts to create advantages in a conflict should never be harder than Average (+1) or Fair (+2), and neither should attempts to put an aspect on an object or location.


In my game when I've done this, I use the current skill level as the difficulty, in effect, making it based on the roll and any aspects utilized/compels taken. My reasoning behind this has been that the character is attempting to push themselves to perform at their tip-top or beyond, so they are pushing the skill itself in this endeavor.

Another option that I've considered putting into play is the use of the Fate point economy to ratchet up the tension.

Player: Cynwyd isn't going in to the duel unprepared- he's mentally visualizing Rinaldo's style and what he can remember about the throne room.

GM: As this is a climactic point in the campaign, it's time to get the Fate points flowing. "The more time Cynwyd takes, the more prepared he can make himself. This will have ramifications either way." Slides a Fate point to the player... who can choose take the extra time for preparation- or be not as prepared because of the loss of the additional Fate point.


I think the difficulty should depend on the narrative of the preparation in question. "I stretch my muscles and warm up" is probably ±0 Mediocre to make you warmed up, while "I go fetch Mjölnir from Asgård" could well be +8 Legendary, but you end up with Mjölnir, the bane of Jötnar to help you in the battle ahead.


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