The character in question has the Curse of the Lycanthrope aspect, which causes him to become rabid and ferocious when something triggers him to transform.

The characters are all traveling together in the middle of the night, they Haven't Eaten All Day, and the Full Moon is Out. So the GM compels the character to transform, temporarily changing the character's High Concept to Ravenous and Bloodthirsty Wolf as defined by the corresponding stunt. It is decided unanimously that the Werewolf is so hungry that it would turn on its teammates, maul them, and attempt to eat them.

Obviously there would be some out-of-character biases such as not wanting to be the player character responsible for a TPK, so is the player who controls the Werewolf allowed to concede the conflict, or do we have to wait until the compel plays out? In other words, which rule takes precedent: the compel or the ability to concede? Why?


I'm going to dodge the main question, because it's a situation that shouldn't come up. Here's why:

The situation you've outlined there involves at least two compels, not one. The first compel is the one already mentioned, which results in the transformation if the player accepts. The second compel, which you've skipped in the example, is compelling Ravenous and Bloodthirsty Wolf to say that "the Werewolf is so hungry that it would turn on its teammates...". When that compel happens, the player has already earned a Fate point from accepting the compel on Curse of the Lycanthrope and can easily refuse this new compel, which is what they actually want to do.

By skipping right to the effect of an Aspect "by consensus", you're hamstringing the player's ability to interact with the relevant mechanics, and you get a weird situation where they immediately want to concede the fight. The solution is to not skip that compel, and so give the player the option to avoid the fight in more mechanically-clean manner.

"But," you say, "doesn't the consensus matter?" Yes, it does, but even if everyone agrees that an Aspect should have a certain result, you're still obligated to pay for the compel. Compels that players suggest and agree to are not free! No matter who suggests a compel on an Aspect, the player whose character Aspect it is still gets a Fate point. Asking for compels on an Aspect is a major way that players can influence the narrative in Fate, and can happen even when nobody uses the word "compel."

  • \$\begingroup\$ I am confused by "The solution is to not skip the compel and force the fight that the player doesn't actually want in the first place." Could you clarify, rephrase, or place a a comma so that I know where to separate the clause? \$\endgroup\$ – Robert Apr 2 '15 at 23:17
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    \$\begingroup\$ @Robert Yes, that's the gist of it. If the player is reacting negatively enough to the "it's just true" use of the aspect that they want to immediately concede, that's a sign that it should have been a compel instead. \$\endgroup\$ – SevenSidedDie Apr 3 '15 at 1:52
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    \$\begingroup\$ While your answer is good for explaining the mechanics of the game and why the question in this scenario may need to be different, I still don't think you actually answered. Let's say the player accepts the compel for "wants to eat his friends", but then still immediately wants to concede the confrontation? Your answer hasn't left the op with any advise on what to do in the particular situation he has found himself in. \$\endgroup\$ – sillyputty Apr 3 '15 at 12:15
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    \$\begingroup\$ Additionally, while it is rather up to them to determine, I’d appreciate some suggested, well, “excuses” for avoiding the compel. Narratively, I mean: I certainly accept that this is a time the player should decide to react differently, per the Giant article, but there still needs to be a narrative reason to explain the choice in-character, and I find myself having difficulty thinking of one. \$\endgroup\$ – KRyan Apr 3 '15 at 17:52
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    \$\begingroup\$ @KRyan It's necessarily too context sensitive for suggestions to be useful. It would be suggesting using the system backwards to suggest after-the-fact "excuses" for refusing the compel here. \$\endgroup\$ – SevenSidedDie Apr 3 '15 at 19:34

The key to conceding from a compelled action lies in understanding the narrative purpose of compels and concessions: they make scenes more dramatic by adding new complications to the story.

So if a werewolf gets compelled to attack his friends, it's an excellent complication with awesome dramatic tension. But we don't want to just kill everyone off--that's boring! This is exactly why we have the ability to concede: concession makes players more willing to accept extreme compels because they can avoid lethal consequences.

That doesn't mean concession is a Get Out of Jail Free card, though. Concessions need to have bite (pardon the pun), real complication that makes everyone at the table go "Oooh." If the werewolf concedes, his friends get what they want--survival--while the wolf avoids the worst of his fate (doesn't get killed). This means the concession is about drawing an unexpected "third option" outcome which makes us ask "What happens next?"

Perhaps one of the friends is bitten and the wolf runs away satisfied to have passed on the curse; or the wolf falls off a cliff into a river and is washed downstream, leaving the group lost in the woods with an angry wet werewolf whose location is unknown. If they don't know who the werewolf is yet, perhaps the best outcome of a concession is that his friends get a big clue to his identity. (Note that a concession's bite doesn't have to be the result of the wolf's own actions. The conceding player gains temporary agency over the whole scene, giving him freedom to narrate outside forces or chance occurences which change the situation.)

The concession shouldn't make the "attack your friends" compel less dramatic. If it does, the group should reject the concession just because it's not a good concession, rather than because it defies the compel. Instead, concession is an opportunity to milk even MORE drama out of the situation by complicating it further and pushing the story forward into a new interesting situation.


Does conceding make sense within the narrative?

Has something happened to make it make sense in the narrative for the Ravenous and Bloodthirsty Wolf to want to withdraw from the conflict before obtaining its desired outcome? If so, absolutely. Come to an agreement with the GM and other players about how the conflict should resolve itself. If not...

Why aren't the players conceding?

This is exactly the sort of situation player concessions were created for. As the Referee for this game I would be willing to allow a clever "out". Hopefully the wolf has a goal beyond "kill everything in sight". All of that aside...

You may be asking the wrong question.

What you've done is essentially turned a PC into an NPC because the player is not longer in control of the character's choices. The other players in the party should not be the only ones fighting against the Ravenous and Bloodthirsty Wolf. The optimal outcome from an encounter like this, in my mind at least, should involve the players defending themselves and attempting to help the normally dominate Player personality overcome the cursed NPC personality. You could also try to bludgeon the beast into oblivion but even then the wolf's player should not be an idle observer in his own body. This idea is known in FATE Core as a Fractal.

So the wolf's player can approach this in two ways:

  • Use mental and social skills to inflict stress on the wolf. If the other characters would know that him fighting the wolf from inside is an option, they might make maneuvers to give him an advantage against the cursed wolf personality.
  • Use mental and social skills to make maneuvers against the wolf, providing the other players with flaws to take advantage of.

The fundamental thing here is there should be more than one path out of the compel.

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    \$\begingroup\$ Maybe even make the "wolf instincts/urges" its own fractal, so it can be more directly "fought"? \$\endgroup\$ – SevenSidedDie Apr 2 '15 at 23:28
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    \$\begingroup\$ Actually when I was reading this I was thinking of making the Full Moon into a Fractal that made Will attacks against the Werewolf Character and created advantages as impulses against it. Great idea! \$\endgroup\$ – Robert Apr 2 '15 at 23:32
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    \$\begingroup\$ This answer makes me happy. Fate is wonderful. \$\endgroup\$ – KRyan Apr 3 '15 at 17:53
  • \$\begingroup\$ Why are we assuming the wolf has been NPC'd? \$\endgroup\$ – Please stop being evil Apr 4 '15 at 5:31
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    \$\begingroup\$ @thedarkwanderer Because this is essentially what the person who asked the question stated. Just because a player is handling the mechanics does not make the character a PC. It was rather clearly stated that the wolf has only one goal and only one method of reaching it, meaning there is no agency. Thus NPC. \$\endgroup\$ – Wesley Obenshain Apr 4 '15 at 17:16

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