I'm GMing a Fate Accelerated Edition game, importing quite a lot of rules and ideas from Fate Core. Although I've been a DM/GM for almost 25 years, it's my first time GMing a narrative-focussed game. After each session I find that different assumptions of mine about how things should be done are called into question.

Today it was the phrase which just trips off my tongue from more simulationist games:

"You're not there, you can't say that."

I'm sure it's a familiar scene: One player's PC goes off to do some delicate negotiation or stealth operation best done alone, but once there the player is struggling with what the PC should say or do. Another player starts trying to help, but is cut off by me, or another player saying, "You're not there, you can't say that."

Considering Fate is "Telling Stories Together" (FAE 6), is this just one more simulationist habit I should give up? I mean, character creation (and in Fate Core, world creation) is done cooperatively, so why not PC actions as well? Or does the game break down if players are allowed to interfere with other PCs actions like this?

So my question is:

Assuming the player controlling a PC is OK with it, is it legitimate or even encouraged in Fate for other players to suggest courses of action for that PC, even if their own PCs aren't present? Should I stop saying, "You're not there, you can't say that" in my Fate games?

I am aware that this question has the danger of being subjective, so I would like to ask for 'good subjective' answers, ie ones with solid play experience, not just raw subjective opinion.


2 Answers 2


There's a distinct demarcation in games between the Player and the Character. And in most games when such things come up, it's relegating the player to the same position as the character- and trying to force the player to solve problems is if he is the character.

There is nothing wrong with that approach, in any game. And there's also nothing wrong with the other approach, either.

One thing that I take into consideration when playing Fate, however, that makes me look at things in a different light is that even less than other games, you're not playing in order to win or even to solve the problem. You're playing to create an interesting story.

It's for that reason that anyone can suggest a compel. And the verbiage on that point is very specifically stated on FC71, i.e. "if a player wants to compel another character, it costs a fate point to propose the complication." As the player sees something interesting that is instrumental to what they want to play, the player can compel someone else's character. That, I think, is an important distinction, and shows what the designer's intent was towards the interaction of players and characters.

So, taking that further towards your own situation, that demarcation between player knowledge and character knowledge only exists in terms of the narrative itself, i.e. if the player suggests something that is dependent on knowledge that the player has- and not the character he is suggesting to has, then there's a distinction that needs to be made for the narrative's sake. But other than that, anything's game, and not only can they suggest, but they can actually affect the other character if it's important enough.

  • 7
    \$\begingroup\$ +1 "You're not there you can't say that" isn't necessarily good in simulationist games either. \$\endgroup\$ Apr 6, 2015 at 0:18
  • 3
    \$\begingroup\$ +1 for the very important distinction between the player and the character in the rules as written. A player's character might not be there, but the player is there at the table. \$\endgroup\$
    – Zibbobz
    Apr 6, 2015 at 14:45

Players working together like this is normal and expected. It's all fine as long as the player with the present PC is not bothered by the input from the other players and has the final say.

Fate Core, page 4

Both players and gamemasters also have a secondary job: make everyone around you look awesome. Fate is best as a collaborative endeavor, with everyone sharing ideas and looking for opportunities to make the events as entertaining as possible.


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