In my first game, I noticed that a large number of scenes featured only the player-characters taking on various terrain or knowledge-based challenges (such as "break into this building" and "investigate this crime scene") which had no other (notable) characters present.

However, as far as I know the GM has a Fate-point per character available for each scene.

Am I expected to use these to generate opposition (and keep the Fate flowing) even in situations that feature no clear opposition from anything other than environment and circumstance? Or is it perfectly okay to end (many) scenes with the pool still mostly full?

Should I limit it to only when I can somehow justify it coming from passive opposition (you are trying to break into the home, but Shiaman knew you were coming and thinks More security is more better, so the locks have been upgraded) or should I just use it whenever? And in the above situation, how do I determine the difference between just setting the base difficulty higher (which was my choice during the game) or starting lower and then invoking for a higher value during the check?

  • \$\begingroup\$ Fate is a big system with a lot of variants - which Fate are you talking about? Fate Core? FAE? Strands of Fate? Diaspora? \$\endgroup\$
    – gomad
    May 11, 2015 at 11:22
  • \$\begingroup\$ We were playing Fate Core. \$\endgroup\$
    – Erik
    May 11, 2015 at 11:33

1 Answer 1


Yes, GMs can spend Fate points without an NPC active in the scene.

Fate points represent a game participant's agency to influence the scene, NOT the agency of the character that participant is playing. I feel free to spend Fate points to make things harder at dramatically appropriate times, because that's one of my jobs as the GM.

This is what the Bronze Rule is all about: since you can treat the environment as a character, or a character as part of the environment, there's no line drawn between what you can and can't spend Fate points for. We invoke aspects, not beings. So long as there's an aspect in play, you can invoke it as appropriate for the story. Doesn't matter who or what the aspect is on: a PC, an NPC, an object, a place, a faction, whatever.

(Similarly, players are free to spend their Fate points on dramatic events which their characters can't directly influence. I sometimes encourage this to keep players engaged in scenes where their characters aren't present.)

It's also totally fine to not spend Fate points.

In most modern Fate systems the GM's pool re-sets each scene, so you're encouraged to use 'em up before you lose 'em. But if the scene is dramatic enough without spending Fate points, there's no need to spend Fate points just for the sake of spending them.


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