To my understanding, it's possible to Compel your own Aspects.

Anyone at the table is free to suggest when a compel might be appropriate for any character (including their own).

But I don't exactly understand how that works. I know good Aspects have both positive and negative implications, but I can only see the Trouble Aspects to be suitable 'self-Compel' candidates.

Can someone elaborate how Compelling your own Aspects work? I'm looking for answers that explain how self-Compelling works at the table (the back-and-forth conversation surrounding the Compel). I'm also looking for answers that can explain the Fate Point transactions in these situations.

  • \$\begingroup\$ Are you asking what kind of story details can lead to compelling your own character's positive aspects, or what that would look like at the table (what you say to the GM, for instance), or are you asking what happens mechanically (in terms of Fate points) when a self-compel is made? \$\endgroup\$
    – BESW
    Aug 10, 2015 at 10:28
  • \$\begingroup\$ Actually, when I asked for someone to elaborate, I was hoping someone could explain both those things: how the self-compelling works at the table, and subsequently how Fate Points are handled (who gives them when, and who receives them). I will update my answer to include this clarification. \$\endgroup\$ Aug 10, 2015 at 10:48

3 Answers 3


Every time an aspect introduces a meaningful complication into your character's life, you should probably get a Fate point for it; who suggested the complication is largely irrelevant.

Self compels are almost identical to regular compels! You suggest a way your character's life gets more complicated or dramatic because of an aspect in play; the suggestion gets negotiated 'til everyone's happy; then you get a Fate point from the GM's bottomless pool as a reward for making the story more interesting, and as a tool for solving problems later.

The flow of Compelling and Fate Points

Let's walk through the process of a compel and note how it changes depending on the relationship between the compel-suggester (hereinafter compeller) and the complication-recipient (hereinafter compellee). I'll talk about the philosophy of this at the end and include some sourced support.

  1. Someone at the table suggests that an aspect is deliciously positioned to add complication or drama to a character's life.
    There are three major kinds of compels, if we're categorising by who compels whom:

    • It's a "regular" compel if the GM compels a PC, or a player compels an NPC.
    • If the compeller is also the compellee (the person whose PC is most affected suggests the complication), that's a self-compel.
    • When both compeller and compellee are players but aren't the same player (one player suggests a complication mostly affecting another player's character), that's--actually, I can't find a place where that's given its own name, but it's got its own rule variants we'll talk about in step 3. For the purposes of this exercise we'll call it Bob-compel.
  2. The group negotiates until the compel has acceptable teeth but nobody's PC is acting out of character.
    This bit remains basically unchanged by whoever made the suggestion. It exists because Fate thinks it's important to a group to have this sort of collaborative dynamic.

    Sometimes the negotiation results in the group being unable to reach a decision that everyone's okay with, in which case the compel is dropped and play continues. It's especially important to respect this if the compellee feels that it's forcing her PC to act contrary to the character's essential nature. No Fate points exchange hands if a compel is dropped because it's unreasonable or out of character. (FC 74)

  3. The compel is accepted or bought off.
    Assuming everyone's content with the shape of the compel at the end of the second stage, the compellee gets to choose whether to accept the compel or buy it off.

    • Compel accepted
      The compellee is given a Fate point:
    • Compel bought off
      The compellee loses a Fate point.
      It effectively vanishes into the GM's bottomless pool for compels, unless it was a self-compel. In this case the player can simply withdraw the suggestion.

As you can see, the only difference between a self compel and a regular compel is that self compels never cost Fate points to buy off. It was the compellee's idea in the first place, she shouldn't be penalised for making a suggestion and then changing her mind.

Philosophy and sources

The Fate point economy runs on a very simple idea: complications pay out while solutions cost. This is the fuel on which the system's storytelling runs. Players are encouraged to embrace crisis, and when we do we're rewarded with the currency for future triumph.

If you’re in a situation where having or being around a certain aspect means your character’s life is more dramatic or complicated, someone can compel the aspect. (FC74)

Compels are a primary source of complication, and of Fate points. Players are explicitly urged to seek out decision compels when they're running out of points:

Players, if you need fate points, this is a really good way of getting them. If you propose a decision-based compel for your character to the GM, then what you’re basically asking is for something you’re about to do to go wrong somehow. (FC 74)

It's also clear that any decision which produces meaningful obstacles (complications or drama that make my goals harder to achieve) in a way that matches my aspects is a self-compel, because I'm told I can retroactively call for Fate points if we were so caught up in the role-playing that we ignored the mechanics in the heat of the moment:

Sometimes, you’ll notice during the game that you’ve fulfilled the criteria for a compel without a fate point getting awarded. [...] Anyone who realises this in play can mention it, and the fate point can be awarded retroactively, treating it like a compel after the fact. (FC 74)

I think it's important to note that Fate's pretty careful to talk about compels in terms of complications to a particular individual's life. Compels which complicate the entire party together (rather than complication spilling over from the first character's compel) are handled in other questions on this site: How to handle compels that affect the entire party? and Do all players have to agree to accept or deny a group compel?


As you stated, good Aspects have both positive and negative implications.

If you see an opportunity for the negative implications of your aspects to come into play, use those to get your Fate pool going. You suggest the compel, the GM says whether it's valid, and you get the Fate point.

I had players with the following Aspects, and the negative uses describe how they've been used in self-compels:

  • The best defense is a good offense
    Positive Use: The former football star that longs for his glory days, but had to leave the life when an injury that should have kept him sidelined for the game was healed in the second half is always on offense, and doesn't know what defense is.
    Negative Use: There's a case where it would be better to be on the defense and not go into the vampire's lair and regroup. Even though you know what's better from the player's perspective, compel yourself to get the group to go ahead unprepared. After all, the best defense is a good offense.

  • Closet Case Self Loather
    Positive Use: The RCI that hates what she's become uses her loathing of her nature to reign in her instincts and keep the beast in check.
    Negative Use: Because she hates what she is and in all reality has a death wish, throwing herself into obvious danger, walking into obvious traps, taking on things that are out of her league- those are all good compels. when she suggests a compel to do any of those things, she gets the Fate point.

  • Wow! That Escalated Fast!
    Positive Use: The former necromancer's apprentice that has a streak of good luck that just won't stop uses this when improbable things happen in order to help him, as he watches dumbfounded.
    Negative Use: Of course, his luck swings improbably both ways, and in many cases, small situations that wouldn't call for any thought of danger tend to escalate as his luck fails, or his mouth gets out of hand. He's also an Impulsive Jackass, so that doesn't help either.
  • Looking Out for Number One
    Positive Use: The Wizard that wants power at any cost gets a boost in situations that are purely self-interest. Of course...
    Negative Use: The Wizard, by nature, looks out for himself. At a cost of sacrificing anyone to avoid personal danger.

Basically, the aspects should synergize with the play of the character- these should be situations where playing in character would make the character do that in any case, because that is his instinct. Compelling yourself helps to give mechanical teeth to that role-playing, and gives power for later on when you get into trouble because of it, or you reach the big bad that you need a boost to take down. Suggest the compel, the GM adjudicates whether it's valid, and you get the Fate point.

  • \$\begingroup\$ This does not really seem to answer the question. \$\endgroup\$
    – Erik
    Jul 30, 2015 at 15:53
  • \$\begingroup\$ @Erik why not? It's what he asked for, i.e. Can someone elaborate how Compelling your own Aspects work? \$\endgroup\$
    – Chuck Dee
    Jul 30, 2015 at 16:03
  • 2
    \$\begingroup\$ The question seems to be how you go about actually making a compel on your own aspects, while this is mostly examples of good aspects. \$\endgroup\$
    – Erik
    Jul 30, 2015 at 18:23
  • \$\begingroup\$ @Eric - The negative use is compelling your own aspects. I was including the positive use as a contrast. \$\endgroup\$
    – Chuck Dee
    Jul 30, 2015 at 18:45
  • 1
    \$\begingroup\$ I have to agree with @Erik. You have good examples of what good double-edged Aspects would be but I can't learn from your answer how I would go about earning a Fate Point if these were my character's Aspects. \$\endgroup\$ Jul 30, 2015 at 21:22

You don't compel your own aspects. As it says though, you're free to suggest at any time that an aspect of yours could be compelled — by someone else, that is.

If in response to your suggestion the GM or the group nod or say "yeah, great idea" or similar, then someone else — the GM or another player, as usual — will follow up their agreement by doing the compelling.


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