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I have looked in several different Fate games' rulebooks, including Fate Core, DFRPG, Atomic Robo, FAE, and Jadepunk, which all describe Boosts as temporary Aspects you get to invoke for free, one time, and which disappear after being invoked.

In the other "invoke for free" situation I'm aware of (on Aspects newly-created via the Create Advantage action), they aren't singled out as "temporary."

I looked in many books but I'm interested in Fate Core.

So I haven't been able to figure out whether Boosts need to be invoked immediately or they disappear, without having been invoked at all?

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As you've seen across the various iterations of Fate, boosts don't have a set duration but they're "super-transient"1 because they represent fleeting advantages and disadvantages. The rule of thumb is that a boost should be kept around until there's a good opportunity to use it--and not much longer.

Boosts... go away on their own fairly quickly—usually after the next action when you could use them... (from A Clarification about Boosts)

Boosts aren't aspects and don't even really need names; we won't spend a lot of effort tracking them over time. While wiping away a full aspect usually takes an Overcome or Create Advantage action, boosts melt much more easily.

So use boosts as soon as you can because after you've turned away a chance to use a boost, you've forfeited its narrative protection: as the scene moves forward, the boost gets left behind.

In my experience, this usually means a boost lasts through the player's next turn but rarely through a full second round after that. I've also known groups who don't write boosts down; instead, their boosts last until forgotten in the excitement of the scene. I think of boosts as free invokes without aspects to ground them.


1 While Fate Core describes boosts as a "kind of aspect," that's an observation of resemblance rather than a mechanical equivalence. Boosts have aspect-like impact on the narrative flow, and get named in an aspect-like style, but they don't interact with the other mechanics in aspect-like ways--eg, they don't touch the fate point economy through invokes or compels.

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  • \$\begingroup\$ I appreciate the answer, found it useful, and am accepting it. Not to quibble, but you didn't quote Fate Core, which says under "Types Of Aspects" on page 58 that "Boosts are a super-transient kind of aspect". The SRD says the exact same thing, above the Ryan Macklin sidebar. Oh well - a little inconsistency, not really a big deal. Doesn't change the game. \$\endgroup\$ – Beanluc Jun 12 '16 at 5:52
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    \$\begingroup\$ @Beanluc The Ryan Macklin sidebar is just overall an excellent summary of boosts. I don't think quoting they're a super-transient kind of aspect is important; we already know that bit, presumably you as well! Your question's how transient they are. \$\endgroup\$ – doppelgreener Jun 12 '16 at 6:05
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    \$\begingroup\$ I try not to read the book to folks who've obviously done the research already--especially since citing that line introduces an extra complication that I had to add a footnote to clarify. \$\endgroup\$ – BESW Jun 12 '16 at 6:17
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For what it's worth, I found the following in Fate Core on page 149, describing how to run Challenges:

If you have any boosts that went unused in the challenge, feel free to keep them around for the rest of this scene or whatever scene you're transitioning to, if the events of the challenge connect directly to the next scene.

Clearly a boost which isn't used immediately is available not only for further turns within the challenge, but even further into the scene after the challenge ends, as long as it plausibly suits the narrative.

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