1.8 Fate Points
Every player begins the first session of the game with a number of fate points (FP) equal to how many aspects he has, usually ten. Fate points give players the ability to take a little bit of control over the game, either by giving their character bonuses when they feel they need them, or by taking over a small part of the story. Fate points are best represented by some non-edible token, such as glass beads or poker chips. (Previous experiments with small edible candies have left players strapped for points!)
Characters may, at any point, spend a fate point to gain a bonus, invoke an aspect, tag an aspect, make a declaration, or fuel a stunt.
Gain a Bonus A fate point can be spent to add 1 to any roll of the dice, or improve any effort (such as an attack or defense) by 1. In practice, this is the least potent way to use a fate point – you’re usually much better off using one of the other applications, below. (Most games get rid of this rule once their players get comfortable using aspects; you can, too .) Invoke an Aspect
Aspects (see above, page XX) are those things that really describe a character and his place in the story. When you have an aspect that’s applicable to a situation, it can be invoked to grant a bonus. After you have rolled the dice, you may pick one of your aspects and describe how it applies to this situation. If the GM agrees that it’s appropriate, you may spend a fate point and do one of the following:
1. Reroll all the dice, using the new result, or 2. Add two to the final die roll (after any rerolls have been done).
You may do this multiple times for a single situation as long as you have multiple aspects that are applicable. You cannot use the same aspect more than once on the same skill use, though you may use the same aspect on several different rolls throughout a scene, at the cost of one fate point per use.
Tag an Aspect
Scenes, other characters, locations, and other things of dramatic importance can have aspects. Sometimes they’re obvious, and sometimes they’re less so. Players can spend a fate point to invoke an aspect which is not on their own character sheet, if they know what the aspect is. This is referred to as tagging an aspect, and is covered in greater detail in the Aspects chapter, on page XX.
As a rule of thumb, tagging someone or something else’s aspects requires a little more justification than invoking one of your own aspects. For scene aspects, it should be some way to really bring in the visual or theme that the aspect suggests. For aspects on opponents, the player needs to know about the aspect in the first place, and then play to it.
Power a Stunt Some stunts have particularly potent effects, and require spending a fate point when used. If a stunt requires a fate point to be spent, it will be made clear in the description. See the section on stunts (page XX) for more. Make a Declaration
You may simply lay down a fate point and declare something. If the GM accepts it, it will be true. This gives the player the ability to do small things in a story that would usually be something only the GM could do.
Usually, these things can’t be used to drastically change the plot or win a scene. Declaring “Doctor Herborn drops dead of a heart attack” is not only likely to be rejected by the GM, it wouldn’t even be that much fun to begin with. What this can be very useful for is convenient coincidences. Does your character need a lighter (but doesn’t smoke)? Spend a fate point and you’ve got one! Is there an interesting scene happening over there that your character might miss? Spend a fate point to declare you arrive at a dramatically appropriate moment!
Your GM has veto power over this use, but it has one dirty little secret. If you use it to do something to make the game cooler for everyone, the GM will usually grant far more leeway than she will for something boring or, worse, selfish.
As a general rule, you’ll get a lot more leniency from the GM if you make a declaration that is in keeping with one or more of your aspects. For example, the GM will usually balk at letting a character spend a fate point to have a weapon after he’s been searched. However, if you can point to your “Always Armed” aspect, or describe how your “Distracting Beauty” aspect kept the guard’s attention on inappropriate areas, the GM is likely to give you more leeway. In a way, this is much like invoking an aspect, but without a die roll.
1.8.1 Refreshing Fate Points
Players usually regain fate points between sessions when a refresh occurs. If the GM left things at a cliffhanger, she is entitled to say that no refresh has occurred between sessions. By the same token, if the GM feels that a substantial (i.e., dramatically appropriate) amount of downtime and rest occurs in play, the GM may allow a refresh to occur mid-session.
The amount of fate points a player gets at a refresh is called his refresh rate and it is usually equal to the number of aspects the player has. When a refresh occurs, players bring their number of fate points up to their refresh rate. If they have more, their total does not change.
<example> 1.8.2 Earning New Fate Points
Players earn fate points when their aspects create problems for them. When this occurs, it’s said that the aspect compels the character. When the player ends up in a situation where his compelled aspect suggests a problematic course of action, the GM should offer the player a choice: He can spend a fate point to ignore the aspect, or he can act in accordance with the aspect and earn a fate point. Sometimes, the GM may also simply award a fate point to a player without explanation, indicating that an aspect is going to complicate an upcoming situation. Players can refuse that point and spend one of their own to avoid the complication, but it’s not a good idea, as that probably means the GM will use things that aren’t tied to you.
This isn’t just the GM’s show; players can trigger compels as well either by explicitly indicating that an aspect may be complicating things, or by playing to their aspects from the get-go and reminding the GM after the fact that they already behaved as if compelled. The GM isn’t always obligated to agree that a compel is appropriate, but it’s important that players participate here. See the Aspects chapter on page XX for a more detailed treatment of compels.