Fate Points

The other, and potentially most important,
resource that you have during a game is a
currency called fate points (FP). Fate points
are central to the function of the game system;
they are basically a measure of how much power
you have to influence the story in favor of your
character. When you spend fate points, you take
a little bit of control over the game, either by
giving your character bonuses when you feel he
needs them, or by taking over a small part of the
story. To earn fate points, you allow your character’s
aspects to create complications for him.

Each player begins the first session of the
game with a number of fate points equal to his
character’s refresh level. You’ll refill your
total number of fate points back to that level
each time a refresh occurs. 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!)

You may, at any point, spend a fate point to
gain a bonus, invoke 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 to 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 discussed below.

Invoke an Aspect: Aspects 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 roll 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:

  • Reroll all the dice, using the new result,
    or
  • Add two (+2) to the final die roll (after
    any rerolls have been done).

You may do this multiple times for a single
situation, so 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.

Scenes, other characters, locations, and other
things of dramatic importance can have aspects.
Sometimes they’re obvious, and sometimes
they’re less so. You can spend a fate point to
invoke an aspect which is not on your own character
sheet, if you know what the aspect is.

As a rule of thumb, invoking 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 image or the
dramatic theme that the aspect suggests. For
aspects on opponents, you need to know about
the aspect in the first place, and then play to it.

Use certain Stunts and Powers: Some stunts
and powers have particularly potent effects
and require spending a fate point when used;
this will be made clear in the description.

Make a Declaration: Declarations are usually
handled with a skill roll, but in some
cases you may simply lay down a fate point and
declare something. If the GM accepts the fate
point, it will be true. This gives you the ability
to create things in a story that would usually be
under the GM’s purview. Typically, these things
can’t be used to drastically change the plot or
win a scene.

Declaring “Doctor Keiser 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. Declarations are better suited
to creating 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 lenience
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 for them. However, if
you can point out that you’re Always Armed
or describe how your Distracting Beauty
kept the guard’s attention on inappropriate
areas, the GM is more likely to give you some
leeway.

Refreshing Fate Points
Players usually regain fate points between
sessions when a refresh occurs. The number
of fate points you get at a refresh is called your
refresh level, and it will vary depending on the
game. Your refresh level will be reduced by the
stunts and powers your character possesses.
PCs are not allowed to let their refresh level
drop below one; when a character’s refresh hits
zero or less, he crosses over that crucial, invisible
line that separates a mortal’s free will from a
monster’s compulsion of nature.

If the GM left things with 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 midsession.

When a refresh occurs, bring your current
number of fate points up to your refresh level.
If the number of fate points you have when you
refresh is higher than your refresh level, your
current total does not change.

Earning New Fate Points During Play
You earn fate points when your aspects create
problems for your character. When this occurs,
it’s said that the aspect is compelled. When
your character ends up in a situation where his
compelled aspect suggests a problematic course
of action, the GM should offer you a choice:
spend a fate point to ignore the problem, or
acknowledge the problem and earn a fate point.
Sometimes, the GM may also simply award a
fate point to you without explanation, indicating
that one of your aspects is going to complicate
an upcoming situation. You can refuse that
point and spend one of your own to avoid the
complication, but it’s not a good idea to do that
too often, because you will probably need the
fate point in the future. And let’s face it—that’s
a pretty boring way to play anyway. Drama is a
good thing.

What’s On Your Character Sheet

Fate Points

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