Do NPCs Get Personal FATE Points?

Umbran

Mod Squad
Staff member
The structure of this gives the GM an advantage - gets points for hostile invokes but has no need to pay for compels. How does it work out in play? Does the numerical advantage the players have (ie there are more of them) outweigh the GM's structural advantage?
First, let us just note that this is not a system that is carefully and strictly balanced to save the game from antagonism between players and GM. If the GM is the sort to run that way, the system is not going to play well. These are more like guardrails to keep the otherwise well-meaning GM from accidentally wandering too far afield.

From there, unless they've tricked out their characters to the nines (and thus having only 1 Refresh), the PCs will generally have a numerical advantage, especially considering that they only have to spend their points on themselves, while the GM has to spend them on all the NPCs. If there are 4 PCs, and the starting scene has, say, four nameless and one supporting NPC - we are probably talking about 2 fate points per PC, and less than one fate point per NPC.

If they don't have numerical advantage, that means they have bought other mechanical advantages with their refresh, and it comes out in the wash. And, while the GM is refreshing each scene, the PCs are generating new Fate points, and the GM is strongly advised to find some Compel for any PC who has only one fate point left....

And finally, there is this: When I run the system, I generally play it the following way:

In a scene in which the primary issues are not direct Conflicts with an NPC, the fate points for Compels come from the "infinite pool". But, if the PCs are in a Conflict with one or more NPCs, you may be taking some of the Compels from the NPC pool as well. If your roles were reversed, and that you are doing looks rather like a "hostile invoke" that the players might make against you, then you are apt to find it natural to take it from the NPC pool, rather than the Infinite Pool.
 

pemerton

Legend
First, let us just note that this is not a system that is carefully and strictly balanced to save the game from antagonism between players and GM.
Understood. Again, I would see this as broadly similar to Cortex+ Heroic. But questions of how GM-controlled characters interact with some rules that are clearly conceived of primarily through the player-side lens can arise there too (eg how do NPCs establish resources from their specialties - the rules are a bit ambiguous there).

And finally, there is this: When I run the system, I generally play it the following way:

In a scene in which the primary issues are not direct Conflicts with an NPC, the fate points for Compels come from the "infinite pool". But, if the PCs are in a Conflict with one or more NPCs, you may be taking some of the Compels from the NPC pool as well. If your roles were reversed, and that you are doing looks rather like a "hostile invoke" that the players might make against you, then you are apt to find it natural to take it from the NPC pool, rather than the Infinite Pool.
Have I missed this in my reading of Fate Core? Or is there something closer to a house rule/extrapolation?
 

Tonguez

Adventurer
just going to link Bill Garrett’s excellent “Avengers Accelerated“ blog post which over 5 posts presents the movies ‘Invasion of New York’ sequence as a Fate Accelerated session and does an excellent job of showing how situation aspects, compels and invokes can flow in a game where GM and PCs are collaborating on creating a great story.
Avengers Accelerated: The Invasion Begins (part 1/5)

Its this blog post that really got me invested in playing Fate Accelerated
 

Umbran

Mod Squad
Staff member
Have I missed this in my reading of Fate Core? Or is there something closer to a house rule/extrapolation?
I think it is a small practical variation that sometimes makes a lot of narrative sense.

Lots of Compels are, effectively, the Universe making life complicated for the character, a manifestation of Murphy's Law. Those come from the Infinite Pool. When your lockpicks break, and you have to find another way into the Secret Chamber, that should come from the Infinite Pool.

Some Compels are more like, "The villain has figured you or the situation out, and is using that directly against you," It makes some sense that this kind can come out of the villain's resources. When the villain has realized that the PC is an Absent Minded Professor, and declaims, "Well, Professor Dubrovnik, you have forgotten that the Alien Frozzit Gun has only 5 chambers, not six, and you are out of ammunition!" so that the Professor can't just shoot again, and the villain knows it, I think that's okay to come out of the NPC pool.

This is pretty explicitly a weakening of the NPC - the latter compel can certainly be phrased as coming from Murphy's Law, and the point come from the Infinite Pool. The NPC could keep their point. But, if the PCs are a bit more on the ropes, you aren't really breaking anything.
 

Umbran

Mod Squad
Staff member
Understood. Again, I would see this as broadly similar to Cortex+ Heroic. But questions of how GM-controlled characters interact with some rules that are clearly conceived of primarily through the player-side lens can arise there too (eg how do NPCs establish resources from their specialties - the rules are a bit ambiguous there).
There's an interesting bit here, I think. In my experience, both Fate and Cortex+ games tend to be written in a fairly conversational style, and, as you note, presented primarily through the player-side lens. The materials ar generally not so well laid-out to be reference works.

Which makes a certain amount of sense. These are not intended to be tactical wargames, with lots of fiddly-it rules. The bulk of interactions are not between game elements pre-defined n books, but between elements defined n the course of play. So, the general process of play becomes far more important than the rules details, and explicating that becomes the focus of the rules.
 

DMMike

Game Masticator
It seems to me that this does give a player narrative control in the "director stance" sense. . .As I read the rules, the player wouldn't have to further establish that it is his/her PC who caused the NPC to become stuck in the mud.

Apocalypse World doesn't have these sorts of mechanics. In the "Advanced ****ery" chapter, the following is described as "a pretty interesting custom peripheral move" (p 276)"

When you declare retroactively that you’ve already set something up, roll+sharp. On a 10+, it’s just as you say. On a 7–9, you set it up, yes, but here at the crucial moment the MC can introduce some hitch or delay. On a miss, you set it up, yes, but since then things you don’t know about have seriously changed.​

It goes on to say (p 277) "The subtle effect . . . is to expand the player’s, like, area of involvement: into the past . . . [and] move toward a new game, a game based on, but no longer, Apocalypse World."

The absence of this sort of thing from default AW is why I don't think it's all that accurate to descirbe it as a game involving player narrative control.
So, Fate's rules allow a player to cause a situation in the fiction unrelated to his character, while AW allows the situation to change only because the character set it up in the past? I call that player narrative control because it's the player who's making the decision, regardless of whether that player's character is directly involved in it. However, making changes/effects beyond what your character could do does seem like a greater form of control than the character-limited type. It's the frequency that makes AW seem more narrative to me - Fate requires fate points for taking narrative control, while every move in AW seems to be a narrative move.

Okay, so, here's a thought - if your experience with the system is limited, rather than make a whole stack of what you admit may be poorly founded assertions, and then arguing with folks when they suggest they may not be accurate, you might try instead asking questions. The result is apt to be a more constructive discussion.
Sorry if my tone came off as argumentative. I made assertions instead of asking questions because the former is more direct, and hopefully the OP can make use of the direct idea sooner than an indirect one. Admitting that my assertions may be poorly founded is my invitation to move on to the next reply, instead of taking offense at what I had to say.
 

Umbran

Mod Squad
Staff member
Fate requires fate points for taking narrative control, while every move in AW seems to be a narrative move.
Maybe somewhat incorrect, depending on your view of what constitutes narrative control. The Fate action "Create an Advantage" is far less "Mother, may I?" than attempting the equivalent in something like D&D, and the results are far more predictable and reliable. It sits in the space where narrative control isn't all-or-nothing - it generally gives the player more control than in many games, but does not give them total control at the moment.

Sorry if my tone came off as argumentative. I made assertions instead of asking questions because the former is more direct, and hopefully the OP can make use of the direct idea sooner than an indirect one.
It would seem that way, except the OP is likely to waait until the thing gets hashed out anyway. And, you get the direct idea in a question just fine - "Hey, folks, what about totally eliminating the NPC Fate Pool? It looks unneccesary because of X, Y, and Z. Does that work?"
 

pemerton

Legend
There's an interesting bit here, I think. In my experience, both Fate and Cortex+ games tend to be written in a fairly conversational style, and, as you note, presented primarily through the player-side lens. The materials ar generally not so well laid-out to be reference works.

Which makes a certain amount of sense. These are not intended to be tactical wargames, with lots of fiddly-it rules. The bulk of interactions are not between game elements pre-defined n books, but between elements defined n the course of play. So, the general process of play becomes far more important than the rules details, and explicating that becomes the focus of the rules.
Overall I like the tone and style of the MHRP rulebook, but there are a few points where greater technical clarity would help. So while I can't comment on Fate, for MHRP.Cortex+ Heroic I don't fully agree with your second para - the Doom Pool ecnomy is pretty central to the play of the game, at least as I've experienced it, and this is something where a bit more advice could help.

The two main things that I've had to clarify/regularise for our game are (i) what exactly is the action economy of a transition scene, and (ii) the following one about NPCs (from p OM104): "You can activate stunts and resources for any Watcher character if you want, though they cost doom dice instead of PP. See page OM14 for more on spending doom dice." To me it's not fully clear whether this allows spending a doom die in lieu of a PP to create an enduring resource, or rather - for NPCs - that there is no difference between a resource and a stunt ie a one-off doom die expenditure to buff the NPC's pool. I play it the second way, which establishes a structural/system bias in favour of the players.

Anyway, this is why I do have sympathy for the OP trying to clarify an analogous issue in Fate - though ultimately I think it's probably more about establishing a practice convention as GM that the table is happy with, rather than trying to establish the true meaning of the rules (for the reasons you give).
 

pemerton

Legend
Fate requires fate points for taking narrative control, while every move in AW seems to be a narrative move.
I don't understand what you mean by "narrative control" or "narrative move".

Here are a couple of moves from AW:

DO SOMETHING UNDER FIRE: When you do something under fire, or dig in to endure fire, roll+cool. On a 10+, you do it. On a 7–9, you flinch, hesitate, or stall: the MC can offer you a worse outcome, a hard bargain, or an ugly choice.

SEIZE BY FORCE: When you try to seize something by force, or to secure your hold on something, roll+hard. On a hit, choose options. On a 10+, choose 3. On a 7–9, choose 2:
• you take definite hold of it
• you suffer little harm
• you inflict terrible harm
• you impress, dismay or frighten your enemy​

Those are just the PC doing stuff. The other basic moves are like this too. So are most playbook moves - they either add a new specialised thing your PC can do, or allow you to use a different stat for a basic move, or give you a new gear or gang or whatever.

Here's a move that might count as "narrative control" - the Battlebabe's Visions of death:

when you go into battle, roll+weird. On a 10+, name one person who’ll die and one who’ll live. On a 7–9, name one person who’ll die OR one person who’ll live. Don’t name a player’s character; name NPCs only. The MC will make your vision come true, if it’s even remotely possible. On a miss, you foresee your own death, and accordingly take -1 throughout the battle.​

That sort of move is in the minority, though.

It doesn't count as player narrative control, surely, simply that the player is able to impact the fiction and the GM is bound by this? If that's your deifnition, then every RPG I play (including Classic Traveller, c 1977) is riddled with player narrative control.
 

aramis erak

Adventurer
OK, that contradicts my reasoning above!

The structure of this gives the GM an advantage - gets points for hostile invokes but has no need to pay for compels. How does it work out in play? Does the numerical advantage the players have (ie there are more of them) outweigh the GM's structural advantage?
If the GM proposes a compel on on any character, it's paid from the infinite pool. If a player proposes a compel on their own PC, they gain a fate point from the infinite pool. If a player is compelled by another player, it's paid for by the proposing player. (Fate Core, p. 71)

It's possible to pull some interesting dynamics when the GM and Players take the fate-appropriate equal footing.

Such as the GM saying, "Hmm, that 'terror of ghosts' is a problem since you called forth Bob... Compel to flee?"
Players all nod. "Ok, the svartalfar turns tail and boogies..." as the GM takes a fate point for the npc pool, and to be used by the devildogs he'd been leading.

It's also worth noting that several flavors of Fate don't leave the GM as final arbiter, but consensus of the table. In those versions, GM NPC compels usually explicitly need table consensus. Likewise, a GM proposed Compel/"Invoke for Effect" on a PC can be overridden by the table. That should really not happen, but it can... and when it does, it usually indicates either a difference of understanding or a serious case of hostile GM... in the former, take time, sort it out. In the latter? Time for intervention and or departure.
 

Umbran

Mod Squad
Staff member
Players all nod. "Ok, the svartalfar turns tail and boogies..." as the GM takes a fate point for the npc pool, and to be used by the devildogs he'd been leading.
And, this is a place where, we have to be careful, if we are going to be exact.

Technically, if Compelled, you get the Fate Point in the same scene.

If someone does a Hostile Invoke, the point for that comes in the next scene.

Points for Conceding also come in the next scene, but that makes sense, because if you Conceded, you're out for the current scene.

(Fate Core SRD: Earning Fate Points)
 

aramis erak

Adventurer
And, this is a place where, we have to be careful, if we are going to be exact.
[…]
If someone does a Hostile Invoke, the point for that comes in the next scene.

(Fate Core SRD: Earning Fate Points)
not exactly. They cannot spend it until next scene, but they get it now.
Fate Core said:
If the aspect you invoke is on someone else’s character sheet, including
situation aspects attached to them, you give them the fate point you spent.
They don’t actually get to use it until after the end of the scene, though.
this is important if one pays attention to the sequencing.

They get it now... for NPCs, that's the NPC pool... but cannot spend it until next scene... but the NPC pool resets before the next scene.

And, this is a place where, we have to be careful, if we are going to be exact.

Technically, if Compelled, you get the Fate Point in the same scene.
A concession does not remove you from the scene unless (1) that's the desired goal of the conflict or (2) it's agreed to by the group (FC p167); a compel (even self-administered) can do that.

Note that the benefit of flight by compel for the last functional or only NPC in scene is you leave as is... but if they let you go, you lose that fate point at end of scene, so it's actually worse than a concession in that aspect (pardon the intentional pun), but also retains control.

On the other hand, the compel to flee can result in a chase... leaving one conflict for a different one, or splitting the conflict into two scenes or a single scene of jump cuts between two or more zones and/or two separate conflicts. Which can be, if done well, really nifty.

And if you compel away an NPC while others are present, the scene continues with the others having access to that fate point... essentially, they get 1 for being left behind... and if the fleeing one is already compromised by consequences or other compels such that they're no longer effective in scene, it;'s still a net benefit.
 

pemerton

Legend
Such as the GM saying, "Hmm, that 'terror of ghosts' is a problem since you called forth Bob... Compel to flee?"
Players all nod. "Ok, the svartalfar turns tail and boogies..." as the GM takes a fate point for the npc pool, and to be used by the devildogs he'd been leading.
They get it now... for NPCs, that's the NPC pool... but cannot spend it until next scene... but the NPC pool resets before the next scene.

<snip>

And if you compel away an NPC while others are present, the scene continues with the others having access to that fate point... essentially, they get 1 for being left behind... and if the fleeing one is already compromised by consequences or other compels such that they're no longer effective in scene, it;'s still a net benefit.
For a non-Fate player, can I ask for a clarification: if the point can't be spent until the next scene, how is helping the bolded NPCs? What am I missing?
 

Umbran

Mod Squad
Staff member
not exactly. They cannot spend it until next scene, but they get it now.
The wording is, "...you gain their fate point at the end of the scene."

This matters when you are using physical tokens (which is recommended, as the GM needs to be able to respond to how many fate points PCs have, and if they aren't visible, that gets awkward. If you hand out a token early, folks have to keep them separate and not mix them together, and that's not a great practical idea at the normal level of chaos at gaming tables.

They get it now... for NPCs, that's the NPC pool... but cannot spend it until next scene... but the NPC pool resets before the next scene.

"You reset to your default total, one per [PC], at the beginning of every scene.

There are two exceptions:

  • You accepted a compel that effectively ended the last scene or starts the next one. If that happens, take an extra fate point in the next scene.
  • You conceded a conflict to the [PC]s in the previous scene. If that happens, take the fate points you’d normally get for the concession into the next scene and add them to the default total."
And:

"Lenny has stated that he always intended for hostile invokes on NPCs to grant fate points to the GM for the next scene " (as quoted earlier).

So, if the NPC pool earns points, those points are added to the pool in the next scene. None of them can be used in the scene in which they were earned. In effect, in a scene, the GM pool can only use what it starts with.

A concession does not remove you from the scene unless (1) that's the desired goal of the conflict or (2) it's agreed to by the group (FC p167); a compel (even self-administered) can do that.
Strictly speaking, perhaps. As a practical matter, the opponent can (and should) insist that the Consession removes you from any business related to the Conflict, which probably also means you are removed from the real business of the scene. If there's a Conflict where the BBEG is trying to keep the PCs from pulling a lever, you can't Concede the conflict... and then go pull the lever.

Note that the benefit of flight by compel for the last functional or only NPC in scene is you leave as is... but if they let you go, you lose that fate point at end of scene, so it's actually worse than a concession in that aspect (pardon the intentional pun), but also retains control.
The intent of a Compel is to add drama and complication to a scene, not to tactically remove opposition from a scene entirely. "... and so you run away," is not a complication for you, it is a defeat for you.

I am not sure why players who are about to win would want to give such a Compel anyway - they get more out of a Concession or Taking Out the opposition. And if the PCs aren't about to win, then this is really not a valid Compel at all. You don't circumvent the important parts of a conflict with one Fate Point.
 

aramis erak

Adventurer
For a non-Fate player, can I ask for a clarification: if the point can't be spent until the next scene, how is helping the bolded NPCs? What am I missing?
Concession ≠ Compel ≠ Hostile Invoke
A≠B, A≠C, B≠C

Concession: point is explicitly carried forward in the GM's pool to next scene. Removes character conceding from conflict.
Compel: point is immediately available to the PC; NPC's go into the NPC pool immediately. If suggested by a player, the point comes from the player; if from the GM, it's from the stockpile. Can do any of a number of things, including remove someone from scene.
Hostile Invoke: using someone's aspect as if it were yours: you pay them now, but it's not available until end of scene, at least in the Fate Core rulebook PDF. You get the reroll or the +2 or the enabled task now.

Sequencing:
Start of scene: GM gets reset to 1 fate point per player in scene, plus 1 for conceding a conflict last scene.
Scene
End of Scene: A concession or defeat is dealt with by the other side. Any hostile invoke points go into the various character's pools; the GM technically gets them now, too, but since they go away at the start of the next scene, they are irrelevant.

There seem to be differences between SRD wording, and published PDF wording.
 

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