Compels Explained

I was thinking about something mechanical earlier this week and wanted to make sure that everyone was aware of it. There was a really great scene last time with Scorn (who I PROMISE I will use with restraint) approaching the party for help to retrieve a lost child out of the Fae realms. Despite REALLY wanting to dispatch him to the netherworlds he managed to finangle his way into being tolerated by the party by Compelling aspects on your character sheets (How he KNOWS about these aspects is a completely different matter!). I devised him to be the penultimate “slippery fish” character and Fate works really nicely for those sorts of encounters. What I wanted to do, though, was to let you all know that you all can do the exact same thing both to NPC’s and to other players. The trick is that you need to know other people’s aspects. Usually, aspects in the environment are pretty obvious. Aspects on people can be discovered in a few ways.

The first is guessing. It is your attempt to invoke an aspect against another person because they are acting a certain way and you are fairly sure that they have an aspect concerning that facet. If it is a good guess and it is near the mark (this is COMPLETELY by GM Fiat and I will strive to be as fair as possible) then the aspect will be revealed to you and you may invoke it once for free and use it to both invoke (get a +2 on a roll) OR compel. Compelling is a VERY powerful tool, as evidenced by how Scorn used it to pull you all in on this rescue mission. The important thing about a Compel is usually it is bringing about an action based on a character aspect that brings about an action to that characters DETRIMENT.

Compelling occurs as follows:
1) Event-Based Compel: You have “X” aspect and are in “Y” situation so it makes sense that, unfortunately, “Z” would happen to you.
2) Decision-Based Compel: You have “X” aspect in “Y” situation, so it make sense that you’d decide to “Z”. This goes wrong when “C” happens.

Example of an Event-Based Compel (borrowed from Fate Core):

Cynere has Infamous Girl with Sword while covertly attending a gladiatorial contest, so it makes sense that, unfortunately, an admirer would recognize her in the stands and make a huge fuss, turning all eyes in the arena her way.

Example of a Decision-Based Compel (also borrowed from Fate Core):

Landon has The Manners of a Goat while trying to impress a dignitary at a royal ball, so it makes sense that he’d decide to share some boorish, raunchy humor and/or commentary. This goes wrong when he discovers she’s the princess of this country, and his offense is tantamount to a crime.

NPCs can do this to you, as evidenced by Scorn. You can do these sorts of declarations also to NPCs and to other players. It works the same. If they accept a compel they gain a Fate Point. If they decline the Compel then they give you one. In the case of NPCs, I will give you a Fate point from that NPCs pool and decrease the number he has on hand by 1 the next time you have a conflict with them. The same goes for when they receive a Fate points from you for accepting the compel. This is not a license to spit out compels in an effort to deplete NPC Fate points. They have to be cool compels and move the story forward.

The point I am trying to make is that knowing Aspects gives you a LOT of leverage over people. Much more so than objects and places.

Compels Explained

The Harbinger and the Fountain mosswood17