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The purpose of the fate point mechanic is to empower the player to steer the narrative in their direction. You always want to be a fan of the PCs when players use a fate point because they're telling you what they wish could happen in the fiction if the rules weren't an obstacle.

The use of a fate point isn't quite the same as GM fiat, because a fate point doesn't determine outcomes, but the goals are the same. Fate points are usually deployed in critical moments, when the random cruelty of the dice threatens to resolve the narrative in an unsatisfying way.

Using Fate Points

To recap, fate points let players do the following three things:

  1. Stabilize a PC on death's door without rolling for it.
  2. Explode a die.
  3. Create narrative advantage.

The most interesting and complicated use of a fate point is narrative advantage, which is the focus of this section.

In all cases, you should treat any use of a fate point with cinematic aplomb. Because fate points are the scarcest mechanic in the game, every use is an occasion for narrative indulgence: ask the player what inspires the PC to persevere when they would have failed if not for exploding the die; have the PC explain what miraculous event has occurred that allows a PC to escape death's door; and so on.

Fate Point Etiquette

  • You do confirm a critical or explode a die on an exploded die. Exploding a die is an explicit mechanism for raising the stakes in the game, and so there's always risk that tempting fate will give the players more than they bargained for.
  • When exploding a die, the player expending the fate point rolls the die (it's only fair).
  • As noted above, fate points can be expended after rolling the dice, but must be declared before the GM renders a resolution, unlike story tags (which have to be declared before rolling the dice).

Sharing Fate Points

A fate point can be "shared" with other players in the sense that if a player can rationalize a way that their PC can help alter the scene on behalf of another PC, then that player can create narrative advantage to benefit the PC in need, or explode their die on their behalf. In the case of exploding the die, the player who is sharing the fate point gets to roll the die.

In the same vein, a player need not have the initiative in order to intervene with a fate point, but the GM should factor in the fact that the player is bypassing initiative when considering the effect of their action, as bypassing initiative can be considered narrative advantage unto itself.

Narrative Advantage

The core rules define narrative advantage as "[changing] the fiction so that it works to your advantage." The rules are vague about what that entails for good reason: creating narrative advantage requires players to be creative. What they come up with will surprise you. Sometimes they will overreach; sometimes they'll be too modest in what they're asking for. It's your job to negotiate what's fair and what goes too far with the fiat granted to them by the fate point. Below are some guidelines and examples to help you.

Guidelines for Adjudication

Fate Points Never Determine Outcomes

If a dragon can't be harmed by mundane weapons, it's not a valid use of a fate point to declare: "I use a fate point to stab the dragon in the heart with my mundane weapon" because that is an outcome. An attack roll always has a chance of failure. So what a fate point could do here is enable the player's mundane weapon to affect the dragon: "I summon the courage of my ancestors so my blade is charged with their spirits, enabling it to penetrate the dragon's hardened scales." The player still has to roll, though the GM might grant them advantage as he's encouraged to be a fan of the PC in this situation.

Fate Points Affect a Single Action

...though the effects of that action might be permanent. In the above example, if the player uses a fate point to have an attack from a mundane weapon bypass the dragon's immunity, the fate point may only empower that attack for the duration of the encounter, but whatever happens as a result of the attack roll succeeding is permanent.

Fate Points Have Immediate Effect

Fate points are meant to affect the present moment of the fiction, not something in its past or future. Even a flashback designed to explain how a PC has the key to get out of the jail is about the present moment: escaping the jail. In the same vein, a player could alter known lore such that their PC is able to do something that's impossible because they already had such knowledge in their childhood, and are just now remembering it.

Fate Points Shouldn't Contradict The Fiction

While it's reasonable to reveal something that hasn't yet been introduced to the scene, it's not reasonable for the fate point to alter the scene so dramatically that it's not the same scene anymore. If you're in a tavern full of mob bosses in Eastern Europe, a fate point won't let you change the scene to a beachside motel in California.

Fate Points Don't Bypass the Core Rules

For the most part, the use of a fate point shouldn't obviate the need to roll. Fate points generally make it possible to roll when rolling would otherwise be impossible. It's up to you whether you want to waive the roll if the ask is minor or the narrative effect outweighs the chance of meaningful failure, but keep in mind that the more you do this, the more you risk inadvertent favoritism when other players expend a fate point and you require them to roll.

Types of Narrative Advantage

While the sky's the limit as far as generating ideas go with narrative advantage, typically their use boils down to a handful of broad categories.

Alter the Scene

The most common use of narrative advantage: add something to the scene. Crowd of guards in the ballroom? A chandelier hangs over them that you can swing across or drop onto them to escape.

Alter the Lore

Add to (or re-interpret) what's known about the world to take advantage in the moment. You're surrounded by bandits, but you declare that one of them is your cousin.

Create a Flashback

Establish that something was done in the past to set up for this moment. Did the badguys spot you during the heist? You flashback to when you set up a diversion that conveniently gets you out of the spotlight.

ENhance Your Equipment

Create supply out of nothing or enhance equipment to do things it ordinarily can't do.

Recover Miraculously

Tap into some hitherto unknown reserve of willpower or divine grace to recover HP or MP (or some other limited in game resource)—typically 1d6, in the form of a consumable—or shed a major peril like a poison or disease.

Enhance a Spell or Ability

Creatively extend the area of effect, targets, range, or other impact of a spell or ability so that it can do something outside its capabilities.

Make the Impossible, Possible

Sometimes the rules don't allow for some action to be possible given the context; in this way, a fate point can break the rules. Examples include acting out of initiative order, targeting someone with a spell that you can't see, or attempting an impossible called shot.

Examples of Narrative Advantage

Create a FlashbackWhen the party is trapped in an inescapable room by the BBEG, clever Nim Quacryn Nercabora flashes back to an earlier scene when he coordinated in secret with the rebel teamsters to cut the power to the building at this exact moment, enabling the party to break free.
Create a FlashbackThe party shows up just as the Queen is about to be hanged, but the Queen's daughter flashes back to the year she spent undercover among the prison guard, day by day weakening the gallows frame so that when her mother drops, the scaffold breaks!
Enhance Your EquipmentOutnumbered by denim-clad Clockwerk cowboys, Cheyenne reaches into her satchel to produce a jam tin grenade with her last consumable supply.
Enhance Your EquipmentIn a desperate attempt to keep the Crashlanders from taking control of the God Train, the Ashcat activates the self-destruct button on her armored suit while standing beside the engine core.
Make the Impossible, PossibleWhen there's too many bombs for the party to diffuse in the single round they have left, each party member spends a fate point to coordinate their efforts in the seconds they have left.
Make the Impossible, PossibleWith the airship full of suicidal terrorists barreling toward the city center, Rainier takes an impossible shot with his rifle to blow up the lodestone buried deep within the bow.
Recover MiraculouslyWhen the princess is on death's door from a fatal attack, psychic Barbara Keladon transfers HP from their beefier Tarth fighter to bring the princess back into the action.
Recover MiraculouslyDown on her luck and out of grit, Martha Cannary downs some liquid courage to muster the strength to go on. She recovers 1d6 MP, which re-charges her steam-powered armor.
Alter the LoreNyn's sister and nemesis Elektra wields a powerful artifact that has turned the tides of battle against the party, but Nyn remembers the arcane runes on its surface when they were growing up together... Elektra must have stolen the shield from the High People treasury, which Nyn knows all too well!
Alter the LoreAfter a failed negotiation with the cruel king, the party is facing execution... except the bard knows a song that will thaw the king's heart; that of his dearly departed wife, which was played at their wedding ceremony.
Alter the SceneThe Changeling assassins, unable to shapeshift thanks to an earlier encounter with itching powder, find themselves about to be spotted by paladins during their infiltration of the Queen's headquarters. But Zed finds a dumbwaiter in the hallway and they make a dive for it!
Alter the SceneThe BBEG executes several NPCs before getting to the PC whom he has captured: he points a pistol to their head and pulls the trigger, but the weapon is out of bullets, which gives the PC a chance to grab the weapon and break free.
Enhance a Spell or AbilityAfter Captain Veena is kidnapped by ghouls outside the town of Glenluce, psychic Barbara Keladon reaches deep down using the spell Mind Reading to determine if her mind is still nearby.
Enhance a Spell or AbilityWhen the destructive power of the Great Divinity is about to be unleashed and kill everyone in the room, the Channeler Dmitri uses his kit ability to direct its energies through himself, risking total annihilation!

The Relative Power of Fate Points

When it comes to the relative power of fate points as compared to other mechanics in the game, they outweigh everything except a critical failure. A fate point can't be used to intervene when a player rolls critical failure, because critical failure is an invitation by the dice for the GM to rule narrative disadvantage against the player. Think of it like a GM's fate point, where the GM is encouraged to be an adversary of the player.

Fate Points Vs. Critical Failure

Critical Failure
Fate Point
Critical failure Always trumps Fate Points.

Narrative Advantage Hierarchy

Player Advantage
GM Advantage
Other Core Mechanics
Player Advantage trumps GM Advantage which trumps all other core mechanics.

BBEG Fate Points

Some powerful NPCs, such as BBEGs, can have fate points of their own. A BBEG should never have more than 3 (unless they're a Daredevil), and all the normal rules of fate points apply to BBEGs when they use them. BBEGs generally do not recover fate points, but if they're the sort of BBEG that makes repeat appearances in the campaign, they recover fate points when the PCs recover them.

Competing Narrative Advantage

If you ever find yourself in a situation where the narrative advantage created by a player or a BBEG conflicts with that of the narrative advantage declared by another player, then resolve the conflicting action with the core mechanics. This may mean creating an additional roll to "break the tie" or making the two parties make an opposed check to see whose reality wins out.

Awarding Fate Points

Players can recover fate points in a couple ways:

  • By invoking both their flaw story tags against themselves in a single session;
  • By invoking their ethos tag after making a personal sacrifice.

The only other way for players to recover fate points is if you award them more. There are a number of approaches you can take to deciding when to award fate points, but ultimately all approaches boil down to a matter of GM fiat. Because it's easy to unconsciously favor one player's play style over another, it's recommended that whatever approach you take, you're consistent.


Everyone gets all their fate points back when the party completes an adventure or some other known milestone is reached. This approach prioritizes staying focused on the task at hand and incentivizes players to explore the environment and push toward a conclusion.

Story hook-based

A player earns a fate point when she complete one of her story hooks. Instead of the whole party recovering all their fate points at once, players gain fate points here and there as they engage with the fiction. This will result in each individual player having an uneven amount of control over the narrative, but incentivize the table to pursue leads in the adventure that help resolve their conflicts.


Like the milestone approach, everyone gets all their fate points back when they go up a level. How the players are incentivized will depend on what drives their gaining levels.


Similar to the story hook approach, you award players fate points when they do things in the fiction in line with their character concept. For example, consider a "kindly traveling cleric" as a character concept: she might earn a fate point when she puts herself in danger to protect those in need; or a "fierce honorable barbarian" might earn a fate point when he accepts a combat challenge because it is honorable to do so, even though he can't win. Beware accidental favoritism with this approach!

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