Invoking at a Cost


So +Ryan Macklin recently explored the idea of allowing attacks to succeed at a cost. After talking with the commenters about various vectors on the idea, he ultimately concluded (and I could be paraphrasing this poorly) that the idea is dead in the water because it really messes with the whole authorship/permission dynamic around attacks and defenses. While I still think some implementations of Fate may decide that that alteration of the dynamic is acceptable, I want to accept Ryan's findings as bedrock truth for the purpose of the concept I'm bringing up here.

Happily, the volume of ideas in Fate Core's published materials, as well as the conversation here on the community, is so vast that at this point I have no idea if this has already been thought of. If so, awesome! Link me up. In case it hasn't, here goes.


Success at a cost doesn't always work in Fate Core. More to the point, it doesn't consistently work for all action types. There's a reason it's typically confined to Overcome and maybe to Create, but left off from Attack and Defend as options. There are too many working parts there.

But suppose we want to offer an "at a cost" option that is consistently available for all kinds of actions — no restrictions whatsoever, and importantly, no violation of someone's cool-factor, no undermining of permissions or authorship.

With that goal in mind, I think the solution is Invoking at a Cost. Simply put, instead of using a free invoke on an aspect or using a fate point, you pay some other cost to allow an invocation of an aspect. This may be part and parcel of also calling an aspect into existence to be invoked in the first place, if it's reasonably justified by the fiction.

The results of an invoke, +2 or reroll, are well-supported by the system already, and are allowed to apply to any action, including attacks and defenses. It gives us a measure of progress towards success without guaranteeing it in cases where guarantees are unpalatable from a permission/authorship perspective, and so on.

So that time you really want to land a blow that would miss, but don't have the fate points or free invokes to make it happen? Negotiate a cost to get an invoke (or two) that'll get you closer. This gives you that option to take a consequence on yourself in order to land it on someone else. You'll just have to get there by the known increments that invokes offer instead of something vaguer or more fiat-like that gives you a certain success no matter how much that initial roll stunk.
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