Supported Suspension of Disbelief and Fate

I'll start with a little theory.  "Willing Suspension of Disbelief" has been part of the theory of fiction for two centuries now.  It says (if I may oversimplify dramatically since I'm not anything like an expert in the subject) we can enjoy fiction more when we can accept the untruths as reasonably "earned" thru various efforts.  Sometimes even just token efforts at explanation can be enough.

Fate's mechanics, I think, offer a lot of tools that, if looked at thru this lens, seem to follow this model, offering justification for otherwise unexpected results.  The major forms I can see are these: Fate Points, Free Invocations, and Consequences.  Looking at each from this perspective, I think we might see ways to use them we didn't expect, how each interacts with and can support Suspension of Disbelief, and perhaps even learn a little something.

Fate Points are the most abstract.  They're your "protagonist credit", the benefit of the doubt you get by being one of the main characters of an adventure story.  But they are limited in number, and the more competent you claim to be (i.e., the more stunts you have, representing clear and demonstrable competence), the less wiggle-room we give you.  But the protagonist always gets some, and they can be used any way to need to.  They're the most limited but also most broad power you have.  And taking punishment because of who you are (i.e., compels) earns you more of these... It's a demonstration of your protagonist role, so that fits.

Free Invocations are different from FP.  They are earned in play, most often by a Create Advantage or a Success WIth Style.  Which can be seen as having that original establishing scene serving as direct supportive effort of the later friendly happenstance.  It can also be more than that.  You know how in almost any TV show movie where a new character is a doctor we'll see them just wrapping up an examination or scrubbing out after a surgery or at least checking out after an all-nighter in the ER?  Well, that's an establishing shot for their skill.  In Fate, that could be a quick Create Advantage roll to give them a free invocation of their ER Doctor or Old-School Family Physician aspect.  Those cool little establishing scenes are powerful medicine!  Sometimes, they can be very brief (a close-up on a thumb pulling back a hammer, or a hand gripping a hilt), but that's often all it takes.

And now Consequences.  Consequences, to my mind, explain why you're still moving around after taking as much or more punishment than Joe the Night Watchman went down from.  We see the effect, we know it'll last, and so we let you keep moving even though the expected result would be you being taken out.  Consequences are your narrative armor, keeping you standing despite the opposition, because you've taken the scars of it.

So how does this help make your game better?  Well, I can suggest a few things.  With fate points, feel free to let them seem a bit coincidental, a bit out of the blue good luck.  They can be that, and characters can have a bit of that.  It's part of what makes an action protagonist cool.  With free invocations, I say be free with establishing shots.  When there's some down time (i.e., this character doesn't have a Recovery roll or some explicit planning or prep work to do), let the player suggest a cool aspect-focus scene to describe for a minute or two, then roll a Create Advantage.  They just reminded the "audience" who they are, which justifies who they are being important in a future scene.  And with consequences, I say linger on them a bit and always remember to use the free invocation of them.  They're part of the conceptual "glue" of the narrative, and leaving them as a raw game mechanical thing robs some of the richness from the game.
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