You use tokens to represent how many fate points you have at any given time during play. Fate points are one of your most important resources in Fate — they’re a measure of how much influence you have to make the story go in your character’s favor.
You can spend fate points to invoke an aspect, to declare a story detail, or to activate certain powerful stunts.
You earn fate points by accepting a compel on one of your aspects.
Whenever you’re making a skill roll, and you’re in a situation where an aspect might be able to help you, you can spend a fate point to invoke it in order to influence the dice result. This allows you to either reroll all of the dice or to add +2 (but the dice total cannot exceed 18). You do this after you’ve rolled the dice — if you aren’t happy with your total.
You also have to explain or justify how the aspect is helpful in order to get the bonus — sometimes it’ll be self-evident, and sometimes it might require some creative narrating.
You can spend more than one fate point on a single roll, gaining another reroll or an additional +2, as long as each point you spend invokes a different aspect.
Sometimes, you want to add a detail that works to your character’s advantage in a scene. For example, you might use this to narrate a convenient coincidence, like retroactively having the right supplies for a certain job (“Of course I brought that along!”), showing up at a dramatically appropriate moment, or suggesting that you and the NPC you just met have mutual clients in common.
To do this, you’ll spend a fate point. You should try to justify your story details by relating them to your aspects. GMs, you have the right to veto any suggestions that seem out of scope or ask the player to revise them, especially if the rest of the group isn’t buying into it.
Sometimes (in fact, probably often), you’ll find yourself in a situation where an aspect complicates your character’s life and creates unexpected drama. When that happens, the GM will suggest a potential complication that might arise. This is called a compel.
Sometimes, a compel means your character automatically fails at some goal, or your character’s choices are restricted, or simply that unintended consequences cloud whatever your character does. You might negotiate back and forth on the details a little, to arrive at what would be most appropriate and dramatic in the moment.
Once you’ve agreed to accept the complication, you get a fate point for your troubles. If you want, you can pay a fate point to prevent the complication from happening, but it is not recommended that you do that very often—you’ll probably need that fate point later, and getting compelled brings drama (and hence, fun) into your game’s story.
Players, you’re going to call for a compel when you want there to be a complication in a decision you’ve just made, if it’s related to one of your aspects. GMs, you’re going to call for a compel when you make the world respond to the characters in a complicated or dramatic way.
Anyone at the table is free to suggest when a compel might be appropriate for any character (including their own). GMs, you have the final word on whether or not a compel is valid. And speak up if you see that a compel happened naturally as a result of play, but no fate points were awarded.