In Fate Core System and Fate Accelerated Edition (FAE) your refresh rate is a vague measure of your character’s power. The higher your base refresh rate the more you can do: either with more fate points available or by having a multitude of stunts. But what if you could have your stunts and your fate points, too?
When taking stunts, instead of reducing your available fate points, give the GM more. That way, you can be as boss as you want to be, and the GM will be able to invoke more aspects—and hopefully more of your character’s aspects, meaning more fate points for you after the scene! This gives you more fate points to spend, thus giving your character more spotlight time, thus making you more awesome!
The GM’s Stash
This variation adds a new mechanic: the GM’s stash. It’s a stash of fate points that is in addition to the per-scene fate points they get, but it’s a finite supply. Anytime an NPC does something that would normally go into the GMs scene allotment of fate points, it goes into their stash instead: compelling an NPCs aspect, conceding a conflict, having their aspect invoked against them, etc.
In addition, the GM starts each session with a number of fate points in their stash for each stunt benefit a PC has in excess of their refresh.
Stunt Benefits & Refresh
Instead of limiting player character’s stunts by the amount of refresh they can loose, refresh becomes a soft-cap on stunts. A PC has one stunt slot per point of refresh, free of charge. A beginning character with a refresh of 3 gets three stunt slots to use as they see fit. Any amount over that, however, and the GM gets more fate points in their stash.
Each stunt benefit listed on pages 89-92 in Fate Core, or pages 31-32 of FAE usually takes up one stunt slot. This means that you can have 3 stunts without giving the GM any. However, you may combine thematic stunts into one stunt slot, thus giving your character multiple stunt benefits over and above the default 3.
For Example, a ruffian in a heroic fantasy game could have the Backstab stunt which allows them to not only attack with Stealth when their enemy is unaware of their presence, but also gives a +2 bonus the attack. That’s two stunt benefits in one stunt slot.
Another example: Mechanical Genius: Because I have a way with machines, I get a +2 when I Cleverly overcome obstacles that prevent me from getting a machine to work. Also, once per session I can get any machine to just work, without having to fuss with it more than a few seconds.
Sometimes it might be necessary to limit the number of benefits for each slot. A good rule of thumb is 2 + 1/2 your refresh, rounding down. So a starting character has 3 stunt slots, and each can have up to 3 benefits for a total of 9 stunt benefits! That’s pretty cool for a “beginner” character, but it also gives the GM 6 fate points in their stash right out of the gate.
Page 202 of Fate Core, Judging the Use of Skills and Stunts, allows for players to spend a fate point to temporarily borrow a stunt for a limited time. This represents their lower refresh from having an extra stunt. Since you don’t loose refresh, instead you give a fate point to the GM if you want to borrow a stunt—or several stunts!—for a scene. the GM gains one fate point for their stash per stunt benefit you borrow.
This could represent tapping into your potential, hot-wiring and stealing a car, requisitioning specific gear for a mission, or any other way of acquiring a stunt for a limited time.
At all milestones you have the option to swap out one stunt for another or take a new stunt, and that holds true here as well. Instead of swapping out stunt slots, however, you swap out (or gain) stunt benefits. Remember that each slot is a thematic grouping of benefits, so you can’t add a combat-related benefit to a stunt slot devoted to sweet-talking.
At major milestones you gain an additional point of refresh to do with what you choose. Instead of immediately spending it for that stunt you’ve been waiting for, you already have it. So instead of spending the refresh on a stunt, you instead increase your free stunt slots by one, which just might reduce the GMs stash next session.