Mass invoking of aspects

I love Fate and my group is having a great time with it, but I’m still trying to wrap my head around some of the mechanics. (Don’t worry, we never let that spoil the fun!)

So imagine the following situation. The PC’s are seeking to sprint between two buildings while there are bad guys on the rooftops ready to fire at them as they do. One cleverly uses a maneuver to create an aspect of “Smoke fills the streets.” They then sprint across the street under the cover of their smoke screen.
My question is this: They have one free Invoke of this new aspect, which they should use to:
A) Decrease the likelihood one one bad guy hitting them? All the others are unaffected?
B) Increase the “Athletics-based dodge” for one person as they cross the street? Anyone else wanting to benefit, needs to spend a Fate Point?
C) Assume a generous GM will automatically “mass invoke” the aspect against all the gunmen, decreasing each of their odds of hitting a PC. (This is basically what we opted to do in heat of the moment…)
D) This should have been conceived of entirely differently (e.g., not as an Aspect, but rather as a Block)
Thanks in advance for your insights!

I think the bad guys must separately overcome the aspect before they can shoot a PC. Then the PC may use the aspect for defense. And… anyone in that street can have free invokes. If GM allows that.

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Interesting idea… so basically, each bad guys makes an alertness check–then only if they succeed they take the shot?
Also, I’ve never considered giving the whole party free invokes of a situation aspect like that… although, if the situation were reversed, I wouldn’t hesitate to invoke a scene aspect against each of them.

The smoke allows the PCs to attempt to get across the area without automatically being shot. As GM, you have to determine if the smoke aspect provides complete cover (no roll for the PCs to get by) or if the PCs still risk getting shot (they have to make an Overcome roll). This would be an instance where the cost of failure (or succeeding at a cost) for the Overcome roll would be stress.

I think what @ArtificialWhale means is that the free invokes that are already on the aspect may be shared and used by anyone in the group. It still only has the original number of free invokes.

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That makes sense… my original thought was that they could potentially run through using athletics to defend against guns like usual— but with the added smoke they would have dramatically improved chances, but still no guarantee. I like the idea of making an overcome action with the stress track making up the difference. That is nice and simple!

Saying the smoke provides 100% cover unless the bad guys overcome seems kind of generous, but that is definitely one way you can handle it.

Keep in mind the bad guys only get a limited number of attacks, and the good guys don’t have to use their invoke until after they roll. So 1st bad guy rolls to Shoot one of our heroes, hero makes a good Athletics roll, no stress taken, leaves the invoke for the next hero. “Hah! Not even close!” 2nd bad guy rolls Shoot, does 2 stress, the 2nd hero says, no worries, I can check a stress box for that, I’ll leave the free invoke. “He almost got me there.” 3rd bad guy rolls Shoot, does 6 stress, 3rd hero says, whoa! I’m using that free invoke and paying a Fate point to invoke it again, takes 2 stress. “I’ve been hit, but it just grazed me. Good thing we had that smoke.” There are only 3 bad guys, so the rest of the team makes it across fine. That’s how I would handle it, unless the players decide to run across one-by-one… which would not be smart.

The free invoke doesn’t get used unless it’s needed, which makes it a little more valuable.

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That’s a great point too… might as well use your free invoke when it really counts!