Appendix II – About Character Aspects5 min read

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About character Aspects

An aspect is a phrase that describes something unique or noteworthy about whatever it’s attached to. They’re the primary way you spend and gain fate points, and they influence the story by providing an opportunity for a character to get a bonus, complicating a character’s life, or adding to another character’s roll or passive opposition. Everyone can invoke, compel, or create an advantage on a game aspect at any time; they’re always there and available for anyone’s use. Use adjectives and other campaign descriptors to help bring life to your aspect and the campaign world. Vary your Aspects so you do not have Aspects of the same type which may limit their usefulness. Aspects that cut across the various types with have them come up more and make your character come alive. You can also save them later to allow yourself, your fellow players, or the GM to assign one if it comes up in play.

Double Edged Sword

“The best aspects are double-edged, say more than one thing, and keep the phrasing simple.”

An aspect with a double-edge (positive and negative) is going to come up in play more often than a mostly positive or negative one. You can use them frequently to be awesome, and you’ll be able to accept more compels and gain more fate points. Try this as a litmus test—list two ways you might invoke the aspect, and two ways someone else could invoke it or you could get a compel from it. If the examples come easily to mind, great! If not, add more context to make that aspect work or put that idea to the side and come up with a new aspect:

Use Nerdy McNerdson instead of Computer Genius.

Use More Than One Category in Your Aspect

Earlier, we noted several things that a character aspect might describe: personality traits, backgrounds, relationships, problems, possessions, and so forth. The best aspects overlap across a few of those categories because that means you have more ways to bring them into play.

Use ‘The Legion Demands I Prove Myself’ instead of ‘I Must Prove Myself’.

This also begs the question – who is the Legion and why do you care? What will they do if you do not prove yourself?

Use Clear and Specific Language

Avoid language that is vague or ambiguous. Use language that is clear, evocative, flavorful and, if appropriate, expand your campaign.

Use ‘Scars from the War’ instead of ‘Memories, Wishes, and Regrets’.

This also brings up a lot of questions: What war? What scars? PTSD? Did you win? Who lost?

Create Aspects that Incite Us to Ask Questions

A potential byproduct of using clear and specific language in you aspects is creating aspects that beg us to ask questions which are great story drivers and world-building aspects. They also provide the GM fodder for character driven stories. See the two examples from the previous two sections and the questions that the aspects spawned:

  • Scars from the War : What war? What scars? PTSD? Did you win? Who lost?
  • The Legion Demands I Prove Myself : Who is the Legion and why do you care? What will they do if you do not prove yourself?

Personality based aspects tend to not fall here, but story driving aspects will be defined by this usage.

Aspect Examples

Personal Struggles

  • Sucker for a Pretty Face

  • Manners of a Goat

  • Fear of Heights

  • Tempted by Shiny Things

Relationships to people and organizations:

  • In League with the Twisting Hand

  • The King’s Favor

  • Proud Member of the Company of Lords

  • Self-Important Merchant Guildmaster

Significant Beliefs:

  • Never Leave a Man Behind

  • The Only Good Tavian Is a Dead Tavian

  • An Eye for An Eye

  • Never Suffer Fools Gladly

Unresolved Issues:

  • A Price on My Head

  • The King Must Die

  • Honor-Bound to Avenge My Brother

  • The Legion Demands I Prove Myself.

The character’s background or profession:

  • Educated at the Academy of Blades

  • Born a Spacer

  • Cybernetic Street Thief

  • Silver-Tongued Scoundrel

  • Sharp-Eyed Veteran

An important possession or noticeable feature:

  • My Father’s Bloodstained Sword

  • Dressed to the Nines

Positive Traits

  • If I haven’t been there, I have read about it

  • Strongest Man

Invoking Aspects

The primary way you’re going to use aspects in a game of Fate is to invoke them. If you’re in a situation where an aspect is beneficial to your character somehow, you can invoke it. In order to invoke an aspect, explain why the aspect is relevant, spend a fate point or use the Create Advantage, and you can choose one of these benefits when you use it:

  • Take a +2 on your current skill roll after you’ve rolled the dice.
  • Reroll all your dice.
  • Pass a +2 benefit to another character’s roll, if it’s reasonable that the aspect you’re invoking would be able to help.
  • Add +2 to any source of passive opposition, if it’s reasonable that the aspect you’re invoking could contribute to making things more difficult. You can also use this to create passive opposition at Fair (+2) if there wasn’t going to be any.

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