Friday, April 11, 2014

Aspects in Play

In my recent Hack(Host) article, Unraveling Fate we started talking about Fate Core and the ways you can use it's mechanics in other games.  One of my friends pointed out to me that the mechanic in question, Aspects, can be a bit challenging to figure out how to use at the table.  Aspects are the central mechanic of Fate and one of my favorites so I wanted to give a couple of examples of them in play.  This is a bonus post and on Monday I will finish what I started in Unraveling Fate.


At their core Aspect descriptors which give what they are attached to story significance.  They can be applied to anything in the game from objects to environments, or even to the story itself.  The most common type of aspect you will interact with in the game though is Character Aspects so that is what we're going to focus on.

Character Aspects can be used to describe just about anything  the player wants to be important to the story.  A well written aspect will be both an advantage or a disadvantage dependent on the situation and will give anyone who reads them a sense of the character.  The number of aspects your character will have will very from game to game, as will the importance of those aspects, but the core mechanic remains the same.

There are two broad ways aspects come into play, Invoking and Compelling.  Invoking is when a player or the GM uses an aspect to modify an action they or someone else is taking.  In Fate this is represented with a +2 to the roll or effect, if your porting it to another game that will change but it always should be a significant bonus.  Compelling is using an aspect to limit a character or NPC's options or abilities.  Invoking costs a Fate Chip for the player doing so and in the case of a compel the player or GM who suggests the compel pays a Fate Chip and the character effected by it receives that Chip.

Let's look at a scene between three characters to see how aspects work in play;

James is player 1's character, a star ship captain with; Encouageable Lady's Man, Always Ready for a Fight and Loyal to a Fault.

Pavel is player 2's character, Kirk's subordinate who as the aspects; Talented but Inexperienced, Charmingly Meek, and Funny Accent.

Kado is an NPC who runs the bar the characters are currently patronizing.  Since he's just an NPC the game master only gave him one aspect No Fan of Trouble.

In this scene James and Pavel want to learn from Kado where some stolen goods that passed through the bar ended up.

GM: You enter the bar and you can see it's not a place that takes well to military types.  Loud and dark this is the sort of place that shady deals can happy right out in the open.

Player 1: James looks around the bar for someone in charge.

GM: Well, all you look around the room you see a number of women dancing and sweet talking patrons.  As an Inveterate Lady's Man you think that getting close to one of them is a pretty good idea.  Pavel needs more experience anyway right?

(The GM offers a Fate Chip to the player.  Here James' player has the option of accepting the Fate Chip, there by letting Pavel be the player who first approaches Kado.  James is far better equipped for interrogating the bar's owner, but to refuse the compel he must give the GM one of his own chips.)

Player 1: Yeah, Pavel should learn to take the lead more often, and that green dancer looks particularly appealing.  James tells Pavel to ask that the bar while he goes to interrogate her.

Player 2: Great.  Pavel goes to the bar and asks to speak with the owner.

GM: A very tall man from Bathar 6 by the looks of him eyes you suspiciously.  He introduces himself as Kado and asks what you want.

Player 2: Pavel says "We are looking for a case of Veridian igniters that were seen here in the past couple of days."

Player 1: Don't you mean Weridian?

GM: Kado chuckles at your accent and says "Don't know what you're talking about."

(Player 2 looks at their sheet and realizes that they aren't well equipped to talk this guy into giving up the info.)

Player 2: Can I invoke Charmingly Meek to give me a +2 on my roll?

GM: Kado isn't really impressed by meek people.

Player 2: He laughed at my accent though, can I invoke Funny Aspect, everyone likes to laugh.

GM: Yeah, that will work, roll your Rapport with a +2.

Player 2: So Pavel keeps pestering him "Look, we know the Weridian came through here.  This is wery important we need the Weridian to restart our wessel. "

(Player 2 rolls, but still fails.  The GM decides that Kado likes Pavel but that telling him would cause more trouble than it's worth)

GM: Kado says, "Look, I don't want no trouble in my place.  You military types bring all manner of problems with you."

Player 2: I want to see if I can discern one of his aspects.

(Player 2 rolls his Empathy skill, succeeding)

GM: Kado is No Fan of Trouble, right now you don't seem like trouble though.

Player 2: Pavel will keep pressing him, indicating back to James to emphasize that they are together.  I want to compel James' Always Ready for a Fight to get him to start an argument with another patron.

(Player 1 offers one of his Fate Chips to James)

Player 1: Not very Captainly of me, but I might need the chips later.  Sure, me and another patron get into over the green skinned woman.

Player 2: Good, can I now compel Kado's aspect, since getting me out of there will get James out too?

GM: Makes perfect sense to me.

(Player 2 hands the game one of his Fate Chips, Kado spills the beans and the story continues).

So ask you can see, Fate Chips allow characters to really make a scene about who the character's are and can give them some influence over the story that other games don't allow.  For a fuller explaination on the use of Aspects I highly recommend looking through Fate Core, it's a great game and is pay what you want on Drive Through RPG.

1 comment:

  1. Thanks for the example. That makes a lot of sense.

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