All About Aspects: Fantasy Hero High Concepts

As we’ve already discussed the sheer amount of choice can be bewildering when it comes to creating aspects, in order to make it a bit easier we’re going to give the high concept a bit more structure in these articles, in-fact I’m going to borrow a concept that I saw first in Numenera.

Numenera defines character concepts as:

I am an X Y who Zs.

With X normally representing a description, Y representing a character class or role and Z representing some sort of additional twist or characteristic. For example you might get the following:

  • I am a strong Nano who wields the power of lightning.
  • I am a cunning Glaive who controls gravity.

This framework also works brilliantly for creating high concepts in the Fate RPG.


 

High Concept Framework

For our All About Aspects articles dealing with high concepts I’m going to be using the following framework:

I’m a [description] [job] who [twist].

Description

This will generally be an emotion or description of how their job is performed, the following would all be acceptable:

  • Honest
  • Hard-working
  • Angry
  • Violent

Job

This is generally a job or vocation, or the role that a person is going to occupy in the game, it doesn’t have to be a strict job as we would understand it nowadays, the following would all be acceptable:

  • Tribal warrior
  • Archaeologist
  • Pilot
  • Secret agent

Twist

The twist provides either an additional description of the person’s role or some additional extra characteristic or piece of signature equipment they use. The following would all be examples:

  • Pilots the airship Windrider
  • Owes money to the mob
  • Has dedicated his life to discovering the lost temple of Zam-hotep
  • Sees ghosts

Random numbers are provided in case you wish to just roll and see what you get or are going for that “old school” feel, however, feel free to ignore the results you roll and simply choose options.


 

Fantasy Hero High Concepts

Okay, now we’ve explained the basic formatting that we’re going to provide a series of ideas for creating the description, job and twist sections of the high concept.

 

Descriptions

No.Description When to invoke When to compel
1Fearful If your character would have taken pre-emptive measures against an opponent due to his fear, when resisting mental compulsions involving an item/entity that you have reason to fear or when your back is against the wall and your fear might lend you strength. If confronted with an object/entity of fear compel to run, flee or breakdown. Compel to have your character make a bad decision due to their fear or (perhaps justifiable) paranoia.
2Angry When your anger might fuel your characters strength (in a physical confrontation for instance) or when your anger might help you stave off the affects of injury or unconsciousness. When an NPC or a situation baits you into making a rash of incorrect decision due to your anger.
3Sad When you attempt to play on someone elses sympathies or weave a tale of woe. If you are confronted by someone with particularly tragic circumstances who needs your help then compel the aspect to inconvenience yourself for their sake, or perhaps ignoring something that would benefit you because you are too wrapped up in your sorrow.
4Learned Invoke this aspect when your character is attempting to recall or research facts about a particular subject. Compel this when your character's cloistered upbringing and lack of practical/real-world knowledge could get them into trouble.
5Trusting Invoke when you are trying to persuade someone to divulge information in a social challenge or when you are seeking to borrow something or ask for a favour from someone. As with joyful people, this could be compelled to have someone of low moral character take advantage of your trusting nature.
6Friendly Invoke this when you are seeking to form bonds or interact with someone socially, or when you are trying to persuade someone to open up and reveal information. This could be compelled to have someone take advantage of you, or when your character gets themselves into a bad situation by refusing to accept reality or their looking on the bright side goes too far.
7Envious Invoke when attempting to socially one-up the person that you are envious of, or when you attempt to acquire an item that you covet. Compel when your character buts themself at risk by attempting to claim something that they have been coveting or when they attempt to one-up a person that they envy.
8Mighty Invoke during physical and strength related contests. Mighty heroes tend to be clumsy or a little dim-witted, if this is the case then you could compel your character to fail at tests of manual dexterity or perhaps to have them blunder into a hairy situation.
9Stealthy When sneaking, hiding from notice or when performing other nefarious deeds. Compel when your character's larcenous urges might get out of control or when he attempts to commit a crime that places the character at great risk.
10Holy Invoke whenever in conflict with the undead, devils and demons, when researching holy lore or when mental strength could be taken from a character's holy nature. Compel to have a character forced into a situation by the demands of their holy orders or vows, also certain enemies of the gods are drawn to attempt to kill or corrupt these characters, having such a creature/person turn up would be an appropriate compel.
11Chivalrous Invoke whenever attempting to help those in distress or less fortunate than yourself. Compel when you find yourself distracted or driven to help others to the detriment of your current mission.
12Honourable Whenever helping others or upholding your code of honour this aspect can be invoked. Compel whenever your code of honour forces you into making a stand in a situation that will complicate the lives of the characters.
13Passionate This could be invoked when relating to someone emotionally, producing works of art or when your passion might lend you strength to overcome an obstacle. Compel to have your character faced with a situation that ignites his passions and draws him into a complicated situation.
14Distant Invoke to resist mental compulsions or attempts at social manipulation. Compel when your character's lack of empathy and connections with the community cause them trouble, whether this be seeking resources, finding out information or trying to locate/make contacts.
15Destined Invoke whenever the character is performing a task related directly to their destiny. Compel to have the character forced down a particular path or place in a disadvantageous situation due to their destiny, if their destiny gives them any weaknesses this could also form the basis of a compel.
16Violent Invoke this aspect when involved in physical confrontations or when attempting to intimidate people. Compel to have your character disadvantage himself in the long run by letting his temper get the better or him or by rushing into to a situation without adequate preparations.
17Merciless Intimidate others who have heard of your reputation. You may run into trouble with the law or people who seek to make a name for themselves by taking you down, compel to have these people turn up and hassle you. A compel may also be justified to have a potentially beneficial NPC or situation denied to you because of your stone-cold reputation.
18Magical Invoke when resisting magical attacks, mental compulsions or when your magical nature might otherwise assist in a roll. This aspect can be compelled when someone uses the same type of magic against them or when they are drawn to other items or people of magic, potentially placing them in complicated situations.
19Tainted This can be invoked whenever the character interacts with other people similarly tainted or when attempting to discover knowledge/lore about the source of the taint (someone demonically tainted for instance could do this if researching demons); depending on the nature of the taint it may also be invoked in physical/mental challenges (some with ogre-blood could justifiable invoke the aspect on strength checks). Compel whenever their taint causes social problems for the character or when their taint might impede them in some way (for example, our ogre-blooded hero might compel himself to wander into a bad situation due to his ogre-tainted stupidity).
20Suspicious Invoke when your character is investigating someone or something that they are suspicious of, or when attempting to spot something that they might have perceived due to their slight paranoia. Compel when a character might get themselves into trouble or alienate someone with their constant questions and suspicion.

Job

No.Description When to invoke When to compel
1Tribal warrior Invoke when interacting socially with your tribe or when engaged in combat. Compel when your lack of understanding of societies outside your own gets you into trouble or when you are baited into taking offense and reacting violently in a social circumstance.
2Knight Invoke when challenging someone in combat or when engaging in acts of chilvary. Compel to have your sense of honour and noblisse obligé force you into a complicated situation.
3Thief Invoke when conducting larcenous activities. Compel to have yourself recognised and pursued by agents of the law, to have yourself targeted by other underworld figures who covet your skills or to have yourself snubbed in polite circles due to your reputation.
4Assassin Invoke when attempting to take someone out from surprise or when knowledge of the killing blow would be an asset. Compel when your sinister reputation has you thrown out of somewhere or ostracised, aspect could also be compelled to have you presented with a contact that you are obligated to fulfil at an inopportune moment.
5Mage Invoke when using magic, countering other people's magic or when researching the arcane. Compel when your characters cloistered nature might prove disadvantageous, when your hunger for knowledge leads you into danger or when your lack of physical prowess allows you to be captured or beaten in combat without recourse to a roll.
6Priest Invoke when researching the deities or religious lore, when leading religious people in prayer or service, and when combating the forces of the unholy. Compel to have a rival religion target you, a group of fanatics attempt to take you out or when your religious leanings force you in a situation that you might otherwise have wished to avoid.
7Bard Invoke when playing music or interacting with other socially, or when attempting to find work/busking. Compel to have your character pestered by fans at an inopportune moment or even pursued by a crazed stalker.
8Noble When dealing socially with other nobles, browbeating commoners with your status or when fighting someone one-on-one in a polite duel. Compel when outnumbered by your social inferiors or to have a rival noble attempt to upstage you, may also be compelled when your knowledge of practical skills causes complications.
9Peasant When dealing with a local people of a similar station or when relying on knowledge of your home town/village. Compel when your character is snubbed by those higher in station, when he is persecuted by legal authorities or is forced into service by his superiors.
10Pirate Invoke when attacking enemy ships, gambling, drinking, knowing about naval superstitions or otherwise engaging in piratical activities. Compel whenever the naval authorities attempt to apprehend you, when you are forced to abandon a port due to your reputation or when a rival pirate attempts to make a name for themselves by bumping you off.
11Alchemist Invoke when making alchemical concoctions or having knowledge of herb lord, chemicals, etc. Compel to have one of your concoctions explode at an inconvenient moment or to have your character tinker with chemicals and substances to disastrous effect.
12Ranger This aspect can be invoked whenever recalling facts about animals and the wilderness or when you are trying to survival, set traps or track out in the wilderness. Compel when you are in the city and your lack of knowledge/rustic ways causes you to cause offense or otherwise get yourself into a bad situation.

Twist

No.Description When to invoke When to compel
1Labours under a curse Invoke when the character rails against his fate. Compel to have strange happenstance cause the character misfortune.
2Received a blessing from the gods Invoke when the blessing received might aid the character or when engaged in activities related to the god who bestowed the blessing. Compel to have a rival god interfere with the character or the god who bestowed the blessing demand service of the character.
3Has a strange bloodline When dealing socially with people who share the same bloodline or when characteristics of the bloodline might aid in the situation. Compel to have someone who takes exception at the character's bloodline challenge them or to have them shunned in polite circles.
4Manifested strange magical abilities When resisting magic or when the situation might be helped by the ability. Compel to have the character looked at with suspicion or perhaps even attacked by superstitious people.
5Will one day rule the kingdom Invoke when directly taking an action that leads closer to the character's goal. Compel to have the character attacked by a rival for the throne or perhaps someone who currently holds power and has heard the legends.
6Is stalked by a strange creature Invoke when making knowledge rolls connected with the same type of creature. Compel to have the creature appear (or perhaps just it's minions) and attack/interfere with the character at inopportune moments.
7Has made a powerful enemy Invoke when making knowledge rolls connected with the enemies associates, history or modus operandi. Compel to have the enemy appear (or perhaps just his minions) and attack/interfere with the character at inopportune moments.
8Has friends everywhere When attempting to make contacts or locate someone with useful information. Compel to have a friend turn up and ask for a favour that the character can't really turn down.
9Spends his days reading books When recalling facts or making lore checks. Compel in combat or when physical activity of a strenuous nature is required to have the PCs lack of physical prowess cause them to fail.
10Is one with nature Invoke when dealing with animals, rangers, druids or anyone connected with the wilds, or when surviving/tracking through the wilderness. Compel when the character is in an urban environment and their lack of social graces causes offence or complication.
11Has a strange fey quality Invoke when interacting with the fey or when sociallising with those who value physical beauty. Compel to have superstitious people ostracise/discriminate against the character or to have them attract other mischievious fey creatures that cause them problems.
12Carries an ancient weapon Invoke when making rolls to recall facts about the event surrounding the weapon or when using it in combat.
13Has mastered powerful magics This aspect can be invoked whenever the character is using their magic and a roll is required. Compel to have some aspect of the weapon's history or some ancient foe connected with it, return to menace the character.
14Has lost their love Whenever pursuing the people or thing responsible for the loss of his love or when the memory of love might fortify him mentally or physically against manipulation or attack. Compel to have their character reminded of their lost love by a situation and have them forced to react to it.
15Has spent many years exploring dungeons Invoke when making lore rolls to discern the history of a dungeon, to locate traps or navigate inside such an environment. Compel when the character is in polite society and his lack of social graces causes complications, at extreme levels perhaps your character feels uncomfortable above ground or in open spaces.
16Gambled away a fortune Invoke when gambling or involved in games of chance. Compel to have the character accept a bet against their better judgement or lose a lot of money in a short time.
17Is blessed by lady luck Invoke when a fortuitous circumstance might aid your character. Compel to have an incident of back luck occur to balance out all of the good.
18Has a loyal animal companion Invoke when the abilities of the animal companion might aid the character, or in combat if the animal can assist. Compel to have the animals natural instincts cause problems or to have it rush off and, when the character pursues, complications occur.
19Is heavily armoured Invoke when making defence rolls against harmful damage in combat. Could be compelled when the weight and lack of dexterity of the person in armour causes a problem, also if a character in armour is trying to be stealthy the aspect could be compelled to have the enemy hear them clanking about.
20Is a member of a guild Invoke when contacting other guild members for aid or engaging in guild sanctioned activities. Compel to have a guild rival attempt to strike out at your character, or perhaps the treasurer turns up at an inopportune moment demanding the character carry out services on the guilds behalf or pay their dues.

Example:

I’m going to roll 3 times on the table and see what I get, so using the online dice roller I’ve rolled: 8, 10 and 18

Looking at the tables this gives me the following:

I’m a stealthy pirate who has a loyal animal companion.

I can invoke my aspect:

  • When sneaking, hiding from notice or when performing other nefarious deeds.
  • When attacking enemy ships, gambling, drinking, knowing about naval superstitions or otherwise engaging in piratical activities.
  • When the abilities of the animal companion might aid the character, or in combat if the animal can assist.

And I can compel it:

  • When your character’s larcenous urges might get out of control or when he attempts to commit a crime that places the character at great risk.
  • Whenever the naval authorities attempt to apprehend you, when you are forced to abandon a port due to your reputation or when a rival pirate attempts to make a name for themselves by bumping you off.
  • To have the animals natural instincts cause problems or to have it rush off and, when the character pursues, complications occur.

So we’ve only got a basic outline there but already you see a character starting to form and I have much more idea of how my high concept can be used for invokes and compels.

Coming Next for All about Aspects: Using D&D experience for High Concepts

Circuit board tree image designed by Mastermindsro, you can see the full design here; used under the Creative Commons Attribution 2.0 Generic license.

4 thoughts on “All About Aspects: Fantasy Hero High Concepts

    1. Glad you’re finding it useful Jim – it’s my hope that people who struggle with aspects or who just want some ideas will be able to use the articles to help them in their Fate games, I’ll be posting future articles dealing with this and other facets of aspects in Fate 🙂

  1. I really like this. I am a Sad Mage, Who manifested strange magic powers. Perhaps the uncontrollable power of my new powers resulted in the death of someone I love.

    1. I’m glad you’re finding it useful, the whole point of these ‘All About Aspects’ articles is to give people an easy framework to make aspects and also to spark ideas 🙂

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