All about Aspects: Troubles

angry-man-29453_960_720This is the first post of this series dealing with the Trouble aspect in the Fate RPG. The Fate System Reference Document website defines Trouble as:

In addition to a high concept, every character has some sort of trouble aspect that’s a part of his life and story. If your high concept is what or who your character is, your trouble is the answer to a simple question: what complicates your character’s existence?

Most aspects in Fate generally work best if they are a double-edged sword, they have a positive side that you use to justify invokes and a negative side that is used to add complications to a PCs life in the form of compels, although an enterprising player can find ways to invoke their Trouble this aspect should largely be focussed on bringing complications and mischief into the character’s life. Continue reading

All about Aspects: Guest Post – The Power of Fate Points Compel You

We have a guest blog post from Lloyd Gyan today, I’ve been in a couple of Fate games with Lloyd and have very much enjoyed his character portrayals, in this article he discusses the power of compels and how to get the most out of them.


 

The Power of Fate Points COMPEL you!hammer-308489_960_720

Written by Lloyd Gyan

Aspects are, and always will be, the driving force of any Fate game. Concepts, ideas, locations, acts, all boil down to people and places acting upon their aspects. Now, most of the time, to act on aspects in any shape or form, you need to have Fate points. Sweet sweet Fate points. Sure you start with a decent number of them, usually three, but when you’re knee deep in black oil and the Count of Steampunk Monte Cristo is standing above you with a match and a grin, you’re going to want to hedge your bets a little.

So, with that in mind, you’re always going to want more chances to earn fate points, more opportunities to suck at the beginning of the game, so you’re basically awesome later on in the game (unless you’re playing Spirit of the Century, where you start with 10 fate points, and should really just go full steam all the time because screw it you’re awesome). This is what compels are for – a way of turning your character’s aspects against them for the juicy payoff of a Fate point. But compels can be difficult to get; in a game of three or more players, the GM is looking at 15 Aspects and trying to give everyone a chance to do something, so you’ve got to make his life easier for him.

THE STATES OF FATE

A good aspect for Compelling must be applicable to all three States of Fate – social, mental, and physical. For example, say you have ‘Body of Pure Iron’ as an aspect – looks pretty good, but it’s clearly a physical aspect. You’d compel it to make characters just stand there and take hits like video game tank, or you compel it to say they’re slow and cannot get around as fast. Now, let’s change that aspect with a simple addition: ‘Mind and Body of Pure Iron’. Right there, you’ve got someone who is head-strong, unrelenting, an actual Wall. And just like that, you’ve got two States of fate that can be compelled to bring you down.

I’m not saying that all aspects must have two or more compel possibilities (if I had my way, most aspects would have at least six), but it’s always good to think of the States of Fate that it would apply to. When building your aspects, try to find at least Two States of Fate to fall under. Playing a supernatural Game and want to be a badass demon? Give him something like ‘Insatiable Harvester of Souls’ and he’s already fallen under two States he can be compelled in – Mental because he can’t stop himself, and Social because, seriously, who wants to be friends with someone who literally harvests souls?

Your aspects are yours to play with, it will help you if you put them into a form that the GM can understand and work with. By simply thinking of the States of Fate, you can improve your aspect creation just as easily

THEME OVERLAP

Another good way to grab the DM’s attention when writing your aspect is by taking advantage of the rules. You know how you have your hardcore fighter guy in Fate, who has aspects like ‘Badass kicks are my game’ followed by ‘never met a man who’s face I couldn’t kick’. Well there’s an overlapping theme there. Most of his aspects relate to pure hardcore, butt kicking, and can be applied with each other. So what’s stopping you from having the same idea with your compel possibilities? Take the fairly common problem of being Headstrong and stubborn. If you want this to be the main driving force of your character, have all your aspects refer to it in some way: “Giving up is the same as quitting!”, Unswayed by the masses, I am the leader until I say otherwise. By giving your aspects a similar theme when it comes to compels, the GM knows what works for you. It may seem like you’re limiting your compel options to simply ‘GRR ARRR I HATE INDECISION I HIT THE THING’ but with a theme to your compels, the GM can already pre-empt your actions and thoughts. In Fate, the quicker a GM can get a handle on your character, the better. I will be talking further about themes in another post.

TROUBLE

When it comes to your Compels, your Trouble aspect should always be priority number one,  after all it’s literally called the trouble aspect. It should call your GM to it like a moth to a flame. The first thing most GMs do when trying to think up a good compel for a scene is to quickly look at your Trouble to see what ideas they can get out of it, so give him some. Make sure your Trouble covers ALL THREE states of Fate, it’s an easy, catchy phrase. Saying ‘Constantly craving war” is a good aspect, but is it as good as “Always hungry… FOR BLOOD?”

THE SELF COMPEL

Now here comes the tricky part, when you have all these in place – a good theme, well worded aspects, an idea of the States of Fate, you’ll realise just how absolutely easy it is to make a Self-Compel. The Self-Compel is one of the hardest things to pull off without making it look like you are just fishing for Fate points. A good self-compel should be seen coming a mile away; you have the aspect of ‘Can never turn down a meal’ and the DM describes the smell of fantastic food across a dangerous body of water ahead of you, maybe the smell was an afterthought he brought in, but he’s said it, and it’s calling to you. You know it’s going to be a compel, he knows it’s going to be a Compel, why waste time? Simply give an evil giggle, and say ‘I begin wade across the water, that food smells so good and I can never turn down a meal’.

The GM might not always know that he’s presented a good case for a self-compel, so bring it up at the right moment, and do the action. No need to dilly-dally and ask if it is one or not, simply just take the action, and if he feels it’s appropriate he will toss you a Fate point and you will be A-OK.

A good piece of advice though, don’t try to go for the Self-Compel in every scene, even you will tire of it. Try to look at maybe one or two each session unless the game is practically begging you to fall headfirst into danger. The Self-Compel is more powerful and has more impact on the story the less you you use it, just keep that in mind, and you should have a good grasp at how to make your Fate games better.

Coming Next for All about Aspects: Magic Powers as Aspects


Gavel picture is taken from Pixabay vector images labelled for re-use.

All About Aspects: Monstrous Nature as an aspect

Monstrous Nature as an Aspect

There are a number of famous tabletop RPGs where playing a monster struggling with their humanity is a central focus, as a variant of character race (discussed previously), this could (in part) be handled using the high concept aspect.

We’ve explained the basic formatting for our high concept aspects in one of our previous post, in this post I provide a single descriptions table (that can be used instead of the ones in previous articles) to add an alignment descriptor.

Continue reading

All About Aspects: D&D Alignments as an Aspect

D&D Alignments as Aspects

Someone on Google+ I think (I’m sorry I can’t remember who or find the original post) suggested in response to one of my previous All About Aspects articles that the concept of D&D alignments could be used for aspects.

Whether you love or hate them alignments have been part of the world’s most popular RPG since the year dot.

We’ve explained the basic formatting for our high concept aspects in one of our previous post, in this post I provide a single descriptions table (that can be used instead of the ones in previous articles) to add an alignment descriptor.

Continue reading

All about Aspects: D&D Races for High Concepts

Okay, now we’ve explained the basic formatting that we’re going to use to create High Concepts in this previous post and also discussed briefly using D&D concepts. In this post we look a little more closely at the idea of using the core D&D character races from the PHB as part of a High Concept. Continue reading

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. Continue reading

All About Aspects: What is all about aspects?

The Fate Roleplaying Game SRD (a truly excellent and very useful website) defines a high concept as:

[A] phrase that sums up what your character is about—who he is and what he does. It’s an aspect, one of the first and most important ones for your character.

Think of this aspect like your job, your role in life, or your calling—it’s what you’re good at, but it’s also a duty you have to deal with, and it’s constantly filled with problems of its own.

This is a great, so you need a short sentence to sum up who your character is and what he is about, however the choice of options can be slightly bewildering, you could choose anything; each of the following would work as a high concept: Continue reading

All About Aspects: Redux

I wrote back in June 2015 about planning to create a Fate PWYW PDF called All About Aspects, you can find the original post by clicking here; however due to doing more freelance work and things being a bit crazy in RL (plus actually trying to find time to plan and run games) I’ve not actually found the time to sit down and smash out a load of words at the keyboard. I’ve noticed a few companies who have been releasing snippets of material on written blogs, getting people to playtest it/offer their opinions and then compiled refined and editted versions into the final publication.

This is the new route I’m thinking of taking with All About Aspects, since I very much want to get this publication created, in part due to the amount of people who have expressed issues with what, to my view, seemed like a very intuitive mechanic; I’d hate to see that prove an obstacle to some great roleplayers getting into Fate when a little assistance and additional explanation might help out in that regard. Continue reading

Character advancement in Jadepunk

My players and I have recently been discussing the speed of advancement in our Jadepunk campaign; we’d reached that level where the players were routinely thrashing all but the most ridiculously potent of opponents and passing most tests without need of recourse to Fate Points.

Continue reading

Matters of Fate: Viewer Request – Aspects, narrative permission/justification

James Branch asked whether I could do a video on aspects granting narrative permission or justification for certain actions, here’s my take on it.