All about Aspects: Vampires and a common frame of reference

Little-vampire.svgI recently put up an All About Aspects post concerning representing monstrous nature as an aspect where I suggested that monsters could (in part) be represented using aspects, invokes and compels. Markus suggested in the comments section that there are lots of different types of monsters and that, to make it work, the GM and players would need a common frame of reference.

This is a very good point, and it doesn’t just apply for monsters, 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 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

Matters of Fate: Compelling 101

Fantastic Dimensions asked whether I could discuss Fate compels in more detail, happy to oblige 🙂

Could the EoE dice be used in Fate?

DiceFanAs a massive fate-head one of the signs that I love a new system is if I immediately think ‘how could I convert it or some of the mechanics to run in Fate?’

So I played Edge of Empire for the first time earlier today (you can see the video of the hangout here), great game hosted by Runeslinger and I really enjoyed it; the game uses dice with special symbols on them to build up a narrative around a dice roll rather than a simple success/failure dichotomy. I love this as an idea and think it could be adapted to be used with Fate.

This is by no means a tested system, just a few ideas I’m jotting down whilst they’re in my head, I might revisit it later when I have more time to playtest.

Okay so you’ll need some knowledge of the EoE dice mechanic to understand this but here goes…

Dice: Instead of rolling 4DF you choose a number of green ability dice equal to your skill/approach; for each stunt you have that is applicable to the situation you upgrade one of your dice pool to a yellow proficiency dice.

You then add a number of purple difficulty dice equal to the difficulty of the task (as per the EoE book) if unopposed, or equal to the opponents skill/approach if they are directly opposing you.

For each stunt the opposing NPC (if applicable) has that applies to the situation one of the purple dice is upgraded to a red challenge dice.

If you have an aspect that is applicable you can spend a Fate Point to add a blue boost dice to your roll, these are also added for other beneficial conditions; for every negative condition or aspect/fate point combo the GM uses you add a black setback dice.

You then roll the dice pool and determine results as per the EoE rulebook; I haven’t considered what the various extra symbols (triumph, despair) could be spent on yet.

Fate points: Characters get Fate points as normal, although if you wanted to represent an ebb-and-flow in the way destiny points work in EoE, you could combine the player Fate Points into a single pool; when they spend a FP from the pool it goes straight into the GMs fate point pool, and when the GM spends a FP the spent points go into the players pool.

Compels: These would work as per the Fate rulebooks, however you could also accept additional setback dice in your pool in return for fate points.

 

 

Jade-xalted: Constructing a Concept

One of the complaints/issues that I have often heard laid at the door of the Fate system is that, because there is such a lot of leeway when it comes to designing aspects, that it can often be bewildering for players, especially if they are unfamiliar with the setting or RPG-ing in general; in the forthcoming Cthulhu supplement for Fate (which I have been privilieged to do some of the writing for) it offers a little more guidance for creating aspects and even (should the players/GM wish to use them) a series of random tables for creating aspects. I plan to adopt something similar for the Jade-xalted conversion, the constructed aspects will be quite general to allow for the players to customise them, but should hopefully create a good jumping off point for anyone who is a little bewildered by all the choice available in the Fate system.

Obviously you do not have to use this system but it should help anyone who is struggling.

Concept Aspect

Under this system a concept aspect uses the following format:

“I am a/an [adjective] [type] who is skilled at [verb]”

List of sample adjectives:

  • Angry
  • Calm
  • Clever
  • Clumsy
  • Elegant
  • Famous
  • Fancy
  • Fierce
  • Glamorous
  • Handsome
  • Helpful
  • Honourable
  • Innocent
  • Lazy
  • Mysterious
  • Old-fashioned
  • Peaceful
  • Powerful
  • Scarey
  • Scarred
  • Sly
  • Thoughtful
  • Thoughtless
  • Ugly
  • Violent

List of sample types:

  • Mortal
  • Solar Exalted
  • Lunar Exalted
  • Sidereal Exalted
  • Air aspected Terrestial Exalted
  • Earth aspected Terrestial Exalted
  • Fire aspected Terrestial Exalted
  • Water aspected Terrestial Exalted
  • Wood aspected Terrestial Exalted
  • Abyssal Exalted

List of sample verbs:

  • Athletics
  • Blackmail
  • Craft work
  • Gambling
  • Fighting
  • Larceny
  • Leading others
  • Oratory
  • Research
  • Running
  • Sociallising
  • Sorcery
  • Stealth
  • Storytelling

So, for example, using this system and sample list I could quickly create a ‘violent Solar Exalted who is skilled at leading others’, a ‘sly Lunar Exalted who is skilled at larceny’ or an ‘honourable Fire-aspected Terrestrial Exalted who is skilled at sociallising.’

The aspect could be invoked or compelled whenever the adjective was applicable or when the character’s specialist skill or talent comes into play.

For example: Our violent Solar could invoke his aspect when involved in violent action but may be compelled when he struggles to resist being provoked into such action unwisely, the player of the exalt could also invoke when attempting to lead others in some sort of action but may also find others naturally looking to him for leadership or seeking his advice on important matters (when the aspect is invoked).

Invoking the concept based on the type of Exaltation

Players can also invoke their concept aspect based on what type of exaltation they have received, this is not as immediately obvious as the preceding invokes and so I provide guidelines below for appropriate invokes/compels, anyone familiar with the Exalted setting should feel free to use their own judgement though.

  • Solar Exalted: The Solars were created to lead the gods forces against those of the primordials, a solar concept may be invoked when vastly outnumbered in a combat or in an attempt to rally/lead others against a foe; however the Solars eventually found themselves becoming detached from the humanity that their powers raised them above eventually culminating in the first age solars becoming brutal and violent, a solar concept may be compelled when a lack of empathy could cause issue or when a lack of restraint may cause a problem.
  • Lunar Exalted: Originally the Lunars were bound to their Solar counterparts, but fleeing the wyld hunt they now find themselves uncomfortable in civilisation. A lunar concept may be compelled when a lunar is confronting a Solar Exalted or when their lack of familiarity with civilised society may cause problems; it may be invoked when the characters knowledge of the wild would aid them or when attempting to resist the blandishments of the civilised world.
  • Sidereal Exalted: Manipulators of fate, a sidereal concept may be invoked or compelled when chance may play a part in unfolding events, since people tend to forget sidereals their concept can be invoked to aid with stealth or avoiding detection.
  • Terrestrial Exalted: As rulers of the realm a terrestrial concept may be invoked to aid in any social roll within the realm, however they may likewise be compelled should the exalt be in a situation where knowledge of their heritage might be disadvantageous. Terrestrials may also invoke their concept aspect if there is a significant quantity of their particular element is present in the same zone or if they can convincingly weave the element into their description.
    Please note: If a terrestrial features their element in their description then that element is actually produced (causing no additional game effect beyond the invoke but potentially giving away their heritage); for example, a fire-aspected terrestrial invokes his aspect by describing a flaming punch, his attack will actually produce a momentary gout of flame.
  • Abyssal Exalted: Created as dark reflections of the solars by the Deathlords, abyssals may invoke their concept aspect when dealing with undead creatures or spirits or when manipulating the energies of the underworld is advantageous, however they are ill-suited to the lands outside the underworld and the concept may be compelled in situations where their deathly aura and lack of warmth may prove complicated.

But what about castes John?

Castes were the game ‘splats’ in the original Exalted and were basically used to govern what powers and abilities you could possess, since Fate is a more freeform and i’m hoping to create a quicker more action-packed gaming experience that with the original WOD rules i’ve chosen deliberately not to focus on castes.

However if you are desperate to include castes then I would simply suggest that you assign a character’s caste based on the highest of their professions at character generation, the five professions were created based on the skill spread of the original castes so this should be a fairly close fit.