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: 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

Self-Compels in Fate

After finishing running the third session of our swords & sorcery Fate Accelerated campaign Serpents Fall last night using Google+ hangouts (video link here) I was having a little feedback chat with the players, which is something I like to do (if possible) at the end of every session (and I encourage my players to message me if they think of additional feedback or constructive criticism) since I believe that only by soliciting feedback from your players and others can your game grow and be fine-tuned into the optimum gaming experience for both GM and players. It occurred to me during this chat that there was one aspect of Fate Accelerated that the players hadn’t used a great deal during our three sessions thus far, and that was the use of Self-compels.

What are Self-compels?

For those who are not aware the following is what Fate Accelerated has to say about Compels:
If you’re in a situation where having or being around a certain aspect means your character’s life is more dramatic or complicated, anyone can compel the aspect. You can even compel it on yourself—that’s called a self-compel.
Basically, if one of your Aspects affects your characters decision making/results in an event occurring that make your character’s life more complicated then the person who has suggested the complication (the Compel) offers you a fate point for accepting the additional RP arising from the complications.
If a players makes a suggestion for a complication arising from their own Aspects and the GM agrees then, although not explicitly stated in the Fate Accelerated rulebook, I have always assumed that the GM would be the one to award them with a fate point (since giving yourself a fate point out of your own pool makes no sense); this is something I have been using a great deal already in the first session of a Dresden Files RPG game run by a friend of mine (using a pre-cursor to the Fate Core system).
For example: In the DFRPG session I play a person who has been infected by a red-court vampire but has not killed by blood drinking yet and so he has not fully turned, he has the ability to call on some vampiric powers at the risk of his hunger overwhelming him. My character “Lucky” is an ex-gangster on the run from his family (most of which have now been converted into vampires), he began the game standing on the docks waiting for a boat laden with drugs to come in.
Since one of the other players was playing a law enforcement officer I compelled one of my own Aspects to say that, because i’d been keeping my head down, there’s things out there my character had been forced not to use the normal channels to recruit his hirelings and had ended up with sub-par criminals, one of whom had (unknowingly) tipped off the police and they were about to turn up and bust the operation. This gained me a fate point and bought me into proximity of another player character; Lucky was able to hide himself in the shadows as the police detained and bought in the boat, at this point I made another Self-compel to say that because my character would not stand to see innocent’s suffer that perhaps as the police boat bumped into the dock one of the policemen would fall overboard and bang his head.
The GM accepted this Self-compel and my character was forced to reveal himself, diving into the water to save the unconscious policeman (after all the guy was just doing his job). This small scene got me two fate points and was made far more personal (IMO) due to my use of Self-compels.
However, I have noticed (and mentioned to my players in our feedback session) that Self-compels aren’t particularly used a lot in our Serpents Fall game; now this may be because it is only our third session and some of the players are still very much getting used to the rules, but Self-compels are one of the great things about Fate Core and Fate Accelerated as far as I am concerned so I plan to think about ways to encourage my players to consider Self-compels.
Why are Self-compels so great?

Well for a number of reasons, but personally, I enjoy them because they give a degree of narrative control over to the players; rather than just having the GM hand you down the details of a scene, if you have suggested it as a Compel then you gain the ability to negotiate the details of the complicating scene or decision with the GM, it also personalises whatever occurs and you know that it is plot based specifically around your character
Self-compels also let your GM know what sort of stories and complications you’re looking for when it comes to your character, and most GMs are more than happy to oblige by providing additional scenes tailored to your character since they want everyone to enjoy the game, they are also useful for moving a session along when perhaps the pre-planned plot has stalled or you’ve reached a natural pause.

Plus it also gains you a fate point allowing your character to really shine when it counts 🙂