Tuesday, April 9, 2013

Milestones and aspects, the proper use of

Aspects are interesting things. They are the part of Fate people grab onto early on in learning Fate. So much so that often most people want to put aspects in every game they play. People also tend to view Fate as, "that game with the aspects." There is quite a bit more to Fate than that, but they are the big shiny on the game. Now, I am not saying that there is anything wrong with aspects. I love aspects and I use them all the time. I do however often see people hanging onto aspects far longer thn they should. That is what i would like to talk about here.

The Fate Point economy depends on relevant aspects. The beauty part of it is that you can change an aspect pretty much every game session. This means that when the game starts moving in a new direction you can move your aspects in that direction, or in a different direction if you want the narrative to move that way instead. The issue I see in games though, is that people tend to not change their aspects all that much. Even when they talk about doing it, they forget or they don't care enough to follow through. Then they spend mist of the game not getting compelled  and being short on Fate Points.

The best advice I have seen on how to alter your aspects is not even from a Fate game. It is the discussion on beliefs in Burning Wheel. In Burning Wheel you have three beliefs. The advice given is to have one kind of long term belief, one in the short term, and one immediate. what this means is that you should have a belief that can be resolved in ten sessions or so, a belief that can be resolved in three, and a belief that can be resloved right now.

I see aspects in a similar light. In Fate Core you have three aspects outside of your high concept and your trouble. This means you have three aspects that can change rapidly from session to session. I like to look at these like beliefs in Burning wheel. I like to have an aspect that is relevant to my long term character goals, and aspect related to my short term character goals, and an aspect related to my immediate situation. I have found that this leads me to getting compelled a couple of times per session, if not four or five times a session. If you keep up with it, you can make sure you are relevant in any given scenario in the game.

Also by altering your aspects frequently you can direct the game. If the game is moving in a direction you do not like. Pick an immediately relevant aspect that will compel you to take actions that go against the current direction. You will not be completely altering that scenario, but you will be making it closer to what you want. Rather than meekly going with the flow, you are now forcing a narrative compromise and adding tension to the game. This is not a bad thing.

I am not saying that this is the only way to look at aspects. I am addressing an issue I have seen in games. Players will begin to look at aspects as a straight jacket rather than as a gateway into a larger world. Give my system a try, let me know what you think. Maybe I am wrong, maybe there is a better way of doing things. Until the discussion is had, we will never know.