Friday, June 28, 2013

Woopah! Makin' aspects with the Jake

Earlier today I was talking with +Ryan M. Danks about aspects and other things Fate. Toward the end of teh conversation he said I should write down my method for creating aspects. So here goes. My thoughts on aspect design. None of this is going to be all that revolutionary,you have probably heard this sort of thing before. This is just how I look at Fate.

Character aspects should be of immediate use. This seems obvious, but this is the area I see people fall into a lot. they will make an aspect that describes the character, but it is vague or too long reaching. If you want to get compelled then you need aspects that will be useful immediately. This means go for some kind of action you always take decision you always make, or thing you must take. If it is an action you take this can be expressed as a short slogan, "is clobberin' time," or, "I've got a bad feeling about this," or as the types of situations you get into, "I'm all thumbs," or, "Easily Distracted," are good for those types of things. Basically think of the types of action you want your character to make and build some aspects that will encourage the story in that direction from moment to moment. Decision point aspects are a lot like action aspects in that they are the things you character believes and ways they think the world should work. I like to look at these as things you character must do no matter what. Build you aspects to create situations that will bring this side of your character into conflict in some way. Things like, "Honesty is the best policy," and, "The rent must be paid," are good because they will put your character into conflicts and problems right away and you can use them to get out of those selfsame problems. Finally aspects as a thing are awesome as they state what is of immediate import to your character. Whether it is money, your father's sword, your family, or that Midbulk transport, standard radion-accelerator core, classcode 03-K64, Firefly that you picked up for a steal, these are the things of utmost importance to your character and are the ideal aspects. They are easily compelled, and easily invoked. Win win.

Character aspects should be both useful and a hindrance, but they do not have to be. I am going to restate that last bit, aspects do not need to be both good and bad for your character. more specifically they don't have to be equal parts good and bad. There is the opinion that the best aspects are equally good and bad. Often that is true, but not always. Sometimes what is best for you is to have an aspect or two that are mostly good or mostly bad. the key here is to see what is best for your character, and to make sure that you have enough Fate coming in and enough Fate going out during a given session. How much is dependent on your group. That having been said, try and reword your bad aspects so they have some use, and try and reword your good aspects so they have a bit of downside. If I had the aspect, "Miserable Alcoholic," that works. Its a fine aspect. Generally speaking, though it will be used for compels rather than invokes. So maybe I want to get a little more bag for my buck out of this. Then I might re-imagine the character just a smidge and rename the aspect, "I drink to forget." what this does is allows a little more of the character to shine through during a compel, and it allows for me to occasionally invoke it to remember something or forget something. It is still mostly a hindrance, but it now has a little more depth. I could easily have gone with, "Mean drunk," or, "Deep in his cups," to alter the feel of the character and still get that same kind of scene framing that I get with the first change.

That is about it for now, on the subject of aspects, from me. I don;t normally like dispensing advice, mostly because what works for me might be horrid for you, but if you found this useful let me know. Leave a comment, or something so that I know that you would like to see more posts along these lines. If you think I am full of it, also leave me a comment so that I know to leave this sort of stuff to those better suited for it.


  1. A good explanation of Aspects, I summed it up to my players by saying "it's a description of some part of your character; the best Aspects are ones that have both a positive and negative side and that come into play often."

  2. Nice summary. I sometimes try to explain them as 'like handles for the narrative'. They are the things that both the players and the GM are going to use to push or pull the story along. What your particular aspects are identifies what bits of story will be interesting and dynamic for you.

  3. I really do think it is the idea that you want to get as much currency out of your aspects as possible so you should choose things that are common in game situations that trip up a lot of players when they first start. When I first became involved in FATE I had no idea what it was about or what an aspect was and I chose a bunch of aspects that defined the character but would never be called. On a play of the game and a read through I realised I needed to refine the aspects so they were short, easily remembered (helps for the GM) and likely to be compelled, as well as equally easy to invoke. This blog is a good description on what you should focus on. I was told that an aspect should be equal good and bad, but I agree that sometimes this the case, not always though.