What are Aspects?

Defining Aspects

An aspect is a phrase that describes something unique or noteworthy about whatever it’s attached to. They’re the primary way that you spend and gain fate points, and they influence the story by providing an opportunity for a character to get a bonus, complicating a character’s life, or adding to another character’s roll or passive opposition.

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Types of Aspects

There are game (setting) aspects, character aspects, situation aspects, consequences and boosts. They mainly differ from one another in terms of what they’re attached to and how long they last.

Game Aspects

These are permanent fixtures of the game. They may change over time, but are usually there to stay. They can be called upon at any time, in both positive or negative ways. They come in two flavors: Current Issues and Impending Issues:

Current Issues:

  • A corrupt theocratic fascist regime,
  • Heretical cults are everywhere,
  • rampant poverty and disease
  • In the grim darkness of the future, there is Only War
  • Everyone expects the Imperial Inquisition

Impending Issues:

  • Genestealer Invasion
  • Awakening the Dark God
  • Wrongful Exterminatus of a world

Character Aspects

These are smaller scale: attached to individuals to set them apart from each other:

  • Relationships (Mama’s Boy,  Chosen of the Dread Lord)
  • Beliefs (The Lord Is My Shepherd,  Nothing Is Forever)
  • Obligations (Honour-bound to avenge my brother, Merchant Guildmaster)
  • Catchphrases (Can’t Keep My Mouth Shut, “It’s Not My Fault!”)
  • Descriptors (Wise-ass Wizard, Rugged as the Road)
  • Items (My Vorpal Sword Goes Snicker-Snack,  My Lucky Rabbit’s Foot)
  • Pretty much anything else that paints a vivid picture of the character (Big Man On Campus, Anger Is My Constant Companion)

Situation Aspects

These are temporary, intended to last only for a single scene or until it no longer makes sense. They can be attached to the environment or even to a single character by targeting them when you create an advantage (more on that later, but to give an example: “Setting people on fire”)

  • Physical Features (Dense Underbrush, Thick Fog)
  • Positioning or Placement (I have the Higher Ground, In the Trees)
  • Immediate Obstacles (Burning Barn, Tricky Lock)
  • Contextual details that are likely to come into play (Angry townsfolk, Security Cameras)
  • Sudden changes in status (Sand in the eye, Disarmed, Cornered)

Consequences

These are more permanent than Situations, but not quite as much as a Character Aspect. They typically represent lasting injuries or problems that you take away from a conflict:

  • Dislocated Shoulder
  • Bloody Nose
  • Social Pariah
  • Shaken Sanity

They stick around for a variable length of time, depending on how severe they are. Because of how negative they sound, they will be compelled a lot (more on that later, but to give you an idea: compel means deliberately causing problems for your character, which gives you a Fate Point, which is awesome).

Boosts

These are like minor Aspects that are given to things. They last only until someone uses them (for free! More on that later).

  • Successfully tripping someone;
  • Intimidating Firepower
  • Tricking them with a fakeout
  • I quick-draw
  • I successfully sneaked up on them

Preview: Gear Aspects

In my next article, I’ll go over how equipment items have their own Aspects. Stay tuned!