Saturday, 7 September 2013

FATE: Loving Scenic Aspects

I'm currently in the process of writing up the actual-play report of my last Warhammer 40,000 roleplay game session run using the FATE rules system; it has been my intent to gradually introduce the concepts of the new rules system to my players so that we can all become comfortable with it and ease ourselves into the FATE system. Last session I began to introduce the concept of applying Aspects to scenes and other areas rather than just themselves and antagonists.

Aspects, for those of you who may not be aware are codified story elements that can be applied to almost anything in a game using the FATE rules system; Aspects are always true and can be used (invoked) in conjunction with FATE points to gain a bonus (normally a +2 or re-roll of a particular dice roll) or can be compelled by someone else in order to provide a FATE point in return for accepting a complication. Consequences of injury and stress are also represented using Aspects.

For example:

I might spend a FATE point and say "Because I am the best swordsman in the known world I am easily able to defeat my opponent in the duel" - this is an example of invoking; I would pay a FATE point and get +2/a re-roll to my fighting roll.

Someone (either the GM or another player) might say "However, because you are the best swordsman in the known world someone here has heard of your reputation and intends to best you" - this is an example of compelling, if I accepted the consequence then it would play out and i'd get a fate point, otherwise i'd have to pay one to have this not take place.

In the last session of my Rogue Trader game the session began with the players taking on a Bloodletter, a demon of Khorne, that had materialised on their ship and was slaughtering their crew in the mess halls of the vessel; during the combat a couple of the players were injured and the mess hall floor was described as slick and slippery with blood, I was quite pleased how easily the players adapted to using this scenic Aspect and later on when one of the player characters dealt a cutting blow to the demon, spraying its burning blood over the upturned furniture that also became an Aspect.

If scenic Aspects weren't included in the game I think that there would be a danger of players just continually using the same Aspects from their character sheets all the time and it becoming quite repetitive, however, the scenic Aspects, in addition to adding another layer of detail and description to unfolding scenes, they also encourage players to behave more dramatically. Whether this is a character using a blood slick floor to slide into a combat, a man trying to force an enemy into a burning pile of furniture or any number of other possibilities, I think this can only be a good thing.