I posted this as a seperate thread but it has applications here.
When we are creating characters, I think we can group the statistics that we give characters into two broad categories: 1) those things that primarily describe how the character interacts in combat and skill based challenges and 2) those things that describe pretty much everything else (equipment, personality, reputation, membership in organizations, relationships, etc). Obviously there is always overlap between 1) and 2) but that is beside the point. I would like to introduce a mechanic that deals with all of 2) and then some- Aspects and Fate points.
Aspects- these are very similar to the aspects used in the free game, Spirit of the Century (SotC; http://www.faterpg.com/dl/sotc-srd.html
). All characters start with 10 Aspect points. Each Aspect can be used just like in SotC; spend one Fate point to compel the Aspect at an appropriate time and get a +2 to the roll. The character can also compel the Aspect to alter the game in an appropriate way. The GM can compel the Aspect to get a player to do something by offering the player a “carrot” (Fate point or other bonus) if the player complies and a stick (must pay a Fate point) if he doesn’t. However there are some important differences:
i. Types of Aspects- SotC uses Aspects as all encompassing of the character’s traits. Aspects as I am proposing them are meant to define 2) (see above). For example, “Big as an Ox, (and half as dumb),” is an appropriate (and humorous) Aspect for SotC. However, if you want a big, not so smart character for e20 give him a high MASS and average INTELLIGENCE (if you like my ability scores if not then high Con and low Int). Basically, Aspects cannot cover physical attributes, mental attributes or particular talent in any area.
ii. Aspect Categories- All characters have seven required Aspect categories they must satisfy; all characters choose 2 x personality Aspects, 2 x relationship Aspects, 2 x organization Aspects and 1 x resources Aspect. Each Aspect costs 1 Aspect point. A clever character may be able to satisfy more than one of these requirements with a single Aspect. For instance, Han Solo’s player might use “Afraid I was gonna leave without giving you a goodbye kiss?” to satisfy his relationship Aspect with Princess Leia as well as a personality Aspect signifying his cockiness. After the character has satisfied the requirements, he should have 3 Aspect points left over. He can use these to upgrade current Aspects or buy more Aspects. What do I mean by upgrade?
1. Upgrades- This depends on the tone of the game. For instance, if the campaign is based around the characters as members of Rogue Squadron then it is appropriate for the characters to pick an aspect where they are members of Rogue Squadron and of similar rank. Should one of the characters want to outrank his fellow party members (in a significant way, such as two ranks higher or being an officer among enlisted) that would require an upgrade, although GM approval would be almost assured, since this upgrade is fairly inconsequential. On the other hand, should one of the characters want to play Rogue Leader, it would likely require 2 x upgrades and GM approval would be unlikely because one PC in such a powerful position right from the start could cause issues. For another example, let’s take resources. If the campaign concept is a Serenity or Cowboy Bebop style crew that is basically scraping by, job to job without even the guarantee of enough food, then a character taking an Aspect such as “Trust fund baby,” or “Bestselling Free Lance writer,” would be subject to GM approval and require one or more upgrades. However, those same Aspects might be the norm if the characters are playing a group of young Coruscani socialites that become embroiled in the rebellion. By the same token the character can take a downgrade, by being generally worse off than the tone of the game. Although this gives characters no bonus in creation, it will give the character extra roleplay opportunities and time in the spotlight as his character deals with his shortcomings. It should also be noted, that throughout play, Aspects will likely up- and down- grade quite often and they may even morph considerably. For instance, a character’s relationship Aspect for the love of his life, may morph into a personality Aspect about his desire for revenge against the Empire that killed her, to a personality aspect of greater moral understanding that killing only begets more killing and doesn’t end the hurt.
2. Destiny- this is an optional type of Aspect. Unlike Saga, the destiny can be much less grand or galaxy shaking and may be used as a character goal. For instance a character might have the Destiny to become the best Podracer in system X or to become an Admiral in the Imperial Navy. I see these types of Destiny’s as great tools to guide the GM to in building adventures, events and rewards (enhancements) to satisfy the player’s goals for their character. Alternatively (or in addition) the GM can give the party a secret Destiny that they fulfill through playing the story and thereby gain some new reward.
iii.Example of Aspect choices (Format = Aspect type Aspect #- specific object of Aspect: “Aspect name”)
1. Han Solo: Personality 1: “Never tell me the odds”; Relationship 1, Personality 2- Princess Leia: “Afraid I was gonna leave without giving you a goodbye kiss?”; Relationship 2- Chewbacca: “The life debt is greater than any one life”; Organization 1: “Imperial Academy dropout”; Organization 2: “Reluctant rebel”; Resources: “Kessel run in less than 12 parsecs”; Equipment- Millennium Falcon: “Fast ship? You've never heard of the Millennium Falcon?”; Destiny: “Hero of the Rebellion”; Relationship 3-connections: “Friends in low places.”; Relationship 4- Jaaba: “You may have been a good smuggler, but now you're Bantha fodder. “
This mechanic is very open ended thematically and potentially game effect wise. It is like this on purpose. Why?...Well IME it seems like whatever system a game uses to describe 2) (see above), ends up being used, modified or not used based more on the tastes of the GM and group rather than the strength of the system itself. The Aspect system is so broad that pretty much anybody can pick it up and play with it, or add to it to heart’s content. For instance, if for resources/organization a character chooses FBI Agent. Some groups might want to actually track how much money the character takes home after taxes and bills as well as how much money the agency actually gives the character to buy equipment. Other groups might want to take the “reasonable man” approach and say, “Ok, does it make sense that FBI Agent John Smith starts the game with a two story house with a 2-car garage, swimming pool and satellite TV in a middle class suburb?” Sure. “Does it make sense that John Smith also starts the game with a 2010 Porsche and a one of kind custom Chopper from West Coast Choppers.” Probably not; unless of course the character also took the Aspect “Russian Spy.” Yet other groups might not want the super detailed nor the completely story driven approach. They might like the roll a check approach: roll level bonus + appropriate ability score vs target number to see if you can get a mortgage on the house and buy the Porsche. I think if you use these Aspects, make sure that everyone playing in a genre has a good idea of the value of the money in that genre and have a table with DCs appropriate for different level characters, you cover all your bases. That lets the group do things their way. The other thing Aspects does is force players to include personality, relationships and organizations on their character sheet. This might seem inconsequential, or the GMs job to do, but making it part of the character creation process 1) gets the mind thinking about these things and 2) gives an easy, flexible mechanic for both GMs and players to use these “intangibles” in actual play. Which I think will only help to encourage good roleplaying.
b. Fate (Force) Points- See table for effects. Characters get one Fate point for each aspect they have. Characters renew these at the start of each game session or story; depending on the specifics of the campaign. For instance, if during a game session the characters complete 3-4 encounters and advance the current plotline, it is probably appropriate to refresh their fate points at the start of the next game session. On the other hand, if the group has only a short game session and only play through one minor encounter, then a refresh of fate points is probably not warranted. A refresh may even be warranted mid way through a game session depending on its length and how far the story advances.
1_________________Compel an aspect
1-3________________Inconsequential story manipulation
4-6________________Minor story manipulation
7-10_______________Significant story manipulation
11+________________Major story manipulation
Fate points end up being really flexible. I think this is where we would want to do deal with situations where there is a specialized encounter and only one specialized player. The specialist takes a few minutes to train the other characters or shouts direction to them during the encounter in order to help them. Each affected player spends 1-2 Fate points (inconsequential story manipulation) and gets +2 to relevant checks for the encounter.