Explain FATE to me

Halivar

Visitor
I picked up both FATE and FATE: Accelerated, and I would like to run Accelerated as a pick up game sometime. But there are some concepts I just plain am not grokking.

What is the difference between the High Concept and the other 2-3 non-Trouble Aspects the book suggests you take? It seemed like the other Aspects were just more High Concepts. Also, I didn't see any examples of these "lesser" Aspects.

What is the deal with Compels? I read the chapter in both FATE and Accelerated and still cannot grasp the purpose behind Compelling an Aspect. Or how it's different than Invoking.

Is there an on-line example of a play session of FATE?
 

Yora

Visitor
I've been starting to get into Fate a few weeks ago, and what I found very helpful is to think of the game not as making the choices what your character does, but narrating what happens to him.

For example, when you're in a room that has "lots of steam randomly comming out of pipes", you could hardly say that you use the steam as cover. However in Fate, you are very well able to state that random blasts of steam keep your enemies from getting a good shot at you. Since you're taking over the story to some degree, you spend a Fate point to "earn this right" to do so.
In the same way, you can decide to take some limited control over enemies, by saying that an NPC gets distracted because of his "hate for aliens". Again, you take control of things that are not your character and have to pay Fate Points.
On the other hand, you get more Fate points by accepting that your character is at a disadvantage in a situation and allow the story to unfold accordingly. Even less so than in other RPGs, the point in Fate is not to win, but to have a cool story. And that's why you create characters with handicaps and drawbacks, because it will make things more exciting and interesting. That's why you can even compell yourself.

I havn't seen it in practice yet, but supposedly your initial pool of Fate Points at the start of the session isn't really that important, as you are constantly getting and spending them all the time. Starting the session with more points only affects how fast you can can throw yourself into the action and go crazy.

The difference between the High Aspect and the secondary aspects doesn't really seem to be much in Fate Accelerated. In Fate Core, they are supposed to represent specific things about your character backstory. The High Aspect is basically your Character Class, while the other ones are meant to represent your backstory, and your previous history with the rest of the party.
I like to use Star Wars example here, since it's well known and easily applicable. At the end of the first movie, Luke Skywalker has the High Archetype "Jedi Student". His backstory is that of a desert farmer who is bored and loves speeders, so the player choses the additioal aspect of "Speeder Lover", which can be used to give him benefits when dealing with vehicles. Then he met Han and Leia during the whole thing with the Death Star, and the player choses the third aspect "Will always come save his friends".
And you could say, in the second movie, the player has to chose to stay with Yoda or go to Bespin, but the player accepts that he gave the character the aspect "will always come save his friends". He gives im, even though logic tells the player it's a trap, and he gets a Fate Point for accepting the compell.
Fate Accelerated shortened the character creation process, so the difference got kinds lost.
 
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Halivar

Visitor
Now THAT is really helpful. Thanks, Yora.

So Compelling an Aspect is when they player takes over narration of external story or NPC elements, and Invoking an Aspect with they take over narration of internal character elements?
 

Rechan

Adventurer
Now THAT is really helpful. Thanks, Yora.

So Compelling an Aspect is when they player takes over narration of external story or NPC elements, and Invoking an Aspect with they take over narration of internal character elements?
Yes, but also the GM is going to be compelling a player's aspects a lot.

But first let me answer your first question. Non-High Concept, non-Trouble Aspects are merely character traits that come up a lot. These are the things that you, the player, want to emphasize about your character, what you want to show up during play. These are double-sided coins, so that the player can use them to his advantage, but the GM can use them against the player when appropriate.

For instance, a character may have "Stubborn as a Mule" as an aspect. This does not define their character (so it's not a high concept), nor is it the real source of all their problems (so not a Trouble), but it's a trait that can also be a flaw. Now, Stubborn as a Mule basically means "I refuse to give up or back down" - so then you think when would that benefit a player, and when would it hamper a player?

The character could invoke this aspect when they are, for instance, being attacked psychically, and they are just too stubborn to be controlled. They could do it when they are losing or cornered, and need that last oomf - they just won't go down! They could use this when they are injured but need to flee.

The DM could use this to his advantage, however, by having an enemy compel this aspect if the enemy is trying to goad the PC into a fight. Or, perhaps the PCs are trying to sell some stolen goods. The group could get a reasonable price, and then the GM looks at the player and says, "But you're Stubborn as a Mule, don't you want a better deal?" He'll give the player a Fate Point if the guy keeps pushing after a reasonable deal, Or the player has to pay a fate point to take the offered cash. This could happen if the players are trying to surrender from a tougher foe, or the cops are trying to make the PCs leave an area. (I am reminded of Marty McFly and the word "Chicken" here.)

Many systems try to emulate the rules of the universe, simulate how the world works. FATE tries to emulate Fiction, and it's about simulating a cool story with big characters. In FATE, characters succeed at things because of WHO and WHAT they are (their Aspects); Batman has just the right gadget for the occasion because he "Has A Gadget For That", Superman can stop a train with his face because he just IS the "Man of Steel".

Once you figure out the aspects of a place, a character, etc, then you want to tag the hell out of them for your advantage. Now, remember that as a player, having your aspects compelled by the DM is a good thing because it gives you more Fate points, and Fate points lets you tag aspects. So you want those Aspects that can be used against you. Sure, it makes things harder on your character, but that's where the fun lives - repercussions based on Who and What your character is, which makes a good story.
 
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Bagpuss

Adventurer
What is the difference between the High Concept and the other 2-3 non-Trouble Aspects the book suggests you take? It seemed like the other Aspects were just more High Concepts. Also, I didn't see any examples of these "lesser" Aspects.
Well they are all Aspects, so there isn't a huge difference between them. However the High Concept is meant to be the core main aspect of the character. That is unlikely to change at all during the game.

Picking a character from my Superhero game...

Hank Harris
High Concept: Shiny New Teen Powerhouse
Trouble: Dangerous Unpredictable Powers


Aspects
I will be my own man!
[sblock]Hank's parents had always smothered him and been over-protective, he rebelled and ran away with people he thought were his friends. It turns out they were only after his parents money, held him for ransom. His powers revealed themselves at this time and he managed to break free from his captures, just before armed gunmen, hired by his parents came to his rescue, killing those that held him hostage.[/sblock]


Strength without limits.
[sblock]Hank tested the limits of his powers thrill seeking and tipping over buses in a depot, but he nearly killed a tramp sleeping rough by accident. Luckily Dallas was around and saved the man.[/sblock]


Cynthia's Knight in Shining Armour
[sblock]Hank was dining in a restaurant in Chinatown when it got attacked for not paying protection to the local Triad. Hank came to the aid of an attractive young waitress, together with another superpowered customer, Travis Blake and together they chases the thugs off.[/sblock]


He is always going to be a Shiny New Teen Powerhouse, but if say Cynthia is killed (or the player loses interest in that plot area) then he will probably change that aspect. Similarly they escape their fathers shadow and drop the I will be my own man aspect, or get a better handle on their powers and change their Trouble. But all of these things are Aspects and can be compelled or invoked. The high concept is essence of the character, while the other aspects speak about what is important about that character at that moment. Although they can be used to reinforce the high concept as well.

What is the deal with Compels? I read the chapter in both FATE and Accelerated and still cannot grasp the purpose behind Compelling an Aspect. Or how it's different than Invoking.
An Invoke is something the player does by spending a FATE Point and picking an aspect that suits the skill check they are rolling to gain and advantage (+2 to the dice roll). So if Cynthia was in trouble Hank could invoke his Cynthia's Knight in Shining Armour aspect to get a bonus on a roll to save her. Or he could invoke his Shiny New Teen Powerhouse High Concept to lift a car above his head.

A compel is usually something the GM does, that suggests a course of action, to the player based on their aspects that if they accept they get a Fate Point. So the GM might present a situation where Cynthia and a bus of school kids are both in danger the GM could suggest a compel that Hank tries to save Cynthia first, but compelling the Cynthia's Knight in Shining Armour aspect.

It is a little more complex than that however.
 

SkidAce

Adventurer
Yes, but also the GM is going to be compelling a player's aspects a lot.

But first let me answer your first question. Non-High Concept, non-Trouble Aspects are merely character traits that come up a lot. These are the things that you, the player, want to emphasize about your character, what you want to show up during play. These are double-sided coins, so that the player can use them to his advantage, but the GM can use them against the player when appropriate.

For instance, a character may have "Stubborn as a Mule" as an aspect. This does not define their character (so it's not a high concept), nor is it the real source of all their problems (so not a Trouble), but it's a trait that can also be a flaw. Now, Stubborn as a Mule basically means "I refuse to give up or back down" - so then you think when would that benefit a player, and when would it hamper a player?

The character could invoke this aspect when they are, for instance, being attacked psychically, and they are just too stubborn to be controlled. They could do it when they are losing or cornered, and need that last oomf - they just won't go down! They could use this when they are injured but need to flee.

The DM could use this to his advantage, however, by having an enemy compel this aspect if the enemy is trying to goad the PC into a fight. Or, perhaps the PCs are trying to sell some stolen goods. The group could get a reasonable price, and then the GM looks at the player and says, "But you're Stubborn as a Mule, don't you want a better deal?" He'll give the player a Fate Point if the guy keeps pushing after a reasonable deal, Or the player has to pay a fate point to take the offered cash. This could happen if the players are trying to surrender from a tougher foe, or the cops are trying to make the PCs leave an area. (I am reminded of Marty McFly and the word "Chicken" here.)

Many systems try to emulate the rules of the universe, simulate how the world works. FATE tries to emulate Fiction, and it's about simulating a cool story with big characters. In FATE, characters succeed at things because of WHO and WHAT they are (their Aspects); Batman has just the right gadget for the occasion because he "Has A Gadget For That", Superman can stop a train with his face because he just IS the "Man of Steel".

Once you figure out the aspects of a place, a character, etc, then you want to tag the hell out of them for your advantage. Now, remember that as a player, having your aspects compelled by the DM is a good thing because it gives you more Fate points, and Fate points lets you tag aspects. So you want those Aspects that can be used against you. Sure, it makes things harder on your character, but that's where the fun lives - repercussions based on Who and What your character is, which makes a good story.
Can I copy this to use to explain to my players?
 

Umbran

Mod Squad
Staff member
So Compelling an Aspect is when they player takes over narration of external story or NPC elements, and Invoking an Aspect with they take over narration of internal character elements?
Not as I remember it. Mind you, the language may vary a bit - Fate Accelerated may say it a little differently than the Dresden Files game, for example.

If the player is calling upon his or her own aspect to create a bonus for themselves or reroll dice, it is "invoking". The GM may also invoke aspects on NPCs

If the player is calling on the aspect of another character, an object, or the location, it is called "tagging". A player may tag some aspects to create a bonus for themselves - if the room has the aspect "Pitch black in here" the player may tag it for a bonus on a roll to sneak across the room. They may also tag an aspect to create an effect (restrict actions or create a complication for another).

The GM may compel. Technically, the player cannot directly compel. The player can, and is encouraged to, suggest compels against themselves to the GM when they are appropriate. Heck, everyone at the table is encouraged to suggest compels for each other. Also player tagging for an effect can then trigger the GM to compel the target (whether the target is another PC or an NPC). It is still the GM that is doing the compelling, however.
 

Bagpuss

Adventurer
Now THAT is really helpful. Thanks, Yora.

So Compelling an Aspect is when they player takes over narration of external story or NPC elements, and Invoking an Aspect with they take over narration of internal character elements?
Erm nope.

The GM is likely to be doing most of the compels. Mainly because whoever suggests the compel has to give a Fate point to the person that accepts it, and players want to be saving their Fate Points to spend on Invokes, to gain a mechanical benefit.

Compels should always introduce a new complexity or problem for the person compelled. Also you don't have to accept a compel, although I think it costs you a Fate Point to refuse one.
 

Rechan

Adventurer
Compels should always introduce a new complexity or problem for the person compelled. Also you don't have to accept a compel, although I think it costs you a Fate Point to refuse one.
Correct. Because you know, if you're a "Sucker for a Pretty Face" but you know that hot lady is actually a mantis-alien in disguise and she'll eat your head, you just gotta spend a fate point to keep your head.
 

Halivar

Visitor
Correct. Because you know, if you're a "Sucker for a Pretty Face" but you know that hot lady is actually a mantis-alien in disguise and she'll eat your head, you just gotta spend a fate point to keep your head.
For some reason, all I can think of is the time the only girl in our party caught my paladin in a river sans chausses with 3 deadly, evil naiads.
 

Umbran

Mod Squad
Staff member
Correct. Because you know, if you're a "Sucker for a Pretty Face" but you know that hot lady is actually a mantis-alien in disguise and she'll eat your head, you just gotta spend a fate point to keep your head.
Well, a compel should add a complication - she'll *try* to eat your head. For most characters, loss of the head is somewhat more than a "complication" :)
 

Rechan

Adventurer
Well, a compel should add a complication - she'll *try* to eat your head. For most characters, loss of the head is somewhat more than a "complication" :)
True, but usually you don't want to RISK it. I was just using it as an example of a 'Oh, yeah, I wouldn't want to do that.'
 

Umbran

Mod Squad
Staff member
Many systems try to emulate the rules of the universe, simulate how the world works. FATE tries to emulate Fiction, and it's about simulating a cool story with big characters. In FATE, characters succeed at things because of WHO and WHAT they are (their Aspects); Batman has just the right gadget for the occasion because he "Has A Gadget For That", Superman can stop a train with his face because he just IS the "Man of Steel".
Yes, but...

Note that the GM should be very careful about how much power is allowed in a single aspect. If a PC has the aspect, "Last Son of Krypton", and that includes super-strength, super-breath, super-speed, flying, heat vision, invulnerability and all the rest, well, that's a lot.

There are several FATE-based games. My understanding is that, in general, a PC's Aspects can be invoked to gain a +2 on a roll, or to reroll a bad roll of the dice. That does not imply auto-successes on things that normal folks can't do. Typically, then, if you're the Last Son of Krypton, and trying to lift an entire cruise ship, that invocation will get you a +2 on the Might roll to do it. Unless you also have a whole boatload of points of Might, maybe that boat ain't moving.

Most of the FATE based games have a separate system for getting more than that out of Aspects. In the Atomic Robo comic, the main character is pretty much immune to bullets - in the FATE game for the comic, there's a separate subsystem for saying that his aspect, "I am the atomic robot!" includes great strength and immunity to bullets.
 

Halivar

Visitor
There are several FATE-based games. My understanding is that, in general, a PC's Aspects can be invoked to gain a +2 on a roll, or to reroll a bad roll of the dice. That does not imply auto-successes on things that normal folks can't do. Typically, then, if you're the Last Son of Krypton, and trying to lift an entire cruise ship, that invocation will get you a +2 on the Might roll to do it. Unless you also have a whole boatload of points of Might, maybe that boat ain't moving.

Most of the FATE based games have a separate system for getting more than that out of Aspects. In the Atomic Robo comic, the main character is pretty much immune to bullets - in the FATE game for the comic, there's a separate subsystem for saying that his aspect, "I am the atomic robot!" includes great strength and immunity to bullets.
In 13th Age, the book suggests you can take an uber-powerful Background or One-Unique-Thing if you trade away another power to do it. In the context of Fate, maybe require extra dump stats, or fewer Stunts before taking Refresh penalties?
 

Rechan

Adventurer
Most of the FATE based games have a separate system for getting more than that out of Aspects. In the Atomic Robo comic, the main character is pretty much immune to bullets - in the FATE game for the comic, there's a separate subsystem for saying that his aspect, "I am the atomic robot!" includes great strength and immunity to bullets.
Yeah, pretty sure that would be a Power Stunt. I'm just trying to nutshell Fate here you guys, no need to toss Technicallies at me. :p

Or more accurately, if I wanted to emulate Superman, I would probably steal one of The Dresden File's powers of giving him Physical Immunity, but with a The Catch - Kryptonite. Granted that would be super expensive.

Still I think Batman always having the gadget he needs for the occasion would be a good example of an Aspect.
 

Sword of Spirit

Adventurer
I was literally just going to start a topic asking about compels in Fate, and then I saw this topic. No need to start a new one, since it's right in line with the discussion.

I'm looking at the current versions of Fate Core and Fate Accelerated. It's worth noting that they don't use "tag" anymore. You can simply invoke or compel things beyond your own character.

I'm trying to figure out exactly how fate points flow in compels suggested regarding other players.

Now, I get invocations. Fate Accelerated cleared they up handily. If you are invoking another character's aspect against them, essentially PVP, then you hand them the fate point. If you aren't in conflict with them, you hand it to the GM, the same as if you had invoked your own aspect, or an aspect in the situation, etc.

But when it comes to compels the texts get weird. One the one hand they are telling you that anyone should feel free to suggest compels--with the implication that it is just a cool part of the shared storytelling.

But then they say that if you propose a compel on another player it always costs you a fate point. No distinction is made about whether you are using the compel against the player, or simply saying, "Hey Rob, maybe you could accept a compel on your Cranky Old Drunk aspect in this situation?" So, as written, it appears to say that if you ever open your mouth regarding what might be a cool compel on another character you have to dish out a fate point and the formal compel system, where the target must accept or reject the compel (by spending a point) turns on. It doesn't mention what happens to the fate point if they refuse the compel, but the implication would be that both points go to the GM. Regardless of where the points go, it seems to discourage collaborative storytelling.

It seems like how the rule should work, is that you can talk all you want, and you only have to spend a fate point if you are trying to use a compel against the other player (like an invocation), or trying to get him to do something that you think is really cool and he disagrees on.

Can anyone clear up the official rule on this? Again, I'm going with current Fate Core and Accelerated.
 

Umbran

Mod Squad
Staff member
In 13th Age, the book suggests you can take an uber-powerful Background or One-Unique-Thing if you trade away another power to do it. In the context of Fate, maybe require extra dump stats, or fewer Stunts before taking Refresh penalties?
Well, in the Atomic Robo game (not yet published), you have Skills and Stunts, and you also have Extras.

Characters have 5 Stunt slots.

An Extra takes up a Stunt slot (and there are a couple other prerequisites). Where a Stunt gives only one benefit, an Extra can give multiple benefits. Some Extra benefits also require you take a weakness.

Plus, if a character has more than 5 benefits from Stunts and Extras, the GM gets more Fate points for the bad guys to spend!

So, yes, Atomic Robo is immune to bullets and normal melee weapons. He's also stronger than any mere human. But, he pays for it in that he's vulnerable to electromagnetic attacks (being, you know, made of metal), and the Bad Guys get more Fate points whenever Robo is in play.

Other games have other ways to handle some special abilities. For example, in Spirit of the Century you can make a character like Batman, who can always have just the thing on hand, by taking a stunt, "Universal Gadget". It doesn't give the character *infinite* gadgets that have exactly the powers you need, but if you're pulling them out only once a session or so, you're golden.

You could just ignore all that, and put *everything* in Aspects. But that means the Aspect needs a whole card to define it - "Last Son of Krypton" means *nothing* on it's own, you need a separate listing of what being Kryptonian means, which kind of flies in the face of the intent to make it simple and narrative. Also, the more outright power you pack into Aspects, the more the GM needs to think to make sure everyone's getting a chance to shine, and nobody's abusing the narrative.

I've found it best to have character Aspects that are intended to *modify* results, not to produce results outright.
 

Halivar

Visitor
It doesn't mention what happens to the fate point if they refuse the compel, but the implication would be that both points go to the GM. Regardless of where the points go, it seems to discourage collaborative storytelling.
I don't have my books in front of me, but I thought I read that players actually trade Fate points in this manner. Like, if Bob runs out of Fate points, I can Compel his Aspect and feed him a poker chip.

If that's not how it works, then I agree it could discourage collaboration.
 

Sword of Spirit

Adventurer
I don't have my books in front of me, but I thought I read that players actually trade Fate points in this manner. Like, if Bob runs out of Fate points, I can Compel his Aspect and feed him a poker chip.

If that's not how it works, then I agree it could discourage collaboration.
As I understand it, that is how it works if Bob accepts the compel. But from my reading, it seems to be saying that if you open your mouth, even just to offer a suggestion, then you have spent a fate point. If Bob accepts, hand it to him. If Bob doesn't accept, hand it to the GM, and poor Bob has to hand one to the GM too.

I'm not sure why they would do that though. Just like Bob can ask the GM if he can have a compel on his own character for X action he is contemplating (and if the GM says, "no," no fate points change hands--it's just a suggestion!) I don't know why other players would be forbidden from making a free suggestion. Maybe they are trying to avoid other players bringing up possible ideas that Bob might not like, and then the GM turning them into compels. "Yeah, I like it. Bob, take the compel or spend a point." But it seems to me that would be jerkdom, and a game like Fate doesn't need extra rules to punish people into not being jerks. Making a compel suggestion to the GM should never cost anyone a fate point. That should only happen if the GM formally proposes the compel, or another player attempts to use a compel against you (and you want to resist).

So yeah, I'm not sure if they are just misphrasing what they mean, if there is some hidden reasoning I'm not catching, or if it just a bad design decision in a good game.
 

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