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The One Ring from Lord of the Rings has the property that it corrupts (or tries to corrupt) those around it. They desire its power and do things that they normally wouldn't to get at it.

I was thinking that this could be modeled well by compels in the FATE system, but I'm not sure how it could actually work. The property (an aspect?) is part of the Ring, but the compels act on the characters.

How could you model the compelling power of the Ring in a FATE system?

Would it be best to place an additional aspect on each character who comes into contact with the Ring (temporarily or permanently, but still only compel-able when near the Ring), or to somehow rule that the power of the Ring allows compels on characters using the aspect on the Ring, or something else?

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4 Answers

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Aspects on tools and equipment are considered to be aspects of the wielder, so you could compel the ring-bearer without impunity.

Even more, the ring could be modeled as an object that automatically performs a maneuver to place an aspect like Corrupted by the ring on anybody who touches it. Then it would be an ordinary FATE thing to invoke, tag or compel that aspect.

Then again, the ring could attack the mental/composure stress track of characters, in order to force them into taking consequences, maybe even a permanent consequence. If it takes them out, it forces them to do horrible things.

With all that capability, you may even want to model the ring as a simplified character, with its own aspects, skills(Deception, Persuasion etc...) and stunts.

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A lot of the details of modeling something like this is going to depend on the flavour of FATE being played, as the small differences will make the implementation different, i.e. SOTC to The Dresden Files, etc. With that in mind, the following explanation is genericized in the beginning of the explanation, before I go into system-specific implementation using The Dresden Files (as this is the flavour I have the most experience with).

The corrupting influence of the ring is only constant against the person wielding; others experience it intermittently. Because of this distinction, I believe there are two parts to modeling this in FATE, from my experience.

  1. The Item of Power has an aspect on it that directly affects the person wielding the item.
  2. The Item of Power has a power/ability that allows it to attack the people around it to represent the influence on others.

Specifically modeling this artifact in The Dresden Files, I'd say that it had aspect(s) related specifically to Wants to return to its master (Sauron) and/or The Corrupting Influence of the One Ring. These aspects can be utilized on the wielder of the item in way of compels; I'd also allow the aspects to be utilized in relation to the wielder's own natural abilities in a positive manner.

Apart from the veil, I'd also give it incite emotion (Greed/Power Hungry) at range (YS172). This could be wielded on the wielder and on any around; consequences related to such would represent the corruption that the ring spreads; being taken out would result in Gollum or (to a lesser extent) Boromir.

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Suppose you want to compel aspects. If at all possible, I recommend tying in to the PCs' existing aspects. You don't need to create a new aspect on Boromir when he already has Absolute Confidence in Gondor. For maximal style points, compel the PCs where they believe they are strong. Whatever aspects they've been invoking, let the ring twist and compel. (And wraith808 is right: When you can't find anything to compel, Incite Emotion.)

As an alternative to compelling aspects, you could get clever and try to corrupt the players. DFRPG provides a mechanic named "sponsor debt," whereby players can gain a free benefit now in exchange for a forced compel later. (If you buy it off then, it comes back twofold.)

Or if you want to really drive home the Ring's power to fragment a group, let it grant its bearer power at the Fellowship's expense. When the One Ring helps you, the GM receives a special Fate Point that can be spent against the rest of the Fellowship.

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Similar to extreme consequences and the lawbreaker powers that force you to modify your aspects in dresden files RPG with the lawbreaker powers being a better example due to their gradual slide. Use it once.. not a huge deal, keep using it too much & you are no longer who you once were as it starts to corrupt you.

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