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A crucial part of most FATE play is having aspects that relate to the other PCs at the table. What happens when your group's attendance fluctuates wildly? If Bob has aspects relating to Mary and Joan, but Mike is there tonight and Joan isn't, it seems to me like Bob's got an aspect drifting in the wind. And if Jimmy joins the group a month later than everyone else, do we expect people to add an eighth aspect to their sheet?

  • Is this a problem in practice? I'm anticipating it in my upcoming game, based on past experience with this group, and I'm hoping to head off any difficulties it might cause. If it's not a problem, whew. If it is, what strategies do you use to deal with it?

I'm wondering if a similar problem might not crop up when a player retires one character and rolls up another in the middle of a campaign; any experience with that would be welcome.

[Left to my own devices, I'd probably come up with a system by which players can choose which PC-related aspects to use that week at the start of each session, based on attendance. I'm sure there are all kinds of problems with that idea though.]

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Not worth an actual 'Answer', but this also seems to fall under the concept of players taking disadvantages that don't apply to the campaign world –  CatLord Mar 4 '13 at 16:10
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@CatLord Assuming Fate (or any game) works like other games is often misleading. Aspects are neither advantages nor disadvantages as those are mechanically understood in most systems. In Fate, having "dead" Aspects is actually a disadvantage to the player as they then have less narrative leverage to make events revolve around their PC. –  SevenSidedDie Mar 5 '13 at 16:26

4 Answers 4

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This reminds me of a link you yourself posted to me.

The issue I believe will be solved by not having Too-specific aspects. As noted in http://www.rickneal.ca/?p=619

The original aspect might have had a base on a previous story. But a good aspect will have people tagging it even if they didn't have any means to be a part of that specific encounter. Like how Harry, having an aspect of "Chivalrous to a fault" or something similar. Would then be compelled to accept the help of people he otherwise would have very good reason not to.

So Mary and Joan might have had an aspect associated with each other. But that doesn't mean that Bob can't have done things similar that taps into an experience or whatever that aspect might have represented.

As for introductions into the story. If you are assumed to already know each other. Then it wouldn't be too hard to say "I was at this one party you attended but you didn't notice me at the time while you were investigating this other thing" which may or may not cause another aspect if the situation didn't tie in AT ALL with any previous aspects on the current characters. But obviously the new character would have aspects showing a bit of his relation to the other heroes already in play.

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I think you're somewhat misunderstanding the guess star aspects. If you read throught he examples on Harry's character sheet, the aspect that he gets from his story with Murphy isn't directly tied to her. Instead, the story is crafted to include Murphy and to highlight a different aspect of Harry's character.

Your gues star aspects don't have to be tied to the guest star, they just get a hand in helping to shape the character.

Note: I wrote this in the perspective of playing The Dresden Files, where in character building you have two guest stars that help with your aspects.

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The false premise: A crucial part of most FATE play is having aspects that relate to the other PCs at the table.

There is no real need for aspects to relate to other PCs in general, nor to any specific PCs at all.

The real requirements

Aspects need to meet several requirements:

  1. Useable by the Owning Player of that Character
  2. Useable by other characters' player(s) (noting that the GM is the player for NPC's)
  3. Of suitable width: Neither too broad nor too narrow
  4. intelligible: if others can't understand it, it's a problem

Aspects and Other PC's

Aspects that relate to other PCs can easily be of use in play. Aspects that have positive relationships with other PC's can be invoked for bonuses, or compelled to drive protective behavior. Aspects with negative relationships can be invoked in competition with the other PC, or compelled to force them to side against that PC's actions. Either way, they create drama.

I'm going to use the characters in Police Academy for examples.

Such relationship aspects can often be genericized. Instead of "Trusts Sgt. Callahan," make it "Trusts the lead officer on the case." Instead of "Distrusts Mister Zed," "Distrusts people who use only their last name," or "Distrusts people with speech issues."

And, instead of "Makes fun of Lieutenant Harris," give Mahoney "Makes fun of pompous people in charge." (This also makes his reaction to Lt. Mauser in PA 2 not require rewriting.)

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All the FATE systems I've ever seen include a "guest star" phase in character creation. It's clear that an aspect rising from that phase doesn't have to explicitly mention the relevant PC, and I entirely agree with your points in that matter. But if the aspect weren't meant to relate the PCs to each other, why is character creation always structured that way? –  BESW Mar 5 '13 at 5:43
    
@BESW It isn't. You just haven't read enough FATE games. Not all use the phase mechanic as a cross-tie. –  aramis Mar 5 '13 at 7:19
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Fair enough, but many do, including DFRPG, SotC, and the FATE Core, so I think I'll stand by my statement that it's "a crucial part of most FATE play;" I never intended to claim it's an absolute, but it's important enough that I think a question about the issue is relevant to a lot of FATE players. The rest of your answer's very helpful. –  BESW Mar 5 '13 at 7:28
    
It is, at the very least, how the guys who designed FATE to begin with wrote it to be. Maybe a direct question to these guys on G+ might be in order. –  Nigralbus Mar 5 '13 at 8:29
    
I'd agree that having characters share history is an important part of Fate, but that doesn't actually mean the aspects have to be addressed to those specific characters. They should somehow relate to them, but be broad enough to cover more than a specific character. –  edgerunner Mar 5 '13 at 8:47

The best thing to do is write multi-faceted aspects as much as possible, so that they withstand the rigors of a shifting storyscape, including a jittery cast.

In other words, make sure your aspects aren't too focused. Make them implicit if needed. If Bob has Suspicious of Joan as an aspect, redefine it as Suspicious of blondes with a southern accent (implicitly referring to Joan's aspects). That works with Joan and other characters that somehow fit that profile, so that you still have a useful aspect in your game.

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