For a while now, a group I play with has slowly slipped into a mode of accepting the fact that the GM cannot possibly declare all pertinent details of a scene aspects.

This developed from the notion that some aspects are self-evident. If the scene takes place in a burning building, writing down "burning building" as an aspect appears redundant. Everyone at the table knows where they are.

However, this is sometimes less evident. If a scene takes place in an "artsy café" (referred to as such by the GM), using the implied aspect to pick up some hipster's macbook or throw hot coffee at someone becomes rather borderline, somewhat eliminating the utility of the "Create Advantage" action. This is why I feel that this approach goes somewhat against the Fate philosophy.

Using this scenario: should an action like this require a Notice roll to explicitly establish the object in question, with the implied aspect usable as an invoke on said roll, or should players be able to skip that step and just use the very general, very global, and most importantly, implied aspect based on mere description?

In other words: should every fact that has been established automatically be an aspect in a game sense?


2 Answers 2


I recommend reading this part of the Fate SRD. The sub-header is "Deciding When to Use Mechanics" and it tells us that

Because aspects tell us what’s important, they also tell us when it’s most appropriate to use the mechanics to deal with a situation, rather than just letting people decide what happens just by describing what they do.

This defines an Aspect as an attribute of something that is mechanically relevant. Players are free to interact with elements of a scene that are only described and such interactions will not usually involve rolls. The decisions and actions that drive the story will usually involve a roll and possibly invoke an Aspect. If the GM anticipates something to affect a roll or during play he decides that it should, he makes it an Aspect. Or he might ask you to Create an Advantage.

So while any fact can be made an Aspect, not all are chosen as one

  1. For the sake of simplicity. It is just not practical.
  2. Because Aspects reflect the narrative and focus the attention of the players.

You will not break the game by defining too many Aspects and if you chose too few, you can add them later. But choosing them sparingly will make it easier on both the GM and the players.

  • 1
    \$\begingroup\$ This is the right answer, and I would say it could be improved by responding specifically to OP's examples. For example, setting the scene of Burning Building or Artsy Café make good Aspects, but many of the thus implied facts do not also need to be Aspects. You don't need an aspect to say there's a hipster's MacBook on the table. You can grab it and smack someone with it using Fight. If you want to get a mechanical benefit from doing so, you would either Invoke the Artsy Café Aspect, or CA on it to build Free Invokes as an action (grabbing the MacBook with a flourish or whatever) \$\endgroup\$
    – Paul
    Jun 14, 2017 at 20:47

All aspects are story facts but not all story facts are aspects. Aspects are facts that play a non-trivial role in your story. That's why they make the basis on which many game mechanisms run.

So what happens when you want to turn a trivial fact into a significant one?

That's exactly what the create advantage action is for. It lets you conjure aspects out of thin air (but not total vacuum, beware!) And then you can use it as usual.

But then, some things are so obvious that it feels silly to have to use an action to state the obvious. In that case, my recommendation is that you use table consensus to decide. If you think that some piece of the narrative should be established as an aspect, just say so, and if everybody agrees (or at least doesn't object), then it becomes an aspect. If not, then you probably have to work (ie. roll) for it.


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