Fate system tends to require a lot of out-of-character interactions. The core of the game is interacting with aspects, which is a somewhat artificial thing, a mechanic that Fate uses, rather than something the character perceives as such.

While I value a lot the amazing stories that Fate system helps to create, some immersion is lost, since players have to be constantly switching between in-character and out-of-character actions.

How, as GM, can I minimize the out-of-character time and interactions for players?

The game should still be and feel like Fate.

It is worth to clarify what I understand for in-character and out-of-character for the purpose of this question. I use in-character for refering to:

  • Saying literally what the character says.
  • Describing the actions the character does in a narrative way.
  • Describing the characters thoughts or feelings.

I use out-of-character for refering to:

  • Refering to any rule for describing an action the charcter does.
  • Asking or looking for information regarding rolls, rules, aspects, etc.
  • Actually anything not in-character.

I consider characters discussing aspects as in-character. For instance, if the scene has the aspect 'on fire', I consider the character saying 'the whole place is on fire so I'm sure the guards aren't paying attention, I'll use this distraction to escape' as in-character.


2 Answers 2


Use Easily Parsed and Understood Aspects

The Fate rulebook does a good job of coming up with interesting and funny aspects, but many of them are difficult to work with without asking meta questions. If the scene and character aspects are concepts that normal people wouldn't know, then it invites a lot of meta discussion during the game (which is what you don't want). Let's say you have a character and you want to give them an aspect that lets the player's know this person is greedy and untrustworthy. In this example, the character aspect "Shifty" could be a good one. Everyone knows what a Shifty person looks like and acts like, so it's easy to play around that in-character without asking the GM a bunch of questions. On the other hand, 'He'd sell his mother for a dollar' is not so good for you, because it invites all sorts of meta questions. First off, how could you know this about the person? How confident are you that it's true? Can the players count on him doing absolutely anything for money, no matter how small? If the players offer him $1, would he actually sell them his mother? If not, why not? Fun-sounding aspects like that add a lot of character to the game, but also necessarily require a lot of explanation. Since you're trying to avoid that, I would focus on simpler aspects that are easy to understand and have well-defined limits.

Along those lines...

Be Consistent

If you don't want your players asking questions about the rules, make sure your world's rules are iron-clad and enforced equally at all times. Make sure that aspects are applied fairly, and if a player tries to use an aspect in a way you didn't intend, you need to go with it. If your rules are too loose and players get their wrist slapped a lot for trying to use aspects in ways you didn't intend, they'll end up being more cautious and asking more out-of-character questions (no one likes failing). It's tough to stay in character when you say "The room is on fire so the guards must be distracted, I'm going to..." and then hear the GM say "Nope, they're not distracted, try something else." To keep people in-character, you need your players to get immersed in your world, and to do that they have to feel like they are in control.


If all else fails, you can also bribe your players to act in-character. If a player invokes an aspect naturally without going 'out-of-character', give them a boost as a reward, or let them define a new scene aspect for free. You can also just hand out Fate points for players who consistently act in-character, but that's not quite as fun. If your players see benefit in staying in-character, then there is a reason for them to do it beyond making you happy.


Always: Don't Play Aspect Police

Yeah, I realize the core book makes it seem like you have to, being all: (via)

The group has to buy into the relevance of a particular aspect when you invoke it; GMs, you’re the final arbiter on this one. The use of an aspect should make sense, or you should be able to creatively narrate your way into ensuring it makes sense.

Precisely how you do this is up to you.

But that might give the wrong impression, that Fate Points are powerful and their use has to be constrained by huge justifications to make them seem reasonable.

The use of Fate Points is more practically constrained by you playing for 2-3 hours and having, like, maybe 5 of them? There are two main reasons you want to make sure somebody's bouncing a Fate Point off of something appropriate:

  1. To throw up a notional barrier so they don't just burn off those Fate Points in the first 20-30 minutes and run dry for the rest of the play session. That's no fun.

  2. To prevent the cardinal sin of improv - throwing something out for people to riff on that nobody, not even the person saying it, actually believes in.

So to prevent any extended discussion and chapter-and-verse character bible quoting, lay this down: don't worry about using Fate Points to "win", unless they're keeping you from getting Taken Out. Fate is a game that goes on fine when you fail, even when you back out of combat! Use Fate Points when you believe this is your character's time to shine, and if it's clear to you, it should be pretty easy to make clear to the rest of us.

When You Can: Write Things Down

This is easy enough to do in real life, and it's also probably possible on line depending on how much of a shared and virtual tabletop you have access to.

Instead of leaving aspects on one person's character sheet where people can forget about them, write them down in big clear letters on index cards and lay them out for everybody to see. That way, not only are people thinking about somebody else's aspects while they're taking a turn in the spotlight, but when you want to spend points on an aspect or bring it up as being relevant, you can just interact with the aspect on the index card, rather than needing to steer conversation around to line up precisely with the aspect.


You must log in to answer this question.

Not the answer you're looking for? Browse other questions tagged .