In Fate games I sometime come up with Aspects that are relatively long and could well be two separate Aspects. Are such Aspects good in terms of gameplay, or would it be better to split them?

An example is, Gnome Illusionist in search of power and prestige. This has a racial part (gnome), an occupation part (Illusionist), and another part about core motives. Should such an Aspect be split, or is it fine as it is?

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    \$\begingroup\$ Welcome to the site, Jane. \$\endgroup\$ Apr 17, 2013 at 3:33
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    \$\begingroup\$ Great question. I'm starting my first Fate game now, and I also find myself asking myself similar questions. \$\endgroup\$
    – lisardggY
    Apr 17, 2013 at 11:32

3 Answers 3


A lot depends on the implementation of Fate/the type of aspect it is, and the story that is being told in the creation of the character.

Type of Aspect

In some uses of Fate, all aspects are the same- no aspect is more important to the creation of the character than the other. In others, there is a High Concept or some aspect that to a large extent defines the character. Making that a multi-faceted concept so that it connects to the character in most situations is totally in line with the purpose of that aspect.

Telling of a Story

Aspects define what makes a character unique. To do so, they describe the core of the character and tell the story of the character. I think that many people focus on the what of the aspect, i.e. the utility and focus of it in game, rather than the why of the aspect, i.e. the storytelling part. If you look at an aspect, it should be evocative and tell a story.

To take a look at that in the text, I'm going to use the text of the Dresden Files for an example, i.e. YS111.

Here are a few “good—better—best” examples:

  • Tepid: Wizard.
  • Toasty: Wizard Private Eye.
  • Fuego!: The Only Listing Under “Wizard” in Chicago’s Yellow Pages.

  • Tepid: Strong.

  • Toasty: Troll-Blood Strong.
  • Fuego!: Strong-Man of the Winter Court.

  • Tepid: Dark Past.

  • Toasty: Reformed Evil Cultist.
  • Fuego!: The Ebon Shroud Cult Wants Me Dead.

While the Tepid and Toasty examples are good and decent aspects, the Fuego! one tells a story. They evoke thoughts just reading them, and don't have to be explained.

To me, Gnome Illusionist is probably Toasty, as is In Search of Power and Prestige. However, Gnome Illusionist in search of Power and Prestige is more evocative. It tells me that the Power and Prestige that he is in search of is related to him being a Gnome Illusionist - not just any power and prestige. So I don't just throw at him the ability to seize power over a sleepy hamlet- but the ability to find The Lost Tome of the Greatest Gnome Illusionist ever (TM).

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    \$\begingroup\$ +1 Strong answer. A High Concept should sum up the whole character; it's OK for it to imply a lot of things. Other aspects that don't seem to work should usually be rephrased rather than split; instead of describing the character (So in this case, the High Concept would be "Gnome Illusionist On The Make" or "Lord Of Illusion (In Training)". If it's not a high concept aspect, try rephrasing away from skills entirely - leave the illusion in stunts and take aspects like "I Can Do Great Things" or "My Teacher Said I Would Be The Best".) \$\endgroup\$
    – Tynam
    Apr 17, 2013 at 11:20

Short answer: Not necessarily

It should depend on how you want to associate the different concepts in the aspect. When you say Gnome illusionist in search of power and prestige, you imply that the search for power and prestige is taking place within the bounds of being a gnome illusionist, so, say, this character would dream of being the grandmaster of the illusionists' guild, but not the mayor of an influential city state. If In search of power and prestige was a separate aspect, then maybe being a Gnome illusionist would be just one of the tools used toward becoming the richest merchant of the three seas, or maybe a hindrance towards becoming the king of an elf-dominated nobility.

Also, as wraith808 pointed out keep in mind that having your aspects tell a story is important even if you choose to split the concepts. An aspect loses some of its evocativeness when you split it, so be sure to enrich both parts of a split aspect. Illusionist is at best tepid. Gnome illusionist is barely toasty, Only illusionist born of the Sprocketcog clan offers a lot more on the way to fuego!


It's better to split them. Aspects that are focused are easier to compel, and having a wider variety of aspects to use lends more flexibility to the character.

Moreover, things like "illusionist" might be better as magic-related Skills or Stunts, rather than as an Aspect.

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    \$\begingroup\$ Depends on the setting and precise game. "Gnome Illusionist" and "In search of power and prestige" are both solid Aspects, and need not be split further unless there's more to be said about the illusioning. \$\endgroup\$ Apr 17, 2013 at 3:19
  • \$\begingroup\$ @SevenSidedDie Fair enough; I could certainly see those two as aspects in the right game. I'm standing by the statement that having GIisop&p as one aspect is too few. \$\endgroup\$
    – Jadasc
    Apr 17, 2013 at 3:25

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