This is a fairly straightforward question, but one that has led to some debate in my group. We know that aspects are generally not reflections of physical reality but rather narrative focus, so things may exist in a scene that are not necessarily aspects, but can be made aspects through use of a "create advantage" action.

The requirements for this action, as set out by the rules, are: 1. Taking the action, and 2. Succeeding in a roll.

1 is easy enough - if one really goes through every scene by turn sequence (which is something that FATE seems to imply should be done), turning a circumstance into an aspect should be an action at least, leaving the player unable to act until it's their turn again.

2 is a bit more tricky. Sometimes, a roll does not make any sense. Do I really have to ask the player of a +5 awareness character to make a roll in order to turn the obvious treeline behind the enemy in broad daylight into an aspect (I chose a treeline as an example because that is the kind of thing that one would not necessarily have as an aspect established in the scene in the first place but might have mentioned in the description)? What other alternatives are there to this, though? There's only one 'create advantage' action, and it always creates the same thing, based on the same assumptions, regardless of what the context actually is.

Finally, there is also the issue of single-use aspects that are easy to establish but will inevitably disappear after one use. "Preparing to fire" is one of these - after the character has fired, this aspect is logically gone, even though the action used (create advantage) might have given its creator another free use or more. So basically, a player would have wasted the same effort they would have used for a full aspect to get what is effectively a boost.

So, the question boils down to this:

  1. Do players have to roll for everything or is there an alternative for discovering obvious aspects?

  2. Is there a way to directly create boosts instead of aspects, possibly because one can only think of an aspect at that particular moment that would be gone after a single use anyway?

  • 1
    \$\begingroup\$ You might find this question helpful; it's not exactly yours, but it does add some insights that are relevant. Must a situation's obvious characteristics be explicitly made into aspects? \$\endgroup\$
    – Jadasc
    Commented Jul 23, 2014 at 10:42
  • \$\begingroup\$ Related: How do I know when aspects are "hidden" from my players? \$\endgroup\$ Commented Nov 5, 2014 at 5:29
  • \$\begingroup\$ "We know that aspects are generally not reflections of physical reality but rather narrative focus" The second part is true (aspects focus narrative focus, as well as realizing in-character possibilities and advantages or disadvantages). However, the first part is false: Aspects absolutely reflect in-character reality. Many pieces of Fate rule-material, including DFRPG, Fate Core, and Fate Accelerated rulebooks say "Aspects are true". \$\endgroup\$
    – Beanluc
    Commented Jun 8, 2016 at 17:05

1 Answer 1


The Fate Core book addresses it this way, on page 156.

As the scene unfolds, players might suggest features of the environment that are perfect as aspects. If the GM described the scene as being poorly lit, a player should be able to invoke the Shadows to help on a Stealth roll even if she hadn’t previously established it as an aspect. If the feature would require some intervention on the part of the characters in the scene to become aspect-worthy, then that’s the purview of the create an advantage action. Usually the barn doesn’t catch On Fire! without someone kicking over the lantern. Usually.

So your treeline example fits it nicely here — calling it out is enough to make it an aspect, without a roll required.

As for your second one… I'm not sure what the benefit of a "Preparing to Fire" aspect would be. I think that circumstance would be better accounted for when setting the difficulty of whatever action is being planned to represent it, either higher or lower. Such difficulty modifiers might look like a one-shot boost from across the table, but that's a much more sensible way to go about it.

In a comment, you mentioned the idea that what you were looking for was a "Taking Aim" advantage that you could place upon yourself. That has some potential; as long as you're "taking aim," you've laid the groundwork for Shoot stunts but other people could compel you as being distracted or the like. Aspects like these, as with other combat advantages, last as long as the fiction requires them to (p.170), which could be a single action. A single "good shot" might be better represented by spending a Fate Point, though.

  • \$\begingroup\$ Thanks for the quick response and pointing that out. That's kind of how I have been trying to handle it, but my players (and I!) usually forget very quickly about anything that was in the narration and only think of it after a session, so I guess I'm trying to strike a balance between having a reminder and not overdoing it. For the second part, the general idea was mroe of a "taking aim" boost. That should logically only work once, and there's no real way to just rename the aspect and keep going. It's a one-shot (literally) thing. \$\endgroup\$ Commented Jul 23, 2014 at 11:20
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    \$\begingroup\$ @monsterfurby Good stuff. I've edited my answer to address the latter issue. \$\endgroup\$
    – Jadasc
    Commented Jul 23, 2014 at 11:28

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