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I have a player who's having some trouble understanding that Fate is not a game about stats. To remedy this issue, I'm considering letting them build a character with aspects that feel like an endgame character from another system, just to help them understand that "having all the things and numbers" isn't how to advance in this kind of game.

It's tricky, though. Some of the aspects I'm considering are Fastest Man Alive, Impervious Skin, and Loveable Billionaire. I think this covers just about everything that a Level 1 character wants to be in another system, but in Fate you can pull it off... I think.

At the risk of sounding subjective, would this work? I'm still kind of new to the system, so I don't have any concrete experience to apply here.

Would the first two aspects interact with physical combat, or just ruin it? Does the "always true" clause with Impervious Skin undermine a majority of actions that would otherwise cause physical harm? Does Loveable Billionaire require, or imply the requirement of, a high Resources skill? Or is this another situation where since it's "always true," anything realistically under a few hundred thousand dollars doesn't even require a roll?

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It could work. How well depends on the fiction, the player, and you.

I appreciate the thing you're trying to do, and yes, Fate is pretty good at handling these kinds of Aspects. However, in cases like this, you'll want to make sure that everyone agrees what they mean.

Take "Fastest Man Alive," for example. In a real-world kind of game, that might mean you can run a mile in less than four minutes. In a superhero game, you might be able to cross a football field in a blink of an eye, but still be beaten by someone who's not a man and even faster. You'll want to have a common understanding of what the player wants the Aspect to do.

Then, moving on from there, Aspects shouldn't replace things like Stunts or Skills, they should complement them. Your "Lovable Billionaire" probably shouldn't have to worry about petty cash expenses, but really big purchases would require moving assets around and making sure that money isn't lost -- and that kind of thing requires a Resources roll. (See also "Fastest Man Alive" and Athletics.)

As an example, if he's a billionaire; buying a new car or a plane is probably not even a challenge for him. Buying a house, or a crate of guns, or uranium? Those could be challenges for anyone, billionaire or not. He'd have to use his Resources skill, and then, if he didn't like the outcome, he could spend the Fate Point and remind you that he's "a lovable billionaire" and get the +2 or the reroll. Bruce Wayne is a Lovable Billionaire; so is Oliver Queen, so is Arthur the drunk. Each of them uses their money differently and at different levels of skill. And if you disagree with where I put the benchmarks, that's fine; you're the GM and you should set them where you feel comfortable. What the aspect does is give you a push when the chips are down and having this characterization can mean the difference between success and failure.

Lastly, remember that an Aspect should always have the capacity to be compelled in ways that cause trouble. Luke Cage, for example, has "Impervious Skin," and that's come back to bite him in one case where his wounds were internal and surgeons couldn't cut into him to perform medicine. There are many ways to hurt someone that don't involve breaking the skin, and so "immune to all damage" doesn't seem like it would be true here. If the intent is immune to all damage, you'd want to add more to it before it becomes a good aspect, possibly with some Stunts as ballast. (And the question of how to handle immunity as an Aspect has been very well answered here.)

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  • \$\begingroup\$ This is really helpful, but hard to grasp. If he had the lovable billionaire aspect, could he skip any resources rolls that other characters couldn't? Which ones? What cases would still require a roll? Sorry for the complexity. \$\endgroup\$ – Robert Apr 6 '15 at 18:53
  • \$\begingroup\$ @Robert Sure, he could. He's a billionaire; buying a new car or a plane is probably not even a challenge for him. Buying a house, or a crate of guns, or uranium? Those could be challenges for anyone, billionaire or not. He'd have to use his Resources skill, and then, if he didn't like the outcome, he could spend the Fate Point and remind you that he's "a lovable billionaire" and get the +2 or the reroll. And if you disagree with where I put the benchmarks, that's fine; you're the GM and you should set them where you feel comfortable. \$\endgroup\$ – Jadasc Apr 6 '15 at 18:56
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    \$\begingroup\$ Thanks. I always forget about succeeding at cost when I adjudicate actions. Character like this would always succeed, but sometimes at cost \$\endgroup\$ – Robert Apr 6 '15 at 19:07
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    \$\begingroup\$ @Robert Remember that real billionaires aren't billionaires because they have sackfuls of cash, they're billionaires because their money is tied up somewhere working for them. Billionaires have lots of money, but only a small percentage is liquid assets. \$\endgroup\$ – SevenSidedDie Apr 6 '15 at 19:39
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    \$\begingroup\$ You may want to reference information from this question, or just link to it, as part of your answer. \$\endgroup\$ – BESW Apr 6 '15 at 22:48
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So, a couple of points on this:

  1. I personally would try and steer a player away from an aspect like "Fastest Man Alive" that he'd have problems getting compelled with. Receiving compels is perhaps the best way to load up on Fate points in a session, and if it's hard for you, the GM, or the player for that matter to justify finding some negative component of an aspect, it's actually a disadvantage for the player. Sure, you can always compel a different aspect but I find that the more choices you (or he) has, the more opportunities I (or he) has to make good compels.

  2. In the case of rolls, I only have my players make them if I can come up with a failure state that is interesting and which advances the plot in some way. If you need a jet plane to get to a desert island, that's a great situation where you can just wave your hands and say "yeah, as a billionaire he probably has one of those". Conversely, if you have what you think is a more interesting way to get to said island but the player wants to roll to buy a plane anyway, well, "no" is a pretty neat option. As is, depending on things, "yes, but you have to borrow some money from your dad, and you know that when you do that there are always strings attached".

  3. Which brings us to how to handle those aspects. Make them double-edged; he's not just "The Fastest Man Alive", he's "The Fastest Man Alive, So Why Is He Always Late?". He's not merely a "Lovable Billionaire", he's a "Lovable Billionaire With Cash-Flow Problems". With that last aspect, it's perfectly reasonable for the player in question to them only give himself a +2 in Resources: he may be worth billions, but at any one time he can only get his hands on a few thousand dollars, and buying planes just isn't something he can afford. If you set the roll to acquire the plane at +5 and he only rolls +3, he can spend a Fate point to invoke his aspect to get the +2 needed to tie, but that's exactly what aspects and Fate points are there for.

  4. I think the best way to simulate super powers in general isn't so much with aspects but with stunts. Your Flash type character might have a stunt where he can move 2 zones without making an Athletics roll or 3 with one (or if you want to make him reeeeally fast, increase the number of zones - that's totally up to you as the GM). Maybe he has a Lightning Dodge ability that allows him to use his Athletics to dodge bullets as well. The nice thing about stunts is that you don't (usually) have to spend a Fate point to use them, so the player in question can dodge bullets to his heart's content.

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    \$\begingroup\$ I'd compel "Fastest man alive" during a sex scene :D \$\endgroup\$ – edgerunner Apr 24 '15 at 7:26

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