Aspect: A phrase describing some aspect of the character that you want to be able to use for bonuses in play.
Invoking an aspect: using an aspect for a mechanical bonus to a roll. Note that it doesn't need to be YOUR aspect. ①
- +2 on your die roll after rolling (p 12, 68)
- Reroll your dice (p 12, 68)
- +2 on someone else's dice (p 68)
- +2 to the passive opposition (p 68)
Most of the time, invoking an aspect costs a fate point. (p. 12). Sometimes, however, you create a new aspect in play with a successful die-roll to "create an advantage". This action gives a free invocation to an aspect, and if that aspect doesn't exist, creates it. (p 136) In these cases, the first, sometimes the first 2, invocations of of that aspect don't cost anything. (p. 70).
Other things you can do with an aspect are compel, and to use it as a story element.
A compel is used to make someone else act in a specific way due to an aspect.
Don's character, Seaman Sam Sleuthy, has "Smarmy smartass" as an aspect. He's trying to run a certain NPC, Rhime Spitzer, out of town.
Don's character is in a bar, and I have an NPC try to belittle him and drive him out. "You are unwelcome, swab-jockey. Go ride your mop!" (social attack.)
Don decides to resist, but his total of good (3) doesn't beat my total of great (4). He invokes his aspect to boost his resistance, spending a fate. "Ah, handle envy. At least you can see my handle." Don indicates as well his character is pointing at his own lap. This adds two to his resistance, making it superb (5).
"The crowd titters in response to this," I respond, noting that I have failed.
Don next creates an advantage, "I'm Sam, Sam Sleuth, and I'm endowed by God with Unalienable gifts, which women love and men be jealous of..." says Sam. Don notes that he's boosting his own ego with his smarmy bluster. Since the crowd's generally polite company, I rule this needs a great (4) or better; Don rolls a total of epic (+7)... this succeeds with style, and his next two invokes on smarmy smartass are free.
I decide to go on the attack again, but this time, I use it against him... I invoke his aspect on my attack. Orate at good, +3 on the die, and +2 from his smarmy, "Ladies and gents, I do believe what we have here is a total bounder of a cad. Do we need to put up with this? Management!" Legendary (8)... ②
His roll to resist isn't that good (+2), so he's getting some stress outta this, but he can still reduce the damage. His bluster is good (3). And he free invokes based upon his prior advantage. Turning to the bartender, Sam spouts, "Why, Joe, I didn't know he cared! Look at his jealousy at a real man being here!" Getting the total up to a 7, he takes 1 shift of social damage...
He then goes on the attack. "Mister, you landlubbing son-of-a whore, I don't know what your jealousy's for! I'm the manliest man who stands in this room, and better pushing a mop than humping a broom! Get off my case, get your ass on the floor, there's ladies aplenty, you groove-less boor!" Bluster at good (3), free invoke (+2) for the innuendo about brooms, drops a fate to invoke again (+2) for the implications of ladies aplenty, and gets lucky: +4. total 11, off the chart.
My defense roll is bad - orate Good, but a -4 on the dice; I invoke the crowd's aspect of "Polite Company", noting that they are aghast at his language. I've got a total of 1... 10 shifts. I'm done for.
But, as a parting shot, I offer a compel... my NPC's last fate, "Hustle us both out because the crowd's offended." Don looks, notes the NPC can't hurt him, and this works, and accepts. Now, don gets to do whatever he wants to poor old Rhime.
Later, with Rhime in the train station, Sam is loading him onto a train outta town. Suzie's character, Marla Misanthrope, aspects manhater, and clawlike fancy nails, is also present. She's intimidating him to stay on the train. Not something she's good at, but he's not that brave. Totals are fair on either side, after she's invoked her claws... by holding them to Rhime's throat. A tie isn't good enough to get him to stay on the train... so don pops up with, "Just imagine where she's gonna put those next time. Be a bit messy, I think. Stay a man, get outta town." Plunking down his fate point, he raises hers to great (4). Running Rhime out again, the compromise is to exit town... For now.
Later still, Marla's trying to push the car over the edge. Passive goal is fair. Don's inside... (Suzie's mad at Don. She shouldn't take it out in play, but does...) She rolls a good. Don quips, "Oooh! Love that grunting" to up the difficulty by embarrassing Marla. Fuming, she fails to get good leverage...
① In some older edition games, using someone else's aspect was called tagging an aspect. It worked the same.
② I could have, in theory, used one of his free invokes - but that would have been bad form, tho' not against the rules. Story-wise, it wouldn't have made sense to use his advantage itself against him.