Fate Core: Aspect Containers

This started as an idea for super powers in Fate Core, but it could be extrapolated to other games, as well.

Aspect Containers

The general concept: choose an aspect and select a series of one to two word aspects that are housed within it. The standard aspect can be invoked and compelled as though it were any of those minor aspects, as well as the standard aspect, if it has a different context. Let’s try it out.

The Wolverine is coming out soon, so let’s go with Mutant Healing Factor for this example. In a standard Fate game, that aspect could be used for a lot of things or only one thing, depending on interpretation. And that’s usually the problem with aspects that are supposed to detail specific things, they’re based on interpretation. In most cases that’s a good thing, it allows players to use vague phrases whenever they need to spend a fate point. But we’re talking about super powers here. Those are pretty specific.

One GM might go with allowing Mutant Healing Factor to allow for recovery rolls and Physique rolls to resist something affecting Wolverine’s constitution. Another GM might allow it to be invoked on Fight rolls, detailing how Wolverine heals so fast that it’s okay if he suffers a scratch, it is purely a part of his narrative defense.

Is either one wrong? That’s open to interpretation. You can absolutely play things this way, and it’s okay if you do. I’ve been experimenting with just that in recent games and it works out just fine. But what happens when you get that power gamer who has Kryptonian listed on their sheet?

Building Mutant Healing Factor as a container requires us to figure out, in advance, how Wolverine’s healing factor is going to work in this particular game. Let’s go with: Poison Resistance, Disease Resistance, Fast Recovery and Superhuman Strain. Written as:

Mutant Healing Factor
Poison Resistance, Disease Resistance, Fast Recovery, Superhuman Strain

When invoking or compelling Mutant Healing Factor, it can be treated as it’s written (he’s a mutant, for all that means, and he can heal superficial wounds, which gives justification for not showing signs of injury). It can also be invoked or compelled to resist poisons and diseases, on consequence recovery checks or when Wolverine needs to exert himself past the human norm – whether that be utilizing his incredible stamina or straining his body’s strength past its limits, only to be healed before it negatively affects him.

Using This Method

This was devised as I continue to explore creating supers with Fate Core, but it’s also feasible for play in other game types. You could give an Elf minor aspects like Agile, Magical and Ancient. Similarly, your Corellian Transport could have Highly Customizable and Maneuverable.

In character creation, allow a player to list two minor aspects linked to each of their standard aspects. No matter how the standard aspect might be interpreted (or misinterpreted), it can always, and without argument, be invoked and compelled as the minor aspects. Especially useful for those times when one player is thinking Tolkien with their elf, but the GM just finished watching a Will Ferrell movie.

Modifying

This system is easily modified with aspect ratings and works very appropriately when mixed with stunts.

What are some ways you can think of to use this system?

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3 thoughts on “Fate Core: Aspect Containers

  1. So, all this is REALLY doing is making sure that everyone knows what the aspect fully means.
    The smaller descriptions provided don’t necessarily have any true mechanical weight other than making it so that the real aspect can be used in certain situations that may or may not have been accepted before, right?

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    1. As written here, that’s exactly right. It’s a method of maintaining consistency and context. However, I have been working with this system lately and have made some minor adjustments to make them work more like skills.

      In short, each description is given an action and situation it can be used in, if necessary. It’s more work, so if I put it in a text somewhere I’ll probably just make it a rubric and allow players to make their own.

      But the above works as is.

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  2. Great stuff here in your blog, and it is much appreciated.

    A couple of questions. From what I understand here, an Aspect Container does not preclude what an aspect might do, it only tangibly characterizes what is always true. Is this intended to limit what an aspect can do? I assume it does so in a further attempt to define what is possible in a game world.

    Have you fleshed this out any further? I am interested in what happens in those cases, per your example, where someone takes Kryptonian as an aspect. Or, for that matter, a character with a Master Jedi aspect. It seems like this could either vastly either improve or restrict Use the Force type situations.

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