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General Rules and Concepts

What Are Aspects? (YS 98)

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Aspects are the central-most character attribute in the Dresden Files RPG. They are the main avenue by which you gain or spend Fate Points (FP). Aspects describe the core of your character’s identity. Aspects describe who you areSkills, Stunts, and Powers describe what you can do.

Aspects can be…

  • Relationships (Mama’s Boy, Apprentice to Ancient Mai)
  • Beliefs (The Lord is My Shepherd, Nothing is Forever)
  • Catchphrases (Can’t Keep My Mouth Shut, It’s Not My Fault)
  • Descriptors (Wiseass Wizard, Rugged as the Road)
  • Items (Sword of the Cross, My Mother’s Pentacle)
  • Anything that paints a vivid picture of the character (Big Man On Campus, Anger is My Constant Companion)

Aspects are created before play begins but may also be created in the course of play to describe temporary changes of condition (Off-Balance, Broken Nose, On Fire, Uneven Terrain).

Creating Character Aspects (YS 108)

  • Character Aspects are the best way to tell the GM what you want to see in the game. They help you both get on the same page about your character and the campaign.
  • Determine a Name for the Aspect
    • Usually a Phrase, a Person, or a Prop (not a hard-and-fast rule—just a good way to think about it)
      • Phrases: Simple detail (Strong) to short description (Troll’s Blood Gives Strength) or a quote (“No One is Stronger Than Throgbal!”)
      • Person: Someone important to your character, acts as a motivator of action—as a mentor, a sidekick, a family member (My Old Teacher Finn); or possibly an organization (Wizard of the White Council, Jester of the White Court)
      • Props: Something external to the character that isn’t a person. It can be something you always have with you (My Father’s Pool Cue), something you’re known for (My Trusty Toolbox!), maybe even something of power (Sword of the Cross). However, if it is something of power, you will also have to spend the requisite points to get the item.

Positive vs. Negative Aspects (YS 109)

You generally want your Aspect to be a double-edged sword—giving potential benefits but also potential complications (and thus Fate Points). Too far in any one direction is very limiting for the character.

The Rule of Three (YS 109)

When picking an Aspect, think of three (3) situations where you can see the Aspect in play…

  • If you have one reasonably positive and one reasonably negative—you’re on the right track!
  • If all positive/negative—rethink…

Situation vs. Story (YS 110)

“Situation” Aspects tend to be phrases and usually represent things that frequently occur to the character. These are the things that just tend to happen (like Harry’s “The Building’s On Fire and It’s Not My Fault!”).

“Story” Aspects tend to be people and props that can affect the character, but only in the terms of the story—they are the reasons behind things happening (like Michael’s “Knight of the Cross”).

You want a good mix of Situation Aspects and Story Aspects.

Heating Things Up (YS 111)

Don’t use broad Aspects—they are boring and not very useful. Make them interesting…

  • 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

Using Aspects In Play (YS 98)

  1. Propose that an Aspect is relevant (PC or GM)
  2. Determine if it is working for or against the character
    • If For, then it is probably an Invocation
    • If Against, then it is probably a Compel

Invoking Aspects (YS 98)

  • Spend a FP to a +2 bonus or a re-roll to a Skill roll
  • You may invoke any aspect that your character is aware of or has access to (GM is final arbiter)
  • You may invoke more than one Aspect on a single roll (GM discretion), but you may not use the same Aspect more than once on the same roll or action.
Invoking For Effect (YS 99)
  • Spend a FP to make a Declaration of fact about something in the game.
    • For example, you Invoke the Aspect “Perfect Timing” to “declare” that your character arrives in the nick of time to rescue your companions.
  • You may invoke any aspect that your character is aware of or has access to (GM is final arbiter)

Compelling Aspects (YS 100)

  • Receive a FP when an Aspect works to your disadvantage or spend a FP to avoid that disadvantage
  • Usually initiated by GM, but can be done by PC
    • GM will propose a particular reaction and slide over a FP counter…then PC must make choice to accept or spend a FP to avoid
  • Can even be done by “accident” (stumble upon location/scene Aspect) or by playing up Aspect to the hilt
  • If PC self-Compels, bring it to the GM’s attention to get FP
  • GMs must stay on top of Compels
  • Compels may even be “traded” for die rolls (“Why don’t we just say that this happens…”)
  • Purpose of Compels is Drama, not forcing people into things…

Interacting with Other Aspects (YS 105)

  • In order to interact with an Aspect other than your own, your character needs to directly interact with the object/location/person that has the Aspect you want to invoke, and have reasonable access to the Aspect in question.
Invoking Other Aspects (YS 106)
  • Performed in the same manner as above, but if done vs. another PC or an NPC to gain advantage over them, then the FP spent will be given to that PC/NPC (this includes NPC vs. PC).
  • Tagging : On any Aspect you make a roll to create/discover in a scene, get the first Invocation w/o spending FP
    • This must be done almost immediately after the Aspect has been brought into play
    • You may allow another character to use your Tag if you wish
    • Tagged invocations never award an FP because one is not spent
Compelling Other Aspects (YS 107)
  • If you are aware of and can access an Aspect on another character or NPC, you may spend a FP to try and trigger the circumstances of a Compel on the target.
  • If found valid, the GM will negotiate the compel with the target (per usual)
  • Regardless of how the target handles the compel, the initial FP is spent/lost
  • Scene Compels : Scene Aspects (such as “Everything is Burning!”) may be applied by the GM to every character in the scene, and thus initiate Compels for each character. Technically, a PC could do the same—but it could become an expensive proposition having to spend a FP for every character he wants affected…

Creating and Discovering Aspects in Play (YS 113)

  • Make an Assessment : Essentially—use your Skills to make a careful examination of the situation well in advance of taking action
    • Generally, discovering an Aspect in such a way will allow you to Tag it
    • Assessments require a significant amount of time (usually indicated in the description of the Skill used)
  • Make a Guess : Spend a FP, make a guess, and explain how you will use the Aspect if it exists (gambling with an Invocation or Compel): If it hits reasonably close to the mark, the GM should allow it
    • If the guess misses the mark, but nothing significant happens or is revealed by missing it, then you’ll get the FP back.
    • If the guess misses the mark, but by guessing wrong something significant happens or is revealed, then the FP is still spent
  • Make a Declaration : Use a perception/knowledge skill to make a reasonable declaration about the scene that works to your advantage—creating an Aspect for the scene
    • GM will call for a Skill roll at an appropriate difficulty
    • PC may then Tag the newly created Aspect


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