Aspects & Fate Points
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An aspect is a phrase that describes something unique or noteworthy about whatever it’s attached to. They’re the primary way you spend and gain fate points, and they influence the story by providing an opportunity for a character to get a bonus, complicating a character’s life, or adding to another character’s roll or passive opposition.
Defining Fate Points
GMs and players, you both have a pool of points called fate points you can use to influence the game. You represent these with tokens, as we mentioned in The Basics. Players, you start with a certain number of points every scenario, equal to your character’s refresh. You’ll also reset to your refresh rate if you ended a mid-scenario session with fewer fate points than your rate. GMs, you get a budget of fate points to spend in every scene.
When your aspects come into play, you will usually spend or gain a fate point.
Skills & Stunts
A skill is a word that describes a broad family of competency at something—such as Athletics, Fight, or Deceive—which your character might have gained through innate talent, training, or years of trial and error. Skills are the basis for everything your character actually does in the game that involves challenge and chance (and dice).
Skills are rated on the adjective ladder. The higher the rating, the better your character is at the skill. Taken together, your list of skills gives you a picture of that character’s potential for action at a glance—what you’re best at, what you’re okay at, and what you’re not so good at.
We define skills in two ways in Fate—in terms of the game actions that you can do with them, and the context in which you can use them. There are only a handful of basic game actions, but the number of potential contexts is infinite.
The Basic Game Actions
We cover these in more detail in Actions and Outcomes, but here’s a quick reference so that you don’t have to flip all the way over there right now.
There are also some special effects that some skills perform, such as giving you additional stress boxes for a conflict. See Physique and Will in the default skill list below for examples.
Even though there are only four actions that all skills adhere to, the skill in question lends context to the action. For example, both Burglary and Crafts allow you to create an advantage, but only under very different contexts—Burglary allows you to do it when you’re casing a place you’re about to break into, and Crafts allows you to do it when you’re examining a piece of machinery. The different skills let you differentiate the PCs’ abilities from one another a bit, allowing each person to have a unique contribution to the game.
A stunt is a special trait your character has that changes the way a skill works for you. Stunts indicate some special, privileged way a character uses a skill that is unique to whoever has that stunt, which is a pretty common trope in a lot of settings—special or elite training, exceptional talents, the mark of destiny, genetic alteration, innate coolness, and a myriad of other reasons all explain why some people get more out of their skills than others do.
Unlike skills, which are about the sort of things anyone can do in your campaign, stunts are about individual characters. For that reason, the next several pages are about how to make your own stunts, but we’ll also have example stunts listed under each skill in the Default Skill List.
Having stunts in your game allows you to differentiate characters that have the same skills as one another.
You can also use this to set apart a certain set of abilities as belonging to a dedicated few, if that’s something your setting needs. For example, in a contemporary setting, you might feel that there shouldn’t be a base skill that allows just anyone to have medical training. (Unless, of course, it’s a game about doctors.) However, as a stunt for another, more general knowledge skill (like Lore), you can have one character be “the doctor” if that’s what the player wants.
Stunts and Refresh
Taking a new stunt beyond the first three reduces your character’s refresh rate by one.