[SotC] Aspects and Dynamism

edited March 2008 in Story Games
Elsewhere, Jesse said:
I can try. My issues with Aspects are the same as with the Scrips in Full Light, Full Steam. They, in the applications I've seen, are primarily about recognition, reinforcement and appreciation for a largely static thing. They generate more verbal artifacts into the game-space to be appreciated by the group as illustrating that thing. This is not a bad thing. It just bores me. What you're suggesting (without a greater context) seems to be more or less the same thing but instead of producing verbal artifacts for appreciation you have literal artifacts.

I don't see much difference between having a stack of little pictures that are more or less there for everyone to hold up and say, "Look at these." than the pile of verbal transcript memories of all the times I got to say, "I"m a man of ACTION!"
Which inspired this SotC hack: The third time you invoke an Aspect, you must change or discard it.

--Paul

Comments

  • Posted By: ptevis

    Which inspired this SotC hack: The third time you invoke an Aspect, you must change or discard it.

    --Paul
    This is white hot and negates my only problem with Aspects as written in FATE, is that they are static and there is no system for changing them.

    That is neat.

    Thanks, Paul.
  • edited March 2008
    Posted By: ptevisWhich inspired this SotC hack: The third time you invoke an Aspect, you must change or discard it.
    Given the weight Aspects have on suggested campaign prep, I think that could go too far in the other directly. I feel like it'll bog down play. But I see what you're going for. None of my ideas that spring immediately to mind (since the Traits in Mythender are kinda Aspect-y, those solutions are on the brain) the elegance of that statement.

    Hmm, maybe as a middle ground: after an adventure, your character's most-used Aspect must shift or be discarded for a wholly new idea. You can use the shift to represent character growth or plot development, depending on the Aspect. Given SOTC's 10 Aspects, maybe your top two.
  • Very cool idea, Paul.
  • Ryan,

    I don't think it will bog down play.

    There is no more valuable flag than the flag created during play. Those kind of aspects, written during play, right there and then will be gold for the GM.
  • Paul, I like this idea but it was giving me probs too. After thinking about it, I realized that as cool and dynamic as this sounded, some aspects may be foundational to my character concept. So, I think I want to be able to buy off your compel if I feel strongly enough. Which would mean that you had to offer me a fate point to change my aspect and if I don't want to, I gotta pay a fate point. Of course, if you really feel strongly that the aspect should go, you can always up your ante. That seems fair to me and still keeps the awesome.
  • Paul,

    While that's certainly an interesting idea, the unchangingness of Aspects isn't really my problem. My problem is that Aspects are about front-loading the character with expectations such that a large enjoyment of play is seeing those expectations played out. For example, if I have the aspect, "There's always a Dame...." as soon as the GM has "The Dame" show up everyone at the table turns to me nodding and smiling knowing full well what's about to happen. I don't particularly enjoy that Front Loaded Expectations yields Celebrated Realization of those Expectations style of play.

    Jesse
  • edited March 2008
    Posted By: Ryan Macklin
    Hmm, maybe as a middle ground: after an adventure, your character's most-used Aspect must shift or be discarded for a wholly new idea. You can use the shift to represent character growth or plot development, depending on the Aspect. Given SOTC's 10 Aspects, maybe your top two.

    I dig this a lot if you're looking at campaign play. Paul's suggestion is very interesting for one-shot play though I think it becomes Schizo: the Role-Play Game as there needs to be rhyme and reason why an aspect change is happening. Scrips in Full Light Full Steam offers a methodology. Of course there are far fewer "aspect" buttons to push there. If folks are changing aspects at the third use, pretty much all the responsibility for compelling will fall on them as it becomes a book-keeping tragedy for the GM to keep track of.
  • Folks,

    You can change the aspect in a subtle manner.

    So, if you have The Sword of St. George for one Aspect and you use it three times, it can become, I am a slave to the sword, because in play it came up that the sword was sentient and then The Sword Breaks or I Break and finally, My Body is My Weapon once you break free of it.

    It depicts an arc, not just randomly chosen.
  • I'm with Judd on this one. One can subtly change the Aspect. But I do agree that some Aspects are sorta written in stone. My fav character had Princess Alura as an aspect. Used against me by Judd fairly often and I loved it. I used it when the two of us were together and fighting/ socializing our way through a conflict. That is one Aspect that I just don't see Hadrian Helm losing.

    As for front loading expectations... sure it might 'encourage' that... but it doesn't have to. You are ALWAYS free to resist the compel. Unless you are out of Fate pts (and then there is something really wrong at the chip economy level or you are at the end of an exhausting set of conflicts... in which case, you ShOULD go for the Dame in your moment of weakness).
  • Storn,

    I think Princess Alura's aspect could have been subtly changed throughout play in cool ways. She would've stayed Hadrian's dame but we would have been forced to come up with ways to change her and her relationship with Helm.
  • Judd, you convinced me :)

    I, too, was assuming big changes (swap an aspect out, swap an aspect in). But yeah, change the wording of an aspect, and given the nature of Fate and the Aspects mechanics it will change the flavour of its invocations AND compels.
  • Renato, I win the internet!

    In defense of SotC, I'm not sure subtle changes over an arc of adventures are evocative of the pulp genre. I haven't seen it in the literature that I can think of.

    Nonetheless, I might want such a thing in my game.

    Something to think about.
  • I would love to have a way to resolve/cash out Aspects like Keys in TSoY. Maybe once a session (in an appropriately dramatic point) you can resolve an Aspect and change it to get a Refresh of Fate points.
  • Posted By: JuddFolks,

    You can change the aspect in a subtle manner.

    So, if you have The Sword of St. George for one Aspect and you use it three times, it can become, I am a slave to the sword, because in play it came up that the sword was sentient and then The Sword Breaks or I Break and finally, My Body is My Weapon once you break free of it.

    It depicts an arc, not just randomly chosen.
    That works great!
  • I don't know. I think if you're going to change aspects you should drop the least used ones and replace them with stuff relating to recent exploits.
  • Posted By: WillHI don't know. I think if you're going to change aspects you should drop the least used ones and replace them with stuff relating to recent exploits.
    I don't think the subtly changing aspects and swapping out unused Aspects need to be mutually exclusive.

    You could easily adopt a Burning Wheel trait vote-ish system, where Aspects that aren't getting tapped get changed. That is how we did it when we played SotC just out of instinct when certain Aspects fell flat.
  • edited March 2008
    To build on the idea a little:

    On the third Invoke, the GM twists the Aspect a little. (Or maybe not third -- I'm thinking fifth, as I might just start getting a handle on my character by the third Invoke.)

    On the, uh, nth Compel, you twist the Aspect a little. (Maybe third here, since -- in my experience -- compels are not as frequent-per-Aspect as invokes).

    I think that would be a bit more conversational -- you're twisting in reaction to the other side's actions.

    That said, I'm leery of change simple for change's sake (not just with this, but overall). But if it doesn't bog down play, I think it would be pretty damned fun.
  • Judd is totally right. This isn't that hard, folks. All Paul said was "change or discard." Why are we arguing about some kind of one-true-way way to go about this? Change or discard. If you're going to use the house rule, do it in a way that works for you. Subtle, broad, tied to recent events, totally random, whatever -- case by case.
  • John,

    I'm not sure anyone is arguing. It looks like people are going, "Eh, that wouldn't work for me..... Oh but this little twist would!" and then people are either building on that or adding further notation on what does or doesn't work for them.

    Jesse
  • edited March 2008
    Posted By: John HarperJudd is totally right. This isn't that hard, folks.
    Is someone saying Judd's wrong?

    (x-posted with Jesse)
  • Posted By: Ryan MacklinPosted By: John HarperJudd is totally right. This isn't that hard, folks.
    Is someone saying Judd's wrong?

    (x-posted with Jesse)

    You must BOW BEFORE MY WILL!

    Aspect: Bowed Before Judd's Will
  • Posted By: ptevisWhich inspired this SotC hack: The third time you invoke an Aspect, you must change or discard it.
    I love it. But what about this TSoY inspired modification:
    At any time you can invoke an Aspect, gaining a +6, or compel it for 3 Fate Points, but you must also discard the Aspect.

    Maybe you replace it right then and there, or maybe you wait between scenes. And I'd use Judd's advice for the replacement, with emphasis on that it's not randomly chosen, but it doesn't have to be a change to the discarded aspect if something better presented itself in the scene.
  • Posted By: JuddAspect: Bowed Before Judd's Will
    Judd's will needs a Dictionary page and a demon.
  • JUDD IS WRONG! WRONG WRONG WRONGY WRONG-WRONG!

    Okay, I'm done, now.

    I like the hack, Paul.
  • edited March 2008
    Hm. How about Nine World's Muses?

    When an Aspect is tagged, the owning player has the option of investing in the Aspect. Instead of keeping the FATE point, he crosses off a box next to the Aspect. The amount of investment determines the size of bonus for activating the Aspect--say, 1pt=+1, 2pt = +2, 4 = +3, 8 = +4. The player can choose to cash in the accumulated investment and get a surge of FATE points that all have to be used or discarded by the end of the scene. After that scene, the Aspect must be changed and the bonus starts again at 0.
  • Posted By: JuddAspect: Bowed Before Judd's Will
    You got two more invokes of that, buddy...
    Posted By: Josh Ballistic RobyJUDD IS WRONG! WRONG WRONG WRONGY WRONG-WRONG!
    Gah, I totally had this joke in my head where I was going to do something like that: Judd is wrong, man! He's totally wrong! I can't believe how wrong Judd is! He's...fuck, I used it three times, right? *scribble* ...not wrong!
    But now it sounds derivative.
  • Dude, Rock.

    Hell, so I'm syncing up with Alvin a bit here, but I take no shame in restatement.

    I'd say this - you can cash out an aspect. either invoke it without spending a fate point, or spend a fate point to make it a plus four (or screw it. just call it a flat +4 if you want a crazy ass dynamic game), and in doing so you sever the tie with that aspect. You break your sword, you give up your fear, whatever. Same kind of cool shit that you get out of cashing out a Key in TSOY.

    Then just cross that mother out. Or erase it, or whatever. Then write a new one sometime when it would be interesting. You can write it right then if it's a consequence of the selloff, or you can write it in later when it would be convenient to you, or you can write it in at the end of the session when you have time to think of it.

    Hell, given a little more tweaking, you could more or less toss the dice and make play into an unending chain of making your aspects explode in awesome. I mean, yeah, it's more complicated than just saying that, but totally doable.

    -Rob D.

    PS- I also totally dig the subtle thing, and my fondness for explosions should not be taken as an argument against. I think my _sole_ objection to any of this is that I don't really feel like counting how often I use aspects, and I'd much rather either just do it, or have it be triggered by something I can be lazy about.
  • Hold on, I'm thinking of something different, here.

    The Aspect has to be Invoked, Tagged and Compelled and after those three things happen, the player has one more use and then they have to change it.

    But it can be invoked, Tagged and Compelled more than once, but once it has one of each, the player will get one more bonus and then it is time to change it.

    Ryan's joke above made me realize that he's right, some Aspects would be gone and changed after one decent conflict and I'd want to make sure they got full use.
  • I admit, the image of burning down aspects like a fuse would be pretty awesome, but I'd also probably limit it to a con game. That would get tiring pretty fast. Otherwise, some limits on how often it happens definitely protect sanity.

    Really, what I'd really want to do if I were tired of an aspect is flag it for the GM that I intended to change it so she can explicitly set me up for the finishing blow. Maybe by kicking me really hard in that particular aspect, maybe by just taking the plot in a particular direction. But as i think about it, if the GM and I go into a game knowing that a given aspect won't survive it, that seems like it would invite some potent collusion.

    -Rob D.
  • Jesus. Now I totally need to build a con game out of a self destructing character sheet.

    -Rob D.
  • edited March 2008
    Well, and the bigger problem that people somehow seem to be missing (am *I* missing something) is that if you discard an Aspect, eventually you're going to run out of Aspects. I'd like to have the option for something longer than one-shots...

    Change I can see. But discard... well that leaves a gap in the character's completeness. If you discard, how about the character gains one of those FATE "potential" Aspects or the like. Something that can be defined by some later event in play. Like, "I don't know what to change it to right now, so I'll change it to nothing, pending being able to decide what to use the slot for later."

    Something like that. Make it worth more to discard the Aspect, but then cost something to get it back later.

    Of course we're all really ignoring the fact that FATE already DOES have a method for gaining/changing Aspects and such... I think what we're looking for is just a change to the TSOY pace that we're now all addicted to.

    Mike
  • edited March 2008
    Two wrinkles, since this seems like a theme-and-variation thread:
    1) Tie aspect "lifespan" to game length - 3 uses for a con-game, 5 for a 5-6 session game, more for longer. Better opportunity for more developed arcs in longer-running games.
    2) Track aspect usage (invoke, tag, or compel) during each session. At the end of the session, the most used gets tweaked/changed, the lowest gets dropped/replaced. Look, Rob, Aspects have boxes again!
  • There's another problematic part to this which is that SOTC character creation, when the "full" method is used, ties your Aspects not only to your character, but also to the backgrounds of other characters. What happens to them?

    How about when you use an Aspect, another player gets to change or discard it?
  • edited March 2008
    Posted By: JuddRyan's joke above made me realize that he's right, some Aspects would be gone and changed after one decent conflict and I'd want to make sure they got full use.
    And now it is I who has won the internet! (Edit: I suppose if I can't be funny, at least I can be a little insightful. :)
    Posted By: Matthew Gandy1) Tie aspect "lifespan" to game length - 3 uses for a con-game, 5 for a 5-6 session game, more for longer. Better opportunity for more developed arcs in longer-running games.
    For longer, that's why I suggested my adventure-based method rather than use-based methods described.
    Posted By: JDCorleyThere's another problematic part to this which is that SOTC character creation, when the "full" method is used, ties your Aspects not only to your character, but also to the backgrounds of other characters. What happens to them?
    Interesting, for those Aspects that are tied to other characters ("Sally, save me!"). That said, what happened in the novels is in the past -- character's aren't retroactively changing here, they're growing.

    Overall, my concern with the idea is that forced, on-the-spot character change mandated by mechanics sounds like a recipe for disaster:
    * Forced: if I have an Aspect that I really really like, I'm now encouraged to *not* use it.
    * On-the-spot: It may make no sense to change an Aspect in the middle of a fight, or the story might not really clearly tell you how it should change.
    * Mechanically-mandated: It's change for change's sake, not change for the sake of the character or the story. Isn't that just as problematic as static Aspects?

    Now, sure, this could be *fun*. And don't worry John, I'm not saying Judd's wrong -- I burned out that aspect already. ;) But if I were to do this in my game, I would consider the following:
    * Make it not something that's forced, but chosen...with a hell of a benefit. Want a +4 (or maybe +5) instead of the +2 or reroll? Cool -- that Aspect is Done. You've burned it out, and you'll dramatically change it later. (Yes, this comes with its own problems. I would try to solve them if I actually implemented this.) (Edit: And that's exactly what Rob suggested above. Heh.)
    * Make it so that the on-the-spot factor is mitigated. If you have a good idea Right Now, do it Right Now. Otherwise, after this scene is over, that Aspect is in limbo until you change it. (If you like, call it a "We Owe Change" list.)
    * Make it so the mechanics work as flags, not mandates. After every session, look at the Aspects with the most checks, and talk about if they've changed or not. Why mechanically mandate when you have something at your disposal so much more awesome than cold mechanics: smart, creative people.
    These aren't necessarily mutually compatible ideas, just something I chewed on over lunch.
  • How about tying fate point refreshes to aspect changes?

    Once a session, you may get a full refresh by changing an aspect.
  • Posted By: oliofHow about tying fate point refreshes to aspect changes?

    Once a session, you may get a full refresh by changing an aspect.
    I like that.
  • Posted By: Mike HolmesIf you discard, how about the character gains one of those FATE "potential" Aspects or the like. Something that can be defined by some later event in play. Like, "I don't know what to change it to right now, so I'll change it to nothing, pending being able to decide what to use the slot for later."
    I agree. But, I just figure "change" means that it changes to something new like "Sword of Triumph" to "Broken Sword Relic" and discard means it's GONE and replaced (at some point) by a new Aspect that is unrelated to the previous Aspect.
    Of course we're all really ignoring the fact that FATE already DOES have a method for gaining/changing Aspects and such... I think what we're looking for is just a change to the TSOY pace that we're now all addicted to.
    I don't think anyone is ignoring that. That happens between stories or in down time, and can happen at a whim. But instead the difference is the idea of forcing an Aspect change/removal or doing so in the middle of a story for a benefit. Regardless, I think keeping in mind the changing Aspects to happen based on previous actions, is a nice enough tweak (or at least different way to frame it) than what the book outlines.
  • Posted By: John HarperJudd is totally right. This isn't that hard, folks. All Paul said was "change or discard." Why are we arguing about some kind of one-true-way way to go about this? Change or discard. If you're going to use the house rule, do it in a way that works for you. Subtle, broad, tied to recent events, totally random, whatever -- case by case.
    This is arguing? Really? I thought it was chatting.
    Posted By: Rob DonoghueI think my _sole_ objection to any of this is that I don't really feel like counting how often I use aspects, and I'd much rather either just do it, or have it be triggered by something I can be lazy about.
    Yeah. Counting sucks. Why not
    Posted By: Rob Donoghue
    Really, what I'd really want to do if I were tired of an aspect is flag it for the GM that I intended to change it so she can explicitly set me up for the finishing blow. Maybe by kicking me really hard in that particular aspect, maybe by just taking the plot in a particular direction.
    I fall back on my suggestion that there be a fate point compel involved in aspect changes.
  • edited March 2008
    One of the Aspects for PCs in my campaign is their "Heart" Aspect:

    "Phase 5 (The Heart): Describe the person, organization, ideal, or item which is dearest to your character and choose an Aspect that names it. This is the Heart of your character. It is something your character will protect whether their lover, their child, their status within a hierarchy, their sense of themselves, or something else. It is also something the player should be willing to have threatened by the GM in the form of NPCs and events in the game world, and perhaps even lose. If, in the course of play the character loses their Heart or the Heart is altered in someway, a new Heart will be chosen or an Aspect that reflects either their sense of loss or their desire for revenge will replace it."

    Over the last year I've played with a lot of different ideas for this Aspect, including +3 or reroll when it's being Invoked, with increasing difficulty of Contests whenever it's Compelled or Invoked. I've tried and rejected several other mechanics for it too. I like the overall idea and I think a lot of players would - I just couldn't figure out exactly how I wanted to handle it.

    Ultimately, each of the players chose several Aspects that they view as important to their character concept and they are changing them when it seems warranted by in-game actions and choices - nothing concretely defined for how or when they change.
  • About the "disappearing" aspects problem: just have them NOT disappear. Strike them to remind you and the GM they cannot be compelled/invoked anymore, but they are the written legacy of your character past and evolution. It would make no sense to simply erase them altogether.

    In the long run, transfer the old aspects to the back of the charsheet, or something (maybe a diary or journal of the character's adventures).

    This way the other characters linked aspects will still make sense :)
  • I'd be more interested in having aspects rotate within the space of a session than disappear.

    I'm finding that some players figure out "go to" aspects they can always use in common situations. Frex, I have a PC in my game with the aspect "Hondo needs me" (Hondo being another PC). Whenever the group gets involved in combat, that aspect is a bit too convenient and gets played round after round. I'd rather encourage a bit of variety.

    The idea of making characters evolve is one I am less fond of. Especially at the rate I am seeing prescribed here. I also don't like the idea of a lot of tracking. Maybe at the end of a session, the GM can nominate one aspect on each character sheet for retirement.
  • Posted By: Ryan MacklinOverall, my concern with the idea is that forced, on-the-spot character change mandated by mechanics sounds like a recipe for disaster:
    * Forced: if I have an Aspect that Ireally reallylike, I'm now encouraged to *not* use it.
    * On-the-spot: It may make no sense to change an Aspect in the middle of a fight, or the story might not really clearly tell you how it should change.
    * Mechanically-mandated: It's change for change's sake, not change for the sake of the character or the story. Isn't that just as problematic as static Aspects?
    I missed this yesterday, but waiting for the train today, point #1 struck me too. I really don't like that, although I would echo that it might work well for one shots and con games.

    For your other two points I would say that I think in play players and GMs will easily be able to make it make sense, and make the change be for the sake of character or the story. And if it feels wrong, like Indiana Jones losing his Bullwhip Aspect at this point in time doesn't really have any resonance, then the player has a reason not to invoke it. Although, that thought process leads me back to #1.
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