Cortex+ as Inspiration for Aspect Usage

Cortex+ has done some great things with the concept of aspects (they call them distinctions). Giving them a rating, attaching triggers/SFX (aka stunts), limiting their use while allowing them to always be used, etc. They are able to maintain the versatility of aspects while placing easy to understand rules on how to use them.

For those of you who prefer this approach, here’s a way to adjust aspects for your Fate Core game.

Give Aspects a Rating
Aspects don’t give a flat +2 bonus according to this rule. Instead, you apply a rating to them. Select one aspect to have a +3 bonus, one to have a +2 and give the rest a +1 each. When you invoke an aspect for a bonus to a roll, add this bonus to the roll.

Describe an Aspects Parameters
Since we’re dealing with ratings on aspects, we need to determine when an aspect can be used. Otherwise, we’ll end up with players finding creative ways to use their Trained by Bruce Lee +3 in all manner of circumstances. Instead, a player might “add their Trained by Bruce Lee +3 aspect when fighting or defending themselves.” This gives us a bit of context.

What does it mean when you are “fighting and defending yourself?” Well, that depends on the context. But remember, Bruce Lee was a master of fighting without fighting. It’s possible that his training included all variations of combat, such as in social combat and vehicular combat.

It’s possible to ignore an aspect’s parameters on occasion, though, such as when the above character needs to dredge up some martial arts lore. Given his training, it makes sense to apply this aspect. However, if the character has a more relevant aspect, such as Student at Washington State University +1 then he needs to use that instead, as it’s more relevant to what the character knows.

When in question, consider relevancy. Players always get to add an aspect to a roll. The aspect’s parameter helps in determining which is more relevant for the action.

Change How Invocations Work
Since aspects are more reliable (not requiring a fate point for use) in this system, you don’t need to invoke them in the traditional sense. Here, they’re going to work more like skill add-ons, or base ratings at which you roll. Whenever you choose to act, select a skill, pick the most relevant character or situation aspect to add to it and roll.

This has a rather cool effect on the narrative. If you are studied up in Lore but don’t have much intellect (either no relevant mental aspects or one with a low rating) you might have a +3 to +4 total on your roll. On the other side of the coin, if you’re more of an intellectual, but focused your skill selection on combat (a situation I could imagine the X-Men’s Beast being in) you might end up with a +3 to +4 total on your roll (though the Beast would probably be higher). This effect gives aspects a bit of a “broad skill” application.

If you fail your roll, you can still invoke aspects to help you out. This works as a standard aspect invocation (spend a fate point) but you add the rank of the aspect you added in. You can spend a fate point for an invocation in this way multiple times.

Change How Created Advantages and Boosts Work

When you create an advantage, you are placing a situation aspect on the scene. This can be used as the aspect for a roll, as detailed above. Their rating is determined by the result you scored on your roll.

  • Tie: +1
  • Success: +2
  • Success with Style: +3

Boosts still grant an insta-bonus to your rolls. When you achieve a boost, you can add it to a roll as a second aspect or free, but they go away after they are invoked. All boosts are rated at +1.

Tomorrow, I’ll discuss how to replace stunts with triggers.

See ya’ then!


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