Monthly Archives: November 2013

FATE of Aldis Part IV – High Concept


As discussed previously, I recommend using the High Concept (discussed on pp. 31-33 of FATE Core and p. 8 of FATE Accelerated) to cover three important components of Blue Rose characters – Nationality, Race, and Role.  All of these are covered in detail on pp. 54-74 of Blue Rose, with additional information in the Blue Rose Companion.

There are some definite advantages to just winging it when it comes to High Concept.  Because High Concept is meant to be a very broad catch-all for what your character is good at, under most circumstances I would recommend leaving it open  ended and simply consulting the Blue Rose rulebook occasionally when necessary for clarification.  However, this can also make for some problems and disagreements as the campaign progresses if, for example, several players have a similar High Concept (for example, several Aldin Humans) and have differing interpretations of what that means.  In the end it is up to each GM to plan things out based on the needs and play style of their group – some groups might be totally OK with this, while others may need some structure.

The various nationalities, races, and roles in Blue Rose are packages that define a character as being good at certain things and having certain abilities based on their background and profession.  FATE attempts the same thing, but comes at it from a different direction, allowing players to use a few words or phrases to define what their character is good at and calling that their High Concept.  The High Concept is in effect a sort of “Super Aspect” that defines the character very broadly, while Blue Rose uses several different background packages, each of which defines the character more narrowly.

One minor note – in Blue Rose, nationality is really only an add-on for the “Human” racial package.  A rhy-cat is a rhy-cat regardless of where it grew up.  This, however, struck me as going against one of the fundamental principles of romantic fantasy – egalitarianism.  A rhy-horse growing up in the Islands would be exposed to Islander society and would differ from a rhy-horse growing up in Aldis.  So for me, race and nationality should be separated.  Whether.

The best way to start defining the High Concept is to look at the packages from Blue Rose.  These consist of favored skills and favored feats in most cases (though in the case of some of the nonhuman packages they can be far more extensive).  For each package I will let the character choose one of the favored skills (or the nearest FATE Core equivalent) to be able to modify – under any circumstances – for each package.  In addition, between the three packages I will allow the player to choose one appropriate feat to turn into a stunt (for more on this see FATE System Toolkit pp 12-14).  Note that it is certainly possible to allow for two, or even three stunts to be connected to the High Concept – I am limiting it to one in order to keep characters from becoming overly complex, but it is really up to each individual GM to decide how many stunts should be connected to the High Concept.  For nonhuman races, which have lots of additional benefits, add each benefit but balance it out with a serious compel.

I’ll be adding my ideas for defining the Blue Rose series of High Concepts later, both for FATE Core and FATE Accelerated.  Before then however certain other concepts such as skills and magic need some consideration and work.



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The most difficult part of any conversion is getting the characters to come out with the right feel.  Despite claims to the contrary, no system is truly generic in the sense that it can perfectly recreate any setting, because the manner in which a given game system’s mechanics handle resolution provides a certain “feel” to the game that a different system will never quite be able to reproduce.  Nevertheless it is often possible to get pretty close with generic systems if you are careful to focus on modeling the most important aspects of the game setting in the character creation process.  For example, if you want to model D&D you are going to need some concept of character class in your game.  Even if you are running a game of Fiasco set in a D&D-like world, you are going to want to have character classes at least as titles for your characters because if you don’t have them, a central element of D&D will be missing.

With that idea in mind, I want to look at characters in Blue Rose to get an idea of what special features or characteristics they have, then consider how to port those over into the Fate system.

Characters in Blue Rose

Since this is a quick and dirty conversion, I am going to concentrate on what makes the characters in Blue Rose unique, rather than the fairly common things like Abilities and Skills.  The goal here is not to make characters that are identical to the characters in Blue Rose, but to make characters that have enough of the same feel that they will not come across as being out of place in the setting.

Things that strike me as making characters in Blue Rose unique to the setting are

  1. Nationality – which of the nations of Aldis your character originated from and grew up in.  Includes Aldins, Forest Folk, Islanders, Jarzoni, Kerns, Rezeans, and Romers
  2. Race – includes Humans, Night People, Rhydan of various sorts, Sea Folk, and two types of Vata
  3. Role – incudes the various sub-categories of Adept, Expert, and Warrior
  4. Calling – the character’s higher purpose
  5. Alignment – the overall bias of the character towards light or shadow
  6. Natures – those parts of the character’s personality that are particularly aligned towards light or shadow.

Since FATE Core is a less granular system than Blue Rose (and FATE Accelerated is even less granular than FATE Core) some of these will need to be combined or modified in some way in order to get them to “fit” into FATE character creation,  Some may need to be eliminated altogether (for example, Alignment would be easy to eliminate by simply assuming that all characters are Light-Aligned).  For others, I will need to make use of the nuts-and-bolts portions of FATE that go into making a character.

FATE Core/FAE Conversion overview

The first of the building blocks of a FATE  character are Aspects.  An Aspect is a phrase that describes something unique or noteworthy about whatever it is attached to – in this case, the character.  The typical FATE character has five Aspects by default, and two of these are special – the character’s High Concept, and the character’s Trouble.  The High Concept is a phrase that sums up what the character is about, and Trouble is what complicate’s the character’s existence.

For a quick and dirty conversion, I suggest compressing the character’s nationality, race, and role into a single Aspect for the character’s High Concept.  Something along the lines of Islander Rhy-Dolphin Seer for example.  Each of these can be further developed to specify what sorts of things they can modify when used as Aspects (I will address this further in my next article), or they can be kept nebulous and adjudicated when they come up.

“Trouble” can be used for the character’s  Light and Shadow Natures.  To do this simply list the Light and Shadow Nature with a backslash between them – for example Charismatic/Obsessive.  The first listing is what the character can Invoke the Aspect for, the second, is what can be used to Compel the Aspect.  If running a game where characters can be Shadow Aligned, indicate Shadow Alignment by listing the Shadow Nature first – Obsessive/Charismatic.

Finally, the character’s Heroic Calling can be modeled as an Aspect of its own.  Just as the previous Aspects had special titles, call this one “Heroic Calling” and use the Heroic Callings listed in Blue Rose (or make up something suitable) – for example Championing the Everyday.  If players are going to have the opportunity to play Shadow Aligned characters, there should also be a list for “Dark Calling”.  If the group has three or more players, it would be best to add another Aspect slot for the Heroic Calling.  Since use of Aspects is governed by available Fate Points, adding another Aspect slot will make the characters broader in terms of their abilities, but not much more powerful.

Some groups may prefer to use Heroic Calling as a Stunt.  This is particularly appropriate for FATE Accelerated, where Aspects might be needed to cover other parts of character creation.  This also detaches Heroic Calling from the use of FATE Points, giving it some additional emphasis.

In FATE Core the various skills all have stunts associated with them, and for a quick and dirty set up it might be easiest to just select one to go with each Heroic Calling, but there are 22 different Heroic Callings in Blue Rose and that might take too many of the standard stunts out of play.  Writing 22 new Stunts usable only by characters with a specific Heroic Calling is also a bit of work.  It can be fobbed off on the players, however.

But for FAE the process is fast and easy, and even allows for characters with the same Heroic Calling to have different stunts.  Here are some examples:

  • Because my Heroic Calling is “Wealth” I get a +2 when I Flashily Create an Advantage in high society social events.
  • Because my Heroic Calling is “Wealth” I get a +2 when I Carefully Overcome and obstacle through bribery.
  • Because my Heroic Calling is “Wealth” once per game session I can host a large society event as long as I am in my home city.
  • Because my Heroic Calling is “Wealth” once per game session I can automatically gain access to one wealthy or noble person who will be favorably inclined towards me, so long as I am in my home nation.

Overall, for me it seems best to use Heroic Calling as an Aspect in FATE Core (adding an additional Aspect slot)  and as a Stunt in FAE.



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