Who Do You Want To Be?
Once you’ve decided what kind of story you’ll be telling in your game, you decide who your character is—what they look like, what they’re good at, and what they believe.
What Kind of Characters Can I Play?
Think about the setting that you’ve decided to play in and make that your main guide. Are you playing in a school for young sorcerers? Play a young sorcerer! Are you playing space pilots fighting an evil empire? Play a space pilot! Make sure your character has a reason to interact and cooperate with the characters the other players are making.
How Do I Make the Character?
Now it’s time to start writing stuff down. Grab a pencil and a copy of the character sheet. Some people like to use form-fillable PDFs on a laptop or tablet computer. Any of that’s fine, but you definitely want something that lets you erase and change.
Aspects in a Nutshell
An aspect is a word, phrase, or sentence that describes something centrally important to your character. It can be a motto your character lives by, a personality quirk, a description of a relationship you have with another character, an important possession or bit of equipment your character has, or any other part of your character that is vitally important.
Aspects allow you to change the story in ways that tie in with your character’s tendencies, skills, or problems. You can also use them to establish facts about the setting, such as the presence of magic or the existence of a useful ally, dangerous enemy, or secret organization.
Your character will have a handful of aspects (between three and five), including a high concept and a trouble. Aspects are discussed in detail in Aspects and Fate Points—but for now, this should help you get the idea.
First, decide on your character’s high concept. This is a single phrase or sentence that neatly sums up your character, saying who you are, what you do, what your “deal” is. When you think about your high concept, try to think of two things: how this aspect could help you, and how it might make things harder for you. Good high concept aspects do both.
Examples: Feline Captain of Cirrus Skimmer; Suncaller of the Andral Desert; Chief Field Agent of IGEMA
Next, decide on the thing that always gets you into trouble. It could be a personal weakness, or a recurring enemy, or an important obligation—anything that makes your life complicated.
Examples: Steel Assassins Want Me Dead; Cast Now, Ask Questions Later; Gotta Look Out for My Little Brother
Now compose another aspect. Think of something really important or interesting about your character. Are they the strongest person in their hometown? Do they carry a mighty sword known through history? Do they talk too much? Are they filthy rich?
Optional: One or Two Additional Aspects
If you wish, you may create one or two more aspects. These aspects might describe your character’s relationship with other player characters or with an NPC. Or, like the third aspect you composed above, it might describe something especially interesting about your character.
If you prefer, you can leave one or both of these aspects blank right now and fill them in later, after the game has started.
Name and Appearance
Describe your character’s appearance and give them a name.
Creating Characters: The 30-Second Version
Choose your approaches.
Approaches are descriptions of how you accomplish tasks. Everyone has the same six approaches:
Each approach is rated with a bonus. Choose one at Good (+3), two at Fair (+2), two at Average (+1), and one at Mediocre (+0). You can improve these later. What each approach means and how you use them can be found in How to Do Stuff: Outcomes, Approaches, and Actions.
Fate uses a ladder of adjectives and numbers to rate a character’s approaches, the result of a roll, difficulty ratings for simple checks, etc.
Here’s the ladder:
Your approaches can say a lot about who you are. Here are some examples:
- The Brute:
Forceful +3, Careful and Flashy +2, Sneaky and Quick +1, Clever +0
- The All-Star:
Quick +3, Forceful and Flashy +2, Clever and Careful +1, Sneaky +0
- The Trickster:
Clever +3, Sneaky and Flashy +2, Forceful and Quick +1, Careful +0
- The Guardian:
Careful +3, Forceful and Clever +2, Sneaky and Quick +1, Flashy +0
- The Thief:
Sneaky +3, Careful and Quick +2, Clever and Flashy +1, Forceful +0
- The Swashbuckler:
Flashy +3, Quick and Clever +2, Forceful and Sneaky +1, Careful +0
Stunts and Refresh
A stunt is a special trait that changes the way an approach works for your character. Generally, stunts give you a bonus (almost always +2) to a certain approach when used with a particular action under specific circumstances. Find out more about stunts in Stunts. Choose one stunt to start, or you can wait and add a stunt during the game. Later, when your character advances, you can choose more.
Your refresh is the number of fate points you begin each game session with—unless you ended the previous session with more unspent fate points than your refresh, in which case you start with the number you had left last time. By default, your refresh starts at three and is reduced by one for each stunt after the first three you choose—essentially, your first three stunts are free! As your character advances, you’ll get opportunities to add to your refresh. Your refresh may never go below one.
How Many Stunts?
By default, FAE suggests choosing one stunt to start with.
However, if this is your first time playing a Fate game, you might find it easier to pick your first stunt after you’ve had a chance to play a bit, to give you an idea of what a good stunt might be. Just add your stunt during or after your first game session.
On the other hand, if you’re an experienced Fate gamer, you might look ahead and discover that, just like in Fate Core, your character is entitled to three free stunts before it starts costing you refresh. In that case, let the least experienced member of your game group be your guide; if someone is new to the game and only takes one to start with, that’s what everyone should do. If you’re all experienced, and you want to start with more powerful characters, just take all three to start and off you go.