Selfies (alternative Character Advancement)
Selfies are experiences you’ve decided to record and turn into a formal part of your character’s identity. Selfies do two very important things for your character:
- Selfies grant advancements. Advancements are how you improve and buy new skill sets, acquire new stunts, and swap out extreme consequences.
- They can be used for callbacks. Callbacks are like minor aspects that can only be invoked.
When you get a new selfie, you can take an advancement depending on when and how you get it. But selfies remain in your scrapbook, and you can callback each one of them once per session. This means you have an immediate effect on your character sheet, but you also have a lingering benefit that persists through the life of your character and helps to define their overarching story.
You keep track of your selfies in what we call a scrapbook. You can just use a piece of lined paper where you write things down but where’s the fun in that?
Make a scrapbook.
Depending on your play format, make an appropriate scrapbook. If you’re playing around a table, go to the dollar store or use an old notebook you have lying around and swore you’d use to write your great novel. If you’re playing online, make a little wiki. If you’re playing a LARP, do a simple Instagram account for your character. The sky’s the limit. I recommend using the scrapbook to actually hold your character sheet. I like printing and chopping up the parts of the character sheet then pasting them on the first two pages of my scrapbook. Look, I never said I was cool.
There are three basic types of selfies:
- Big moods (episode selfies)
- Big deals (story selfies)
- Life-changing events (season selfies)
The different selfie types relate to the frames of out-of-character game time—the session, the story, and the season.
Let’s break down how each of the selfie types works, and when you get them.
Big Moods (Episode Selfies)
Big moods happen once per episode. That is to say, once per game session. This isn’t necessarily at the end of play, but that’s the easiest time to resolve what they give you.
To mark a big mood, something important has to happen in game. Maybe it’s something cool. Maybe it’s something tragic. Maybe it’s something funny. Maybe it’s something just plain stupid. Point is, it should be something worth remembering.
Marking Big Moods
You should mark a big mood with an expression. Maybe a smiley face. Maybe a crying emoji. Whatever, so long as you know it’s an episode selfie—a minor callback.
Big Mood Advancements
These are minor changes in your character, more about changing than improving. You can do a few things with big mood advancements:
- an Average (+1) skill set and replace it with one you don’t already have.
- Swap out a stunt for a new one. Spend 1 refresh for a new stunt.
- Rename a character aspect that isn’t your high concept aspect.
- Also, you can rename a moderate consequence as “in recovery.".
Big Mood Callbacks
You can callback a big mood once per episode, including the episode where you got it. When you callback a big mood, you get +1 on a skill set roll, just like you invoked an aspect, but +1 instead of +2. Like an aspect, it has to be relevant. Think along the lines of, “remember that time I...” If that fits, you got it.
Big Deals (Story Selfies)
Every 1-3 episodes, you should complete a story. Between stories, you can mark a big deal, or “story selfie.” This is a significant milestone in your character’s story, so make it count. Look back at the story and figure out what the most pivotal moment for your character was. A lot of times, this comes at the end, at whatever resolution occurs as result of the gig, but it isn’t always the case.
Marking Big Deals
Mark a big deal with a doodle or symbol. Just an exclamation mark, or a planet, or a star, or something. Preferably something tied to the memory.
Big Deal Advancements
Big deals actively add to your character’s capabilities. You can do this at any time, whether between game sessions or during play since it’s just a skill set rank. With a big deal, you can do one thing:
- Take one additional skill set point, which can buy a new skill set at Average (+1) or increase an existing skill set by a single rank.
You can also rename any severe consequences to note that they’re “in recovery.”
Big Deal Callbacks
You can callback a big deal selfie once per game session. When you invoke a callback, you can reroll all your rolled dice, or take +2, just like when invoking an aspect. Like with any aspect, it has to be relevant to the scene. For big fucking deals, think in terms of “that job we did.” Like, “This is tough.” “Yeah, but remember the ice cream truck job?” “Oh yeah...”
Life Changing Events (Season Selfies)
Life-changing events happen between seasons. You know, just like on TV. Basically they happen every 2-5 stories. Like the name suggests, these are big events in your character’s life, and represent the most important things that happen during the season, or just stuff you decide happens between seasons. These selfies are the chance to just announce stuff that happened between season storylines.
Marking Live Changing Events
Life-changing events need a lot of visual fanfare. My recommendation is doing a cool border at very least. But the real business here is adding glitter glue, because glitter glue is fucking awesome.
Live Changing Event Advancements
These advancements are huge. They’re turning points in your character’s development. You get all of the following that you want:
- If you have an extreme consequence, you can change it to something else.
- Add a point of refresh. You can use it to buy a stunt, or just have more fate points at the start of play.
- Advance a skill set beyond the game’s current skill cap. This increases the series skill set cap.
- Rename your character’s high concept.
Live Changing Event Callbacks
You can callback a life-changing event the way you could any other aspect. This includes compels and dilemmas. You get one free invoke per game session, and when you use that invoke, you get to use the edge die in addition to the normal invoke benefits, even if you don’t have the edge. You don’t seize the edge—you just get to use the die.
Selfies Change the World (How Selfies Progress the Rest of the Game World)
Selfies change the characters as the story progresses. But the rest of the world changes and grows, too. When the players get their episode, story, and season selfies, it’s worth taking a look at the aspects that are currently in play, and considering whether they should be changed to suit the evolving needs of the story, or weren’t used enough.
Here are specific considerations for different degrees of selfies:
These happen every session, during the session. So, you don’t really need to overthink these moments. If the thing that caused the big mood affected the world, just ask yourself if it changed anything in the world that would be reflected in an aspect. Most commonly, this means adding, removing, or changing location aspects.
Between stories, take a look at the more overarching aspects in play. Take a look at the motif aspect(s). Ask yourself if any locations used in that story should be elevated to recurring status, and given permanent location aspects. Also look at your significant GM characters, and determine whether they’ve also grown as result of the story. The answer should usually be “no,” but not always. If the answer is “yes,” then they’re eligible for a big deal advancement, just like any other character.
Life Changing Events
When the season changes, you should reexamine all major aspects and consider them for revision. Talk to the group. Ask them what worked, what didn’t, and what they’d like to see going forward. Look at the changes they made in their characters, and the things they announced for between-season events. If the characters are moving from community college into the full-time workforce, for example, that just begs for a shift in motif, and probably means a significant shift in regular locations, as the characters (probably) stop hanging around the old community college.
As you manipulate locations, shifting aspects, building new locations, tearing old ones down, you have to remember that locations are only locations because of people. Sometimes the only relevant people are the players’ characters. If it’s just a little clearing in the woods where they go to relax, that’s on them. But most of the time, these games take place in cities, where the rest of the world is important.
People define places. The little burger and pastrami burrito place on the corner is memorable because Lucinda, who is usually pretty nice but it’s kind of annoying when she does her nails at the cashier station. So as you make locations and change locations, think about the people that define them. Add new ones, and evolve the ones that were already there.