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Aspects for Adventuring Parties

June 26, 2011

I got group aspects done last week. Here are the rules. I keep going in circles about what to do with them though. Currently, I’ve made them different in that Group Aspects  can be powered by other team member’s fate points. I kinda like that, but it does bring in more rules and bog things down more. I mean, shouldn’t all aspects have the same rules? But if so, why have aspects for groups anyway? Oh well, here they are for now. Feedback appreciated:

Group Aspects

After a party of adventurers have spent a fair bit of time together encountering mind numbing horrors, watching each other’s backs in deadly situations, arguing over treasure, etc. they begin to develop a rapport. They become familiar with each other’s fighting styles, favorite spells, ways of thinking, and various idiosyncrasies. Sometimes true bonds of friendship, fraternity and self-respect are formed. Other times, personalities and goals collide leading to envy, mistrust, and even open hostility. Traits and issues that encompass and affect a whole party – not just one or two members – are known as Group Aspects.

Invoke

A group aspect can be used by a party member just like a normal aspect. Pay the Fate Point, get an advantage. However, the real power of a group Aspect is that they allow party members to give their Fate Points to other party members. So if Joe’s character has 5 Fate Points and Bruce’s character has none, Joe can give a Fate Point to Bruce so Bruce’s character can use a group aspect. The limits to this are:

  • A character giving up the Fate Point must be in the same Area as the character receiving the Fate Point.
  • The point must be spent immediately and it can only be spent to invoke a Group Aspect.

Compel

A GM can compel a group aspect on an entire party. In this case, all party members receive a Fate Point. In certain circumstances, party members can choose to be unaffected by the group compel by paying a Fate Point, but this should be the exception rather than the rule. Most group compels should affect an entire party and can only be avoided if the ENTIRE party spends a Fate Point. However, as when a group aspect is invoked, party members can share Fate Points to pay off a compel involving a group aspect.

For example: The Company of Shadows has the aspect “Sinister and Dangerous” and are well known in the town of Thardale. They approach the local Church of Daeus in Thardale for information, but the GM compels the aspect. Three things can happen:

  1. The party is turned away due to their sinful ways. Every party receives a Fate Point, but they still don’t have the information they need.
  2. The GM allows one character to pay off the compel and get the information the party needs (he approaches the priest as a repentant sinner), but the party still gets no Fate Points for the compel since no disadvantage was actually inflicted.
  3. The entire party pays off the compel. They convince the old priest that their reputation is neither accurate nor deserved.

Who can buy off the compel and when this can be done is determined by the GM.

Gaining a Group Aspect

When the average level of a group is 5th level, they are awarded an aspect. This aspect should be determined by the party and should reflect something they have done or accomplished.

When the average level of the group reaches 10th level the party receives another aspect. Every 5 levels thereafter another aspect is awarded.

Sample Group Aspects

Like regular aspects, group aspects are a reflection of the groups that choose them. Examples of group aspects might be:

Band of Brothers

Party members have become comrades in arms. In their time together, the characters have become a cohesive unit that fights as a team.

Player(s) Invoke Example: When fighting together, all members can use this aspect for benefits in combat.

GM Compel Example: Members of the party will not leave a comrade behind.

Dysfunctional

The party has some serious personality conflicts and has come close to splitting up in the past. Only their overall success has kept them together.

Player(s) Invoke Example: A party member might be able to invoke this when somehow upstaging other party members.

GM Compel Example: When cooperation is somehow necessary or even vital.

Eyes Always Peeled

Group is ever vigilant and alert. One party member keeps his eyes always to the left because he knows the dwarf is always looking to the right.

Player(s) Invoke Example: Get a bonus on Perception rolls.

GM Compel Example: Characters are so confident in this aspect that they fail to perceive something because one of their party members is distracted

Slayers of Ithkariss (the Black Wyrm)

Group has killed a fearful dragon that has been threatening the realm for years. Their deed is sung about and embellished upon by minstrels and storytellers.

Player(s) Invoke Example: Players can use this aspect for diplomacy and intimidation checks. Also use to get combat related bonuses against dragons and their ilk.

GM Compel Example: Players are sought out to slay dragons and other monsters – a rather hazardous line of work. In addition, Vezradun, a powerful fire drake who was also the occasional brood mate of Ithkariss, has vowed revenge on the party.

Heroes of Brennland

You deeds are talked about from the local pub to the Court of the King. You are seen as brave and good, true heroes of the realm.

Player(s) Invoke Example: Players can use this aspect for diplomacy and intimidation checks. They can even use this aspect in combat as well as in certain save situations (if everyone says you’re heroes, you must be heroes, right?).

GM Compel Example: Your hero status amongst the common rabble has won you few friends amongst the nobility, especially when the commoners denigrate their lords and knights who are “supposed to be protectin’ us” while they praise the heroes. Negative diplomacy checks when dealing with some of the nobility, a few of which are downright hostile!

Group Names

Another possible aspect for an adventuring party is a group name. Examples of a group name might be the Grey Lions, the Red Companions, the Hounds of Hessen, etc. These names add to a party’s reputation and fame while also giving their enemies pause.

Losing a Group Reputation

Sometimes party members are killed, retire, or just leave. Their removal often causes a disruption in party cohesion. If too many members leave the group dynamic can completely change.

Party aspects are lost if the average level of the party goes under the average level needed when they received the aspect. So if the average level of the party goes under 10th level, the aspect received at 10th level is removed, at least temporarily, until a new member or members gets familiar with the party (and gains a level or two).
(Copyright 2011, Steve Bode)

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