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Rule Differences: “Aspects of Fantasy” vs. D20

December 1, 2011

While the next campaign is essentially D20, there will be quite a number of differences between the game I’m running and, say, D&D 3.x or Pathfinder. Listed below is a quick overview of some of the differences between my game (which I’m eventually publishing as ‘Aspects of Fantasy’) and other D20 games:


When you create a character, you choose a Class, a Background, and a Race. All of these choices provide Traits that help to define a character’s abilities. Traits replace both class abilities and feats. Traits should allow for more flexibility in character development while at the same time streamlining character creation.


Characters also have a set of attributes called Aspects. Aspects cover a wide range of elements and should collectively paint a picture of who the character is, what he’s connected to, and what’s important to him (in contrast to the “what can he do” of skills). Like Traits, Aspects replace certain feats and class abilities; in addition, they do a good job of replacing class abilities and limitations.

By spending what is known as a Fate Point, an Aspect can be ‘invoked’ which means it is used to give you a bonus on a dice roll. Aspects can also be ‘compelled’ by a GM in which case you receive a penalty of some sort, but you then earn a Fate Point. Fate Points can also be used to power certain Traits.

Characters start out with 3 Fate Points at first level. Fate Points are renewed every session.


Instead of determining movement by counting squares on a grid, we will be using a concept called Areas. Area are roughly 40ft. x 40ft. zones which are used to determine someone’s position and location. While the idea may seem different, it’s really not. Before the advent of d20 we may have paid lip service to exact measurements but we were essentially always using “Areas”. As an example, during a game of D&D in the 1980s I might have said something like: “Joe, your character is around 20ft. away from the Troll while the elf is around 40ft. both of you should be able to reach the Troll and attack this round.” Areas essentially function the same, providing general points of reference for where a character is located, so now I might say: “Joe, your character and the elf are in the same Area as the Troll though the elf is a little farther away. Both of you will be able to reach the Troll and attack this round.”

More later…

3 Comments leave one →
  1. December 2, 2011 9:22 am

    If I may… This is the thing that most players overlook about Aspects the first time around:

    “Aspects can also be ‘compelled’ by a GM in which case you receive a penalty of some sort, but you then earn a Fate Point.”

    Many first timers only right positive Aspects for their characters. If you do that, you’ll only have 3 fate points per adventure to use. So if my characters is “Strong”, “Agile”, and “Awesome”… the GM can’t really compel any of those.

    They say the “perfect” Aspect can be used in a positive and negative way. For example: “I’d die rather than let my friends get hurt!” You can use that Aspect in a positive way whenever your friends are in danger… But the GM can use it in a negative way to “compel” you to go to your friends’ aid even when it’s inconvenient or even dangerous to do so.

    • December 2, 2011 9:24 am

      Argh. Can’t edit my comment. Maybe you should “write” your Aspects instead of righting them. Sigh.

    • May 12, 2018 6:10 am

      Well said

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