Compels and Aspects

A character’s trouble serves an important function in both Fate and Return to the Stars, it is designed to be compelled, which means the story gets more complicated and interesting, and also means that the player gets one of those shiny fate points, so they can be even more awesome in the future.

But it’s not just a trouble that can be compelled, any character aspects can serve that purpose.  One way to check and see if your character has strongly written aspects is to attempt to write examples of how they might be compelled.  As a bonus, you can share that list with the GM, so they have an easy reference for the type ways you’d welcome your character getting compelled.

Here’s an example of a 1920’s occult investigator, his aspects, and suggestions for how they might be compelled.

  • High Concept:  Wealthy Daredevil/Industrialist
  • Trouble: Manwe, his ward and sidekick
  • Calculatingly Ruthless Strategist in a Secret War
  • The Darling of the Press
  • Sorcerer of sympathetic magic with an magic amulet engraved with the words ‘Homo sum, humani nihil a me alienum puto” and incorporating a bone of from the tip of his finger.

Potential Compels

Because Parker is a Wealthy Daredevil/Industrialist

He might be publicly challenged to do risky things.

He has rivals.

He has responsibilities

It makes sense that he’d attempt a difficult challenge.

He is subject to the jealousy and envy of others.

His playboy lifestyle may have broken the heart of someone the party needs to interact with, or he may have had a liaison with an NPC’s girlfriend or fiancée.

Working class people might assume he can’t relate to them.

He might mistakenly assume that it’s easy for someone else to do something that that requires wealth and privilege.

Because Parker has Manwe as his sidekick

It makes sense that he’d be concerned about what the welfare of her people.

It makes sense that he’d want to investigate what the why the British Fascists From the Future had were-sharks as test subjects.

She would get into some hijinks.

She might be jealous when she thinks he’s paying too much attention others.

She can appeal to a sense of youthful idealism that interferes with his doing a ruthless but necessary thing.

He might be enraged if someone threatens her.

The daughter of the witch king might get dragged into an occult occurrence.

Her enemies are his enemies.

He might decide to provide a good example for her, despite it complicating things.

He might be surprised by how less resourceful “normal” kids Manwe’s age are.

Racists dislike him.

Because Parker is a Ruthless Strategist in a Secret War

The person the party is meeting interacting with might turn out to be a foe he defeated in the past.

He might be asked to confront something that normal people couldn’t deal with.

He might feel compelled to learn what the enemy is up to.

He might go overboard in his tactics.

He might show contempt for people unwilling to confront scary threats to mankind.

Because Parker is the darling of the Press

Crowds of autograph seekers might impede his ability to be stealthy, or chase someone.

The enemy might know he’s coming based on media reports.

People who want to avoid the limelight might be reluctant to interactive with him.

He might be recognized at the wrong time.

Because Parker is a practitioner of sympathetic magic

He might arouse superstitious fears or religious condemnation.

He might have a distracting opportunity to acquire magical power.

He might draw the attention of magical foes.

To the extent his powers become public knowledge, scientists and reporters might be drawn to “discredit” him.

A ritual might have an unintended consequence or side effect.


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