Another Look At Racial Aspects

This is a revised and improved approach to creating characters for play in the Forgotten Realms. The information given in the racial aspects section of the Dungeon Master’s Guide is there to serve as inspiration for aspects. It should inform any player as to the possibilities they can draw on when developing their character’s aspects. Race and ethnicity is important enough in the realms to warrant special mention among your character aspects. As I’ve stated in the guide “Suffice to say that anyone not human or even halfling should probably mention it… it will likely get mentioned by others anyway.”

The core rules of Fate are clear on the need for aspects to be well defined and crucially, understood by everyone at the table. Simply taking the aspect Sun Elf  or Shield Dwarf  is too broad and open to all kinds of abuse by the player. Counting Elf  among your aspects should not give the player carte blanche to invoke on a wide range of actions from swordplay to magic or agility as is the implication in the Freeport Companion. This interpretation is closer to the kinds of class abilities found in Dungeons & Dragons. One of the dangers of opening play up to this kind of aspect or interpretation there of is that it devalues the other aspects that make each scene unique. This is true in any game of Fate, not just the swords & sorcery genre. Why bother working to take advantage of your environment or your opponent’s weaknesses if you can just fall back on that Elf  aspect to improve all manner of attack actions, including magic. If however your aspect is defined as Sun Elf Bladesinger , that tells us something, not alone that your character is a sun elf but also that they have been trained in a specialised form of swordplay that prioritises defensive posture and tactical positioning. The exact martial and magical skills of your character can be further expanded on with stunts. Indeed many of the stunts listed in the Freeport Companion could be easily reworded or even reinterpreted as aspects.

A racial aspect in Fate of the Forgotten Realms could say something about a cultural background, a training in a specific field, a real-world profession or even a problem that the character is saddled with – a Trouble aspect, e.g. “No Love for Half-Orcs” . Given that aspects are expected to be double-edged, simply attaching a racial qualification or ethnic description to an aspect is enough to suggest potential compels, e.g. “Illuskan Skald”  or “Gnome’s Nose for Potions” . Unless you’re playing a very typical heartlander, at least one of your aspects should inform us of your ethnicity.