Posts Tagged ‘Characterization’

I have paid little attention to FATE Accelerated Edition (FAE).  I mostly saw it as being a version of FATE for Baby Role-playing gamers – those either brand new to the hobby or those with kids hoping to pass it along to the next generation. I’m neither, so FAE-get about it!

BUT, given that I play with people unfamiliar with the concept of story-centric games, FAE’s simplicity is an ideal introduction. Also, it shows an old dog like me new ideas, specifically in the form of Approaches.

Approaches describe how a character solves problems, unlike skills telling what they do to solve’em. I like this cause it enables stories where the characters are broadly skilled (everyone can pilot a ship, shoot a blaster or repair stuff) and are all doing the same general thing (fighting against the Empire). How individual characters solve problems makes them unique, which reinforces their role.

Besides Star Wars and other action flicks, a story where this kind of system is really helpful would be

Mouse Guard

MouseGuardMedieval rodent warriors defend their species against numerous natural threats and maintain order among mice.

A very well acclaimed role-playing game was written for this setting. Many of its concepts are present in FATE so I’ll translate some of the system into this FAE version.


The Picture Aspect takes the place of the High Concept. It focuses on the image of the mouse since this is based on a graphic novel series. Their fur color is described to give a distinctive mental image, because being species racist, mice look a like.

The color of their cloak is the most telling part of the Aspect. When they’re inducted into the Guard, a mouse’s mentor gives them a cloak that matches the mentor’s appraisal of their character. Red for a hot temper, green for energetic or grey for mature wisdom. The cloak color and it’s meaning is the central part of the Guard Mouse’s Picture.

sadie     Patrol Mouse Sadie is a Brown fur whose Plum cloak symbolizes her Independent Nature

Belief is an aspect that expresses the mouse’s primary ethical stance. “Why do they do what they do?” is question that Belief answers. Consider this what the character wants to ultimately achieve with their service in the guard and how they represent the Guard to other mice. It says what principle they would die to uphold.

721447-picture_3Patrol Leader Kenzie’s Belief: It’s Not What you fight, its what you Fight For

Instinct is how your character immediately responds to surprise. It represents the mouse’s gut reaction rather than the reasoned philosophy that Belief represents. The reason for the cloak color can suggest the Instinct of a mouse. This aspect can take the place of Trouble in other FATE games as it can be a failing that contradicts their Belief.

art.david+petersen.saxonPatrol Guard Saxon’s Instinct: Trouble?! Draw my Sword!

Other Aspects could express relationships between teammates or the wisdom of the mouse’s mentor.

With their name, include their rank. Rank is important because it indicates the responsibilities and expectations the Mouse Guard has of the character.

These are the ranks lowest to highest: Tenderpaws are cloak-less rookies learning under another teammate; Guard mice are the workhorses of the force; Patrol Guard’s are trusted independent agents; Patrol Leaders command small teams of Guard mice in the field and Guard Captains are in charge of major functions of the organization, like li’l generals.


The Mouse Guard game had skills that reflected character proficiencies like carpentry, knowledge-wises, even fucking beekeeping! We don’t concern our selves with these. We focus on the styles of the different main characters of the story.

Each Approach has a dice bonus just like a skill, but it applies to role-playing choices in solving story problems. Player characters start with one +3 Approach, two at +2, two at +1 and one at +0. How you rank the following Approaches tells how your mouse does things.

08_mices5_full[1]Bold characters rely on shock and awe. This represents very flashy and forceful action, like jumping into a snake’s mouth. This tactic relies heavily on surprise to stun enemies. The drawback is often in the vulnerability it leaves the mouse in.

The Tricky approach is about playing on expectations to misdirect. It’s both flashy and clever. Feigning a weakness to invite an expected response is hallmark of this style. However, once fooled is hard to fool again.

The most confident characters take the Direct approach, which is quick and forceful. Often the best orientation for addressing problems is forward and through. The opposition will be intimidated and back down or take arms against you. Either way, shit will get resolved immediately.

The Resourceful approach makes use of whatever is at hand to solve a problem. It’s quick and clever by using materials at hand (paw) to overcome obstacles and create unexpected advantages. Often Guard mice must be inventive when caught without the right gear.

Tasked with protecting mousekind, Guards mice are Brave in the face of threats. They would rather carefully confront danger and match force with force to defend others. This is an approach favored by leaders to both protect and inspire their teams.

 Characters that prefer a Studied tactic favor being careful and clever. Looking for the details of a situation and how to make use of them guides these types of character. It requires time and patience that may not be helpful when more bold action is required.keca

The older game had Traits that granted bonuses and suggested drawbacks based on unique characteristics of a mouse.

Short and Fearless are two Traits in the Mouse Guard RPG. As part of  an Aspect, they can be Invoked and Compelled. For example, Saxon’s Picture Aspect Short Brown mouse with Fearless Blood Red as his Cloak.On the other hand, a player could take the positive part of a Trait and make it a Stunt.

FAE’s version of Stunts are very simple to compose. Basically, you follow a format expressing why you get a bonus: Because I’m [Unique Trait], I get a +2 to [Approach-styled Action] when [Specific Situation].

Example, Kenzie has the Observant Trait:  Because I’m Observant, I get a +2 to Studiously discover advantages when I go last in an exchange.

A sample accelerated Mouse Guard player character:

Guard Mouse Lieam

Lieam[1]Picture: The Young Red-fur wears Unripened Green Of Course.

Belief: “No Task is too Big for a True Guard Mouse!”

Instinct: Help those in Need, No Matter What.

Relationship: “Must Show Kenzie and Saxon I’m Worthy.”

Refresh: 3

Approaches : Brave +3, Bold +2, Studied +2, Direct +1, Resourceful +1,  Tricky +0.

Stunts: Because he’s a Defender, Lieam gets a +2 to Bravely Attack when his friends are at great risk.

Because he’s Determined, Lieam gets a +2 to Boldly Overcome dangerous obstacles keeping him from his mission.

Gear: Broad blade, Green cloak, Big Furry Nuts.

Read Full Post »