Ashes and Blood
What are Aspects?
Characters have a set of traits called aspects. Aspects 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 he can do” of skills). Aspects can be relationships, beliefs, catchphrases, descriptors, items, or pretty much anything else that describes the character.
• Significant personality traits or beliefs (Sucker for a Pretty Face, Never Leave a Man Behind, The Only Good Tsyntavian Is a Dead Tsyntavian).
• The character’s background or profession (Educated at the Academy of Blades, Born a Spacer, Cybernetic Street Thief).
• An important possession or noticeable feature (My Father’s Bloodstained Sword, Dressed to the Nines, Sharp Eyed Veteran).
• Relationships to people and organizations (In League with the Twisting Hand, The King’s Favor, Proud Member of the Company of Lords).
• Problems, goals, or issues the character is dealing with (A Price on My Head, The King Must Die, Fear of Heights).
• Titles, reputations, or obligations the character may have (Self-Important Merchant Guildmaster, Silver-Tongued Scoundrel, Honor-Bound to Avenge My Brother).
How are they used in the game?
Players can invoke their character’s aspects to gain advantages or take control of the narrative. The GM can compel a character to do something by using an Aspect against them. Good Aspects are ones that can be used equally well as an advantage and disadvantage. See Creating Good Aspects for suggestions.
What is a High Concept?
You probably have a direction for your high concept based on your class and background. But there’s more to this step than just saying “Oh, I’m a wizard.”
Here’s where you start nailing down the core parts of your character that make him a unique version of that template. In short, your high concept is a phrase that sums up what your character is about—what and who he is.
Think of this aspect like your job, your role in life, or your calling—it’s what you’re good at, but it’s also a duty you have to deal with, and it’s constantly filled with problems of its own. That is to say, it comes with some good and some bad. There are a few different directions you can take this:
• You could take the idea of “like your job” literally: Lead Detective, Knight of the Round, Low-level Thug.
• You could throw on an adjective or other descriptor to further define the idea: Despicable Regent of Riverton, Reluctant Lead Detective, Ambitious Low-level Thug.
• You could mash two jobs or roles together that most people would find odd: Wizard Private Eye, Singing Knight of the Round Table, Monster-slaying Accountant.
• You could play off of an important relationship to your family or an organization you’re deeply involved with (especially if the family or organization are well-connected or well-known): Black Sheep of the Thompson Family, Low-level Thug for the Syndicate, Scar Triad’s Patsy in Riverton.
What is a Trouble Aspect?
Every character has some sort of trouble aspect that’s a part of his life and story. If your high concept is what or who your character is, your trouble is the answer to a simple question: what complicates your character’s existence?
Trouble brings chaos into a character’s life and drives him into interesting situations. Trouble aspects are broken up into two types: personal struggles and problematic relationships.
• Personal struggles are about your darker side or impulses that are hard to control. If it’s something that your character might be tempted to do or unconsciously do at the worst possible moment, it’s this sort of trouble. Examples: Anger Management Issues, Sucker for a Pretty Face, The Bottle Calls to Me.
• Problematic relationships are about people or organizations that make your life hard. It could be a group of people who hate your guts and want you to suffer, folks you work for that don’t make your job easy, or even your family or friends that too often get caught in the crossfire. Examples: Family Man, Debt to the Mob, The Scar Triad Wants Me Dead.
Your trouble shouldn’t be easy to solve. If it was, your character would have done that already, and that’s not interesting. But nor should it paralyze the character completely. If the trouble is constantly interfering with the character’s day-to-day life, he’s going to spend all his time dealing with it rather than other matters at hand. You shouldn’t have to deal with your trouble at every turn—unless that’s the core of one particular adventure in the story (and even then, that’s just one adventure).
Troubles also shouldn’t be directly related to your high concept—if you have Lead Detective, saying your trouble is The Criminal Underworld Hates Me is a dull trouble, because we already assume that with your high concept. (Of course, you can turn that up a notch to make it personal, like Don Giovanni Personally Hates Me, to make it work.) Before you go any further, talk with the GM about your character’s trouble. Make sure you’re both on the same page in terms of what it means. Both of you may want to find one way this aspect might be invoked or compelled to make sure you’re both seeing the same things—or to give each other ideas. The GM should come away from this conversation knowing what you want out of your trouble.