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Using FATE Aspects in Savage Worlds

I think that FATE is a brilliant system - especially the Aspects mechanic. In the right hands, Aspects will create great stories that more than once will surprise the players and the GM. Unfortunately (at least in my eyes) FATE is not well suited for campaign style games. I use Savage Worlds for my campaigns, and I use it with Aspects transplanted into it.




What are Aspects?

First things, first. If you are not familiar with Aspects, I encourage you to download a free copy of FATE core and read about them. The book explains Aspects in much greater detail than I ever could.

In a nutshell, Aspects are a sub-mechanic of the FATE system that lets you add depth to your character and influence the story as a player. They are similar to Edges/Hindraces from Savage Worlds, but instead of choosing them from the list - you come up with them. Aspects can be anything: a physical or mental trait, catchphrase, a piece of equipment or connections - whatever defines your character. Think about your character in more detail - anything that comes to your mind can be expressed as an Aspect!

Players can "invoke" their aspects for a mechanical bonus or to state a fact about the game world. Spend a FATE point, explain how the aspect applies and you're good to go. GM can use players' aspects as well. They "compel" them to make the player to roleplay their aspect, which might create some complications and give you an extra FATE point. This simple mechanic encourages creativity, adds depth to the characters and creates some great opportunities for roleplaying. Again, if you are not familiar with Aspects, read about them in detail in FATE core.

How to transplant FATE Aspects to Savage Worlds?

Simple - you just need to add them on top of Edges, Hindrances and Bennies. Don't remove any existing rules in Savage Worlds. Just follow those few simple points:

  • When creating a character, come up with aspects as per FATE rules:
    • High Concept Aspect.
    • Trouble Aspect.
    • 1 to 3 more aspects if needed.
  • You can change an Aspect every time you spend 5exp.
  • You can add a new Aspect every time you gain a new Rank.
  • You start with 5 Bennies.
  • Bennies are also FATE points.
  • Use Bennies as per SW rules (soak, re-roll etc.), additionally, you can:
    • Spend a Benny AND invoke an Aspect for a re-roll +2 or flat +2 bonus.
    • Spend a Benny AND invoke an Aspect to state a fact in game world.
  • GM can compel player's Aspect to complicate the situation, player can:
    • Accept the compel and get extra Benny.
    • Discard a Benny to prevent the complication
  • NPCs and the game world can have Aspects, players can compel them.

That's it - this is enough to add the magic of Aspects to Savage Worlds. I hope that you'll find this little house-rule useful. It keeps the Savage Worlds games Fast, Furious and Fun and adds a surprising amount of depth to the game. I usually use them with my Experience for Achievements rule and it works out great!

Word of Warning - Some people remove particular Edges and/or Hindrances to make room for Aspects and make sure that none of them "overlap" - I don't. I find that is is a good idea to not to change those mechanics. They are there for a reason - they create the feel of the setting and are just plain fun. Edges especially give players something to aim for. Just try to steer clear of Aspects that are similar to existing Edges and Hindraces. Treat Aspects as another way to add color to characters and the game world, separate from Edges and Hindraces.