Character creation in Fate Core is a group activity. Not only is it necessary to do the phase trio that you’ll see below, but having a group around to brainstorm aspects for your character is invaluable. Character creation is probably going to take a session to do, though if things move especially quickly and we stay focused, we may be able to get both the setting creation and character creation done in a single session.
Below, I’m going to talk about the way character creation works. Take a look at the How Do I pages to see how to create certain types of characters.
Character Creation Process
In the rulebook, character creation starts on p29 and runs to p53. The basic process looks like this:
- Create your high concept aspect
- Create your trouble aspect
- Go through the phase trio
- Pick skills
- Pick stunts
- Calculate your refresh, stress, and consequences
I’m going to talk about each of these steps below, but one thing you’ll notice is that the word aspect keeps coming up. Aspects are an important part of Fate Core. You can read more about them starting on p56 of the rulebook, and in this post on my blog .
Create Your High Concept Aspect
Your high concept tells people who and what you are. It’s also your go-to aspect in play. You want it sum up your character in an interesting – though concise – way. It’s the place where your character concept meets the mechanics of the game. So, Han Solo might have the high concept aspect of Smuggler With a Conscience, or Scoundrel With a Heart of Gold, or something similar. Darth Vader’s is pretty definitely Dark Lord of the Sith.
Create Your Trouble Aspect
The trouble aspect is how you most often get in trouble. This is important because, when it comes up and messes with your life, you get a Fate point, which is the power source for all your other aspects. Han Solo probably has a trouble aspect like Price on my Head, while Darth Vader may have What is Thy Bidding, My Master? or possibly Still a Spark of Goodness, depending on how you want to play it. Luke probably started with Naïve Farm Boy, but changed to My Father’s Son? after Empire.
Go Through the Phase Trio
The next bit is one of the most brilliant pieces of character creation rules I’ve ever seen. It helps flesh out your character, but also ties him or her into the group. You start by writing a short, two-sentence story of something your character did in the past, and picking an aspect that came out of that story.
Then – and this is the genius part – you hand that story to another player, who adds a sentence about how their character helped yours, and picks an aspect for his character based on that. You’re doing the same thing to someone else’s character, and creating a new aspect for your character based on how you helped.
And then you do it again. At the end of this, you will have a total of five aspects (high concept, trouble, and three phase aspects) and links to most (if not all) of the other characters in the group, as well as participation in three background stories.
By default , you get a pyramid of skills, peaking at Great ( +4). That means one skill at Great ( +4), two at Good ( +3), three at Fair ( +2), and four at Average ( +1). All the rest of the skills are rated at Mediocre ( +0). You get to choose which skill goes where. The skill list for this game is modified a little bit from the basic skill list, and looks like this:
- Education (was Lore)
- Mechanics (was Crafts)
- Pilot (was Drive)
Stunts are tricks that your character has that change the way a certain skill works. You get to create your own stunts, and you get three of them for free. There are examples of stunts scattered all through the Skills and Stunts chapter, starting on p85 of the rulebook.
You can create more stunts for yourself, but each extra one costs one point of refresh. You start with a refresh of three, and MUST have a minimum refresh of one, so you can, if you choose, buy up to two more stunts.
Calculate Your Refresh, Stress, and Consequences
This last step is just math to finish out your character, the same kind of thing as calculating hit points or AC in D&D.