You Don’t Have to Remember Every Aspect
Recently, I saw a person weakly trashing on Fate and telling someone to play a different system instead. That person’s chief point: “If you play [other system], you don’t have to remember everyone’s aspects.”
Certainly Fate’s not perfect — no system is, and there’s stuff I definitely look at in Fate as places where we could improve. And no games is for everyone. But that “complaint,” which I’ve heard time and time again, is the laziest of arguments. It’s frankly not true.
GMs and players, you don’t have to remember every aspect.
GMs, write down the aspects for each character onto your own sheet of paper. Bam, now you don’t have to remember anything — it’s in front of you. Next up, star one from each player, and use that as the only aspect you’ll play toward. Now you have a focus. If you get stuck, pick someone who hasn’t had the spotlight, and look over their aspects. Take a short bathroom or beverage break while you figure something out — nothing says you have to come up with ideas immediately at the table.
Players, you don’t need to concentrate on everyone else’s aspects. Relax, focus on your own, and you’ll learn the others that are interesting to you (read: that you might invoke for yourself or suggest as compels) over time.
That’s it. It’s very simple advice, but one that I don’t think a lot of new Fate GMs are aware of because the general concept of aspects can be itself overwhelming for some. As time goes on and you play or run more Fate, your bandwidth for tracking aspects will increase, but it’ll never be 100% if you have more than a couple players. All Fate GMs have in mind just a subset of aspects for any given session. The reason that all of the aspects exists is to change up what subset GMs put in their crosshairs and to give players plenty of tools for their characters.
To reiterate: GMs and players, you don’t have to remember every aspect.