A&A Method – Mental abilities – Simon Baltar

NOTE – I’ve updated this character in a newer post.

I’ve been getting a lot of great feedback about this Approaches & Abilities method (now being called the A&A Method). I have to give a huge thanks to the folks at the Fate Core G+ community, and Ed Hastings in particular, for the awesome discussion. I continue to have heartburn around the topic of a mental Ability in my model.

In my original model, I wanted an ability to represent someone’s cerebral power. Their will, their focus, their mental strength, their power to analyze. It wasn’t really Scholarship or Lore, because I liked the idea of treating knowledge the way FAE usually does – by simply deciding whether it’s appropriate for a character to know that piece of information or not, based on their Aspects. It also wasn’t research, because that fit very nicely into Discovery (which I think I’m renaming to Investigation). This left it feeling very much like a passive Ability, used for nothing but defense, unless a character was going to use it as the foundation for something like magic, psionics, etc. A purely passive Ability just doesn’t seem to earn it’s keep in a game like Fate, which is all about proactive and competent heroes. So this becomes an Ability that has no real purpose except for certain characters with special abilities. But for those characters, it feels really appropriate…
In this G+ discussion thread it was suggested to change it to Reason, representing a characters ability to solve problems, puzzles, stuff like that. In this G+ discussion thread it was suggested to perhaps change it to Discerning, representing a characters ability to make judgments & conclusions, evaluations and insights. As we tried cross-combining it with the 6 Approaches, it works better than Reason does, but it starts to step on the toes of Investigation. Maybe that’s not a big deal. Both of these make sense, but I still haven’t quite felt right about either, and the frustration was highlighted as I tried to convert this 13th Age character below. I really like the use of Will in this character’s build. It feels very right. But Will and Reason just seem VERY different, and Reason doesn’t feel at all right for the purposes of this character.  I’m starting to wonder if there’s a different way to handle this, whole Abilities list, but that’s the subject of another post… So I’m not really sure what to do with this mental Ability. I feel it’s needed, but I’m honestly not sure how to handle it. What do YOU think? In the meantime, enjoy Simon Baltar! He’s an Umbral Inquisitor, a special police of wizards focusing on hunting down dark occult criminals in the Empire. Very similar in concept to Aurors from Harry Potter or Cursors from Codex Alera, by Jim Butcher. I’m currently playing him in a PbP game of 13th Age.

Simon Baltar

High Concept: Umbral Inquisitor Detective

Trouble: Can’t Stop When I’m On to Something
Raised by the Glitterhaegen Mean-Streets
A Loyal Servant
Graduated from the Academae with Flying Colors
Careful +2
Forceful +1
Sneaky +1
Athletics +1
Investigation +2
Reason/Will +1
Occult Forensics – Because I am a highly trained magical investigator, I get a +2 when Carefully using Investigation to study a scene for clues. In addition to mundane clues, this also allows him to perceive magical paraphernalia, signatures, residues, and auras.
Abjuration – Because I specialized in Abjuration magic at the Academae, I get a +2 when I Carefully use Will to Defend against physical and magical attacks.
Evocation (-2) – Because I studied combat magic at the Academae, I get a +2 when I Forcefully use Will to Attack or Create Advantage with magical forces.


Careful +3
Forceful +2
Sneaky +2


Investigate +4
Will +3
Lore +3
Stealth +2
Notice +2
Athletics +2
Deceive +1
Burglary +1
Forceful +1
Provoke +1

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