Aspects are the primary way that Named access their power.
A Named can gain up to three Aspects. It is possible to lose access to an Aspect due to magical damage to the soul, but it is unknown whether there is any method of gaining more than three Aspects.
As a Name develops, the Named gains Aspects tied to the Name and their connection to it. Some Aspects are common or even nearly guaranteed with specific Names, but the main deciding factor in which Aspects someone will get are their own personality and how they intend to use their Name.
When they first take the Name, a Claimant does not have access to any of their Aspects. As they grow and master the Name, they gain knowledge of and access to their Aspects one by one, usually at dramatically appropriate times such as during a fight where they will gain an advantage.
If a Named takes on a new Name, they lose access to their old set of Aspects and gain an new set tied to their new Name and their state of mind at the time. Even if they had lost some of their Aspects, they would still gain a new set of exactly three. While they could presumably gain back some or all of the same Aspects they had before, this doesn't always happen even if they reclaim a Name they had previously. For example, Catherine had the Aspects Learn, Struggle and Seek when she first became Squire. During the Battle of Marchford Seek became corrupted and was removed by Masego. After Chider stole the Name and she recovered it, Catherine gain the Aspect Take, which she hadn't had before, followed later by Break and Fall.
For example, Learn, Struggle, Seek, Lead, Conquer, Destroy, Swing, Rise, Triumph, Stand, and Take are all Aspects.
Functionality and Implications
In general, most Aspects let the user draw heavily on the power of their Name while doing something generally in accordance with the Aspect. For example, when Catherine had the Aspect of Struggle she could draw on her Name to gain much greater strength, speed and grace when she was horribly outmatched and fighting a desperate battle.
However, some Aspects instead let the user do a single thing completely beyond what would normally be possible for them. For example, William had the Aspect Rise, which let him quickly heal serious and even mortal wounds.
In theory, a Named is at their most powerful if they act in accordance with their Role almost all the time. However, in practice there are several flaws in that strategy. The most obvious is that heroes and villains tend to have opponents who commonly receive Aspects opposed to theirs, such as villains with Conquer or Destroy being matched by heroes with Protect. This means that if a villain relies on the power they gain by tapping their aspect, they are almost inevitably going to have to fight someone of roughly equal power who is able to tap their own Aspects equally well.
More subtly, tapping an Aspect can lead to tunnel vision that may keep a Named from seeing other problems coming. If another Named can recognize that they are powerful due to using their Aspects constantly, they may be able to arrange a situation where none of those Aspects is triggered, such as by going on the offensive against someone whose Aspects work best to crush defenders.
Weak or transitory Names also have the weakness that their well of power is simply too limited to tap aggressively. Even if a Squire can keep their actions aligned with their Aspects, they will quickly become exhausted and nearly unable to do anything of use with their Name.
The same Aspect can take different forms between different Named. For instance, Catherine Foundling and Arthur Foundling were both Squires who had Learn, but Catherine's Learn aspect applied only to book learning, while Arthur's applied only to combat techniques. Furthermore, both of them could only Learn from someone who was deliberately teaching them, whereas Hye Su could Learn combat moves from her enemies mid-fight.
Patterns of Aspects
While the choice of a Named's Aspects may seem arbitrary, the narrative as a whole suggests certain patterns. Each Named gets aspects representing three distinct purposes or goals, inflected according to whether the Named is heroic or villainous.
- A Villain can get an aspect that is the crystallization of their desire, one that shows their true nature, or one that enhances their own strengths into something to take down the obstacle to their ambition. Villainous Aspects have been called “their madness turned into a knife against Creation to shape it into their vision of the world”.
- A Hero can get one aspect that serves as the signature of their Name and is usually something to beat the enemy (not always the case since not all heroes are fighters), one that’s a supportive kind of trick to achieve their objective which is usually born as an extreme reaction to a situation and is molded by the difficulties they face, or one that’s a tool to fulfill a powerful wish. Heroic Aspects have been called “the blessings granted by the Heavens to their chosen to achieve success”.
One way of conceptualizing it is: Signature/Nature, Support/Tool, Fulfillment of Goal/Ambition. Not all combinations of aspects follow this convention.
List of Aspects
- Book 5 - Interlude: Death They Cannot Steal
- Book 4 - Prologue
- Book 5 - Chapter 44: Small Slights
- Book 5 Pinnacle
- Extra Chapter - Peregrine III
- Book 3 - Villainous Interlude: Exeunt
- Book 3 - Chapter 14: Trick
- Book 4 - Chapter 15: Bravura
- Book 6 - Interlude: Rogue
- Book 7 - Interlude: East II
- Book 1 - Epilogue
- Book 4 - Interlude: Kaleidoscope VI
- Book 3 - Chapter 30: Riot
- Book 7 - Interlude: Juniper's Plan (Redux)
- Book 6 - Interlude: New Tricks
- Book 6 - Interlude: Woeful
- Interlude: Honour
- Book 3 - Interlude: Calamity III
- Book 6 - Chapter 62: Adjournment
- Book 3 - Chapter 25: Advance
- Book 3 - Chapter 13: Forgery
- Book 6 - Interlude: Concert
- Book 3 - Chapter 31: High Noon
- Book 6 - Interlude: Concert
- Book 4 - Interlude: Kaleidoscope II
- Book 7, Interlude: Legends I
- Book 2 - Interlude: Apprentice
- Book 6 - Chapter 69: Draw
- Book 3 - Heroic Interlude: Appelant
- Extra Chapter - Dues
- Book 4 - Chapter 38: All According To (Redux)
- Book 3 - Interlude: Calamity I
- Book 6 - Interlude: Blood
- Book 5 - Interlude: Suffer No Compromise In This
- Book 6 - Interlude: Threads
- Book 1 Chapter 12: Squire
- Extra Chapter - Regard
- Book 7 - Chapter 12: String
- Book 6 - Interlude: Reprobates
- Book 3 - Villainous Interlude: Thunder
- Book 6 - Interlude Sigil
- Book 6 - Chapter 16: Divine
- Book 7, Chapter 67: And Justice for All (Redux)
- Book 3 - Villainous Interlude: Calamity III
- Extra Chapter - Hierarchy
- Book 4 - Interlude: Inheritance
- Book 5 - Interlude: So We Shot Him
- Book 3 - Heroic Interlude: Arraignment
- Book 2 - Chapter 44: Victory
- Book 4 - Chapter 43: Masego's Plan
- Book 3 - Prologue
- Extra Chapter - Closure
- Book 7, Interlude: Legends IV
- Book 7, Chapter 56: Brink
- Book 2 - Chapter 26: Seek
- Book 4 - Chapter 16: Pirouette
- Book 7 - Chapter 43: Serolen
- Book 2 - Chapter 30: Deliver
- Book 3 - Chapter 44: Drop
- Book 2 - Chapter 46: Squire (Redux)
- Book 2 - Chapter 47: Justice For All
- Book 2 - Villainous Interlude: Coup de Théatre
- Book 5 - Chapter 44: Small Slights
- Book 4 - Chapter 29: Sixth
- Book 5 - Chapter 71: Verge