Fate Core

Conceding the Conflict

Table of Contents

When all else fails, you can also just give in. Maybe you’re worried that you can’t absorb another hit, or maybe you decide that continuing to fight is just not worth the punishment. Whatever the reason, you can interrupt any action at any time before the roll is made to declare that you concede the conflict. This is super-important—once dice hit the table, what happens happens, and you’re either taking more stress, suffering more consequences, or getting taken out.

Concession gives the other person what they wanted from you, or in the case of more than two combatants, removes you as a concern for the opposing side. You’re out of the conflict, period.

But it’s not all bad. First of all, you get a fate point for choosing to concede. On top of that, if you’ve sustained any consequences in this conflict, you get an additional fate point for each consequence. These fate points may be used once this conflict is over.

Second of all, you get to avoid the worst parts of your fate. Yes, you lost, and the narration has to reflect that. But you can’t use this privilege to undermine the opponent’s victory, either—what you say happens has to pass muster with the group.

That can make the difference between, say, being mistakenly left for dead and ending up in the enemy’s clutches, in shackles, without any of your stuff—the sort of thing that can happen if you’re taken out instead. That’s not nothing.

Og proves to be too much for Landon to handle in the warehouse conflict, having hit with several devastating attacks in the course of the fight.

Before Amanda’s next turn, Lenny says, “I concede. I don’t want to risk any more consequences.”

Landon’s taken both a mild and a moderate consequence. He gets a fate point for conceding, as well as two more fate points for the two consequences he took, giving him three total.

Amanda says, “So, what are you trying to avoid here?”

Lenny says, “Well, I don’t want to get killed or captured, for starters.”

Amanda chuckles and says, “Fair enough. So, we’ll say that Og knocks you out cold and doesn’t bother to finish you off, because he still has Cynere and Zird to deal with. He may even think you’re dead. I feel like the loss needs some more teeth, though. Hm...”

Ryan pipes up with, “How about he takes your sword as a trophy?”

Amanda nods. “Yeah, that’s good. He knocks you out, spits on you, and takes your sword.”

Lenny says, “Bastard! I’m so getting him back for that one...”

Further Clarification on Conceding vs getting Taken Out

The following text is from a comment in the Fate Core Google+ Community by Leonard Balsera.

Concession, as a mechanic, specifically faces outward to the real people playing. It's explicitly about the parsing of narrative authority over the fate of the character post-conflict, and nothing else.

Characters do not concede. People do.

So it's basically like this:

The consequence of getting taken out is that the chief advocate for that character (GM included) gets no say over the fate of that character after that scene. Theoretically, anyone who takes anyone out in a physical conflict could follow that up with, "...and I kill you," and barring social contract disruptions in the group, that assertion stands.

If you concede before you get taken out, you as the chief advocate have the final word over the fate of the character after that scene. The bit that's up for negotiation is how we express the terms of your defeat in the fiction, but the chief advocate gets the last word.

Personally, I think the book makes that distinction pretty clear, and I think in practice it's pretty clear if you prioritize the rules over your own group's particular cultural expectations from prior RPG play. I'm biased about the text because I wrote it, and I know in practice that the degree people are gonna choose their local culture of play over the game as it's designed varies, and, like, that's okay. Do what you like and what's fun for you.

But for the folks who want to explore what emerges from hardcore RAW, here are some things that might help perspective-wise:

1.) Fate deliberately stands in contradiction to the tradition of playing out a conflict until its mechanical end point. If you don't want to lose control over the fate of your character, you should never fight until you're taken out, period.

2.) The GM is not exempt from the concession vs. taken out rule—like, part of the reason the rule exists is for GMs to preserve NPCs they want to use later. Fate explicitly prioritizes playing to find out what happens over playing to jump through the GM's hoops. If your plan hinges on an NPC's survival, GMs, you're probably bringing scenario prep ideas from other games into Fate.

3.) You have to fully justify all terms of a concession in the fiction. So in a scene where one of the terms is, "and the NPC escapes," part of the material you make up is why the PC's don't just keep up the pursuit. So if the player says, "Why don't I just jump out the window and go after them?" the response should be, "Good question. Why don't you just jump out the window and go after them?" and work together to make up why.

4.) Conflict is serious business, moreso than it may seem. It's a scene where you can lose authority over what happens to your character. Treating it as such elevates the stakes and tension of Fate play.

5.) The social contract trumps all rules. The fact that the GM will seldom respond to taking a PC out with, "...and the NPC kills you" isn't because the rules don't let her. Explicitly, the rules let her. She doesn't do that because she knows that would kill the fun for her players.