When playing the Dresden Files, my Wizard (and other magic practitioners) tend to overpower their spells, not taking into account the foes that they are facing, i.e. 8 shifts of power vs a plain vanilla mortal. Then, if they take the mortal out, they describe it in such a way that the mortal is knocked out. While in the letter of the rules, it just doesn't seem to convey the care that Harry takes when fighting mortals in terms of the level of power he uses.

This made me wonder- can a concession inflict a worse effect on the conceding character than the attacker might have inflicted had he been taken out? For instance, if a wizard pours 8 shifts of power into a spear of ice against a plain vanilla mortal, and doesn't happen to take him out, could the GM then concede, but say that the ice shard takes him in the chest and he's in critical condition... and play that out as a caution against the power used in spells vs. mortals?

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    \$\begingroup\$ It's tangential to the question, but worth noting: the winner's description of how a target is Taken Out must be story-consistent with the attack: "The outcome must remain within the realm of reason". (YS203 "Getting Taken Out") Just as you can't die of shame inflicted by a social attack, it's not consistent for a vanilla mortal who was just blasted with an 8-shift gout of fire to be "knocked out" without a very interesting story attached… \$\endgroup\$ Feb 7, 2012 at 0:35
  • \$\begingroup\$ @doppelgreener No offence, but can I ask why you are editing these old Fate posts? - They're all appearing at the top of the question list. Is is because some near-duplicates have been coming up recently, and you want people to see what has been said before? I'm not complaining, I'm actually finding reading them edifying, but I just wonder what your motivation is. \$\endgroup\$
    – harlandski
    Apr 3, 2015 at 6:16
  • \$\begingroup\$ @harlandski Look at the revision history - I'm adding tags to classify categories of questions we've had a lot of. This is standard procedure, and happens whenever someone thinks it should happen and makes it happen. The fact they're old has no bearing; questions here are timeless. Naturally they appear at the top of the list, so that people can review what's happened. It's for that reason I'm going to wait a few days before I tag the rest of the Fate questions related to compels or conceding. \$\endgroup\$ Apr 3, 2015 at 6:34
  • \$\begingroup\$ @doppelgreener That makes sense and is very useful. I've found it confusing recently to know which "Fate" tagged questions I can answer, as I've only joined the fun at Fate Core and FAE. At your prompting I've only just worked out how to view revision history. Not that intuitive, but I get it now. So a double helping of thanks! \$\endgroup\$
    – harlandski
    Apr 3, 2015 at 6:38
  • \$\begingroup\$ @harlandski No worries. By the way, you're nearly on the money: no duplicates have come up recently (that I'm aware of), but we have indeed had a few questions about compels and conceding, and I realised these genuinely are mechanics with complexities which we're developing a wealth of knowledge on. It's going to be useful for people to look through the archive of a given tag, whether they have a question on the matter or they're pretty sure there's past knowledge on the subject to draw upon or reference for an answer. \$\endgroup\$ Apr 3, 2015 at 6:40

4 Answers 4



The narration of what happens on being taken-out is the realm of the player whose character did the action resulting in being taken out. They are subject to revision by the player of the character being taken-out.

Dresden Files: Your Story, p. 204 (sidebar):

Dictating Outcomes
While the player of the attacker that takes out an opponent gets to decide the manner in which his victim loses, this does not mean that the attacker has the authority to dictate specifics that are completely out of character for the loser. The loser still controls his own character in an essential way and is allowed to modify whatever the winner states to make sure that whatever happens stays true to form.

Concessions are being Taken-out, but on your terms.

P. 206

A concession is basically a special form of being taken out—you lose the conflict, but you get to decide your character’s fate on your own terms instead of your opponent’s.


A concession has to pass muster with the group before it is accepted—the conditions of the loss still have to represent a clear and decisive disadvantage for your character. If the group (note that your opponent is part of the group for this!) feels like your character is getting off easy, you’ll need to rework the concession until it’s acceptable.

Your opponent gets input, not say.

Note that a consequence can be effectively also a concession... some consequences result in being unable to continue. They are, per p. 204, the GM's approval, not the group's.

P. 203-204:

Normally, the player taking the consequence gets to describe what it is, so long as it’s compatible with the nature of the attack that inflicted the harm. The GM arbitrates the appropriateness of a consequence and there may be some back and forth conversation before settling on one. The GM is the final authority on whether a player’s suggested consequence is reasonable for the circumstances and severity.

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    \$\begingroup\$ Good answer, and +1 for the consequence bit; I'd not thought of that angle! \$\endgroup\$
    – Chuck Dee
    Jan 19, 2012 at 21:52


character cannot be saved from a roll that takes him out by offering a concession. You have to offer the concession before the roll that takes out your character. Otherwise, it’s cheating the opponent out of victory.

Basically, if the attacker's dice hit the table, (or the rote spell is declared since there is no roll involved), it's too late to offer a concession. You can't offer a concession after the dice hit the table/rote spell declared to take you out because your already taken out at that point & your fate is in the hands of your attacker that threw the 8-shift ice lance.

It's perfectly acceptable to offer a concession like "how about the party cripples this guy & takes his candy" as a concession or to being taken out when they only wanted to take his candy. If they are cool with crippling the guy and accept the concession, then there is nothing left to discuss, if they balk at the idea of crippling him & suggest maybe "instead of crippling him we just injure him enough to get him pacified without anything he can't recover from with some time in bed.

As to the group treating it like D&D & going for the insta-kill all the time with their attacks on anything, I had that problem for a while & the solution was to just give the party an aspect of being known murderers by the folks they were up against for a while. They pretty quickly noticed that people no longer wanted to meet face to face with them without heavy duty overwhelming(when possible) backup/body guards that started shooting if the party so much as suggested a threat. Once they got to the point of & realized that even the ghouls didn't want to associate with them, things started clearing up in that regard & they started getting more careful about not using ultra-excessive force when it only needed a small push.

If all of your NPC's are gong for the kill all the time though, the players are just reacting to your cues. The bouncer at a shady bar catering to bigbads might be able to seriously hurt the party, but he probably doesn't want to deal with the bodies & would rather just give them a bad day and send them packing. If they have just been following your lead, it might not be a bad idea to sit down & admit there was a mea-culpa moment that you would like to work on with their cooperation.

Then of course there is that whole first law violation thing where magically killed mortal= refresh point & aspect warping penalties. Even if they just say the taken out mortal is pinned to the wall by an ice lance through his arm or encased from the neck down in ice with enough room to breathe, bled to death where pinned or froze to death while trapped still counts as magically dead by strict wording. The vagueness in the laws benefit you as both a kind benevolent GM as well as an annoyed killer GM a grudge.


Concessions do not happen during attacks, so the level of success of a previous attack has no effect on what a concession can or cannot be. A concession is more like a compel that it offers an alternative story. If the opponent accepts the concession, then it is the story the way it is told.

The opponent (the wizard in this case) has the option to refuse the concession, continue the conflict, take out the mortal and tell the story as he intended, and yes, that may be less severe than what was offered in the concession.

Yet a still simpler way for the wizard would be to ask for a concession before he takes out the mortal. The wizard makes an offer to have the mortal "knocked out" now. The mortal's player, having just seen a demonstration of mighty wizard's power would be wise to accept the offer rather than risk being taken out soon.

Update: This approach isn't evident in the Dresden Files books. It is a bit more clear in the Spirit of the Century SRD

The character inflicting the damage can always opt to not take the concession, but doing so is a clear indication that the fight will be a bloody one.

  • \$\begingroup\$ To clear a point that this answer is incorrect on, when a concession is offered, a concession will happen, unless the defender decides not to accept. Though the attacker can veto concession, the character cannot stop the concession. From YW206 - A concession has to pass muster with the group before it is accepted—the conditions of the loss still have to represent a clear and decisive disadvantage for your character. If the group (note that your opponent is part of the group for this!) feels like your character is getting off easy, you’ll need to rework the concession until it’s acceptable. \$\endgroup\$
    – Chuck Dee
    Jan 19, 2012 at 16:23
  • \$\begingroup\$ In broader terms, you could say that a concession is a story about how the conflict ends that can be offered by anyone, but both the attacker and defender have to accept, otherwise the conflict continues. \$\endgroup\$
    – edgerunner
    Jan 19, 2012 at 22:32
  • \$\begingroup\$ No, I think it's pretty clear that once the concession is offered, it's just up to figuring out what the terms of the concession are. Anything else (i.e. not choosing to take any concession and trying to insist the combat continue) is gaming the system from the reading of YW206. \$\endgroup\$
    – Chuck Dee
    Jan 20, 2012 at 3:17
  • \$\begingroup\$ But then what do you do if the concession offered isn't acceptable by both sides and negotiating doesn't seem to help? \$\endgroup\$
    – edgerunner
    Jan 20, 2012 at 6:30
  • \$\begingroup\$ If you're playing with a group, I would assume there's some level of give and take. I can't imagine playing with a group where if I wanted to concede, there was no way to negotiate something that would be acceptable to both sides. It's pretty much interactive storytelling, and if you can't negotiate on these small points in the story, then the larger story is going suffer in the long run. \$\endgroup\$
    – Chuck Dee
    Jan 20, 2012 at 15:21

Yes. A concession, especially a 8 shift concession is a sacrifice made by a character and chosen by the character to avoid being taken out. A character may well accept a fate worse than what you intended to avoid being at your mercy.

I would argue that if you force a character to take an 8 shift concession they have no choice but to take something with permanent effects.

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    \$\begingroup\$ Shows a lack of even a skim through the relevant chapter. An 8-point consequence has special rules in DFRGP. \$\endgroup\$
    – aramis
    Jan 19, 2012 at 23:12
  • \$\begingroup\$ We're not talking about a consequence, we're talking about a concession. A concession after an 8 shift attack could be a 6 shift consequence and a 2 stress hit. \$\endgroup\$
    – Chuck Dee
    Jan 20, 2012 at 15:20
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    \$\begingroup\$ You seem to have confused consequences for concessions ;) \$\endgroup\$
    – edgerunner
    Jan 21, 2012 at 17:53

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