How do aspects and environmental conditions stack?

An example probably is useful for discussion. In the, Spirit of the Century rulebook (FATE), it gives the Darkness aspect as an example of a scene aspect you can tag to improve your sneaking roll. However, when you look at the rules for the stealth skill, it states that if a room is dark you get +2 on your stealth roll, and pitch dark gives you +4.

It seems any dark room will have the darkness aspect. Does that mean when in dark places, a character being stealthy can get an additional +2 in addition to the normal bonus? This seems weird because the character is (narratively) gaining a bonus for the same thing twice.

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    \$\begingroup\$ Welcome to the site! This is a very nice question indeed. \$\endgroup\$ Commented Jun 27, 2012 at 8:08
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    \$\begingroup\$ Thanks for the welcome! I hope the question is useful for others trying to understand FATE. \$\endgroup\$
    – Caleb
    Commented Jun 27, 2012 at 16:28

1 Answer 1


Yes you would definitely get the extra bonus if you spend the fate point to invoke the aspect. It may* represent your character's extra effort in making the darkness work to his advantage, above the natural effect it provides.

* That being said, I must say I don't like the idea of "situational modifiers" in a FATE game. The way I understand it, in FATE, skill rolls are the story facilitators, not situation simulators. The +2 bonus they get from aspect invocations isn't really an accurate representation of the advantage the aspect provides. Rather, it is a bonus provided for telling a story more in sync with the scene and characters at hand. I think the "situational modifier" paradigm with predetermined bonus numbers doesn't mesh well with that.

  • \$\begingroup\$ Re: "situational modifiers", and if they're appropriate in fate. That was a secondary reason for this question. I'd heard that they were against the principals of fate, but SotC has them in there. In this case though, I think it would be weird to require fate points for every stealth roll in a prolonged dark encounter. Maybe you can think of the bonuses listed in the book as a modification on the difficulty on the roll, rather than a bonus a la invoking an aspect. \$\endgroup\$
    – Caleb
    Commented Jun 27, 2012 at 7:34
  • \$\begingroup\$ Every FATE implementation is somehow different and I can't say any of them is wrong. It's a matter of playing style. It just happens that SM's aren't my style :) In a prolonged encounter, I would not keep the same guy rolling stealth. I'd have him roll once and keep the result throughout the encounter, and using that as a base, I'd let him invoke aspects to modify it whenever the need arises. \$\endgroup\$
    – edgerunner
    Commented Jun 27, 2012 at 7:40
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    \$\begingroup\$ +1 for "[...] in FATE, skill rolls are the story facilitators, not situation simulators." \$\endgroup\$ Commented Jun 27, 2012 at 8:07

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