I am starting a game based somewhat off Atomic Robo the Roleplaying Game which is based off Fate Core and in this case it should not really matter.

This will be my first time GMing and first time playing a Fate based game for all involved, so I am trying to come up with some easy to drop in situations to teach some mechanics through "show, don't tell"(I will tell too) and to make sure I have a good grasp of these mechanics.

Main (general) questions: When conceding a conflict how much control over the narration does the conceding party have(as long as it is a clear failure of their goals)? Can, or maybe should, conceding party be pushed into other conflict mechanics if it makes narrative sense?

Below is a concrete situation I have been thinking about which brought up these questions: Say I have some NPCs in a cult which are trying to steal tech from Tesladyne for some nefarious purpose. Well they start invading, and the PCs and ally NPCs want to stop this invasion and probably want to figure out what they are trying to do and why. The PCs are winning and so the final couple of enemies NPCs concede the conflict.

What I want to do as a GM is have them escape. So in this case the PCs get some of what they want(stopping the invasion), the enemy didn't get any of what they wanted. Perhaps clues are left behind so that the PCs can, with some work, figure out who these people are. So far so good, seems like it is in the spirit of a concede.

Say the PCs are not happy with this concede and want the enemy NPCs captured, and this would basically give the PCs everything they wanted in the conflict and that basically defeats the purpose of the concede. I see the situation happening a couple of ways, although not sure if I am totally happy with either:

  • I say "well this is a concede I get to narrate what happens as long as it is it isn't undermining the victory." Perhaps I narrate smoke bombs or a beam falling down giving the enemy NPCs a chance to escape(should I use a fate point from the reserve to declare details like this for my NPCs?).

  • Or I could say "OK lets enter a contest and give you all a chance to catch them before they escape." This one feels somewhat better to me, but I also am not sure how I feel about someone who concedes pushed into some other conflict mechanic. If the shoe was on the other foot and the PCs concede, would this make sense and should I do it? I do think it fits into the "make things dramatic" scenario, but the purpose of the concede was to get out of conflict(and not let them be able to take these members in).

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    \$\begingroup\$ Hi, Paul! Welcome to the site. You might find that this question, and similar ones, helpful. rpg.stackexchange.com/questions/44741/… \$\endgroup\$
    – Jadasc
    Sep 4, 2019 at 23:22
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    \$\begingroup\$ @Jadasc Thanks! I could have sworn I searched for the conceding tag and didn't find it. I have seen that question before and now I am trying to figure out if a combination of that question and this question(which I somehow missed when searching) answers it, but not sure yet(I am not sure I buy some of the answers given or give the "right/best" answer). \$\endgroup\$ Sep 4, 2019 at 23:37
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    – V2Blast
    Sep 4, 2019 at 23:53

2 Answers 2


Concessions need to be accepted by both sides, but they're not the only way to stop a fight.

The group has to pass muster on whatever you say happens.

-- Conceding, Atomic Robo RPG p.123

So yes, if the players are dead set on claiming total narrative control over the remnants of this assault force, there's technically nothing you can do to make them accept the concession. Concession is something that happens outside the game, with the group agreeing to stop a conflict before it plays all the way out; it's not a decision the characters are making. (Though see all the way down for how to play into that.)

But there's something else important about conflicts. Conflicts are what happens when you have at least two sides who each want to take the others out. Therefore, contrariwise, when you don't have at least two sides who each want to take the others out, you don't have a conflict anymore. You have... something else.

Transitioning to a Contest or Challenge

You may find yourself in a conflict scene where the participants are no longer interested in or willing to harm one another, because of some change in the circumstances. If that happens, and there’s still more to resolve, you can transition straight into a contest or challenge as you need. In that case, hold off on awarding the end-of-conflict fate points and whatnot until you’ve also resolved the contest or challenge.

In an earlier example, Cynere managed to get a vault door open so the three PCs could escape an endless horde of temple guardians. They all decide to run and try to lose them.

Now, the guardians and the PCs have mutually opposing goals but can’t harm one another, so now it’s a contest. Instead of running the next exchange, Amanda just starts setting up for the chase.

-- Fate SRD, Conflicts

So if you want them to just break and run, and the PCs don't want to let them, what comes next is probably a contest to pursue them, assuming they have some way to disengage. (This mirrors the way a contest can turn into a conflict if the PCs can force attacks on someone who's unwilling or unable to pull away from them.) Do respect it if circumstances don't allow for a clear path out, if they jumped the PCs in the middle of an open field or on top of an oil platform or on a desert island 40 feet wide. But chances are there's some way for them to create some distance or break line of sight, even just for a second.

(Me again! From before!) Starting this contest is a decision point within the plot, and decision points are where compels come out to play, this time framed in terms of the decisions and circumstances of the characters. Is there a reason the PCs might not be able to pursue, either an actual obstacle to the act of pursuit like a Choking Smoke Bomb or something else that might give pursuit a lower priority like a Breached Containment Vessel? If it's real enough to stop them, then it's real enough to point at it and offer one Fate Point to everybody for not being able to catch those scoundrels, darn the luck.

They're of course free to buy you off and keep going, in which case, well, run the contest and see what happens.

  • \$\begingroup\$ Thanks, seems like I got most of the ideas down, although I needed to keep in mind compels. I guess if they where that dead set on capture to even refuse a compel then may as well let them try. One problem with the contest is that if PCs is still trying to harm in order to capture then it shouldn't be a contest(at least that is what it says). Maybe have NPCs try to get out of harm's way with a challenge or some roll if it makes sense, although that might have the same problem. If I understand right allowing conceding can't be compelled because it is more about the players than the characters? \$\endgroup\$ Sep 5, 2019 at 3:13

The party that didn't Concede wins the stakes of the Conflict or scene.

If you're having issues here, it's likely that you're not defining your stakes. This is pretty important with Fate.

For every scene, and especially Conflicts, you should understand:

  1. What is the party trying to get or prevent?
  2. What is the opposition, if any, trying to get or prevent?

The answer should generally not be "kill the other guys". And by "generally" I mean it should exceedingly rarely be that. Like maybe, maybe the final encounter with the big bad boss at the end of a story arc. Maybe.

If the PCs are fighting guards, well, why? Where do the guards not want the PCs to go? Why do they PCs want to get there? Once you figure that out, those are your stakes. Those are the things that are actually being fought over, and those are the things that the winning side gets and cannot be undermined. So if the PCs are trying to rescue a prisoner before they get taken away, that defines your stakes - if the PCs get past the guards, they have a chance to rescue the prisoner. Otherwise, the prisoner gets taken away. So if the PCs lose, they cannot have a Concession that lets them do the rescue. They have to deal with the fact that the prisoner has been taken away, and figure out what to do from there.

Everything else can be on the table and must pass muster with the table, but fundamentally, you cannot undermine your opponent winning the stakes of the Conflict/scene.


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