Let's say for example that there's a scene on the rooftops. Zone 1 has the aspect Slippery Second Story Rooftop, and after a bit of running and sci-fi shenanigans, Zone 2 has Top of a Scyscraper. Let's assume further that as a result of succeeding at cost or being taken out, a character falls from one zone or another.

At the end of the day, one aspect is hardly more impactful than another, so I don't understand how to deal with one aspect that is actually inherently more intense than another.

My Questions:

What's the difference between a character who falls from Zone 1 and Zone 2?

Should one inflict more stress than another?

Should one have an added consequence? For that matter, why doesn't it seem like Fate allows a fall from Zone 2 to legitimately kill a character?


2 Answers 2


Fate is about narration, not simulation

I think the first thing you have to understand here is that Fate, unlike many other popular rpgs (for example D&D) is about narration, not simulation. So the proper question is not, "What makes most sense in real world terms when someone falls from zone 1 or zone 2?", but rather, "What makes most sense in terms of story when someone falls from a Slippery Second-story Rooftop or the Top of a Skyscraper?". In this case, it would be justified for the results to be commesurately more intense in narrative terms, but I would be cautious to frame this in terms of things like inflicting more stress, as that is a mechanical, not a narrative consequence. Just having a more intensely-worded consequence makes more sense here.

The fall also doesn't have to end with hitting the ground or any consequences, but can be handled in purely narrative terms. For example in the case of falling from the Top of a Skyscraper, there is always the possibility that "he grabs a ledge a few stories down" or "he bat-grapples through a window". (Thanks to @doppelgreener for this last point and examples).

Fate Core strongly advises against character death

You haven't said which version of Fate you're using, but if we take Fate Core as a benchmark, there is a whole section on Character Death on page 168. It allows for character death if the group thinks that is OK, but comes down on the side of not allowing character death for the following reason:

most of the time, sudden character death is a pretty boring outcome when compared to putting the character through hell.

Again, notice that this is narrative reasoning - what is the most interesting result in terms of story, rather than what is the most realistic result.

In Fate, why is more important than what

Another thing to consider in order to determine which Fate rules to use here is why did the person fall? Some possibilities:

  • Taking stress in combat: If the character falls as part of taking a lot of combat stress, you could narrate that the high level of stress comes from the fall
  • Conceding: If the character falls as part of a concession in combat, the results should not be so bad, but the character should have to make some sort of sacrifice
  • Being taken out: If the character falls because he is taken out, the results should be really bad, but probably not involve 'boring' death

Fate rolls and mechanisms are not about what happens. They are about who gets the right to tell what happens. If you win a fate roll, you get to tell what happens. If you fail, your opponent gets that opportunitiy.

Aspects somewhat constrain that ability by defining established "truths" about the world. The story you tell must not contradict existing aspects. And you must act within your jurisdiction, which is your character if you are a player, and everything but the player characters if you are the GM.

The only exception is when someone is taken out. The taken-out character's player temporarily loses the jurisdiction over that character, and the player doing the taking out gains it. Temporarily.

So unless you take someone out, you cannot say if they fall or not from the said rooftops.

When you do take them out, you get to tell what happens to them. In a way that makes sense within the aspects at hand, including the related zone aspects. The top of a skyscraper gives you the excuse to splatter them on the pavement. The slippery second story rooftop is still good for giving them a broken neck but if you like, it is also good for a few broken bones or being knocked cold.

And this has nothing to do with stress. Stress is not damage or harm of any kind. Stress is just a progress bar that leads to being taken out. Until that moment, it is just that the attempt is in progress but not successful yet.

So, no: Falling from a rooftop does not give you stress at all. It probably injures or kills you. Those are not stress.

About consequences. Only the player of the character can choose to take a consequence. Consequences cannot be assigned as the result of events. They are a more persistent form of stress where the player chooses to take a persistent negative aspect to mitigate an attack, in order to prevent being taken out.

  • 1
    \$\begingroup\$ You have some confusing statements that I think may blunt the point you're trying to make. You open your post by saying fate rolls are not about what happens, but because of the Four Outcomes they explicitly have an intimate connection to what happens. You then say people must act within their jurisdiction, but as players we're explicitly supposed to be able to talk about the outside world and other characters (e.g. see using CA with crafts to discover structural flaws). \$\endgroup\$ Commented Apr 6, 2015 at 12:51

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