Say a character fails to defend against a "create an advantage" action. They now have a situational aspect on them. If they do nothing about it, it'll go away at the end of the scene or whenever it makes sense.

Is there a general rule about actively getting rid of advantage aspects? That is, more specific than the Golden Rule? I expect in most situations it would be an overcome action, but at what level of difficulty?


3 Answers 3


This process is described on page 78 of the Fate Core book.

There are two ways to actively remove a situational aspect, and both require a roll of the dice for an action.

The most obvious action you can take is an Overcome action targeted to remove the aspect. However, you could instead roll any kind of action which, if successful, would make the aspect nonsensical to keep; this is often Creating an Advantage to make a conflicting new aspect.

In both cases, the GM will set a passive opposition difficulty unless there's active interference, in which case the character (or other thing) in your way rolls an active opposition with their own appropriate modifiers.

Remember that you can also change a situational aspect using these same mechanics. Often it'll be easier to mitigate or modify an aspect than to remove it entirely, so the GM will set a lower passive opposition.


I cover this with some guidelines from system writer Lenny Balsera in my "Guide to Blocks and Obstacles in Fate Core"

The relevant excerpt is:

Overcoming Obstacles

The other side of the coin relates to getting rid of or overcoming obstacles.

If you want to get rid of a situation aspect, you can do it in one of two ways: roll an overcome action specifically for the purpose of getting rid of the aspect, or roll some other kind of action that would make the aspect make no sense if you succeed (FC 78).

Example:, if you’re Grappled, you could try a sprint action to move away. If you succeed, it wouldn’t make sense for you to be Grappled anymore, so you’d also get rid of that aspect.

If a character can interfere with your action, they get to roll active opposition against you as per normal. Otherwise, GMs, it’s your job to set passive opposition or just allow the player to get rid of the aspect without a roll, if there’s nothing risky or interesting in the way.

Finally, if at any point it simply makes no sense for a situation aspect to be in play, get rid of it.

Example: If you’re Grappled but the opponent holding you describes wandering off to do something else, it no longer makes sense for the Grappled aspect to be in play and it is immediately discarded.

Regarding the level of difficulty to overcome an obstacle, Leonard says:

“Setting the level of passive opposition for anything is the GM’s province unless a player is making a hard statement by spending a fate point. You can talk about it, like you can talk about anything, but the GM retains the last word.”

This is an important change from Dresden Files, where the difficulty to overcome a block was set by the shifts obtained on the block. Changing the way this works has two major advantages:

You don’t have to remember the successes rolled when you later come to work out the difficulty of overcoming an obstacle You can’t stack lots of aspects when you create the obstacle to make it virtually impossible to overcome. Instead you have to burn fate points or invocations whenever the obstacle is challenged in order to maintain it at a high level. This prevents the game from getting blocked or bogged down for a sustained period by an obstacle. This means that a character’s skill (+/- luck) no longer correlates directly to the difficulty to overcome an obstacle. Instead GMs are encouraged to use the usual rules for setting difficulty based on the needs of the story or the realities of the situation.

Example: John Rambo is alone in the forest and he decides to set up some pits and wooden traps to deter people from following him into the wilderness. He describes what he’s setting up and the GM considers his description, Rambo’s aspects, the materials available and the time he’s taking and settles on passive opposition of Good to overcome the traps. He also notes that most of the traps are deadly and that they will inflict a Good attack with weapon 2 on anybody who fails to overcome them…

When an obstacle is overcome, it’s overcome

As to what happens to an aspect/obstacle when it’s overcome, Lenny clarifies:

“When an obstacle is overcome, it’s overcome – whatever considerations need to go into effect to make that legitimate, make them. That may mean the aspect goes away. That may mean you call ninja bullshit on pulling the same trick over again. It’s the same kind of thing as, ‘talk about a concession until you find something that has real teeth’.”

If the obstacle is not overcome, it’s not overcome. i.e. it stays in effect until it’s overcome, subject to modification by context.

Lenny says:

“So, in the cover fire example that’s starting to make me feel like hearing “Love Shack” at karaoke, failing [to overcome] means no opportunity to fire, and maybe other costs atop that. Next turn, whatever that person does, firing at the intended target is off-limits. That can choose any other actions, though.”

I think that covers the mechanical question in as much detail as is useful.


You need to adopt the fiction-first attitude Fate operates under.

As you said, the situational aspect will disappear whenever it makes sense.

Setting difficulty is an art, and should also be informed by the fiction. Depending on the circumstances it might be active or passive. It might not even require a roll.

Let's say the PC has sand in his eyes because of a create an advantage action. The player can't just say, "I overcome the sand in my eyes." The player has to say what exactly they do. If the player says, "I dump the contents of my canteen over my face to rinse the sand away!" That might be enough - it cost a turn and now the character is unaffected by the sand. Fictionally, there is no clear interesting consequence or reasonable chance of failure. Competent characters like those in Fate Core can rinse their faces.

On the other hand, if the PC is jumping out of his skin because of a fear-inducing action, and says, "I steel myself against the jitters and get control of my fears," you might call for a roll. Keep the story in mind when setting difficulty. Was it a poorly-timed cat or a hideous fiend from out of space that scared the character? Are they in a brightly lit parking lot or the spooky old house everyone in town has feared since childhood? This could be a roll against a set difficulty specified by the GM based either on factors in the story or on how dramatic the roll is, as noted in the core book.

If the circumstance is more active - something actively maintained by a character or anything modeled by a fractal, like a fire, it could require a roll against active opposition where both parties to the attempt make rolls modified appropriately. So a wrestler holding a character and a fire blocking a passage might both be able to roll against the PC.

It depends on what is narrated in the story. Fate always follows the story, not the mechanics.

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    \$\begingroup\$ This looks kinda like the Fate Gremlin got into this answer: someone's asking about how the mechanics are involved, but you're explaining "fate's a narrative game, so whatever makes narrative sense" while not adequately covering how the mechanics are involved. \$\endgroup\$ Commented Jan 10, 2016 at 3:42
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    \$\begingroup\$ Let's assume they already understand it's a narrative game. It's on point to say you need narrative justification & to explain what's going on in the story. But, okay, we've got narrative justification and know what we're doing in the story - could you explain what mechanics we leverage at that point? You're saying stuff like "it costs a turn", and "call for a roll", and never reinforce how to use the overcome action well which will probably just confuse readers. Can you talk about the mechanical knowledge you're drawing those decisions from? \$\endgroup\$ Commented Jan 10, 2016 at 3:50
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    \$\begingroup\$ No gremlin here. I didn't say not to worry or not to represent it mechanically. I said the mechanics have to follow, not lead, which is absolutely true and, frankly, not something the question particularly implies the asker already knows. However, the question demonstrates knowing about the SRD, so I didn't bother linking to it in my answer. \$\endgroup\$
    – gomad
    Commented Jan 10, 2016 at 13:24
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    \$\begingroup\$ You might get a better response to this answer if it front-loaded the bits that answer the question being asked, and then talked about philosophical context which the querent hasn't asked about or demonstrated ignorance of. (The "gremlin" is assuming that because the question doesn't show knowledge of something, that means they're ignorant of it instead of it just being tangential to the question.) \$\endgroup\$
    – BESW
    Commented Jan 10, 2016 at 22:43
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    \$\begingroup\$ I tend to agree with gomad in this, particularly as the fiction first element of Fate is, in my experience, the least well understood. I specifically think that the first example given is telling: no mechanical action is needed, because there is no drama involved in someone washing their face. I would however tag that character with "out of water", which might well become important later... \$\endgroup\$
    – Timonides
    Commented Jan 15, 2016 at 15:23

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