7 – Stress and Consequences7 min read

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Stress and Consequences

Stress and Consequences Flow Chart
Stress and Consequences Flow Chart

What are Stress and Consequences?

To use a very crude analogy they are somewhat like Hit Points from Dungeons and Dragons or like Wounds, Strain, and Critical Hits from FFG’s various Star Wars RPG lines only in that they help to model the health and well-being of the character, but that is where the similarities end. Part of that is because of the nature of both D&D and Star Wars systems being rules heavy and are trying to numerically abstract the health of the character and both being simulationist.

With Fate being a rules lite, narrativist, and a very story-driven game Stress and Consequences in Fate are driven to very different ends. They are meant to:

  • increase the tension within the narrative as stress is applied to the character
  • to let us know how to narrate the application of stress to the character
  • to let us know how close to being taken out the character is

It is more of a narrative tool for the player and GM. If you start to mess with Fate’s dials by adjusting the Stress and Consequence tracks it can definitely work to adjust the pacing of a game. If your character’s started with only 1 stress for both mental and physical stress tracks you would end up with a very different game – much grittier and very quick combats.

Stress is more a light hit or a direct or indirect result of the attack that you can easily recover from after the conflict has resided.

Consequences are lasting injuries that are negative Aspects tied to your character which can be invoked.

Note: See the link below for more information from the official Fate RPG site.

How they work together

I will try to put to words what the above diagram says, which is about everything you need to know about the use of Stress and Consequences.

When you receive physical or mental stress the following rules apply:

Stress may flow:

  1. through only 0 or 1 stress box
  2. then into any number of consequences
    1. The character whose attack caused you to take on a consequence gains 1 free invocation of it.


You can soak incoming stress through your Physical and Mental Stress tracks (as appropriate) with no direct mechanical effect, although you will still need to narrate it. Perhaps marking off a stress box after being ‘hit’ symbolizes:

  • just shrugging it off
  • a miss but you may have slightly twisted your ankle while getting out of the way
  • a jarring deflection with your arms that is quickly shrugged off

Whatever it was, the effects of the hit are short-lived and temporary. Think of how to narrate taking a 1 shift from a hit from a rocket. What does that represent? How much or little did it affect you?


Once the incoming stress flows over to your Consequences then you are getting to an attack that affects you in some significant way. Examples of Consequences are:

  • Mild: Black Eye, Bruised Hand, Winded, Flustered, Cranky, Temporarily Blinded
  • Moderate: Deep Cut, First Degree Burn, Exhausted, Drunk,Terrified
  • Severe: Second-Degree Burn, Compound Fracture, Guts Hanging Out, Crippling Shame, Trauma-Induced Phobia

Invocable Aspects: Consequences are also invocable aspects which can be invoked against you.
Also, as a added bonus, the opponent which inflicted it upon you gets a free invocation of it! =)]

Being Removed from the Scene

Conceding the Scene:

At any time prior to the dice hitting the table you may choose to concede the scene. Why would you want to Concede the Scene? You are able to be proactive and control the narration for how you left the scene and you receive Fate Point(s) for it. And…to prevent the problems with being Taken Out of the scene. (see next part for info on being Taken Out)

Benefits of Conceding the Scene are:

  • You are able to narrate how your character leaves the scene. It has to make narrative sense though, since you were defeated. (left for dead?)
  • At the end of the conflict you receive:
    • 1 Fate Point for Conceding
    • 1 Fate Point for each Consequence you received during this Conflict

Taken Out

If, in the process of attempting to soak your incoming stress, you are not able to reduce the shifts to 0 by your Stress and Consequence usage then:

  • you are taken out of the scene
  • You attacker gets to narrate your defeat (imprisoned?)
    • Killing your character is possible here.

Recovering Stress and Consequences


After a conflict has completed and you’ve had a moment to recover all of your stress boxes refresh.


Your Consequences lessen after milestones, so these are going to be with you for a while. Recovering your Consequences is a process involving time and work.

Consequence Recovery = Succeeding at an Overcome Action + Time

Here is a table summarizing the required time and overcome actions for recovery:

Mild (2)Fair (+2)1 scene after recovery action
Moderate (4)Great (+4)1 session after the recovery action (which means if you do the recovery action in the middle of a session, you should recover sometime in the middle of next session)
Severe (6)Fantastic (+6)1 scenario after recovery action

Overcome Action

The action in question is an overcome action; the obstacle is the consequence that you took. If it’s a physical injury, then the action is some kind of medical treatment or first aid. For mental consequences, the action may involve therapy, counseling, or simply a night out with friends.

The difficulty for this obstacle is based on the shift value of the consequence:

Mild Consequence (2)Fair (+2)
Moderate Consequence (4)Great (+4)
Severe Consequence (6)Fantastic (+6)

Note: If you are trying to perform the recovery action on yourself, increase the difficulty by two steps on the ladder.

Keep in mind that the circumstances have to be appropriately free of distraction and tension for you to make this roll in the first place—you’re not going to clean and bandage a nasty cut while ogres are tromping through the caves looking for you. GMs, you’ve got the final judgment call.

If you succeed at the recovery action, or someone else succeeds on a recovery action for you, you get to rename the consequence aspect to show that it’s in recovery. So, for example, Broken Leg could become Stuck in a Cast, Scandalized could become Damage Control, and so on. This doesn’t free up the consequence slot, but it serves as an indicator that you’re recovering, and it changes the ways the aspect’s going to be used while it remains.

Whether you change the consequence’s name or not—and sometimes it might not make sense to do so—mark it with a star so that everyone remembers that recovery has started.


Then, you just have to wait the time.

Mild Consequence (2)1 scene after recovery action
Moderate Consequence (4)1 session after the recovery action (which means if you do the recovery action in the middle of a session, you should recover sometime in the middle of next session)
Severe Consequence     (6)1 scenario after recovery action


Assuming that your character has only a 1 or 2 pt stress box available, if you receive 12 stress from a single attack you can soak it as follows:

  1. 2 shifts into a 2 point stress box
  2. 4 shifts into a 4 point consequence slot
  3. 6 shifts into a 6 point consequence slot

But, now you have 2 invokable consequences and the opponent has 1 free invocation of each to use against you and I bet they will be using that pretty soon! =O

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