I’ve been thinking a bit on Concessions and being Taken Out in Fate Core, in light of some recent discussions on the topic and I came to a realization. Because of the existence of Concessions and how they work mechanically, they’re a big ‘ol kill switch that can be flipped to get the game out of conflict mode and on with whatever else is going on.
Now this might seem obvious, but the implications are big. Characters don’t have to Concede only when they’re about to the Taken Out. Concession is on the table at all times, and not all fights have to drag on until everyone is totally smashed up. Once the right opportunity presents itself, one side or the other concedes the fight. The negotiation and terms of the Concession help to guarantee that continuity is preserved and the scene transitions smoothly out of the conflict.
Take, for example, a villain who wants to test the mettle of the PCs. He instructs his men to ambush the PCs but to withdraw before anyone is killed or severely injured. After the first two exchanges, it’s apparent that the PCs are stronger/more crafty/better skilled/etc. than expected, and the NPCs concede the conflict. It’s agreed that the NPCs fully withdraw, but drop a clue to where the villain’s lair is in the process.
Dragging conflicts out until the very end is, traditionally, something that happens a lot in RPGs. Sometimes it’s lack of mechanical support, others it’s learned player or GM behavior that every fight must be to the death. But it doesn’t have to be that way in Fate Core, and concessions should be a consideration regardless of how well one side or the other is doing in a fight.