Deadly Fate

This thread ( showed up on, but it seems to have died down a bit, and I'd kind of like to get feedback on my thoughts on the subject.  Deadly (and its cousin gritty) gameplay in Fate has been in the back of my mind for a while.  So, below is my post on how to make Fate deadlier.

I'd probably start with deconstructing what we mean by "deadly". There's a few things it could mean:

1) The characters lose more often
2) Combat goes faster - characters survive fewer hits.
3) A "failed" combat is more likely to result in death.
4) Retreat is harder to accomplish.
5) Some kind of death spiral exists.
6) Characters don't survive full on sword hits to the chest.

Some of these are somewhat related. Some aren't. I'll cover how I view them.

As a first question, exactly how often do you think characters should die? That's a useful calibration point.

1) This is the easiest one to handle - just use tougher opponents. It's easy to underestimate what opposition you should throw at players in Fate. If you want the FFV feel, don't make goblins mooks, make them supporting characters or better. Make every fight tough if the characters go in unprepared or unaware. Make Ogres truly epic challenges - +6 or higher peak skills, lots of stress - rather than low-mid-level cannon fodder.

2) This is mostly a matter of pacing, not inherently about deadliness. Still, this can be resolved either by minimizing/altering stress, having consequences soak damage, or using weapon/armor ratings where the weapons almost always outweigh the armor.

3) As the GM, narrate "Taken Out" to more often be "death".

4) Be stingier on the requirements to Concede, or charge a Fate Point to do so.

5) Play up the narrative truth of consequences, and you get this within the rules as they exist.

6) Don't narrate low stress hits as gaping sword wounds. Narrate them as close calls, or some combination of fatigue/battering.

Fate is really, even as-is, pretty much as deadly as you want to make it.