Survival Source: Fate Codex, Volume 1, Issue 2
The Survival skill is all about the ability to endure and physically thrive in the wilds, whether in jungle, desert, or even the streets and sewers of a city. It covers situational awareness—your overall perception and the ability to pick out at a glance useful things or dangers hidden in the surrounding environment.
Overcome: You use Survival to overcome obstacles relating to your environment, such as finding your way through rugged terrain, gathering edible food and potable water, and so on. Survival is also used to overcome obstacles relating to reaction: noticing a danger, hearing a faint sound of someone following you, spotting the concealed gun in that guy’s waistband, etc. Additionally, Survival can be used to treat a physical consequence akin to being a field medic, provided you have the proper supplies and time.
Create an Advantage: You use Survival to create aspects based on direct observation of your surroundings—finding an escape route in a debris-filled building, noticing someone sticking out in a crowd, tracking an animal or person, etc. When observing people, Survival can tell you what’s going on with them externally; for internal changes, see Empathy. You might also use Survival to declare that your character spots something you can use to your advantage in a situation, such as a convenient Escape Route' when you’re trying to get out of a building, or a Subtle Weakness' in the enemy’s line of defense. For example, if you’re in a barroom brawl you could make a Survival roll to say that you spot a puddle on the floor right next to your opponent’s feet that could cause him to slip.
Survival also allows you to create aspects based on using or manipulating your environment, such as making a trap or a foxhole, scrounging for supplies, building a shelter or tools, and otherwise altering the environment to suit your needs.
Attack: Survival isn’t really used for attacks.
Defend: You can use Survival to defend against any uses of Stealth to get the drop on you or ambush you, or to discover that you’re being observed. Survival is also used to defend against gunfire and other such attacks, but only when you are huddled down in a defensible position, such as a foxhole or bunker. (This is the opposite of using Athletics, which involves avoiding these situations via movement.)
The Danger Sense and Body Language Reader stunts from Fate Core work for Survival. Depending on how you feel about it, the Reactive Shot might as well. Here are a couple more stunts tailored specifically for Survival.
- Animal Ken. Creatures of the wild are second nature to you. Use Survival for Empathy and Rapport situations with animals.
- Master of the Wild. Pick some sort of terrain or broad environment. Once per scene, when you create an advantage that involves spending a little time scavenging or manipulating the local area, you can give that aspect an additional free invoke.
- Natural Healer. Your time in the wilds has taught you how to patch yourself up when hurt and to recognize what’s good to use around you for cleaning wounds or as medicine. You can use Survival to address consequences that are physical in nature. (Design note: I’m on the fence about whether this is a natural part of the skill or a stunt, and sometimes I think that maybe just recovering from a mild physical consequence is inherent to Survival.)
- Master of the Ring. Given even a brief sense that the situation could get physical, you can use Fight in place of Survival for the purposes of establishing turn order and for spotting hidden dangers that could come into play during a fight.
- At Home in Academia. Whether browsing in the library stacks or wandering through the campus garden, no one gets a jump on you on your home turf. Use Lore instead of Survival or Empathy when establishing turn order.