Survival is a very broad skill covering virtually every sort of outdoor activity from riding horses to wilderness survival. Characters with high Survival include explorers, hunters, and barbarians.


  • Riding
    Survival is used for riding animals, and follows the Drive rules for chases. Whether the character possesses a mount depends on character concept or Resources. Truly exceptional mounts are the domain of stunts.
  • Animal Handling
    Survival also covers interaction with animals, from training to communicating with them, including handling beasts of burden, draft animals, and common pets. Survival replaces all social skills when dealing with animals – which is not to say animals are great conversationalists, just that when you’re trying to calm or stare down an animal, Survival is the skill to roll.
    Most animals act in specific ways in specific situations; an animal’s response to a person is like a first impression (see Rapport). A trained animal like a war dog isn’t likely to change its mind, but if a reaction isn’t certain, you can roll Survival against the creature’s Resolve to see if the impression is favourable or unfavourable. A friendly result for a potentially hostile animal means it’s unlikely to attack; for a potentially useful animal (such as with riding), you need a friendly roll to get it to work.
  • Breaking in Animals
    Normally, breaking in a mount is a conflict between rider and steed. The rider makes Composure attacks (using Survival against Resolve) on the animal while the animal makes Physical attacks (using Athletics or Might against Survival) on the rider. When one party is finally taken out, takes a consequence or concedes, either the animal is broken or the rider is thrown, and the animal’s Composure track clears immediately.
    For greater ability to break in animals, see the stunt “Breaking It In” below.
  • Camouflage
    You can use Survival to construct blinds and other ways to remain hidden outdoors. On a Mediocre roll, you can build a blind or create a place to hide, allowing Survival to modify Stealth. It takes a few hours to build, and lasts one day plus one extra day per shift.
  • Scavenging
    If you need to scrounge something up from the wilderness – sticks, bones, sharp rocks, vines to use as rope, even food – you can roll Survival against a difficulty based on how likely it is to find and how interesting to use.
Difficulty Likelyhood Example
Mediocre (+0) Likely Wood or vine in a forest, food in season in fertile country.
Good (+3) Possible Strong wood in a swamp, something to eat out of season or in the wrong place
Superb (+4) Unlikely Wood or drinking water in a desert
+1 . Each additional search criterion

Each qualifying criterion increases the difficulty by;
(+1) if a character needs sticks in a forest, the difficulty is Mediocre (+0), but if he needs sticks of a certain size and strength (2 criteria) the difficulty is Fair (+2). Building something, like a trap, requires an Artificer check, modified by Survival (see page 160).

Stunts Riding

  • Hands Free (Survival)
    The character is a skilled rider and can multitask in the saddle. Riding never causes a supplemental action penalty, whether rolling Survival as the primary skill or using it to supplement another. This is a key stunt for mounted combat.
  • Hell Bent (Survival)
    Your character can get the best speed out of a mount, gaining a +2 Survival bonus on any sprint action while mounted, or to your mount’s Athletics if using that instead (as with an Animal Companion mount). You must be actively driving your mount forward to receive this bonus; it doesn’t apply if you’re unconscious in the saddle, for example.
  • Ride Anything (Survival)
    If it can be ridden, your character can ride it. You suffer no Cultural Idiom penalties (see page 62) or increased difficulties for lack of familiarity, no matter how strange the mount – dragon, dinosaur or giant bird of prey.
  • Breaking It In (Survival)
    The character’s an expert at breaking in new mounts, gaining a +2 Survival bonus. If successful, he gets a +1 to all Survival rolls with the broken-in creature for the duration of that session.
  • Trick Rider (Survival)
    The character can urge his mount to jump chasms, charge through burning buildings, face dangers no sane mount would ever consider. Treat maneuver difficulties in chases (see page 82) as one lower for you only (ie they’re unaffected for any other pursuers).
  • Master Horseman (Survival)
    The character ignores increased Survival roll difficulties due to constricted space when riding, unless it’s physically impossible for you and your mount to fit.


  • Animal Companion (Survival)
    The character has a close companion from the animal kingdom. Animal companions have four advances (see page 165), but operate only with a “physical” scope, and must spend at least two advances on “Skilled” or “Quality”; “Skilled” advances must take Athletics, Fists, Might, Stealth or Survival, although you may take one other skill, within reason, based on animal type. For example, a raccoon might have Sleight of Hand; a lion might have Intimidation (this is unsubtle, and not considered a violation of the physical scope).
    You may ride the creature as a mount at a +1 Survival bonus if it’s the appropriate size, and may use its Athletics skill instead of Survival. Athletics is also used to speed up when the rider is too busy to “steer” the animal himself.
  • Animal Friend (Survival)
    The character can communicate with a particular type of creature (select one, such as cats, dogs, horses, etc), and gains a +2 bonus when interacting with them. This doesn’t imply any particular intelligence on the animal’s part, so communication is relatively simple. The character uses Survival instead of social skills when dealing with these animals.
  • Requires Animal Friend
    The character’s preference for animals over people gives him an intuitive understanding of how to treat their injuries. When treating an injured animal, use Survival instead of Science.
  • Call of the Wild (Survival)
    Requires Animal Friend
    The character can summon nearby friendly animals by calling out in a “native” voice. A number of creatures up to the shifts generated on a Mediocre (+0) difficulty Survival roll heed the call – ten times that for small creatures like birds or cats, or a hundred times for vermin like rats or spiders. Only creatures affected by Animal Friend or King of the Beasts will respond.
  • King of the Beasts (Survival)
    Requires Animal Friend
    Like Animal Friend, but the character speaks to an entire broad category of animals, rather than just one type, either sea creatures (fish, whales, seabirds), land creatures (dogs, primates, cats, birds) or vermin (bugs, rats and other small scuttling things). The categories overlap loosely – pigeons are in all three – and the Story Teller should be generous in her interpretation.


  • Due North (Survival)
    The character’s natural navigational talent means he rarely gets lost, and always knows which way north is, even underground, without a compass or stars to guide him. Whenever trying to orient yourself using Survival, you gain a +2 bonus and face no familiarity penalties, even in unknown locations.
  • Tracker (Survival)
    The character is a skilled tracker, and can infer a great deal of information from a trail. When studying tracks, you may roll Survival instead of Investigation: each shift generated provides one piece of information about the person or creature tracked (ie weight, how they were moving).
  • Trackless Step (Survival)
    Requires Tracker
    Trying to track the character outdoors is futile, and anyone trying suffers a -2 penalty and takes one step longer than normal on the Time Increments Table (see page 178). For a Fate point, this applies to anyone you’re travelling with as well.
  • Hunter’s Grace (Survival)
    Requires Trackless Step
    The character’s tread is as soundless as an animal’s. In a natural setting, you may use Survival instead of Stealth to skulk or hide.
  • Champion of the Wild (Survival) Requires one other Survival stunt
    The wilderness is more than your character’s home – it’s tactical terrain. When in a natural setting, your Survival skill complements either your Melee Weapons skill or Ranged Weapons skill (pick one when you take this stunt).


Of Monsters and Men Monster jacebenson