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.
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.
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.
Survival isn’t really used for attacks.
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.