Overall, I'm pretty happy with Fudge. I've been
running it exclusively for three years as I write this, and it
works so well I have no desire to go back to any other RPG system.
So I don't really have any mind-boggling changes to suggest. This
article contains, then, little ways to do things better and a couple of
suggestions for optional rules. Make of them what you will.
(Most recent changes first)
- Designer's Notes
- Examples of Scale
- Five-Point Fudge - a ready-to-use character creation system!
- Very Simple Dice - Suitable for Outdoors!
- Is Fudge a complete game?
- Dice Techniques & Steep Curves
- Attributes and Skills
- Combat Rounds
- Translations to/from other RPGs
- Cinematic Action
- Feng Shui Style Gifts
Very Simple Dice - Even Suitable for Outdoors!
The return of an old dice proposal ... I had first considered this in
1992 but rejected it as too simplistic. It's back now because I realize
that Fudge can survive simplistic techniques, but mainly
I discovered that Basic Fun, Inc.
makes, under license from Hasbro, a keychain with a "Pop-o-matic" d6
in it: a little tiny sealed clear plastic toy that you press on and a
little tiny - but readable! - d6 jumps around and basically rolls itself.
This was too cute to pass up, so I bought one. I found myself wishing
it had Fudge dice, but realized that Fudge is flexible
enough to be used with a single d6!
This is easy to do, though it only returns a spread of +3 to -3, which
is actually fine for most Fudge purposes. Simply roll a
d6, and use the following table, easily memorized:
- Roll again: on a 1-2, the result is -3; on a 3-6, -2
- Roll again: on a 1-4, the result is +2; on a 5-6, +3
For those who like to see the odds:
Result Exact Cumulative
+3 5.5% 5.5%
+2 11.1% 16.7%
+1 16.7% 33.3%
0 33.3% 66.7%
-1 16.7% 83.3%
-2 11.1% 94.5%
-3 5.5% 100.0%
This technique returns a higher result for "0", and lower results for
"+1" and "-1", but is otherwise very similar to 3dF.
This allows play of Fudge under very difficult
conditions, such as outdoors, or when you can only find one d6, or when
you have a new "pop-o-matic" toy you want to use. :-)
As a bonus, it's also not a bad system for those who like a greater
concentration of "0" results than 4dF gives (23.5%).
Dice Techniques & Steep Curves
People love to come up with dice techniques for Fudge
- there's something about the game which makes you want to experiment
with how to get the exact results you want. I know I did
- a lot. In fact, I'll wager Fudge has had
more proposed action resolution techniques than any other RPG -
Andy Skinner, Reimer Behrends and I came up with over a hundred
different dice techniques between the three of us!
I finally settled on 4dF (Fudge Dice), but that
doesn't mean you have to. Some people are unhappy with the spread
- they say it's too easy to get a non-zero result, meaning your
performance isn't very reliable. They want a higher zero result,
so you feel more consistent in your skills.
This may be fine, but I'd like to point out the downside to this
approach. I played Fudge extensively this way for
over a year. To be honest, it made the game clunkier. Let me
If you have a zero result more than 25% of the time, this is
excellent for Unopposed actions, I admit. It means that if you're
Good at something, you'll usually get Good results - makes sense.
But if you are talking about Opposed actions, that's a different
story. What it means is that the difference between a Good and
Great fighter, for example, become much greater. That is, the
Great fighter will beat the Good fighter a higher percentage of
the time if you have a steeper curve. This means it becomes much
more valuable to the player to raise his fighting and other Opposed
skills, making the game more and more a munchkin experience.
After a year of this, I decided it wasn't working - fights were
boring because the better fighter won so much more often that it
wasn't interesting, and trait escalation became common. People
were focusing on maximizing their characters instead of roleplaying.
Fudge was becoming a munchkin game. Thus, 4dF was
I love Fudge Dice - thanks, Ann, for having them
manufactured for me! I think nothing works better in a game of
Fudge, and I've probably tried more dice techniques
than you have. But there are some caveats when using Fudge
That's it. If you try this and still find the spread of results
too extreme, then check out some of the alternate dice techniques
others have come up with - Mike Harvey's page (URL on my Fudge Page) should have
some listed. Above all, remember to be loose and enjoy the game!
- Don't require the players to roll for routine or trivial actions.
They'll get skewed results. If you require a Good cook to roll
for breakfast, you could easily get a Mediocre meal or a Superb
meal. This is too much fluctuation for your daily professional or
routine tasks - you wouldn't be called a Good cook if you didn't
turn out Good food regularly. So for tasks like that, I simply
look at their skill levels, and tell the players, "Yes, you can do
that - no need to roll," if it's something they can do without any
- If they complain about the spread of results they're getting
in combat, tell them the stress is making them behave more erratically
than they do in the practice ring. If they claim they have some
"Coolness under Fire" attribute that would alleviate that, then
have them move all their rolls one closer to zero - that is, a -4
becomes -3 and a +4 becomes +3, etc. If they complain you're taking
away their best shots, tell them they can't have their cake and
eat it, too - if they want their bad shots smoothed to the center
of the curve, then the same thing has to happen to their good shots.
Attributes and Skills
One of the most frequently asked questions about Fudge
is, "How do I add attributes and skills together as in game X?"
Many players do, but my own personal answer (which really means
nothing in Fudge, remember - your answer is much more
important) is don't do it. I don't think the system really handles
such a concept well, beyond what advice is already given in the
book. As Mike Harvey points out, Fudge attributes
and skills already span the whole range, so adding them doesn't
make sense. You could average them, but then you get into min-maxing
in a boring way.
I have seen more abuse in other games over attribute levels than
any other single character creation aspect. Fudge
deliberately disassociates attributes and skills for this very
reason: no matter how you link them, it's too easy a concept to
abuse. Sure, you can abuse the game anyway, but why make it so it
so easy that even non-munchkins feel like doing it? I've seen it
in other games ...
And if you want attributes and skills to have some logical connection,
have the players make logical connections - it's not hard.
So my advice is:
Learn to think of a skill level as just that: your level in the
You shouldn't have to add anything to it - if you're Great at
Climbing, list it that way. If you're only Mediocre at Climbing
with a Great Agility, you should either find a reason for this
(slipped badly once, nearly fatal - hasn't the confidence to climb
well anymore; OR just starting out - still new at it, etc.), or
adjust one trait or the other if you simply can't stand it.
What do I use attributes for, then? For three things:
- Some opposed actions involve attributes, as in attribute vs.
attribute, or skill vs. attribute. Examples include Strength vs.
Strength for tug of war, or Strength vs. Fitness for choking, or
Agility vs. Agility for knocking someone off a cliff, or Willpower
vs. some psi skill to resist it, or Con-artist skill vs. Reasoning
to fool someone, or Move Quietly vs. Perception (modified by how
alert the latter is), etc.
- As a very broad skill group to give the GM an idea of where to
set a default. An average default for a skill is Poor, but if your
relevent attribute is much higher than average, I might give it a
Mediocre, or if it's much lower than average, a Terrible.
- As a handle on who the character is: "Superb Strength, Great
Agility, Great Fitness, Poor Reasoning, Mediocre Willpower - yes,
I can play this." Some have made fun of me for this, but I feel
this is really a valid use of attributes, and is one reason I don't
like a lot of attributes in a game - I lose sense of this aspect
of a character. Personal taste.
I've finally decided on a standard combat round length for my games:
pi seconds. Why else would you call it a combat round?
After a convention game one time, Ann Dupuis and I were discussing how
well the game went, especially with the one newcomer to gaming at the
table. The woman was not only at her first convention, but was playing
her first RPGs that weekend. Fudge was the last game in
her schedule that con, and she was blown away by how easy it was
compared to the other games. She said she understood the character
sheet without having to have anything explained to her - and that the
single mechanic to resolve all actions was the best she'd seen in the
five different games she'd tried.
So we were congratulating ourselves, when I mentioned to Ann (President
and Dictator for Life of Grey Ghost Games) that Fudge did
have its drawbacks - experience being the most glaring. Yes, it's
great for one-shot con games, but it seems to allow characters to
develop too quickly or not at all in long-term games.
Ann came up with an idea which we batted around a bit, and it looks
something like this:
Instead of awarding Experience Points, the GM awards Fudge Points at
the end of a gaming session. These can be turned in for Experience
Points, but the ratio in Section 1.36 (suggested 3 EP = 1 Fudge Point)
is reversed. That is, you may turn in three Fudge Points for
Raising traits is unchanged from Chapter 5.
What this does is force the player to consider whether he needs to save
his Fudge Points to get out of a jam the next session, or convert them
to EP to raise a trait. He can save Fudge Points from session to
session, so he can eventually swap 12 Fudge Points for 4 EP to raise a
trait or two - but he may have to use some of those Fudge Points along
the way to survive!
The net effect is that character development is left totally in the
hands of the player, but is slowed down from the rate suggested in the
book. This means a long-term campaign becomes more viable in
Translations to/from Other RPGs
Mike Harvey suggested the table in Section 6.11 on converting
characters to/from Fudge isn't accurate. He points out
that my conversions of
Terrible: 3 or less
are especially off - because no RPG really uses those numbers! And
he's right. I doubt you'll find one GURPS character in a
hundred with skills below 9.
Therefore, a more accurate chart for Section 6.11 might look like:
Terrible: 5 or less
This section was inspired by reading the miniatures game rules
All For One, and was first tried in late 1995.
For certain genres - Swashbuckling, superheroes, larger-than-life
fantasy - the GM gives the following Gift to PCs free of charge:
"Star" (as in cinematic Star)
Certain key NPCs are also Stars, but not the masses of NPC cannon
When a Star faces another Star in combat, use the normal
Fudge combat rules you favor.
However, when a Star faces bit players (NPC masses), the Star gets
Dan Frohlich has suggested that (2), above, be treated differently:
each additional bit player adds +1 Scale instead of +1 skill level.
This is an interesting idea which deserves consideration!
- On the Star's turn, he may fight bit players one at a time, as many
as he wishes. The first one faced is at his combat ability; the second
one is at -1, the third one at -2, and so on. Any hit at all, even a
Scratch, is assumed to Incapacitate a bit player for game purposes.
The Star may choose how many to fight in a given turn, and so long as
there are no Stars opposing him, he is assumed to be holding off the
rest of the bit players should there be a mob of them. He may step in
any direction - or even run, if applicable - after each successful
combat, and may thus work his way toward a goal. He may also try other
actions in his turn, but the GM may rule he has to fight through a
number of bit players to be able to try these. If so, each bit player
fought reduces any other skill he wishes to use by one.
- Example: Pierre is facing a mass of English soldiers between
himself and the open window. He tells the GM he wants to get to the
window and try to rip the large curtain off it and jump through the
window, hoping the curtain will act as a parachute enough to enable him
to land without breaking any bones.
- The GM says he'll have to fight at least two bit players to do
this. Pierre, with Superb Fencing and Great acrobatics, will try it.
He easily dispatches the two bit players, but his Acrobatics is now
reduced two steps to Fair for having fought two bit players. He rips
the curtain and jumps, making an Acrobatics roll of .... Fair. The GM
rules this is enough to keep him from breaking any bones, but he lands
heavily, is on the ground with the curtain covering him, and can't see
what's going on right now . . . [End of example]
- If the campaign is very cinematic, the GM may allow the Star
to fight two (or even more!) bit players before having his ability
reduced. He may even fight two at a time, if desired, treating them as
a single foe. That is, one hit Incapacitates both opponents . . .
- On their action, bit players attack a Star as the GM sees fit.
Generally, one bit player counts as a single opponent of Poor combat
ability, and each additional one increases that rating by one. Thus
four attacking bit players count as one opponent of Good ability, and
six count as one opponent of Superb ability. There may be only room
for four or even less to attack in a given turn, however.
Feng Shui Gifts in Fudge
While I prefer Fudge to Feng Shui over all,
the latter does have some very good ideas that are worth stea... I mean
importing into Fudge.
In Feng Shui, Gifts are used to modify skills in many
cases. So you can have various ranged weapon skills, for example, then
take one (or more) of the following Gifts that lets you, among others,
Note that the effects of some of these Gifts are achievable only
if you take the Gift (#2 & #6 spring to mind), while others might
be done by ordinary folk, but not as often or as well (#3 or #1,
- use two weapons with deadly effect vs the same target; or
- mow down cannon fodder NPCs effortlessly; or
- have extreme accuracy for single shots; or
- fast draw; or
- lightning reload; or
- do extra damage with a signature weapon.
These special Gifts are divided into six areas, and the templates tell
you which character types can take how many Gifts of which type.
You'll have to buy Feng Shui for more detail, but the
basic idea is easily ported into Fudge.
The GM can write up some lists of these special Gifts and allow
characters to choose from a list relevant to their character type.
So a basic fighter or ranger might be able to choose one (or more,
depending on the campaign) of the Gifts above, for example, while
a wizard would have a different list of Gifts to choose from, and
so on. Some characters might even be able to choose from different
lists: one Ranged Weapon Special Gift, one Martial Arts Special
Gift, and one Magic Special Gift, for example.
In short, I like how the Gifts in Feng Shui are spelled
out and divied up, and used to do neat game effects. It makes you feel
special if you can take gun Gifts and the other players can't. Of
course, they're getting sorcery Gifts or martial arts Gifts or
whatever, but that's cool, too.
So if this idea appeals to you, buy Feng Shui, port those
Gifts into Fudge, and write your own. Perfect for
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