VG Fudge

There's nothing terrible about it!

These comments copyright 2011 by Steffan O'Sullivan
This page last updated August 1, 2011

In July 2011 I made a change to how I'm running Fudge. This is a little traumatic, as it's the first big change for me in Fudge gaming since 1995. This is an explanation of the change, and I'm answering some potential questions.

I call this implementation VG Fudge where "VG" stands for "Very Good." There's nothing terrible about it! I will add "VG Fudge" to any character sheets I post to the web using the new system, so you don't accidentally use the wrong characters. I will leave up the old characters on the web for those players playing standard Fudge who might need to download some characters in a hurry to play a game starting right now.

The Change

It's easy to state the change - it's very minor in appearance, though fairly major in application. To put it briefly, in my GMing, I've changed the standard Fudge word ladder to:

Very Good

That's it. No other major changes. Still seven levels, still easy to remember, still easy to know which is better or worse than any other level.

That's really all the announcement there is. I'll now answer some hypothetical questions, and then a note about translating Savage Worlds to VG Fudge.

Questions and Answers

  • Q: Is this an official change to Fudge?
  • A: No. I no longer own the copyright to Fudge and therefore have no authority to make official changes.

  • Q: Would it be an official change if you had that authority?
  • A: Only if I could get somebody else to do the massive amount of work required to change all existing published characters to the new system!

  • Q: Why did you do this?
  • A: Because I felt the need for a little more distance between Fair and Superb - and even between Good and Superb. I was uncomfortable how often a Good swordsman could beat a Superb swordsman. YMMV. And it's not hard to notice that players like their characters to have more positive skills than negative ones, so it's good to have more variety in the positive levels. The biggest problem with the new system is that now a Superb swordsman rolls, at worst, a Fair result. However, this is actually covered by the concept of Critical Failure: a -4 result is always a negative result (a botch, a fumble - whatever you want to call it), no matter what your skill level. With such a roll, even a Mediocre swordsman will beat you with a simple +1 result.

  • Q: So why not leave in Terrible and make it eight levels?
  • A: Because I don't think it's really necessary to have three negative levels. And long ago I read an interesting journal article on lists and memory. The percentage of people who can remember six items is very close to those who can remember seven. But there's a much larger gap in trying to remember eight items. Seven seems to be the maximum list size for the general population to be comfortable handling. Seven is a magic number.

  • Q: May I see a character sheet to see what it looks like?
  • A: Yes! In August 2011 I started posting files in the VG Fudge format to the top of the Fudge Characters page on my website, starting with the Bunny characters. (If you notice any typos or other errors in the characters, please let me know!) I hope to convert other characters to this version of Fudge later this year, but it'll be a while because I'm taking the opportunity to revise and balance the characters, based on player reactions over the past few years. That's a lengthy process, and a lot of work.

  • Q: Should I be doing this too?
  • A: My answer to questions like this has never changed since Fudge was first conceived: you should run Fudge the way you enjoy it, whatever that may be. That's what it's all about. I want to stress this. The only reason I've even given this variant a "name" is so I can put it on the character sheets so you won't accidently try to use them and get confused. The only reason I'm making this big a deal out of it is because people get nervous when a designer doesn't play his own game as it is written. I want to reassure you that if you're playing standard Fudge, I think that's Great - Superb, even! It makes my day. So this variant is not something you need to do at all, honest.

  • Q: Will you never again play Fudge with the old word ladder?
  • A: I will happily be a player in a game where the GM is using the old word ladder (or one of her own customization), no worries! But in games I GM, I'll use the new word ladder from now on. The only exceptions I can see are quickly organized games where I don't have character sheets in the VG system, but do in the standard system, such as those in Another Fine Mess (an excellent adventure, BTW).

  • Q: Well, then, why not convert the characters in Another Fine Mess to the VG system?
  • A: I hope to someday, but I can't really post them without permission since I don't own the copyright. And I'm hampered in that I don't have them in electronic format. And, as I said above, it's a lot of work. I'm not the kind of person who can just use global replacements for this sort of thing - I have to tinker with the characters as I translate.

Savage Worlds to VG Fudge

Savage Worlds is a popular game whose system feels a bit clunky to me, always having break the mood to determine which dice to use, and whose mechanics sometimes return a result where it's better to have lower skill. Still, it has a lot of fans and a lot of support material, and a certain cinematic style I admire. There are even a number of free adventures on the publisher's website. So I've been happy to discover that it's very easy to convert to VG Fudge!

First, "Edges" are simply Gifts and "Hinderances" Faults.

You can use "Exploding dice" simply by rolling again if you get +4, and add any more plus results to the score, ignoring any minus or blank results.

If you wanted the "Wild card" and Joker effects (you could just ignore them), you could play with different colored Fudge dice and require certain colors to be plus results to trigger a Wild Card Edge, for example. Or, more simply, just treat Wild Card Edges as a Supernormal Power, costing two Gifts.

Then, simply use the following table, and anything else can be imported pretty much unchanged:

d4 = Mediocre
d6 = Fair
d8 = Good
d10 = Very Good
d12 = Great
d12+X = Superb

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