Friday, February 12, 2010

First Stop on the Pub Crawl: Fudge

Fudge a game not just a chocolaty treat - it is a "way"of thinking about running games. I personally love Fudge and I’ve used it to run several games in the past. My favorite Fudge game I ever played was a low power level supers game where one PC had the ability to split himself into a molecular fog and then recombine and the other PC had perfect aim (he couldn’t miss with a ranged attack). Fudge is really easy to learn and is very rules light. Well lets get started with elements analysis:

Trait Levels (instead of having numbers to describe how good you are at something you get adjectives, good, terrible, superb, etc.), Attributes - the gm will specify how many of these - they describe physical or mental qualities for characters in a game world where almost all characters should have a description for how good they are in this area, examples, Strength, Agility, etc... Skills - these described abilites that are typically trained, where attributes are something determined by Genes. Skills are not connected to attributes in standard fudge so you can run games without attributes if you wanted. Gifts - these are character qualities describing particularly good traits or benefits that a character has, examples include wealthy, good looking, quick reflexes. Flaws - a trait that limits a characters behavior, abilities, or other peoples reactions to the character - opposite from the gifts. Fudge Points - I think these were an integral part to the game which made the game special. Fudge points allowed a character to manipulate fate to some extent in the game. In a critical moment they could use these to change the outcome of dice. Wound Levels - wound levels were the default method for tracking damage from combat in fudge - this is something I would modify if I was ever to run fudge again. Since the trait levels are so granular, a great swordsman has a huge edge on a good swordsman, so in a combat between the two the great swordsman will land a few blows which will penalize the opponents future attacks and soon the fight is over. I’ll talk about the benefits of this and the penalties later in this post. Super Powers - self explanatory - magic, psionics, etc... Fudge Dice - fudge dice are cool. They are d6’s with two sides marked -1, two sides marked 0, and two sides marked +1. You can roll multiple fudge dice to create a distribution of +/-X where X=the number of dice rolled and the center of the probability curve is always zero. The default for most fudge rolls is 4dF giving you a +4 to -4 range to modify the result of a skill or attribute check.

Adaptability: (8 out of 10)

Fudge can be used to run almost any game genre imaginable. There are certain genres where it doesn’t perform as well. I’d say games where the focus will be on hack n slash - fudge is lacking. The combat system is meant to be quick and deadly - not detailed or multifaceted. You can’t really run combats where the contestants rock back and forth in a duel. Instead, one opponent will quickly gain the edge and the other will death spiral. Another area that fudge is lacking is rules for technology - so sci fi games would be hard to run without a lot of modification of the core rules. I personally like technological items to be quantitatively described with all their features, not just a “good magnetic accerator”. I could see fudge used to describe a “firefly” or serenity type of sci fi where the technology sits in the background for the most part. Another neat thing about fudge is that things can be ported into the game easily and almost all the rules that I described so far could be modified or removed :) to create exactly the game that you want.

Feather Scale: (7 out of 10)

This game is pretty light. Anybody can create a character pretty quickly - although you could also spend hours creating a character if you want to be really detailed about it. You can add more and more rules to Fudge and bog it down to maybe a 3 on this scale or you could strip everything back and be close to an 8 or 9. I picked 7 on the feather scale as representative of the average fudge game using the rules as presented with few changes. There are some nice pre-thought through versions of Fudge like: Five Point Fudge, or Fate which already give you a less fuzzy version of the game rules and clearer descriptions of how to get from point A to B.

Combat (7 out of 10)

I’ve already described combat in fudge a bit so I won’t spend much time here. The attacker rolls his attacking skill in a contest vs. the defenders defense skill (or against a dodge check). You roll 4dF as a contest against your opponent - rounds can be dealt with using a turn system or via a simultaneous system. I always used an agglomerate of both. The combat system is quick and lethal although there are ways to adapt it toward more combat focused game by altering the wound system and by adding little intermediate levels in between the ranks to spread out the scale a bit and add more variation to the ranks.

Longevity (7 out of 10)

Fudge can easily be used to run a long campaign. There is a system of giving out experience or you can just work subjectively to improve characters based on agreement between the GM and the players.


Fudge is a great game system. It is rules light, adaptable, and the rules are very familiar since the use of adjectives makes it so everyone can understand the level of ability. I’ve had a lot of fun playing this game and I think aspects of this game system have shown up in many newer systems. Remember the golden rule, if you don't have a rule to cover it - just fudge it...

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