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Simple FUDGE

I was asked by Shawn Medero on twitter about creating a simple fudge system. This was about the time I did my video blog about Ghost Ops, the game that got me into creating solo roleplay rules.

I said at the time that I would most likely to an ‘open book’ game design. I will discuss my ideas and the rules in public blog posts and then pull it all together in to a rulebook at the end.

The last time I did this was with Devil’s Staircase, and that went from Blogs, to playtest documents, to crowdfunding and eventually to full commercial game.

Incidentally, I am planning a Weird West supplement for that game in the autumn!

These blog posts will not be in any particular order. They are more ‘as ideas strike me’ than organised game design.

First things first, I want to lay down a ‘standard’. I want to use this ladder.

If you are not familiar with FUDGE dice, they have +, – and <blank> repeated on a d6 and you roll four at once. You treat minuses as -1 and pluses as +1 and ignore blanks. Once you have summed your roll you can move up or down the ladder from your base skill level. If your character was Good at driving but you wanted to pull off a Superb handbrake turn (bootlegger reverse?) you would have to get a net of two plusses to pull off the manoeuver.

As long as our character sheet has that ladder on it you can play FUDGE without referring to numbers, you can just use the adjectives.

The same ladder is used for traits and skills.

I like numbers and the numbers in FUDGE tend to stay pretty small. I think if this as an advantage as small numbers are easier to remember and less off putting to people who are not particularly comfortable with math.

Another nice thing about this ladder is that it is used for character creation as well as skill resolution.

You can run FUDGE as a very broad or meta-skill game, where “Bob is a Superb pilot” is the entire character sheet. If you wanted to break that down into a little more detail, you could split to one Superb into two Great skills. You could then break one of the Greats into two Good skills or both Greats into four Fair skills, and so on down to whatever level of detail you want.

You can set a power level for the game by deciding how many Superb skills you give out at the start.

The list on the right here shows the middle and detail levels of skills. You could start at being a Superb Spy in a very narrative game but break that down to being Great and Combat and Great at Covert or break it down again to being Good in four different detailed skills, or Fair in eight very specific skills.

In practice the GM will tell you how difficult your action is and then you roll the dice and count up or down from your skill level.

So that is how FUDGE works, in a nutshell.

What I propose is to have no explicit combat rules. In their place I want to treat combat situations as scenes with a difficulty level. If you want to kick in the door, roll through twisting around and shooting the two spies who you think are hiding either side of the door, you had better be Great at combat. What I am thinking of doing is overlaying an oracle on to the skill ladder. If you miss your roll by one, that could be Not, but… meaning you failed but you got something out of it, fail by two levels and that is a definite failure. Fail by three and you have the dreaded No, and… which would be a critical failure.

Fights could be resolved in a single oracle roll or for more detail you could roll for each phase of the fight, once for door busting and getting in, another for clearing the rooms, a third when you find a spy trying to make their way out of the fire escape in the back bedroom.

Our genre is Golden Age of Hollywood movies like:

  • The Day The Earth Stood Still (1951) …
  • The Blob (1958) …
  • Them! …
  • Journey to the Center of the Earth (1959) …
  • 20,000 Leagues Under the Sea (1954) …
  • Invasion of the Body Snatchers (1956) …
  • The War of the Worlds (1953)

We don’t need blood splattering gore, or even excessive violence.

So this is where I am going. Very narrative and with the oracle built into everything from GM emulation to skill resolution.

I am going to think about how I am going to build a character and record wounds next.

5 thoughts on “Simple FUDGE”

  1. Did you ever write the narrative Simple Fudge? If not, how would you do the oracle overlay exactly? Is this covered in Ghost Ops?

    Reply
    • I didn’t.
      This project got slowly pushed down my list of things to complete.
      Over time I have moved slowly away from strict yes/no oracles to a spectrum of best-case scenario to worst-case scenario, and most likely outcome in the centre, then a 4dF roll to determine where the answer falls on that spectrum.
      This does not correlate to the FUDGE ladder.
      I find it faster to imagine these three scenarios and what they look like to my character, and then roll the dice, than it is to roll the dice and then try and think if an answer that fits.

      Reply
      • “ Fights could be resolved in a single oracle roll”

        how would one do this with the overlay or scene difficulty method?

        Reply
        • These days what I would do is look at the fight, assuming it was a minor skirmish and not a significant plot point like the BBEG, and decide on what is the most likely outcome. Then I would decide what is the worst that could happen, and the best possible outcome. The worst outcome would be attached to a sum of -4, the most likely to +/- 0 and the best possible outcome to +4. Then roll 4dF.
          If this was a you trying to rush a couple of stormtroopers, the worst that could happen is that you are knocked unconscious and captured. There is no point in having you killed in a single shot because that does nothing to make your game fun. The best outcome is that they turn and run, and report being attacked by an entire rebel force. This makes your single handed escape easier if they are looking for a bigger force. Assuming that rushing the stormtroopers was a good plan, you are big, strong and skilled at this kind of brawling. You could assume that you are very likely to knock both troopers out and probably take a minor knock yourself.
          You roll the dice, and adjust the actual result in terms of damage taken, whether alarms are raised, and resources used to reflect the result on the dice.
          In many adventures there are many small encounters that exist to use up your resources and weaken the characters, just to make the boss fight a bigger challenge. These are the ones that are best suited to one roll resolution because you account for them by reducing resources and taking damage. There is still a risk to every encounter because when you start rolling -3 or -4 things can get very bad.

          Reply
  2. I liked just about everything your post had to offer. I like an oracle overlay on the ladder, the idea of rolling once to resolve combat ( and I’d love to see an example). Anything and everything that is a one roll engine, and in FUDGE I am all for.

    So I say, Sir, more please!

    Reply

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