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.

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