30 July 2020

Fudging It in Non-Fudge Games

If all role-playing games used the action resolution rules of Fudge, would it change those games fundamentally (for good or ill), or would it simply make more sense? Even if a given role-playing game yields only binary results — success or failure — one could ignore the finer aspects of the trait ladder and simply indicate success or failure based on whether the roll equals or exceeds the difficulty of the action. Translating a character's ability to the appropriate trait level is easy, and if you need a conversion chart, you can consult my Trait Conversions for Fudge for suggested equivalents.

It may even encourage players to try Fudge itself...

30 June 2020

The Role of Fudge

If Fudge had been introduced to the world in only its rules-light, subjective form, I think it would have had greater long-term popularity. I think it would have lived up to its prophecy of becoming the universal translator of role-playing games, and it would have preserved and promoted a freeform style that has become increasingly rare. There is a growing void in the hobby that neither D&D nor story games are filling. Risus and a few other games still have their lanterns lit against the darkness, but Fudge ought to be a brighter flame than it is now. The recent publication of The Princess Bride Roleplaying Game is a step in the right direction, but can it overcome the rules-heaviness that still weighs down Fudge and many of the discussions that surround it? I hope it can. Meanwhile, I'd like to see more of us take advantage of the ability of Fudge to facilitate role-playing unseen, rather than focusing on the rules themselves. The rules are the means, not the end, and in the case of Fudge, they are meant to be as unobtrusive as possible. Please, just fudge it.

30 May 2020

Fudge Haiku

If anyone is wondering where I fall on the spectrum of light to heavy rules where Fudge is concerned, the following haiku sums up what I consider the bare essentials of the game. This was originally posted in Fudgery.net in 2006.

Fudge Haiku

Play roles. Rate some traits
from Terrible to Superb.
When in doubt, fudge it.

Fudge Legal Notice
About Fudge

Fudge is a role-playing game written by Steffan O'Sullivan, with extensive input from the Usenet community of rec.games.design. The basic rules of Fudge are available on the internet at http://www.fudgerpg.com and in book form from Grey Ghost Games, P.O. Box 838, Randolph, MA 02368. They may be used with any gaming genre. While an individual work derived from Fudge may specify certain attributes and skills, many more are possible with Fudge. Every Game Master using Fudge is encouraged to add or ignore any character traits. Anyone who wishes to distribute such material for free may do so - merely include this ABOUT FUDGE notice and disclaimer (complete with Fudge copyright notice). If you wish to charge a fee for such material, other than as an article in a magazine or other periodical, contact Grey Ghost Press.


The following materials based on Fudge, entitled Fudge Haiku, are created by, made available by, and Copyright © 2006 by Gordon A. Cooper, and are not necessarily endorsed in any way by Grey Ghost Press or any publisher of other Fudge materials. Neither Grey Ghost Press nor any publisher of other Fudge materials is in any way responsible for the content of these materials unless specifically credited. Original Fudge materials Copyright © 1992-2004 by Grey Ghost Press, All Rights Reserved.

12 April 2020

Plus or Minus: Fudge Podcast

I don't know how many fudge-related podcasts there are, but as of this writing I know of only one Fudge-related RPG podcast: Plus or Minus. It is hosted by Troy Truchon, who offers observations of the world of Fudge gaming and interviews with creators in the community. We need more of this, and to encourage it, I've added a list gizmo to Creative Reckoning entitled "Just Podcast It!" after the "Web Log Roll Call." (Speaking of the latter, I would be happy to add new Fudge-centric Web logs to this list.) So, if you or anyone you know is podcasting regularly about Fudge or Fudge-based games, please let me know and I shall help spread the word.

Plus or Minus also has a Facebook page, Plus or Minus Podcast; and a Twitter account, @plusorminus_pod.

09 April 2020

Universal Called Shot Table

When your role-playing game of choice lacks rules for called shots, or its rules are cumbersome or unsatisfactory concerning the deliberate targeting of specific hit locations, consider using the Universal Called Shot Table. Utilizing only a single Fudge die, this simple option can be used with any role-playing game. Anytime a character makes a successful attack on an opponent and decides to hit a specific location, merely roll 1dF (one Fudge die) and consult the table below:

Universal Called Shot Table
+Attacker names hit location struck.
0Defender names hit location struck.

As you can see, there is an added element of risk when attempting to make difficult shots. For a 1 in 3 chance of hitting one’s opponent exactly where desired, the price is a 1 in 3 chance of missing the opponent entirely.

This is an option for reflecting the difficulty of hitting small targets in the midst of combat, which at the same time preserves the possibility of causing the full range of damage, from a graze to a lethal wound, by separating the called shot mechanics from the attack and damage roll mechanics.

I haven’t playtested this yet, since I just thought of it. If you try it, please let me know!

[Originally posted in Fudgery.net/fudgerylog on 7 May 2011.]

07 April 2020

Comfy Trait Ladders 2

It is all well and good to rename levels of the trait ladder in order to maximize emotional comfort (q.v.), but some may find the notion of describing "Poor" as "Fine" to be a trifle too cloying. To amend this (and simultaneously tilt the ladder even more toward the positive pole), a new and improved optimistic “trait ladder” has been devised, known as…

The New & Improved Optimistic Trait Ladder

Fudge Traits#Optimistic Traits
Good+1Very Fine!
Mediocre-1Somewhat Fine!
Poor-2Marginally Fine!
Terrible-3Almost Marginally Fine!

As you can see, the less wonderful levels have been renamed to reflect their decreased desirability, and the upper levels have been lifted to the loftier heights they deserve. Also suitable for game adaptations of Candide.

[Originally posted in Fudgery.net/fudgerylog on 31 August 2011.]

05 April 2020

Comfy Trait Ladders

For those players who are disturbed by the idea of selecting a skill or attribute at a beginner’s level of competency due to the perceived stigma attached to not being an expert in all things, and for those GMs who haven’t the heart to describe a player’s failures in negative terms, I offer the following optional trait ladder scientifically designed to remove the taint of merely fair performances, general mediocrity, poor self image, and consequences deemed “terrible.” Instead, all trait levels are specially chosen to encourage positive reinforcement and cushion the trauma of disappointment. In fact, I predict the next step in the evolution of role-playing will be to eliminate the possibility of failure entirely! Won’t that be exciting?

The Positive Reinforcement Trait Ladder

Fudge Traits#Happy Positive Traits :-)

Alternatively, for those who have difficulty memorizing words, I present…

The Good Trait Ladder

Fudge Traits#Good Traits

As you can see, there is only one word in this trait ladder, modified upwards by adding exclamation points and downwards by adding vowels. In play, exclamation points are vocalized by increasing volume accordingly, and additional vowels are expressed by lengthening the word as it is spoken. It is nothing if not Goooood.

[Originally posted in Fudgery.net/fudgerylog on 30 August 2011.]

04 April 2020

Bookmark This: Character Monologue

One of the lost articles from my old Fudgerylog site was entitled "Soliloquize Now!" I still like the title, and it may have been one of my better pieces on the subject of practical role-playing advice (or maybe not), but it is gone and mostly forgotten except for a link to an article I admired, "Character Monologue: Tell Us What It's Like to Be You" from ars ludi. So, read that article instead and let it inspire you as it did me.

31 March 2020

Fault: Unabating Overconfidence

[The following was intended to be part of an ongoing series of articles on the adaptation of the cliffhanger genre to role-playing. All of those articles, which originally appeared in Fudgerylog, are lost. This previously unpublished article is all that remains.]

Unabating Overconfidence

In bosses and archvillains, the fault of Unabating Overconfidence leads them to hatch overly ambitious plots, dismiss any question of the success of their plans, and have excessive faith in their ability to delegate tasks to appropriately qualified henchmen (who are usually incompetant in reality). This tends to be the Achilles Heel of most diabolical masterminds.

In henchmen, lackeys, and goons, Unabating Overconfidence takes the form of a steadfast refusal to believe that any meddlesome do-gooder could possibly be a persistent threat (despite evidence to the contrary), which leads them into careless confrontations. Any temporary victory is considered a total victory, and precludes the necessity of any further measures.

In heroes, Unabating Overconfidence leads them to tackle enemies without waiting for backup, with the usual result of needing to be rescued by a comrade at the last second before being run over by a locomotive, thrown over a cliff, handcuffed to a bomb, or left in a burning building.

29 February 2020

Always Judge a Role-Playing Game by Its Character Creation Rules

I try not to judge a book by its cover, but I can't help judging a role-playing game by its character creation rules. If I feel that if character creation is boring, too long, or otherwise a chore, I question how much enjoyment I could possibly derive from the rest of the game. Character creation ought to be a joy, an adventure in itself. Here is my character! I can't wait to role-play this being! I can't wait to pursue X, Y, and Z!

I won't delve at length into the kind of character creation that reminds me more of homework than heroics (GURPS). In fact, I'll leave it at that.

There are two kinds of character creation I like in a role-playing game. One is the procedural method of developing a character chronologically, charting their lifepath (and their acquisition of abilities and perhaps material things) based on the player's decisions and a certain amount of chance. Classic Traveller and FASA's Star Trek: The Role Playing Game are two good examples. It's a sort of preliminary mini-game for linking a character's abilities and back story, and it's fun.

The other kind of character creation I like is the one that allows for the most creativity for the least amount of time. I want to imagine a character, to whatever degree of detail, with as little fuss as possible. I don't want to juggle points between multiple categories, or add characteristics and divide them to generate secondary or tertiary characteristics, or min-max in any way. Essentially, I just want to use subjective character creation rules as one might find in, say, Fudge. Par example:

An easy way to create a character in Fudge is simply to write down everything about the character that you feel is important. Any attribute or skill should be rated using one of the levels Terrible through Superb.

How easy is that? If you, as a player, have an aversion even to that level of rules knowledge, there's this:

Instead of the player writing up the character in terms of traits and levels, he can simply write out a prose description of his character. This requires the GM to translate everything into traits and appropriate levels, but that's not hard to do if the description is well written. This method actually produces some of the best characters.

Now, if you're worried about players abusing the system, there's a section on that, too, but I think most players of good will and at least moderate intelligence are able to operate within the limits set by the GM. The main challenge for the GM is deciding what those limits are.

And that may be a subject for a future article...

(Combining lifepath character creation with Fudge might be worth exploring, too...)