12 August 2018

Fully Functioning Fudge File for Free

I just completed an extensive update of Creative Reckoning, which consists of the following:

  • Eliminated or corrected all broken links to Fudgery.net
  • Added a fully hyperlinked page of the Fudge 1995 Edition rules (in a single file with errata integrated)
  • Uploaded the Fudge 1995 Edition rules (in a single file with errata integrated) as a downloadable text file via Dropbox
  • Uploaded the Fudge Version: July 4, 1993 rules as a downloadable text file via Dropbox
  • Uploaded the Fudge Version: June 19, 1993 Addenda as a downloadable text file via Dropbox
Eventually, I plan to repost some or all of my experimental Fudge projects (formerly filed under "X Fudge" in Fudgery.net) in Creative Reckoning. Some of them were Javascript-heavy, but I think I can work around it with traditional random tables.

09 August 2018

Why Is It Difficult?

It is rather late to address a minor complaint about Fudge I first encountered in the now defunct Fudge List (even though I saw it raised several times), but I suspect the complaint is a perennial one and I would like to offer my viewpoint. The complaint is that Fudge expresses the concept of difficulty using the same terms as the trait ladder. Referring to a difficult action as having Good difficulty or Superb difficulty is counterintuitive, the argument goes. Therefore, the rules are flawed. The flaw, however, is in the complaint, because actions do not have difficulty per se, but difficulty levels (as first defined in Action Resolution Terms in Chapter 3 of the rules). Describing an action as having a Good difficulty level or Superb difficulty level makes perfect sense. It seems obvious that a Superb difficulty level requires at least a Superb result. Part of the confusion may lie in the fact that skills themselves may be described in terms of their difficulty as in the Cost of Skills in Objective Character Creation chart in the Skills section of Objective Character Creation. Here skills are listed as Easy, Average, Hard, or Very Hard, and it is this skill difficulty that determines both the default level and starting level of a given skill. At any rate, if one were to use other terms to describe an action’s difficulty level (which is the frequently proffered suggestion), it would require another layer of translation to utilize in the game, which is unnecessary.

Instead of creating a new list of adjectives to learn that are functionally identical to the trait ladder, it would be simpler just to use a term other than difficulty level, such as minimum success level. “Jumping the chasm has a minimum success level of Good.” I can’t see how that could possibly be misunderstood. Of course, I have no problem with “Jumping the chasm has a difficulty level of Good.” Perhaps it’s a matter of where one places the adjective. “A difficulty level of Good” (or even “difficulty level: Good”) sounds better and makes more sense than “a Good difficulty level.”

So the solution is simpler than one would imagine. Use the correct term (difficulty level) and place it before the trait level. A piece of cake!

[Originally posted in Fudgery.net/fudgerylog on 7 October 2010.]

07 August 2018

Site Transfer Update

Welcome to a brief update on the status of Creative Reckoning. As you may know, it has always been my intention to transfer all of the Fudge-specific content of Fudgerylog and Fudgery.net proper to this site. I started with the former, and recently made progress on the latter (creating pages for the relevant sections and making them navigable from the bar above). I am now resuming the process of transferring more articles from Fudgerylog as I rediscover them. (It's a long story, but there's a reason I left Wordpress.)

Some of the articles I will posting this month pertain directly to Fudge, whilst others are applicable to role-playing generally, but I hope all of them will be useful, or at least interesting, to someone. I am still trying to find my series of articles on the subject of the cliffhanger in role-playing games so I can post them here. Wish me luck.

05 August 2018

Alternate Rules Are Here Again

Fudge was intentionally designed to be tinkered with, and it was customary in editions prior to the Anniversary Edition to append one's modifications to Chapter 7, Addenda. Section 7.4 was set aside for Alternate Rules. My alternate rules had their home in Fudgery.net for years, but now they are here in Creative Reckoning.

02 August 2018

Elaborating on Elaborations

In addition to extending the lists in Fudge, I also used Fudgery.net to extend certain existing charts and rules. Where I see gaps, I sometimes feel compelled to fill them. Thus, I bring you Elaborations, a page in Creative Reckoning dedicated to extensions of some of the rules and charts in Fudge.

30 July 2018

Return of the Lists

Fudgery.net was intended to serve several Fudge-related functions, and one of those functions was to provide more extensive lists of examples than were included in the rule book, especially with regard to attributes and skills. I was also interested in providing streamlined lists of gifts, faults, powers, and drawbacks for something I dubbed Optimum Fudge. It was my hope that all of these lists would serve as a resource for GMs, players, and game designers in search of inspiration. Fudgery.net is no more, but the Lists now live on in Creative Reckoning.

25 July 2018

Fudge from the Year 1995

Readers may notice that I have removed the link to the Fudgery.net page. Fudgery.net has been offline for a few years now, but I shall continue to transfer its more Fudge-centric content to Creative Reckoning.

Meanwhile, I have replaced it with the full text of the 1995 edition of Fudge. I would prefer to provide the full text of Fudge Expanded Edition, as it remains my favorite, but 1995 will suffice for quick reference. The rules are free and conveniently available at the click of a link anywhere within Creative Reckoning.

The 1995 edition is also available here in PDF and ePub formats from Grey Ghost Press, Inc..

If you plan to publish Fudge material under the Open Game License (see Fudge and the Open Game License), the Fudge System Reference Document (containing the text of the 2000 Fudge Anniversary Edition) is also available from Grey Ghost Press, Inc.

03 July 2016

Doctor Who Observations Part 4

[This article is in support of my project to design an unofficial (and free) Fudge role-playing game adaptation of Doctor Who (the original show).]

Although all standard Fudge methods of character creation will be supported (and described or linked in the text), there will be one method — designed specifically for this adaptation — that I think captures the feel of Doctor Who better than the others, which I call interjectional character creation, which has some ideas in common with Ed Heil’s alternate character creation system. As usual, I'm in favor of allowing individual players in the same group to choose different methods if they so desire.

One thing I am trying to avoid, however, is confusing readers with too many choices. As with character creation, one method of combat resolution will be emphasized, which I will tentatively dub interjectional combat resolution, but story elements, simultaneous combat rounds, and alternating combat turns will be supported and briefly described or linked.

In all cases (and this is the overriding design principle in this project), the game play itself should be intuitive and the rules should be implemented invisibly. Nothing in the rules should interrupt the flow of the game. Ideally, if the recommended methods are used, this should be achieved. More experienced players may be able to achieve the same results using the other methods, but I want newcomers to gravitate toward the methods that will be likeliest to promote this sort of experience.

Recreating the atmosphere of the original Doctor Who, allowing players to feel as if they are stepping into that universe, is the ultimate goal of this game. I want the rules to be the portal, not the barrier, to this experience.

[Originally posted in Fudgery.net/fudgerylog on 26 February 2009.]

02 July 2016

Doctor Who Observations Part 3

[This article is in support of my project to design an unofficial (and free) Fudge role-playing game adaptation of Doctor Who (the original show).]

The strength and weakness of Doctor Who as a role-playing game is that it is best suited for small groups, preferably of one to four players plus the GM. If the Doctor ever had more than three Companions at once I would be surprised, and more often he had only one. This is not to say that more Companions would be impossible, but it would certainly be a challenge to maintain the atmosphere of the show with so many main characters (and it must be stated here, if it was not already obvious, that one of the major goals of this game is to convey the atmosphere of the original show, regardless of whether the players are portraying characters from the show or characters they have created).

For those who have difficulty finding or starting a gaming group (or coƶrdinating the schedules of the members when a group is found or started), playing a game that offers the richest rewards for smaller groups is a blessing. Doctor Who thrives best when there are only a handful of characters. Violent solutions to problems should always be a last resort (except in the case of rare characters like Leela), and smaller groups will be less tempted to use force unless necessary. By the same token, if there are fewer player characters, each will have more opportunity to interact socially with the non-player characters. In general, the greater the number of Companions a Time Lord has, the more all of them will be overshadowed by the Time Lord. Fewer Companions will have more opportunities to participate, and each will be likelier to shine in a particular area of expertise or natural advantage, e.g. Zoƫ with her super high intelligence or Jamie with his bravery and decisiveness.

In my own experience running FASA’s Doctor Who, sessions with two players were ideal, but sessions with just a single player were quite playable and enjoyable. Entire stories (which in Doctor Who typically consisted of four episodes) could be run in a single session with no sense of being rushed. This would be perfect for convention events, were it not for the fact that convention organizers usually prefer role-playing events to accommodate at least six players. True, there are times when only one or two players will turn up at an event. The first time I ever ran an event at a convention (GenCon XVIII), two players showed up for the first time slot for my satirical take on the World of Greyhawk for Advanced Dungeons & Dragons (1st edition). I could have cancelled it, but I decided to run it, and a fun time was had by all despite the fact that I had designed it for four to six players. For the second time slot, six players reported in, plus two more. Being too much of a softy, I allowed the two extra players in (I had had the foresight to bring additional pregenerated characters), but a combination of factors (including the length of the table, the loudness of the game room, and the unwieldy number of participants) made the experience less satisfying (especially for the unfortunates at the opposite end of the table at whom my descriptions often had to be yelled to be heard). As a result, the maximum number of players I will now accept at my events is six, and the number I prefer is four. With regard to this game, however, I think it might be best to run it as a free Fudge demo amongst one to four interested individuals at a time. I’m not sure of any other way to run it effectively at a convention.

In summary, this game will be aimed at maintaining the dynamics of small groups consisting of at least one Time Lord and one to three Companions (one of whom may also be a Time Lord) to better promote playability and preserve the atmosphere of the original Doctor Who.

[Originally posted in Fudgery.net/fudgerylog on 30 January 2008.]

01 July 2016

Doctor Who Observations Part 2

[This article is in support of my project to design an unofficial (and free) Fudge role-playing game adaptation of Doctor Who (the original show).]

The problem of how to plunge characters into adventure was addressed in FASA’s Doctor Who with the invention of the renegade Celestial Intervention Agency, which kept an eye on Temporal Nexus Point Earth and sent field agents there in stolen TARDIS units to halt the activities of temporal marauders. The idea of an agency of Time Lords who share the Doctor’s ethics and guide the players from one adventure to another is a good one, although I have a different view of the form it would take and I don’t think it ought to be the only method of introducing a scenario. The following is an excerpt of a work in progress:

The Excuse for Adventure

Why do characters do what they do? Specifically, how do they manage to find themselves entangled in difficult situations that may involve the fate of nations, planets, or even the universe as we know it? In Doctor Who, the answer is typically a TARDIS misjump due to a faulty mechanism, a miscalculation, or the effect of a temporal phenomenon. Sometimes the TARDIS is drawn off course intentionally by a friend or foe intent on thwarting the Doctor or enlisting his aid. Often the excuse for adventure is pure coincidence. The Doctor and his Companion are off to this time or that planet to enjoy its rare attractions when they are unexpectedly thrust into the middle of one of the Master’s evil plots or an attempt by the Daleks to enslave or exterminate another species. Although it works well enough for a television programme, the premise may wear thin for players when every adventure begins with a holiday outing interrupted by interstellar conspiracy.

To provide a framework for continuing adventures without straining credibility too much, an element has been added to the Classic Doctor Who Universe (thus making it part of the Expanded Classic Doctor Who Universe): the Temporal Integrity Preservation Society.

The Temporal Integrity Preservation Society (or T.I.P.S.) is a “club” of independently-minded Time Lords concerned with threats to the timestream. Operating from a private headquarters on Gallifrey and numerous TARDIS units throughout time and space, its members monitor the natural and proper flow of time and actively correct any deviations that are detected. Each member’s TARDIS is equipped with a special device that enables members to communicate with and be located by T.I.P.S. Headquarters. In the event that a temporal deviation is detected, any member’s TARDIS can be contacted and given the proper coordinates for emergency action. Adventure can then proceed. Once the deviation has been corrected, Headquarters is informed and the member returns to standby status.

Occasionally, the players will be the first to detect a disturbance in the temporal flow, either from the instruments on the TARDIS or from personal observation whilst visiting a particular time and place. Under those circumstances, the players would immediately contact T.I.P.S. Headquarters, investigate the matter, and attempt to correct the situation (not necessarily always in that order).

It should be noted that not all temporal disturbances are the result of obvious tampering by time travellers. Temporal anomalies do occur, and sometimes only the wisdom and conscience of a Tipsy (as T.I.P.S. members are both fondly and derogatorily referred to) can determine whether intervention is permissible. Whereas the Doctor may oppose interference with the Aztec ritual of human sacrifice on the grounds that it would destroy the timestream, he may actively participate in defending Earth against a Rutan invasion that, according to his knowledge of Earth’s history, should not have succeeded in the 1890s. Whether his actions were the cause of his own knowledge of the events is immaterial. The fact that he knew that the Rutans must be opposed is proof that their failure to conquer Earth was the proper result in the time line. The fact that he knew that the Aztecs practiced human sacrifice until their conquest by the Spanish is proof that their continuance of the ritual was the proper result in the time line. One could argue circles around the subject of time travel indefinitely, but for the purposes of adventure gaming in a light science fiction setting, it is enough to know that the players ought to sense when it is right to intervene, and when it is wrong. If they know something didn’t happen a certain way in history, then they know they ought to preserve that outcome as members of the Temporal Integrity Preservation Society. If they don’t know something didn’t happen a certain way (such as an event in our distant future or on an alien planet), then they ought to proceed as if it were proper for them to be there and do the right thing (avert an epidemic, liberate an enslaved people, rescue the survivors of a crashed spaceship, stop a cult of alien vampires, etc.). This both captures the tone of Doctor Who and promotes playability.

[Originally posted here in Fudgerylog.]