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January 1, 2003 > Fudge Plus Four  
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Fudge +4

by Mitch Williams (m_a_w @ bellsouth.net)

One of the greatest strengths of Fudge is the ability to use natural language to describe actions and target levels. Saying things like "It will take a Great strength roll to lift that" or "You need a Fair agility roll to jump that pit" seems to be a natural way to go. On the other hand, I have had players that just don't want to let go of the numbers. Fudge has no problem with accommodating this type of play. In practice, I usually mix these two methods together:

GM: You need a Good intelligence roll to figure out this puzzle.

Player: Ha, +3, I make it with ease.

There is, however, an issue that some of my 'number' oriented players don't like about Fudge. The problem they have is the use of negative numbers. The complaints usually fall into two categories:

  1. They don't like the idea of having 'negative' levels in skills and attributes and
  2. Negative numbers take more effort to deal with mathematically.

Here is one method I have used to bringing these 'positive number' players into the world we call Fudge. Simply add +4 to all of the numbers that you use. That's it! This shifts the Attribute, Skill, and Target numbers so that they are always positive.

Level Name Fudge Number Fudge +4 Number
Abysmal -4 0
Terrible -3 1
Poor -2 2
Mediocre -1 3
Fair 0 4
Good +1 5
Great +2 6
Superb +3 7
Legendary +4 8

By adding 4 to the 'numbers' you can accommodate the 'number' players and still mix the methods without changing the basic mechanics of Fudge

GM: You need a Good intelligence roll to figure out this puzzle.

Player: Ha, I made it with a 7. No problem.

Even if you don't have 'number' players, Fudge +4 can still be helpful for avoiding negative numbers during the objective character creation process. Normally, the negative levels make it hard to add up the total levels used for skills or attributes. It is much faster to add only positive numbers when trying to validate that the players have assigned the correct number of levels allowed. After character generation is complete, the levels can be converted to the (+4, -4) range, converted to the (Terrible...Superb) range or just used as is.

There is no problem with Fudge dice with Fudge +4, because the roll can still be numerically applied to the skill. (Although here negatives are used, or at least subtraction)

GM: Well, there are a lot of wires and flashing LEDs. What's your Nuclear Disarmament skill?

Player: Hey, I point some points in that. Let's see...2, that's Poor.

GM: Okay, you seem to recall reading a pamphlet on this before. You aren't real sure you remember exactly how it went, but maybe it will come back to you.

Player: Ouch. Well, no time for practice, here goes nothing. I try.

GM: Okay, they didn't booby-trap it or anything, but it is tricky. Call it a Good task.

Player: (rolls, getting blank, plus, plus, minus) uhh, +1, that's 3, so...Mediocre. (hides face in hands)

GM: Well, the good news is you won't be needing a nightlight...

While adding +4 will not remove all of the negative numbers in fudge, it will remove them from any standard character sheet. Having only positive numbers for attributes, traits, and skills helped me bring more players to Fudge.

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