Saturday, February 25, 2006

High Fantasy Fudge, Part 3

"High Fantasy Fudge" consists of three independent parts: Character Creation, Magic, and Weapons. This is part three, Weapons.

Are you tired of dungeon crawl after dungeon crawl and having to wait two years for your character to level up and become the hero you wanted him to be? Were you drawn to roleplaying because you wanted to participate in epic tales in the style of your favorite fantasy novels? "High Fantasy Fudge" is a build of the Fudge rules designed for this type of play. This article aims to recreate the feel of epic or literary fantasy, such as the worlds of Tolkien, Eddings, 1001 Arabian Nights, Homeric epics, or the legends of King Arthur. The character creation rules encourage strongly archetypal characters like Beowulf, Hercules, Merlin, or Robin Hood.


In this system, all weapons are rated for damage and a minimum strength required to wield the weapon. The minimum strength required to wield a weapon is equal to the damage rating, modified by any qualities the weapon has. Warriors wishing to deal the most damage should try to heft the biggest weapons they can.

Note: Although this system is intended for use with "High Fantasy Fudge", it may be used with any version of Fudge. For this reason, and for the reason that a character's effective Strength may vary from his or her Might, the text will refer to minimum Strength (min Str) throughout instead of minimum Might. For a quick look at how it works, skip down to the example at the end of the article.

Weapon Qualities:

  • (L) Light (-1 min Str):
    • Staves, knives, anything that you could carry around without feeling encumbered.
  • (H) Heavy (+1 min Str):
    • Heavy applies to any weapon most people would consider heavy. Axes, big clubs, and maces all qualify. Two-handed swords may or may not qualify, depending on the metal used and craftsmanship (a claymore definitely qualifies, whereas a katana does not). If you need a strict guideline, use 4 lbs, or Good damage or higher for sharp weapons, Fair or higher for bludgeoning weapons, and Great or higher for non-lethal weapons.
  • (VH) Very Heavy (+2 min Str):
    • "How can you even lift that thing?" Things you wouldn't expect people to be able to wield as weapons. Massive clubs, hammers, and maces qualify, as well as someone trying to smack an opponent with a bench or tree trunk.
  • (S) Sharp (-1 to min Str):
    • Weapons with sharp points or bladed edges.
  • (2) Two-Handed (-1 min Str):
    • Weapons that are designed to be used with two hands.
  • (N) Non-lethal (-1 min Str):
    • Bludgeoning weapons not made of metal, such as clubs, staves, and unarmed attacks. The weapon does Stun damage, as per standard Fudge rules (Wounding, 4.62), with only one slight change -- a Near Death result is required for a knockout in one blow.

Note that whenever it is easier, you may think of a -1 min Str as a +1 to damage instead. In other words, if you want to design a weapon by setting the minimum Strength first (instead of the damage), just subtract the modifier from the damage rating.

Rules in Play

1. A character that uses two hands on a weapon increases his or her effective Strength by two levels. This may not be done with weapons designed to be handled with two hands.

2. A character whose Strength is three levels higher than the minimum Strength of a two-handed weapon may wield it one-handed without penalty.

3. If the character's Strength is one level below the minimum Strength, they may wield it, but take a -1 penalty to skill. If their Strength is two levels lower, they take a -2 to skill, and a -1 to damage. Weapons with a minimum Strength three levels above a character's Strength may not be wielded at all.

Hint for GMs: If a character tries to find an object "as heavy as he can lift" and attacks a foe with it, go with Strength +2 damage (Very Heavy, 2-H, Non-lethal, 2 levels too high means -2 to skill). A heavy but manageable object does stun damage equal to the wielder's Strength.

Sample Weapons

Weapon Damage/min Str (qualities) Notes
Knife Mediocre/Terrible (S, L)
Sword Fair/Mediocre (S)
Big Sword Good/Good (S, H)
Two-Handed Sword Good/Mediocre (S, 2)
Claymore Great/Good (S, 2, H)
Club Mediocre/Mediocre Club with nails in it, or similar.
Club Fair/Mediocre (N) Non-lethal version.
War Club Fair/Good (H)
Quarterstaff Good/Mediocre (2, N)
Sledge Hammer Great/Superb (VH, 2)
Short Spear Fair/Mediocre (S) Used one-handed.
Big Spear Good/Mediocre (S, H, 2) Long, heavy spear or polearm.
Bow Fair/Mediocre (S)
Heavy Bow Good/Good (S, H)


Compare these two swords:

  • Two-Handed Sword: Good/Mediocre (S, 2)
  • Heavy Sword: Good/Good (S, H)

If you wanted to use the two-handed sword one-handed, you would need Great Strength to do so without penalty. You can see, therefore, that a weapon designed to be used two-handed is harder to use one-handed than an equally heavy weapon balanced for one-handed use.

On bows:

For a more light fantasy feel, you could allow bows to benefit from the "Two-Handed" bonus. In this case, minimum Strengths for bows would be one level lower, allowing an elven maiden with Poor Strength to fire a bow without breaking a sweat.

Hurting People

These rules replace the standard Fudge rules for ODFs, DDFs, and relative degree. They are intended to be quick and easy without requiring much math. They also minimize the effects of Damage Capacity, so that characters with low Strength scores can still hurt opponents with very high Damage Capacities, and so that very strong characters don't automatically kill their opponents. They may appeal to Fudge players who dislike that Damage Capacity acts as armor in Fudge and would like to rate weapon damage on the Fudge trait scale.

When struck by a weapon, a damage roll is made against the damage rating of the weaepon, with results as follows:

Terrible or Poor Scratched
Mediocre or Fair Hurt
Good or Great Very Hurt
Superb Incapacitated
Legendary Near Death

If the skill roll made by the attacker exceeds the target's Damage Capacity (or Might, in "High Fantasy Fudge"), increase the wound result by one level (Hurt becomes Very Hurt, for example).

If the damage roll did not exceed the target's Damage Capacity, decrease the result by one level (e.g. Hurt becomes Scratched).

These rules use the standard Fudge wound levels, but without the damage track and wound boxes. Only the character's most important wound is important. Whenever a character takes a wound of equal or lesser level, a Wounding roll is made. A success means that the lesser wound is ignored, whereas a failure means that the severity of the wound is increased by one level.

The difficulty for the Wounding roll is the level of damage rolled by the attack. The trait rolled should be Willpower, Damage Capacity, or something similar. "High Fantasy Fudge" characters roll Valor (or their Fortitude Ability, if they have it). This means that, unlike standard Fudge rules, a Scratch or Hurt is less likely to Incapacitate a character who is already Very Hurt than heavier wounds.

Armor: Under this system, armor can be handled as a modifier to the damage roll, using the same ratings as in standard Fudge. The following section, however, provides a more interesting version of rules for armor and penetration.

Armor (Advanced Rules)

The target is given a protection rating, depending on the armor they are wearing.

Poor Heavy Clothing
Mediocre Light Leather
Fair Hardened Leather
Good Chain Mail
Great Plate Mail
Superb Full Plate Mail
Legendary Enchanted Plate Mail

The advanced armor system works a little differently from what is outlined above (for unarmored targets, skip two paragraphs down to "Finally, compare..."):

Before making the damage roll, compare the attacker's skill roll to the armor rating. If it does not exceed the armor rating, you will subtract one level from the damage roll. For every three levels that the attack roll is below the armor value, subtract an additional level.

Next, roll the weapon's damage rating, with the modifier from above. The result is compared to the armor rating. If it does not exceed the armor rating, subtract one additional level. For every three levels that the damage roll is below the armor value, subtract an additional level. The final result is used to determine the wound level dealt to the target.

Finally, compare the attacker's skill roll to the target's Damage Capacity. If the skill roll made by the attacker was two levels above the target's Damage Capacity (or Might, in "High Fantasy Fudge"), increase the wound result by one category (Hurt becomes Very Hurt, for example). Likewise, if the skill roll was two levels below the target's Damage Capacity, decrease the resulting wound by one category. In extreme cases, where the skill roll was five levels above or below the target's Damage Capacity, adjust by two levels.

Under the advanced armor rules, blows at armored targets tend to glance off the armor or be reduced in effectiveness. However, very successful attacks and heavy weapons can penetrate armor easily, severely damaging the target (instead of inflicting many minor wounds, as happens in many RPG designs). See the second example (below) for an illustration of how this works.

Example: Weapons and Strength

Crawling out from under a pile of his fallen master's foes, Halbo, hobbit squire, searches the battlefield for his sword. Unable to locate his weapon, he will need to find something else. Halbo is sturdy for a hobbit, healthy and strong, but no warrior (Might: Poor, treated as Fair if he uses two hands). He attempts to lift the great mace the Orc king used to slay his master (damage Great, Two-handed, Very Heavy, so min Str Superb), but cannot even get it off the ground. Next, he tries to pick up his master's sword (damage Good, Sharp, Heavy, so min Str Good). He can only lift it using two hands, and even then he will take a -1 penalty. Halbo keeps searching.

A two-handed sword (damage Good, Sharp, Two-handed, so min Str Mediocre) lies beside a fallen soldier. Halbo can lift that one, but it is still too awkward for him to use without a penalty. Knowing that his combat skills are Poor, he sets it down and looks for something more manageable. (His master, a knight with Great Might, could have hefted that same sword with one hand without taking a penalty!)

Near the pile of slain enemies, he finds an Orc's blade, a regular chopping sword (damage Fair, Sharp, so min Str Mediocre). Halbo would take a penalty trying to wield it one-handed, but with both his little hobbit hands on the blood-greased hilt, he finds it manageable. Halbo heads into the sunset, vowing to avenge his master's death.

Example: Advanced Armor

A Persian foot soldier throws a spear (Fair damage) at a knight in chain mail (Good armor, Fair Damage Capacity). His attack roll is Good. Since it does not exceed the armor's rating, the spear's effective damage drops from Fair to Mediocre. The damage roll is made, and the dice come up with a -1, giving a Poor result. Comparing Poor to the armor's rating of Good, we see a difference of three levels, so the damage result is two levels lower, or below Terrible. The spear glances off the knight's armor, not even Scratching its target. (Since the attack roll was within two levels of the knight's, there was no further modifier.)

The second spear is thrown with more precision -- a Great attack roll. Since this exceeds the armor's rating, there is no reduction in damage. The damage roll comes up with a +2, or a Great result. This also exceeds the armor's rating, so it is used as the final rating. Great corresponds to a Very Hurt result. Since the attack roll was two levels higher than the knight's Fair Damage Capacity, this becomes an Incapacitated result. The spear pierces the chain mail, and the knight, impaled, falls to the ground.