Monday, May 30, 2005

Kilbrandeen House

Sitting high up on a hill, on the outskirts of Scotland, there sits Kilbrandeen House. This abandoned house has held the town in awe with legends and mysterious happenings for the last 200 years.

Enter, if you dare.


Roderick Kilbrandeen built the house in 1798. Roderick wanted to build a nice place, where he and his family could enjoy the life they had built for themselves. He loved the ocean, so he found a nice piece of land where he could look out and see the waves crashing against the rocks, and yet still have enough land for his family to grow and visitors to come stay.

Kilbrandeen House is a typical mansion, with servants to attend to the needs of the family. At first, everything was going well. The servants were treated with respect and they, in turn, were glad to assist the family and help them in whatever they could do. The sound of laughter would sound out from the house, with the various gatherings that Roderick would have there.

Roderick and his wife Michele had three children, Scott, Margaret, and James. They were a close family, with Michele overseeing the functions of the house and Roderick making sure outside interests were handled properly. To all of them, the house was like a dream come true.

The longer they lived there, however, the more things started to go badly. Scott, the oldest, started becoming more difficult in his behavior. He started treating the staff badly, letting them know that he was part of the owner's family, the oldest son, and they were the servants. He shirked his responsibilities and chores, heaving them off onto the servants whenever possible. He would go outside into the nearby forest, for hours on end. When asked what he was doing there, he would not respond.

Margaret started talking about "the other girls" who were in the house. At first dismissed as imaginary friends, she became insistent that these other girls were responsible for certain unexplained events. Margaret could be heard talking to other children as if they were actually there. Sometimes the servants heard other voices in the room, but upon investigating, they only found Margaret.

James became more withdrawn. He would sometimes be found hiding in the closet, preferring to be hidden from something he claims to see around the house, but refuses to describe.

The servants started noticing weird and unusual events happening around the house. Items would be moved from one place to another. Small things at first, but later furniture and tables would be moved from one place to another. They started noticing that some of the rooms seemed to have shifted position. The same door may not necessarily lead to the same room twice. Strange moaning and keening could be heard throughout the hallways and from closed rooms. Soft whispering could be heard in the middle of the night. The family and staff could never find a clue to the cause of these eerie sounds.

Outside provided no relief from these events as well. Glowing apparitions could be seen in the distance, along the edge of the ocean banks. They would appear to be walking, only to disappear amongst the rocks along the shore. Along the cliffs during a full moon, a young woman wearing a flowing gown could be seen just standing there, looking out amongst the crashing waves below. Calling out to her had no effect. She would just softly vanish.

Michele became more unhinged as time went on. She became very paranoid, claiming that the various servants were stealing things from her, when they would be directly in front of her. She accused Roderick of having affairs with other women of the town. She would always keep a thick blanket wrapped around her, complaining of the cold even when it was sunny in springtime. She would wander the halls repeatedly.

What happened next is unclear. As events went on, the servants started leaving the house. Several were found dead in various rooms of the house without a mark on them to indicate the cause of death. Others quickly left the mansion, convinced that the forces of darkness were living there as well.

Michele took one of her usual outdoor walks, one night. Eventually she found herself looking down at the waves crashing against the familiar rocks below. She stood there for quite a while, as if listening to something that only she could hear. Several servants tried to run over to her to get her to step back. Without a reason or a word, she took that one last step.

Scott was found in the forest by some of the servants after going missing one day. He was found impaled by a large tree branch in the woods. His face was frozen with a look of sheer terror. The placement of the body suggests that his death couldn't have been from a falling tree branch or from stumbling and falling on one. Foul play was suspected at first, but there were no other footprints except his own. The strange thing about it is that Scott's prints seem to move around the small clearing as if he were talking to someone or looking for something.

Margaret was heard in her bedroom playing, which was very typical of her. Several voices could be heard coming out of her room. Suddenly a scream was heard. Margaret's scream could be heard through the entire hallway of the upstairs. When several people arrived they found that the door wouldn't open, even though it had no lock on it. After several minutes of struggling, the door was finally opened. Margaret was gone. Her windows were still locked shut from the inside.

James was found by one of the servants sitting in the center of his bedroom, his toys arranged in a circular pattern around him. He was wide-eyed and speechless, not responding to anyone's voice. Many attempts were made to treat him and get him to explain exactly what had happened that night, but never said anything. His hair had developed a white streak that ran along side his temples. Eventually, he was placed in the local town sanitarium where he would sometimes draw strange circular symbols on paper that would be provided for him. No one could ever figure out the significance of these symbols. James never spoke again.

Roderick disappeared without a trace. Nobody saw him leave, but he simply abandoned everything that he had. His house, his money, everything. Many of the townsfolk claim he left the mansion after his family died, in total despair and depression.

Epilog - perhaps...

The house has stayed empty ever since. The last of the servants have long since left. After the incidents recorded here, nobody ever bought the land or tried to move into it. The plants in the garden grow wild, with vines blocking the way in some places. The color of the house has faded, giving it a mottled gray color. Statues in the yard are starting to show signs of age, with the eyes appearing to follow visitors as they walk by.

Several times, people have tried to go into the house to investigate what really happened. They were never seen again....

Possible reasons for the happenings of Kilbrandeen House

(It's possible that these explanations may even be mixed and matched a bit to accommodate whatever explanation you'd like to have for the happenings of the mansion.)

Built on old burial grounds

The house was unknowingly built on an old Celtic burial ground. The spirits didn't appreciate the new house and started taking their revenge upon the occupants. Until the land is restored, the spirits will be angry with whoever is present there.

Ghost of the jilted wife

At a house that used to be at that same location a couple of centuries ago, the lady of the manor committed suicide. She found out that her husband, who she was completely in love with, was seeing other women. She ended her life by walking calmly out to the rocks by the sea and throwing herself onto the rocks below. She continues to haunt the area, pained by the memory of what had happened. Margaret, being the lady of the manor, was especially sensitive to this haunting.

The area is just plain evil

The house is located in an area filled with evil spirits. Banshees wail and moan at night, evil spirits move objects and try to corrupt the young minds of the children. In the forest nearby, creatures of the dark call out to mortals to attempt to corrupt them. The spirits of children who have previously died in the area from the evil demons come back to attempt to warn others away from the creatures before more innocents are lost.

Psychic powers unlock the evil

James Kilbrandeen was a latent psionic who inadvertently awoke spirits living the house. His catatonia resulted from psychically seeing the events of those final nights, including the spirits that did the evil deeds. He tried his best to stop them, but being so young and untrained, he wasn't able to do it.

A pact with evil spirits

Scott Kilbrandeen entered into a pact with evil entities that lived in the woods surrounding the area. He was impatient to become the next lord of the manor and tried to "speed things along." He ended up unleashing powerful forces. His greed let him grant them permission to do whatever it took to get what he wanted. Unfortunately, demons have that nasty tendency to twist things in their favor....

Possible adventures in this setting

Occult investigators

The characters are occult investigators who have heard the reputation of Kilbrandeen House and want to determine how much of it is true and what is the cause behind it. The characters could be modern investigators. This could also be played from an earlier time period, involving such groups as the NAGS Society (See Terra Incognita by Grey Ghost Games). Don't forget the possibility that the characters might be hired or otherwise drawn into the events of the house before all of the Kilbrandeens are killed.

Staying overnight on a dare

A person claiming to be a direct descendent of Roderick contacts the characters, stating that if they can stay in the house for 3 nights, they will be given one million dollars. This person could be an actual descendent of Roderick, willing to explain what had happened only if the characters succeed in staying at the house. This person could, in reality, also be a reporter or investigator using the characters to attempt to get information about what is happening in the house. If in a modern setting, he might be willing to provide recording equipment, cell phones, etc. to try to witness any unusual phenomenon.

Treasure hunters

Rumor has reached the characters of antique treasures still hidden within the house. For whatever reason, the characters decide to chance the reputation and see what they can find. This is especially good if placed soon after the events of the house have occurred. Whether or not they find any valuable antiques, guaranteed the characters will find something waiting for them.


Note: These stats represent the family during the strange happening of the mansion. You should strengthen or weaken various stats, depending on when this is occurring during the adventure. You should also adjust the skills and/or levels to reflect the style of adventure you are playing.

Roderick Kilbrandeen - husband, father

Attributes Physical Fair, Dexterity Mediocre, Size Fair, Intelligence Good, Experience Great, Willpower Good, Intuition Mediocre, Charisma Fair, Sanity Mediocre
Gifts Always keeps his cool, Reputation
Faults Idealist, Ambitious
Skills Finances Great, Bricklaying Fair, Leadership Good, Driving Good, Boxing Fair, Literature Fair, Negotiation Good, Etiquette Fair

Michele Kilbrandeen - wife, mother

Attributes Physical Mediocre, Dexterity Good, Size Mediocre, Intelligence Fair, Experience Fair, Willpower Good, Intuition Good, Charisma Fair, Sanity Poor
Gifts Ambidextrous, Attractive
Faults Paranoid, Jealous
Skills Running a household Good, Finances Mediocre, Botany Fair, Storytelling Great, Painting Great, Cooking Fair, Literature Good, Etiquette Good

Scott Kilbrandeen - eldest child

Attributes Physical Good, Dexterity Mediocre, Size Good, Intelligence Fair, Experience Fair, Willpower Mediocre, Intuition Mediocre, Charisma Fair, Sanity Poor
Gifts Keen Senses, Absolute Direction
Faults Blunt & Tactless, Quick Tempered
Skills Finances Fair, Driving Fair, Tracking Fair, Brawling Good, Climbing Good, Literature Mediocre, Fast-Talk Mediocre, Etiquette Mediocre

Margaret Kilbrandeen - only daughter, middle child

Attributes Physical Mediocre, Dexterity Fair, Size Mediocre, Intelligence Fair, Experience Fair, Willpower Mediocre, Intuition Good, Charisma Good, Sanity Mediocre
Gifts Attractive, Quick Reflexes
Faults Child, Curious
Skills Storytelling Good, Animal Care Fair, Throwing Good, Cooking Mediocre, Literature Mediocre, Etiquette Good

James Kilbrandeen - youngest child

Attributes Physical Mediocre, Dexterity Fair, Size Poor, Intelligence Good, Experience Mediocre, Willpower Good, Intuition Great, Charisma Fair, Sanity Fair
Gifts Psychic/Sensitive, Danger Sense
Faults Child, Shy
Skills Animal Care Fair, Drawing Fair, Throwing Mediocre, Stealth Great, Meditation Good, Etiquette Fair

Design of this Adventure

You will want to design this adventure to take advantage of the different areas that are available. Not far away from the mansion will be the cliffs overlooking the sea. These cliffs are nearly unclimbable, leading to sharp rocks and the rolling waves below.

Off to the side of the house will be the forest. This will be a large area, never having been fully explored. It would be possible to get lost in there for days. It's probably unknown what's on the other side of the forest.

The design of the mansion is deliberately left vague so that referees can use any mansion floorplans they already have or they can take the opportunity to design their own to fit their player's style.

The mansion itself is designed along basic principles. There is usually a large entryway at the front. The living rooms are generally along the side areas, with at least one doorway leading to the dining area. The kitchen area would be alongside of that room. The servants' quarters will typically be in small rooms on the first floor. A ballroom would be located along one side of the house, taking up a major portion of that area. The upstairs will contain the various bedrooms for the family members. A long winding staircase leads to the upstairs areas. There will also be additional rooms for things such as playrooms and offices and studies. Outside a greenhouse would be found, possibly attached to the side of the house. Many mansions would typically have large gardens outside where people could take casual walks.

Ways to add a horror flavor to this setting

Subtlety is one of the best ways to add horror to an adventure such as this. Some of the best scary stories are the ones where the horror is quietly sitting next to you, appearing when you least expect it. If you referee an adventure such as this, try to keep your players guessing. Don't give them things that are obvious for them to find or fight. It's not about fighting ghosts, but in survival against the spirits that are always watching.

  • Keep the players guessing as to what is happening. Small, insignificant events will eventually add up in the player's mind. Have small objects move from place to place. Keep your players mentally unbalanced at times. Having a door open to a different room sometimes will help. Though doing this too often will lessen the effect as much as not doing it enough. Discourage your players from making a map of the mansion unless their characters are doing it as well.
  • Nighttime when characters are to be sleeping is a great time for moaning and keening. You could even consider a small penalty to a character's Perception attribute due to exhaustion and lost sleep.
  • The temperature could periodically drop, and a room could be colder than the other rooms beside it.
  • Characters looking into a mirror may be surprised to see a different face looking back at them!
  • Characters may find themselves talking to a person, only to discover later that no one else saw or heard the stranger.
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Monday, May 23, 2005

Making Yourself as a Character in Fudge

Almost every roleplayer has, from time to time, used their favourite system to make themselves as a character. In general, this is quite difficult to do objectively. Most players have either too low self-esteem - "I'd be useless, I have no skills" - or too high self-esteem - "but one zillion experience points isn't enough to describe all the skills I have."

Why Do It?

Two of the essential elements of roleplaying are playing the role of someone different to yourself, and overcoming obstacles while doing so. Many players consciously choose a character similar to themselves in skills, attitudes and values, changed enough to be interesting. Many others unconsciously choose one making up for self-perceived deficiencies - thus, skinny nerds playing hulking barbarians, or slightly thick players playing sneaky cunning thieves - or they play characters which are a super-skilled version of themselves, such as a first year Chemistry student playing someone with an exotic drug lab. Others, still, game out some more lurid fantasy; thus, the large number of Lesbian Stripper Ninja characters running around. Others, of course, play whichever character comes to hand.

The "self" game falls more generally within the first of the these types of characters. That is, you play a character which is quite similar to yourself, but different in some way. I contend that a person can have a fun experience playing themselves with just two changes: more braveness, and more curiosity. I've long expained roleplaying to newbies in the following terms. You know how when you watch a horror movie, you sit there saying to the screen, "don't go back into the dark old house, don't go back into the dark old house". Well, the adventurer ALWAYS goes back into the dark old house. They are curious, and/or brave. If we just add that curiousity/bravery to the "self" character, then they become hero material, however terrible their skills may be.

In truth, all roleplaying is of an "alternate self." Playing yourself as a character simply makes this explicit, instead of implicit. This is not for everyone, of course. If "Kyle Schuant" gets shot in the groin, I'm bound to take it more personally than if "Grolkk the Destroyer" gets shot in the groin. It may also make me uncomfortable to have "me as a character" do horrendous things "me as a person" would never do; but perhaps this is a good thing.

If the "me as a character" survives for a while, it'll evolve and change, get new skills, quirks, ideas, and experiences, and evolve into a different person to that which I am ever likely to be. For this reason, I find it good to name "me as a character" some variation of my own name: perhaps my middle name, and mother's maiden name, something like that.

Which System?

There are three basic types of character creation systems.

Level-based: this is not very suitable for "self" games. The assumption behind it is that everyone starts off useless and then, if they manage to survive, become a great hero. Typically, they start with nothing, being about as competent as your average 12 year old who's received too many smacks in the head from his mother's wooden spoon over the years.

Point-based: this holds some promise for a "self" game, in that the GM may assign different power levels to the player-characters, one point per year of age, or something like that, and the players make themselves as characters as best they can from that. The danger here is the Self-Esteem Problem, again, where people under or over value their abilities, especially if your gaming group consists of the stereotypical young male nerds, who, despite their brash and noisy exterior, often have sensitive egos. Another difficulty can be the minute granuality of a point-based system. Suppose that Jim and Bob are both in wrestling class together, and usually come out even in matches against each-other, though Jim gets the upper hand slightly more often. Does Jim have 56% skill, and Bob have 50% skill? Can anyone really tell the difference?

Lifepath-based: In this system, the player describes the history and background of the character, and thus justifies the skills their character has, or the GM assigns what seems appropriate. This also holds some promise for a "self" game, in that going through this process helps quantify real-life experiences to put on a character sheet. The low self-esteem players will often find they have more skills than they thought, while the high self-esteem players may be brought down to earth a bit, or at least will tell some entertaining stories of their fantastic skills. Thinking like this leads me to say that Fudge is a good system for a "self" game, focused on the subjective character creation method. Descriptors like "Fair" and "Terrible" can be pretty easily understood by people, and related to their own abilities.

House Rules for Fudge

I like to keep character sheets relatively compact; not more than a dozen skills and attributes altogether. But I also note that in real life, people often have supporting knowledge which backs up some of their skills; that suggests they have heaps of skills. How to compromise between a short character sheet, and the many skills and supporting skills that people often have?

Here are my suggestions.

Base Abilities

Each person may be rated in the following areas. Each of these Base Abilities will be rated, on a simple scale of Terrible, Poor, Mediocre, Fair, Good, Great, Superb.

A rating of Fair will give no particular impression. A rating of Good or Mediocre will be apparent to those who know the person well; one of Great or Poor will be obvious within half an hour of meeting them, seeing them move and speak. One of Superb or Terrible level will, as noted above, be the dominant feature of the person, and almost immediately obvious.


The pure ability to move weight. This is tested in a gymnasium. To give a rough idea, find out how many complete full push-ups a person can do. If less than ten, that's Poor. If less than 20, that's Mediocre. 21 to 40 is Fair. 40 or more is Good or better. If the person can do 10 or more chin-ups with their full body weight, that's possibly Great Strength.


A measure of flexibility, quickness of reflexes, balance, and manual dexterity. This is difficult to assess. Anyone regularly performing gymnastics or similar sport will be of Good Agility or better. Being able to perform the splits indicates at least Good Agility, also. Someone who cannot even touch their toes will have a Mediocre Agility at best.


The ability to recover from exertion, to push oneself physically, and general resistance to disease and such. This may be tested by a run, jogging at a decent pace until it becomes too uncomfortable to go on. Being able to jog for five minutes only indicates a Poor Fitness; 10 minutes, Mediocre; 20 minutes or so, Fair; 45 minutes, Good; 60 minutes, Great; and more than a couple of hours, since it's approaching marathon performance, is Superb.


How observant the player is, their ability to notice small details, to pick out patterns and so forth. This may be measured by an IQ test. IQ 70 or less, Poor; 90 or less, Mediocre; 91 to 110, Fair; 111 to 130, Great; 131+ Superb.


Not merely raw years at school, but general knowledge. It's quite possible to find someone with a low Education ability who's an academic; they have a specialised area of knowledge. Contrariwise, it's possible to find a person who has a good general knowledge of the world and sciences, yet who never finished high school. Thus, the general rating.


The assertiveness, bravado, and willpower of the person. It is this that will keep the person going when the fitness runs out. Anyone who refuses to perform any of these tests automatically receives a Poor rating in Confidence, and of course, a Poor rating in those tests as well.

Other Considerations

For most people, it's found that though the six Base Abilities vary widely, they may be ranked from best ability, to worst. The ratings are then, from best to worst, Superb, Great, Good, Fair, Mediocre, Poor. Where one Base Ability is higher, another is lower.

There are two additional Base Abilities. These need not be tested separately, since it's been found that they're aspects of the others. These are Speed, which is the average of Strength and Agility, and Toughness, which is the average of Strength, Fitness, and Confidence.


Speed is the quickness of movement and reaction of the person. To test, rate the running speed per second of the person by means of an 800 meter run (runs of less than this distance will give results too high; runs of greater than this distance require Fitness to be factored in). Each meter per second above or below 5 meters/second, is one level of Speed. Thus, Mediocre Speed is 4 m/sec, Good Speed is 6m/sec, etc. If Speed and Strength are known, the more difficult to assess Agility may be surmised.


Toughness is the ability to take physical punishment and keep going, to recover from injuries and so on. Strength affects this because it grants the person physical bulk with which to absorb blows, dilute toxins and so on. Fitness contributes to it because it represents cardiovascular health, and a person with high fitness will be accustomed to recovering from or enduring pain or discomfort (ie, exercise). Confidence contributes to it because this is the ability of the person to mentally persist through difficulties, to "break through the pain barrier," and so on.

In rating the person's abilities, if any question arises as to whether they're Superb, then they're probably not. With a person who is Superb, there can be no doubt as to their ability. Any Superb ability is a dominant feature of the person's character, one which cannot be denied, as examples: the strength of Lou Ferrigno, the agility of Tatiana Grigorieva, the fitness of Robert de Castella, the perception of Sherlock Holmes, the education of Indiana Jones, or the confidence of Robert de Niro in most of his roles. The same can be said with a rating of Terrible: if there's a question, they're not Terrible.


Skill Attribute
Acrobatics Agility
Acting Confidence
Administration Education
Agriculture Education
Animal Handling Confidence
Archaeology Education
Area Knowledge (place) Education
Artist (specify) Perception
Astrogation Education
Astronomy Education
Bard Confidence
Battlesuit Agility
Big Guns Agility
Biochemistry Education
Boating Agility
Botany Education
Brawling Strength
Camouflage Perception
Chemistry Education
Climbing Agility
Computer Operation Perception
Computer Programming Education
Craft Perception or Agility
Cryptology Education
Dancing Agility
Demolition Education
Detect Lies Perception
Disguise Confidence
Driving (type) Agility
Electronic Ops (type) Perception
Electronics (type) Education
Energy Weapons Agility
Engineer (type) Perception
Escape Agility
Fast-Talk Confidence
First Aid Perception
Fishing Perception
Forensics Perception
Forgery Education
Free Fall Agility
Gambling Confidence
Games (type) Perception
Genetics Education
Geology Education
Gunner (type) Agility
Hiking Fitness
History Education
Hypnotism Confidence
Intelligence Analysis Perception
Interrogation Confidence
Intimidation Confidence
Jumping Agility
Language (specify) Education
Language (native) Education
Law Education
Leadership Confidence
Linguistics Education
Lip Reading Perception
Locksmith Agility
Martial Art (type) Agility or Strength
Melee Agility
Merchant Confidence
Metallurgy Education
Meteorology Education
Mimicry Confidence
Music Instrument (type) Agility
Naturalist Perception
Navigation Perception
Parachuting Confidence
Performance Confidence
Physician Education
Pickpocket Agility
Piloting (type) Agility
Research Perception
Riding (type) Agility
Running Agility
Savoir-Faire Confidence
Science (type) Education
Scuba Education
Sex Appeal Confidence
Shadowing Perception
Shipbuilding Perception
Singing Fitness
Skiing Agility
Sleight of Hand Agility
Small Arms Agility
Speed Read Perception
Stealth Agility
Streetwise Confidence
Surgery Agility
Survival (type) Confidence
Swimming Agility
Thrown Agility
Tracking Perception
Traps Perception
Ventriloquism Confidence
Veterinary Education

Limiting Skills

To keep character sheets tight, the most different skills a character may have are six, plus the sum of Perception, Education, and Confidence (where Fair is zero). There is only so much anyone can notice, remember, or be bothered to recall.

If for example a character has Good (+1) Perception, Terrible (-2) Education, and Superb (+3) Confidence, then they could have a maximum of eight (base of 6 +1 -2 +3 = 8) skills. Note that this rule means that if a character has Terrible or worse in those three Attributes, they can have no skills at all! (There really are people like this.)

If, after the game has been running a while, a new skill takes a character beyond this maximum, they must forget one of their old skills. The actual level of the skills is not affected. So Joe Average could have six skills at Terrible, six skills at Fair, six skills at Outstanding, whatever; he could only have six skills, though.

This isn't as bad as it sounds. Your character might not officially have the skill, but still be able to give it a go anyway - they get to use their default skill.

Default And Similar Skills

In this implementation, there are two types of skills, Specialist, and Anyone. Specialist skills are those that you need a teacher to learn; Anyone skills you can teach yourself. The trained skills are in bold on the list below. The difference is in their default.

Anyone skills default to the relevant Base Ability -3. So for example someone with Excellent (+2) Agility would have default Swimming of Mediocre (-1); whereas someone with just Fair (+0) Agility would be a Terrible (-3) Swimmer.

Specialist skills have no default. So if for example someone without Surgery skill tries it -- they don't try it. They simply don't know where to begin. Of course, if they have a similar skill, they may be able to try it anyway.

Similar skills default to each-other at -2. These are skills which are somewhat related or have some overlap in education, for example Chemistry/Biochemistry, Big Guns/Smallarms, Computer Operations/Computer Programming, etc. So if, for example, someone has Superb (+3) Chemistry, they will have Good (+1) Biochemistry as their default. Without any particular effort towards Biochemistry, they use their education, their knowledge of general Chemistry to figure some things out. Of course if they just had Mediocre (-1) Chemistry, then their Biochemistry wouldn't be up to much, being Terrible (-3). Since it is a Specialist skill, they'd be grateful at least to be able to roll, try to scratch up the relevant knowledge from somewhere.

Don't bother writing your Similar Skills in; they will be determined as relevant during play.

A skill with a default worse than Terrible may not be attempted.

The Specialist skills in the skill list are italicized.

What is a Specialist skill, and what an Anyone skill, will vary from campaign to campaign, and place to place and person to person. For example, Computer Operations (as opposed to Programming!) is in the modern developed West an Anyone skill. Anyone can give it a go and do reasonably. But if you take a Kalahari Bushman and show him a computer, for him it's a Specialist skill. But the reverse would apply with regards to Survival (Savannah) skill.

Rating The Base Abilities And Skills

Subjective Method

It's already been described how you might rate the Base Abilities. As to Skills, the following guidelines should apply:

Terrible: The default rating of an Anyone skill for a person with a Fair attribute. "No, of course I don't know what I'm doing."

Poor: Better than useless, but you're still nervous watching him. It's plain he's largely just guessing.

Mediocre: This person is stumbling along, but they'll get there.

Fair: The minimum requireed to use the skill day to day in a profession. They won't be promoted or congratulated on a good job, though.

Good: This person shines on some days, or does fair jobs quickly, etc. They're confident with their work (but don't confuse that with Confidence!).

Great: This person, as soon as you see them doing the job, you know they know what they're doing.

Superb: This is a stand-out guy. If they tell you, "this is how it's done," it doesn't occur to you to doubt them.

Game Balance Method

The alternate method of rating is the one that saves measuring things and risking fragile egos. Arrange the six Base Abilities from best to worst. The best one is Superb, the next Great, then Good, Fair, Mediocre, Poor. Now figure out the other two, Speed and Toughness, from those.

As to skills, assume the Native Language is known to the equivalent of Education; this doesn't take up a skill slot. Now, select two Professional skills (used in your most recent paid profession), two Background skills (learned while growing up and two Hobby skills (stuff you do for fun). Rate the Professional skills as Superb and Great; the Background skills as Good and Fair, and the Hobby skills as Mediocre and Poor.

Those who claim a plethora of skills in support of their Professional skills, generally we can take care of that with the similar skills. For example, someone who has Superb native language, will have Good knowledge of their native language's literature. Someone with Great Surgery, will have Fair First Aid at least.

This method provides not the "real you," but a caricature of you. It has the same relationship to you that your passport photo does. It's probably not very flattering, but it's recognisably you.

Generous GMs may let the players add one or two new and different skills at Mediocre. "If you had the time, money and patience, what might you go and learn about?" This fills out the character a bit, and makes up for the Average Gamer who's a bit useless.

Add in the courage and curiousity, and you've got an adventurer.

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Monday, May 16, 2005

Speed as an Augmenter

While choosing a rule set for a campaign, I ran into an issue I've had before: how to represent faster characters. Some nice solutions from various gaming systems have been great at capturing much of the feel for the speed of characters, but the more accurate systems tend to be a bit too crunchy for my taste. Here is my attempt at applying Speed to Fudge.

I'm working with the premise that just because someone is fast at doing one thing, doesn't necessarily mean they are fast at doing all things. Also, I will refer to the time it takes to perform a single combat action, for whatever length of time is appropriate, as a single "round".

Speed is the measure of a character's quickness at performing actions. Speed shows up in combat maneuvers and when reading a book. Having a higher speed simply allows a character to do more things in an allotted amount of time. An Initiative attribute would only determine who goes first and is narrow in scope. Instead of using a generic Speed or Quickness Attribute to cover all a character's actions, I propose using an expanded skill description. Speed would be a complimentary skill that applies to one other skill. By adding Speed Level as either a complimentary skill or adding speed to skill descriptions, the results would be the same. In a nutshell, Speed Levels are used to offset penalties for attempting multiple actions.

Typically, only one maneuver can be performed in a single combat round. However, a character may choose to do multiple actions within the same time frame. To do more things in the time allotted, you must perform each action faster. The more quickly you attempt to use a skill, the more difficult it becomes to perform the skill successfully. In game terms this can be expressed by applying penalties to a character's actions. Each extra action a character takes in a single round requires a penalty to be applied to each action. The penalty to the skill roll is equal to the number of actions being attempted. Firing off two shots from a gun to hit one or two targets in one round requires two skill rolls. Each skill roll would be at -2 to hit. If three shots were fired, then each skill roll would be at a -3. These penalties reflect the urgency of rushed actions and the potential for making mistakes when acting too quickly. This is assuming the skills in question have a Fair (+0) Speed.

The Speed of a skill is considered Fair (+0) by default and need never be developed beyond that. In fact, it doesn't need to be considered until a character decides to perform more than one action in a round. The Speed of a skill is developed separately as if it were a separate trait. During the course of character development, taking a skill beyond Superb can be very difficult, and increasing the speed of a skill is one way to enhance a skill without having to become more accurate. This would allow a Fair Dart Thrower to develop a knack for tossing off 2 darts with the same accuracy of throwing one dart by developing a Great Speed in Dart Throwing. A martial artist's Superb skill in hand-to-hand combat can be made more effective by increasing the character's speed in hand-to-hand combat, giving the character reductions in penalties for performing multiple actions in a single round, and increasing his ability to take on more than one opponent at a time.

Applying Speed Levels in-game is simple. A higher Speed in a skill reverses the negative effects of doing multiple actions in a single round. For each level of Speed above Fair, simply reduce the multiple-actions penalty by one. Having a Good (+1) Speed in Hand-to-hand Combat would allow a character to strike 2 targets, and be at only a -1 for each skill roll. With a Superb Speed in Hand-to-hand Combat a character could strike 3 targets with no penalty for multiple actions in a single round.

The same rules are applied when using completely different skills in the same round, such as Throwing Darts Speed Great and Acrobatics Speed Great. What happens when you are fast at one skill, but not as fast in another skill? Applying different skills with different Speed Levels is just as easy. Remember, each extra action taken requires an increase in the skill roll's penalty. Any action that does not have Speed Levels takes the full penalty, while the other speedier skills get the reductions based on their individual speeds.

As an extreme example, Marty the private investigator and paranormal exterminator has a Superb (+3) Street Fighting Skill with a Superb (+3) Street Fighting Speed. Marty also has a Great (+2) Ballroom Dancing skill with no extra speed. Finally, Marty has a Fair (+0) Detective's Perception Skill with a Good (+1) Detective's Perception Speed. During his routine P.I. work, Marty finds himself in a hair-raising situation. He has entered a great hall with dozens of spectral entities that are engaged in an old-fashioned ballroom party. The specters are dancing, and Marty is compelled to join them. Ensnared in a spell, he begins to dance with the deceased. Marty's Ballroom Dancing Skill has come in very handy. However, he forgot a step and as punishment he got a nasty scratch across his back. Oh, no! The ballroom dancers have daggers. Marty decides it is time to leave the room, but he must figure out a way to do it as part of the dance and without getting chopped to bits. Marty decides to take some chances and attempt to Dance, Fight, and Search for clues all in the same round. He is at a -3 penalty for performing 3 actions. Each skill action will have a -3 multiple-action penalty applied to the roll. However, his Street Fighting Speed is Superb (+3), so he will have no penalty for Street Fighting when they attack him again. Also, his Detective's Perception Speed is Good (+1), so he will be at only a -2 penalty while looking for clues to get out of his situation.

Of course, one could speed up a single attack at the cost of a penalty. Someone attempting to be quick on the draw could attempt to fire one shot very quickly - someone attempting to "go first". With higher Speed Levels, faster shots may be obtained without penalty. Gunfights, pistols at 20 paces, and spell slinging can be quickened in this way. Since it is only one action the penalty starts at -1, but for a greater penalty a character can get off a faster shot.

As a further example, Quick Draw Sally and her sidekick Molass find themselves in an old warehouse. A bad tip has just landed them in a bad situation, and the double-barreled team find themselves surrounded by mechanical thugs. Quick Draw Sally has her guns and begins to fire. She only has one target that she cares about hitting, but she needs to hit it before the bullets come raining down on her. With her Legendary (+4) Shooting Speed, she is able to knock out the Master Control Computer before a single shot leaves the robot thugs. At the same time Molass uses her Great (+2) Dodging Speed to get out of any line of fire before the robots switch to their independent defender programs.

Speed Levels are obtained separately for each skill, whether broad or narrow based skills. During character advancement, Speed Levels should be treated as separate skills with the same scope as the skill they are augmenting. If a skill costs 12 XP to get from Good to Great, that same skill's Speed Level should also cost 12 XP to get from Good to Great.

You don't need Speed Levels to go fast. You need Speed Levels to be successful when you are attempting to be fast.

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Monday, May 09, 2005

Using Sound In Horror Games

Few genres in gaming rely as heavily on the building of tension as the horror genre. The suggestion of danger in a horror game can often been more satisfying and ultimately more successful, than the actual threat. For this reason, horror seems to stand out as the ideal genre for using sound effects to add tension to a game.

Although horror seems like the perfect genre for the use of sound effects, the tips provided here can be used for any game or setting. The sounds of a plane approaching, for example, could have a huge impact in a wartime campaign. Or, the sound of gunfire could alert the PCs about nearby people in a post-apocalyptic game.

Using The Files In Play

A list of files is provided below to get Game Masters started in adding sound effects to their games. Obviously, this is only a tiny sample of what could be used in a game.

File Name Duration Size Description
alarmbell.mp3 34 secs 336 kb Fire or security alarm noise
barkingdogs.mp3 8 secs 84 kb Barking dogs
bugnoises.mp3 4 secs 44 kb A sound like bug wings
deepthump.mp3 4 secs 44 kb A deep bass "thump" -- could be used for something banging on a door, heavy footsteps, etc.
distantshot.mp3 6 secs 64 kb A gunshot noise that sounds far away
doorslam.mp3 4 secs 44 kb A door being slammed
fastfootsteps.mp3 6 secs 64 kb Someone running
gruntsandgrowls.mp3 20 secs 200 kb Groaning zombies or other creatures
gunshot.mp3 2 secs 24 kb Another gunshot noise
helicopter.mp3 36 secs 356 kb Sound of a helicopter in flight
malfunctioning.mp3 2 secs 28 kb Buzzing machines, maybe in an underground lab
phone.mp3 4 secs 44 kb An office telephone ring, use multiple times to get a prolonged series of rings
planeflyby.mp3 7 secs 40 kb A propeller plane flying by
rainfall.mp3 10 secs 108 kb Continuous rain noise -- poor quality sound effect
screech.mp3 8 secs 84 kb An animal cry, likely a bird -- may be appropriate for dinosaurs
waterdrop.mp3 4 secs 44 kb A single drip noise
space_05.mp3 5 secs 52 kb Silence -- Use as a "spacer" in playlists
space_10.mp3 10 secs 104 kb Silence -- Use as a "spacer" in playlists
space_30.mp3 30 secs 296 kb Silence -- Use as a "spacer" in playlists

Each sound provided was created using royalty-free samples and encoded to an 80 kbps MP3 to conserve space. Most samples were processed with a slight amount of reverb to give each noise a more atmospheric, less sterile sound.

How To

The first thing you need to understand as a Game Master is that the use of sound files could very easily detract from the overall gaming experience, rather than add to it. Most gaming groups get together for the camaraderie and collective imagination of play, not to sit through a multimedia presentation. If you are even considering using sound effects in your game, they have to be as transparent and "hidden" as possible to have any kind of positive impact.


Since the files provided are based on the MP3 format, the most logical way to bring them into a game is through the use of a computer or media player, such as an Apple iPod or NOMAD Jukebox.

The advantages of using a large capacity, hard-drive based media player are huge when compared to using a computer. The most obvious advantage is its portability, but perhaps even more useful is the psychological benefits. A MP3 player can be hidden behind the Game Master's screen and kept out of sight. Because the portable player can be kept out of sight, the Game Master can access the files without it calling too much attention to it.

A portable computer could work, but will be much more obvious. If you must use a laptop, make sure it is positioned to the side, and not in-between you and your players. Remember, the sound effects are intended to enhance play, not replace it.

Game Masters who do not own a portable MP3 player might be able to get the same affect by burning a CD with the necessary sound effects to be played back with a portable CD player. As most computers can now burn CDs, this might be a much more cost effective method than investing a MP3 player, but it does have its limitations. Struggling with multiple tracks presents a number of challenges, but a practiced GM should be able to make it work.


Most MP3 software and many of the newer portable MP3 players have the capability to set up playlists, a way to organize a series of files so that they can be played in a particular order. Ultimately, it's playlists that will allow the use of sound files to work as a tool and not as just a cheesy prop.

Before a role-playing session is set to begin, the Game Master should create a number of playlists based around individual events that she wants to occur during the game. Often, these playlists will be created around a specific sound. For example, a playlist could be created around a slamming door, a sound she wants played shortly after her players start to feel safe and secure in the abandoned house they discovered in the fog.

The reason why a playlist is suggested over simply accessing the file directly is that the Game Master can create a "lag" between when she presses play and when the noise actually happens, giving the players a chance to be distracted from the idea that a noise is coming.

Example "Someone Is In The House" playlist:

File Name Time
space_30.mp3 30 secs
space_10.mp3 10 secs
doorslam.mp3 4 secs
space_5.mp3 5 secs
footsteps.mp3 5 secs
Total time 54 secs

So, the group is sitting around and discussing how glad they are that they escaped the vampire hillbillies that sabotaged their truck and stranded them out in the woods. They certainly caught a break by finding that old, boarded up lodge. And, after checking to make sure that all the doors are locked, they can settle in and wait for morning.

The Game Master reaches over and hits "play" on her iPod, starting up the "Someone Is In The House" playlist. Most of the players are going to expect a noise at this point, but because there are 40 seconds of silence before any actual noise occurs, they will have some time to "forget" that the GM started up the playlist. This is especially true if the GM diverts their attention with something else, say a mysterious book that one of them finds hidden near the fireplace. When the noise actually does occur, the players (and even the Game Master) have let down their "guard," making its appearance all the more jarring and suspenseful.

Playlists don't necessarily need to highlight action or start an encounter. They can also be used to reinforce the atmosphere of the game and the situation the characters are facing. A Game Master might want to create a "Ghouls Outside" playlist for a scene where the PCs have locked themselves in a building, while the undead are walking the streets, snatching up a few people still trying to protect themselves. The playlist isn't intended to inspire action from the PCs, but is meant to further illustrate the situation they're in.

"Ghouls Outside" playlist:

File Name Time
space_10.mp3 10 secs
space_10.mp3 10 secs
gruntsandgrowls.mp3 20 secs
space_5.mp3 5 secs
distantshot.mp3 6 secs
gruntsandgrowls.mp3 20 secs
Total time 71 secs

Or, if the PCs are in a damp cave, create a "Underground" playlist:

File Name Time
space_10.mp3 10 sec
waterdrop.mp3 4 secs
space_10.mp3 10 sec
waterdrop.mp3 4 secs
space_5.mp3 5 secs
waterdrop.mp3 4 secs
space_5.mp3 5 secs
waterdrop.mp3 4 secs
waterdrop.mp3 4 secs
space_30.mp3 30 sec
waterdrop.mp3 4 secs
Total time 84 secs

Creating atmospheric playlists like this could really help set the mood of a particular adventure and give the players a greater immersion into the story.

If the GM is using a burnt CD, she could have a "Someone Is In The House" series of tracks to get the same effect (say 5 tracks, one for each MP3, depending on how the disc burning software works). Just make sure that the tracks are properly labeled so that they can be started and stopped at the appropriate times.

I recommend against using any stereo set up with a remote control. Even though most stereos are going to sound much better than your average computer speakers, using a stereo can be difficult due to the inability to clearly read or control it during game play.

More Tips and Tricks

1. Be Prepared

This is obvious. If the goal is to add sound effects in the least intrusive way possible, the Game Master needs to be an expert in how to use her MP3 player in the most efficient manner possible. Make sure that the MP3 player doesn't have a shuffle option turned on, that everything is setup properly (the speakers are turned on, plugged in, etc.), and that the GM can get to the player with the least amount of fuss during the game. Practice using this setup before the game starts will allow for time to properly troubleshoot any potential technological difficulties.

If at all possible, make sure the speakers are either located away from the gaming environment or out of sight of the players. Computer speakers are great for this, because they're often small enough that they can be placed almost anywhere. Set them on the floor, several feet away from the gaming table. Or, place them behind the sofa if you're going to game in the living room. The options are limited only by your particular gaming environment, of course, but the goal is to keep the speakers from getting any attention at all. You're the main entertainment, not the speakers, so keep them from attracting any interest from the players.

Test their volume before you start playing, if at all possible. Something that comes across too soft is better than something that comes across too loud, but you want to make sure the speakers can be heard from where the players will be sitting.

If you're hosting the play session at your house, you will have the luxury of being able to get set up far in advance. Use that time!

2. Never Replay A Noise

If things are going well, you may have a player gasp, "What was that? Play it again!" Don't do it. If there is anything that Hollywood has taught us, through countless horror movies, its that not knowing is far worse than having something shown to us. So, if a player wants to hear a noise again, refuse. Let them try to reimagine the noise in their minds. Chances are it'll be much better, and significantly more creepy, than anything you have on your hard drive.

3. Don't Overdo It

Use noises sparingly. The more sound effects you add, the less important they become in the long run.

4. Use the Noises Appropriately

Never penalize someone for not hearing a particular noise. Remember, the sound effects are meant to enhance the atmosphere of the game, not replace the normal skills and judgment of a Game Master. So, don't set up situations where properly hearing a noise could have an effect on the outcome of the game.

For example, you don't want the PCs to stumble across a door, play a growling animal noise, and then announce that they are automatically dead once they open the door because they should have known that the "hound of hideous death" was behind the door.

Also keep in mind that not everyone has perfect hearing. As a Game Master, you have a number of responsibilities to juggle, but if you add sound to your game, sensitivity towards differing hearing abilities becomes yet another one. If one of your players has a hearing disability, think about how they would feel if you started using sound effects. Would they feel left out?

With a little planning and creativity, a Game Master could easily add sound to her bag of tricks. As mentioned above, the addition of sound must be done careful, but proper use could add to a more intense, frightening gaming experience.

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Monday, May 02, 2005

Fudge Dungeon Crawl


Remember the days when a night of good RPG fun meant sitting around in a tavern until you were approached by a strange old man who needed the monsters cleared out of the dungeon just outside of town? Or, when the highlight of the game was defeating the dragon who claimed the 15th level of the dungeon as his lair?

Well, those days are back! Welcome to Fudge Dungeon Crawl!


Fudge Dungeon Crawl characters have 6 attributes: Strength, Intelligence, Wisdom, Dexterity, Constitution, and Charisma. Players should roll 4dF to randomly determine the trait level for each attribute; Legendary and Abysmal are not allowed and should be rerolled! However, should a character come out unplayable in the player's eyes, there is always a convenient volcano just outside of town for the character to jump into, allowing the player to roll up a new character.

Each player should pick a race for his character. The player's choice of race will confer certain skills and abilities onto the character. The available races are Human, Dwarf, Elf, and Halfling.

Each player should also pick one (or more) class(es) for his character. Classes are like archetypes or clichés that grant certain skills and abilities to each character. The classes are Figher, Magic-User, Cleric, and Thief. It is recommended that the character meet a certain attribute requirement for each class as shown in the table below:

Class Attribute Requirement
Fighter Strength: Good
Magic-User Intelligence: Good
Cleric Wisdom: Good
Thief Dexterity: Good

A character can specialize in two classes if the Attribute Requirements for each class are met. A human character may even take three classes if the character's Attributes support them. When a character takes on more than one class and the two classes have similar benefits, the character receives the better of the benefits, not the sum of the benefits.


Human : Humans are the base race from which all others are derived. Therefore, humans have no additional bonuses or penalties, aside of their unique ability to take on three classes if their attributes support them.

Dwarf : Dwarves are short, stout demi-humans with full beards and little to no sense of humor. Dwarves can see in the dark via the infrared spectrum, and can resist poisons or Magic with a situational roll of Great or better. Dwarven characters can detect slanting passages, traps, shifting walls, and new construction underground with a situational roll of Good or better. Dwarves automatically get +1 to their Constitution attribute, but take a -1 penalty to Charisma. Dwarves generally do not get along well with elves.

Elf : Elves are lithe demi-humans with beautiful features and pointed ears. As with dwarves, elves can see in the dark via the infrared spectrum. Elf characters ignore one minus ("-") result when rolling to attack using a long sword or long bow. Any secret or concealed door can be automatically detected by an elf with a situational roll of Good or better. Elven characters receive a +1 bonus to rolled Dexterity Attributes, but suffer a -1 penalty to Constitution. Elves generally do not get along well with dwarves.

Halfling : Halflings are small, good-natured demi-humans who tend to get along with everyone. Due to their small stature, halfling characters can gain surprise on a situational roll of Great or better and they can resist Magic with a situational roll of Great or better. Further, halflings ignore one minus ("-") result when rolling to attack using a missile weapon. Halfling characters receive a +1 bonus to their Dexterity, but suffer a -1 penalty to their Strength.


Fighter : A fighter gets two free Skill Levels to spend on any four weapon skills that the player wants. Fighter weapon skills default to Fair. A fighter can wear any armor and use any shield. In addition, a fighter only suffers a -1 penalty when using a weapon that is not one of the four weapon skills chosen during character creation.

Magic-User : A magic-user can take one weapon skill at Mediocre. A magic-user suffers a -3 penalty when using a weapon other than his or her chosen weapon. A magic-user can wear no armor and cannot use a shield in combat. However, a magic-user does begin play with four magic spells in his or her spell book, chosen from the list in the Magic section.

Cleric : A cleric gets one free Skill Level to spend on any two non-edged weapon skills that the player wants. Cleric weapon skills default to Mediocre. A cleric can wear any armor and use any type of shield. Clerics suffer a -2 penalty when using a weapon that is not one of the character's chosen weapons. A cleric can cast one cleric spell per day, chosen from the list in the Magic section, and can "turn," or rebuke, undead creatures with a situational roll of at least Great.

Thief : A thief gets one free Skill Level to spend on any two weapon skills that the player wants. Thief weapon skills default to Mediocre. A thief can wear any light armor. Thieves also get three free Skill Levels to spend on the Pick Pockets, Open Locks, Find/Remove Traps, Move Silently, and Hide in Shadows skills, which otherwise default to Fair.


Magic-Users and Clerics can both use Magic. For Magic-Users, it is their constant study of formulae and arcane texts that give them the power to affect reality. Clerics exercise their magic ability by working miracles in their god's name.

A Magic-User character starts play with a spell book containing the player's choice of four of the Magic-User spells listed below. One spell can be memorized at a time, and casting the spell erases it from the Magic-User's memory. At that time, the character must return to his spell book and memorize another (or the same) spell before it can be cast again. A Magic-User with enough preparatory time can create scrolls containing a spell in his spell book, so that when the scroll is read aloud, the spell is cast. The scroll is destroyed in the process. Casting a spell from a scroll takes twice as long as casting it from memory.

A Cleric can cast one spell from the Cleric spells listed below per day. Each morning, the Cleric must pray to his or her god and petition for the spell desired.

Unless stated otherwise, spells take one combat round to cast, and last 6 + 4dF combat rounds. It takes 4 times as long for a magic-user to memorize a spell as it does to cast it. Magic-users may not memorize spells from a scroll.

Magic-User Spells

Cast Illusions : This spell allows the magic-user to create an illusion in an area no bigger than a 30' diameter. The illusions created by this spell disappear when touched.

Charm : The target of this spell will be completely under the influence of the magic-user unless he or she can make a Great Intelligence roll.

Create Light : This spell lights a circular area with an approximate 30' diameter. If cast on an item, that item can be carried and the light will move with it.

Invisibility : This spell will render the magic-user (or another target chosen by the magic-user) completely invisible.

Levitate : This spell allows the magic-user to move up or down in the air without any support.

Mage Wagon : This spell creates an invisible disk floating at the magic-user's waist height, that can carry about 500 pounds of stuff. The disk will follow the magic-user as he or she walks around.

Mystic Armor : This spell encircles the magic-user with a protective barrier, providing +4 DDF vs. ranged attacks and +2 DDF vs. melee attacks.

Mystic Bolt : This spell launches a missile of glowing magical energy at a target chosen by the magic user. It has an ODF of +4 and magically strikes true.

Protection from Monsters : This spell encircles the magic-user with a protective barrier that gives the magic-user +1 DDF vs. monsters, and makes the monsters -1 ODF vs. the magic-user (in other words, the magic-user receives a +2 DDF).

Read Languages : This spell allows the magic-user to read (but not speak) any language.

See Invisible : This spell allows the magic-user to detect any object cloaked with an Invisibility spell in his or her immediate vicinity.

Sense Magic : This spell will alert the magic-user if a spell has been cast on a person, place, or thing in his or her immediate vicinity.

Sleep : This spell puts 4 + 4dF creatures chosen by the caster to sleep.

Ventriloquism : This spell allows the magic-user to cause his or her voice to come from somewhere else.

Wizard's Key : This spell cancels a Hold Portal spell.

Wizard's Lock : This spell magically holds a door shut.

Cleric Spells

Calming Touch : This spell calms the recipient and remove all fear from him or her.

Create Light : As per the magic-user spell of the same name.

Healing Hands : This spell allows the cleric to heal all Scratches.

Holy Warmth : This spell allows the recipient to ignore the effects of cold.

Protection from Evil : This spell encircles the magic-user with a protective barrier that gives the magic-user +1 DDF vs. inherently evil people or monsters, and makes the inherently evil people or monsters -1 ODF vs. the magic-user.

Purify : This spell will make poisoned water and food usable.

Sense Evil : This spell allows the cleric to detect any inherently evil person or creature in his or her immediate vicinity.

Sense Magic : As per the magic-user spell of the same name.


It is assumed at the start of any Fudge Dungeon Crawl game that the characters are already in possession of all of their equipment. Players should equip their characters using items from the following list, persuant to their classes (i.e. a magic-user would most likely not wield a two-handed sword, and a fighter would most likely not use a staff).


Two-hand battle axe (ODF +4), hand axe (ODF +3), crossbow & 30 quarrels (ODF +3), long bow & 20 arrows (ODF +3), short bow & 20 arrows (ODF +3), dagger (ODF +2), short sword (ODF +3), normal sword (ODF +4), long sword (ODF +4), two-hand sword (ODF +5), mace (ODF +3), club (ODF +2), pole arm (ODF +5), sling & 30 stones (ODF +2), spear (ODF +3), war hammer (ODF +3)


Leather armor (DDF +2), leather armor & shield (DDF +3), chain mail (DDF +4), chain mail & shield (DDF +5), plate mail (DDF +6), plate mail & shield (DDF +7)


Backpack, flask of oil, small hammer, holy symbol, vial of holy water, 12 iron spikes, lantern, hand-sized mirror, rations, 50' rope, small sack, large sack, thieves' tools, tinder box, torches, waterskin, wine, wolfsbane, 10' wooden pole


Fudge Dungeon Crawl is not too different from normal Fudge combat. Each 10-second combat round begins with the rolling of Initiative. Initiative consists of a situational roll, high roll going first, and proceeding downwards in order. The character or monster who has initiative selects a target and makes his or her attack roll: their weapon skill + 4dF. This is compared against the defense of the target: their Dexterity + 4dF. If the attack is higher than the defense, the attack is successful and damage is calculated: the relative degree of success, plus the attacker's Strength (for melee attacks) + the ODF of their weapon, minus the DDF of the target's armor, and minus the target's Constitution.

Example: Bilmgi, the dwarf fighter, is taking on an orc. Bilmgi's player rolls 4dF for initiative and gets a result of Good. The GM rolls the orc's initiative, and gets a Poor. Bilmgi gets to attack first, swinging his battle axe at the orc's neck. His player rolls 4dF using Bilmgi's Battle Axe skill of Good, and gets a Great result. The orc has a Great (+2) Dexterity, and the GM rolls a -1 on its defense roll for a total of +1, or Good. Bilmgi is successful and damage is calculated. The relative degree of +1 is added to Bilmgi's Strength (which is Good, or +1) and his Battle Axe's ODF of +4 for a total of +6. The orc's leather armor provides a DDF of +2, and his Good constitution a further +1, for a total of +3. The orc takes 3 points of damage (+6 minus +3), a Hurt result - Bilmgi's axe cleaves into the orc's shoulder.


Most dungeons are home to several different types of monsters. These are the most common. Unless noted otherwise, all monsters have attributes of Fair for determination of attack and defense rolls.

Giant Lizard : Five foot long nocturnal reptiles, giant lizards hunt by climbing steep walls with their specially adapted feed, and dropping on their prey to attack. Their scaled skin gives them a DDF of +2, and their bite has an ODF of +4.

Giant Snake : Another reptile about five foot in length, the main difference between the giant snake and the giant lizard is the lack of legs and a poisonous bite. Giant snakes have scaled skin which provides a DDF of +2, and their bite has an ODF of +2 -- although any attack which causes damage will inject a paralyzing poison. The victim must make a Great Constitution roll or be completely paralyzed for 24 hours.

Giant Spider : Giant spiders are meat-eaters that attack their victims by clinging to walls or ceilings and dropping onto them. When hidden in dark ceilings, the only signs of their presence are the collections of webs and cocooned prey. Giant spiders have tough skin which provides a DDF of +1 and their bite has an ODF of +2. Any successful giant spider bite carries a weak poison -- the character must make a Mediocre Constitution roll or die within 24 hours.

Goblin : Small and incredibly ugly, goblins are humanoids with chalky tan or grey skin, and eyes that glow red in the dark. Goblins can see in the dark as can dwarves and elves, using infravision. Goblins usually wear leather armor (DDF +2) and wield short swords (ODF +3).

Green Slime : Green slime looks, strangely enough, like green, oozing slime. It can only be damaged by fire. It dissolves wood and metal, and turns flesh into more green slime. The only cure is to burn the green slime and cauterize the wounds it creates.

Kobold : Kobolds are small, evil dog-men with scaly, rust-brown skin and no hair. As with goblins, they have well-developed infravision which allows them to see in the dark. Kobolds usually wear no armor and wield clubs (ODF +2) or small spears (ODF +2, due to size).

Orc : Orcs are ugly humanoids that look like a combination of animals and men. Thoroughly evil, they usually kill everything they meet, except for goblins who they frequently enslave. Orcs are commonly found wearing leather armor and carrying shields (ODF +3). They use just about any weapon they can find.

Zombie : The undead and reanimated body of an previous adventurer who died in the dungeon and was left by his companions, never to have a proper burial. Generally mindless and slow, zombies hate the living and will attack them on site. Their rotting flesh is easy to damage, having no additional DDF, but zombies are not "dead" until their brains are destroyed requiring decapitation, a mace to the noggin doing at least a Very Hurt result, etc. Zombies strike with their bludgeoning fists, having an ODF of +2.


What is a good dungeon crawl without treasure? Most monsters (even unintelligent ones like zombies and giant snakes) will be guarding treasure chests containing hundreds of gold or silver coins or the occasional gemstone. Sometimes the chests are locked or trapped, requiring a thief character to use his or her Open Locks and Find/Remove Traps skills.

The greatest treasures, however, are magic items -- weapons that ignore one or more minuses ("-") on the attack rolls, armor or shields that ignore one or more minuses on the defense rolls, scrolls with new spells for magic-users, enchanted rings or necklaces that provide additional DDF or can cast the magic-user spell Sheild at will, bracers that provide additional Strength or Dexterity (or ignore one or more minuses on Strength or Dexterity rolls), etc.

Krugerov's Dungeon

A sample dungeon for Fudge Dungeon Crawl

As the characters are adventuring in a distant land, they hear the tale of an evil warlord named Krugerov who ruled with an iron fist until his subjects rebelled against him and razed his castle to the ground, killing him and his wizard advisor in the process. Rumors of vast dungeons filled with treasure assault their adventurous ears, and it is because of those rumors that we find the characters standing amidst the ruins of Castle Krugerov, staring down a forboding set of stairs leading down into the ground.

Krugerov's Dungeon Map

Key to the map

Please note - one square on the map equals approximately 10 feet. North points towards the top of the map.

1. As the characters descend into this room, it seems to quickly swallow up the light streaming in from the top of the stairs. By the time they reach the bottom of the seemingly endless stairs, they can barely see the other side of the 30' by 30' room without using torchlight. Once a light source is established, they will notice that the room is very dirty and cluttered with chunks of rock from the destruction of the castle above. The statue of a large man stands in the south-east corner, most likely Krugerov himself. Any character making a Good Wisdom check will notice that the ceiling of the room is swathed with spider webs and will not be surprised when the Giant Spider (DDF +1, ODF +2; Mediocre Constitution roll or die in 24 hours) hiding therein drops on a random character. In the middle of the south wall is a secret door leading to area #3, and just past the entry into the hallway on the east is a pit trap - the first character to step on it will fall and take damage (treat as an ODF +4 attack). Please note that there is a 1' ridge between the north wall and the pit trap that the characters can use to safely bypass the pit if it is found.

2. After clearing the pit trap and walking down two flights of stairs, the characters will find themselves in what was at one time a fairly heinous torture chamber. All the implements are here - iron maidens, racks, etc. - most have rotted due to age and will collapse if jostled too much, awakening the Giant Snake (DDF +2, ODF +2; Great Constitution roll or paralyzed for 24 hours) sleeping in the iron maiden. A moldy tapestry depicting scenes of torture hangs on the east wall, hiding a secret door leading to area #3. A second secret door on the south side of the west wall leads to the bottom of the pit trap just outside of area #1.

3. The first thing the characters will notice upon entering this room is the horrible smell of rotting flesh. A dilapidated bed is against the south wall and moldy tapestries line the east and west walls. The eastern tapestry hides a secret door leading to area #2, and the western tapestry hides an alcove where a treasure chest and an armoire filled with rotting clothes can be found. As the characters approach the bed, they will notice a figure laying in it, coming to life as they approach... a zombie (DDF 0, ODF +2)! The treasure chest is trapped with a needle that will do one scratch of damage directly if not found -- the poison evaporated long ago. The chest contains 100 gold coins, 50 silver coins, a large ruby worth 500 gold coins, and a magic dagger. For each killing blow that the dagger lands (a "Near Death" damage result), it ignores one minus result ("-") on any follwoing attack rolls. This effect is cumulative, but has a maximum of -4. Every morning at dawn, the dagger "resets."

4. The door to this room is unlocked, and appears to be used frequently as it swings open easily and without too much creaking. This room appears to have at one point been a prison, although the doors to all of the cells have been removed. Great Wisdom rolls will reveal the sounds of heavy breathing or light snoring coming from the room. Evidently, a group of goblins (DDF +2, ODF +3) have taken up residence here, as they all wake up when the characters enter! The number of goblins in the room depends on the number and type of player-characters: there are two goblins for each fighter and one for each other type of character. The goblins have nothing of value, save their somewhat rusty short swords and their ill-maintained leather armor.

5. As the characters descend several flights of stairs, the air gets more stale and damp, before they finally come to a door which appears to be locked. A thief can pick the lock and gain access with a Good Open Locks roll, or any character can break it down with a Great Strength roll. The room appears to be a wizard's laboratory, as there is a desk on the north wall and a workbench covered with dirty, slimy beakers on the south wall. Most of the beakers are covered with Green Slime! If anyone investigates the workbench they will have to make a Great Wisdom roll to notice the quivering of the slime as they approach. A secret door on the east wall leads to area #6.

6. This appears to be a wizard's private study. The walls are lined with musty, moldy books. Most disintegrate upon being touched, but a thorough search should turn up usable scrolls of Charm and Cast Illusions.

7. As the characters open the secret door and descend the stairs leading to this area, they will be assaulted by the scent of stagnant water and dead fish. The entryway opens up into a natural cave dominated by a decent sized underwater pond. Characters who look into the pond will see skeltons strewn about, as if they had been thrown into the pool, with white, albino lobsters and crabs crawling over the bones. The north-east section of this room opens up to a natural stairway leading down into the second level of Krugerov's Dungeon, which you can create and populate yourself!

Will the players discover the legendary king and his sorcerer alive in the halls below? Or, is there some other, unseen monster, guarding their bones? That's up to you to decide as the players continue in their quest for treasure.

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