Monday, January 30, 2006

Fudging It!? Basic System Conversions

Thinking about using Fudge with the setting from another game? This article will guide you through the process of making a playable game out of the two.

So, you have stared at your copy of the Fudge rules long enough and finally think you "get" it. You're ready to try out your first game using Fudge. You pull out your favorite game system or world and then it hits you... "How am I going to use Fudge to play this particular game?" After slogging your way through about half of the character generation chapter you decide "If I have to translate everything over to Fudge, it's not worth the effort, I'll just play it like it is." At this point (in total frustration), Fudge goes back on the shelf and continues to be just a "quaint" idea.

This is how I first approached Fudge. I attempted to convert several systems but it never seemed to work. It was also rather annoying that when I looked for help with this I kept coming back to the phrase "just fudge it." Just fudge it?! What exactly does that mean? Later, I will show you several steps that I developed to convert other games to use Fudge, but in a nutshell it means: don't convert your system to Fudge, convert Fudge to your system.

"Yeah, but your scientists were so preoccupied with whether or not they could, they didn't stop to think if they should." -- Ian Malcolm, Jurassic Park

Fudging It, step-by-step

You can play Fudge right out of the box if you don't mind making all of the decisions required like subjective versus objective character creation, simultaneous combat versus alternating rounds, number and types of attributes, etc. If that is not something you are prepared to do, or there is something about your target rules/setting that would be lost, then here are the steps I would use to convert Fudge to your system:

Step 1: Start with a pre-built foundation

Don't be shy, steal (ahem "borrow") what other people have already done. Start with an existing implementation of Fudge like "Fantasy Fudge" from Grey Ghost, Scott Larson's Terra Incognita, Now Playing from Carnivore Games, or Fate from Evil Hat. There are many others but these should give you a starting point. This will give you the basics for skill use, combat, weapons, armor, damage, healing and any other general rules that are common to most role-playing games.

For a lot of setting conversions, this will be enough. If using an existing set of Fudge rules and/or a specific Fudge setting gives you the ability to play the game you want to play then go for it. If you still want your Fudge game to look more like a given target system, go on to step 2.

Step 2: Keep the attributes

Keep the Attributes (strength, dexterity, etc) from the target game. Start them all at a level of Fair and give the players a number of free attribute levels that equals one-half the number of attributes as suggested in section 1.16 of the Fudge rules.

Step 3: Keep the skills

Keep the Skills from the target game. Start with the skill selection rules from the existing Fudge system you selected, then modify the number of skill levels up or down to match the power level of the target game. If your skill list has broad skills like "Fighting," and "Healing" you may only give your characters 10 skill levels. On the other hand, if the skills are very detailed like "Fighting: Long Sword," "Fighting: Spear," "First Aid," "Surgery," etc, you may need to assign 30 or 40 skill levels.

Step 4: Keep any advantages/disadvantages

Keep any advantages/disadvantages and use them as Gifts and Flaws. If the target system does not use Gifts and Flaws you can add them or not to get the end results that you want.

At this point with very little work you should be 80 to 90 percent done with your conversion. But like everything else it's the final details that cause the most trouble. The final step is:

Step 5: Handle special mechanics

Add on or convert the "special features" of the target game.

Step 5 doesn't have to be difficult. In many cases you can use what someone else has already done or bring the feature over intact with no conversion. If the target game has some particularly powerful abilities you can also add them to your conversion as "supernormal powers" (Fudge Chapter 2). Remember; don't add extra complexity just because the target game had complex rules. This is Fudge, keep it simple.

If you do need, or want, to convert a special feature you still may not have to start from scratch. The best tools I have found are the percentile and 3d6 conversion tables like section 3.22 of the Fudge rules.

Percentile 3d6 Result
01 03-04 Abysmal
02-06 05 Terrible
07-18 06-07 Poor
19-38 08-09 Mediocre
39-62 10-11 Fair
63-82 12-13 Good
83-94 14-15 Great
95-99 16 Superb
00 17-18 Legendary

Here are some specific game conversion examples:

Call of Cthulhu, by Chaosium Games

In the Call of Cthulhu game, the players are fairly average people who end up investigating supernatural and horrific events. Again using the 5 steps here is the conversion:

  1. Basics: I'll start with the Terra Incognita rules because it, like CoC is about investigating strange things. Done.
  2. Attributes: 5 attribute levels. There are some derived Attributes that we will need to take care of in step 5.
  3. Skills: Keep all of the Skills. Some Skills have default percentile values so we can add something in step 5 to account for this as well. 25 skill levels added to the default levels with a maximum of 1 Superb, 2 Greats.
  4. Gifts/Faults: Call of Cthulhu does not have Gifts and Faults, but we can add them from Fudge
  5. Special Features: We want to keep the SAN and Power attributes as-is so that all of the sanity and magic rules can be used without conversion. To do this we can use the lower value on the 3d6 conversion table (shown above) as the base number for the statistic used to calculate our derived attributes. For example a Mediocre Power attribute would relate to 8 points. Gifts and Faults could be added to increase or decrease this number. Knowing the numeric value of the characters Power you can calculate the needed derived attributes like SAN and Magic Points.

For the default skill levels we can use the percentile conversion table (shown above) to generate the base levels. Here are some examples:

Skill Old Default Value Fudge Default Value
Accounting 5% Terrible
Weapon: Club 50% Fair
Drive 25% Mediocre

Timemaster, by Pacesetter

In Timemaster, the players are agents of the time patrol who fight to keep the time line on track. Using the 5 steps here is the conversion:

  1. Basics: I'll start with Now Playing because it has rules for a wide range of skills like the ones used in the target game. Done. That was easy; Fudge is a lot cleaner than the original combat rules that were based on several charts.
  2. Attributes: 4 Attribute levels. All start at Fair except Willpower. Willpower is special in this setting so I will handle it in step 5.
  3. Skills: Keep all of the Skills: 30 skill levels with a maximum of 1 Superb, 3 Greats.
  4. Gifts/Faults: These work as is.
  5. Special Features: The time agents have paranormal powers like Paranormal Memory and Significance Sensing. These appear to be better than standard gifts so I will treat them as "supernormal powers." They are based on Willpower so all agents will get +1 level in Willpower.

Bushido, by Fantasy Games Unlimited

In Bushido the players are heroes in the mythical version of medieval Japan. Here are the 5 steps for this game:

  1. Basics: "Fantasy Fudge" fits the fantasy tone of Bushido. Done.
  2. Attributes: 3 attribute levels.
  3. Skills: Keep all of the Skills. 20 skill levels w/maximum of 1 Superb, 2 Greats. Class skills default to poor others default to non-existent.
  4. Gifts/Faults: Bushido does not have gifts and faults but we can add them from Fudge.
  5. Special Features: Magic - the spells available to the magic users are based on their knowledge skills in each type of magic. So, using the percentile conversion table we can determine which spells are available.

Conclusion

For games that don't fit the percentile or 3d6 model you can create your own conversion tables. For example, take the current Dungeons & Dragons 3.5 edition. While its six attributes may start on the 3d6 scale, the actual values used during the game can go much higher. A more appropriate conversion table for that system may look like this:

Attribute Score Result
01-03 Abysmal
04-06 Terrible
07-09 Poor
10-12 Mediocre
13-15 Fair
16-18 Good
19-21 Great
22-24 Superb
25-27 Legendary

You may not understand all of these examples without knowing the original games that they are based on and I really have not covered very complex issues like full magic systems, but hopefully, you can see that Fudge conversions are not really as difficult as you may have thought. Don't over complicate it. Just fudge it.

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Monday, January 23, 2006

Cartoon Fudge

Roleplaying campaigns constructed with extraordinary detail, epic scope, and high drama are all well and good, but sometimes there's just no substitute for fast action and low comedy - and that's the perfect time for a Cartoon Fudge adventure.

Roleplaying campaigns constructed with extraordinary detail, epic scope, and high drama are all well and good, but sometimes there's just no substitute for fast action and low comedy - and that's the perfect time for a Cartoon Fudge adventure.

These rules are intended to show how Fudge can be used to set up a quick, lighthearted game where the players are the stars of their own Saturday morning cartoon. The objective of a Cartoon Fudge game is not to win, but to act silly, make bad jokes, play pranks, and have a good time all around.

Creating a cartoon character

Name

Whatever suits your character. Make it short and sweet ("Muggy") or long and pretentious ("Henrietta Hensworth the Third") or whatever you like.

Type of Creature

What are you? Bird? Dog? Cat? Snake? Or something more unusual, like a robot, or a ghost, or a carrot? Or are you that most ridiculous of creatures -- a cartoon human being?

Attributes

Every Cartoon Fudge character (even a carrot) has these six Attributes:

  • Brawn - muscle power
  • Guts - ability to resist being beaten up (or sliced in half, or disintegrated, or whatever)
  • Stunts - speed, agility, and coordination
  • Will - ability to resist mental influence
  • Wits - intelligence and cunning
  • Charm - personality and cuteness

All Attributes default to Fair. There are no free Attribute Levels; to raise one Attribute, you must lower another by the same amount. Having low Attributes can be a good thing in Cartoon Fudge, as they provide the opportunity for amusing failures.

Gifts

Cartoon Fudge characters are always doing unusual things, but if a player wants her character to be able to do a specific unusual thing regularly, the character should have a Gift to represent the ability. A character must trade away two Attribute Levels to buy one Gift.

A few examples:

  • Flight - the character can fly. Most appropriate for characters with wings.
  • Build Gadgets - the character can make Wits rolls to assemble useful gadgets out of parts.
  • Wealthy - the character has a staggering amount of whatever passes for cash in the cartoon.
  • Scary Looking - the character's horrifying appearance can cause most other creatures to run away in fear.

Faults

Faults provide a way for a Cartoon Fudge character to get into even more trouble. A character receives two extra Attribute Levels after taking one Fault.

A few examples:

  • Overconfident - the character is always assured of his or her own skill and genius.
  • Nearsighted - the character has trouble seeing, and is constantly mistaking one object (or character) for another.
  • Girl Crazy or Boy Crazy - the character is fascinated by members of the opposite sex.
  • Always Falls Off Cliffs - in every adventure, the character will be tricked into falling off of a cliff.

Equipment

Characters should be able to have just about any equipment they would like: giant hammers, super-powerful magnets, joy buzzers, cream pies, and so forth. If the gamemaster is running a more story-based game, the characters may be restricted to using the same set of equipment every adventure (for instance, Daring Duck might always have his whip, fedora, and travel guide book). The gamemaster may also wish to restrict characters to a certain genre of equipment (for instance, in an outer space adventure, the gamemaster might ask players to carry ray guns as weapons instead of swords or pistols).

Any item that might be used as a weapon (which in a Cartoon Fudge game, is probably just about anything) should have a Damage Rating. See the "Taking Damage" rules later for an explanation of this rating.

Animated Action

Rolling the Dice

To add risk and chaos to the game, the gamemaster may ask the player to roll for any action whose outcome is in doubt. The usual Fudge rules apply: the gamemaster chooses the most appropriate Attribute for the player's described action, as well as the difficulty level of the task. The player then adds a die roll to the chosen Attribute, and if the result equals or exceeds the difficulty level, the task succeeds. If the result is less than the difficulty level, the task fails, and the gamemaster and player can decide on the (humorous) consequences.

Contests - when two characters are performing actions that are

in opposition to each other, each player should roll against the appropriate Attribute for his or her action. The high roll wins. Here are a few examples of contests between Molly the Mouse and Cecil the Cat:

Molly and Cecil are in a footrace: Both players roll against Stunts. The highest roll wins.

Molly tries to shoot Cecil with a ray gun, and Cecil dodges: Both players make Stunts rolls. If Molly's roll is higher, the ray gun blast hits Cecil. Check the "Taking Damage" section of the rules to find out what happens next.

Molly tries to fast-talk Cecil into accepting a birthday cake with dynamite for candles: Both players make Wits rolls. If Molly's roll is higher, Cecil will accept the cake with gratitude, and will admire the sparkling candles while Molly runs for the hills....

Molly tries to look cute and pitiful so that Cecil will not eat her: Molly makes a Charm roll, and Cecil makes a Will roll. If the Charm roll is higher, then Cecil is compelled by Molly's big dark eyes to let her go, just this once.

Taking Damage

If a character is hit with a mallet, zapped with a lightning bolt, or blown up by dynamite, the gamemaster should determine the Damage level of the attack. The victim must then make a Guts roll. If the roll equals or exceeds the Damage of the attack, the character is not seriously affected by the attack (though there may be some comic reaction, such as yelping, hopping around, eyes bugging out, and so forth). If the Guts roll is less than the Damage of the attack, the character is Knocked Out and is out of action for the duration of the scene. The character can return to play at the beginning of the next scene, none the worse for wear.

Example: Molly zaps Cecil with a ray gun. Assuming that Cecil is not able to dodge, as described in the "Contests" section of the rules, Cecil must make a Guts roll against the Damage of the ray gun. If Cecil's roll is equal to or greater than the Damage level, Cecil escapes with nothing more than a singe. If Cecil's roll is less than the ray gun's damage, Cecil is burned down to a pile of ashes - at least until the next scene.

Fudge Points

Every player should start every adventure with three Fudge Points. Players may spend Fudge Points to:

  • Reroll any roll and take the higherof the two
  • Produce a useful object out of nowhere, even if the object is not normally part of the character's equipment
  • Make use of cartoon physics, such as running across air, or painting a door in a wall and then running through it

The gamemaster may choose to award players with extra Fudge Points during the game for making the entire group laugh, for inventing an inspired solution to a problem, or just on a whim.

Slightly Silly or Seriously Silly?

Depending on the wishes of the gamemaster and the players, Cartoon Fudge can be used to run a quick, one-shot adventure, or a series of adventures with the same characters.

The Short Feature

The premise of a one-shot adventure can be extremely simple:

  • The characters are prospecting for gold.
  • The characters have been sent to explore Planet XB-13.
  • The characters are trying to avoid being eaten by a vicious, carnivorous wolf who has moved into the neighborhood.

There is no point in planning such an adventure in great detail, since the complications and plot twists are frequently introduced by the players themselves. Ridiculous plans and failed die rolls can put the characters into all sorts of trouble, and the gamemaster should encourage the mayhem to escalate to a satisfying and entertaining conclusion.

The Saturday Morning Series

A cartoon series can consist simply of a set of unrelated Short Features all using the same main characters. Alternately, it can take place in a single detailed setting, with recurring villains and other non-player characters. A series based in a consistent setting is less random and unpredictable than a one-shot adventure, but allows the players to set up long-term running gags, and to develop relationships between characters (both friendly and hostile).

A Sample Series - Tales of Greenvalley

This Cartoon Fudge series centers around the Kingdom of Bizentia, and specifically, around the Duchy of Greenvalley, which lies on the edge of Bizentia and borders on the dreaded Empire of Talonfell. The setting is medieval fantasy in flavor, somewhere between the Knights of the Round Table and the Three Musketeers. Players should create characters who reside in Greenvalley, and who serve under Duke Albert and Duchess Naomi. Player characters could be the children of the Duke and Duchess, or the family servants, or hired beasts-at-arms, or any combination of these.

Characters

Duke Albert of Greenvalley (Squirrel)

  • Brawn: Great
  • Guts: Great
  • Stunts: Great
  • Will: Good
  • Wits: Fair
  • Charm: Fair
  • Usual Equipment: Mace (the hitting kind, not the spraying kind)

Albert is an old friend of King Beauregard; the pair were practically brothers in their youth. They trained together, studied together, and adventured together. When Beauregard inherited the throne, he immediately made his old friend Albert the Duke of Greenvalley, trusting him to keep the peace and to defend the kingdom against the forces of Talonfell. Albert has performed this duty faithfully and well - though, to be honest, his wits are not as quick as they once were, and he sometimes needs the help of his wife, family, and servants to get him out of a tricky situation.

Duchess Naomi (Squirrel)

  • Brawn: Good
  • Guts: Great
  • Stunts: Superb
  • Will: Good
  • Wits: Good
  • Charm: Good
  • Usual Equipment: Quill, ink, to-do list (or sword and shield when going into battle)

In her younger days, Naomi was among King Beauregard's finest warriors. Tales are still told about her cunning and ferocity - though she discourages such tale-telling whenever she hears it. She has grown tired of the warrior's life, and wishes nothing more than to spend her days in peace with Albert and her children. However, despite her gentle, cheerful disposition, her old instincts return quickly in times of danger, and she is more than willing to pick up sword and shield in defense of those she loves.

King Beauregard

  • Brawn: Fair
  • Guts: Great
  • Stunts: Fair
  • Will: Superb
  • Wits: Good
  • Charm: Good
  • Usual Equipment: Crown, robes, sword

Beauregard is proud, confident, generous, and brave: the very model of a monarch. He has dedicated himself to ensuring the safety and well-being of all subjects of Bizentia. He is also concerned with providing his daughter with a thorough education, so that she will grow up to become a wise and just Queen of Bizentia.

Princess Melody

  • Brawn: Fair
  • Guts: Good
  • Stunts: Good
  • Will: Good
  • Wits: Great
  • Charm: Great
  • Usual Equipment: Textbooks

Melody is Beauregard's daughter, and his greatest treasure. She is lovely, charming, and well-mannered (though she is sometimes frustrated by the weight of her studies and homework). She also has a romantic disposition, and frequently dreams of going on daring adventures with a handsome young companion.

Joy, Spring, and Rose, daughters of the Count and Countess of Serpent Marsh (Alligators)

  • Brawn: Great
  • Guts: Good
  • Stunts: Mediocre
  • Will: Mediocre
  • Wits: Mediocre
  • Charm: Terrible
  • Fault: Belligerent (can easily be provoked into a fit of anger)
  • Usual Equipment: Swords, axes, morningstars, crossbows, etc., all of Damage rating Fair (though they can get their hands on more powerful weapons if necessary)

Frederick and Wanda, the Count and Countess of Serpent Marsh, are a jealous pair. They want the rich lands of Greenvalley for themselves, and are constantly scheming to snatch the territory out from under Albert and Naomi. They have charged their three daughters with the same goal, and so Joy, Spring, and Rose are constantly pursuing one nefarious scheme or another. Unfortunately, while the three are fearsome warriors, they are not as clever as their parents, and can easily be outsmarted when they cannot be out-fought.

Jean, Louis, and Henri De Crow (Crows)

  • Brawn: Mediocre
  • Guts: Fair
  • Stunts: Good
  • Will: Mediocre
  • Wits: Good
  • Charm: Mediocre
  • Gift: Flight (can fly at will)
  • Fault: Greedy (will attempt to steal food and valuables at any opportunity)
  • Usual Equipment:* Masks, lockpicks, saws for cutting through bars and chains, smoke bombs

The De Crow brothers are notorious bandits, well known for thefts great and small throughout the kingdom. Their craving for gold and jewels is matched only by their craving for fine food, and they are just as likely to pilfer a fresh apple pie as they would a sparkling diamond necklace. They strive to maintain a dashing, stylish image, and always set about their work with witty banter and acrobatic flourishes.

Avaricia, Empress of Talonfell (Cat)

  • Brawn: Mediocre
  • Guts: Good
  • Stunts: Superb
  • Will: Superb
  • Wits: Great
  • Charm: Superb
  • Gift: Master of Disguise (her disguises are always flawless)
  • Gift: Escape Artist (can escape from any situation if she gets out of sight)

Empress Avaricia is haughty, cruel, and treacherous, and spends her every waking moment in pursuit of conquering Bizentia. She is repeatedly foiled in her efforts by the Duke and Duchess of Greenvalley, since the land of Greenvalley lies directly between Talonfell and the remainder of Bizentia. She prefers to send others to do her dirty work, but she is not above taking matters into her own hands when necessary. With her natural cunning and her talent for disguise, she can travel nearly anywhere she wishes without detection, and then disappear just as mysteriously.

Verminore the Wizard (Rat)

  • Brawn: Terrible
  • Guts: Mediocre
  • Stunts: Poor
  • Will: Fair
  • Wits: Fair
  • Charm: Terrible
  • Gift: Wizardry (can cast spells with a Wits roll of Fair or better)
  • Usual Equipment: Magic wand, potions with various and unpredictable effects

Verminore is a dedicated student of the darkest arts of magic - though not necessarily the most successful student, since his spells tend to fail just as often as they succeed. However, his talents are occasionally useful, and so Avaricia keeps him in her service.

When it is necessary for the current adventure story for Verminore to cast a spell successfully, the gamemaster may skip rolling dice for Verminore and simply declare that the spell goes off as planned. For the most part, however, the gamemaster should allow Verminore to roll for his spell, and should invent amusing side effects when spells fail (a few examples: Verminore turns himself into an ordinary chicken; Verminore's lightning bolt bounces off a wall and strikes him on the way back; Verminore teleports himself out into a nearby pond).

Soldier of Talonfell (Weasel)

  • Brawn: Poor
  • Guts: Poor
  • Stunts: Poor
  • Will: Poor
  • Wits: Poor
  • Charm: Poor
  • Usual Equipment: Uniform, sword with Damage rating Poor

The rank-and-file soldiers of Talonfell have few virtues. They are not particularly bright, strong, quick, or loyal. However, they are quite numerous, and whenever one pack of them is sent fleeing, another is ready to take their place.

Sample Adventure - Birthday Bandits

Duke Albert is away from home, leading a band of soldiers on a scouting mission along the far borders of Bizentia. He is expected to return at midday tomorrow - and since tomorrow is the Duke's birthday, the Duchess has decided to arrange a surprise party for him. She has twenty-four hours to get together the decorations, the musicians, the gifts, and, of course, the cake. Since Naomi has plenty of work cut out for her, she puts the player characters in charge of the cake. A simple task - right?

At the beginning of the adventure, the Duchess will call the player characters together, explain her plans for the birthday party, and assign the characters their cake-baking duty. But this isn't going to be just any cake. Naomi wants to use her family's traditional, award-winning, never-failing, top secret cake recipe. She will retrieve the recipe from her secret hiding place (a hidden safe with an electronic keypad and a voice scanner) and will present it to the player characters with great ceremony. She will instruct the player characters that the cake must be perfect, and that they must make absolutely sure that the recipe is not lost or damaged. Then she will leave them to their work so that she can see to the rest of the preparations.

The gamemaster should use the initial cake-baking scenes as an opportunity for some easy slapstick humor. Most likely, some or all of the player characters will not have any experience in the kitchen, and simple tasks such as mixing eggs or measuring flour could easily turn into a giant mess. If the players are in the spirit of the game, they may even play along by deliberately causing their characters to make foolish mistakes. If things appear to be going too smoothly in the kitchen, the gamemaster can introduce complications by having other household members barging into the kitchen to demand things at inconvenient moments.

This, however, is only a warm-up to the real plot of the adventure. The De Crow brothers have gotten wind of the Duchess' birthday plans, and they have resolved to steal Naomi's treasured family cake recipe. At some point during the evening, the brothers will sneak into the castle. Jean and Louis will create a distraction by attempting to steal household valuables, and will allow themselves to be seen and pursued. They will lead the player characters on a chase through the castle, knocking over furniture and playing pranks, while Henri steals the cake recipe.

If the player characters have decided to hide the recipe somewhere (not in Naomi's safe, because only Naomi has the combination to open it) then the theft is simple: by the time the player characters get back to the recipe to check on it, they will find nothing there but a black crow's feather, and a note that says "Thanks for the recipe - suckers!" If, on the other hand, one of the player characters is carrying the note, then Henri will ambush and tackle the character during the chase, then set off a smoke bomb. When the smoke clears, Henri will be gone (if the player has made an attempt to grab hold of Henri, the character will find himself or herself holding only a fake crow's leg). Worse yet, the recipe will be gone; Henri has expertly picked the character's pocket.

It's true that, from a certain point of view, the theft is "unfair", since the characters can do nothing to prevent it. Just remember, it's a cartoon! Half the fun is getting into trouble, and the other half is getting out again.

Once the theft is accomplished, the player characters are on their own for how to recover the recipe. If the characters inform Naomi of the theft, she will be enraged, and will demand that the characters set out immediately in pursuit of the De Crows. If the characters decide to keep the theft to themselves (possibly a wise idea), then Naomi will continue happily about her birthday preparations.

The characters may have captured either Jean or Louis De Crow during the fight. The thief will do his best to escape (and will do so eventually), but in the meantime, the players can attempt to bribe, intimidate, or trick the crow into revealing the location of his brothers' hideout. If all of the brothers got away, then the player characters can attempt to follow the crows through the forest, though this will be difficult at night. Or the players may come up with some other scheme; the more ridiculous, the better.

Eventually the player characters should find the De Crow brothers' hidden treehouse in the forest. The brothers will be cheerfully bragging to one another about the theft, about how silly they made the player characters look, and about all the wonderful cakes they are going to bake for themselves. If the player characters attack the treehouse, there should be a rollicking fight, during which the recipe is endangered at least once (drifting toward a candle flame, perhaps, or floating into the path of a bird who wants to use it as material for a nest).

In the end, the characters will have the recipe back and will return to the castle in time to finish the birthday preparations. And when the Duke arrives to find a birthday party waiting, he will be overjoyed, and will thank everyone for the wonderful surprise.

And when he bites into the cake the player characters have baked - does he love it? Does he choke it down only with great effort? Does he complain that he never really liked Naomi's recipe, starting a grand food fight in the dining room? That's up to you....

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Monday, January 16, 2006

Reign of Evil

Too long has the sky of Eisentier been dark - dark, like your soul feels in your twisted body. Long have you laboured for your evil masters in this inhuman form. But something has changed. You are no longer the mindless killing machine that they think you are. You are now something... more. And it is time to act.

"Reign of Evil" describes a setting in which the PCs are hideous beasts, murderous servants of dark lords, who learn the dark secret of their existence, blocking them from ever returning to their beastly way of life.

Introduction

A hundred years ago, a curse fell upon the medieval land of Eisentier. Very powerful evil beings appeared in the world and with them a small army of monstrous beasts as minions. Slowly they brought blight to any light of hope, increasing quickly their ranks with more monstrous reinforcements, conquering by brute force all lands and swiftly crushing any who dared to oppose them. In little more than one year, all the known world was in the hands of the Lords of Evil, who started to rebuild it in their own perverse style.

The characters in this mini setting are or were part of the army of the Lords, who took part in the short war of conquest or formed the occupation forces which controlled the enslaved human population which survived the purge... horrific and powerful Beasts who, somehow, found out the truth of their origin.

The Truth

Even the Lords of Evil were human in the past, though too long ago to ponder. They found a way to infuse themselves with astounding powers, letting raw, pure evil fill their bodies. With dark rituals of black magic they became champions of evil, so powerful that even whole armies could do little against them. With that power at their disposal, they looked upon the world with evil intention, decided to conquer it and rule as absolute tyrants.

However, even all their power was not enough to conquer a world, so they slowly started to build an army of likewise creatures. With kidnapped victims (and willing others who were charmed by the offer of power and domination) they performed less powerful versions of their own rituals to transform them into powerful beasts they could control and use as shock troops. With only a fraction of their own power, they were easy to control with their own vast will and when that wasn't enough, the fear of their greater power was more than enough.

Nevertheless, the Lords also erased the memories of those new monsters when they created them, to make sure of their allegiance to evil and never again to humanity.

When their army became strong enough they attacked quickly and without a warning. As the war waged on they captured more humans and transformed them as well, replacing the few losses they had and in fact making their army more numerous. In a few months they barely needed to create more. In a year they had conquered all the continent.

As tyrants, the Lords wanted vassals. People who could fully feel the weight of their power and tremble with fear with the mere whisper of their names. Most beasts were too dumb to be worthy of that treatment. Also, as they did want to rebuild the world to fill their megalomanic egos, they needed able minded people. Once again the monsters weren't useful for that - they were much better as destroying and killing.

That and only that saved the surviving population of a sure death. With more than two thirds of humanity killed in the war, no country nor city had survived the blow. Most people now lived in small towns controlled by beasts to work in the weird projects of the Lords. Living permanently in an state of fear, not knowing if they'd be killed today or tomorrow, and working to exhaustion, a few dared to complain, but were quickly and exemplarily eliminated.

Even now, a few stubborn and brave humans have organized themselves with little more than sticks and stones and sometimes become a nuisance to the Lords, but this game is too dangerous as the Lords don't mind killing a few hundred to punish a few agitators...

Besides that, they have time. Both the Lords and their beast minions are ageless, though the later can die through violence or accident. The Lords are far more resilient, if they can be killed at all!

Born to be Wild

The PCs found out a fateful day part of the memories which were stolen to them. Perhaps when killing someone they recognized a loved one in their dying faces, perhaps they were plagued by dreams they couldn't understand until all the clues made sense together. Perhaps a booby trap managed to hurt them and the blow to their heads stirred some half forgotten memories.

Whatever the case the PCs now remember they, somehow, were human in the past. They may be horrified at their actual selves, and of their recent deeds. Or they may be delighted with the realization of the power they have now. Whatever the case they can't keep working for the Lords as they did. In the first case, they can't keep abusing and killing humans for sport. In the second, the risk of being unmasked and destroyed is high (as soon as unruly minions are detected they are, at the very least, punished harshly; if that didn't solve the problem their wills are broken with the power of the Lords, and if that didn't work either they are just killed without a second thought).

PCs are developed with whatever Fudge system you want. Five Point Fudge is as usual a good choice. Have in mind that as monsters many skills may be out of place at middle to high levels, or perhaps they should be entirely disallowed. On the other hand, those skills could be just remembered when the characters awoke to their true natures.

What makes a beast different to a human? They have powers fueled by Faults. In a nutshell, the more Faults they have the more powerful they become. Often, but not always, these Faults make them horrific, dumb and/or bloodthirsty monsters, while at the same time they give them incredible resilience, strength, speed or other astounding powers. But beware of the human-like monster whose heart is as the blackest night!

As humans, they didn't have those Faults, or perhaps they did, but now they're so tainted with evil that it became a part of their beast nature.

Some Faults may be aquired after a beast remembers his or her former self. Those Faults wouldn't qualify to get powers. One good example is Enemies (other Beasts) as a known enemy of the Lords which is looked for to be destroyed.

Example: The Shadow, a beast who was an incredible efficient hunter-killer for humans fleeing from their evil masters, recently awakened after killing a loved one he had the bad luck to recognize... he probably was a hunter before the onslaught of humanity, and the beast took some of those features with it when it was created.

Strength Good Perception Fair
Health Good Willpower Fair
Agility Fair Reasoning Fair
  • Powers
    • Scale +2, human sized
    • Armored skin DDF +2, no penalties
    • Fists and feet are nigh unbreakable weapons (ODF +1)
    • Can see in total darkness
    • Almost untiring, can run and fight for hours without rest
  • Gifts
    • Acute sight (*)
    • Danger sense (*)
  • Faults
    • Annoying voice (it roars and snarls more than talks)
    • Goes berserk if wounded (it is like a wild animal)
    • Horrific appearance (grey humanoid with a gargoyle-like head, skin is armored as a chitin exoskeleton)
    • Quick tempered (as a predator it has little patience)
    • Reckless bravery (the smell of battle is like a drug)
    • Obsession (becoming human again) (*)
    • Obsession (revenge against the Lords of Evil) (*)

* - This Gift or Fault is after its transformation to a beast and thus doesn't provide more or fewer powers.

The Land of Eisentier

Eisentier is now a shadow of what it was in the past. Before the war of evil, it was a peaceful place of contented countryside and beautiful, postcard-like mountains. A few realms controlled the territory not having had a real war for centuries. That also helped to accelerate the defeat of all established powers against the forces of evil - the lack of large and strong armies.

Now the land has crumbled. Almost eight out of ten cities were totally destroyed, and the remaining ones were badly damaged. However, since most of the human population was decimated, there are enough houses to hold all the survivors and a lot of empty ones. None are in a great state, though.

The lords have established themselves right in the center of the continent, where they created a city of nightmare built by their human slaves. Built with spiked towers, burning trenches and that kind of paraphernalia, it is called the city with no name, as the lords haven't bothered themselves to choose a name; or perhaps they did so n purpose, for some arcane reason.

Most of the cities that still hold a human population are small, while many are little more than towns. There, under beasts' surveillance, the humans work for the greater glory of the Lords. They work in buildings for the beasts, work in the fields to provide food for them and themselves, etc. The beasts check that they work fast and that they pay homage to the Lords "appropriately". They also bully the humans, just for fun. Sometimes they kill a few, as well. As long as the work keeps going on at a steady rhythm, they can get away with it without fear of punishment from the Lords.

Some beasts are in charge of others. These "captains" are usually smarter and almost always more powerful, to be able to keep their beast followers under control. Being evil as they are, beasts only respect fear and power. This isn't very efficient but you can't create an army of evil monsters and expect them to work well together.

As a last note, a few stubborn humans are trying to organize themselves to fight back. With hidden caches of weapons and armor from the pre-war era they train and plot ways to weaken the beasts' hold. They sometimes attack directly but only rarely. They're much better at stealth and setting traps, which are much better options against this kind of powerful foe.

Example Powers

Supernatural Powers are the same cost as a Gift (instead of the usual two), which intentionally makes the Beasts very powerful. Remember that the more utterly perverse and devious, the more powerful they are.

Example powers for this setting are:

  • Armored skin +2: this beast has either draconic-like scales, layers of chitin, very thick skin or is so incredibly obese that it has a permanent +2 DDF. This innate armor gives no penalties to the beast who has it.
  • Armored skin +3: like the previous power but with +3 DDF. You need the previous power to have this one.
  • Armored skin +4: like the previous power but with +4 DDF. You need the previous power to have this one.
  • Incredible might +2: this beast has a +2 bonus to one attribute (Strength, Agility, etc). Can be taken only once for a single attribute.
  • Breath weapon: this beast can breath fire, acid or clouds of poison to its foes. Base damage is +4. Make an appropriate roll to aim your lethal breath to the intended targets (add relative degree to damage). This attack may affect more than one target but the roll to aim is harder in this case. Usable four times per 24-hours period. This power can be taken again to use it 16 times instead of 4.
  • Claws and teeth: this beast has terrible looking claws and teeth able to tear steel apart: +2 ODF.
  • Enhanced Mass Scale +2: this beast has scale +2 either for large size or by increased density.
  • Enhanced Mass Scale +3: like the previous power but with scale +3. You need the previous power to have this one.
  • Enhanced Mass Scale +4: like the previous power but with scale +4. You need the previous power to have this one.
  • Enhanced Speed Scale +2: this beast has speed scale +2 moving and running quite fast.
  • Enhanced Speed Scale +3: like the previous power but with scale +3. You need the previous power to have this one.
  • Enhanced Speed Scale +4: like the previous power but with scale +4. You need the previous power to have this one. This beast moves so fast it seems blurry!
  • Poisonous sting: this beast has a poisonous sting with a base damage of +4. Usable four times per 24-hours period. This power can be taken again to use it 16 times instead of 4.
  • Spikes: this beast is covered with spear-like spikes which can be used to impale enemies with casual movements. It also makes it harder to attack it with unarmed attacks.
  • Tentacles: this beast has tentacles or very long members so it can reach foes a few yards away, who think they're safe. It's also great to keep them far from you.
  • Tentacles of treachery: this beast can extend its members to attack foes a few yards away, but it doesn't look like it can. Its members either stretch a lot or the tentacles are somehow hidden inside its body.
  • Volley of Spikes: this beast can spit or throw spikes from its body. Count it as thrown weapons with a base ODF +2 plus scale. The spikes regrow quickly, it usually can throw 4 spikes per 24-hours period. This power can be taken again to be able to launch 16 spikes in the same period.
  • Wings: this beast can fly short distances with ease before its wing muscles get too tired. It can also glide longer distances.
  • Wings of fury: this beast can fly long distances with ease. You need the previous power to have this one.

Example Adventures

  • The PCs are recently awakened beasts fleeing from the town they were helping to control and must find a safe place in which to hide while they decide what they can do now. What's worse, perhaps some of them are horrified of their actual state while others are delighted with it and are bad to the bone. How can they work together?
  • One of the PCs of the band of rogue beasts is actually a spy sent by the Lords trying to locate a rumored Fifth Column in their army of monsters. Can the PCs unmask the traitor in a nest of traitors?
  • The PCs try to infilitrate the unnamed capital of Eisentier after having heard a rumor about a powerful magical artifact (an orb) which is said to be able to revert them to their human nature. Besides avoiding the legion of monsters which patrol the city, they will have to find ways to bypass the magical wards of the Lords. In the end they might find it's all a trap!
  • The PCs were all from the same town (as humans) and now they are enraged at the treatment of the humans there. They may want to find a way to defeat the other beasts and free the human slaves. Will the PCs dare to kill other beasts, who may be people from the town like themselves? Will they risk helping the humans, who would be more than happy to kill them if they could, as they can't dare to trust beasts?
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Monday, January 09, 2006

Other Uses For Fudge Fu

Bring the high-flying action of Fudge Fu to various non-violent conflicts, from car chases to verbal duels to chess games. This article expands upon the "Fudge Fu" rules from the Fudge 10th Anniversary Edition.

Many gamemasters and players may prefer campaign settings with dramatic confrontations that do not involve violence or martial arts mayhem. Although at first glance Fudge Fu may not seem useful in these circumstances, minor changes to the following guidelines can result in a very flexible system for resolving any extended, dramatic face-off.

Listed below are examples of how Fudge Fu can be adapted for use in non-violent campaign settings. As with nearly every other set of examples provided in these guidelines, the following list is not exclusive, and should serve as inspiration for what can be done with Fudge Fu.

Note: Fudge Fu appears in the new Fudge 10th Anniversary Edition. The Fudge 10th Anniversary Edition will be needed to make use of this article.

Chases

Whether speeding through crowded city streets in tuned-up muscle cars, or diving and slipping between tumbling asteroids in nimble starships, chases can add a lot of drama to a story. Using the Fudge Fu guidelines, chases can be simulated quickly and easily, without forcing the players to resort to maps and diagrams of the action.

Characters who participate in chases need an appropriate Skill, such as Driving, Piloting, or anything else that might be used in a chase. Like martial arts skills, this single Skill is broken down into three sub-Skills: Technique (basic driving/flying/whatever ability), Speed (a measure of the person's reflexes, not necessarily the speed of the vehicle being used), and Stance (the character's driving style, with a higher Stance meaning he is in more control of his vehicle, and a lower Stance signifying a more reckless approach). Alternatively, these sub-Skills can be renamed to fit the type of chases the characters are likely to get into during the course of a game. Smarts might be a suitable replacement for Technique. Moves could be used in place of Speed. And Control can take the place of Stance.

When locked in a chase, characters will figure Wounds normally, using various chase "maneuvers," but rather than reflect damage, Wounds will simulate the ability of a character to stay in the chase and the distance between vehicles. Eventually, one character will either "catch" the person being chased, or a character may "get away" from someone pursuing them. These results will usually occur when someone achieves a Near Death result, but in poor visibility, a lesser result may signal the end of a chase.

Obviously, the Wound Levels for a chase will need to be renamed to reflect the situation. Penalties should be applied for the duration of the chase, but once a chase is over, the driver/pilot loses all penalties applied to him during the course of the action.

Old Wound Level New Wound Level
Scratch Side by Side
Hurt Pulling Ahead
Very Hurt In the Distance
Incapacitated Out of Sight
Near Death Lost!

Characters involved in a chase can attempt moves to either lose or catch their opponents (Attacks that can be Evaded, by fancy maneuvering, or Blocked, by the old movie standby of smashing your vehicle into the other person's vehicle). Feints can be used in a variety of ways, especially when playing "chicken." Pushes are just what they sound like, while Ready maneuvers can simulate sitting at a light, gunning your engine. Grabs and Throws aren't normally appropriate for chases, but some clever gamemasters might find uses for them, depending on the circumstances (perhaps a Grab can work for two cowboys chasing each other on horseback).

If one character has an edge, due to a faster or more nimble vehicle, that advantage should be treated as a Weapon. A Disarm maneuver (usually smashing into the other vehicle to slow it down) can be used to reduce the opponent's effectiveness, but every time a Disarm maneuver is used, the character attempting it suffers a Scratch Wound result.

Some gamemasters may decide to use these guidelines for chases that occur on foot, such as when one character chases another through a crowded marketplace. The same kinds of maneuvers and actions will be appropriate for these sorts of chases, but the characters will need to be skilled in Running.

Chess

In a campaign that revolves around the lives of grand-master chess players, Fudge Fu would be an excellent tool for roleplaying the lengthy, sometimes vicious chess matches that are sure to be the dramatic center of the action. Player characters who wish to compete in tournaments should purchase a Chess martial art, further breaking the Skill down into the three sub-Skills: Technique (the chess master's natural ability on the board), Speed (his ability to react quickly to another master's moves and tactics), and Stance (the manner in which a chess master protects and organizes his pieces to achieve the greatest result). Alternatively, a gamemaster may choose to rename the Chess sub-Skills to Concentration (Technique), Flexibility (Speed), and Piece Management (Stance).

Damage results during matches occur normally, with the Wound Levels renamed to reflect loss of chess pieces, rather than bodily harm.

Old Wound Level New Wound Level
Scratch Minor Pieces
Hurt Major Pieces
Very Hurt Queen
Incapacitated Check
Near Death Checkmate

Wound results which normally cause penalties to actions, such as the -1 Trait Level penalty a character suffers for being Hurt, still apply, but only for the duration of the conflict. For example, a character who has received a Major Pieces result still suffers the -1 penalty, but in this case, only for the remainder of that particular chess match.

Obviously, only some combat actions will be appropriate for the Chess martial art, such as Attack, Block, Evade, Feint, and Ready, all of which should have self-evident uses in a chess match. Some gamemasters may also allow the Throw maneuver, which can be used to simulate the temporary disruption of an opponent's strategy.

Gossip

The gamemaster may wish to run a campaign revolving around the activities and problems of a group of high school students. Played either for laughs (Romy and Michelle's Fudge-filled Reunion), wickedness (Fudge Intentions), or played a little more seriously (Dawson's Fudge), Fudge Fu can be used to simulate the struggles of students to achieve and maintain popularity. Like in the Chess example, the gamemaster may wish to alter the names of the Gossip sub-Skills to better fit the particular campaign focus. Chat represents the character's Technique at spreading and deflecting rumors. Networking replaces Speed and simulates the character's ability to move around social circles to both pass on and receive the latest news and information. Finally, Clique replaces Stance, and represents the character's allies and their actions on his behalf.

Obviously, Wound Levels will need to be renamed to fit the circumstances. The new Wound Levels reflect the effects of rumors on a character's Reputation and social life.

Old Wound Level New Wound Level
Scratch Tarnished
Hurt Insulted
Very Hurt Embarrassed
Incapacitated Horrified
Near Death Ostracized

Unlike the Wounds suffered in the Chess example, shown above, the Wounds in the Gossip system can be a little more lengthy in duration. The gamemaster may allow characters to "heal" from rumors or may simply decide to erase all rumor Wounds at the start of every new "big thing" that comes along, since memories can be short... especially as the prom approaches.

It's unlikely that the Gossip system will be the primary focus of a high school game, but it could easily be used in tandem with any other dramatic guidelines system, even other variations of Fudge Fu. For example, Gossip could be used with the standard Fudge Fu guidelines, allowing the GM to run a "Martial Arts High" style campaign.

Like Chess, the Gossip martial art will only use certain maneuvers. Attack, Feint, Ready, Block, and Evade are all appropriate combat maneuvers for the art. Disarm could be used to steal the edge from a character who possesses especially damaging information about a foe. And although Throw maneuvers don't seem very appropriate, Grabs and even Chokes might work to simulate a brutal, public berating that the target character just cannot seem to escape.

Hacking

Outlaw computer hackers and code-writers, both in present day settings and cyberpunk futures, can use the Fudge Fu guidelines to simulate virtual battles between them and the massive computer networks where they roam. The sub-Skills for Hacking could probably keep their default names of Technique, Speed, and Stance, but the Wound Levels will need to be modified to reflect the computer world.

Old Wound Level New Wound Level
Scratch Glitch
Hurt Bug
Very Hurt Program Failure
Incapacitated Crashed
Near Death Connection Terminated

Recovering from Wounds could be as easy as rebooting the system or as difficult as replacing and rebuilding hardware components, depending on the gamemaster's particular tastes.

Hackers will use Attack, Block, Disarm, Feint, Ready, and even Push and Resist maneuvers to simulate the breaking of passwords, launching of virus programs, and various other computer techniques. In this virtual world, the gamemaster should keep in mind the wide variety of opponents a hacker might encounter, such as other hackers, firewalls, automated "bots," and even monstrous virus programs. In many ways, the cyberworld might even be more exciting and unpredictable than the world of ninja and samurai!

Repartee

For characters who move in the fashionable and powerful circles of the high court during the 17th century, Reputation means everything and the ability to verbally attack your foes, while winning over your allies, could mean social or financial life or death. Especially appropriate in a swashbuckling campaign, Repartee simulates the character's ability to verbally battle others in public displays of wit. Although mechanically similar to Gossip, Repartee is fine-tuned to represent the class of those involved in such social maneuvering, and should revolve more around immediate verbal dueling than lengthy campaigns against someone's reputation.

Grace (Technique) describes the character's ability to chose appropriate insults and comments, as well as his ability to get off a few "stingers." The character's ability to keep up when word play gets to a furious pitch is simulated by Wit (Speed). And lastly, Status (Stance) is a measure of the character's social class and standing, possibly putting him in better "position" when engaging in a spirited round of Repartee.

It is especially appropriate for a gamemaster to give bonuses for good roleplaying when using the Repartee variation of Fudge Fu. If the player manages to come up with a particularly effective or cunning witticism, the character should receive a +1 or +2 bonus to his roll when "attacking" with his Repartee skills.

As is the case with Chess and Gossip, the Wound Levels should be renamed to better fit the circumstances of Repartee.

Old Wound Level New Wound Level
Scratch Paused
Hurt Stumbling
Very Hurt Speechless
Incapacitated Shamed
Near Death Ridiculed

Wound penalties last for the duration of the verbal duel, and characters who are rendered Speechless in a conversation, or who are even Shamed, often suffer no ill effects other than being entertainment for gossiping nobles for a few days. If they are Ridiculed, however, they may be required to somehow regain their standing by undertaking a particularly noble or difficult task.

Yet another variation of Repartee and Gossip could be Corporate Life, with the characters trying to out position each other in a massive, powerful company. In a cyberpunk setting, with megacorporations as the greatest powers in the world, this adaptation of Fudge Fu could be very welcome and useful.

See Gossip, listed above, for a description of combat maneuvers that are appropriate to the Repartee martial art.

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Monday, January 02, 2006

Path to Defeat

Why dazzle your opponent with swordplay when your rapier wit can be more fearsome than your sword!? Outwit, enrage, confuse... let your mind be as effective a weapon as your sword and shield. This abstracted damage system allows non-physical attacks to have the same opponent-defeating effects as physical attacks. What's more, you can inspire your comrades and bolster their confidence as well!

"Path to Defeat" provides you with an alternative to traditional wound systems. It draws much of its inspiration from games like Dan Bayn's Wushu and S John Ross's Risus in that it reflects one character's ability to defeat an opponent by any means, not just physical damage. Using this system, a rapier wit can be exactly as useful as a rapier, and a careful plan as deadly as a carefully placed bullet. Because it doesn't just track physical damage, the "Path" can be used to model any confrontation the characters may enter into, and remains exactly the same if a war of words results in a crossing of swords.

The Path

This system uses a modified wound track, shown below. This version is just an example; the gamemaster should customize this track as needed for any given campaign. You can also create customized tracks to represent more or less formidable opponents.

MOS Condition Penalty Track
1-2 Shaken -0 OOOO
3-4 Hindered -1 OOO
5-6 Thwarted -2 OO
7+ Defeated -all O

MOS is the margin of success of your roll. Condition is a description of your current state. Penalty indicates the penalty a character takes to their next die roll after being "damaged". Track is where you'll track how close you are to defeat. When all the marks on a given level are filled, any additional damage of that rank is marked on the next available level beneath it.

Combat

When using the "Path," any skill or trait, properly described, can be used to help defeat an opponent. A character can even describe themselves as losing the fight in every other way, only to come back at the end and win with a single, well-placed blow! This meshes with all but the most detailed Fudge combat systems, specifically those which go into great detail about weapons, armor, tactical movement, and the like.

In this system, combat is resolved with a simple set of opposed rolls. Each player describes the action they'll be taking that round. You will find that in many cases, these actions will fall into a logical order; in these circumstances, initiative takes care of itself!

Example: Luke the Barbarian, Sarah the Wiseacre Bard, and Will the Brave Accountant encounter an ogre. Luke wants to charge them, battleaxe swinging. Sarah plans on goading them into foolish anger by insulting their lineage. Will would like to deliver a rousing "Once more into the breach"-style speech to inspire his fellows to great deeds. The players decide that Will should act first, then Sarah, with Luke acting last.

If there is no clear cut order, you can use a more traditional initiative system, or just let everyone roll and let the character with the highest result act first.

To resolve your action, each player makes an opposed roll against their opponent, with both sides using an appropriate trait. A tie means there was no effect; otherwise, the side with the highest result wins, pushing their opponent closer to defeat.

A character could also take an action against which there's no clear opposition by the opponent. In these cases, the GM can assign an appropriate difficulty level to the action.

Example: Will makes his speech. Since he's inspiring his allies rather than directly opposing the ogre, the GM assigns a Good difficulty to the action. Will rolls, getting a Poor result, coming off as more of a post-_Happy Days_ Henry Winkler rather than Henry V. Embarrassed at his -3 margin of success, he takes a Hindered level, and will take a -1 to his next action.

Sarah is up next. She digs down deep, rattling off a stream of insults that infer that the ogre is capable of self-copulation and asexual reproduction via various bodily functions best left to the imagination. She has a Great Wit; the GM opposes this with the ogre's Fair morale. Sarah rolls very well indeed, getting a Superb+2 result, compared to the ogre's Good result; that's a 5 MOS for Sarah. The ogre is absolutely flabbergasted with rage; he's Thwarted for now, and takes a -2 to his next action.

Luke, with his Good Barbarian trait, swings his axe at the ogre, a Poor Fighter. Both sides roll, with Luke getting a Fair result and the ogre a Poor one. That's a margin of success of 2 for Luke. The GM records a Shaken for the ogre, who'll take a -1 to his next roll, and declares the attack swept the ogre's club aside, leaving him momentarily vulnerable.

Groups of Opponents

Groups of similar enemies are best handled as a single entity with a set of shared traits and a single Path. Dissimilar enemies can have their own list of traits, but can still share a single Path.

This can lead to trouble, however: if the players pick out a weakness in one of their opponents, they may try to exploit it by concentrating all their attacks on that foe, ignoring the others while still doing damage to the group as a whole. You could allow them to do so - they did figure out the weakness, after all, and what are weaknesses for if not to be exploited? - or simply remove the offending enemy once the players score a successful Hindered or Thwarted result. Another option is to remove the problematic trait once a Hindered or Thwarted has been scored; once that particular weakness has been used to it's fullest advantage, it's no longer an option to attack it.

Example: When fighting a pair of warriors sharing a single Path, the players realize that one of them has a Poor Self-Esteem. The players hurl a series of insults at the poor fellow until they score a Hindered result, at which point the GM declares that he can't possibly be more embarrassed and marks off the Self-Esteem trait altogether.

Traits can also be eliminated altogether, and replaced with one or more Challenge Levels (CL's) which represent how difficult the enemy is to overcome. A single CL can be used for speed and simplicity, or multiple CL's can be used to represent an enemy who is easier or more difficult to defeat with certain attacks.

Note also that CL's can be used as a shorthand when creating almost any opponent, and can save you from having to devise specific powers for enemy creatures, the exact spells a wizard can cast, etc.

Example: The stalwart trio encounters a group of ten goblins. The GM assigns them a single Path, and since he hasn't had much time to think about it, gives them a flat Fair Challenge Level. If he'd had a little more time to prepare, he might have given them a Fair Combat CL, a Poor Thinking CL and a Good Morale CL, for example.

A few encounters later, a dwarf, an elf, and a hobgoblin walk into a bar (spawning a whole sub-genre of bad jokes in the process) and confront the players. They each have their own set of specific traits, but share a single Path and must defeated as a group.

When the group meets a dragon, the GM gives it a general Superb CL, with a Fair Ego CL and a Poor Greed CL; the long-suffering gamemaster doesn't need to calculate exactly what the dragon's fiery breath can do, but he knows that the dragon will be a formidable opponent unless the players use their wits rather their swords.

The Boss Level

Characters may find themselves having to fight through a group of mooks led by a more experienced or powerful leader. In this case, you have a couple of options.

First, you could simply use a single Path, with the leader represented by the Thwarted or Defeated level. The leader can still have his own set of traits, but you don't have to give him his own Path.

Or you could give him his own Path while at the same time requiring the players to defeat the mooks first. They can still direct attacks against the leader, but until all the mooks are defeated, the only effect they have is reducing the mook morale and making them easier to defeat.

Mixing it Up

With any trait being a viable option for defeating an opponent, it's only natural that the players will consistently use their highest-ranked trait more often than not. And considering the alternative - that they'd be using at most one or two combat traits almost exclusively - this isn't a problem as long as the trait is used appropriately. You can easily reward players who use other, lesser traits in a creative fashion by granting them a bonus to their roll or an extra Fudge point.

Alternately, you can enforce the use of multiple traits by making the successive use of the same trait progressively less effective. When a character uses a trait initially, they roll normally. The second time in a row they use it, they take a -1 penalty to their roll. Each successive time they use the same trait after that, they take a -2 to their roll. This penalty is reset to 0 whenever the character uses a different trait.

Defeat

When an enemy is defeated, the victor gets to decide what form the victory has taken, though it should be appropriate to the form that the battle has taken. If the players win, they can decide as a group what to do with the losers, but the character who struck the winning blow has the final say.

Example: Luke and Will have been engaged in a bitter chess match, with Will coming out victorious in the end. While it's possible that this could have been a chess match to the death, it's not likely; instead, Will declares that Luke has lost their bet, and must burn his filthy barbarian loincloth and put some pants on.

Later, when fighting a group of misguided town guardsmen, Luke bashes the last one with his axe, winning the fight for the players. He wants to behead them, much to Sarah and Will's horror; they were just doing their jobs, after all, and no one was hurt. Luke grudgingly agrees, and declares that, since he has to wear pants now, he might as well take theirs: the guards are left alive, tied up, gagged, and de-pantsed in an alley, with Luke expanding his wardrobe at the same time.

Recovery

Removing defeat is left largely to the GM's discretion and the specifics of the campaign. In a four-color superhero campaign, for instance, the characters might remove all defeat levels after each fight. A dungeon crawling fantasy campaign might have them all removed once every 24 hours, or whenever the characters have a chance to stop and rest.

Character's can also try to remove their allies' defeat markers. Like combat, this can be done with any trait that the character uses appropriately. This has a default difficulty of Good, with a penalty applied to the roll equal to that of the defeat level's penalty; i.e., removing a Shaken level has no penalty, removing a Hindered level takes a -1 penalty, etc. Characters cannot remove their own defeat markers in combat. Any defeat marker except Defeated can be removed. Only one defeat marker can be removed at a time.

It is possible - encouraged, actually! - for characters to remove an ally's defeat mark before the ally can take the penalty to their next roll from it. Any character can "drop what they're doing", (i.e., change their action during their round so long as they haven't acted yet) in order to aid an ally. Failing an aid roll has no ill effect to the aiding character or their ally; it simply means that the aiding character has lost their action for that round. Any number of characters can try to aid the same ally on any given round.

An aiding character will still have to face an attack by the enemy. In this case, the aiding character's appropriate trait becomes the difficulty level for the enemy's attack. If the enemy fails their attack against an aiding character, they will not suffer any levels of defeat; they get a free (cheap) shot at the aiding character.

Example: Luke is doing badly in a fight with a powerful wizard; he's already taken two Hindered marks, and has just taken a Thwarted. Although Will had planned on confusing the wizard by reciting one of the many actuarial tables he's committed to memory, he drops this action to help Luke. He shouts a few words of encouragement to Luke and rolls against his Fair Charisma., taking a -2 penalty since he's trying to remove a Thwarted level. He rolls badly, getting a Poor result, so Luke keeps his Thwarted level. If Will had succeeded, the Thwarted level would be removed, and Luke would make his next roll with no penalty applied.

The wizard still gets to attack Will, though, throwing a Good blast of energy his way, making a static roll against Will's Good Agility; the wizard gets a Superb result, or a +2 MOS, so Will takes a Shaken mark for his troubles.

Smart players might arrange their actions so that a nearly-beaten character will go last in a round, so that the other characters will have a chance to aid them before they have to make a heavily penalized roll. Let them! Heck, give them a smiley-face sticker on their character sheet if you have them; they should be rewarded for their altruism.

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