Saturday, February 25, 2006

High Fantasy Fudge, Part 3

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

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


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

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

Weapon Qualities:

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

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

Rules in Play

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

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

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

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

Sample Weapons

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


Compare these two swords:

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

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

On bows:

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

Hurting People

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Armor (Advanced Rules)

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Example: Weapons and Strength

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

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

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

Example: Advanced Armor

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

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

Read the full article...
Monday, February 13, 2006

High Fantasy Fudge, Part 2

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

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


These rules present a set of guidelines for a generic magic system. Be sure to add spice and flavor to the system by choosing the parameters carefully and selecting colorful spells and abilities!

To create a magic-using character, you must select an appropriate Gift that explains your talents or background (e.g. "Feyborn," or "Trained by the Order of Wizards"). This gift grants you a Specialty that defines the nature of your training or talents (e.g. "Born Capable of Controlling Fire," or "Completed Elementary Education at Pigpimple's School of Wizardry" -- in the second case, the GM will need to work with the player to define a "training" gift.) In exchange, you should take a Fault. Ideally, this Fault will be related to the character's Gift. This could take the form of a geas, or a mark that ostracizes him or her from normal society.

A character gifted with magic gains a new Trait (or attribute) called "Wizardry," "Magical Aptitude," "Sorcery," or whatever seems most descriptive. It begins at a level of Terrible. Each Trait/attribute level spent on this attribute increases it by one level. A Specialty may also be "spent" to increase it by one level. In either case, two levels (or Specialties) are required per increase above Fair.

To widen the scope of the magical character's ability, Abilities or Specialties may be added on top of this basic talent:

A magical Specialty represents a broad field of knowledge or ability (e.g. "Fire Magic," "Song Magic," "Necromancy," "Telekinesis," "Potion-Brewing," etc). An additional Specialty may be purchased with one Trait level.

Abilities, on the other hand, are narrowly defined magical talents, like spells (e.g. "Fireball," "Charm with Song," "Garbonzo's Floating Circus," "Brew Love Potion," etc). Magical Specialties and Abilities do not grant any bonuses unless "stacked."

Example: You may select "Fireball" as an Ability twice, granting you a +1 when rolling your Wizardry Trait to create balls of flame.

In regular Fudge, an Ability or spell will cost one (or more) skill levels, as decided by the GM. A Specialty has a cost of one Gift (or more, at the GM's option).

When a character tries to use a magical ability, the player must describe the desired outcome. You may only attempt effects that fall within a Specialty or Ability your character has. If your Specialty is "Fire Magic," you cannot attempt to seduce a princess with a magical song.

The GM then sets the basic difficulty as they see fit, given the world and flavor of magic within it (see sample guidelines below). If a target's resistance must be overcome, an appropriate Trait of the victim (usually Valor, sometimes Might) becomes the difficulty. If the Trait level is lower than whatever the GM deems an appropriately difficulty level, it is ignored. The player then rolls their Wizardry trait, trying to meet that difficulty level.

If you fail the roll, the magical effect is not what you intended, and you temporarily lose a level in your Wizardry attribute. The GM should consider her game world to determine how these levels are regained -- they may return at the rate of one level per day or require rituals, sacrifices, prayer, or a sip from a magical river.

You could easily change the flavor of magic by reducing a different attribute or Trait instead of Wizardry. The lost level may be automatic, or a failed Wizardry roll may force a roll on that attribute (at the same difficulty as the magical attempt). If using this option with "High Fantasy Fudge," you may want to add another attribute (such as Sanity or Health) for this purpose. Such an attribute would default to Fair, and could be increased by lowering any of the other Traits. In a regular Fudge game, you might want to look at your attribute list and see if anything appeals to you -- reducing Strength gives a generic "magic is tiring" flavor, but reducing Willpower or Reason might create a more unique type of magician!

Example: A Dr Jekyll/Mr Hyde character might turn into a beast if he abuses his powers. A failed magic roll against a difficulty of Good would force a roll on his Charm attribute against the same difficulty of Good. On a failure, he will lose a level of Charm. At first, simple effects would be pretty safe, but as the Charm attribute decreases, uses of magic become more and more certain to turn Dr. Jekyll into a demented, disgusting beast. In his case, Charm would probably return to its starting level overnight.

Advanced Options

Detailing Magical Aptitude

A magical Gift gives your character three new attributes instead of just one. These attributes are Finesse, Attunement, and Power. All begin at a level of Terrible. Each attribute level spent allows the player to increase one of these by one level. With "High Fantasy Fudge," each Trait level spent allows you to add two levels to these new attributes (increasing one by two levels, or two by one level each). A Specialty may also be spent to increase one of these attributes by one level. In either "High Fantasy Fudge" or regular Fudge, it takes two attribute levels (or Specialties) each time you wish to raise Power above Fair, however.

Power determines how much ability a magician has to alter the world through magic. Finesse determines how subtle those changes are, and how much control the magician over the magic he or she uses. Attunement determines how well the magician understands magic, and how well tuned his or her magical senses are. Attunement might be used to analyze magic, use magical devices, cast divination spells, sense magical traps, or to determine how quickly a new spell can be learned, as well as for initiative in magical duels.

When attempting a magical effect, roll Power. This determines whether you are strong enough to achieve the effect. In addition, the GM may require a Finesse or Attunement roll of a minimum level, or simply to see how successful the attempt was. (For instance, a fireball may take a Finesse roll to aim properly.) Unless it's vital to roll, the GM can just use the trait level as is to determine the effect achieved.

Character Options

"Latent" Magic: In character creation, "Latent" mages can add two free levels to these attributes (distributed however they wish) instead of selecting a Specialty. This option allows for the creation of talented youngsters whose gifts have not yet been unlocked or trained. Another way of handling a talented youngster would be for the GM to grant a +1 (or +2) level bonus to an inborn Specialty that is highly (or extremely) restricted in scope.

The Olde Style Option: All wizards must take the Forgetfulness fault and the Memorize skill (in "High Fantasy Fudge," it is an Ability based on Lore -2). Whenever a spell is cast, a Memorize roll must be made against the difficulty of the spell. On a failure, that spell is forgotten. For this reason, wizards must carry a great tome everywhere to refresh their memories. All spells must also have long-winded and arcane sounding names. Under this option, wizards should rarely (if ever) have Specialties (check with your GM before taking one). To fully simulate this style, mages should not be allowed to learn spells of a level of their Wizardry/Power or greater.

Player's Options

You may expend a level of Wizardry (or Power) to temporarily increase your Wizardry (or Power) by one level (or to your normal maximum, whichever is better). If using detailed magical attributes (see above), this also temporarily reduces your Finesse by one level. Both adjustments only apply to that particular attempt. The expended Power, on the other hand, is not regained until the GM feels sufficient time has passed. (The GM may also allow you to trade Finesse for Power, at a two for one ratio, when attempting magical effects.)

Expending Power in this way may be done even after a roll is made, but even if you can raise your roll to a success, you will lose a level for having failed initially. For instance, if the difficulty of a roll is Good, and you roll a Fair, you would normally lose a level of Wizardry/Power and the magical attempt would not succeed. If you expended a level right there and then to increase your Wizardry/Power to Good, you would succeed but lose two levels of Wizardry (one for the failure as well as the one you expended to turn it into a success). If you had expended the level before rolling and succeeded on the roll, you would only have lost the one level.

Expending all your Power or Wizardry levels before casting the spell will leave the caster spent or maybe even unconscious. If the roll is failed and an additional level lost, the wizard may die or lose his abilities! The consequences of losing all your Wizardry levels are left to the discretion of the GM. The players may or may not know what might happen before they try, depending on the game world.

If death from magic is a possibility, magicians may opt to cast a "death curse." The magician expends all their available levels of Power or Wizardry, plus one, and the spell is cast. The magician dies even if the attempt is successful.

There are many other ways to extend this system, if a GM or player is willing to tinker with it. For example, if you want worn out mages to gradually lose control over their magic, any Power roll that is failed by two levels may reduce your Finesse by one level. Or, any Power roll missed because of fatigue may have the same effect.

Magical Resources: the Consequences of Abuse

For more flexibility, a given style of magic will define the consequences of using too much power. The consequences may differ from race to race, be based on school of magic, or even defined by each player in a unique way.

For each magician or type of magic, a "resource" needs to defined. Missed magic rolls deplete that resource. The resource should be assigned a damage track, just like in regular Fudge. The type of resource selected will determine the "flavor" of magic. If the caster himself is the resource, he risks his own life, but may always access his talents. If "fatigue" is chosen as a resource, the caster does not risk death. In this case a Near Death result simply means that the caster falls unconscious. However, "fatigue" penalties will apply to the caster's attempts at magic, whereas wound penalties might only apply to physical actions.

On the other hand, if the resource is something external to the caster, he or she is not under any risk, but that resource may be lost. (Example: In the Agyris setting, some magic users cultivate small gardens of mana-enhancing plants. A bad spell failure may cause the plants to wither and die, leaving the owner without his or her abilities.) If the resource is destroyed, the caster may pass out and will certainly lose their abilities until it is restored.

Each degree of failure (each Fudge trait level by which you missed the difficulty) corresponds to a wound category on the wound track.

RD -1 Scratched
RD -2 Hurt/Damaged
RD -3 Very Hurt/Seriously Damaged
RD -4 Incapacitated/Critically Damaged
RD -5 Near Death/Destroyed

Notes: If the caster is his own resource, he could potentially kill himself by attempting a spell that is too powerful. If you need a guideline for spell safety, a spell with a difficulty one level below the caster's Power is safe, and even a spell equal to Power or Wizardry cannot kill the caster outright. Either makes a good guideline for a teacher or school.

Sample Guidelines for Spell Difficulty

Difficulty Level Standard Fudge damage Wound Effect Weight Moved Description
Terrible Itch Itch Pencil Cantrip, child's play.
Poor 1 Stun Heavy Coin Easy: Detect magic, create simple lights.
Mediocre 2 Hurt Knife, Squirrel Moderate: Climb a wall easily and safely.
Fair 4 Hurt Treasure Chest (with Fair strength) Attack someone with fire.
Good 6 Very Hurt Adult human (with Great strength) Teleport a short distance.
Great 8 Incapacitated Boulder (with Legendary strength) Fly like a hawk, create a huge fireball.
Superb 10 Near Death Truck, Carriage Teleport to another kingdom, restore a man on the edge of death to full health.

With regular Fudge rules, either halve the damage or move difficulty one level higher for defensive spells and apply as DDF. If using "Weapons," the third part of "High Fantasy Fudge," then the difficulties translate directly into damage and armor values (see below). For area of effect spells, increase difficulty by one level for every increase or doubling of area or number of targets. The GM should also select some default durations for effects and apply the same logic.

A sample duration scale:

  • Instantaneous
  • 1 round
  • 5 rounds
  • 1 minute
  • 10 minutes
  • 1 hour
  • 6 hours
  • 1 day
  • 1 week
  • 1 month
  • 1 year
  • Permanent

Example: A player wants to cast a spell on his friend, allowing him to float above the forest. The GM declares that this spell has a difficulty of Good, and will last 10 minutes. If the player is willing to increase the difficulty to Great, it will last an hour, and if he is willing to increase it to Superb, he could cast the same spell on several people at once.

In some settings, durations of magic may have bizarre conditions that will determine their duration (until the next full moon, until kissed by a prince, for a year and a day, etc).

Read the full article...
Monday, February 06, 2006

High Fantasy Fudge, Part 1

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

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

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

"High Fantasy Fudge" consists of three parts: Character Creation, Magic, and Weapons. Each of the parts may be used independently of the other two. Character creation aims to be simple and quick, outlining characters in broad strokes. The section on Magic details a rules-light and generic system that allows you to create almost any flavor of magic in your fantasy game. The section on Weapons outlines a system that rates weapons and armor on the Fudge trait scale, removing the need to add and subtract numbers in play via a comparison of Fudge trait values. It defines required strength levels for various weapons in a way appropriate to epic fantasy, where a mortal man may not be able to lift a great hero's sword or bend his mighty oaken bow. However, the Weapons section is definitely optional. While you need Magic to create magic-using characters, "High Fantasy Fudge" works extremely well with Story Element Combat or similar rules.

Character Creation

Characters in "High Fantasy Fudge" are defined by six Traits.

  • Might (strength, brawn, size, and skill in battle)
  • Valor (courage, will, leadership, endurance, and general "goodness" and heroism)
  • Cunning (alertness, perceptiveness, ability to hide, deceive others, or solve puzzles)
  • Deftness (agility, gracefulness, balance, speed, and skill with light or missile weapons)
  • Craft (arts, craftsmanship, and ability to handle, repair, or build anything technological)
  • Lore (knowledge, education, wisdom, book-learning, and literacy)

Each Trait describes an important attribute of the character. Keep in mind that these are the qualities of true heroes. If you have a Fair rating in any Trait, you would probably be described as having that Trait. In other words, if your character has a Fair Cunning, her friends may very well describe her as "cunning". Fair is by no means the "average" in "High Fantasy Fudge"! Most people will be Poor or Mediocre, with Fair reserved for their central trait: a veteran soldier will probably have a Might of Fair, and the village wise woman will probably have a Lore of Fair, for instance.

Here are some common archetypes and their associated Traits:

  • The Warrior
    • Might (for some, also Deftness and/or Cunning; possibly Craft to appraise and repair weapons or armor as well)
  • The Thief or Trickster
    • Cunning and Deftness
  • The Sage
    • Lore and Cunning
  • The Saint or Martyr
    • Valor
  • The Builder
    • Craft (and Valor for Tolkien-style Dwarves, or Cunning for a gnome or similar creature)
  • The Wise Ruler
    • Valor and Lore

Almost all rolls in a game will be based on one of these six Traits. To further define characters, players may pick Abilities, which add a bonus to a Trait roll in specific situations.

Abilities include, but are not limited to, the following list. Players may invent their own as long as they clear them with the GM before beginning play.

Might Valor
Bending Bars
Maces & Hammers
Animal Handling
Resist Magic
Rousing Oration
Sense Evil
Cunning Deftness
Find Hidden
Move Silently
Pick Pockets
Craft Lore
Artisan (pick a specialty)
Picking Locks
Siege Engines
Beast Lore
Herb Lore
Military Strategy
Occult Lore
Scribe (reading & writing)

Note for GMs: If you are ever unsure which Trait should be rolled, you should be able to quickly determine which one is appropriate by looking at this list. The list of Abilities acts as a shorthand for the kinds of actions where you should request a roll of that Trait. In cases of doubt, it is suggested to err in the favor of the player--after all, the characters are heroes.

Example 1: A character wants to disarm a trap in a mine, and does not have any appropriate Abilities. Looking over the list, we find "Traps" under Craft, so the GM calls for a Craft roll.

Example 2: Another character picks up a quarterstaff. Should she use Might or Deftness to wield it? If you feel a case for either could be made, allow the player to choose which Trait they would like to use.

To create a hero, you begin with a rating of Fair in each Trait, and you may raise any Trait by lowering another by an equal number of levels. Traits are limited to a level of Great. In addition, you may select seven Abilities. In play, when you have an appropriate Ability, you may increase the level of your Trait by one. However, you are still limited to a level of Great. Up to three of those Abilities may be selected as a character's "Specialties". Specialties add two levels to the base Trait and are limited to Superb instead of Great. (Yes, this means that a character with a Specialty in a Trait with a Great rating only adds one level--see Sir Fredegar, a sample character, below.)

In the case of a low Trait, the GM may permit you to stack these bonuses (Example: selecting an Ability as a Specialty and spending an additional Ability slot adds three levels to the base Trait).

To create characters who are not heroes, select two Traits at Poor, three at Mediocre, and one at Fair. Such "regular" people will usually have three or four Abilities, and only one of them will be a Specialty. Regular people who are PCs may have the same number of Abilities as heroes, if the GM wishes.

If you wish to play lesser heroes instead of "normal" people or Heroes with a capital "H", begin with an average of Mediocre, and add three levels. Lesser heroes still have seven Abilities, with three of them as Specialties.

Optional Rule: If you find this system lacking flexibility, simply give players 10 points. Each point spent on an Ability increases its rating by one level above the governing Trait. Raising an Ability above Great costs 2 points per level. This is equivalent to seven Abilities/three Specialties, as presented in the regular rules.

Design Note: Since you can attempt any skill you don't have simply by rolling your Trait, you probably won't need to take many Abilities in Traits you have at a high level. This may be somewhat counterintuitive at first! Make sure you take Abilities in areas where you wish to be competent but have a low Trait rating.

Wilderness Lore

Some skills may not seem to fall under any of the six Traits. It is recommended that in those circumstances you should still try as hard as possible to choose a Trait on which to base the Ability. However, if this seems impossible or undesirable, you may rate the skill separately.

Most fantasy games will be suited by the list above, but games with an emphasis on outdoor adventure (e.g. Lord of the Rings) should have a skill called "Wilderness Lore" which defaults to Poor. It may be raised by expending the following number of points or Ability slots:

  • Fair - chosen as an Ability (or 1 point)
  • Good - chosen as a Specialty (or 2 points)
  • Great - chosen as a Specialty, and an additional Ability slot expended (or 3 points)
  • Superb - two Specialty slots expended (or 4 points)

Wilderness Lore is the only official skill for "High Fantasy Fudge". It is used for navigation, survival, tracking, stalking, hunting, and any other outdoor endeavors. However, it remains optional. You can just as easily use Cunning to hunt a stag, Craft to set snares, Valor to befriend animals (after all, animals can sense your goodness), and Lore to find herbs in the forest or to navigate by distant mountain peaks. You don't need Wilderness Lore unless you want to draw a specific distinction between those with wilderness experience and those without.

Monsters and Villains

What Valor rating do I give to a character who is not clearly good? Regular people, who may be tempted to evil acts, simply have a low Valor score. On the other hand, an evil character, monster, or villain shouldn't have a Valor Trait at all. Such an entity has a Trait named "Malice" instead. Malice works exactly the same way as Valor, except for a few of the Abilities, which need renaming: Leadership becomes Intimidation, Honor becomes Cruelty, Piety becomes Devotion (presumably to an evil god or cause), and so on. Malice defines both a monster's level of corruption, evil will, and its courage, will, and persistence. Creatures with a high Malice rating are hard to frighten or intimidate, easily dominate their minions, and are completely determined to wreak havoc, pain, and destruction.

Example: Shelob, the giant spider guarding Mordor, is probably possessed of Great Malice.

Combat and Might

"High Fantasy Fudge" assumes tales that present the protagonists with a variety of challenges. If your game involves a lot more combat, you may find Might to be too desirable a trait for the PCs. In this case, you may want to reduce its usefulness. Here are a few suggestions:

  • Any defensive use of skill in combat is based on Deftness, not Might.
  • A character may use Deftness to attack in combat, but at -1 to damage, and may not add any bonuses to damage from Might or Strength.
  • If using the standard Fudge damage system, you can base Damage Capacity on Valor instead of Might, or use Valor to determine the number of wound boxes, and limit Damage Capacity to that granted by scale and/or Gifts.
  • If using the standard Fudge damage system, a character may choose to use their Deftness rating as their DDF. Such a character loses any damage bonuses from their Might score.
  • Make Cunning play a role in combat by using it to determine initiative or to create situational bonuses by spotting tactical advantages.

Sample Characters

Edward Wood, local blacksmith ("normal" person)

  • Might: Mediocre
    • -Strength: Fair
  • Valor: Mediocre
  • Cunning: Poor
    • -See Through People's Nonsense: Mediocre
  • Deftness: Mediocre
  • Craft: Fair
    • -Blacksmithing: Great (S) ("S" indicates that this skill is his Specialty)
  • Lore: Poor
    • Wilderness Lore: Fair

Ed Wood is a fair craftsman, and renowned as a master blacksmith. He also has some experience as a woodsman. He is in decent shape, and stronger than his Might would ordinarily indicate. However, except for his ability to catch people who are trying to pull his leg, he isn't overly bright or knowledgeable.

Design Notes: We could also have chosen "See Through People's Nonsense" as his Specialty (making it Fair), since even without the Specialty bonus, he would be an expert (Good) blacksmith due to his high Craft trait.

Sir Fredegar the Bold, Knight of the Crimson Order (hero)

  • Might: Great
    • -Jousting: Superb (S)
    • -Swordplay: Superb (S)
  • Valor: Good
    • -Piety: Great
  • Cunning: Poor
    • -Hunting: Mediocre
  • Deftness: Good
  • Craft: Mediocre
    • -Basket-weaving: Good (S)
  • Lore: Mediocre
    • -Heraldry: Fair
    • -Court Etiquette: Fair

Sir Fredegar is a typical courtly knight, mighty, pious, brave, and not too bright. He is a famed swordsman and jousting champion. He also has a bit of a hobby, which he uses to relax whenever he has some spare time. Needless to say, he prefers it remain a secret.

Design Notes: Due to his high Might and Deftness, Sir Fredegar is skilled with any weapon he picks up. Although his life at court will require skill at Dancing, we did not select that as an Ability since his Deftness is already Good.

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