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Thanks for the Memories: Genetic Transtemporal Synchronous Cognition
Updated: 06 Feb 2011

Thanks for the Memories:
Genetic Transtemporal Synchronous Cognition (GTSC)

A FUDGE examination of Hypermemory


by Douglas (Vermonster) Bickford, 02/06/2011
Egged on and collaborated by Paul Dupuis


Introduction

Dr. Carl Fairchild is in Chicago for the annual Biological Engineering and Science Societe Internationale (BESSI) convention. While eating his breakfast in his booth at a local diner, the person in the next booth says "Talar du svenska? Sprechen Sie Deutsch? Puhutko suomea? Czy znasz polski?" (Do you speak xxx, in Swedish, German, Finnish, and Polish) to the waitress. She is bewildered. Carl, up until that moment was unaware that he has any "memory" of any of those languages, but now he finds he understands most of what the multilingual speaker said. He tells the waitress that the foreigner asked if she spoke Swedish, German, or Polish (and some other language he did not recognize). To the stranger, he says "Hej. Kan jag hjälpa dig?" (Hello, May I help you?, in Swedish). Carl assists the Swede to place his order.

But what really baffles people is, when Dr. Fairchild returns at noon to the same diner, (in the absence of a Swedish speaker to trigger his "memory") Carl no longer can speak a word of Swedish when the waitress he assisted earlier (and her co-workers) asks to hear some.

Where did Carl Fairchild "learn" Swedish, German, and Polish and why did he forget them all four hours later? The answer is he never did learn these languages. He has "hypermemory", the ability to access the memories of other people. While there might be multiple explanations and mechanisms for this phenomenon (such as clairvoyance, reading the minds of persons nearby), Carl's particular form of Hypermemory comes from his affliction of Genetic Transtemporal Synchronous Cognition.

What is Genetic Transtemporal Synchronous Cognition?

  • Genetic. GTSC is a rare, genetically based, physiological disorder. Due to the complex biochemistry effect of the combination of multiple gene sites with very uncommon mutated alleles, it is estimated that only about one person per 100,000,000 is born with the full complement of necessary genes. It is unknown for parent and child both to have GTSC and it is extremely rarely seen for any but monozygotic twin siblings. The carriers of partial gene sets (such as both parents of a GTSC child) show no GTSC effect (there is room for theory here on what different side effects they might have, lacking the bridge into the GTSC neural network which defines the source, mechanism, and product of GTSC).
  • Transtemporal. The sources of the memories are all GTSC-afflicted persons across all time. This includes persons from pre-historic (estimated about 10,000 BP (before present)) to the distant future eras. But knowing a memory from a far distant timeframe (or cultural setting) does not necessarily mean that memory is useful (or even understood) to the present-day GTSC character. Memory from distant time may be so strange that the mind will convince itself that the "memory" is something imagined – a "daydream" perhaps. In fact, such memories may be more of a hinderance than a help.
  • Synchronous. The memories available are those of all GTSC-linked persons of the exact same age as the GTSC character. A 10-year-old GTSC character only shares the memories with other GTSC-afflicted persons who are 10 years old in their own timeframe; he does not have access to their adult memories, because they do not have those yet themselves. And, the shared memories are stored organically in the living brains of those persons in their times; their memories die with them.
  • Cognition. GTSC is a modification of the brain chemistry involved in memory recall, but does not affect the normal mental activities related to perception, reasoning, nor bodily control. Under the theoretical mechanism proposed here, there is some overlap with the brain function of memory storage through the similarity of the processes of associative learning and associative retrieval.

Terminology and Theoretical Model (The Brain)

While it might be satisfying to discover that the following terms and theory align with modern 21st century neuroscience (or 35th century), this description is provided here to aid discussion and acceptance by GMs and players on the limitations and consequences to a GTSC-endowed/afflicted character. Any resemblance to the truth (as they say) is purely coincidental. The authors wish to acknowledge Wikipedia and its generous (albeit anonymous) contributors for seeds from which to grow this section. Any distortions and misinterpretations, intentional or accidental, of that real-world hypermemory is the Fault of the authors of this article,

The brain is a complex organ. Without knowing how it performs its many functions, we still can analyze and inventory them. There are many autonomic functions operating without conscious effort (muscular balance, perception, hormonal control) and even the functions where we conceive of having some control are abetted by structures and chemistry beyond our need to understand in order to use these "higher functions" of the brain. For the purpose of this article, the general term "cognition" will be used to refer to these higher functions and discussion will be limited to only three areas: ideation, memory, and reasoning.

  • Ideation. The "unit of operation" for cognitive processes is the "idea" (thought, concept, image). Skill sets and knowledge areas are bundles of many related ideas, but there is a fundamental level at which an idea is created and manipulated in the brain as a discrete entity. The primary (first) source of ideas is the conversion of stimuli from our autonomic perceptions (senses: sight, sound, taste, scent, feel) into an awareness and labeling at a conscious level. We "recognize" the stimuli with our attention amongst the myriad of simultaneously incoming stimuli which we ignore. Think parliamentary procedures. Most stimuli delivered by our autonomically controlled senses are washed away biochemically nearly as quickly as they arrive in the brain, but some form preserved (for the moment) patterns that our cognitive processes go to work on. Think of an idea as a rough-surfaced marble – a small discrete chunk of information – that can connect with other marbles like puzzle pieces.
  • Memory. Ideas are associated with other ideas in biochemical crosslinkages to form memories. While the patterning of memories in the brain is relatively permanent, it is also very passively present until called upon. A recently conceived idea (such as the conversion/selection from perceived stimuli) initiates a brain process that looks for similarities in preserved memory (places where the "idea marble" can hook on like a puzzle piece). Copies of component ideas of the tagged memories found in this associative search process are brought forward into working memory as they are tagged and probed. An associative search takes time to accumulate and leapfrog through memories, and it does not wait until the end to start delivering remembered ideas to working memory. Previously stored memories often will be reinforced (refreshed) back into longterm storage along with a copy of the new idea and its crosslinkages. A new idea may link to more than one existing memory and thus its storage with links may expand the interconnectivity amongst memories. Apparently, recently tagged memories tend to be the amongst the first ones tagged again if appropriate to a later associative search (and sometimes even if it is not obvious that they are appropriate). In computer terminology, such recently used memories are said to be "cached" and are where searches are begun (on the theory that you are most likely to next do what you just did (or something very similar)). Caching is an use of working memory and, as such, there is a limit to the capacity and retention times of what remains in cache.
  • Reasoning. Reasoning works with working memory. Until a stored memory (idea component) is copied into working memory, the brain processes of deduction, intuition, extrapolation, guessing, etc cannot act upon it. However, reasoning can derive new ideas (a secondary form of ideation) that act like other new ideas to trigger associative searches through preserved memories (which similar to other new ideas may become stored through this associative learning process). Reasoning might also form "an idea of greater priority" that interrupts (aborts, supplants) a previously ongoing associative search. Similarly, urgent incoming ideation from external stimuli into such a more important idea might also change what is the trigger for the brain's current associative searching function (oh, look, a tiger). Distraction is a likely term for primary ideation changing the focus, whereas reasoned redirection might be a Conclusion or Decision.

To bridge to a discussion of GTSC Hypermemory mechanics and impacts on an individual, these concepts about ideas and memories are distinguished in two groups affected by GTSC: Shortterm memory (STM) and Longterm memory (LTM) The third term (introduced above) related to these concepts is Working memory which is not affected (directly) by GTSC. Working memory and its relation to STM and LTM, however, is a crucial component in describing the latter two.

  • Shortterm memory (STM). New ideas triggering associative searches. As discussed above, this is not all stimuli that the individual perceives. It is only those important ideas recognized (or thought up) and being held for the associative processes to locate (tag) preserved memory for similarities. These STM triggers have the brain's attention, i.e. a section of working memory (a task) is devoted to processing the ideas remembered from its search.

    STM ideas/triggers will decay and disappear unless some portion of them is stored as longterm memory or they are restimulated (or rethought) into the holding area. There is a limited capacity in the brain to hold STM triggers, but more than one can be in the works simultaneously. Holding a dozen would be an exceptional talent, but multitasking searches off of more than one trigger at the same time is commonplace. Most of us can whistle a remembered tune while walking to a determined destination (on a planned route) and still speculate about what's for dinner tonight; each of these requires ongoing feedback and streaming of ideas into working memory from STM triggers. We have no conscious awareness of the brain mechanisms invoked as we process the delivered data in our working memories. Generally, working memory tasks listen for the appropriate memory recall addressed to them. But there are misdeliveries (causing us to switch from whistling "I'll be Home for Christmas" to "Momma's Little Baby Loves Shortbread" when our "what's for dinner" task idea lands in the inbox of the "whistling" task). Such occasional crosstalk between memory recall streams is an evolutionarily preferred adaption, enhancing intellectual traits such as insight, creativity, and intuition.

  • Longterm memory (LTM). Preserved memory patterns of collective and crosslinked ideas. Conceptually, these are multiple-entry nets of crosslinked idea patterns (think clusters of interlocked idea marbles). A triggered search might catch hold of a similarity to one component idea and go deeper into the other attached ideas in the same LTM. Playfully, this probing into attached ideas has been called "leapfrogging" in this article and the initial contact has been called "tagging". Longterm memory is effectively unlimited, but the processing speed of associative searches is finite and thus will reduce the volume of tagged memories moved to working memory dependent on how long the search is given to perform. Generally, it is important to remember that "every connected idea" is not delivered to working memory together in a bundle; ideas are streamed one at time at a metabolically determined rate. That stream may backtrack and branch off in a new direction (or maybe reiterate the same path) from a previously delivered (remembered) idea; i.e. the brain's associative searching can (does) get stuck in a loop.

And the pun you have been waiting for: Loss of LTM through injury or senility is called "losing ones' marbles".


GTSC Mechanism and Effects (The Brain on GTSC)

Okay, let's get weird. GTSC does some mystic (metaphysical) crosswiring of the synchronized brains across the physical dimensions of time and space in the area of memories and associative searches. While GTSC individuals have their own independent autonomic systems and working memory/reasoning circuitry, the associative circuitry (STM) of all synchronous brains are linked, thereby effectively joining the organic storage of their memories (LTM) into a multi-volumed hypermemory. The associative search started in an individual GTSC brain can (will) coprocess STMs in other GTSC brains to tag their local LTMs (and leapfrog through them), potentially (but actually never that exhaustively) across the hypermemory of all the GTSC-linked persons (alive in their timeframes at that point in the synchronization) and deliver the remembered LTMs (specifically a memory recall stream of their component ideas) to the working memory of the requesting brain.

Although the LTMs of a GTSC partner are available to be recalled by all other synchronized partners, the storage of the LTM patternings of ideas and their crosslinkages remains the sole function of the local brain. LTM idea linkages cannot be constructed spanning the physically separated brains nor can a foreign brain write LTMs in another's LTM grey matter. Foreign ideas gathered into the local working memory might be attempted to be preserved in local LTM (via associative learning), but in reality the LTM context (associative similarities) in the foreign brain where the ideas were found does not exist in the local brain. This gives the local associative learning process nothing to supplement (reinforce, refresh) by "hooking on" the new idea. As a result, these recalled foreign memories are often forgotten as soon as the stimulus that recalled them is gone (but they might be remembered again under similar stimulus).

The good news of such an associative search of a hypermemory is the availability of the experiences of many lifetimes. But there are two bad news impacts to consider also: (1) memory recall stream may be (will be) cluttered by ideas unfamiliar and perhaps incomprehensible to the GTSC person and (2) the ideation of STM of GTSC partners may (will) cause crosstalk interfering with a GTSC-afflicted person's ability to distinguish STMs locally generated and STMs arising from what other GTSC individual are experiencing. This latter crosstalk is a side-effect of the use of same local associative circuitry to search the local brain for both local STM and coprocessing STM trigger-matches. Every GTSC/STM trigger does not pass through every GTSC brain, and usually the coprocessing brain correctly delivers the memory recall stream to the requesting foreign working memory task without conscious awareness in the local mind. But each day out of ten-thousands foreign STMs, hundreds cause delivery of remembered ideas to the local working memory. That local brain's reasoning circuitry is impacted by the out-of-context ideas and caused to react. It may initiate its own associative searches to evaluate the strange idea causing distraction and confusion. It may initiate bodily responses to these phantom ideas. Or, it might shrug the weird idea off.

For example, Carl Fairchild is strolling in Portage Park, enjoying the flowers, shrubbery, and fresh air. At that moment in the synchronous network, Maya, a GTSC partner living in 15th century India, is walking home from a visit to her parents. As she turns a corner on the path, she is startled to see a tiger sunning itself on a rock in front of her. Her mind scrambles for what to do; a STM of the image of the tiger arrives in Carl's brain where the associative search delve his LTMs for what he knows about napping tigers, waking up animals with big teeth, dietary habits of felines, Mr. Sniffles (his stuffed tiger that he slept with as a boy), the impending extinction of tigers documentary he saw yesterday on TV, whatever. Maya receives the LTM memory recall from Carl's brain, but Carl's working memory also receives an unanticipated download of ideas about tigers and tiger attacks. Surprised, Carl reacts to the "appearance" of tiger in Portage Park as if it had been one of his local STMs that triggered the memory recall. Several seconds later, from behind the park bench, he realizes that nobody else has reacted to the tiger; must be another of his hallucinations. He dusts himself off and resumes his walk.

 

    [Meanwhile, Maya is suffering from the overload of useless ideas from Carl's LTMs (a pet tiger? extinction?) slowing down her ability to arrive at an useful solution. Fortunately, standing still thinking in the middle of the path is not disturbing the tiger's nap. She tiptoes backwards and decides to take the longer route home.]

At birth, there are more synchronized brains with which the GTSC baby must interact than at any other time in that individual's life. The brain is less fully developed, less sophisticated, and sloppier. The impact of GTSC/STM crosstalk is quite severely disorienting to the child's mental development (sense of reality). Only one child in ten with GTSC will overcome the stress, confusion, and insanity and grow to adulthood; more than half die within a year. A GTSC child exhibits any number of odd behaviors such "seeing imaginary people and places", "having nightmares and daymares", "hallucinating", "speaking in tongues", and being so overloaded he may be diagnosed with symptoms of autism, multiple personality disorder, and many more disorders. To survive to adulthood, a GTSC-afflicted person must learn to cope with the negative impacts of foreign use of his associative circuitry and its many daily interferences. While the GTSC use of the cross-brain associative searching is beyond the conscious control of the individual, learning behaviors to avoid problems and perhaps even to benefit more from the delivered LTMs (intentional or not) is within the possible development of a growing GTSC child.

The GM and player should keep in mind that GTSC is a game construct to discuss how the character's hypermemory works, but such a concept and diagnosis is unknown to the character. The hypermemory and the crosstalk interference with reality are the character's normal mode of brain activity and it would be a discovery that other people do not think that way. Most adult GTSC survivors have come to that realization. The ideas remembered from across the hypermemory are also anonymous, e.g. remembering the fencing skill of a 15th century GTSC partner does not get delivered to the local working memory with a sense of the identity of the source. The character does not know (at the time) whether ideas in his working memory arose locally or from another brain, because his brain has performed this GTSC trick automatically and seamlessly. Again, it would be a discovery based on post-recall self-examination that might lead a character to suspect and theorize that he possesses a difference between memories he actually has experienced and experiences he recalls that he has actually never had. A sense of schizophrenia might be a common reaction amongst persons GTSC-afflicted. A sophisticated analysis might lead a GTSC individual to catalog groups of LTMs into personalities as sources of those LTMs, but such an inventory would be based on his own imagination. It is unlikely that such an imagined pantheon of GTSC partners would give a character any more control over directing his brain's autonomic use of the GTSC/STM cross-circuitry. Even a person who manages to catalog groups of memories to a series of personalities may more readily believe he is recalling "past lives" than discover the reality of GTSC.

Some coping strategies are:

  • Concentration or devotion of working memory to a very limited set of tasks; shutting down perception and primary ideation; ignoring distractions.
  • "Ground checking" of thoughts against other processed (primary ideation) STM; pausing to see if the stimuli is repeated.
  • Querying one's environment (such as, oneself or other people nearby) about the reality of working memory-formed thoughts; talking it out (a fully local process).
  • Stress-reduced acceptance of oddities and fright-or-fight stimuli; consciously learning to wait before reacting.

Using Carl Fairchild as an example, some typical side-effects of his coping strategies are:

  • He hates speed. While fear might not be the right term, it makes him physically sick (lowers his GTSC/STM resistance) to "go fast". This shows up both in his physical activity (you would never see him skiing) and in his general mental approach to life (a pause to reflect "let's think about this" behavior).
  • He appears often not to be paying attention to people around him. This rudeness is confusing to people who know him well enough to know that he is an extremely nice guy, but strangers can be quite put off by it. It takes work and tolerance to get to be a friend of Carl's.
  • He vocalizes frequently, from quiet mutterings to aloud conversation apparently with persons not present in the room. He agrees with things that have not been said. He asks odd questions like "Has anybody seen a tiger in the office today?"
  • He comes up with the strangest thoughts sometimes that then even he seems to be unable to explain (especially if you ask him about it several days, weeks, months later). Similarly, he might seem to have a talent (read Aramic) one day that a year later (or the next day) he no longer possesses.
  • Thus, for a guy with so much to remember, Carl is very forgetful. In suppressing the STM of the rest of the GTSC network, Carl largely flushes STM (his own and others) away much faster than a normal person.

FUDGE Character Description

In FUDGE terms, Genetic Transtemporal Synchronous Cognition (Hypermemory) entails:

  • GTSC affliction is a (involuntary, flawed) Superpower (an inherent supernormal ability)

     

  • Viewed as a Gift, it allows the possibility of accessing foreign skills (of randomly assigned level) beyond character's real-life experience and training (aka Hypermemory).

     

  • But the "constantly on" nature of GTSC-Hypermemory also has Fault behaviors (very) likely to occur:
    • Poor attention to reality; reaction to things not present to catatonic lack of reaction to anything
    • Forgetfulness; confusion about recent events; difficulty remembering (correctly) appointments, faces, names, etc.
    • Distractive overload; slow mental processing, inability to decide
    • Extreme startle response; overly cautious and slow moving in effort to avoid surprises

     

  • Successful integration of GTSC effects into the afflicted person's life requires Skills. These skills both help to mitigate Fault effects and to enhance Gift aspects.

    Skills might be defined broadly or narrowly, in GTSC terms or in more "normal" terms. While it might facilitiate GM/player discussion to use GTSC terms, the use of "normal" terms would probably improve the ability to "stay in character".

    • GTSC terms:
        Broadly:
      • GTSC Control - generalized skill to oppose STM distraction and enhance the quality (utility) of recalled LTMs through developed control over one's working memory and thinking processes
        Narrowly:
      • GTSC/STM-Filtering: skill to overcome STM distractions A variety of consciously learned strategies may be employed to overcome associative search crosstalk and this is the ability to continue their use in the face of challenge.
      • GTSC/LTM-Invocation: skill to enhance the quality (utility) of recalled LTMs. Generally, it is an efficiency in evaluating (and rejecting or pursuing) ideas that arrive in one's working memory, not an ability to control the direction of the autonomic associative search.
      • GTSC/Cataloguing: skill to relocate previously recalled LTMs from foreign personalities (GM option, not an author recommendation) This is a conscious mind over autonomic system control ability that might be considered impossible. If the GM believes in Zen abilities to control one's body at the most fundamental level, she might allow a character to develop this extremely difficult skill.
      • GTSC/Localization: skill to memorize locally LTMs previously recalled from GTSC partners (generally these are not full skill sets, but bits and pieces that the individual actually used). This is a very difficult skill to learn with a default of Terrible. This is, in a GTSC mindframe, the ability to collect ideas for which there exists little or no context in the local LTMs stored.
    • Normal terms (in parallel to the skills above):
        Broadly:
      • Intellectual control
        Narrowly:
      • Concentration/Willpower
      • Memory Recall/Intuition
      • Organization
      • Memorization/Learning - This may be a difficult "replacement" for GTSC/Localization, because we often speak of people having a Good Memory (ability to memorize). It might be assumed that a normal Memorization skill is naturally at a Fair level. In RPG, if the player has written down that a character has a skill, it is assumed that the memorization and recall of that skill is automatic (although failures to recall might be an interpretation of a "bad roll"). A character with GTSC and eidetic memory (or speed learning) gifts might be an overwhelming challenge for a GM that she might chose to disallow as an impossible combination. When applied to GTSC tasks, if normal Memorization skill (i.e. a normal person's skill defaulting to Fair) is used, it is suggested that only levels above Fair can affect/modify an Action resolution roll.

Note: The GM and player may opt to have the character use an attribute, such as Willpower or Reasoning (or both or other applicable attributes) to check for control over his GTSC instead of a skill or skills.


FUDGE GTSC Action Resolution

For the purpose of outlining a procedure to resolve actions involving the Hypermemory superpower, this discussion will use Normal/Narrow terms rather than GTSC terms in hopes of improving the sense of character reality and role-playing. Thus the controlling Skill is called "Memory Recall" in the following. The term "pathway" has been used as an alternative to "memory recall stream" used above.

The proposed FUDGE resolution procedure is:

  1. Memory recall is a normal function that everyone does routinely. A GTSC person just has potentially more through which to scan. The default difficulty to "think of something useful" is Mediocre. GM determines how rare related experiences (helpful or not) to the situation may be across all history of GTSC existence. Moderate frequency is better for success than either Very Frequent (too many bad pathways also) and Very Rare (too few good pathways for a likely link to be found (in time to use)). This determination opposes the character's Memory Recall skill.
      Modification options to a Memory Recall skill level:
    • Time available to consider. The roll for a useful recall might be further modified by the haste to thoroughness with which the character attempts to ponder the issue. Less than a second (immediate reaction required) should lower the Memory Recall by one level; up to 10 seconds leaves the skill unchanged, up to a minute adds one level, up to 10-60 minutes might raise the skill two level. Beyond five minutes, memory recall is probably equally likely to simply be rehashing earlier recalled LTMs. Alternatively, the GM could allow the character a re-roll for each 5-10 minutes spent pondering. {A Situational roll (next section) might be used to see if the character gets distracted away from the task.}
    • If the character has used the specific skill he is attempting to recall, the GM might allow him to use his Organization instead of the random selection Memory Recall skill for that specific skill set only.
    • If the character has used the specific skill he is attempting to recall, the Memorization skill could be used to add levels to Memory Recall. If the GM allows Memorization to apply to foreign LTMs, the suggestion is that each two levels above the default adds one level to the Memory Recall for that specific skill set only. Alternatively, the player could roll against Memorization to attempt to reuse the previously used bits of a LTM (but no more actions from that skill set than had been used previously (i.e. could repeat sentences previously heard or spoken in a foreign language, but would not recognize "new words" spoken to him)). Using Memorization to modify Memory Recall instead would allow the character potentially to have extra clues (STMs) to find the original source of the skill set from which the bits were previously collected,thereby perhaps gaining expanded knowledge from that skill set.

     

  2. An unsuccessful roll means "I got nothing" -- the normal untrained default skills' levels to perform apply. A successful roll means a skill was found with better than default skill level (default +1). For each two "relative success" levels above the difficulty, the applicable remembered skill of the character is raised an extra +1 to perform the task (and similar tasks within the same retraceable recall period, discussed below).

    What "skill" was found? Most situations have many suggestible responses and the process of associative searching of LTMs opens up to exploring the options. Unless the player/character specifically attempts to use Organization or Memorization to find a previously used skill, there should be some unpredictability to what the Memory Recall will bring to the character's mind. The player/character may provide some clues to possibilities he is considering and the GM should feel free to toss in some of her own. The GM should select one skill set, randomly, capriciously, or by whatever method her style dictates.

     

  3. Having established what skill was found and set the character's skill level (i.e. all skills at default if Memory Recall failed, one "foreign skill" above otherwise), the character can then roll for the task confronting him. As long as the character applies the skill continually within the retracing window, the same skill level will apply. Sleep and unconsciousness are also likely to break the retracing ability.

    Retracing LTM recall: While a memory recall pathway is fresh in one's working memory, it can be (will be) held open by an active refresh of the STMs to initiated it. The GM should allow 1-4 hours dependent on some factor (like Willpower, Concentration, Memory Refresh, GTSC/Retention) in the absence of a very distracting new task of very different nature (requiring a Situational roll, discussed in the next section).

Example: After dinner two blocks from his hotel, Carl is confronted by a knife-wielding mugger. He has no training in hand-to-hand/knife combat, negotiation with armed assailants, nor track star turn-and-flee. But he indicates "I wonder if I can think of some way to fight or talk my way out of this".

  1. The GM decides that similar confrontations are Fairly common (+0, and Carl's aversion to speed will rule out the turn-and-flee option, although the GM might add another option to keep things interesting) ==> Difficulty=Mediocre (Frequency scale/modifier: Rare -2, Uncommon -1, Fairly Common 0, Frequent -1, Very Frequent -2). Carl is a big guy and the mugger is a nervous fellow that is not backing off but is not rushing in either; Carl has some time (15 seconds) that he can stall and "think" about what to do. The GM decides that should give an extra +1 on his Memory Recall skill=Great+1=Superb.
  2. Carl rolls -1 ==> Superb -1 ==> Great; Great-Mediocre ==> +3 relative success. The GM tosses a coin and decides that what Carl has recalled is some hand-to-hand combat training at +1 +(3/2 round down) = +2 above the default level (Poor). So Carl has an "effective" skill level of Fair in hand-to-hand combat available at the moment.
  3. If the mugger attacks, Carl can counter with this combat skill. But that really isn't Carl's preferred outcome. So he attempts to intimidate with his size and offers the mugger two bucks to go away without the need to come to blows. His untrained (and non-Hypermemory-enhanced) default skill at Negotiation (+1 due his size on his side of the argument) is Mediocre+1=Fair. The mugger is nervous and half convinced already that this was a bad idea ==> a Fair difficulty to convince him. Carl rolls 0; the mugger takes the $2 donation and leaves. The point: it is still the character's decision whether to employ the remembered skill; he has other choices of action.
  4. Carl walks a block and is confronted again by two young (unarmed) teenagers (who might have seen the donation incident). Carl refuses their demand and one of them swings at him; Carl applies his hand-to-hand combat skill to dodge and flip the kid into the nearby piles of trash. The other one runs away rather than tangle with this obviously martial art trained person, while the one in the trash elects to act unconscious until the big guy leaves.
  5. After finally getting to the convention center and making his evening session presentation, Carl does not remember any fine points to performing the martial arts moves he used three hours earlier. Two years later, when similarly confronted, Carl recalls a memory of such eloquent skill at Negotiation that he convinces the mugger to give Carl the knife and come to the local church to confess and change his ways.

FUDGE GTSC Situation Checks

The need to combat GTSC memory recall crosstalk constantly will require the character to evidence some quirky behaviors (his Faults that will be with him all the time). However, there are times when his coping behaviors will be challenged more than the usual amount. In such case, the GM might require a Situation check to see if the crosstalk interference might overwhelm him momentarily (or even quite dramatically).

  • Stress - Times of high demands for action and production from the character (real or imagined) are going to tax his control. Combat may be such a time, but so might be sleep deprivation, hunger, or job pressure, for example.

     

  • Surprise - Whether occurring in the GTSC person's real world or transmitted from another GTSC partner grasping to deal with a sudden and urgent stimuli, the effects of surprise can break a person out of his tranquil habits.

     

  • Death of another GTSC person - Although separated across time and space, when a GTSC person dies (and access to his memories end), every other GTSC person of exactly the same age senses it as a shock. The Situation check is not so much about whether the GTSC character is momentarily stunned, but more about how long he will take to recover. If the GM deems that the character's mind was actively downloading LTMs from the dying partner's mind, that should unfavorably bias against a rapid recovery. The "sudden death" of a GTSC person may combine the effects of Surprise with the reaction to the Death.

This should not be a license for the "evil GM" to screw up the GTSC whenever the whim strikes. In adulthood, there are probably less than a thousand GTSC partners with their deaths ahead of them in the next 50 years; one death a month amongst 20-40-somethings would be a generous allowance for GM's considerations. Most GTSC adults are cautious people who avoid surprises and lead low stress lives. But an occasional reminder that GTSC is not all "peaches and cream" might help the player of a GTSC character.

Situational checks derive from memory recall crosstalk triggered by STMs. The controlling attribute/skill would be something like GTSC/STM-Filtering or Concentration/Willpower in a narrowly defined mechanism (Intellect or GTSC Control in a broad system).

Example: Arriving back at the hotel after dinner, Dr. Fairchild has plenty of time until his evening presentation. He returns to his room to go through his written notes again. As he steps through the notes, he is blinded mentally by an immense sense of emptiness fluctuating with turmoil. The GM asks for a roll against Willpower (Fair); Carl has a Poor roll. The GM informs Carl that he falls into an effectively catatonic state until his assistant comes pounding on his door when he failed to show up fifteen minutes before his presentation. Now, Carl needs to get the the lecture hall in five minutes. Even in haste, Carl is slow, but he makes it in time. The GM again checks whether Carl's stress might spoil his concentration during his speech; he has a Fair roll and all goes well.


About This Fudge Roleplaying Game Document:

The text content of this document is released under the terms of the Open Game License, which can be found at http://fudgerpg.com/about/legalities/ogl.html and is incorporated here by reference.

About Fudge:

Fudge is a roleplaying game written by Steffan O’Sullivan, with extensive input from the Usenet community of rec.games.design and other online forums. The core rules of Fudge are available free on the Internet at http://www.fudgerpg.com and other sites. Fudge was designed to be customized, and may be used with any gaming genre. Fudge gamemasters and game designers are encouraged to modify Fudge to suit their needs, and to share their modifications and additions with the Fudge community.

The Fudge game system is copyrighted ©2000, 2005 by Grey Ghost Press, Inc., and is available for use under the Open Game License. See the fudgerpg.com website for more information.”

The Fudge [or Fudge System] logo is a trademark of Grey Ghost Press, Inc., and is used under license. Logo design by Daniel M. Davis, www.agyris.net.

Open Game License Compliance:

In accordance with the Open Game License Section 6 “Notice of License Copyright” the following is the required and updated Section 15 “Copyright Notice.”

15 COPYRIGHT NOTICE

Open Game License v 1.0 Copyright 2000, Wizards of the Coast, Inc.

Fudge 10th Anniversary Edition Copyright 2005, Grey Ghost Press, Inc.; Authors Steffan O'Sullivan and Ann Dupuis, with additional material by Jonathan Benn, Peter Bonney, Deird'Re Brooks, Reimer Behrends, Don Bisdorf, Carl Cravens, Shawn Garbett, Steven Hammond, Ed Heil, Bernard Hsiung, J.M. "Thijs" Krijger, Sedge Lewis, Shawn Lockard, Gordon McCormick, Kent Matthewson, Peter Mikelsons, Robb Neumann, Anthony Roberson, Andy Skinner, William Stoddard, Stephan Szabo, John Ughrin, Alex Weldon, Duke York, Dmitri Zagidulin

"Thanks for the Memories: Genetic Transtemporal Synchronous Cognition (GTSC)" Copyright 2011, Douglas Bickford; Author[s] Douglas Bickford with contributions by Paul Dupuis.

In accordance with the Open Game License Section 8 “Identification” the following designate Open Game Content and Product Identity:

OPEN GAME CONTENT

All of the contents of this document are released under the OGL.

PRODUCT IDENTITY

No content is declared hereby as Product Identity.

	
	
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06 Feb 2011 Vermonster 5475
FUDGE Scale applied to Skills, Gifts, and Faults
Updated: 07 Dec 2010
In running adventures that take characters on far ranging jaunts, I have sometimes run into the question of the relative difference between two skills that are at the same trait level. In two of my favorite settings - the pulp era (Terra Incognita) from WWI to WW2 inclusive and a not-too-far future Space setting I have called "The Alliance" - with various adventures ranging over the whole world or worlds respectively, it comes into question. If John Doe is a Great Marksman and 'X' is a Great Marksmen, but John grew up on Earth in a normal setting and 'X' grew up on the Militaristic World where everyone mandatorily started learning marksmanship as soon as they could stand, are they in fact equally skilled?

There really are two approaches to take. The first, and obvious one, is that skill trait levels are absolute and that regardless of one's background a Great Marksmen is a Great Marksman and, luck aside, one would expect a competition between the two to be very very close.

The second, is that all skills (and potentially many gifts and faults as well) are modified by two scales. A geographic area scale and, if applicable, a temporal scale. These scales are defined by the characters background. A geographic scale may look something like:
Area Scale
Village -3
Town -2
City -1
State/Province 0
Country +1
Continent +2
Global +3
Of course, the base line can be adjusted to suit, for example, Global may be 0 for an interplanetary campaign. With this, a Markman who is considered Great in their own Province competing against a Marksman considered Great in National competitions is at a -1 due to the geographic scope scale. Of course, when the Provincial Marksmen wins the National, the GM can reward them by just adjusting the scale of the scope of their skill to the National level. This becomes an added way to both allow character skills to improve and yet still present challenging opponents who don't have to have Super level traits.

A temporal scale (or technology level scale) works the same way. If Jane Doe was an vehicle engineer on the backwater planet of "Earth" and only had a Superb master of internal combustion engine based vehicles, when arriving on the planet "Eco-9" her ability to fix the fully electric or hydrogen powered vehicles would be impaired (-1), although some aspects would still be very familiar. When arriving on the planet "Miraculous" where thought bubble transports are the norm, Jane may be several (or many) levels away (say -5), but an exceptional dice roll may allow her to fix, repair, or modify the simplest of problems of the bubble transports - after all the bubble transport probably still has something to steer with, some way to accelerate, and some way to brake and something that powers them. Conversely, for someone on the planet "Miraculous" to strip down and rebuild an antique internal combustion vehicle just unearthed at an archaeological dig, may be hard to do, but for Jane, it would be a piece of cake. Even Superb vehicle engineers of Miraculous have long lost the hands-on expertise for internal combustion vehicles (they would be at the -5), but for Jane, it is her native technology level.

Such scales can also readily be applied to Gifts (and Faults) such as Reputation, Authority, Wealth, and many others.

In a pulp setting in a global campaign set in WW1 or WW2 using a geographic scale can remind characters of how far afield the adventure has taken them, provide new challenges, and help bring the sweeping scope of involvement in a global conflict to the game.
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07 Dec 2010 Paul Dupuis 5214
On Gifts and Faults
Updated: 07 Dec 2010
Following in the footsteps of the discussion on scale and mass in the Fudge system, I thought I would discuss something that had me confused and then cleared up after speaking with some of the great people on the Fudge Yahoogroups.

In the Fudge rulebook section 1.63, it says:

"If the GM has gifts in her game, she may allow player characters to start with one or two free gifts -- more for epic campaigns. Any further gifts taken must be balanced by taking on a fault, or by trading traits."

I originally found this confusing on why you would use Gifts and Faults in the first place. Only after I began running an online campaign did I realize that a good use of the Gifts is to cover something that Attributes don't cover and some Gifts may cover many situations. It makes your character more believable. A female PC with a "Beautiful" trait could use that to help persuade, con, or just get a better response from NPCs.

Faults work the opposite way by being something in the character's background that could crop up and mess with things. If you have a PC who has Greedy in his background, he may not be able to pass up that extra loot from the museum you're robbing and set off all the alarms.

Gifts and Faults are good things to use to give your characters more full rounded look. Nobody's perfect and this is a way to show it.
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18 Nov 2010 Jonathan Snyder 3508
FUDGE Scale - More than Mass
Updated: 08 Nov 2010

The Many Uses of FUDGE Scale

 

FUDGE Scale is a powerful game mechanic to handle creatures (or objects) of different sizes (or Mass) in game terms. When dealing with interactions between creatures of similar size, no size related modifiers apply. However, when dealing with creatures of different sizes, scale provides reasonable modified for combat and other opposed actions. FUDGE Scale need not apply just to size and can be used as a powerful game mechanic to cover a multitude of scaled abilities, such as speed, strength (unrelated to size), and more.

In FUDGE, scale is usually used to represent a mix of mass, size (height, width, depth or overall volume) and strength, but in a number of genres these characteristics need not be linked. A small creature from a heavy gravity planet may have substantial mass. A normal human in size and mass, may have supernatural strength. Consider a Cheetah. An adult cheetah weighs from 40 to 65 kg (88 to 140 lb). Its total body length is from 115 to 135 cm (45 to 53 in), while the tail can measure up to 84 cm (33 in) in length. From a mass perspective, this places it in the same class as a small human, yet for short bursts, it can reach speeds of 70-75 mph. If a Speed scale uses the same 1.5 multiplier, this puts a Cheetah at around +3 over the fastest humans. Or in a opposed action of the human to escape from the chasing Cheetah, the human would be at a -3 just for the speed difference.

FUDGE Scale can even be applied to non-physical traits in some settings. In a Lovecraftian setting a Thing-Man-Was-Not-Meant-To-Know could be scale +10 or more on an Intelligence scale making a Human investigator's ability to deduce it's evil unfathomable plans for destroying the human population of the planet very difficult to reason out. It adds a challange for the players that goes beyond what ever clues they have and their own intellect at figuring them out (and takes a burden off the GM to invent unfathomable plots!). It simply presents such monstrosities as the incomprehensible creatures they are.


These are just a few of the reasons why Scale is my favorite FUDGE game mechanic.

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25 Nov 2009 Paul Dupuis 4260
Fudge Discoveries top
Jonas "fudgebob dicepants" Susara looks at all the neat things in Fudge RPG (from the System Reference Document to the latest "build"), as well as checking out new roleplaying trends and innovations adaptable to Fudge.
Blog Posts Created Author Hits
Fudge Battles and Battlefields
Updated: 12 Dec 2010

When I was about 12 years old, I came across a book called "Battles and Battlefields." From the back cover blurb: "The clash of steel, the crack of muskets and the shouts of fighting and dying men are heard again in David Scott Daniell's re-creation of fifteen battles fought on British soil. From Stamford Bridge in 1066 to Culloden in 1746, he gives a blow-by-blow account of each battle and outlines the events leading up to it and what followed."

SOLD! To that earnest, impressionable young man skittishly standing at the corner of Sci-fi and Fantasy sections!

Each chapter contained a beautiful illustration of a key point in the battle, and a military-style drawing of the battlefield with the initial deployment of the opposing forces (you know, those symbolic rectangles to represent unit types and their colors). These alone showed to my mind's eye the tone and disposition of the coming conflict. But the account of the battles was truly the gem of the book. I devoured the pages, fully immersed within each battle. I "saw" the heroic Norseman hold the bridge for his countrymen, I was with fleeing Highlanders when they were being cut down by the Redcoat Cavalry!

Back then, I didn't know about war-games much less role-playing games but that book fired up my imagination! My mind was replaying (role-playing?) the events on my mind, had me making "scenarios" of battles I wanted, thinking of "What Ifs." And, yeah, this book made me love History and Literature so much more. Now, 30+ years later, this book, old and battle-scarred, is still with me. I have re-read it over the years - never failing to entertain and to spark my imagination.

I'd like to celebrate Fudge War Week by starting a war-game series, featuring the "Battles and Battlefields" of Mr. Daniell.

I'll share my Fudge B&B ideas on my next post. See ya later, fellow fudge fans!

--Jonas "fudgebob dicepants" Susara

References:

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12 Dec 2010 Jonas "fudgebob dicepants" Susara 3880
Fudging Mythic RPG - Odds Questions
Updated: 17 Jul 2010
Mythic has a neat mechanic in resolving in-game questions which the GM has not prepared for or haven't even thought about.

Check out Mythic RPG at http://www.mythic.wordpr.com/page14/page14.html.

Here are my somewhat-simplified Fudge conversion:

1. Ask an in-game question, answerable by a YES or a NO.

2. Determine the Odds Modifiers:

Has to be      +3
A Sure Thing   +2
Likely         +1
50/50           0
Unlikely       -1
No Way         -2
Impossible     -3

3. To get the final answer, roll 4DF with modifiers:

  •   A Superb or higher is an EXCEPTIONAL YES.
  •   A Good to Great is a YES.
  •   A Fair can be MARGINAL YES, A YES with Complications, or Unresolved/Delayed answer
    (Pick only 1 for the session/campaign)
  •   A Mediocre to Poor is a NO.
  •   A Terrible or lower is an EXCEPTIONAL NO.
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17 Jul 2010 fudgebob dicepants 4722
Fudge Fantasy 101 top
Shawn Lockard's Game Designer Blog, following him along as he designs Fudge Fantasy 101, a "brand new to roleplaying games" version of Fudge.
Blog Posts Created Author Hits
Intermission: Reworking my Goals for Day of Fudge
Updated: 20 Apr 2011
     Looking over the entries on the blog to date, I see a couple of trends, and hope to adjust them a bit. One is the slowness of updates. Part of that is that I am a Fudge Fan, and not a full time writer, so like most folks, I have a lot of easy excuses to not update enough. However, the blog will never be about not writing, so that will be the last time you hear me talking about that.
     I do think that if I'm blogging weekly, you deserve more commentary and fun bits, or I should be writing more often and keep it shorter. I will endeavour a bit to do both.  I'll explain how in a second, but first...
     The other trend is  (and if you disagree, by all means, comment) that some of this material feels a little dry. The actual bits of Fudge 101 will be spruced up once its seen a few drafts, to help draw the first time reader in. My commentary, however, doesnt' seem to stand out as much.  I think that gaming material should be a fun read even if you never get to play, so I dont need the material to be as grey as the backgrounds on the website (I'm sure even the Grey Ghost was much more colorful).
     Also, as I mention in the title, the Day of Fudge is coming up. I will be running something for that day, and I want to do something here to make a splash. I'm certainly not going to be able to finish the whole of Fudge 101 in a month, so what to do?

1. Assemble the Character Generation Bits and have them ready for Day of Fudge :
     I will take the posts I've already done, edit them together and add the necessary bits, and post that before May is out (hopefully within a month of this post). An outline of the rules bits that I plan to use them with will also be provided, for those that have Fudge 10th Anniversary Edition and can handle the GM'ing themselves.
     I will still comment about what and how I am doing, I just may not post the whole work in the blog, as a lot of it is just selecting the write bits of OGL'ed material to accompany my work. But, as is the mission of the blog, I'll document my work and thoughts for you so you can how it goes, and comment on all the things I'll need to fix.

2. Work the Setting in Parallel :
     Movies aren't usually shot sequentially (yes, I know about E.T.). Pop music is regularly assembled from seperate discrete performances.  Writers I 've spoken to don't often write their work from front to back, in fact, to keep things fresh for the writer, they jump from bit to bit trying to stave off writer's block.  I will be using it to liven things up a bit around here.
     I can't provide my prospective new gamer with a set of rules and leave it at that. A setting will give that new gamer a place to start, and for someone new to Fudge but not gaming, it should offer a good example and a sense of completeness. Luckily, most folks are familair with the more standard, Tolkieny bits of "Fantasy" that we take for granted, so we can focus more on the differences, and setting up potential conflict and story elements.

3. Enjoy Fudge:

     Lastly, and of least direct consequence to this blog, I will play more. Every bit of my day I get to touch Fudge stuff, or think about it, helps me with my writing, both in ideas and enthusiasm. The Fudge IRC channel, the @fudgerpg twitter account, the yahoo group, and of course, the forums on the site here, all feed the fire that fuels the forge that will foundry the Fudge.  (Editing your own blog entries mean you get to occasionally leave in a long sentence and silly alliteration). So thanks for the help!
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20 Apr 2011 Shawn Lockard 30967
Gifting to a Fault
Updated: 04 Apr 2011
We are moving right along through the Fudge "core" set of choices, and the next is Gifts and Faults. There are a lot of ways to go here, so for us, trying to define a fairly standard fantasy set of rules, we will have to give a number of examples, and warn the person running the game. But for now, we will focus on describing this for the players. To faciliate that, I am going to avoid giving the Faults or Gifts levels of their own. These traits can possibly help to add dimension and life to a pile of stats, or at least hint to the player that their character isn't a killing machine with a personality of carboard and a cookie cutter shape. 

The Gifts and Faults will also, when we get around to listing them in one of the big data dump lists later (along with the skills and equipment and such) be of a decent strength.  A character may only have two or four of these, total, so they should speak to the character, and not be something mild, useless, or worse, boring. Some of them will have tactical or combat effects, to be sure, but we want to help inspire when we can. 

So without further ado, Gifts and Faults 101:

Gifts and Faults are two broader traits that a character can have. Their names are pretty big hints as to what they do. A Gift, like Night Vision, or  Absolute Direction, are certainly a positive for a character. A gift is a trait that usually doesnt' have a default. It is something that, well, you either "got it" or you don't.  In the description of the gift will be the blatant "rules" effect, like "sees in the dark" or "+1 to Navigate" but they also can help you define your character and give the person running the game a better idea of who your character is, and they may find more ways you can apply your Gift than just the "textbook" definition.  
Faults are the flip side of the coin. They work. mechanically, or rules-wise, very much like Gifts, but usually to a characters detriment. Clumsy, or greedy, or sensitive to light would all make a characters life harder in different ways.  They have their "rules" effect, that will get in the way of the character, challenging them with themselves. It also  rounds out your character, making it mre real, and gives the person running the game another way to involve your character. 

Gifts and Faults have one other useful function. They can be used to fill in the spaces missed by attributes and skills. Gifts can give characters unique and interesting abilities (in some cases, Magic!) thats makes the character more than the sum of the skill list. Faults can be taken, as needed, during character creation, to add more than the normal number of Gifts or skills, and let the character's accounting balance out. 


Thank you for reading!

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04 Apr 2011 Shawn Lockard 9221
Skills, the major focus of characters
Updated: 03 Mar 2011
In my mind, the skills are what most concretely define the characters. The style a player acts out a character, mood or personality, is important, but is hard to define in even the most detailed system. What a character can do, however, is never more concretely described than in their skills. A skill defines a specifc ability, usually learned, that a character posesses. It is another trait of the character, and operates with the same levels descriptive levels, often defaulting without trainingl, to Mediocre. Some skills are more difficult and may default to Poor, or not even have an untrained default. 

Skills are fairly specific, like Juggling and Swimming, while being listed in a category, in this case Dexterity. Having a category not only makes the skill easier to find on a character sheet when you need to, but when it comes time to create a character, the categories are also helpful.

Just to bring these ideas together, and to let you see a little bit of where we are going, lets talk for just a second on how skills work. Your character's skill level is a word on that trait ladder, from Terrible to Superb. When you need to do something important in the game, you will be asked to roll some dice to give a result. If your Good at Swimming, and you rolled a +1 on the dice (more on that later) you did a Great job at Swimming in whatever situation you were in, and things will continue on. The characters skill level is important, as the dice tend towards not adding or subtracting more than 1 level, and other things like equipment or circumstances also don't tend to affect the rolls by more than one level. Next up,Gifts and Faults.  Then we'll move on to actually making a character. 







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03 Mar 2011 Shawn Lockard 4860
Attributes - Quick and Easy
Updated: 02 Dec 2010
Moving right along.. Attributes..


So with all of these levels, we should start describing some things with them! Lets go with Attributes first. Attributes for us describe broad inherent features everyone has, and are used when you have no other trait to describe something. There are six:

Reasoning: Thinking ability; puzzle solving; intelligence; cleverness
Perception: Awareness of the environment; raw ability to notice things
Willpower: Strength of will; psychic/magical stamina; determination
Strength: Physical strength; lifting/carrying capacity; ability to deal damage
Agility: Physical dexterity; native talent for physical skills 
Health: Fitness; resistance to disease and injury; physical stamina 

You can see from the brief descriptions that they are describing the raw talent and very basic, somtimes instinctual abilities of a person. You may not be called on to use these traits very often, but knowing them and making sure that your other traits reflect and match up with these will help define your character. 

I gave this section a lot of thought, especially considering the scarcity of words or even real game time importance of the numbers. Yes, you will sometimes roll against these levels, and they certainly will give you some advantages in combat settins especially, but these are by far the least exciting stats on the character sheet.

I decided to stick with F10's (Fudge 10th Anniversary Edition) listed attributes, and even used alot of the descriptions form that section here. I read over the rules alot and did not feel the need, based on my play and writing experiences, to reinvent the wheel. Playtesting and experience from folks like Ann and Stephen went into the design, I know better than to take that lightly. The goal of this work is not to come up with a brand new design, rather to take the existing material, and streamline the explanation of it for the fresh to rpg crowd. 

Having said all that, if playtest later on shows problems, or a vast underuse of certain attributes, I'm not above tweaking the rules then. Consider that a bridge to cross later. There are fairly valid arguments for not using attributes, since they aren't linked to skills anyway, and even I was a little tempted to shorten this list even further, pushing some of these traits off into the fault/gift territory. I think that new players especially, and players of other games will find some of these stats comforting, and we can tell them to look to their skills or Gifts for the social attributes (Charisma anyone?)

Next time, Skills. How would you feel if I left out chunks of text (like skill listings) that I'll just end up cutting and pasting from F10 directly, with page references to what I'll include (thank you open gaming licenses). Please let me know in the comments or on the forums.

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02 Dec 2010 Shawn Lockard 3678
Game Design in Public
Updated: 17 Nov 2010
With the site coming on-line and public in the last few days, I'll be starting, Fudge Dice willing, to post regularly and interact here, or on the forums, to Fudge 101. I'm writing this as it comes, no real pre-planning, and honestly, no outline. I'm winging it, and hoping that the mistakes and the bad choices are entertaining, or at least informative. Whatever it is, it will be here, live and unvarnished. 


Welcome to Fudge, a universal, and flexible role playing game system. If you have played a role playing game (rpg) before, you may breeze over bits, but the rest of you, listen close, and I promise not to get you too lost in jargon or large chunks of numbers. Another thing is that I won't tell you, at the start, what a role playing game is, really, but show you, throughout the book, what this kind of role playing game is and how I play it. What I will tell you, is that there is often some acting (the role playing part) and a contest, or game portion, to resolve conflicts brought about by your choices for your character. 

Before we talk about what makes up a character though, we need to learn a few bits of information. We'll have some terms to define to make up a "character", for you to play. There will be different traits, and most of them will use the trait levels listed here:

Superb
Great
Good
Fair
Mediocre
Poor
Terrible

These are simple words to quickly define the different parts of a character. Each one should be obviously better or worse than the next, and give you a quick handle on your character without having to know anything about the probabilities of your dice rolls or how specific game rules work. You could tell another player "Jane has Great strength, is a Good archer, but is Terrible at Chess" and be reading almost verbatim from the information on your character sheet. 


That is the first snippet of Fudge 101. You can already see here that its going to be simple, conversational explaining of Fudge. It is defining a certain specific implementation of Fudge, not the whole toolbox of rules. I'm assuming no previous experience of any type, and hope to show the reader, as the text continues, just how things work bit by bit. I'm stopping here for tonight so I can start in on attributes and skills next time. I won't be breaking much new ground in rules design, I really want to put that "start of the game" conversation in written form in a meaningful and eventually fun way, so new Fudge players can hit the ground running. 


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17 Nov 2010 Shawn Lockard 3332
A little bit about Scope, a little bit about blog method
Updated: 26 Apr 2010
Before I get started in earnest I want to define a little more about how the rough idea is meant to work, about the game design and structure of the blog. Fudge Fantasy will be roughly based on the Fudge Fantasy section of Fudge 10th edition, diverging when necessary. There is a lot of wisdom in the design, and I will shamelessly borrow from it. What I will do is expand or broaden some approaches and make definite choices for things like damage systems. How, you might say? 

Fudge has very granular levels, making any +1 a huge bonus, so in broad strokes, making any particular stat have a narrower scope allows detail without changing the fundamentals (at least in theory). To stay simple enough to feel like Fudge (to me) these traits will be chosen judicuously, and choosing and explaining them will make up a bulk of what is written here. 

So, future articles should generally follow this approach. You'll see a chunk of text that will be a draft of some particular part of  Fudge Fantasy 101, and then I'll wax poetic about all the decisions involved. I'll certain read any discussion on the material, and if I feel I can use it I may address it here, or in the comments or forums. 

Next Up: Real Content to look over. Character Attributes. Not for the faint of heart! 

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26 Apr 2010 Shawn Lockard 3384
Fudge Fantasy 101: Preface
Updated: 30 Dec 2009

I have played Fudge for more than a few years, both as a player and a GM, and have demoed for and written for Grey Ghost Games. The more involved I have gotten, the more I have wanted a "brand new to role playing games" version of the game to introduce new fans-to-be to the game.

What will follow in this blog will be a Designers eye view of developing the first of those approaches, Fudge Fantasy 101. Borrowing liberally from the Fudge 10th Anniversary Edition, I will, right in front of your eyes, put together an introductory Fudge build for new players to not only the game, but gaming, to cut their proverbial teeth on. It will be a fully usable implementation, using as much of the existing rules as possible, making all the design choices ahead of time.  Because the build will be fairly standard, a lot of the common portions of Fudge, like trait levels, scale and ODF will be introduced.

Comments and criticism are welcome, constructively, in the forums. The goal, however, is to put the design process in writing, for better or for worse, in hopes that others, and myself, learn from it by talking quite a lot about it.


 

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07 Dec 2009 Shawn Lockard 3172
The Codex of Fudge top
Here you will find all the information regarding Jonathan Snyder's projects released for the awesome FUDGE game system.
Blog Posts Created Author Hits
Making Players Feel Needed
Updated: 30 Jun 2012


This is something that came up a while ago that I meant to write about. This is geared toward the new GM.

Players are the most important thing in your game. It is not the rules, the setting, or the cool new trap that you have setup. If players are not happy about what they are doing then they are not going to enjoy your story.

Something that now seems obvious, but was completely missed by myself, is that you need to make sure that the player creates a character that is not only fun, but useful.

My wife, Susanna, created a character for a fantasy game I was going to be running and had tried to cover too many skills. I, being too much in to the mechanics, did not realize that the character would be hard pressed to succeed at some of the basic tasks. The campaign went for about three sessions until the end of the third did I notice Susanna was frustrated and upset at her character.

I realized then what I had done. I had not taken the time to really check her character out and see how well it would fare in the campaign. I also failed to notice her frustration building at every roll that barely made it or failed.

Lucky for me, the players agreed to allow her to re-tool her character to a more specific and better combination of skill points and the mission continued. I was blessed to have such an understanding group.

So, some tips for the new GM who might be making these mistakes.

1) When somebody gives you their character for approval, think about how the character is going to act in the session. Do they have skills that are useful? Are they taking skills they really do not need? If you see it going that way say something. Suggest some changes.

2) Sometimes characters slip through your watchful gaze. Watch for the mood of your people. If you can see frustration and it seems to be more than just bad dice rolls, you might want to think of adding something for that character to be more useful or give them a chance to change a skill or two. 

Remember, if your players are not having fun, you are just wasting everybody's time.

 

Good luck!

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21 Jun 2012 Jonathan Snyder 4440
Dealing With Player Character Death
Updated: 14 Feb 2012

Three weeks ago I ran a session that was part of the campaign I have been running for some time now. That day the player characters had wound up in a dangerous situation hunting an elemental dragon in his lair. The plan was to sneak up on it and kill it while it slept. It was working fine until one player rolled four minuses and already had a negative one penalty.

As we had been playing for some time I had already told the players they were out of "tutorial mode" and I would not be assisting them with reminders for Fudge points and so forth. I wanted them to think and plan for themselves instead of using me as a fall back. It might sound cruel, but I'll explain farther down in this article.

Suffice to say, our unlucky player forgot to spend the fudge points to change the collective negative five and the beast awoke. What followed was fifteen rounds of pure chaos and adrenalin as the PCs and NPCs tried to stay alive.

By the end of the next two hours all, but one, was incapacitated or near death. The other only survived because I took pity on the whole situation and had the dragon leave. I did not have happy players on my hands and I was shunned by my wife (who was a player) for a few hours.

This is what got me thinking about an article. Luckily these sets of PCs did not die when there was a great chance that it could happen. I spent the next few hours poring over my notes thinking what could have gone better and if I was in the right to allow the situation to go the way it did. Here is what I came up with.

The situation was player generated. Bad rolls and forgotten fudge points allowed the situation to come to be. Instead of disengaging all the PCs decided to stay and try to complete the quest and kill the dragon. They did do well the first rounds, but as soon as their healer fell to a swift dragon kick, the battle went south fast.

The dice were unfair and miraculously everyone continued to forget about their fudge points!

So, what is this article about? Well, dealing with the major causes of player anger.

1) Players are angry at the situation because their character did not perform the way they had hoped. This is true in the case of one player who had great agility skill to climb the dragon, but every time she rolled at a crucial time to get to its neck, she rolled bad and fell down a few yards from her goal. This was the case through the whole game.

2) Players have a strong attachment to their characters. A good RPer knows that this does happen and to try to remind themselves that it's just a character, but in the case of my wife, she loves characters and her little assassin especially. She was angry at me for allowing harm to come to her character. She was not angry as in fuming, but understood that's how the game goes, but still upset how close death came.

3) Player who don't like losing. Gratefully, I did not have any of these types of players in my game. When everybody went to lick their wounds, the conversation was how they were all lucky to be alive instead of what had gone horribly wrong. I wasn't held for to much except not reminding them about fudge points.

What should you do if you have a situation like this? First of all, the best thing to do is remember that though the players are upset, they are most likely upset at you because you're the only one they can be. It's usually never personal. I got a lot of thank you's and “it was a fun game” after the fact (like three or four days.)

Another is to do what I should have done in hind sight. I should have let the situation arise, but helped in the area of fudge points. Being silent had them really panicky and it's not good to put your players through that too much. A good life and death game does put some effort in to their characters and imagination, but now I fear that they will be timid in all their actions in later sessions.

It's a very fine line and balance between helping your players avoid certain death and being so helpful that there is no danger for the characters anymore because they think they have the "GM Safety net".

Like any other advice I have given in this blog: It really depends on knowing your players and what they really feel in situations like this. A good GM will know when his players are getting upset and why they are. Upset because the situation is getting bad is better then upset at you because they think you are being cruel.

All parties need to remember that it is just a game and that's what will keep everybody happy in the end.

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12 Feb 2012 Jonathan Snyder 5304
Art of Improvisation
Updated: 15 Jan 2012

Improvisation. No matter how much preparation you do before a game, even the best GMs are still caught off guard. Developing the skills to improvise and adapt to the adventure at hand almost seems mystical, but it is not. This is something that I wanted to write about as many new GMs have never realized how needed this skill is especially with Fudge.


Improvising is the art of adapting your story around the sudden and/or unexpected actions of your PCs or questions that you had not planned for. The reason I call it an art is because some of the best GMs I know have made a game awesome and I did not know they improvised until the end.


Characters (and their players) are thee must unpredictable element in RPGs. You take players from different walks of life, put them at the table, and then tell them that they can do whatever they want with their characters, you are guaranteed a surprising development!

 

What do you do when this happens? How do you develop skills to cut the players off before they can surprise you? Well, you cannot keep them from surprising you, but there is a few things you can do to help make sure that when you are surprised, you can do it without fail.

 

1. Know your setting like the back of your hand. There is nothing like playing a setting and all of a sudden they ask you a question in a section you just gleaned over because they would never ask about that. Know your setting! Read the books of your world so you can answer anything they throw at you. The majority of improvisation will come from the wealth of knowledge you store up in your head.

 

Try to keep flipping through the books to a minimum as that will make the players doubt your ability to GM a game. I mean, how much trust would you put in to a GM who has to look at the rules every other question?

 

2. Flesh your story out. Know your story as well as you know your setting. This ties in to the above point. Be sure that you know the story and so when the players decide to go a different route to the objective then you had planned, you know the area and the story well enough to guide them back to the objective or give them a brand new route.

 

An example of my failure to plan ahead was a vault that I had sealed up and hid the key in the corner of a guard's office. What I did not take in to consideration was that a player that joined at the last minute decided to play a gaseous cloud. He simply squeezed through the keyhole and unlocked the door from the other side. My secret vault became useless because I did not think far enough ahead to plan for that. What makes me feel even dumber is that I knew ahead of time that this would have been one of his character possibilities.

 

3. Practice! No matter how much planning you do and even if you follow this article to the letter, the player is still going to surprise you with a move you did not expect. Just go with it and make up an answer or plan a new way of doing it. There is nothing like good practice in the field to give you the confidence and the experience to grow as a GM.

 

For this article I want to do a shout out to my good friend and fellow GMer Wolf “SirWolf” Bergenheim, A master of making-it-up-as-you-go. He was my first introduction to a true fudge game and after three awesome (and epic) sessions, I asked him his secret and he simply said, “Oh, I just make it up as I go.”

Good luck on your sessions and do not be afraid to fudge it!

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30 Dec 2011 Jonathan Snyder 5486
How to Design a Setting
Updated: 15 Jan 2012

This is something that I wanted to write for quite awhile, but had not yet decided that I was experienced enough to write it. It was only a few weeks ago I realized that nobody is truly experienced when it comes to creativity and that it is trying that improves the art. So, here I am penning a tutorial/essay about designing settings for Fudge.

Now the first thing I do want to point out is that setting and world are interchangeable in the community. For this tutorial a setting is a small collection of information encompassing something small. A world or a city, it is something that does not take up massive volumes and is easy for the GM to read over and get ready. A world by my definition is is a collection of settings make the playing field more epic. A world could be a group of star systems with a setting set for each planet or just a massive fantasy world. Again though I want to point out these terms are interchangeable and could mean something different to other people. So, with all the technical stuff out of the way, let us grab a tablet, notebook paper, or whatever you feel the most comfortable writing with and get to work. 

1.Decide What your Setting is Going to be About.

The first thing you want to do is decide what you want your setting to be about. This can be anything from a new gritty scifi world to a fantasy land. What I find the best thing to do is come up with a tagline or one sentence description that embodies the world. I'm designing a setting with you at the same time as I write this so you have something to compare what you have with what I am doing. Keep us all on the same page. 

Example: http://www.fudgefactor.org/2006/01/reign-of-evil.html

2. What is in this Setting?

First of all you probably want to have an idea of what you want your setting to be about. The way I like to start is come up with a small sentence to describe your universe. My entry is: "An empire of merpeople living in the oceans of Earth."

There is a lot of thinking that goes in to making a good setting as you need to flesh out the setting in your head so you know what you want to do. This sentence gives you something to work with and what you want to make.

3. Creatures, and Things That Go Bump in the Night.

A world is empty and useless without characters and things in it. I personlly believe the hardest part of creating a setting is putting in the variaty of people and creatures to catch the reader's attention. In this case, I thought about the people of Mer under the water and tried to imagine what there life would be like. This I have found is a very good way of coming up with creatures and characters.

4. A Labor of Love

A setting is nothing that you can just come up with in one setting. Writing and designing is an art and art never should be rushed. One of the things I learned is the story is more important then just the setting. A good story will always bring people back and that's what you want in your setting. Stories for the players to play. 

5. Feedback and a thick skin.

Another good thing to know and understand is that once you release your setting is to welcome feedback and also expect criticism on something you put in there. A thick skin is important as though the words may sting when someone points out something they don't like or think is a flaw in your work, you need to realize that the majority of the time the person who is critiquing your work is trying to make it better and to help you out. 

Take his words in to consideration and decide if you agree with him/her or not. 

Well, that's all for this blog entry. I hope this gives you many ideas about what to do with your setting, but also give you a blue print in case you are not sure how to proceed. If you have any questions you can either post it on the forum, on the yahoogroups, or email me at: Morg223 AT jtworld DOT net. 

Here is the link to the People of Mer I made as an example:

http://www.fudgerpg.com/members/remository/settings/The-People-of-Mer/

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12 Apr 2011 Jonathan Snyder 5906
I GMed my very first game!
Updated: 26 Jan 2011

This blog entry is a little late, but I still think it's important since many new people are always wondering what it would be like to GM a game.

I know for me I was extremely nervous thinking of all the worse case scenarios that could happen to me. From completely botching up the story to being ostracized from the Fudge IRC channel. All of these fears were completely unfounded as you soon will find out.

My first GM experience crept up on me. My original plan was to watch, practice on my own, and ask questions of the experts. This changed when my good friend Jonas aka "Fudgebob" on the IRC chat said to me, "Hey, why don't you run a game?" I immediately began the wishy-washy-maybes, but he smoothly talked me in to running a game that Saturday.

As I logged off the computer the realization sunk in of what I had just done and I did not even have a story! So, for the next two days (as Saturday was only three days away) I worked feverishly on a story and with all my own print outs, cheat sheets I made to keep from screwing up, and a step by step of the story I logged in to run the game. I lucked out with have only fudgebob and I thought to myself, "Whew, this shouldn't be to difficult."

Boy, was I wrong! To all you Newbie GMs, the first thing you need to get out of your mind is that the story will go the way that you thought it out. It NEVER goes that way. Players are a unpredictable variable in the world of RPGs. When you would think they would try one thing, they try another and that is usually something you did not plan for.

My first experience in the game is when I had a little dinosaur steal a piece of vital equipment and I wanted fudgebob to chase it in to the field and wind up in a nest of them, but low and behold, Fudgebob decided to try to charm it and he rolled pretty good that I'm like, "Great! He just tamed the reptile. That wasn't part of the plan!" Let alone, he wouldn't enter the plains where I wanted too, try to forge the river where I had dinosaurs waiting for him. He just simply went his own way.

After two sessions though, I was graced with another player, shyann (another original thinker who threw me for a loop). After battles with veloci-raptors and collecting their weapons fudgebob and shyann finally got to the goal where I had a sleeping T-Rex waiting for them. I made sure the weather hampered their ability to see so I could at least have one surprise on them. The surprise worked and I sat there chuckling to see how they were going to get their goal without getting eaten.

Low and behold, they wanted to rig all their grenades together to make a super bomb to blow the T-Rex up! I couldn't believe it. I made the task hard to do, but they succeeded! I made their ability to sneak up on it hard to do and they made it! suffice to say, my only little surprise wound up being pummeled by a energy grenade explosion. Suffice to say, the mission did not go according to how I wanted it to go, but this is something I'm glad that happened.

If the story had gone by the book, my job would have been boring. I would not have had the chance to think on my feet without letting my players know that they had just stumped me. It is something that you should revel in and try your best.

Fudgebob was excellent in pointing out mistakes I made and taught me how to go with the flow, How to allow the players to describe their victory when they won instead of me. Do not be scared of GMing. It's a fun experience that I enjoy more then playing. To be able to watch my players panic because they think they are about to be eaten gives you such a happy feeling (in an evil sort of way). Stories are interactive and I know these adventures will live in my mind longer then any video game will.

If you want to know more about the game that was run or want to try it yourself. You can find it on the FudgeRPG repository as “A Fudgey Tale: Tears of the Jungle”.

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24 Jan 2011 Jonathan Snyder 7239
Role-playing with Camels
Updated: 14 Dec 2010
Do not take the title seriously. I have not mastered the art of teaching a camel how to role play let alone throw fudge dice...yet. I thought it would be a catchy title for this blog entry. The subject, which was inspired by a conversation with our Ann Dupuis, is about role-playing in the combat zone.

Role playing permeates our society on all levels and the military is no different. The men and women in uniform do not just deposit their love of games and their hobbies at the door when they put on this uniform.

I, myself, am in the United States Air Force presently deployed to Afghanistan in support of Operation: Enduring Freedom and nothing has changed for me. I sit at my little section on the maintenance work bench with my laptop running, with my Fudge dice lying beside my machine and the Fudge rulebook open to the page I was just reading. The only difference being that I've got sand in my rulebook. Life is stressful over here with many people stuck in together in close quarters with each other and games are a way of relaxing.

What is the thing I'm trying to say? Am I just rambling? There is a good chance of that, but what I want to say is games are important here. It keeps our minds off of what is going on outside the wire and the possibility of some random mortar coming in silently and taking us out.

I sit at my little spot with my computer online, papers all around me for the FUDGE game that I'm GMing through the IRC chat listening to the advice of my friend Jonathan Susara on how to run the game while trying to keep up with all the information and questions being put to me. It is great to just concentrate on the game that I'm playing instead of what is going on around me. You do not know how nice it is to look up from my computer thinking, "where am I? oh, that's right. Afghanistan." Role playing is a way that I can escape the stress here temporarily.

This is the first part of a little blog post I am going to try to write. I am a FUDGEr and have not yet been able to convince my friends to play just yet, but there is a Gaming group here in Bagram that I have not yet been able to make contact yet (as of the workload and they are on the other side of the base, a good hour an half trip by bus there and back). They play Dungeons and Dragons and I'm hoping to go and see them and maybe get their stories for all of us here.

So, look forward to that post hopefully forthcoming. Have a great day and keep throwing those fudge dice!

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14 Dec 2010 Jonathan Snyder 4904
Shallow Graves - My First FUDGE game!
Updated: 07 Dec 2010
What do you get when you have a loud mouth trash talking Ghost Knight and an executioner with a sense of humor? I had no clue either until I played my very first FUDGE adventure!

I know, I know. How can this be my first FUDGE game when I'm writing content for the game system? Well, that just shows you how awesome FUDGE is, when I can put my creativity to it and just from reading the rules. Thanks to IRC, I was able to join a game with Knaight as our GM and Jonas "fudgebob dicepants" Susara as the humorous executioner.

Our GM, Knaight, had us pick a setting and we opted for his Shallow Graves. A high medieval fantasy with whole bunch of undead running around with as many cheesy moments as zombies. He had asked for a description of our characters -- I later found out we were using the Fudge on the Fly system (more information here) -- and I chose to be a Ghost Knight, a soldier out to hunt down and destroy all things evil while Jonas picked up an executioner out of work since his master was turned into a zombie.

Like any good story it started off with Sir Gossam, the Ghost Knight and AxeBeard the executioner sitting at a table eating their meals.

The two of you were interrupted from your meal in the tavern by a most unfortunate coincidence. A "lightning strike" hit the roof, and now its on fire. Furthermore, there is a sound outside that sounds something like bones clattering and something like a xylophone.

On exiting the burning building (which in hind sight we completely ignored) we found a large spear-wielding skeleton in mail armor, 2 smaller ones, a fat necromancer, and another skeleton playing on some sort of bone xylophone. Why was he playing? We never found out as Axebeard went to smash the skeleton in, wound up blocked by the larger one and then we were both challenged by the necromancer to beat his new creation.

The whole thing turned out to be a test of a new abomination. The necromancer even had company, a beautiful woman who could float in the air with her own fancy sword with strange markings on it. The battle began with the Executioner using his battle axe, Matilda, against the new spear wielding skeleton, while my idiotic Knight decided to take on the woman who was far superior in all ways.

The battle was fun with Axebeard smashing through the skeletons and Gossam getting pummeled by the flying female.

The floating woman parries Sir Gossams strike effortlessly, then pounds his face with her pommel. "This is fun. We should do this more often."

SirGossam stumbles back spitting out blood and glares at the woman. "Gloat all ya want, wench. We'll see how you like it at the end."

I'm fighting with already a -3 on my superb swordsman skill since the dice only give me a zero or a one. I honestly was laughing out loud while playing cause I found it funny that Gossam's loud mouth continued to trash talk while these girl was effortlessly pummeling him to death.

Suffice to say after I nicked her (and that nick was a Superb roll on the dice!) she kicked a hissy fit and left accusing me of damaging "art". So glad she did not turn around and turn me in to something like a undead gnat. From that point on we chased the Necromancer through the city, fought off his magical serpent (which by the way, Jonas got a nice +3 snagging that ornery snake and then pummeling it to powder).

We found that the Necromancer was trying to get in to the Viper Cult with his new creation, but thanks to a bad perception (had fair and rolled a zero) the necromancer wound up getting the floating woman's sword through the head. We ended the session with discovering a strange spider tattoo on the dead necromancer and the executioner removed it...quite graphically.

I cannot say how excited I was after completing that session. I had looked up from my computer for the first time since playing and found three hours had gone by! I am definitely hooked on continuing to play the FUDGE system. It took a little bit in getting started, but thanks to the patience of both Knaight and Fudgebob, I learned why everybody enjoys the system so much!

In ending, I absolutely enjoyed playing my trash talking Knight even with him getting pummeled and beat around by a floating girl. I learned a lot about what goes in to playing the game and how fun using your imagination truly is. Those kids with their video games are missing out on a lot!

Also, Knaight wanted me to add this disclaimer so here you go!

<b>Knaight claims that Alchemquest is a far, far better setting and this is deliberately cliche ridden!</b>

You can find the full game log at:

http://www.jtworld.net/JTgames/sessions/20101127_shallowgraves.txt
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27 Nov 2010 Jonathan Snyder 4992
Snyder's Insanity & A Fudge Tale: Ice Princess
Updated: 07 Dec 2010
I don't know what came over Ann. She allowed me to have a blog on her site! Is that crazy or what?

Well, greetings and welcome to the official Blog of JTGames (a nifty little name I came up with for the release of FUDGEy and gave me an excuse to use my little mascot).

I've got to admit it. It's probably the reason that I like RPGs all together, but I got a thing for Princesses and Princesses in distress. So, here I have an age old concept that has been used more times that I can count (cause I can't count that high) and I wanted to give it a little twist.

So, uploaded to the Repository of knowledge on this great old Grey Ghost Game site is the JTGames release of "A Fudge Tale: Ice Princess".

I do have a goal of releasing new Fudge Tales per month so there is always an influx of new content and ideas for all you FUDGErs out in the world so stay tuned!
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18 Nov 2010 Jonathan Snyder 4524
Grey Ghost Blather top
Ann Dupuis posts semi-random and semi-regular thoughts on Grey Ghost Press, Fudge, publishing, roleplaying, and other topics.
Blog Posts Created Author Hits
Fudge for Engineers and Artists
Updated: 26 Nov 2010

One morning, as we were accompanying our dogs on their romp through the woods, Paul mentioned that he was going to have to abandon Five-Point Fudge as the character creation system for a project he was working on, and go with the objective character creation system instead. That got me thinking about the various approaches to Fudge (objective, subjective, and some things like Five Point Fudge that lie somewhere between the two).

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25 Nov 2010 Ann Dupuis 3851
Solar Blind top
Chris Helton posts semi-random and semi-regular thoughts on Battlefield Press, Fudge, publishing,
roleplaying, and other topics.
Blog Posts Created Author Hits
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