Fudge Fantasy 101

Shawn Lockard's Game Designer Blog, following him along as he designs Fudge Fantasy 101, a "brand new to roleplaying games" version of Fudge.

Intermission: Reworking my Goals for Day of Fudge

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     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!

Gifting to a Fault

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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!

Skills, the major focus of characters

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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. 

Attributes - Quick and Easy

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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.

Game Design in Public

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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:


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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