On Skill Deconstruction: Fudge

Fudge used to stand for Free Universal Do-it-yourself Gaming Engine, though now it just stands for Fudge. It's a user-designed role playing game.

Yeah, it's that kind of cool.

One of the most interesting role playing game products I ever remember reading was the FUDGE guide. It goes something like. . .

"These are attributes. Attributes are something everyone in the game world has. Here is a big honking list of any attribute you can think of. Pick the ones that are relevant to your game".

But we aren't here to talk about attributes. We're here to talk about skills.

Skills are not related to attributes in Fudge, they are left up to the game master and players to maintain a reasonable consistency. "Players are encouraged to design their characters logically" Fudge Rulebook. So if your character has high physical attributes, they should take a lot of physical skills.

This is in opposition to every skill system we've looked at so far. D20 skills are modified by attributes, Hackmaster skills advanced based on the advancement die, but their starting values are attributed to skills. You attributes play a role in your skills in Rolemaster also.

The second thing that is important is that Fudge is a skill based game. The GM decides the level of skill depth, such as "Social skills," or more specific skills like "Inspiration, Oratory, and Mercantile" or very specific skills, such as "Barter, Seduce, Fast-talk, Persuade, etc.".

Then there is a large list of skills (that is described as brief), with a caveat to change what you want.

There are several things that are nice about this. Since skills are how you resolve actions, it forces you to think about what sort of actions you want skills around to resolve. It allows a great deal of player customization, because any skill the player can think of can be added. You receive experience points to raise individual skills and attributes since Fudge is not a level based system allow you to improve skills independently of artificial thresholds.

The other thing to note is that skills are rolled using Fudge dice. You roll 4 dice, each are essentially d3's. One result is positive, one negative, and one neutral. You total up the values and get a result between -4 and +4.  These dice produce a nice bell curve, meaning that for the majority of the time, you will perform at or around your skill level.

It has a fairly broad granularity, and skills are ranked to one of seven levels: Superb, Great, Good, Fair, Mediocre, Poor, and Terrible. Difficulties are either set or rolls are opposed. When rolls are opposed the important information is the relative difference in the rolls.

Fudge is a great game, and this may be the most important part of the post, the first RPG I ever played where you can have characters that don't have superpowers.

The skills system is simple, straightforward due to the word titles, and produces results consistent with the stated skill level of the player.

Oh, and it's free, so worth checking out.


  1. I like fudge, but it's more of a mechanic and some suggestions than a game, or at least that was the case when it was new. I had problems pitching it to my friends, because of the named skill levels. Everyone would say "You mean like Marvel Superheroes?" Gah! I've always been a Champions guy.

  2. Just switched my kids (10 and 12) over from AD&D to FUDGE and they love it. Much more freeform and less tedious than the AD&D games were. We are still (so far) playing AD&D modules, and the monster conversions are usually pretty painless.

    At some point we plan to do a campaign in the Avatar the Last Airbender world... love how easily FUDGE adapts itself to this sort of thing.


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