For some reason Fudge, the roleplaying game by Steffan O’Sullivan back in the nineties, is something like the unloved uncle to the popular FATE system. A lot of gamers have heard about FATE, especially after Evil Hat released the Dresden Files Roleplaying Game, which uses the latest version of the FATE rules, but only a few people have an idea what Fudge is. Recently I got the “Fudge 10th Anniversary” hardcover book and I am totally loving it. So I decided to give my readers a few reasons why they should check out Fudge, too.
The 1995 version of Fudge is available as free PDF download on the Grey Ghost Press website. And there’s even a System Reference Document in the RTF format because Fudge has been released under the Open Game License a few years back. So, it’s not only free to download, you can even create your own Fudge stuff under a relatively open license!
It’s a toolbox
Fudge is not a simple game but a roleplaying game toolbox. Attributes and skills are not pre-set and the GM can choose from a lot of options to tweak the game to perfectly suit his style. The game comes even with several alternative combat systems to choose from. Especially the hardcover version comes with more optional rules you ever could use in a lifetime. It’s a GM’s dream!
If you wish you could play games in pretty much every genre with Fudge. The “10th anniversary” book contains examples for Fudge in the Fantasy, Cyberpunk, Wuxia and SF genres. Adapting it to a genre basically means to pick and choose which skills, gifts and talents are eligible for the campaign.
It’s very easy to learn
While Fudge can be as complex as you wish it to be, it can also be one of the easiest games to teach to new players. Attributes and skills are ranked with descriptive adjectives like Terrible, Poor, Mediocre, Fair, Good, etc. and the dice mechanic is very easy. Some people might not like that you need custom dice to play Fudge, but even that’s not true. If you don’t have any Fudge dice, you can easily use one of the alternative dice mechanics or play totally diceless!
It promotes roleplaying
Yes, it’s true, Fudge is a roleplayer’s roleplaying game. The way Fudge works it encourages a narrative play style. Fudge point mechanic allows players to take over some narrative control over the story. And since the system is pretty rules-lite, the rules rarely get in the way of the roleplaying.
Although I love Fudge very much, there are some drawbacks. Alas the organization of the book is not as good as it could be, which makes things a bit hard to follow when you read it for the first time. But once you got it, it’s pretty easy to teach to your players. The toolbox nature of Fudge also means that the GM has more work than in most games. But if you can look beyond this, you’ll probably love Fudge as much as I do.
I have owned a copy of Fudge since I downloaded a copy from http://ftp.soda.berkeley.edu back in 1992. Been a fan ever since.
I've used FUDGE as my system of choice for some years now, adapting it to a variety of backgrounds.
I've used it to run campaigns and scenarios
– in my own world Jhendor, which was originally designed using RuneQuest 3,
– in Aventurien, including simplifying and adapting DSA4's magic system ,
– in Ars Magica's Mythic Europe setting.
My first published RPG here in Brazil used Fudge (back on the day when SoS only required two copies of the finished book as royalties), so I really have a warm spot for it in my heart.
Superb post, Stargazer! I hope to play a Fudge game with you someday. 🙂
BTW, I think more of Fudge as Don Vito Corleone (Marlon Brando) in "The Godfather" and Fate as Michael Corleone (Al Pacino)… i.e. both are awesome and well-loved! 😉
I love fudge too. We've been using it for one off games the last few years. With less open minded gamers it helps to know the 2D6 alternative and start with Over the Fudge or Fudge on the Fly to give everyone a feel for the system without overwhelming them.