My quest to run a Fudge game

Fudge I’ve been flirting with the Fudge RPG for quite a while now. It was in April 2009 when I wrote about my plans to run an urban fantasy/horror game for my girlfriend using FUDGE. Alas this game never left the early planning phase. Recently I have thought about a SF game using that system and again, I had huge problems getting started. What is it that makes it so hard to get a Fudge game up and running?

One of the advantages of Fudge is it’s toolbox nature. Especially in it’s 10th Anniversary edition it contains a plethora of rules options that GMs can incorporate into their game. While this may be great if you already have a firm grasp of what you want do do, it’s pretty much overwhelming for a new Fudge GM. It’s like drinking from the proverbial firehose. Albeit of the fact that each basic rule in Fudge is pretty easy compared to some other games I’ve played and run, the sheer amount of options make it extremely hard to get started.

So, what can you do to cope with that issue? I asked around on Twitter and got some excellent feedback. My thanks go to @shaneknysh, @sinisterforces, @thedeadone and @dorkland for showing me several ways to getting started. Aside from that I talked to a friend of mine from Germany who used Fudge to run several campaigns.

He picked up Fudge to solve some issues he had with the game he has been running up to that point. One of these games was Das Schwarze Auge (The Dark Eye) which has a pretty silly task resolution mechanic. So he used the Fudge rules to build his version of DSA. I can see why this approach makes it much easier to get started with Fudge than mine. If you already have a game in mind you want to replace by Fudge you already have some solid foundations to build upon.

But I am trying to use Fudge out of other reasons. I just like the basic task resolution mechanic using Fudge days and that everything is ranked by adjectives and not plain numbers. This makes eyeballing difficulty levels etc. and designing monsters/vehicles/etc. much easier. But because I am starting from scratch things get more complicated. The advice I got from a lot of people was to pick a foundation to start from.

This foundation could be Five Point Fudge by Fudge’s author Steven O’Sullivan which basically is a pre-selection of rules, skills, etc. that a GM can use to get started quickly. Another approach is to rely only on the rules from “Fudge in a Nutshell” and let the players come up with their skills, gifts and faults during character creation. Of course I could come up with a list of skills of my own, but why not let the players do that for you. The positive side effect is that you get a better understanding of what your players want out of the game that way. And that’s exactly the approach I want to take. “Fudge in a Nutshell” contains all the basic rules needed to run the game, the rest can easily be improvised. If I think the game is missing anything I can always check the 10th Anniversary Edition for some fitting rules and add them to my game.

So, what do you think about my approach? Have you run Fudge before and if so, what helped you to get into the game? As always any comment is highly appreciated!

Michael Wolf is a German games designer and enthusiast best known for his English language role-playing games blog, Stargazer's World, and for creating the free rules-light medieval fantasy adventure game Warrior, Rogue & Mage. He has also worked as an English translator on the German-language Dungeonslayers role-playing game and was part of its editorial team. In addition to his work on Warrior, Rogue & Mage and Dungeonslayers, he has created several self-published games and also performed layout services and published other independent role-playing games such as A Wanderer's Romance, Badass, and the Wyrm System derivative Resolute, Adventurer & Genius, all released through his imprint Stargazer Games. Professionally, he works as a video technician and information technologies specialist. Stargazer's World was started by Michael in August 2008.

7 thoughts on “My quest to run a Fudge game”

  1. Apart from building my FUDGE Aventurien, I also used FUDGE for pickup games, where I just used three or four attributes (Body Mind Soul or similar), and let players freely choose 5-10 skills/talents describing their character (not from a fixed list), plus a gift and a fault. Basically Fudge-in-a-nutshell. I ran a game based on the Ars Magica background like this once, without having access to any AM material.

    Says the guy who converted DSA to Fudge.

  2. Hi!
    Nice post. Is there any chance to see that FUDGE version of DSA rules you mentioned? I have tried once to convert DSA into low-magic version of EarthDawn rules, but the result was not satisfactory. And DSA itself is sometimes too hard (and incoherent) to run smoothly or play. It would be very interesting to move it into rules lighter system.

  3. My FUDGE Aventurien is not a complete system and consists of a series of drafts for certain subsystems. Send me an email ( and we can talk about it.

  4. Over at, and at a slow pace, i'm working on writing a "Fudge 101" for Fantasy because I agree that having a ready to go implemntation to hand to your players would be handy.

    If your players need some guidelines, then what I'm working to accomplish, a Five Point Fudge centered set of rules with all the options defined (which combat rules, skill resolution, character advancement) worked out sounds like a good idea to me.

    If you have a group that you can trust with a lot of flexibilty, Fudge in a Nutshell, subjective character generation and "Just Fudging It" work well in a pinch 🙂

    I do wish I were writing about 10X as fast 😉

  5. I think that you are taking the right approach. It helps to focus on the genre. If you are running sci-fi then look in the 10th Anniversary Edition of Fudge and pick the rules that work best for what you see the sci-fi setting being like. Cybernetics maybe? Vehicle combat rules for spaceships? You decide.

    As always, feel free to contact me for help.
    My recent post Show Don’t Tell–How Playing Fudge Online Is Better Than Talking About Fudge In Any Format

  6. I always recommended Fudge in a Nutshell for new players/GMs – It's easy to understand and only 2 pages long. Build on that to make an epic game!

    Having your players pick their skills and other traits is fun and good! I do suggest you print out the Skills/Gifts/Faults from the Fudge 10th Anniversary book so that your players can choose "wisely". 😉

    Also, please check out Fudge on the Fly by Rob Donoghue ( it's empowering!

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