Why Fudge needs a new edition

Fudge logo I’m assuming you guys already know what Fudge is. If not I recommend you check out the official Fudge site or my previous Fudge posts. After that, please come back. You’re back? Great.

Fudge is a great roleplaying game toolbox. It provides you with rules that allow you to run games in every genre. The system is easily scalable from rules-light to rules-medium. Converting your favorite game to Fudge is pretty easy and there are endless options that allow you to create your favorite version of Fudge.

BUT all these options make Fudge not that newbie-friendly. If you are looking for a game you can pick up, read and play instantly, then Fudge is a wrong choice. The fact that the Fudge 10th Anniversary Edition is a 320-paged badly organized tome adds insult to injury. Don’t get me wrong, I like Fudge a lot, but it could be better. While the rules are pretty cool, the presentation looks reminiscent of RPGs from the 80s and 90s. A better organization and a better layout could work wonders. These changes could also help to interest more people in Fudge. When I told friends about Fudge they sounded interested in it at first, but when I showed them the tome-like and pretty uninspiring-looking rulebook the interest waned quickly.

I always find it amazing that Fate, a game based on Fudge, is widely popular, while Fudge is almost unknown. There are dozens of awesome Fate games out there, but I don’t know when I last saw a new Fudge game. What I would love to see is a new edition of Fudge that is a bit more streamlined, has a better layout and artwork, is better organized and is available in various ebook formats.

What do you think about my idea? Do you think Fudge still has a chance to get back into the limelight? And are my proposed changes enough or is more needed? Please post your thoughts below!

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.

31 thoughts on “Why Fudge needs a new edition”

  1. I agree. Fudge is an old gem in the RPG history. I remember when I read how you could use it to play “Newsgroups the RPG”, having stats as Aggressive posting, and playing out flame wars using Fudge. That’s what showed me how flexible and strong that game is.

    Out of curiosity, are you looking for rule changes/structure changes as well as editorial changes, or is the game good in itself, it just needs a better presentation?


    1. I am mostly happy with the rules but in several cases clarifications wouldn’t hurt. When it comes to organization I find the Fudge rulebook pretty messy. As I mentioned in the reply on Ralf’s comment, I think it would be better if the book starts with a “baseline” version of Fudge that’s fully playable out of the box and later chapters contain options and variants.

  2. The thign is, you’d need to decide what you want from a new edition of Fudge:

    Do you want a new presentation of the whole thing? Then it will not be newbie-friendly, as Fudge is a toolkit for building your own rules, not a rules set itself.

    Or you do want a newbie Fudge game? Then you need to build a specific implementation of the Fudge rules and present them. You’ll also need to decide whether this would be generic, or genre-specific. The former would be very hard to make newbie-friendly, while the latter would leave out A LOT of Fudge options.

    It think the two options are pretty much mutually-exclusive.

    1. A better organization and a better look would be beneficial in all cases. Adding a few more examples of how you can use the toolbox would help too. Fantasy Fudge was a step in the right direction.

      If I had to write a new Fudge Edition I would start by a baseline version of Fudge and explain this in enough detail, so that even a newbie can run it out of the box. And then I would add options and tips how to convert other games etc. in later chapters or even separate books.

  3. (Hah, my captcha word is “fudge”. 🙂 )

    I’ve been going on a Fudge / FATE kick lately. The biggest problem with Fudge isn’t with needing a new edition. The rules for Fudge are pretty well honed to their core. The problem with that core is it covers a LOT of ground. FATE’s success is in honing those tools into a coherent system that contains the complete lifecycle of a role-playing game. Fudge by it’s nature as a toolkit doesn’t tell you definitively how to create characters, or ow to handle combat. It doesn’t even tell you rules for falling, instead (in the 10th anniversary edition) it tells you explicitly why there aren’t rules for falling).

    I’d rather see a retelling of the Fudge 10th anniversary book (mostly so I can get a copy of it as a PDF). I’d like to see more worked examples of how others have wrangled the system to fit their will. I’d also like to see more game companies take the Fudge rules and streamline them for their own games (again, worked examples).

    New editions of games inevitably change the tenor and focus of the work which they’re based. What’s beautiful about Fudge is it’s ability to be a toolkit for both designers and GMs. I’m not sure a newer edition will keep those tools intact.

      1. Right, but that also begs the question of what happens to the 1995 or 2005 versions of the rules? Do they get cleaned up or expanded upon?

        I think Fudge just needs more expansion of worked examples. That, and “commercial” games that aren’t so far out there as to require two leaps of faith (one for the system, and one for the setting). 🙂

  4. I am in complete agreement. I have thought about writing up my own Fudge core rules for exactly these reasons. The 10th anniversary edition is a wonderful GM resource filled with examples and optional content it is simply crazy to hand to players. Its a bit dated.

    In my brain I have been picturing it as a slim digest book, which outlines the core Fudge rules and provides a single set of example stats, gifts and faults with block text off to the side with suggestions on how to change things and why and maybe an appendix of item lists organized by genre.

    Magic/Psionics and what not could be small digest suppliments ala some sort of lightweight gurps presentation.

  5. Hack N Slash is a good fantasy product for the fudge system. It gives you the basics for running a classic fantasy campaign using fudge. Overall I feel the concepts in fudge are more newb friendly than fate but fate presents itself better.

  6. The reasons why there hasn’t been a new Fudge edition in almost 7 years are many, but mostly they hinge around resources: or, more specifically, the lack thereof. Especially time and money. (That’s also the reason that the Fudge 10th Anniversary Edition has a sucky index and bad art and a pedestrian layout — fixing those would have cost more money than Grey Ghost Press had — or even my husband, who often shored up GG’s finances.)

    That said, I’d love to see some really good proposals for new Fudge books and games, including a new edition — backed up by folks willing to do the work as I no longer have the time.

  7. I think in order for there to be a new “Fudge Core,” there needs to be some published Fudge games. Looking at the Fudge:TNG, also known as Fate, there are a dozen games out there, and yet we might see Fate Core this year.
    I think that any generic toolset, no matter how well explained and with how many examples, is not newbie friendly. Fudge, should people want it to come back, could not suffer from following Evil Hat’s awesome model: super-fun, rather genre-specific implementaiton (Spirit of the Century), followed up by a rather exciting licensed IP (Dresden Files), and then the SRD allows a half dozen other exciting implementations (Diaspora, SBA/Anglerre, Bulldogs, Strands of Fate). Evil Hat still hasn’t published a Fate Core, and Fate is the current new hotness. We need a new Fudge game, absolutely – hoping for a new Fudge core, I think may be somewhat premature, unless targeted at nostalgia.

    1. There are several complete Fudge games.

      Grey Ghost has published:
      Another Fine Mess (an adventure with “all the rules you need to know)
      Terra Incognita (Victorian / Pulp / Steampunk game)
      Deryni Adventure Game (Medieval fantasy game based on Katherine Kurtz’s novels)

      Carnivore Games has published:
      Now Playing (a “build” of Fudge designed to let you run any TV show as an rpg — including made-up TV shows like “FPI: Foundation for Paranormal Investigation” http://carnivoregames.com/wp/?page_id=36
      The Unexplained (Fudge game and Paranormal Investigation setting” http://www.paranormal-foundation.com/

      Digital Alchemy has published:
      Hack-n-Slash (fantasy Fudge with a D&D feel) http://www.digital-alchemy.net/hack-n-slash.html

      Seraphim Guard published Heartquest http://www.seraphimguard.com/heartquest.php (not sure who owns Seraphim Guard or its various properties now, it changed hands a while back… more than once)

      The problem is that none of them ever “took off” like the FATE games have. That may in part be due to the personal preferences of the folks who’ve gone to the trouble to design and publish Fudge games…

      I LOVE Terra Incognita and The Deryni Adventure Game but they’ve not found much love in the marketplace.

      Brad Younie is passionate about TV settings (and has some SUPERB advice to GMs on how to recreate the episodic “feel” in an RPG campaign) and especially the Paranormal.

      … and so on.

      Terra Incognita came to me as an almost-complete fan creation.

      The next “big” Fudge game could very well be sitting out there, undiscovered, needing only discovery /and/ a good commercial implementation….

      Until then, Fudge will continue to attract more GMs who want to use it to run their own creations than players who are interested in a specific setting.

  8. I don’t have a FUDGE background to draw nostalgia from so I may not know what I’m talking about. But my perception of the FUDGE/FATE dynamic is that one is an evolution of the other in a direct descendent kind of way. Similar to how they designers of the next DND edition are talking about “going back to the roots of the game”, any new FATE games would benefit by having a look at FUDGE… but you’re not really going to go back and play the old game on a regular basis.

    1. While Fate takes much from Fudge I wouldn’t call one an evolution of the other. Fate is much more focused on narrativist style play. While Fudge is tends to be more focused on rules light situationist play. Which makes them quite different in execution, in my opinion.

      I would like to see them both continue to be fruitful and cater to two different audiences and styles of play.

  9. Honestly, I think FUDGE’s biggest problem is that people DO think it’s a toolkit, and not a ready to run game.

    You’re looking for a version of FUDGE that you can just open up and run… guess what, you not only already have it, you’ve even created an edited/updated version of it. Fudge in a Nutshell. Everything you need to play Fudge is right there. _EVERYTHING_. Well, ok, everything short of the game world.

    Does it have a set list of attributes or skills? no, because you don’t actually need that. Not even a consistent list between Player A and Player B needs to exist. Because you just _fudge_ it. That’s what people tend to not get about Fudge. It’s a game that has no “there” there… because you don’t NEED that “there” there. Using just “Fudge in a Nutshell”, and non-mechanics setting material, you could run Middle Earth, Star Wars, Star Trek, Three Musketeers, and dozens of other settings.

    The problem is, the learning curve for un-learning all of our expectations about what game mechanics should provide is rather dramatic. “Lots of Consistency” is like an addiction that keeps us from seeing the nutshell for what it is. But always remember: a foolish consistency is the hobgoblin of small minds. Don’t let that desire for LOTS of consistency blind you. That has, in fact, been my biggest stumbling block (no pun intended) with Fudge. It’s almost like the hidden inner-enlightenment of Fudge — that you don’t need to wrap layers of more structure around it.

    By the time you’ve spend enough time explaining a way to run Fudge that doesn’t look like “building blocks”, you’ve probably written a ton of new essays anyway. Plus, you’ve probably alienated the bulk of the Fudge community (the “building blocks” contingent). And, really, you can’t explain an enlightenment. Either the person gets it, or they don’t.

  10. I have the version of FUDGE 1995, was the only one I could find in Brazil. We have the Spirit of the Century published this year. Unfortunately, the FUDGE stagnated along with his publisher. Maybe one day we will have a FUDGE with a more friendly look and with plenty of games already established?

  11. Well said, johnkzin.

    “Fudge in a Nutshell” is the core of Fudge RPG. The rest of the rules just supports, expands, and explores that.

    Now, just add what you want to play (genre, setting, and other strangeness/coolness) and just play! 😀

    1. That’s of course true, and realizing that made it easier for me to finally run Fudge, but it took me quite some time to end up there. What Fudge needs IMHO is a rulebook that makes this clearer and is organized in a way that people can easily pick it up, play using the “Fudge in the Nutshell” rules and add options and expansions when needed.
      It would also help if there are a couple of example settings including fitting skills etc. to make things even easier for new GMs.
      Perhaps the best way to get people more interested in Fudge would be to write a cool Fudge-based game everyone wants to play that makes all the necessary decisions for the GM. And then, when everyone is eased in, you can pick up the Fudge 10th Anniversary book and explore what else Fudge has to offer.

      1. You should get FATE Core or FATE Accelerated, because it is exactly what you are looking for. Everything you just said in the above post has happened. It is called FATE, and Spirit of the Century is the “cool Fudge-based game.”

        1. I own both Fate Core, FAE, and a couple of other Fate-based games, but in my opinion Fate is not a Fudge variant but a game in its own right (and I am pretty sure Fred Hicks et al will agree). I want a new edition of Fudge and not a totally different game.

    1. That’s what I wanted to hear. 🙂
      Alas it seems Grey Ghost Press doesn’t have the resources to create a new edition right now. Perhaps the fan community must go to work then…

      By the way, Jonas, the regulars at #stargazersworld are missing you!

  12. Stargazer:

    It would also help if there are a couple of example settings including fitting skills etc. to make things even easier for new GMs.
    Perhaps the best way to get people more interested in Fudge would be to write a cool Fudge-based game everyone wants to play that makes all the necessary decisions for the GM. And then, when everyone is eased in, you can pick up the Fudge 10th Anniversary book and explore what else Fudge has to offer.

    “everyone wants to play” is the tricky part….

    1. Yeah, I agree. I never said it was easy. I am just throwing a few ideas around. IMHO Fudge is one of those games that don’t get the attention they actually deserve.

      By the way, are there any plans to release the Grey Ghost Press products on DriveThruRPG/RPGNow in the future?

      1. Yes.
        But no timetable for it, again, due to the lack of the most important resource (time)…. Or, rather, I have just as much time as anyone else, but it’s spread over 3 businesses and a large family. (I include my four-legged friends under the “Family” category, and several of them have had serious health issues over the past several years.)

  13. Ann Dupuis:

    But no timetable for it, again, due to the lack of the most important resource (time)…. Or, rather, I have just as much time as anyone else, but it’s spread over 3 businesses and a large family. (I include my four-legged friends under the “Family” category, and several of them have had serious health issues over the past several years.)

    How can we help? 🙂

    Seriously, if there’s a way to offload some of this onto the community, let us help you. Even if it’s a few trusted lieutenants, I think we could muster up some folks who could help make things happen.

  14. The wonderful thing is… Fudge RPG is absolutely free and OGL’ed.

    So, I challenge everyone here (myself included) to make their own, new, special edition.

    There will be no prizes, deadlines, or judges. Just be a fan and do it (and share it)!

    If you need tips, editors, artists, and other thingamajigs, people will come to help you.

    Good luck and happy rolling, fellow fudge fans!

  15. Craig Maloney:

    How can we help?
    Seriously, if there’s a way to offload some of this onto the community, let us help you. Even if it’s a few trusted lieutenants, I think we could muster up some folks who could help make things happen.

    The best thing Fudge fans can do for Grey Ghost press is to spread the word about Fudge!

    Post about Fudge on rpg.net and other gamer forums. Participate in the forums on fudgerpg.com.

    Start a Fudge-related blog on fudgerpg.com, or post Fudge-related posts on your own blog. Introduce other gamers — and folks who aren’t gamers yet! — to Fudge.

    Share your Fudge games, rules, and ideas with other members of the Fudge community.

    Post some Actual Play descriptions of your Fudge games, in the Actual Play forums on rpg.net or on fudgerpg.com.

    If your favorite local game retailer doesn’t already carry Grey Ghost games, tell them to contact Ann Dupuis at ghostgames (at) fudgerpg.com for a retailer’s information package. If they do already carry the games, ask them to contact me for a retailer’s information package with up-to-date information. 🙂

    Tell Fudge Publishers (including Grey Ghost Press) what you’d like to see them publish. (Or, better yet, what you’d buy if they did publish it!)

    Go forth and proselytize! (but in a nice, friendly, inclusive way, not in a rabid fan way!

    Thank you!

  16. Revisiting my thoughts here, this is what I would want to see in a “new edition of Fudge” —

    An update and slight fleshing out of MiniFudge. MiniFudge has a few gaps in it (it tells you to use opposed rolls, and look at relative degree, but doesn’t explain what those are, for example). Not huge gaps, small gaps. Then a small explanation of when to use the given attribute list vs when to use the given skill list. I think one or two more pages is all it really needs. I might alter the skill list a little, but really, it works for what it is. Or maybe 1 skill list for a few boiler-plate genres. Add a small list of sample gifts and flaws, especially organized by genre. Add a spell list (for fantasy), a psionics list (for soft sci-fi), and a superpowers list. Maybe a little more expansion of the equipment list. Then get it cleared for use with the OGL (and/or CC if Anne is willing to go there).

    That gives you a ready to run, pure Fudge implementation. You’re basically just dialing everything down to zero (removing all of the discussion of options, etc. — leave those to the full/advanced document). And it’s probably still less than a dozen pages (or right around there).

    Then leave the discussions about how to dial things up for more crunch and/or detail and/or “different design decisions you could make” to an advanced book. It also gives room for genre expansions, expansions for more spell lists, equipment lists, etc.

  17. Have you considered a Kickstarter for a new edition of FUDGE?

    How would I work it? I’d look to the recent FATE releases as a guide. FATE released three main “core” products: FATE Accelerated, FATE Core, and FATE System Toolkit. FUDGE could follow a similar route: the core FUDGE rules (essentially the 1995 edition) could be the equivalent of the FATE Accelerated, then a more expanded version (like the 10th Anniversary edition) could serve as the bases for the equivalent of FATE Core.

    All with the rules cleaned up a bit, better organized, and some decent art added. I think a Kickstarter could make this possible.

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