How I stopped worrying and just used Fudge

FudgeMy relationship to Fudge was a pretty strange one. While I always loved certain aspects of it (the dice mechanics are pure genius), I didn’t really “get” it for a long time. I approached Fudge’s 10th Anniversary Edition like I approached most other games. But alas that just didn’t work. You can’t just pick up that book and start running. At least that’s not how it worked for me. Fudge offers endless options and I felt overwhelmed by those options pretty quickly. I always try to use rules-as-written at least for the first time I run a new game, and I just couldn’t decide which of the rules I wanted to use for my game.

Then I stumbled upon Micro Fudge. Micro Fudge is a very lightweight implementation of Fudge that did some of the heavy lifting for me. The author, Jonathan Snyder, has already picked a couple of Attributes and Skills and decided which options to use. This makes getting into Fudge so much easier. When I ran my XCOM game I basically just used Micro Fudge. Later, when I started to prepare my Fallout game I used the attributes and skills from the computer game but still kept a few elements from Micro Fudge. So Micro Fudge helped me to open a door to the huge world that is Fudge gaming.

After running Fudge a couple I feel much more confident with the system. And I am realizing that there is not one Fudge, but many. The whole idea of the system is to make it your own. So it’s more than likely that your Fudge game is totally different from mine, even though it’s still Fudge. That’s probably the reason why there’s a certain hurdle to overcome when you want to get into Fudge, but if you get over this obstacle, you quickly see what Fudge has to offer. The system is extremely versatile, and as lightweight or heavyweight as you want.

Does this mean I will now exclusively use Fudge? No, of course not. But I’ll definitely use it more often in the future especially when I want to run a game inspired by computer or video games. Both the XCOM and the Fallout games worked like a charm and I don’t think things would have been as easy with most other games.

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.

8 thoughts on “How I stopped worrying and just used Fudge”

  1. I actually don’t like “building blocks” approach/philosophy of FUDGE. I don’t see “many versions” of FUDGE. I don’t see a “make your own”. I see one version of FUDGE that is already made in the core rules … and it is bare bones (basically, what you see in “FUDGE in a Nutshell” is a playable, minimalist, game). Everything else is not “optional rules to include or not include in your version” — they are different examples about how to apply the existing minimalist rules.

    But, I’m apparently a minority, in that regard.

      1. I definitely respect other people’s view on it, I’m just saying: to me, it really is a ready to play game, right in the book, as it is.

  2. That said, I’ve also struggled with FUDGE. Struggled with being comfortable with that degree of minimalism, always wanting to grasp for just a little more “structure”. And then wanting to had “just a few house rules” to give me that structure. But it always snowballs into something bigger and bigger, because, IMO, structured mechanics are an addiction that make us comfortable … and give us an illusion of consistency. It’s a tough addiction to give up (but, it is truly as unnecessary as any other addiction).

  3. I had a very similar experience. Over the years, I looked into FUDGE several times, but there was just something that didn’t click with my brain. Then a few months back I made a decision to run a game with a new system. I looked at many game systems and took another look at FUDGE. This time it just seemed to fit and make sense to me.

  4. I actually wrote Psi-punk because, by the time I had picked and chosen all of the rules I wanted to use for the setting, I had already compiled a document so large it didn’t make sense *not* to. So I totally get why you were having trouble getting into it at first; that issue with not being able to just pick up 10th Anniversary Edition and run with it means there’s a lot of time investment before you can even get started.

    That is, unless you pick up someone else’s pre-packaged rule sets, like Micro Fudge, Fudge in a Nutshell, etc.

  5. Michael, it’s so nice to see a review of FUDGE! I am wondering if you have played Fate, and how you would compare your experience with the two. Not so much asking how they’re different, but how you experienced them?

  6. Well, I have a background as player and GM of heavy rules games (FGU games, Hero Games, AD&D, Chaosium, etc.)
    After a campaign of Fantasy Hero, I feel the need to use lighter rule system, my game time was waning and creatures and spells creation for FH could take me hours.
    I read Fudge and it was a blast. I was in love, so much that I made the french translation (Frudge).
    The very good thinks in this game system are, IMOO:
    – Stats and skills levels are understandable by anybody!
    – Dice rules are coherent.
    – Character actions and effects are also understandable by anybody!
    – It’s YOUR system, you will make it as you want.

    The bad things are, IMOO:
    – The lightness of game system incite you to build specific modules of rules. If you can stop yourself, this is good and you’re in point 4 of good things. But I have see to many Fudge GMs (including me) adding rules madly until the light system became ultra slow and heavy.
    – If you or your player want a fine granularity in the rule, Fudge is not for you. You must accept a big level of abstraction.
    – The freeform system can (and will be abused) by players, it’s sad. So as GM you must be very imaginative to foresee major aspects of “light personnal power” that player want to use. And this is not fun.

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