Fate and Fudge

fatefudgeA question which comes up regularly is how Fate compares to Fudge. If you’ve been following both games for a while now, you may remember that Fate was once based on Fudge. Some people even called it a Fudge variant back in the day. And in it’s early days Fate actually was just that. But over time Fate changed and moved away from its Fudge roots. Fate’s latest iteration called Fate Core has been redesigned from the ground up and aside from a similar dice mechanic it doesn’t have anything in common with Fudge anymore.

So what makes Fudge and Fate different? First and foremost Fudge is basically a rules-light traditional roleplaying game while Fate is a modern storytelling game. In Fudge the focus is on the characters and their abilities while in Fate the focus is clearly on the story. While you can basically run Fudge like D&D, Fate needs a different mindset. Fate just doesn’t work without players taking the initiative and driving the story forward. This in one of the great strengths of the game, but if your players prefer to be more passive, Fate doesn’t really work that well. For a Fate game you need a group of pro-active and creative players that have stories of their own to tell, and who are not willing just to follow the GM along.

While Fudge definitely makes roleplaying easier for everyone by just not getting in the way, it’s not as important that all the players are enganged in the story fully. Fudge is a great game for any GM. You can basically tweak it to your hearts content, make it as rules-light or rules-heavy as you like, and even graft elements from other games onto it. But at it’s core it’s still a pretty traditional game. For games like Fate you need to get yourself into a different mindset.

While I love both games for what they are, I have to admit that Fudge feels easier for me to run. It’s closer to the games I played when I was first introduced to the hobby than Fate. If I started with games like Apocalypse World, FATE and Fiasco, I might see things differently, but this wasn’t the case.

In my opinion Fate and Fudge are two totally different games that are both very enjoyable. Treating Fate Core as a Fudge variant doesn’t do either game justice.

What are your thoughts on this topic? Please share your comments below. As always every 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.

12 thoughts on “Fate and Fudge”

  1. Thanks, Michael.
    As you already pointed it, it heavily relies on your players. While I love the proactive mindset of Fate and its focus on storytelling I have experienced that not everyone like the creative (GM-like) Freedom of narrative games.
    Some players prefer to sit back and enjoy immersing themselves into their characters and don’t like to co-create the world. For those players, Fate and other storytelling games are just not the right tools for a good gaming night.

  2. Excellent points. I know a few people who look at Fate as just a “better” fudge, and I think that is disappointing. I think fudge could certainly use a better presented core book: maybe a fudge 20th anniversary in 2015.

  3. I feel like Fate is still centered on the characters — the mechanics encourage the GM to build scenarios based on the characters’ aspects, and build from their motivations and problems. I haven’t played Fudge, though, so I have no basis for comparison.

  4. Thank you for posting this–I have FATE on the way, (it should be in the mail any day now), but I was wondering how it related to FUDGE, which it evolved out of, and how the two might be compared. From how you describe things, I really ought to look at FUDGE again…

  5. I totally agree. I didn’t check out the early versions of Fate, but after looking at Fate Core, I couldn’t understand why it was so easily grouped in with Fudge. Sure they share a die mechanic, but I would say that the main system in Fate is Aspects, and they don’t exist in Fudge.

    It is actually kind of annoying looking for a discussion about Fudge and running into things that are only relevant to Fate (which seems to be happening more and more).

  6. I’ve always wanted to try the Fudge rules, mostly just to see how the dice mechanics work–and I’m a fan of flexible lightweight rule systems. I thought that FATE might be something to look at, but not all of my players are the type to want to drive the narrative.

  7. I have heard similar sentiments a lot and disagree up to a point. While FATE really profits from players that drive the story, it’s traditional enough not to require them.

    What you *do* need are pro-active players in the sense that they need to want to play their character. So immersion is not really a problem. In fact FATE can help it by mechanically rewarding in-character play and making unusual situations easy to judge.

    Where it completely breaks down is with players who do not want to do interesting things even in their chosen niche. FATE is a story simulator, not a physics simulator and deals very poorly with the “My turn. I stand in place and attack with my sword” mindset.

    So story driving is not required imho. Story participation on the other hand is.

    1. I agree with this completely. I’ve played plenty of FATE where the players weren’t involved in the story or world building aspects, as long as they drive their character forward in a way that makes sense in the world around them it works. In this way you can build a world for the players and have surprises, but you can also use the collaborative approach. It depends on how you want to play it.

      I’m interested in FUDGE just to see what the combat mechanics are like, as I’ve got a new player group who are more interested in the combat side of RPGs and still want a good story/characters… but I’ve only ever run FATE.

  8. I’ve mastered and played Fudge, I have only read Fate (every edition including Stands of Fate). I must concur that Fate is storytelling driven then Fudge is story driven.
    As a master I am switching to Fate because I love Aspects and I love creative players. As a player I don’t want to play narrativist games. I like to much the immersion in my character to want to build the world in metagame.
    I think Strands of Fate is a less narrativist edition of Fate.

  9. I dunno, in as much as Fate Accelerated Edition is a Fate build, I still say Fate as a Fudge build. The fudge rules present a layout with Attributes, Skills, Gifts and Faults, but at the same time it also lays out that a character sheet can simply be a few paragraphs of description using carefully chosen adjectives. Sure Aspects add a whole new layer of play to the game, but they aren’t totally dissimilar from the gifts and faults of Fudge itself. Just my two bits.

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