Priority Systems

Because Fudge Doesn’t Have Enough Character Creation Options Yet

On the one hand, there is a certain limitation to objective character creation systems with heavy siloing. Everyone getting the same number of attribute points, skill points, gifts/faults, etc. can end up feeling a little repetitive.

On the other hand large scale point-buy systems can be a bit much sometimes. That one resource spent in a lot of different places at a lot of different expense rates can be a bit heavy on the accounting, and lead to analysis paralysis during character creation for some players.

Both are still good systems with a lot of strengths, and I still use both happily. Still, if there’s anything the design of Fudge emphasizes it’s that just because you already have multiple solid options doesn’t mean that you couldn’t have more. Plus, a lot of good people have had a lot of good ideas when working on other systems and it would be a shame to close that well of inspiration.

Enter priority systems.

Priority Systems 101

The basic idea of a priority system is that every character is mechanically represented by several distinct components, and that the importance of these components varies by character. Have a talented but inexperienced youth? They probably have some pretty solid attributes, but their skills are likely lacking. Have a rich, sheltered noble? Social station is often a component on its own, resources another, and they likely have both. Generally these are ranked from most important to least important, often with a letter scale. What each letter means then varies by category.

For Fudge specifically there are a few common points. Attributes, Skills, and Gifts/Faults almost certainly make an appearance. Equipment often shows up in some form or other, varying by genre. Class does as well. In fantasy or space opera games Species might make an appearance. Every game needs its own custom list – and a few examples are provided as a spring board.

Space Opera

Let’s start simple, with a space opera game. The categories are Attributes, Skills, Gifts/Faults, Spaceship; they’re rated A-D. We’ll assume 4 attributes that total a particular number, skills that take a pyramid structure (e.g. 1 great, 2 good, 3 fair, 4 mediocre, default poor), and that gifts/faults can vary in absolute number but that there is a particular value for Gifts-Faults representing the balance. This might look something like this:

AttributesA(+4), B(+2), C(0), D(-2)
SkillsA(Superb Pyramid, Default Mediocre),
B(Great Pyramid, Default Mediocre),
C(Great Pyramid, Default Poor),
D(Good Pyramid, Default Poor)
Gifts/FaultsA(+4), B(+2), C(0), D(-2)
SpaceshipA(Capital Ship), B(Commercial Ship),
C(Personal Ship), D(No Ship)

High Fantasy

Next up we have high fantasy, leaning heavy into archetypes. The categories are Attributes, Skill Packages, Gifts/Faults, Species, Social Class. We’ll assume 6 attributes, skill packages where you select an archetype and it provides a bundle of skills, and gifts/faults that come to a total number. This might look something like this:

AttributesA(+6), B(+3), C(0), D(-3), E(-6)
Skill PackagesA(Sorcerer, Mage-Priest, Chosen One),
B(Hedge Mage, Paladin),
C(Ranger, Warleader, Priest),
D(Warrior, Scout), E(Civilian)
Gifts/FaultsA(+3), B(+2), C(+1), D(0), E(-1)
SpeciesA (Atlantean, Elf, Birdfolk), B (Dwarf, Troll),
C (Human, Orc, Lizardfolk), D (Halfling, Goblin),
E(Curseborn, Slugfolk)
Social ClassA (Baron), B(Knight, Clergy), C(Merchant),
D (Peasant), E (Criminal, Exile)

The Robot Rebellion

This has all been a little too ordinary, so: the robot rebellion. Players all play robots that are in an organized rebellion against their human masters. They have Hardware Attributes, Software Attributes, Programs, Special Components, Chassis, and Rank. We’ll assume 3 hardware attributes, 3 software attributes, programs as a pool of skill points, special components as a number of major and minor components and associated modular component slots, and rank as military rank within a structure that deliberately apes human militaries. The whole thing is intentionally weird and complicated as an example, so:

Hardware AttributesA(+6), B(+4), C(+2), D(0), E(-2) F(-4)
Software AttributesA(+2), B(+1), C(0), D(-1), E(-2), F(-3)
ProgramsA(50 points), B(40 points),
C(32 points), D(26 points),
E(20 points), F(16 points)
Special ComponentsA(3 major), B(2 major, 1 minor),
C(1 major, 2 minor), D(3 minor),
E(2 minor), F(1 minor).
ChassisA(Scale 2, Metal), B(Scale 0, Metal),
C(Scale 0, Plastic), D(Scale -2, Metal),
E(Scale -2, Plastic), F (Scale -6, Plastic)
RankA(Colonel), B(Major), C(Lieutenant),
D(Sergeant), E(Corporal), F(Private)

Concluding Remarks

Priority systems can be a powerful tool, but they also have their downsides. They get unwieldy quickly, meaning that everything that makes it on the list of categories has to be important. They can be finicky, with subtly different categories having major implications for the costs of making certain types of characters; just splitting Gifts/Faults into two doubles the cost of a gift heavy character. They’re also untrodden ground in Fudge, as far as I know – which means there’s no corpus of best practices to draw on. Still, I’m confident that if this gets out in the community the community can do great things with it.

15 COPYRIGHT NOTICE
Open Game License v 1.0 Copyright 2000, Wizards of the Coast, Inc.
Fudge 10th Anniversary Edition Copyright 2005, Grey Ghost Press, Inc.; Authors Steffan O’Sullivan and Ann Dupuis, with additional material by Jonathan Benn, Peter Bonney, Deird’Re Brooks, Reimer Behrends, Don Bisdorf, Carl Cravens, Shawn Garbett, Steven Hammond, Ed Heil, Bernard Hsiung, J.M. “Thijs” Krijger, Sedge Lewis, Shawn Lockard, Gordon McCormick, Kent Matthewson, Peter Mikelsons, Robb Neumann, Anthony Roberson, Andy Skinner, William Stoddard, Stephan Szabo, John Ughrin, Alex Weldon, Duke York, Dmitri Zagidulin
This article Copyright 2019, Knaight Babbitt.
OPEN GAME CONTENT
The contents of this document are declared Open Game Content.

Countdown

This is a borrowed mechanic from another game system but it can easily be ported into any Fudge game. And it has some great uses too! A countdown takes place when there is an unknown time limit before some event happens.

A typical usage of this mechanic might be to determine when a character’s death occurs. Say a character has just suffered a Near Death injury by any means: they are now dying. But when do they die? A countdown can determine when the event happens.

A countdown is a Situational Roll. For a regular slow countdown, a “tick” is any result that is +1 or above on the dice roll. Remember that in Situational Rolls there are no modifications to the dice results. The tick threshold can be raised or lowered depending on how fast or slow the GM wishes the countdown to run, but +1 or above is about right for a regular countdown.

The next step is to determine how many of these ticks it takes before time runs out and the countdown ends. For our Near Death character, I have a Stamina Attribute and use it as a guideline by assigning a numerical value to each level of that Attribute. For example Fair is set at 4 ticks, and it goes up and down from there. The higher the Attribute score, the higher the numerical value.

If the character has reached Near Death from combat then I would say the countdown should be in rounds. Each round a Situational Roll is made, and anytime it comes up +1 or higher, it counts against those 4 ticks. If the character is rescued or otherwise stabilized and no longer Near Death then the countdown stops. If on the other hand, all 4 ticks get used before help arrives, the character dies.

How often the rolls are made can be determined by the circumstances, just as the target number is determined by circumstances. Besides combat, countdowns can be used for many things: how long a character can hold their breath, when a damaged spaceship explodes, or illnesses or poisons that impact the character as the symptoms or effects worsen. Any number of uses can be created for a ticking clock dice mechanic.

15 COPYRIGHT NOTICE
Open Game License v 1.0 Copyright 2000, Wizards of the Coast, Inc.
Fudge 10th Anniversary Edition Copyright 2005, Grey Ghost Press, Inc.; Authors Steffan O’Sullivan and Ann Dupuis, with additional material by Jonathan Benn, Peter Bonney, Deird’ReBrooks, Reimer Behrends, Don Bisdorf, Carl Cravens, Shawn Garbett, Steven Hammond, Ed Heil, Bernard Hsiung, J.M. “Thijs” Krijger, Sedge Lewis, Shawn Lockard, Gordon McCormick, Kent Matthewson, Peter Mikelsons, Robb Neumann, Anthony Roberson, Andy Skinner, William Stoddard, Stephan Szabo, John Ughrin, Alex Weldon, Duke York, Dmitri Zagidulin.
What’s O.L.D. is N.E.W. Rules Reference Document (WRRD) by Russ Morrissey. Copyright 2015 EN Publishing. More info at www.woinrpg.com.
This article Copyright 2019, Chris Rheinherren
OPEN GAME CONTENT
The contents of this document are declared Open Game Content.

The Flexibility of Re-Rolls

One of the greatest features of Fudge is also sometimes a drawback. The Trait Ladder often caps out around +4 or so (depending on your game), which means every attribute, which means even a +1 bonus from an item, skill, or spell makes a huge difference when you roll the dice.

In the recent post, “A Treasury of Magical Weapons,” the author presented some great alternatives to handing out simple +1 magical weapons. I’d like to propose another option which can be combined with those options to make for some even more flexible magic items.

Before I begin though, it’s important to point out this method isn’t just for generating magical effects. It can be used anywhere you might be tempted to offer a bonus or penalty to any roll.

Dice Re-Rolls

The basic premise of the re-roll is simple: when a condition is met, the player re-rolls one or more of the dice they just rolled. The power and flexibility of this system has to do with how you determine what triggers a re-roll.

For example, in Psi-punk (a Fudge cyberpunk RPG), there are a few different ways re-rolls might be triggered. The first is through the use of Skill Specializations: if you have the Jump Specialization for the Athletics Skill, you may choose to re-roll one die any time your character jumps, but not for any other Athletics check.

The second method of gaining re-rolls is through the use of Luck Points (the game’s name for Fudge Points). When you spend an LP, you may re-roll a number of dice determined by your relevant Attribute. If you have Great (+2) Strength and are re-rolling a Jump check, you may re-roll 1 (the baseline) +2 (for Great Strength) = 3dF.

Certain conditions may also impose a re-roll penalty. If the floor is slippery and you’re trying to make a running jump, you may take a -1dF re-roll penalty, for example.

When re-rolling for a bonus, the player chooses which dice to re-roll. It’s never harmful to re-roll a – die since the result will always be the same or better, but the player may chose to gamble and re-roll a blank die if they want to push their luck. When re-rolling due to a penalty, they must always re-roll a + die. If no + die is present, they don’t re-roll at all; that’s because the penalty should never offer you the chance to improve your result.

Why This Works

The great thing about using re-rolls is that it improves the rolled result without breaking the character’s skill cap. Even if you re-roll all four dice and turn them all into + dice, the result is never greater than 4 + the character’s skill.

To put it another way: re-rolls improve your odds of achieving your best, but they never let you surpass your best.

Other uses

Now that we know what the re-roll does and how it works, we can start imagining other ways to use it. Here are a few ideas:

  • Make magic or technologically advanced items with bonuses that don’t break the game.
  • Alter the luck of a spell or other special effect.
  • Give the players a pool of re-roll dice to pull from at their convenience. In Survival of the Able, characters may pray for blessings and use a pool of 4dF toward any purpose related to their prayer. They may spread these dice out over any number of rolls until they are all used up.
  • Create Faults or other hindrances which impose re-roll penalties for certain actions, which is the opposite of Specializations described above.
  • Give the GM a pool of dice to use for her NPCs.
  • Have a monster or character use curses to force re-roll penalties against their enemies.

Conclusion

Re-rolls offer a lot of flexibility without totally bloating the bonus economy for your games. They help characters achieve their potential, and players love rolling lots of dice and maxing out their results.

What do you think? Have you used a similar mechanic in your Fudge games? How well did it work for you? What other ideas can you come up with to use this mechanic?

15 COPYRIGHT NOTICE
Open Game License v 1.0 Copyright 2000, Wizards of the Coast, Inc.
Fudge 10th Anniversary Edition Copyright 2005, Grey Ghost Press, Inc.; Authors Steffan O’Sullivan and Ann Dupuis, with additional material by Jonathan Benn, Peter Bonney, Deird’Re Brooks, Reimer Behrends, Don Bisdorf, Carl Cravens, Shawn Garbett, Steven Hammond, Ed Heil, Bernard Hsiung, J.M. “Thijs” Krijger, Sedge Lewis, Shawn Lockard, Gordon McCormick, Kent Matthewson, Peter Mikelsons, Robb Neumann, Anthony Roberson, Andy Skinner, William Stoddard, Stephan Szabo, John Ughrin, Alex Weldon, Duke York, Dmitri Zagidulin
This article Copyright 2019, Accessible Games
OPEN GAME CONTENT
The contents of this document are declared Open Game Content.

Stances Extended

Preface

I love stances. Something about taking two opposed rolls, symmetrically splitting them into two pairs of results, and then comparing said results just appeals to my inner appreciation of crunch. Still, there are some logistical issues that can arise when using them, especially at any table where the GM does all the math.

To start with, it’s a lot of numbers to hold in your head at once. A normal opposed roll never goes above three (opposition state, your roll, your stat), and collapses pretty quickly down to one. Stances can push that to five pretty easily, and that’s a lot of juggling to do. Sure, one could just use paper – but if physical objects are on the table then we might as well look at the physical objects on the table.

That would be the dice. They can effectively hold a number just fine, no human memory involved, and in a combat context the idea of physically splitting the dice into offense and defense piles makes intuitive sense to the player. Making it a standard element of combat also adds a decision step, which is a plus for more crunch-minded players. The opposed roll is effectively an 8dF roll, instead of the standard 4dF, and can be really chaotic. Splitting these into two groups results in a pair of 4dF rolls, a happy coincidence albeit with some distinct slanting.

This can also be generalized beyond combat for a number of rolls. The single opposed roll splits into two parts, accomplishing your task and resisting opposition. Doing, and not being done unto. Enaction and inaction.

Combat Stances

Starting with the traditional, there’s good old-fashioned combat. For simultaneous combat, both opponents roll against each other. They then secretly split dice between their left (defense) and right (attack) hands. Each pair is resolved individually, with no more mental overhead than a normal opposed roll. For turn-based combat, reveal the attack when it comes up, while keeping the defense in the open until your next turn.

There are two major options for allowed splits – either two dice must go to each hand, or the four can be split up more freely. The latter generally allows more freedom, and neither will split the dice any further than the conventional five stances allow, regardless of how they roll.

Paired Combat Rolls

Moving outward in generality a bit, any two rolls could be paired this way. Instead of just splitting the same skill two different skills could be used – or even a skill and an attached value of some sort. Roll 4dF, but instead of splitting the dice between two stances you split the dice between two different skills or statistics. In combat a few obvious options appear:

  • Fight + Move: Maybe there’s a running fight where someone is trying not to get surrounded, maybe this is just standard ranged combat maneuvering, or maybe everyone is on rooftops in a hailstorm trying not to fall and just needs to keep a certain threshold of mobility at all times. Regardless, attention is split between two tasks. At a higher level of abstraction, this could also be used for round-by-round turn order.
  • Fight + Damage: This makes particular sense when using static defenses, and necessitates some rules changes. The first is that you no longer get RD to damage. Instead, every point of damage done comes out of your attack – and the better you are at fighting the more positives you can throw that way and negatives you can sequester in your attack roll before missing.
  • Fight + Perception: Battlefields can change quickly, diversions are a thing, and you just generally might need to hold back a bit to keep abreast of the situation. Alternately you can give up on paying attention to your surroundings and just fight really well for a while. Hopefully that works out for you.

Paired General Rolls

This roll pairing works just as well outside of combat – but providing an example list that is even remotely comprehensive is prohibitive for obvious reasons. Instead, there are a few major categories worth looking at.

  • Risk + Reward: This is the generalized case discussed in the preface. For it to work well all four results need to make sense, particularly whether a successful reward can be simultaneously combined with a failed risk.
  • Quality + Haste: Doing something well and doing something fast are often opposed goals, and this general form of roll could come up whenever both are suddenly important. It’s particularly likely to matter when the characters are making something but have a time limit. To some extent this is a Risk + Reward roll where the risk is running out of time and the quality is the degree of reward.
  • Risk + Risk: Sometimes you have two problems to deal with at once, and it’s just a matter of priorities.
  • Reward + Reward: Alternately you might have two opportunities that interfere with each other to some extent, which is again a matter of priorities.

Some of these make a lot more sense as unopposed rolls. To keep the core engine behaving you might want to mess with the number of dice a bit. Using 4dF will cause them to bunch towards the center a bit after dice are split, using 8dF makes extreme results more likely (often in pairs). 6dF is a happy middle ground, but a bit of a weird number aesthetically.

Further Extension

This whole idea naturally lines up with a number of general design concepts that have grown more common in role playing games since the publication of Fudge. Successes at cost and failures with boons are particularly common, but with this technique there is a second dimension in play. A lot could be done in that space, but I make no claims to being able to see most of it, let alone explore it. So I end this article on the hope that it inspires designers more creative than myself.

15 COPYRIGHT NOTICE
Open Game License v 1.0 Copyright 2000, Wizards of the Coast, Inc.
Fudge 10th Anniversary Edition Copyright 2005, Grey Ghost Press, Inc.; Authors Steffan O’Sullivan and Ann Dupuis, with additional material by Jonathan Benn, Peter Bonney, Deird’Re Brooks, Reimer Behrends, Don Bisdorf, Carl Cravens, Shawn Garbett, Steven Hammond, Ed Heil, Bernard Hsiung, J.M. “Thijs” Krijger, Sedge Lewis, Shawn Lockard, Gordon McCormick, Kent Matthewson, Peter Mikelsons, Robb Neumann, Anthony Roberson, Andy Skinner, William Stoddard, Stephan Szabo, John Ughrin, Alex Weldon, Duke York, Dmitri Zagidulin
This article Copyright 2019, Knaight.
OPEN GAME CONTENT
The contents of this document are declared Open Game Content.


A Treasury of Magical Weapons

Originally published in Fudge Factor, Nov 2005

by Mike Harvey

Are you tired of yet another +1 sword? Have you given out a +2 sword only to have it wreck your campaign? Fear not, there’s a better way to create more imaginative weapons that won’t unbalance your game!

It’s Only a +1 Sword…

Many games describe magical effects or items in terms of “plusses” to attack, damage or defense. While this is easy to quantify and requires minimal effort from the GM, it can result in very bland items that mean little to players.

New Fudge GMs and players often try to do the same thing in their Fudge games, only to discover that it can throw things way out of balance. In Fudge even a mere +1 can be very powerful. This can leave people at a loss to convert their favorite adventures or characters, and may even convince them that Fudge is hopelessly “broken.”

I went through this same process in several Fudge games and learned the same lessons. This set me on a search for alternatives and sparked discussions on the Fudge List discussion group. The result is in this article.

Having cut my teeth on D&D, I am personally fond of random tables and lists of things. Since this article is targeted primarily at other GMs who come from such backgrounds, I have presented it as a set of tables you can roll on or pick from.

Try the Handy Dandy Sword-o-Matic!

For an instant item, roll one or more properties from the following lists, or just pick something that looks like fun. These lists can easily be expanded by looking in your favorite fantasy RPG… especially D&D.

(You do have a d30, don’t you?)

Basic Abilities

  1. Magic weapon can strike otherwise invulnerable creatures (JH)
  2. Unbreakable artifact
  3. Never rusts or becomes dull
  4. Grants 1 Fudge Point per combat
  5. Grants Great weapon skill (not useful if you are already Superb)
  6. Wielder is never affected by wound penalties during a fight
  7. Tiebreaker power, ties go to the wielder for one point of damage (JH)
  8. Automatically parries one blow per round
  9. Silvered weapon, can strike were-creatures (PM)
  10. Cold iron weapon, negates magical spells & defenses
  11. Glimmers in the presence of specific enemies
  12. Intelligent talking weapon
  13. Floats on water; handy if you can’t swim!
  14. Boomerang ability (when thrown)
  15. Truthful weapon, wielder can see through lies and illusions
  16. Shatters opposing weapon (or shield) on any “tie”
  17. Grants two attacks per round; also lets wielder run quickly
  18. Grants +1 armor to wielder
  19. Grants the ability to see in utter darkness when wielded
  20. Holy weapon: wielder must serve a god, but gains the ability to work miracles, possibly other powers. It is not wise to abuse these abilities.
  21. Wielder can become invisible by spending one Fudge Point
  22. Legendary blade, impresses NPCs who wish to help the wielder
  23. Legendary blade, dismays certain foes, causing fear and possibly flight/surrender
  24. Holy Blade, wards against evil enchanted creatures
  25. Grants Legendary strength to wielder
  26. Immunity to fire/acid/cold/whatever (pick ONE)
  27. Grants Superb leadership
  28. Exudes a palpable sense of dread (Great will to resist, causes -1 morale)
  29. Cleaving: no penalty when facing multiple foes

Damage Bonus

  1. Grants +n advantages; each advantage negates one ‘-‘ die (MW)
  2. Grants +n bonus dice; each bonus die ignores ‘-‘ results (B)
  3. Grants +n re-rolled dice (MW)
  4. Roll n dice, count only the highest four (E)
  5. Has a 1/6 chance to do one bonus point of damage (MW)
  6. Grants flat +1 bonus (this is a very rare and powerful weapon)
  7. Cleaves through armor like butter.
  8. Makes solid blows, all grazes are treated as wounds (JH)
  9. Flaming, double damage versus “cold” creatures; also useful as a torch, or for lighting fires
  10. Frosty, double damage versus “hot” creatures, grants wielder immunity to temperature extremes
  11. Destiny, weapon will slay one specific creature with a single strike, but after that becomes non-magical
  12. Drinks souls, each five points of damage dealt grants the wielder one Fudge Point
  13. Bane, any of the above damage types, but only against a specific class of creatures
  14. Scale-piercing, ignore Scale difference, wonderful against dragons and giants
  15. Delivers painful wounds, wound penalties are doubled
  16. Any natural roll of +4 automatically severs a limb
  17. The weapon finds a “chink” in armor and bypasses it on any relative degree of +2 or better.
  18. Sunblade, weapon glows so brightly it causes permanent blindness to foes. If they avert their gaze, wielder may strike unopposed at difficulty Poor. Wielder is immune to the light and can see normally.
  19. Might, wielder gains +2 scale for the duration of the fight.
  20. Peacemaker, weapon causes loss of consciousness on any successful strike (even if it does no damage) as if incapacitated. Unconsciousness lasts one round, plus a number of rounds equal to the relative degree of the hit.
  21. Hammering weapon, stuns foes for one round, they can defend but not attack
  22. Darkenblade, wounds inflicted never heal
  23. Holy blade, double strength bonus against evil enchanted creatures
  24. Inflicts disease on any Superb strike (resisted by Health)

Curses

  1. Always appears in your hand in a fight, whether you want it or not
  2. Constantly sings or murmurs to itself
  3. Forces the wielder into battle (Great Will roll to resist)
  4. Drives wielder berserk in battle (Great Will roll to resist)
  5. Causes hostile reactions in potential foes
  6. Destined to betray wielder at inopportune moment
  7. Backbiter, on any naturally rolled result of Terrible or worse, weapon strikes wielder with relative degree +2
  8. Causes bad luck in non-combat activities
  9. Weapon is watched by powerful evil entities
  10. Weapon is the “focus” for some evil god, who demands service
  11. Weapon has an evil reputation, causing distrust
  12. Weapon turns wielder into undead, very slowly
  13. Frost weapon, causes wielder to be uncomfortable in warm weather
  14. Once taken up, cannot be sheathed until it draws blood
    Weapon drinks blood, no game effect other than to horrify any onlookers. Bonus: it is self-cleaning.
  15. Practical joker weapon sometimes makes embarrassing comments, like “Help, I’ve been stolen!” or “You’re ugly, and stink too.”
  16. Weapon powers are unreliable, and sometimes they do not function
  17. Special powers only work for one hour after weapon has tasted blood, or for one day after killing someone
  18. Weapon is very heavy, requiring Great strength to wield (and reducing damage bonus from strength by two points)
  19. Weapon is absurdly decorated in gold and jewels, and it seems like people are constantly trying to steal it
  20. Owner attracts the attention of members of the opposite sex only when unwanted, but never when desired
  21. Weapon merges with the wielder’s hand and can never be removed without severing the member
  22. Very powerful weapon leaves wielder weak and fainting after being used
  23. Destined to slay wielder’s beloved
  24. Grants wielder an undesired or embarrassing skill at Legendary
  25. Wielder takes on appearance of weapon’s infamous creator and is fated to fulfill the same destiny; is mistaken by everyone for the original, and even magical creatures are fooled by it
  26. Wielder afflicted by seemingly unrelated events; random nosebleeds, attacked by chipmunks, etc.
  27. Wielder becomes vulnerable to silver, cold iron, asthma, etc
  28. Wielder has -1 on all spell resistance rolls
  29. Dancing weapon, forces wielder to dance

Special Thanks to Bill (B), Eppy (E), Johann Hibschman (JH), Mitch Williams (MW), and Peter Mikelsons (PM) for contributing to the lists.

Using a method like this virtually guarantees that no two weapons are alike, so each one should be a rare treasure. Very powerful weapons can be balanced by severe curses. But minor weapons can still be interesting: a magic sword which detects lies and illusions and which glimmers in the presence of enemies is still very useful, especially if that’s the only magic weapon the party owns. Also weapons are more interesting if each one follows a “theme” and has assorted minor powers that fit that theme.

Conversion Tips

If you are converting an existing item, the first question to ask is “why am I converting this?” It if is something in a module, consider just tossing it out and creating an entirely new replacement. If an items already has a history in the campaign however, you may need to convert it.

Often in a game supplement, a magic item will have a grandiose name, a cool picture, a vivid history… and then note lamely that, “this is a +2 sword,” or, “a staff of striking.” In other words, the mechanics often don’t fit the description. So toss the mechanics that were a kludge in the first place, go back to the original description and devise something unique and cool. This is Fudge; you are limited only by your imagination. For that matter you may not even need mechanics, just take the plain text description and picture and use that. Undefined and mysterious magic is by far the most intriguing.

For arms and armor, consider how it is used: does the character use it primarily for offense, for defense? Does he use some abilities and ignore others? Does he have a reputation for rolling well or poorly when using it? Does the item tend to play a major decisive role in the game, or is it just another tool? What you want to do is capture the flavor of the item. Give it powers that reflect how it is actually used, and how much difference it makes. A +4 sword sounds powerful, unless the warrior already has +17 in bonuses from other sources, in which case it is almost negligible.

Also consider how the rest of the campaign is converted. How do character abilities and enemies compare to the originals? Have you rebalanced the campaign in any way? Be sure to rebalance any items in the same degree, otherwise a strict power-for-power conversion may be unbalancing.

Finally, in some games characters carry a virtual arsenal of generic, nameless, and often expendable magic items. Consider “thinning” the arsenal to a handful of the most salient items. What is it that identifies the character? That is what you want to focus on.

Once you have decided what to discard and what to keep, and how much it needs to be rebalanced, give it a name, a history, a reputation, a theme, some quirks. Do this before doing any conversion. It needn’t be elaborate, a paragraph is fine, but each item should have its own unique personality. Now, keeping in mind the character who wields it, the general power level, how it is used, and the theme/history, give it unique powers that support and reinforce each of these. And as a final touch, throw in a quirk or two, something very minor that doesn’t affect combat balance, but that makes it even more unique.

15 COPYRIGHT NOTICE
Open Game License v 1.0 Copyright 2000, Wizards of the Coast, Inc.
Fudge 10th Anniversary Edition Copyright 2005, Grey Ghost Press, Inc.; Authors Steffan O’Sullivan and Ann Dupuis, with additional material by Jonathan Benn, Peter Bonney, Deird’Re Brooks, Reimer Behrends, Don Bisdorf, Carl Cravens, Shawn Garbett, Steven Hammond, Ed Heil, Bernard Hsiung, J.M. “Thijs” Krijger, Sedge Lewis, Shawn Lockard, Gordon McCormick, Kent Matthewson, Peter Mikelsons, Robb Neumann, Anthony Roberson, Andy Skinner, William Stoddard, Stephan Szabo, John Ughrin, Alex Weldon, Duke York, Dmitri Zagidulin
This article Copyright 2005 and 2019, Michael Harvey.
OPEN GAME CONTENT
The contents of this document are declared Open Game Content.