5. Character Development

After playing a bit, perhaps each session, a player will want the character to grow in abilities. At this point, a developing character can exceed the initial GM-set skill limits (such as one Superb, three Greats). There are two ways to handle character development, or ``experience,'' as it's often called.

5.1 Subjective Character Development

When the player feels the character has accomplished enough to warrant improving in some trait (and he feels he's been role-playing well), he petitions the GM for permission to raise it. A trait can only be raised one level at a time. A trait must be used more to raise it from Good to Great than Fair to Good, and so on. It should be easier to raise a Skill than an attribute.

Or the GM can simply award an improvement in a trait she feels deserves to be raised. In these cases, there is never a corresponding reduction of another trait-- this is character development, not creation.

5.2 Objective Character Development

In the Objective Character Development system, the GM can award experience points (EP), which the player can trade in any way he wants at the following rates:

Raising a skill

From: To: Costs:
Terrible Poor 1 EP
Poor Mediocre 1 EP
Mediocre Fair 1 EP
Fair Good 2 EP
Good Great 4 EP
Great Superb 8 EP
Superb Legendary 16 EP
    + GM permission
Legendary Legendary 2nd 30 EP
    + GM permission
Each add'l level 50 EP
of Legendary + GM permission

Raising an attribute:

Triple the cost for skills of the same level.

Adding a gift:

6 EP (or more) + GM approval.

Adding a supernormal power:

12 EP (or more) + GM approval.

A trait can only be raised one level at a time.

The GM may adjust these point levels as she sees fit and should require that the player may only raise traits that were used significantly during an adventure. If a long campaign is planned, these EP costs could be doubled to allow room for character growth.

Defining skills narrowly will also ensure characters don't become too powerful too quickly.

As a guideline, good role-playing should be rewarded with 1 to 3 EP per gaming session, with a suggested upper limit of 4 EP for flawless role-playing. Players may save EP as long as they wish.

Attribute levels may or may not affect EPs put into skills. For simplicity, you can ignore attribute levels entirely when raising skill levels. For greater realism, however, the GM can add a surcharge of +2 EP (or more) when a skill is raised above an appropriate attribute.

Example: Violet the Herbalist has Good Intelligence. EP costs for raising Herb Lore skill are normal until she tries to raise it to Great, which is higher than her natural Intelligence. At that point, she must pay +2 EP beyond what the table calls for: 6 EP to raise Herb Lore to Great, and another 10 EP to raise it to Superb.

This proposal is recommended only for character development-- not for character creation. The GM should inform the players at character creation if this option is in force so they can plan their characters' attributes accordingly.

5.3 Development through Training

Improving skills through EP is not always realistic, to be honest. A gaming session might only cover a few hours of campaign time. Allowing a character to improve one or two different skills from Fair to Good in that time is far-fetched. But it's fun for the players, and psychologically satisfying, and so recommended.

As an alternative, or in addition to the methods described above, the GM may allow traits to be raised through appropriate amounts of training time. This would require finding a teacher (which would cost money) or taking an appropriate job (which may not be totally dedicated the skill you wish to learn, and so take longer). It's also possible to learn something on your own, but the GM should double the time required. If using the Objective Character Development system, the GM may (or may not) require that EPs be spent in this manner-- that is, you can't spend EPs unless you also take the time to train.

The GM sets training time and costs, and difficulty of finding a teacher. The teacher has two skills that must be considered: Teaching skill, and the appropriate skill being taught. The player may need to roll the dice to see how diligently the character studied the skill. The die roll should be on an attribute such as Willpower, Drive, Zeal, Wisdom, Self Discipline, Self Motivation, Psyche, Intelligence, etc. If the player can give a valid reason why the character is extremely motivated to learn this skill, the GM may grant up to +2 to the trait tested. The GM may request a single die roll, or a roll per week, month, etc. If multiple rolls are called for, at least half of them should succeed to earn the skill improvement.

Example: Billy Blaster, space cadet, is back at the Academy after his first tour of duty. He considers his Fair Laser Pistol skill to be substandard. He takes a six-week training course in Laser pistol use, taught by an instructor of Superb Laser skill and Great Teaching skill. (Since Billy has Gift: Employed by Space Patrol, this is free training for him.) The GM decides that Billy's player needs to make a Willpower roll for each two-week period to see how dedicated he is to studying. If at least two of the three rolls are Mediocre or better, Billy can raise his Laser pistol skill from Fair to Good, given the length of training and quality of the instructor. Had the training been shorter, or the instructor worse, he would have needed a preponderance of Fair or even Good rolls to have successfully raised his Laser pistol skill.

Remember that it is much easier to improve a skill from Poor to Mediocre than from Great to Superb. Require more time, or higher Difficulty Levels on the Will rolls to raise an already high skill.

5.4 Alternative Experience System

Note: The following was taken from the author's ``Thoughts on Fudge'' (online at sos/rpg/fudlatest.html).

After a convention game one time, Ann Dupuis and I were discussing how well the game went, especially with the one newcomer to gaming at the table. The woman was not only at her first convention, but was playing her first RPGs that weekend. Fudge was the last game in her schedule that con, and she was blown away by how easy it was compared to the other games. She said she understood the character sheet without having to have anything explained to her-- and that the single mechanic to resolve all actions was the best she'd seen in the five different games she'd tried.

So we were congratulating ourselves, when I mentioned to Ann (President and Dictator for Life of Grey Ghost Games) that Fudge did have its drawbacks-- experience being the most glaring. Yes, it's great for one-shot con games, but it seems to allow characters to develop too quickly or not at all in long-term games.

Ann came up with an idea which we batted around a bit, and it looks something like this:

Instead of awarding Experience Points, the GM awards Fudge Points at the end of a gaming session. These can be turned in for Experience Points, but the ratio in Section 1.36 (suggested 3 EP = 1 Fudge Point) is reversed. That is, you may turn in three Fudge Points for one EP.

Raising traits is unchanged from Chapter 5.

What this does is force the player to consider whether he needs to save his Fudge Points to get out of a jam the next session, or convert them to EP to raise a trait. He can save Fudge Points from session to session, so he can eventually swap 12 Fudge Points for 4 EP to raise a trait or two-- but he may have to use some of those Fudge Points along the way to survive!

The net effect is that character development is left totally in the hands of the player, but is slowed down from the rate suggested in the book. This means a long-term campaign becomes more viable in Fudge.