This chapter covers how to determine whether or not a character succeeds at an attempted action. In the previous chapters, traits were defined in terms of levels: Superb, Great, Good, etc. This chapter explains how those levels affect a character's chances of success at an action, whether fighting a giant or tracking down a clue. Sometimes a Fair result is sufficient to complete a task, and sometimes a Good or better result is needed. The better your skill, the better your chances of getting these higher results.
There is no need to roll the dice when a character performs an action that is so easy as to be automatic. Likewise, an action so difficult that it has no chance to succeed requires no roll, either-- it simply can't be done. Dice are used solely in the middle ground, where the outcome of an action is uncertain.
The GM is encouraged to keep die-rolling to a minimum. Do not make the players roll the dice when their characters do mundane things. There is no need to make a roll to see if someone can cook lunch properly, or pick an item from a shelf, or climb a ladder, etc. Don't even make them roll to climb a cliff unless it's a difficult cliff or the situation is stressful, such as a chase. (And possibly a Superb climber wouldn't need a roll for a difficult cliff. He should get up it automatically unless it's a very difficult cliff.)
For any action the player character wishes to perform, the Gamemaster must determine which trait is tested. (This will usually be a skill or an attribute.) If the action is Unopposed, the GM also determines the Difficulty Level-- usually Fair. (See also Section 3.5, Opposed Actions.)
For running Fudge Diceless, see the Addenda, Section 7.42.
Of the four dice techniques presented in Fudge, this one is recommended. It gives results from -4 to +4 quickly and easily, without intruding into role-playing or requiring complex math or a table.
Fudge dice are six-sided dice with two sides marked +1, two sides marked -1, and two sides marked 0. They are commercially available from Grey Ghost Press, Inc.-- see http://www.fudgerpg.com.
You can make your own Fudge dice easily enough. Simply get four normal white d6s. Using a permanent marker, color two sides of each die green, two sides red, and leave the other two sides white. When the ink has dried, spray the dice lightly with clear matte finish to prevent the ink from staining your hands. You now have 4dF: the green sides = +1, the red sides = -1, and the white sides = 0.
(While you can try to play with normal d6s-- reading: 1,2 = -1; 3,4 = 0; 5,6 = +1-- this is not recommended. It takes too much effort, and intrudes into role-playing. 4dF is functionally equivalent to 4d3-8, but this is also not recommended for the same reason, even if you have d6s labeled 1-3 twice.)
To use Fudge dice, simply roll four of them, and total the amount. Since a +1 and a -1 cancel each other, remove a +1 and -1 from the table, and the remaining two dice are easy to read no matter what they are. (Example: if you roll +1, +1, 0, -1, remove the -1 and one of the +1s, as together they equal 0. The remaining two dice, +1 and 0, are easily added to +1.) If there is no opposing pair of +1 and -1 dice, remove any zeros and the remaining dice are again easy to read.
The result of a die roll is a number between -4 and +4. At the top of the character sheet, there should be a simple chart of the attribute levels, such as:
To determine the result of an action, simply put your finger on your trait level, then move it up (for plus results) or down (for minus results).
Example: Nathaniel, who has a Good Bow Skill, is shooting in an archery contest. The player rolls 4dF, using the procedure described above. If he rolls a 0, he gets a result equal to Nathaniel's skill: Good, in this case. If he rolls a +1, however, he gets a Great result, since Great is one level higher than his Good Archery skill. If he rolls a -3, unlucky Nathaniel has just made a Poor shot.
It is not always necessary to figure the exact rolled degree. If you only need to know whether or not a character succeeded at something, it is usually sufficient for the player simply to announce the appropriate trait level and the die roll result. The game goes much faster this way. For example, a player wants his character, Captain Wallop of the Space Patrol, to fly between two asteroids that are fairly close together. The GM says this requires a Great Difficulty Level Piloting roll and asks the player to roll the dice. The player looks up Captain Wallop's Piloting skill, which is Great, and rolls a +2 result. He simply announces ``Great +2'' as the result. This answer is sufficient-- the GM knows that Captain Wallop not only succeeded at the task, but didn't even come close to damaging his craft.
Of course, there are many times when you want to know exactly how well the character did, even if it's not a matter of being close. If the character is composing a poem, for example, and his Poetry skill is Fair, you will want to figure out what ``Fair+2'' means: he just wrote a Great poem! There are many other instances where degrees of success is more important than merely knowing success/failure.
For those who don't want to make or buy Fudge dice, three different options are available:
4d6: this method requires 2d6 of one color (or size) and 2d6 of another color or size. First declare which two dice are the positive dice, and which two the negative, then roll all four dice. Do not add the dice in this system. Instead, remove from the table all but the lowest die (or dice, if more than one has the same lowest number showing). If the only dice left on the table are the same color, that is the result: a positive die with a ``1'' showing is a +1, for example. If there are still dice of both colors showing, the result is ``0''.
Examples (p = positive die, n = negative die): you roll p4, p3, n3, n3. The lowest number is a 3, so the p4 is removed, leaving p3, n3 and n3. Since there are both positive and negative dice remaining, the result is 0. On another roll, you get p1, p1, n2, n4. Remove the highest numbers, n2 and n4. This leaves only positive dice, so the result is +1, since a ``1'' is showing on a positive die, and there are no negative dice on the table.
3d6: Roll 3 six-sided dice. Add the numbers and look up the results on the table below. The table is so small that it could easily fit on a character sheet. Example: a roll of 3, 3, 6 is a sum of 12. Looking up 12 on the table yields a result of +1.
d%: roll two ten-sided dice, having first declared which will be the ``tens'' digit. Read the tens die and the ones die as a number from 1 to 100 (01 = 1, but 00 = 100), and consult the table below, which should be printed on the character sheet:
Of course, the GM may customize this table as she wishes. These numbers were chosen to match 4dF, which the author feels is an ideal spread for Fudge.
The following table is provided so that players can better evaluate their chances of success.
|of achieving||or d%||3d6||4d6|
|+5 or better:||-||-||0.2%|
|+4 or better:||1%||2%||2%|
|+3 or better:||6%||5%||7%|
|+2 or better:||18%||16%||18%|
|+1 or better:||38%||38%||39%|
|0 or better:||62%||62%||61%|
|-1 or better:||82%||84%||82%|
|-2 or better:||94%||95%||93%|
|-3 or better:||99%||98%||98%|
|-4 or better:||100%||100%||99.8%|
|-5 or better:||-||-||100%|
Thus, if your trait is Fair, and the GM says you need a Good result or better to succeed, you need to roll +1 or better. You'll do this about two times out of five, on the average.
You'll notice that using 3d6 or 4d6 the results, while slightly different, are close enough for a game called Fudge. The 4d6 results do allow +/-5, however, but this shouldn't be a problem since they occur so rarely. In fact, you could use 5dF to allow +/-5 if you wanted....
There may be modifiers for any given action, which can affect the odds referred to in the preceding section. Modifiers temporarily improve or reduce a character's traits.
Examples: Joe, Good with a sword, is Hurt (-1 to all actions). He is thus only Fair with his sword until he's healed. Jill has Mediocre Lockpicking skills, but an exceptionally fine set of lock picks gives her a Fair Lockpicking skill while she's using them.
If a character has a secondary trait that could contribute significantly to a task, the GM may allow a +1 bonus if the trait is Good or better.
Example: Verne is at the library, researching an obscure South American Indian ritual. He uses his Research skill of Good, but he also has a Good Anthropology skill. The GM decides this is significant enough to give Verne a Great Research skill for this occasion. If his Anthropology skill were Superb, the GM could simply let Verne use that instead of Research: you don't get to be Superb in Anthropology without having done a lot of research.
Other conditions may grant a +/-1 to any trait. In Fudge, +/-2 is a large modifier-- +/-3 is the maximum that should ever be granted except under extreme conditions.
For each Unopposed action, the GM sets a Difficulty Level (Fair is the most common) and announces which trait should be rolled against. If no Skill seems relevant, choose the most appropriate Attribute. If there is a relevant Skill, but the character is untrained in it (it's not listed on his character sheet), then use the default: usually Poor. If a high attribute could logically help an untrained skill, set the default at Mediocre. For example, a character wishes to palm some coins without being observed. The GM says to use Sleight of Hand skill, but the character is untrained in Sleight of Hand. The player points out that the character's Dexterity attribute is Superb, so the GM allows a default of Mediocre Sleight of Hand for this attempt.
The player then rolls against the character's trait level, and tries to match or surpass the Difficulty Level set by the GM. In cases where there are degrees of success, the better the roll, the better the character did; the worse the roll, the worse the character did.
In setting the Difficulty Level of a task, the GM should remember that Poor is the default for most skills. The average trained climber can climb a Fair cliff most of the time, but the average untrained climber will usually get a Poor result. In the example in Section 3.2 (Nathaniel shooting at an archery target), if the target is large and close, even a Mediocre archer could be expected to hit it: Mediocre Difficulty Level. If it were much smaller and farther away, perhaps only a Great archer could expect to hit it regularly: Great Difficulty Level. And so on.
Example of setting Difficulty Level: Two PCs (Mickey and Arnold) and an NPC guide (Parri) come to a cliff the guide tells them they have to climb. The GM announces this is a difficult, but not impossible, cliff: a Good Difficulty Level roll is required to scale it with no delays or complications. Checking the character sheets, they find that Parri's Climbing skill is Great and Mickey's is Good. Arnold's character sheet doesn't list Climbing, so his skill level is at default: Poor. Parri and Mickey decide to climb it, then lower a rope for Arnold.
Parri rolls a +1 result: a rolled degree of Superb. She gets up the cliff without difficulty, and much more quickly than expected. Mickey rolls a -1, however, for a rolled degree of Fair. Since this is one level lower than the Difficulty Level, he's having problems. Had Mickey done Poorly or even Mediocre, he would perhaps have fallen-- or not even been able to start. Since his rolled degree is only slightly below the Difficulty Level, though, the GM simply rules he is stuck half way up, and can't figure out how to go on. Parri ties a rope to a tree at the top of the cliff, and lowers it for Mickey. The GM says it is now Difficulty Level: Poor to climb the cliff with the rope in place, and Mickey makes this easily on another roll.
Arnold would also need a Poor rolled degree to climb the cliff with the rope, but since his skill is Poor, they decide not to risk it. Mickey and Parri have Arnold loop the rope under his arms, and pull him up as he grabs handholds along the way in case they slip. No roll is needed in this case, unless they are suddenly attacked when Arnold is only half way up the cliff....
(The whole situation was merely described as an example of setting Difficulty levels. In actual game play, the GM should describe the cliff, and ask the players how the characters intend to get up it. If they came up with the idea of Parri climbing the cliff and lowering a rope, no rolls would be needed at all-- unless, possibly, time was a critical factor, or there were hidden difficulties the GM chose not to reveal because they couldn't have been perceived from the bottom of the cliff.)
Occasionally, the GM will roll in secret for the PC. There are times when even a failed roll would give the player knowledge he wouldn't otherwise have. These are usually information rolls. For example, if the GM asks the player to make a roll against Perception attribute (or Find Hidden Things skill), and the player fails, the character doesn't notice anything out of the ordinary. But the player now knows that there is something out of the ordinary that his character didn't notice.... Far better for the GM to make the roll in secret, and only mention it on a successful result.
To resolve an Opposed action between two characters, each side rolls dice (4dF, d%, 3d6, 4d6, or whatever is your chosen dice technique) against the appropriate trait and announces the result. The traits rolled against are not necessarily the same: for example, a seduction attempt would be rolled against a Seduction skill for the active participant (or possibly Appearance attribute) and against Will for the resisting participant. There may be modifiers: someone with a vow of chastity might get a bonus of +2 to his Will, while someone with a Lecherous fault would have a penalty-- or not even try to resist.
The Gamemaster compares the rolled degrees to determine a relative degree. For example, Lisa is trying to flimflam Joe into thinking she's from the FBI and rolls a Great result. This is not automatic success, however. If Joe also rolls a Great result on his trait to avoid being flimflammed (Knowledge of Police Procedure, Learning, Intelligence, etc.-- whatever the GM decides is appropriate), then the relative degree is 0: the status quo is maintained. In this case, Joe remains unconvinced that Lisa is legitimate. If Joe rolled a Superb result, Lisa's Great result would have actually earned her a relative degree of -1: Joe is not going to be fooled this encounter, and will probably even have a bad reaction to Lisa.
The Opposed action mechanism can be used to resolve almost any conflict between two characters. Are two people both grabbing the same item at the same time? This is an Opposed action based on a Dexterity attribute-- the winner gets the item. Is one character trying to shove another one down: Roll Strength vs. Strength (or Wrestling skill) to see who goes down. Someone trying to hide from a search party: Perception attribute (or Find Hidden skill) vs. Hide skill (or Camouflage, Stealth, etc.). Trying to out-drink a rival: Constitution vs. Constitution (or Drinking skill, Carousing, etc.). And so on.
Some Opposed actions have a minimum level needed for success. For example, an attempt to control a person's mind with a Telepathy skill might require at least a Fair result. If the telepath only gets a Mediocre result, it doesn't matter if the intended victim rolls a Poor resistance: the attempt fails. Most combat falls into this category- see Chapter 4.
For an example of Opposed actions involving more than two characters, see Section 4.34, Multiple Combatants in Melee.
An Opposed action can also be handled as an Unopposed action. When a PC is opposing an NPC, have only the player roll, and simply let the NPC's trait level be the Difficulty Level. This method assumes the NPC will always roll a 0. This emphasizes the PCs' performance, and reduces the possibility of an NPC's lucky roll deciding the game.
As a slight variation on the above, the GM rolls 1dF or 2dF when rolling for an NPC in an opposed action. This allows some variation in the NPC's ability, but still puts the emphasis on the PCs' actions.
For those without Fudge dice, the GM can simply roll 1d6 for an NPC. On a result of 2-5, the NPC gets the listed trait level as a result. On a result of 1, the NPC did worse than her trait level; on a result of 6 the NPC did better than her trait level. Those who want to know precisely how much better or worse should roll a second d6:
|1,2,3 =||+/-1 (as appropriate)|
Critical results are an optional Fudge rule for GMs who like the idea. A natural rolled result of +4 can be considered a critical success-- the character has done exceptionally well, and the GM may grant some special bonus to the action. Likewise, a natural result of -4 is a critical failure, and the character has done as poorly as he possibly can in the given situation.
Note that achieving +/-4 with die modifiers does not count as a critical result, though the character has done exceptionally well or poorly. When a natural critical result is rolled, the GM may ignore what the rolled degree would be, and treat it as an automatic beyond Superb or below Terrible result.
Optionally, if a character gets a rolled degree four or more levels better than the Difficulty Level, he has gotten a critical success. Likewise, four levels below a Difficulty Level is a critical failure.
A critical result in combat can mean many things: one fighter falls down, or drops his weapon, or is hurt extra badly, or is stunned for a round and can't even defend himself, or is temporarily blinded, or knocked out, etc. The GM should be creative, but not kill a character outright.
The GM may even wish to make a table, such as these sample melee critical results:
|2||Blinded for the next combat round-- no defense or offense!|
|3||Fall down: skill at -2 for one round.|
|4||Armor badly damaged-- no armor value rest of fight!|
|5||Weapon finds chink in armor-- do not subtract for armor.|
|6||Off balance-- skill at -1 next turn.|
|8||Weapon breaks, but still useful: -1 to damage.|
And so on-- finish and customize to your tastes.
This is an easy way to achieve a lot of detail without complicating Fudge. Those with Internet access are invited to add any interesting critical results tables they create to the Fudge sites.
Sometimes a non-player character has a set reaction to the PCs. Perhaps she's automatically their enemy, or perhaps the party has rescued her, and earned her gratitude. But there will be many NPCs that don't have a set reaction. When the PCs request information or aid, it might go smoothly or it might not go well at all. Negotiation with a stranger is always an unknown quantity to the players-- it may be so for the GM, too.
When in doubt, the GM should secretly make a Situational roll. If the PC in question has a trait that can affect a stranger's reaction, this should grant a +/-1 (or more) to the result. Examples include Appearance (which could be an attribute, gift or fault), Charisma, Reputation, Status, and such habits as nose-picking or vulgar language. The Reaction roll can also be modified up or down by circumstances: bribes, suspicious or friendly nature of the NPC, proximity of the NPC's boss, observed PC behavior, etc.
The higher the Reaction roll result, the better the reaction. On a Fair result, for example, the NPC will be mildly helpful, but only if it's not too much effort. She won't be helpful at all on Mediocre or worse results, but will react well on a Good result or better.
Example: Nathaniel needs some information about the local duke, who he suspects is corrupt. He has observed that folks are reticent to talk about the duke to strangers. Nathaniel decides to approach a talkative vegetable seller at the open market. Nathaniel has an average appearance (no modifier), but is charismatic: +1 to any Reaction roll. He makes small talk for a while, then slowly brings the duke into the conversation. The GM decides this was done skillfully enough to warrant another +1 on the reaction roll. However, the situation is prickly: -2 in general to elicit any information about the sinister local ruler. This cancels Nathaniel's bonuses. The GM rolls in secret, and gets a Fair result. The old lady slips out a bit of useful information before realizing what she's just said. At that point she clams up, but Nathaniel casually changes the subject to the weather, dispelling her suspicions. He wanders off to try his luck elsewhere.