Wednesday, 26 October 2011

In praise of the Dice of Fudge

Minus one. Slight bummer.
Once upon a time, a chap called Steffan O'Sullivan instigated a process that ended up with the creation of a generic roleplaying game system which he called FUDGE.
I really like FUDGE conceptually, but it requires a lot of work from the GM to build a campaign. There's a reasonable amount of stuff available for it, already built by people like us with an unreasonable obsession with playing make-believe games — for example, there was a pretty complete port of AD&D to FUDGE built by a guy called Peter Mikelsons some years ago (it, and he, appears to have dropped entirely off the internet). But if you want to build something from the ground up, expect to put in some pretty hard slog.
Anyway. About the dice.
FUDGE's core resolution dynamic rests on rolling a number — often, but not always, three or four — of d3 marked with a plus sign, a minus sign, and blank face (there are two of each on a d6, like those in the picture). You can buy dedicated FUDGE dice like those shown here, or you can just use ordinary six-siders, counting 1-2 as a minus, 3-4 as blank, and 5-6 as a plus. The pluses and minuses are tallied against each other, with blanks being neutral, so scores from -4 to +4 are possible on 4dF (though there's only a 1:1,296 chance of getting either of those results on any given throw). The higher your plus result, the better the outcome. The lower the minus result, the worse things turn out.
What I like about them is that the results conform statistically to a bell-curve, where things are most likely to be only averagely good or bad, but with the (small) possibility of astounding wonderfulness or horrifying horribleness. You can easily modify the degree of potential wonderfulness/horribleness by adjusting the number of dice thrown. I like to use them as Luck Dice, in situations when things could go either way and the outcome rests in the laps of the gods. They fulfil a similar role to a d20 saving throw, but without the linear result curve, and without any level-based modification.
Of course there's no reason why I couldn't just use regular six-siders. But as may have become apparent, I really do like special dice.