A 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.
My relationship to Fudge was a pretty strange one. While I always loved certain aspects of it (the dice mechanics are pure genius), I didn’t really “get” it for a long time. I approached Fudge’s 10th Anniversary Edition like I approached most other games. But alas that just didn’t work. You can’t just pick up that book and start running. At least that’s not how it worked for me. Fudge offers endless options and I felt overwhelmed by those options pretty quickly. I always try to use rules-as-written at least for the first time I run a new game, and I just couldn’t decide which of the rules I wanted to use for my game.
Then I stumbled upon Micro Fudge. Micro Fudge is a very lightweight implementation of Fudge that did some of the heavy lifting for me. The author, Jonathan Snyder, has already picked a couple of Attributes and Skills and decided which options to use. This makes getting into Fudge so much easier. When I ran my XCOM game I basically just used Micro Fudge. Later, when I started to prepare my Fallout game I used the attributes and skills from the computer game but still kept a few elements from Micro Fudge. So Micro Fudge helped me to open a door to the huge world that is Fudge gaming.
After running Fudge a couple I feel much more confident with the system. And I am realizing that there is not one Fudge, but many. The whole idea of the system is to make it your own. So it’s more than likely that your Fudge game is totally different from mine, even though it’s still Fudge. That’s probably the reason why there’s a certain hurdle to overcome when you want to get into Fudge, but if you get over this obstacle, you quickly see what Fudge has to offer. The system is extremely versatile, and as lightweight or heavyweight as you want.
Does this mean I will now exclusively use Fudge? No, of course not. But I’ll definitely use it more often in the future especially when I want to run a game inspired by computer or video games. Both the XCOM and the Fallout games worked like a charm and I don’t think things would have been as easy with most other games.
Last Friday I ran the first session of the Fallout Fudged game I wrote about. Character creation was pretty fast even though I had to translate a couple of terms for one of my players. The party consisted of a Albert, a good-natured Science guy, and his childhood friend Ares, who prefers fists to words when it comes to conflict solution.
My heavily-modified Fudge rule set worked pretty well, but I did some last minute changes to how character advancement works. In an earlier draft Fudge Points were also used to raise character skills and buy perks, but I changed it so that Fudge Points are only used during the game, while Experience Points can be used to improve one’s character. This change made sure that the players actually used their Fudge Points properly and didn’t save them for later.
Combats were fast and pretty lethal, but it still took them a while to take down the Rad Scorpions in the cave near Shady Sands. At the end of our first session they reached Junktown, spoke with Killian Darkwater, dealt with the assassin sent by Gizmo and managed to place a bug in Gizmo’s office. The next session will start off with Killian, the player characters, and a few guardsmen trying to arrest Gizmo. But I fear this might turn into another bloodshed.
The players and I had a lot of fun. Even though we are all pretty new to Fudge, things went pretty smoothly. The rules never got into the way and the players really managed to immerse themselves into the game world. After the game the players told me that they had a blast and they can’t wait to see how things will progress. Hopefully we’ll be able to schedule another session soon.
In the title of the post I mentioned anxiety. For a long time I wasn’t able to run anything. Probably because of the depressive episode I had earlier this year, my confidence as a GM was totally shattered and I felt extremely anxious whenever I planned to run a game. But now I feel that my confidence is slowly coming back. I guess it might take a while until things are back to “normal” but at least my life is turning into the right direction again.