Category Archives: FUDGE

The Princess Bride RPG

OK, so to be fair I gave The Princess Bride Role Playing Game the fastest of once overs before discarding it. Remember that I am a Rolemaster GM at heart and it was fairly obvious that The Princess Bride was not going to give me bloody disembowelments and detailed character creation. It didn’t look like there was going to be a much necromancy going on either, which is a current ongoing discussion over on my own blog.

On the other hand, if I put my own wants and prejudices to one side I think The Princess Bride deserves a fair review.

The usual caveat is that I have only read the freebie Quick Start Rules and you can download them for free from RPGNow.

So obviously this game is derived from the 1987 movie of the same game and much of the art comes from the movie. I think this is a good thing in multiple ways. I like the movies with tie in games. It helps everybody envision the same settings, key NPCs and even magical effects. If you haven’t seen the movie there is a book of the same name which came first. I confess I have not read either the book nor seen the movie.

So The Princess Bride is FUDGE based, which is a good thing, but also uses a 3d6 to FUDGE Dice conversion so you can play without the dedicated +/- FUDGE dice. I think this is a good touch. For a quick start book especially, taking the weird dice requirement away makes the game much more accessible. I used to play Champions/Hero System a lot and I know that there is a very pleasing feel to 3d6 and the 18 is rare enough to have the special feeling but common enough to happen at least once a session at least.

The writers have gone with just three attributes, twenty six skills, fifteen gifts and ten inconveniences (faults). I like skill driven characters but I cannot help but feel that just three attributes is too few. It is not that I feel that more attributes add more to a game mechanically but in differentiating one PC from the next they can play an important role. It is not possible to play someone who is naive AND observant in The Princess Bride as both a single attribute overs all aspects of intelligences, alertness and perception. On the plus side in describing how the attributes work and their ingame effects are directly related to the movie characters as in “Your character can have a high Body level and simply be very fit, but not necessarily huge: like Westley, for example.

There is a skill in The Princess Bride called Blave. I had to google the word as I didn’t actually know what it meant. I was going to criticise the game for using such an obscure word for such a common skill. It turns out that every single definition of Blave relates directly back to The Princess Bride and quotes the book or movie. So this is a setting related word. If you are interested the Blave skill relates to gambling and bluffing and likewise Jouking relates to dodging.

So here is the first bit that I found truly cringeworthy. The Princess Bride has renamed FUDGE or FATE points to Grandpa, wait! Points. To quote the game “So if the dice just killed your character, there will probably be a moment of silence at the table. At that point, any player can say, “Grandpa, wait!” and push a token toward the GM representing a Grandpa Wait point.” I had to read that bit over just to make sure I had it right.

The Grandpa Wait points are a simple renaming of the standard FATE point mechanic in every other way except the cringy name.

The combat system as presented is very neat and tidy. I don’t really know the world of The Princess Bride but there are absolutely no mentions of non human foes or natural weapons so no guard dogs or other beasties. This is just the quickstart booklet so those rules could easily be in the full rules. I do like the damage track method of recording damage. As a way of recording damage it very neatly allows for escalating severity of wounds. The lightest wound is “It’s just a scratch” but once you have had that three times it automatically escalates to hurt, very hurt and so on. It is possible with a big weapon and a great roll to go from untouched to “incapacitated” which is one of the things I have always liked about my ‘home system’.

Up until this point in the rules everything in the rule book has been adjective based, skills are listed as Great, Good, Fair and Poor etc. When Situational Rolls are introduced these lead with numerical values -4 to +4. So for now it is numbers first. It then tries to massage the adjective labels into this system and it feels really square peg/round whole. I know that Situational Rolls are core FUDGE but in the core rulebook they get just a single paragraph and sits alongside tossing a coin or rolling a single d6 as aids for the GM to get random answers. I found that by leading with the numeric scale when everything else had been adjective based creates the impression that the adjectives don’t really work. The description of the adjective system then looks a bit laboured. If writers had stuck with the adjective system right from the off then this section would have been neater and less clunky.

On a personal note, I don’t think that resolving things by dice roll is to be encouraged. What I mean by that is; if a player asks ‘Are there any innocent bystanders on the street?’ then that is a potentially really important question. The Princess Bride says “You should usually roll them in the open, except in cases where it might reveal more information than the party would logically have.” So instantly the characters know that whether the person is there or not is just chance, but the next time if you say “Yes, there is someone standing on the corner.” They know you didn’t roll for that so it must be important. Logically then you would sometimes create red herrings of false information to stop your players inferring from what you rolled and what wasn’t rolled. So now you are sometimes rolling the dice when you know the answer to fool your players, sometimes you are rolling the dice because you don’t know the answer and sometimes you are not rolling the dice because they may come up with a wrong answer and the players will have seen the result. That last one is something like Player: “What are the chances of there being a horse I can hire?” Dice roll -4, GM: “Yes, there is a really impressive stallion just being walked out of the livery.” Player: “Really?!!” To be fair the rules do work but I personally do not think anyone should be rolling dice in front of the players. It is the GMs role to create a believable world and chucking the dice around does not do that.

The remainder of the The Princess Bride quickstart pdf is the a sample adventure and pregen characters. That I am not going to go into as I don’t want to give anything away but only to say that it remains true to the setting material as far as I can tell and is clearly aimed as a first adventure and new players and GMs.

As a final note I would like to point out that this looks like it is going to be a really popular game with its target audience. The kickstarter has over 1,000 backers and has raised over $78,000. You can be fairly certain that any problems with the game are more likely with me than with the game, if you are part of the target audience. There is just not quite enough disembowelling for my tastes.

Dark Fantasy

These days having to wait for things feels so old fashioned! I have grown used to pdf rulebooks and if I want something I can have it right now.

For years now I have been using a tablet PC for virtually all my rules look ups at the gaming table that my ‘books’ are normally selected pages printed off and filed. The actual pages are selected on a session by session basis so I have the minimum amount of dead tree at the table.

One reason for this is that I tend not to play my face to face game at home, I have to take myself and all my gaming stuff half way across the UK and I try and use public transport as much as possible as well. I do have a car but public transport is environmentally more sustainable than everyone running around in their own cars. Anyway, that is a bit of a digression!

So I am conditioned into wanting my PDFs on demand which is bad enough but I will also confess to wanting a free pdf quick start or at least a ‘lite’ version so I can try before I buy.

The Deryni Adventure Game is only available as a physical print book and it is not on RPGNow/Drivethru. That absolutely threw me! Wanting to get my hands on this game lead me to email greyghostgames directly asking if there was a pdf available and the awesome Ann Dupuis has actually put a copy of the printed book in the post for me. I will be reviewing this game properly when  have had a real chance to look at the book and hopefully actually play it.

In the mean time I am still looking for my instant gratification fix. My first impression of Princess Bride was a little dismissive but I have taken another look at the quickstart pdf and although the game isn’t what I am looking for ‘off the peg’ there is more good stuff here than I gave it fair credit for at first glance.

Having read the Bride QS and not being able to get my hands instantly on Deryni I needed something else to satisfy my fudge craving. So I started to have a detailed read of the Fudge engine. That is a free PDF and I have had it knocking around on my hard drive ever since I first looked at the Ghost Ops QS booklet. There were terms used in the QS that were not clearly explained so I went back to the source to understand how the thing actually worked.

So now my brain is ticking along thinking I have the Ghost Ops booklet as a model for how I want a fudge game to look and feel. There are really good bits in the Bride QS. So if I took bits from here and bits from there and filled in the missing bits from the original fudge rules how hard would it be to create the game I am looking for?

Despite a promise to myself not to start any more projects until I have finished more of my ongoing stuff I found myself with a two page Word document of which Attributes and Skills I think I need.

I finally reined myself in and I have saved that document for future reference. The good thing is that now I want to work on that darf fantasy game I spent this evening completing and editing  pass of one chapter of a game I am working on and started writing up the creature stats for the bestiary for that game. There is still loads to do and it is mostly the difficult bit of actually writing the full text rather than the fun bit of creating mechanics. I hope this burst of energy is sustained and I can really crack on with this project with my plans for a dark fantasy fudge game as the carrot to get things done.

If you are into fudge look out for some future posts about fantasy fudge as these are definitely in the pipeline!

Ghost Ops QS & One Page Solo

This is a sort of double play test as I was using the One Page Solo Engine that I talked about last time, specifically the Fudge version I wrote in Javascript, to play test the adventure provided by Ghost Ops RPG Quick Start.

This was also my first encounter with Fudge and to support my weekend I downloaded the 1995 Fudge rules from

Part One

So lets start with Ghost Ops specifically. The game works really well! There are a few editorial issues with the quick start rules but the beauty of modern PDF publishing is that these could be fixed and the PDFs updated in no time. I am not worried about those as I am sure they will be fixed.

The Fudge rules I have makes a point of using words rather than numbers for the difficulty factors and player attributes. The actual wording says “It [Fudge] also uses words rather than numbers to describe character traits.” The claim is that “Fudge’s descriptive nature makes ideal it for novice players.” I am not a novice and I detest the adjective based difficulty levels. I am pleased to say that Ghost Ops leans much more towards Target Numbers rather than difficulty descriptions for example to quote the sample mission “There is roof access and it would be easy to rappel down the building from the roof (TN 3).” In pure fudge I guess that would have been an Average challenge or something like that. Ghost Ops does have the descriptions and specifies ten levels from Easy TN1 to Mythic TN10.  For me rolling the dice, adding my skill and trying to beat a target number makes perfect sense and I am comfortable with that.

There are 13 skills in Ghost Ops and they are the way I like them, suitably broad that a single skill is used for all related tasks, one skill covers picking locks, disabling traps and bomb disposal. There are enough skills to need a balanced team to get a good coverage of the skills and the individual skill abilities differentiate characters even further. Over all the combination of pools, skills,  abilities and talents means that characters can be as unique as you could possibly want.

Character creation (in the full quick start book) is really quick and easy and is all choice based, no dice rolling needed. The source material is really cool, describing the SAS, Delta Force and a few other special forces units as your starting point.

Combat is quick and easy. In the play test the first half of the mission I was dealing with mainly innocents and tested the unarmed combat. At the end of the mission it was a lot more Frank Castle (Marvel’s Punisher/Netflix) and the body’s soon mounted up.

I never thought I would play a Fudge (or Fate) game and enjoy it but after this weekend I am a convert. I will be using Ghost Ops as the yard to measure all others against.

I am really looking forward to July when the full game is due to be released.

Part Two

The One Page Solo Engine performed extremely well. I don’t want to give any of the mission details away but at one point I was making my way stealthily up an access stair way when the solo engine prompted guards would be coming down, ducking out a fire exit there was another guard out there. Having avoided them and got to the right floor the solo engine was a bit kinder and the mission progressed. Trying to make my way out after completing the task Not only were there security guards on the roof but they were also fully aware of me coming up the stairs, cue yet another encounter.

Looking for a safe side of the building to rappel down to get away I asked the question “Is there anyone in the street below?” The “Yes and…” result, given that all the security and fire alarms in the building were blaring, suggested that not only was the street occupied but the police and fire services would be screaming into the street.

This is the sort of thing that you just have to go along with when you are using a solo engine. The mission went rather off piste for a while but that allowed the solo engine create a range of threats and challenges. The javascript plus dice roller together in the same window make running the solo game really easy and the solo engine almost became invisible. By comparison the paper version required multiple dice rolls for most questions and table look ups. It is a lot more imposing than my version.

People new to solo engines often ask too many questions, not trusting themselves to improvise. In total I only needed to ask eleven questions of the solo engine. For my eleven questions I got four unscheduled encounters any of which could have ended in combat, two new locations and when faced with the the moral dilemma over collateral damage of civilians I learned a lot about by characters moral position. No innocent NPCs were killed during this adventure although several probably had to call in sick the next day.

Over all the solo engine was a great success and it is now my engine of choice. I have saved it to my phone and as it works entirely locally it even works in flight mode so long plane journeys are now even easier!

Part Three

Fudge… The 1995 Fudge rules are certainly not to my taste. Ghost Ops was described to me as ‘leaning towards Fudge’. While I agree the dice and the skill resolution mechanics are defintely Fudge-like the implementation is much grittier than Fudge and comes across as more empirical. I think Target Numbers do that where as Good or Great sound a bit fluffy or fuzzy.

What this has done though is make me want to look at other Fudge games. I may not get on with the original implementation of the rules but I can no longer tar derived games with the same brush.

This has been a really enjoyable and educational weekend.