Fudging Fate

“It is a common delusion that you make things better by talking about them.”
— Dame Rose Macaulay
Okay, so ***Dave has (rightfully) voiced some concern over the problems with running Spycraft d20 — while it’s a great adaptation of the system to the genre, the d20 cruft-accumulation added to the not-at-all-inconsiderable Spycraft-additions to the rules has created a sort of never-ending learning curve on the rules.
Translation: we spend as much time looking up stuff now as we did 4 levels and 16 sessions ago. Frankly, that shouldn’t happen.
So, in an effort to keep the ship airborn by jettisoning unwanted baggage, he started looking at other systems. Since I am currently the designated system-whore, I offered up some suggestions, which lead to FATE, which is basically Fudge all growed-up. It’s good stuff, people.
The problem — the only real problem thus far (and one that presents itself even moreso in vanilla Fudge as well), is that there’s some customization required. Granted, this isn’t Fudge, where you have to create your own stats, your own … everything…
but it is a generic system* with all the good and bad that comes with that, and that means custom-built skill lists.
Which means, after digging into the rules (and digging the rules), you’re still stuck hammering out a skill list that isn’t (a) too long (b) too short (c) too plain (d) so ‘flavorful’ that you can’t play it.
It feels a lot like designing a game, which is… well, fun if that’s what you’re in the mood for, but not fun if you’re… not. My brain (and, I’m sure, Dave’s) is fried — turning over questions like “do we need scrounge if we have Streetwise? what level of detail should that kind of activity need in this genre?”
Ugh. I’m down to “Fire bad. Tree pretty.” Pass me the beer.


  1. * – Where I was once in the ‘universal system’ camp with things like BESM and Fudge, and I still appreciate the utility of having one system that does everything, I really do find myself loving the kinds of ‘small games’ that are designed to do ‘one game’ really well and fuck all else — there’s a real elegance (can’t you tell by how I describe it?) to a system that builds the important parts of the setting right into the game so that (a) the system supports that kind of scene and (b) it would almost be silly to use the rules for anything else.
    After the last couple days I’m also really liking those systems where you’ve got one Score that basically tells you what your skills are:
    “I’ve got Strength and Quickness and stuff, but I’ve also got a 5 in my Vocation: Knight, which tells me how good I am at everything a Knight should be good at, plus covers appropriate gear and belongings and stuff.”
    Sorcerer does this, and I really like it. I’ll also note (with some pride) that Swift did this as well. I really should go back and see if I can’t clean that system up a bit. It’s a little flat, but there was some good stuff there.

  2. To its credit, I think FATE does that a bit with Aspects. And, yes, hammering out a skill list is kind of a bitch (though they provide some good guidance), but is a whole heck of a lot better than designing it from scratch FUDGE (as you point out).
    That said, yes, there are distinct advantages to the “limitations” of very specific gaming systems.

  3. I think it does something… else… with Aspects. I’m not sure what that thing is exactly, but it’s meta-effect will be something like that.
    “I don’t have Parachuting as a specifc skill, but I have Aspect: Navy Seal, so I’ll roll my default mediocre and just check off boxes of Aspect to turn my bad dice into good dice.”
    Hugely like Trollbabe/Dying Earth in that regard, in that it basically makes you better by allowing for rerolls in your areas of strength. Different thing to kick it off (sort of, but really it’s just a different name for the same kind of thing), but much the same effect.

  4. Well, there’s also a less direct use of Aspect — it can be used in lieu of multiple skills, and it has a sort of persistent background effect. But the biggest game mechanic is allow rerolls (yes, a la TrollBabe).

Comments are closed.