The Fudge systemCharacters are made from Traits: skills, attributes, gifts, faults and supernatural power; each being described by one of seven adjectives, each with a modifier associated with it: Superb (+3), Great (+2), Good (+1), Fair (0), Mediocre (-1), Poor (-2) and Terrible (-3). An extra level 'Legendary' is included but this is to be used sparingly, as the book humorously suggests:
If someone really has to begin play as a Legendary swordsman, strong man, etc., doing the GM’s laundry for half a year or so (in advance) should be sufficient bribe to be allowed to start at that level.The types of traits (such as Strength, Speed, etc) are decided by the setting in which you want to run but examples are given in the core rulebook. Typically, attributes are core characteristics and skills can be learnt. Gifts are special benefits and faults are the antithesis. Examples of different traits are included throughout, which helps both prospective GM and anyone trying to make their own setting. XP is called Fudge Points and is used as luck in game, modifying die rolls, succeeding in tasks, reducing wounding and so on.
Characters are constructed using a points based system, which like any other, is open to abuse. These abuses can be solved with a well rounded setting and a common sense approach to GMing! All this is mentioned in the rules, rather than being assumed, which is good for the GM who is new to gaming. For hackneyed old GM stalwarts, we can nod our heads in sagely agreement. Supernormal powers account for Supers games as well as magic, psyonics and the like.
Action resolution can be performed in a number of ways, depending on the dice you wish to use (or diceless). The different techniques are based on target numbers with the traits assisting your roll. Most of the outcomes are descriptive through adjectives and from this it gets it 'lite' moniker. Cynics would point out that the words really replace numbers and you end up doing simple mathematics anyway. Combat is performed in a similar way and damage is a simple series of wounds, you collect before you shuffle off the mortal coil.
Throughout the rules are a smattering of black and white images. I would like the cover image given on the website (see above) to be the first page of the book itself but I would imagine that it's used for the printed version (more later).
Resources and AddendaAt the end of the book is a plethora of compiled hints, tips, a bestiary, example characters and more. There is also an example Magic System, Miracle System and Psyionic system. There is also a series of alternate rules included by a series of credited authors. A compilation of extras that is very impressive indeed.
ThoughtsThe Fudge book is very well put together. The writing is of a high level and explanations are well constructed. However, given the simplicity of the mechanics, 59 pages of explanation seems very excessive, especially as so much is required by add-on settings to specify. The separate dice mechanics are included to give more choice and to include a 'Fudge Dice' version that strives to be so different that it requires six sided dice with special faces. I think that it confuses the system to have so many different mechanics in a single book. It would be better to stick to one system and call that Fudge. The book sometimes refers to cultural specifics, such as "Groo the Wanderer". More mainstream examples of characters (Indiana Jones, for example) would be more useful for the new GM. GM tips are mixed in with the raw mechanics, which is not to my taste. I would prefer all over the GM hints and tips to be extracted and put at the back with all of the other hints tips.
The humour is refreshing and often pokes fun at the gaming hobby, such as a spell use example for 'Create Pizza'. It makes the large book very easy to read. Well done to Ann Dupuis for doing an excellent typesetting job as well as keeping the game going.