Cover image

Table of Contents


Making Characters

Action Rules

Fight Scenes


Carrying On

Flowcharts and Forms



Thank you for looking at this new release of my roleplaying game based on the FudgeTM game system!

'A new release?' What's gone wrong now, Bob?

Nothing! Sort of. But I decided I wanted to pull the Extras I wrote in 2021 into the main book. There were things that I'd made too brief that needed restoring. A spelling typo and a few formatting things needed fixing. One example hadn't been updated for the new Ladder properly.

And then when I tried to put these changes into my old files, things went to heck. At which point I decided to re-release it in a different format, eventually settling on HTML. Think of it as the Remastered Essentials Edition.

What is a roleplaying game?

Oy. There are as many answers as there are players. For me, it's improved "Let's Pretend" from childhood, but applying adult imagination and some well-designed rules to keep play smooth. For others, it's about storytelling and story-making, or about a new kind of art, or maybe just hanging out and rolling dice. Roleplaying games are all of those, and more!

What is Fudge?

There's the legal answer. My answer: Fudge is a toolkit of both rules and design principles suitable for making roleplaying games of all sorts.

What is EZFudge?

EZFudge (in this Essentials edition) is a small guide for gamemasters to show them how I use and play Fudge. It does have enough information to serve as a complete game, so it's suitable for players also.

EZFudge is not for everybody. If you like simple, fast-moving, make-a-lot-up-as-you-go play, this game will work fine. If you like thick rule books with maps and deep detail and level grinding … that's not here. But you might still like here. Try it and see.

If something confuses you, e-mail me. My address is nvdaydreamer (at) gmail (dot) com.

Some Comments

As is usual for classic Fudge, gamemasters are "she" and players or characters are "he." This is for simplicity's sake. No offense to our non-binary friends is meant.

Preparing for Play

Each player will need a character sheet.

The gamemaster will need a copy of this book.

The group will need dice, writing instruments, and perhaps scratch paper. There is a printable character sheet and a play aid sheet at the EZFudge site.

Other things which are nice to have are beads, coins, or other small items to stand in for Fudge Points; and healthy snacks and drinks.

Key Concepts

The Ladder

All Fudge-based games use words to define or compare character traits, actions, and outcomes. The words have a number that goes with them (but as we'll see, we don't have to use the math). When we list all the words in order (rank) from best to worst, we have the EZFudge Ladder:

Superb (+4)
Great (+3)
Good (+2)
Fair (+1)
Mediocre (0)
Poor (-1)
Terrible (-2)

There are other rungs above and below this part of the Ladder, but you won't see them often.

Player Driven

Not only should the players and their characters be the focus of the game (and not the gamemaster or her NPCs), but all rolls should be made by players. The gamemaster's job is to set difficulties, not roll dice. (Okay, there are a few optional rules where the gamemaster gets to roll. Happy now?)

Making Characters

Making an EZFudge character takes several steps, but each step is very simple and small. Follow the "Make A Character" flowchart.

Making a Character flowchart


Decide what kind of character you'd like and confirm with the gamemaster that he is right for the adventure she has in mind. This might involve discussion with other players, to be sure that the party fits together well. The Idea should guide every choice to come.

I know naming a character is often the hardest part. Having a name early, though, can help a lot.

One more thought: the first six steps of this flowchart place the character on the Ladder in relation to the average of his native culture and kind. (The average is usually Fair (+1).)

Example: Let's make Jason Free, a wandering do-gooder.


A role in EZFudge groups the common skills and knowledge of a job, hobby, or interest. In Fudge terms, roles are a kind of skill group. In other games, they'd be called classes, or maybe aspects, or perhaps clichés.

A character has several roles. One or more might be part of his "day job." Others might be personal interests. The policeman character (Beat Cop role) who boxes to stay trim (Amateur Boxer role) might also write TV scripts by night (Screenwriter role) to make a little extra money.

What does a particular role do? Fill in the blanks in "The Argument:"

Because I am a ____(role)____ , I can ____(take this action)____.

If the sentence makes sense, you're good to go. If the sentence almost makes sense, you might have to explain to the gamemaster how you see it. If the sentence cannot make sense no matter how hard you whine or bribe, it's time to choose a different role or a different action.

Roles in a magical fantasy game might be:

Animal Trainer, Archer, Assassin, Barbarian, Bard, Burglar, Cleric, Cook, Craftsman, Druid, Fighter, Fortune Teller, Knight, Monk, Necromancer, Peasant, Physicker, Ranger, Rider, Rogue, Scholar, Sorcerer, Thief, Witch, Wizard, etc.

Roles in a modern action game might be:

Administrator, Assassin, Astronaut, Beat Cop, Boxer, Brawler, Bully, Burglar, Computer Hacker, Con Artist, Demolitions Expert, Diplomat, Doctor, Driver, Engineer, Marksman, Medic, Ninja, Pickpocket, Pilot, SCUBA Diver, Scientist, Screenwriter, Skydiver, Surgeon, etc.

Four to six roles is a good set to have, with something the character is really good at, other things that he can do okay, and maybe one or two more that he's not very good at but they help make him more interesting.

If the character doesn't have a role that applies, try the default of Poor (-1) or use an attribute at penalty.

Using the rank words is really important when describing roles. "I'm a Great Detective." "I'm a Mediocre Flute Player." This really matters in play when players have to decide which character will take an action. Is a Fair Burglar going to have a better chance of sneaking than a Great Dwarven Smith? The group needs to take not only the rank but the roles into account.

Optional Rule: Specialties

In higher tech settings, some roles benefit from extra detail — Mechanic could be Mechanic (Helicopter) or Mechanic (Diesel Truck). When this is the case, the gamemaster decides which roles have specialties, what those specialties are, and whether a role must be specialized.

If a role may be specialized (player choice), specialized roles get a -1 on actions related to another specialty of the role. In other words, if I take an optional specialization in Mechanic (Helicopter), I can still use it to roll for any other Mechanic action, just at one rank less.

If a role must be specialized (gamemaster rule), I cannot use my Doctor (Family Practice) role for any other kind of Doctor action, not even Doctor (Veterinary). But I can buy more roles with different specialties, and each costs 1 point less than normal for the rank.

Jason is in a light-hearted, "low" fantasy campaign. I think he's human, and his main role is "Quarterstaff for Hire." I spend 4 to buy that at Great (+3). I buy Good (+2) Woodsman, Fair (+1) Historian (the East March) (an optional specialization), and Mediocre (0) Camp Cook.


An attribute is a measure of the character's basic natural talent or ability. There are four attributes in EZFudge:

If the gamemaster allows, a relevant attribute can be used at -2 ranks to stand in for a role the character doesn't have, capped at Fair (+1).

Attributes can also be used (at normal rank) for actions which most anybody could do and don't require a special role (like keeping your balance on an icy surface).

Use the Ladder words for attributes, too.

Mass Scale

The last item in this section of the character sheet is Mass Scale. It's not a ranked attribute. In EZFudge, Mass Scale is a number relating the physical sizes of different characters. Write a 0 here for now, that's a typical person.

I think of Jason as smart and quick, so I boost his Agility and Mind. To this point, Jason's attributes are Fair (+1) Body, Good (+2) Agility, Good (+2) Mind, and Fair (+1) Will. I write the 0 for Mass Scale as instructed.


A gift is an unranked trait that gives the character some kind of advantage. Players don't roll against gifts (usually), but a gift might allow a +1 to action results in certain situations.

There's an "argument" rule for gifts, too:

Because I am/have ____(gift)____ , I can ____(acquire this benefit)____.

Some gifts are closely related to their setting, but many are useful in any game world:

Absolute Direction; Always keeps his cool; Ambidextrous; Animal Empathy; Attractive; Beautiful speaking voice; Bonus to one aspect of an attribute; Contacts in police force; Danger Sense; Extraordinary Speed; Keen Senses; Literate; Lucky; Many people owe him favors; Never disoriented in zero gravity; Never forgets a name/face/ meal/etc., Night Vision; Patron; Perfect Timing; Peripheral Vision; Rank; Rapid Healing; Reputation as Hero; Sense of empathy; Single-minded (+1 to any lengthy task); Status; Tolerant; Toughness (+1 to CPD), Wealth; etc.

A supernormal gift grants the character access to roles that have rare and strange abilities (like magic, psi, or superpowers). A supernormal gift counts as 2 regular gifts at least.

Jason gets one gift: Toughness. I set aside the other gift for now.


A fault is an unranked trait that limits the character in some way. Most of the time, faults will give either a minor disadvantage or cause a -1 to action results in certain situations.

Each fault taken lets you add other good traits: 1 gift, or 2 attribute ranks, or 4 role points, or 1 attribute rank and 2 role points.

Looked at another way, taking a fault is a way of making the character more interesting … and we reward that by letting him have more traits, making him more effective as well.

Faults are really excuses to be great when a personal challenge is faced. And as you might expect, there's an "argument" rule for them also.

Because I am/have ____(fault)____ , I can ____(endure this setback or risk)____.

Faults, too, can be setting-specific but are often applicable in multiple worlds:

Absent-Minded; Addiction; Ambitious; Amorous heart-breaker; Bloodlust; Blunt and tactless; Bravery indistinguishable from foolhardiness; Can't resist having the last word; Code of Ethics limits actions; Code of Honor; Compulsive Behavior; Coward; Curious; Finicky; Easily Distracted; Enemy; Fanatic patriot; Full of bluff and bluster and machismo; Garrulous; Getting old; Glutton; Goes Berserk if Wounded; Gossip; Greedy; Gullible; Humanitarian (helps the needy for no pay); Idealist (not grounded in reality); Indecisive; Intolerant; Jealous of Anyone Getting More Attention; Lazy; Loyal to Companions; Manic-Depressive; Melancholy; Multiple Personality; Must obey senior officers; Nosy; Obsession; Outlaw; Overconfident; Owes favors; Phobias; Poor; Practical Joker; Quick-Tempered; Quixotic; Self-defense Pacifist; Socially awkward; Soft-hearted; Stubborn; Quick to take offense; Unlucky; Vain; Violent when enraged; Vow; Worry Wart; Zealous behavior; etc.

Since I would like Jason to have some more attribute ranks, he gets one fault: Mercenary Code of Ethics (do the paid job, fight fair, no unnecessary killing, civilians off limits).

That gives me 2 more attribute ranks, which I put on Body and Will. All four of Jason's attributes are now Good (+2).

Trait Swapping

Maybe you didn't want that second gift (or the first), but you do want more role points. This is the step where you can exchange traits to fine-tune the character. No swapping of traits is allowed after this step.

Starting characters are still limited to one Great (+3) role, no matter how many role points they can get by exchange.

And now I can swap that unused gift to raise Jason's Body to Great (+3) and add another role … Rider at Fair (+1).


We will call the species and culture from which a character comes his people. If the game world has multiple peoples, the gamemaster will create packages of traits for each people.

Familiar sorts of peoples would be the character "races" from other games (Elf, Dwarf, Klingon, Vargr), but any difference in culture that the gamemaster wishes to make important could become a people as well (High Elves and Wood Elves, or Tennessee Hill Folk and Arkansas River Folk, perhaps).

Now's the time to add that people package to your character, which may add new traits or change existing traits (including Mass Scale).

This gamemaster doesn't have any special packages for Jason being human. Mass Scale is still 0. Time to move along …

After the people package is applied, the character is defined for the common scale of play that all characters use.

For the gamemaster — Designing Peoples 1: There are two common ways to design peoples. One is to say that humans are the "norm," and other peoples are relative to that human standard. The other is to make humans "just another people," and all peoples are related to the standard of the rules. I like the second more, because it gives me a reason to customize humans and what humans are within the game world. (But no, I didn't do this for the example character.)

For the gamemaster — Designing Peoples 2: It isn't necessary for all peoples to balance with each other, to have a like amount of traits, bonuses, penalties. But I like to do it because it's a fun test of my design skills and it teaches me things about my game world. Limitations are good for creativity!

For the gamemaster — Designing Peoples 3: "Isn't reducing cultures or peoples to stereotypical traits racist?" In the real world, yes, completely. But this is a game, and a low-fidelity game at that. If you're bothered, let peoples have no rules effects. Or design peoples such that social aspects aren't part of rules (Elves don't list a "racial hatred of dwarves," for instance). Play as you and your group find comfortable.

Other Numbers

The gamemaster will give 1 to 5 Fudge Points to each starting character. Fudge Points can be used in play to alter action outcomes or they can be converted to Experience Points and used to improve the character.

The Resilience value is a measure of how the character endures under stress (physical or mental). Calculate it by [(Body + Will) / 2], rounding fractions down.

The Reflexes value is a measure of how quickly the character reacts (again, physically or mentally). Calculate it by [(Agility + Mind) / 2], rounding fractions down.

Resilience and Reflexes are probably most useful as "saving throws (tests)" where a role or attribute test isn't sensible. Resilience also has a role in resisting injuries of all sorts.

Jason collects 3 Fudge Points. His Resilience is +2. His Reflexes are +2.

Weapons and Armor

Choose the weapons and armor that the character carries and wears (if any — maybe the Idea says they don't). Write them on the character sheet. Add the weapon INJ injury value (doing math if necessary) and CPD combined personal defense values into the character sheet.

Combined Personal Defense CPD

CPD = Armor Bonus + Mass Scale + Resilience, plus any other defense modifiers from gifts, equipment, or the gamemaster. Here are some sample armors with their respective bonuses.

Armor Type Armor Bonus
Leather jacket +1
Martial arts gi +1
Light bullet-proof vest +2
Hardened leather armor +2
Chain mail +3
Scale mail +3
Heavy bullet-proof vest +3
Plate armor +4
Heavy bullet-proof vest with composite inserts +4
Advanced tech (sci-fi, etc.) +5 (or more)

Melee Weapon INJ

For weapons you power with your own strength, INJ = Body + Mass Scale + the weapon's damage factor. Quality or unique weapons might be one higher. Here are some sample weapons with their respective damage factors.

Weapon Description Damage Factor
No helpful fighting role and unarmed -1
Helpful fighting role but unarmed 0
Small, blunt (blackjack, brass knuckles) 0
Small, sharp (knife) +1
Medium 1-handed, blunt (baton) +1
Medium 1-handed, sharp (short sword, fencing weapon, hand axe) +2
Medium 2-handed, blunt (quarterstaff) +2
Large 1-handed, blunt (club) +2
Large 2-handed, blunt (heavy club) +3
Large 1-handed, sharp (broadsword) +3
Large 2-handed, sharp (greatsword, battle axe) +4

Self-Powered Weapon INJ

Verify the appropriate value with the gamemaster.

For weapons you power with your own strength, INJ = Body + Mass Scale + the damage factor. Quality or unique weapons might be one higher. Here are some sample weapons with their respective damage factors.

Weapon Description INJ
Pocket Handgun (unhelpful at range) 0 or 1
Small Handgun 2 or 3
Large Handgun 4 or 5
Light Rifle 3 or 4
Medium Rifle 5 or 6
Assault Rifle 7 or 8
Anti-Tank Weapon 10

Jason wears leather armor. His CPD is (Armor 1, Mass Scale 0, Resilience 2, and 1 for the Toughness gift … total of) 4.

Jason's preferred weapon is the quarterstaff (damage factor +2), but he's quite strong (Body 3), so the INJ is 5. He's got a knife, too, INJ 4 if you get too close.

Tools and Kit

Choose the character's "stuff" to suit the Idea, his roles and the game world. Some stuff is always with him. Other stuff he can get to given a little time.

Everyday tools do not give any bonuses for tasks — using the tool is just part of the role. Absence of tools might give a -1 penalty, though; special high-quality tools might give a +1 bonus (but don't lose them!).

The gamemaster has the final say on what you can and can't have.

Jason travels with a typical adventurer's pack and bedroll. Sometimes when he's on a job he'll have cooking supplies as well.

Description and Background

I suggest having a one-paragraph description and two to four paragraphs of character history. Sorry, not actually enough room on the character sheet for this much writing. But at least do some! This is another place to add flavorful bits that will make your character stand out, be fun to play, and be fun for others to meet in play.

Jason's description is below. His background (based on the hints above) is left as an exercise for the reader.

The character sheet is now ready. Time to play!

Example Character Sheet image

Action Rules

It is a game, after all, and most games need rules. EZFudge doesn't need very many written rules.

When a character wants to do something, the gamemaster decides how hard the task is. Maybe it's so easy, the gamemaster says, "Yes, your character does that. Here's what happens."

Maybe the task is just too hard in the current game situation — the character doesn't have the right role, or a high enough role, or any number of reasons. In that case, the gamemaster says, "Sorry, you can't do that. Think of something else."

In-between, when the character is able to act and interesting things will happen if the character succeeds or fails, the gamemaster will call for an action roll. Follow the "Action!" flowchart.

Action! flowchart

Test or Contest?

If the character is trying to perform an action which isn't changed by the action of anyone else, we call it a test. Jumping a wide opening, climbing a steep rock face, sniping at an unaware target, and doing a chemistry experiment are all different kinds of tests.

If other people (or animals, or robots, or whatever) can influence the outcome of the action, we call it a contest. Example contests include boxing, haggling, tug-of-war, paintball (if they see you), and so on.

In either a test or contest, the action roll is made by the player.

Setting Difficulty

In a test, the difficulty level is chosen by the gamemaster based on the situation. Most tests are at Fair (+1) difficulty but may be harder or easier. (But if a task is much easier than Mediocre (0), maybe it's not a test after all.) The gamemaster doesn't have to reveal the difficulty!

In a contest, the difficulty level is the rank of the trait being used by the NPC to resist the character's actions or influence the outcome of the contest.

The Action Result

Three numbers are added together to find the action result: the rank of the trait being used, any modifiers which fit, and a random roll.

If you're not into simple addition and subtraction, there's a way to do all that just using your finger and the Ladder and counting.


This is just the number from the Ladder for the level of the trait being used.


The gamemaster may rule a bonus (positive modifier) or penalty (negative modifier) is part of the action. This is different from setting the difficulty level. Jumping a gap is the same difficulty for everyone, but your action could be different if you are using a skateboard.

Random Roll

A random number from -4 to +4 is added, with most rolls being -1, 0, or +1. Fudge Dice or Fate Dice (as shown on the EZFudge cover) are best for this, since they give the kind of numbers we want without extra work.

Don't have Fudge Dice? You can probably find Other Ways to "Roll".

The Outcome

Compare the result to the difficulty. If the result is equal to or higher than the difficulty, the action is a Success, and the amount by which the result is higher is the Success Margin (SM). If the result is lower than the difficulty, the action is a Failure, and the amount by which the result is lower is the Failure Margin (FM).

But what does that mean?

A Lock-Picking Action Example:
In the adventure, Lightfingers Louie needs to pick a lock. The gamemaster decides it's a Superb (+4) lock (but doesn't reveal this, to preserve suspense and mystery). Louie is a Great (+3) Cat Burglar, and he has some very fine lockpicks which the gamemaster allows to give a +1. But then he rolls a -1. The result is (3+1-1) +3 … Great result, but the result is lower than the difficulty, so the outcome of the action is a Failure with a margin of 1. One might even call it a Poor (-1) outcome.
But in his failure, did Louie set off the alarm? Next roll …

Action Optional Rules

Rolls for Foes: EZFudge assumes that all foe or NPC rolls (if they made them) would be zero. If this is intolerable, I suggest adding a 1dF roll to the mods for the contest difficulty. If even that is insufficient, oh, go ahead, give the contest difficulty a full 4dF roll. No one is looking over your shoulder. I hope your players are tolerant of the whims of the dice.

Summing up, in terms of the player-driven philosophy: the gamemaster sets the difficulty, the player generates the action and the action result, and the gamemaster assesses the result and difficulty to report the outcome. Those are the jobs. Oh, and having fun, too.

Wounds and Healing

Adventuring is dangerous, and characters sometimes get injured (even if they don't get in fights). The wound level of an injury outside of a fight scene (falls? flames? hordes of rats?) is assigned by the gamemaster based on her judgment of the situation.

Wound Track

Wounds are listed in the wound track on the character sheet. To indicate the character has experienced a new wound, mark off a box on the wound track. Here's how:

If there are special consequences for a wound level, the highest consequence (and only the highest one) takes effect.

If you are Very Hurt or worse, you can barely move. If you are Out of It or worse, you can take no actions and cannot move on your own.

Stun Results

Attacks to stun in a fight scene, or perhaps other special effects, cause confusion and distraction instead of physical injury.

Compare the wound level on the Wounds table as usual, but see the bottom row of "Stun Results." An injury that would have generated a Scratch result has no effect; otherwise lightly circle the result.

First Aid and Natural Healing

Scratches are usually erased after a battle or when the character can take five or ten minutes to tend to them. This includes Scratches that got "promoted" to higher levels.

Other wounds heal at a rate of one level per week of rest. (After a week of rest, a Very Hurt checkbox will improve to a Hurt, and so on.) Hurts do not become Scratches when they improve; they just heal completely and disappear. No rest? No healing, unless he's under medical care.

Medical Care

A Fair (+1) or better result on an appropriate role (Doctor, Nurse, Physicker, EMT, etc.) heals a wound by one level after a certain amount of time. This time varies with the game world. The healer cannot make rolls on those wounds again until that time period is up (but he can treat any newly acquired wounds).

Era Frequency
Fantasy/Medieval 1 / week
Industrial Era 2 / week
Modern 3 / week

Treatment in a hospital counts as "high quality equipment" and provides +1 to the healer's result.

Special Healing: Fantasy spells and science fiction equipment can affect the healing rate of wounds or the frequency of treatment rolls, but it should always take a time for a character to fully recover from a near-death experience.

Recovering from Stun Results

All Stun results heal like Scratches: they are erased after the battle or some rest.

Fudge Points

Here's what I give Fudge Points for:

Here's what I have players do with Fudge Points:

TIP: The Fudge Point Economy
Players, feel free to use your Fudge Points as often as you have them.
Gamemasters, be generous in rewarding good play with Fudge Points. The free movement of Fudge Points is important in keeping everyone involved in the game.

Experience Points

Experience Points are the "slow" reward system and used to improve ranked traits, and maybe change gifts and faults. To improve a ranked trait, spend Experience Points as indicated by the table.

Current Rank Role Improve Cost Attribute Improve Cost
Superb (+4) 16 32
Great (+3) 8 16
Good (+2) 4 8
Fair (+1) 2 4
Mediocre (0) 1 2
Poor (-1) 1 2

To add a gift or remove a fault, discuss with the gamemaster how this change is important to you or to the character. If the gamemaster agrees, spend 8 Experience Points and make the change. (Gifts and faults seldom just disappear … they usually change based on the events of play. This has no experience point cost.)

Choosing where Experience Points are spent is all about reflecting what the character has lived through.

TIP: The Experience Point Economy.
If someone finds themselves desperately short of Fudge Points, I allow back-conversion … but only 2 Fudge Points per Experience Point converted. Yes, I'm mean.

Oz Table illustration
The Glorious Gamemaster of Oz. Note healthy snacks!

Fight Scenes

MORE rules? Well, what adventure would be complete without a rousing fight scene or three? Here's what you need to know, and (at last) what those INJ and CPD numbers are for!

Fighting action in EZFudge is simultaneous — everybody's actions are assumed to happen all at once, and the consequences all happen after. We don't need to worry about turn order, but we do need some consistent terms so everyone can picture the fight scene the same way.

There are two basic kinds of action in a fight scene: hitting or shooting. We call hitting melee action, where the character uses fists or handheld muscle-powered weapons to fight. Shooting is ranged action, where the character uses a self-powered weapon to harm someone out of reach.

Time in fight scenes is measured in rounds. A round is just the amount of time it takes for all the participants to take an action or two. How long is a round? Some small amount of time, more than 1 second but less than 10 seconds.

Distance in a fight is measured in ranges. There are four:

Distance is important to the gamemaster when determining the difficulty level of a ranged attack.

The fighting terrain is described in areas. An area can be a room, or a closet, or an arena. Obstacles in the area, or blocking the view into an adjacent area, can affect movement in melee action and difficulty in ranged attack.

Fight phases (melee and ranged) are not literal. Think of them as the sum of all the things happening in that phase, with a result at the end capturing the sum effect of those actions.

The Combat Round

1) Imagine what your character is doing during the round.

First, are you in melee reach (range T or S) or ranged (any range)? How are you moving, if at all? What else do you need to accomplish?

2) Resolve all Melee action using the Melee Phase flowchart

The Melee Phase is about close-in action, but other actions are possible: move within the current area, take cover, brace, simple search, other brief action. Other actions can be made before or after any melee combat exchange. Complicated actions (that require a roll) are not possible if you're fighting (and vice-versa).

It's important to describe what your character is doing! This helps the gamemaster frame the scene and determine which fighter might be at a disadvantage. (Gamemaster: only apply a -1 or -2 to the fighter at disadvantage or in a worse position.)

Melee Phase is just a contest action, with two wrinkles: First, the level of both the character action and the foe difficulty must both be Poor (-1) or greater. You can't do damage with a Terrible (-2) rank! Second, an outcome of 0 is neither success nor failure; it's a draw.

Melee Phase flowchart

Melee Optional Rules

Pulling Your Punch: Rather than doing the most damage one can with every attack, the player can announce that the character is "pulling his punch" and setting a highest possible wound effect. (Yes, we use the same term even if using weapons!) Consider the sword-duel of honor where the terms are "to first blood." This would mean both players have agreed to "pull their punches:" any wound higher than a Scratch would be counted as a Scratch.

Attacking to Stun: A player might want to stun or knock out his foe, rather than damage him. For this, one announces that he is "attacking to stun." The attack is resolved normally but if the attack is successful enough to do injury, the injury is counted along the Stun level track.

Aimed Strikes: Fancy moves like hitting to a hand or eyes require a really good action outcome, but there are mods because they are hard to do. Effects of a successful aimed strike must be left to the gamemaster, but with ranged weapons they are bound to be significant.

If the outcome is good enough to wound, but not good enough the meet the hit location requirement, the foe decides where the hit lands!

Optional Rule: Tactics

To introduce a little variety to melee fights, try tactics.

The character can choose All-Out Attack. This gives a +1 mod to the character base value, and if the action is successful a +1 to foe wound . But if the action is not successful, a tie counts as a foe success and the foe gets a +2 to character wound.

The character can choose All-Out Defend. This gives a +2 mod to the the character base value, but the character cannot injure the foe at all in the round.

The gamemaster can have a foe choose All-Out Attack. This gives a +1 mod to the foe difficulty value, and if the action is successful a +1 to character wound . But if the action is not successful, a tie counts as a character success and the character gets a +2 to foe wound.

The gamemaster can have a foe choose All-Out Defend. This gives a +2 mod to the the foe difficulty value, but the foe cannot injure the character at all in the round.

A successful All-Out Defense followed by a Fair (+1) or better test of a role which would grant Perception or Tactics abilities means the defender can maneuver the fight to take advantage of terrain or site conditions. In the following round, the opponent would have a -1 mod to their action. (This would be a rare instance of the gamemaster rolling for an NPC.)

Boxing Bears illustration

Rolls for Foes: EZFudge assumes that all foe or NPC rolls (if they made them) would be zero. If this is intolerable, I suggest adding a 1dF roll to the mods for the foe difficulty. If even that is insufficient, oh, go ahead, give the foe difficulty a full 4dF roll. No one is looking over your shoulder. I hope your players are tolerant of the whims of the dice.

3) Resolve all Ranged action using the Ranged Phase flowchart.

The difficulty level for the shot is based on distance, lighting, cover, and so on. These factors don't modify the player action result. A character cannot both shoot and evade within the same phase … remember, only one die roll per phase and it depends on whether the player is shooting or evading.

Ranged Phase flowchart

Ranged Optional Rules

Aimed Strikes: as above.

Rolls for Foes: as above. If the foe is the shooter, the extra roll would attach to the Shooter Action. If the foe is the target, the extra roll would attach to the Target Evade.

4) Resolve remaining non-combat actions and assign wounds.

First, the gamemaster and players should resolve the remaining non-combat actions taken in the round.

If a wound was taken, add a mark for the wound level on the wound track now.

If you are Very Hurt or worse, you can move no more than 1 area per round. If you are Out of It or worse, you can take no actions and cannot leave your current area.

Combat rounds continue until all of one side has fled, surrendered or been disabled.

Damage Roll Options

EZFudge fight scenes can result in mathematical scenarios where a character can never get through to damage a heavily armored foe. (Or vice-versa.) And that isn't fair or fun. If this bothers you and you want more variety in wounds, the following optional rules may be of use. I like 1 and 2. 3 is nice if you want shorter fight scenes. I think 4 might be best for ranged phase only.

  1. A successful attack with a Superb roll always does at least a Scratch.
  2. Roll one Fudge Die and add it to any wound calculation.
  3. If the Melee Phase actions tie, each fighter takes a Scratch.
  4. After wound calculation, roll one Fudge Die and if the minus or plus appears, shift the wound level down or up one.

Comic Strip illustration
We've all been here, haven't we? A boy and his tiger demonstrate why games need rules.


Other Ways to "Roll"

If you've a mind to code, 4d3-8 is the formula you're looking for. Otherwise, the Roll columns tell you how to read a result from one of the other random methods.

Roll 3d6 d100 Poker Deck1 Roll 2d10 d202 Roll
+4 17-18 100 AH +4 20 20 & 16-20 +4
+3 16 95-99 2H-3H +3 18-19 20 & 1-15 +3
+2 14-15 83-94 4H-10H +2 16-17 18-19 +2
+1 12-13 63-82 AD-10D +1 13-15 14-17 +1
0 10-11 39-62 Face 0 10-12 8-13 0
-1 8-9 19-38 AC-10C -1 7-9 4-7 -1
-2 6-7 07-18 4S-10S -2 5-6 2-3 -2
-3 5 02-06 2S-3S -3 3-4 1 & 16-20 -3
-4 3-4 01 AS -4 2 1 & 1-5 -4

1. 52 cards, 4 suits (Hearts, Diamonds, Clubs, Spades), 13 ranks. Face cards are J, Q, K (any suit). I recommend using two decks shuffled together, and reshuffle after any Ace.
2. Reroll 20 or 1 to determine whether the roll magnitude is 3 or 4.

"Mathless" EZFudge

In the interest of being brief and direct, I've relied a lot on the numbers that go with ranks on the Ladder. But it's not necessary. EZFudge can be played just as well with the words of the Ladder. All you need to do is point.

I generally don't do so, but you could describe the dice roll with the Ladder … except the Ladder needs a couple rungs added at the bottom.

Roll Rank
+4 Superb (+4)
+3 Great (+3)
+2 Good (+2)
+1 Fair (+1)
0 Mediocre (0)
-1 Poor (-1)
-2 Terrible (-2)
-3 Worse Than Terrible (-3)
-4 Completely Terrible (-4)

To find the action result, put your finger on the row of the Ladder at your trait rank. Move up for (+) modifiers and down for (-) modifiers. And then move up or down again as directed by the dice roll. Where the finger comes to rest is the result.

"I'm a Fair Burglar but I made a Good roll" leaves the finger on Good — a Good Action.

"I'm a Great Dwarven Smith, but my roll is Worse Than Terrible" gives a Mediocre Action. Well, that settles that question. This time.

To find the outcome is almost the same. Put your finger on the action result. Move down for positive difficulty. Move up for negative difficulty. Mediocre (0) or better is a Success (a puny success, as described above). Poor (-1) or worse is a Failure. The Margin of either is the just the number without a sign.

In Melee action, Fair (+1) or better indicates character advantage. Poor (-1) or worse shows foe advantage. Mediocre (0) is an Even Exchange.

Let's replay that example with Lightfingers Louie. Louie is a Great Catburglar. Start the finger on Great. The gamemaster gives a bonus for lockpicks; move up 1 to Superb. The roll is -1; move back down to Great. That's the result. The difficulty was Superb (+4). Move four steps down to a Poor (-1) outcome. Negative means failure, and 1 is the Failure Margin. Time for that alarm check again …


Change, in percent, for a Mediocre (0) or better outcome. Use the modified trait rank on the left and the modified difficulty across the top.

  Terrible (-2) Poor (-1) Mediocre (0) Fair (+1) Good (+2) Great (+3) Superb (+4)
Superb (+4) Automatic Automatic Automatic 99 94 82 62
Great (+3) Automatic Automatic 99 94 82 62 38
Good (+2) Automatic 99 94 82 62 38 18
Fair (+1) 99 94 82 62 38 18 6
Mediocre (0) 94 82 62 38 18 6 1
Poor (-1) 82 62 38 18 6 1 Never
Terrible (-2) 62 38 18 6 1 Never Never

Random Table Template for 4dF

Credited to David S. Goodwin / "Gullerbutry"

Blank Random Table

Point-Buy Characters


  1. Standard characters have 30 build points.

  2. Build point costs for roles are unchanged. Default rank is Poor (-1).

  3. Build point costs for attributes are 2 points per rank. Default rank is Mediocre (0) (instead of Fair (+1) —

  4. Gifts cost 4 build points.

  5. Faults cost -4 build points.

  6. No swapping now, you're buying what you want directly.

  7. Packages for people of origin do not get counted for character points. Or the gamemaster might let them be counted, and design packages with equal build point costs.

The default character then:

Roles 10 build points
Attributes 12 build points (4 ranks at Fair (+1), plus 2 more ranks)
Gifts 8 build points


I see a character. How many build points does it have?

4 * (number of gifts — number of faults)
+ 2 * (total of attribute ranks not in people package)
+ (total of regular role ranks) + (number of regular roles)
+ (total of extra role ranks from required specializations)
+ package "cost" for people

With practice, this becomes a quick and easy way to verify a character is built within the rules.

Carrying On

This is where my part in your game ends. But your gamemaster has a world of adventure, and lists of roles, gifts, faults, maybe peoples, to make that world come alive. Now you get to go forward, dreaming up great characters and sending them on through amazing tales.

Gamemasters, you can see that you've got work to do to be ready. But at least I've given what I hope is a solid push and the rest from here are the easy and fun bits of the worldbuilding.

Thank you to all the people who've helped me find and shape the ideas that are built into this game. Extra thanks to Steffan and to Ann. I hope it plays as well as I think it will. Feel free to contact me and let me know what you think and how it went. In the meantime …

Go play!

About this Fudge Roleplaying Game Document

The text content of this document is released under the terms of the Open Game License, which can be found at and is incorporated here by reference.

About Fudge

Fudge is a roleplaying game written by Steffan O'Sullivan, with extensive input from the Usenet community of and other online forums. The core rules of Fudge are available free on the Internet at and other sites. Fudge was designed to be customized, and may be used with any gaming genre. Fudge gamemasters and game designers are encouraged to modify Fudge to suit their needs, and to share their modifications and additions with the Fudge community.

The Fudge game system is copyrighted © 2000, 2005 by Grey Ghost Press, Inc., and is available for use under the Open Game License. See the website for more information.

The Fudge System logo is a trademark of Grey Ghost Press, Inc., and is used under license. Logo design by Daniel M. Davis,

Open Game License Compliance

In accordance with the Open Game License Section 6 "Notice of License Copyright" the following is the required and updated Section 15 "Copyright Notice."


Open Game License v 1.0 Copyright 2000, Wizards of the Coast, Inc.

Fudge 10th Anniversary Edition Copyright 2005, Grey Ghost Press, Inc.; Authors Steffan O'Sullivan and Ann Dupuis, with additional material by Jonathan Benn, Peter Bonney, Deird'Re Brooks, Reimer Behrends, Don Bisdorf, Carl Cravens, Shawn Garbett, Steven Hammond, Ed Heil, Bernard Hsiung, J.M. "Thijs" Krijger, Sedge Lewis, Shawn Lockard, Gordon McCormick, Kent Matthewson, Peter Mikelsons, Robb Neumann, Anthony Roberson, Andy Skinner, William Stoddard, Stephan Szabo, John Ughrin, Alex Weldon, Duke York, Dmitri Zagidulin

Photo of Fudge Dice Copyright 2011, "Dan Q." aka "Scatman Dan", released under Creative Commons (By-NC) license (

The Princess Bride Roleplaying Game Quick Start Rules, Copyright 2018, Toy Vault, Inc.; Author Steffan O'Sullivan (Only the Fudge-related rules content is available under the open license.)

EZFudge Roleplaying Basic Rules, Copyright 2012, 2018, 2020-2022 W. Robert Portnell; Author Bob Portnell. (Prior versions of EZFudge copyright 2001, 2002, 2006 were released under the Fudge Game License 1995.)

EZFudge Melee Plus, Copyright 2021 W. Robert Portnell; Author Bob Portnell.

EZFudge Close-Up, Copyright 2021 W. Robert Portnell; Author Bob Portnell.

Fate Core font Copyright Evil Hat Productions. Used by permission.

Calvin & Hobbes strip Copyright 1986 Watterson. Used under Fair Use Doctrine.

In accordance with the Open Game License Section 8 "Identification" the following designate Open Game Content and Product Identity:


The contents of this document are declared Open Game Content except for the portions specifically declared as Product Identity.


All illustrations and images whose copyright notices are included in section 15.