Fudge Lite

Version 3.6.0
Thanks to Steffan O'Sullivan for creating Fudge, and Vincent and Meguey Baker for creating Apocalypse World. This game wouldn't exist without them.

Pre-Game Setup

Session Zero

Before any in-character gameplay the GM and the players should get together to make sure that everybody is on the same page regarding the gameplay experience. This can be done as a separate session or at the beginning of the first session.

Possible Topics of Discussion

Fudge Ladder

Character Creation

The GM starts by providing the players with a list of traits to assign ranks on the Fudge ladder to. Some possible traits are listed below, but the GM is free to create their own list.

Setting-neutral traits:

Medieval fantasy traits:

Sci-fi traits:

No trait should be obviously more or less useful than any of the other traits. If the trait is too specific, or the setting won't naturally challenge that trait, the GM should alter it to be more broadly applicable or just remove it. Conversely, if the trait would be too useful compared to the other traits the GM should split it up into multiple traits.

Considering how broad Magic (and to a lesser extent, Psionics) can be, it's recommended that the GM split them into narrower traits.

There are no knowledge or perception traits in these lists, and that's by design. The GM is supposed to be free with any information that the player characters could reasonably have.

Traits represent the character's skill level when something significant is at stake. A character with Poor Driving isn't always getting into car accidents, and can probably drive without major incidents in their day to day life, but in the middle of a car chase they would be far more likely to make significant mistakes.

Once the trait list is determined, each player allocates levels to their characters' traits based on the total number of traits their character has.

2-6 traits:
1x Great, 1x Good, 1x Fair, 1x Mediocre

7-11 traits:
2x Great, 2x Good, 2x Fair, 2x Mediocre

12-16 traits:
3x Great, 3x Good, 3x Fair, 3x Mediocre

17-21 traits:
4x Great, 4x Good, 4x Fair, 4x Mediocre

This pattern can be extended for games that use more than 21 traits.

Any traits not allocated are Poor.


In addition to determining trait levels, the GM and the player should work together to determine the character's current role in society, any previous roles they may have had, and any social or professional connections they might have. These come into play when determining what knowledge and resources the character might reasonably have access to. I recommend that the entire playing group be included in this process.

Injury Track

Each PC has an injury track that looks like this:

Minor injury [_][_]
Serious injury [_][_]

The player marks off one box of damage whenever the GM tells them to. Damage is taken sequentially; first the player marks off minor injuries, then serious ones.

Minor injuries go away when anybody (even the character themself) spends a few minutes tending to the character's injuries. This generally cannot be done during combat because it requires no distractions and takes longer than combat does.

Serious injuries require the character to spend a significant amount of time recovering, but once they do they get to clear all of their injuries.

PC Incapacitation or Death

When a PC's last injury box is marked off they are incapacitated and can no longer meaningfully contribute to the scene. In this state they cannot clear their own minor injuries, but another character can revive them by tending to their wounds for a few minutes and clearing their minor injuries. If the entire party is incapacitated they revive with their minor injuries cleared at a time and place of the GM's choosing.

The GM is encouraged (but not required) to use this opportunity to show an unpleasant truth or otherwise upset the status quo. Perhaps the PCs were captured by enemies, or their equipment was broken or lost, or their enemy achieved their goal, or an NPC ally died. Perhaps their street cred took a severe hit, and people who used to help them unconditionally now demand a price for their services. Perhaps another party completed the task and got the rewards instead. Perhaps a more powerful character intervened, and now they want the party to do them a favor in return. Or perhaps the PCs just got really lucky and a good samaritan helped them recover.

During session zero the GM and the players should determine what (if any) situations could cause a PC to die. Some possible decisions:


Trait Checks

When the GM calls for a trait check the player rolls four Fudge dice (or Fate dice; they're the same thing.) These are 6-sided dice with two "+" sides, two "-" sides, and two blank sides each. 4dF means four Fudge dice are rolled, for a result from -4 to +4.

The player starts with the appropriate trait on their character sheet and rolls 4dF, shifting the result up or down the Fudge ladder by the rolled amount. The player compares the result to the GM-decided difficulty level, or to an opponent's relevant trait plus or minus an optional GM-decided modifier. A tie or better means the player succeeds.

Example: a PC with Athletics at Fair attempts to jump over a small river. The GM decides that the difficulty to do this would be Great, which is two levels higher than Fair, so the player would need to roll a +2 or better to succeed.

A failed roll doesn't necessarily mean the PC failed at their task, but the results are always worse than they would have been if the roll had succeeded.

The results can't go above Superb or below Terrible, no matter how well or how poorly the player rolled.

If a player doesn't own any Fudge dice they can roll 4d6 instead, treating the result of 1 or 2 on a die as a minus, 3 or 4 as a blank, and 5 or 6 as a plus. Thus, a roll of 1, 1, 2, 5 would be equivalent to [-][-][-][+], which adds up to -2.

Bonuses and penalties

Sometimes the GM will assign a bonus and/or a penalty to a player's roll. +1 is a good bonus, +2 is a very good bonus, and +3 is a very rare, very large bonus. Penalties work the same way with negative modifiers. Only the single largest bonus and the single largest penalty apply to any given roll.


The following spell difficulty guidelines are adapted from Daneel's Simpler Magic System for Mini Six.

Poor, Mediocre:

Short Range (touch)
Short Duration (one action)
Single Target (one creature/object)
Healing a Minor Injury
Examples: Cantrips/Orisons, See Auras, Speak Languages, Burning Touch

Fair, Good:

Medium Range (bowshot)
Medium Duration (several actions)
Medium Area (several people)
Healing a Serious Injury
Examples: Charm People, Mystic Armor, Fire Ball, Polymorph

Great, Superb:

Long Range (sight)
Long Duration (entire scene/encounter)
Large Area (crowd)
Examples: Resurrection, Group Teleport, Earthquake, Anti-magic Zone

Each spell cannot inflict more than one injury against an opponent capable of defending themselves.

A failed spellcasting roll means that something bad happens. The exact consequences are determined by the GM.

Character Advancement

Each player gets 1 XP at the end of each session. It costs 4 XP to raise a trait by 1 level. Traits cannot go above Superb.


Rule Zero

None of the rules listed anywhere in this file are meant to be restrictive, prohibitive, or mandatory. As long as everybody at the table is happy with the result, the GM is free to fold, spindle, and mutilate the rules to their heart's content.

Running the Game

The core gameplay loop goes back and forth between the GM describing the situation and one of the players saying what they do (sometimes requiring a trait check).

When the GM gets to a place in their description where one or more players could make a meaningful decision the GM should find out what, if anything, they do. If a PC is just walking down a path there's no meaningful decision to be made, because there's no reason for the PC to do anything other than keep walking.

The GM finding out what a PC does often takes the form of the direct question "What do you do?" asked to a player or a group of players, but it doesn't have to be phrased like that. As long as the GM finds out what a PC does, it doesn't matter what phrasing (if any) the GM uses.

The GM should not jump straight to making something bad happen if at least one PC would reasonably have a chance to prevent or mitigate it. In that case, the GM should show the player(s) the threat first, then find out what at least one of them does before any negative consequences happen. If the PC(s) would have no chance to prevent or mitigate the bad thing, or if they had the chance but failed to do so, the GM can just make the bad thing happen.

If a player is overwhelmed by the amount of freedom their character has and struggles to decide what they do, the GM can help by suggesting a few possible actions that the player can choose from.

The Spotlight

The spotlight is a metaphor for whichever player gets to act at the moment. One of the GM's jobs is to move the spotlight from person to person, making sure that everybody gets a reasonable amount of time to act before moving the spotlight to somebody else. This is not the same thing as traditional gameplay turns; it's more like taking turns in a conversation. Players can go in any order and can jump into the situation whenever they wish to, as long as the fictional situation supports it and it wouldn't be rude to any of the other players.

When the GM moves the spotlight onto a player the GM should resolve that player's actions and situation up to a satisfactory point, then move the spotlight to someone else. This may take a single action or several actions (or even longer, if the situation calls for it). The GM can move the spotlight at any time, even if it would leave the player on a cliffhanger. There's no exact rule for how long the spotlight should stay on one player, but the goal is for every player to feel like they got a fair and satisfactory amount of time to contribute to the game.

GM Planning

The GM is free to prepare NPCs, locations, and setting elements ahead of time if they wish, though the game is simple enough that it's not strictly necessary.

The GM should not determine the outcome of any situation ahead of time. The GM can plan for situations the players are likely to find themselves in, and they can prepare actions that NPCs are likely to take, but they should not force a specific outcome.

Game planning can help the GM create a more fleshed out, realistic world, but the GM should never be so wedded to their preparations that it makes the game less enjoyable for the players.

For example, if the GM plans out a jail cell that is so secure that escape is effectively impossible, and the PCs are stuck there indefinitely, that's probably not going to be fun for the players because they would be unable to do anything significant. Instead, the GM should alter the prepared material behind the scenes and give the PCs opportunities to escape.

Trait Checks (GM Rules)

The GM should only call for a trait check when a player attempts to do something significant and the GM isn't certain whether or not they would succeed. If there's nothing important at stake, or it's obvious whether the player would succeed or not, the GM shouldn't make the player roll dice.

If the GM is uncertain of the difficulty of the trait check they can set it to Fair or to the level of the opponent's relevant trait with no modifiers.

Whether or not a trait check succeeds, it should always change the situation. There should never be a situation where the GM says, "Things are the same as they were before the roll." Sometimes a situation will naturally lend itself to this, with both success and failure changing the situation. Other times, either success or failure (usually failure) wouldn't naturally cause the situation to change. In this case the GM should either come up with consequences on the fly or skip the trait check.

For example, if a player attempts to pick a lock before guards show up, that's a situation where both success and failure would obviously change the situation. If the player succeeds, they get the lock open. If they fail, the guards show up. However, if the player attempts to pick a lock without any obvious time limit, the GM could either decide that the player succeeds (or fails) without requiring a trait check, or the GM could call for a trait check and decide that a failed trait check means that guards unexpectedly show up, or that the player triggered a trap or alarm, or some other less than ideal outcome.

The GM should not make a player roll to determine what their character knows or perceives. If it's information their character could reasonably have, or if the PC did the necessary work to obtain the information, the GM should give it to them without requiring any rolls. This is to ensure that the players don't get stuck in a situation where they need information to proceed but failed the roll(s) and are unable to move forward as a result.

If the GM is uncertain whether a player character should be able to know or perceive something, the GM should err on the side of giving them too much information rather than not enough. Don't withold information from the players without a good reason.

If the GM wishes to call for a trait check, but the relevant trait doesn't exist on the player's sheet, the GM can have the player's effective trait level be based on how common the trait is. This can range from Fair for tasks that anybody should be able to do, like writing, running, or basic math, to Poor for tasks that require practice, training, and effort, such as speaking a foreign language, programming, or performing or creative arts.

When a player fails a trait check the GM should frame it as something that happened because the PC was up against strong opposition or a tough challenge, not because they were incompetent.

If a player only barely fails a roll, or if the GM wants the player to accomplish something even though they failed the roll, the GM can (but doesn't have to) let them succeed at a cost. The outcome is still worse than it would have been if the player succeeded at the roll, but the player accomplishes their goal.

GM Moves

A GM move is just a broad description of something the GM can do. Here's a list of GM moves that can apply to most games:

The GM can reference the list whenever they aren't sure what should happen next.

The GM is free to alter or even replace the list to fit their desired gameplay experience. For example, here is a set of GM moves I wrote for a slice of life, non-combat, low-conflict setting I ran for my mom:

When making a move the GM shouldn't say its name to the players. Instead, the GM should make it something that actually happens within the fictional world. The GM shouldn't say, "I reveal an unwelcome truth." Instead, they might say, "It turns out the bridge wasn't as stable as you thought! You hear a loud cracking noise from the stone under your feet."

Most GM moves end in a place where at least one player can make a meaningful decision, which means the GM should find out what they do.

GM Moves in Action

Use an NPC's default behavior

"Christine scoffs at you. 'Whatever, loser,' she says. 'Will one of you be a dear and take care of this wretch for me?' Two well-built men in tuxedos step forward with grins on their faces. One of them cracks their knuckles ominously. What do you do?" (Christine's behavior here is "Let your flunkies take care of things.")

"The dryad says something incomprehensible, spoken in a voice that is the wind rustling through the trees. What do you do?" (The dryad's behavior here is "Be alien.")

Reveal an unwelcome truth

"You punch him in face. The skin tears and pulls away, revealing the grinning skull of a lich. What do you do?"

"You successfully crafted the cloaking device, but even with your best efforts you couldn't make it work perfectly. The machine is unstable, prone to malfunctions, and the resulting invisibility will be temporary at best. What now?"

"The man clad in black armor says, 'No, Lucas, I didn't kill your father. I am your father!' What do you do?"

Announce future badness

"The doorknob rattles as somebody attempts to open it. You hear the jangling of keys on the other side. The house's owner must have come home early. What do you do?"

"Looking through the telescope you see the telltale flashes of light that indicate missile fire and two tiny blobs that grow larger at an alarming rate. They'll arrive in less than a minute. What do you do?"

"With his dying breath he gasps, 'You may have stopped me, but the Crimson Legion... is... coming...'" (The GM doesn't ask what the players do because the description hasn't ended yet and the GM hasn't yet reached a point where the players can make a meaningful decision.)

"The miner says, 'Just so you know, there's trouble in them there mines. A creepin' darkness that don't look so good. Conrad didn't believe the warnings, said it was a load of superstitious nonsense. Never came back.'" (The GM sits back, waiting to see how the players respond.)

Offer an opportunity, with or without cost

"His path takes him right underneath you and he doesn't seem to have noticed you perched on the overpass. You could drop onto him, but you'd take an injury doing that. Do you do it?"

"Nobody's eyes are on you. If you wanted to grab the amulet, now would be the time. Do you grab it?"

"You don't see an easy way for your group to get inside the building, but you notice an air vent large enough for your drone. Do you explore it with the drone?"

"You notice, just down the road, that a travelling vendor has set up a booth. It is decorated with eye-searingly bright colors. Would you like to check it out?"

Put a character in a spot

"Your foot is stuck and the giant counterweight is swinging towards you. What do you do?"

"As you approach the scroll you hear a strange click as the ground under your feet shifts downward just slightly. The portcullis behind you starts loudly sliding downwards. You can stay inside with the scroll or you can run out of the room, but there isn't time to do both. What do you do?"

"The snarling monster swipes at the overturned car, trying to get at the woman trapped inside. You hear her scream in terror. What do you do?"

Tell them the requirements or consequences and ask

"'You want this sword?' the man asks. 'Sure, if you can beat me in a duel.' What do you do?"

"The guard is willing to look the other way while you sneak into the palace, but in exchange he wants that golden statue you obtained earlier. What do you do?"

"If you do this, it will cost your character their reputation and any contacts they have. Are you sure you want to go through with it?"

Spellcasting Failure

When a player attempts to cast a spell but fails, the spell itself may be a source of negative consequences. Some possible consequences:

The more powerful the spell that was attempted, the worse the consequences should be for failing.


There is no such thing as a predetermined turn order in Fudge Lite. Combat is almost exactly the same as the rest of gameplay: the GM moves the spotlight between players, describes situations, finds out what players do, and calls for trait checks when appropriate.

When a player fails a roll the GM decides if their character takes damage from an established threat and/or something else happens as a consequence. This is true whether or not the PC is in combat.

Injuries only apply to NPCs in situations where the NPC is able to respond to the threat. If an NPC is disabled or caught unaware they can be knocked out or killed regardless of their injury track. Conversely, if an enemy is too well-protected fictionally, the player cannot roll to deal damage to them. A large dragon or a military tank won't be injured by somebody randomly punching them, no matter how well the player rolls.

Example Combat

The GM in this example is running a medieval fantasy game about exploring dungeons, killing monsters, and retrieving treasure. A warg is a larger, eviller version of a wolf.

GM: The cultist waves his staff ominously over the altar, but the more immediate threat are his two warg rider cronies who are rapidly approaching you. The goblins have wicked curved blades and they cry for your blood. How do you react to their charge?
Player: I cast a flash cantrip to blind them.
GM: I'm gonna say casting flash in this context requires a Mediocre Intelligence roll. What's your Intelligence?
Player: Mediocre.
GM: Okay, so you just need to roll 0 or higher on the Fudge dice.

The player rolls -1.

GM: Mediocre minus one level is Poor. Unfortunately, you lose your concentration and the spell fizzles out on you. One of the warg-riders charges at you, trying to knock you down. There's no time to cast another spell, what do you do?
Player: I jump out of the way!
GM: Dexterity check.

The player rolls -3.

Player: Mediocre Dexterity minus three is... one level below Terrible?
GM: Just Terrible. It doesn't go below that. Okay, so you try to get out of the path of the warg, but it's just too fast for you. The warg knocks you to the ground and tramples on you as it passes. Mark off an injury.
Player: That was my last minor injury. Freaking hell.
GM: You're on the ground and the warg appears to be looping around for another pass. What do you do now?
Player: I get up and try to run to safer area. You said the cavern had three exits? Which one is closest?
GM: That would be the one you came from.
Player: Okay, I make a break for it.
GM: Roll Dexterity against a difficulty of Fair.

The player rolls -1.

GM: Mediocre Dexterity minus one is Poor. You don't even get halfway there before the warg knocks you to the ground again.
Player: *whimpers* I'm gonna die.
GM: Yeah, maybe. You feel the teeth of the warg clamping around your arm, trying to get tear through your leather armor. What do you do?
Player: It's latched onto my arm?
GM: Yeah.
Player: I draw my dagger and stab it into the warg's eye. What do I roll for that?
GM: There's no need for a roll, since there's nothing keeping you from just doing it. You drive your dagger into the eye socket of the warg, who seizes up and drops to the ground, dead. [The warg only had 1 injury box.] The goblin that was riding it makes a high, keening noise of grief. He looks at you with a wild fury in his eyes, and the dead warg's jaw is still clamped on your arm. What do you do?


NPCs have an injury track and any traits the GM wants them to have. Traits that don't fit on the Fudge ladder are called gifts (when positive) and faults (when negative). NPCs also have behaviors that can be used as GM moves.

NPCs that aren't supposed to be serious obstacles to the PCs should only have 1 or 2 boxes in their injury tracks. NPCs with more narrative importance can have larger injury tracks, up to the size of a PC's.

Example NPCs

Christine Cassiopeia

Setting: Modern-day upper-class.
Physical: Terrible
Social conflict: Superb
Gift: Super-rich.
Fault: A super-bitch.
Behavior: Make snide comments about somebody else's outfit. Let your flunkies take care of things.


Setting: Medieval fantasy.
Description: Big. Dumb. Strong.
Physical: Great
Gift: Quick regeneration. On a failed player roll the troll may heal an injury.
Gift: Slow regeneration. The troll comes back to life a certain amount of time after dying (minutes, hours, days), eventually coming back to full health. Limbs regenerate, etc.
Fault: Pretty dumb.
Fault: Fire attacks and acid attacks both permanently deal damage to the troll.
Fault (optional): Permanently turns to stone in sunlight.
Behavior: Grab things, pick them up, and smash them against other things. Do the same thing to people.

Giant Spider

Settings: Medieval fantasy or horror.
Body: Great
Gift: Paralyzing venom in fangs.
Gift: Webspinning.
Behavior: Create sticky webs to catch prey, inject a paralytic venom with your fangs, then wrap your prey in a coccoon before sucking their fluids out.
Alternatively, the spider may store the cocooned character for later consumption. It depends on how lethal of a game the GM is running.


Setting: Medieval fantasy.
Combat: Good
Behavior: Loot, pillage, and plunder. Obey your leader. Attack the innocent. Take by force.

Brigand Leader

Setting: Medieval fantasy.
Combat: Great
Leadership: Great
Behavior: Command your followers. Reward obedience. Crush any challenges to your authority. Boast recklessly.

Pyromaniac Fire Mage

Setting: Medieval fantasy.
Magical combat: Great
Physical combat: Mediocre
Gift: Spellcasting. Spells known: Fireball, Flamethrower.
Gift: Immunity to his own flames.
Gift: Immunity to all flames
Behavior: Burn all the things! If anybody tries to stop you, burn them as well!

Psionic Monk

Setting: Space opera.
Combat: Great
Gift: Psionicist. Psionic abilities: Telepathy/empathy, Telekinesis, Physical Augmentation (acrobatic jumps, fast movement), Suggestion.
Gift: Plasma Sword.
Behavior: Defend the weak. Destroy the wicked. Be at peace in all your actions.

Fallen Psionic Monk

Setting: Space opera.
Combat: Great
Gift: Psionicist. Psionic abilities: Telepathy/empathy, Telekinesis, Physical Augmentation (acrobatic jumps, fast movement), Lightning.
Gift: Plasma Sword.
Behavior: Let your anger and hatred flow through you. Crush your enemies. Show no mercy.

Mooks (guards, stormtroopers, minions, cultists, etc.)

Setting: Any action setting.
Combat: Mediocre
Behavior: Mob the heroes, die in droves.

"Yes, but"

A roll resolves the question, "Can I do this thing?" Sometimes, however, the GM may want to make the answer to the question part of the ongoing plot, taking longer to resolve than just a simple 4dF roll. In that case the GM can tell the PC what complications are in the way of accomplishing their goal. If the PC can overcome the complications they get the outcome they wanted.

This is an expansion of the "Tell them the requirements or consequences and ask" GM move.

Situations where "Yes, but" could be appropriate include, but are not limited to: crafting equipment, giving medical treatment, creating a new magical spell or effect, and improving traits.

Sample complications:

The GM may allow the player to choose between different combinations of complications. ("Either it will take a lot of money and several weeks, or you can swallow your pride and ask Jorgen for help." "Never!")

Alternative Rules and Extra Rules

Everything from here onward is completely optional. If you're happy with the rules as presented, you can stop reading and not miss anything. However, if you wish to alter the gameplay mechanics of Fudge Lite, this section is full of optional and alternative rules that you can use in your game.

Knowledge/Perception Traits

If the GM wishes to run a game with more traditional knowledge and perception traits, they can add these at character creation:

Setting-neutral traits:

Medieval fantasy traits:

Sci-fi traits:

A failed knowledge/perception roll should mean that the actions the PC took to obtain that information had negative consequences and/or that the information itself is bad news. If neither could reasonably be the case, the GM should not call for a trait check.

Trading Traits

At character creation, after the player has assigned trait levels to their traits, they may reduce one or more traits to increase one or more other traits on a one-to-one basis. The traits cannot be increased above Great or reduced below Poor. The player cannot use unspent trait levels for this.

Gifts and Faults

At character creation the player and the GM may collaborate to determine positive traits for the character that don't fit on the Fudge ladder (Gifts) and/or negative traits that don't fit on the Fudge ladder (Faults).

A player who chooses Gifts and/or Faults for their character will probably want them to be relevant to the game at some point, so the GM should occasionally put together a situation where the player can invoke one of their Gifts or Faults in a satisfying way. Appropriate GM moves for this might be "Let a player show off a Gift" and "Let a player show off a Fault."

Subjective Character Creation

Instead of assigning a specific number of trait levels to the character, the player can work with the GM to develop their character concept. Then the player and the GM use their understanding of the character to rank any traits that can be ranked on the Fudge ladder.

Here are some questions that the GM can ask to help develop the PC. They are just examples, though, so don't feel like you need to follow the list. The goal is just to get a feel for who the character is and what they do.

Alternative Character Creation (Risus):

Instead of traits a player character is defined by cliches, broad collections of behaviors and abilities. Some sources of cliches are:

These categories are meant as examples, not requirements. Players should feel free to come up with cliches that don't necessarily map to any of these categories.

The GM and each player should discuss that player's cliches to make sure that they're in rough agreement about what sorts of skills and abilities would fall under that player's chosen cliches.

Cliches should be defined broadly enough that they could reasonably come up in a game, but not so broadly that they are always applicable (so "good at everything" would be a bad choice for a cliche).

Characters must be approved by the GM before use. The GM should work with the player to rework any cliche that is too broad or narrow, or doesn't fit the setting or genre.

When building their character the player has 10 levels to spend on their cliches. All cliches start at Poor, and each increase costs one level. The player can have as many cliches as they can afford. Cliches cannot go above Great at character creation.

Leading Questions

Traditional RPGs have a clear line between the GM's role and the players' roles. The player determines what their character does, says, thinks and feels, and the GM determines everything else. However, it may be more enjoyable if the GM shares some of the creative responsibility with the players. One of the ways the GM can do this is by asserting something about the world and asking a player to explain or elaborate on it. For example:

"Alice, the mayor is wearing something that marks him as a member of the Cult of Kathoon. What is it and how do you know that?"
"Bob, you barely escaped this city with your life the last time you were here. Why was that?"
"Charlie, you helped Bob escape the city. Who here still holds a grudge over that?"

Before doing this, though, the GM should check with the players to determine if this is something they would enjoy, since some players prefer a more traditional split of creative control. Session zero would be an excellent time to check this.

Alternatives to Fudge Dice

Custom Fudge Dice

If the player(s) don't have access to Fudge/Fate dice they can make custom dice by taking white 6-sided dice, coloring the die faces with colored permanent markers, letting them dry, and then sealing the color in with clear nail polish.

1d6 Minus 1d6

Instead of 4dF, the player(s) could roll 1d6 minus 1d6, with the positive and negative dice determined ahead of time. The probability isn't exactly the same, but it's close. It will occasionally return a result of -5 or +5 (2.78% chance of each,) and the results are a little more swingy.

A way to do 1d6 minus 1d6 without subtraction is as follows:
Assign one d6 to be positive and one to be negative. Roll them both. Whichever die has the smaller absolute value, use that and discard the other. If the dice are tied, the result is zero.

d66 Table

Another option is rolling two six-sided dice on this table. The table is diagonally symmetrical, so it doesn't matter which side corresponds to which die.

1: 2: 3: 4: 5: 6:
1: -4 -3 -2 -2 -1 0
2: -3 -1 -1 -1 0 1
3: -2 -1 0 0 1 2
4: -2 -1 0 0 1 2
5: -1 0 1 1 1 3
6: 0 1 2 2 3 4

The biggest difference between this table and 4dF is that -4 and 4 are both slightly more likely to occur (1/36 instead of 1/81, or a difference of about 1.5 percentage points each).

3d6 table

Roll 3-4 5 6-7 8-9 10-11 12-13 14-15 16 17-18
Result -4 -3 -2 -1 0 1 2 3 4

Each result on this table is within roughly 2 percentage points of the equivalent 4dF result.

1d100 table

Roll 01 02-06 07-18 19-38 39-62 63-82 83-94 95-99 00
Result -4 -3 -2 -1 0 1 2 3 4

Each result on this table is within roughly half a percentage point of the equivalent 4dF result.

Smaller Bonuses and Penalties

If the GM wishes to apply a bonus or penalty less than one level they may use advantage dice or disadvantage dice. These dice are colored differently and replace regular Fudge dice when they are rolled. The player ignores any minus result on an advantage die and ignores any plus result on a disadvantage die. The two die types cancel each other out, so a player will never roll an advantage die and a disadvantage die in the same roll.

A (dis)advantage die is worth roughly 1/3rd of a Fudge rank. Here are some rough guidelines for GMs:

+/-3 modifier: an extremely large modifier
+/-2 modifier: a very large modifier
+/-1 modifier: a large modifier
2 levels of (dis)advantage: a medium modifier
1 level of (dis)advantage: a somewhat small modifier

Superhuman Traits

The Fudge ladder is normally capped at Superb, but if the GM wants the results of a player's roll to have effects above Superb, or if a player or the GM wants to give a character traits above Superb, there is the Superhuman tier.

Example NPCs With Superhuman Traits

Huai Dan

Setting: Xianxia (fantasy China, but with assholes everywhere).
Description: A qi cultivator.
Social: Fair
Combat: Fair Superhuman
Gift: Capable of superhuman feats.
Fault: Has a very thin skin when it comes to perceived disrespect.
Behavior: Avenge any insults. Stand proud and boastful, even in front of a stronger foe. Steal cultivation resources from others.

Killbot 9000

Setting: Survival horror/action.
Description: Human flesh over a robot body. Easily capable of passing for human.
Physical: Good Superhuman
Combat: Fair
Gift: Virtually indestructible robot body.
Fault: Vulnerable to incredibly high pressures or temperatures.
Behavior: Track down and try to kill one specific human.

Expanded Guidelines for Superhuman Magic

Poor, Mediocre:

Short Range (touch)
Short Duration (one action)
Single Target (one creature/object)
Healing a Minor Injury
Examples: Cantrips/Orisons, See Auras, Speak Languages, Burning Touch

Fair, Good:

Medium Range (bowshot)
Medium Duration (several actions)
Medium Area (several people)
Healing a Serious Injury
Examples: Charm People, Mystic Armor, Fire Ball, Polymorph

Great, Superb, Fair Superhuman:

Long Range (sight)
Long Duration (entire scene/encounter)
Large Area (crowd)
Examples: Resurrection, Group Teleport, Earthquake, Anti-magic Zone

Good Superhuman, Great Superhuman, Superb Superhuman:

Any Range, Duration, Area & Effect
Examples: Wish, Miracle

Each spell cannot inflict more than one injury against an opponent capable of defending themselves.

Fudge Points

The GM may give the PCs 1-5 Fudge Points to start the game with. The GM should establish which of these uses the player may spend Fudge Points on:

If using Fudge Points (FP), the GM will need to answer the following questions:

Both Fudge Points and XP can be used as a reward to encourage specific behavior from PCs. Fudge Points should be awarded when the GM wants to give the players one-time out-of-character bonuses, while XP should be awarded when the GM wants to represent long-term in-character character improvement.

Just don't make the player choose between spending FP and saving XP. Having to trade a permanent asset for a temporary boost can be deeply unpleasant, and it can lead to imbalanced characters later on.

Condition Tracks

Fudge Lite uses injury tracks by default, but not all games use injuries as the primary measure of whether a PC is able to continue or not. For example, a game about bargaining with dark forces for power might track corruption instead of injuries, and a game about social conflict at cocktail parties might track embarrassment. An injury track that doesn't necessarily track injuries is called a condition track.

The GM is free to customize anything about the condition tracks, such as the number of different conditions the tracks track, what those conditions are, how many boxes each condition has, how long it takes the different boxes to recover, and what causes each track to recover.

For example, a game where players investigate mind-shattering elder gods and the cults that worship them might have only two boxes for injury (indicating that physical combat is something to be avoided) and a separate track for mental health that uses 6 conditions (3 minor, 3 serious).

Weapons and Armor/Variable Damage

If the GM wants to include weapons and armor that have mechanical benefits, or if they feel it's unrealistic for all injuries to do the same amount of damage no matter how damaging they would be in real life, the GM can let attacks mark off more than one wound track box at a time. The GM should assign damage/defense ratings to any weapons and armors carried or worn by the PCs and NPCs, indicating how much damage each one deals/prevents.

Example damage sources

Mediocre, 1 box: throwing a punch.
Fair, 2 boxes: a knife or handgun.
Good, 3 boxes: a sword or shotgun.
Great, 4 boxes: an assault rifle.
Superb, 5 boxes: being hit by a train.

Example armors

Light armor: easily hidden or not obviously armor. Prevents 1 box of damage.
Heavy armor: clearly visible and obviously armor. Prevents 2 boxes of damage.

Some types of damage, such as drowning, burning, suffocation, etc., will bypass armor.

While variable damage is more realistic, it may not be fun for the player for their character to be incapacitated or killed so quickly. The GM is encouraged to give PCs additional injury boxes to compensate for the increased danger, especially if it's a setting where armor isn't readily accessible to the PCs.

Nonlinear Conditions

Instead of using minor and serious conditions the GM could create conditions that don't have to be marked in a specific order. These could be physiological states like sick, hungry, injured, and exhausted, and/or emotional states like afraid, angry, guilty, and hopeless. The specific conditions should be chosen to reinforce a specific gameplay experience. For example, a game about teenage drama would have different conditions than a game about wilderness survival.

When marking conditions, if the GM doesn't have a specific condition in mind they should let the player decide which condition is marked.

The GM should determine ahead of time what actions are required to clear each condition. For example: a hungry PC might need to eat food, and an angry PC might need to break something important or hurt somebody.

The GM may include a final condition that represents being taken out of the scene or the game.

Condition Penalties

Marking in certain condition boxes may give the PC penalties to relevant trait checks. For example, this injury track gives the following penalties to physical actions:

Scratch: [_][_][_]
Hurt (-1): [_]
Very Hurt (-2): [_]
Incapacitated: [_]

Be aware that this can lead to a death spiral where it becomes harder for a PC to keep from taking conditions because they already have conditions.

Reliable Spellcasting

Spellcasters have the following condition track:

Minor cost [_][_]
Major cost [_][_]

When a player fails a spell roll they can mark off a condition instead of something bad happening. The idea is for the condition track to act as a buffer for players, allowing them to fail spell rolls without worrying about catastrophic spell failure. Nothing happens if they are out of conditions, except that they can no longer mitigate the effects of a bad spellcasting roll.

Spellcasting conditions are cleared at the same rate as health: a few minutes for minor costs, a more significant amount of time for major costs.

Spell Lists

All spellcasting is done with the same trait, and each PC has a list of spells that they can cast, which can differ from PC to PC. Each list should be created through a collaboration between the GM and the players, such as at session zero. The GM and the players should determine if it is possible for the PC to cast spells that aren't on the list at a penalty, or if it just can't be done at all. Each player and the GM should make sure they're in agreement over how difficult the spells are to cast by default, as well as any other attributes that need to be determined, such as the range, duration, and quantity of targets. It is up to the players and the GM to create PCs that don't overshadow other PCs due to their versatility or raw power.

As an example, here is the spell list for a PC I created many years ago, a sneaky-stabby combatant who got kicked out of the magical academy and now raids dungeons for a living. It was meant for a single-player campaign and was not balanced around any other PCs.

Note that the spell difficulties don't all follow the difficulty guidelines given earlier. If the GM and the player(s) agree that a spell should be easier or harder than the guidelines indicate, they can use that difficulty instead.

I wish to stress that this spell list is merely an example, not in any way indicative of what player spell lists should look like. Each player's spell list could be larger or smaller, with spells that are more or less powerful or useful. Again, it's really up to the players and the GM to make sure that each PC doesn't significantly overshadow the rest of the players when designing the spell list(s).

Ship-to-Ship Combat

Any ship (spaceship, sailboat, submarine, etc.) can have a wound track just like a PC or NPC and can regain "health" in the same manner as a PC; it takes a few minutes of effort outside of combat to fix a minor injury, and it takes a more significant amount of time to fix a serious injury.

Ship-to-ship combat is very similar to character-to-character combat. Any PC in the appropriate spot can use the appropriate trait to pilot the ship and/or fire weapons. The ship's qualities don't directly adjust the player's roll. Instead, the GM takes them into account when making any adjustments to the difficulty of the roll.


Whenever something may happen in the future but hasn't happened yet, the GM can create a countdown for it. A countdown is just a series of boxes that get checked off when certain criteria are met. Once all the boxes are checked off, the thing happens.

Countdowns are incredibly versatile. The injury track technically counts as a player-facing countdown. Countdowns also can be used as Apocalypse World/Dungeon World Fronts, as skill challenges with success and/or failure conditions, and as a visible "ticking clock" to spur players into action.

Countdown Examples

Front countdown

Trigger: players fail to act against the kobold menace.
[_] Kobolds attack the town
[_] Kobold Mage steals the Tome of Dragons
[_] The Dragon Lord Awakens

"Ticking clock" countdown

Countdown advances as a GM move
[_] [_] Stairwell collapses, limiting access to the second floor
[_] [_] Building creaks ominously. Players are informed it's about to collapse.
[_] House collapses, incapacitating anybody still inside.

Skill challenge countdown

Goal: get funding for a new spaceship
Trigger: make enough successful trait checks to the relevant people
[_] [_] [_]

Skill challenge with linked failure countdown

Goal: get funding for a new spaceship
Trigger: make enough successful trait checks to the relevant people
[_] [_] [_]
Result: get the funding
Trigger: fail the relevant trait checks
[_] [_] [_] [_]
Result: get kicked out of the embassy

Character Advancement

Instead of, or in addition to, a flat amount of XP per session, the GM can use as many of the following methods to reward players with character progression as they like.

If the players gain more or less XP on average than they would under the default XP advancement rules, the advancement cost should be adjusted so that the rate of character advancement stays roughly the same.

If the GM uses Fudge Points in their game, any of the following methods can be used to reward the player with Fudge Points instead of XP.


Keys are PC-specific behaviors that reward the players with XP. They are determined either through collaboration between the player and the GM, or by the player selecting one or more from a GM-provided list. (See Appendix A for example lists.) The GM can award 1 XP any time a player hits their key, or 1 XP per key at the end of the session, or just 1 XP at the end of a session for hitting any key.

If a player feels that their current keys don't fit the type of character they wish to play, the GM can let them swap out one or more of their keys.

By selecting keys the player is telling the GM what sort of situations they're interested in getting into, so the GM should make sure to give them opportunities to hit their keys during gameplay. An appropriate GM move for this might be "Let a player show off their key."

End of Session Questions

The GM will provide the PCs with a list of questions for them to answer at the end of each session. For each "yes" answer the player gains 1 XP.

XP on a Miss

Every time a player fails a roll they gain 1 XP. This is meant to encourage players to use their weaker traits and take some of the sting out of a failed roll.

This rule should only be applied when the player risks something significant by failing the roll.

In-character Costs

The GM may choose to impose in-character requirements for a PC to improve their trait, as described in the "Yes, but" rule. This may or may not be used in conjunction with XP requirements.

Appendix A: Example Keys

The Shadow of Yesterday Keys

Key of Bloodlust: Your character enjoys overpowering others in combat. Hit your key when you defeat someone in battle.
Key of Conscience: Your character has a soft spot for those weaker than their opponents. Hit your key whenever you help someone who cannot help themselves.
Key of the Coward: Your character avoids combat like the plague. Hit your key when you avoid a potentially dangerous situation or stop a combat using other means besides violence.
Key of Faith: Your character has a strong religious belief that guides them. Hit your key when you defend your faith to others or convert somebody else to your faith.
Key of Fraternity: Your character has someone they are sworn to, a friend who is more important than anyone else. Hit your key when your character makes a decision influenced by this person or defends them in some way.
Key of Glittering Gold: Your character loves wealth. Hit your key when you increase your wealth by a significant amount.
Key of the Guardian: Your character has a ward, someone who depends on them for security and protection. Hit your key when your character makes a decision influenced by them or rescues them from harm.
Key of the Masochist: Your character thrives on personal pain and suffering. Hit your key when you are bloodied or broken.
Key of the Mission: Your character has a personal mission that they must complete. Hit your key when you take action to complete this mission.
Key of Vengeance: Your character has a hatred for a particular organization, person, or even species or culture. Hit your key when you hurt a member of that group or a lackey of that person.
Key of the Vow: Your character has a vow of personal behavior that they have sworn not to break. This could be a dietary restriction, a requirement to pray at sunbreak every morning, or something else like that. Hit your key when you uphold this vow even when it causes harm or serious inconvenience.

Lady Blackbird Keys

Key of Banter: Hit your key when your character says something that makes the other players laugh or when you explain something using highly technical jargon.
Key of the Broker: Hit your key when you bargain, make a new contact, or exchange a favour.
Key of the Commander: Hit your key when you come up with a plan and give orders to make it happen.
Key of Conscience: Hit your key when you help someone who is in trouble or when you change someone's life for the better.
Key of the Daredevil: Hit your key when you do something cool that is risky or reckless (especially piloting stunts).
Key of Fraternity: Hit your key when your character is influenced by your friend or when you show how deep your bond is.
Key of Greed: Hit your key when you steal something cool or score a big payoff.
Key of the Guardian: Hit your key when you make a decision influenced by your ward or protect them from harm.
Key of Hidden Longing: Hit your key when you make a decision based on your secret affection or when you somehow show it indirectly.
Key of the Impostor: Hit your key when you perform well enough to fool someone with your disguise.
Key of the Mission: Hit your key when you take action to complete your mission.
Key of the Outcast: Hit your key when your outcast status causes you trouble or it important in a scene.
Key of the Paragon: Hit your key when you demonstrate your superiority or when your noble traits overcome a problem.
Key of the Pirate: Hit your key when you impress someone with your piratical nature or do something to add to your reputation.
Key of the Tinkerer: Hit your key when you modify, improve, repair, or patch some technology.
Key of the Traveler: Hit your key when you share an interesting detail about a person, place, or thing or when you go somewhere exciting and new.
Key of Vengeance. Hit your key when you strike a blow against those who wronged you.
Key of the Vow: Hit your key when your vow significantly impacts your decisions.
Key of the Warrior: Hit your key when you do battle with worthy or superior foes.

Dungeon World Alignment Keys

Key of the Chaotic Barbarian: Eschew a convention of the civilized world.
Key of the Neutral Barbarian: Teach someone the ways of your people.
Key of the Good Bard: Perform your art to aid someone else.
Key of the Neutral Bard: Avoid a conflict or defuse a tense situation.
Key of the Chaotic Bard: Spur others to significant and unplanned decisive action.
Key of the Good Cleric: Heal another.
Key of the Lawful Cleric: Follow the precepts of your church or god.
Key of the Evil Cleric: Harm another to prove the superiority of your church or god.
Key of the Chaotic Druid: Destroy a symbol of civilization.
Key of the Good Druid: Help something or someone grow.
Key of the Neutral Druid: Eliminate an unnatural menace.
Key of the Good Fighter: Defend those weaker than you.
Key of the Neutral Fighter: Defeat an opponent.
Key of the Evil Fighter: Kill a defenseless, beaten, or surrendered person.
Key of the Lawful Paladin: Deny mercy to a criminal or unbeliever.
Key of the Good Paladin: Protect someone weaker than you.
Key of the Chaotic Ranger: Free someone from literal or figurative bonds.
Key of the Good Ranger: Combat an unnatural threat.
Key of the Neutral Ranger: Help an animal or spirit of the wild.
Key of the Chaotic Thief: Leap into danger without a plan.
Key of the Neutral Thief: Avoid detection or infiltrate a location.
Key of the Evil Thief: Shift danger or blame from yourself to someone else.
Key of the Good Wizard: Use magic to directly aid another.
Key of the Neutral Wizard: Discover something about a magical mystery.
Key of the Evil Wizard: Use magic to cause terror and fear.

Licensing information

The entirety of this document, except for Appendix A, is designated Open Game Content.
The Appendix A section "The Shadow of Yesterday Keys" is released under CC BY-SA 2.0.
The Appendix A section "Lady Blackbird Keys" is released under CC BY-NC-SA 3.0 US.
The Appendix A section "Dungeon World Alignment Keys" is released under CC BY 3.0.

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