My Character Design Goal For Budge v2.0

character (noun)

the aggregate of features and traits that form the individual nature of some person or thing

(Definition taken from

Characters come in all shapes and sizes, and Fudge enables you to play any of them. The reason that this is possible is because the Fudge system does not strictly define what a character is in terms of stats. Fudge instead uses adjectives so as to make one character’s defining qualities relative to all other characters. By using words instead of numbers the players of a Fudge game must make comparisons in order to understand the characters in relation to the game setting. You cannot know what a Superb swordsman is unless you have Great, Good, and Fair swordsmen to compare the Superb swordsman to.

The wonderful thing about Fudge is that you are never bound to another person’s formula. You can use rules as they are, tinker with them, or discard them completely while assembling your game system from Fudge’s plethora of components. What type of game you build is limited only by what type of game you wish to play and your own efforts. Likewise, what type of character you play is limited only by what the game defines as possible at the extreme endpoints of various spectrums in which the characters exist.

This freedom may lead to problems when a game designer sees nothing but the possibilities, and never actually produces a game. To avoid this you have to develop a core concept, which is just a goal for your game design. This goal may be to emulate a favorite work of fiction, or to trigger a certain type of emotional reaction from the players. Such a goal is a wonderful thing to have while designing your game as a whole. We can also benefit by having supportive goals for various game components spawned off from the main goal of the game.

With Budge v2.0 the goal of the game system is to be an objective rules set that empowers a game master to run improvised sessions easily while at the same time empowering players to direct the development of their characters both in terms of mechanics and story. This has a profound impact upon the design of a character. The character design goal must be supportive of the game’s goal, or at the very least it must not compromise the game’s goal.

The supportive goal of the character design for Budge v2.0 is to tie the character’s mechanical advancement to the character’s story. In a recent article I described the variation that I will be using of Rob Donoghue’sFudge on the Fly” system, and that variation was designed around this supportive goal. The player needs to reach a higher level in order to gain new mechanical abilities for the character, but the only way to go up a level is for the players to inform the game master of an in-story goal that the players wish to achieve. Thus the character’s mechanical advancement is dependent upon the character’s story. This in turn support’s the game’s design goal because the game master will know what the players hope to accomplish when improvising a game session.

I’m still working the kinks out, but so far I am very happy with the combination of the Budge v1.0 attributes with the Budge v2.0 “Fudge on the Fly” variant as the new skill system. It does what I want it to not because it is some sort of an amazing design, but because I defined a goal for it before implementing a rather simple design. Having a clearly stated objective kept me from pursuing more and more complex solutions. Knowing what my goal was saved me from a lot of potentially useless work.

How do you design your Fudge games? Do you have clearly stated goals? Do you define supportive goals for individual components? Or do you take another approach that is completely different? Share your input with the rest of us by leaving a comment below.