Play Other RPGs To Improve Your Fudge Game

Every two weeks I play in a Dungeon & Dragons 4th Edition game. I have heard plenty of people bash D&D 4e, but very few of these complaints have much substance behind them. I myself find many things that I do not like about the game, but my D&D 4e group has adjusted the game to fit our needs. No RPG is perfect, and I think that house rules are a wonderful thing for getting a custom fit between any RPG and a particular gaming group.

Many of the complaints that I am declaring as not having substance are the ones that claim things like D&D 4e is trying to be a video game, or that it is not about role playing. I will take a moment to address each of these claims before explaining how a game like D&D 4e can influence your Fudge game for the better.

D&D 4e may have been influenced by video games and how they play, but that is a good thing. Video games are more successful then pen and paper RPGs, and if you can improve your product by using ideas taken from your competition then that is what you should do. In fact, that is exactly the point of this article because I use what I learn from playing D&D 4e for improving my Fudge games with. The secret is not to try and become your competition.

D&D 4e may be influenced by video games, but until I need a computer to play D&D its designers are still striving to make it the best pen and paper RPG that they can. Likewise, as long as I am not trying to turn my Fudge game into D&D 4e I am doing the right thing for my game in trying to improve it by recreating those components that the competition does right when it is applicable to my game as well.

As for D&D 4e not being about role playing, well I feel that is completely false. Its rules may not be the best at supporting role playing, but the materials provided for the game are clearly designed to support role playing. The NPCs, the settings, the adventures do support role playing.

Plus no game really supports role playing, because role playing cannot be dictated by rules. Take any game that is supposedly all about the story and the role playing and I am certain that I can find a a way to play it without any role playing whatsoever. Some rule systems do encourage role playing, but none can mandate it. How can they? Role playing is something that is interpreted via the observer’s subjective perception.

To mandate role playing via rules is the same as to mandate something like all character sheets are to be “highly detailed”. Yet if one player writes down on a character sheet “1 leather pouch with 20 gold imperial coins” and another player writes down “1 leather pouch with frayed tassels and 20 coins made of gold with the emperor’s seal stamped upon them” which one is highly detailed? I can say that both are highly detailed, or that only the more detailed one is, but I cannot prove either case to be true. A third player can write down “1 pouch with 20 gold coins”, and a fourth can write down “pouch of coins”. I can keep lowering or raising the bar and we still would have no way to rule when something becomes “highly detailed” as opposed to “slightly detailed”.

This is the problem with saying that a game does not support role playing, because that statement is meaningless. I played the board game Battlestar Galactica recently which is not an RPG, and yet I and others started role playing our parts anyhow. In many ways the game accentuated our role playing despite being a board game. I have also played games like Dogs in the Vineyard which is a great RPG, but with certain groups it is just about exploiting the rules (you can do it quite easily by the way). This does not diminish the game at all, but to me this proves that you cannot mandate nor eliminate role playing via rules. Role playing just happens, and the best that you can do this is to try and write game texts that encourage role playing as a way to accentuate the fun that is derived via playing the game by the rules.

But how do you improve your Fudge game by playing other RPGs? By looking for where the two systems are similar, such as D&D 4e’s skill challenges and the system that Fudge uses for skills. A skill challenge in D&D 4e is really just a series of uncontested rolls with a formula for determining overall success or failure based upon the accumulation of successes and failures through the use of a variety of skills.You can use the D&D 4e skill challenge rules in a Fudge game with hardly any customization work at all, but having run Fudge games with skill challenges I have found that they added a great deal of fun to my Fudge game.

That is why you should play other RPGs if you are a fan of Fudge – another RPG might have a component that you can immediately adapt to Fudge to increase the fun of your Fudge game without a lot of work being needed. You do not take away from your Fudge games by playing other RPGs. Instead you expose your Fudge games to the possibilities that other RPGs have dared to explore. This is also a two way street, because I have imported many aspects of my Fudge games into other games that I run as a game master. Mixing and matching the best parts of RPGs with each other has always served me well.

What do you think? Are there rules that you have pulled from other RPGs into your Fudge game? What rules have you taken from Fudge and used in another system? Share your thoughts and experiences with the rest of us by leaving a comment below.