3 Action Resolution

This chapter covers how to determine whether or not a character succeeds at an attempted action. In the previous chapters, traits were defined in terms of levels: Superb, Great, Good, etc. This chapter explains how those levels affect a character's chances of success at an action, whether fighting a giant or tracking down a clue. Sometimes a Fair result is sufficient to complete a task, and sometimes a Good or better result is needed. The better your skill, the better your chances of getting these higher results.

3.1 Action Resolution Terms

Various options for dice are given: players may use either three or four six-sided dice (3d6 or 4d6), or two ten-sided dice as percentile dice (d%), or four FUDGE dice (4dF), described in the text. It is also possible to play FUDGE diceless.
Unopposed Action:
Some actions are Unopposed , as when a character is trying to perform an action which isn't influenced by anyone else. Examples include jumping a wide chasm, climbing a cliff, performing a chemistry experiment, etc. The player simply rolls the dice and reads the result.
Rolled Degree:
This refers to how well a character does at a particular task. If someone is Good at Climbing in general, but the die-roll shows a Great result on a particular attempt, then the rolled degree is Great.
Difficulty Level:
The GM will set a Difficulty Level when a character tries an Unopposed Action. Usually it will be Fair, but some tasks are easier or harder. Example: climbing an average vertical cliff face, even one with lots of handholds, is a fairly difficult obstacle (Fair Difficulty Level). For a very hard cliff, the GM may set the Difficulty Level at Great: the player must make a rolled degree of Great or higher to climb the cliff successfully.
Opposed Action:
Actions are Opposed when other people (or animals, etc.) may have an effect on the outcome of the action. In this case, each contestant rolls a set of dice, and the results are compared to determine the outcome. Examples include combat, seduction attempts, haggling, tug-of-war, etc.
Relative Degree:
This refers to how well a character did compared to another participant in an Opposed Action. Unlike a rolled degree, relative degree is expressed as a number of levels. For example, if a PC gets a rolled degree result of Good in a fight, and his NPC foe gets a rolled degree result of Mediocre, he beat her by two levels — the relative degree is +2 from his perspective, -2 from hers.
Situational Roll:
The GM may occasionally want a die roll that is not based on a character's trait, but on the overall situation or outside circumstances. This Situational roll is simply a normal FUDGE die roll, but not based on any trait. That is, a result of 0 is a Fair result, +1 a Good result, -1 a Mediocre result, and so on. This is most commonly used with Reaction and damage rolls, but can be used elsewhere as needed. For example, the players ask the GM if there are any passersby on the street at the moment — they're worried about witnesses. The GM decides there are none if a Situational roll gives a Good or better result, and rolls the dice. (A close approximation to 50% is an even/odd result: an even result on 4dF occurs 50.6% of the time. Of course, 1d6 or a coin returns an exact 50% probability.)
Beyond Superb:
It is possible to achieve a level of rolled degree that is beyond Superb. Rolled degrees from Superb +1 to Superb +4 are possible. These levels are only reachable on rare occasions by human beings. No trait may be taken at (or raised to) a level beyond Superb (unless the GM is allowing a PC to be at Legendary, which is the same as Superb +1 — see Section 5.2, Objective Character Development). For example, the American baseball player Willie Mays was a Superb outfielder. His most famous catch, often shown on television, is a Superb +4 rolled degree. It isn't possible for a human to have that level of excellence as a routine skill level, however: even Willie was "just" a Superb outfielder, who could sometimes do even better. A GM may set a Difficulty Level beyond Superb for nearly impossible actions.
Below Terrible:
Likewise, there are rolled degrees from Terrible -1 down to Terrible -4. No Difficulty Level should be set this low, however: anything requiring a Terrible Difficulty Level or worse should be automatic for most characters — no roll needed.

3.2 Rolling the Dice

There is no need to roll the dice when a character performs an action that is so easy as to be automatic. Likewise, an action so difficult that it has no chance to succeed requires no roll, either — it simply can't be done. Dice are used solely in the middle ground, where the outcome of an action is uncertain.

The GM is encouraged to keep die-rolling to a minimum. Do not make the players roll the dice when their characters do mundane things. There is no need to make a roll to see if someone can cook lunch properly, or pick an item from a shelf, or climb a ladder, etc. Don't even make them roll to climb a cliff unless it's a difficult cliff or the situation is stressful, such as a chase. (And possibly a Superb climber wouldn't need a roll for a difficult cliff. He should get up it automatically unless it's a very difficult cliff.)

For any action the player character wishes to perform, the Game Master must determine which trait is tested. (This will usually be a skill or an attribute.) If the action is Unopposed, the GM also determines the Difficulty Level — usually Fair. (See also Section 3.5, Opposed Actions.)

For running FUDGE Diceless, see the Addenda, Section 7.42.

3.21 Reading the Dice

Of the four dice techniques presented in FUDGE, this one is recommended. It gives results from -4 to +4 quickly and easily, without intruding into role-playing or requiring complex math or a table.

FUDGE dice are six-sided dice with two sides marked +1, two sides marked -1, and two sides marked 0. They are commercially available from Grey Ghost Games — see the Legal Notice for their address.

You can make your own FUDGE easily enough. Simply get four normal white d6s. Using a permanent marker, color two sides of each die green, two sides red, and leave the other two sides white. When the ink has dried, spray the dice lightly with clear matte finish to prevent the ink from staining your hands. You now have 4dF: the green sides = +1, the red sides = -1, and the white sides = 0.

(While you can try to play with normal d6s, reading:

this is not recommended. It takes too much effort, and intrudes into role-playing. 4dF is functionally equivalent to 4d3-8, but this is also not recommended for the same reason, even if you have d6s labelled 1-3 twice.)

To use FUDGE dice, simply roll four of them, and total the amount. Since a +1 and a -1 cancel each other, remove a +1 and -1 from the table, and the remaining two dice are easy to read no matter what they are. (Example: if you roll +1, +1, 0, -1, remove the -1 and one of the +1s, as together they equal 0. The remaining two dice, +1 and 0, are easily added to +1.) If there is no opposing pair of +1 and -1 dice, remove any 0s and the remaining dice are again easy to read.

The result of a die roll is a number between -4 and +4. At the top of the character sheet, there should be a simple chart of the attribute levels, such as:

To determine the result of an action, simply put your finger on your trait level, then move it up (for plus results) or down (for minus results).

It is not always necessary to figure the exact rolled degree. If you only need to know whether or not a character succeeded at something, it is usually sufficient for the player simply to announce the appropriate trait level and the die roll result. The game goes much faster this way.

Of course, there are many times when you want to know exactly how well the character did, even if it's not a matter of being close. If the character is composing a poem, for example, and his Poetry skill is Fair, you will want to figure out what "Fair+2" means: he just wrote a Great poem! There are many other instances where degrees of success is more important than merely knowing success/failure.

3.22 Other Dice Techniques

For those who don't want to make or buy FUDGE dice, three different options are available:

this method requires 2d6 of one color (or size) and 2d6 of another color or size. First declare which two dice are the positive dice, and which two the negative, then roll all four dice. Do not add the dice in this system. Instead, remove from the table all but the lowest die (or dice, if more than one has the same lowest number showing). If the only dice left on the table are the same color, that is the result: a positive die with a "1" showing is a +1, for example. If there are still dice of both colors showing, the result is "0".

Examples (p = positive die, n = negative die): you roll p4, p3, n3, n3. The lowest number is a 3, so the p4 is removed, leaving p3, n3 and n3. Since there are both positive and negative dice remaining, the result is 0. On another roll, you get p1, p1, n2, n4. Remove the highest numbers, n2 and n4. This leaves only positive dice, so the result is +1, since a "1" is showing on a positive die, and there are no negative dice on the table.

Roll 3 six-sided dice. Add the numbers and look up the results on the table below. This table is small enough to fit easily on a character sheet. Example: a roll of 3, 3, 6 is a sum of 12. Looking up 12 on the table yields a result of +1.


roll two ten-sided dice, having first declared which will be the "tens" digit. Read the tens die and the ones die as a number from 1 to 100 (01 = 1, but 00 = 100), and consult the table below, which should be printed on the character sheet:

Of course, the GM may customize this table as she wishes. These numbers were chosen to match 4dF, which the author feels is an ideal spread for FUDGE.

3.23 Success Rates

The following table is provided so that players can better evaluate their chances of success.
Chance of
+5 or better:0.2%
+4 or better:1%2%2.0%
+3 or better:6%5%7.0%
+2 or better:18%16%18.0%
+1 or better:38%38%39.0%
0 or better:62%62%61.0%
-1 or better:82%84%82.0%
-2 or better:94%95%93.0%
-3 or better:99%98%98.0%
-4 or better:100%100%99.8%
-5 or better:100.0%

Thus, if your trait is Fair, and the GM says you need a Good result or better to succeed, you need to roll +1 or better. You'll do this about two times out of five, on the average.

You'll notice that using 3d6 or 4d6 the results, while slightly different, are close enough for a game called FUDGE. The 4d6 results do allow +/-5, however, but this shouldn't be a problem since they occur so rarely. In fact, you could use 5dF to allow +/-5 if you wanted . . .

3.3 Action Modifiers

There may be modifiers for any given action, which can affect the odds referred to in the preceding section. Modifiers temporarily improve or reduce a character's traits.

If a character has a secondary trait that could contribute significantly to a task, the GM may allow a +1 bonus if the trait is Good or better.

Other conditions may grant a +/-1 to any trait. In FUDGE, +/-2 is a large modifier — +/-3 is the maximum that should ever be granted except under extreme conditions.

3.4 Unopposed Actions

For each Unopposed action, the GM sets a Difficulty Level (Fair is the most common) and announces which trait should be rolled against. If no Skill seems relevant, choose the most appropriate Attribute. If there is a relevant Skill, but the character is untrained in it (it's not listed on his character sheet), then use the default: usually Poor. If a high attribute could logically help an untrained skill, set the default at Mediocre.

The player then rolls against the character's trait level, and tries to match or surpass the Difficulty Level set by the GM. In cases where there are degrees of success, the better the roll, the better the character did; the worse the roll, the worse the character did.

In setting the Difficulty Level of a task, the GM should remember that Poor is the default for most skills. The average trained climber can climb a Fair cliff most of the time, but the average untrained climber will usually get a Poor result. In the example in Section 3.2 (Nathaniel shooting at an archery target), if the target is large and close, even a Mediocre archer could be expected to hit it: Mediocre Difficulty Level. If it were much smaller and farther away, perhaps only a Great archer could expect to hit it regularly: Great Difficulty Level. And so on.

Occasionally, the GM will roll in secret for the PC. There are times when even a failed roll would give the player knowledge he wouldn't otherwise have. These are usually information rolls. For example, if the GM asks the player to make a roll against Perception attribute (or Find Hidden Things skill), and the player fails, the character doesn't notice anything out of the ordinary. But the player now knows that there is something out of the ordinary that his character didn't notice . . . Far better for the GM to make the roll in secret, and only mention it on a successful result.

3.5 Opposed Actions

To resolve an Opposed action between two characters, each side rolls two dice against the appropriate trait and announces the result. The traits rolled against are not necessarily the same.

The Game Master compares the rolled degrees to determine a relative degree.

The Opposed action mechanism can be used to resolve almost any conflict between two characters. Are two people both grabbing the same item at the same time? This is an Opposed action based on a Dexterity attribute — the winner gets the item. Is one character trying to shove another one down? Roll Strength vs. Strength (or Wrestling skill) to see who goes down. Someone trying to hide from a search party? Perception attribute (or Find Hidden skill) vs. Hide skill (or Camouflage, Stealth, etc.). Trying to out-drink a rival? Constitution vs. Constitution (or Drinking skill, Carousing, etc.). And so on.

Some Opposed actions have a minimum level needed for success. For example, an attempt to control a person's mind with a Telepathy skill might require at least a Fair result. If the telepath only gets a Mediocre result, it doesn't matter if the intended victim rolls a Poor resistance: the attempt fails. Most combat falls into this category — see Chapter 4.

For an example of Opposed actions involving more than two characters, see Section 4.34, Multiple Combatants in Melee.

An Opposed action can also be handled as an Unopposed action. When a PC is opposing an NPC, have only the player roll, and simply let the NPC's trait level be the Difficulty Level. This method assumes the NPC will always roll a 0. This emphasizes the PCs' performance, and reduces the possibility of an NPC's lucky roll deciding the game.

As a slight variation on the above, the GM rolls 1dF or 2dF when rolling for an NPC in an opposed action. This allows some variation in the NPC's ability, but still puts the emphasis on the PCs' actions.

For those without FUDGE dice, the GM can simply roll 1d6 for an NPC. On a result of 2-5, the NPC gets the listed trait level as a result. On a result of 1, the NPC did worse than her trait level; on a result of 6 the NPC did better than her trait level. Those who want to know precisely how much better or worse should roll a second d6:
1,2,3 =+/-1 (as appropriate)
4,5 =+/-2
6 =+/-3

3.6 Critical Results

Critical results are an optional FUDGE rule for GMs who like the idea. A natural rolled result of +4 can be considered a critical success — the character has done exceptionally well, and the GM may grant some special bonus to the action. Likewise, a natural result of -4 is a critical failure, and the character has done as poorly as he possibly can in the given situation.

Note that achieving +/-4 with die modifiers does not count as a critical result, though the character has done exceptionally well or poorly. When a natural critical result is rolled, the GM may ignore what the rolled degree would be, and treat it as an automatic beyond Superb or below Terrible result.

Optionally, if a character gets a rolled degree four or more levels better than the Difficulty Level, he has gotten a critical success. Likewise, four levels below a Difficulty Level is a critical failure.

A critical result in combat can mean many things: one fighter falls down, or drops his weapon, or is hurt extra badly, or is stunned for a round and can't even defend himself, or is temporarily blinded, or knocked out, etc. The GM should be creative, but not kill a character outright.

The GM may even wish to make a table, such as these sample melee critical results:

Roll 2d6:
2Blinded for the next combat round: no defense or offense!
3Fall down: skill at -2 for one round.
4Armor badly damaged: no armor value rest of fight!
5Weapon finds chink in armor: do not subtract for armor.
6Off balance: skill at -1 next turn.
7Drop Weapon.
8Weapon breaks, but still useful: -1 to damage.
9. . .

And so on — finish and customize to your tastes.

This is an easy way to achieve a lot of detail without complicating FUDGE. Those with Internet access are invited to add any interesting critical results tables they create to the FUDGE sites.

3.7 NPC Reactions

Sometimes a non-player character has a set reaction to the PCs. Perhaps she's automatically their enemy, or perhaps the party has rescued her, and earned her gratitude. But there will be many NPCs that don't have a set reaction. When the PCs request information or aid, it might go smoothly or it might not go well at all. Negotiation with a stranger is always an unknown quantity to the players — it may be so for the GM, too.

When in doubt, the GM should secretly make a Situational roll. If the PC in question has a trait that can affect a stranger's reaction, this should grant a +/-1 (or more) to the result. Examples include Appearance (which could be an attribute, gift or fault), Charisma, Reputation, Status, and such habits as nose-picking or vulgar language. The Reaction roll can also be modified up or down by circumstances: bribes, suspicious or friendly nature of the NPC, proximity of the NPC's boss, observed PC behavior, etc.

The higher the Reaction roll result, the better the reaction. On a Fair result, for example, the NPC will be mildly helpful, but only if it's not too much effort. She won't be helpful at all on Mediocre or worse results, but will react well on a Good result or better.

Continue on to Chapter 4