4 Combat

Unless one participant is unaware of an attack or decides to ignore it, combat is an Opposed action in FUDGE. The easiest way to handle combat in FUDGE is as a series of Opposed action. This can be done simply or with more complexity. The author of FUDGE uses simple and loose combat rules in order to get combat over with quickly and get back to more interesting role-playing. This chapter, largely optional, is for players who prefer combat options spelled out in detail.

Melee combat and Ranged combat are treated separately.

4.1 Combat Terms

Any combat that involves striking the opponent with a fist or hand-held weapon. Any attack from further away is a Ranged attack.
Story Element:
A distinct segment of the storyline in the game. In combat, the interval between story elements can be a practical place for a die roll.
Combat Round:
An indeterminate length of time set by the GM — around three seconds seems reasonable to some people, while that seems grossly short or absurdly long to others. A given GM's combat round may vary in length, depending on the situation. Generally, when each character involved has made an action, a given round is over.
Offensive damage factors:
Those which contribute to damaging an opponent: Strength (if using a Strength-driven weapon), Scale, and deadliness of weapon.
Defensive damage factors:
Those which contribute to reducing the severity of a received blow: Scale, armor, and possibly Damage Capacity.
Total damage factor (or simply damage factor):
The attacker's offensive damage factor minus the defender's defensive damage factor.

4.2 Melee Combat

FUDGE gives three options available for handling the pacing of melee combat: moving from story element to story element, using simultaneous combat rounds, or alternating combat turns. An individual GM may devise others.

4.21 Story Elements

In the simplest combat system, the GM explains the situation in as much detail as is apparent, then asks the players to describe what their characters are doing. The more complete the description of their characters' actions, the better the GM know how to assess the situation. This can be important if she has something that won't be revealed until the middle of a battle. Die rolls, if any, are required by the GM for each story element .

A story element is the smallest unit of time in this type of combat resolution. The GM may break the battle down into several story elements, or treat the whole encounter as one element. This depends on the GM's style, the importance of the battle, the number of participants, whether or not there are unexpected surprises, etc. Each element should be a dramatic unit.

The GM may ask for a single die roll from a player occasionally, or require three rolls and take the median roll.

(The median is the middle value die roll, which may be the same as either the high or low die roll. For example, if the player rolls a Good, a Mediocre, and a Superb result, the median is Good, since it's the result in between Mediocre and Superb. But a result of Poor, Great, and Great gives a median die roll of Great. Using a median tends to soften the role of extreme luck. Some GMs use a median when a single die result represents many actions.)

Once the GM has decided which trait (or traits) each PC should use for this combat, she then gives them a modifier, ranging from -3 to +3. The most common modifier should be 0. The modifier is based partly on how well the PCs' plan would work, given what the GM knows of the NPCs, and partly on circumstances: fatigue, lighting, footing, surprise, weapon superiority, bravery or cowardice of NPCs, wounds, etc.

Here is a long example of story element style of combat:

4.22 Simultaneous Combat Rounds

Those who like their combat broken down into discrete bits can use combat "rounds." In simultaneous action rounds, all offensive and defensive maneuvers happen at the same time. This is realistic: few real combats consist of fighters taking turns whacking at each other.

The GM determines which traits the combatants should roll against. This depends largely on which weapon they are using, which might simply be a fist. Weapon type also affects damage — see Section 4.5, Wounds.

Each combatant makes an Opposed action roll. On a relative degree of 0, the combat round is a stand-off — the fighters either circled each other looking for an opening, or exchanged blows on each other's shields, etc. — nobody is hurt.

A minimum result of Poor is needed to hit a (roughly) equal-sized opponent. That is, a human needs to score a Poor blow (and still win the Opposed action) in order to hit another human. If both opponents roll worse than Poor, the round is a standoff.

If one opponent is significantly bigger than the other (of a different Scale, at least), he needs a Mediocre or even Fair result to hit his smaller foe, while even a Terrible result will allow the small fighter to hit the larger. (Of course, such a blow must still win the Opposed action.) Extremely small targets, such as a pixie, may require a Good or even a Great result. Examples include humans fighting giants, or very large or small animals.

If the result is a relative degree other than 0, and the minimum level needed to score a hit is achieved or surpassed, the winner checks to see if he hit hard enough to damage the loser. In general, the better the hit (the greater the relative degree), the greater the likelihood of damage.

If one combatant is unable to fight in a given round (possibly because he's unaware of the attacker, or because of a critical result in the previous round — see Section 3.6, Critical Results), the combat may become an Unopposed Action for the active fighter, usually with a Poor Difficulty Level. If a character can defend himself in some way, such as using a shield, it is still an Opposed Action, but the defending character cannot hurt the other character even if he wins the combat round.

Combat often takes more than one combat round. Characters are not limited to attacking each round — they may attempt to flee, negotiate, try a fancy acrobatic stunt, or any other appropriate action.

4.23 Alternating Combat Turns

Using alternating combat turns, each combat round consists of two actions: the fighter with the higher initiative attacks while the other defends, then the second combatant attacks while the first defends. With multiple characters involved in combat, the side with the initiative makes all their attacks, then the other side makes all their attacks. Or the GM may run the combat in initiative order, even if fighters from both sides are interspersed throughout the combat turn.

Gaining initiative is an Opposed action. If the characters don't have an Initiative attribute or skill — such as Reflexes or Speed — simply use Opposed Situational rolls. A gift such as Combat Reflexes can grant a +1 to initiative. Surprise may grant a bonus to the roll, or give automatic initiative. Initiative can be rolled once for each battle or once each round. Perhaps a character could trade skill for initiative: attack hastily (+1 to initiative that round) but be slightly off balance because of it (-1 to attack and defend that round).

Each attack is an Opposed Action: the attacker's Offensive skill (Sword, Melee Weapon, Martial Art, etc.) against a defender's Defensive skill (Shield, Parry, Dodge, Duck, etc.). This type of combat take longer than simultaneous rounds, but some players feel it gives a character more control over his own fate.

Using these rules, a Defensive parry skill may simply equal the weapon skill, or it may be a separate skill that must be bought independently of an Offensive skill. The GM must tell the players at character creation which method she is using — or allow them extra levels on the fly to adjust their defensive abilities.

Some weapons, such as an Axe, are poor parrying weapons. Players should ask the GM at character creation if a weapon may be used to parry and still be used to attack without penalty in the next turn — and give their characters decent Shield or Dodge skills to compensate for poor parrying weapons.

All-out offensive and defensive tactics can be used. A character forfeits his attack for a round if he chooses All-out defense, and is at -2 on his defense on his opponent's next turn if choosing All-out offense — or perhaps gets no defense at all!

The default defense for animals depends on their type: carnivores will usually have a Defense value one level less than their Offense, while this is reversed for most prey species.

4.3 Melee Combat Options

The various options listed below may be used with any melee system. This is not a comprehensive or "official" list of options. The GM should, in fact, consider these options merely as examples to stimulate her imagination. The GM may wish to import complex combat options from other games into FUDGE.

4.31 Melee Modifiers

Some situations call for one side or the other's trait level to be modified. Here are some examples:

A fighter who is Hurt is at -1, while one who is Very Hurt is at -2.

4.32 Offensive/Defensive Tactics

This optional rule, used with simultaneous combat rounds, allows more tactical flavor to combat at a small expense of complexity. This option replaces the All-out attack and defense options listed above, and allows for both combatants to be injured in the same combat round.

Before each round, a fighter may choose to be in a normal posture, an offensive posture or defensive posture. An offensive or defensive stance increases combat skill in one aspect of combat (offense or defense), and decrease the same skill by an equal amount for the other aspect of combat.

There are five basic options:

Each combat round, a player secretly chooses a combat stance by selecting two FUDGE dice and setting them to a result from +2 to -2, which represents an offensive modifier. (The defensive modifier shown above with the offensive modifier is automatically included.) Both sides simultaneously reveal their choices.

For those without FUDGE dice, choose one die placed as follows:
Die face:Option:
1 -2 to offense
2 -1 to offense
3,4 Normal offense
5 +1 to offense
6 +2 to offense

Each fighter then makes a single Opposed action roll as normal. The result is applied to both offense and defense, however, and will thus have different results for offense and defense if anything other than a normal posture is chosen. The offensive rolled result of each fighter is then compared to the defense of the other fighter.

4.33 PCs vs. NPCs

If a PC is fighting an NPC the GM can treat combat as an Unopposed action by assuming the NPC will always get a result equal to her trait level. In this case, the PC will have to tie the NPC's trait level to have a stand-off round, and beat the NPC's trait in order to inflict damage. This option stresses the player characters' abilities by disallowing fluke rolls by NPCs.

4.34 Multiple Combatants in Melee

When more than one opponent attacks a single fighter, they have, at least, a positional advantage. To reflect this, the lone fighter is at -1 to his skill for each additional foe beyond the first. (For epic-style games, with a few heroes battling hordes of enemies, this penalty can be reduced, or the GM can simply give the hordes Poor skills and low Damage Capacity — which is not out of character for a horde.)

The lone fighter rolls once, and the result is compared with each of the opponents' rolled degrees, one after the other. The solo combatant has to defeat or tie all of the opponents in order to inflict a wound on one of them. If he beats all of his foes, he may hit the foe of his choice. If he ties his best opponent, he can only wound another whose result is at least two levels below his.

The lone fighter takes multiple wounds in a single round if two or more enemies hit him. Usually, he can inflict damage on only one foe in any given round — his choice of those he bested. It's also possible to allow a sweeping blow to damage more than one foe at a time. Of course, this slows a slash down: reduce damage done by 1 or 2 for each foe cut through.

A well-armored fighter facing weak opponents can simply concentrate on one foe and let the others try to get through his armor (that is, not defend himself at all against some of his attackers). In this case, the lone fighter can damage his chosen foe even if he is hit by other, ignored foes. This is historically accurate for knights wading through peasant levies, for example. There may or may not be a penalty for the lone fighter in this case.

There's a limit to the number of foes that can simultaneously attack a single opponent. Six is about the maximum under ideal conditions (such as wolves, or spear-wielders), while only three or four can attack if using weapons or martial arts that require a lot of maneuvering space. If the lone fighter is in a doorway, only one or two fighters can reach him.

When multiple NPCs beset a lone PC, the GM may wish to use the option in Section 4.33, PCs vs. NPCs. This will save a lot of die rolling.

Alternately, she may wish to roll only once for all the NPCs. The lone fighter is still at -1 per extra opponent. The GM rolls 2dF, and applies the result to each NPC. For example, if the GM gets a +1 result, each attacker scores a +1.

For those without FUDGE dice, the GM could simply use the 1d6 method discussed in Section 3.5, Opposed Actions.

4.35 Hit Location

A light blow to an eye is very different from a light blow to an armored shoulder, or to a shield. Using a hit location system adds flavor to combat and the description of a character's equipment, wounds — and scars! Many games have a hit location system, and a GM can easily translate one she is familiar with to FUDGE. Or she can use the simple system given here.

The simplest system is not to worry about "called shots." Merely say the better the relative degree, the better the location of the blow. Winning a battle by +8 will allow the attacker to pierce an eye, if desired. Hopefully, the players will describe their actions in such detail that the GM will know how close they came to their objective merely by looking at the relative degree.

A more complicated system: an attacker can announce that he is aiming at a specific body location — this must be done before rolling to hit. The GM decides the minimum relative degree necessary for such a shot to succeed, usually ranging from 2 to 4, though extreme locations (such as an eyeball) are harder to hit. So if a player wishes his character to hit his opponent's weapon arm, the GM can respond, "You have to win by two to do so." If the player then does win by relative degree two or more, the weapon arm is hit, and the wound is specific to that arm.

If the attacker wins the combat round, but not by the minimum relative degree needed to hit the called target, the defender names which part of the body — or shield! — is hit. This will most likely be general body (if there is no shield), but it could be the off-hand,

which would carry a lesser combat penalty than a wound to the torso. The GM may have to fudge some here.

A damaged specific body part can be described as being Scratched (no real game effect), Hurt (a penalty to use, but the body part still functions), and Incapacitated. After battle is the time to decide if an Incapacitated body part can be healed, or is permanently Incapacitated.

A Hurt body part is generally at -1 to its normal use. A Hurt sword arm gives a -1 penalty to combat, for example, while a Hurt leg is -1 to any running, acrobatics, etc. A Hurt eye is -1 to vision, and so on.

To determine the exact level of the damage, the GM should consider how well the hit scored, as well as the Strength of the attacker and the weapon being used. Winning by the minimum relative degree necessary to hit the specific body part shouldn't make the victim Incapacitated unless the attacker is of a much larger Scale than the defender. On the other hand, an arm hit with a battle axe wielded by a large, berserk Viking has a good chance of being cut off even if the Viking just rolled exactly what he needed to hit the arm . . .

As a guideline, if the attacker surpasses the relative degree necessary to hit the body part at all, the part is Scratched or Hurt, depending on Strength and weapon deadliness. If he surpasses it significantly, the part is Hurt or Incapacitated.

Species other than humans may have a different list of body parts to hit, and/or different difficulty modifiers.

4.36 Fancy Stuff

A lot of fancy maneuvers are possible in FUDGE combat. All require a bit of thought on the GM's part.

What if you want a Speed or Reflexes trait to affect how often you can strike in combat? How would you handle someone of Good Speed vs. someone of Fair Speed?

If someone has a Power that speeds him up beyond the human norm, you can simply have him attack every other round as if his opponent wasn't aware of the attack. That is, every other round, an Unopposed result of Poor or better hits the foe, with no chance to be hit back in return.

For more subtle differences, the GM may allow an Opposed action to determine if one fighter gets to land a blow first: after declaring their actions, each fighter makes a roll against a Speed trait. The winner of the Opposed action, if any, adds the difference to his weapon skill.

How about FUDGE's "graininess" getting in the way of interesting combat? That is, since there are only seven levels in FUDGE, a Good fighter will often meet another Good fighter, and it doesn't seem right that you can't meet someone who's just a little better or worse than you.

In this case, the GM can create new levels of combat skills (there's no point in using this option with other skills). These new levels require full experience points to reach, but function only as "half" levels, called "plus" levels. Thus, you can have:

And so on. In any combat, someone with a "+" has the skill level listed before the "+", but gets a +1 every other round, starting with the second round.

What about swinging on chandeliers and other swashbuckling moves? Since role-playing games have more to do with movies than real life, this should be encouraged if the genre is at all cinematic.

In these cases, have the player describe his swashbuckling intentions as fully and dramatically as he can. The better the story, the better the bonus to the die roll — or no roll needed if the outcome is entertaining enough. You may then request a roll against Dexterity, or Acrobatics (or even Chutzpah!) and let that determine how well he accomplished his aim.

4.4 Ranged Combat

Ranged combat may or may not be an Opposed action.

If the target is unaware of the assault, the attacker makes an Unopposed action roll to see if he hits his target. The GM sets the Difficulty Level based on distance, lighting, cover, etc. Do not modify the attacker's skill for range, partial cover, or other circumstances — that's included in the Difficulty Level. Equipment such as a laser sighting scope can modify the attacker's skill, though.

If the defender is aware of the attack it is an Opposed action: the attacker's ranged weapon skill against the defender's defensive trait. (A Difficulty Level for range, lighting, etc., is still set by the GM, and is the minimum rolled degree needed to hit.) A defensive roll should be made against a Dodge skill, or Agility attribute, or something similar.

If the ranged weapon is thrown, there is no modifier to the defense roll. However, a propelled weapon, such as a bow, gun, or beam weapon, is much harder to avoid. In this case, reduce the defender's trait by -2 or -3. Obviously, the defender isn't trying to dodge a bullet, but dodging the presumed path of a bullet when an attacker points a gun at him.

Of course, the defender may decline to dodge, but shoot back instead. In this case, the action is Unopposed — making the Difficulty Level is all that is needed to hit. The GM may make such actions simultaneous.

In both examples, the fighters forfeited their Dodges in order to shoot simultaneously. Each combatant needed to make the appropriate Difficulty Level to hit. Under these conditions, it's possible for both combatants to succeed in the same combat round. Had Dicken's shot hit, Will and Dicken would have skewered each other.

Guns and similar weapons that do not rely on muscle power should be rated for damage at the beginning of the game. No detailed list is provided, but as a rough guideline: The average small hand gun might be of +2 to +3 Strength, while a derringer might be +1 or even +0. Powerful two-handed projectile weapons are at +5 and higher, while bazookas and other anti-tank weapons are at +10 and higher. Science fiction small weapons may do as much damage as a modern bazooka — but some are designed to capture people without injuring them.

Automatic weapons can be simulated roughly by allowing more bullets to hit with higher relative degrees. That is, blasting away with a weapon that fires 20 bullets in a combat round and hitting with relative degree +1 — a graze — means only one or two hit the target. If a relative degree +8 represents maximum amount of ammunition on target (whatever that may be for a given weapon), then hitting with a +4 means about half maximum hit the target, while +2 means only one quarter.

If there is no effective armor, simply add a big damage number if lots of bullets hit: this is going to Incapacitate anyone, at the very least. If armor is at all likely to slow down a bullet, you can't just add a bigger and bigger damage number if more bullets hit: the armor has a chance to slow down each bullet. In this case, rather than roll damage for each bullet, or have them all stopped, the GM needs to fudge some medium result: give a slight damage bonus if more projectiles hit the target.

4.5 Wounds

FUDGE offers various methods of tracking wounds, with many options. It is impossible to be 100% accurate when simulating damage to such an intricate mechanism as a living being. This is true even for detailed simulations — for an abstract role-playing game, it is hard to get close to reality at all.

Consequently, many GMs don't try to be very accurate, and want a simple system that works and lets the story flow. Others want as much accuracy as they can get. FUDGE presents a simple freeform system that works, and suggests some options to make it more mechanical, and encourages each GM to add as much detail as she is happy with.

4.51 Wound Levels

Combat damage to a character can be described as being at one of seven stages of severity. The stages are:

no wounds at all. The character is not necessarily healthy — he may be sick, for example. But he doesn't have a combat wound that's recent enough to be bothering him.
Just A Scratch:
no real game effect, except to create tension. This may eventually lead to being Hurt if the character is hit again. This term comes from the famous movie line, "I'm okay, it's only a scratch." The actual wound itself may be a graze, bruise, cut, abrasion, etc., and the GM whose game is more serious in tone may choose to use one of these terms instead.
the character is wounded significantly, enough to slow him down: -1 to all traits which would logically be affected. A Hurt result in combat can also be called a Light Wound.
Very Hurt:
the character is seriously hurt, possibly stumbling: -2 to all traits which would logically be affected. A Very Hurt result can also be called a Severe Wound.
the character is so badly wounded as to be incapable of any actions, except possibly dragging himself a few feet every now and then or gasping out an important message. A lenient GM can allow an Incapacitated character to perform such elaborate actions as opening a door or grabbing a gem . . .
Near Death:
the character is not only unconscious, he'll die in less than an hour — maybe a lot less — without medical help. No one recovers from Near Death on their own unless very lucky.
he has no more use for his possessions, unless he belongs to a culture that believes he'll need them in the afterlife . . .

The GM may expand or contract these stages.

The GM may allow a high Difficulty Level Willpower roll to reduce or even nullify penalties listed at Hurt, Very Hurt, and possibly Incapacitated. A gift of a High Pain Threshold will reduce the penalties by one level, while a fault of a Low Pain Threshold will increase penalties by one.

Some players delight in describing their characters' wounds in detail, even writing resulting scars into the character story.

Automatic Death: sometimes you don't have to roll the dice. Holding a knife to a helpless character's throat is a good example — no roll needed to kill such a character, but the killer's karma suffers.

4.52 Damage Capacity

In FUDGE, Damage Capacity determines how wounds affect a character. Damage Capacity may be called Hit Points, if desired. It may be tied to a character trait such as Constitution (or Hardiness, Fitness, Health, Body, Strength, etc.), or it may be a separate trait — see Section 6.3, Character Examples. It can also be treated as a gift/fault.

The GM decides how to handle the differing abilities of humans to take damage. It really does vary, but how much is open to debate.

On the other hand, the phrase "glass jaw" is familiar to most English speakers, referring to those who are hurt from the slightest blow.

So there is undoubtedly some room for variation in damage capacity in characters.

If the GM is handling wounds in a freeform matter, make Damage Capacity an attribute and let players rate their characters in it like any other attribute. Or have a gift (Damage Resistant, perhaps) and a fault (Fragile, maybe), and let everyone without either the gift or the fault be normal in this regard. The GM can assess the character's ability to take damage based on that information and the situation at hand.

If the GM wants a more numerical approach to wound determination, it requires some forethought. If Damage Capacity is an attribute, the easiest way to rate it numerically in FUDGE is the standard:

However, since light metal armor, as listed in Section 4.54, Sample Wound Factors List, only grants a +2 to defense against being wounded, it is easily seen that a Great Damage Capacity is equal to light metal armor. Some GMs will find this absurd: a naked person of Great Damage Capacity can turn a sword as well as an armored person of Fair Damage Capacity. Others will remember Rasputin, and consider it within the bounds of reason — it could be part body size (vital organs harder to reach) and part healthiness (muscle tissue more resistant to being cut).

For simplicity, any equation-driven approach to wounds in FUDGE assumes the GM will use a Damage Capacity attribute, and it is rated from +3 to -3, as listed above. If you are not happy with this, please make the necessary mental substitution.

Here are some other possible ways to handle Damage Capacity numerically:

  1. Make Damage Capacity an attribute, as above, but instead of automatically granting a bonus, require a Damage Capacity die roll every time a character is hit for at least a Light Wound (Hurt result). On a result of:

    This adjustment can either be one wound level , or simply one damage point, as the GM sees fit.

    For certain types of damage — perhaps from a stun ray or a quarterstaff across the ribs — the GM can use the values from +3 to -3 without requiring a roll.

  2. Do not use a Damage Capacity attribute; instead allow the players to take a gift of Damage Resistant (reduces wound severity by one) or a fault of Fragile (increases wound severity by one). Again, this adjustment can be one wound level, or one damage point.
  3. Use a Damage Capacity attribute, as outlined as the first suggestion under Section 4.57, Recording Wounds. Each hit temporarily reduces your Damage Capacity attribute one or more levels.
  4. Use a Willpower attribute instead of Damage Capacity. GMs who believe that Rasputin was able to overcome so much damage because his will was focused on overcoming his enemies may use this method. Grant an adjustment to the wound level based on the result of a Willpower die roll. This can be temporary — until the battle is over — or actually have a permanent affect on reducing wound severity.

4.53 Wound Factors

When determining how wounded a character is when hit in combat, take into consideration all of the following factors:

  1. The relative degree the attack succeeded by — the better the hit, the greater likelihood of damage. Winning a combat round with a relative degree of +1 means you probably hit where the opponent is most heavily armored. Scoring a hit with a +3 finds a chink in the armor.
  2. The strength of the blow. For muscle-powered weapons, such as melee weapons, unarmed attacks, bows, slings, etc., this is determined by the attacker's Strength attribute: stronger folks tend to hit harder. The relative Scale modifier is also figured in here. For things like guns, beam weapons, etc., it is relative to the nature of the weapon: a .38 usually does more damage than a .22. The technological level of the weapon can be important.
  3. The deadliness of the attacker's weapon. Big weapons tend to do more damage than little weapons; sharp weapons rip tissue more than dull ones, but blunt weapons can cause concussive damage through armor thick enough to stop a sharp weapon. People trained in Karate tend to do more damage than those untrained in any martial art.
  4. The defender's armor. People wearing thicker armor, and more of it, tend to get hurt less than those wearing no armor. Armor can be finely differentiated, or simply said to be Light, Medium, or Heavy armor. Science fiction scenarios will have Extra-Heavy armor, and even further levels. Fantasy campaigns may include magic armor that offers even greater protection, sometimes specific against certain types of damage.
  5. The amount of damage the victim can soak up (Robustness, Damage Capacity, or Mass). Big, healthy guys can take more damage before collapsing than little, sickly guys. But it's your call if it's a big, sickly fighter against a little, healthy fellow.

4.54 Sample Wound Factors List

For those who prefer numerical values, here are some suggested numbers to attach to the factors listed in the previous section. These may be customized to taste, of course, and are only offered as a starting point. If used, they should be written down on the character sheet at character creation (probably with the weapons and armor), so as to be readily available during combat.

Offensive factors:

Defensive factors:

Plus the defender's Mass Scale (see Section 4.58, Non-human Scale in Combat).

(If the defender has Mass other than Fair, or a gift of Tough Hide, it should also be figured in.)

4.55 Determining Wound Level

A given blow will cause a certain level of wounding. In the simplest wound determination system, the GM assesses all of the Wound Factors (Section 4.53) and announces how bad the wound is. (In some cases, however, the PCs won't know the precise degree of damage. In those cases, the GM can simply say, "You think you wounded her, but she's still on her feet," or, "You don't notice any effect.")

The GM can also use a Situational roll to help her. Roll the dice behind a GM screen, and let the result guide you. A roll of -1 to +1 isn't significant — no change from what you decided. But a roll of +3 or +4 adds a wound level or two to the damage.

See Section 4.57, Recording Wounds, for details on how to keep track of wounds received.

That system, while simple and satisfying to a certain type of GM, doesn't do much for those who prefer the system detailed in Section 4.54, Sample Wound Factors List. There's no point in figuring out the offensive and defensive factors if you don't do something with the numbers.

One system that uses the offensive and defensive factors requires finding the total damage factor . This is derived by adding up all the attacker's offensive factors and then subtracting all the defender's factors.

Once these numbers are determined, jot them down so you don't have to refigure them each combat round.

This system requires each character sheet to have a wound record track which looks like:
Wounds:ScratchHurtVery HurtIncapacitatedNear Death

The numbers above the wound levels represent the amount of damage needed in a single blow to inflict the wound listed under the number. For example, a blow of three or four points Hurts the character, while a blow of five or six points inflicts a Very Hurt wound.

These numbers can be customized by the GM to fit her conception of how damage affects people. Raising the numbers makes it harder to wound someone, while lowering them makes combat more deadly.

Note that there is no number given for Dead. This is left up to the GM, and deliberately not included to prevent accidental PC death.

However, you can't simply use the damage factor you determined above — relative degree is also important.

A relative degree of +1 is treated as a graze - see Section 4.56, Grazing.

Otherwise, simply add the relative degree to the damage factor. (You may also wish to include a damage roll — see Section 4.61, Damage Die Roll.)

The result is a number that may or may not be a positive number. If it's 0 or less, no damage is scored.

If the number is positive, look up the result across the top of the wound levels, and figure the wound as described above. If Leroy hits Theodora with a relative degree of +2, he adds that to his damage potential of +2 to produce a damage number of four. Looking down, we see that a result of four is a Hurt result (Light Wound). Theodora is Hurt, and at -1 until she is healed.

For more detail, see Section 4.7, Combat and Wounding Example.

There are other ways to figure damage. A GM who believes the relative degree is more important than the damage factor would double it before adding it to the damage factor. The numbers above the wound levels should be adjusted in this case:
Wounds:ScratchHurtVery HurtIncapacitatedNear Death

This is a satisfying system that is recommended for those who don't mind doubling relative degree.

Others feel Strength is more important, and so on. A totally different wounding system is given in Section 4.63, Min-Mid-Max Die Roll. Many others have been proposed for FUDGE over the years, and it would be easy to import one from another game system. Use what you feel comfortable with.

4.56 Grazing

Any relative degree of +1 can do at most a GM-set Wound level (plus any Scale difference). It may do no damage at all, depending on the opponent's defensive factors: a fist hitting plate mail won't hurt the armored knight in the slightest — unless it's a giant's fist.

Sample graze severity table:

A GM may or may not allow a damage die roll on a graze, even if using the die rolls for other hits. If allowed, a damage roll shouldn't change the result of a graze by more than one level.

Scale difference is a little trickier to figure, but it should be minimized for such a narrow victory: a giant's club could give a human a glancing blow that might inflict a Very Hurt result, but not necessarily Incapacitate.

On the other hand, a tiger biting a mouse with a relative degree of +1 grazes the mouse as a cow grazes grass . . .

4.57 Recording Wounds

Once the final damage is determined, it is recorded on the wounded fighter's character sheet. Each individual wound is described as a Scratch, Hurt (Light Wound), etc., as introduced in Section 4.51, Wound Levels.

Use a Damage Capacity attribute as an easy way to record wounds. (In this case, Damage Capacity is not figured into determining wound severity.) Each hit that is greater than a Scratch reduces a character's Damage Capacity attribute one level — or more, if the GM deems the hit to be severe enough. (Scratches can accumulate as the GM desires — perhaps three Scratches equal one hit.)

When someone is reduced to Mediocre Damage Capacity, he is Hurt: -1 to all actions. When he is at Poor Damage Capacity, he is Very Hurt: -2 to all actions. When he drops to Terrible, he is at -3 to all actions — or Incapacitated, if a GM wishes to play it that way. Damage Capacity below Terrible is Incapacitated, at least — possibly worse.

(For characters of Mediocre or worse Damage Capacity, these levels only affect them when damaged. That is, an undamaged character of Mediocre Damage Capacity is not at -1 to all actions. However, if he takes even one hit, he drops to Poor Damage Capacity, and is at -2 to all actions.)

Healing in such a system cannot raise Damage Capacity above a character's undamaged level — that can only be raised through Character Development (Chapter 5).

A more detailed method requires a space on the character sheet to record wounds. This would look like:
1,2 3,4 5,6 7,8 9+
Wounds:ScratchHurt Very Hurt Incapac.Near Death

The numbers above the wound levels are discussed in Section 4.55, Determining Wound Level.

The boxes below the wound levels represent how many of each wound type a fighter can take.

When a wound is received, mark off the appropriate box.

If there is no open box for a given wound result, the character takes the next highest wound for which there is an open box.

Note that three boxes are provided under Scratch. This can be customized by each GM, of course. A Scratch wound will not make a fighter Hurt until he receives his fourth Scratch. Optionally, a Scratch will never raise a character's wound level beyond Very Hurt, no matter how many he takes. The GM should not to use this rule when the PCs fight a monster of huge Scale. Otherwise, they'd never be able to kill such a creature when the worst wound they can inflict is a Scratch.

The wound progression above makes for a fairly realistic campaign. For a more cinematic campaign (especially those without magic or science fiction healing), add an extra box for Scratch, Hurt, and possibly Very Hurt: lesser blows won't accumulate so quickly to hinder the character. A moderately cinematic character sheet looks like:
1,2 3,4 5,6 7,8 9+
Wounds:Scratch Hurt Very Hurt Incapac.Near Death

It wouldn't be out of line, for an epic scale game, to add up to two more boxes to Hurt and Very Hurt.

Be warned that adding boxes can lengthen combat significantly.

Never add boxes for cannon-fodder NPCs, though you may wish to do so for major NPCs. In fact, NPC pawns don't even need the system above. A simple three-stage system of Undamaged, Hurt, Out of the Battle is good enough for most of them. Simply make a mark under an NPC's name for Hurt, and cross out the name for Out of the Battle.

4.58 Non-Human Scale in Combat

The attacker's Strength Scale is added to his offensive damage factors, and the defender's Mass Scale is added to her defensive damage factors. If you have combat with beings weaker than humans, remember what you learned in school about adding and subtracting negative numbers . . .

Armor and weapons affect the damage done normally, since they are scaled to the folks using them. Hits become Scratches, Hurt, etc., as usual — see Section 4.55, Determining Wound Level.

However, an extremely small character is not likely to be able to wound a large one in the numerical value wounding system. The GM may allow a point or two of damage to penetrate if the small character gets a critical success. Poison-tipped arrows and lances are also a possibility: the small character can aim for joints in the armor and merely has to break the skin to inject the poison.

Also, this system treats Mass Scale like armor, which isn't quite accurate. In reality, a small opponent may be slowly carving the larger fighter up, but each wound is too petty, relative to the large scale, to do much damage by itself. To reflect a lot of small wounds gradually inflicting a hit on a large-scale foe, allow a damage roll when Scale prevents a hit from doing any damage — that is, when Scale is the only difference between getting a Scratch and no damage at all. See Section 4.61, Damage Die Roll.

There are also "scale piercing" weapons, such as whale harpoons and elephant guns. These don't have massive damage numbers: instead, if they hit well, simply halve the Scale value, or ignore it all together. Of course, if such a weapon is used on a human, it would indeed have a massive damage modifier . . . Combat Examples: In the following examples, each fighter's Strength Scale equals his own Mass Scale, but not his opponent's. (E.g., Wilbur's Strength is Scale 0 and his Mass is Scale 0.) Also, it is assumed the GM is not using the optional damage roll, which could vary damage in all three combats discussed.

First example: Wilbur, a human knight with a sword, is attacking a dragon.

Wilbur's offensive damage factor is a respectable +6:

The dragon's defensive damage factor is +8:

Wilbur's damage factor against the dragon is therefore 6-8 = -2.

If Wilbur hits the dragon with a relative degree of +3, he does 3-2 = one point of damage. Given his Strength, weapon, and the amount he won by, this would be a severe blow to a human, even one wearing armor. But this is no human opponent. Only one point get through the dragon's Scale and tough hide. The GM checks off a Scratch for the dragon, and the fight continues. Since there are three Scratch boxes for a major NPC, Wilbur will have to do this thrice more before he finally Hurts the dragon. He may need help, or have to go back for his magic sword.

Second example: Sheba, a human warrior, has just kicked McMurtree, a wee leprechaun.

Sheba's offensive damage factor = +1:

(Sheba's martial art skill normally earns her a +0 to damage, and boots normally earns a +0. The GM rules that using both together allows a +1, however.)

McMurtree's defensive damage factor is -3:

Sheba's damage factor against McMurtree is 1-(-3) = +4. (Subtracting a negative number means you add an equal but positive amount.)

If Sheba wins the first combat round with a relative degree of +2 she scores a total of 4+2 = six points. McMurtree's player looks up six on the wound table on his character sheet: Very Hurt — he's at -2 for the next combat round, and in grave danger if she hits again.

Third example: McMurtree's friend, Fionn, now swings his shillelagh (oak root club) at Sheba's knee.

Fionn's offensive damage factor is -1:

Sheba's defensive damage factor is +2:
Heavy Leather Armor: +2
Scale: +0

Fionn's damage factor against Sheba is -1-2 = -3.

If Fionn wins by +3, a solid blow, he adds -3+3 = 0. Unfortunately for Fionn, she takes no damage from an excellently placed hit.

Fionn had better think of some other strategy, quickly. Fortunately for Fionn, he knows some magic, and if he can dodge just one kick from Sheba, she'll learn the hard way why it's best not to antagonize the Wee folk . . .

4.6 Wound Options

This section introduces some of the simpler options for determining wounds. Many others are possible in FUDGE, and this list should not be considered official or exhaustive. They are included for possible use, but also to inspire the GM to create her own.

4.61 Damage Die Roll

Although the damage roll is optional, it is recommended if you are using numerical damage factors. This is because the damage factors are generally fixed for the entire fight, and things tend to get stagnant. It also allows a tiny fighter to have a chance against a larger foe — a satisfying result.

There are many possible ways to use a damage die roll.

One could roll a single FUDGE die for a result of -1, 0, or +1. This can be added to the damage factor, or, more broadly, to the actual wound level.

Instead of a separate damage roll, one could simply use the die rolls used to resolve the Opposed action. If the attacker wins with an even roll (-4, -2, 0, +2, +4), add one to his offensive factor. If he wins with an odd result (-3, -1, +1, +3), his offensive factor is unchanged. Do the same for the defender, except it affects his defensive factor. This system will help the defender 25% of the time, the attacker 25% of the time, and won't affect the damage results at all 50% of the time.

This system could also be applied to the wound level instead of the damage factor.

A more complicated system uses a Situational roll (result from -4 to +4, not based on any trait), and adds it to the calculated damage number (the number over the wound level), as found in Section 4.55, Determining Wound Level. Negative final damage is treated as 0 damage.

The GM may wish to apply some limitations to the damage roll, to restrict too wild a result.

For simplicity, of course, the GM can simply ignore the limitations, and allow the damage roll to be anywhere from -4 to +4, let the chips fall where they may . . .

Many other damage die rolls are possible — these are only given as examples to the GM.

4.62 Stun, Knockout, and Pulling Punches

A player can announce that his character is trying to stun or knock his opponent out rather than damage her. Using the flat of a blade instead of the edge, for example, can accomplish this. Damage is figured normally, but any damage inflicted doesn't wound the opponent: it stuns her instead.

In this case, a Hurt result is called a "Stun" — a stunned character cannot attack or all-out defend, and is at -1 to defend for one combat turn only. However, the Stun result stays on the character sheet: that is, a second Stun result, even if delivered more than one combat round after the first, will cause the character to become Very Stunned. (Stun results heal like Scratches: after combat is over.)

A Very Hurt result in a stunning attack is called a Very Stunned result instead: no attacks and -2 to all actions for two combat rounds.

A result of Incapacitated or worse when going for stun damage results in a knockout. A knocked-out character doesn't need healing to recuperate to full health — just time. (Only a harsh GM would roll for the possibility of brain damage — this is fiction, not reality.)

The GM may simply decide that a successful Good blow (or better) to the head knocks someone out automatically. In an Opposed action, the Good blow would also have to win the combat, of course.

Likewise, a player may choose to have his character do reduced damage in any given attack. This is known as "pulling your punch," even if you are using a sword. This commonly occurs in duels of honor, where it is only necessary to draw "first blood" to win, and killing your opponent can get you charged with murder. A Scratch will win a "first blood" duel — it is not necessary to Hurt someone.

To pull your punch, simply announce the maximum wound level you will do if you are successful.

4.63 Min-Mid-Max Die Roll

This system of wound determination does not pretend to be a realistic method, and can produce some wildly varying results. But it's quick, easy, and lots of fun, and so works well in a certain style of gaming.

This system requires 3d6 for a damage roll, even if using 4dF for action resolution.

Overview: roll 3d6 when a damage roll is called for. You will probably only read one of the dice, however: either the lowest value (Min), median value (Mid) or highest value (Max), depending on damage factor and relative degree. The greater the damage factor and/or relative degree, the greater the d6 you read for result.

If using the Min-Mid-Max system, use the wound track on the character sheet listed in Section 4.57, Recording Wounds:
1,2 3,4 5,6 7,8 9+
Wounds:Scratch Hurt Very Hurt Incapac.Near Death

The offensive and defensive damage factors listed in Section 4.54, Sample Wound Factors List, are used. However, they are not added to the relative degree. Instead, simply derive the total damage factor as normal: (attacker's Strength + Scale + weapon) minus (defender's Damage Capacity + Scale + armor). Each player should jot down this number once it is known for the combat.

Before the game begins, the GM decides how important the damage factor and relative degree are in determining wound severity. The following table is recommended as a starting point; the GM can adjust it as she sees fit:
Damage FactorBonusRelative Degree
< 0 -1 -
0,1,2 0 2,3
3,4,5 +1 4,5
6+ +2 6+

A damage factor of three, for example, has a die-reading bonus of +1, while a relative degree of three has a die-reading bonus of 0. The GM may charge a -2 penalty if the damage factor is well below 0 (-5 or worse).

Since the graze rules are used unchanged with this system, there is no listing for relative degree less than two.

Add the bonus for damage factor with the bonus for relative degree to get a final bonus. Example: a character has a damage factor of +3 (bonus: +1) and a relative degree of +5 (bonus: +1). His total bonus for that round of combat is +2.

What do these bonuses represent?

A total "bonus" of less than 0 means no damage is possible — don't even roll the dice. Otherwise, locate the total bonus on the following table:
Die to Read
0 Min
1 Mid
2 Max
3 Add Max + Min
4 Add all three

Min = lowest die.
Mid = median die.
Max = highest die.

The median is the value in the middle. This may be the same as the highest or lowest, as in a roll of 2, 4, 4: the Min = 2, the Mid = 4, and the Max = 4. A roll of triples means Min = Mid = Max. (Please read the median value - not necessarily the die that is physically between the other two on the table.)

Once you have determined which die to read, compare it with the numbers above the wound levels. With a roll of 1, 3, 5, for example, the Min die = 1 (a Scratch result), the Mid die = 3 (a Hurt result), and the Max die = 5 (a Very Hurt result). You would only read one of these results, however — not all three.

With three or more bonuses, add the appropriate dice as listed on the table. For results beyond nine, the GM is free to kill the recipient outright, or merely keep it as a Near Death result, as called for by the situation.

The tables are not meant to be intrusive, merely guidelines. The basic intent is to read the Mid if the attacker has either a decent damage factor or a decent relative degree; to read the Min if he has neither; and to read the Max if he has both. All other values are derived from that simple idea. So the GM can ignore all the tables, and with that idea in mind, just fudge which die to read.

This would have come out of a descriptive game, in which the players describe their characters' actions in great detail.

Example of the Min-Mid-Max system:

For a more epic game, where it's important to be able to Incapacitate in one blow, use the following wound track on the character sheet:
1 2,3 4,5 6 7+
Wounds:Scratch Hurt Very Hurt Incapac.Near Death

The extra wound boxes are in keeping with an epic style game, but are optional.

4.64 PC Death

Sometimes the dice try to kill a PC. In most campaigns, PC death shouldn't occur through a bad die roll, but only if the character's actions were truly self-sacrificing — or stupid — enough to warrant death.

Three methods of preventing accidental PC death are presented. They may be used separately or together or not at all. These should not be used for run-of-the-mill NPCs, but could be used for major ones. The "automatic death" rule in Section 4.51, Wound Levels, takes precedence over these suggestions.

  1. A character cannot take more than three levels of wounds in one blow. For example, an unwounded character could be Scratched, Hurt, or Very Hurt in one blow, but any excess damage points beyond that would be lost. A Hurt character could go all the way to Near Death in one blow, but not be killed outright.
  2. A character cannot be rendered Near Death unless he began that combat round Incapacitated. This is simpler to keep track of than the first system, and assumes there is some great difference between a severe wound and mortal wound. There probably isn't, but the rule isn't intended to be realistic: it's to make the PCs more heroic than real life.
  3. A player may spend a Fudge Point (Section 1.36) to convert a deadly wound to a merely serious one.

4.65 Technological Levels as Scale

Technological differences between weapons and armor can be expressed as Scale if the GM desires. Instead of figuring exactly how much mega-damage a transvibrational subneural pulverizer does, the GM can simply say, "This is a weapon that is of the same technological level as the armor of the defender — therefore, it has the same effect on her as a modern pistol would on kevlar." However, if used against someone who is wearing kevlar, the transvibrational subneural pulverizer does lots and lots of damage — kevlar wasn't designed to stop this type of thing.

Basically, there isn't much difference between thrusting a sword through a naked man's kidney, or shooting him with a .38 through the kidney, or using a transvibrational subneural pulverizer on the kidney: naked people don't resist most weapons well. Plate armor stops the sword well, but won't slow down the .38 enough to help much — unless it can deflect it away from the kidney, that is. It probably won't help at all against the pulverizer, but it may: the GM will have to decide the effect of such a weapon on plate armor.

The concept of technological levels as Scale only comes into effect when weapons of one technological era are used against armor of another technological era. At that point, the GM can add an arbitrary Scale difference to the weapon — or armor, whichever is of the higher tech level. No attempt to quantify tech levels is made here. This section is merely food for thought.

4.7 Combat and Wounding Example

This example uses the numerical offensive and defensive factors in Section 4.54, Sample Wound Factors List. It also uses a damage die roll: the 4dF option, with the three limitations listed.

The two opponents are Medieval warriors, Snorri and Brynhild. The fight takes place in a barroom, which quickly empties of other occupants once weapons are drawn. No one noticed that the innkeeper's son had actually left much earlier than this, when the belligerent Snorri was merely exchanging insults with the proud Brynhild. Both fighters are human (Scale 0), so Scale is left out of the discussion.



Snorri's damage factor vs. Brynhild: 5-2 = +3
Brynhild's damage factor vs. Snorri: 5-3 = +2

Snorri's skill is reduced to Good for this combat by Brynhild's shield — see Section 4.31, Melee Modifiers.

In the first round, Snorri gets a Great result on his weapon skill (die roll = +1), and Brynhild gets a Fair result (die roll = -1). Snorri wins with a relative degree of +2. Snorri's damage factor of +3 is added in, bringing the damage to +5. Looking at the character sheet, a +5 result equals a Very Hurt wound — before rolling for damage.

In the second round, both combatants get Good results — a standoff. The GM describes it as a give-and-take of blows that are all parried or blocked as the fighters circle each other. Another five seconds have passed this round, the GM decrees.

In the third round, Snorri gets a Great result and Brynhild only a Good result — Snorri has hit again. Since the relative degree is +1, this is a graze. The GM does allow a damage die roll on a graze, but won't let it change the result by more than one level. Snorri's damage factor of +3 normally means a Scratch on a graze.

In the fourth round, Snorri decides to finish off the Hurt Brynhild in one blow: he all-out attacks, which gives him a +1 modifier to his skill, and a +1 to damage if he wins. Brynhild had decided to try for a situational advantage, though: she's spending this round in all-out defense, hoping to spot some way to get an advantage over Snorri for the fifth round. Brynhild gets a +2 modifier to her skill this turn, but can't hurt Snorri if she wins. Snorri gets a Great result, even counting his +1 for all-out attacking, and Brynhild also gets a Great result. Snorri would ordinarily have lost the combat round (all-out attackers lose tie results), but Brynhild's all-out defense means she doesn't aim any blows at Snorri, just beats his attack down.

In the fifth round, the GM gives Snorri a -1 to skill this round (down to Fair) for bad footing. Snorri tries an ordinary attack, and Brynhild, wounded, desperate, and sensing this may be her only chance, now tries an all-out attack: +1 modifier to her skill, bringing her up to an effective skill of Good from her wounded Fair state. Brynhild rolls a Great result, and Snorri only gets a Good result: Brynhild wins this round by +1.

The combat is interrupted at this point by the town guards, who had been alerted by the innkeeper's son. Snorri and Brynhild are hauled off to separate cells, probably only too glad to get out of what had become a potentially deadly duel . . .

4.8 Healing

Wounds are healed through a medical skill or supernormal power.

A Scratch is too insignificant to require a roll on a healing skill (although it might require a kiss to make it better . . .).Scratches are usually erased after a battle, provided the characters have five or ten minutes to attend to them. An individual GM may rule otherwise, of course: they may linger on for a day or two.

A Good result on a healing skill heals all wounds one level (Hurt to healed, Very Hurt to Hurt, etc.). (Scratches do not count as a level for healing purposes. That is, a Hurt wound that is healed one level is fully healed.) A Great result heals all wounds two levels, and a Superb result heals three levels.

Healing with realistic medical skills takes time: the success of the roll merely insures the wounds will heal, given enough rest. How long this takes depends on the technological level of the game setting, and is up to the GM. (A day per treated wound is extremely fast healing, but may be appropriate in an epic-style game. Likewise, one minute per magically healed wound is fast.) Whether or not strenuous activity before the healing period ends reopens a wound is also left up to the GM . . .

Otherwise, wounds heal on their own at one wound level per week of rest — or longer, if the GM is being more realistic. That is, after a week of rest, an Incapacitated character becomes Very Hurt, etc. The GM may also require a successful roll against a Constitution attribute: Fair Difficulty Level for Hurt, Good Difficulty Level for Very Hurt, and Great Difficulty Level for Incapacitated. Failing this roll slows the healing process. Someone Near Death should take a long time to heal, even with magical or high tech healing.

Continue on to Chapter 5