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Character Traits

Traits are divided into Attributes, Skills, Gifts, Faults, and Supernormal Powers. Not every GM will have all five types of traits in her game. These traits are defined under Character Creation Terms.

Attributes

Gamers often disagree on how many attributes a game should have. Some prefer few attributes, others many.

Even those that agree on the number of attributes may disagree on the selection. While Fudge discusses some attributes (Strength, Fatigue, Constitution, etc.) in later sections, none of these are mandatory. The only attribute the basic Fudge rules assume is Damage Capacity, and even that is optional see Damage Capacity.

Here is a partial list of attributes in use by other games; select to your taste, or skip these altogether:

Body: Agility, Aim, Appearance, Balance, Brawn, Build, Constitution, Coordination, Deftness, Dexterity, Endurance, Fatigue, Fitness, Health, Hit Points, Manual Dexterity, Muscle, Nimbleness, Quickness, Physical, Reflexes, Size, Smell, Speed, Stamina, Strength, Wound Resistance, Zip, and so on.

Mind: Cunning, Education, Intelligence, Knowledge, Learning, Mechanical, Memory, Mental, Mental Strength, Perception, Reasoning, Smarts, Technical, Wit, and so on.

Soul: Channeling, Charisma, Charm, Chutzpah, Common Sense, Coolness, Disposition, Drive, Ego, Empathy, Fate, Honor, Intuition, Luck, Magic Resistance, Magic Potential, Magical Ability, Power, Presence, Psyche, Sanity, Self Discipline, Social, Spiritual, Style, Will, Wisdom, and so on, and so on.

Other: Rank, Status, Wealth.

Most games combine many of these attributes, while others treat some of them as gifts or even skills. In Fudge, if you wish, you can even split these attributes into smaller ones: Lifting Strength, Carrying Strength, Damage-dealing Strength, etc.

At this point, the GM decides how many attributes she deems necessary or she might leave it up to each player. (Commercial games range from one or two to over 20.) See Section 6.3, Character Examples, for some possibilities.

Skills

Skills are not related to attributes or their levels in Fudge. Players are encouraged to design their characters logically a character with a lot of Good physical skills should probably have better than average physical attributes, for example. On the other hand, Fudge allows a player to create someone like Groo the Wanderer*, who is very clumsy yet extremely skilled with his swords. (*GROO is a trademark of Sergio Aragones. If you don’t know Groo, go to a comic book store and check him out!) The GM should then decide what level of skill depth she wants. Are skills broad categories such as “Social skills,” or moderately broad abilities, such as “Inspire People, Parley, and Market Savvy,” or are they specific abilities such as “Barter, Seduce, Repartee, Persuade, Fast-Talk, Bully, Grovel, Carouse, Flatter, Bribe,” etc.?

Examples of Skill Depth:

Animal Skills Riding Riding Horses
Riding Camels
Riding Elephants
Driving Driving Oxen
Driving Mules & Horses
Driving Dogs
Care Grooming
Feeding
Breeding
Veterinary First Aid
Diagnosis
Medicine
Surgery

An attribute is, in some ways, a very broad skill group, and skills may be ignored altogether if desired.

Combat skills require special consideration. The broadest possible category is simply that: Combat Skills. A broad range breaks that down to Melee Weapons, Unarmed Combat, and Missile Weapons. A somewhat narrower approach would break down Melee Weapons into Close Combat Melee Weapons (knives, blackjacks, etc.), One-handed Melee Weapons (one-handed swords, axes, maces, etc.) and Two-handed Melee Weapons (polearms, spears, battle-axes, two-handed swords, etc.).

Or, for a precise list of skills, each group in parentheses could be listed as a separate skill; a character skilled at using a broadsword knows nothing about using a saber, for example.

Each choice has its merits. Broad skill groups that include many sub-skills make for an easy character sheet and fairly competent characters, while specific skills allow fine-tuning a character to a precise degree.

See Section 6.3, Character Examples, for an idea of how broadly or finely skills can be defined in a game.

Gifts

A gift is a positive trait that doesn’t seem to fit the Terrible. . . Fair. . . Superb scale that attributes and skills fall into. However, this will vary from GM to GM: a photographic memory is a gift to one GM, while it is a Superb Memory attribute to another. Some GMs will define Charisma as an attribute, while others define it as a gift. To one Gamemaster, a character either has Night Vision or he doesn’t; another will allow characters to take different levels of it. A Gamemaster may not even have gifts in her game at all.

Alternatively, gifts can come in levels, but the levels don’t necessarily coincide with the levels used by other traits. For example, Status might be three- or four-tiered, or even nine-tiered instead of fitting into the seven levels of attributes and skills. Wealth might come only in five different levels whatever each GM desires.

Supernormal powers, such as the ability to cast magic spells, fly, read minds, etc., are technically powerful gifts, but are handled separately. Likewise, traits above the human norm, such as a super strong fantasy or alien race, are treated by definition as supernormal powers.

In general, if a gift isn’t written on the character sheet, the character doesn’t have it.

Some possible gifts include: Absolute Direction; Always keeps his cool; Ambidextrous; Animal Empathy; Attractive; Beautiful speaking voice; Bonus to one aspect of an attribute; Combat Reflexes; Contacts in police force; Danger Sense; Extraordinary Speed; Healthy Constitution; Keen senses; Literate; Lucky; Many people owe him favors; Never disoriented in zero Gravity; Never forgets a name/face/whatever; Night Vision; Patron; Perfect Timing; Peripheral Vision; Quick Reflexes; Rank; Rapid Healing; Reputation as Hero; Scale; Sense of empathy; Single-minded (+1 to any lengthy task); Status; Strong Will; Tolerant; Tough Hide (-1 to damage) Wealth; etc.

See also Section 6.3, Character Examples, for examples of different gifts. Many others are possible.

Faults

Faults are anything that makes life more difficult for a character. The primary faults are those that restrict a character’s actions or earn him a bad reaction from chance-met NPCs. Various attitudes, neuroses and phobias are faults; so are physical disabilities and social stigmas.

There are heroic faults, too: a code of honor and inability to tell a lie restrict your actions significantly, but are not signs of flawed personality.

Some sample faults: Absent-Minded; Addiction; Ambitious; Amorous heartbreaker; Bloodlust; Blunt and tactless; Bravery indistinguishable from foolhardiness; Can’t resist having the last word; Code of Ethics limits actions; Code of Honor; Compulsive Behavior; Coward; Curious; Finicky; Easily Distractible; Enemy; Fanatic patriot; Full of bluff and bluster and machismo; Garrulous; Getting old; Glutton; Goes Berserk if Wounded; Gossip; Greedy; Gullible; Humanitarian (helps the needy for no pay); Idealist (not grounded in reality); Indecisive; Intolerant; Jealous of Anyone Getting More Attention; Lazy; Loyal to Companions; Manic-Depressive; Melancholy; Multiple Personality; Must obey senior officers; Nosy; Obsession; Outlaw; Overconfident; Owes favors; Phobias; Poor; Practical Joker; Quick-Tempered; Quixotic; Self-defense Pacifist; Socially awkward; Softhearted; Stubborn; Quick to take offense; Unlucky; Vain; Violent when enraged; Vow; WorryWart; Zealous behavior; etc.

See also Section 6.3, Character Examples, for examples of different faults. Many others are possible.

Personality

A character’s personality may be represented by one or more traits, or it can be written out as character background or description.

As an example of the first case, courage is an attribute, a gift, or even a fault. As an attribute, Superb Courage or Terrible Courage has an obvious meaning. As a gift, obvious bravery gives the character a positive reaction from people he meets (assuming they see him being courageous, or have heard of his deeds, of course).

However, both Very Courageous and Very Cowardly can be faults because they can limit a character’s actions. A courageous character might not run away from a fight even if it were in his best interest, while a cowardly one would have a hard time staying in a fight even if he stood to gain by staying.

Or a character’s level of courage might not be a quantified trait at all, but something the player simply decides.

“Moose is very brave,” a player jots down, and that is that. It doesn’t have to count as a high attribute, gift, or fault.

A player should ask the GM how she wants to handle specific personality traits. If the player describes his character in detail, the GM can easily decide which personality traits are attributes, gifts, or faults. However they are handled, most characters benefit by having their personalities fleshed out.

Fudge Points

Fudge Points are meta-game gifts that may be used to buy “luck” during a game they let the players fudge a game result. These are “meta-game” gifts because they operate at the player-GM level, not character-character level. Not every GM will allow Fudge Points those who prefer realistic games should probably not use them.

The GM sets the starting number of Fudge Points. The recommended range is from one to five. Unused Fudge Points are saved up for the next gaming session. Each player may get an additional number each gaming session. (This is also set by the GM, and may or may not equal the starting level.) Alternately, the GM may simply allow Experience Points (EP) to be traded for Fudge Points at a rate appropriate for the campaign: 3 EP = 1 Fudge Point, down to 1 EP = 1 Fudge Point.

Fudge Points can be used in many ways, depending on what level on the realistic-legendary scale the game is played at. Here are some suggested ways to use them the GM can create her own uses, of course. A GM may allow as few or many of these options as she wishes the players should ask her before assuming they can do something with Fudge Points.

  1. Spending a Fudge Point may accomplish an Unopposed action automatically and with panache good for impressing members of the appropriate sex, and possibly avoiding injury in the case of dangerous actions. The GM may veto this use of Fudge Points for actions with a Difficulty Level of Beyond Superb. The GM may disallow this option for an Opposed action, such as combat.
  2. A player may spend one Fudge Point to alter a die roll one level, up or down as desired. The die roll can be either one the player makes, or one the GM makes that directly concerns the player’s character.
  3. A player may spend one Fudge Point to declare that wounds aren’t as bad as they first looked. This reduces the intensity of each wound by one or two levels (a Hurt result becomes a Scratch, for example, or even a Very Hurt becomes a Scratch). Or it can mean that any one wound (or more), regardless of level, is just a Scratch. This latter option may cost more than one Fudge point. The GM can restrict this to outside of combat time.
  4. A player may spend one (or more) Fudge Points to get an automatic +4 result, without having to roll the dice. This use is available in Opposed actions, if allowed.
  5. For appropriately legendary games, a GM-set number of Fudge Points can be spent to ensure a favorable coincidence. (This is always subject to GM veto, of course.) For example, if the PCs are in a maximum security prison, perhaps one of the guards turns out to be the cousin of one of the PCs and lets them escape! Or the captain of the fishing boat rescuing the PCs turns out to be someone who owes a favor to one of them, and is willing to take them out of his way to help them out? And so on. This option should cost a lot of Fudge Points, except in certain genres where bizarre coincidences are the norm.
Section 15: Copyright Notice

Psi-punk Copyright 2012, Accessible Games; Author Jacob Wood