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Combat, Wounds, and Healing

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 actions. 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 section, largely optional, is for players who prefer combat options spelled out in detail.

Melee combat and Ranged combat are treated separately.

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 be- come Scratches, Hurt, etc., as usual (see  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 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

Sheba, a human warrior, has just kicked McMurtree, a wee leprechaun. Sheba’s offensive damage factor = +1:

Fair Strength: +0

Unarmed Combat Skill, with thick boots: +1

Scale: +0 (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:

Light Leather Armor: +1

Fair Damage Capacity: +0

Scale: -4.

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 = 6 points. McMurtree’s player looks up 6 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.

Second example

McMurtree’s friend, Fionn, now swings his shillelagh (oak root club) at Sheba’s knee.

Fionn’s offensive damage factor is -1:

Good Strength: +1

Shillelagh: +2 (medium sized relative to Fionn, not sharp) Scale: -4

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. . . .

Third example

Wilbur, a human knight with a sword, is attacking a dragon. Wilbur’s offensive damage factor is a respectable +6:

Great Strength: +2

Two-handed sword: +4 (+3 for size, +1 for sharpness) Scale: +0

The dragon’s defensive damage factor is +8:

Fair Damage Capacity: +0

Tough hide: +2

Scale: +6

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 = 1 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 gets 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.

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.

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.

For example, if a fighter inflicts 4 points of damage, that is normally a Hurt result. If a +1 on 1dF is rolled, however, that can make the result +5 (if adding to the damage factor), which brings it up to Very Hurt result.

However, a -1 wouldn’t change the wound: it would lower the result to 3, which is still a Hurt result. But if the GM is using 1dF to alter the wound level, then a -1 changes the result to a Scratch, since that’s one wound level below Hurt.

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 2525time.

Example: the defender loses the combat round, but rolls his trait level exactly (die roll of 0): he adds one to his defensive damage factor. The attacker wins with a die roll of +3: his offensive damage factor is unchanged.

The final damage number is reduced by one the defender, although losing the round, managed to dodge left as the attacker thrust a bit to the right, perhaps. He may still be wounded, but he got his vital organs out of the way of the blow.

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 Determining Wound Level. Negative final damage is treated as zero damage.

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

1. If the calculated damage is positive, the damage roll cannot exceed the calculated damage. That is, if the calculated damage is +2, any damage roll of +3 or +4 is treated as +2, for a total of 4 points of damage.

2. If the calculated damage is positive, the final damage cannot be less than +1.

3. If the calculated damage is negative or zero, the final damage may be raised to a maximum of +1 by a damage roll.

First Example: The calculated damage is found to be -2 due to armor and Scale. It would take a +3 or +4 die roll to inflict a wound on the defender in this case, and then only 1 point of calculated damage: a Scratch.

Second Example: The calculated damage is +2 (a Scratch). A damage roll of +2 to +4 results in final damage of four points, since calculated damage cannot be more than doubled by a damage roll. A damage roll of +1 results in final damage of three points, while a damage roll of 0 results in two points of final damage. Any negative die roll results in one point of final damage, since a positive calculated damage cannot be reduced below one by a damage roll.

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.

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. A fencer can say he is going for a Scratch, for example. In this case, even if he wins the Opposed action by +8, and adds in +3 for his sword, the worst he can do is nick his foe. He was just trying for a Scratch but the Scratch is probably in the shape of the letter “Z” with such a result!

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  Recording Wounds:

Damage: 1-2 3-4 5-6 7-8 9+

Wounds: Scratch Hurt Very Incapacitated Near Hurt Death

The offensive and defensive damage factors listed in 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 Bonus Relative Degree Factor

<0 -1 –

0,1,2 0 2,3

3,4,5 +1 4,5

6+ +2 6+

A damage factor of 3, for example, has a die-reading bonus of +1, while a relative degree of 3 has a die-reading bonus of 0. The GM may charge a -2 penalty if the damage factor is well below zero (-5 or worse).

Since the graze rules are used unchanged with this system, there is no listing for relative degree less than 2.

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 zero means no damage is possible don’t even roll the dice. Otherwise, locate the total bonus on the following table:

Total Bonus 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 9, 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.

For example, a GM might say, “Whoa! You just hit him across the forehead as he backed into a bucket left by the hastily fleeing janitor. Nice shot he topples over onto his back. For damage, roll 3d6 and read the Max!”

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

Valorous Rachel is fighting the villainous Archie. Both are Scale 0, so Scale won’t be mentioned.


Quarterstaff: +2 Strength Fair: +0

Offensive damage factor: +2

Light Leather Armor: +1

Damage Capacity Good: +1

Defensive damage factor: +2


Greatsword: +4 Strength Great: +2

Offensive damage factor: +6

Heavy Leather Armor: +2

Damage Capacity Fair: +0

Defensive damage factor: +2

So Rachel’s damage factor is 2-2 = 0. She gets no bonus.

Archie’s damage factor is 6-2 = 4. He gets +1 bonus, according to the table above.

On the first round, Rachel wins by +2, whacking Archie across the ribs. Relative degree +2 doesn’t get any bonus (and she has none from her damage factor), so Rachel will read the Min. She rolls 3d6 and gets lucky:

a 3, 5, and 6. The Min is a 3: she Hurts Archie, who is now at -1 and checks off his Hurt box.

On the second round, Archie manages to win with a graze: +1 relative degree. Do not even calculate a bonus in this case use the graze rule unchanged from Grazing.

His damage factor is only 4, so he scores a Scratch on Rachel.

On the third round, Archie does very well: he wins by +4 as Rachel backs into a chair! He now gets two bonuses, one from his damage factor and one from his relative degree: he will read the Max die. But Archie’s karma is in serious need of overhaul: he rolls a 1, 2, and 3. Rachel is only Hurt, and the GM checks off the Hurt box.

Rachel all-out attacks in the following round, and with the +1 to hit she scores an awesome +6 over Archie! She gets two bonuses for such a high relative degree she’ll read the Max die and gets +1 to the die roll for all-out attacking. (Note that this is +1 to the die result, not a +1 to the die-reading bonus.) The GM rolls a 1, 4, 6. She reads the Max and adds 1 for a total of 7. Reading the wound table on the character sheet, she sees that this is Incapacitated, and declares that Rachel’s staff just smashed across the bridge of Archie’s nose, probably doing serious damage, and at least knocking him out of this battle. . . .

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:

Damage: 1 2,3 4,5 6 7+

Wounds: Scratch Hurt Very Incapacitated Near Hurt Death

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

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 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 to convert a deadly wound to a merely serious one.

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.

Combat and Wounding Example

This example uses the numerical offensive and defensive factors in Section 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.


Sword skill: Great

No shield Strength: Good (+1) Weapon: Magic Sword (+2 for size, +1 for Sharp, +1 for Magic = +4) Offensive damage factor: +5 Damage Capacity: Good (+1) Armor: Heavy Leather (+2) Defensive damage factor: +3


Axe skill: Good

Shield: Medium (-1 to foe’s weapon skill) Strength: Great (+2) Weapon: Axe (+2 for size, +1 for Sharpness = +3) Offensive damage factor: (+5) Damage Capacity: Fair (+0) Armor: Heavy Leather (+2) Defensive damage factor: (+2) 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 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.

The GM is requiring damage rolls, so Snorri’s player rolls the dice: a -2 result, too bad. This brings the damage down to 3. Since Brynhild is an NPC, the GM looks at the wound chart on her character sheet, and finds 3: a Hurt Wound. The GM marks off the box under the word “Hurt,” and the next round is fought. Brynhild is now at -1 for the rest of the combat.

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.

Snorri rolls a 0 for damage, so the GM marks off a Scratch box on Brynhild’s character sheet.

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.

The GM requires a Good Perception roll from Brynhild in order to spot a situational advantage. Her Perception attribute is Great, so she easily makes it. She notices a drink on the floor, spilled earlier by a customer in full flight. Since she successfully defended that round, the GM rules she maneuvers Snorri into the slippery puddle for one round.

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.

Since she was doing an all-out attack, she gets a bonus of +1 to damage. This does affect a graze, so her normal Scratch result (for a graze) is increased to Hurt. She rolls a 0 on the damage roll, so Snorri is now Hurt: -1 until healed.

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. . . .


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. . . .

Example: a character with three wounds (two Hurt results and one Very Hurt) is healed with a roll of Good.

After the appropriate time, the two Hurt wounds will be fully healed, while the Very Hurt wound will now be a Hurt wound (and carries a -1 modifier as such).

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.