Of Fudge & Fate

I don’t know if you have noticed lately, but Fate really seems to have taken off in the last year or two. It doesn’t particularly surprise me. Evil Hat has certainly done a good job of releasing interesting and complete products. That, combined with a good game has been enough to spread the system into more than a few different games. I’ve yet to see a Fate-based game that didn’t deliver or look fantastic, which is a heck of a lot more than I can say about the d20 system or Savage Worlds. That isn’t to say that there aren’t lots of great d20 and Savage Worlds games/settings, just that there are some stinkers.

What I have noticed is that people seem to have started equating Fate with Fudge. That’s understandable in a way, Fate did grow out of Fudge after all. Still, every time I see it happen it makes me a little sad. Fudge has been my go to RPG system for years now, and I think that it is a disservice to both Fate and Fudge to call them the same thing. They aren’t, not by a long shot. I should note here, before I continue, that I’m mostly talking about Fate 3.0 games. The 2.0 rules aren’t quite as removed from Fudge as the newer ones are.

Fudge is almost more of an RPG toolbox than an RPG. It has all the pieces that you need to make and run a game, but it has multiple pieces that fit in the same spots. There is no set list of attributes, skills, archetypes, or anything else. Fudge presents, almost gleefully, different approaches and methods to just about everything. Character creation, skills, powers, even health have more than one way of dealing with it. Really, the only thing that seems consistent in Fudge is The Ladder. It’s always been a game that wants you to make it up as you go along. It’s designed for the purpose of mixing and matching to get what you need for any particular game night, setting, or campaign.

Fate isn’t quite so fluid. It’s refined. Everything has a purpose and that purpose is to drive character development and plot. It has an intensity and focus that is admirable. Everything about it is designed to make your characters and game be as solid and engaging as possible. If it has any faults it’s that actually wrapping your head around it all can be frustrating at first. It all works well. The Fate games that I have played have created detailed and interesting characters and the focus on dynamic characters is just really fun. There is a certain group of players that want a game that has a focus this kind of focus and narrative direction. It’s what has made Fate so successful. It’s also what makes a game of Fate so strikingly different from Fudge.

Fudge, out of the box, plays much closer to what I’d call traditional role playing. The make it up as you go attitude spawned rules that let players just create and go with it. Along with The Ladder, devil may care attitude, and community involvement it was actually a pretty exciting game back in the 90’s. It’s very much a game that bridges between the new school and the old school. That’s assuming you don’t twist and change it to suit your purposes, because over the years a lot of alternate options have spawned through the mailing list, forums, and game tables.

Don’t think the Fate games are the only ones out there with a little Fudge in their blood. Terra Incognita, The Collectors, Now Playing, and even HeartQuest contribute to the Fudge ecosystem and each of them are interesting and unique games in their own right.

Fate branched away from Fudge quite some time ago and became something new and unique. It became something focused and polished with specific goals and purpose. It’s a perfect example of the new school RPG. Give Fudge a try and see how different the two games actually are. Spend a night and just fudge it.

[tags]fudge, fate, rpg, tabletop, role playing[/tags]

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