Freeform, Universal, Do-it-yourself Gaming Engine
A Free Role-playing Game (RPG).
Copyright 1992, 1995 by Steffan O'Sullivan
Version: June, 1995

Table of Contents

2 Supernormal Powers

If your game doesn't have any supernormal powers, you don't need to read Chapter 2 at all. Genres such as modern espionage, WWII French resistance, gunslingers of the Old West, or swashbuckling Musketeers are frequently played without supernormal powers. Feel free to skip ahead directly to Chapter 3, Action Resolution.

However, those who play in games with non-human races, magic, psi, superpowers, etc., will need to read this chapter before character creation is complete.

2.1 Supernormal Power Terms

Supernormal power:
that which is beyond the capability of human beings as we know them. Supernormal powers are treated as powerful gifts. Some may have associated skills (which are taken separately, using the normal skill rules).
a supernormal power.
magical energy. Mana is an invisible substance that magicians can detect (or even create) and manipulate to alter matter, time and space.
the art of influencing events through manipulation of mana, or through compelling beings from another dimension, or channeling power from some other source. Magic may be studied by humans, but it is inherent in some races, such as natives of Faerie.
magic performed by a deity. Miracles are often subtle. Holy persons can attempt to work miracles by invoking their deity. Some religions call any non- or semi-material being greater than human a deity. Others believe there is only one Deity, and that these other beings are simply angels, demons, djinni, efriti, etc. In the former belief, magical results wrought by these superhuman beings are miracles; in the latter belief, they are not miracles, but merely a display of more psychic power than humans are capable of.
any power that involves mind over matter, time or space.
any supernormal power that is an inherent ability, whether because of mutation, exposure to radiation, a gift of space aliens, etc., or granted by a device, such as an alien-science belt. Examples of superpowers can be found in many comic books, and include super strength, the ability to fly, see through walls, cling to ceilings, become invisible, etc.
Cybernetic Enhancement:
any mechanical or electronic enhancement to a normal body that gives the character supernormal powers.
Non-human Races:
certain fantasy and science fiction races (actually species) have abilities beyond the human norm, such as being much stronger, or able to fly, etc. Most of these abilities could also be classified as Psi or Superpowers, so they are not treated separately, except for Mass and Strength. Androids and robots are considered races for rules purposes.
characters may have certain attributes that are well beyond the human norm, one way or the other, but that need to be related to the human norm. Prime examples include Strength, Mass, and Speed. Such attributes are rated in Scale. Human Scale is 0. A race (or individual) of greater than human average strength, for example, would be Scale 1 Strength or more, while a race of lesser average strength than humans would be Scale -1 Strength or less. Individuals can then be of Fair strength, or Good strength, etc., relative to those of their own Scale.
Genetic Enhancement:
a genetic enhancement may or may not give a character supernormal powers. If it does, then it must be treated like any other supernormal power listed above.

2.2 Powers at Character Creation

Supernormal powers may or may not be available in a given game. They are not appropriate to all genres.

The best way to design a supernormal character is through close discussion with the GM. A player should describe what he wants the character to be able to do, and the GM will decide if that's within the limits she has in mind for the game. If not, she'll make suggestions about how to change the character to fit her campaign.

Supernormal powers are treated as powerful gifts, with availability set by the GM. The GM may decide that each player can take two Powers for free, for example, or five, or more. The player may make a case for further Powers, but may need to take faults to balance them.

Some Powers are so effective that they are worth more than other Powers. In the Objective Character Creation system, the GM may set the cost of a certain supernormal power equal to two or three "average" supernormal powers. In some cases, the GM may veto player suggestions outright: omniscience and omnipotence are good examples!

The GM may decide that supernormal powers may be pooled with other traits for trading purposes. In this case, one average Power is worth two gifts. For example, a player who wishes to play a magician in a fantasy setting will need to trade some skill, attribute, or gift levels to buy magical Powers.

Undefined Powers have a default of non-existent - that is, they do not have a default value of Fair, like attributes, or Poor, like skills. If a supernormal power is not defined for a character, he doesn't have it.

2.21 Powers Available

The GM needs to design the type, number allowed, and drawbacks of Powers in her game. Some examples:

Types of Powers:
a given campaign may allow magic, psi, superpowers, etc., or some combination of the above. The GM also needs to decide how finely a supernormal power is subdivided. Is ESP a generic Power, or is it split into separate Powers such as Precognition and Clairvoyance? Is magic subdivided into spells, or groups of spells (such as elemental magic) or simply the ability to break the laws of nature in any way that can be imagined? And so on.
Number of Powers allowed:
the GM may set the number of Powers allowed per character. The number may range from one to 20 - or even more. Multiple Powers per character are especially likely in a fantasy campaign where individual spells are separate Powers.
Drawbacks of Powers:
in some campaigns, using a Power may bear a penalty of have some drawback. Typical drawbacks include mental or physical fatigue, lengthy time requirements, unreliable or uncontrollable results, and undesirable side effects (such as loud noises, bad smells, and the like). Some Powers will only work under certain conditions or with certain materials, or are limited to a certain number of uses per day - or month. Others may be risky to the character, affecting physical or mental health. The GM may allow drawbacks to count as faults: a number of them can offset the cost of a Power in the Objective Character Creation system.

2.22 Associated Skills

If a Power logically requires a skill to use it efficiently, the skill must be bought separately. For example, the superpower Flight allows a character to fly, and usually no skill roll is needed. But the ability to make intricate maneuvers in close combat without slamming into a wall requires a roll against a Flying skill. (The GM may ignore this and simply say that no roll is needed for any flying maneuver with a Flight Power.)

Another common skill is Throwing: hurling balls of fire or bolts of energy at a foe. Or the GM might rule that being able to aim and accurately release such energy comes with the power for free: no roll needed, it automatically hits the target every time unless the target makes a Good Dodge roll (see Chapter 4, Combat, Wounds & Healing).

This can be especially true with magic: the ability to cast spells at all may be a gift, but to do it right is a skill, or even many different skills.

2.23 Combat Powers

If a supernormal power can be used to attack a foe, the GM must determine the strength of the Power for damage purposes - preferably during character creation. An offensive Power is usually handled as a propelled weapon, such as a gun, or as being equivalent to a certain melee weapon. This can just be expressed in terms of damage, though, such as Ball of Fire, +6 damage, or large Claws, +3 damage. (See Section 4.54, Sample Wound Factors List.)

In the case of a magical or superhero attack, the more potent the attack, the greater the power required, or perhaps the greater the strain on the character who uses it. This can be a penalty to the skill level, greater fatigue, and/or some other disadvantage.

2.3 Non-humans

Some campaigns will have characters (or animals, monsters, etc.) with traits beyond the human norm. In particular, characters with Strength and Speed well above or below the human range are common in role- playing games. Examples include giants, superheroes, pixies, aliens, ogres, intelligent rabbits, robots, etc.

In FUDGE, Strength, Mass and Speed are rated by the GM in terms of Scale for different races. Most other traits that may be different for non-humans are handled with a Racial Bonus or Penalty rather than being on a different Scale - see Section 2.35. Of course, the GM may assign any trait she wishes in terms of Scale.

Humans are of Scale 0, unless some other race is the game-world norm. (E.g., if all the PCs are playing pixies or giants. In these cases, the PCs' race is Scale 0, and humans would be a different Scale.) Non-human races can have a positive or negative number for Scale, depending on whether they are stronger (or bigger or faster) or weaker (or smaller or slower) than humans.

2.31 Strength and Mass

The word Scale used alone always means Strength/Mass Scale in FUDGE - any other Scale, such as Speed, or Strength without Mass, will be defined as such.

Each level of Strength (from Terrible to Superb) is defined to be 1.5 times stronger than the previous level. A character with Good Strength is thus 1.5 times as strong as a character with Fair Strength. Note that this progression is not necessarily true for any other attribute. There is a wider range of strength in humans than dexterity, for example: Superb Dexterity is only about twice as good as Fair Dexterity.

Strength Scale increases in the same way: a Scale 1, Fair Strength individual is 1.5 times stronger than a Scale 0, Fair Strength individual. This holds for each increase in Scale: a Scale 10 Superb Strength creature is 1.5 times stronger than a Scale 9 Superb Strength creature, for example.

At this point, it is tempting to say that a Scale 1 Fair Strength is equal to a Scale 0 Good Strength. This is true for Strength, but not for Mass. Scale really measures Mass, or Density, and Strength just goes along for the ride.

In FUDGE, Mass has a specific meaning: how wounds affect a character. (This may or may not coincide with the scientific definition of Mass.) It takes more human-powered hits to weaken a giant than a human, for example. She may not really be a healthy giant, but her sheer bulk means that human-sized sword strokes don't do as much damage relative to her as they would to a human - unless they hit a vital spot, of course. Likewise, a pixie can be healthy and robust, but not survive a single kick from a human. The difference is Mass, and the strength related to it.

A Scale 1 Fair Strength fighter has an advantage over a Scale 0 Good Strength fighter, even though their Strengths are equal. The Scale 1 fighter is less affected by the other's damage due to his mass. Therefore, do not blithely equate Scale 0 Good with Scale 1 Fair.

Of course, the GM may envision a less massive but harder to kill race than humans. This is best handled by a Racial Bonus (Section 2.35), either as a Toughness Gift (Tough Hide, or Density - either one would subtract from damage), or by a bonus to Damage Capacity.

The GM may decide that increased Mass does not necessarily mean of greater size - the race may be of denser material. Dwarves in northern European legend were derived from stone, and are hence denser than humans. Such a dwarf hits harder and shrugs off damage easier than most humans: he is Scale 1, though shorter than a human. (Of course, the GM should define dwarves' attributes and Scale to her own requirements.)

Normally, Strength and Mass are handled by a single Scale figure. That is, if a creature is said to be Scale 7, that means Scale 7 Mass and Scale 7 Strength. Strength can vary within each race just as it can for humans. You can have Scale 10 Superb Strength Giants and Scale 10 Terrible Strength Giants. Unlike Strength, though, it is not recommended that Mass vary much within a race. If you do allow Mass to vary for an individual, it should never be worse than Mediocre or better than Good. In fact, it is far better to call Good Mass a Gift, and Mediocre Mass a fault than treat it as an attribute.

The GM may choose to separate Strength Scale from Mass Scale. This would allow Pixies of Strength Scale -6 and Mass Scale -4, for example. However, combat between two Pixies would not work the same as combat between two humans. In this case, they would have a harder time hurting each other than humans would, since their Strength Scale (ability to give out damage) is lower than their Mass Scale (ability to take damage). This may actually be what she wants: a super-strong superhero who can dish out punishment but can't take it can be represented by Strength Scale 10, Mass Scale 2, for example.

See also Section 4.58, Non-human Scale in Combat.

2.32 Speed

Each level of Speed (from Terrible to Superb) is defined to be 1.2 times faster than the previous level. A character with Good Speed is thus 1.2 times as fast as a character with Fair Speed. This is not the same progression as for Strength.

Speed Scale increases in the same manner: a Scale 1, Fair Speed individual is 1.2 times faster than a Scale 0, Fair Speed individual. This holds for each increase in Scale: a Scale 10 Superb Speed animal is 1.2 times faster than a Scale 9 Superb Speed animal, for example.

Speed is not a necessary attribute, of course, and can be ignored entirely if desired. It is included primarily for creatures and vehicles significantly faster than humans. For comparison purposes, assume a Fair Speed human can run at about 10 mph (16 kph) over some distance, provided they are in shape, of course. Sprinting short distance is somewhat faster. This comes to about 15 yards (meters) per three-second combat round.

In a short race, you don't really have to roll the dice to see if someone of Superb Speed can beat someone of Good Speed - he can, and will, much more often than rolling the dice would indicate.

The Speed Scale rises too slowly for comparing such things as race cars or space ships to human movement. In these cases, either use a rough human Scale, or simply set the average space ship at Space Ship Speed Scale 0, and rate others relative to it. Thus, the average race car will be roughly human Scale 12 - or you can simply call it Race Car Scale 0, and compare other race cars to it. A Space Ship might be Human Scale 100, or Space Ship Scale 0.

2.33 Scale Correlations

The Game Master should refer to the following table when assigning a Scale to a race. This only has to be done once, at race creation.

First, the GM should decide how much stronger (or weaker or faster, etc.) the average member of race X is compared to the average human. For example, she decides that Ogres are three times stronger than humans, and pixies are eight times weaker (which equals 0.12 times as strong). She then needs to look up the closest numbers to these strength multipliers on the table below, and look in the corresponding Scale column to find the correct racial Strength/Mass Scales. In this example, Ogres are Scale 3 creatures, while Pixies are Scale -6. (You may envision Ogres and Pixies differently, of course.)
-110.010.13 5 7.5 2.5
-100.020.16 6 10.0 3.0
-90.030.20 7 15.0 3.5
-80.040.23 8 25.0 4.0
-70.060.28 9 40.0 5.0
-60.100.3010 60.0 6.0
-50.150.4011 90.0 7.5
-40.200.5012 130.0 9.0
-30.300.6013 200.011.0
-20.500.7014 300.013.0
-10.700.8015 450.015.0
01.001.0016 650.018.0

The Strength/Mass Scale number is figured into damage in combat, and all weapons and armor are assumed to be of the same Scale as the wielder. (These numbers have been rounded to the nearest useful number. They are only roughly 1.5 times the previous number, but close enough for game purposes.)

The GM can also use this table to determine relative lifting strength or carrying capacity of characters or beasts if she wishes.

The GM may require a Strength roll to lift a given object. This will depend on the Scale of the character, of course. Thus, a leprechaun might need a Good Difficulty Level Strength roll to lift a rock that a human could lift without even a roll. (See Chapter 3, Action Resolution.)

2.34 Cost of Scale

If you are using the Objective Character Creation system, each step of increased Strength/Mass Scale for a player character should cost one attribute level and one gift. This is because each level of Scale includes +1 Strength and extra Mass, which is the equivalent of the Tough Hide gift. However, a generous GM may charge less.

In a superhero game, this gets very expensive, very quickly. An alternative method: let one supernormal power equal a certain Scale. For example, the GM allows one Power to equal Scale 4 (five times as strong as the average human). A character buys three Powers of super strength and has Scale 12 Strength. Another GM allows Scale 13 (200 times as strong as the average human) to equal one Power. Since a character with two Powers in super strength would have Scale 26 Strength (!), the GM decides to limit the amount of super strength available to one Power.

A character then raises or lowers his Strength attribute to show how he compares to the average super-strong superhero. Strength can then be raised to Scale 13 Good, for example, at the cost of one attribute level.

The GM may also allow separate Mass and Strength for superheroes (or even races). For example, the superhero mentioned in Section 2.31 with Strength Scale 10 and Mass Scale 2 would only have to pay for two gifts and ten attribute levels. Or, with a generous GM, a single supernormal power covers the entire cost.

Other supernormal powers may have levels. Examples include Telekinesis (increased power allows greater weight to be lifted), Telepathy (increased power equals greater range), Wind Control (increased power allows such things as a jet of wind, whirlwind, or tornado), etc.

In these cases, each level can be bought as a separate supernormal power, which is expensive. Or you could use the option given above for Scale: one supernormal power buys the supernormal ability at a middling power range, and a simple attribute (or even skill) level raises or lowers it from there.

For Scales below the human norm, each step of Mass Scale includes a fault equivalent to Easily Wounded, and the GM may allow this to be used to balance other traits like any other fault - see Section 1.64, Trading Traits.

2.35 Racial Bonuses and Penalties

There is rarely any need to use Scale for traits other than Strength, Mass and Speed. It's easy to imagine someone wanting to play a race that is slightly more intelligent than humans, but a race ten times smarter than the smartest human is so alien that it would be impossible to play. This is true for most traits - we just can't grasp such extreme differences from our world view.

Actually, there is a way to use intelligence in Scale: in a non- quantified manner. For example, when creating a dog character, you can list:

Since no one is able to quantify inter-species intelligence accurately, do not expect to use it comparatively. It gives an indication that, relative to other dogs, this dog has Great intelligence. The word "Scale" isn't necessary - "Great canine intelligence" works just as well.

The GM should usually use Racial Bonuses or Penalties for traits other than Strength, Mass and Speed. If the GM envisions halflings as being particularly hardy, she can give them a +1 bonus to Constitution: halfling Fair Constitution equals human Good Constitution. As another example, an alien race, Cludds, have a racial penalty of -1 to Intelligence.

It is best to use trait levels relative to humans on the character sheets, though you should put the racial-relative term in brackets. (Example: Grahkesh, Intelligence Poor [Cludd Fair].) However, always list Strength relative to the character's own race, with the Scale (if other than 0), so the Mass will be accurate. See the sample character, Brogo the Halfling (Section 6.311), for an example of both racial bonus and different Scale.

Racial bonuses and penalties can be used for any type of trait: attributes, skills, gifts, supernormal powers, or faults.

If using the Objective Character Creation system, each level of a Racial Bonus or Penalty is usually equal to one level of the specific trait raised or lowered normally. That is, if you are granting a +1 to Agility or +1 to Perception for a race, it should cost one attribute level. If a race has a bonus of a Perfect Sense of Direction, it should cost one gift. The innate ability to fly or cast magic spells should cost one supernormal power, etc.

If a race is at -1 to all Social skills, however, this should only be worth -1 skill level if you have a single skill called Social Skills. If you have many social individual social skills, it should be worth one fault. The converse is true for Bonuses that affect many skills: it should cost one or more gifts.

2.4 Legendary Heroes

Some genres allow human characters to develop beyond the realm of the humanly possible. Such campaigns eventually involve planes of existence beyond the mundane as the PCs require greater and greater challenges.

This style of gaming can be represented in FUDGE by Legendary Levels. Section 1.2, Levels, introduced the concept of Legendary traits as a goal for PCs to work toward. This section expands that concept infinitely.

If the GM and players prefer this type of gaming, any skill can be raised beyond Legendary. Instead of renaming each level, simply use a numbering system: Legendary 2nd Level Swordsman, Legendary 3rd Level Archer, etc. Attributes can also be raised, but (except for Strength) this is much rarer.

Each level of Legendary gives a +1 bonus to any action resolution. The character Hugh Quickfinger, for example, has a Longbow skill of Legendary 2nd Level. This gives him a total bonus of +5 (+3 for Superb, and +2 for two levels of Legendary). In any contest against a Fair Longbowman (+0), Hugh should easily triumph.

The Objective Character Development system, Section 5.2, lists suggested experience point costs for attaining these levels.

These levels do not automatically exist in any given game: these are strictly optional levels for specific, non-realistic genres.

2.5 Magic

If the Game Master wishes to include magic in the campaign, it may be easiest to translate whatever magic system she is familiar with into FUDGE. If she wishes to craft her own FUDGE magic rules, she should consider what she wants magic to be like in her game world.

Questions to ask include: What is the source of magic? Is it a natural process, such as mana manipulation? If it does use mana, does the mage create the mana, or is inherent in a locale? Or does the mage summon other-world entities to do his bidding? Or must the mage find a source of Power and channel it to his own ends? Or is the source of magic something altogether different?

Can anyone learn to work magic, or is it an inherent talent (that is, does it require a supernormal power)? Are there levels of Power available, and what would having more levels mean? Is a skill also required? Of course, even if a magician must have a Power to cast spells, there may also be magic items that anyone can use - these are common in tales and legends.

If beings are summoned, are they evil, good, neutral, confused? How do they feel about being commanded to work for the magician? Can they adversely affect the magician if he fails a spell roll? If Power is being channeled from an external source, is that source in the physical plane or astral? Is it from a living being, or contained in an inanimate object as inert energy, like a piece of coal before going into a fire?

What is the process of using magic? Does it involve memorized spells? Physical components? Meditation? Complex and time-consuming ritual? How long does it take to cast a spell? Can a spell be read out of a book? Improvised on the spot?

How reliable is magic? Are there any drawbacks? Any societal attitudes toward magicians? Is it common knowledge that magicians exist, or are they a secret cabal, whose doings are only whispered about in ever-changing rumors?

Once these issues have been resolved, and the degree of magic in the game decided on, the magic system can be created using FUDGE mechanics. A sample magic system, FUDGE Magic, is included in Chapter 7, The Addenda.

2.6 Miracles

FUDGE assumes miracles are powered by a deity. Some miracles may happen at the deity's instigation (GM whim, or deus ex machina for plot purposes), and some may be petitioned by characters.

Miracles may take place in a startling fashion or in a mundane way. In fact, many people believe that miracles occur daily, but we don't notice them because they appear as simple coincidences. The stranger walking down the road who just happens to have the tools you need to fix your wagon might indeed be just a coincidence, or it may have been divinely arranged that he chanced by at that time. If the tools were simply to appear by themselves, or the wagon fix itself, there would be little doubt that a miracle had occurred. This is neither good nor bad - the GM can choose either method of granting miracles, and need not feel bound to be consistent.

The GM must decide whether miracles can occur in her world, and whether they can be called by character petition. If the latter, then she has to make many other decisions. Can any character petition a particular deity? Does it matter if the character is actually a member of a religious order? How important is the character's behavior - would a deity help a member of a particular religious order even if he had been acting against the deity's goals? How certain is the miracle to occur? How soon will it become manifest? How broad and how specific can requests be? Are any Ritual or Supplication skills needed to petition a deity, or can anyone simply breathe a prayer for help?

The answers will vary from GM to GM - no "generic" system of miracles is possible. A sample miracle system, FUDGE Miracles, is included in Chapter 7, The Addenda.

2.7 Psi

Again, it is probably easiest for the GM to translate whatever psionics rules she knows to FUDGE. As a simple system, each psionic ability can be a separate supernormal power. The ability to read minds, or foresee the future, or telekinetically move an object, etc., each cost one supernormal power (two gifts). Just how powerful the psionic ability is depends on the level of psi the GM wants for the game world. Someone who can telekinetically lift a battleship is obviously more powerful than someone who can't lift anything heavier than a roulette ball - though the latter may make more money with his power, if he's highly skilled!

If the game world has more than one level of power available, then a character must spend multiple free power levels to get the higher levels. See also Section 2.34, Cost of Scale.

In general, higher levels of Psi Powers equal greater range, or the ability to affect larger or more subjects at once, or access to a greater number of related skills (a low Telepathy Power lets you send your thoughts to another, for example, but greater Power lets you read minds, send painful waves of energy, sense emotions, and possibly even control others). A higher level might also let you use less fatigue or have a lower risk of burnout, take less time in concentration to use, or allow more uses per day, or be used in a broader range of conditions (a low ESP Power can only be accessed in a darkened room, for example, while a high Power level can be used at any time), and so on.

The GM may also require skills to use these powers. Having the psionic ability to use telekinesis just allows you to pick an object up with your mental powers, and move it crudely about. Fine manipulation, such as picking a pocket, requires a successful roll against a telekinetic skill.

A sample psi system, FUDGE Psi, is included in Chapter 7, The Addenda.

2.8 Superpowers

If the campaign allows superpowers similar to those found in comic books, there will probably be a wide variety of powers available. How many an individual character can have depends on the power level of the campaign. A common treatment of superheroes involves faults related to Powers, which makes more Powers available to the character. For example, a super hero is able to fly, but only while intangible. The accompanying fault lowers the cost of the Power to that of a gift.

There are far too many powers to list in FUDGE - browsing through a comic store's wares will give you a good idea of what's available. As with psionics, each power costs one of the free supernormal powers available, and some can be taken in different levels. Potent ones cost two or more of the "average" superpowers.

Super strength is treated as a separate scale - see Section 2.3, Non-humans. Other superpowers that come in levels are discussed in Section 2.34, Cost of Scale.

2.9 Cybernetics

Artificial limbs, organs, implants and neural connections to computers are common in some science fiction settings. If these grant powers beyond the human norm, they must be bought with supernormal power levels if using the Objective Character Creation system, or with the GM's approval in any case.

If an implant grants a bonus to an attribute, it should cost as much as the attribute bonus, which is not necessarily as much as a supernormal power. Since an artificial implant may occasionally fail, however, the GM can give a slight cost break by also allowing a free skill level elsewhere on the character sheet.

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