What "and Bake for 15 Minutes" Fudge is, is a simple character creation and brief game play paradigm for Grey Ghost Press's Fudge RPG, possibly the finest of all the Indie-RPGs to grow out of the mid-90's. It has a quick, sensible, and different game play that requires (essentially) no charts and is easy to adapt, even made to be adaptable. It requires less than five minutes to explain the rules, so I figured a character creation system that was open-ended but structured enough to fit into about a ten minute time frame would be perfect. Hence the name.
The purpose of these rules is to have some structure, but mostly allow free character creation, and to have reasonable, sensible characters up within fifteen minutes of sitting down to play, including the time it might take to fill in new players on the rules.
There will be almost no description of the rules in this file, by the way. You will need to go to FudgeRPG.com and download the 1995 pdf edition. Its free. You can also pick up the hardcover edition. I have it. It is worth it. With that being said, the Fudge Ranks are the standard Ranks and any mention of Fudge Rolls are the standard rolls.
Now, all characters should have the standard things: names, occupations, goals, hair color, next-of-kin. You can fill these out now, or any time during the rest of this, or as you go along.
One "change" to the normal "Fudge" way of looking at things is I borrowed phrases from my oft-revised but never completed game Untold. Phrases are exactly what they seem to be. They are short sentences meant to convey information about the character. They are a combination of skills, attributes, advantages and flaws, all rolled into one. They can range along any topic, and can encompass a lot or a little, as needs be. Some example phrases (dealing with the same "skill") could be "Makes people's heads fall off with the aid of a gun" or "Target practices with his dad on the weekends" or "Worked as a sniper for the United States Army in his early 20's". All of these say roughly the same thing: this character can use a firearm. In a more traditional sense, it would be "Firearms" or "Pistols". In the phrase system, though, it conveys more than just the skill. It conveys how the skill is part of the character. As you might have guessed, the phrases will ideally make up a "paragraph" that details who the character is and was and what the character might become.
This is the golden rule of phrases: Phrases should always be more than just about the game play mechanic.
In "15 minute" Fudge, characters are going to get from 5-8 "positive" phrases and 2-3 "negative". These can be any number of things. Generally speaking, the more positive you have, the more negative you should have, but there is not precise mechanic. Pretty much this whole version of character creation is open. A "positive" phrase is one that adds to your character, and is Fair and up. A "negative" phrase is one that pulls the character down, and is less than fair. You can assign any rank (within these limits) that you want, though nothing should be higher than Superb and nothing lesser than Terrible. The one catch is that your highest negative phrase must be as equally damaging as your highest positive phrase is helpful. This is sometimes a judgement call, but the GM will get the last say.
OPTIONAL: Depending on the campaign, the GM might want to reel it in a bit. There might be a limit on how many Superbs (or even Greats) that you can pick (in some campaigns, their might not be one Superb phrase). This will also apply to the other end of the spectrum.
OPTIONAL: Another change might be a sliding scale. Positive phrases might be between Mediocre and Great, for instance, instead of Fair and Superb. In this case, Negative phrases would be less than Mediocre, and Sub-Terrible 1 might be possible.
OPTIONAL: The GM picks the number of possible phrases for you, and then sets a limit such as "3 Good, 1 Great, 1 Fair" which are assigned as per the player's wishes to the character. This works also for negative phrases. This keeps the campaign focus tighter and might feel a little more balanced to most people.
Though used different from what is normally thought of as attributes, there are three attributes in "15 minute" Fudge: Brawn, Will, and Luck. These are "core" characteristics of your characters. They are only rolled when a general test is needed (say, a general "test of strength" or "test of health"). They are closer in use to what most games call Saving Throws, when the phrases are put aside and the key attributes of the character come out. You do not default back to the attributes in any standard roll. They are passive traits, not active ones.
You assign whatever value is appropriate to each of them. The same basic optional notions above apply (may be a limit of what you can pick or a certain preset number of Fudge Ranks) as well as one that is part of the role-playing process: the attributes should be reflective of the character's phrases. A character should not have an absence of physical phrases, and then a Brawn of Superb. A character with only one "mental" phrase should probably have a Will of around Good at best. This shoudl take into consideration both the actual phrases Rank and their number.
Play with any equipment/money system you feel is most appropriate, but here is a good rough guide for a simple way of keep track of it that you might use. Characters start with one Superb item (think special vehicle or smart house). Or, two Great items (think special weapons, not so special vehicle, or great computer system). This can be traded down to Four Good (normal weapons, beat up vehicle, standard computer), eight Fair (somewhat plain weapons, a bicycle, a small book collection) and so forth. Down to 64 Terrible items (which would be a collection of pet rocks and old socks). Assume a couple sets of clothes, some basic food. Fill in the rest. You can split it up. It can be one Good, one Great and two Fair.
OPTIONAL: If you want, expand there to be four attributes and include Money as one of them. Money rolls would then be used to do checks on available purchases and the like.
Everything else about the game play should be Fudge standard. The only difference is that each and every Fudge Roll must be linked to one of the phrases, unless it is an attribute roll (and only if it is an attribute roll) or a roll against damage (which uses Brawn) or some other system roll. If the roll perfectly matches the phrase, then the value is set at the phrase rank. In those rare cases where the thing being checked seems to fit precisely into what the phrase had in mind better than anyone could have guessed (the man with "Snipe" above having to snipe, for instance) so that it is what the character is made for, a +1 Rank might be in line. If the the roll only partially fits the phrase, then apply a -1 Rank penalty. If the roll only vaguely fits the the roll, then it is at a -2. If there is no phrase that matches in the least, then "fudge" it and assign one to it and do it at a -3 or -4. There needs to be some logical connection, but it can be vague (the "Sniper" using his hand-eye coordination to cut hair, for instance). If a negative phrase is applicable, then factor it in. If the "Sniper" with his Great phrase also has a Poor "No head for heights" phrase and is trying to snipe from a rooftop, it might cancel each other out (assume Fair is a "0" and work from there) so that the "base" phrase is actually only Fair. This will include penalties from the phrase not matching. If, in some odd way, it came about the "Sniper" was trying to cut hair on a rooftop, it would be -3 (making Great to Mediocre) and then another -2 for the negative phrase, making it Terrible as a base Rank.
Written by W Doug Bolden
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