This chapter provides guidelines for determining whether or not a character succeeds at any attempted action. No rules system could cover every possible situation; it's foolish to try. Instead, Mudge attempts to provide a flexible, fast moving groundwork that allows the GM and the players to resolve any scene that might arise during a game. Mudge isn't about agonizing over whether or not a particular shot should get a +1 or +2 modifier; just pick one and get on with the scene!
In the previous chapters, traits were defined in terms of levels: Superb, Great, Good, etc. This chapter explains how those levels affect a character's chances of success at an action, whether fighting a giant or tracking down a clue. Sometimes a Fair result is sufficient to complete a task, and sometimes a Good or better result is needed. The better your skill, the better your chances of getting these higher results.
The default dice for playing Mudge are four Fudge dice (4dF), 3 of one color and 1 (called the 'damage die') of another. Fudge dice are six-sided dice with two sides marked +1, two sides marked -1, and two sides marked 0. The odd-colored die is rolled along with the other three, but is also used when determining damage (e.g., rolling all four dice gives a result of '+ + - +', with a + on the damage die. The total net result is +2, with a +1 result on the damage die). The different colors of the dice can also be used to break ties, as described below under 3.22 Dice Colors. Guidelines for using other types of dice instead of Fudge dice are given in the standard Fudge rules.
Some actions are Unopposed, as when a character is trying to perform an action that isn't influenced by anyone else or any conflicting forces. Examples include jumping a wide chasm, climbing a cliff, performing a chemistry experiment, etc. The player simply rolls the dice and reads the result.
This refers to how well a character does at a particular task. If someone is Good at Climbing in general, but the die-roll shows a Great result on a particular attempt, then the rolled degree is Great.
Many supernormal powers as well as missile weapons require some idea of what range two characters are at in any given moment. The basic ranges for Mudge are: Touch, Near, Far, Very Far, Several Miles, Dozens of Miles, Hundreds of Miles, Thousands of Miles, etc.
The GM will set a Difficulty Level whenever a character attempts either an Opposed or Unopposed Action. Often it will be Fair, but some tasks are easier or harder. Example: climbing an average vertical cliff face, even one with lots of handholds, is a fairly difficult obstacle (Fair Difficulty Level). For a more difficult cliff, the GM may set the Difficulty Level at Great ('it would take a great climber to get up that wall'): the player must make a rolled degree of Great or higher to climb the cliff successfully.
Actions are Opposed when other people (or animals, forces, etc.) may have an effect on the outcome of the action. In this case, each contestant rolls 4dF and the results are compared to determine the outcome. Examples: combat, seduction attempts, haggling, tug-of-war, etc.
This refers to how well a character did compared to another participant in an Opposed Action. Unlike a rolled degree, relative degree is expressed as a number of levels. For example, if a PC gets a rolled degree result of Good in a fight, and his NPC foe gets a rolled degree result of Mediocre, he beat her by two levels - the relative degree is +2 from his perspective, -2 from hers.
The GM may occasionally want a die roll that is not based on a character's trait, but on the overall situation or outside circumstances. This Situational roll is simply a normal Fudge die roll, but not based on any trait. That is, a result of 0 is a Fair result, +1 a Good result, -1 a Mediocre result, and so on. This is most commonly used with reaction rolls, but can be used elsewhere as needed. For example, the players ask the GM if there are any passersby on the street at the moment - they're worried about witnesses. The GM decides there are none if a Situational roll gives a Good or better result, and rolls the dice. (A close approximation to 50% is an even/odd result: an even result on 4dF occurs 50.6% of the time. Of course, 1d6 or a coin returns an exact 50% probability).
It is possible to achieve a level of rolled degree that is beyond Superb. Rolled degrees from Superb +1 to Superb +4 (and sometimes even higher) are possible. These levels are only reachable on rare occasions by human beings. No trait may be taken at (or raised to) a level beyond Superb (unless the GM is allowing a PC to be at Legendary, which is the same as Superb +1 - see Section 5.2, Objective Character Development). For example, the American baseball player Willie Mays was a Superb outfielder. His most famous catch, often shown on television, is a Superb +4 rolled degree. It isn't possible for a human to have that level of excellence as a routine skill level, however: even Willie was "just" a Superb outfielder, who could sometimes do even better. A GM may set a Difficulty Level beyond Superb for nearly impossible actions.
Likewise, there are rolled degrees from Terrible -1 down to Terrible -4. No Difficulty Level should be set this low, however: anything requiring a Terrible Difficulty Level or worse should be automatic for most characters - no roll needed.
There is no need to roll the dice when a character performs an action that is so easy as to be automatic. Likewise, an action so difficult that it has no chance to succeed requires no roll, either - it simply can't be done. Dice are used solely in the middle ground, where the outcome of an action is uncertain.
The GM is encouraged to keep die-rolling to a minimum. Do not make the players roll the dice when their characters do mundane things. There is no need to make a roll to see if someone can cook lunch properly, or pick an item from a shelf, or climb a ladder, etc. Don't even make them roll to climb a cliff unless it's a difficult cliff or the situation is stressful, such as a chase. (And possibly a Superb climber wouldn't need a roll for a difficult cliff. He should get up it automatically unless it's a very difficult cliff).
For any action the player character wishes to perform, the Game Master must determine which trait is tested. (This will be a skill, attribute, or supernormal power). The GM also determines the Difficulty Level - often Fair. (See also Section 3.5, Opposed Actions.)
Suggestions for running Mudge diceless can be found in Section 7.42 of the original Fudge rules.
4dF will give results from -4 to +4 quickly and easily, without intruding into role-playing or requiring complex math or a table. Fudge dice are six-sided dice with two sides marked +1, two sides marked -1, and two sides marked 0. They are commercially available from Grey Ghost Games - see the Legal Notice for their address.
You can make your own Fudge dice easily enough. Simply get four normal white d6s. Using a permanent marker, color two sides of each die green, two sides red, and leave the other two sides white. When the ink has dried, spray the dice lightly with clear matte finish to prevent the ink from staining your hands. You now have 4dF: the green sides = +1, the red sides = -1, and the white sides = 0. Or you can use different colored stickers- whichever way you find easiest to differentiate the three different results.
To use Fudge dice, simply roll four of them and total the amount. Since a +1 and a -1 cancel each other, remove a +1 and -1 from the table, and the remaining two dice are easy to read no matter what they are. (Example: if you roll +1, +1, 0, -1, remove the -1 and one of the +1s, as together they equal 0. The remaining two dice, +1 and 0, are easily added to +1.) If there is no opposing pair of +1 and -1 dice, remove any 0s and the remaining dice are again easy to read.
The result of a die roll is a number between -4 and +4. At the top of the character sheet, there should be a simple chart of the attribute levels, such as:
To determine the result of an action, simply put your finger on your trait level, then move it up (for plus results) or down (for minus results).
For example; Nathaniel, who has a Good Bow Skill, is shooting in an archery contest. The player rolls 4dF, using the procedure described above. If he rolls a 0, he gets a result equal to Nathaniel's skill: Good, in this case. If he rolls a +1, however, he gets a Great result, since Great is one level higher than his Good Archery skill. If he rolls a -3, unlucky Nathaniel has just made a Poor shot.
It is not always necessary to figure the exact rolled degree. If you only need to know whether or not a character succeeded at something, it is usually sufficient for the player simply to announce the appropriate trait level and the die roll result. The game goes much faster this way.
For example, a player wants his character, Captain Wallop of the Space Patrol, to fly between two asteroids that are fairly close together. The GM says this requires a Great Difficulty Level Piloting roll and asks the player to roll the dice. The player looks up Captain Wallop's Piloting skill, which is Great, and rolls a +2 result. He simply announces "Great +2" as the result. This answer is sufficient - the GM knows that Captain Wallop not only succeeded at the task, but didn't even come close to damaging his craft.
Of course, there are many times when you do want to know exactly how well the character did, even if it's not a matter of being close. If the character is composing a poem, for example, and his Poetry skill is Fair, you will want to figure out what "Fair+2" means: he just wrote a Great poem! There are many other instances where degrees of success are more important than merely knowing success/failure.
In Mudge, 4dF is assumed to be 3 dice of one color and 1 die of a different color. This odd-colored die, the 'damage die', serves two purposes.
First, in combat situations, the result of the odd-colored die is factored into damage, in effect modifying it by –1, 0, or +1. This adds a bit of variety to the damage rolls without requiring any extra dice rolling.
Second, if an Opposed Action results in a tie, the rolls of the odd-colored dice can break the tie (higher roll wins). If there is still a tie, the GM should just decide whether they both succeed or both fail, dependent on the context of the scene, or perhaps reroll the Action.
Example: two characters are in an Opposed Action, wrestling over a weapon they're both holding. Character A has a Good Strength, Character B has a Fair Strength- they both roll 4dF and compare results, as follows (the odd colored die is listed in brackets ):
Character A rolls: +, -, +,  = +1 = Great (Good Strength, +1)
Character B rolls: +, +, -, [+] = +2 = Great (Fair Strength, +1)
Both characters' final result is Great. To break the tie their odd colored dies are compared;
Character B wins, as his damage die (+) is higher than Character A's (blank).
Mudge uses four standard Fudge dice (4dF) by default, three of one color, one of a different color. Other dice options are given in the full Fudge rules.
The following table is provided so that players can better evaluate their chances of success.
Chance of achieving: 4dF
+4 or better
+3 or better
+2 or better
+1 or better
0 or better
-1 or better
-2 or better
-3 or better
-4 or better
Thus, if your trait is Fair, and the GM says you need a Good result or better to succeed, you need to roll +1 or better. You'll do this about two times out of five, on the average.
There may be modifiers for any given action, which can affect the odds referred to in the preceding section. Modifiers temporarily improve or reduce a character's traits.
Examples: Joe, Good with a sword, is Hurt (-1 to all actions). He is thus only Fair with his sword until he's healed. Jill has Mediocre Lockpicking skills, but an exceptionally fine set of lock picks gives her a Fair Lockpicking skill while she's using them.
If a character has a secondary trait that could contribute significantly to a task, the GM may allow a +1 bonus if the trait is Great or better.
Example: Verne is at the library, researching an obscure South American Indian ritual. He uses his Research skill of Good, but he also has a Great Anthropology skill. The GM decides this is significant enough to give Verne a Great Research skill for this occasion. If his Anthropology skill were Superb, the GM could simply let Verne use that instead of Research: you don't get to be Superb in Anthropology without having done a lot of research.
Other conditions may grant a +/-1 to any trait. In Mudge, +/-1 is a large modifier; +/- 2 is a huge modifier; +/-3 is the maximum that should be used except under the most extreme conditions.
3.4 Unopposed Actions
For each Unopposed action, the GM sets a Difficulty Level (Fair is the most common) and announces which trait should be rolled against. If no skill seems relevant, choose the most appropriate attribute. If there is a relevant skill, but the character is untrained in it (it's not listed on his character sheet), then use the default (Mediocre, Poor, Terrible, or none…see Section 1.32 Skills). If a Great or Superb attribute could logically help an untrained skill, the GM may set the default higher.
For example, a character wishes to palm some coins without being observed. The GM says to use Sleight of Hand skill, but the character is untrained in Sleight of Hand, which the GM feels to be a hard skill, default of Terrible. The player points out that the character's Dexterity attribute is Superb, so the GM decides to allow a default of Poor Sleight of Hand instead.
The player then rolls against the character's trait level, and tries to match or surpass the Difficulty Level set by the GM. In cases where there are degrees of success, the better the roll, the better the character did; the worse the roll, the worse the character did.
In setting the Difficulty Level of a task, the GM should remember that Poor is the default for most skills. The average trained climber can climb a Fair cliff most of the time, but the average untrained climber will usually get a Poor result. In the example in Section 3.2 (Nathaniel shooting at an archery target), if the target is large and close, even a mediocre archer could be expected to hit it: Mediocre Difficulty Level. If it were much smaller and farther away, perhaps only a great archer could expect to hit it regularly: Great Difficulty Level. And so on.
Example of setting Difficulty Level: Two PCs (Mickey and Arnold) and an NPC guide (Parri) come to a cliff the guide tells them they have to climb. The GM announces this is a difficult, but not impossible, cliff: a Good Difficulty Level roll is required to scale it with no delays or complications. Checking the character sheets, they find that Parri's Climbing skill is Great and Mickey's is Good. Arnold's character sheet doesn't list Climbing, so his skill level is at default: Poor. Parri and Mickey decide to climb it, then lower a rope for Arnold.
Parri rolls a +1 result: a rolled degree of Superb. She gets up the cliff without difficulty, and much more quickly than expected. Mickey rolls a -1, however, for a rolled degree of Fair. Since this is one level lower than the Difficulty Level, he's having problems. Had Mickey done Poorly or even Mediocre, he would perhaps have fallen - or not even been able to start. Since his rolled degree is only slightly below the Difficulty Level, though, the GM simply rules he is stuck half way up, and can't figure out how to go on. Parri ties a rope to a tree at the top of the cliff, and lowers it for Mickey. The GM says it is now Difficulty Level: Poor to climb the cliff with the rope in place, and Mickey makes this easily on another roll.
Arnold would also need a Poor rolled degree to climb the cliff with the rope, but since his skill is Poor, they decide not to risk it. Mickey and Parri have Arnold loop the rope under his arms, and pull him up as he grabs handholds along the way in case they slip. No roll is needed in this case, unless they are suddenly attacked when Arnold is only half way up the cliff . . .
(The whole situation was merely described as an example of setting Difficulty levels. In actual game play, the GM should describe the cliff, and ask the players how the characters intend to get up it. If they came up with the idea of Parri climbing the cliff and lowering a rope, no rolls would be needed at all - unless, possibly, time was a critical factor, or there were hidden difficulties the GM chose not to reveal because they couldn't have been perceived from the bottom of the cliff.)
Occasionally, the GM will roll in secret for the PC. There are times when even a failed roll would give the player knowledge he wouldn't otherwise have. These are usually information rolls. For example, if the GM asks the player to make a roll against Perception, and the player fails, the character doesn't notice anything out of the ordinary. But the player now knows that there is something out of the ordinary that his character didn't notice . . . far better for the GM to make the roll in secret, and only mention it on a successful result.
To resolve an Opposed action between two characters, each side rolls four dice (4dF) against the appropriate trait and announces the result. The traits rolled against are not necessarily the same.
For example, a seduction attempt would be rolled against a Seduction skill for the active participant and against Willpower for the resisting participant. There may be modifiers: someone with a vow of chastity might get a bonus of +2 to his Will, while someone with a Lecherous fault would have a penalty - or not even try to resist.
The Game Master compares the rolled degrees to determine a relative degree.
For example, Lisa is trying to flimflam Joe into thinking she's from the FBI and rolls a Great result. This is not automatic success, however. If Joe also rolls a Great result on his trait to avoid being flimflammed (Knowledge of Police Procedure, Intelligence, etc. - whatever the GM decides is appropriate), then the relative degree is 0: the status quo is maintained. In this case, Joe remains unconvinced that Lisa is legitimate. If Joe rolled a Superb result, Lisa's Great result would have actually earned her a relative degree of -1: Joe is not going to be fooled this encounter, and will probably even have a bad reaction to Lisa.
The Opposed action mechanism can be used to resolve almost any conflict between two characters. Are two people both grabbing the same item at the same time? This is an Opposed action based on a Dexterity attribute - the winner gets the item. Is one character trying to shove another one down? Roll Strength vs. Strength (or Wrestling skill) to see who goes down. Someone trying to hide from a search party? Perception attribute vs. Hide skill (or Camouflage, Stealth, etc.). Trying to out-drink a rival? Constitution vs. Constitution (or Drinking skill, Carousing, etc.). And so on.
Many Opposed actions have a minimum level needed for success, similar to the Difficulty Level assigned to an Unopposed Action. For example, an attempt to control a person's mind with a Telepathy skill might require at least a Fair result. If the telepath only gets a Mediocre result, it doesn't matter if the intended victim rolls a Poor resistance: the attempt fails. Most combat falls into this category - see Chapter 4.
For an example of Opposed actions involving more than two characters, see Section 4.34, Multiple Combatants in Melee.
Occasionally, an Opposed action can be handled as an Unopposed action. For example, when a PC is opposing an NPC have only the player roll, and simply let the NPC's trait level be the Difficulty Level. This method assumes the NPC will always roll a 0. This emphasizes the PCs' performance, and reduces the possibility of an NPC's lucky roll deciding the game.
As a slight variation on the above, the GM can roll 1dF or 2dF when rolling for an NPC in an Opposed action. This allows some variation in the NPC's ability, but still puts the emphasis on the PCs' actions.
See Section 3.22 Dice Colors above for methods to break ties.
This concept is taken from the Fudge Addenda, credited to Andy Skinner
In Mudge, a natural rolled result of +4 is a critical success - the character has done exceptionally well, and is allowed to roll another 4dF. Any positive result is added to the +4, any negative or 0 result is ignored. Likewise, a natural result of -4 is a critical failure, and the character has done as poorly as he possibly can in the given situation.
Note that achieving +/-4 with die modifiers does not count as a critical result, though the character has done exceptionally well or poorly.
A critical result in combat can mean many things: one fighter falls down, or drops his weapon, or is hurt extra badly, or is stunned for a round and can't even defend himself, or is temporarily blinded, or knocked out, etc. The GM should be creative, but not kill a character outright.