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4 Combat

Unless one participant is unaware of an attack or decides to ignore it, combat is an Opposed action in Mudge. The easiest way to handle combat is as a series of Opposed actions (Melee combat and Ranged combat are slightly different, and are treated separately). These rules are as simple and 'bare-bones' as I'm comfortable making them- my goal during combat is usually to get it over with quickly but enjoyably so the story can continue; these rules reflect that philosophy (though admittedly sometimes I just like to get in there and mix it up).

4.1 Combat Terms


Any combat that involves striking the opponent with a fist or hand-held weapon. Any attack from further away is a Ranged attack.

Combat Round

An arbitrary length of time set by the GM, usually around 3-6 seconds. Generally when each character involved has made an action, a given round is over.

Offensive Damage Factors (ODF)

Those variables which contribute to damaging an opponent: Strength (if using a Strength-driven weapon), Scale, weapon value, weapon technology, etc.

Defensive Damage Factors (DDF)

Those variables which contribute to reducing the severity of a received blow: Scale, Constitution, armor value, armor technology, etc.

Total Damage Factor (TDF)

The attacker's Offensive Damage Factor minus the defender's Defensive Damage Factor.

Final Damage

The formula(s) below are used to determine a successful attack's Final Damage:

(Damage Die + Attacker's Relative Degree) +
(Attacker's Strength + Strength Scale + Weapon Value) [this is the Attacker's ODF]
(Defender's Constitution + Mass Scale + Armor Value) [this is the Defender's DDF]

For Magic, Psi or similar attacks, this is modified to:

(Damage Die + Attacker's Relative Degree) +
(Attacker's Mana/Psyche + Mana/Psyche Scale + Power Value) [this is the Attacker's ODF]
(Defender's Willpower/Constitution + Mass Scale + Armor Value) [the Defender's DDF]

4.2 Melee Combat

Fudge gives three options for handling the pacing of melee combat: moving from story element to story element, using simultaneous combat rounds, or alternating combat turns. Mudge, however, uses only simultaneous combat rounds; all other sections have been removed.

4.21 Story Elements

Mudge does not, by default, use this combat system.

4.22 Simultaneous Combat Rounds

In simultaneous action rounds, all offensive and defensive maneuvers happen at the same time. This is realistic: few real combats consist of fighters taking turns whacking at each other.

The GM determines which traits the combatants should roll against, both for offense and defense. This may be the same trait (examples: Sword, Karate, or Staff for both offense and defense) or two different traits (examples: Gun, Fireball, or Psychic Blast for offense, Dodge for defense).

Each combatant makes an Opposed action roll with 4dF. On a relative degree of 0, the tie is broken by comparing each character's odd colored damage die (high roll wins). If there is still a tie, the combat round is a stand-off - the fighters either circled each other looking for an opening, or exchanged blows on each other's shields, etc. - nobody is hurt.

A minimum result of Poor is needed to hit a (roughly) equal-sized opponent. That is, a human needs to score a Poor blow (and still win the Opposed action) in order to hit another human. If both opponents roll worse than Poor, the round is a standoff (as above). In effect, this gives striking an equal-sized opponent a Difficulty Level of Poor.

If one opponent is significantly bigger than the other (at least of a different Mass Scale), the minimum result needed to hit the larger character is modified up one level for every two full levels of difference in the characters' Mass scale. This is only true if the Mass scale actually reflects a larger size, and not just denser, tougher flesh or thicker hide, etc.

Example 1: a human (Mass scale 0) needs at least a Poor result to hit another human (Mass scale 0). To hit a pixie (Mass scale 6), he would need at least a Good result (that is, Poor +3). The pixie, on the other hand, needs no minimum result- he will automatically hit if he wins the Opposed Action (since his minimum level needed relative to the human would be Terrible 2 [that is, Poor 3]).

Example 2: a human (Mass scale 0) fighting a stone giant (Mass scale 2) would only need a minimum result of Terrible to hit the giant; however, a human (Mass scale 0) fighting a human-sized stone golem (Mass scale 2) would still need a minimum Poor result. The golem is of a higher Mass scale, but this is indicative of its material, not its size- it is no easier to hit a human-sized stone golem than any other human-sized creature.

If the result is a relative degree other than 0, and the minimum level needed to score a hit is achieved or surpassed, the winner checks to see if he hit hard enough to damage the loser. In general, the better the hit (the greater the relative degree), the greater the likelihood of damage.

If one combatant is unable to fight in a given round (possibly because he's unaware of the attacker, or because of a critical result in the previous round - see Section 3.6, Critical Results), the combat may become an Unopposed Action for the active fighter, usually still with a Poor Difficulty Level. If a character can defend himself in some way, such as using a shield, it is still an Opposed Action, but the defending character cannot choose any Tactics except "normal" (see 4.32 Offensive/Defensive Tactics), and cannot hurt the other character even if he wins the combat round.

Combat often takes more than one combat round. Characters are not limited to combat each round - they may attempt to flee, negotiate, try a fancy acrobatic stunt, or any other appropriate action.

4.23 Alternating Combat Turns

Mudge does not, by default, use this combat system.

4.3 Melee Combat Options

4.31 Melee Modifiers

Some situations call for one side or the other's trait level (not the dice roll) to be modified. Here are some examples:

  1. A fighter who is Hurt is at 1 to all actions, one who is Very Hurt is at -2.
  2. If one fighter has a positional advantage over the other, there may be a penalty (-1 or -2) to the fighter in the worse position. Examples include bad footing, lower elevation, light in his eyes, kneeling, etc.
  3. A character on the ground suffers a 1 penalty to most actions
  4. Subtract the value of a shield from the opponent's weapon skill. A small shield has a value of +1 in melee combat only, while a medium shield has a value of +1 in melee combat and +1 to defense against ranged attacks (if the shield material is impervious to the weapon). A large shield (+2 in all combat) is cumbersome to lug around. The larger the shield carried, the more the GM should assess penalties for things such as acrobatic and other fancy maneuvers. Shields can also be used offensively to push an opponent back, for example, or knock someone over.
  5. Aiming at a specific small body part (such as an eye or hand) requires a higher minimum result and relative degree, but will have special effects if the attack is successful. See Section 4.35, Hit Location. If a character wins the Opposed Action but misses either minimum level by 1, he still hits the other combatant but not in the part aimed for (GM's determination of where the blow lands).
  6. Offensive or Defensive tactics (see below) may apply bonuses/penalties to trait levels

4.32 Offensive/Defensive Tactics

This rule allows more tactical flavor to combat at a small expense of complexity. It also allows for both combatants to be injured in the same combat round. Offensive or defensive stances can only be used during melee combat they have no effect on ranged combat of any kind.

Before each round, a fighter may choose to be in a normal posture, an offensive posture or a defensive posture. An offensive or defensive stance increases combat skill in one aspect of combat (offense or defense), and decreases the same skill by an equal amount for the other aspect of combat. The five stance options are:

Berserk +2 to Offense, -2 to Defense
Aggressive +1 to Offense, -1 to Defense
Normal Normal Offense and Defense
Cautious -1 to Offense, +1 to Defense
Defensive -2 to Offense, +2 to Defense

Each combat round, a player secretly chooses a combat stance by selecting two FUDGE dice and setting them to a result from +2 to -2, which represents the offensive modifier. (The defensive modifier paired with the offensive modifier is assumed). All combatants simultaneously reveal their choices. Each fighter then makes a single Opposed Action roll as normal. The result is applied to both offense and defense, however, and will thus have different results for offense and defense if anything other than a normal posture is chosen. The offensive rolled result of each fighter is then compared to the defensive rolled result of the other fighter.

For example, a fighter with Good sword skill chooses to be Aggressive, +1 to offense and -1 to defense, for a particular combat round: his offensive sword skill is Great this round, while his defensive sword skill is Fair. His opponent, a Great swordswoman, chooses Normal posture. The swordswoman rolls a -1: a Good result for both her offense and defense. The first fighter rolls a 0 result: his offensive rolled result is Great, his defense is Fair. His offense result of Great is compared with her Good defense: he wins by +1. However, her offense result of Good is simultaneously compared with his defense of Fair: she also wins the Opposed action by +1. Both sides check for damage, to see if they got through each other's armor - see Section 4.5, Wounds.

4.33 PCs vs. NPCs

If a PC is fighting an NPC the GM may treat combat as an Unopposed action by assuming the NPC will always get a result equal to her trait level; the NPC's trait becomes the difficulty level. In this case, the PC will have to tie the NPC's trait level to have a stand-off round, and beat the NPC's trait in order to inflict damage. This option stresses the player characters' abilities by disallowing fluke rolls by NPCs.

4.34 Multiple Combatants in Melee

When more than one opponent attacks a single fighter, they have, at least, a positional advantage. To reflect this, the lone fighter is at -1 to his skill for each additional foe beyond the first.

The lone fighter rolls once, and the result is compared with each of the opponents' rolled degrees, one after the other. The solo combatant has to defeat or tie all of the opponents in order to inflict a wound on one of them. If he beats all of his foes, he may hit the foe of his choice. If he ties his best opponent, he can only wound another whose result is at least two levels below his.

Example: Paco is facing three thugs, who have just rolled a Great, Good, and Mediocre result, respectively. Paco rolls a Great result, tying the best thug. He hits the thug who scored a Mediocre result (at least two levels below his result) and is not hit himself (he tied the best thug). The lone fighter takes multiple wounds in a single round if two or more enemies hit him. Usually, he can inflict damage on only one foe in any given round - his choice of those he bested.

A well-armored fighter facing weak opponents can simply concentrate on one foe and let the others try to get through his armor (that is, not defend himself at all against some of his attackers). In this case, the lone fighter can damage his chosen foe even if he is hit by other, ignored foes. This is historically accurate for knights wading through peasant levies, for example. There may or may not be a penalty for the lone fighter in this case (GM's discretion).

There's a limit to the number of foes that can simultaneously attack a single opponent. Six is about the maximum under ideal conditions (such as wolves, or spear-wielders), while only three or four can attack if using weapons or martial arts that require a lot of maneuvering space. If the lone fighter is in a doorway, only one or two fighters can reach him.

When multiple NPCs beset a lone PC, the GM may wish to use the option in Section 4.33, PCs vs. NPCs. This will save a lot of die rolling. Alternately, she may wish to roll only once for all the NPCs. The lone fighter is still at -1 per extra opponent. The GM rolls 2dF (or 4dF, if preferred), and applies the result to each NPC. For example, if the GM gets a +1 result, each attacker scores a +1.

Example: Three NPC pirates, complete with eye-patches, scars, earrings, sneers and generally bad attitudes, are attacking dashing PC hero Tucker. The pirates (whose names are Molly, Annie, and Maggie) are Fair, Good, and Mediocre, respectively, at combat skills. Tucker is a Superb swordsman, but is at -2 for having two extra fighters attacking him at once: his skill is Good for this combat. The GM wants to roll just once (applying the result to all three pirates) rather than rolling three times each combat round. Rolling 2dF, she gets a +1 on the first round. The pirates have just gotten Good, Great, and Fair results, respectively. If Tucker scores a Superb result, he could hit the pirate of his choice and remain unhit. On a Great result, Tucker would be unhit, and could land a blow on Maggie. On a Good result, he doesn't hit anyone, but Annie hits him. If Tucker rolls a Fair result, both Molly and Annie would hit him. The process is repeated each round.

4.35 Hit Location

A light blow to an eye is different from a light blow to an armored shoulder, or to a shield. Using a hit location system adds flavor to combat and the description of a character's equipment, wounds - and scars!

Before rolling to hit, an attacker can announce that he is aiming at a specific body location (because his opponent's armor doesn't protect a specific area, or to make an opponent drop his weapon, etc.). The minimum relative degrees and minimum rolled degrees needed to hit basic hit locations are summarized below- if the player wins the Opposed Action by the relative degree needed, and also ties or beats the rolled degree needed, then the location is hit and the wound is specific to that area.

If the attacker wins the combat round but misses the minimum relative degree or rolled degree by 1, the attack still hits but not in the location intended (GM determines where the blow landed, usually the torso); if the attacker wins the combat round but misses the minimum relative degree or rolled degree by more than 1, the attack misses completely.

The effects of hitting a specific body area in combat are left to the GM's description of the scene, based on the relative degree with which the attack succeeded, the effectiveness of the weapon, etc. The simple table below can also be used, if more structure is preferred.

An attack that wins the combat round by the exact relative degree needed makes the location Wounded; an attack that wins the combat round by more than the minimum relative degree needed makes the location Very Wounded.

A specific body part can be Unhurt (no game effect), Wounded or Very Wounded (damage effects noted on the table below). After battle is the time to decide if an Incapacitated body part can be healed, or is permanently Incapacitated.

Hit Location Minimum Rolled Degree Minimum Relative Degree Wounded Very Wounded
Arm/Hand Good +2 Fair Willpower/Constitution check or drop item, -1 to location's use regardless Good Willpower/Constitution check or drop item, -2 to use regardless
Leg/Foot Good +2 Fair Willpower/Constitution check or fall down, -1 to use regardless Good Willpower/Constitution check or fall down, -2 to use regardless
Groin Great +3 Character Hurt, Good Willpower/ Constitution check or Character is Very Hurt Character Very Hurt, Great Willpower/ Constitution check or Character is Incapacitated
Head Great +3 Character Hurt, Good Willpower/ Constitution check or Character is Very Hurt Character Very Hurt, Great Willpower/ Constitution check or Character is Incapacitated
Throat Superb +4 Character Very Hurt, Good Willpower/ Constitution check or Character is Incapacitated Character Incapacitated, Great Willpower/ Constitution check or Character is Near Death
Eyes Superb +4 Character Very Hurt, Good Willpower/ Constitution check or Character is Incapacitated Character Incapacitated, Great Willpower/ Constitution check or Character is Near Death

- for Willpower/Constitution checks, use the lower of the two attributes
- a character who is on the ground is at -1 to most skills
- these damage effects are only guidelines- the GM and the details of the scene will determine what actually occurs

Species other than humans may have a different list of body parts to hit, and/or different difficulty modifiers.

Example: Tucker, the Superb swordsman from the example above, finds himself once again in combat with Annie, the pirate with the Good sword skill. Tucker adopts a neutral stance, but Annie is being Aggressive, giving her a Great offense this round and a Fair defense. Before rolling, Tucker declares he is trying to slash Annie in the hand, so she will drop her sword- he needs to get a relative degree of at least +2 and a rolled degree of at least Good. Both characters roll 4dF: Tucker gets a +1, Annie gets a 0. Comparing the results,Tucker's offense of Superb +1 is compared with Annie's Fair defense: he wins by +4, and made an attack better than Good; simultaneously, Annie's offense of Great is compared to Tucker's Superb +1 defense: she misses. Since Tucker's relative degree is +4 and he only needed +2, he successfully struck Annie in the hand. He achieved more than the relative degree needed, so the GM decides that hand automatically drops anything it is holding and will be useless until healed.

4.36 Fancy Stuff

None of the optional rules in this section of the original Fudge are used in Mudge.

4.4 Ranged Combat

Ranged combat may or may not be an Opposed action.

If the target is unaware of the assault, the attacker makes an Unopposed action roll to see if he hits his target. The GM sets the Difficulty Level based on distance, lighting, cover, etc. Do not modify the attacker's skill for range, partial cover, or other circumstances - that's all included in the Difficulty Level. Equipment such as a laser sighting scope may modify the attacker's skill, though.

If the defender is aware of the attack it is an Opposed action: the attacker's ranged weapon skill against the defender's defensive trait. (A Difficulty Level for range, lighting, etc., is still set by the GM, and is the minimum rolled degree needed to hit.) A defensive roll should be made against a Dodge, Shield, or similar skill.

If the ranged weapon is thrown, there is no modifier to the defense roll. A propelled weapon, such as a bow, gun, or beam weapon, is much harder to avoid. In this case, reduce the defender's trait by -2. Obviously, the defender isn't trying to dodge a bullet, but dodging the presumed path of a bullet when an attacker points a gun at him.

Of course, the defender may decline to Dodge, but shoot back instead. In this case, the action is Unopposed - making the Difficulty Level is all that is needed to hit. Such actions are simultaneous.

Example: Nevada Slim and the El Paso Hombre are facing off in a showdown. Both are in the open, in the sunlight, so there's no lighting or cover difficulty. The range is obviously the same for both - the GM rules it's a Fair task to hit each other. Slim rolls a Poor result, and the Hombre a Mediocre result. The Hombre's bullet came closer to Nevada Slim than vice versa, but both missed since neither made the Difficulty Level.

Another Example: Will Scarlet is shooting a longbow from the greenwood at Dicken, the Sheriff's man, who has a crossbow. Dicken knows Will is there, because the man next to him just keeled over with an arrow through his chest. Dicken is in the open, in good light, so only range is of any concern to Will Scarlet: the GM says even a Mediocre shot will hit since they are fairly close. The range for Dicken to hit Will is of course the same, but Will is partially hidden behind a log (cover), and just inside the foliage, so the lighting makes it hard to see him clearly. The GM decrees Dicken needs a Good roll to hit Will. Dicken rolls a Fair result, missing Will. Will rolls a Mediocre result, which hits Dicken, even though it wasn't as good a shot as Dicken's.

In both examples, the fighters forfeited their Dodges in order to shoot simultaneously. Each combatant needed to make the appropriate Difficulty Level to hit. Under these conditions, it's possible for both combatants to succeed in the same combat round. Had Dicken's shot hit, Will and Dicken would have skewered each other.

Guns and similar weapons that do not rely on muscle power are rated for damage based on an abstract measure of their lethality (See Section 4.54 Wound Factors List).

This system does not try to be 'realistic'; rather, it attempts to keep the action moving with a quick and simple set of guidelines.

4.5 Wounds

Once an attack is determined to have been successful, how much damage it inflicts must be calculated. It is impossible to be 100% accurate when simulating damage to such an intricate mechanism as a living being. This is true even for detailed simulations - for an abstract role-playing game, it is hard to get close to reality at all.

Consequently, Mudge attempts to use a simple system that works and lets the story flow, rather than bogging down the game with unneeded complexity.

4.51 Wound Levels

Combat damage to a character can be described as being at one of seven stages of severity. The stages are:


No wounds at all. The character is not necessarily healthy - he may be sick, for example. But he doesn't have a combat wound that's recent enough or severe enough to be bothering him.

Just A Scratch

No real game effect, except to create tension. This may eventually lead to being Hurt if the character is hit again. The actual wound itself may be a graze, bruise, cut, abrasion, etc.


The character is wounded significantly, enough to slow him down: -1 to all traits which would logically be affected.

Very Hurt

The character is seriously hurt, possibly stumbling: -2 to all traits which would logically be affected.


The character is so badly wounded as to be incapable of any actions, except possibly dragging himself a few feet every now and then or gasping out an important message. A lenient GM can allow an Incapacitated character to perform such elaborate actions as opening a door or grabbing a gem . . .

Near Death

The character is not only unconscious, he'll die in less than an hour - maybe a lot less - without medical help. No one recovers from Near Death on their own unless very, very lucky.


He has no more use for his possessions, unless he belongs to a culture that believes he'll need them in the afterlife . . . Automatic Death: sometimes you don't have to roll the dice. Holding a knife to a helpless character's throat is a good example - no roll needed to kill such a character, but the killer's karma suffers.

4.52 Constitution

In Mudge, Constitution determines how wounds affect a character. The GM decides how to handle the differing abilities of humans to take damage. It really does vary, but how much is open to debate.

As an extreme example, take the death of the Russian monk Rasputin, the adviser to Czarina Alexandra, in 1916. He was fed enough cyanide to kill three normal people, but showed no signs of it. He was then shot in the chest and pronounced dead by a physician. A minute later he opened his eyes and attacked his assassins! They shot him twice more, including in the head, and beat him severely with a knuckle-duster. He was again pronounced dead, tied in curtains and ropes, and tossed into a river. When his body was retrieved three days later, it was found he had freed an arm from his bindings before finally dying of drowning! Clearly, the man could soak up damage well beyond most peoples' abilities. He is not unique, however: there are many cases in history of people being hard to kill.

4.53 Wound Factors

Mudge uses the Wound Factors list found in the next section by default.

4.54 Damage Factors List

Offensive Factors

For Character's Strength:

+3 Superb Strength 1 in 10,000 - extremely above average
+2 Great Strength 1 in 1,000 - very above average
+1 Good Strength 1 in 100 - above average
0 Fair Strength Average
-1 Mediocre Strength 1 in 100 - below average
-2 Poor Strength 1 in 1,000 - very below average
-3 Terrible Strength 1 in 10,000 - extremely below average

For Attacker's Scale:

Add the attacker's Strength Scale (see Section 4.58, Non-human Scale in Combat).

Note: the attacker's Strength Scale is relevant only for muscle-powered weapons and for those projectile weapons scaled to the attacker's size, such as miniature bazookas or giant-sized handguns. A superhero of Scale 10 using an ordinary pistol would not figure his Scale into the Offensive Damage Modifier.

Weapon Value

-1 Unarmed, no Martial Arts skill
0 Unarmed, with Martial Arts skill Judo, Boxing, Karate, etc.
+1 Small Weapon knife, brass knuckles, club, derringers, etc.
+2 Medium Weapon sword, axe, longbow, crossbow, most pistols, etc.
+3 Large Weapon polearm, trident, most rifles, some pistols, etc.
+4 Huge Weapon small ballista, some rifles, mortars, grenades, etc.

Gun: extra +2
High-tech Gun: extra +4
Automatic Fire: additional +1

Guns get an automatic +2 (so a small knife is +1, a small pistol is +3, the equivalent of a large trident); hi-tech guns (i.e., science fiction) get an automatic +4 (so a medium sword is +2, but a medium laser or gyroc pistol is +6, equivalent to 2 simultaneous hits from a large polearm).

Other weapon factors may also affect these classifications- for example, monomolecular weapons may give +1, so a medium monomolecular sword would be +3 instead of +2; exploding ammunition may give +1, so a medium gyroc pistol with APEX rounds would be +7 instead of +6.

The GM is the final arbiter of a weapon's ultimate classification. This information will normally be worked out and prerecorded on the character's sheet to minimize confusion during gameplay.


Use the above as guidelines for assigning a Power Value to new powers, i.e., do you want a fireball to be equivalent to a long bow (+2), or an assault rifle (+5)?

Note: the value of a shield may be subtracted from the opponent's skill - see Section 4.31, Melee Modifiers.

Defensive Factors

For Character's Constitution:

+3 Superb Constitution 1 in 10,000 - extremely above average
+2 Great Constitution 1 in 1,000 - very above average
+1 Good Constitution 1 in 100 - above average
0 Fair Constitution Average
-1 Mediocre Constitution 1 in 100 - below average
-2 Poor Constitution 1 in 1,000 - very below average
-3 Terrible Constitution 1 in 10,000 - extremely below average

Unlike the Attacker's Strength attribute, the Defender's Constitution attribute is almost always relevant against physical attacks, whether made with a club, sword, gun, grenade, etc.

For Defender's Mass Scale

Again, like the Defender's Constitution, if the Defender has a Mass Scale other than '0' (the default for normal humans) it is relevant against almost all physical attacks.

Armor Value

0 Ineffective/Unarmored (same as normal clothing)
+2 Somewhat Effective
+4 Effective
+6 Very Effective
+8 Impervious (the weapon has almost no chance of damaging)

Armor Value is not static- it changes depending on what type of weapon is being used against it. So a suit of field plate would be Very Effective against most melee weapons, Effective against most handguns, and Ineffective against anything larger (like an assault rifle). Polished Reflec armor is Very Effective, maybe even Impervious, against laser fire, but only Somewhat Effective against melee attacks. The GM is the final arbiter of armor's classification.

Note: For a thrown ranged weapon, there is no modifier to the defense roll. A propelled weapon, such as a bow, gun, or beam weapon, is much harder to avoid. In this case, the defender's trait is reduced by -2.

4.55 Determining Wound Level

A given blow will cause a certain level of wounding. To determine this level, use the below formula(s):

(Damage Die + Attacker's Relative Degree) +
(Attacker's Strength + Strength Scale + Weapon Value) - [this is the Attacker's ODF]
(Defender's Constitution + Mass Scale + Armor Value) [this is the Defender's DDF]

For Magic, Psi or similar attacks, this is modified to:

(Damage Die + Attacker's Relative Degree) +
(Attacker's Mana/Psyche + Mana/Psyche Scale + Power Value) - [this is the Attacker's ODF]
(Defender's Willpower/Constitution + Mass Scale + Armor Value) [the Defender's DDF]

A spell or psionic ability's Power Value refers to its damage factor; this is simply the equivalent of a weapon's Weapon Value, and is factored into the Total Damage.

Example, Leroy vs. Theodora:

Good Strength (+1)
Scale 0 (Strength)
Broadsword (medium, +2)
Offensive damage factors (ODF) = 1+0+2 = 3
Good Constitution (+1)
Scale 0 (Mass)
Scale mail armor (+4) [GM decides that against Theodora's poleaxe, scale mail is Effective]
Defensive damage factors (DDF) = 1+0+4 = 5.

Superb Strength (+3)
Scale 0 (Strength)
Poleaxe (large, +3)
Offensive damage factors (ODF) = 3+0+3 = 6
Fair Constitution (0)
Scale 0 (Mass)
Boiled leather armor (+2) [GM decides that against Leroy's sword, leather armor is Somewhat Effective]
Defensive damage factors (DDF) = 0+0+2 = 3.

Leroy's total damage factor (ODF-DDF) against Theodora is 3-3 = 0
Theodora's total damage factor (ODF-DDF) against Leroy is 6-5 = 1

Since Theodora's damage factor is larger, if she hits him, she'll do more damage to him than he would to her for an equally well-placed blow. Once these numbers are determined, jot them down so you don't have to refigure them each combat round.

Each character sheet will have a wound record track which looks like:

. 1,2 3,4 5,6 7,8 9+
Wounds: Scratch Hurt Very Hurt Incapacitated Near Death

The numbers above the wound levels represent the amount of damage needed in a single blow to inflict the wound listed under the number. For example, a blow of three or four points Hurts the character, while a blow of five or six points inflicts a Very Hurt wound.

Note that there is no number given for Dead. This is left up to the GM, and deliberately not included to prevent accidental PC death.

However, you can't simply use the total damage factor determined above - relative degree is also important, as is the result of the odd colored die (the 'damage die').

A relative degree of +1 is treated as a graze - see Section 4.56, Grazing.

Otherwise, simply add the relative degree and the damage die to the total damage factor; the result is a number that may or may not be positive. If it's 0 or less, no damage is scored.

If the number is positive, look up the result across the top of the wound levels, and figure the wound as described above. If Leroy hits Theodora with a relative degree of +2, he adds that to his TDF of 0 and the result of his 'damage die' (say +1) to produce a damage number of three. Looking down, we see that a result of five is a Hurt result. Theodora is Hurt, and at -1 until she is healed.

For more detail, see Section 4.7, Combat and Wounding Example.

4.56 Grazing

Any relative degree of +1 can do at most a GM-set Wound level (plus any Strength or Weapon Scale difference). It may do no damage at all, depending on the opponent's defensive factors: a fist hitting plate mail won't hurt the armored knight in the slightest - unless it's a giant's fist. The odd colored damage die is factored into final damage, even for a graze, but still can not exceed the graze's wound limit.

Graze Severity Table

TDF+Strength/Weapon Scale* Result
< 0 Undamaged
0 - 4 Scratch
5-8 Hurt
9 + Very Hurt

* Weapon Scale is only considered for non-muscle powered weapons

Example: Continuing to use Leroy and Theodora from the example above, let's say that Leroy has won the Opposed Action against Theodora, but only by a relative degree of +1. Because this is a graze, before calculating damage he must determine the maximum damage he can do, based on his TDF against Theodora (0) and his Strength Scale (0). This falls within '0-4', so the most damage he can inflict is a Scratch, even if the final damage is greater than 2. If, on the other hand, Leroy was a Titan with a Strength Scale of +8 instead of a human, this would raise his TDF + Strength Scale to the range of '5-8', allowing him to do as much as Hurt damage, even with a graze.

4.57 Recording Wounds

Once the final damage is determined, it is recorded on the wounded fighter's character sheet. Each individual wound is described as a Scratch, Hurt, Very Hurt, etc., as introduced in Section 4.51, Wound Levels.

Each character sheet should have a space for recording wounds that looks like:

. 1,2 3,4 5,6 7,8 9+
Wounds: Scratch Hurt (-1) Very Hurt (-2) Incapacitated Near Death
. O O O O O O O O

The numbers above the wound levels are discussed in Section 4.55, Determining Wound Level. The boxes below the wound levels represent how many of each wound type a fighter can take. When a wound is received, mark off the appropriate box.

Example: A character takes a Very Hurt result in the first round of combat. The character sheet would then look like:

. 1,2 3,4 5,6 7,8 9+
Wounds: Scratch Hurt (-1) Very Hurt (-2) Incapacitated Near Death
. O O O O O X O O

This character is at -2 to all skills since he's Very Hurt. If he then received a Hurt result, he would check it off like so:

. 1,2 3,4 5,6 7,8 9+
Wounds: Scratch Hurt (-1) Very Hurt (-2) Incapacitated Near Death
. O O O O X X O O

This character is still at -2 to all skills. The Hurt result is not cumulative with the Very Hurt result; only the penalty for the highest recorded wound level counts.

If there is no open box for a given wound result, the character takes the next highest wound for which there is an open box. If the character above, for example, takes two more Hurt results over the course of two rounds, after marking off his second Hurt box we see that there is no open box in either Hurt or Very Hurt, so we have to go to Incapacitated: the character is now incapacitated, and the sheet would look like:

. 1,2 3,4 5,6 7,8 9+
Wounds: Scratch Hurt (-1) Very Hurt (-2) Incapacitated Near Death
. O O O X X X H O

Note that an "H" is recorded under the Incapacitated label. The character is indeed Incapacitated - he can't fight any more - but for healing (and scarring) purposes, he has only received three Hurt wounds and one Very Hurt wound - never an Incapacitating wound in one blow. Since Incapacitating blows are harder to heal from, this is important.

As another example, a character that takes two Very Hurt results without taking any other hits is Incapacitated, since that is the next highest wound level. Note that three boxes are provided under Scratch. A Scratch wound will not make a fighter Hurt until he receives his fourth Scratch. There are also two Hurt boxes.

The wound progression above makes for a fairly realistic (though leaning towards cinematic) campaign.

For combat against minor NPCs, the GM may wish to use a simple three-stage system of Undamaged, Hurt, Out of the Battle. Simply make a mark under an NPC's name for Hurt, and cross out the name for Out of the Battle.

4.58 Non-Human Scale in Combat

The attacker's Strength Scale is added to his offensive damage factors (ODF), and the defender's Mass Scale is added to her defensive damage factors (DDF). If you have combat with beings weaker than humans, remember that adding a negative number is equivalent to subtraction.

The usual minimum rolled degree necessary to hit an opponent of the same size is Poor this is adjusted by one for every two full levels of Mass Scale difference between combatants, IF the Mass Scale actually indicates a difference in size and not just density. Hitting a larger creature is easier, hitting a smaller creature is more difficult.

For example, a Mass Scale 0 human trying to hit a Mass Scale 4 leprechaun would need a minimum result of Fair (i.e., Poor +2) in addition to winning the Opposed Action to inflict damage, but the leprechaun would only need a minimum result of Terrible (i.e., Poor 2) in addition to winning the Opposed Action. There are 4 full Mass Scale levels between the two fighters, so the modifier is +/- 2.

If, however, the Mass Scale 0 human is fighting a human-sized Iron Golem with a Mass Scale of +3, the minimum result needed to hit remains at Poor. The golem is still the same size as the human, even though it is made of denser material.

Armor and weapons affect the damage done normally, since they are scaled to the folks using them. Hits become Scratches, Hurt, etc., as usual - see Section 4.55, 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 Section 4.61, 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, for simplicity's sake it is assumed that each character's damage die roll is '0'.

First example:

Wilbur, a human knight with a sword, is attacking a dragon.

Wilbur's Offensive Damage Factor is a respectable +5:
Great Strength: +2
Two-handed sword: +3 (large sword)
Strength Scale: +0

The dragon's Defensive Damage Factor is +8:
Good Constitution: +1
Tough Hide: +1
Mass Scale: +6

Wilbur's damage factor against the dragon is therefore 5-8 = -3.

If Wilbur hits the dragon with a relative degree of +4, he does 4-3 = one 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.

Second example:

Sheba, a human warrior, has just kicked McMurtree, a wee leprechaun.

Sheba's Offensive Damage Factor is 0
Fair Strength: +0
Unarmed Combat Skill: +1
Strength 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.)

McMurtree's Defensive Damage Factor is -3:
Light Leather Armor: +1
Fair Constitution: +0
Mass 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 = six points. McMurtree's player looks up six 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.

Third 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)
Strength Scale: -4

Sheba's defensive damage factor is +2:
Heavy Leather Armor: +2
Mass 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 . . .

4.6 Wound Options

4.61 Damage Die Roll

When 4dF are rolled for the Opposed Actions of combat, it is assumed that three of the dice are of one color and one die is of another. This odd colored die is the damage die, and its result (+1, 0, or -1) is added once the total damage is calculated. If the calculated damage is positive the damage die can not reduce it below +1. This system has the advantage of not requiring a separate roll for damage (since all the dice are rolled together), but it does allow for a little variation in the severity of hits.

4.62 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 choose any combat stance other than normal, and is at -1 to all actions for one combat turn only. However, the Stun result stays on the character sheet: that is, additional Stun results, even if delivered more than one combat round after the first, can 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.) Hitting specific body parts can also lead to Incapacitation (see 4.35 Hit Location).

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 +6, and adds in +2 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!

4.63 Min-Mid-Max Die Roll

This system is not used in Mudge.

4.64 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.

Fortunately, Mudge uses the concept of Meta Points for a number of things, one of which is the ability to lower a wound by one level (see Section 1.36 Meta Points). If a PC is struck with a Near Death result, for example, he can spend 1 MP to lower that to Incapacitated; he could then spend another one to lower it further to Very Hurt, up to the allowable maximum of three levels/three points (per wound).

4.65 Technological Levels as Scale

Rather than assigning weapons and armor of differing technologies specific scales, all weapons and armor are simply designated somewhere on the spectrum found under Section 4.54 Wound Factors. While it is tempting to decide that all lasers, for example, are Tech Scale 2 weapons, and only Tech Scale 2 armor can defend against them, that seems likely to splinter out of hand. Better, I think, to place all weapons and armor on the same linear scale, and then allow the GM to determine whether a specific type of armor/shielding is effective against a specific weapon/attack, and, if so, just how effective.

4.7 Combat and Wounding Example

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 [medium], +2 [powerful magic] = +4)
Offensive damage factor (ODF): +5
Good Constitution (+1)
Armor: Light Leather (+2) [GM decides it is 'Somewhat Effective' against Brynhild's axe]
Defensive damage factor (DDF): +3


Axe skill: Good
Shield: Medium (-1 to foe's melee weapon skill)
Strength: Great (+2)
Weapon: Axe (+3 [large])
Offensive damage factor (ODF): (+5)
Fair Constitution (+0)
Armor: Light Leather (+2) [GM decides it is 'Somewhat Effective' against Snorri's sword]
Defensive damage factor (DDF): (+2)

Snorri's total damage factor (ODF - DDF) vs. Brynhild: 5-2 = +3
Brynhild's total damage factor (ODF - DDF) vs. Snorri: 5-3 = +2

Snorri's skill is reduced to Good for this combat by Brynhild's shield - see Section 4.31, Melee Modifiers.

In the first round, both fighters choose to remain in a normal stance: 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 total damage factor of +3 is added in, bringing the damage to +5. His damage die is a blank face, so the damage is not modified. Looking at the character sheet, a +5 result equals a Very Hurt wound. Brynhild chooses to spend his only Meta Point to lower this Very Hurt wound to a Hurt; he 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; his skill is no longer Good but Fair.

In the second 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. Snorri's TDF + Strength Scale = +3, so the maximum he can inflict (according to the Graze Severity Table in Section 4.56 Grazing) is a Scratch. He easily did at least 1 point of damage, so the GM marks off a Scratch box on Brynhild's sheet.

In the third round, Snorri decides to finish off the Hurt Brynhild by choosing an Aggressive attack (+1 to offense, -1 to defense). Brynhild had decided to spend this round in a Defensive stance (-2 to offense, +2 to defense); for this round, the two fighters are:

Snorri: offense = Good +1 = Great, defense = Good -1 = Fair
Brynhild:* offense = Fair -2 = Poor, defense = Fair +2 = Great

* Note that, because of being Hurt, Brynhild is now Fair, not Good (due to 1).

Snorri gets a '0' result on 4dF, Brynhild gets a '+1'. Comparing offenses and defenses, we find:

Snorri offense vs. Brynhild defense = Great vs. Great = tie, no hit (only if their damage dice also tied)
Brynhild offense vs. Snorri defense = Poor vs. Fair = -2 relative degree, no hit (not even close)

In the fourth round, Snorri chooses a Normal stance and now Brynhild, wounded, desperate, and sensing this may be her only chance, now tries a Berserk attack (+2 to offense, -2 to defense).

Snorri: offense = Good, defense = Good
Brynhild: offense = Fair +2 = Great, defense = Fair -2 = Poor

Snorri gets a '-1' result on 4dF, Brynhild gets a '+3'. Comparing offenses and defenses, we find:

Snorri offense vs. Brynhild defense = Fair vs. Good = -1, no hit scored
Brynhild offense vs. Snorri defense = Superb +2 vs. Fair = +5 relative degree, a solid hit

Brynhild landed a good blow, with a '0' on her damage die. Damage is calculated as:

Winner's TDF (+2) + damage die (0) + relative degree (+5) = +7 final damage

According to the wounding table, Snorri is now Incapacitated. He crumples to the floor, bleeding. The combat is interrupted at this point by the town guards, who had been alerted by the innkeeper's son. Snorri is bandaged and Brynhild is arrested; the magistrate will decide how to deal with the two troublemakers.

4.8 Healing

Wounds are healed through a medical skill, supernormal power, or high technology.

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, though they may linger for up to a few days.

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 still carries a -1 modifier as such).

Otherwise, wounds heal on their own at one wound level per week of rest. That is, after a week of rest, an Incapacitated character becomes Very Hurt, etc. The GM may also require a successful roll against the 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.

The difference between reality and fiction is that fiction has to make sense.
-- unknown