Fudging Blades: Swashbuckling Combat for Fudge!

Fudging Blades: Swashbuckling Combat for Fudge!
By Thijs Krijger and Jay Shaffstall
  with the help of François Letarte.

Fudging Blades is meant as a complimentary article to  "One
for All, and All for Fudge!".  Flashing blades and swinging
from chandeliers is what Fudging Blades is about. The combat
system presented below was derived from the Bloody Idiots'
Heroic Combat system for D6L (available at
http://www.astro.uu.nl/~krijger/BI/FB/d6l-combat.html),  and
is intended to allow for cinematic swashbuckling duels.
This system does not attempt to model realism, but to
capture  the flavor of the back and forth action of a duel.
The majority  of the description of what is happening is up
to the players themselves.

The simplest form of combat is the two-person duel.  Each
person uses their respective skill for their primary weapon.
Certain combinations of weapons will assess penalties (see
Weapon Penalties, below). 

Both characters roll versus their skills.  One of the
characters will no doubt end up with a higher result than the
other.  If both characters end up with the same result, the
round of combat is inconclusive.  The character with the
higher roll calculates the difference between the rolls:

     +1: +1 next round
     +2: +2 next round
     +3: +3 next round, or 1 point of damage  (scratch)
     +4: +4 next round, or 2 points of damage (scratch)
     +5: +5 next round, or 3 points of damage (hurt)
     +6: +6 next round, or 4 points of damage (hurt)
     +7: +7 next round, or 5 points of damage (very hurt)
     +8: +8 next round, or 6 points of damage (very hurt)
     +9: +9 next round, or 7 points of damage (incapacitated)
    +10: etc etc

The results are either a bonus that can be applied to the
next round's combat roll, or damage that can be immediately
applied.  The attacker can choose whether to keep the bonus
for the next round or apply damage. Once damage has been
inflicted the bonus drops to 0 again. The progression in the
table continues above +9 by adding one to the bonus next
round and one to the points of damage done.

A duel may be ended by subduing the other person rather than
killing them.  The attacker must be able to do enough damage
to incapacitate (normally 7 points), but choose to subdue
instead.  The victim takes half the damage as real damage
(ending up with a hurt box checked), and is rendered
unconscious or unable to continue to fight (player's choice).

An attacker may choose to give up a +1 bonus to force their
opponent back by one meter.  A person being attacked may
choose to retreat by two meter to reduce their opponent's
bonus by 1.  If a defender is not willing to retreat one
meter, then a special effect roll against strength is needed
to force them back against their will (say, by pushing them
over the balcony railing).
If a duel takes place in a large open space and the duellist keep
moving around the GM is suggested to start lowering Endurance
attributes due to exhaustion till one duellist collapses with
Terrible-1 Endurance.

Damage can be traded for a bonus to a special effect roll
against an appropriate attribute.  For example, a character
that gets a result of +6 could do 4 points of damage to their
opponent.  Or, they could trade those 4 points for a +4 to a
dexterity roll to cut off both ends of the fellow's moustache
with his saber (Normally done at -4 due very specific called
shot).  Disarming your opponent counts as a special effect
roll (normally done at -3).  Special effects rolls are
generally opposed rolls on dexterity or strength (depending
on the nature of the special effect).

A character that is losing may eliminate all his opponent's
stored bonus or damage inflicted by voluntarily losing a
weapon or shield that is in hand. A duelling weapon has a 1/3
chance of breaking when abused in such a way. Improvised
weapon automatically are destroyed (Remember the scenes in
the movies where the hero grabs the first object around in
order to defend himself and the object is then sliced in many
small pieces). Finding an appropriate improvised weapon
requires a Good Luck roll. Grabbing it requires winning a
combat round using Acrobatics instead of a weapon skill.
Unarmed characters can opt to use their Acrobatics skill to
avoid all damage but cannot inflict any themselves. Using the
Acrobatics skill aggressively incurs the weapons length
difference penalty.

A character may also eliminate all his opponent's stored
bonus or inflicted damage by dropping prone.  Being prone
will result in a -2 to their combat rolls until they can win
a dexterity roll (at -2) opposed by their opponent's
dexterity to regain their feet.  

Other options are available, subject to the permission of
the GM; for example, an all-out attack would get a character
a +1 to their roll, but if they lose or tie, their opponent
gets a +2 for figuring their total result.  Fighting
defensively would work just the opposite: a -1 to their
roll, but if they lose or tie, their opponent gets a -2 for
figuring their total result.

Multiple opponents

Combat with more than two opponents is handled with the same
system.  If the characters that are fighting together have
not trained to do so, then the group uses the combat skill
of the least skilled member of their team (they keep getting
in each others way).  If they have trained to fight
together, then the group uses the combat skill of the most
skilled member of the team.

The team with the higher numbers gets a +1 bonus to their
combat roll for every extra person they have.  For example,
a lone musketeer is fighting four ruffians.  The ruffians
get a +3.  Hopefully, the musketeer is quite skilled and the
ruffians are not trained well.

Damage applied to a group may be applied to any individual
opponent.  The GM may allow, in true swashbuckling tradition,
damage to be divided amongst multiple opponents as well.

If a team has not been trained to fight together, then an
injury to one member of the group acts like an injury to the
entire group.  So if you hurt one member of a gang of
ruffians, the entire group gets a -1 to their combat roll.
The -1 will be removed if the hurt ruffian drops out of the

If a team has been trained to fight together, then the group
will continue to fight at the level of the most able among
them.  So if you are fighting two people who have Good skill
and one who has Great, and they are trained to fight
together, the group as a whole will fight at Great.  If you
then give the Great character a very hurt wound, the group
will switch to fighting at Good, as the other two pick up
the slack.

When a combat includes several PC's and several opponents,
try to break up the combat into several in which each PC has
one or more opponents.  Also, the group combat system
assumes that all combatants are more or less aware of all
opponents.  An opponent who appears in the combat late and
from behind the PC may be able to surprise the PC.

Surprise Attacks

When a character is surprised, the dueling system does not
apply until they have a chance to react.  The surprise
attack is performed by an unopposed roll, with the
difficulty assigned by the GM according to circumstances.
Damage done is the relative degree of success of the roll.

Assuming the victim of the surprise attack is still
conscious, the normal dueling system then takes over.

Weapon Penalties

This section is optional as it removes some of the speed of
Fudging Blades, but is historically correct.  Weapons will be
classified by length, as follows:

     Weapon              Length
     Cutlass             Normal
     Dagger              Short
     Rapier              Normal
     Foil                Normal
     Long sword          Normal
     Pole arms           Extra Long
     Saber               Normal
     Two Handed Sword    Long
     Unarmed             Extra Short

The lengths advance as follows: Extra Short, Short, Normal,
Long, Extra Long.

Any single step difference between weapon lengths penalizes
the character with the shorter weapon by -1.  The penalties
are cumulative, so a character whose main weapon is short
while his opponent's main weapon is long gets a -2.  This
assumes that the person with the longer weapon has room to
wield it.  In close quarters the longer weapon's advantage
may be negated (using a pole arm in a privy, for example).

If there are multiple opponents, weapon penalties only apply
if the majority of the opponents have longer weapons.

Secondary Weapons and Shields

A character using a second weapon (e.g. rapier and dagger)
must have the Second Weapon skill to obtain a bonus.  Using
a second weapon lowers the damage inflicted upon the user by
-1 . The skill of the primary weapon is normally  used for
the combat roll.

The level of the Second Weapon skill also modifies this
bonus (e.g. an expert at Second Weapons will get a total of
a -2 bonus).

The same rules go for shields (with the shield skill),
though by this period only the buckler is still (uncommon)
in use. Improvised secondary weapons/shields reduce damage
one point less.

Missile Weapons

Missile weapons include thrown knives, crossbows, bows,
pistols, etc.  To hit a stationary target, the character
makes a skill roll versus a Good difficulty.  To hit a
moving target, the character makes an opposed skill roll
versus the target's dexterity.  The attacker always has a
modifier based on range:

     Point Blank   Short    Medium    Long       Extreme
     +2            +1        0        -1         -2

Aimed shots to a specific part of a character's body are at
a -2 penalty.

Damage done is the difference between the target difficulty
and the rolled difficulty.  A GM desiring realism may give
certain missile weapons bonuses to damage.

Hit Locations

Hit locations are not used in Fudging Blade, however this
does not need to stop the GM from using her own system for
dramatic purposes.


In Fudging Blades armor is very abstract as most
swashbucklers tend to be unarmored. Armor modifies the amount
of inflicted damage but the extra encumbrance lowers the
combat skill. A leather buffcoat lowers damage by 2 and skill
by 1, a Cuirass breastplate damage by 4 and skill by 2 It's
possible to find 3/4 plate and lower damage by 6, but take a
-3 to skill. Items like helmets, gloves and/or boots might
give a +1 damage reduction bonus with GM permission. Wearing
armor for a long time is tiring and fighting in it even more.
After each 'long' fight the GM can lower the Endurance
attribute of the wearer by one level.

Use of Fudge Points in Fudging Blades

Besides the standard use of Fudge points, they can also be
used in the Fudging Blades rules. Here are some of the
suggested ways of using Fudge points.

     Spend one Fudge point to shrug off a single wound.  The
     wound is treated as one level less damaging (you must
     have a box available in the lower wound level).
     Characters can use this to stay in a duel where they
     are outmatched.

     Spend one Fudge point to eliminate an opponent's stored
     bonus in dueling.  Generally used to avoid voluntarily
     losing your weapon in the climactic duel.

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