One for All, and All for Fudge!: Swashbuckling Adventures for Fudge

One for All, and All for Fudge!: Swashbuckling Adventures for Fudge

by Jay Shaffstall

Whether I was swinging from a rope tied to a tree branch or walking gingerly across the top of a swing set, I’ve always imagined myself being a swashbuckling Musketeer, foiling the villain’s plans and saving the King. When I was first introduced to roleplaying, I was happy enough being a warrior or a wizard or a thief, but in my heart I wanted to be a Musketeer. Over the years we’ve had many swashbuckling RPGs; now that my interest in rules heavy systems has waned, I tend more and more to recreating in Fudge those genres I love.

One for All, and All for Fudge! (hereafter, All for Fudge!) provides for a cinematic swashbuckling experience. Little attempt is made to adhere closely to reality. Rather, players can play Musketeers fighting twice their number of the Cardinal’s guards to get a retrieve a potentially embarrassing letter from a friend of the King’s. Or perhaps you’d rather play the Cardinal’s guards, intent on retrieving the letter so that it might be used against the King.

You need not stay within the Musketeers genre, either. Perhaps you’d rather play the unsuspecting double of a rural king, who is drawn into plots against the throne. All for Fudge! works equally well for a small group of ne’er-do-wells robbing noble’s houses in the heart of Paris as it does for a group of pirates plying their trade on the seven seas.

At the end of this article is a list of recommended books and movies that should give you more than enough adventure ideas for a swashbuckling campaign or two.

Character Attributes

The character attributes used in All for Fudge! are strength, dexterity, endurance, wit, charm, and luck.

Strength represents the physical strength of the character. This attribute is used for heavy lifting rolls, and impacts how much damage a character can take.

Dexterity tells us how quick and agile the character is. Dexterity figures into acrobatic moves and reflexes.

Endurance shows how hardy the character is. Endurance also impacts how much damage a character can take.

Wit tells us how intelligent and quick-witted the character is.

Charm represents the character’s ability to win friends and influence people. This is a combination of physical attractiveness and charisma, so it is entirely possible to have a good-looking character have a low charm.

Luck is the character’s ability to land on the hay wagon after being pushed off the roof. A luck roll can be used to help the character out of tight spots. While no sane person relies on luck, it can be quite useful.

Attributes can be assigned in any way the GM likes, whether objective or subjective. In general, beginning characters should have no attributes rated at either Superb or Great if you plan on playing a lengthy campaign.

GMs who want a quick start can simply start all attributes at Fair, and allow players two free levels to use in raising attributes. Trading between attributes is also possible (e.g. lowering one to Mediocre to raise another to Good). All attribute levels are subject to any GM limitations (e.g. none starting at Superb and only one at Great).

Wound Track

All for Fudge! starts with the standard Fudge wound track (3 scratches, 1 hurt, 1 very hurt, 1 incapacitated, and 1 near death). The character’s attributes, however, can modify their specific wound track, as follows (the generic Fudge character sheets have ample room for penciling in the additional boxes).

Strength can allow the character to withstand additional scratches. The following chart shows the bonus scratch boxes a character receives for strength. These bonuses are additive, so if a character has a superb strength, they receive two additional scratch boxes.

Terrible

Poor

Mediocre

Fair

Good

Great

Superb

-1

-1

0

0

0

+1

+1

Endurance allows the character to withstand additional hurts, as shown by the following chart.

Terrible

Poor

Mediocre

Fair

Good

Great

Superb

0

0

0

0

+1

+1

+1

Luck allows a character to sidestep that wound that would otherwise incapacitate them, by adding additional very hurt boxes.

Terrible

Poor

Mediocre

Fair

Good

Great

Superb

0

0

0

0

0

+1

+1

These tables can also be used to tell the number of additional boxes added when a character increases an attribute during the game. For example, advancing from Poor to Mediocre Strength would add one scratch box.

Healing Damage

Scratches heal at the end of a combat, assuming the characters take the time to perform basic first aid (this takes no roll, but does take time proportional to the number of scratches treated). A week of rest is needed to heal other damage one level. So a Hurt wound will heal in one week. A Very Hurt wound would, in one week, become a Hurt wound. This assumes characters are resting in an environment conducive to healing. The attendance of a physician during their healing will speed healing (a week will reduce a wound two levels).

Skills

Skills in All for Fudge! denote the ability to perform feats over and above the normal unskilled person. The skills are based on attributes, and an attribute roll is performed for any task attempted.

Skills may be chosen in any way the GM decides. GMs who want a quick start may allow players to choose any 5 skills at Normal level.

Skills will allow the character to perform tasks that are beyond the reach of unskilled persons. For example, a normal person would have little chance of walking a tight rope between two buildings, but a character with the acrobatics skill could attempt it.

Some tasks are considered unskilled tasks, and can be attempted by anyone regardless of what skills they have. The GM is the final arbiter of whether a task is unskilled or skilled. If a character attempts an unskilled task, but they have an appropriate skill, then they will receive a +1 bonus to the roll. An example would be dexterity roll to walk across a narrow log over a stream. The acrobatics skill would give a +1 to the roll.

Skills have three possible levels: Normal, Expert, and Master. Skills start at Normal level, and cannot increase beyond that at character creation without GM approval. The level of the skill determines the amount of bonus to a task that uses the skill. This bonus is in addition to the +1 for an unskilled task.

Normal

Expert

Master

+0

+1

+2

The following skill list may easily be supplemented by skills from other Fudge implementations if the GM allows. Since All for Fudge! skills are rather broad, be certain that an appropriate skill doesn’t already exist.

Acrobatics (dex) – The ability to perform acrobatic feats impossible for unskilled persons. The skill also provides a bonus to appropriate unskilled tasks such as balancing and climbing.

Artillery (luck) – The ability to work with 17th Century artillery. The artillery is gunpowder based, but not very accurate. Unskilled characters are more likely to blow themselves up than hit anything with artillery.

Banking (wit) – Knowledge of 17th Century banking. Required for certain jobs, such as clerk or moneylender. Will give a bonus to characters that must deal with moneylenders.

Bribery (wit) – Just how much should you bribe a palace guard to pass a message on to the King? A successful skill roll on bribery will help a character can determine which guards are most likely to be bribable and how much money is appropriate. A character without this skill must guess at both.

Bureaucracy (wit) – This character knows the quickest and easiest ways through red tape. This skill can also be used to quickly assess a pile of business paperwork for important information, or to identify which company uses what seals, etc. Characters without this skill are generally clueless, and will take much longer to perform the same tasks. Characters with this skill also get a bonus for detecting forgeries.

Carousing (end) – A character with the carousing skill is the one left standing and walking at the end of a night long party. Carousing gives a bonus to any skill rolls where drinking is a major component. For example, drinking someone under the table, getting a palace guard drunk to get information out of him, etc.

Chemistry (wit) – This skill represents state of the art knowledge of chemistry. State of the art in the 17th Century is still rather primitive, however. Characters with this skill can mix gunpowder, poisons, etc, as well as identify such substances, but are also just as likely to still believe in the transmutation of elements. Characters without this skill are unable to perform related tasks.

Disguise (wit) – This skill may be used to hide your own identity, or to make yourself look like another person. Hiding your own identity would be a Good task, while impersonating someone else would be a Superb task. An unskilled character may attempt to hide his or her identity in primitive ways, but a character with this skill will do a better job. Recognizing a disguise depends largely on how well known either the character or the person the character is impersonating is to the person looking.

Espionage (wit) – This skill covers all areas of 17th Century espionage. Coded messages, interrogating suspects, talking information out of unsuspecting civilians: these are all areas of expertise for someone with this skill. This skill also gives a bonus to seeing through a disguise or detecting forgeries.

Etiquette (charm) – A character with this skill can fit into high society without notice. A character without this skill will use the wrong fork during dinner, bow just a little bit too low to the royal banker, and generally behave like a country bumpkin. When trying to get information from a member of the nobility, this skill can give a bonus.

Forgery (wit) – This skill can be used to create fake documents or to alter existing documents. The difficulty depends on the task. Creating a fake royal pardon with no examples to work from would be a Legendary task. Altering one word in an existing royal pardon would be a Fair task. An unskilled person’s chance of detecting a forgery is Good, plus one difficulty level for every additional level the forger rolled. For example, a forger tries to alter a pardon to free his father. The difficulty is Fair, and he rolls a Great. Since the forger beat the difficulty by two levels, the chance of detecting the forgery by an unskilled person is Good plus two levels, or Superb. A character with the forgery skill gets a bonus for detecting forgeries.

Gambling (luck) – Characters with this skill know all the games of chance inside and out, and have spent plenty of time practicing. Anyone can gamble, but this skill provides a bonus to gambling rolls.

Haggling (wit) – Haggling is the process of bargaining to obtain a discount on goods or services. The difficulty depends on where the item is being bought. Marketplaces are open to haggling, and would be a Fair difficulty. High society jewelry shops are not as open, and would be a Great or more. Any character may haggle, but this skill gives a bonus. The amount of discount is 10%, plus 5% for each level made over the difficulty. For example, a character needs a Fair while haggling over the price of a rug his mistress just has to have. He rolls a Great, two levels above fair. The discount is 20%.

Heraldry (wit) – This character knows exactly what families sport what coat of arms, and what each symbol on the coat of arms means. This character is also up on the genealogies of the important families.

History (wit) – Characters with this skill know about European history, and can provide information on battles and events. They are also knowledgeable about contemporary events and literature.

Horsemanship (dex) – The ability to ride a horse with style. Any character may ride, but a character with this skill will be obviously at home on the back of a horse. They also know how to care for the horses and can tell if a stable boy is doing a good job or not. Horsemanship skill is needed to jump horses over obstacles. Fighting from a moving horse has a –2 penalty; the bonus for this skill can offset that penalty.

Languages (wit) – This skill must be taken for each foreign language the character would like to be able to speak. Characters automatically know their native language.

Law (wit) – This character knows the legal process, and can serve as his own advocate during a trial or hearing. This skill also provides knowledge of politics, and can be used to decipher legal documents, and provides a bonus for detecting forgeries to such documents.

Leadership (charm) – A character with this skill can lead and command others. This skill allows a character to attempt to take charge of a group, with the difficulty depending on many factors: whether the group has an existing leader, an existing purpose, etc.

Literacy (wit) – This skill must be take for each language the character would like to be able to read and write. The GM may allow some characters to be automatically literate in their native language, depending on their background.

Navigation (wit) – This skill represents the ability to find your way over great distances, on land or on sea, with some degree of accuracy. Unskilled characters must typically use guides such as roads, trails, or coastlines, or risk ending up off target.

Oratory (charm) – The ability to speak in front of large groups, and to speak well. This skill can be used to fast talk or persuade individuals and groups. This skill also provides a bonus to tasks that other skills make possible if they involve speaking. For example, a character with Law may be his own advocate. If the character also had Oratory, he would get a bonus to his Law roll. Other likely affected skills are Etiquette and Leadership.

Physician (wit) – A character with this skill has more than a passing knowledge of how to treat various physical problems. While first aid to recover scratches may be performed by anyone, a character with the physician skill may attempt to do more for a wounded character. A roll may be made for each wound a character took, with the difficulty depending on the severity of the wound. A successful roll reduces the wound by a single level. If there are no open wound boxes at the lower level, the wound does not heal.

Severity of Wound Difficulty of Roll

Hurt Good

Very Hurt Great

Incapacitated Superb

Near death Legendary

Powdermaster­ (wit) – Characters with this skill are able to work with primitive gunpowder explosives. Such devices are unreliable, and likely to go off early or not at all. Unskilled characters may just as well open a barrel of gunpowder and toss in a match.

Sailing (wit) – This skill covers all aspects of working a sailing ship, and is necessary to get such a ship to move in a desired direction. Unskilled characters are more likely to swamp the ship than to make forward progress. Various sailing related tasks might require rolls versus attributes other than wit. Note that a sailing captain would do well to also have Leadership and Navigation.

Second Weapon (dex) – This skill is for characters that would like to be able to fight with a second weapon. This skill is rarely used for rolls, but provides a bonus for using a suitable second weapon in combat. An example is using a dagger and a saber. Unskilled characters will not get a bonus for using a second weapon in combat. The exact bonus depends on the combat system used, so check with your GM to see if this skill will be useful.

Seduction (charm) – Characters with this skill know how to charm the opposite sex. This skill can provide a bonus on attempts to get information or persuade someone (or to simply find a companion for the evening).

Shield Use (dex) – This skill represents the ability to effectively use a shield in combat. Any character may use a shield in combat, but only characters with this skill get a bonus for it. Shields need not be armor designed for combat. Note that most fighting styles of the 17th Century do not teach shield use. Those who still practice the less refined fighting styles can learn this skill.

Sleight of Hand (dex) – The ability to perform small magic tricks, and to generally do things with your hands without other people noticing. Characters with this skill may use it to pick pockets or cut purses. The difficulty depends on what is being pilfered, how alert the target is, etc. Unskilled characters have no chance to pick pockets, and must rely on a blunt instrument and the element of surprise.

Stealth (dex) – This skill represents the ability to move silently, hide in cover, follow someone without them noticing, etc. Unskilled characters may attempt all these things, but skilled characters get a bonus.

Strategy (wit) – The ability to develop large scale plans, such as for a military campaign. While anyone can attempt this, the skill provides a bonus, and only characters with this skill can rise to high military rank.

Streetwise (wit) – The street society has its own rules and social mores. Characters with this skill are well acquainted with how street society works, and can locate people and information easier and quicker than unskilled characters.

Theology (wit) – A character with this skill has a detailed knowledge of 17th Century religion, and the workings of the Church. This skill is a requirement for those who want to become high-ranking members of the Church.

Tinker (dex) – This skill represents the ability to work with machines of all sizes. This skill can be used to repair them, to sabotage them, or to create them given enough time and materials. This skill may also be used to attempt to pick locks (unskilled characters must make do with a blunt instrument and a strength roll). This skill also provides a bonus for disarming traps.

Tracking (wit) – The ability to follow a trail or to hide your own trail. A character with this skill can attempt to tell how many people passed, what types of animals, etc. Characters without this skill may make a wit roll to spot the existence of a trail only if the trail is fairly obvious.

Combat Skills

As a swashbuckling GM, you have two options for combat skills, the cinematic option and the realistic option. You’ll pick an option for use in your campaign, as characters are created differently.

The cinematic option for combat skills creates characters that are heroic in their abilities. A cinematic character is likely to be a capable fighter with many weapons.

The realistic option for combat skills creates characters who will likely be excellent with only a couple of weapons.

Cinematic Combat Skills Option

Combat skills are treated just like non-combat skills. They are based on an attribute, and all uses of the skill are rolled versus the attribute, with an appropriate modifier for the level of the skill (Normal, Expert, Master). Combat skills count as one of the 10 skills allowed to new characters.

Unskilled persons may use any weapon. Skilled persons will gain a +1 with the weapon, in addition to any bonus for the level of the skill.

All combat skills include the knowledge of how to care for the weapons, and to discriminate between high quality and low quality weapons. Unskilled persons do not have this knowledge.

The following combat skills are available:

Archery (dex) – This skill covers all forms of bows and crossbows.

Brawling (end) – The fine art of bludgeoning your opponent into submission with whatever might be handy. A character with this skill gains a bonus to hand to hand combat, including combat with improvised weapons (chairs, bottles, etc) or shields (chairs, table tops, etc). Improvised weapons or shields may give a bonus to the combat roll, subject to the GM’s ruling.

Cutlass (str)

Dagger (dex)
Rapier
(dex)

Firearms (wit)

Foil (dex)

Longsword (str)

Polearms (str)

Saber (str)

Two Handed Sword (end)

Realistic Combat Skills Option

Combat skills are rated on the normal Terrible to Superb scale, and are not linked to attributes. The same skills are available as in the cinematic option. Unskilled characters default to Poor with a weapon.

New characters should be given 5 levels to use to raise combat skills above Poor.

Gifts

New characters can choose any one gift from the following list, plus any one gift from another Fudge implementation (subject to the GM’s approval).

Contact – The character knows someone who he can turn to when in need. The higher the contact is in society, the less often the character can turn to them.

Double – The character has a physical double. When taken as a gift, the double is well disposed to the character and will help the character. Note that the character will not know about his double immediately. The GM will bring the double into play.

Favor – The character is owed a favor by someone. The favor may be anything the character requests. Outrageous requests will certainly make the character an enemy. Once used, the favor cannot be used again (the gift is lost). This gift may be gained during play due to outstanding service.

Gentleman’s Lackey – The character has a personal servant who is loyal only to the character. Lackeys are generally unsuitable for skilled tasks, but can perform unskilled tasks needed by the character. Lackeys are not good in combat, but are usually overlooked.

Land – The character owns real estate! Land has benefits and obligations. Land provides an annual income, but also requires monthly maintenance. The maintenance of larger amounts of land may be more than the yearly income. The land comes with buildings, servants, etc. The GM must determine the size and other details about the holding.

Member of an Order – The character is part of a club. Gentleman’s clubs are social institutions, while Noble orders are military like societies devoted to a member of the royal family, and Royal orders are devoted to the King. Membership in an order provides a bonus to the member’s yearly income, and also comes with obligations to the order. The GM must provide details of the order and the character’s responsibilities within the order.

Renaissance Man – This character is a jack-of-all-trades, and can attempt skilled tasks without having the skill, at a –2 to the attribute roll. So a renaissance man could attempt to disarm a bomb, at a –2 to the roll. Whether he would want to or not is another question.

Title – The character is a member of the nobility and has inherited his father’s title. Titles provide a bonus to the character’s yearly income, and the character may move freely at court.

Wealth – The character has some extra source of money that provides additional income each year.

Faults

New characters must choose any one fault from the following list, plus any one fault from another Fudge implementation (subject to the GM’s approval).

Blackmailed – Someone knows about the skeletons in this character’s closet, and occasionally uses that information to control the character’s actions or extort money. If the character manages to kill the blackmailer, they must buy off this fault with Fudge points (failure to do so will result in the information having been leaked to someone else, who becomes a new blackmailer).

Code of Honor – A character with this fault is honorable, and will always fight overly fairly. This is the person who, after disarming his opponent, picks up the weapon and graciously hands it back to the villain.

Compulsive Gambler – This character will find it difficult to turn down a wager of any kind, and will not quit while he is ahead.

Don Juan – This character will find it difficult to resist attractive members of the opposite sex. This character may find himself defending women he doesn’t know or fighting duels to protect their possibly nonexistent virtue.

Double – The character has a physical double. When taken as a fault, the double is adversarial to the character and will try to hinder the character. Note that the character will not know about his double immediately. The GM will bring the double into play.

Duelist – This character will look for any opportunity for a fight, and is unlikely to look for more peaceful resolutions.

Religious Fanatic – This character is a member of the Roman Catholic Church, and any suggestion that church doctrine is wrong will be met with hostility. This character will not stand for any heathen practices.

Secret Identity – This character has an identity they assume for a certain reason. The player and the GM must agree on the identity and the reason. The secret identity should be known to nobody else, save for any gentleman’s lackeys the character might have.

Secret Loyalty – This character owes his loyalty to an NPC. The NPC may give the character orders or missions, but will also extend some protection to them.

Sworn Vengeance – The character has an enemy against whom he has sworn revenge. The character will ignore other tasks if it appears that he may be able to deal with his enemy. The player should tie this into the character’s history.

Character Goals

The swashbuckling genre is full of characters that often have complex lives. The musketeer may also be searching for the man who murdered his father, or for his mother’s diary (which would prove that his lands and title were stolen by the Cardinal). The sneak thief may be an ex-musketeer searching for evidence to clear his name.

Character goals allow you to work into your character’s background various tasks that the character would like to complete. These goals are less binding than faults; a character has no obligation to pursue these goals at every opportunity, although properly roleplaying the goal is desirable.

Character goals do have a benefit. Completion of a goal should be rewarded with Fudge points. The amount of points given will be up to the GM, and should be consistent with the degree of roleplaying done while pursuing the goal, and with the amount of effort required to complete the goal.

New characters may choose up to three character goals, if they wish. Additional character goals can be gained during play, in reaction to in-game events.

Cinematic Stunts

The swashbuckling genre is full of swinging on chandeliers and leaping from rooftop to rooftop. All for Fudge! allows such stunts by means of making attribute rolls.

For example, if a character is on a balcony overlooking a tavern’s common room, and wants to escape from the thugs coming up the balcony stairs, he could leap out, grab onto the chandelier, and swing to the door of the tavern. Such a stunt would probably only be of Good difficulty on a dexterity roll. The acrobatics skill would provide a bonus. If the character wanted to grab a mug of ale from the bar as he was swinging by, drink it as he dropped from the chandelier, and then use it to brain the thug standing guard by the door, he’d need to make a Great dexterity roll and a Great strength roll. Brawling would add to the strength roll.

All cinematic stunts can be handled through a series of attribute rolls modified by the appropriate skills. Note that the attribute rolled against need not be the base attribute for the skill. In the previous example, brawling skill added to the strength roll to knock the thug unconscious, even through brawling skill’s base attribute is normally endurance. In a knockdown brawl, endurance would be used. To knock out a surprised guard, strength would be used, but a good knowledge of brawling techniques would still help. As in all things Fudge, the GM is encouraged to fudge things to keep the game flowing.

Combat

This article describes character creation, and leaves combat up to the GM. However, for those who do not already have a favorite system of Fudge combat, here are a couple of pointers to suitable systems.

The Fudge fencing rules, available at http://www.io.com/~sos/rpg/fencefud.html, provide a system where players choose maneuvers for their characters. Different maneuvers have different benefits and drawbacks. GMs who desire a realistic fencing system should like these rules.

GMs who are running a more cinematic game may prefer the rules detailed in the complementary article, “Fudging Blades”. The combat system captures the feel of fencing without all the details.

Finally, GMs might elect to use the vanilla Fudge rules. Both combatants make a roll, loser takes damage equal to the relative levels between the two rolls.

When a combat system requires a skill roll, GMs who chose the cinematic option for combat skills will know to translate this into an attribute roll with appropriate bonuses for the level of combat skill. GMs who chose the realistic option for combat skills will simply use the level of the appropriate skill.

The effect of shield use or a secondary weapon will depend on the combat system. Your GM will let you know how it works.

Use of Fudge Points

Fudge points may be used during play to give the character an edge. Here are some of the suggested ways of using Fudge points.

Spend one or more Fudge points to automatically accomplish an unopposed action. The GM may not allow this usage for rolls that the GM is making for you.

Spend one Fudge point to add a +1 or –1 to any die roll for your character. This can be applied to rolls the GM makes for you, and may be applied to opposed rolls.

Spend one or more Fudge points to tweak the plot in minor ways (“My uncle just happens to own the tavern around the corner. He’ll hide us from the Cardinal’s Guards.”).

Spend one or more Fudge points to avoid roleplaying a fault one specific time. The GM will assess the number of Fudge points based on the severity of the avoidance.

Other possibilities exist. In general, Fudge points will be useful to help nudge things in favorable directions, but will not, by themselves, save a player from disaster.

Use of Fudge Points for Character Development

Fudge points may also be used to permanently increase attributes and skills. In general, only those attributes or skills successfully used may be increased at the end of an adventure (the GM, of course, may allow reasonable exceptions).

Raising an attribute or realistic combat skill costs:

Current Level New Level Fudge Points

Terrible Poor 1

Poor Mediocre 2

Mediocre Fair 4

Fair Good 8

Good Great 16

Great Superb 32

Superb Legendary 64

Each additional level costs another 64. Raising an attribute to Legendary requires both in-game justification and GM permission.

Raising a non-combat skill or cinematic combat skill costs:

Current Level New Level Fudge Points

Untrained Normal 1

Normal Expert 2

Expert Master 4

In addition, the base attribute for the skill must adhere to a minimum value:

Normal any

Expert Great

Master Superb

If the base attribute is less than the given value, 2 extra Fudge points are needed for every level difference between the base attribute and the required value. So a character with a dexterity of Good could raise their acrobatics skill from normal to expert for a cost of 5. The base cost of 3 for normal to expert, plus 2 for the one level difference between the dexterity of Good and Great.

Note that a character may be an Expert in as many skills as they like, but may be a Master in only one non-combat skill and one combat skill.

Fudge points may also be used to learn new skills. The character must find an Expert in that skill to train them. The Expert will no doubt charge some in-game price for the training, and the character must also pay one Fudge point to gain the skill at Normal level. Characters who are Expert in a skill may make some additional income teaching the skill to others.

Other Excellent Swashbuckling Games

Gurps Swashbucklers, written by Steffan O’Sullivan and now in its third edition, is full of terrific source material and adventure ideas. The Steve Jackson Games’ web page for the book (at http://www.sjgames.com/gurps/books/Swashbucklers/) also has a link to a great article titled, “Women as Swashbucklers”.

For those interested in more of a fantasy swashbuckling experience, take a look at 7th Sea, written by John Wick and Jennifer Wick and published by Alderac Entertainment.

While not technically an RPG, the board game Swashbuckler, published by Yaquinto, allows you to participate in a barroom brawl type of atmosphere. For a change, you could even replace a barroom brawl in your swashbuckling RPG with a session of Swashbuckler.

No list of swashbuckling games would be complete without mentioning Flashing Blades, designed by Mark Pettigrew and published by Fantasy Games Unlimited in 1984. Flashing Blades contains a wealth of source material for the swashbuckling period, including many details on French society.

Converting Flashing Blades to All for Fudge!

Any GM who wants an authentic feel for their campaign would do well to read the Flashing Blades rules and adventure supplements. When designing All for Fudge!, I placed a premium on being able to easily convert the Flashing Blades source material for use with Fudge, so that I could continue to use the Flashing Blades material. Note that Flashing Blades material is still available at http://www.fantasygamesunlimited.com.

The following conversion notes will allow you to do the same.

Character Attributes

Flashing Blades attributes convert into the corresponding All for Fudge! attributes according to the following table:

3-5

6-8

9-11

12-14

15-17

18-20

21-23

Terrible

Poor

Mediocre

Fair

Good

Great

Superb

If you have Flashing Blades characters with attributes over 23, you can use Superb + 1 for every three point range over 23.

Hit points do not transfer over directly. Rather, the character attributes affect the wound track as described in the main rules.

Skills

Flashing Blades skills convert directly to the corresponding All for Fudge! skills. A few names have changed, some skills broken out, and new skills added. If a skill does not appear in the following list, then the name is the same between the two systems. The three levels of the skill convert directly into Normal, Expert, and Master.

Flashing Blades Skill All for Fudge! Skill

Bargaining Haggling

Bureaucratic Bureaucracy

Captaincy Leadership

Chemist Chemistry

Fine Manipulation Sleight of Hand, Tinker

Grenadier Powdermaster

Magistracy Law

Skills with no corresponding Flashing Blades skill

Navigation

Sailing

Shield Use

Streetwise

Second Weapon is not a skill in Flashing Blades, but a consequence of which dueling style you learn. Characters who learned Italian style or French style dueling should get the Second Weapon skill at normal.

Combat skills transfer over directly to the corresponding cinematic All for Fudge! skill, as follows:

3-5

6-8

9-11

12-14

15-17

18-20

21-23

Normal

Normal

Normal

Normal

Expert

Expert

Master

GMs using realistic combat skills should use the same conversion used for attributes.

Advantages and Secrets

Flashing Blades advantages and secrets translate directly into All for Fudge! gifts and faults.

Recommended Reading and Viewing Material

Here I list a few representative samples of swashbuckling material that have stuck in my mind for one reason or another. This is not intended to be an exhaustive list, only to give those new to the genre a place to start.

Books

The Count of Monte Cristo, by Alexandre Dumas

The Curse of Capistrano, by Johnston McCulley

Cyrano de Bergerac, by Edmond Rostand

The Man in the Iron Mask, by Alexandre Dumas

The Prisoner of Zenda, by Anthony Hope

The Scarlet Pimpernel, by Baroness Orczy
The Three Musketeers, by Alexandre Dumas

The Timekeeper Conspiracy, by Simon Hawke

Movies

Cutthroat Island

The Three Musketeers (various versions, under various titles)

Zorro (again, various versions under various titles)

Web

An excellent guide to the literature of the genre is the Swashbucklers and Fops page, at http://legends.dm.net/swash/index.html.

A discussion group for Flashing Blades and swashbuckling in general is available at http://groups.yahoo.com/group/flashing_blades/.

The classical fencing web site (http://www.classicalfencing.com/) contains many articles about fencing, including some examinations of the realism of quick kills. The list of top 10 swashbuckling films is a great guide to those who want more than my limited list.

Credits

Many thanks to Rod Phillips and Thijs Krijger for invaluable suggestions while reviewing drafts of this article.

2 thoughts on “One for All, and All for Fudge!: Swashbuckling Adventures for Fudge

  1. An easy way to list great swashbuckling movies is anything William Hobbs is Fight Arranger.in.

    I’m almost tempted to take another run at Supernatural Swashbucklers.

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