TDO Combat Fudge v0.1.1 – The Blog Cut

This is a cut down version of TDO Combat Fudge v0.1 (a game system for roleplaying “combat”): Just the rules, zero explanations, zero context and zero examples. As requested, to make it more blog-digestable.

The scope of this Fudge build is very specific. It only applies to combat (or drama in social context). It doesn’t cover character creation and development or general conflict and checks. However it applies to all combat and scales. It can be applied to overt combat, goal-oriented combat (i.e. races), detection-based combat (i.e. stealth-based), chases and political combat (and anything else you can think of). It can be applied to large-scale conflicts (wars and battles) and small scale. If you don’t see how the rules can be applied to these situations, please check out the original version as it contains examples of all these cases.

The Basics

Original expanded section here

In combat you have two types of attacks: Opposed Attacks and Unopposed Attacks. Attacks are resolved like normal Actions with normal modifiers and set difficulties. Opposed Attacks are those that can be resisted or actively defended against (and are treated like Opposed Actions). Unopposed Attacks are attacks that can’t be defended against (and are treated like an Unopposed Action). An Attack means there is an attacker and a defender. If the defender wins, they stop or block the attack. If the attacker wins, they do a Wound to the defender (though a Combat Manoeuvre could modify this).

When resolving an Attack, participants must choose one (and only one) Protection and one (and only one) Armament if possible. Protection gives some benefit to defence and Armament gives some benefit to attack. Improvers (Protection or Armament) give some numeric benefit to an attack (or defence) while Enablers (Protection or Armament) will allow a participant to attack (or defend against some form of attack). They are rated from 0 to +3 and higher. Some can have fixed ratings that don’t change while others can have ratings that decrease with each usage. Game-masters should be liberal in accepting what can be considered for use as Protection or Armaments; even Faults (in the right circumstances) can be used as Protection or Armaments. Protection can come from non-attack rolls (the degree of success can be used as the rating) however this is not true for Armaments. A Protection can be used to defend against an Unopposed Attack but that does not change the Unopposed Attack into an Opposed Attack. It reduces the success of the Unopposed Attack.

Skills give Combat Manoeuvres. Theses represent trained and/or learned techniques of a Skill that can be used in combat. They can be used to differentiate two similar Skills used in the same combat. For a Skill, each rank above Mediocre grants a character a Combat Manoeuvre Slot for that Skill. These can be filled at any time; it’s up to the individual group of players and game-master what the Experience Point cost might be. Characters can attempt Custom Manoeuvres but at a +1 (or +2) difficulty modifier and some Experience Points (again determined by individual groups). A successfully pulled off Combat Manoeuvre counts as having learned it and can be bought immediately if Slots free. You can find examples of some Combat Manoeuvres here.

Damage in TDO Combat tracks the effects of winning and losing on your ability to continue the combat. There are two types of Damage. Splash Damage is applied to Attributes (default) and Task Damage applies to Personal Combat (task based or rather you can hang it on the Skill being used). The standard Wound Track from Fudge is used to track Damage and Wound penalties are used. High Attributes can give a few extra hit points. During Personal Combat, Task Damage is used but if you exit Personal Combat, Task Damage shakes out to Splash Damage and Hit Points move up to the lowest penalty free Hit Points (a bigger explanation here).

An “Incapacitated” Wound Types cause the character to suffer a Consequence, a “Near Death” causes an Extreme Consequence. Players can chose to take a Mild Consequence for a “Very Hurt” wound instead of losing a hit point. Suffering a Consequence will break out of Personal Combat (and thereby cause Task Damage to shake out to Splash Damage).

Damage is healed dramatically as per this guide:

Wound Type Healing Time
Scratch End of Combat
Hurt End of Scene
Very Hurt End of Session
Incapacitated End of Story or until next Downtime
Near Death End of Story or until next Downtime

As a reminder, Wound Type is calculated like this:

Offensive Damage Factor (ODF) = Degree of Success + [Armament] + [Scale]

Defensive Damage Factor (DDF) = [Protection] + [Scale]

Wound Type = ODF – DDF = (DegreeOfSuccess + Armament + Scale) – (Protection + Scale)

Running Combat

Framing the Combat

Framing the Combat is critical. You must answer each of the questions in Framing Combat. If you can’t answer the questions, then there is no Combat to run. Several of the questions have a mechanical impact on the Combat so they must be considered fairly. You can of course Frame a smaller Combat within a bigger Combat or Scene.

More on Framing Combat here

(Stakes) Is it worth going into Combat?

You don’t have to enter combat. You should only go into full Combat if the conflict is high stakes for the player characters (like their lives).

Who are the involved parties and what are the sides?

You can’t have a combat with out at least two antagonistic sides. If you can’t identify at least two sides then you don’t have a Combat. Go no further.

(Abstraction) What is an Attack in this context?

When applying the combat to new circumstances you must at the very least figure out what an Attack is (and by implication then what a Defence, Protection, Armament, Environment, etc. might be). If you can’t even do that, there is no Combat. Go no further.

A Combat consisting of just Unopposed Attacks starts in Mixed Combat mode. Opposed Attacks start in Personal Combat mode (perhaps framed by a Mixed Combat).

(Scaling) What is the minimum size of a Story Element within the Combat?

Combat consists of Events. The default scale of Combat is the smallest perceived Event in Combat (normally an exchange of attacks and defence – not a single attack). You can explicitly use a higher Scale. Please check out the section on Abstracting and Scale for a more in-depth description.

What are the exit conditions for the parties?

The game-master must have some concept of how the combat can end and if there are multiple exit conditions (some of which may be revealed to the players).

Declare Environment Conditions

The Environment always affects combat. The games-master must declare at least one Environment Condition that impacts the Combat. This may manifest as modifiers to tasks, task blockers or enablers or damage over time.

Mixed Combat (Default)

Combat is considered to start as Mixed Combat. Mixed Combat can handle “many to many” type combat. Personal Combat can play out within a Mixed Combat. A round in Mixed Combat is a round of events involving each player characters that is part of the combat. This round of events breaks down to the lowest character-perceived event (default scale), i.e. a Story Element. This is generally equal to an exchange of attacks. A round of Personal Combat is considered the same as a round of Mixed Combat/Story Elements.  Every player should get to act/roll once per round. Initiative/order of play should be random (unlike Personal Combat). Damage done in Mixed Combat is Splash Damage. Character’s actions are not restricted (unlike Personal Combat). The game-master can Pause combat to give a dramatic description of some event.

You can use Mixed Scale in Mixed Combat. If one player is playing at a higher scale then the others, they rolls only once per every two (or more) rounds compared to the other players. This can be used to have a Personal Combat ran on a different Scale to the rest of the Mixed Combat. Significant events during Mixed Combat can still force the player to scale back down to the same level as the other players.

More on Mixed Combat…

Personal Combat

Personal Combat uses the same Scale – you can’t use Mixed Scale (like with Mixed Combat). It applies to combat involving one party against one other party (hence “Personal”) or multiple parties. A trait or check is required to gauge initiative and therefore order of actions – you can’t use a random mechanic. Initiative can be affected by Wound penalties. Personal Combat starts when one party makes an Opposed Attack against another. If the character cannot defend them selves then it is an Unopposed Attack and does not start Personal Combat. A round of Personal Combat equals a Story Element of the same Scale. No other actions besides Attack, Defensive Actions or Combat Manoeuvres are allowed during Personal Combat. Personal Combat uses Task Damage. Personal Combat can be used for “Time-shifted Combat“; where a player character is fighting against the works of another party who is no longer present.

Step 1: Declare Stance

Before entering Personal Combat, all parties must declare their stance: Neutral, Defensive, Aggressive and Surprised. Parties unaware they are being attacked are automatically considered Surprised. If Personal Combat is started from an Opposed Attack, then the attacking party is automatically considered Aggressive. If all parties involved declare Defensive, the round ends (no-one attacks each other) but does not exit Personal Combat. Stances give some bonuses (and penalties) to the 1st Exchange but after that, stance is forgotten.

Aggressive: An Aggressive Stance gives a +1 to any attacks but -1 to any defence.

Defensive: A Defensive Stance gives +1 to any defence but -1 to any attack.

Neutral: A Neutral Stance gives no bonuses or penalties to attack or defence.

Surprised: A Surprised Stance means the character is unaware of an incoming attack. They may be able to make some sort of roll to react but they will be on a -2 penalty.

Step 2: Initiative and Allocate Ranks

Determine Initiative of all parties involved in the Combat using your chosen mechanic. Then from the lowest Initiative to the highest, parties must:

I. Chose Skills: Parties must choose what Skills they are using for Attack and for Defence (if they have a choice). If you use a different Skill for Attack and for Defence only the lowest ranking one counts for Allocating Ranks. You can only use Combat Manoeuvres from the Skill you are using. If you use one Skill for Attack, you can only use Combat Manoeuvres from that Skill for Attack (and likewise for Defence).

II. Allocate Ranks: Parties must also allocate ranks from their chosen Skill (or lowest of their chosen Skills), declaring how many ranks they are putting into the 1st Exchange. They start with twice the number of ranks in the lowest of their chosen Skill (this is to keep difficulties consistent between Exchanges and outside of Personal Combat). Anything unallocated can be used for Combat Manoeuvres and the 2nd Exchange. Combat Manoeuvres, that require a roll, also require ranks from this “pool”.

To handle multiple parties in Personal Combat, the defending party must allocate ranks to each attacking party. External parties can give Protection to an involved party but cannot give Armaments. If they are giving a party Armaments, they are considered an attacker (which exits Personal Combat).

III. Declare Action: Parties must now declare their action: Attack, Defend or a Combat Manoeuvre. Parties with the higher initiative act first.

Parties with the higher initiative go first so generally the parties with lower initiative will be defending. However both parties could attack each other. In this case the party with higher initiative attacks first (the second party has no defence). Damage is applied and then the second party can attack (the first party now has no defence). Depending on the context, parties may have access to a Combat Manoeuvre that allows them to “buy” initiative. Such a Combat Manoeuvre may take Fudge Points, ranks or even Experience points, which ever is most applicable. This may be used to try and strike first if both parties are attacking, a very risky technique.

Step 3 and 4: 1st and 2nd Exchanges

Parties with the higher initiative act first so in the 1st Exchange they normally make an Opposed Attack using the allocated ranks from Step 2. The winner of this roll can then take or keep initiative for the 2nd Exchange. If there is a tie, the attacker maintains initiative. Damage is resolved and Task Damage is applied instantly taking from any allocated ranks for the 2nd Exchange. Repeat for 2nd Exchange (parties now allocate ranks for the 2nd Exchange from their remaining unused ranks).

If all parties decide to attack in either Exchange, the party with the initiative (2nd Exchange) or higher initiative (1st Exchange) attacks first with an Unopposed Attack. Damage occurs and then the second party can attack also with an Unopposed Attack.

End of round. As long as no exit condition has occurred, start next round and go back to Step 2.

Exiting Personal Combat

The flow of Personal Combat is like this:

  • An Opposed Attack Occurs: Step 1-4.
  • Subsequent Rounds: Steps 2-4.

Personal Combat can stop if:

  • The player character takes an Incapacitated or worse Wound
  • Any of the parties suffers a Consequence
  • Any of the parties involved is attacked by an external party (such as during a Mixed Combat)
  • The effect of a Combat Manoeuvre (like Evade)
  • An external event

When Personal Combat is stopped, the Task Damage is shaken out to Splash Damage. Parties can re-engage Personal Combat again but must start from Step 1.

More on Personal Combat…

Fun Mode Variant

Fun Mode can be applied to both Mixed and Personal Combat. Fun Mode states simply that there are no Consequences suffered by the participants. The first to suffer what would be a Consequence loses the combat. A participant can explicitly decide to break the rules and do a full-out attack. This becomes obvious to all parties only after the first full-out attack is resolved, which means that a player may not be aware that an in-coming attack is actually a full-out attack. Regardless if that full-out attack succeeds or fails, it is obvious that Fun Mode is over and normal combat takes over. If you want to know what to use Fun Mode for see here.


For examples, notes and guidance please refer to the original draft of the system. Comments are welcome.

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