Fudgier Risus

Using Fudge or Fate Dice in Risus: The Anything RPG
by Bob Portnell, April 2017

Hardware change

Use Fudge or Fate Dice labeled with blanks, [+], and [-] instead of six-sided dice numbered 1–6. Read [+] or blank as 1; ignore [-]. Probably the easiest way to do this is make the roll, yank the [-] dice out, and count the dice remaining.

Or use regular dice but count them differently. Any die with a value of 3 or greater counts as 1. Ignore dice with a value of 2 or 1.

Or if you have blank dice around, mark them thus (.1., 1., 1, 1, 0, 0.) and count the values directly from the dice. (The dots matter for other things.) {Risus Dice-us?}

Whatever method you use, we'll call these "F-dice."

Software changes

Character Creation

No changes! Characters are still made of Clichés (and names and descriptions, and maybe Hooks, Tales, and Lucky Shots), and Clichés are still ranked from 1 to 6 F-dice.

The Game System

Set the difficulty relative to the Cliché in use, as usual, but the target numbers are now divided by 5.

Target Number Description
1 A cinch.
2 A challenge for a pro.
3 An [sic] heroic challenge.
(etc.) (etc.)

Roll F-dice, total the count, and match or exceed the target difficulty to perform the task.

Option: Matching the target number exactly means you succeed, but a interesting complication is added. For example, the trap is disarmed but your lockpick is stuck. Or the soufflé is perfectly done, but serving time is still 20 minutes away — can your dinner party be saved?

Option: Each additional count above the target number indicates increased awesomeness, with benefits to be lavishly dispensed by the game master.

The Combat System

No change, either for full combat or a single-action contest! Ties will occur more often; make them opportunities for entertaining narration.

Option: Beating the opponent's roll by 2 or more grants the victor leeway to really pour on the bad news in describing the effect. (The "damage" is still only 1 or maybe 3 knocks to the Cliché.)

Teaming Up: Designate a Team Leader as usual. The Team Leader's F-dice roll is counted normally. The rest of the team's F-dice are pooled. Add 1 to the Leader's score for every full two high dice in the team pool. (High dice are [+], .1. & 1., or 5 & 6, depending on your method of F-dicing.) This is probably easier to see in a table.

# of High Dice Bonus for Leader
0–1 0
2–3 +1
4–5 +2
(etc.) (etc.)


Since Risus places more currency on the number of dice rather than the numbers on the dice, tweaking other optional rules or house rules to use F-dice should be straightforward.

The Advanced Option: Character Advancement is not one of these. Fudge or Fate Dice will not work. Use the regular rules with regular six-siders, or use the self-marked dice above and advance the Cliché if the dice land showing only sides with dots (.1., 1., 0.).

Credit Where It's Due

My first "dice pool/count successes" RPG experience was not published by White Wolf. It was the Hercules & Xena game from West End Games, the first to use the D6 Legend rules. The D6 systems are now available as open source products.

"Evens Up" by D. Stahler and "Simpler Risus" (author unknown) are similar approaches, but use normal six-sided dice. Both are available here in the Risusiverse.

Brent Newhall suggested the "success, but" optional rule when you roll the target number exactly. I do really like that, as it further blurs the binary success/failure crunch so common in RPGs.

Fudge was created by Steffan O'Sullivan (and a bunch of folks on Usenet) and is published by Grey Ghost Press. Fate was originally created by Rob Donoghue and Fred Hicks and is published by Evil Hat Productions. Fudge Dice are nice, and Fate Dice are even prettier, and I wanted to find a way to use them while staying with Risus as the game engine. But now I need six of each color…

Speaking of Risus, thanks as ever go to the founder of the feast, S. John Ross.