Fugue System 2.0: The history

How the fugue system was created and why.

It happened one day while sitting in front of my Computer. A familiar frustration with role-playing games swept over me as I poured over another long RPG manual. Why so complex? Why does it require so much time to create a character, and limits my ideas? I sat back and dreamed of something better. As I sat there in a small fugue, it came to me.

Write your own role-playing game.

This was not something completely new for me, as I had created the Fugue Fudge RPG back in 2003. However, the Fugue Fudge was still a bit too complex for what I wanted.
Armed with a new fever for creating a rules-lite system, I began working.

First, attributes, I wanted just a few. A few that would encompass many different attributes. Some games have dexterity, reflex, prowess, strength and more. However, they all came down to the same thing, physical attributes, or from the ‘Body’.  Then there was a bunch that I condensed down to mental, or the ‘Mind’. Finally, there are some that use spells, affinity, ESP, six sense, and other supernatural attributes; I condensed these down to ‘Soul’.

Three attributes, Body, Mind, and Soul, that is a perfect amount for what I desired and indeed simple.

My mind was racing at this point and I quickly concluded that I needed a health score. Like hit points or life points, no, simpler… Health and ‘Mental Health’.

What dice would this game use? With the keyword minimalistic in mind, I decided upon 2D6 or two six-sided dice. Everyone has six sided dice, and if not, a dollar can buy you eight dice at the local dollar store.

A few months later and the first Fugue System was released with these simple concepts, and a few rather complex additions. I would have to revise.

My years of fudge came forward as a backbone to my newly found simplicity focus. I recreated a fudge ladder, +0 through +3. A target number used to determine the difficulty of the action, and with 2D6 +modifiers; a roll higher than the difficulty would succeed!

Now I had a core. It is nice and I felt great about it. Nevertheless, how would I work out the stats for different types of characters, and the skills they would need. As I was looking into this, I discovered that most everyone has the same ideas about what  different character types can do, like warrior or archer. So, I thought, do I need more than that? No, I suppose we do not, and I created the Archetype. A skill that encompasses everything about that type of character. A warrior could do anything that a warrior can do.

It was like lightning struck at this point and a realization that this could be exactly what I wanted. I wrote a sample character….

Name: Mogda (B: +2 M: +1 S: +0) H: 10 MH: 9
Archetype: warrior

I then wrote a biography for Mogda, and I had an almost complete character. It felt too simple like there should be something more. Therefore, I added skills that do not pertain to the archetype. However, a player could boost certain parts of her archetype by using skills, yes that would be neat. What about specializations, I thought. With that, I added rules for specializations to the skills system while still keeping it super simple. However, the base roll would have to change to include a few more modifiers.

I overcame this with the ‘Waterfall’ technique. Start at the top of the sheet, add attribute modifier, move to the archetype and add mod, then to the skill and add mod. From top to bottom in a simple fashion.

I am Happy with this I thought to myself. I added a Biography section and a narrative, for backstory and character description.

I would go on to create experience, combat, healing and spell craft rules.  I then set about to strengthen the core rules with equally simple guidelines, and the Fugue system version v2 took shape.

With these new rules in hand and the concepts that are used, I was able to create four pre-generated characters and a 5-room dungeon in less than 30 minutes.

I chuckled as I created a character using the D&D Archer, as the archetype.  Got all giddy, as I created a small village that set perfectly into the Redwall world. Wrote up a dragon mount that could easily fly over Pern. The fugue system was not just a rules-lite roleplaying game; it is, in fact, a tool to help create anything in an easy to digest simple way.

The Fugue System v2 is now available, and I hope that you will find it as inspiring to play as it was to create.