Why Fudge is a Great Accessible RPG Pt. 2

This entry is part 2 of 3 in the series Fudge RPG Accessibility Spotlight


Last week I began a discussion about what makes Fudge such a great accessible RPG. I gave a brief overview of Fudge and talked a little about how it’s great for teaching children how to play RPGs (or just to help them learn valuable lessons, like how cool dinosaurs are).

I’d like to continue that discussion with a few more topics. I’ll begin with a few more examples of Fudge for kids — this time from the perspective of others who’ve had experience with that topic — and finish up with a few examples of how Fudge is great for people with visual impairments.

Fudge for Kids

Fudge for Kids doesn’t extend just to dinosaurs and smiley-face trait ladders. There is an RPG currently in development that keeps children in mind. It’s called Heroes of Oz (http://www.heroesofoz.com). As you might guess, the upcoming Fudge RPG that takes players to the fantastic world of Oz where players get a chance to tell their own stories and even interact with such characters as the Tin Woodsman and the Cowardly Lion. In regards to accessibility, Mike Conway writes:

When designing Heroes of Oz, I really tried to go for accessibility for children. I’m currently rewriting it to make it even simpler. Fudge is the perfect system to get kids role-playing.

I asked people on Google+ to share their experiences playing Fudge with children, and one person had a great story of running Fudge for his niece and nephew. They played Fudge diceless in a Goosebumps-style scenario, then introduced dice a little later so the kids could pick up on new concepts. After that, they played everything from D&D-style fantasy to a Sci-Fi story in which the kids had to break out of some weird hospital ward after they discovered they had acquired strange prosthetics.

Of particular note, they mentioned:

It seems to me that the trait ladder, as presented in FUDGE, is very intuitive for most people that are new to gaming.

The same is true for kids and adults who are new to gaming. Fudge’s Trait Ladder is simple, intuitive, and easy to learn. It’s one of the defining characteristics of Fudge, and one of its best traits.

Fudge for the Blind

Though many role-playing games are easily adapted for the blind and visually impaired, Fudge possesses a few traits that make it particularly well-suited to people with limited or no vision.

Character Sheets

For starters, a typical Fudge character sheet is not very detailed. Unlike D&D or Pathfinder, which can have character sheets with a hundred different pieces of information, Fudge character sheets are generally short and simple. This is because the game is much less complicated and not focused on simulating every possible action your character might want to take. More importantly, its lack of pre-defined skills means it doesn’t need to have a giant list of abilities — simply list the skills and Gifts your character actually has levels in.

Because a Fudge character sheet is smaller and simpler, it’s a lot easier to enlarge for low-vision users without taking up extra sheets of paper. Moreover, it’s a lot easier to memorize your character’s traits, reducing the dependency one has on character sheets. This benefits blind players, but it also benefits all users — the reduced need for look-ups means the game can flow much faster than other systems.

Wound Track

One Fudge’s other great features is the Wound Track. Though not wholly unique to Fudge, it’s a mechanic that simplifies combat and stress mechanics. For most, it provides a simple, visual overview of just how wounded your character is — no math required.

The wound track used in Psi-punk looks like this:

Psi-punk Fudge Wound Track

Each of those circles represents one wound that can be sustained at the given wound level. Though the traditional method is to use a pencil to shade or cross off a circle when a character sustains a wound, it’s just as simple to place a glass bead on top of the circles to cover them up. This provides a tactile experience for the user; someone with limited or no vision can slowly move their hand across the sheet and feel how many wounds they’ve taken. That isn’t something you can do with Hit Points.

Fudge Dice

Fudge Dice have a great tactile feel to them as well. They’re nicely grooved, and it’s easy to tell by touch which side is facing up. If you have a set you can experiment yourself: roll a few dice in front of you, close your eyes, and slowly (so as not to bump them over) place your fingers on them one at a time. Can you tell which side is a Plus? A Minus? Blank?

It takes some practice to roll dice and make sure they land neatly in front of you. I generally suggest low vision players roll on a surface that has a lip, like a plate or shallow box, so the dice don’t go flying all over the table. It keeps them nicely contained and easy to locate.

Pipped six-sided dice have a similar tactile feel, but it can be hard to distinguish all of the little dots sometimes. It’s easy to tell apart a pipped number 1, but a 4 and 6 are slightly more difficult. With practice it can be done, but generally not as quickly as with Fudge dice since the sides are so distinct and there are fewer of them.

Coming Up…

Next time I’ll talk a bit about Fudge for people with dyslexia and learning disabilities. I am also still trying to gather stories about other players’ experiences with the system, so if you have played Fudge with someone who has a disability please let me know in the comments!

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