FU-20 is an experiment. I have played around with a bunch different resolution mechanisms over the last twelve months and using a d20 was one of them. I even went so far as to draft another iteration of FU with rules taking advantage of the twenty-sided die. What follows is based on my original work with FU, but presents a significant departure in terms of character creation and action resolution. The intent is to present a set of rules that captures the heart of classic FU, but both simplify and clarify game play. Familiarity with the classic rules will probably help to make sense of some of this.
NOTE: This is not the second edition of FU – just another interpretation and way to enjoy the game! These rules are incomplete, but there is enough her for any fan to play games.
The core of FU works the same – characters are described with words that define what makes them unique and interesting. In fact, everything that has the potential to impact on a given situation has these descriptors which we call TAGS. When a tag works in a character’s favour it provides ADVANTAGE and when it works against whatever the character is trying to accomplish it creates DISADVANTAGE. We write advantage and disadvantage in shorthand as [+] and [-].
When a character attempts an action where the outcome has the potential to be interesting, whether they succeed or fail, a die roll is made (no fancy name for it here, though I’m open to suggestions). The player rolls a D20 and adds +1 for every advantage they have and subtracts -1 for every disadvantage influencing their chance of success. The final result is compared to the OUTCOME CHART.
Natural 1’s and 20’s
No result is impossible, no matter the odds. If a die rolls an unmodified “1” the result is “No, and…”, even if modifiers would improve the result to something else. Likewise, if the die roll is a “20” the result will be “Yes, and…” even if modifiers could make the result worse.
Some rules and situations allow a player to re-roll a die. In these instances you literally pick up the die in question and re-roll it. The new result stands, even if it is worse than the original roll. A die can be re-rolled as many times as a rule or situation allows.
Conflicts are situations where a character attempts to overcome an enemy, obstacle or threat that might potentially do the character harm. When a roll is made to resolve a dangerous or risky action the loser of the conflict loses one point of Stress. When a character, opponent or obstacle has no stress left it is defeated or overcome. See this article on conflict and stress for more ideas.
|1-5||No, and…||The action fails and…
the character suffers a condition OR
a mostly negative detail is added to the scene OR
an enemy gains an opportunity
|6-10||No, but…||The action fails but…
a target suffers a condition OR
|11-15||Yes, but…||The action succeeds but…
the character suffers a condition OR
a mostly negative detail is added to the scene OR
|16-20||Yes, and…||The action succeeds and…
the target suffers a condition OR
Character/Target suffers a condition: apply a temporary condition tag to the character/target.
Detail is added to the scene: a tag is applied to the scene. Anyone can use a tag to modify a roll (if it is relevant to the action being attempted). Positive details will probably provide some bonus to player actions while negative details will be a hindrance or create some new obstacle to overcome.
Gain an opportunity: this is an opening to take an action. Unlike a condition or detail that can modify a roll, an opportunity is permission to take an action. If an enemy gains an opportunity they will probably attempt to hurt the character(s), escape, or change the situation to their benefit. This usually means the character(s) has to act to stop the enemy. If a character gains an opportunity, the scene has changed in some way that opens up new options.
Each player portrays an interesting and dynamic character with which to participate in the fiction. A character is made up of a number of “parts” that help you tell their story and participate in the game play.
Each character consists of a CONCEPT, TALENT, DRIVE, TRADEMARKS, FLAW, and STRESS.
Who and/or what is your character? Consider their background, occupation, physical or mental attributes or other notable features.
Write your concept as a statement:
I am adjective noun.
For example, I am a brave knight; I am a swashbuckling pirate; I am a beautiful assassin.
- Both the adjective and the noun are tags. When either one is helpful or a hindrance, apply [+] or [-] to your roll. If both are relevant, they both may modify the roll.
Brad’s Swashbuckling Pirate attempts to swing from a chandelier. Brad and the narrator agree that “swashbuckling” will grant [+] but “pirate” provides no significant advantage.
What amazing ability, unique talent or incredible skill does your character possess? A trademark is something that not everyone can do. It can be an amazing ability, or a supernatural power but is always innate.
Write your talent as a statement:
I can verb.
For example, I can fly; I can please a crowd like nobody else; I can control weather magic; I can run faster than most people; I can see in the dark; I can disguise myself as anyone; I can buy whatever I want; I can cleave my enemies in twain; I can disappear in a crowd; I can hit a target from a thousand yards.
- You may attempt things related to your talent, even if others cannot. The narrator may decide you automatically succeed, or it may require a roll.
- A talent is a tag.
- When you take an action and your talent is an advantage, you may spend a drama point and roll two dice. Keep the highest roll.
Varran is a Wise Wizard with the talent “I can control fire magic”. During an adventure Varran decides to hurl a fireball at an ogre. The narrator agrees this is well within the realm of the talent, and asks for a roll to see if the wizard is successful. He will get [+] because of the concept “wizard”, and another [+] because of the talent, and he decides to improve his chances even further by spending a drama point to roll 2d20!
What pushes your character to take action? What caused them to leave the comfort of their own home in search of adventure?
Write your drive as a statement:
I will verb.
For example, I will stop Warlord Drakoff; I will discover the lost island of Atlantis; I will prove to Father I am worthy of his kingdom; I will protect the weak.
- When you take action in pursuit of your drive apply [+] to your roll.
- When you take an action in pursuit of your drive and it causes you or an ally significant trouble, take +1 Drama Point or +1 XP.
What assets or advantages does your character have? They might be skills, affiliations, or natural talents.
Write four trademarks for your character.
Trademarks are always a single adjective, or adjective noun.
For example, athletic, clever, giant axe, perceptive, stealthy, trusty sidekick, witty.
- Each trademark is a tag. When relevant a trademark will provide [+] to dice rolls. In some situations a trademark may apply [-].
Focus: A focus is a very specific ability or talent related to a trademark. It is a specialisation indicating particular skill, knowledge or power related to a narrow focus of the trademark. A focus will be recorded in brackets after a trademark, such as athletic (jumping), or stealthy (hiding). A trademark can have any number of focus.
- Each focus is a tag. If you gain [+] from a trademark and also have a relevant focus, take an additional [+].
- If multiple focuses from a trademark are relevant they may all provide a [+].
Tennessee Smith dodges a pile of boulders. He is Nimble (dodging, quick) so gets [+] for the trademark and [+][+] because the narrator decides both dodging and quick focuses are relevant.
Option: Players may “pre populate” their trademarks with 1-6 focus. These focus begin “locked” and do not count as tags. They instead provide both the player and narrator with an indicator of the scope of a trademark. This is particularly useful for unusual trademarks or when playing with a new group of people. Locked focus may be “unlocked” in character generation and through advancement. See this article on trademarks for more information.
What trouble, weakness or difficulty does your character struggle to deal with? What makes their life harder? A flaw describes an interesting personality traits or physical feature that causes more problems than it solves.
Write one flaw. Make it short, clear and evocative.
For example, afraid of snakes, anger issues, hideously deformed, kleptomaniac, overweight.
- A flaw is a tag. When an action is influenced by a character’s flaw apply [+] or [-] as relevant.
- When a flaw applies [-] to a roll, take +1 Drama Point or +1 XP.
Stress defines a character’s raw potential to resist the dangers that they will face. It determines when a character is removed from a scene, so are a “life” or “plot immunity” track. See this article on conflicts and stress for more information.
Drama points are an abstract representation of a character’s luck and general power over the narrative. They were previously called FU Points.
- Spend a drama point before a roll to add [+].
- Spend a drama point after a roll to re-roll a die. If you have rolled two dice (due to a trademark, for example), you choose which dice to re-roll.
The basics of character creation remain the same as classic FU – you discuss the setting and potential stories you wish to tell. Use this discussion as inspiration for your character.
With a clear idea for you character:
- Write your character concept.
- Write your talent (optional).
- Write your drive.
- Write 4 trademarks.
- Write 1 flaw.
- You begin with 3 stress boxes.
- Apply 3 advances.
Now is an appropriate enough time to talk about character advancement. At the end of a game session players should allocate a short period for bookkeeping and the allocation of experience points.
Experience points (XP) are earned for bringing character drives and flaws into play, and exploring the world. They in turn are used to buy advances that improve a character.
A character can choose to take +1 XP when their drive causes trouble, or they suffer [-] from a flaw.
In addition, a character might earn experience points at the end of a session for the following:
- +1 XP if the character resolved their drive (“completed” it). Remove the drive from the character sheet and write a new one.
- +1 XP if the group learnt something particularly important about the setting and/or their mission.
- +1 XP if the group achieved a major objective (such as completing a mission / adventure)
Total up your XP for the session.
Option: A narrator might choose to award XP for other things too. It is recommended that this is discussed and written down before play to encourage players to take specific actions or act in a particular style.
Players spend experience points on advances. 5XP buys one advance.
- Add a focus to a trademark that you used recently. (At character creation you may create any relevant focus, or “unlock” one if you are using that option.)
- Add a new trademark based on something you learned, did or experienced in the recent past. (At character creation your new trademark may be anything you choose.)
- Increase your maximum stress by one point.
- Add a new talent that is closely tied to some action you have taken or experience you have had. (At character creation your new talent may be anything the narrator agrees to.)
Players do not have to spend XP immediately. It is also totally okay to spend saved XP during a session to suddenly reveal a new edge, focus or trademark – it’s kind of like in movies when the character is in a tough spot and has a moment of clarity, remembering their master’s words, a trick they saw someone else do, or finally just “getting” how to do something. While revealing a new tag or trademark mid-game is fine, it is generally not cool to boost your stress with XP mid session unless you can provide a really good story reason.
In A Nutshell
That’s my take on FU with a d20. There is a lot in here I really like, and some stuff I have already thrown out and moved on from. But it all works, provides a solid frame to build on and play with.
What do you think? What do you love, hate and want to steal for your own games? Comment below!