Why let the sword swingers and gunmen get all the screen time? With the Social Combat rules, you can Bluff, Charm, Intimidate, Impress, and Persuade your way through the world with all the detail and suspense of physical combat.
Standard Fudge rules allow for detailed outcomes from physical combat - Skill, Strength, armor and chance all play into a well-defined outcome. Social skills on the other hand are not so well detailed. Often players and gamemasters choose to simply act out social interactions, but this can handicap shy players. If a slow, clumsy player can play a lightning-quick, expert swordsman, why can't a shy player run a charming con artist? Fortunately, the standard Fudge combat system can be adapted for social interaction. For the purpose of this system, I'm going to define three attributes, but other attributes may be substituted to suit the gamemaster's tastes.
Wit - A measure of mental agility and speedSocial skills as you might expect replace combat skills. The above Attributes are used as Offensive and Defensive Damage Factors (ODF and DDF). The various injury outcomes -- Scratch, Hurt, Very Hurt, Incapacitated -- have different definitions depending on what the character is attempting to do -- Bluff, Charm, Impress, Intimidate, or Persuade. The different social techniques include suggested Skills. Players should be encouraged to come up with creative uses for Skills, as long as they can describe a plausible effort. Alternately, the GM may simply use Bluff, Charm, Impress, Intimidate and Persuade as Skills. Choose an appropriate defensive skill based on the attack skill. For example, an attempt to Intimidate using Sword skill might be resisted by a Sword or other weapon skill. If there seems to be no appropriate Skill, simply set difficulty at Fair. As with combat, clever tactics and roleplaying should be rewarded with bonuses. To successfully use a social technique, the attacker must roll higher than the defender, just as in regular combat. In addition, the attacker must roll at least a Poor result. A failed attempt with a social technique doesn't necessarily have negative consequences. However, a roll of Terrible or worse should have repercussions. An effort to Charm offends, an effort to Impress does the opposite, etc. A failed effort to Intimidate always causes a hostile reaction. Add degree of success to ODF, and subtract DDF. If the result is positive, calculate the standard Fudge damage (Scratch, Hurt, etc) and check against the specific technique for the result.
Confidence - Presence and mental force
Ego - Mental and emotional toughness
BluffAs the name suggests, a Bluff is an effort to fake something, carried out through sheer force of will. While Persuasion may depend on logic or cunning, Bluff relies on confidence and chutzpah. Outcome depends in part on how plausible the bluff is and in part on how much risk the target takes in believing the bluff. Bluffing your way into a high-security base is difficult in part because the guards will face severe penalties for letting someone through unauthorized.
Skill: Acting is appropriate for pretending to be someone. Courtly Manners or similar skill for pretending to be a noble, appropriate academic skills for pretending to be a professor, etc.
Scratch - The target will believe a plausible bluff, if there is no risk to the target.
Hurt - The target will believe the character's implausible bluff if no risk is involved or a plausible bluff if minor risk is involved.
Very Hurt - The target will believe a plausible bluff even at major risk, an implausible bluff at minor risk, or an absurd one at no risk.
Incapacitated - The target will believe a plausible bluff at severe risk (life and limb), an implausible bluff at major risk or an absurd one at minor risk.
Near Death - The target will believe an utterly ludicrous bluff.
CharmCharm means an effort to make someone like you. It can be helpful in avoiding trouble or helping set up a roll to persuade. An effort to Charm is likely to take some time, unlike other social techniques.
Skill: Seduction or similar skills are appropriate for romantic efforts. Carousing is appropriate for parties, Courtier for high society, and so on. DDF: Confidence
Scratch - Target will be mildly more congenial. Efforts to Persuade are at +1.
Hurt - Target will be significantly friendlier than before. Efforts to Persuade are at +2.
Very Hurt - Target is likely to be friendly, even if initially hostile to the character. Efforts to Persuade are at +3.
Incapacitated - Target will be (temporarily) friendly even if the character is normally an enemy. Efforts to Persuade are at +4.
Near Death - Target is putty in the character's hands. Efforts to Persuade are at +5.
ImpressImpress is an effort to awe or inspire someone. This could be dramatic oratory, a command in battle or any other similar effort.
Skill: Oratory for speeches, Leadership for commands. Other skills may be used to impress in limited contexts -- a minstrel might use skill with a harp to Impress a potential employer.Impress can be used as a complementary technique to Charm or Persuade, as described below. For dramatic speeches, check Persuade for results.
DDF: The best of Wit or Confidence
Scratch - The target is mildly impressed.
Hurt - The target is moderately impressed.
Very Hurt - The target is very impressed with the character's abilities.
Incapacitated - The target is awestruck.
Near Death - The target is struck speechless with awe at the character's prowess.
IntimidateAn effort to Intimidate is like an effort to Impress, but with the deliberate attempt to frighten an opponent. If successful, it may handicap the opponent in combat. Unsuccessful efforts will lead to hostile reactions. This is the preferred social technique of tough guys and angsty superheroes dressed in black.
Skill: Anything that can be used to threaten. Weapon skills could be used to display combat prowess, Courtly Manners to imply you have powerful social connections, Streetwise to suggest friends in low places, etc.A character with a significant and obvious combat advantage should get a +1 to Skill, +2 for a Large advantage (for example, ogre vs. normal human). Likewise, a character at a significant seeming disadvantage should receive a -1 or more(a halfling attempting to intimidate a human for example). The advantage or disadvantage must be obvious to the defender.
DDF: The best of Confidence or Ego
Scratch - Target is mildly unnerved and will hesitate. If attacked, he will fight normally, but if attacking first, will be at -1 for the first round.If using Intimidate to interrogate, check Persuade for likely results.
Hurt - Target is frightened and will be reluctant to attack. He will be at -1 in combat.
Very Hurt - Target is very frightened and will not attack first. He will be at -2 in combat.
Incapacitated - Target is terrified and will be at -3 in combat.
Near Death - Target is completely cowed and will either surrender or flee.
PersuadeAn effort to Persuade involves coming up with a logical, pseudo-logical, or otherwise cunning argument to convince the target to provide information or follow a certain course of action.
Skill: Diplomacy and Fast Talk are both appropriate. Other Skills may be used depending on the player's imagination and gamemaster's discretion.
DDF: Wit. However, if the attempt to Persuade goes against the character's principles, use the best of Ego or Wit.
Scratch - Target is willing to cooperate, if it's something he's likely to do anyway
Hurt - Target will cooperate with suggestions that involve no significant costs or risks, or actions he wouldn't mind doing.
Very Hurt - Target will cooperate with suggestions that may put him at minor risk, involve minor cost, or that he would normally be opposed to doing.
Incapacitated - Target will cooperate with suggestions that may put him at major risk or involve major cost, or that he is strongly opposed to doing.
Near Death - Target is completely bamboozled and will cooperate with truly ludicrous suggestions.
Repeated Effort and Complementary TechniquesA player may attempt the same technique on the same target, but at a cumulative -1 per effort. Alternately, a player may follow up one technique with a different one. If the first technique is successful, the player might get a bonus to the second technique as follows:
Very Hurt: +3
Near Death: +5