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Villains & Vigilantes
Fudge is more of an RPG design kit than an actual RPG game. A lot of great games are based on the Fudge system, such as Spirit of the Century and Terra Incognita. Fudge uses adjectives instead of numbers to describe stats with and you use Fudge dice (six sided dice with two plus signs, two minus signs, and two blank sides) to determine if your action is better than or worse than the rank of the stat you based the roll on. The adjectives used to describe stats with are called ranks, and those ranks are usually in the following order (from worst to best): Terrible, Poor, Mediocre, Fair, Good, Great, and Superb.
For example, if your character has a “Good” strength score you would roll the Fudge dice to determine a result between -4 and +4. If you rolled a +1 that would mean that with your “Good” strength that you had a “Great” result. If you rolled a -1 that would be a “Fair” result from your “Good” strength.
Why use adjectives instead of a number? Because now you can focus more on the storytelling instead of the rules of the game. If a character made a “Terrible” leap the GM just decides what happens instead of deciphering what the roll means. Also, when a system uses numbers usually the dice are just used in a binary manner (did the task succeed or fail?). With Fudge the dice help to say how well a task succeeded or how poorly it failed.
Let's say that your character is playing darts, and you roll for every throw at the dartboard. A result of “Fair” means that you hit the board and got a couple of points. A “Good” throw might give you a slight lead over your opponent, a “Great” throw and you now definitely have the advantage, and a “Superb” throw means that you got a bullseye and won the game. Likewise, a “Mediocre” throw might give your opponent a slight lead, a “Poor” throw gives the advantage over to your opponent, and a “Terrible” throw means that you missed the board entirely and your opponent will probably win the game.
Fudge allows you to play any genre of game and design any rules that you need for that genre. And the best thing about Fudge? You can download it for free from the web at Grey Ghost Press Inc. and other sites! The whole system is open source, so you can contribute your own materials to the game.
Villains & Vigilantes
Villains & Vigilantes is my favorite super hero RPG of all time! With a handle like VV_GM that is hard to imagine, now isn't it?
This was the first supers RPG that made sense to me, because it captured the feel of a comic book instead of focusing on the mechanics of a game. Although it is out of print now you can still acquire it in electronic format from here and other on-line RPG shops.
I have a lot of fond memories about this game, and all I can say is that to this day any supers RPG that comes out I instantly compare to this system. It is geeky gaming goodness at its very best!
Savage Worlds is my favorite proprietary game in print right now. It lives up to its claim of being “Fast, furious, and fun!” by using simple game mechanics and putting the emphasis on cinematic style over technical substance.
Plus you can get the entire game in a wonderful soft cover 6.5” x 9” book called the “Explorer's Edition” for only $10! I have a copy, and I have to say that the artwork and layout is just as good, if not better, than many other games I have that were $30 for a soft cover. Maybe I'm just cheap, but I liked the game a lot before they released this version and I appreciate any RPG publisher trying hard to deliver high quality at a lower price.
Savage Worlds is another universal system that makes it easy to play any genre. I highly recommend it to people looking for an alternative to D&D. Not that D&D isn't a fun game in its own ways, but just because I think that people who aren't big fans of D&D will find what they are looking for in Savage Worlds. Check it out. I'm sure that you'll like it.
Top Secret/S.I. is an espionage game that is no longer in print. I happen to own a couple of copies of the boxed set (my original set began to fall apart, so I bought two more that I found on eBay). If you want a copy I suggest that you start there and make sure that you search for Top Secret/S.I. as it is actually the second edition of a game called Top Secret (which I don't recommend playing). I also suggest doing some searches for Top Secret/S.I on Google as there are many loyal fans who host their own sites with materials for the game. If you happen to come across a copy of the Player's Guide then that is all you really need to play the game with.
The setting for Top Secret/S.I. was pure cold war era cheese! I was never big fan of it, but what I really liked about the game was that it was a great percentile system with a very interesting combat system. For hand to hand combat you rolled once to determine not only if you hit, but also to determine where you hit and how much damage that the attack caused. With weapons you rolled an additional die to determine the damage with, but you still had one roll to determine if you hit and where you hit. It was a really nice system that I wish would make a comeback!