About Fudge - Fudge is a role-playing game written by Steffan O'Sullivan, with extensive input from the Usenet community of rec.games.design. The basic rules of Fudge are available on the internet at http://www.fudgerpg.com/ and in book form from Grey Ghost Games, P.O. Box 838, Randolph, MA 02368. They may be used with any gaming genre. While an individual work derived from Fudge may specify certain attributes and skills, many more are possible with Fudge. Every Game Master using Fudge is encouraged to add or ignore any character traits. Anyone who wishes to distribute such material for free may do so - merely include this About Fudge notice and disclaimer (complete with Fudge copyright notice). If you wish to charge a fee for such material, other than as an article in a magazine or other periodical, you must first obtain a royalty-free license from the author of Fudge, Steffan O'Sullivan, P.O. Box 465, Plymouth, NH 03264.

Disclaimer - The following materials based on Fudge, entitled Large-Scale Battles for Fudge, are created by, made available by, and Copyright 2003 by Helge Lund Kolstad, and are not necessarily endorsed in any way by Steffan O'Sullivan or any publisher of other Fudge materials. Neither Steffan O'Sullivan nor any publisher of other Fudge materials is in any way responsible for the content of these materials unless specifically credited. Original Fudge materials Copyright 1992-1995 by Steffan O'Sullivan, All Rights Reserved.

Empires in Arms is a trademark currently owned by Hasbro Inc.

Large-Scale Battles for Fudge

These are simple rules for simulating field battles with the Fudge role-playing game. It is intended for fantasy or medieval/renaissance battles, but will probably work with for example Napoleonic battles as well with a little adjustment. The rules are in part inspired by the field combat rules from Avalon Hill's classic boardgame, Empires in Arms.

Note that these rules are suitable for large armies only. If you want rules for smaller skirmishes, use for example Daniel Frohlich's Mass Combat Rules.

Thanks go to Peter Mikelsons for invaluable feedback.

Core Rules


This is a trait common to one army. Like any other trait, it is ranked from Terrible (the worst nose-picking crowd that has ever picked up a weapon) to Legendary (well, in an ideal world). Most armies will have a Training ranging from Poor, for a hastily trained and poorly equipped band of peasants, to Great, for a superbly trained, well equipped force, like the King's Guard. Common armies would have scores of Mediocre or Fair.

From an army's Training are derived the two traits which will be used in battle: Morale and Fighting Ability.

Example: An army consists of newly recruited peasants equipped with pikes and dressed in gambesons and steel hats. Although they have had no training per se, they have been instructed by more experienced members of the army. Although they are reasonably well equipped, the GM decides that they only qualify for a Training value of Poor.


Normally, this is the same as the Training value. The GM might give a +1 bonus or a -1 penalty if he feels this might make the battle more interesting.

Example: Our brave army of peasant pikemen are commanded by their king to do battle against a friendly neighbor. Many of the soldiers have relatives in the town they are about to attack, and they are generally scared and confused. Therefore, the GM penalises them by -1 Morale for this battle. Since their Training score is Poor, their Morale is now Terrible.

Fighting Ability

This is the trait used for action resolution in the actual battle. It uses the Training as a base, and modifies it for leaders and other modifiers the GM might deem appropriate.



It is of some importance how an army is led. There are several ways to do this, depending on how much emphasis the GM puts on leadership. Here are two possible suggestions:

  1. Having a better leader than the opposition gives a +1 bonus. If a side's leader has a Tactics skill of Legendary, this bonus increases to +2. Likewise, a side has -1 if its leader is Terrible, and -2 if it is completely leaderless, regardless of how bad the opposition is.
  2. If the GM wants more emphasis on a leader's skill, he can add the leader's Trait modifier for the Tactics skill directly. The army's Fighting Ability is thus modified according to the following table:
  3. Leader's Tactics rating
    LeaderlessTerriblePoorMediocre Fair GoodGreatSuperbLegendary
    -4-3-2-1No modifier +1+2+3+4

Example: The peasant army is led by Count Bors, who is a Good leader. The army is facing a regiment led by the Duchess Beatha (Fair). Using method one, the peasants would get +1 Fighting Ability for a superior leader, for a total of Mediocre. However, the GM feels that a leader's quality should have a greater influence on an army's performance, and uses method two. Of course, in this case, the result is exactly the same, since the Trait modifier for Good still is +1.

Other Modifiers

Other modifiers might apply. For example, if one army is much larger than the other, that side might be awarded a +1 bonus. Attacking a strongly defended point might qualify for a -1 penalty. Such bonuses and penalties should not be more than one or at most two levels each.

The GM could (and probably should) make a list of modifiers for future reference. For a sample list, see below. Keep in mind that there should be roughly the same number of positive and negative modifiers, since it is very easy for a battle with lots of positive modifiers to become unhinged.

Example: The peasant army lines up for the battle against Duchess Beatha. The army is much larger than Beatha's regiment, and they are better equipped (Beatha's soldiers have no armour). The GM assigns the peasants a +1 modifier for size and +1 for eqipment. Including the leader bonus, that makes a grand total of Good Fighting Ability (Poor, +1 for leader, +2).

The Battle Round

A battle round (as opposed to a mle round) is everything from half an hour to several hours, depending on the ferocity of the fighting. There is plenty of time for the characters to take whatever action they please.

Example: Both the peasants and Beatha's troops are cautious, and probe eachother repeatedly after the initial charge. Since the GM doesn't want a lot of tied die-rolls bogging down the game, he decides two hours pass between the first and second die-roll. This is enough time for the characters to find out that both Bors and Beatha have been set up by Baron Blood, who lies waiting nearby with his army, ready to pounce on the winner.

Action Resolution

For every battle round, each side rolls an unopposed die roll against their Fighting Abilty. The difficulty is Fair. If the roll is made, the enemy loses one Morale level. For every three levels of success, reduce enemy Morale by another level, so that the enemy is at -2 Morale for a Superb result, -3 for Legendary +2, and so on. The results are applied simultaneously. Casualties are up to the GM, and should be fudged. When a side's Morale is exhausted (drops below Terrible), that side has broken and the remainder of the army flees. Situational modifiers apply for each round; for example, the GM should award the characters' side a bonus to the next roll if they do something heroic.

Example: For the initial attack, Bors' army has a Fighting Ability of Good and a Morale of Poor. Beatha's troops have a Fighting Ability of Mediocre and a Morale of Mediocre. Bors rolls +2 and Beatha +3, for a net result of Superb (Good +2) and Good (Mediocre +3), respectively. Both armies are reduced to Terrible morale (Poor -1 and Mediocre -2). However, one of Beatha's knights (who is a player character) charges ahead with a few of his men and captures Bors' banner. This is heroic enough for the GM to award Beatha a +1 bonus on the next roll. For the second round, Beatha's Fighting Ability will be Fair instead of Mediocre.

Miscellaneous and Optional Rules

Critical Results

This rule takes into consideration that dramatic events might occur in the chaos of battle. If a side rolls -4, they lose an edge for whatever reason, and their Fighting Ability drops by one level. On the other hand, if they roll +4, their Morale increases by one level. The GM is encouraged to invent a creative explanation for this - your side finally manages to breach the enemy lines, a leader is slain, etcetera.

Example: Beatha charges Bors' column, and both sides roll. Their armies both have Mediocre morale. Bors gets -2 for a Mediocre result, and Beatha gets +4 for a Superb result. Bors doesn't do any damage; however, Beatha not only reduces Bors' troops to Terrible morale, she also gains her troops an extra morale level, increasing her army to Fair morale. The GM explains that Beatha's spearhed formation split Bors' defence line completely, causing confusion among his troops and boosting her own soldiers'. However. the following round Bors gets +2 (Superb) and Beatha -4 (one level below Terrible). The Fighting Ability of Beatha's troops is reduced one level to Poor, and their Morale by two levels to Poor. Beatha charged too far into the enemy lines; Bors' troops succeeded in closing in behind her, and now her column is surrounded!

Calculating Casualties

Some GMs may find it desirable to have an algorithm for calculating losses on each side. This reduces the GM's freedom somewhat, but one always has the option of ignoring the result, after all. If you use this rule, you should probably not modify Morale for overwhelming numbers.

The unopposed action is rolled as normal. The number of enemy soldiers slain is then calculated, based on a percentage of your own troops; see the table below. Note that this is an approximate number; if you have 67843 men and roll a Superb result, this could be read as 10200, 10000, 10180 or whatever is convenient, not necessarily 10176.

Poor or belowMediocre to FairGood to Great Superb to LegendaryAbove Legendary
No losses5%10%15%20%

Example: Count Bors' peasant pikemen number about 12,000. They get a Good result against Duchess Beatha's regiment, numbering 3800. This means she takes losses equalling 10% of Bors' number. 1200 of Beatha's soldiers are slain, and 2600 remain.

Offensive and Defensive Manoeuvres

If you need to make the casualties a little more flexible, you can add offensive and defensive manoeuvres to the mix. Manoeuvres are declared before the dice are rolled. If a side declares an offensive manoeuvre, casualties are doubled for both sides that round. Conversely, if a side declares a defensive manoeuvre, casualties are halved for both sides that round.

This is cumulative. If one side is on the offence and the other defends, the modifiers cancel eachother out. If both sides charge, casualties are quadrupled.

Example: It is late Renaissance, and the Turks and Russians are at war. The Russians are better trained, but the Turks have an advantage for having more cavalry. After modifiers, both sides have Good Fighting Ability; the Russians have Fair Morale and the Turks Mediocre. As the signal is given, both sides decide to charge. The Russians, with 10,000 soldiers, roll a Great result, and reduce Turkish Morale to Poor. The Turks, who number 15,000, roll Superb, reducing Russian Morale to Poor. Now, the Russians would normally kill 10,000 10% = 1000 Turks, while they themselves would lose 15,000 15% = 2250 soldiers. However, both sides charged, so losses are quadrupled. Turkish troops are reduced by 1000 4 = 4000 to 11,000, while the Russians are decimated by 2250 4 = 9000 to a mere 1000!


If one side decides it has had enough and opts for a tactical retreat, its leader makes an opposed Tactics roll against the enemy leader's Tactics. If a side has no leader, it cannot withdraw. If the enemy has no leader, the withdrawing side's leader need only make an unopposed roll with Fair difficulty.

If the roll is made, the army manages to withdraw with minimal losses. If the roll is not made, they are still within the enemy's reach, and the enemy has a free opportunity to make an attack without the withdrawing army having an opportunity to respond.

Example: The Russians decide to retreat. Both sides have a Good leader. The Russian leader rolls against Tactics and gets a Great result. However, the Turkish leader rolls a Legendary result, and the tattered Russian army stays put. In addition, the Turks are still charging, causing double casualties. Turkey can now make a free attack roll without the Russians being able to make one in return. The Turks roll a Fair result for -1 Morale and 11,000 10% 2 = 2200 Russian soldiers killed. The Russians would still have Terrible Morale, had they not been completely wiped out.

Combining Armies

You may sometimes wish to combine groups of soldiers with different Training. This can be done in several ways, two of which are suggested here:

  1. Simply merge the troops, and choose the Training score of the largest group. If two groups are the same size, choose the lowest score and add +1 for every two levels the other group is higher.
  2. Perhaps a more realistic way is to keep all the original scores. The groups still fight as one, and make one roll, but the GM then keeps track of each subgroup's Morale. When one groups breaks, only that one flees; the others remain at the battleground. This method is especially appropriate if radically different groups are being combined. If the armies are more or less the same, it is probably more convenient to use the first method.

Example: Count Bors and Duchess Beatha finally realise that they have been set up by Baron Blood, and that he may attack them both at any time. They quickly decide to combine their armies and wait for him to attack. The armies are similar, so the GM decides on method one. Bors' soldiers are the largest group, so the combined Training will be Poor. The GM also ponders whether to assign a -1 modifier to Morale, since the two fought just a moment ago, but concludes that this would be too nasty.

Example: Meanwhile, the King has sent his best troops to invade Castle Anthrax. They are just over 700 - much too few to take the castle - so they round up all able bodies from the villages nearby. This inbred crowd, numbering around 2500 and armed with sharpened poles and farm implements, has not surprisingly a Training score of Terrible. The King's Guard are Great soldiers, and the troops are dissimilar enough for the GM to keep track of both scores. When the Anthrax garrison later score a Good result, both the Guard and the militia lose a Morale level. The villagers have had enough, and flee. The King's Guard, however, still has Good morale, so they stand and fight. The militia may have given them the opening they needed.


If a castle or fort is too difficult to take by force, you can always chip away at the garrison's morale by laying siege and cutting off supplies. For every day without supplies, the garrison must make an unopposed roll against their Morale score, with a GM-set difficulty. Failure means they lose a level until supplies can be reestablished. Of course, there is always the possibility of doing a sortie in hope of breaking through the enemy ranks and getting help. A besieged army that actually has a supply line (by sea, by means of a secret tunnel, or whatever) need not check Morale.

Example: The King's Guard, having failed their initial attempt to conquer Castle Anthrax, round up their militia again and lays siege to the castle. The Anthrax garrison has Fair Morale; the difficulty for the first roll is Fair. They roll a +1, so they make it. The second day, however, they roll -2 for a net result of Poor. Difficulty is still Fair, so their Morale drops to Mediocre. The third day, the GM decides supplies are starting to run out, so difficulty goes up to Good. The garrison now rolls a +1. Since their Morale dropped to Mediocre last day, the net result is Fair - alas, too little. Morale drops to Poor, and the King's Guard decides to attack. Although the garrison's Morale score is Poor, their Training is still Fair, so their Fighting Ability will also be Fair before applying modifiers.

Non-Human Scale

If the soldiers of the two sides are of different Scales, simply find the difference in Scale between the two sides. If the number is in your favour, multiply the casualties you inflict by that number. If it is in the enemy's favour, divide the casualties you inflict by the same. Yes, that means it makes no difference if the difference in Scale is only 1.

The soldiers of one side might be of mixed Scale. In that case, use the Scale of the most numerous group. If you bother to handle the book-keeping, you can calculate and add casualties inflicted for each of the groups. All groups within a force still use the same attack roll, though.

A force might include single, very powerful creatures, such as dragons. The GM should assign a Damage Scale to such creatures and handle them separately as described above.

Example: As the King's Guard is laying siege to Castle Anthrax, they are ambushed by a pack of 150 Ogres (Scale 3) and 10 Wyverns (Scale 7). On their initial attack, Ogres roll a Good result, reducing the Guard's Morale by one level and causing 10% casualties. For the Ogres, that means 150 10% 3 = 45 soldiers. For the Wyverns, 10 10% 7 = 7 soldiers. The GM rounds off this number to a total of 50. The Guard also make their roll in the same round, and get a Superb result. The Guard are normal humans, so they kill 700 15% / 3 = 35 Ogres, since the Ogres are the largest enemy group, and the difference in Scale is 3 in their favour. Morale is unaffected by Scale, however, so the King's Guard chase off the marauders after only a few rounds.

Appendix A: Sample List of Modifiers

Appendix B: Sample Field Battle

Luddia has invaded Fedex, and taken their army completely by storm. Having shattered the Fedich army, the Luddites march towards the ancient stronghold of Firewall, where the Fedich king and remaining troops has sought refuge.

The Fedich, however, have time to prepare. A great number of peasants are trained as pikemen and archers under the tutelage of the great general, Noelopan. There are as well a few remaining Fedich knights.

In this campaign, critical results are used, but casualties are not tied to die rolls - the GM decides he wants a bit of freedom there. Neither magic nor gunpowder exist, so modifiers for magical aid, firearms, and artillery do not come into play. Leaders are toned down, so method one for determining leader bonus is used.

Finally, the Luddite army arrives. The Luddite soldiers are crack troops, and have a base Training score of Good. This is also their Morale score. The GM rules that the makeshift Fedich army has Poor Training. However, he also rules that the urgency of the Fedich cause awards their army a +1 bonus, inreasing their Morale to Mediocre.

The Luddites, although well trained and equipped, are led by the Luddite Prince, who wanted this victory for himself. Although of noble birth, he is a Terrible leader (-1). The Luddite army of 10,000 men outnumber the Fedich 3000 by more than 3 to 1 (+1). Their knights far outweigh the Fedich cavalry (+1), although they have fewer archers (-1). The Luddites are attacking a mountain stronghold (-2). The GM could have dealt out some modifiers for the mountainous terrain, but decides that this is included in the stronghold modifier. Their final Fighting Ability is Mediocre.

The Fedich army is not very impressive, but has a lot more pikemen than the enemy (+1), and Noelopan is a Legendary genius (+2). This gives the Fedich a Fighting Ability of Good. They're going to need that edge...

In the first round, the Luddites roll +2 (a Good result) and the Fedich -1 (Fair). Both sides lose a Morale level; the Luddites are now at Fair and the Fedich at Poor. As the second round starts, the characters, who are on the Fedich side, attempt a sortie and cause chaos in the Luddite ranks, giving the Fedich a +1 bonus on the next round. The Luddites now roll a 0 (Mediocre) and the Fedich -4 (Terrible). Oops. None of the sides manage to hurt eachother, but Firewall is an ancient stronghold, and part of the wall collapses. The Fedich Fighting Ability drops to Fair. In the third round, both the Luddites and the Fedich roll +3. This means a Good result for the Luddites, costing the Fedich another Morale level - they are now at Terrible. The Fedich, having received help from the characters' sortie, manage a Superb result, reducing the Luddite Morale by two levels to Poor. For the fourth round, Luddia rolls +1 (Fair) and Fedex +4 (Superb). Fedich Morale drops below Terrible; however, since Fedex rolled +4, their Morale increases one step and remains unchanged. That wins them the battle - the Luddites are finally defeated, and their remaining soldiers flee the battleground, their morale broken.