The Yoteden FU Hack, Part One

FanMadeFuThe FU (Free Universal) RPG encourages tinkering.  If someone wants to modify and adapt things then it’s called a hack.  As anyone who reads this blog should know by now, I love this game system.  Late last year I decided it was THE game system I would move forward with and use.  I knew I wanted to do some serious projects with it including a solo game, a weekly game with my kids and maybe even an internet game with friends.  However, if I was going to use it, I needed to tinker with it.  There were some spots that I wanted to modify a bit not because they were wrong but because they didn’t fit my game style.

I’m happy to now report it’s getting finished up and I’m putting the first post up here as well as the FU RPG Yahoo board for anyone to use or, in turn, hack.  The hack will come out in three sections so as not to overload one single post.  The order of the release is

  1. Character Creation
  2. On Things Mysterious and Powerful
  3. On Learning Things

The first, which you can read below, is simply my way of how I want to build and run a character. The second will be my FU hack for Magic, Psychics, and maybe even superpowers.  The third adds in a bit of character advancement, XP and a little extra bookkeeping.

Once I get this released and ready to use, the next step is to get started with the solo campaign using the rules from the hack and as many random generators as I can find.   I hope to start the solo section later this week with some notes and ramblings about what kind of world I want to use in the first place.  Lots of gaming posts to come!



Character Creation

Building a character

Each character for this FU hack is built with the following:

Role = (Race/ Skill Level /What They Do)
Descriptor    –Both of these should be part of and compliment the role and
Descriptor       can be a physical or mental descriptor, Edge or even Gear.–
Background = (What they did before)
Descriptor    –This should also compliment the role as above.

Each character has a Role.  This role is comprised of three descriptors which equal experience level, race and what they are.

An Example

Gethan Jennkins
Role =  Human, Novice Street Thug
Descriptor: Fast
Descriptor: Quick-Witted
Background = Leathershop Apprentice
Descriptor: Haggling
Edge: Fast Fingered
Edge: Gifted Fine Short Sword
Flaw:  Stubborn

The Role

Let’s go over the three Descriptors which combine to form the Role.

This first part of the role could be considered optional.  It defines the different races in the game world and what those advantages or disadvantages are for the race.  The GM will need to assign these for the different races in the game world.  I would recommend at least one positive descriptor and one flaw.  These descriptors can be used during a roll IF it fits with something the character has planned to do.   I plan on using this hack with a pretty standard fantasy world.  In mine, Human is the norm and would gain no extra positive or negative descriptors.  You could easily change this to nationality or alien race or do away with it depending on the game world.

Elves – Lithe, Magical Sensitivity, Lightweight
Dwarf – Tough, Night Vision, Slow
1/2 Orc – Hard to Kill, Strong, Stubborn

Experience Level
The experience levels are Novice, Skilled, and Veteran.  (I will start most games with characters at Novice.)  Note, Novice does NOT define age.  As the character goes up in skill level they will get to place more dice in any actions which pertain to their “What They Do” descriptor (see below.)  This Experience Level is attached to the What They Do descriptor below.  It is not attached to the Race descriptor.  The number of dice is simple and shown below.

Unskilled    -1
Novice         0 – This allows the character to use their skills but with no bonus die.
Skilled        +1
Veteran      +2

This is to represent a characters level of experience and skill in dealing with the “What They Do” descriptor below.  A Novice character can use skills and abilities that fit with the role but they do not gain a bonus die on the roll.  They have the knowledge but will have to rely on other Edges, Descriptors, Conditions or Environmental Details to get the bonus they desire.  NOTE – If a character attempts something they have no knowledge in they are actually given a -1 !  Of course,  you do not need to write or list that a character is Unskilled

Example: A novice thief might have issues with a lock that is rusty (-1) during a rainstorm (-1) at night (-1) with the city watch coming around the corner (-1).  A Veteran will have a +2 to deal with all of those.  A novice soldier might have an issue dealing with a gang of thugs all by himself, a Skilled one or a Veteran will be much better off.

The definition behind the skill ranks is below:

  •         Novice: Raw recruit.  Some training but still no practical experience outside of the classroom.  Knows basic rote skills and basic training in a field.
  •        Skilled: This indicates enough experience to be a known holder of the skill.  An average to possibly even a slightly above average of ability and knowledge that goes past book learning.
  •         Veteran: This level shows many years, possibly decades of training and perseverance.  This could also be called the Master level of a skill or ability.
  •         Legendary = (still in testing) This level is very raw but indicates someone who has surpassed the Master level of a skill or ability.  This only comes after many decades of working with the skills in the role.  This person is known in their field as being a maestro of his or her role.  A rare individual.  If used, this would give a character a +3 in any skills this is attached to!

What They Are

This is a bit more open but covers what it is that the character DOES in the world.  Are they a fighter, a thief, a priest or perhaps just a caravan wagon driver?  What ever role is chosen then the player may use that as a descriptor if it fits.  This should be kept as simple as possible.

These three things combine to give the character their current role in the story.  For example, Novice Human Pickpocket or Skilled Half-Elf Priest.

The Other Character Descriptors

The Background

What did the character do before the game begins?  Were they a farmer, a street urchin, a tax collector or a spoiled merchant’s child?  This also allows for older characters who are just beginning the life of adventure.  The Descriptor below it should connect to the background.

Background Descriptor
These should be a part of or connected to the Role or the Background and work just as normal descriptors from FU.  Are they tough from working out in the elements?  Do they have business contacts from an old job? This is a good place to put ancestral gear.  Are they carrying their Antique Father’s Sword?  Their mother’s old wood chopping axe?  Their Aunt’s knitting needles?

2 Edges
This is the place to put anything that does not fit above.  Use Edges per their definition in FU.  Any special abilities, social connections or anything that makes them stand out as per rules for Edges in FU.

This is important and adds dimension to a character.  Is the character stubborn?  Overconfident?  Having to deal with a pesky Bloodlust or Depression?  This is the place to put it.


Non- Stat Items – I believe that it’s crucial that a player have at least a sentence or two that can be used to describe the character or give a jump start to what to expect.  For example: Gethan is a street thug that had to go to street crime after his Uncle’s leather working shop was set ablaze during a city riot.

I also think it’s a good idea for a group of players to figure out how their player characters are connected with each other.  It does not have to be deep relations.  Perhaps they know each other from crossing paths at a market, going to the same school or eating at the same business?   It’s up to the players, the GM and the story setting they have planned.   The bottom line is that it gives a good stable point for the story to move forward.

Next up — Things Mysterious and Powerful!

(Edited on 2/5/13 to restructure the Role and add more information about Race.)


Posted on February 3, 2013, in Gaming and tagged , , , . Bookmark the permalink. 7 Comments.

  1. Awesome! I love FU, so I’ll be watching with interest. I’m always looking for something a bit more robust to add to the system. Post onward!

  2. Sorry to bother once again…I just want to make sure I have a handle on your nice looking hack here. 😉

    The Role. I dig it. I’m just not sure I know when the experience level affects a roll, and what generates bonus dice. Here are some questions:

    1. The two descriptors tied to the role — do they get counted only if a character has “skilled” or better? Or do they simply support the idea of the role, but get added as bonus dice whenever they apply?
    2. What about race? Does race always add a die for applicable abilities, or only if the character has “skilled” or better?
    3. Does the background itself grant a bonus die, or only the descriptor tagged to it?

    Maybe I’m confused. Perhaps you’re suggesting that the role is only descriptive and doesn’t contribute mechanically unless the tagged descriptors come into play (and affected perhaps by experience level).

    Thanks for the clarification…I’d love to give this a try too!

  3. On second reading, it was clearer…those all DO contribute, mechanically with bonus dice. I guess I had to come to terms with the fact that it adds a LOT of bonus/penalty dice. In the end, it will likely be balanced by the GM on the other side of the table. Has it seemed at all unbalancing to you?

    • Roryb – I do need to make some clarifications to the Role. The only thing the level descriptor should modify is the “What They Do” descriptor. The Race descriptor is there since I’m running a fantasy game with it. Yes, the Race descriptor can be used if it actually does apply. Each race descriptor should have one or two descriptors that go along with it as well as a flaw. (This would be why something like a 1/2 Orc or a Minotaur should be scary in combat. They should be able to get a bonus die for their race if they are either dealing damage or tanking against damage. Something like this would be in the rules write-up for the world. However, they could easily be hard-pressed when trying to negotiate with a local merchant lord.) Thanks for finding this. That bit does need some additional structure to it.

      For Background, I usually do allow a bonus die IF it actually applies. It’s a bit of a balancing act. If someone used to be a leather worker and they need to know something that applies to that then, yes, a bonus die. On the other side, I usually don’t let them get an extra die in combat because they are using a leather awl. 😉 If they’re being a bit of a Munchkin and take something like Soldier for their background then I might let them use a bonus die for logistics, things involving endurance, or maybe even strategy. I typically don’t let them have a bonus die in combat though unless they REALLY need it or make a very good case for it. Crafty players will typically know how to leverage the system and as a GM you just have to be careful about getting too many bonus die on their side of things.

      For die rolling — I’ve not mentioned this yet but will in a future post. I’m currently using the 3d10 variant for the game because it allows for a lot of descriptors both good and bad. That being said, I also LOVE having only the players roll the die so I’m thinking of using either one of the other variants.

  4. I’m liking this so far.

    I am always torn a bit about assigning bonuses to skill level or such (the Role) area. I like to play a bit looser, and just scale the resistance to them, which I guess amounts to the same thing, but with less rigor. I just always feel that as you put these things down, people get rules lawyery about them./

    Still, for a straight fantasy hack, I think “role” — as you’ve constructed it — works pretty well.

  1. Pingback: The Yoteden FU Hack, Part Two « The Yote Den

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