DISCLAIMER

The following materials based on FUDGE, entitled FUDGE Nikita, are created by woodelf and made available by woodelf, and are not authorized or endorsed in any way by Steffan O'Sullivan or any publisher of other FUDGE materials. Neither Steffan O'Sullivan or any publisher of other FUDGE material is in any way responsible for the content of these materials. Original FUDGE materials Copyright 1992-1995 Stefan O'Sullivan, All Rights Reserved.

If you wish to distribute copies of all or portions of FUDGE or derivative works based on FUDGE for a fee or charge, other than in a magazine or other periodical, you must first obtain written permission from:

Steffan O'Sullivan
POBox 465
Plymouth, NH 03264

Introduction

I was inspired by the movie Nikita,1 and wanted to capture its feel for a campaign. In particular, I liked the idea of characters that were at least initialy unsympathetic being forced to do morally questionable things for a government that didn't want its reputation tarnished. The problem i immediately identified was coming up with a mechanism to explain many characters all in that situation. (I'm not positive, but my take on the situation is that Nikita was unusual, and the rest of the people we saw her training with were volunteers.) Afterall, the government might put up with someone as much trouble (morally and practically) as Nikita once in a while for the really troublesome missions, but why go to all that trouble on a regular basis? There has to be a reason -- just how many operatives do you need that don't have any rights or recourses? And just how despicable of a person are you willing to put up with in order to get them? I realized, that, unlike in the film, these people'd have to have not only a disposability to them, but some special reason for keeping them around (you don't spring a cop-killer or what-have-you *just* because you need an operative). So I envisioned a special branch of super-covert operatives (as depicted in teh movie) with a sizable chunk of them made up of "redeemed" criminals. Obviously, all of them had to have done something that warranted the death penalty, because that is both how the government disappears them, and how it keeps its hold over them. And they all had to have some redeeming feature that made them valuable enough to deal with. I leave what that feature is up to the player, but I assume that it will be something skill- or talent-related. The person might be a world-class contortionist and acrobat, something that can't be easily taught in a few years, if at all. Or perhaps great disguise/acting ability. Or perhaps she beats the odds a bit when it comes to her hunches -- she calls it intuition, but others call it ESP.

As you can see, I've broadened the options, allowing minor supernatural traits, with one caveat: nothing that can be explicitly proved or disproved. I'm handling any such abilities myself: the player can describe in general terms how it works, at least from a result standpoint, but only I know what actual mechanics are being used, and what is really going on. (The "psychic" from above might actually have ESP -- or she might just be lucky, represented by a small bonus on rolls for figuring things out when no real input is available. Or she might just have really acute perceptions, and be able to read body language on a subconscious level.)

Dice:

Trait Scale
Terrible-3
Poor-2
Mediocre-1
Fair0
Good+1
Great+2
Superb+3
Legendary+4

I'm using the basic FUDGE system as my basis. Attributes and skills are rated on the usual FUDGE scale. I've modified die rolling a little bit, to give it a slightly more heroic feel, and introduce a mechanism for unskilled rolls:

This also helps to muddy the waters, since really exceptional results can be generated for "normal" rolls, players won't be able to tell just by the results whether any special abilities they have are supernormal, or just statistically unlikely.

Wounds

Something else that needs explaining is how wounds are handled. There is no damage track or hit points or wound levels or life levels, or anything of that sort. Instead, wounds are dealt with on an individual basis.

Wound Chart
Final Total Wound Degree Penalty
Poor (-2) or worse Unhurt 0
Mediocre (-1) Bruise/Scratch 0
Fair (0) Light Wound -1
Good (+1) Wound -2
Great (+2) Serious Wound -3
Superb (+3) Incapacitating (-4 )
Legendary (+4) or better (Near) Fatal (-6 )

As described above, whenever an attack is successful (generates a net positive result), the weapon modifier and Strength of the attacker are added to, and the Constitution and armor of the defender are subtracted from the result.2 Note that the original attack/defense rolls are used; no new roll is made. This final result is then referenced on the Wound Chart to determine the resulting degree of wound. This should be recorded (along with wound location). So long as a character is wounded, the associated penalty is applied to all rolls. The penalties for multiple wounds are additive, so someone with 2 Light Wounds and a Serious Wound would suffer a -5 on all rolls until healed.3 Someone who has suffered an Incapacitating Wound is able to do little more than call for help, and could very well be unconscious. A Legendary result for a wound generates a result of Fatal. The GM should exercise discretion as to how quickly a character dies from such a result, depending on the nature of the damage. For Fatal wounds that allow the time, a quick trip to the hospital could very well save the character's life, though likely require weeks or months of convalescence, and often leave the character permanently debilitated in some way. A smart character will surrender or play possum or escape when the penalties from wounds begin to reach the level where an Incapacitating or Fatal wound is likely.

Agility
ability to move and control your body, your speed, precision and balance as well as your nimbleness
Strength
ability to use muscle power to achieve a purpose
Constitution
ability to withstand pain and illness, exhaustion, hunger and thirst
Comeliness
a measurement of your beauty
Ego
intelligence, memory, and willpower
Charisma
charm and ability to influence people
Perception
ability to use your senses or discover things that aren't obvious
Education
general knowledge

Character Generation:

You start with all attributes defaulted at Fair,4 and 4 free levels to spend on them. You can have no more than one Superb and one Great. The Attributes are:

Skills are each assigned a governing attribute. Beginning characters receive 35 points for skills. For beginning characters, skills cost one point per level to raise up to the level of the governing attribute, and 3 points per level thereafter. Speaking your native language has a default level of Fair, while the basic skills (denoted with a '*') default to Mediocre. Most knowledges and exotic skills have a default of non-existent, while all others default at Poor. If a skill has parantheses following the name, the skill represents a group of skills, each of which is learned separately. You must pick the specific subskill that you have, either from the list provided, or as appropriate if there is no list. Skills may be raised up to Superb. The skills, listed under their governing attributes:

Agility:
  • Acrobatics
  • Brawling*
  • Climb*
  • Craft ()
  • Dodge*
  • Falling Technique
  • Martial Art ()
  • Melee Weapon (Stabbing, Slashing, Chopping, Clubbing, Flexible, Thrown)*
  • Musical Instrument ()
  • Parachuting
  • Projectile Weapon (Bow, Longarm, Handgun, Automatic, Heavy Weapons)
  • Riding
  • Scuba Diving
  • Sneak*
  • Sport ()
  • Throwing*
Constitution:
  • Swim*
Ego:
  • Accounting
  • Appraising
  • Artist ()
  • Astrology
  • Bugging
  • Computers
  • Cryptography
  • Demolitions
  • Electronics
  • First Aid
  • Hypnosis
  • Information Retrieval
  • Mechanic
  • Meditation
  • Read & Write*
  • Rhetoric
  • Security
  • Wilderness Survival ()
Charisma:
  • Acting
  • Diplomacy
  • Disguise
  • Etiquette
  • Interrogation
  • Seduction
  • Subterfuge*
Perception:
  • Burglary
  • Drive (Car, Motorcycle, Boat, Plane, Helicopter, Jet, Glider)
  • Forensics
  • Forgery
  • Gambling
  • Hide*
  • Numerology
  • Photography
  • Search*
  • Shadow
Education:
  • Foreign Language ()
  • Humanities ()
  • Medicine ()
  • Occultism
  • Parapsychology
  • Poisons/Street Drugs
  • Research
  • Science ()
  • Social Science ()
  • Writing/Composition

Finally, characters may have Gifts and Faults. Each gift must be offset by a fault of equal magnitude. Alternatively, points may be exchanged between Attributes, Skills, and Gifts, at the following rate:
1 Gift point = 2 Attribute points = 6 Skill points
Each character should have at least one (near-) unique ability, and this will most often be defined by a Gift and/or Fault. Lists of possible Gifts and Faults, and their values, follow.

At this stage, you have your character as she was just prior to being "recruited." Now you need to deal with the training that she has since received. Ideally this should be dealt with at least partly through roleplaying. In any case, the training will be tailored for the particular character, though from a standard base.

Gifts
1 Altruism
3 Animal Friendship
2 Artistic Talent
4 Body Awareness
1 Chivalry
1 Code of Honor
2 Cultural Flexibility
3 Empathy
2 Endure Cold/Heat
2 Endure Hunger/thirst
3 Endure pain
2 Endure torture
2 Enhanced Awareness
1 Forgiving
2 Gift for Languages
2 Good Reputation
1 Honesty
3 Influential Friends
3 Intuition
1 Largess
4 Luck
4 Magical Intuition
2 Mathematical Talent
1 Motherliness
1 Pacifism
3 Resistance to Illness
3 Sixth Sense
1-3 anything else normal
2+ anything else weird (practicing wizard, faerie friend, aura reading, etc.)

Training:

Training gives the following benefits:
2 more levels for Attributes
The character is trained intensively, honing her body and mind as much as possible, and realizing her potential. Any attribute may now be raised up to Superb. (Nikita spent these on Charisma and Education.)
35 more skill points.
These are the skills honed and taught to the recruit. All recruits will he trained up to Fair in any of the basic abilities that aren't already at that level. At least one Melee Weapon skill, one Projectile Weapon Skill, First Aid, and Brawling will all be trained up to Good. Other than that, any training that the player can justify is reasonable. Beyond the governing attribute, skills now only cost 2 points per level, due to the intensive professional training available. Skills may be raised up to Superb. (Nikita was clearly trained in Projectile Weapon (Handgun), Projectile Weapon (Longarm), Martial Art (<unknown>), Shadow, Etiquette, Disguise, Computers, Artist (painting), Acting, Brawling, and Dodge. We can presume Melee Weapons and First Aid, though neither was shown on screen, really.)
Can buy off 1 fault.
This is subject to the GM's approval, as it has to be a fault that the organization could somehow fix, whether through training or medicine or money, or whatever. (If nothing else good came out of it, Nikita was cured of her drug habit by the time they were through.)

Points may still be exchanged at the rate of 1 Gift point = 2 Attribute points = 6 Skill points, and additional faults may be bought at the rate of 1 Fault point = 1 Gift point.


Faults
1 Animal Enmity
3 Bad Luck
2 Bad Reputation
2-4 Curse
2 Death Wish
3 Depression
3 Destiny
3-4 Drug Addiction
1 Egotist
2 Fanaticism
2 Forgotten
3 Reckless Gambler
2 Greed
1-3 Habitual Liar
2 Haunted
3 Innocently Blamed
2 Intolerance
3 Maimed
3 Mania
4 Manic-depressive
1-3 Mental Compulsion
2 Mental Constriction
1-3 Mistaken identity
3 Mortal Enemy
1-2 Nightmares
1 Oath of Revenge
3 Paranoia
1-3 Phobia
2 Persecuted
3 Rationalist
4 Schizophrenia
1-3 Sexual Neurosis
2 Sexually Tantalizing
3 Split Personality
1 Touchy
3 Unwilling Medium
1-3 Wanted
1-3 anything else normal
2+ anything else weird (vulnerable to witch hexes, have the Evil Eye, etc.)

Sources

Most of this system is based on the system from Kult, a good solid system for modern games. In fact, only a minimal bit of effort would be required to make it an almost complete reflection of the Kult system. The Attribute and Gift/Fault lists are taken directly from there, as is the idea of limiting Skill level by Attribute level. And the Skill list is modified from the one in Kult. You would need to convert the ranges for mental balance (which is calculated from Gifts and Faults), and use Dark Secrets (no real mechanical effect). Actually, the idea of Dark Secrets wouldn't be that out of place for this setting, either, but you'd probably want to steer away from the more obviously supernatural ones. The damage system comes from Aria, more or less; the Kult system is a more like that presented in FUDGE, with so many Light Wounds equalling a Major Wound, so many Major Wounds equalling a Serious Wound, and so on, until you're finally dead.

In addition to Nikita, the other major inspiration for this setting was VR.5, now playing on the SciFi Channel. The Committee of VR.5 is (maybe) a kindler, gentler organization, and Sydney isn't literally kidnapped, but it amounts to pretty much the same thing. It also provides an alternate mode of play for a similar group of people, but one that would focus more on conspiracy and issues of trust than on questions of morality. But both share the question of truth as one of their main themes, just expressing it in different ways.


Footnotes

1: I'm referring here to the original (French) movie, starring Anne Parillaud. I've never seen the American remake (Point of No Return), and don't intend to. As it happens, the TV series (on USA) is OK, but I've only seen 1 episode, and I came up with this before there was a TV series. So, if there are any differences, I'm referring to the original.

2: Note that this means a successful attack can result in no damage, depending on the weapon and armor involved, and the relative Strength and Constitution of the characters.

3: If you want the extra detail, penalties could be only applied to actions using the afflicted body part. However, if you do this, Serious and Incapacitating Wounds should still affect all actions, regardless of location, due to the trauma involved.

4: Reasons to playtest, # 17: Brain Typos. This originally (and unintentionally) read "Poor", leading to woefully underqualified special ops recruits. And probably making me look like I either had a screw loose or played a pretty lethal game. We noticed as soon as we tried to make characters.


woodelfwritings
created by woodelf@rpg.net