How Many df?

I love to fiddle with the number fo fudge dice rolled in FATE and fudge.

Since fudge dice are zero centered adding or removing dice does not increase or decrease your chances of success, but it does increase the range of possible outcomes.

Most games used 4df, but suppose the number of dice reflected how stressful the situation was?  In a very controlled environment (Lab, training) you might roll only a single die.  That means you might have a good (+1) or bad (-1) day, but you’re going to perform within a fairly predictable range.

If things are a bit more stressful, you add more dice – maybe you roll 2 dice because your boss is breathing down your neck, or 4 dice because the other guy in the fight just pulled a knife.

Now, there’s an implicit narrative to this – it basically says that you will only see the very best and very worst of human performance in a stressful situation.  This is perhaps not strictly true (though there is some truth to it) but it’s an excellent premise for fiction and adventure, if only because the alternative is not much fun to watch.

Once you open up this idea, it becomes an interesting slider.  There’s nothing that demands that 4 be the maximum number of dice, and  things definitely get wilder the more you add, so it’s useful to figure out how exactly to hook this into the system.  Consider a few hacks to take advantage of this:

  • Tie it directly to consequences – dice rolled equal 1+ the number of consequences you carry.  As things get bloodier, they get wilder.
  • Use it as an escalation of tension.  When a session starts, set the “swing value” at 1df, then increment it one at key points. Curiously, this works equally well for pulp as for horror.
  • Escalation works e

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