Michael Gentry created “Fudge: Buffy the Vampire Slayer” but it disappeared from his site some time ago. Luckily the rules were captured by the Way Back Machine on 2 Aug 2002; you can find it here. For my own convenience I’ve combined the eight pages into one. I hope the Fudge Community will also benefit. All words are Michael’s.
This is a game based on the TV show, Buffy the Vampire Slayer. Characters play the part of the Slayer, the Watcher, and the rest of the Scooby Gang as they battle the vampires and other demons of the night in the backyards and allyeways of the idyllic Californian suburbs.
FUDGE: Buffy is a pick-up game, built so you can come up with short, simple episodes based on the typical formula employed by the show – meet the monster, read up on the monster, kill the monster – put together some fast characters, and run with it for an evening or two. The mechanics are fast and simple, and lean heavily on the "narrativist" side of things. With a
little work, you could string several episodes into a longer campaign (or "season"), and create episodes that depart from the standard formula in interesting ways.
But mostly, it’s for kicking a lot of vampire butt.
We’re not going to spend a lot of time describing the show’s themes or content. If you’re not familiar with Buffy, turn on the television and watch it for a few weeks. It’s not hard to pick up the basic idea. If you live in a country where the show isn’t broadcast, browse through one of the many fan sites and episode guides out there on the web (we highly recommend BuffyGuide.com), and consider petitioning your government to rectify this shameful situation.
For consistency and clarity, the game master in this game is called the “Buff Master,” and is always referred to as being of female gender.
This game assumes you’re using the normal FUDGE dice-rolling method (4df, straight up, no chaser) and the standard scale as presented in the original rules:
Results worse than Terrible are written as Terrible-1, Terrible-2, etc. Likewise, results above Superb are referred to as Superb+1, Superb+2, etc.
You can set your game in Sunnydale and use the characters straight from the actual show – Buffy, Xander, Willow, Giles, et al. – or you can come up with your own set of Slayer and friends and set it wherever you like. You can also, it must be said, run games in which the Slayer is not the most important character in the bunch – there’s no reason why you couldn’t run a game that focuses mainly on the Scoobies, or in which the Watcher is an NPC, or in which the Watcher and Slayer are both NPCs, or however you like. Bear in mind, though, that some of the rules rely heavily the interactions between Watcher, Slayer, and Scoobies, and if you cut out one or more of them entirely, important parts of the game may be lost.
We use the "subjective" character creation system ’round these parts, for a couple of reasons. First, there just aren’t that many stats to balance. Second, and more important, there isn’t much evidence to suggest that character balance is all that important in Buffy. In a game where you’re going to have Xander and Angel – or Xander and Buffy, for that matter – running around in the same group, there’s just not much point in keeping track of point totals.
Characters generally come in three flavors: the Slayer, the Watcher, and the Scooby Gang.
Two aspects of the Slayer are always the same:
- The Slayer is always a girl. We are particularly unwavering on this point. You are enthusiastically invited to bend or break every other stereotype on the show – play a female Watcher, if you like; or a kind, helpful vampire; or a socially well-adjusted high school student – whatever. But the Slayer is. Always. A girl. If this game has only one sacred cow, that would be it.
- The Slayer is always extremely Buff.
Unless you’re deliberately attempting some interesting deviation from the TV stereotype, the Slayer should always start the game with at least Great, maybe even Superb Buff. This represents a Slayer at the beginning of her training: she can mop the floor with most human opponents, but has not yet achieved superbuffness.
The Slayer will usually have a high ‘Tude – and if not, she’ll develop one pretty quick. The Slayer is the only character who can earn and use Slayer Points, and she is the only character who can attempt to stake in the middle of combat without penalty.
Generally speaking, the Slayer is always all out of bubble gum.
Unfortunately, for all this the Slayer’s lot is not an easy one to bear. Her high ‘Tude, and the fact that her powers and knowledge tend to alienate her from her peers, means that she often has a low Sosh. The Slayer’s confidence in herself is fragile – it’s easy to become discouraged when you hardly understand what you are, much less the creatures that you’re slaying all the time, and you’re failing English class to boot because you spend all night patrolling graveyards instead of studying. Slayers take a -1 to any Brains test involving academics – not because they are stupid, but because they are perpetually distracted by the forces of darkness. Finally, and most insidiously, the Slayer can accumulate Gloom – malaise and discouragement that can prevent her from slaying up to her full potential, and even twist her personality into something cynical and dark.
But there’s always a bright side. At least you look good in leather pants.
The Watcher’s job, essentially, is to keep a sharp eye out for budding young Slayers and, when he finds one, to train her to kill vampires and keep her out of trouble. Most Watchers, though certainly not all of them, have the whole older-conservative-British-male thing going on, and they tend to have mucho Brains and possibly a high Magic attribute as well.
The Watcher is arguably the most important figure in the Slayer’s life: for all his fallibility and fumbling British fuddy-duddiness, without Giles Buffy would have been vamp chow half a season in. The Watcher is the only character who can effectively train a Slayer – the Slayer on her own cannot improve her skills without his tutelage. That being said, the Watcher-Slayer relationship is not always a smooth one. In many ways the two are closer together than boyfriend and girlfriend, and that sort of intimacy tends to develop huge blind spots. The Watcher cannot make a Sosh test to dispel his Slayer’s Gloom unless every other member of the Scooby Gang has tried and failed. That sort of chin-chin pep talk just doesn’t fly very well, coming from the guy who spends all week long critiquing your aikido and nagging you to get your homework done between stakings.
Finally, and more importantly for all the less slay-intensive members of the gang, the Watcher is also the source for research material on the Bad Guys. His library on the occult is huge and full of supernatural factoids, and although anyone can take a crack at it, only the Watcher really understands how to navigate through it all.
The Scooby Gang
These are the Slayer’s close friends and hangers-on who know about her special calling, are hip to the whole vampires-are-real thing, and stick around to help her fight the good fight. They tend to be as awkward, useless, and socially maladjusted as any other teenager, except that they get to load up on weapons and hunt demons at night. Some of them may have special Deals, or supernatural powers. Some of them may not even be human.
All the persecution and dread that comes with taking on the hordes of Hell head-on every night tends to make the Scoobies a tightly knit group. They will generally stick together and help each other out even if, in a more normal social setting, they wouldn’t have anything to do with each other. Friendships are very important, and rifts can be deadly.
Every character has six attributes:
How much ass you can kick, basically. It’s also used for any action involving physical strength, speed, or toughness – jumping over a wide chasm; busting down a door; chasing down a frightened, screaming girlie-man; and so forth.
For most people, Superb is as good as they’re ever going to get (and far better than they probably will ever get) in any attribute. However, the Slayer, vampires, and other supernatural creatures are often Buff beyond the abilities of mortal men. Anyone with a Buff higher than Superb (Superb +1, Superb +2, etc.) is considered superbuff. As a general rule, any physical action that a normal person has a shot at pulling off, a superbuff person can do automatically, without having to roll Buff. So kicking down a wooden door, tearing a telephone book in half, or climbing over a chain link fence would pose no problem at all to a superbuff character; whereas bending an iron bar, punching through a stone wall, or lifting a car would all require a Buff test.
The one exception is combat: to retain some of the excitement and unpredictability, we suggest you roll out fights between superbuffs and normals, unless the normal clearly has no chance (a Superb
+4 vampire throwing down with a Poor band geek, for instance.)
Pronounced “SOH-sh,” as in “social” without the “-ial.” This is how well you can relate to your friends and get along with others. You roll it to make friends and influence people (without punching them); to bolster someone’s self-confidence (usually the Slayer, when she’s suffering from Gloom); or to make yourself look cool at parties.
As in atti-. This is courage, cockiness, and self-confidence all rolled together. Roll your ‘Tude to intimidate people; to avoid fleeing like a frightened, screaming girlie-man; and to maintain your nerve in the face of deadly psychic assaults aimed at making you think you have big thighs. ‘Tude can be a double-edged sword, however; the higher it is, the harder it is for others to get through to you when you’re suffering from Gloom.
Pretty straightforward – this is a measure of your magical talent, how well you know the material and how slick you can pull it off. Generally you roll it whenever you want to cast a spell.
How often good things happen to you, how often bad things happen to you, and how well you can stay out of trouble and avoid getting clobbered. You’d roll this to see if you can get out of the way of an aggressive vampire’s fist; to see who spots the secret clue first; to see who’s standing on the rotten floorboards when they decide to give way and dump you into the haunted, demon-infested basement…stuff like that.
All six attributes are measured on the normal FUDGE scale. As a general rule, all characters should stay within the Terrible-to-Superb range, even the Slayer.
Skills are more than just what your character happens to be good at. Skills represent your character’s "thing" – the niche you get to fill in the social dynamic of the group – the talent that makes you a unique and shiny member of the Scooby Team. When you pick a skill, that’s an implicit understanding between you, the Buff Master, and the rest of the players that this skill is your thing, and you get first dibs on any spotlight time that might come up because of it.
The reason why skills are treated this way in FUDGE: Buffy is that, in accordance with the tropes of the TV show and the narrative bent of these rules, it is axiomatic that skills are important only in the context of the whole group, and then only in the context of THAT group. No one really cares about anyone’s computer skills on the TV show, except that every once in a while they put Willow in front of one because computers are one of Willow’s “things”. Furthermore, it’s never an issue of exactly how good Willow is, either. The point is, she’s good at it. A computer challenge is always met by Willow, unless Willow is waylaid somehow, in which case it’s someone else, and everyone sits around fretting about how much hot water they’re in because it’s Xander or Anya trying to break into the CEO vampire’s secret corporate database or whatever, and they’ll probably screw it up.
If no one takes a particular skill, than that skill is irrelevant to the game. It’s a non-issue, and the Buff Master may handle the situation however she likes. In the case of computers, perhaps everyone could simply roll a Brains test, or success could be automatic, or dictated by the demands of the story. It’s not important unless someone decides to make computers their "thing" by taking it as a skill; in which case, use the mechanics presented here.
Skills are not rated on the FUDGE scale. Simply note that you have it, and from then on you get to roll as though your skill level were Good whenever the appropriate situation arises. Because this is your area of expertise and no one else’s, anyone else attempting a skill that you have and they don’t must roll as though their skill level were Poor.
There is no set skill list in FUDGE: Buffy; you are free to come up with whatever seems most appropriate and fun for your character. Any sort of mundane activity that you figure you’d be good at is fair game. Some examples of skills you might consider:
- handy with computers
- plays a mean guitar
- gets hit on constantly at parties
- drives a car (this can be an important distinction in high school)
- knows all the seedy dives in town
- can cook really well
There are a few skills you may not take:
- Researching spells or monsters. Anyone can attempt this by rolling a Brains test.
- Talking the Slayer out of Gloom. This is handled with a ‘Sosh test, and isn’t something you can learn how to do.
- Dodging. You roll your Luck, just like everyone else.
- Casting spells. That’s determined by your Magic attribute.
- Any sort of combat maneuver. With the exception of firearms, your Buff pretty much covers any and all sorts of whoop-ass, and that’s all you’ll need to roll whenever you’re attempting to open up a can of it.
In general, any situation explicitly handled by an attribute test by these rules is off-limits.
You may have up to three skills, but you are not obligated to take any if you don’t want to. Two characters may share the same skill, if both of the players can agree to share the limelight for it. Note that if every character in the group wants to have the same skill, you’d do just as well to have no one list it and simply handle it with an attribute test (see sidebar).
(Players who deliberately conspire to all take the same skill just so they can all roll at Good should expect a liberal dose of BOHICA from the Buff Master.)
Always the exception, the Slayer may have only one skill. She’s got her hands plenty full with the whole slaying business, and rarely has time for much self-improvement in any other area.
Your Deal is that little something extra, that special something that makes you unique – not unique in the sense that beautiful snowflakes are unique, but unique in the sense that people who can pound a six-inch steel spike into their sinus cavities without apparent discomfort are unique. People wouldn’t ask you what your Deal is if it wasn’t freaking them out in the first place.
Not everyone has a Deal. Not everyone who has a Deal, wants their Deal. Deals are optional; test with the Buff Master before you pick one, and make sure she approves your choice. If the Buff Master is feeling particularly devious, she might assign Deals herself, or make you roll randomly for a Deal, or even keep your Deal a secret until it manifests later on in the game. There are a number of different ways of handling Deals, but they should be more than just a bunch of cool powers. Sometimes they’re more of a hassle than they’re worth.
You only get one Deal. You can pick from the list given here, or you can make up your own Deals if you
like, with input and approval from the Buff Master. These are some examples culled from or inspired by the TV show:
- Magical Prodigy – Magic is more than an intellectual pursuit for you; it’s in your blood. You have a knack for it. Of course, that’s not to say you necessarily understand it, or know how to control it, or even that you’re all that good at it. But there’s something to be said for raw talent. You get +1 to your Magic test when casting spells (but not when researching them).
- Werewolf – You’re a bona fide werewolf. You turn into a big hairy predator when the moon turns full, run around on all fours and tear out the throats of your enemies with your teeth. Sound cool? Maybe, until you wake up one morning and realize that your “enemy” was the sophomore who lived down the street from you, and who just happened to pick the wrong night to take his girlfriend to the park. Suddenly that whole locking yourself in a cage for two nights out of every month business starts to look like a pretty sweet deal.
Cursed Vampire – Ideally, there should be only one (if any) of these in the game. (At any rate, on the show there’s only one in the world.) The Deal is you’re a vampire, and you’ve been cursed with a soul. You get all the nifty powers and all the irritating weaknesses that come with being a blood-sucking hunter of the night, plus all the guilt-ridden angst that comes with having a full moral understanding of the depths of your own evil. You still have to drink blood, but your conscience won’t let you hurt anyone in the process, so look forward to many fun-filled nights robbing blood banks. Oh yeah, and if you ever experience a moment of true, honest joy, you’ll revert back into a monster.
A variation on this theme is the Muzzled Vampire: you’ve been captured by the Initiative and fitted with one of their patented anti-aggression chips. You can be as nasty as you like, except that you’re incapable of causing physical harm to a living soul. Demons and other vampires are still fair game, of course, but it’s still blood bank burglaries for dinner – at least until you can figure out a way to un-Clockwork-Orange yourself.
- Initiative Operative – You’re a soldier in the government’s secret war on the supernatural. You have access to their weapons, their intelligence, and their technology. You also have to do follow their orders or risk a court-martial or even, if you’ve been really bad, "liquidation". There’s also always the off chance that they’ve been slipping experimental drugs into your MREs… but hey, ask not what your country can do for you, right?
- Ghost – You’re dead, but unresolved issues keep your spirit tied to the mortal realm. Unlike most ghosts, however, you’re not so single-minded that you can’t take your mind off your own troubles long enough to help out a Slayer every now and again. Communicating with the living and, um, touching things can be kind of a problem, but on the other hand you make an excellent spy. And unlike everyone else on the team, you don’t have to worry about your grades. Anymore. Oh well.
- Medium – Wait for it…you see dead people! As Bruce Willis teaches us, sometimes this is a good thing, sometimes not. It’s a useful Deal to have if someone else’s Deal happens to be that they’re a dead person (see above).
- Psychic – Similar to the Magical Prodigy, except that your powers are more parapsychological in nature than mystical. Psychic powers, while potentially formidable, are typically poorly understood and difficult to control. Telepaths are driven crazy by the deafening babble of voices that they can’t shut out; precogs see horrible futures that they can’t avert; telekinetics have a bad habit of going Carrie on your ass when you least expect it. Still, there’s a certain amount of satisfaction to be had in being great at card tricks. Right?
Note that the Slayer doesn’t get to pick a Deal: her Deal is that she’s the Slayer (as if that weren’t plenty). Same goes for
There’s really only ever one point to combat in Buffy: to take down as many vampires as possible in as short a time as possible, and to look as cool as possible while you’re doing it. Looking cool is an acquired talent; the rest of it largely depends on how Buff you are.
Combat proceeds in "rounds." Each round, determine first who is whuppin’ up on whom. Then everyone rolls a Buff test: those who roll low get whupped, while those who roll higher do the whuppin’. Repeat as necessary until only one team is left standing.
The amount of hurt laid down by the winner of the round is determined by her degree of success. Your degree of success is the number of FUDGE levels by which the result of your Buff test exceeds the result of your opponent’s Buff test.
Degree of success determines the outcome of the combat round as follows:
Ordinarily, the Slayer and her gang are not going to be using guns all that often. They don’t actually work against vampires and most demons; acquiring them is, thankfully, problematic for most teenagers; and they tend to attract unwelcome attention when fired repeatedly on high school and college campuses. But they do come up now and again, not infrequently in the hands of the Initiative, so here’s how to deal with them:
Crossbows work similarly, except you don’t need any skill to shoot one, and you roll a Buff test to see if you hit. This is borne out by the TV show, which teaches the following wisdom: any bozo can spray lead, but a hot chick with a crossbow is Buff.
Okay, here’s the thing: you’re the Slayer, and you have plenty of better, or at least more interesting, things to do than spend all night softening up some bloodsucker too stupid to stay down. Seriously, you have a life you’d like get back to. You don’t have time to wait through a bazillion combat rounds until you finally manage to get in that final coop-de-whatever – you need something that will finish the job quick and keep it finished.
Stakes. Ain’t nothin’ like ’em.
Any sufficiently sharp piece of wood will do for a stake. Technically, it doesn’t even have to be sharp – it’s just that the pointy end comes in handy when you’re trying to jab it through someone’s heart. But the main thing is that it has to be wood (preferably a nice hardwood, like hickory) and it has to go through the heart.
The trick to fighting vampires – the whole point of it really – is to keep knocking them around until you see a good opening, and then bam – POOF. No more vampire. This is how it works in game terms:
The catch is, if you try the stake maneuver and blow it, then your attack is a clean miss and does no effect – even if you actually succeeded with your original attack roll.
There are a few other complications as well:
Any maneuver that involves striking at a monster’s critical weak spot – for example, beheading someone in one blow, or stabbing a demon right through its third, magical eye – can be handled the same way as staking. All the ordinary staking rules apply, including the -2 penalty for non-Slayers, and the necessity of an appropriate instrument – beheading requires something with a long, sharp, blade, for example.
Oh, and yes, you can stake with a crossbow, as long as the arrow is made of wood. It works the same way as the normal kind of staking – roll Buff a second time: if you lose, it’s a clean miss; if you win, time to get out the broom and dustpan.
A Very Butt-Kicking Example
Valerie, savvy young Slayer about town, is taking a shortcut through the park on her way to the town library. She is worried about passing the big Economics exam tomorrow, which is why she doesn’t see recently- risen vampire Mongo when he jumps her from behind a hedge.
Mongo gets the drop on Val, so he gets one free shot against a difficulty of Poor. His Buff is Great; but he rolls badly and gets a Fair result, for a degree of success of only 2 – just a Scratch. His flying tackle connects, but Val rolls with it and is up on her feet with no ill effects.
Next round, both of them go at it. Val, who has a Superb Buff, rolls and gets Superb +2. Mongo gets Great. Val wins with a degree of success of 3 – Stunned. A quick leg-sweep knocks Mongo’s feet out from under him, and he lands flat on his ass.
Valerie takes this opportunity to open up her Hello Kitty backpack and haul out a wooden stake.
On the third round, two more vampires, attracted by the noise, run over join the fray: Biff, another newcomer with a merely Good Buff, and Bort, who has been around the block a few decades, has an Buff of Superb, and had the forethought to bring a hefty 2-by-4 with him.
Everyone rolls their Buff:
Val tied Bort, barely fending off a swing of his 2-by-4, and beat everyone else. She can only direct her attack at one opponent, however; so she blocks a clumsy grab from Mongo and introduces Biff to the heel of her black leather Nine West boot. The degree of success between Fair and Superb +3 is 6.
Now, ordinarily, that would mean that Biff is Injured and will be at -1 for the rest of the fight. But Val isn’t done with him yet; since she wasn’t Stunned or Injured this round, she decides to go for the stake. She rolls Buff a second time and gets Great, which beats Biff’s original Mediocre. POW – Biff is dust before he’s even finished falling.
Fourth round: Val rolls Superb, Mongo rolls Fair, and Bort (still getting that +1 from his 2-by-4) rolls Great. Once again, she tries the stake maneuver, rolls another Superb, and Mongo disintegrates.
Now it’s just Val and Bort squaring off. Val rolls a Superb +2, Bort rolls Great. Val decides she’s tired of dodging lumber tonight, so instead of just Stunning Bort she opts to disarm him. A lightning-fast spinning kick sends his makeshift club clattering to the pavement.
Val launches a flying kick at Bort’s head as he dives for the weapon. Bort could just take it like a man, but there’s a good chance that the Slayer could take him out completely, or even follow up the wooden stake. So he elects to dodge. If he makes it, he gets the weapon and avoids the attack; if he blows it, the 2-by-4 stays on the ground and he gets a kick in the head to boot. Bort’s Luck is Fair. He rolls and gets a Good. Val rolls Great. Bort staggers past the 2-by-4, missing it.
Bort has finally decided he’s had enough. Val rolls Good, and Bort attempts to dodge. He gets a Great on his Luck roll, ducking under a vicious jab and hauling ass back to his lair.
Much as she’d like to go after him, Valerie instead gathers her books and continues on to the library. If only the Economics exam were that easy…
The world would be a much simpler, less demon-infested place if every bad guy could be handled with tactics as straightforward as a good, old-fashioned stake through the heart. Sadly, this is not the case. Turns out, not every bad guy out there is a vampire. While there are a few types of demons that are vulnerable to your garden-variety pounding, most of them have hidden weaknesses, with Achilles’ heels in unexpected and often disgusting parts of their anatomies. Some demons have magical protections that must be bypassed; some demons cannot be destroyed at all – they can only be banished or contained. And sometimes even the vampires jump on the bandwagon and go out of their way to make things more complicated for the Slayer: the stake-through-the-heart routine starts to become a real chore when the heart’s actually in a sealed, enchanted jar in a vault halfway across town.
Given that Bad Guys tend to come in about a million different flavors, the only way you’ll ever manage to keep track of all this is by going to the library and hitting the books. Take notes. There will be a quiz later, and there’s a good chance that the quiz will be vigorously trying to eat your brain.
Research plays a prominent role in most Buffy episodes, and its goal is usually (though not always) to uncover helpful clues about how to deal with a bad guy who refuses to play nice and sit still for a beating. The ground rules for research are simple: you roll a Brains test, and if you beat the difficulty level, you gain a clue. The basic difficulty for digging up info on a bad guy generally depends on how much you already know:
|Prior Knowledge||Description||Research Difficulty|
|Almost Nothing||You haven’t even seen the creature yet, although you may have witnessed some of its handiwork. All you have to go on are vague hints or prophecies and whatever clues you managed to pick up from the scene of its last kill.||Superb|
|First Sighting||You’ve fought with the creature at least once (or the Slayer has, at least, if you don’t happen to be the Slayer), and you at least know what it looks like. If you managed to find a clue while knowing Almost Nothing, the clue itself might be an illustration or description of the beast, which counts as a First Sighting.||Great|
|Getting Warmer||You’ve had a chance to spy on the creature; you know where it lives and how it likes to hunt; maybe you’ve interrogated someone who knows something about it. If you managed to dig up a clue after a First Sighting, the clue itself might be further information that brings you up to Getting Warmer status.||Good|
|Common Knowledge||The creature is well known in cultural mythology – for example, a werewolf – and you’re just looking for specifics. Of course, the information you uncover might turn out to be that the creature isn’t what you thought it was…but at least now you know.||Fair|
The Buff Master may impose a -1 on all research rolls if the monster in question is so rare or arcane that very few people have ever written about it. Make the penalty -2 for really powerful evil masterminds – you don’t usually get that powerful without making sure your weaknesses don’t get much press..
Some additional rules for research:
- First, you need a proper library – You can’t do research without the right books. And funny thing, you don’t tend to find comprehensive, quality-written tomes of demonic lore at your neighborhood Barnes & Noble. No, what you need is a very specialized collection of very rare books that most libraries have never even heard of, much less stock…and that’s precisely the point at which a Watcher starts to really come in handy. Your Watcher is your one-stop shop for all matters arcane; without his resources, you might as well resort to jabbing at the monster with a pointy stick and hope for the best.
- …but it probably won’t be a very good library – These are not easy books to read. Most of them are written in archaic, foreign, and/or long-dead languages. If they have been translated, they may have been translated badly. Some of them are faded or falling apart. The original author might have been completely insane, or writing in code to avoid being roasted by the Inquisition, or just plain wrong. And to top it all off, Watchers are not particularly known for their strict adherence to the Dewey decimal system. Only the Watcher himself is able to navigate whatever bizarre, convoluted, and on occasion completely nonexistent organizational structure he uses without penalty; everyone else must take a -1 to their Brains test. If the Watcher is not around to help with the research (because he’s dead, or missing, or just feeling pissy that day), everyone takes a -2.
- Bring friends – The more people you have working on the problem, the quicker you’ll find a solution. If more than one person is researching at once, everyone gets to make a Brains test. If more than one person beats the difficulty level, the person with the highest roll is the one who found the clue.
- Bring a lunch – Research takes time. You get one Brains test per day spent reading, and that assumes you spend all day reading. Since that’s a whole day during which whatever it is you’re reading about could be wandering around eating people, it’s probably a good idea to have some people reading while others patrol. You can make another Brains test if you decide to stay up all night working on it, but the next day you’ll have to take a -1 to any Brains test you roll for any reason, due to lack of sleep. If you stay up another night, you’ll take a -2 the next day, and so on (and you might have to start making ‘Tude rolls to stay awake). Nothing fixes this other than a good night’s sleep.
- Don’t expect to find all the answers at the back of the book – Keep in mind that the nature of the clues you uncover is entirely up to the Buff Master. The Buff Master also determines how many clues are available, or even if any clues exist at all. All your studying could very well be for nothing – but you won’t know until you try, will you
Contrary to common belief, and much to the consternation of anyone who really thinks about it for more than half a second, any idiot who can follow a set of written directions can cast a spell. Few people realize this, partially due to the fact that centuries of being systematically hunted down like dogs and put to the stake have convinced most practicing witches to stop teaching people how to do it, but mostly due to the fact that it’s an extremely high-risk hobby. Most of the books you have to learn this stuff from are as bad or worse as the ones used to research demons (i.e., insane, poorly translated, or even just flat-out wrong); but this time, instead of just trying to piece together a few vague hints about demon anatomy, you’re trying to follow detailed instructions to achieve a specific and usually dangerous result. Add to this the fact that screwing up carries with it a very real possibility of turning yourself or someone you know into a random invertebrate, and the pretty soon the whole endeavor starts to look like more trouble than it’s worth.
However, if you decide you really have to (and sometimes, yes, you really have to), here’s how to go about it:
Before you can cast a spell, you have to first figure out what exactly you’re trying to accomplish. Spells tend to be pretty specific in their applications, and it’s important to pick the right one for the job. Most of the time, you’ll have to tell the Buff Master exactly what you’re hoping to find: "We’re looking for a way to break the Mystic Seal of Barzgu’ul, so we can get inside the Vampire Lord’s hideout undetected," or "We need a spell for banishing dryer-lint demons." Finding the appropriate spell requires a Research roll, just as though you were looking up dirt on a monster.
Most normal people know "almost nothing" about any given spell; i.e., the difficulty for the roll is Superb. However, Watchers, magical prodigies, and professional sorcerors and witches can roll a Magic test to see if the spell is one they’ve heard of or had previous experience with.
|Result of Magic Test||Familiarity with Spell||Research Difficulty|
|Superb||It just so happens, you stumbled onto that very spell the other day, while you were looking for a quick and easy way to get demon blood out of shag carpet. You know the book is right around here somewhere…||Fair|
|Great||You’ve done a fair amount of research on spells of that type before, so you have a pretty good idea of where to look.||Good|
|Good||Well, you’ve heard of at least one spell that’s sort of like the one you’re looking for – maybe it’s cross-referenced or something…||Great|
|Fair or lower||Beats the hell out of you.||Superb|
Magical prodigies and witches just starting out in their careers take a -1 to their Magic test, since they haven’t yet developed an extensive knowledge of the source material.
Spell research otherwise follows all the same rules for researching monsters: non-Watcher penalties, more than one researcher, staying up all night, etc.
Often, the whole point of the spell you’re looking for is that it’s the only way to defeat a specific Bad Guy. If this is the case, you must be at least at the "getting warmer" stage of familiarity with that monster before you can figure out where to look for the spell to beat it.
Once you’ve found the spell you’re looking for, you still have to figure out how to cast it. This could involve collecting bizarre and sometimes gross ingredients, drawing mystic circles or other symbols on the floor and/or walls (and unless you have your own apartment, this includes not getting caught doing it), getting some friends together for some old-school chanting, etc. Generally, this information is included in the description of the spell, but it could be that hunting down the casting instructions becomes a sub-plot in its own right. Every spell is unique, and the Buff Master may require that you jump through any number of hoops, both flaming and non-, to get the spell to work. Since she’s the Buff Master, the wise course is usually to just shut up and do it.
When you’ve finally collected everything and everyone you need, drawn the appropriate symbols and circles, and written crib notes for the incantation on the back of your hand, you’re ready to get down to business. Perform the ritual, then make a Magic test. If the ritual involves several people, one person is designated the ritual leader (generally the person with the highest Magic trait), and the leader makes the Magic test. If the test succeeds, the spell works.
The difficulty of the test depends on how much of an impact the spell will have on the current story playing out. This is an easily observed correlation, if you watch the TV show: if the fate of the world hangs in the balance, the spell is always going to be a tough one. Nobody ever sealed a Hellmouth by levitating a rose.
|Level of Importance||Description||Example||Casting Difficulty|
|Incidental||The spell has no real bearing on the current story; it’s just a handy incantation to have around.||Create a glowing will-o-wisp; levitate a rose.||Fair|
|Limited||The spell will reveal a clue or overcome an obstacle, but is not strictly necessary; there are other ways of solving the same problem without spells.||Locate a demon hiding out somewhere in the city.||Good|
|Major||The spell reveals a clue or overcomes an obstacle that cannot be solved without magic; the gang would be stumped indefinitely without it.||Figure out the identity of a magically disguised vampire.||Great|
|Utmost||Victory or defeat hinges upon the successful casting of this spell.||Combine the spirits of the entire gang into one über-slayer in order to defeat the otherwise invincible evil mastermind.||Superb|
Experienced sorcerers and magical prodigies with lots of talent can memorize formula for some of the simpler spells, and cast them "on the fly," without having to refer to the directions. Generally speaking, only Incidental-level spells may be cast this way; otherwise, they work exactly like normal, researched spells: describe to the Buff Master what you want the spell to do, then roll your Magic against a difficulty of Fair.
The Buff Master may require you to roll Brains to see if you can remember how the spell goes; if you fail, the spell doesn’t work, or works in some horrible, sadistic, embarassing way that you didn’t intend.
The Slayer’s worst enemy is not a vampire. It’s not a demon; not even a smarmy politician-type demon that you can’t kill because of his powerful social connections until he finally turns into a huge seven-headed Hellworm and tries to eat the city. The Slayer’s worst enemy is not the trig exam she has to take in less than three hours.
Every Slayer has her breaking point. Sooner or later, a Doom-laden Slayer is going to face the question: "What point is there in doing good?" – and in her bleak state of mind, it will seem for all the world as though the answer is none at all. This in turn begs the question: "Then why do I have all these powers?"
A Slayer goes rogue when she answers herself: in order to be bad.
A rogue Slayer is one of the most dangerous things there is. The sudden freedom from moral restrictions – and the realization that no one can stop her – is intoxicating, and she will revel in theft, vandalism, assault and even murder of innocent people – simply for the thrill of being evil. She may begin to see herself as a monster – no different from the supernatural creatures she used to fight against, aside from being a serious hottie. She may ally herself with demons. The Watcher’s Council takes this sort of threat extremely seriously, and will usually dispatch teams of highly trained bounty hunters to track down the rogue Slayer and either bring her back to headquarters for rehabilitation, if possible, or eliminate her outright, if not.
People who represent the good that the rogue Slayer used to aspire to – her Watcher, her family, her friends – fill her with self-loathing, and she will be driven to hurt or kill them. On a deeper level, a rogue Slayer wants to be punished for her despicable deeds. She is searching for some way to reestablish for herself that being good matters, that people like her should be punished – that they even can be punished. Unfortunately, most of this rationalization occurs on a deeply subconcious level, and it is cold comfort for her victims along the way.
If the Slayer is a player character in your game, this is a pretty intense turn of events, and should be handled as a unique and important plot development. If you want to use game mechanics to see if a Slayer goes rogue, have the Slayer roll a Sosh test against her own ‘Tude at the end of each full episode that she spends in a state of Doom. If she fails, she goes rogue. Even if she succeeds, each Sosh test after the first carries a cumulative -1 penalty to the roll.
As for redeeming a rogue Slayer, that’s even more up to the judgment call of the Buff Master. On the TV show, the only person able to get through to Faith was Angel, who could draw on his experience of centuries of trying to make up for centuries more of depraved slaughter. And even then it was only after a knock-down, drag-out fight that nearly killed them both that Faith finally cracked. A Buff Master with a rogue Slayer on her hands would do well to write an entire episode centered around her redemption, and set the criteria for success according to the individual player.
And that, folks, is as psychologically deep as these rules were ever intended to get.
The Slayer’s worst enemy is her own damn self.
Being the Slayer puts a load on your self esteem worse than the worst haircut you ever had, times infinity. Did you really think you were all that and a bag of chips just because you go around killing vampires? Pick up the morning newspaper sometime. Notice that little sidebar article, the guy they found dead in a back alley, mysteriously exsanguinated? Whoops, guess that’s a vampire you missed. Guess that’s another innocent person who died because you screwed up. And every day, another one dies. Feeling sick yet? How about when the person in the sidebar is your best friend? Or your boyfriend? Or your mom?
When the existential horror of being the only one in the world who can combat the forces of darkness on equal terms, yet helpless to prevent about 95% of it, starts to weigh on you like a ton of bricks, that’s Gloom. You can accumulate Gloom any time you are forced to confront the fact that you cannot be everywhere at once, protect everyone at once, or win every battle all the time. It saps your will to fight and drives a wedge between you and your friends. Situations that can cause Gloom include:
- Losing a fight to a major villain.
- Seeing a friend or her Watcher get Taken Out in a fight.
- Botching a Sosh roll with her Watcher or a friend.
- Any plot development that drives home your limitations: getting dumped by your boyfriend, losing your Watcher, finding out your mom has a brain tumor, etc.
Whenever a situation like this arises, the Slayer must make a ‘Tude test against a difficulty that is usually Fair, but which can vary according to the severity of the ego smackdown. (Moms with cancer tend to hover around the Great-to-Superb range.) If the test succeeds, you shrug it off. If it fails, you gain one point of Gloom.
- All Buff tests, ‘Tude tests, and Sosh tests take a negative modifier equal to the number of Gloom points you have.
- You cannot spend or earn Slayer Points for as long as the Gloom persists.
If you accumulate three Gloom points, you acquire something even worse than Gloom: Doom. A Doomed Slayer has allowed her sense of helplessness and frustration to overwhelm her, and is essentially undergoing a serious personality crisis. Most Doomed Slayers get into a kind of "I am a rock" groove: they break off friendships, blow off their Watchers, and generally do their best to piss the whole world off. Once Doom sets in, the following changes take place:
- You no longer suffer any Buff or ‘Tude penalties unless you are confronting the enemy who instigated the Doom (assuming it was instigated by an enemy), in which case the penalty is a whopping -3.
- You automatically fail all Sosh tests with your Watcher and your friends.
- You cannot spend or earn Slayer Points, as above.
- You gain no further Gloom points so long as the Doom persists.
A Slayer who spends too long in a state of Doom stands a good chance of going rogue.
Getting Rid of Gloom
You can’t get rid of Gloom by yourself – that would presuppose a self-esteem strong enough to avoid getting it in the first place, wouldn’t it? Nope, the thing about Gloom is, once you’re down in it, the only way to get out is with help from your friends.
Gloom can only be dispelled by having a real heart-to-heart talk with a member of the Scooby Gang. The friend must make a Sosh test against a difficulty equal to the Slayer’s ‘Tude. If the test succeeds, the Gloom – all of it – is dispelled. If it fails, then the talk didn’t take, and the Gloom sticks. If the Slayer suffers from Doom, then her ‘Tude is considered to be Superb for the purposes of the friend’s Sosh test. Furthermore, she must roll a ‘Tude test, difficulty Good, immediately after the talk. A failure – yes, that’s right, a failure – means she breaks down and has a good, long cry, after which all Gloom and Doom are dispelled. Success means an emotional backlash occurs: the Slayer tells her friend where to stick it, and that friend may not attempt to dispel this particular instance of Doom again.
You only get to try this once per day, and the Slayer can’t come out and ask for it. In fact, the Buff Master may require a Sosh test on the part of the friend to even notice there’s a problem. Furthermore, boyfriends automatically fail any Sosh test to dispel Gloom, and Watchers can only try it after everyone else has tried and failed. In order to make this kind of wake-up call, you need a bit of distance and perspective. Watchers and boyfriends have neither.
Although it is not a strong focus on the TV show, people do change. The Slayer gradually gets Buffer, and her friends develop new skills and interests. These changes happen gradually, over the course of a season of episodes, so generally there’s little need to keep track of character development unless you’re running an ongoing series with the same characters.
At the end of an episode, the Buff Master may bestow one Character Point on the non-Slayer character (in other words, either the Watcher or a member of the Scooby Gang) who did the best role-playing and/or contributed the most to that session. This may be decided by Buff Master fiat, secret ballot, going around the table by turns, or drawing lots – however the group prefers.
Once you save up three Character Points, you can spend them in the following ways:
- You may raise or lower any attribute by one level. You may not raise any attribute above Superb, nor lower one below Terrible.
- You may take one new skill. As pointed out in the character creation rules, gaining a new skill affects the entire Scooby Gang, so you should clear this choice with everyone, not just the Buff Master. You can take a skill that another player already has, if both of you can agree to share the limelight for it. You can never have more than three skills; if you take a fourth, you have to drop an old one.
You may never have more than three unspent Character Points at a time, and you may only spend them at the end of an episode; you may not wait until the middle of the next episode and spend them whenever it seems convenient.
The beneficiary of a Character Point has only one obligation that must be fulfilled before that Character Point may be used: he must choose one other non-Slayer character to receive special focus in the story of the next episode. The Buff Master should make an effort to either incorporate this character strongly in the plot of the next episode, or include a side-, or "B"-plot that includes the character. Naturally, this should provide that character with an excellent opportunity to win the next Character Point.
Because the nature of her training is rather different from the way normal people learn and gain experience, the Slayer acquires character development points slightly differently.
At the beginning of each episode, the Watcher must roll his Brains against a difficulty equal to the Slayer’s ‘Tude. The Slayer receives a number of Slayer Points equal to her Watcher’s degree of success.
Slayer Points may be used just like Character Points, with the following additional perks and restrictions:
- You may spend one Slayer Point at any time to gain an automatic success for any action. If it’s an action where degree of success is important (such as slaying something), then you get the best possible result – in combat, this usually means an automatic take-down.
- You may also spend a Slayer Point to gain an automatic success for anyone else’s action. You can do this even if you are nowhere near the other person, or unaware of what they’re doing, or even unconscious.
- You may raise your Buff above Superb, becoming Superbuff. Raising your Superbuffness costs three Slayer Points plus a number equal to the level of Superbuffness you are aspiring to: Superb +1 costs 4 Slayer Points, Superb +2 costs 5, etc.
- You may have more than three Slayer Points during an episode, but you may not carry more than three on to the next episode.
- You may not spend Slayer Points at all if you are suffering from Gloom or Doom, and you may not gain additional Slayer Points if you start the episode with Gloom or Doom.
If an episode begins with the Watcher "unavailable" in some fashion (dead, kidnapped, incapacitated, not on speaking terms with the Slayer, etc.), the Buff Master at her discretion may still allow him to roll for Slayer Points, ruling that the training occurred "off-screen," before the Watcher became unavailable. However, if the Watcher’s unavailable status is continuing from a previous episode (i.e., the Watcher has been dead, missing, comatose, or pissed since before the end of the last episode), then he cannot roll, and the Slayer starts the episode with only the Slayer Points carried over from the last episode.
The Buffy universe is populated with all sorts of nasties. Here are descriptions of a few of the more common categories:
The perennial bad guy, vampires are the standard by which all other bad guys are measured. They are everywhere. They are both mastermind villains and cheap Slayer fodder. They are both comic relief and deadly predator. They are the Slayer’s whole raison d’etre.
Vampires are undead creatures who feed on human blood. When a vampire bites a person and starts drinking, he inflicts one Injury on the victim after one combat round (or about 10 seconds) of blood-slurping. After another round, the victim sustains another Injury. Three Injuries, and the victim is Taken Out. If the vampire keeps feeding after that, the victim dies.
A vampire’s face assumes a grotesque, bestial look just before feeding. This change is involuntary whenever the vampire is drinking, and sometimes "green" vampires seem to be unable to make themselves look normal – although this may simply be a sign of uncouthness, like chewing with your mouth open. Most vampires will look normal under ordinary circumstances, and can voluntarily "bare fangs" even when not feeding. Humans with little or no experience dealing with vampires must make a ‘Tude test, when faced with an uglified vampire; if they fail, they will either bolt or freeze in panic.
If a vampire consumes no blood for an entire week, he sustains one Injury that does not heal until he manages to get some blood in him. After three weeks, the vampire is Taken Out – helpless to move or hunt until someone feeds him. If he continues to starve, he will eventually waste away to nothing.
A vampire can turn a person into a vampire by draining three Injuries’ worth of blood, and then allowing the victim to drink his (the vampire’s) own blood just before he (the victim) loses consciousness. The victim will lapse into a deathlike coma and rise as a vampire the following night. Only a Slayer, a Watcher, or someone sufficiently trained in vampire lore can tell the difference between a genuinely dead person and a vampire-in-the-hatching, and it requires a successful Brains test to do so.
The Nature of Unlife
Vampires are dead in every sense of the word except for the resting in peace part. They do not need to breathe, eat solid food, or drink liquids (except for blood, obviously), although they can if they want to, and many do. They have no heartbeat and no internal body heat. They can feel pain, and massive structural damage to a vampire’s body will slow him down, but they cannot be killed by physical injury. Bullets, in particular, can never do more than stun a vampire.
They are also supernaturally strong; a vampire immediately gains 2 levels of Buff upon rebirth, and gains yet another level of Buff for every century of unlife. This can – and often does – make the vampire Superbuff.
Most significantly, vampires lack a human soul. They can never genuinely care for another person, although some vampires establish twisted relationships based on personal gratification and call that "love." Although a vampire can certainly perform superficially good deeds when it serves his own interests, he can never have a change of heart and become truly good (unless he is a Cursed Vampire) – he would be literally incapable of grasping the concept.
Vampires are subject to the following weaknesses:
- They may be killed by a stake through the heart, or by beheading (which works the same way, mechanics-wise).
- They do not cast a reflection, although they do cast shadows and can be photographed.
- They cannot enter the private residence of a living person without that person’s explicit spoken permission. Once permission is granted, the vampire can freely enter or leave unless the barrier is reestablished by a commonly known spell. (This spell is generally considered to be of Incidental importance and may be cast on the fly.)
- They are repelled by holy water, the sign of the cross, and Christian Bibles. A vampire coming into skin contact with any of these things will be automatically Injured. An inexperienced vampire may have to make a ‘Tude test to resist the urge to flee such objects.
- They can be destroyed by direct sunlight. A vampire exposed to direct sunlight will sustain one Injury every round (or about 10 seconds); after 3 Injuries, the vampire is Taken Out, and will disintegrate into ash unless removed from sunlight within the next few seconds. Any sort of shade will serve as protection – a blanket, the shade of a tree… even a bright room with many skylights is safe, as long as the vampire is not exposed to the direct rays of the sun.
- They can also be destroyed by fire – a vampire exposed to intense flame (literally burning over a large portion of his body) will take damage as with sunlight, above.
There are as many different species of demon as there are… well, as just about anything. Not all of them are dangerous; not all of them are even particularly evil. According to the mythology of the TV show, demons at one time inhabited prehistoric earth. As human beings evolved, most of the demons were pushed out of our dimension; some species, however, adapted by becoming more human-like, or in some cases even breeding with humans. It is not uncommon to find populations of these "lesser demons" still living today, either in remote geographical regions or in large urban centers where they can slip through the cracks of normal society. (There is a quite extensive demonic subculture thriving in Los Angeles, in fact.) Most demons are quite obviously not human, although a few varieties look human enough to "pass". It is commonly thought that vampires are actually a lesser demon subspecies.
"Pure" demons – the ones that were banished from earth at the dawn of mankind – reside in dimensions other than our own. To have access to this plane of existence, such a demon must either be summoned or find or make some sort of gateway into our world (such as a Hellmouth).
Werewolves are ordinary people who are afflicted with the curse of lycanthropy, turning into a bestial monster for three nights of each month: during the full moon, and on the nights immediately before and after the full moon. The curse of lycanthropy is transmitted by bite: anyone who is bitten by a werewolf (and survives) experience the change on the night before the next full moon. There is no known cure for lycanthropy, although it can be controlled through certain esoteric meditation techniques and herbal remedies known to certain Tibetan mystics.
While in bestial form, a werewolf is driven by pure, aggressive instinct – he retains no memory of his friends or his identity as a human. The werewolf’s primary urge is to hunt, and it usually hunts other humans. When the change wears off, the person will have no memory of what happened during his stint as a beast.
The following rules apply to werewolves:
- When in bestial form, a werewolf gains +2 to all Buff tests. A werewolf can be Superbuff.
- All werewolves have an extremely acute sense of smell – they can automatically track a person’s scent or and identify specific people by scent. This power can be used even when in human form.
- The change always occurs during the night immediately before the full moon, the night of the full moon itself, and the night immediately following the full moon. It may also be brought on during moments of extreme physical or emotional stress, as deemed appropriate by the Buff Master. You can resist the change for a few minutes by making a ‘Tude test, difficulty Superb, but you cannot put it off forever. A person who has learned the proper meditation and medicinal regimen can automatically resist changing during the full moon, but stressful situations still require a ‘Tude test.
- A werewolf in bestial form may attempt a Brains test, difficulty Superb, to assert its human identity for a few moments and override its constant urge to kill. This comes in handy, for example, when you’re trying to not hunt down and gut your own friends.
- Werewolves are vulnerable to silver bullets. If hit with a silver bullet, a werewolf is always immediately Taken Out no matter what the actual degree of success was.
Ghosts are spirits of the living that linger on after death. A ghost can form for any number of reasons: an excessively tragic or traumatic death, a thirst for vengeance, desecration of the ghost’s mortal remains… in general, however, the motivating factor is of a very personal nature, and involves "unfinished business" that the ghost must somehow put right in order to rest.
Many ghosts are mindless automatons, endlessly repeating a set pattern of behavior in the hopes of one day achieving the desired outcome. Some, however, retain their original personality and mental faculties, and can, with effort, communicate with the living and solicit their aid (or attempt to kill them, or whatever they feel they need to do).
Ghosts are invisible, intangible, and for the most part invulnerable to attack. Certain spells can contain, banish, or even destroy a ghost, but the most effective way to remove one is to resolve whatever unfinished business ties it to the world of the living, as generally those ties are wholly involuntary.
A mindless ghost might exhibit one or more of the following powers; a fully functioning spectral personality can attempt any of them:
- All ghosts can walk through walls.
- All ghosts can see other ghosts.
- With a successful ‘Tude test, a ghost can cause very minor changes in the immediate environment: a slight drop in temperature, a dimming of the lights, an unexplained breeze, an oddly-shaped stain on the wall that soon vanishes. Large numbers of ghosts working in concert can create more drastic and more lasting changes, although such groups tend to be mindless drones whose deaths were connected in some way.
- With a successful ‘Tude test, a ghost can manipulate a material object in a clumsy or violent way: knocking over a lamp or chair, throwing a book across the room, breaking a window, etc.
- With a successful ‘Tude test against a Superb difficulty, a ghost can manifest visibly – though not physically – for a brief moment. The manifestation is usually shadowy and insubstantial, and the ghost may not be able to control exactly how he appears – as his idealized self-image, as a shapeless mist, or in whatever gory state his body was originally found in.
- By pitting his ‘Tude against the ‘Tude of a living person, a ghost can possess the person for a short time, controlling her speech and actions. Ghost and victim both roll their ‘Tudes; if the ghost gets a higher result, the possession is successful. After a couple of hours, or if the ghost attempts to make the person do something that goes radically against the grain of her (the victim’s) personality, the victim may roll ‘Tude again to regain control. If the living person is a willing recipient of the possession, no roll is necessary. Large numbers of ghosts working in concert can affect the emotions of large groups of people, but again, this tends to be the work of mindless drones. Fully cognizant ghosts rarely congregate, and almost never work together.
The Initiative is a top-secret, government-sponsored paramilitary organization dedicated to gathering intelligence on and containing supernatural threats. Initiative programs generally operate from secret laboratories in areas of high supernatural activity, often with some sort of mundane facility acting as a front. Although their purpose is ostensibly to protect human life, their methods and motives often collide with those of of the Slayer.
Although highly effective as a fighting force, the Initiative tends to view the supernatural in purely scientific terms, which gives them a somewhat limited perspective. While an Initiative scientist might have no problems understanding the physiology and behavioral patterns of a captive demon ("hostile sub-terrestrial," or HST), he might have trouble accepting its extra-dimensional nature unless it could somehow be explained in terms of theoretical physics, and magic would be utterly beyond him.
The Initiative’s organizational structure comprises two separate but parallel hierarchies: the research division, which studies and collate data on supernatural creatures, and the military division, which captures and neutralizes them. Although their directives require them to work together, occasionally certain individuals may develop their own agendas, and conflicts of jurisdiction can arise.
Characters who take "Initiative Operative" as a Deal are assumed to be soldiers in the military division. They generally have high Buff and high ‘Tude attributes, and uniformly low Magic attributes. High Brains make for good officer material, but are not strictly necessary, and too much of them can sometimes be a bad thing. Inquisitiveness is discouraged.
An Initiative operative character gains the following benefits:
- You automatically get the skill "Trained with firearms," meaning you roll as though your skill level were Good when shooting guns. This does count against your maximum of 3 skills.
- You are assigned a .45 automatic pistol, which you may use at your discretion. (Any discharge of your weapon must be accounted for and may be subject to review.)
- All operatives are trained in the technique of vampire staking. You do not receive the normal -2 penalty when attempting to stake a vampire.
- Your security clearance gives you access to the Initiative’s supernatural intelligence database. Unlike a typical Watcher’s library, this database is well organized and extensively cross-referenced, so it can be used by a non-Watcher with no penalty. However, due to the Initiative’s limited understanding of magic, any queries on topics involving magic will turn up zero results. This includes all spell research and any research on monster weaknesses wherein the weakness involves a spell or magical artifact. Civilians are not allowed access to this information, and even you are not cleared to see all of it.
The Initiative also has access to technology not available (or even known to) the civilian public. Some of the more popular toys (all of which have made an appearance on the TV show) include:
- Homing Darts – This is a small dart equipped with a homing device, fired from a specially designed rifle. It is fired like an ordinary gun, but it does no damage if it hits. If the shooter’s degree of success is greater than 2, the dart sticks into its target and emits a beacon that can be tracked from nearly anywhere in the city. If the shooter’s degree of success is greater than 4, the dart embeds itself so deeply that it cannot be removed without a great deal of digging. Solid walls reduce the beacon’s effective range to several blocks, and thick concrete (such as that used in sewers) block it altogether.
- Stun Rifle – This rifle emits an electric pulse that renders most vampires and demons unconscious. It is fired like an ordinary gun, but if it hits the target must immediately make a Buff test against Superb difficulty. Failure means the target is Taken Out. The rifle carries enough charges for a dozen shots.
- Physical Enhancement Implant – This is a bioelectric implant installed next to the heart. It stimulates the body’s production of adrenaline, providing a permanent +2 bonus to all Buff tests. It also eventually kills the recipient, inducing massive cardiac arrest within a year of activation. They’re still perfecting the technology.
- Behavioral Modification Implant – This highly experimental technology has so far only been successful tested in vampire subjects. It’s a tiny chip installed in the brain that curtails all violent behavior. A vampire fitted with this chip will suffer intense, incapacitating pain if he attempts to feed or otherwise harm a living person. The chip responds to the formulation of intent, not specific actions; a vampire could, for example, point a gun at a living person if he knew it wasn’t loaded, but he could not point an empty gun that he thought was loaded. Similarly, a vampire would have no trouble driving a car down a street, but as soon as he decided to run over a pedestrian crossing at the next intersection, he would be paralyzed. The chip will not block attempts to harm nonhumans such as demons and other vampires, but it would kick in if the vampire attempted to harm an otherwise normal human afflicted with a curse (for example, a werewolf).
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.
The following materials based on FUDGE, entitled FUDGE: Buffy the Vampire Slayer, are created by, made available by, and Copyright (C) 2000 by Michael S. Gentry, 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 (C)1992-1995 by Steffan O’Sullivan, All Rights Reserved.