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If someone doesn't have any fudge dice, what are the best methods to replace them and why?

Term: Fudge Dice are six sided dice with two sides labeled with a +, two sides with a -, and two sides that are blank. They are usually rolled in groups of four, and the + and - sides are added together to get a number between -4 and +4, with positive usually being better.

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27 Answers

up vote 92 down vote accepted

GM pack of Fudge dice

Buy some. The best "replacement" for not having Fudge dice is to buy some! Grey Ghost Press (maker of Fudge) sells a tube of four Fudge dice for about 5 bucks, or a bag of twenty Fudge dice for about 15 bucks, but a lot of places are sold out. However, Indie Press Revolution just started carrying Fudge Dice (four or twenty) to support the FATE-based games they're selling, such as the Dresden Files RPG.

Homemade Fudge dice

Make some. A Fudge die is just a six-sided die with three different values: a plus ('+') on two faces, a minus ('-') on two faces, and the other two sides blank. Either buy some blank dice or take a marker to some pipped d6es.

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There's an app for that. There is more than one Fudge die roller on the internet. Gordon A. Cooper's roller is simple and easy to use. Also, because a single Fudge die is equivalent to 1d3-2, any dice roller that can roll 4d3-8 can give you a perfect 4dF roll. MachDice for the iPhone will roll Fudge dice without playing with 4d3-8 expressions. On the Droid smartphone platform, DroidDice and Dice & Roll Lite will let you put in a 4d3-8 expression and name it "Fudge" for convenience.

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Make do with d6es. If you want a perfect 4dF distribution and don't want to take a marker to your dice, you can roll 4d6 and treat all 1's and 2's as a -1, treat all 3's and 4's as a +0, and treat all 5's and 6's as a +1.

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Cheat a little. Some FATE-based games are doing a d6-d6 roll. That is, use two different d6es, specify which one will be the minuend and which will be the subtrahend, and then the result is the difference. This produces a number between -5 (1 minus 6) and +5 (6 minus 1). You can use dice of two different colors ("the green one minus the red one") but I like to use a big die and a little die ("the big one minus the little one").

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Pick a card, any card. Remove one suit and the jokers from a deck of playing cards. Assign each of the remaining suits to the +1, 0, -1 die results, then draw four cards. If you remove the Clubs, then this device will help you remember which suits are what values: Spades point up, so +1. Hearts point down, so -1. Diamonds don't point anywhere, so those are 0.

Cards can be a bit of a pain in the ass because you have to keep shuffling your draw cards back into the deck, else you mess with the probabilities. However, it's great for car trips and hikes and those days when you left your dice at home and would rather play The Shadow of Yesterday or Starblazer Adventures than poker. You can even use tarot cards.

Simulate it with percentiles. Any dice mechanism with a known probability table can be simulated with a d100 or d1000 or the like. The d1000 will be more accurate, if you care about such things; I rounded a bit here and there, generally in the player's favor.

  d100        d1000       Fudge Result
  -------     ---------   ------------
    01        001 - 012        -4
  02 - 06     013 - 049        -3
  07 - 19     050 - 185        -2
  20 - 38     186 - 383        -1
  39 - 61     384 - 617         0
  62 - 81     618 - 815        +1
  82 - 94     816 - 938        +2
  95 - 99     939 - 988        +3
    00        989 - 000        +4

There are many choices, and not all of them produce the same results statistically. Check out the FATEwiki's entry on Fudge dice for probability tables for different randomization methods.

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+1: used minuend and subtrahend in a sentence. Made my day.:) –  yhw42 Oct 15 '10 at 16:51
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Just want to add that 2d6-7 is the same as d6-d6 if you like that better or don't have two colors. –  Ingó Vals Jul 30 '12 at 11:18
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If you're going to be on a hike or road trip, take the clubs out of a deck of cards.

Spades point up. Hearts point down. Diamonds don't point anywhere really.

Deal four, shuffle them back in. Iterate.

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This article shows you how to make plain d6s with pips into Fudge dice with a Sharpie.

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Can I get bonus reputation for this answer, since I wrote that article? :) Wow, nine years ago. –  J. Walton Aug 29 '10 at 6:09
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Fudge dice have (as best as I can remember) two pluses, two minuses, and two blanks, right? Why not just use a normal d6 and make, say, 1-2 "plus," 3-4 "minus," and 5-6 "blank?"

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I generally use 1-2 "-", 3-4 "/" and 5-6 "+", but the probability works out cleanly pretty much however. As long as you're consistent. –  foxxtrot Aug 19 '10 at 21:19
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One common fix is to use two differently-colored D6s. You designate one the 'Positive' die and one the 'Negative' die, and roll them together. If they come up equal, you have a 0. Otherwise, look for the lowest (absolute) value and use that.

So, if I roll a 5 on the Positive die and a 3 on the Negative die, I've rolled a -3.

If I roll a 1 on the Positive die and a 1 on the Negative die, I've rolled a 0.

If I roll a 1 on the Positive die and a 3 on the Negative die, I've rolled a +1.

This is basically the same spread as rolling 1d6-1d6, but you skip the subtraction and just do a comparison. This roll isn't as bunched together as 4dF is, so you're more likely to roll a +3 than with the traditional dice, but it does approximate it. It also introduces the possibility of rolling +5 and -5.

If you want your rolls to favor 0 more, one option is that if either die rolls a 6, the result is 0 in addition to when the rolls are equal. On the down side, this is another step when looking at the dice.

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To clarify, the lowest "absolute value" of the numbers on the dice. Right? –  Wilmanric Aug 19 '10 at 21:15
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No, not absolute value. Fudge dice can produce a negative number. Some FATE-based games, for example, roll 4dF (4 Fudge dice). That produces a possible range from -4 (----) to +4 (++++). Using the d6-d6 method produces a range of -5 (1-6) to +5 (6-1). I prefer to use a big d6 and a small d6, as it's easier to remember to subtract big minus small vs. red minus white or something. –  Adam Dray Aug 29 '10 at 4:44
    
Adam Dray's idea of using a large die and a small die is pretty good! That also reminds me of those 'die inside a die' contraptions, which would not only provide the same service, but make sure that the two dice end up near each other. –  John Fiala Dec 3 '12 at 19:28
    
hill-kleerup.org/pmwiki/FATE/FUDGEDice suggests mapping +/-5 to 0 in order to obtain probabilities more similar to 4dF. Note though the quote In static tests & challenges, this dice method will be noticably biased towards results of +2 and +3. –  Tobias Kienzler Jun 4 '13 at 21:09
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I would propose a variation of 1d4-1d4 method:

Roll two 4-sided dice of different colours and treat one of them as positive and the other as negative.

If you obtain a -3 or a +3 as a result of the previous roll (which happens 1/8 of the time) re-roll one die. If you obtain a 4 with this re-roll change the -3 by a -4 or the +3 by a +4.

It sounds far more complicated than it is. Basically you are rolling 1d4-1d4 and re-rolling the extreme results (-3, +3) to see if they are critical failures (-4) or critical successes (+4). You don't even need to re-roll in the situations where the outcome won't rely in getting a +4 instead of a +3 (or a -4 instead of a -3).

The resulting probabilities are amazingly close to rolling 4dF:

Result     4dF       1d4-1d4      1d4-1d4 re-rolling extremes
  -4      1.23%                     1.56% 
  -3      4.94%        6.25%        4.69% 
  -2     12.35%       12.50%       12.50% 
  -1     19.75%       18.75%       18.75% 
   0     23.46%       25.00%       25.00% 
  +1     19.75%       18.75%       18.75% 
  +2     12.35%       12.50%       12.50% 
  +3      4.94%        6.25%        4.69% 
  +4      1.23%                     1.56% 
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+1 for treating the probability aspect and getting so close to 4dF –  Tobias Kienzler Jun 4 '13 at 21:13
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Just because it wasn't listed in here. Many teach supply stores are a good source for dice. Some of the cheapest polyhedral dice that I've found have been at my local teacher supply store (from $0.25 to $0.40 a piece). They also usually have "blank" dice of various colors and styles.

For my FATE dice, I picked up a bunch of blank 6 sided dice and used a sharpie and some spray on fixative to put a + on opposite faces, a - on opposite faces, and left the final faces blank.

If you don't want to use fixative, you can also make the + and - markings on stickers and place the stickers on the faces. Make sure to include blank stickers as well so that all sides will be relatively the same and make for more uniform rolling.

If you have a dremel tool, you could also carve out the + and - symbols and then fill in the void with paint, wiping off any excess.

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A number of answers have mentioned the "1,2 = minus; 3,4 = null; 5,6 = +" idea, but this is a little clumsy, tricky to assess at a glance.

I've created a quick dice card to help with this. Just print one off for each player, maybe about A5 size or so.

Fudge Dice Card

Roll 4 normal dice on or near the card, then quickly separate them into their respective panels. Just a little easier to work with, especially if you have rules around re-rolling one or more dice!

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Here's another possible answer that I've seen mentioned: If you've got a copy of Steve Jackson's Zombie Dice, it comes with four 'yellow' dice with two brains, two shotguns, and two feet.

Use those, Brains good (+1), Shotguns bad (-1), Feet Meh (0).

Especially suitable if you're doing a Zombie-based Fudge game.

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It's a little skewed from real Fudge dice, but roll d6 – d6. Roll two dice of different colors and subtract one from the other. Generates from +5 to -5. Works well enough and almost everyone has d6 lying around. You could probably use d4 – d4 but that would only be +3 to -3.

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Ian Millington's Dicecards are a deck of cards, each one showing many randomizers. They include, among many other things, a Fudge die, so you could simply pull four cards (or to be more correct about probability, pull a card, put it back, mix and repeat thrice) to generate a 4dF result.

Dicecards are hard to describe with words, but a picture is worth a thousand. This is what one dicecard looks like:

A Dicecard

There is one ecru-colored Fudge die on this card (near the bottom) showing a "−" result.

Alternatively, you could try to obtain and print the Fudge keyfob containing (all 81 possible) four fudge dice throws at once. It was originally intended as a special kickstarter reward, so I won't link to the PDFs. But since Ian then decided to provide them on an honour based pay-per-additional-fob principle (still only for backers so far though), maybe if you ask politely he will consider making them purchasable for everyone. Here's his facebook post showing a preview of the keyfobs he made:

Keyfob

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This is going on my wishlist! –  SevenSidedDie Jun 4 '13 at 18:20
    
@SevenSidedDie Thanks for the edit :-) I backed the kickstarter and can say its totally worth the 8+2 GBP –  Tobias Kienzler Jun 4 '13 at 18:22
    
@SevenSidedDie Btw, for backers there also was a fudge keyfob available. I think Ian is considering kickstarting them in print as well... –  Tobias Kienzler Jun 4 '13 at 18:35
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The retail shipping seems to have gone up since the Kickstarter, making it £8+5, but that's still totally worth it. This would make a great deck to use with Savage Worlds (which I am running right now), which uses standard playing cards for initiative. Having all these other randomisers on the cards would be a great source of GMing inspiration ready to hand. –  SevenSidedDie Jun 4 '13 at 18:44
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He's got a big sidebar on the "buy" page explaining and apologising for the shipping costs. The honesty actually takes much of the sting out of it! –  SevenSidedDie Jun 4 '13 at 19:00
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  1. Get 6 dimes and 6 pennies.
  2. Toss 'em.
  3. Remove all tails.
  4. Pair up each dime head with a penny head.
  5. Remove those pairs.

What are you left with?

1-6 dimes OR 1-6 pennies OR nothing.

  • if you have 5 dimes, 6 dimes, 5 pennies, 6 pennies, or nothing, then the result is zero.
  • else if you have N dimes, then the result is +N
  • else if you have N pennies, then the result is -N

The probabilities are AMAZINGLY close to 4dF (folding the 5's and 6's into zero actually helps that, as well as putting you back into a -4 to +4 range).

(you can do this with any two groupings of "d2" or 50/50 type randomizers, just have 6 of color A, 6 of color B, decide which color is positive vs negative, and then decide which symbol you keep (heads) vs remove (tails).)

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The basic math is that you'll get a -1 33% of the time, a 0 33% of the time, and a +1 33% of the time. You can always just roll standard six siders: 1-2 is a -1, 3-4 is a 0, and 5-6 is a +1. Or if you're willing to mark up your dice and you have dice with pips on them, use a marker to turn the 2 and the 3 into a "-" sign; the 4 and the 5 into a "+" sign; and the 1 and the 6 into a "0".

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Inking D6s as Clint suggests is easy and cheap. Rolling 4DF does have a different effect in play than D6-D6, as the shape of the probability curve is different. D6-D6 slightly increases the regularity of outlying results (especially considering that it admits +5/-5 results, whereas 4DF does not).

In practice, D6-D6 is useful for games with a slightly larger value ladder, and a slightly longer range of possible action.

3DF or 4DF is useful for games where a character's test results are more likely to be more closely aligned with their on-paper attribute values.

The deck of cards seems elegant on the surface, but it will do small, odd things to the probability curve because suddenly your individual "die" results are no longer independent: each card draw affects the probability of each subsequent card draw. This may or may not matter to you, and the effects may or may not be really noticeable at all: I suspect that what it will boil down to is that results will tend more towards +0, but I'm not sure how much.

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I wrote a small Fudge dice roller in Python / GTK+. It is available here:

http://decafbad.net/files/fudge_dice.py

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I just received my dice rings from CritSuccess the other day. They were a reward from the successful kickstarter. I love dice... but not sure I'm carrying them anymore. I have the Fate version and the 2d6 version- they're basically spinners with an indicator and the dice on the rings that you spin.

Specifically, the Fate ones have all of the combinations of Fate dice, and the graduation between them is specifically done to simulate the chance. An image of all of the available standard types is below:

Dice Rings Image

During the Kickstarter, I paid $15 each. I'm not sure how much they are going to be once they go live, but I'd definitely recommend it.

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I like that there's a 4dF band to roll - that's handy. –  John Fiala Jul 15 '13 at 17:11
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New life for an old thread.

Teo Taobobayo at the Fate Core Google+ Community has come up with a new idea which was refined by the commenters there. It closely approximates the spread of 4dF. Let's call this …

Fudge coins

Make yourself six flippable coins from whatever's available. Mark two of them with a plus sign on one side and leave the other side blank. Mark two others as minus and blank and the last two as plus and minus. Toss them together and you get pluses minuses and blanks on the table with very similar results to regular Fudge die.

enter image description here

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The Fudge dice are helpful to indicate tendencies, rather than as a specific integer. They are thus limited (as noted above, -/0/+ arising equally), so you actually should use other dice if you want skewed results, i.e. a greater probability of any of those three outcomes. :)

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I've always preferred Dominic Wäsch's d6 hack: Dom's D6 Hack

It's basically 3d6 + ability score, using the following table:

d6 results table

<=11 Failure

12,13 Marginal

14,15 Good

16,17 Great

18,19 Amazing

20,21 Legendary

22,23 Ultimate

24+ Transcendent

I end up rerolling results of 3 and 18 to fit the probability closer to dF.

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My preference is 2d6 Red & 2d6 White, discard any tied dice; keep lowest single die, then subtract 1. If kept die is white, read as positive; if red, negative. If none left to keep, read as 0.

Examples r6 r4 w5 w1 = keep the w1, which is reduced to 0. r1 r1 w1 w2 = discard the 1's as they're tied, keep the w2, one less is 1 it's white, so +1.

This can also be done without subtraction by reading 6 as 0 rather than 6.

Another option is "Michigan Red-Eye" dice; use them as dF by color read rather than spot read. Blue are +, red are - Black are 0. Link leads to the Koplow Catalog, showing them lower left corner. (I grew up with these in the house...) Bonus: They can still be readily used as normal d6.

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Dice Tool from RpTools will roll fudge dice amongst other things.

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The Android app Flex Dice 3D will roll Fudge dice. You can even create your own ones with the app.

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What does "create your own ones" mean? Does it not come with Fudge dice built-in? –  SevenSidedDie Dec 24 '10 at 20:37
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Another idea is use d10-d10, with the score ranging from 0-9, you could have -9 to +9, then just take the values and double them. +1 becomes +2, -2 becomes -4, and so on. That makes the range effectively -4.5 to +4.5, sitting right between the 4dF and d6-d6 range. It takes on the quality of d6-d6 giving a wider range of success and failure, but keeps things a bit more in check. d8-d8 could be used in the same fashion.

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Another method when no dice or anything are available

Play rock-paper-scissors with the Storyteller for each die

A win is a plus
A draw is nothing
A loss is a minus

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-1 This is clever, but awfully time-consuming. –  Alex P Oct 1 '13 at 17:21
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Pip is an excellent dice roller for iOS that also has Fudge die

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Presenting FUDGE Dice for Android.

Basic function: throwing FUDGE dice. This application is only intended to be used with the FUDGE(TM) and FATE(TM) role-playing games. It calculates and adjusts random numbers equivalent to throwing 4 (or so) 'FUDGE dice' as used in these games.

Content included in this application is copyright Grey Ghost Press and other rights holders and is available only subject to the Open Game License. The RPG Dice dice engine is released under the GPL3 license.

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With at least four players (including the GM) you can simulate 4dF with a collective game of rock-paper-scissors. For making a roll, everybody makes a "throw" at the same time and starting with the rolling player, you look if you defeat the player to your left. Count a + if you beat him, a - if you lose and a 0 if you tie. Go clockwise to add four results to get the same range as the Fate dice roll. 

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