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I GMed my first game of FU (Freeform / Universal) rpg today, and it went well, but one issue came up which I would be grateful for some 'good subjective' advice about.

We were playing a "pirate superhero" game, where two pirate ships were trying to board each other. The PCs formed the crew of one ship, and I had been careful to avoid direct intra-party antagonism during chargen as per the recommendations on FU 8. At one point one PC acting completely in character wanted to throw a bomb at the other ship, and the other PC wanted the bomb to go into the sea - at first using telekinesis, then using physical intervention. The problem in terms of mechanics is that in FU, the players make all the rolls, and there are specifically no opposed actions (FU 13).

Of course I fudged things - the first time I got them both to roll, and as they both got odd numbers (both "nos"), I decided the bomb didn't leave the first PCs hand - it was held there telekinetically. For the physical intervention, I let the second PC's success subtract a dice from the first PC's pool. The result was exciting and fun (the ship got blown up, the second PC had his trademark beard singed), but I'm going to be playing FU some more in the next few days and I'd like to decide what the best way to handle PvP action is.

I'm aware this is subjective, so I'd like "good subjective" answers, from people who have played FU (or games with closely related mechanics) and worked out how to deal with player-vs-player / contested actions.

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    \$\begingroup\$ What an unfortunate abbreviation. Do you have a link to this RPG? \$\endgroup\$ – Brian Ballsun-Stanton May 4 '15 at 6:20
  • \$\begingroup\$ Agreed! Added the link into my answer. But here it is again: perilplanet.com/fu-rpg \$\endgroup\$ – harlandski May 4 '15 at 6:23
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    \$\begingroup\$ Also, I've got a massive case of cognitive dissonance with a "freeform" game using a published set of rules. It must be monday. \$\endgroup\$ – Brian Ballsun-Stanton May 4 '15 at 6:26
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    \$\begingroup\$ I've got cognitive dissonance with a game called "FU" not involving PvP elements. Oh, well. \$\endgroup\$ – GMJoe May 4 '15 at 6:48
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I've sweated this question out a bit and come up with my own answer, at least in part based on others' experience of playing the game.

How to do "opposed rolls"

Firstly, the rulebook does give some advice on how to deal with "opposed rolls" even if by doing so it says that opposed rolls don't exist.

How do “opposed” actions work? For a start, only players ever roll dice. You begin by factoring in all the bonuses (+) and penalties (-) that apply to your character. Then you take stock of all the factors that would apply to the opponent, and apply those into your roll too. Is the opponent weak? You get a bonus die. Is the opponent a world champion arm wrestler? You factor in a penalty die. And so on, until everything is factored in. When you know how many bonus and/or penalty dice you have, roll. If the result is an even number, you win the contest; if the final result is an odd number, your opponent has the advantage. (FU 13)

So any opposition is factored in as removing dice from the player's pool. Of course this still doesn't answer the PvP question.

How to do PvP

I dug around on the author's website and finally discovered there is a FU rpg Yahoo group, where the specific question of PvP is raised. The views here are obviously not canon, but they are at least 'good subjective' in that they are those of people serious enough about playing the game to contribute to such a group. The consensus there is:

  1. Determine who is the 'primary actor'
  2. Allow the player controlling the primary PC to roll, subtracting dice as normal to account for the secondary PC's resistance. (So essentially the secondary PC is treated as an NPC for the purposes of the roll).

The main point of disagreement is how to determine who the primary actor is. But in any case this is an elegant solution as it leaves the core mechanic in tact: Only one player rolls for the result of a given 'closed question'. I can also see the equivocal results (yes, but; no, but) allowing the secondary actor some narrative influence over the result.

I can easily see how I could have applied this to my particular case. In the first interaction, the bomber was the primary actor, and the telekinetic defender the secondary actor, so the bomber would have rolled his dice pool subtracting dice for the mentalist's descriptors. In the second case I probably would have allowed the paranormal PC to be the primary actor - she was swinging from the other pirate ship to kick the bomb out of the other pirate's hands, - and so she would have rolled.

Extra! The abbreviation 'FU'

There was quite a bit of interest in comments about the use of the abbreviation 'FU' as the name of an rpg. As I read on his blog, the author of the game is aware of this problem, but was going for "foo"/"fu" rather than reading each letter separately.

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