FU RPG Second Edition

This evening I started outlining the “second edition” of FU. Actually, “second edition” is the wrong term. In my mind a second edition implies some kind of change, and quite frankly, I am pretty happy with the FU RPG exactly as it it. My plan, at this stage, is to keep FU exactly as you know and love it as it is now. That is, the exact same PDF document. I will also be writing a set of expanded rules based on the original.

Why an expanded set of rules?

This expanded set of rules will have at their core the original rules. I am intending to keep most of it as is – no point in reinventing the wheel, is there! My goal with the expanded rules is to:

  • Clarify ambiguous rules or those parts of the rules not explained in enough detail
  • Provide clear mechanical benefits or other tangible motivations / uses for all elements character generation and game play (e.g. relationships)
  • Provide optional (“plug and play”) rules that expand the basic game or change how the game plays
  • Provide example settings

This evening I went through the original rules and jotted down everything I thought needed expanding on. It ended up being 75 dot-points long! Most of these dot points will be one or two paragraphs of additional explanation, though some will require quite a bit of additional writing. There are even entire new chapters to write. In an ideal world I will be able to tackle a dot-point per night and bash the expanded rules out in a few months. We will have to see how things go, though.

So what will be in this expanded set of rules?

Below is my dot-point list of additions / changes to the core FU RPG rules. Some of the dot-points represent clarifications/examples/additions to the current rules, while others are “optional” rules to expand the way you can use FU. They are not always clearly defined in this rough draft.

I would love to hear from you if you think I have missed something, or if you have suggestions for what you would like to see in the expanded rules.

Outline of additions / changes to core FU rules


New Sections

  • Hit points / health and injuries
  • Stats / attributes
  • Making your character AWESOME


  • Alternative ways to define descriptors, beyond Body, Mind, Edge and Flaw
  • Defining the “scope” of descriptors
  • Narrow and broad descriptors together (Why? How?)
  • Descriptors as “concept”, “occupation”, “race”, “social class”, “troubles” and other alternatives
  • Magic, psychic powers and other “powerful” descriptors
  • Descriptor “focus” (physical, mental, social, combat, perception etc)
  • Predefined descriptors; building descriptor lists
  • Descriptors as Aspects
  • Further detail in descriptor explanations on page 6 (“Descriptors are clear” etc)
  • “Good” clichés vs. “bad” cliches


  • Making gear a descriptor
  • Using gear as gear, not descriptors
  • Weapons and weapon damage
  • Equipment and equipment lists
  • Picking up equipment – “Why don’t I get a bonus for this machinegun?”


  • Further detail on drives and what each is
  • Drives alternatives – hooks, attitudes, troubles, goals, deal, fate


  • Does this entire element become optional?
  • Expand explanation further – what is the mechanical advantage?
  • Provide examples of how they are used in play
  • Relationships with non-player characters – contacts, dependents
  • Using relationships as Narrator tools


Scenes & Turns

  • Following the action with logic
  • Rolling for initiative

Beating the Odds

  • Are we still calling it that?
  • Alternative ways to roll – polyhedrals; 2/3/4 d6; d10; what else?
  • Opposed rolls
  • Fate dice
  • Alternative charts
  • Alternative questions – degree of success; focus-based questions (combat, social, investigation, stealth, etc)
  • Defining the scope of your questions before play / during play

Success & Failure

  • Expand explanations / descriptions of results (Yes and…, etc)
  • Conditions – expand explanation; positive and negative conditions (explain and examples)
  • Details – expand explanation; positive and negative details (explain and examples)
  • How long do conditions / details last?


  • Expand explanation of Easier/Harder/Cancelling out
  • Using the environment to your advantage / disadvantage
  • How many bonus / penalty dice can I roll?
  • Dice caps
  • Modifier sources (descriptors, gear, enemies, environment, conditions, details)
  • Limiting dice by source (1 descriptor, 1 gear, 1 friend, 1 environmental etc)

FU Points

  • Using FU points to encourage specific play styles
  • Focus pools
  • FU points to power special abilities
  • Special abilities / stunts / magic???


New sections

  • Starting a game
  • Long or short term play? How does this affect your game?
  • Character advancement – change vs. improvement
  • Setting scenes, defining action
  • Creating NPC’s and locations
  • Passage of time – recover, dilating time

Narrator advice (page 16)

  • Expand on advice on talking / listening – provide more detail and examples
  • Rewarding players / rewarding characters
  • Improv techniques that enhance your games
  • Film techniques to steal for your games (flashback, foreshadow, slow motion, cut scene)
  • Describing your scenes like a movie



  • Defining the scope of combat
  • Running combat – scenes and turns
  • Making attacks – alternative methods
  • Causing damage
  • Weapon damage
  • Injuries and recovery

Optional rules “packages”

  • Why? Using optional rules to create tone / mood, emulate a genre or encourage a style of play
  • Pure – no optional rules
  • Gritty
  • Fantastic
  • Creating your own optional rules and custom packages

Setting Outlines – not all of these will make the cut

  • Space Opera
  • High Fantasy / Dark fantasy
  • Pulp Adventure
  • Urban Fantasy / Modern supernatural
  • Something ODD



And when the expanded FU rules are written?

The current FU RPG rules will remain available in their current format, for the totally awesome price of FREE (or “pay what you want” over at RPGnow). They will also stay available under the current CC licence. The expanded edition is a much bigger project and will feature art and all the other trappings we have come to expect from a roleplaying game rulebook. If I can master adobe I would like to make it an optimised PDF with all the bells and whistles. Consequently, there will be a charge for the new set of rules. How much, I don’t know – I haven’t written it yet, have no idea how long it will take, how much the art will cost, how long the final document will be or anything like that. I promise I will keep you up to date on this, and am happy to hear your thoughts, too.

I would love to hear your thoughts on what an expanded edition of the FU RPG should contain. Leave a comment below!

Comments (18)

  1. Geoff Osterberg February 13, 2014 at 10:39 am

    Combat was, at first, the only weak point I saw in the system. I no longer believe that. The way my son and I play it is that all attacks have 2 rolls, 1st for your current attack’s success, 2nd to see if you kill the opponent. The kill roll always starts out with a number of negative d6 to illustrate the strength of the opponent. Because of the awesomeness of the Beat the Odds ladder, we usually need to work to get the kill roll to give us better odds, but every once in a while you get a lucky roll that hands you a one hit kill.

    One thing I might request, and I’m not even sure if it would fit in with your vision for the game, is some information about playing without a Narrator. We are currently using the Mythic GM Emulator, because my son prefers that I adventure along side him. I believe that FU could handle the job itself, but I haven’t sat down and taken the time to work out the mechanics for it in any detail.

    Thanks for a great game!

    • Nathan February 13, 2014 at 8:00 pm

      Thanks for the feedback, Geoff! Combat in FU is one of those things that really depends on your style of play. When I first wrote the rules I was running very fast story driven games where combat was not common and did not need to be covered in a “blow by blow” fashion. However, there have been times when I have wanted a more detailed system that helps to build dramatic tension in combat situations. I am hoping to address this need with a couple of different options for players.
      I would love to include some solo / GM-less rules or guidelines in the new edition. I will have to see how things progress as it has the potential of being quite a bit of work to write and test. I have seen lots of people mod FU for solo play, taking the best bits from other sources such as Mythic, so I know it is possible and there are bits I can draw on for inspiration. I am not going to make a definitive “No” at this stage!

  2. Cuchulain Coker February 14, 2014 at 12:25 pm

    Hello, wow cool!!!! Love FU, especially the Linguistic/Grammatical logic (nouns, adjectives, etc.). here are some ideas from a few games that may be transferable and/or spark some new ideas for options. This is not a secret promo for these games i just thought there are some things in them that can relate to FU and thought i would point you to the source and let you decide for yourself. Thanks For the Awesome system!! Best of Luck. First a one pager called 2d6 Quick & Dirty, http://www.homebrew.net/games/2d6QnD.html , solely because as its damage mechanism it temporarily removes/disables traits (descriptors), this seemed kinda cool because it refers you back to the descriptors and adds a new dimension to them [maybe conditions already do this?]; second is Altars and Archetypes, http://altarsandarchetypes.webs.com/therules.htm , there is one thing from the rules that i thought might be useful and that is the use of archetypes/classes as descriptors (this idea might be in more games, this is just where I stumbled onto it); another one on damage is Wushu RPG, http://danielbayn.com/wushu/ , because there is a similar relationship between optional damage as Fu points & the way Chi points are used, also Wushu offers some fresh thought in its use of the Principle of Narrative Truth (not sure if that aspect is transferable); the last game that I think has ideas useful for FU is Section 44, http://www.1km1kt.net/rpg/44-A-Game-of-Automatic-Fear.pdf , especially the use of Relationships (‘Bonds’), the connection between the character and their contacts, the use of contacts/bonds could really be useful in FU.

    • Nathan February 20, 2014 at 7:50 pm

      Thanks for your thoughts. I am familiar with some of those games, but will have to check out Alters and Archetypes and 2d6 Quick and Dirty. Cheers!

  3. Cuchulain Coker February 15, 2014 at 12:28 pm

    Also was thinking, if you are planning on putting in any ‘adventures’ or scenarios with characters and challenges, that would be awesome. I’ve been thinking a cool way to present such adventures would be to have an Adventure Deck or Deck of Scenarios. Each deck being Genre/setting themed, where you have like a bunch of locations, motivations and scenes, characters, and challenges on different cards. Modern Undead Horror setting deck for instance, with like 10 different locations (with descriptors …the mall, the police station, the cemetery, the old abandoned barn, etc), 20 scene ideas (with maybe several motivations – that can be matched with locations and/or character cards… trying to get a special item found only in this location/on this character, trying to get out of a certain location/away from a certain character, etc), like maybe 10 character cards (with villains & mooks, and npc’s/contacts… the corrupt politician, the cultist, etc.), like 10 creature cards (various zombies, undead groups, undead animals, etc.), and 10 nonliving challenges (time is running out before X, Something important Breaks, I thought we just killed that horror, etc). Does this make sense? every time i read Temple of Tot in the FU pdf i think of this. maybe it doesn’t have to be a deck. maybe i need some sleep. Awesome work, all the best in your endeavors.

  4. Dave February 20, 2014 at 6:00 pm

    Love where you’re going with the extensions!

    As far as Combat, the “Fu Conflicts” hack on the yahoo group seems like a pretty cool way to give some crunch without going too far away from story-based…but I haven’t had a chance to use it yet.

    For story building/narration/solo play, I too have used Mythic as well as a free system called “Instant Game”. Both fit really well with Fu.

    Keep up the great work!

    • Nathan February 20, 2014 at 7:52 pm

      Thanks for the feedback, Dave. Do you have a link for the Instant Game? I would also love to hear people’s thoughts on their favourite parts of Mythic and the bits they tend to ignore / leave out. It might give me some direction on where to go if I include solo play rules in the new game.

  5. The Helldragon April 9, 2014 at 7:20 pm

    Just stumbled onto this today – all of the coming add-ons sound great. I’ve wanted to give FU a good run for a long time, and I even tried to give it a shot, but as I tend to run combat-heavy games, FU as it stood didn’t really provide what I needed to resolve them in a satisfying way. So, I’m looking forward to the expanded edition’s combat rules, because FU is still a game I want to get into.

  6. arboricopom September 28, 2014 at 6:18 pm

    Hello Nathan, I love the FU RPG (I play Wastburg, a french RPG/FU hack).
    So, I wish some news about the second edition, please.
    Thanks !

    • Nathan September 29, 2014 at 7:27 am

      Hi! The second edition of FU has not made much progress unfortunately. After my wife became ill in March this year I made a conscious decision to step away from a lot of my hobby in order to focus on my family. Things have changed for the better, however, and we have made a few big changes to our lives that will soon see me have a bit more free time. I am hoping to do more work on the new FU during November as part of NaGa DeMon.

  7. arboricopom September 29, 2014 at 10:30 am

    Sorry I didn’t know.
    FU can wait, family is more important.
    I wish you the best for you and your family!

    • Nathan September 29, 2014 at 10:39 pm

      No problem! Things have improved a great deal over the last few months and our life is back to normal. It was a shock at the time but my wife is healthy again and we are a very happy family looking forward to the future – part of which is getting back into my hobby! Thanks for keeping up-to-date with FU.

  8. Soda December 25, 2014 at 3:07 am

    Super interested in a 2nd edition!

    I’m most curious about powerful descriptors. What were your ideas about?

  9. Johann Aeschlimann June 20, 2016 at 3:11 am

    Arrrgh… What is happening with this second edition?
    We’re currently running a game of FU, and are in our fourth game. This is the first game that has managed to keep the boy’s attention!
    It is just a fabulous game!
    Hope the second edition isn’t dead…

    • Nathan June 20, 2016 at 7:11 am

      Hi Johann, while second edition is not dead, it is a slow process that has undergone a number of significant changes in terms of what I want to achieve. I have recently launched a new site dedicated to FU over at http://freeformuniversal.com where I will be collating relevant articles and hopefully keeping fans better informed. I recently posted an article on using “trademarks” to provide additional depth/detail to characters and will continue to provide articles related to what I am planning for FU. I hope this helps!
      Is there something specific you are keen to see in a second edition of FU? Is there something in particular you feel needs further depth or explanation?

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