Fudge and my Discovery of Rubrics

Fudge and my Discovery of RubricsI have never been particularly good at maths. This, sadly, has limited some of my enjoyment of roleplaying games. I was sick of “Roll Playing” with the constant modifiers and THAC0s etc. So, I started looking around for another system to use in my games.

Searching on the Internet brought me to Fudge, a generic roleplaying system that is based on a simple word-based system to resolve actions.

Each player describes how good they are at a specific skill using one of the seven words listed below.

  • Superb
  • Great
  • Good
  • Fair
  • Mediocre
  • Poor
  • Terrible

When a player wants to act, the storyteller tells them how difficult the task is. If the player skill is greater than the difficulty, they automatically succeed. If their skill is worse, they roll some Fudge dice. They move up the skill chart with successes, and down with failures.

It is a very elegant system, and quick to grasp when you are playing with new people. My friends and I had many fine adventures using the Fudge system.

It was only later that I realized the application of what I had learned to teaching.

Fudge had given me lots of practice in describing an activity in terms of varying levels of success. For example, a player trying to pick a lock might get any of the following results.

  • Superb : The door swings open quickly silently and smoothly
  • Great : The door opens quickly with the faintest noise
  • Good : The door opens slowly with a small creak
  • Fair : The door opens making a loud noise
  • Mediocre : The door doesn’t open
  • Poor : The door doesn’t open and the lock picking attempt is very loud
  • Terrible : The door doesn’t open, you break your lock picks and the noise bounces all the way down the corridor.

So, you may ask, what is the benefit for a teacher of describing different levels of success like this?

In many regards, what I have outlined above is a rubric for judging a performance. It includes 3 major components.

  1. Was the door opened?
  2. Was it opened silently or with noise?
  3. Was it opened quickly?

Based on the answers to these three questions, I could decide how well the player did. It was quick and intuitive to do, and simple to formulate.

Of course, I didn’t realize the value of doing this until I started to teach an essay class.

It was intimidating to look at student essays and not know where to start, until I remembered Fudge. By changing the questions, I could easily change what I was assessing.

Judging the success of a lock-picking attempt is, for all intent and purposes, no different from judging the success of a student essay. Furthermore, the descriptors mapped very easily onto a grade breakdown.

  • Superb: A+
  • Great: A
  • Good: B
  • Fair: C+
  • Mediocre: C
  • Poor: D
  • Terrible: F

The use of rubrics in classrooms is considered a best practice in education. It provides students with a clear goal statement removes the threat of subjective marking of student work, and has been linked to higher attainment. The Fudge system not only uses one of the most important skills for a teacher to learn, but it does so in a fun and engaging way.

For more information on the Fudge system  check out http://www.fudgerpg.com/

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