Saturday, May 22, 2010


This post is a diversion from my previous posts about my campaign ending or about the creation of a new campaign. Instead, I'm going to write about the fact that this evening, I played Quidditch from the Harry Potter books with my wife and daughter. My daughter (age 6) is currently having the Harry Potter books read to her. She is loving them. She has always enjoyed pretend and the recent requests to have us join her in playing Hogwarts-pretend have been incessant and the pace of our consent has not matched her desires. Last week she said, "Why don't you want to play pretend?" I responded, "Well, your pretend isn't very challenging for me". As the week went on, that answer gnawed at my brain. Really. I play RPGs for crying-out-loud what is that except pretend? So I looked up RPGs for kids and found a few fun links but the one that caught my daughter right away was Broomsticks. This evening, I downloaded the game, slapped together a quick revision of the rules in Fudge and created characters with my wife and daughter. I modified the Quidditch rules from the books in a few ways to keep things more manageable.

First, I reduced the team size to four. One seeker, one beater (down from two), one chaser (down from three), and one seeker per team. I also reduced the number of bludgers from two to one.

Second, I knew that I'd need to simplify the flying. I didn't do anything to track altitude. You could go over or under an opponent and at times I described players as dropping to the ground to pick up the quaffle but this was all flavor text and not in the mechanics. To track movement I created an arbitrary rule that Fair movement was 1/2 of the length of the table. Since I have an expanding table (with a beveled line separating the leaves) this made it easy to measure using string held and nocked in the bevel. For every step above fair I added 6 inches to the character's string. The strings were tied to each mini to show how far it could move each round. If I felt the maneuver was delicate like a sudden start and stop, a tight loop, or weaving through the goal posts, I made the character roll versus their flight skill. The table (round) also served as our pitch where I placed improvised Quidditch goal posts I made out of Tinker toys, pipe cleaner, and straws. A dime was the quaffle, a penny the snitch, and a tinker toy end cap the bludger.

Third, I decided what you could do in a turn. This was pretty simple, one move (up to your string length) and one action (search for the snitch, catch the snitch, catch the quaffle, steal the quaffle, throw the quaffle, block the quaffle, beat the bludger, or check an opponent). No double moves, no double actions.

Fourth, I just created a turn order that made intuitive sense. Bludger, snitch, seekers, chasers (if the quaffle was loose, I moved it on their turn too), keepers, and beaters. Each turn I just let our Ravenclaw team go first (if we wanted this to be more complicated we could have allowed for an opposed flying skill but I just kept it fast and simple). On the bludger's turn it could move toward the closest player(s). If it moved close enough to touch a player, it rolled its fair bludger skill against the difficulty of their athletics. I could have made it more complicated and made the roll opposed (or used the dodge skill in the rules) but this was fast and fun so we didn't worry about that. The Bludger could keep on moving after hitting one player to try to hit another character in line, or try to circle back and hit the same one with a fair or better roll. The snitch wasn't on the table until seen by the seekers. They spent most of the first two rounds trying to stay away from the bludger and chasing after one another. The chasers made opposed rolls to grab the quaffle, or to steal it from one another. If a chaser threw the quaffle at the goal, the keeper's turn came next who had to get close enough to attempt and then also try to block the quaffle. If the keeper missed, the chaser had scored a point. The beaters came next they attacked the bludger in turn trying to hit it and whack it toward the opponents or just away from their team. A greater beater roll v. the bludger's fair difficulty would send it flying (up to 1/4 its string length on a fair, 1/2 on a good, 3/4 on a great, etc.) closer to and possibly hitting an opponent. Then we started at the top the next round.

We had a blast. We played for about 45 minutes and about 5 turns before my daughter's character got the snitch (a little too easy compared the to description in the book but perfect for a 6 year old). Her character was aptly buffed by my newly minted powergamer with "Born to Fly" though it was a close call for her between that and "Allure". I might make some adjustments for the next time we play like quick game rules, long game rules, but these worked alright and they were fun. You'd be surprised how quickly the powergaming instinct set in. When I told her the best broom her family could afford was a Clean Sweep 5 (the Clean Sweep 7 gives a bonus to fly skill) she started pestering my just like my best powergamers from my last D&D sessions when I turned down uber powered items for them.

This was definitely the planar collision of gamer and papa nirvana.


  1. That sounds like a lot of fantastic, free, family fun! (alliteration!)

    Great job on ad hoc rules, too.

    Your last paragraph is an excellent statement on the mentality of power gamers.

  2. Nice game and nice telling ! Thanks !

  3. [Posted to fudgecommunity yahoo group when asked about my conversion]

    Um, well, it was a lot more slap-dash than a consumable conversion.

    The basics were as follows:
    For attributes, I gave the characters one Great, Good, and Fair (out of three). Magic is another attribute in the text but I changed it to a scale instead because it would go so high. I gave my starting characters Magic at Fair on scale +1 (equivalent to fair for a second year; this was listed as prerequisite for playing Quidditch).

    I adjusted the "unique situations" in the following ways. First everyone had to be either Muggle Born or Magical Upbrining plus take one Unique Situation. The book seemed unclear about that to me. Also I changed all "Unique Situations" to only allow one +1 bonus to one skill. Those that state a +1 bonus to more than one skill were switched to either/or. Giant's Blood was marked in my mind as an exception but I hadn't figured out how to fix it yet. Also the background "unique situations" were left the same. That is, Muggle Born (+2 to Muggle Studies) and Magical Upbrining (+1 to Care of magical Creatures and +1 to History of Magic.

    In the original a +3 in Knowledge would give you three points to spend in Knowledge skills. I converted this to steps above fair +2 (so their characters had 4 points to spend on Athletic skills; more skills=more fun for a younger child).

    Otherwise, the mechanics were left as is, or as described on my blog for the Quidditch match. They never cast spells so we didn't have to worry about that. My plan was that I would Fudge it if it came up, probably as an unopposed action v. a difficulty level I set for casting. I think the only other details that weren't described there are that the Bludger moved at 3/8 of the table length on its turn and the Snitch moved 3/4 of the table length. This meant the Seekers had to try to cut it off instead of just going straight after it.

    I'm happy to take questions if that doesn't cover it. And of course now that I've written all this I'll post it as a comment on my blog in case others would like the same info.