I hope you’ll read through this at least once so you’ll understand the design considerations that went into anything you download that I compiled, but if you just have to get to the goodies, scroll down to the bottom for downloads.
I fell in love with the FUZION system shortly after it came out. I discovered the game via Champions: New Millennium, after HERO Games… shall we say, “merged” with RTG in the mid-‘90s. Given my HERO 4th ed. background, FUZION was clearly the answer to the long-asked-for HERO-Lite. Others have come across the system through different venues and versions, and I recognize that not all “flavors” of FUZION are the same. In fact, depending on how you view the core of the system, there are potentially innumerable variations of the game (more on that below).
For my own sanity – and that of my playing groups’ – I found it useful to categorize FUZION fundamentals (e.g., versions not tied to a specific game) into three primary versions, which are summarized here:
-->Total FUZION: This is the version initially developed by combining HERO with RTG's house system (Interlock), and was used to build Champions: New Millenium. It includes rules for superpowers, mental abilities, martial arts, etc., and basically operates similarly to HERO. I find it best-used when trying to run a "HERO-lite" game, with a lot of options and detailed flexibility such as HERO has, but with some sacrifices in versatility in exchange for retaining much of FUZION’s greater simplicity. The basis for Total FUZION is rev 4.4.3 Web Edition (with v4.4.2 [a.k.a., Maximum FUZION] working just about as well).-->Generic FUZION: This is basically FUZION boiled down to just the game mechanics for FUZION. It covers making characters and performing actions in a variety of settings, but has no rules for magic, superpowers, etc. This is a great choice either 1) when the GM wants to use a limited number of and/or a specialized set of Plug-ins, such as setting-specific spells, or mental powers for a psionics game, etc., or 2) when running a game with few or no Plugs-ins, such as a real-world espionage campaign, a swashbuckling adventure, or any other historical game. This is also often the best version to start with if you’re applying the “metasystem” concept (see below) or converting another game to FUZION. The basis for Generic FUZION is rev 5.02.
At first, I found the deviations from one release and/or product to another more than just a simple annoyance. FUZION was supposed to be a single set of rules, so I thought, and clearly most revs were almost identical at least in their fundamentals. But almost identical isn’t the same as identical, and it was causing problems. I had players showing up to sessions with different versions of the rules, sometimes with different ways to handle the same character element. In response, I created “add-on” pages for each major version of FUZION. Each was basically just a few additional pages intended to bridge the gap among versions, such as catching skills that were left out of one or the other, clarifying a few ambiguous rules, and incorporating some useful pieces from the parent games that help make the end result more complete. This way, players could bring just about any core rulebook and, along with the “add-on” for their specific versions, be able to operate from a consistent set of mechanics – or at least know which mechanics might be different enough to double-check with the GM.
Each flavor’s add-on pages tacked on the base rules for that flavor create the “Plus” version. Thus, for example, Generic FUZION with the Generic FUZION Add-on made Generic FUZION Plus. Now when I ran a game for my group, I could specify that I’m using, say, Total FUZION Plus, and everyone would know to grab their copy of Total FUZION and that set of related add-on pages.
Originally, the goal of the add-on pages was to make all three versions identical in all regards except the Plug-ins, but over the years that objective has changed, in response both to 1) my stronger understanding of a “metasystem” (see below), as well as 2) what factors determine how I select a particular flavor of FUZION to use for a given game. Thus, the latest add-on pages still include some rules that bridge the three flavors, as well as some rules highly-specific to each version.
What's a Metasystem?
I confess that, despite my arrogance at the time to the contrary, I didn’t fully grok what the rules meant by a “metasystem.” To be fair, the description in the intro isn’t that clear of an explanation, as the example still describes something that can be done in any good universal RPG. It sounded more like a clever branding technique than a real differentiator (not that I’d ever known RTG to be that kind of devious).
Jump forward a few years (about ten years to be precise), and I experienced a paradigm shift regarding all those variations, and it finally occurred to me just what Mike, et al., meant by “metasystem.” It’s not just a way to use the rules to run any genre, nor just a way to combine genres (both of which can be done via any decent universal or multi-system set of rules), nor even just a way to telescope complexity (e.g., do I run with all ten characteristics or just the four groups, and which derived characteristics do I need? Which dial setting is applicable for handling automatic fire?). In a metasystem, as long you drill down the fundamental elements of the system – how characteristics work, how they inter-operate with skills, how players use Option Points, how do players perform actions, how players suffer damage and the effects of the environment, etc. – the details don’t matter. I experimented by trying to recreate the core components of the Classic Traveller game: Random character creation, altered characteristics that didn't inherently map to the primary groups, profession-based background development, stepping into the universe; but running the game via the basics of FUZION. It turned out to be pretty successful (i.e., the tone very much feels like one of my Traveller games; how successful [i.e., fun] the adventures have been is up for debate…). With that under my belt, I tried a more daunting endeavor: Recreating the feel of The Fantasy Trip (TFT) via FUZION. When the first player came back with his character sheet, which mapped almost seamlessly to the source game, I had hope that I was on to something. Having now run a multi-year, TFT-inspired fantasy campaign using FUZION, I’m certain I achieved my objective, and just as clearly, the gang at RTG achieved their objectives in making FUZION not just a universal or multi-system, but a true metasystem.
“Metasystem.” Heh, O.K. – I get it now!
Downloads and Links
Eventually to come: