Mark Barnabo, Chris Doyle, Peter Schweighofer, Paul Sudlow, Eric S. Trautmann
West End Games (1996)
Daniel Scott Palter
Denise Palter, Richard Hawran
Peter Schweighofer, Bill Smith, George Strayton, Paul Sudlow, Eric S. Trautmann
This document contains Open Game Content (OGC) as defined by the Open Game License (OGL).
West End Games, WEG, and D6 System are trademarks and properties of Purgatory Publishing Inc.
Chapter 0: Introduction
For those of you who have already played roleplaying games, you may want to skip ahead to Chapter One: The Players Section. For the newcomers, the remainder of this introductory chapter explains the concepts of roleplaying, characters. and adventures.
Get your imagination fired up - you're going to need it!
You've read novels; you've seen movies; you've watched television. What is it about these things that so compels people to sit down time and again to spend some of our precious free moments?
We love to watch characters fall into conflict, and we cannot wait to see how things turn out. Does the inept but lovable protagonist get the girl? Does the secret agent make it out of the villain's lair before the whole place explodes? Does the noble hero sacrifice himself to save his kingdom?
The genre doesn't matter. Believable, conflict-oriented stories engage our senses so deeply that we often find ourselves hypnotized by the events unfolding before us.
In this day of virtual reality and interactive television, we can now become involved in these stories that so grip us. We become characters in tales of our own design. stories propelled forward by our actions and reactions and moving ever closer to the inevitable conclusion.
Think of roleplaying then as interactive storytelling. You and a group of friends create alter egos and enter the world of your imaginations, exploring realms limited only by your creativity. One person assumes the role of referee – or gamemaster- informing the players of their characters' situations - the environment.
the words and actions of the other characters present (those characters not controlled by the players: an evil wizard, for example), and the results of the players' characters' activities.
With a roleplaying game you can thrust yourself into the heart of adventure, becoming characters in worlds of your own imagination or of your favorite novel, movie, or television show. like Star Wars, Dr Who, James Bond, Babylon 5, Space: Above and Beyond, Hercules: The Legendary Journeys, or The X-Files, to name just a few. *
Let's stop a moment and look in on a typical game session. Judy, Mike, Chris, and Tim have gotten together on a Friday evening to continue their fantasy campaign (a linked series of adventures - like individual books in a novel series), Tim, the gamemaster (GM), has just begun to summarize the events of the last adventure (for now don't worry about the game mechanics - the dice rolling, character attribute and skill names, etc). The dialogue in quotes indicates that the player is speaking in the voice of his or her character.
Tim: Your characters escaped the viziers Flying Armada, but your skyship suffered severe damage during the engagement. You're going to have to make repairs soon.
Judy (playing Captain Walker): I walk to the prow and use my spyglass to look for a good place to anchor the ship.
Tim: About a quarter of a mile to the north is a large plain dotted with several smallish buildings. You can't make out much more than that from this distance.
Mike (playing First Mate Stensson): “Captain, what're yer orders?”
Judy: “Head for that c1earing.” (points)
Mike: “Aye. Captain.”
Tim: Chris...where's your character at this point?
Chris (playing Crewman Fahrer): In the crow's nest.
Tim: Okay. make a Perception check.
Chris: (Rolls some dice.) I rolled a 14.
Tim: A fourteen? Okay, that's pretty good. You notice a plume of grayish-white smoke twisting upward into the sky from a wooded hill to the northeast.
Chris: “Captain, look: a fire to the northeast.”
Judy: Do I see the smoke?
Tim: Yes. it's about a half-mile from your current position.
Judy: “Stensson, what do you think? Should we check out the fire first or head to the village?”
Chris: Do I think the ship can make it to the hill and then back to the village?
Tim: Make a shipwright roll.
Chris: (Rolls some dice) Uh-oh, I only rolled a three.
Tim: Well. it's hard for you to tell. A lot of the damage is on the lower hull, which you can't see very well from the deck. Mike, make a Perception roll.
Mike: Okay. (Rolls.) I got a 9.
Tim: That's good. Something tells you to look behind you. When you look you see a glint of light in the sky. It only takes you a couple of seconds to realize that it's the Armada's lead ship.
Mike: “Look! It's the Armada.”
Chris: I'm climbing down from the crow's nest.
Judy: “Get to your battle stations while I turn us around. We can't outrun them, so we're going to have to fight.”
Tim: All right. we're getting into combat rounds now. Everyone make Reflexes rolls ...
The night continues with an exciting confrontation between the Armada and the players' characters. Luckily, the pirate allies of the characters show up to help out - of course, they wait until the very last moment to arrive!
Think of roleplaying as a combination of interactive storytelling, acting improvisation, and dice-rolling. You and your friends are writing your own stories. filling them with exotic locales, interesting characters, and evocative scenes. All you need is some paper, a pencil, dice, and your imagination!
Roll some six-sided dice (the number of which is determined by your character's statistics), add them up, and compare the total to the difficulty for the task you want the character to accomplish. If the roll is equal to or higher than the difficulty, the character succeeds. If it's lower, he fails. That's it!
Participating in a roleplaying game takes a slight amount of knowledge about how the game works. Most of the time you can rely on the gamemaster to coach you through. but it makes life a lot easier if all the players know at least the basics.
The details of the areas covered here appear in the rest of the book. (players, you don't need to worry about those chapters: only the gamemaster has to know the fine points.) Once you've read this section, you'll be armed and ready to become a part of a roleplaying adventure. The D6 System is designed so that you can play in any genre (science fiction, fantasy, cyberpunk, Victorian, pulp, horror, etc) without having to learn a new set of rules for each one!
Now let's begin your foray into the exciting world of roleplaying games...
To play the game you'll need a character. A character is an alter ego whose part you assume for the duration of a gaming session. Think of it as improvisational acting: you know the abilities and personality of your character and you decide how that character reacts to the situations presented to him. Unlike most traditional games, which follow set procedures for each player's turn. roleplaying games leave all options open. If someone shoots at your character, for example, you can decide to leap out of the way. or return fire, or catch the bullet in your teeth. Okay, that last option sounds pretty outlandish, but what if your character is a superhero? And then again, what if he isn't?
So, we need a way 10 quantify the character's abilities – his aptitudes, skills, special powers (magical, psychic, super), etc. The D6 System represents your character's level of ability in each area with a die code, a number of six-sided dice plus a number of “pips”. For example, a die code of 3D+1 means three six-sided dice plus one pip (don't worry about what you do with these die codes for now: we'll cover that little later in the section titled “Making Dice Rolls”).
All you need to know right now is that the more dice and the more pips. the better the character's expertise in the particular aptitude or skill.
1. Make a photocopy of a character sheet.
2. Distribute attribute dice.
3. Select skills and distribute skill dice.
4. Roll for body points (if applicable).
5. Determine personal Information (name, species, gender, height, weight, appearance).
6. Choose Advantages and Disadvantages.
7. Record or select special abilities (spells, psychic powers, etc).
8. Create background and personality.
9. Determine starting money and purchase equipment.
Attributes represent a character's basic aptitudes – her inherent levels of ability in various areas, from physical strength to logical reasoning. Your gamemaster will provide you with either a character template (a partially created character that you can customize to use as your own) or a list of attributes that will be used for his game world (so you can create a character from scratch).
Strength – overall strength and level of physical conditioning
Reflexes – reaction time
Coordination – aim and balance
Perception – observation and sixth-sense
Reasoning – deduction and problem-solving
Knowledge – education (formal or informal)
Characters begin with a total number of dice dictated by the gamemaster, usually three dice per attribute. In our example then, a starting character would have a total of eighteen dice (18D). You decide how those dice should be divided among the character's attributes. If you want to create a space smuggler, for example, you'll probably concentrate your available dice on the character's Strength, Reflexes, and Perception attributes, the aptitudes most important to someone with that career.
You might have noticed that none of these die codes have pips. Well, you can break up these dice into smaller units (just like you can break ten into ten ones). Each die code has three levels of pips: 0, l, and 2. The progression looks like this: 0, +1, +2, 1D+0, 1D+1, 1D+2, 2D+0, 2D+1, 2D+2, 3D+0, 3D+1, 3D+2, 4D+0, etc. Since any number plus zero equals that number, we can drop the +0 pips. leaving us with: +1, +2,1D, 1D+1, 1D+2, 2D, 2D+1, etc. We can then divide one die (1D) into sub-units of three +1's, or a +1 and a +2. Just remember that three pips equals one die (1D = +3). (Don't worry, it's not as complicated as it seems.)
Let's check our math. First we'll add the dice (4D + 3D + 2D + 4D + 2D + 2D = 17D) and then the pips (2 + 1 = 3 = 1D) for a total of 18D (17D + 1D= 180). Attributes typically have a lower limit of 2D and an upper limit of 4D. with 3D the average. Special circumstances can change those boundaries - ask your gamemaster about them if you're interested (or read the Characters chapter of the Gamemaster Section).
Still with us? Good. Don't worry. the die code progression is the most difficult part of the game. Once you've got that, everything else is simple.
At this point you've quantified the characters basic aptitudes. But what about the specific areas he has either studied, practiced, or been trained in? We need some way to represent these acquired skills, Well, let's think about this for a minute. Suppose you want your character to have a high level of expertise in pistol. If he starts off with a high aptitude in hand-eye coordination, it stands to reason then that practicing this particular skill will raise his ability level above that point.
So, we've established that the level of expertise in a particular skill is based on the attribute that governs it – in our example, pistol is based on Coordination.
Characters usually begin with 7D in skill dice. Divide these dice among the skills the character possesses (defined by the character template or selected from the skill list provided by the gamemaster) just like attributes, except that the number of skill dice is added to the base attribute. For example. if the character had a Coordination of2D+1 and you spent 1D of skill dice on blaster (a futuristic weapon). he would have a total blaster die code of 3D+1 (2D+1 + 1D = 3D+1).
Strength 4D : Resist Damage 4D+2
Reflexes 3D+2 : Dodge 4D+2; Starship Piloting 5D
Coordination 1D : Blaster 3D
Perception 4D : Con 5D+1; Search 4D+2
Reasoning 2D :
Knowledge 2D : Starports 3D
Time to check the math. We spent 2 pips on the Resist Damage skill, 1D on Dodge, 1D+1 on Starship Piloting, 1D on Blaster, 1D+1 on con, 2 pips on Search, and 1D on Starports. Add up the dice (1D + 1D + 1D + 1D + 1D = 5D) and the pips (2 + 1 + 1 + 2 = 6 = 2D) and we get a total of 7D (5D + 2D = 7D).
Note that the standard limit on the number of skill dice you can add to anyone skill for a starting character is 2D. Again. the gamemaster may change this requirement. but she'll tell you if that's the case. You can also change the number of skill dice by selecting Advantages and Disadvantages for your character.
Characters usually begin play with five Character Points (unless the gamemaster decides otherwise). The role Character Points play in the game will become apparent in the upcoming sections Making Dice Rolls and Evolving Characters.
Characters can begin with any number of Fate Points, from none to five, as determined by the gamemaster, but in most games, characters start with one.
The gamemaster may provide you with a Character Creation Template that defines the various aspects of characters in her game world - which attributes they have, which skills are available. how many attribute and skill dice they start with, allowed species, etc. From this template you can create your character. Just copy down the appropriate information onto a blank piece of paper (with enough room to fill In your die codes) and then follow the normal character creation process (allocating attribute dice, selecting skills and distributing skill dice, etc). Think of the template as a guide to the types of characters you can play for a particular game world. You can find a blank copy of the Character Creation Template in Chapter Two.
So far we've spent all of our time recording quantifiable information about our character. Now we come to the less concrete aspects: psychology and sociology.
Where did this character grow up? Does he have any annoying habits? Does he have any siblings or other close family members? How did he learn all of his skills? What is his goal in life?
It's time to answer these and other questions to complete our character. Some of this information may be dictated by the gamemaster (she'll tell you that's the case). And you don't have to answer all of the following questions. Just pick the ones that seem most important to your character.
Decide the basics of your characters background by answering questions like:
· What kind of nation / kingdom / planet did this character grow up on?
· What are his parents like?
· How many siblings does he have, and what are they like?
· What moral code does his family ascribe to?
Define your characters current psychological state by coming up with answers to questions like:
· What's the most important thing in the character's life?
· What is his goal in life?
· What are his immediate aims?
· What is his normal demeanor?
· What does he hate?
· What does he like?
· What was his most embarrassing moment?
· Does he have any habits or quirks?
You may or may not wish to select one or more goals for your character. He may want to conquer the world (an extremely dangerous goal) or track down a villain who wronged him, or collect vast stores of treasure, or extend the boundaries of the Great Galactic Empire, or order as many different drinks from as many different taverns as possible.
Having a goal helps you determine how your character will react in a given situation. Does a particular course take him closer or farther away from his goal? Can he make a deal to help someone else with her goal in return for assistance in achieving his goal?
You may want to choose some quirks from the following list. These quirks do not affect your character's scores (like Advantages and Disadvantages can - see below). but instead serve to add depth to his personality.
Constantly Quotes Cliches
Dry Sense of Humor
Keeps a Journal
Must Always Have the Last Word in a Conversation
Must Buy a Souvenir from every place visited
Prefers a Particular Color(s)
Refuses to Bathe
Responds only to Full name and title
Ritual (before combat, after combat, before sleep, first thing in the morning, etc.)
Saying (“Tally ho!” or “You got a problem with that?” and so forth)
Shy Around the Opposite Sex
Speaks in a Whisper
Speaks in Monotone
Takes Insults Poorly
Takes Criticism Poorly
Talks to Herself
Uses f1owery Language
If you would like to further flesh out your character, you can choose to take Advantages and Disadvantages. Each entry on the list in Chapter Three includes the name of the Advantage or Disadvantage, its description, and a die code, which may be positive or negative. When you select one of these items, write it on your character template or sheet and record the die code on a separate piece of paper. When you've finished. add up the die codes (the result may be positive or negative). The resulting die code tells you how many skill dice you must either take away or add to your character's starting skill dice (a positive die code result means add while a negative die code result means subtract).
Your gamemaster will tell you whether any of the Advantages or Disadvantages listed in Chapter Three do not apply to his game world or are not allowed.
Advantage / Disadvantage Die Code
Quick Draw -2D
Released Convict +1D
The smuggler gains an additional 1D (since the total was +1D) in starting skill dice.
Congratulations' You've completed the character creation process. So now what do you do with all of this information?
Your character will participate in adventures – series of linked events that lead to a climactic scene. If you've created a knight for a fantasy world. your character might become involved in a quest to locate and retrieve the Great Talisman of Tomanda. Or your CIA agent may receive orders to help smuggle information out of Iraq. Or your space smuggler may decide to make a run into the dangerous Outer Rim Territories.
The gamemaster provides the setup – he tells you the goal of the adventure (most of the time). From that point on. the players direct the flow and pace of the adventure, informing the gamemaster of their characters' activities at each step along the way. For example, your knight and his companions (an inept wizard and a young squire, played by two of your friends) undertake the king's request to find the Great Talisman. Unfortunately, you know nothing about the magical item or its history. so you ask the king for whatever information he might have. The king gives you the basics, but tells you that an old hermit–wizard in the Outlands west of the kingdom is rumored to know everything about this particular talisman.
You and your companions then decide to head into the Outlands to find the hermit so that you can get on with the quest. On your way, however, you run into a group of bandits who demand all of your gold and possessions. What are you going to do? Comply? Parley? Fight? Run?
During each of these encounters, you and the rest of the players decide how to react. thereby leading to the next encounter. whatever that might be. You don't have to follow a set progression of events – it all depends on what your characters do. Two different groups of characters running through the same adventure won't take the same actions, so the outcome of each adventure will probably be different – the Talisman is found, or the Talisman is not found, or the characters die fighting the dragon who owns the Talisman, or the characters and the dragon become allies against a greater evil, etc.
So how do you win? Well, technically, there's no such thing as winning in a roleplaying game. The closest result to a win condition would include the survival of your character and the accomplishment of the goal set at the beginning of the adventure. Along the way. however. you may pick up gold coins. or magical elixirs. or an abandoned starship. or important information – your rewards for figuring out how to solve the problems presented to your character.
The question now becomes: how does the information on your character sheet affect game play?
Whenever your character wants to perform an action you may have to make a die roll. Some tasks (walking, talking, looking, opening an unlocked door, etc) do not require a roll because of their simplicity. Other feats (jumping, shooting, speaking another language, recalling information about a starport, dodging out of the way of a laser bolt, etc) are more difficult, so there is a chance that your character may fail to accomplish his goal. The better your character is at a certain skill, however, the more likely he will succeed in performing it. and that's why you concentrated your attribute and skill dice on the attributes and skills that most applied to your character's line of work.
Don't worry about when you need to make a die roll: your gamemaster will let you know. He'll tell you to make a skill or attribute roll and give you a basic idea of the level of difficulty of the task you are about to attempt. For example, if your private detective character is trying to leap out of the way of a bullet the gamemaster will tell you to make a dodge roll. You then find your dodge die code on your character template (or sheet) and roll a number of six-sided dice (the kind you can steal from a Monopoly or Yahtzee game) equal to the number before the letter D. If your the private detective has a dodge skill of 3D+1, you would roll three six-sided dice and add them together. Last, you add the number of pips to the total for a final value, which you then tell the gamemaster. The total you generated determines your success or failure in dodging the bullet.
But what if your character doesn't have the dodge skill? Don't worry. It doesn't mean he can't dodge. It just means that he doesn't have any particular expertise in that area of the Reflexes aptitude, Instead, he must rely on his basic Reflexes die code to generate a total. Just remember, if a character doesn't have a skill, use the die code of the attribute under which that skill falls.
Whenever you make a skill or attribute roll, make sure one of the dice is of a different color than the rest. This die is called the Wild Die, and it can either help or harm you, depending on the value it turns up.
If you roll a one on the Wild Die, it means you've made a critical error in your skill attempt. If your character was trying to dodge a bullet, it may mean that he tripped and smashed his head into a nearby wall, and still got hit by the projectile.
If you roll a six on the Wild Die, it means you've done something especially helpful to your attempt. After you add up your dice, you can roll the Wild Die again and add that value to the total. If you roll a six again on the Wild Die, you add that and then roll a third time, and so forth. Note that after the initial roll for the skill attempt, rolling a one on the Wild Die does not indicate a critical error.
Your private detective leaps to get out of the way of a bullet. The gamemaster tells you to make a dodge roll, and looking at your character sheet, you find that you must roll 3D+1. You roll three dice (two white and one red (the Wild Die)) with the following results: 4 (white), 2 (white). and 6 (red). You add up the dice rolls (4+2+6=12) and then add your pips (12+1=13) for a total of 13.
But since you rolled a 6 on the Wild Die, you get to roll it again. You roll another 6, so you add that to your total (13+6=19) and roll again. This time you roll a one and add it to the total (19+1=20), giving a final roll of 20. Your gamemaster informs you that your character managed to successfully jump out of the bullet's path, tumbling a full turn and landing back on your feet (a spectacular feat, which you were able to accomplish because you generated such a high total).
Note: The Wild Die applies to every skill, attribute, or damage you you ever make!
Character Points come in handy when you attempt a skill and wind up generating a low total. If the failure of this action could spell the death of your character or the failure of your overall goal, you may choose to spend a Character Point to roll another die and add that to your total. The gamemaster will not tell you the effects of your skill attempt until after you've either spent your Character Points or decide you're not going to spend any on this attempt (think of it like chess: no move is final until you take your hand off your piece; once you've removed your hand. you cannot change your mind).
Note: You can decide to spend Character Points after you've made your roll (unlike Fate Points – see below). You can spend no more than two Character Points on a particular skill attempt.
· Character Points can only be spent on skill or attribute rolls.
· You cannot spend more than two Character Points on any skill or attribute attempt.
Let's say your private detective wound up with a total dodge roll of 6. Since you don't think that that total is high enough to avoid the bullet, and their is a high percentage chance that your character won't survive such an injury,you decide to spend a Character Point. You subtract one from the number of Character Points listed on your character template and roll one additional die, you roll a 4, and add that to your initial total of 6 for a total of 10 (6 + 4 = 10).
Still, the total doesn't seem high enough (note the gamemaster still hasn't said anything about the effects of the roll yet, he waiting until you finish spending Character Points). So you spend another Character Point and roll a 3, for a final total of 13 (10 + 3 = 13). Since you cannot spend another Character Point (you've reached the two point spending limit), you tell the gamemaster your final total and hope it's high enough.
You have one other option for increasing the chances of succeeding at a particular skill roll: Fate Points.
Before making the roll, you can inform the gamemaster that you will spend a Fate Point (you cannot decide to spend a Fate Point after you've made your skill roll). Subtract one from the fate Point listing on your character template, but rather than adding one extra die to your roll like you did when you spend a Character Point, you double the number of skill dice and pips.
Note: All die code adjustments (penalties or bonuses) are applied after doubling the skill or attribute dice.
· To use a Fate Point, you must declare it before making your roll.
· You may spend only one fate Point on any skill attempt.
· Only one die counts as the Wild Die, not two.
Your private detective has managed to dodge the bullet fired by the gangster chasing him, but he realizes he needs to stop the assailant from shooting again – without hurting him! Quite a feat, you decide to spend one of your precious few Fate Points, subtracting one from your Fate Point total and doubling the number of brawling skill dice you get to roll. Since the detective has a brawling die code of 2D+1, it temporarily becomes 4D+2 for this skill attempt You roll four dice for a total of 16 (4 + 3 + 4 + 5 = 16) to which you add the 2 pips, ending with a total brawling roll of 18 – which is pretty darn good!
Example: The fanatical warlord Kalim Zan is about to drop the sacred Phoenix Stone into the vortex to the Fire Universe. If the artifact is destroyed, it could doom the planet to conquest by the evil Zan. Your archer character has one chance to knock the artifact out of Zan's hands before he drops it (more about disarming an opponent appears m Chapter Eight). You therefore decide to spend a Fate Point and double the number of dice you can roll for the archery attempt. Since the character has an archery skill of 5D+2, you get to roll 10D+4!
You generate a total of 37! The gamemaster tells you that not only did you knock the artifact from Zan's hands, but you also managed to put him off balance. If he fails a balance roll, he's going to fall into the vortex!
We’ve been talking about these die roll totals and whether they indicate the success or the failure of a skill attempt. How do you know what number you need to beat? Well you don’t – that’s the gamemaster's job.
The gamemaster either assigns a difficulty number to the task you want to accomplish or randomly generates a difficulty number based on a die code. For example, picking the lock to the back door of a mansion may have a set difficulty number, like 7. If another character opposes your skill attempt by dodging a bullet you fired at her, however, you succeed by rolling a higher blaster total than she rolled a dodge total (which is called an opposed skill roll). Most times, the gamemaster will give you an indication of the difficulty level of a particular task, based on the table below,
If you want to infiltrate a computer system, the gamemaster might tell you that your character thinks it will be an Easy task since the computer doesn't seem to have any readily apparent security features or encoding algorithms currently in operation, You know from this information, then, that you need to roll something between a six and a ten (from the chart above), although you don't know the exact number.
Of course, the gamemaster tells you how difficult the attempt will be based on your character's perception of the extenuating factors governing tile task's ease or difficulty. There may be other determinants that your character would have no way of knowing – which may increase or decrease the difficulty.
Essentially, the gamemaster gives you a general idea of the difficulty level: just remember you can't always rely on the validity of the information.
Level of Difficulty Number Range
Very Easy 1-5
Very Difficult 21-25
At the end of an adventure, the gamemaster rewards surviving characters with Character Points and Fate Points, based on their performance throughout the scenario. Add these values to the current number of points on your character template (sheet) and you're ready for the next adventure. Also, add the number of Character Points to your Veteran Points total (this is a way for the GM to keep track of the overall ability level of your character relative to all other characters; they have no other game use).
But wouldn't it make sense that your character may have improved in some areas over the course of the adventure? If she's been picking locks at every opportunity, wouldn't she get better at it?
To represent this gradual learning/training, players may spend Character Points to increase their skill die codes. To increase a skill by one pip costs a number of Character Points equal to the skill's current die code.
For example, if you want to raise your character’s dodge skill from 3D+1 to 3D+2, you must spend three Character Points (because the number in front of the D is 3). To increase further, from 3D+2 to 4D (the next step in the die code progression) would cost another three Character Points. To move up to 4D+1 from 4D, however would cost four Character Points.
You may also choose to give your character new skills, especially those which he may have attempted during an adventure without prior practice. For example, if your character didn't have the lockpicking skill and yet managed to open three locks using only her Coordination attribute's die code, you may decide that she should spend the Character Points to buy the skill. To do so, use the same formula for increasing the skill, but use the die code of the attribute to determine its initial cost. For example, if the character had a Coordination of 2D+1, it would cost two Character Points to get the lockpicking skill at 2D+2.
That's all you need to know to play a D6 System game. Don't worry if you didn't understand anything explained above; your gamemaster should be able to help you out during the game, And you don't have to memorize anything. Most of the information you'll need during an adventure appears on the character template or sheet you'll be using.
If you want to learn more about the game's mechanics, or about the different options beyond the basics listed above, refer to the the chapters that follow. Otherwise, put the book down and get ready to have some fun!
The D6 System provides a framework upon which to base any genre of roleplaying game you want to play: fantasy, space opera, hard science fiction, post-holocaust, cyberpunk, horror, or other exotica. Although it may sound like just another generic rules system, it isn't. The D6 System allows each gamemaster to develop an entire game system – not game world, game system.
One potential problem with generic rules systems is that they force each world to fill into the confines defined by the rules themselves, rather than allowing the world to mold the rules. With D6, you decide how the rules work in each world you develop or play in, with one unifying aspect: all rules are based on the rolling of six-sided dice.
One example of a D6 game system is the Star Wars Roleplaying Game. Each area of the rules (character creation, combat, special powers, et cetera) works in a particular way – but each could work differently. If you wanted to make the combat rules more intricate and detailed, for example, you could swap in one of the combat option packages provided in this book, or even develop one of your own. Or what if you wanted to use body points rather than wound levels for damage? No problem. The entire game – and all D6 games – are completely customizable.
Using the D6 System you can also develop your own rules from scratch, You choose the attributes. skills, method of combat resolution. magic or special power rules. plus all other areas of game play. so that the finished system matches the tone and feel of your game world.
The D6 System also allows you to incorporate the various options at any time. If you play in your game world for several months and decide you would like to add the combat speed option, you just tell the players and you're ready to go. You don't have to change any character statistics or otherwise manipulate the game rules in any way. You can even add in options for a single encounter during an adventure! For example, your group spends five game sessions chasing down an alien creature that has escaped its confines and has been wreaking havoc at every tum. When the characters finally reach the creature, you don't want the combat to be over in just a few minutes. This should be the climactic, slow-motion finale to the whole campaign.
So you tell the players that you're going to use the most detailed combat options so that every move the characters make becomes extremely important to the outcome of the battle. You've spent a great deal of time and effort to get to this point: you want to savor the moment, not get it over with.
If you would like to just start playing a D6 game without having to create your own system, don't worry, In Chapter Eleven you'll find a complete game system already developed. plus a few character templates for your players.
The gamemaster fulfills many roles. from referee to game world creator – and in the case of the D6 System, even game rules designer. Some GMs may choose to play only one or two of these roles, and others may choose to play all of them. Your level of involvement and time expenditure remains entirely up to you.
As the gamemaster. you set the stage for the players. You tell them about their characters' current surroundings, from the time of day to the number and identities of the gamemaster characters (those characters not controlled by the players) present. Whenever a player's character undertakes an action, you inform her of the results of that action.
To make this part of the job easier, you may wish to use props: maps. player handouts. dim lighting (to simulate the darkness of an underground complex, for example), music (for theatrical effect), or anything else that makes sense in the adventure.
The gamemaster takes on the roles of all the gamemaster characters, speaking in their voices when they converse and deciding how they react to the characters' actions. For example, the characters encounter a merchant trying to unload some illegal goods You might start out by saying (in a scratchy, whispered voice), "Hey, you interested in some great merchandise? Have I got a deal for you." As the players respond in the voice of their characters, you continue to play the role of the merchant. If another gamemaster character arrives, say a police officer, you assume his role as well, perhaps saying (in a voice different from the one you used for the merchant), "What's going on here?"
As referee you decide what actions are possible based on the physics of the game world. If one of the characters wants to fire a blaster through a concrete wall, for example, you judge whether or not such an action could occur based on your knowledge of the elements involved. Roleplaying games don't provide you with an encyclopedia full of possible circumstances so that you can look them up whenever a particular situation develops. You are instead called upon to use your judgment and imagination to extrapolate on the information you are given.
Also in your role as referee you determine the difficulty of the tasks the players' characters wish to undertake. If a character wants to climb a wall, for example, you decide the difficulty number he has to beat to accomplish that feat. If the wall has no foot or hand-holds, you may set the difficulty at Difficult (17). If instead it was a brick structure with strong vines winding up to the roof, you might set the difficulty at Easy (8).
(Don't worry about the numbers or the difficulty qualifiers for now. Those will be explained later in the Gamemaster Section.)
As world creator you design and develop the milieu in which your players' characters will adventure. You are responsible for determining every aspect of this world, from its physical nature to its politics to its populace. Does magic exist? If it does. is it treated like a science or like a superstition? Who really controls the world? Are there vampires or cyborgs or dinosaurs running amok? Do Kleecops from the planet Bobeen constantly take human form and parade around like insane monkeys?
Of course, you always have the option of using an established setting, either from a book, a television show, or a movie you love, or from one of West End's other game lines (like Star Wars, for example).
Last, you may take on the role of game designer, deciding how each aspect of the rules works, from character creation to combat. This book provides you with several options for each area, but you are more than encouraged to come up with your own ideas.
The rest of the chapters in the Gamemaster Section take you through each aspect of roleplaying games, starting with characters, and moving on to skills, magic and other powers systems, equipment, adventures, combat, vehicle combat, and healing and vehicle repair, with a sample game system at the end of the book. At each step you learn the options available and how each works, so that you can decide which you want to use for your game world's rules system.
On the following sheets you'll record the basic structure of your game system, from character template information to combat options to magic rules. Think of the Character Creation Template as the players' guide to designing characters to play in your game world, and the Game Template as your structure for the game system itself.
Make photocopies of these templates so that as you proceed through this book, you can start designing your first game system! Just record the options you choose on the sheet and you're ready to go!
Since characters stand at the center of any roleplaying game, you start designing a game system by deciding on the particular character ability values (Strength, Coordination, etc), personal qualities (species, gender, political affiliations, and so on). and skills (dodge, archery, chemistry, and so forth) that need to be represented in your game. From this information, players can create their own characters and you can invent all of the gamemaster characters (GMCs).
Think of the Character Creation Template as a model for the sentient beings in your game world. You're essentially developing a dossier with spaces to write information about a particular character - name, race, profession, likes, dislikes, peculiarities, aptitudes, skills, mystical powers, etc - and with the options available for each entry-species (elfling, mountain-man, goblin, and so on), gender (female, male, neuter, none), profession (gangster, CIA agent, arena mage, and so forth). When you create a new character, you just go down the list and fill in the appropriate words, numbers, and die codes.
First, make a photocopy of the D6 System Character Creation Template and grab a pencil. As you proceed through the remainder of the chapter, indicate on the template the information for each section – or leave out sections you haven’t decided upon. You can always go back and make changes (which is why you should use a pencil – don't use those erasable pens: trust me, by the time you erase one letter you're going to need a new piece of paper).
Don’t forget that you have complete control of your game system, If you come up with an idea not covered in this chapter (or in any of the chapters following it), use it. Don't feel limited by the information presented here. The constraints of time and space prevent us from covering everything in as much detail as we would like. As gamemaster you're in charge (more about which we'll talk later in Chapter Seven): don't skip a good idea just because you haven't seen it before (these are usually the best ideas of all).
How would you go about describing one of your friends to another? You might indicate his gender, his eye and hair color, his basic body form (tall, short, thin, etc), his age, and the basics of his personality.
Though you think you've provided enough information about him, your other friend may still have a completely different picture of the person you've attempted to describe. So you might then start adding other defining features or qualities until you've come to a point where this person cannot be illustrated any further (of course, you could always draw a picture or provide a photo as well).
When designing roleplaying game characters, you have the option of defining the essence of that character (all of the qualities and quantities that make him up) to any degree you prefer, from a sketchy outline to a detailed character treatment. Remember that as you read the rest of the chapter. For example, you may decide to list a character's age as 25, or as twentyish, or not at all. Just make sure that the Character Creation Template contains enough information for players to create their own characters.
Characters in fantasy and science fiction often come from various species, from elves, dwarves. and trolls to vampires. androids, and martians – not to forget humans, of course. As gamemaster, you decide which species the players may use for their characters. Though your world might have vampires, you may want to restrict their use as player characters because these creatures will play a major role as villains (the adversaries of the characters).
As you design your game world. keep a list of the species available to the players. Next to each, write down any information that sets that species apart from every other species, Ask yourself why it is considered a different species in the first place. Does it have a different appearance? Does it have different sensual organs? Does it breed differently? Does it have particular areas of skills or aptitudes for which it has inherent prowess? Does it have any physical weaknesses?
If you want to create a standard record for each of your species, use the format below.
You can change this information for every game world you create. For example. if you want your human characters to all have the ability to look like a muscular barbarian type you could give them a maximum Strength die code of 6D rather than the standard human die code of 4D.
Species Name: Giant
Physical Description: Giants look like enormous humans and have hair ranging from blue (in the arctic regions) to black (in the warmer regions). Eye color varies between brown, black, and silver, and most males sport beards.
Height Minimum / Maximum: 8'4” / 12'6”
Weight Minimum / Maximum: 440 lbs / 1200 lbs
Attribute Minimum / Maximum Die Code
Coordination 1D / 3D
Reflexes 1D / 3D
Endurance 3D / 5D
Strength 4D / 6D
Strengths: Giant characters can intimidate almost any member of a smaller species because of their great size and strength.
Weaknesses: Giants must consume an amount of food equal to one-quarter of their body weight every day. Failure to do so reduces Endurance die codes by 1D for the following day (non-cumulative).
Other Important Information: Giants are feared across the lands. Most people will run away from a giant before he can even say a word, so it becomes difficult for members of this species to make friends or find a place where tare comfortable enough to settle down.
You don't have too many choices in this area. Most species will have two genders: male and female. You might also devise a gender-less race or a race whose members can spontaneously change between male and female. Again, if you come up with a new choice, don't hesitate to use it.
Choose a maximum and minimum height and weight for each species. If you're using normal humans, you can just tell your players to use their judgment. You may also opt to have players give only a general description, like overweight, tall, short, and so forth.
In a roleplaying game. characters can be of almost any age, from a kid of 10 to an old man of 100. Sometimes, however, it doesn't make sense to allow certain age groups as player characters. For example, in a game set in the real world you couldn't have an 11 year-old boy in the FBI. Give your players an idea of what ages are allowed, and if it doesn't realty matter anyway, you can have them just give a basic idea, like young, thirties, middle-aged, old. and so on.
You may create organizations in your world to which the characters may belong. Examples include: anti-terrorist groups, religious cults, adventuring bands, town militias, secret societies, wizard guilds, etc.
Keep a record of these groups for your own use and provide players with a list and description of the ones of which they can become members.
Now you have to decide which aptitudes you would like the characters in your game world to quantify, i.e. which attributes will be assigned die codes that will determine whether or not a character succeeds at a particular task during an adventure.
Attributes can represent any ability from physical strength to mental prowess to magical control. You determine which of these attributes applies to your world, and how complex you would like your characters to be. For example. YOU may design a science fiction universe where magic doesn't exist. and therefore, YOU don't include Magic as a character attribute. Or YOU could create a fantasy world in which the characters will spend all of their time crawling through dungeons and battling monsters. In this case YOU don't really need any attributes other than Coordination, Endurance, Reflexes, and Strength - the purely physical aptitudes – since the players won't care about their characters' ability to charm people or remember the average airspeed of an African swallow (or was that European?).
As mentioned in Chapter One, all of the skills in D6 System games rely upon base attributes. A character can perform any skill that falls under a particular skill by using the die code of the attribute itself. For example, even though my aristocrat doesn't have any skill dice in dodge, he can still attempt to leap out of the way (using his Reflexes dice, since that's the attribute dodge falls beneath). It just means that he doesn't have any particular expertise above and beyond his basic aptitude.
Characters normally begin play with a number of attribute dice equal to the number of attributes times three (# of attributes x 3 = # of attribute dice). For example, if YOU choose seven attributes for the characters in this particular game world, they would each begin with a total of (7 x 3 21) attribute dice. These can by split among a character's attributes as detailed in the Attributes section of Chapter One.
The following list of attributes includes an Alternate Names entry. You can opt to use one of these names if you think it more closely matches the tone and feel of the particular game world for which you are creating this game system. For example, rather than using the name Knowledge in my fantasy game, you may instead call it Lore.
If you want to incorporate the game mechanic of a particular ability, but don't want to add another attribute to your game, you can always decree that the ability is covered by one of the attributes you've already selected. For example, you want to use the driving skill which falls underneath the Mechanics attribute, but you already have seven attributes and YOU don't want to have to add another. So, YOU decide that driving now falls under Reflexes (an attribute I've already recorded on my Character Creation Template). Chapter Four lists both the standard attribute upon which a skill is based as well as alternate attributes it could fall beneath.
You can forgo the use of attributes and instead create characters with skill die codes only. Treat all skills as if they had a base attribute equal to the species minimum of a particular character (for humans, use the standard 2D). Players then select the skills they wish to increase (following the normal rules for distribution of starting skill dice).
Example: Your human barbarian character has 15D in starting skill dice. You decide to apply 5D of that to lifting, giving him a total of 7D in lifting (the base of 2D plus the 5D YOU spent), 4D to brawling, giving a total of 6D in brawling (the base of 2D plus the 4D YOU spent), and the remaining 6D to sword, giving a total sword skill of 8D (2D + 6D).
The recommended starting skill dice with the No Attributes option is 15D. Increase or decrease this die code depending on the tone of your game world. Also, you may allow players to ignore the 2D spending limit per skill (as done in this example).
You can treat the attributes (Coordination, Reflexes, and so on) as skills since you'll need them for certain cases (like Endurance for resisting damage), or you could create specialized skills that cover those areas (like the resist damage skill rather than Endurance).
This option works extremely well for dimension-hopping, timefaring, or genre-crossing games, If a character arrives at a place (or time, or whatever) where a skills exists, he can learn it and the player can add it to his skill list. You don’t have to worry which attribute the skill falls under. You can therefore pick up any game and just use the skill names without having to spend time determining the attributes that govern each – in fact, you don't have to worry about the attributes used in the game at all.
To determine the skill die code of any gamemaster character from that game. just add use the skill value listed (e.g. parachuting 4D+ I) and treat all other skills (skills that would normally rely on an attribute die code) as having the minimum species dice.
When creating a D6 System game, begin with the four core attributes. These are the aptitudes required for the combat encounters referred to throughout the rest of the book (if you plan not to have any battles, you don't need these abilities).
Alternate Names: Aim, Dexterity
Coordination represents a character's ability to perform feats that require manual dexterity or hand-eye cooperation, i.e. fine motor skills. Such tasks include firing a bow or gun, picking a lock, and throwing a grenade.
Note: In Star Wars, the Dexterity attribute encompasses both Coordination and Reflexes.
Alternate Names: Constitution, Stamina
Endurance is a measure of a character's bodily resistance, i.e. how well his body stands up to attack, whether from direct injury or more insidious sources like poison, disease. or magical sickness.
Note: In Star Wars, the Strength attribute encompasses both Strength and Endurance.
Alternate Names: Agility, Balance
Reflexes gauges a character's gross motor coordination, i.e. the ability of his mind and his muscles to react to a potential threat or a sudden occurrence. Examples of skills that rely on Reflexes include dodging an attack, fighting with a melee weapon (a sword, a knife, et cetera). and balancing on a tight rope.
Note: In Star Wars, the Dexterity attribute encompasses both Coordination and Reflexes.
Alternate Names: Athletics, Physique
Strength represents a character's physical power – his ability to lift heavy objects and to inflict damage with a hand-held weapon (like a sword or a knife).
Note: In Star Wars, the Strength attribute encompasses both Strength and Endurance.
In designing a game system, you must determine which aptitudes (other than the core) most affect play. If your game world has magic. you may want to include the Magic attribute in character creation. II you want the players to rely on their own knowledge – if, for example, you've set your game in the real world where the players take on the roles of characters similar to themselves – you won't include the Knowledge attribute.
Choose those aptitudes that you would like to have reflected by die codes. i.e., abilities that require a die roll to determine their success or failure. If, for example, characters in your game world can use psionic powers consistently with no potential for failure. then don't include the Psionic Power attribute, just tell the players that they have the ability and may use it without fail. subject to whatever other restraints you have imposed (once per day, only during a full moon, and so forth).
Example: You've created a game world that combines fantasy with science fiction; magic-powered technology exists in small quantities; characters carry mostly ancient-style weapons (swords, knives, and other blades); and most people have some affinity for magical bindings.
You begin creating a character creation template by selecting the core attributes Coordination, Endurance, Reflexes, and Strength. Next, you decide to include Knowledge, Magic, Perception and Technology. You've opted to allow the players to rely on their own intellect and deduction abilities, and the rest of the attributes don't apply to the game world.
So, characters in this game (this particular incarnation of the game, at least) have the following attributes: Coordination, Endurance, Reflexes, Strength, Knowledge. Magic, Perception, and Technology. You record these names in the spaces provided on the Character Creation Template.
Now you determine the starting attribute dice. You have eight attributes, which you multiply by three to get a total of 24D in starting dice.
You may opt to include none, some, or all of the following attributes:
Alternate Names: Intelligence, Reasoning
This attribute measures the mathematical, conceptual, and deductive capabilities of a character. Typical skills which it could govern include estimation (mentally figuring out values), deciphering languages, or code-breaking.
Names: Lore, Wisdom, Science
The Knowledge attribute represents a character's level of education in various fields. from scientific pursuits like physics to philosophical concepts. from history and languages to magical lore and planetary systems. Any information a character could know in the game world could fall underneath this attribute.
Again. if you're playing in a universe where combat rules the day and thinking takes a far second, then youse ain't gonna care 'bout Kh-no-ligee (I's hates dose silent letters – now where's my big gun?).
Alternate Names: Dweomercraft, Mysticism, Witchcraft
The Magic attribute gauges a character's affinity for the use of mystical forces. Most skills based on this attribute are spells, though others do exist. For example, the ability to determine what incantation another character is attempting to perform. See Chapters Six and Eleven for more information on magic systems and their game mechanics.
Alternate Names: Mechanics, Sensory Extension, Symbiotic Attachment
Mechanics represents a character's ability to repair machinery, vehicles, weapons, armor, androids, and so on. It can also measure ability in skills which require a combination of Reflexes and Knowledge, like shield operation, riding, and driving (you must first learn how to operate the device, but then you must rely on Quickness to use the device to its potential).
Alternate Names: Awareness, Cognition, Observation, Sense
Sometimes a character may have the opportunity to notice something in his surroundings that might provide an important piece of information. For example, a character might spot a bulging pocket on an adversary, which may indicate the presence of a concealed weapon. The Perception attribute covers such instances as well as those skills that require the ability to read the emotions or logical reasoning of another, like bargaining, commanding, or persuading.
Alternate Names: Charm, Presence
This attribute represents a character's personal effect on others. It includes such skills as oration, acting, and grooming.
Alternate Names: Psychic Ability
Like Magic, this attribute applies only in game worlds where this phenomenon exists, and represents a character's ability to wield psychic powers, from danger sense to pyrotechnics to telekinesis. See Chapters Six and Eleven for more information on psionics.
Alternate Names: Technology
The Technical attribute measures a character’s aptitude for technological equipment, from computers to electronic listening devices to electronic security, as well as those skills that require a combination of Knowledge and Coordination. like first aid and forgery.
Alternate Names: Mental Fortitude, Mind, Spirit
A character's Willpower represents his ability to withstand mental attacks. whether they come from situational pressures, like stress, or direct assault, like magical or psychic phenomena.
Chapter Four contains a comprehensive, though non-exhaustive, list of skills and the attributes upon which they are based. Characters begin play with 7D (the GM may alter this value for a particular game world).
The move entry represents the distance a character of a certain species can travel in meters every five seconds (one combat round). Humans normally have a move of 10.
Characters Points have two purposes: l. to increase die rolls, and 2. to increase character skill die codes (as mentioned in Chapter One). Normally, characters begin with five Character Points. but feel free to select another starting value if it would better fit in with your game world.
Fate Points can vastly influence an encounter and should therefore not be distributed casually. The number of Fate Points you assign to starting characters is up to you (though giving one point is the recommended standard).
Veteran Points have no impact on game play or character advancement whatsoever (refer to Chapter One). They allow you as gamemaster to quickly determine the overall ability level and experience of a character. For example, if one character has 30 Veteran Points and another has only 15, you can immediately see that the first character has participated in more and or harder adventures.
Also, you can add up the Veteran Points of all player characters taking part in an adventure to get a good idea of how difficult you should make the obstacles they must overcome (see Chapter Seven for more information on adjusting adventures based on character experience).
Characters always begin with zero Veteran Points
The D6 System has two standard ways to represent the amount of damage a character can suffer (whether from physical assault, magical spells, poison, etc) before dying. Choose the system that most coincides with the nature or your universe (though this particular choice relies more on personal preference than anything else). And don't forget to record on the Character Creation Template which system you choose.
With this damage system, characters can take up to five wounds before dying. You can increase or decrease that number to make your game world more or less lethal. Whenever a character suffers a wound, he also receives a penalty to all of his skill and attribute rolls until he heals. See the Damage section of Chapter Eight for more information.
Characters begin play with a number of Body Points equal to 20 plus an Endurance roll. As with the wounds system, increase or decrease the base value of 20 to alter the lethality of your game world. When a character falls to zero or less body points, he dies. See the Damage section of Chapter Eight for more information.
Example: My CIA agent character has an Endurance die code of 3D+1. To determine his body points you make an Endurance roll (I rolled an 11) and add it to the base of 20, for a total or 31 (11 + 20).
Aside from determining a character's physical and mental capabilities, a player may or may not wish to define that character's personality – his history, his family, his beliefs, his quirks, etc. One option is to allow players to select Advantages and Disadvantages (as defined in Chapter One). Skim the list below and determine first, whether you want to use Advantages and Disadvantages, and second. which particular entries you want to include or exclude (record this on the Character Creation Template).
To sum up the use of Advantages and Disadvantages: choose an item. write it on the character sheet, record the associated die codes (which is in parentheses), add up the die codes (which can result in a positive or a negative number), and determine how many extra or fewer skill dice that character receives (positive value – extra, negative value – fewer).
Name Starting Skill Dice Modifier
Center of Conversation +1D
Compulsive Tendencies +3D
Debt +1D to +3D, depending on the size of the debt
Delusions of Grandeur +1D
Extraordinary Hearing -2D
Extraordinary Memory -1D
Extraordinary Sight -2D
Extremely Competitive +1D
Fallback Plan +2D
Hides Emotions +2D
Low Self-esteem +2D
Manic Depressive +3D
Medical Problem +3D
Migraine Headaches +2D
Motion Sickness +1D
Noble Birth -1D
No Self-confidence +2D
Obsessive Tendencies +2D
Pathological Liar +1D
Physically Impaired +3D
Poor Memory +1D
Quick Draw -2D
Released Convict +1D
Sixth Sense -2D
Skeleton in the Closet +2D or more
Sworn Enemy +1D (Creature) / +3D (Species)
Targeted for Assassination +3D
Wanted for a Crime +2D
Addiction (+3D): The character cannot go more than one day without drinking, gambling, etc., i.e. satisfying his addiction. Failure to do so results in lowered metabolic rates, thereby reducing the character's attribute scores by 1 for each day she goes without (on the first day, an attribute of 4D would fall to 3D+2; on the second it would fall to 3D+1, and so on). After one week (more or less at the GM's discretion), the character has defeated her addiction. If she ever partakes of the formerly addictive activity in the future, she has a 50% (1-3 on a roll of 1D) chance of becoming addicted again.
Argumentative ( +1D): This character constantly plays the devil's advocate. She rejoices when an exploitable situation arises, arguing though she sometimes agrees with her adversary. The argument becomes a game, a strategic contest of wills.
Blackouts (+2D): During high pressure situations, this character has a tendency to blackout for several minutes. She has no recollection of this lost time. In game terms, the character blacks out whenever she rolls a 1 on the Wild Die for 1D minutes.
Center or Conversation (+1D): This character feels the need to always be in the middle of every conversation And why not? He always knows exactly what to say - at least, that’s what he thinks.
Compulsive Tendencies (+3D): At any time, the character may decide to do or say something that she would not normally do or say under the circumstances. For example. during a conversation with a head of state. the character might blurt out, "your wife is much uglier than I expected."
Curse (+3D): This character either inherited or brought upon herself a curse. The player must decide the specifics of the hex. but known curses include uncontrollable shapechanging. a violent reaction to something the character loves, and constant failure at a given task.
Debt (+1D to +3D, depending on the size of the debt): This character either inherited this debt or borrowed a substantial amount of money. She has a time limit for repaying the loan.
Delusions of Grandeur (+1D): The best thing to ever happen to the world. That's how characters with this Disadvantage views themselves. No one can surpass their prowess - they shouldn't even bother trying.
Extraordinary Hearing (-2D): The construction of this character's sound collectors (ears, usually), has increased his ability to distinguish between similar sounds, determine the direction of the source of those sounds, and pick up whispers from a distance.
Extraordinary Memory (-1D): This character can recall long ago events or esoteric facts with ease. In game terms, she gains +1D to any Knowledge-based skill roll.
Extraordinary Sight (-2D): The shape and genetic makeup of this character's eyes enable her to see three times as far as a normal member of her species.
Extremely Competitive (+1D): To this character everything is a competition. She always wants to race the other characters to the battle, put herself in more danger than anyone else, and slosh down the most drinks. She cannot turn down a challenge.
Fallback Plan (+2D): This character cannot function unless she has devised a backup plan for every situation she puts herself into. This applies to everything from combat to relationships.
Fanatic (+3D): This character holds to a philosophical ideal, the source of which may be a sect, a nation, or a person. She will always defend this ideal, even trading her life for its preservation.
Hallucinations (+3D): At random times, this character begins having delusions. He cannot tell when something is truly occurring or just a figment of his imagination. The GM has full control over this Disadvantage.
Infravision (-30): Characters born with this enhanced visual acuity can see into the infrared spectrum, thereby sensing heat patterns.
Low Self-esteem (+20): This character has a low opinion of herself. She constantly berates herself, harping on her bad qualities
Manic Depressive (+3D): This character slips into deep, long-lasting depressions. He doesn't care about anything during these times. The player may decide when the character falls into depression and when he extricates himself from it. If the player never lets his character lapse into this state, the GM should take the initiative.
Medical Problem (+3D): This character suffers from an ailment that requires she take medicine every day to treat the illness. The player and GM should work together to develop the specifics of the problem, the appropriate medicine, and the ramifications of failing to take the medicine.
Migraine Headaches (+2D): The character has a 33% (1-2 on a roll of ID) chance per day to suffer the unrelenting pain of a severe migraine headache. In game terms, the character receives a -10 penalty to all of his attributes for the remainder of that day.
Motion Sickness (+1D): Whenever this character rides a creature or a vehicle. she must make an Endurance check against an Easy (10) difficulty or immediately begin to shake and vomit, giving her a -10 penalty to all actions undertaken while still riding.
Nightmares (+1D): Almost every night, this character suffers from horrible nightmares, usually related to an unsatisfied issue in his life, though not necessarily. As a result, the character needs 10 hours of sleep per day. Failure to get the required amount of rest results in a 1D penalty to all skill and attribute rolls for that day.
Noble Birth (-1D): This character fell into luxury – born into a wealthy, perhaps noble, family. She wanted for nothing, attending the best schools, ordering servants around, and having everything she desired. The character begins play with double the amount of funds normally given to starting characters.
No Self-confidence (+2D): The character has no confidence in himself. Whenever he has to perform an important task (making an accurate shot, negotiating with a hostage, etc), he has a 50% (1-3 on a roll of 1D) chance of losing confidence. If he fails this roll, he reduces his chance of success in the current endeavor by 2D.
Obsessive Tendencies (+2D): Whenever this character decides on a course of action, she cannot help but become totally focused on that action, ignoring all other issues in her life.
Paranoia (+3D): Everyone wants to destroy this character. At least, that’s what she believes. She must constantly look over her shoulder, check every inch of her sleeping environment, and scrutinize every acquaintance. She never knows when her enemies will strike.
Pathological Liar (+1D): This character cannot stop himself from lying constantly. No matter what the situation, he is compelled to exaggerate, fib, and outright lie.
Phobia (+1D): The die code of this Disadvantage varies depending on the level of the character's fear (with a maximum of +3D). At +1D, the character avoids the object of his fear as often as possible, but has no problem dealing with it when the time comes. At +3D, the character will never put himself in a situation where he has to cope with his fear. If he does wind up in such a situation. he freezes and remains unmoving until the object of his fear subsides. Fears include heights, water, certain creatures, darkness, open spaces, cramped spaces, magic, thunder, lightning, and so on.
Physically Impaired (+3D): The character suffers from a problem of the body He may be blind, deaf, or mute (or any other impairment you can devise).
Poor Memory (+1D): Characters with this problem have trouble remembering. In game terms, whenever the character has to recall an important piece of information, her chances of doing so drop by 2D (for any Knowledge-based skill roll).
Procrastination (+1D): This character always puts everything off. Even when something cannot wait, he still lets it go until it's too late.
Quick Draw (-2D): The character may draw a type of weapon (sword, rifle, blaster, and so forth) immediately, i.e., it does not count as an action during a combat round. Note that this factor applies only to a single weapon type. If you want your character to be able to quick draw a sword and a knife. he must take this factor twice (for a cumulative -4D penalty).
Released Convict (+1D): Sometime during this character's life he was convicted of a crime (which he mayor may not have committed). After serving a jail sentence, he was released and now must battle the stigma against ex-convicts.
Sixth Sense (-2D): This character has an innate danger sense. Fifty percent (1-3 on a roll of 10) of the time an alarm goes off in her head when she comes within a few seconds of a dangerous situation. The GM rolls this check secretly and alerts the player when it is successful.
Skeleton in the Closet (+2D or more): This character has elements of his past that he does not want anyone to unearth. The player should choose a specific “skeleton” and tie it in with the character's history. No matter what, he must never reveal this secret. It will bring harm together him or those he loves.
Sworn Enemy: This character has for some reason targeted a specific person or creature (+1D) or a species (+3D) of creatures as her direct adversary. Whenever he comes in contact with such a being, he immediately attacks.
Targeted for Assassination (+3D): Someone has put out a contract on this character's life. The assassin could be anyone and could strike at anytime.
Ultravision (-3D): Beings of many species have been born with abnormal sight organs. Those characters with ultravision have the ability to see into the ultraviolet spectrum.
Wanted for a Crime (+2D): A nation, city-state, or culture has declared this character a criminal. The character may or may not have committed the crime he has been charged with, but nevertheless, the authorities have begun their search for him.
You may want to provide players with a list of possible professions they can choose from (or a list of careers they cannot use) based on the environment of your game world. Below you will find an assortment of character occupations, but create your own as you see fit. Note that these professions do not offer any game benefit, they are intended merely to give an idea for what types of skills such a character would most likely have.
Skills written within greater-than and less-than signs represent a generic type of skill which should be substituted with an actual skill.
Example: A character has a profession that includes <language> as a Usual Skill The player decides to select Russian as the particular language his character knows. He could have just as well picked English, Spanish, Japanese, or any other language.
Usual Skills: Fire Knowledge. Alchemical Concoction, Identify Substance, Concoct Poison, Identify Poison, Organic Alchemy, Inorganic Alchemy, Finite Mathematics, Thermodynamics.
Role: The alchemist serves many purposes throughout the lands. She creates chemical compounds used for everything from food preservatives, to potions infused with magical chaos, to explosive devices. Though the alchemist frequently places herself in danger, she may reap huge rewards from her work.
Usual Skills: Swimming, Unlock, Read Write <Languages>, Traps, Sect Knowledge, Chart Constellation, Heraldry, Cartography, History of <Area>, History of <Species>, History of <Nationality>, Library Use, Customs of <Region, People>, Astronomical Events, Architecture, Identify Species, Identify Plant
Role: The archaeologist bears much in common with the explorer, though with a greater interest in intellectual discovery than in treasure recovery.
Usual Skills: <Weapon>, <Weaponless Fighting Style>, Listen, Traps, Assume Identity, Blindfighting.
Role: Wealthy merchants or nobles often hire skilled mercenaries for protection. These bodyguards typically possess skills in at least one weapon plus (in game worlds that have magic) some knowledge of the arcane arts.
Usual Skills: Sneak, Assume Identity, Appraising, Contacts, Gambling, Urban Geography
Role: The shady cardsharper will cheat anyone out of anything they might possess, usually through outright trickery or subtle deceit. Many of these cons involve simple gaming (especially with cards, hence the name). while others revolve around elaborate schemes that require large amounts of time to complete.
Usual Skills: Chart Constellation, Cartography. Architecture, <Creative Ability> (Drawing), Urban Geography
Role: The cartographer has one purpose – to draw maps. These maps serve a variety of functions – as floor plans, directions to secret caches of treasure, or as political boundary markers. Many frontiersmen
would pay well for such maps, and therefore, cartographers often join expeditions into unknown territory.
Usual Skills: Identify Species, Healing, Library Use, Identify Poison, Diagnose Malaise, Anatomy, Organic Alchemy, Cellular Knowledge
Role: Corporealists share the awe of anatomy that necrologists possess, But, unlike their counterparts, they believe in the sanctity of all life, regardless of kingdom, class, or species.
Corporealists study the inner-workings of living beings, learning their strengths as well as their weaknesses. They act as a resource to healers, providing them with detailed descriptions of the known effects of certain substances on living tissues. The corporealist also devotes a large amount of her time to the categorization of the various species that reside throughout the universe – and some have even begun the classification of creatures from beyond. To this end they join scouting and exploratory groups that delve into regions never before seen by humanity.
Usual Skills: <Weapon>, Sneak, Unlock, Read / Write Languages, Information Gathering, Astral Events, Netherlore, Identify Nethercreature
Role: The demon hunter abhors demonic creatures (any creatures not of this dimension who threaten to eradicate life) and those who would have dealings with these dark fiends. They seek out netherwordly occurrences, always searching for their source in hopes of eventually eliminating it.
Usual Skills: <Weapon>, Fire Knowledge, Blindfighting, Military Tactics, Arcane Lore
Role: Evocators pore over hundreds of spells in their lifetimes, selecting only those that have the power to cause great conflagrations or devastation. They personify the most volatile of wizards, sometimes casting their greatest magic on a whim. They believe their power prevents their untimely death, and as a result, have earned reputations as fearless warriors who can easily turn the tide of battle with the loosing of a single spell upon the enemy. Since evocators hold power as the pinnacle of life achievement, they typically master several weapons, providing them with another means to surprise their opponents.
Usual Skills: <Weapon>, Swimming, Cooking, Fire Knowledge, Listen, Traps, Chart Constellation, Cartography, First Aid, Navigation, Pilot <Vessel>, Terrain, Rock Climbing.
Role: Those hearty souls who dare to become explorers spend years in the wilderness, either on sea, land, other star systems, or in different dimensions. When they do reach civilized areas. they devote much of their time to library research, searching for the next great conquest.
Usual Skills: First Aid, Healing, Anatomy, Identify Poison, Diagnose Malaise, Organic Alchemy
Role: Healers, also known as apothecrists in some areas of the world, dedicate themselves to the curing
of various maladies, from diseases to lacerations. They possess an intimate knowledge of anatomy and can always find work wherever they travel.
Usual Skills: <Weapon>, Listen, Read / Write <Language>, Speak <Language>, Assume Identity, Sect Knowledge, Etiquette, Customs of <Region, People>, Forgery, Theatrics
Role: The infiltrator has the ability to assume the identity of any person. She often finds work as a spy or as double for a noble. Infiltrators usually can talk their way into anything, from the confidence of the king to the secret underchamber of a wealthy merchant.
Usual Skills: < Weapon, Weaponless Fighting Style>, Sneak, L,sum, Unlock, Assume Identity, Information Gathering, Contacts, Tailing, Tracking, Scaling, Urban Geography, Criminology
Role: The investigator, unlike the sheriff, works for private citizens in need of a number of services. From tracking to spying to the solving of mysteries, these individuals take advantage of various resources, including shady contacts and friends in high places.
Usual Skills: <Weapon>, Heraldry, Ride <Creature>, Military Tactics, Military Command
Role: The knight belongs to a group of people who hold the same objectives, morals, or code. Typically, any knight who betrays the code of her order will endure harsh punishment – from dishonor to exile to death. Many consider knights creatures of noble thought. Rather, they are creatures of order and logic – but only that logic proscribed by the group. Those who deviate from the “true” voice of logic must be silenced. In reality, knights appear noble depending on the perspective of the beholder – those who ascribe to the knight's beliefs find them noble and just, while others find them either strange, pompous, or a barrier to freedom of thought.
Usual Skills: < Weapon>, < Weaponless Fighting Style>, Swimming, Military Tactics, Military Command
Role: The mercenary usually sells her services to the highest bidder. She takes jobs ranging from guard to soldier. Those possessing skills in magic offer greater power, though they charge higher fees
Usual Skills: Identify Species, Tracking, Anatomy, Genetics, Organic Alchemy, Cellular Knowledge.
Role: The necrologist spends most of her lime dissecting the bodies of any and all living beings. in an attempt to discover the inner workings of the tissues and fluids found in almost all creatures. More advanced research of the necrologist involves the genetic alteration of species to create new, more powerful creatures.
Many view this work as an abomination of nature and most states have banned the practice of necrology, forcing these researchers into hiding.
Usual Skills: <Weapon>, Read / Write <Language>, Speak <Language>, Chart Constellation, Riding <Creature>, Terrain
Role: Only those daring souls who risk their lives on perilous excursions across the untamed wilderness may call themselves true outriders. These loners offer many invaluable services to the people of the lands including message and small object delivery.
Usual Skills: Sneak, Juggling, Animal Training, Theatrics, Illusory Magic
Role: Though performers come in many types. They all have one goal – to entertain any who care to watch. They travel the land earning a living through their efforts.
Usual Skills: Balance, Chart Constellation, Cartography, Navigation, Pilot <Vessel>, Trade Routes, Terrain (Sea)
Role: To secure a safe journey, pilots spend a great deal of time mapping out their intended routes. Skills in navigation and cartography as well as knowledge of the constellations improve their chances of success in these endeavors. The pilot may choose which type of the vessel – seafaring, ice-faring, sky-faring, space-faring, or time-faring.
Usual Skills: Sneak, Listen, Unlock, Traps, Assume Identity, Alchemical Concoction. Engineering, Scaling, Mechanics, Thermodynamics
Role: Saboteurs hire themselves out as special agents to various governments and organizations, They typically have experience in engineering and alchemy (chemistry) and use these skills to carry out their assignments of sabotage.
Usual Skills: Read/Write <Languages>, History of <Area>, History of <Species>, History of <Nationality>, Library Use, <Dimension> Knowledge, Astral Theory, Fractals. Corpus Juris, Engineering. Plant Physiology, Ecology, Organic Alchemy, Inorganic Alchemy, Finite Mathematics. Thermodynamics, Cellular Knowledge
Role: The scholar has spent her life studying the various aspects of arts and sciences and has committed the remainder to teaching those subjects she has grown to love.
Usual Skills: < Weapon>, <Weaponless Fighting Style>, Listen, Information Gathering, Tail, Contacts, Corpus Juris, Secret Societies, Urban Geography. Criminology
Role: The sheriff enforces the law in the area over which he holds jurisdiction. His talents range from deductive detecting to criminal apprehension. Sometimes sheriffs grow tired With the type of criminal element in the area and seek employment in a town or city of contrasting atmosphere.
Usual Skills: Sneak, Assume Identity, Bartering, Pilot <Vessel>, Navigation, Appraising, Trade Routes, Contacts, Forgery, Haggling
Role: Smugglers generally come into two types: the suave, fast-talker and the shifty sneak. These “merchants” usually deal in goods of an illegal sort, from non-tariffed agricultural products to banned weaponry to dangerous magic to powerful drugs
Usual Skills: <Weapon>, Sneak, Listen, Unlock, Traps, Balance, Library Use, Information Gathering, Tailing, Realmlore, Arcane Lore, Scaling
Role: The spelljacker tracks and steals all manner of enchanted objects, from weapons to spellgems to lost artifacts. These wizards study various aspects of magic as well as the subtle nuances of infiltration and theft. They employ many skills in their quest to capture the items of their (or their master's) desire.
Usual Skills: < Weaponless Fighting Style>, Read / Write <Languages>, Speak <Languages>, Blindfighting, Gambling, Dancing
Role: The spellslinger travels the lands, usually searching for excitement and adventure. She believes in a well-rounded base of knowledge, from fighting styles to the arts to the intricacies of magic.
Usual Skills: < Weapon>, <Weaponless Fighting Style>, Sneak, Listen, Unlock, Balance, Information Gathering, Assume Identity, Tailing, Scaling
Role: Spies lead truly dangerous lives, sneaking into enemy territory, gathering valuable information, and returning to their patrons undetected. In most nations, city-states, and star systems, espionage carries a penalty of death, and as a result, few spies survive for very long – although those that do are either very good or very high on the enemy's hit-list.
Usual Skills: Read / Write <Languages>, Sect Knowledge, Library Use, Astral Theory, Fractals, Arcane Lore, Finite Mathematics
Role: The theurist, unlike other spellcasters, typically learns no skills other than spells. She devotes her life to the understanding of magic and the mystical forces of the universe. Not one spell will pass before her eyes that she does not immediately learn and master. She constantly seeks out those incantations that have eluded her, collecting an arsenal of spells and enchanted items. Late in their careers, theurists usually begin to craft their own magical devices.
Usual Skills: < Weapon>, < Weaponless Fighting Style>, Sneak, Listen, Information Gathering, Knots, Tailing, Terrain, Tracking
Role: The tracker seeks out and captures anyone or anything that will bring her a great price (or even a not-so-great price. depending on her current financial status).
Usual Skills: < Weapon>, Cooking, Fire Knowledge, Terrain
Role:Wanderers meander through the world (or the galaxy) with no destination. They take odd jobs for short periods of time to earn enough for food and shelter, but soon grow “bored” with the area and move on. Some wanderers have chosen this life for their love of adventure, vowing to see every great wonder of the world. Others simply cannot stand the sedentary life and enjoy wandering for its own sake.
Usual Skill: Meditation, <Dimension> Knowledge, Astral Theory, Netherlore, Identify Nethercreature, Arcane Lore
Role: The few warlocks that still exist in the world devote their lives to the acquisition of magical knowledge. They frequently summon demonic creatures, using them as sources of information, protectors, or lackeys. Warlocks typically have dark, somber personalities, shackling themselves to their laboratories for centuries.
Usual Skills: < Weapon>, Meditation, Balance, Blindfighting, < Weaponless Fighting Style>, Blacksmithing, Woodcarving
Role: The weapon master devotes much of her life to learning the secrets of steel, wood, or flesh, discovering their latent energies and harnessing them to become virtually invincible in combat. Some weapon masters prefer a single type of weapon, while others believe diversity will always triumph.
Characters need money to purchase equipment. No general guideline exists for determining starting funds – it depends on your game world and how well equipped you'd like your character to be. You may want to come up with a standard starting amount, like 100 gold coins or $100, and then modify that number depending on a particular character's background (nobles receive more, peasants less).
This chapter contains a list of skills usable in a variety of genres. As with everything else in the D6 System, this catalog gives you a starting point: create new skills as the need arises, and alter existing skills to suit your game world.
Record the skills you wish to use for a particular game world beneath their appropriate attributes on the Character Creation Template (if you don"t have enough room, you may want to write them on a separate piece of paper).
Note that some skills can fall under different attributes. Since the D6 System allows you to select which attributes work with your game world, you may want to use a skill that is based on an attribute you're not using. To alleviate this problem, some entries contain several possible attributes. Just use the one that makes the most sense. If you find a skill that would fit better beneath an attribute not listed in its entry, then by all means put it where you think it belongs. Don't feel obligated to blindly accept what you find here. No inflexible game system can lit every conceivable game world, so at one point or another you're going to have to adjust the information provided.
Some skills are bracketed by less-than and greater-than signs (< >). This notation indicates that the skill name listed is actually a skill type (for example, <Language>). You must choose a specific skill from this general type, i.e., don't just write <Language> or <Melee Weapon> on your character sheet. Instead you should write “Russian” or “sword” respectively.
You may wish to record the possible foci for these skill types when you list them on the Character Creation Template. For example, in a 20th century spy game you might write “Speak <Language> (any currently spoken language),” and “<Missile Weapon> (Pistol, Rifle, Machinegun, Grenade).” In a fantasy game, however, you might write “Speak <language> (Elfin, Dwarvish, Troll, Giantish),” and “<Melee Weapon> (each weapon has its own skill: blowgun. Bow. Crossbow, and so forth).”
Whenever a player wants her character to do something, you must decide whether or not to call for a skill roll. Just use your common sense. If a feat has a chance of failure, ask the player to make a roll. She then simply rolls her dice (after taking into account any modifiers, like spent Fate Points or target range) and tells you the total she generated for that skill attempt. From there, just follow the simple rule higher is better.
Each feat in a roleplaying game has an associated difficulty number – the value the player must roll equal to or higher than to succeed in that attempt. To determine the difficulty of a skill attempt, you can refer to the examples given beneath the skill or you can make one up on the fly.
Some tasks do not require a skill roll, and therefore do not have a difficulty number. This includes everything from talking and walking to eating and sleeping. Sometimes even these tasks can require a difficulty, however. For example, a character may want to speak to another character in a language other than his native tongue. Since that ability does not come naturally to him, he must make a skill roll to see whether or not he succeeds.
Determining a difficulty number is simple. Just decide how difficult you think a task is (from Very Easy to Heroic+; see below) and then select a number within the associated range. For example, a player character wants to search for a concealed door. Since you feel the door would be very difficult to find, you look up Very Difficult on the chart below and see that it has a range of 21 to 25. You decide on the number 24, then tell the player to make his search roll. If he asks how difficult his character thinks the task might be, you can tell him that he thinks it's very difficult.
Difficulty Number Range
Very Easy 1-5
Very Difficult 21-25
You can think of it this way: the difficulty label (Very Easy, Easy, etc) helps you determine what number to choose and gives the player an idea of how hard a task is without giving away the exact number he needs. Using that information, the player can decide whether he wants his character to spend any Character or Fate Points on the skill attempt, especially when it could determine the outcome of the adventure.
This system calls for you to guess. You don't have to look up obscure situational modifiers and add them together to figure out a difficulty number. Just base your decision on your gut instinct. As a result, the D6 System runs quickly and therefore keeps your players hooked.
Other than a fixed value, a difficulty number could be represented by a skill or attribute roll. For example, in combat a character makes a weapon skill roll in an attempt to defeat his target's dodge roll. If the attacker rolls higher, he hits; if the defender rolls higher, the attacker misses (see Chapter Eight: Combat for more on combat resolution). Such head-to-head tests are called opposed rolls.
Choosing which skill to use for a particular situation is usually easy: a character is dodging an attack. So the player makes a dodge roll. The D6 System allows you to be more flexible than that-but it also requires you to rely on your imagination and judgment.
Whenever you decide that an action calls for a skill roll, you may allow the player to determine which of his characters skills might apply to the current situation.
For example. a bounty hunter character chases a bandit to the edge of a rooftop. The bandit leaps across a fifteen-foot gap to the next roof, leaving the bounty hunter behind. Normally, to jump across the empty space would require a Jumping roll (which this character has at 3D), but this character also happens to have the Acrobatics skill (at 4D+1). The player asks whether he can use his character's acrobatics to leap across (since he has a higher die code and would therefore have a better chance to make it). You have three choices in this case: 1. you tell him he must use Jumping; 2. you allow him to use Acrobatics; or, 3, you make him use Jumping but give him an extra 1D for his acrobatics capabilities (or tell him to average the two die codes). If you want to keep the game simple (but less realistic), you can opt to follow the first rule (i.e., use the skill that most applies to the feat). As you make your game more complex (which you may decide to do the more you play), you can shift your rulings into the second (use whatever skill seems appropriate) and third (average the skills or give bonuses) options. Again, as gamemaster you make the call.
When a player rolls a 1 on the Wild Die. you have two options. You can either treat it as a critical failure and have Something extremely bad happen to that character, or you can instead tell the player to leave out the Wild Die and the highest die.
Example: Mike's character, Secret Agent Tomlin, wants to shoot the fleeing enemy agent. He makes a
pistol roll and gets the following: 1 (Wild Die), 4, 5, 3, 3. The GM can decide to have a critical failure occur (Tomlin's gun jams and he cannot fire it for another round) or to have Mike leave out the Wild Die and highest value (in this case the 5) for a total of 10 (4 + 3 + 3 = 10).
Increasing the time it takes to perform a particular feat can make the task easier to accomplish. This is represented in game mechanics by giving the character extra dice for his skill attempt As a general guideline, a character gets an additional die for extra time period he takes to perform the skill. One time period is equal to the amount of time it normally takes to accomplish the task (i.e., 5 seconds, 1 hour, 1 month, and so on). If he doubles the time period, therefore, he receives one extra die; if he triples the time, he gets an extra 2D; and so forth.
Be careful with this rule. If you decide it shouldn't apply in a certain situation, then don't let the player
You may decide to give beginning characters some “free” skills, i.e., skills they get without buying them with their starting skill dice. A standard example is a character's native language. You can either give the character automatic success when speaking his language or give him a 10D or 12D die code in his Speak <Language> skill. You could just as well decide that all characters can cast the warp magic spell because all children in your game world learn this incantation during elementary school.
Some characters may have specialized knowledge or ability with a given skill. For example, a character with the car piloting skill (driving) may have particular experience with race-cars. His ability to drive race-cars is therefore greater than his ability to drive any other type of car. This added prowess is represented in the game by specializations.
A specialization in a particular skill gives a 1D bonus to all rolls involving the specialization.
Example: A character with a lockpicking die code of 4D+1 has a specialization in combination locks Whenever he has to make a lockpicking roll to open a combination lock, he gets a 1D bonus, for a total of 5D+1. When he attempts to pick any other type of lock, however, he rolls 4D+1.
A specialization costs five Character Points or 1D of starting skill dice. A character may have no more than one specialization in any given skill. For example, a character takes a Macintosh specialization in computer operations. He cannot then take any other specializations in that skill (mainframes, Windows, and so on).
You can opt to increase the difficulty of any given skill attempt by 5 or 10 if the character does not have any training in that skill (i.e., the skill is not listed with a higher die code than its base attribute).
Each of the skills below has associated rules, but rather than referencing them in the middle of an adventure, you can use your imagination and judgment to adjudicate a particular feat. Just follow the rule higher is better. For example, a player character wants to fly his skyskimmer through a tight canyon just wide enough to accommodate the airship. Rather than looking up the piloting skill to figure out the appropriate difficulty, you can just make an educated guess.
To give you a starting point for determining difficulty numbers, the table below provides the percentage chance for an average (3D) skill attempt to fail and its equivalent (approximate) difficulty. (Note: this table does not incorporate the Wild Die random element. The Wild Die serves to simulate all the factors that cannot normally be quantified.)
Chance of Failure Difficulty
The skill list below provides the information you need to incorporate a particular skill into your D6 game. Each entry is divided into three parts:
Based On: The attribute under which the skill falls An entry with multiple attributes indicate that the skill may be governed by anyone of the attributes listed.
(You should determine which attribute will be used before players create their characters: i.e., the players should not select which attribute in the list they would prefer a particular skill to fall under).
Time Required: Unless otherwise indicated, a character can complete a skill within five seconds (or one combat round - see Chapter Eight). This does not mean that a character cannot attempt more than one skill during that time (see “Performing Multiple Actions” in Chapter Eight).
Description: An overview of the types of actions or knowledge which the skill covers. Most skills have examples afterward that give you an idea of how to set the difficulty level of a particular skill attempt. These difficulties are rough estimates: you'll have to take into account any situational modifiers that apply during a specific attempt.
Very Easy 1-5
Very Difficult 21-25
Based On: Reflexes
Time Required: 5 seconds
Description: Characters with this skill can tumble, leap, and roll to avoid falling damage, to entertain an audience, or to surprise an opponent in combat. The difficulty required to accomplish a given feat varies with each situation. Use the following table as a guideline.
Roll to surprise an opponent (gives +1D to attack roll with melee weapon) Easy
Leap across a gap less than twice the character's height in length Moderate
Tumble to alleviate damage from a melee weapon (gives +2D to Endurance roll vs. damage) Difficult
Based On: Intellect, Endurance
Time Required: Varies
Description: This skill allows characters to create explosive or incendiary substances out of various materials including herbs and other chemicals. Explosives inflict up to hall of their skill dice (rounded up) in damage (e.g., a character with a chemical concoction skill of 7D+2 could create a substance that could cause 4D). Incendiary fluids inflict standard fire damage (see Chapter Eight). and the flames last a number of seconds equal to the roll made when creating the substance.
If a character has the theurgy skill (and therefore exists in a world with magic) and makes a Heroic alchemical concoction roll, she may create magical fluids, though she must also have access to the spell she wishes to transfer into the liquid (i.e., she must be able to cast the banish spell to imbue a potion with that power).
Creation Difficulty Time Required
Explosives Moderate 1D hours
Acids / Glues / Grease Difficult 3D hours
Magical Elixirs Heroic 1D months
Based On: Intellect
Time Required: 5 seconds
Description: Characters with this skill have studied the main functions of the bodies of those species in the animal kingdom.
Guess main functions of a creature's visible features Easy
Discover creature's weaknesses based on its appearance Moderate
Alter healing procedures based on specific anatomy* Very Difficult
Diagnose infections and viruses Heroic
* Adding his anatomy die code as a bonus to his healing skill
Based On: Intellect, Knowledge
Time Required: 5 seconds
Description: Those possessing this skill know the rumors, tales, and legends of magic (the GM should increase the difficulty for each attempt by the length of time since the occurrence at a rate of +1 for every century).
Famous wizards Very Easy
Enchanted item types Easy
Individual spells and their effect Moderate
Precise locations of supposedly magical areas Difficult
Histories of specific enchanted items Very Difficult
Based On: Presence, Intellect
Time Required: 10 minutes to 1 hour depending on complexity of disguise
Description: This skill allows a character to imitate others by changing his clothes and using crude makeup.
Fool others for a short amount of time at a short distance away Moderate
Disguise his facial features Difficult
Alter bodily appearance (shorter, taller, slimmer, different species) Very Difficult
Based On: Perception, Reflexes
Time Required: 5 seconds
Description: This skill helps a character maintain her balance, whether on a tightrope or being tripped by an opponent in combat.
Based On: Perception, Reflexes
Time Required: 5 seconds
Description: A character with blindfighting can operate or battle in dark or otherwise reduced-sight conditions (blizzards, blindfolded, and so forth). (Character in combat normally suffer a -2D penalty during full darkness conditions. See Chapter Eight: Combat for more information.) The character must make a blindfighting roll every 5 seconds to continue to enjoy the skill's effect.
Ability Effect Difficulty
Sense location of being Eliminate darkness penalty Moderate
Locate inanimate objects – Difficult
Based On: Intellect, Perception, Coordination
Time Required: Varies
Description: The cartography skill allows characters to read and create maps of various types, from topographical to political.
Read maps and identify symbols Very Easy
Create small-scale maps Easy
Create terrain maps Moderate
Create world maps Difficult
Create dimensional space maps Very Difficult
Based On: Intellect, Knowledge, Technical
Time Required: 5 seconds
Description: Computer operations represents a character's proficiency with computer programming and application use.
Simple system Very Easy
Complex system Moderate
Encoded system Very Difficult
Based On: Perception, Presence
Time Required: 10 minutes to 1 hour
Description: Characters must often rely on their ability to locate individuals to form a network of informants who can offer various types of information about people. places. or events in the area they inhabit (cities, planets, sectors, galaxies), or who can pull some strings for characters in need.
Find Contact Very Easy
General rumors Easy
Secrets of the streets Moderate
Specific information about harmless individual or event Difficult
Specific information about dangerous individual or event Very Difficult
Based On: Spirit, Perception
Time Required: Varies
Description: The creative ability skill covers everything from drawing to singing to poetry to dancing.
Based On: Mechanical, Reflexes
Time Required: 5 seconds
Description: This skill measures a character's ability to ride a living creature, whether it be a horse, a giant lizard, or even a dragon. Ridable mounts have an orneriness code that represents their level of resistance to being ridden, When a character first slips into the saddle as well as during events that may frighten the mount. she must make an opposed <creature> riding vs orneriness roll (the gamemaster makes the orneriness roll for the beast). If the character rolls the same or higher value. he maintains control of his mount. Refer to the following table to determine the result if the creature generates the higher total.
Orneriness > beast riding by Result
1-5 Beast stops and refuses to move for 5 seconds.
6-10 Beast stops and refuses to move for 10 seconds.
11-15 Beast bolts in a random direction for 1D rounds.
16+ Beast bucks rider. Rider must make an Easy (10) Reflexes roll to avoid being thrown off.
Based On: Intellect, Perception
Time Required: 5 seconds
Description: This skill measures a character's level of knowledge about a given region's or culture's customs
Type of Knowledge Difficulty
General traditions Easy
Meanings of traditions Moderate
Full knowledge of esoteric custom Very Difficult
Based On: Intellect, Perception
Time Required: Varies
Description: Characters with this skill can diagnose and potentially cure diseases.
Action Difficulty Time Required
Determine existence of disease Easy 5 seconds
Determine type of disease Moderate 1 minute
Determine medicine needed to purge disease Difficult 5 seconds
Determine specific cause Very Difficult 1 day to 1 week
Based On: Knowledge, Intellect, Perception
Time Required: 5 seconds
Description: Etiquette measures a character's knowledge of the forms, manners, and ceremonies considered acceptable by society.
Area of Knowledge Difficulty
Proper table manners and introductions of homeland Easy
Specific forms of conduction in a given situation in homeland Moderate
Knowledge of ceremonies of homeland Difficult
Increase the difficulty by one level or more for societies with which the character has no prior experience.
Based On: Knowledge, Coordination, Mechanical
Time Required: Varies
Description: A forger fabricates documents or signatures. The level of difficulty depends on the type of creation and the knowledge of the person viewing it. The forgery skill covers both the act of forging as well as the identification of forgeries.
Item Forged Difficulty Time Required
Unofficial note or correspondence Easy Depends on length of document
Signature Moderate 5 minutes
Official document Difficult Depends on length of document
Familiarity with Document or Signature Difficulty Time Required
Intimately familiar Easy 5 Minutes
Moderately familiar Moderate 5 Minutes
Unfamiliar Difficult 5 Minutes
Completely Unfamiliar Very Difficult 5 Minutes
Based On: Perception, Presence
Time Required: Length of a game
Description: A gambler knows how to play various games of chance, understands odds and spreads, and (sometimes) has the ability to influence a game, especially those involving cards, dice, or wheels (or other elements that involve some amount of skill to win). A character who successfully cheats at a game can alter the outcome in the favor of anyone involved, including (and especially) himself.
If a character attempts to cheat (no matter whether he is successful or not), allow all others involved in the game to make Perception rolls. Anyone who rolls higher than the characters gambling total (the one he made to determine whether he successfully cheated) notices the characters efforts to alter the game's outcome.
Know game rules Easy
Familiar with game probabilities and statistics Moderate
Influence game (cheat) Difficult
Based On: Presence, Perception
Time Required: Varies depending on local haggling customs
Description: Thrifty characters often employ haggling to lower the price of goods they purchase or raise the price of merchandise they wish to sell.
Alter Price By Difficulty
10% Very Easy
50% Very Difficult
Based On: Knowledge, Intellect, Perception, Reflexes
Time Required: Varies
Description: Doctors, medics, nurses, and other medically trained personnel use various techniques, medicines, and drugs to help cure the sick or injured of their ailments
A character may attempt to heal another based on the current wound level of the injured person, Only one healing skill attempt may be made per day on a particular individual. A successful roll indicates that the injured or sick character heals one wound level (5 wounds to 4 wounds, 4 wounds to 3 wounds, and so on) if using the wound damage system, or 20 body points if using the body point damage system.
Current Wound Level of Victim Difficulty
1 Wound / 75-100% of body points remaining Very Easy
2 Wounds / 50-74% of body points remaining Easy
3 Wounds / 25-50% of body points remaining Moderate
4 Wounds / 1-25% of body points remaining Difficult
5 Wounds / 0 body points Very Difficult
Based On: Knowledge, Intellect, Perception
Time Required: 5 seconds
Description: A character with the heraldry skill can recognize the banners, crests, and signs of various clans, political groups, and governments.
Identify heraldry's affiliation Easy
Identify derivation and history of heraldry Moderate
Identify meanings of heraldic elements Very Difficult
Increase the difficulty for heraldry recognition depending on a character's prior experience with a given land, planet, group, or government.
Based On: Knowledge, Intellect
Time Required: 5 seconds
Description: A character who possesses this skill knows the history of a particular area, whether it be as small as a city or as large as an entire world.
Area of Knowledge Difficulty
Timeline of major events Very Easy
Nations, leaders, and wars Moderate
Legends and myths Difficult
Ancient occurrences Very Difficult
Increase the difficulty depending upon the size of the area involved:
Size of Area Increase Difficulty By
Sub-Continent 1 level
Continent 2 levels
World 3 levels
Sector 4 levels
Based On: Knowledge, Intellect, Perception
Time Required: Varies
Description: This skill allows a character to determine whether or not a substance is lethal to his species (increase the difficulty by two levels for other species).
Action Difficulty Time Required
Determine whether a substance is poisonous Easy 1 minute
Determine type of poison (sleep, sickness, death, etc.) Moderate 5 minutes
Determine name of poison Difficult 10 minutes
Determine antidote Very Difficult 1 hour
Based On: Perception, Presence
Time Required: Varies
Description: Information Gathering measures a character's ability to pick up rumors, street talk, and current underworld events from various informants.
Type of Information Difficulty
General feeling of "underground" populace Moderate
Specific incidents Difficult
Based On: Perception, Presence, Reflexes
Time Required: Depends on length of song
Description: Characters with this skill can choose from among any instrument native to their universe.
Based On: Reflexes, Strength
Time Required: 5 seconds
Description: The jumping skill covers leaps in horizontal and/or vertical directions. The difficulty is determined by the distance jumped: +5 for each meter horizontally and +10 for each meter vertically. If, for example, a character wanted to leap two meters forward and one meter upward, the total difficulty would be 20 (5+5+10=20).
Based On: Intellect, Knowledge
Time Required: 5 seconds
Description: Knowledge of the law can be a very important skill, especially when it comes to customs, incarceration, agreements, and treaties.
Area of Knowledge Difficulty
Basic tenets of generic law Very Easy
Homeland (city) laws Easy
Laws of other lands (city-states) Moderate
Specific discipline (real estate, tort, entertainment, etc) Difficult
Based On: Knowledge, Intellect, Perception
Time Required: Varies
Description: Libraries and databases contains vast stores of information that may prove helpful or at least relevant to a character's goals. The difficulty of a skill attempt depends on the complexity and obscurity of the information sought as well as the size and accuracy of the library database (beginning with a difficulty of zero).
Complexity of Subject Difficulty Modifier
General knowledge +0
Introductory theories +5
Advanced / state-of-the-art / cutting-edge information +10
Obscurity of Subject Difficulty Modifier
Library Difficulty Modifier
Cataloged, large +0
Cataloged, small +5
Not cataloged, large +10
Not cataloged, small +15
Example: A character wants to find information regarding the replication of cells in superheated conditions. In this game world, this topic is considered uncommon (+5) and cutting-edge (+10) and the character only has access to a small, cataloged database (+5). The total difficulty for his attempt, therefore, is 20 (5 + 10 + 5 = 20).
Based On: Coordination
Time Required: Varies
Description: A character with lockpicking can release the tumblers on a lock without the key or combination. Note that this skill applies only to mechanical locks (electronic, optical, and similar security measures fall under the security skill).
Type of Lock Difficulty
Simple key-lock Easy
Complex key-lock Moderate
Combination lock Difficult
Microchip key-lock Very Difficult
Based On: Spirit, Willpower
Time Required: 10 minutes
Description: As many sages, philosophers, and psychiatrists have learned, the focusing of the mind can release formidable power within a person. This skill allows a character to temporarily increase any one skill die code for a number of minutes equal to a 1D roll. The difficulty is determined by the amount of increase at the rate of -5 for each pip. For example, a character who wants to raise his dodge skill by 1D has a difficulty of 15 (5 + 5 +5 = 15, since 1D = 3 pips). If the character fails the roll, he gets the bonus indicated by his die roll.
Example: A character needs a 15 to increase his dodge skill by 1D. He makes a meditation roll and generates a total of 12, not enough to receive the 1D bonus. The 12, however, is high enough to beat the next lowest bonus (+2 Pips), so the characters dodge increases by two pips for 10 minutes. He rolls 1D, and gets a 5, so the bonus lasts for five minutes.
Based On: Reflexes
Time Required: 5 seconds
Description: Characters who engage in c1ose-quarters combat may wish to have the ability to wield a weapon, rather than relying solely on a weaponless lighting style (see below). As a character becomes more proficient in the use of a particular weapon, she increases her accuracy – either in striking or in pinpointing the most vulnerable area of her opponent.
Since each type of weapon requires different knowledge and muscle control. a character cannot apply her experience in one weapon to another, For example, a character highly skilled in the use of a Sword (die code of 7D+2) may have only a limited knowledge of axes (die code of 4D+1) and absolutely no experience in club (default to Reflexes die code of 3D+2),
Based On: Coordination
Time Required: 5 seconds
Description: Characters who engage in long-range combat may wish to increase their proficiency with missile weapons (bows, blowguns, pistols, rifles, blasters, flame-throwers, and so on).
Like the <Melee Weapon> skill, each type of weapon requires different knowledge and muscle control, and therefore a character cannot apply her experience in one weapon to another. For example, a character highly skilled in the use of a rifle (die code of 8D+1) may have only a limited knowledge of pistols (die code of 5D+2) and absolutely no experience in blowgun (default to Coordination die code of 4D).
Based On: Knowledge, Intellect
Time Required: 5 seconds to 4 hours
Description: Navigation measures a character's ability to plot a safe course through a body of water or through space. Failure means that the pilot of the vessel must make a piloting skill check against a difficulty one level higher than the difficulty of the area. Success means the pilot need not make a roll (unless he performs an unexpected maneuver): the vessel arrives safely.
Danger Level of Area Difficulty
Completely safe: navigable lanes marked Very Easy
Relatively safe: few obstacles Easy
Narrow safe-lane Moderate
Many obstructions Difficult
Many moving obstructions (e.g. asteroids) Very Difficult
Based On: Presence
Time Required: Length of speech
Description: Public speaking represents a character's skill at oration, his ability to speak in front of large crowds and to convince them of his beliefs.
Speak with little fear and stammering Easy
Speak confidently and with emotion Moderate
Convince Crowd Difficult†
† Increase or decrease this difficulty depending on the demeanor of the crowd as a whole. Friendly, accepting crowds will be easier to convince, while hostile crowds will be more difficult to convince.
Based On: Knowledge, Intellect, Perception
Time Required: Depends on length of document.
Description: This skill enables a character to comprehend and use the written form of the specified language.
Create and read simple sentences using a small vocabulary Easy
Create and read documents of medium difficulty Moderate
Create and read novels Very Difficult
Based On: Reflexes, Strength
Time Required: Depends on height of structure
Description: Climbing human-made structures requires a set of skills similar to but not exactly like that needed for rock climbing. The scaling skill covers everything from pyramids to skyscrapers.
Scale surface with many hand- and footholds Moderate
Scale surface with few hand- and footholds Difficult
Scale surface with no hand- or footholds Very Difficult
Stop a fall Heroic
Based On: Knowledge, Intellect
Time Required: 5 seconds
Description: A skill in a science discipline (physics, chemistry, biology, geology, thermodynamics, artificial intelligence, et cetera) represents a characters knowledge of that area.
Type of Knowledge Difficulty
Basic knowledge Very Easy
Complex concepts Moderate
Cutting-edge topics Very Difficult
Based On: Knowledge, Intellect, Perception
Time Required: 5 seconds
Description: This skill covers knowledge of groups that act in secrecy.
Type of Knowledge Difficulty
Names and rumors of group Easy
Locations of operation Moderate
Activities Very Difficult
Based On: Perception
Time Required: Varies
Description: The shadowing skill represents a character's ability to follow a given target.
Follow target in open area Very Easy
Follow target in small town Easy
Follow target in small city Moderate
Follow target in large, congested city Very Difficult
Based On: Reflexes, Perception
Time Required: 5 seconds
Description: This skill enables characters to shroud their movements from the sight and hearing of others, including everything from hand gestures to their entire bodies. The sneak roll total becomes the difficulty required for another character to perceive the sneaking character (usually through a Perception roll).
Based On: Knowledge, Intellect, Perception
Time Required: Depends on length of conversation
Description: The character may converse with any other creature who speaks the specified language. High levels of proficiency in the skill indicate a great fluency, including accent, intonation, and connotation, Failing a skill check results in some form of miscommunication, the extent of which is determined by the amount by which the character misses the difficulty.
Convey and understand simple thoughts Easy
Converse casually with native speaker Moderate
Convey and understand complex thoughts Difficult
Capture accent, intonation, and connotation of native speakers Very Difficult
Based On: Endurance
Time Required: 5 seconds
Description: Those who dare to tread in the deep waters of lakes, rivers, and oceans must have the swimming skill or will risk drowning.
Swim in clear, calm water Very Easy
Swim in choppy water Easy
Swim in rough waves Moderate
Swim during a heavy storm Difficult
Save another drowning character Very Difficult
Based On: Perception. Presence
Time Required: Depends on length of performance
Description: This skill measures a character's ability to fool others into believing he is someone else. The theatrics skill total generated for a given attempt becomes the difficulty needed for another character to see through the performance (usually a Perception roll).
Based On: Knowledge, Intellect, Spirit
Time Required: 5 seconds
Description: The theurgy skill represents a character's knowledge of magical incantations and items.
Knowledge of common spell Easy
Knowledge of uncommon spell Moderate
Knowledge of rare spell Difficult
Identify spell as it is cast by another character Very Difficult
Identify enchanted items Heroic
Based On: Perception
Time Required: 5 seconds
Description: Tracking allows a character to follow the markings left by a person or creature. The difficulty depends on the terrain and the amount of time that has passed since the quarry made its tracks.
Terrain Type Difficulty
Soft dirt Very Easy
Rain forest Difficult
Desert Very Difficult
Increase the difficulty by one level for each day since the person or creature passed through the area.
Based On: Perception, Reflexes
Time Required: Depends on complexity of trap
Description: The traps skill represents a character's proficiency in setting, locating, and disabling traps.
Trap Type Set Difficulty Locate Difficulty Disable Difficulty
Pit Very Easy Easy Easy
Snare Easy Moderate Easy
Tripwire Easy Difficult Very Easy
Lock needle Difficult Difficult Difficult
Wall dart Very Difficult Very Difficult Very Difficult
Based On: Knowledge, Intellect, Perception
Time Required: 5 seconds
Description: A character who knows urban geography can locate public transportation, governmental buildings, and other specific structures. Progress in this skill allows him to navigate grid streets, subways, and city sewer systems. A successful skill check means that the character can find his way to his destination in half the normal amount of time and without getting lost. Failure means he either simply cannot locate his destination or he becomes utterly lost.
Type of Knowledge Difficulty
Generic city layout Very Easy
Location of specific buildings and structures Easy
Good and bad sections Moderate
Street subway navigation Difficult
Sewer navigation Very Difficult
Modify the difficulty based on the congestedness and use of civil engineering in a particular city.
Based On: Perception
Time Required: 5 seconds
Description: A character must make a piloting roll whenever he attempts to perform a stunt (see the Vehicle Combat chapter). Piloting a vehicle under normal circumstances does not require a roll. Types of vessels include starships, boats, hovercraft, and cars, trucks, and motorcycles (in which case the skill can be called driving).
Based On: Reflexes
Time Required: 5 seconds
Description: Three standard forms of weaponless fighting exist in the known world: martial arts. wrestling, and brawling
Martial arts, the fighting art of the ancients, centers on a person's innate ability to control her muscles in such a way as to create great power in her strikes. Characters practicing a martial art employ a variety of moves, from frontal strikes directed at the solar plexus to spinning, high kicks to the head.
Wrestling has arisen out of a desire to disable an opponent without causing too much physical harm. Though some have strayed away from this ideal, most who practice wrestling focus on grappling their adversary and physically inhibiting his movements.
Brawling, the least formulaic of the three, includes the typical tavern-fight tactics – from wild haymaker punches to kicks targeted at an opponent's shins (or other, more fragile areas). Most characters that choose a weaponless fighting style will usually learn brawling, the easiest of the three to master.
Characters need equipment to help them survive and succeed in their goals during adventures. Which items are available depends entirely on the game world, but below you'll find a basic list to give you an idea of how to create your own.
You must determine the costs of the various items below depending on the scarcity of the equipment, the laws governing its sale, and the trade agreements of your game world.
Weapons have an accompanying list of statistics that determine how much damage they cause, how far they can go, how much ammunition they can hold, and how fast they can be wielded. Refer to Chapter Eight: Combat for more information on using those values.
Weapon Range Speed Damage
.22 calibre pistol 10/25/50 +0 3D
.38 Special 15/30/70 +0 3D+2
.357 Magnum 12/25/60 +1 4D
Blowgun 6/14/20 +2 2D+1
Crossbow 10/20/40 +1D 4D+1
Long Bow 15/30/50 +2 STR+1D
MI6 .223 Assault Rifle 20/40/55 +2 6D
Throwing knife 5/10/15 +0 STR+2
Wheelock Pistol 4/8/12 +1D 3D
Weapon Range Speed Damage
Baseball Bat – +2 STR+1D
Battle-axe – +1D+1 STR+2D
Brass Knuckles – +0 STR+1
Electro-knife – +1 STR+1D
Fist – -2 STR
Knife – +0 STR+2
Sword – +1D STR+1D+1
War Hammer – +1D STR+1D+2
Armor provides characters with added defense against attacks. The Defense Bonus applies to Endurance rolls when resisting damage (see Chapter Eight: Combat for more information).
Type Defense Bonus
Heavy Padding +1
Leather Armor +1D
Chain Link Armor +2D
Light Kevlar +2D+1
Flak Jacket +3D
Plate Armor +3D+2
Kevlar Ceramic +3D+2
Characters often employ other paraphernalia when taking part in an adventure. Below you'll find a sample list of types of equipment that might come in handy at some point during a character's adventuring career.
You can create gear that serves no particular game purpose or that has its own set of statistics. For example, a medkit might heal two wounds if a successful healing check is made, or soft, padded shoes might give a +1D bonus to all sneak rolls.
Devise equipment as you see fit, but be careful not to bog the characters down in items, and don't let them carry an impossible amount either. If a character is carrying around a canoe on his back, he can't hold anything else. As with anything else in a D6 game, play fair and yet fast – as long as the everyone is having fun, don't worry too much about the rules.
Flint and Steel
Iron Spikes and Piton
Lockpicking Tools (+1D to lockpicking rolls)
Medical Kit (+1D to healing skill rolls)
Portable Chemistry Kit
Again, depending on your game world, you may wish to include vehicles of various types, from carts and wagons to luxury liners and spacecraft. Refer to the Vehicle Combat section of Chapter Eight: Combat for more information on creating statistics for vehicles.
As characters proceed through an adventure (see Chapter Seven: Adventures), you might want to provide them with additional gear that will help them during subsequent scenes. Items that provide healing often work best, but weapons (especially those of a magical nature - if appropriate) and special devices (homing beacons, for example) give the players another "toy" to play with. You could even sprinkle an entire scenario with seemingly useless items that
together can allow the player characters to solve the adventure's main conflict. In many situations, especially when the characters undertake a mission for some form of authority, the agency may offer items required for the success of the adventure. If the characters are supposed to bug a hotel room where two enemy agents will meet, for example, they'll need electronic listening devices. In these cases. you should provide the necessary equipment to the characters on loan. At the end of the adventure, the characters should turn in whatever they've borrowed (except those items that were either used up or left purposely, of course).
Make sure to give the characters opportunities to purchase equipment every once in a while. They'll often need to stock up on supplies, replenishing whatever they've used during their adventures. Sometimes you might want to limit the characters' ability to procure items as an added complication to a scenario.
For example, their plane might have gone down in the middle of a jungle, and the characters have only enough supplies to last a few days. If they don't make it to civilization in time, people may start dying.
The amount of equipment the characters have access to varies with the game world and the locations within that setting. Use this aspect of the game to help set the tone of the milieu.
Many game worlds include magic. psionics. mysticism, or other supernatural powers. This chapter gives you a basic overview of such systems and provides an example of each that you can incorporate into your game right away.
Magic plays a large role in many fantasy settings. In some, magic pervades the world, while in others it lies hidden in millennia – old ruins, lost to all but a few reclusive wizards and witches. But don't rule out other genres: you could create a new atmosphere in an old setting by including magic. For example, the Wild West, science fiction, espionage, etc.
The extent to which you want magic to be used in your game world will determine what type of magic system you create. You can restrict the use of magic in several ways:
· Limit your player characters' exposure to spellbooks and experienced wizards so that they cannot learn spells easily.
· Incorporate the use of spell components, forcing characters to constantly restock since the components are destroyed when casting an incantation. In addition, if you make the more powerful spells require expensive or extremely rare components, characters will have to rely on the less powerful spells.
· Have spells drain life force (wounds, body points, Character Points, or Fate Points) from the caster.
· Allow other characters to sense the use of magic. The more powerful the spell being cast, the more easily it can be sensed and located.
· Have the governments in your game world outlaw the use of magic.
· Give magic a random element that makes it unreliable.
· Require knowledge of certain low-power spells for casting high-power spells.
When you design your magic system. you must also think about the theory behind its use. For example, you can decide not to worry about theory and just says it works ("The mighty wizard Rothaz appears out of nowhere, levitating in mid-air. With a wave of his hand he turns you all into warthogs." "Hey, how'd he do that" "Magic. Now, do you still want to go into the tavern."). Or you could have a dimension of pure power that spellcasters can tap into to cast their spells. Or you could say that all things in the universe have an innate power which spell users can drain away to power their incantations, leaving the source of the power injured or dead. Or perhaps all spells rely on complex mathematical equations that when combined with certain components causes the reorganization of quarks in a given area, thereby producing the desired effect.
The game mechanics of a magic system determine how spells are learned, cast, dispelled, and otherwise manipulated. You can treat spells as skills that fall under the Magic attribute or as special powers that do not require any roll whatsoever. Of course, you can always develop your own system as well.
Acquiring and learning incantations usually occupies a majority of a spellcaster's time. Depending on the amount of magic use you want for a particular game world. you must decide the difficulty of locating and comprehending spells.
The simplest method, and the one most likely to cause your player characters to get too powerful too quickly, is to allow spellcasters to invoke any incantation they have seen used by another spellcaster. One way to defeat the negative aspect of this system is to make all wizards encountered by the characters extremely proficient, and therefore, dangerous. If a character wants to learn a new spell, he'll have to face this deadly wizard in battle.
Another method centers around the recording of incantations on a given medium. Most often, incantations are written into spell books or on loose parchment paper, but you could encode the formula for a spell on stone, in a computer, in a spellgem (see 'Artifacts' below), or anywhere else that makes sense for your game world. Spells may be written in a standard language or in a tongue specially created to capture the vocal nuances necessary for spellcasting.
Once a character finds the written form of a spell, he has to learn how to cast it. This can happen automatically or could require a Magic attribute roll against the difficulty of casting the spell (see 'Spell Attributes' below). If the character beats the spell's difficulty. he may cast it from then on. If he fails, however, he may try again, but each successive attempt increases the difficulty by 5.
There are three main ways to cast spells:
1. On the Fly: The character may cast any spell (that he has previously learned) at any time. as many times as he wants, without limitation.
2. From Memory: The character can memorize a given number of spells up to a maximum number determined by his Magic attribute (one spell per pip: a character with a Magic attribute of 3D-2 could have a total of 11 spells memorized at one time (each die is equal to 3 pips, so 3 X 3 = 9 + 2 pips = 11)) and may cast those when he chooses.
Under this system a character must spend a half hour to inscribe the magical formula of a spell into his memory. To memorize 11 spells would therefore take live and a half hours. Whenever a "memory slot" opens (i.e, the character casts a spell) he can then memorize another spell in that slot.
Once a character has cast a spell. he cannot cast it again until he takes the time to re-memorize it. One way to avoid this limit is to memorize a given spell multiple times. If a character uses three memory slots (spending an hour and thirty minutes studying) for the same spell. he can cast that spell three times before he needs to memorize it again.
3. Through Objects: Another method for spellcasting relies on concrete objects like scrolls, wands, potions, and the like for releasing magical energies. Characters have no inherent aptitude for or control over magic (i.e.. the Magic attribute and spell skills are not used). They must instead spend time locating such objects if they wish to have any magic at their disposal. This method gives the GM complete control over all magic used in the game. He can limit powerful magics, instead giving the player characters weak or temporary items (a wand that has only three charges left before its magic is depleted).
An incantation has several values that govern its use. The most common (and the ones used for the sample magic system in this chapter) are:
Difficulty: This value. used only when spells are treated as skills that fall under the Magic attribute. represents the difficulty of creating the effect. When a character wants to cast a spell, the player must make a skill roll against the difficulty. Failure means that either 1) the spell didn't work and the caster lost it from his memory. 2) the spell didn't work and the caster retains it in his memory. 3) the spell didn't work but some other effect occurred. or 4) the spell worked and another effect occurred as well (note: if not using the 'From Memory' option, ignore the question of whether or not a spell remains in the casters memory).
The difficulty may also be listed as an opposed roll rather than a numerical value. For example, a spell with a difficulty of 'Target's Willpower' would require the target of the incantation to make a Willpower roll, which becomes the difficulty for the successful casting of the spell.
Speed: The speed value only comes into play if you are using the Speed combat option (see Chapter Eight). It represents the length of time it takes to cast a spell, ranging from a from seconds to days or months. If the value appears without a time measurement (e.g., 4 instead 4 seconds) it indicates that the spell can be cast within 5 seconds (one combat round). The caster then treats the spell's speed value just like the speed value of a weapon. adding it to his Reflexes roll for initiative. Higher values represent the need for longer periods of time, so a spell with a speed of 5 takes less time to cast than a spell with a speed of -2.
Range: The range gives the maximum distance from the caster that the spell can reach. For example, an incantation with a range of 10 meters could not directly affect a character standing 12 meters away from the spellcaster. The wizard can target a spell anywhere within the designated range.
Area of Effect: This value determines the total area that a spell can affect. Treat the number given as the radius of a circle centered on the point the caster targeted (which is limited by the spell's range). Anything within that area becomes affected by the spell. An area of effect of five meters, therefore, would affect anything within five meters of the target point. Some incantations do not affect an overall area, but rather a number of targets within the spell's range. A spellcaster can choose a number of targets up to the designated value. For example, a spell with an area of effect of three characters can target one, two, or three characters within the spell's range.
Duration: A spell's duration indicates the length of time the incantation lasts. For example, if a wizard uses the paralyze spell (duration of 10 minutes) to incapacitate his victim, the paralyzation effect wears off ten minutes after he cast the spell.
Optional values include:
Components: As mentioned above. you can create a magic system that requires the use of spell components. List here the specific types and amounts (if applicable) of each component. Examples include: a keyword or phrase, a physical movement or a gesture, a certain amount of an element, or part of a dead creature, and so forth.
Life Drain: This entry lists the amount of wounds, body points, Character Points, Fate Points, or a combination that is drained from the spellcaster when he releases the incantation.
Magical Pulse: This dual value represents the difficulty for another character in the designated range to sense the use of magic. The sensing character must make a Magic attribute roll against the difficulty: success means he notices the casting of the spell and the general direction of the caster. For example, a magical pulse of “10/50” meters means that anyone within 50 meters who beats a difficulty of 10 on a Magic roll notices the release of the spell.
You can treat magical spells as static effects. i.e., all spells always work exactly the same way no matter the circumstances surrounding the casting. Or, you could allow characters to manipulate incantations on the fly.
The mechanics for this technique are not as complicated as they might seem. Essentially, the difficulty of casting a spell increases depending on the amount of alteration from its standard version. See the Spell Shaping Table below.
Spell Attribute Difficulty Increase
Speed change +1 per time-unit
Range change +1 per distance-unit
Area of Effect +1 per radius-unit or number-of-targets change
Duration change +1 per time-unit
A unit refers to the measure used for that particular spell. For example, an incantation with a range of 12 feet could be extended or contracted at the rate of +1 per foot. To limit the range to nine feet, then, would increase the difficulty by three. A spell with a range of eight yards could be extended or contracted at the rate of +1 per yard. To increase its range from eight yards to 12 yards, then, would raise the difficulty by four.
Speed: The time required to cast can be reduced or expanded by the time unit given. If the speed value is a number with no time measurement qualifier, then the difficulty increases at a rate of +1 per one step from the designated value: a speed of nine, therefore, could be reduced to a speed of seven with a difficulty increase of two.
Area of Effect: Increasing or decreasing the number of targets of the spell (for those spells that give the area of effect as a number of targets) raises the difficulty at the rate of +1 per additional target.
You may choose to disallow the disruption of spells while they are being cast. Whenever a character attempts to cast a spell, he may do so without worrying about another character preventing him from succeeding. If you would like to add an extra level of complexity to your game (and assuming you select either the combat rounds or simultaneous combat options (see Chapter Eight: Combat) you may wish to use the following option: a character who suffers damage while casting a spell automatically loses that spell. For example, a character casting a spell with a speed of one minute would lose the incantation if he took damage at any time during that minute.
Those incantations that require less than one round (five seconds) to cast work a little differently. A character rolls his Reflexes dice to determine when he acts during the combat round. The resulting total represents the time the character begins to cast his spell. The speed of the spell (which can be a negative number) is then added to the total to give a new value. If the character suffers damage at any point between the first value (the Reflexes total) and the second value (the Reflexes total plus the spell's speed), the caster loses the spell.
Example: Walter the Wizard has engaged a group of bandits in a battle On this combat round. Walter plans to destroy the ruffians with a fireball (which has a speed of -8). The player running Walter makes a Reflexes roll to determine when his character gets to take an action. He generates a 5. The bandits (as a group) roll a total of 11. Since Walter generated the higher value, he goes first. He starts casting at 15 and will continue to cast until time value seven (15 (Walter's Reflexes roll) - 8 (the fireball's speed) = 7). Any character who may take an action during that time period (which in this case does include the bandits, who rolled an 11) has a chance to inflict damage on Walter and thereby cause him to lose his fireball.
The number of spells (or other powers) that characters receive during character creation depends on the game world. The recommended number is four. In a world with little magic, however, characters may start with only one spell or even with none at all. Or in a world overflowing with magic, characters may start with eight or even ten spells.
Many fantasy adventures - novels, movies, and roleplaying games - revolve around the quest for a sacred or magical treasure. Such devices can come in a variety or forms, from wands and potions to enchanted blades and crystal balls. The magic of these items usually falls into one of the following categories.
Some artifacts simply duplicate the effects of a spell, using the same values designated by the incantation's entry. With magical items, however. a roll against the spell's difficulty is not required: the effect occurs at the wielder's command (which may require a command word ("Abracadabra") or gesture (rubbing the lamp).
Other artifacts serve to increase the power of a character in some way. Sometimes the item affects the character himself, conveying a +1D to Strength, for example. An item could, on the other hand, have an inherent power that sets it apart from other items of a similar form, e.g. a sword that causes additional damage, dispels enchantments, or gives the wielder a +2D in his sword skill.
You can also create artifacts that have unique effects. For example, a spellgem (a hand-sized piece of crystal imbued with magic) could store incantations from which spellcasters can learn new spells. Or an onyx orb could open a gate into another dimension. You can create any kind of magical device that fits within your game world.
Some artifacts might have a limited number of uses before their magic is expended. You have the option of allowing these items to become forever useless or to be recharged by a specified procedure. Perhaps casting a spell into the device might rejuvenate it. Or the character may have to dip the artifact into the magical lake of Nal Durra on the far side of the continent. The restoration for each item could be different - which could make for an unlimited supply of potential adventures for the player characters.
Many artifacts have unlimited magical energy and will never lose their abilities. Such enchantments should be rare in worlds where magic is scarce; otherwise, whoever holds such a device could easily cause your game to become unbalanced. One side has a distinct advantage that prevents them from losing in almost any situation. Be careful when handing out permanent artifacts. The more you give to the players, the harder you'll find it to create adventures that challenge them.
Magical energy comes from randomly moving ley lines (called chaos streams) in the earth, When a wizard attempts to cast a spell, he taps into the nearest chaos stream and draws out the power required to create the desired effect. Since the ley lines constantly move, however, the wizard never knows whether he will be able to control the power he releases, which sometimes results in random magical effects.
When a character wishes to bind a spell, she must visualize the effect in her mind by concentrating on the pattern of chaos energy that defines the incantation. A gesture or phrase (or both) taps into a nearby chaos stream. creating a conduit through which pure chaos energy flows into the caster's body. If the 'chaos binder' loses control of her spell while casting, she unleashes chaos energy directly into her environment with unknown results.
This magic system uses the following spell attributes: difficulty, speed, range, area of effect, and duration. Characters have the ability to alter their spells on the fly (according to the spell shaping rules given above).
Characters can cast an unlimited number of spells per day, but the difficulty to cast any spell is increased by a value equal to the number of spells the wizard has cast that day so far (note that this only counts spells that were successfully cast; any failed attempts are not included). Only a full eight hours of sleep can remove the added difficulty. For example, a character who has already cast five spells on a given day would have a +5 penalty to the difficulty of the next spell he attempted to cast. This slow difficulty increase represents the growing fatigue spellcasters experience when they allow chaos energy to flow through their bodies.
In game terms, whenever a character fails the difficulty roll to cast a spell, the GM must roll 2D and consult the Unleashed Chaos Table.
A random spell memorized by the spellcaster goes off rather than the intended spell
A random spell occurs (not limited to the caster's currently memorized incantations)
A random spell or enchanted item ceases to function for 2D minutes
The caster vanishes and reappears 5D feet in any direction from his current location
All spellcasters in a 50-foot radius centered on the caster automatically gain a +3D bonus to any cast any spell for the next 10 minutes
All magic in 5O-foot radius, centered on the caster, goes dead for 1D minutes
The spell effect occurs 10 minutes after the completion of the incantation
A gate to another dimension suddenly appears within (10 x 10) feet of the spellcaster
A direct chaotic backlash occurs inflicting 4D damage on the caster
After the caster unleashes her spell. she becomes mesmerized by a random creature in her line of sight for 1D minutes
The enchantment produces the opposite of the intended effect (as determined by the GM).
Area of Effect: Special
The caster can unleash pure chaotic energy in an attempt to simulate a spell. The incantation is cast at a difficulty of 10 plus the simulated spell's difficulty and automatically triggers a chaotic backlash (the GM rolls on the Unleashed Chaos Table). If the caster fails the difficulty roll, the GM rolls a second time on the Unleashed Chaos Table. The simulated spell is treated just as if it had been cast normally (using its speed, range, area of effect, and duration).
Range: 30 meters
Area of Effect: One character
At the casting of this spell, three bolts of swirling energy erupt from the casters fingertips and streak toward one target. The spell user must make an attack roll for each bolt, but it is treated as a single action. Each bolt causes 4D damage. The caster then rolls once on the Unleashed Chaos Table, regardless of his success in hitting his target.
Range: 20 meters
Area of Effect: 5 meters
Duration: 30 minutes
This chaos binding creates hundreds of strands of chaotic fiber that interweave themselves into a web of magical energy. The spell user must anchor the web between at least two objects. Anyone touching the web with bare flesh automatically takes 3D damage (once per contact) and causes a chaotic backlash (roll once on the Unleashed Chaos Table). Any attack on the web results in an additional chaotic backlash. When the spell ends, the fibers quickly break down and fade away, their innate chaos expunged. Note that the caster is not immune to the effects of the web.
Range: 40 meters
Area of Effect: –
If cast within 10 seconds after a chaotic backlash, the spell user may capture the energy created by the temporary flux in the chaos stream. The spellcaster may then recast the enchantment that caused the backlash, even if he did not originally cast it.
Area of Effect: –
The caster may steal a Character Point from her target and use the power to temporarily increase her ability to cast her next spell (receiving a +2D bonus to her spell skill roll against its difficulty). Note that the bonus applies only to the next spell cast by the spell user. The victim of the incantation feels a dull pain in his chest when the Character Point is sucked away. If the target has no Character Points, he still feels the ache, but the caster does not gain any benefit.
Range: 1 meter
Area of Effect: 10 meters
This quick enchantment creates a painful burst of light that affects all creatures within the spell's area of effect. Those affected (i.e., looking in the direction of the light) go blind for 10 seconds (thereby suffering a -2D penalty to all actions during that time; see Chapter Eight: Combat, for more information on blindness penalties).
Area of Effect: One character
Through this incantation, the caster injects a tiny amount of chaos energy into his victim's body, causing the target's muscles to spasm momentarily. As a result, the target suffers a -5 penalty on his next Reflexes roll for Initiative.
Range: 20 meters
Area of Effect: Special
Duration: 20 seconds
Upon the casting of this spell, five dark motes of energy coalesce in the caster's hand. The chaos binder may hurl the deadly magic one mote at a time (speed of +1) at the same or separate targets (each attack is treated as a separate action). The caster may choose to throw them all at once (incurring the applicable multi-action penalties) or one at a time. A successful attack causes 3D in the victim as the black mote burrows into the target's body. Once within, the dark energy begins to suck away the victim's will (subtract one pip of a menial attribute and one pip of Endurance for every 10 seconds the spell remains in effect: the lost pips return at the same rate they were lost).
Speed: 1 minute
Range: 25 meters
Area of Effect: One object
Duration: 10 minutes
This spell builds up a wave of chaotic energy which the caster feels as an invisible, pulsing force close by. At the completion of the incantation, the chaos binder commands the wave to push objects or creatures in any direction. The wave of force can manipulate a target of no less than 1 kilogram and no more than 100 kilograms at a movement rate of up to 10 (twice as fast as a walking human). While directing the wave, the caster may not undertake other activities, but must concentrate on the energy to keep it from dispersing.
Speed: 5 minutes
Area of Effect: 1 kilometer
Duration: 3 hours
Magic leaves telltale signs of its use in the form of shimmering paths of residual chaos invisible to the naked eye. With this spell, the user attunes her sight to the range of chaos waves, enabling her to see these stringy paths and follow them to their source. The caster may trail a particular path up to the spell's area of effect at which point it gradually fades. If the original caster has left the area, the trail ends in midair. The spellcaster may then cast sense residual magic again and pick up the trail where it left off, following up the limit of its area, and so on.
Speed: 5 minutes
Area of Effect: The caster
Duration: 4 hours
When this enchantment is cast, a swirling. blotchy, gray-and-black film encases the spellcaster's body, completely concealing her features.
Range: 35 meters
Area of Effect: One spell
The caster may prevent a spell from occurring (just as another spellcaster unleashes an incantation), or
may eradicate a spell that has already been cast.
Speed: 5 minutes
Area of Effect: The caster
Duration: 8 hours
Using this incantation, the caster weaves chaos energy into his body. The chaos field absorbs any physical damage inflicted upon the character (including magical attacks that physically harm the target), giving a bonus of +1D to an Endurance or mental attribute roll to resist damage.
Psychic, or psionic, powers share many similarities with magic. The main difference lies in the source of power that creates the effects. Magic often relies on outside elements - another dimension, the combination of various components, artifacts - whereas psionics hinges on the power of the mind.
Psychic powers use many of the same game rules as magical spells. Rather than the Magic attribute, however, characters use the Psychic Ability attribute as the basis for their aptitude for such powers. All psionic skills, then, fall under Psychic Ability.
Characters can learn to use psionics in many different ways
Innate Ability: A character may be born with an inherent psychic power as a result of a genetic mutation (in a society where 99.9% of the population has no psychic ability at all). As he gets older he can learn to control and harness that ability.
Learned Ability: In a particular game world all characters may have the potential to become psychically active. Various training programs (in a world where such ability is encouraged) or banned documents concerning the use of psychic powers (in a world where psionics are considered evil) can enhance a character's basic aptitude.
Inflicted Ability: Sometimes a character may be blessed (or cursed, depending on the sentiments of the game world's society) with a psychic ability during a traumatic or injurious event. For example, a character may be subjected to enormous amounts of radiation that somehow alter his brain structure to allow him to produce psychic effects. Or during Intensive brainwashing, a character's mind rebels with all its force, releasing its energy in such a way that it creates a new synaptic pathway that allows him to use psionics.
Most literary and film sources depicting psychic powers show psionically active characters using their abilities whenever and as often as they like. Unlike spells, therefore, psychic powers do not have to be memorized. Once a character has learned to use a power he has unlimited use of it. Since this lack of limitation could disturb game balance, it is recommended that you incorporate the life drain optional attribute (see Magic Game Mechanics above).
Psychic powers have the same attributes as spells: difficulty, speed, range, area of effect, duration, plus the optional attributes components, life drain, and magical (in this case. psychic) pulse. The next section contains a sample psychic power system based on these attributes.
In the late 21st century, genetic manipulation has been banned. Previous attempts to control the structure of human beings have failed horribly, creating a race of malformed monsters, most of whom have been locked away forever in the deep basements of the world's most advanced research labs.
But a few children of these tests managed to control their powers and escape the notice of the teams sent to hunt them down. As they turn into adults, they gain complete use of their powers, but must take care to conceal them from the everyday populace, who would report them immediately, so scared are they of what the government continues to call “monsters”.
This system uses difficulty, speed, range, area of effect, and duration. It is recommended that the attribute Willpower be used in this game system since many of the powers can be resisted by it. Alternatively, you can treat willpower as a skill under another mental attribute, like Mind, for instance.
Difficulty: Target's Willpower
Range: 100 meters
Area of Effect: One character
Duration: 5 minutes
A character with this power can secretly enter the mind of her target and listen to his thoughts.
Difficulty: Target's Willpower + 10
Range: 5 meters
Area of Effect: One character
This power allows a character to directly attack an opponent's mind, tearing apart synapses and killing brain cells. A successful attack causes 6D damage, which is resisted by the victim's Willpower rather than his Endurance.
Difficulty: Target's Willpower
Range: 10 meters
Area of Effect: One character
Duration: 20 minutes
With this power a character can plant a foreign thought in his victim that prevents his memory from capturing the images, sounds, and other perceptions that occur around him for the duration of the power. When the power wears off, the target cannot remember anything during that period.
Difficulty: -1 per 10 kilograms
Range: 25 meters
Area of Effect: –
Duration: 15 minutes
This power allows a character to move an object within his range anywhere within that range. The standard speed of object movement is two meters per second (approximately the speed of a walking man). A character can even move himself in this fashion
Because comic book characters have many varied and sometimes unique abilities, super power systems work differently than the more standardized spells and psychic powers. Each super power has its own associated limitations and game mechanics (which are described within the power's entry).
Superheroes usually begin play already possessing their abilities, but you could run a campaign in which the characters discover their latent talents or suddenly receive powers through an experiment gone awry, an extreme dose of radiation, or contact with extraterrestrial beings.
The simplest method for allowing players to select super powers for their characters is to assign each power a point cost and each character a point allowance. For example, for a low-power campaign, you might give each character 100 points to spend on super powers, while for a high-power campaign you might give 500 points. Below you'll find some sample powers and their associated point costs in parentheses after the power name.
Body Weaponry (10 per die of damage): A character with this ability can use a part of his body to attack, whether it is a natural feature (razor-sharp fingernails, fangs, tongue) or an extra appendage (limbs, blades, spikes). The damage from such a weapon can range anywhere from 1D to 8D depending on the nature and composition of the body part.
Energy Generation (10 per die of damage): This power allows a character to create bolts of electricity or other energy form that cause anywhere from 1D to 8D damage. The character uses his Coordination attribute or energy weapon skill in combat to determine whether or not he hit his target (as per the normal combat rules).
Enhanced Attribute (5 per bonus pip): The character has an automatic bonus (ranging from +5 10 +20) in one attribute. All skills based on that attribute also gain the bonus value.
Enhanced Senses (75): This power includes any enhanced or additional sensing ability. from heightened visual acuity to X-ray vision to a sixth sense that warns of impending danger.
Enhanced Skill (2 per bonus pip): The hero has an automatic bonus (ranging from +5 to +20) for a given skill (e.g. brawling).
Flight (100): A character with this ability can fly at a speed ranging from one to 40 meters per second.
Invulnerability to <Damage Form> (10 per die of resistance bonus / 150 for complete immunity): A character with this ability either has a bonus in the range of 1D to 4D to Endurance when resisting damage of the indicated type or takes no damage from that type whatsoever. Damage forms include radiation, lightning, acid, aging, and so forth.
Lightning Speed (75): This character has a ground movement of four times his species' normal. A human hero with this ability would have a movement value of 40 (10 x 4 = 40).
Matter Generation (100): A character with this ability can create and launch a specific substance, from acid to steel to water.
Metamorphosis (200): A character with this power can change into an alternate form, whether it be another person, an element (like water or flame), or energy. This power also covers the ability to phase in space-time, enabling a character to pass through solid objects.
Rapid Healing (100 per healing multiplier): A character with this power heals at up to 10 times his species' normal rate (see Chapter 10: Healing and Vehicle Repair for more information).
Shield (50 per die of dodge bonus): This power allows a character to deflect energy or missile weapons. The shield could be anything from a specialty constructed aluminum alloy to a natural force-field like barrier. The character gains a 1D to 5D bonus to dodging these weapons.
We've talked about characters and magic and equipment – but so far we haven't discussed the "game".
What do you do when you play a roleplaying game?
In an adventure, characters confront a series of obstacles as they attempt to reach an ultimate goal. Adventures, then, are the heart of roleplaying games. Here is where you'll find the story -- the evil adversaries, the alien locales, and the fantastic technology, all threaded together to form an engaging plot for the main characters (the players).
This chapter covers everything you need to know about preparing and running adventures. Right now it may seem like a lot to assimilate: but don't worry, you'll get the hang of it in no time. Actually. there's only one rule you need to remember: make sure everyone has fun!
Certain groups of players will prefer a certain style of play, so not all of what follows applies in every situation. As you run your adventures you'll develop a feel for what excites and enthralls your players, and then you'll be able to structure your subsequent scenarios to incorporate those elements.
The chapter is divided into four main sections: Creating Adventures, Preparing Adventures, Running Adventures, and Ending Adventures. You may want to reread these sections once in a while as you begin your gamemastering career, but there's nothing here to memorize or to reference during a game session.
Instead you'll find tips and suggestions that will help you create hours of entertainment for your friends as well as yourself.
Like most games, you must overcome a series of obstacles to reach a final goal. But in roleplaying, those hindrances can take a variety of forms, from monsters to evil wizards to acid storms to covert government agents. depending on the genre and the particular circumstances of the adventure your characters are working through. Sometimes the characters might have to convince someone to give up information they possess, or to sneak into a fortress without alerting its guards Or they might even have to lower themselves into the heart of a volcano to retrieve a hidden treasure.
The hurdles the characters must deal with are dictated by the GM. She provides a goal and then presents the characters with a series of problems that prevents them from reaching that objective. For example, the characters must cross into enemy territory and steal information about the defense forces for an enemy sector. Immediately, several possible problems leap out: getting across the border, infiltrating the enemy's stronghold, breaking through the computer's security measures, locating the needed information, getting out of the stronghold and back to safe territory. Each of these obstacles has several possible solutions and even more possible outcomes.
To get across the border, for example, the characters may employ starship stealth techniques to slip through undetected. Or they may instead attempt to con the border officials into believing that they are actually intelligence officers returning from a covert mission. Or the players may come up with another alternative based on the particular proficiencies their characters possess. The results of this encounter affect all the others that come after it. If the enemy spots their ship and alerts the stronghold, it's going to be a lot harder getting into the base, and therefore, completing the goal.
An adventure is a series of scenes or encounters, each of which has a specific purpose in the context of the goal presented by the GM. When you design your own adventures, think about the plots of movies, television shows, novels, or even comic books, The characters begin at Point A and must struggle throughout the story to get to Point B. They may face anything from a group of thugs to a secret code, from paranormal phenomena to suspicious security guards. Sometimes the characters may even become involved in ground, air. or space battles There's no limit to the types of challenges they could encounter.
Roleplaying games work in a similar manner, except that the players get to decide how their characters react to the given obstacle. Let's look at an outline of a sample scenario.
Goal: Retrieve information about the Zaratee Empire's defense forces in Pelloc Sector.
A. Encounter One: Crossing the Border
B. Encounter Two: Infiltrating the Base
C. Encounter Three: Downloading the Information
D. Encounter Four: Returning Home
In the first encounter, the player characters must devise some method for penetrating the enemy border without giving themselves away. Since the players have unlimited options (one of the main differences between roleplaying games and other games), the GM must know as much information as necessary to be able to cover all the possibilities. How many enemy ships patrol the area? Do they have orders to shoot on sight and ask questions later?
As GM, you must try to predict what the players will do – of course, they'll often surprise you, so you'll have to be able to extrapolate from the information you have decided upon. Let's return to our example adventure and come up with everything we might need to know for the first encounter.
Goal: Slip across enemy lines undetected.
· The enemy maintains a force of 50 starships along the two-parsec border between its territory and the characters'.
· Because all-out war is imminent, the captains of the vessels have orders to apprehend all unidentified ships within their patrol area. but not to destroy them.
· Three permanent border stations allow official traffic to pass through, The officers manning these stations are required to inspect vessels and make copies of the occupants' identification.
You might even create game stats for a captain, a ship, and its crew, as well as for the border station guards. With luck you'll be ready to handle any situation that comes up when your players try to cross the border.
Below you'll find a non-exhaustive list of adventure types, all of which could fall under any genre. You can use these sample ideas as outlines for adventures you create or you can develop your own “schematics” from scratch. For more adventure outlines, just pay attention to the stories portrayed in movies. novels, and television shows. They provide a wealth of potential scenario structures that you might never think of on your own.
Following that you'll find a sample list of scene types. Using these two sections you should be able to design an adventure quickly and easily, so get a pen and paper for notes and read on.
Goal: Locate and retrieve an object or person at the behest of another.
This type of adventure is typically associated with the fantasy genre: King Arthur searching for the Holy Grail; the brave warrior hunting down the nefarious dragon; the valiant warrior rescuing the princess. But to show you how these scenario outlines can work with any genre, let's use an example set in the far future.
The Great Overlord of the Gurji System has lost possession of the Symbol of Command, the ancient artifact that represents his authority over the populace: without it, he loses his monarchical status. It turns out that the Symbol was, in fact, stolen by an underling. The Overlord needs the characters to locate and obtain the Symbol – and the person who absconded with it – without alerting the population at large about its disappearance. To make matters worse, the annual Festival of the Stars – during which the Overlord marches through the streets with the Symbol at his side – starts in three days.
So we have the goal: hunt down and capture the errant individual and the Symbol of Command and return them to Gurji within three days. Now we have to create the adventure itself – the obstacles the characters must overcome to attain the goal.
The easiest way to flesh out the scenario is to decide how you would go about accomplishing the objective. In this case. the first logical steps seems to be the gathering of information: What does the
Symbol look like? Why did the underling steal it? Where would he go with it? And so forth. You have to create the answers to these questions by expanding the back-story (the part of the tale that has occurred before the arrival of the characters). You have to decide the underling's motivations, resources, and overall plans.
Now that you have the goal and basic plot, you can select a series of encounters (from the list below or on your own) and create the adventure.
Goal: Escape from a situation that could cause some type of harm to the characters or their allies.
In this type of adventure the player characters find themselves up against a wall, whether it be a literal barrier or a more metaphysical constraint like a deadline. For example, the characters have one week to seek out the Gem of the Fire Gods and toss it into the volcano near their home city. Should they fail in this endeavor, the volcano will erupt and destroy everyone and everything in the city.
Or, secret agent characters have exactly three hours to infiltrate a top-secret enemy laboratory and steal copies of the research files. The three-hour window corresponds to the distraction effected by another agent team. When time runs out, all the lab's security measures return to working order, making it impossible for the characters to escape unnoticed.
Or, the characters find themselves trapped on a remote planet with no subspace communications. They must fight to remain alive as the indigenous alien species that roam the world begin to attack, more ferociously and more skillfully with each barrage.
Goal: A friend or benefactor requests a favor in return for gratitude or other type of remuneration.
The player characters agree to perform some service, whether it be to slay a dragon that has been attacking a village or to smuggle advanced biological weapons into a city-state where such armament is banned. Upon completion of their mission, the characters receive (usually) the agreed upon compensation.
Goal: The characters must accomplish a predetermined goal more quickly or more efficiently than everyone else involved in the contest.
The characters may become involved in the contest in a variety of ways. They might learn of it in advance and travel scores of miles (or hundreds of light years) to reach the appointed location of the competition. They might happen upon a village just before the contest begins. Or they might even try to win as a favor for a friend who needs the monetary reward (turning the adventure into a combination of contest and favor).
Goal: The player characters must discover the truth about a person, thing, or event.
You can think of this adventure type as a mystery novel, movie, or television program. Some event occurs to bring the mystery to the characters' attention – a murder, a death threat, the arrest of an innocent party, and so forth. The players then spend the rest of the adventure trying to find out what really happened (or what lies behind the veil of secrecy) and then trying to prove that truth to the powers that be.
A mystery does not have to center around a crime. For example, the characters' ship starts to suffer strange difficulties and the characters must figure out what's going on before the vessel is destroyed.
Once you've determined the type of adventure you want to create, you must divide it up into smaller chunks called scenes. Given a scene is triggered by the player characters' arrival at a given location. For example, when they reach the dragon pit they must confront the terrible beast that lives therein. Other times, however, a scene could be set off based on a time element (e.g. the bomb explodes at noon). For the sake of clarity, we'll call location-based scenes encounters, and time-based scenes events.
Below you'll find several types of scenes, each of which could be set up either as an encounter or an event. When you first start playing with a new group you might want to create an adventure that includes one of each type so that you can quickly determine which kinds of scenes capture their imagination.
Often you'll begin an adventure with a setup scene. The characters receive a cassette tape that tells them about their mission (if they should choose to accept it). Or the king calls in his greatest heroes and begs their help in finding his lost son. Or a crimelord offers the characters a smuggling deal, explaining the terms and conditions of payment.
The setup scene allows you to convey several pieces of information to the players right away: what the adventure is about. where it will take place, who will be involved, and what constitutes success. The characters often (but not always) have the opportunity to ask questions of the person who is directing them to the adventure (the king or the crimelord, from the above examples).
Scenes of this nature can include anything from a secret door to a riddle. Often the characters receive clues to solve the puzzle, but must make some sort of deductive leap to discover the answer. Once they bypass the obstacle, they move one step closer to the goal of the adventure.
A roleplaying scene can be anything from a parley with a group of bandits to a face-to-face non-violent confrontation with a traitor. In such scenes the player characters converse with GM characters in an attempt to persuade them to do something. For example, the characters might have to con their way past guards and into the heart of FBI headquarters. Or, they might have to play a game of chance against an adversary to win the key to the Great Vault of Thome. Or, they might have to convince an old hermit to tell them where Tim lives.
Roleplaying scenes can cover almost any kind of non-combat encounter involving GM characters.
The characters' goal in this type of scene is to discover some important piece of information, whether it be evidence, the answer to a riddle, or a piece of a map that will lead them to the rebel outpost in Ulim sector. To find this knowledge the characters might have to visit a library, search through a murder victim's apartment, or tear apart the ancient temple of an evil goddess.
Just make sure that the information the characters seek is attainable and in some way helps them toward the ultimate goal of the adventure. That doesn't mean you shouldn't throw in a red herring once in a while. Just be careful not to force the player characters to go through an enormous amount of trouble based on clues and hints you've given them only to find that their efforts were wasted.
Thrill scenes involve a tense moment in which the characters worry about an imminent occurrence. For example, a carriage containing the king's daughter races toward a cliffs edge, or the characters are attempting to sneak past a half-dozen security measures to steal a precious painting, or a ghost-like presence continues to harass the characters and they suspect it might try to kill them at any moment. To help simulate a dramatic moment – like when one character slips over the edge of a rooftop and another characters attempts to catch him before he plummets to his death – you can employ the following technique, the goal of which is to get the players' (the actual persons playing the game) hearts racing. Tell the players they have a certain number of seconds (somewhere between 10 and 15 seems to work best). During that time they have to roll a certain number of sixes on six-sided dice. Each player may only roll a number of dice equal to his die code in the appropriate skill at a time (a player with a character who has 2D+1 in Reflexes, therefore, would get to roll two dice at a time when the character attempts to save his falling companion). The players roll the dice as many times as possible during that short period until either they roll enough sixes to accomplish the task or time runs out.
Example: A player character team of secret agents sneaks into a Iraqi consulate in New York City. The computer specialist must now download information on biological weaponry from the main terminal. As she logs onto the computer with the stolen password provided by her superior, the computer Security system kicks in, requiring her to enter the secondary password – which she doesn't have – in the next 15 seconds. She must now try to eliminate, bypass, or in some way satisfy the security measure. You tell the player that she must roll five sixes m the next 15 Seconds. Since the character has 4D+1 in computer operation, the player gets to roll four dice at a time. You give her the go ahead to start rolling while you watch the seconds. Frantically, she starts tossing the dice four at a time. Every five seconds you let her know how much time she has left. If she rolls the five sixes before the 15 seconds are up, she succeeds in bypassing the second password. If not, the computer automatically sets off the consulate's alarms.
If the character in the above example had had a 2D in computer operations, the player would have only been able to roll two dice at a time, thereby making it that much more difficult to get fives sixes. As a guideline, a character with an average skill of 3D can roll two or three sixes in 10 seconds fairly consistently (depending upon how fast the player can roll the dice). You may want to increase the number of sixes needed as the player characters advance their skills and get to roll eight or even 10 dice at a time.
In a chase scene, the characters either pursue or flee from a GM character (like the black knight), a creature (like a Tyrannosaurus Rex), or an object (like a huge, rolling boulder). Above all, make sure these encounters play out dramatically by loading them with near misses and exciting events.
The simplest way to set up a chase scene is to create a list of the various obstacles the characters must overcome, especially if you can couple it with a map of the area. Just like scenes, you can have location-based and time-based events. List each occurrence by either when it occurs (in combat rounds – periods of five seconds: see Chapter Eight: Combat, for more information on rounds) or where it occurs. Let's look at an example in which the player characters must pursue a group of thieves on hoverbikes through an underground cavern complex.
Round One: Both groups begin in a large cave that boasts a small hovercraft docking facility. Two tunnels lead off into the rest of the complex, The thieves choose the one on the right. All characters must make hoverbike piloting checks against an Easy (7) difficulty to avoid hitting the sides of the tunnel's mouth as they enter. Anyone who fails the roll suffers 2D damage to himself and 5D damage to his hoverbike.
Tunnel Exit: When the two groups reach the first tunnel's exit. they find that it opens into another tunnel which immediately curves downward. Everyone must make hoverbike piloting checks against a Moderate (12) difficulty to avoid smashing into the far wall. Those who fail the roll take 40 damage and their bikes take 60 damage. and they must immediately make Reflexes rolls against an Easy (10) difficulty to stay mounted, Failure means that they plummet 30 meters to the tunnel floor and take 10D damage (the bikes are destroyed in the collision).
Round Five: Wherever the characters are at this point. one of the thieves' hoverbikes suddenly overheats and explodes. All player characters must make hoverbike piloting rolls against a Difficult (17) difficulty. Failure means they crash into the fiery shrapnel and suffer 8D damage.
The only other element to incorporate into a chase is the distance between the characters involved so that you can determine range (see Chapter Eight: Combat). See the Movement section of Chapter Eight for information on how far characters can move in a given time period. You may want to use a one-inch square sheet of graph paper and 25mm miniatures (or even just coins) to keep track of the distances between the various characters and vehicles taking part in the chase.
Sometimes the characters will become involved in a situation that erupts into violence. The game mechanics needed to run battles appear in the next chapter “Combat.”
During their adventures player characters encounter various allies, enemies, and neutrals who serve to shape the story, establishing the setting or helping or hindering the characters at critical moments. Without these characters, nothing much would happen.
As the GM, you create the game world's population, designing friends, foes, and casual acquaintances for the player characters to meet. GM characters include everyone from major villains to annoying big robots, from stalwart companions to mysterious recluses. And don't forget the less-spectacular characters – the shop owners, bartenders, tavern patrons, spaceport citizens, government officials, and so forth. They're just as important to the story as everyone else.
Don't panic. You don't have to create enough characters to fill the entire universe. You should carefully choose which GM characters play the most pivotal role in your adventure and design them in detail. Then select the less important characters and determine most of their background and personality, and so on until you come down to the nameless characters who need nothing more than a brief mention. You can categorize these characters into lead, supporting, and extra characters.
Without lead characters, an adventure would meander about your game world with no real focus. Lead characters make things happen, but they don't necessarily have to be adversaries of the player characters – they could be allies or even casual acquaintances who can greatly affect the lives of the characters. Since these characters play such an important role in your adventure or campaign, you should fill out a character template or sheet, listing skills, assigning die codes, and recording background and personality notes When you're done you should have a definite grasp of this characters strengths, weaknesses, and ambitions.
Supporting characters usually play a role as seconds to lead characters. assisting them in their efforts to achieve their goal. You don't have to spend as much time creating supporting characters as you do with lead characters. You may want to record their attributes and skills in paragraph stats (see sidebar) and append a few sentences about their backgrounds and personalities, but you don't have to go into as much detail. Just make sure you have enough information to run the character during the adventure.
Extras are the nameless, and sometimes faceless, characters who navigate ice barges, tend bar at local taverns, or battle against enemies in large-scale confrontations. The motives, backgrounds, and personalities of these characters matter little (if at all) in the context of the adventure. They have a specific role, and may serve to help or hinder the player characters. but otherwise they have no bearing on the overall conflict.
You can easily sum up these characters in paragraph stats like this:
10 Guards. All stats 2D except: Coordination 3D, blaster 3D+1, Strength 3D+1; Move 10; Heavy laser pistol (4D+2).
Sometimes, however, you may wish to give these otherwise nondescript characters some particular quirk or unique ability to set them apart from the potentially billions of other beings wandering your game world. Such flourishes make an extra memorable, even if the player characters didn't get his name.
Once you've come up with the overall concept for the character, you should decide on his game statistics. Most of the time, you need only determine a character's attributes and major skills, although major characters often require additional work.
When it comes to assigning skills and attributes, use these guidelines below:
Below human average for an attribute.
Untrained human average for an attribute and many skills.
Average level of training for a human.
Professional level of training for a human.
Above average expertise.
Among the best in a city or geographic area. About 1 in 100,000 people will have training to this skill level.
Among the best on a continent. About 1 in 10,000,000 people will have training to this skill level.
Among the best on a world. About 1 in 100,000,000 people will have training to this skill level.
One of the best in several systems. About 1 in a billion people have a skill at this level.
One of the best in a sector.
One of the best in a region.
Among the best in a galaxy.
Many characters have special abilities, such as superpowers or inherent alien capabilities. Assign these as seem reasonable for a character. Don't overlook out-of-the-ordinary characteristics like cybernetic implants and medical (or inexplicable) alterations in otherwise normal members of a given species. Such abilities could surprise the player characters at exactly the wrong moment!
Cannon-fodder villains, such as army troops, henchmen, and merchants typically have no Character Points or Fate Points. Minor villains, whose survival isn't dependent upon the adventure's plot may have 1-3 Character Points and (usually) no Fate Points.
Continuing villains, such as those who may be used for several adventures or who are subordinate to the main villain may have 4-10 Character Points, and at the GM's discretion, one or two Fate Points. Major villains who might be used over the course of a campaign and are integral to an adventure should have at least 11 Character Points (some characters may have well over 50 Character Points) and many will have at least three Fate Points.
Don't be afraid to disguise your villains every once in a while – when your players are experienced, this is especially important. Instead of putting your major villain right out there where everyone can see (and perhaps shoot at) him, make him more mysterious, For example, through an entire series of adventures the player characters might think that the villain causing all their problems is a wizard named Zaja Lirin. but, when they finally confront Lirin, they find out he was actually being manipulated by someone else even more powerful – like another spellcaster, or the king of a nearby land, or someone else whose identity remains a mystery.
Creatures can either be non-thinking animals (like sharks) or sentient beasts in some way immeasurably different from player characters (like dragons). You can use the following template for recording information about most creatures. If a creature requires additional information, you might wish to instead use a full character sheet.
The creature's orneriness die code represents its resistance to contact with other creatures or characters. See the <creature> riding skill in the Skills chapter for more information.
First, you're going to need an adventure. You can buy one from West End Games, create one yourself, or make one up as you go along (as shown above).
Make sure you're thoroughly familiar with the adventure before you start playing. The players may not proceed through the encounters in the order they appear, so if you read only the first half of the scenario, you could find yourself vigorously flipping through pages trying to figure out what happens next.
You don't have to memorize every detail either, just know the basic plot line and structure of the story. If the players do something unexpected, like killing a major villain who's supposed to participate in the finale of the adventure, you'll need to know what you can do to alter the remainder of the story so that it still comes to a satisfying conclusion.
One way to quicken game play is to create GM character cards. You can either photocopy the section detailing each character or you can write their game information on an index card. As the player character encounter various GM characters, you can pull out their character cards so that you have all of their important information at your fingertips. In this way, you don't have to flip through pages of the adventure looking for a particular character's stats, especially if that character participates in more than one encounter.
This technique works especially well for campaigns where many characters play a recurring role. Also, if you wind up creating new characters on the fly (when the characters momentarily wander away from the scripted adventure), you can quickly jot down their information on an index card so that you have it for later. You never know when the players may decide to return to speak with a particular character. If you haven't kept a record of his game information, you may have to guess - and you could be wrong, thereby shattering the players' suspension of disbelief ("Didn't this guy have blue skin the last time we talked with him?").
Another way to save time during an adventure - and to save you from looking ill-prepared - is to create several "stock" encounters. These short scenes could be anything from a bar brawl to a chance meeting with a squad of stormtroopers checking IDs. When your players decide to go somewhere or do something that you hadn't foreseen - and therefore hadn't written out beforehand - you can use one of your stock encounters to fill in the space while you figure out a way to get the characters back on track with the adventure.
Try to develop ten or more stock encounters that cover a variety of environments. The more you create, the less likely you'll be to get stuck in an adventure because the player characters did something or went somewhere unexpected.
You have several options for starting an adventure. The most common is the mission briefing introduction (especially if the characters are agents of some kind of organization, government-sponsored or otherwise). The characters, who may or may not know each other, have been assembled by their superior for a meeting on their upcoming assignment. The superior gives them an objective, provides them with the resources they'll need to accomplish that goal, and answers whatever questions he can.
While this standard starting format works in most situations, it can also get boring, especially since not much happens during this encounter. The characters just sit around discussing the mission, Nothing really starts to happen until they get on their way.
Another way to throw characters into the midst of the action is to start the game in media res. The player character literally begin play in the middle of an explosive or suspenseful event. Maybe their ship experiences a technical problem and the characters have to fix it before it careers into a planet. Such an adventure could start thusly:
Gamemaster: "Okay, everyone ready to play?"
The Group: "Sure."
Gamemaster: "All right. You make your last course correction to bring the starship into a landing vector - and then suddenly something explodes at the back of the ship. You begin to lose attitude control and start plummeting toward the surface! What are you going to do?"
Such fast starts put the players immediately on their toes, thrusting them into the middle of the game before they even know it. Once they've dealt with their immediate problem, they're thoroughly enmeshed in the story.
Again, be careful with this technique. Some players may not like it, some may love it. Choose the one that works best for your group. And above all, vary your adventure beginnings. Nothing puts players to sleep more quickly than an introduction that exactly mirrors the last five.
You've successfully brought the player characters into the adventure. Now you have to keep them focused and enthralled with the plot. If you see their eyes start to wander, or they fall into a conversation about the last game (or worse, what the watched on television last night), you know something's gone wrong. This section should help you maintain an involving story and a sense of "really being there."
The D6 System relies on fast-paced, cinematic adventures where action often takes center stage. Your job as GM is to fluctuate the pace of the scenario -speeding up during the exciting parts and slowing down afterward to give the characters (and the players!) some time to breath. Don't get bogged down in details (unless you and your group want to, of course): sacrificing some realism allows you to keep the game moving (and thereby, keep your players' interest focused on their characters' situation).
If during an adventure, the players do something unexpected (which you should expect!), don't let them know it. Just make up the part of the story that you haven't yet created, You have to rely on your judgment and imagination to continue the game without ruining the players' “suspension of disbelief.”
Your first job is to vividly depict the scene unfolding before the player characters. Where are they? Who else is there? What's happening? These are the questions you must answer immediately.
Most published adventures contain 'read aloud sections' at the beginning of each encounter. To set up the scene you can just read out loud or paraphrase the text. At that point the players usually either ask you questions about their surroundings (“How many dragons do we see?”) or tell you their reaction to the situation (“I blast 'em with my stave of fire!”).
The key here is to engage the players' senses, just like a good movie, novel, or television show. Try to use evocative words to give the players a clear and
vivid view of their characters' environment. The best way to learn how to provide such life-like descriptions is to picture the scene in your mind and do whatever you can to convey that same scene to your players. You may incorporate movie or television footage you've taped, maps and diagrams you copied out of
library books, or even illustrations you've drawn yourself. Sound effects CDs especially can help you set the stage for the characters.
Just remember that your players have five senses. Don't just rely on the sense of sight. Describe what your characters hear, smell, touch, and (sometimes) taste. The following example engages several senses:
Gamemaster: "The ship's landing ramp touches down on the soggy ground with a Squish, and the thick, musty smell of the swamp-forest immediately sweeps up and into the access corridor you're standing in. From outside you can hear the screeching chirps of local creatures as well as a strange, slow slurping sound. The humidity settles against your skin like a blanket of moisture as you head down the ramp. The gangly gray trees scattered in small stands about the ship reach upward into the mist, and you get the distinct feeling that something up there is looking down on you."
Other than the setting, the player characters will also encounter other people who live in the game world. Your job is to make sure that these GM characters appear real to the players. Their words and actions must seem appropriate in the context of their histories, personalities, and ambitions. If a stoic military officer suddenly took off his helmet and started joking around, the players would probably just stare at you for a minute as the game comes crashing to a halt.
Play each character to the best of his ability. Make sure he does everything in his power to achieve his goals, whether he's trying to thwart the player characters or earn a load of gold coins. This does not mean that every GM character should act overtly. Part of his goal may be to achieve his objective undetected, or to make it look like someone else was responsible. Rather, the idea is that the GM character should use all of his resources-his skills, allies, finances, etc, to accomplish his immediate as well as his long-term goals.
Use settings that evoke a sense of wonder. You could create a community situated amid dozens of cascades and waterfalls, or a crimelord's fortress suspended above the ground by massive antigrav engines, or a spaceport built into the cliffs of an ancient series of canyons.
Try to make each place the player characters visit seem different than the others. By doing this, you can make these sights engaging and memorable for the players.
Another way to keep the players enraptured in the story is to give them a deadline. They have only four hours to rescue slaves headed for an unknown location in the dangerous Jungles of Zhadoom. Or maybe the CIA needs to warn a remote outpost before the Russians arrive to destroy it, but satellite communications are down. Or one of the player characters may have contracted a fatal disease that can only be cured by a certain shaman living somewhere in the alternate dimension called Khaja-Ree, the Timeless Sea.
When the players know they have only a limited time to accomplish their objective, they don't waste time meandering about the game world, which is usually when they get bored with the adventure. You can even enforce a real-time deadline. You give the characters four hours of real (as opposed to game) time to achieve their goal. Then, throughout the adventure, you keep reminding them about the time constraint (or you could even put a big clock in the middle of the table so they can see it themselves). When you get down to the last hour, just watch them do everything in their power to help you move the story along!
One of the best ways to engage the players is to provide them with a personal stake in the outcome of the adventure. Maybe one of their siblings has been captured by a necromancer, or a crimelord has sent bounty hunters after them, or their homeland's government mistakenly believes they have become traitors.
The characters need to deal with these situations, although the whole adventure need not focus on that storyline. While the characters perform a supply run for their benefactor, for example, they could receive word that the pilot's father has been taken in for questioning on his home world. Between accomplishing their mission and returning to base, the characters could travel to the pilot's planet to find out what's going on and to extricate his father from the (apparently) unwarranted incarceration.
Every once in while you should ask to see the players' character sheets. Look for background information and personality traits that might lend themselves to a personal stake. If a player has written that his character is extremely competitive, for example, you could create a rival group that seeks to outdo the player characters at every turn. The players will do everything in their power to make sure their characters succeed more often and more quickly than the newcomers.
Don't constantly force your players to follow along the prescribed path of the adventure. They may have devised an alternate scheme for success not covered by the scenario, and you shouldn't penalize them for their creativity. Instead you'll have to use your judgment to run the remainder of the adventure. If the players feel that they never have a choice, that you have predetermined what their characters will do and say - and therefore, how the adventure will turn out - they're not going to have any interest in playing. Part of the fun of a roleplaying game is the almost unlimited possible reactions to any given situation. Take that away and you've lost much of the reason for participating in this type of game.
Sometimes the characters will have only a few choices -- or at least, a few obvious choices - and that's fine if it makes logical sense in the context of the scenario and doesn't seem like an attempt by you as the GM to dictate their characters' paths.
Reward creativity. Give the players a reason to exercise their brains. The more freedom they believe they have, the more they'll enjoy the adventure. When their characters make a mistake, they have no one else to blame it on, and when their characters succeed, they feel a genuine sense of accomplishment.
If the players can correctly guess the conclusion of an adventure while they're progressing through the first encounter. the ensuing encounters won't provide as much excitement as they should.
This is where the subtle art of misdirection comes in. The goal here is to keep the players (and their characters) guessing and revising those guesses through the whole adventure. You can do this in small ways: make die rolls, smile for a moment, and then don't say anything about it: have the characters roll Perception checks, ask for their totals, and then just continue with the encounter: ask a player for detailed information on how her character is going to close a door ("Which hand are you using? "Do you have a weapon in your hand?"), but then have the portal close uneventfully.
You also have the option of throwing in major red herrings. If a GM character starts tracking the characters, the players will immediately attempt to mesh this new person's presence with the rest of the adventure. In reality, however, he's just a common thief looking for an easy mark, or he thinks that one of the characters looks familiar but doesn't want to say anything until he's sure he's not mistaking that character for someone else.
A player character could receive a death threat from a large criminal organization operating in the sector. Unfortunately, the message was delivered to the wrong person, and the crimelord has no interest in him or his companions. Of course, you won't let them know that.
The most important part of a roleplaying game is the story. Don't let the rules get in the way. If a flubbed die roll would normally indicate that the main villain dies a few minutes into the adventure, fudge the roll. Say he just barely escaped. For this reason you should try to make all of your rolls behind a GM screen or hidden from the players by some other object (like your hands).
If the players make a roll that would destroy the scenario, or would make it less exciting, you can fudge the difficulty number. For example, you've set up a situation where the characters must pursue a fleeing bounty out onto enormous struts suspended high above a concrete floor. One player decides that her character will just turn off the lights and wait for their quarry to fall. You hadn't thought of that possibility when you designed your adventure (or it wasn't addressed in the adventure you bought). and there's no reason the character can't attempt such a feat. You tell her to make a security (or other appropriate skill) roll to bypass the computer lockout on the lighting system. She rolls high, and even though it's enough to accomplish the task, you tell her that her character just missed it. Now the player character will have to risk their lives balancing on the struts to apprehend the bounty.
Don't go overboard with this technique. If the players suspect that you've been altering die rolls and difficulties, they'll start to lose interest because it will seem that their free will has been taken away. You
should fudge rules only at critical moments and you should always be fair, giving the benefit sometimes to the GM characters and sometimes to the player characters.
During an adventure you're in charge. Don't get into an elaborate discussion about the nuances of the game rules or of one of your decisions. You can always discuss rules questions or arguments with the players after the game (see the Getting Feedback section below).
While this general guideline provides you with a great deal of power, it also hefts on you the responsibility of using that power wisely. You have to be fair. If a referee in a ball game started randomly penalizing one team, the other team would get extremely frustrated and eventually quit once it becomes obvious that there's no point in continuing.
While you take the role of the villains in the adventures you run, do not think of yourself as the opponent of the players. Your job is to make sure the players have a good time, not to beat them. While you should try to provide the players' characters with a challenge, you shouldn't try to devise an unbeatable adventure.
Then again, if the players do something stupid, you shouldn't coddle them. The first time they make a particular mistake you may want to alert them and reduce the damage it would have caused, but the second time you should adjudicate the error fairly.
Tread carefully on this aspect of gamemastering. It's easy to fall one way or the other. Just remember that you're all playing this game to have fun.
The player characters will stray from your adventure. Expect it - but don't worry about it. If you've taken your time to prepare the scenario as indicated above, you shouldn't have a problem getting things back on track without alerting the players to their roundabout way of proceeding through the adventure.
In fact. some GM's come to enjoy the opportunity to run the game on the fly. You need a good imagination and a good understanding of the adventure to improvise encounters, but the more you do it, the better you'll get.
When the character first meander away from the plot, go in the direction the players are heading. Start making up things off the top of your head, throwing as much color and flash around as you can. If you need a couple of minutes to figure out how to get the players back into the story, call for a break.
The ability to improvise is extremely important because it allows you to maintain the players' illusion of free will. They have to believe that they can choose their own path, instead of being forced to do exactly what the GM wants them to do - this is a game, and in games players get to make choices about their actions. Players hate being forced to do something!
Of course, you are always free to throw complications at the players. If they have chosen to go in an unexpected direction, you can pull out a character card or a stock encounter (or make one up on the spur of the moment) and let them deal with that situation while you figure out how to bring them back into the plot.
Sometimes, through no fault of the players or your own, the adventure dies. The characters don't know how to proceed and the players completely lose interest. The best way to handle such a situation is to make something happen. A brawl breaks out, or a nearby GM character gets dragged off by a band of ruffians, or the lights suddenly go out, or the character's ship suddenly experiences a malfunction that will send it into the closest star, and so on. Get the players excited. Put their characters' lives in danger. Make them worry about how the encounter will turn out.
Above all, stay relaxed. This is a game, not a test of how well you can gamemaster. Everyone is playing to have fun, so Just do your best and enjoy yourself.
Sometimes characters need to fail. If they roll poorly, or are simply outclassed, or most importantly, if they play poorly, their characters will lose.
On the other hand, with each defeat the characters (and players) should learn something. They may learn a better way to approach a situation, or they may stumble upon a tool or gadget that will help them in the future. It should take perseverance and dedication, but learning from mistakes will eventually lead to success.
Adventures can last a single night or can span several game sessions. At the end of a scenario (or the end of the game session), you may wish to distribute rewards.
Make sure that that the characters receive for their actions matches what they went through during the adventure.
Characters may be awarded money, equipment, and weapons for their activities. They may also make contacts with an important GM character – someone who can help them in a future adventure.
Characters also receive Character Points and Fate Points at the end of adventures, which can be used to increase skills or can be saved for later adventures.
As a general rule, a character should receive 3-15 Character Points and 1-2 Fate Points for each adventure. The award depends upon several factors:
· Did the Player Accomplish the Adventure Goal? Give characters one Fate Point for succeeding in their mission.
· How Well The Characters (and Players) Did. This reward represents how the group did as a whole. If the players solved puzzles, came up with ingenious solutions, and made sure everyone involved had fun, give them six to eight Character Points: if the players did poorly, give them only three or four Character Points.
· How Well Each Individual Player Did. If certain players were very clever or went out of their way to make the game fun, give her an extra Fate Point.
· Whether They Cooperated. If the players worked well as a team, give each of them two to four extra Character Points.
· Did They Play In Character? If a player roleplayed his character well, give him three or four Character Points.
· Did All Of You Have Fun? If all of you (yes, this includes the GM) had a good time, give the players as many as three or four extra Character Points.
Adventures can have greatly varying length. These award guidelines are for an average adventure spanning two nights of gaming, or four or five fairly long episodes. If an adventure runs over several sessions, the GM may want to give partial awards during the adventure so the players don't go too long without getting anything to show for their efforts. Final Character and Fate Point awards should be correspondingly increased to reflect the length of the adventure.
On the other hand, if playing one- or two-episode quick adventures, you should decrease the numbers of Character Point the characters receive.
Other rewards, such as money, magical items, or other material objects, are given at your discretion. Again, try not to be too lavish in giving out stuff – your characters need something to work for later. In the movies, rewards of friendship, honor, and camaraderie were more important than money or equipment. Of course, a cash advance now and then doesn't hurt...
If an adventure will continue over a few game sessions you may want to end each night on a cliffhanger so that the players will look forward to the next part of the scenario. At first they may resist such a tactic, but after a few cliffhangers they'll come to enjoy and expect it. Think of it as throwing up a "to be continued" line at the end of the night's episode.
For example, the player characters race across the country to stop a rogue agent from betraying the CIA. Just as they rush into the room where the traitor is supposed to make the exchange, a dozen enemy soldiers appear from hidden alcoves and point submachineguns at the characters. The misguided agent turns and says, "What took you so long?" and the session ends.
Don't even let the players ask any questions about the scene. Just tell them they'll have to wait until next time.
Sometimes an adventure doesn't thrill the players like you expected it to when you were first reading or creating it. As you run a scenario you should pay attention to the players' reactions to the various scenes. Did they stand up and all try to talk at once during the chase? Did they go comatose when they reached the puzzle-solving encounter?
The players words and actions can convey a great deal of information about which parts of the adventure they enjoyed and which parts put them to sleep.
You also have to gauge their reactions to your judgment calls and improvisation. Don't take any negative responses as criticism. It takes a lot of work to plan and run a game, and you can't always please everyone no matter what you do. Instead, view player reactions and comments as hints as to what you can do in the next adventure that will keep them on the edge of their seats.
The best way to confront such a problem is to ask the players what they did and didn't like. You could even have them write you an anonymous note with a list of their favorite and least favorite scenes. Just don't forget to listen to what your players have to say. They may want to take the game in a different direction than you do. Compromise. Make sure you and your players have fun. If not either you or your players will eventually give up and find something else to do during those precious spare moments.
Sometimes characters get into situations where they have no choice but to engage in combat with their adversaries. Since the fate of the characters on both sides of the conflict lies in the balance during these kinds of encounters, it's important to have a well-defined system for determining the effects of attacks.
Characters may attempt any action during a battle, from firing a gun (as long as he has one) to knocking his opponent over to running away. The combatants may die in such encounters, depending on how much damage they give and receive.
Read through the following transcript of a typical game session where the characters have just come into conflict with their adversaries. Don't worry about the dice rolls for now; the rest of this chapter explains all combat-related mechanics in detail.
GM: Okay. we're in combat rounds now. Everyone make a Reflexes roll. (All players and the GM roll their dice.) Anyone roll higher than 20?
Brian: Yeah. I rolled a 23!
GM: All right, what do you want to do?
Brian: Ah, that depends. What are the mercenaries doing?
GM: Two of them are running across the docking bay toward you and the other two are setting up some kind of large, tripod-mounted weapon near the entrance, which is about fifteen meters away from you.
Brian: Hmm...I'll fire my blaster at one of the two with the heavy weapon. (Checks the range of his blaster and then rolls his character's blaster dice). Let's see. I got an 11.
GM: That's a hit! Okay, roll damage.
Brian: (Checks his blaster's damage die code and then rolls five dice.) I rolled a total of 16.
GM: (Rolls Endurance dice for the merc.) I rolled a 12 to resist. so the damage was higher than the trooper's Endurance roll but less than double, which translates to one wound. Your blaster shot hits the merc in the shoulder, but other than a black mark on his plasteel, he seems all right. Okay, anyone make a Reflexes roll of 15 or higher?
Tim & Tom (Simultaneously): I did!
Tim: I got a 16.
Tom: I rolled a 15.
GM: Okay, Tim rolled higher, so he goes first.
Tim: I'm going to take two shots, one at each of the mercs running toward us.
GM: You're going to lose 1D from each shot since you're taking more than one action.
Tim: No problem. I've got 7D+1 in blaster anyway. How far away are they at this point?
GM: About 10 meters.
Tim: (Checks his blaster's range and rolls his dice.) Hmm...well. I only rolled a 6 on my first shot.
GM: That's a miss.
Tim: I figured. Okay, on my second shot I rolled a 13.
GM: Hit! Roll damage.
Tim: (Checks blaster's damage dice and rolls.) That's a total of ...19.
GM: (Rolls the merc's Endurance.) I rolled a 4. Your damage roll is three times higher than his Endurance roll! That's three wounds! You blast him square in the chest and he goes flying backward about two meters. Okay, Tom. it's your turn.
Tom: Is that heavy weapon almost mounted?
GM: Yeah, and it looks like they're about to fire it.
Tom: Okay, then I'm going to take two actions. First I'm going to shoot at one of the troopers with my blaster rifle, and them I'm going to dodge out of the way.
GM: Okay, you lose 1D from each action since you're taking two.
Tom: (Checks his range and rolls his blaster dice.) I rolled a 6 on the wild die! (Rolls the wild die again.) All right, that's a total of 21!
GM: You nailed him! Roll damage.
Tom: (Rolls his blaster rifle's damage dice.) I rolled an 18.
GM: (Rolls the merc's Endurance dice.) Whoops! I rolled a 1 on the wild die. That leaves a total of 2. Well, you rolled ten times higher, so that's ten wounds! Your blaster bolt catches him right in the helmet and he's thrown backward into the wall. Okay, now make your dodge roll.
Tom: (Rolls his dodge dice.) Well, I rolled a 13, but something tells me that's not going to be high enough, so I'm going to spend a Character Point.
GM: Okay, roll another die and add it.
Tom: (Rolls one more die.) I rolled a 5, so that's a total of 18. I'll stick with that.
GM: You don't want to spend another Character Point?
Tom: Why? Do you think I should?
GM: (laughing) No. I was just making sure. Okay, the mercs rolled a 12 for Reflexes, so they get to go now. The one rushing toward you fires his blaster rifle. (Checks range and then rolls the mercenary's blaster dice.) He rolled a 12, so he hits Dobos (Tim's character.) Tim, make your Endurance roll. (Rolls damage.)
Tim: Okay. (Rolls his Endurance dice.) I got a 9.
GM: I rolled a 14 damage, so that's higher than your roll, but less than two times higher. That means Dobos takes one wound.
Tim: Oh, man! That's two wounds I've taken so far - I'm not going to last much longer.
GM: Okay, the trooper with the heavy blaster fires at Mek (Tom's character). (Checks range and rolls dice.) That's a 17.
Tom: I rolled an 18 for my dodge this round. Good thing I spent that Character Point!
GM: That's right, so the merc's blaster bolt lances straight toward you and you just barely manage to jump out of the way. Okay, so everyone has taken their actions for this round. Round two begins now. Everyone make Reflexes rolls...
Now you have a basic feel for the way combat works in a roleplaying game. The battle we just witnessed used the wound damage system and the combat rounds sequence (which we'll discuss momentarily).
The next sections cover the mechanics for running game battles and provide some solitaire simulations so you can get the hang of it by actually working through some short combat scenes.
Most roleplaying games break down time during combat encounters into smaller units, typically minutes or seconds. since the timing of every traded blow counts The D6 System offers three ways to run battles. all of which use seconds as the main unit of time.
Combat and chaos sometimes go hand-in-hand. Everything is happening at once, and it's hard to tell what's going on. The simultaneous combat method captures this feel of actions occurring at the same time.
Everyone involved in the battle acts at once, determines the effects of their actions, discovers what actions performed by others affected them, and then (hopefully) gets ready to act again.
Simultaneous combats work on five-second units of time called rounds. Each round, all the characters involved in the battle may take one or more actions – including doing nothing. This is the simplest method for running a combat encounter, primarily because it requires less dice rolling and less accuracy in general.
When player or gamemaster characters initiate a combat, switch to the five-second round structure. You and one of the players each roll 1D. The side with the highest die roll goes first (re-roll any ties); each character on the winning side makes all of his actions before the losing side gets to take its turn. If you (as gamemaster) roll the higher score, all the gamemaster characters take their actions before any or the players (in whatever order you would like).
When the player characters get their turn allow each player to take an action, and then move to the next player. Try to vary the order in which the players get to do something so that no one is always last.
Note that each characters action occurs regardless of whether or not he survives the round. If a character dies before the player controlling him has made his dice rolls, he still gets to perform his actions. At the end of the round, however, he dies and cannot engage in the next combat round (barring the application of healing techniques).
1. One player and the gamemaster roll 1D.
2. All characters on the side with the higher roll to take their actions.
3. All characters on the side with the lower roll to take their actions.
1. Determine the number of actions you will take.
2. Subtract dice for multiple actions.
3. Roll all attacks and resolve damage suffered (see Attack and Defense sidebars).
The only difference between simultaneous combat and initiative rounds is the order in which characters take their actions. Rather than all characters on one side going at once, followed by all the characters on the other side, this method allows player and gamemaster characters to alternate actions depending on individual dice rolls.
Once combat has been declared (i.e., one character assaults another), every character involved must make a Reflexes roll (the gamemaster may make one roll for each type of gamemaster character; e.g. one roll for all the mercs and another roll for all the pilots) The character with the highest roll may take his action first. The character with the second highest roll then takes her action, and then the third, and so on, until the last character performs his action, at which point the round ends and a new one begins.
Note that player character and gamemaster character actions are intermingled, adding more realism to the combat.
Characters killed during a round cannot take any actions for that round if they have not done so already (as opposed to the simultaneous combat described above).
1. All gamemaster and player characters make a Reflexes roll
2. The character with the highest value goes first
3. The character with the next highest value goes next, and so on...
1. Make a Reflexes roll
2. Determine the number of actions you will take
3. Subtract dice for multiple actions
4. Roll attack and resolve damage for each attacker in order
Note: Steps 4 and 5 may be reversed.
By far the most detailed of the three, continuous combat allows you to run more intricate, more accurate, and more realistic battles. Unfortunately, to do so requires more record-keeping during the combat sequence on the part of you and the players.
Unlike the previous combat methods, continuous combat uses intervals of one second, although one complete combat round consists of five seconds. Like when running initiative rounds, all characters (player and gamemaster) make Reflexes rolls at the beginning of each round. This time, however, refer to the Continuous Combat Initiative Determination to determine on which second (out of the five-second round) each character takes his action.
Now call out the first second of the round by saying “one”. At this point every character may make one-fifth of his movement (his total movement divided by five), and any characters who are allowed to make their action on the first second of the round may either do something or hold their actions until the next second.
Once all the characters whose Reflexes rolls were 26 or better perform their actions (i.e., those allowed to take their actions in the first second of the round), call out the next second by saying "two". All characters may move one-fifth of their movement again, and any characters who generated a Reflexes roll of 21-25 may take their actions (as well as any characters who rolled a 26 or better but held their action). Continue this sequence until you complete the fifth second of the five-second round, and then start over.
If more than one character takes an action at the same time (in the same combat second), treat the exchange like a simultaneous combat. Both may take their actions regardless of whether one or the other is killed. A character who dies, however, may not take any actions after this second.
1. All gamemaster and player characters make a Reflexes roll
2. The gamemaster calls out the current second of the round (starting at one)
3. All characters may move one-fifth of their movement
4. Characters who may take an action in this second do so now
5. Add one to the current second and then go back to step 2 (after five seconds, the round ends).
Reflexes Roll Action Taken on Second...
1. Make a Reflexes roll
2. Refer to the Continuous Combat Initiative Determination chart to determine which second the character may take an action
3. Move one-fifth of movement during each second of the round
4. Determine the number of actions you will take
5. Subtract dice for multiple actions
6. Perform action(s) on the second indicated by the Continuous Combat Initiative Determination chart
Note: Step 3 occurs during every second of the round, while steps 4 through 6 occur only on the second designated by the character's Reflexes roll.
Note: Each entry (other than movement – see below) counts as one action.
· Bash: Hit an opponent with a blunt weapon.
· Cast A Spell: Initiate an incantation.
· Charge: Rush at an opponent. The attacker gains a bonus of +1D to damage when using a melee weapon (sword, club, fist, etc).
· Disarm: Remove an object from an opponent's hand. This action is treated as a called shot.
· Dodge: Evade an attack.
· Grab: Latch onto an opponent.
· Grapple: Overcome your opponent by attacking him with your body. Once grappled, the opponent can do nothing other than attempt to break the attacker's grip. (Both make Strength rolls, which count as actions. If the defender wins, he escapes the hold.)
· Headbutt: Slam your forehead into your opponent.
· Kick: Thrust your leg forward and...well, this one should be self-explanatory.
· Leap: Jump over an opponent or onto a table, or any such maneuver.
· Lunge: Stab forward with a pointed weapon, like a sword or a knife.
· Move: Maneuver around the area up to the character's move value.
· Parry: Block an opponent's blow with a similar weapon (flesh vs. flesh, sword vs. sword, etc).
· Pin: Pin an opponent by either holding him to the ground or “tacking” a piece of his clothing to a wall or other nearby object. This action is treated as a called shot.
· Punch: This is another self-explanatory one.
· Push: Forcibly move an opponent. The opponent loses 2D from his next Reflexes (or Reflexes-based skill) roll, but takes no damage.
· Ready a Weapon: Draw a gun, unsheathe a sword, reload a rifle, etc.
· Shoot: Fire a weapon like a pistol, rifle, blowgun, bow, blaster, etc.
· Slash: Swing an edged weapon (like a sword or a knife).
· Trip: Send an opponent head over heels by quickly forcing one or both legs upward. This action is treated as a called shot. The opponent loses 2D from his next Reflexes (or Reflexes-based skill) roll must spend one action to stand up again.
· Use a Skill: Perform an action related to a skill your character possesses, like starling a fire, picking a lock, climbing a rope, etc.
· Vehicle Maneuver: Perform a stunt in a moving vehicle.
On your turn (as player or gamemaster) you may choose to take more than one action. The more you attempt to do. however. the less care and concentration you can apply to each action, making it harder for you to succeed at all of them. This increased difficulty is reflected in game mechanics by subtracting 1D from all skill attempts for each action beyond the first. For example, if you wanted your space smuggler character to cross four lanes of traffic (a vehicle maneuver) while shooting his blaster out the window (an attack), he would lose 1D (for taking one extra action) from his skill dice for both actions when rolling for success.
Example: Brian Williams, an undercover CIA agent, spots his target leaping across to a neighboring rooftop. Realizing he doesn't have much time, Brian decides he has to draw his pistol and fire immediately – and he thinks he'd be better off shooting twice, just in case. Since he's taking three actions (drawing his weapon and then firing twice), he must subtract 2D from each skill attempt. Luckily, drawing a weapon does not require a skill roll anyway, so he only loses the 2D from his two marksmanship rolls. Since his marksmanship die code is 5D+1, he makes both actions at 3D+1 (not counting range and other situational penalties).
Characters may walk up to their Move value in meters every round. For example, a character with a Move of 12 can walk 12 meters in any direction during a five-second combat round. To move any faster requires a Reflexes roll against a difficulty determined by the number of extra “movements” (one movement is equal to the character's Move value; two movements is equal to two times the character's Move, and so on). Each extra movement adds 10 to the difficulty. For example, a bounty hunter wants to capture a bandit before the thief leaps onto a moving train in a few seconds. Since the bandit is about 25 meters away and the bounty hunter's Move is 10, there's no way the character can reach his quarry within five seconds. The player therefore decides to have the bounty hunter make two and a half extra movements. The first 10 meters is free (it's a normal move, not an extra one), but the next 15-meter distance yields a total Difficulty of 20 (10 for the first extra move of 10 meters, and another 10 for the second extra move of 5 meters). If the bounty hunter's Move had been 20, he would have needed to make only one extra movement and therefore would have had a total difficulty of 10.
You may also wish to increase movement difficulty depending upon the type of terrain. A character running through a warehouse crowded with stacks of boxes would have more trouble than if he were running across an open plain.
Note that a character making extra moves also incurs a multiple action penalty of 1D per extra movement. If a character fails his Reflexes roll for his extra movements, he moves only his normal value. (If using the continuous combat option. characters make their movement rolls at the beginning of the round so that the players know how far each character can move during each second).
At the heart of any combat are simple attacks and defenses. Using anything from a fist to a knife to a machine-gun, one character attempts to injure another in an effort to knock out or kill him.
We need two rolls for each attack, one to determine whether the attacker succeeds in hitting his target, and another to determine how much damage the defending character suffers.
1. Add or subtract Offense Modifiers.
2. Roll attack dice.
3. Compare to attack difficulty.
4. If hit, roll damage.
5. Compare damage roll to defender's Endurance roll.
1. Declare dodge, parry, or no defense.
2. If dodge, add Dodge Modifiers.
3. Roll dodge or parry dice.
4. Compare attack difficulty to attackers weapon skill roll.
5. If hit, roll Endurance
6. Subtract Endurance total from attackers damage roll.
7. Record damage on character sheet.
To put it simply, an attacker must generate a skill total of at least 10 to successfully hit a defending character. Just roll your brawling, sword, or archery (or the appropriate skill for whatever weapon you're using) dice, add them up, and see whether you rolled a 10 or more.
Example: A space pirate with a laser pistol skill of 4D+1 fires at a customs official. He rolls his laser pistol dice and gets 14 (2,4,5,2 plus 1 pip) which is greater than 10, indicating that he succeeded in hitting the official.
Sometimes the situation dictates an added or reduced difficulty to succeed in the attack. Refer to the Offense and Defense Options sidebars for examples. As gamemaster, however, you always make the final decision on what numerical effects a given situation incurs.
The other way to change the value needed to hit a character involves the use of dodges and parries.
If a character dodges (which counts as an action), he rolls his Dodge skill dice. The generated value replaces the 10 as the base attack difficulty. A defender can dodge any type of weapon (melee or missile).
Example: A space pirate decides to dodge out of the way of the merc's return fire. He rolls his dodge skill of 3D+2, and generates a 16, which becomes the new attack difficulty the mercenary must beat to score a successful hit on the space pirate.
Example: Later in the combat, the space pirate dodges again, but winds up with a total dodge roll of only 7. Since the value he generated is less than 10 (the base difficulty), the attack difficulty is lower than it would have been if he had not dodged at all! (hence the risk involved in trying to anticipate an opponent's attacks).
It may seem unrealistic to allow a character to dodge out of the way of a bullet traveling at mach speed or a laser bolt traveling at the speed of light. Do not think about a dodge this way. A character who is dodging is anticipating the location of his attackers aim (before the attack is made), and is doing all he can to maneuver himself out of that area. Sometimes, however, the defender guesses incorrectly, and therefore becomes easier to hit (represented in the game by making a dodge roll that is less than the normal value needed for a successful attack). But most times, he leaps out of the way scant milliseconds before his opponent launches an attack.
Only melee weapons (fist, clubs, swords, etc.) can be parried; missile weapons (guns, arrows, blowgun darts, etc.) cannot (unless otherwise indicated by the specific game world). To parry (also treated as an action), the defender rolls his dice in whichever skill (which must be a melee weapon skill) he uses to defend the blow (e.g., attackers brawling vs defenders brawling, or attackers sword vs defenders knife). If the attacker generates the higher number, he slips past the defender's parry and scores a successful hit. If the defender generates the higher total, he manages to block the blow launched by the attacker. Note that like dodges, the parry becomes the new attack difficulty regardless of the total generated, even if it is less than 10 (the base difficulty to hit a character).
Example: Uth, an enormous barbarian from the Northern Region, swings his club at Sir Gavin Valarian. Gavin parries the blow with his Sword, using his fencing skill. Uth generates an attack roll of 12, but Gavin generates a total of 13, barely deflecting the club before it smashes into his skull.
To determine the location where a character was hit, consult the following chart.
of Attack Roll Body Location
0 Right Hand
1 Left Hand
2 Right Leg
3 Left Leg
4 Right Foot
5 Left Foot
Example: Agent Brian Williams rolls his attack dice and ends up with a total of 14, a successful hit. The GM then checks the Hit Location Chart, looks up the one's digit. – in this case a 4 – and determines that Williams hit his opponent in the right foot.
Each weapon has a listing for its short, medium, and long ranges. Anything closer than short range is considered to be point-blank and has a -10 modifier. Short range attacks incur no penalties. For medium-range attacks, the attacker loses 1D from his attack roll, and for 1ong range attacks, he loses 2D.
Some weapons require more time to use than others. If you would like to take this speed difference into account, and thereby add more realism to your combat encounters, apply the speed value of a characters weapon to his initiative Reflexes roll.
Example: A mercenary with a Reflexes roll of 3D decides to fire a blaster rifle (speed -1D) during a combat round. When generating his initiative total for that round, he rolls 2D rather than 3D (Reflexes of 3D - 1D for speed).
Option Defense Total Modifier
25% Cover +5
50% Cover +10
75% Cover +15
Full Darkness +15
Note: These modifiers do not apply to parries.
Option Attack Dice Modifier
Point-Blank Range +1D
Short Range –
Medium Range -1D
Long Range -2D
Called Shot -2D
A wound represents anything from a bruise to a deep laceration to a broken arm.
For each wound a character suffers. roll 20 and consult the chart below to determine "'hat type of injury he suffers.
Die Roll Damage Type
4-5 Deep Bruise
10 Internal Wound
11 Broken Bone
Characters can protect themselves from damage by wearing gear that either shields them from or absorbs attacks. The armor value of such equipment is added to the character's Endurance when resisting damage.
Example: Sir Gavin Valarian strides into the battle ring wearing an expensive suit of chain mail armor (Armor Value: 1D+1 vs. edged and pointed weapons; +2 vs. blunt weapons). His opponent bashes him in the side with a mace for a total of 17 damage. Gavin makes all Endurance roll (his armor adds +2 for the blunt-weapon attack) to resist. In the same round, his opponent also slashes at him with a large knife. This time, Gavin adds 1D+1 to his Endurance roll since the attack came from an edged weapon.
All characters and vehicles have a scale code that represents its mass relative to the mass of other objects. Characters have a scale code 0, but a tank may have a scale code of 4D, and a starship a scale code of 9D.
Whenever objects of a different mass size attack each other, find the difference between their scale codes. A character fighting a tank would have a scale code difference of 4D (4D - 0 = 4D). The smaller of these two objects gains that difference in scale code dice as a bonus to hit the bigger object, while the bigger object loses that difference to hit the smaller object.
Example: A starship (scale code of 9D) fires its blaster cannon (scale code of4D) at a small orbital space station (scale code of 10D). First we find the difference in scale code by subtracting the blaster cannon scale code of 4D (notice we're not using the starship's scale code: that is used only when it is on the defending side of an attack) from the space station's scale code of 10D. The resulting die code of 6D (10D - 4D) is then added to the blaster cannon's gunner's starship gunnery skill roll (remember, hitting the broad side of a barn is a lot easier than hitting a candle wick, all other factors being equal).
Every weapon (either portable or mounted on a vehicle) has a scale code that represents the level of damage it can cause. For example, a shell from a tank inflicts much more damage than a bullet from a pistol. Most character-scale weapons have a scale code of 0, whereas a tank's main gun may have a scale code of 3D (notice that the tank therefore has two scale codes associated with it 4D for its mass. and 3D for it's gun: if it had another gun it could potentially have three different scale codes).
When calculating damage between two objects of different scale codes, find the difference of their scale codes. Continuing with our character versus tank example, the difference would be 3D (3D - 0 = 3D). The bigger of the two objects gains that number of dice as a bonus to damage and to resist damage caused by the smaller object.
Example: Continuing from our last example, we now need to determine the effects of scale on the damage inflicted on the space station by the blaster cannon (we're assuming the attack was successful, of course). The 6D of scale difference (10D - 4D, for the last example) is added to the space station's body strength when rolling to resist the blaster cannon's damage (remember, hitting all elephant with a toothpick isn't going to do much damage).
Weapon Damage Range Speed Ammo
Blaster 4D 5/10/40 -2 20
Blaster rifle 5D 10/25/60 -1D 20
Fist Strength – 0 –
Certain weapons (like grenades) and magical effects (like fireballs) affect an entire area rather than just a single character. Check the blast radius value of the explosive or incendiary device to determine how far the damage spreads outward from the point of impact. The value is expressed as a series of numbers separated by slashes (similar to the range value).
Example: Grenade - Blast Radius 2/4/5
Characters standing within the range determined by the first value (i.e they are a number of feet away from the impact point equal to or less than the value) suffer the full damage of the weapon. Characters within the second range (greater than the first value and equal to or less than the second value) suffer half of the damage, and characters within the third range (greater than the second value and equal to or less than the third value) suffer only one-quarter of the damage.
Example: A soldier lobs a grenade into a group of five enemy commandos. The detonator explodes for a total damage of 20. One character is standing within one foot of the impact point, and is therefore within the grenade's first range value. He suffers the full 20 points. The second and third characters are standing about three feet away (the second range) and therefore suffer 10 points of damage (half of 20). The fourth character is five feet away and suffers 5 points (one-quarter of 20), and the fifth character, who is seven feet away (and therefore, outside the third range value) sustains no damage whatsoever.
Electrical damage can range anywhere from zero to 10D or more, depending upon the amperes and volts. Use your judgment to determine an appropriate die code.
Electrical Source Damage
AC Outlet 1D
Power Station Transformer 4D
Lightning Bolt 9D
Fire has a standard damage code of 2D per round. Reduce or increase the damage based on the volume of fire surrounding the character.
Characters take no damage from falling. They do, however, take damage from slamming into the ground. Standard damage is equal to 1D for every ten feet fallen.
Example: Tim "the shark" Demoane falls 30 feet after losing his grip while scaling the outside of a bank. The GM rolls 3D damage (1D for every ten feet) and generates a total of 14.
Characters who suffer five wounds (if using the wound damage system) or who reach zero or less body points (if using the point-based damage system) immediately fall unconscious. If medical aid cannot be offered immediately (within 10 seconds), the character can never be revived (unless otherwise stated-some game worlds may allow for revivifications of the magical, miraculous, or technical sort).
Damage Condition Game Effect
1 Wound Stunned --
2 Wounds Injured -1D to all actions*
3 Wounds Severely Injured -2D to all actions*
4 Wounds Mortally Wounded -3D to all actions*
5 Wounds Dead Cannot take any actions
* This penalty does not apply to Endurance rolls to resist damage
Character Death using Body Points
0 Body Points = Death
Lower Limit Upper Limit Effect
1 Damage Roll < Endurance Roll –
Damage Roll >= Endurance Roll Damage Roll < 2 x Endurance Roll 1 Wound
Damage Roll >= 2 x Endurance Roll Damage Roll < 3 x Endurance Roll 2 Wounds
Damage Roll >= 3 x Endurance Roll Damage Roll < 4 x Endurance Roll 3 Wounds
Damage Roll >= 4 x Endurance Roll Damage Roll < 5 x Endurance Roll 4 Wounds
Damage Roll >= 5 x Endurance Roll Damage Roll < 6 x Endurance Roll 5 Wounds
Using the Body points System
Damage Suffered* = Damage Roll - Endurance Roll
* Zero or a negative result indicates no damage
The basic idea is to create a mechanic that adjudicates actions performed in tandem by several parties. Somehow it's easier to do, but with diminishing marginal returns.
At some point during a characters adventure career, his body is going to need mending and his vehicle, fixing. This chapter provides the game mechanics necessary for determining the length of time and expense of rejuvenating characters and vehicles. Characters may be healed in a variety of ways, from natural to magical methods.
Characters who refrain from activity heal naturally at the following rates (depending on the damage system used in the game world):
Wounds: Wounds heal at rate of one per day.
Body Points: Body points heal at a rate of five per day.
Magical spells and items can help heal, revive, or resurrect injured or dead characters. The game mechanics involved vary depending on the game world and the spell or item in question. For example, an elixir of healing might restore 1D wounds or 3D body points. Develop such magic as befits your game.
Using the Healing skill, a character can attempt to heal a wounded companion once per day according to the following chart:
Current Wound level of Victim Difficulty
1 Wound / 75-100% of body points remaining Very Easy
2 Wounds / 50-74% of body points remaining Easy
3 Wounds / 25-50% of body points remaining Moderate
4 Wounds / 1-25% of body points remaining Difficult
5 Wounds / 0 body points Very Difficult
A successful roll indicates that the injured character either removes one wound from his total or heals 2D body points.
Vehicle combat works exactly like normal character combat, with a few additional game mechanics for various "stunts". In D6, the goal is to keep the game fast-paced and cinematic, and the basic game mechanics below reflect that ambition. Feel free to incorporate as many of your own house rules or optional systems as you want. Future D6 games will provide additional mechanics and vehicle options where appropriate.
Like characters, vehicles have an associated set of game values. All vehicles should have at least the following information:
Vehicle Name: The Vehicle's Designation (“A Whale of a Time”, “The Lucky Camel”, “The Thief's Car”).
Type: The vehicle's make and model (Alpha-Class cruiser, '92 Chevy Beretta, your standard cart).
Scale: The vehicle's scale die code (2D, 3D+1, 8D) – see Scale in Chapter Eight: Combat.
Size: The vehicle's dimensions (Length, Width, Height, Wingspan).
Piloting Skill: The skill needed to operate the vehicle (starfighter piloting, hoverbike piloting, driving).
Crew: The number of characters needed to operate the vehicle.
Passengers: The number of additional characters (other than the crew) that the vehicle can hold.
Cargo Capacity: The amount of extra weight the vehicle can carry (100 kilograms, 10 metric tons, none).
Cover: The die code that represents the amount of defense (added to a character's base defense value) the vehicle affords its crew and passengers (+5, +10, Full).
Altitude Range: The vehicle's altitude limitations (ground, 100 meters, 8 kilometers, space-capable).
Maneuverability: The die code representing how well the ship handles (added to the pilot"s piloting skill when performing stunts).
Move: The vehicle's standard cruising movement value / maximum number of moves per round in atmosphere and space (50/2 (atmosphere): 75/6 (space). Usually given in meters per second (for ease of use in combat situations).
Hull/Body Strength: The die code that represents the vehicle's ability to resist damage (0, +1, 2D+2, 4D).
Hull Hits/ Body Points: This dual value determines how much damage a vehicle can sustain before it is destroyed (i.e.. how many 'hits' the vehicle can take). The first number corresponds to the wounds character damage system, and the second number to the body points damage system (see Chapter Three: Characters, and Chapter Eight: Combat, for more information). Choose which option works best for your game world and your players.
Weapons: Repeat the list of entries below for each weapon type,
Type: The number and type of weapon (two machine-guns, one missile launcher. four laser cannons)
Fire Arc: The direction which the weapon points (forward, aft, port, starboard, forward starboard, turret (can turn in any direction)).
Crew: Number of characters needed to operate the weapon (the pilot suffers a multi-action penalty if he pilots the craft and fires a weapon simultaneously).
Scale: The weapon's scale die code (see Chapter Eight: Combat for more information on scales).
Skill: The skill used to operate the weapon (laser cannon, machine-guns, energy weapons).
Fire Control: The attack bonus die code that represents the weapon's inherent accuracy which may include anything from sights to targeting software (0, 1D+1, 4D).
Range: The weapon's range values (10/20/40, 5/12/20, 150/400/900) – see Chapter Eight: Combat, for more information on range.
Damage: The damage die code caused by the weapon (1D+2,3D,9D+1).
Cost: The cost of the vehicle new or used ($200 (new) / $125 (used); 10,000 credits (new) / 8000 (used)).
Description: The basic purpose, look, and history of the vehicle type or the particular vehicle.
Depending upon your game world, you may also wish to include the following items in a vehicle template:
Consumables: The length of time a crew can remain on board without having to resupply the vehicle (four hours, two days, nine months).
Shields: This die code represents the additional damage resistance afforded by the vehicle’s energy “particle shielding”. A character must make a successful shields skill roll to use the shields effectively (a successful use allows the shield die code to be added to the vehicle's hull body strength when rolling against damage). The difficulty depends on how many of the vehicle's flanks (forward, alt, port, starboard) the shields will cover, adding +5 for each flank. For example, a character placing shields forward and port would have to beat a difficulty of 10 (5 + 5) to do so. The shield die code is evenly split between those two flanks when resisting damage. If the shield die code is 2D, he can apply 1D forward and 1D to port.
Lightspeed Multiplier: This value determines how long it takes a starship to travel a given distance (which is measured in time). For example, a ship with a lightspeed multiplier of x2 wants to travel to a neighboring star system. According to the standard distance chart. it would take a ship moving at a lightspeed multiplier of x1 one day to reach that system. This ship (with its x2 multiplier) would take two days. Higher values indicate slower lightspeed engines.
Sensors: The distance and effectiveness of a vehicle's sensor system. For example, a value of 60/3D indicates that the sensors can scan up to 60 meters away with a +3D bonus to the character's sensors skill roll. The difficulty of sensing an object depends on its size, energy output, and acceleration, plus other situational factors like nearby radiation.
Vehicle Name: The Last Chance
Type: Duhrlis-Class Starfighter
Size: 12-meters long; 10-meter wingspan.
Piloting Skill: Starfighter Piloting
Cargo Capacity: 500 kilograms
Altitude Range: Space-Capable
Move: 18 (atmosphere); 20 (space)
Hull / Body Strength: 4D+2
Hull Hits / Body Points: 4 / 30
Type: Two Pulse Cannons
Fire Arc: Forward
Skill: Pulse Cannon
Fire Control: 1D+2
Range: 100 / 200 / 300 meters
Cost: 20,000 Credits (New); 10,000 Credits (Used)
Description: This completely enclosed starfighter handles well in combat situations and therefore is the main vehicle used in the Earth – Centauri War. The Last Chance has flown in more than 12 combat missions, and is kept in perfect condition at all times.
Vehicles follow the same game mechanics as characters for movement purposes, See Movement in Chapter Eight: Combat for more information.
Normally, a character can operate a vehicle without having to make a skill roll – casual driving. Only when he wants to perform a stunt do dice rolls come into play.
Stunt Base Difficulty
Ram Easy (10)
45° turn Easy (10)
90° turn Moderate (15)
180° turn Very Difficult (25)
The base difficulty to hit a vehicle is 10.
A character piloting a vehicle may attempt to dodge the craft out of the way of incoming projectiles. Rather than the dodge skill, the character uses his piloting skill (plus the vehicle's maneuverability code) to evade the attack. The rolled value becomes the new attack difficulty.
Both vehicles take an amount of damage equal to the smaller vehicle's scale code.
On a successful hit, the attacker rolls his vehicle's damage dice and the defender rolls his vehicle's hull body strength. Consult the Vehicle Damage Chart to determine what type of effect occurred. The attacker then rolls 1D to randomly select the affected vehicle system or part (maneuverability, hull).
Damage Roll >= Hull / Body Strength Roll Temporary Effect (one round)
Damage Roll >= Hull / 2 x Body Strength Roll Permanent Effect (repair required)
Damage Roll >= Hull /3 x Body Strength Roll Permanent Effect (part destroyed)
Temporary Effect: The damage effect lasts only during the round it was incurred and the round immediately following.
Permanent Effect (repair required): Characters may repair the damage with the appropriate skill rolls or by hiring a mechanic.
Permanent Effect (part destroyed): The characters must purchase a new (or used) part to replace the damaged one.
1D Roll Effect
2 Random System Damaged
3-6 Hull Damage
Vehicle damage may manifest itself in various ways, from loss of maneuverability to hull breaches. Below you'll find explanations of the damage effects listed on the Vehicle Damage Effect chart.
Maneuverability: The vehicle loses 1D of difficulty. Note that the maneuverability code may drop below zero (-1D, -2D, and so forth), reflecting a vehicle damaged so seriously that the craft more actually interferes with the pilot's ability to handle it.
System Damaged: Randomly select a vehicle’s system (lightspeed engines, communications, tractor beam, shields, etc). That system becomes inoperable (or loses 1D if it has an associated die code).
Hull Damage: The ship suffers an amount of damage as determined by the normal combat damage rules (see Chapter Eight: Combat). For example, in a dogfight one plane shoots another, scoring a successful hit for hull damage (as determined by a 1D roll on the Vehicle Damage Effect chart). The pilot rolls a total damage of 19. The defending plane generates a total hull body strength of 6. Since 19 is more than three times higher than 6, the defending plane suffers three hits (or, if using the body points system, 13 body points of damage (19 - 6 = 13).
Characters may rely on their own technical skills or that of hired mechanics to repair damaged vehicles.
The following chart sho