Friday, May 24, 2024

d6-y Time

Tomorrow is the anniversary of the release of Star Wars (what the kids today know as Episode 4: A New Hope) in theaters back in 1977. And yes, I'm running another session of my Star Wars d6 game. The players from my May the Fourth game are returning, and two more players are showing up. Richard is our Call of Cthulhu Keeper, and recently joined my TS&R Jade game. Randy is a friend who's been interested in getting into RPGs, but had a new baby late last year so hasn't had much time for gaming until recently. 

The d6 system, in its more generic form, was on my mind recently. I actually woke up from a dream yesterday in which I was modifying the system to create a Mabinogion/Irish Myth based fantasy game. I've never played, or even read, the official d6 Fantasy game that came out 20-some years ago, but in my dream I was coming up with a list of skills for magic: enchantments, transmutations, illusions, etc.

Then I come across Tim Brannan talking about Star Wars d20 and mentioning how he prefers those rules to WEG d6, and also Weregrognard talking about WEG d6 Star Wars and the d6 System in general. So it seems to be a bit of a mini-topic these days. 

About 10 years ago or so, when Jeremy Hart and I were gaming together more actively than we are these days, he often talked about wanting to run something with Mini Six, the slimmed down d6 System game. But then he'd run something else, home brewed or Black Hack, or something interesting he'd found and wanted to try. So we never got that Mini Six game going. But at that time, it did get me to download Open d6 and I did really like what I saw in it. 

In fact, I've considered making a 2nd edition of Flying Swordsmen using Open d6! I had fun playing Dragon Fist for a bit when it came out nearly 25 years ago, and had fun with FS for a while, but honestly, it's not the best fit for a long term wuxia style game. With the bell curve results of a totaled die pool, the flexibility to determine what attributes and skills are in the game, and the lesser focus on tactical placement and more on descriptive engagement with encounters, I honestly think it would be a better fit. OSR style mechanics are great for a game where exploration and acquisition, plus combat, are the key drivers of play. Good wuxia stories are about exploring relationships and social norms as much as they are about the martial arts combat. I think d6 would be a better fit, honestly. 

Finally, yesterday this YouTube video on various die rolling methods was recommended by the Almighty Algorithm. Now, before you click on it -- I am not the intended audience, and you, my reader, are most likely not as well. It seems to be pitched towards teens/tweens who are just getting into RPGs, based on the guy's content and his delivery. Why I mention it is that while he mentions the White Wolf style # of successes die pool system, he doesn't mention the WEG d6 die pool vs target number system. There are lots of other die systems he also I said, the target audience seems to be kids just getting into gaming, not us old fogies. 

While I didn't learn anything from that video, it did get me thinking about the way that certain systems seem to promote different aspects of play. I'm currently involved in games using d20 for combat (TS&R, although it's got percentages, x/d6, and 2d6 roll mechanics as well, and Gamma World 4E), exclusively d% (Call of Cthulhu), and dice pool (WEG Star Wars) systems. 

The swingy d20 and d% systems are geared around exploration. TS&R (D&D) and Gamma World are about exploration of the setting. CoC is about exploration of mysteries. 

Dice pool systems like WEG (and what little I've played of WW d10 dice pool games) are more focused on telling an interesting story, or at least entertaining the players and allowing them a structure to immerse themselves in their character. I've used some dungeon crawling and wilderness hex-ploration in my Star Wars game from time to time, but for the most part the challenges I set up are situational, with a lot of if/then triggers, rather than site-based. The d6 Star Wars game was designed with this sort of play in mind, and I think it works really well to encourage that. 

Also, the way that the probabilities work out with a dice pool means that characters are a bit more consistent in performance than those using a flat distribution mechanic like d20/d%, although things like the Wild Die, losing dice for multiple actions, and opposed rolls do keep things interesting. 

I'd been thinking that after I finish revising/editing/formatting the TS&R Game Master Guidebook and editing it down to a Rules & Procedures table reference, I'd try my hand at another setting/genre set of players' book/monster book. Middle Eastern/Arabian Nights style gaming, or retro Sci Fi rockets & rayguns, maybe. Now, though, I'm wondering if maybe that Celtic Myth fantasy game or a revision of Flying Swordsmen, both with the Open d6 system, might catch my interest more.

1 comment:

  1. A long time fan of Star Wars D6 I was very curious to see how SW D20 would play. I tried it out at the GenCon right around its release and thought, 'Not bad. Pretty good even.' I got the chance to demo it at my FLGS a few weeks later and the cracks were already starting to show.

    The D20 System as it was than (I really could speak to how it would be now) just doesn't lend itself to the kind of game a Star Wars game should be. It's too tightly wound, too legislated, and inflexible mechanically IMHO.

    Also, as you mentioned, the inconsistency of roll outcomes makes the characters feel less like the heroes of a story and more like unfortunate schmoes hoping to survive the Star Wars universe. Sure, that's a choice if it's what interests you but it doesn't really feel like the movies.