Thursday, January 24, 2013

Why I Love The D6 System

It's no secret, there have been games I have LOVED over the years and ran almost exclusively for periods of years.

The first and probably most famous one was Marvel Superheroes Roleplaying from TSR. Called FASERIP by the fans, due to the letters of it's attributes (Fighting, Agility, Strength, Endurance, Reason, Intuition and Psyche) the entire Zenith Universe was born out of endless campaigns starting back in the mid 1980s. To this day I can still run the book with only a colour chart and 2d10, though having a PDF of the rules is easy and more importantly we house ruled the hell out of it. Sure I later tried other super hero games and even today co-own the rights to one (SUPERS! for those who don't know), Marvel Super Heroes will always have a place in my gamer heart.

The other was Cyberpunk by R. Talsorian. I remember the day I walked into the Captain Quebec store on Ste. Catherine street and saw this black box sitting there. I had no idea what it or Cyberpunk was.  I picked it up, read the back and paid my $15 for it (which is what I remember it costing) and then went on to run a campaign in Night City that lasted for years. Cyberpunk was the game that taught me it is okay to go on a murderous rampage vs. your players. In every other game I run, I run it for my players, but Cyberpunk I run for me. Don't get attached to your characters, that's all I am saying. Even when they made the move to the 2020 rules, which I wasn't as much of a fan of, I still ran game after game. Good times.

Despite playing the hell out of those two games, there was a third game that I really liked, loved in fact, but didn't get to run as much as I liked. Star Wars by West End Games was that game. I really liked how the system worked and was enough of a fan of Star Wars that I enjoyed myself when I did get to run it. Which wasn't nearly often enough. It wasn't for lack of desire, but you have to understand Star Wars fans have a weird reaction to you messing with their perceptions of what the Star Wars Universe is, and given this was really just when the Expanded Universe was starting to get traction, my views on Star Wars were not always in line with the players, which could lead to them really not enjoying it. Some really did, in fact there is one player (Hi John!) that still talks about my Celestine Station game. That was a lot of fun.

Then they came out with the Revised & Expanded rules and I was blown away by the full colour rule book. I think I paid $40 for that, in like 1996 when it came out, which according to inflation was like the same as $60 today, which was the MOST I had ever paid for a game book. But I didn't care! It was awesome! Some gamers to this day dislike this edition, though for me I have always treasured it and am actually heart broken at how much it costs to buy a copy these days ($75 for a Near Mint copy), but someday soon I will snatch up a copy for myself, just for nostalgia reasons. But I digress.

So what is this all about you ask. Why am I waxing poetic about an out of print game? Well let me tell you why, and I think you might enjoy it.

In 1993 I walked into a gaming store and was shown a pseudo-Star Trek roleplaying game called Prime Directive by Task Force Games. Now I had played enough FASA-Trek to have a soft spot for Trek roleplaying, so I picked it up (Trivia: I got into both roleplaying and Star Trek through FASA-Trek, not D&D or being a Trekkie). There were a lot of things to like about this game. The system was unique and innovative. The setting, while way more militaristic than normal Star Trek, called back to the original series days more so than the Next Generation that I despised. It was a fun game that I could use a random adventure generator with and have a blast every time. I ran two or three campaigns using it and eventually moved on. Then in 1998 something happened that defined gaming for me moving forward.

I had just moved back to Montreal from Vancouver for the 2nd time, and the old group got together and wanted to play Prime Directive. I had long since lost my original book and recently had gotten my hands on the D6 System: The Customizable Roleplaying Game, essentially the Star Wars D6 game, with the Star Wars ripped out and literally encouraging house rulings! I quickly made rules for Prime Directive in D6 and was good to go! That campaign was legendary! I mean it was a campaign where a player pitched to be an Andorian/Vulcan half-breed and I was unsure but approved it and he turned out to be the scene stealer of the campaign. Nothing we did in that campaign could be wrong, it just was that damn good!

Sadly, after that I never went back to the D6 system for a really long time. Other games, mostly superheroes, ate up my attention and frankly I was good with that. Then a couple of years ago I needed to take a break from campaigning, so I ran a series of one-offs for my group, using D6 as the base and changing up the setting every time. It was a blast! It also lead me to find the Mini-Six rules by AntiPaladin Games. It seemed that after going bankrupt or something, West End Games had decided to do an OGL style thing with the D6 system and the lads at AntiPaladin saw a chance to make a fast-play, rules-lite version of the D6 system and it worked wonders! I really liked it and regret I wasn't able to get one of their hard-copies at the time and now await when they eventually do another print run.

This is why I like the D6 system or say Savage Worlds or the Unisystem, or pretty much any other generic system out there. It isn't perfect, not by a long shot, but is has a LOT less fiddly bits (unless you want to add them) and it can do ANY genre and do it well. Why, cause it is all based around a very solid core-mechanic. Grab a bunch of d6s, roll them, add them up and compare to a target number. End of story. Nothing more complicated than that.

Some say that the one genre it doesn't do well is superheroes, due in fact to the horrible DC Universe game they put out in the late 90's. I will admit it was an incoherent mess and desperately needed a second edition (though apparently they fixed a lot of it with subsequent books) that it would never get due to the fact that WEG went tit's-up not longer after they released it.

There is a product called D6 Powers that everyone raves about being the ultimate fix for the D6 superhero option. It's not bad, I guess, but the one thing it does that I think DC Universe did better is how you buy and rate powers. In D6 Powers everything is a point buy and there are ranks for powers. Whereas, DC Universe maintained the idea of a D6 pool all the way through, so you bought your powers with dice and they were rated in dice. A minor quibble, I know, but that's how my mind works. I want everything to be consistent and my OCD will compel me to obsess over these things until my mind pops. As such I just can't get into D6 Powers, even though I know it is a quality product.

The reason for this post is that recently I went on a quest to find a fantasy game system that gives me everything I want from a fantasy game, and you know what? I realized that D6 is exactly that! No I don't mean the D6 Fantasy rules that are available for free on rpgnow.com. No I mean taking the old D6 System core book from the 90s, taking Mini-Six, then grabbing every other D6 product you can for inspiration, and then hammering them all into a set of house rules that do what I want!

I want there to be multiple types of spell casting in my world. Spellbinders who learn spells and reproduce them like recipes  Sorcerers who draw on the very energy of magic to so what they want on a whim (think like the Will & the Word from the Belgariad) and Channellers who must bargain with powerful beings to gain their magic?

I can do all that in D6 without having to reinvent the wheel!

I don't like classes, but a player does? Easy, either build your character from scratch or take a template.

Simple, fast, easy.

Everything I could ever want is in that one simple book, because it tells me to make it the way I want it, provides some guidelines and examples, and lets the rest up to me.

Thanks for taking the time to read this and if just one of you gives D6 a chance and is a convert like I am, then it was all worth it.

Cheers!

10 comments:

  1. Showing your age amigo! However, the D-6 System is a part of the nostalgia that keeps me with one eye on the future while trying to remember where I came from. While systems come and go and then sometimes re-emerge, just getting together with a bunch of folks around a table full of dice, pizza and story is like a warm blanket and part of the reason I have stayed young...

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  2. I find it interesting that you have found yourself drawn back to D6 systems. I have been looking through all my assorted PDF's on something of a quest like yours. I really enjoy several systems out there, but find most of them far to simple (BBF) or way to rules intensive (Pathfinder). I enjoy both for different reasons, but when trying to think of how I want to 'system' some of my new projects I am having issues.

    Maybe I will look at good ole D6 again today since I have all the free books as well as the pdf of the basics of mini-six.

    -Chris

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  3. I have the print copy of Mini Six!

    I was a player in one of your PD campaigns. I still remember my PC Saul.

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  4. You were a player in my FIRST Prime Directive campaign actually.

    Lucky bastard having a print version of Mini Six! :P

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  5. Hey there, Andrew. I'm the one who did the V&V conversions for Supervillains a few years back. Came across your blog here from a link over at RPG.net (I'm Majestic there).

    This was a fun read. Just a year or so ago I fired up a WEG d6 Star Wars campaign, and we're having a blast with it. I've seen the d6 stuff online (of which there's a TON) and my son has even been working on converting some of the d6 material to a Transformers game (based on the old cartoon, rather than the movies). You can do just about anything with it.

    I've just discovered Unisystem, too (prepping for an X-Files game using Conspiracy X 2E), so it was fun to see it mentioned also.

    Hello to you and Walt, and I hope things are going great with Zenith Comics! :)

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    1. Hey man. Sent you a message on Facebook! Cheers!

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  6. First, I want to say thanks for the kind words about Mini Six. And I have a bit of good news for you too. A print version of Mini Six is now available through Lulu for $6.49 + shipping.

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    1. I JUST bought a copy from Noble Knight Games... Damn! It wasn't cheap neither :(

      When does the new edition come out?

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  7. Great article, and I heartily agree with your thoughts about the D6 system, although I was able to do a lot less with it for reasons apart from my gaming needs. Thanks for the revisit.

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