What follows is a rules-light roleplaying game I dreamed up a couple of weeks ago. It has seen no playtesting, and in fact only about a half-dozen people have even seen it before now. I plan to eventually open-source this game as my gift to the roleplaying world, but would like help in testing and refining it first to make sure that everyone can start with a really solid core and build on that.
So, to kick things off, here’s a very early alpha release that I hope is fully playable. Please let me know what you think.
And I really mean that. Since I don’t actually like light games (OVA (af) is about as light as I can handle and even then only for one-shots and mini-campaigns), I am not actually my target audience in this case (although I probably will use it for one-shots in future). That means that I need your feedback even more than I usually do.
So read it through, give it a test drive, and drop me a comment so I can get to revising it and writing the optional rules modules. Thank you.
d6Lite by Frank Wilcox, Jr (fewilcox) is licensed under a Creative Commons Attribution 4.0 International License.
<I’m not at all in love with this title so suggestions are more than welcome. The only part I do kind of like is that it looks like “delite”. I also considered Xd6 Lite, and even just Xd6 System, but those are both so boring.>
What is a Roleplaying Game?
If you don’t know the answer to that question, or you don’t know what “PC”, “GM”, or “d6” mean, go check out the “What is a Roleplaying Game?” page on my website before proceeding.
To make a roll, decide which skill is appropriate, then roll a number of d6 equal to its rank while your opponent or the GM does the same (even inanimate objects have ranks which are rolled by the GM, like a really stout door with “steel and oak 3”). Compare your highest die to your opponent’s; highest wins. If they are the same, then compare the next highest; and so on. If one player has no more dice to match, but the other does, then the player with dice remaining wins.
Sometimes you will be asked to make a Default Roll. In that case you simply roll 1d6 and hope for the best.
Conditions: Sometimes a character may have a particular advantage or disadvantage due to the environment or other external factors. For instance, if you’re trying to sneak past a guard, waiting until nightfall, sticking to particularly deep shadows, and hiding behind trees can all greatly aid you. In such cases the GM may award you an extra die.
On the other hand, if you are trying to fix a flat tire before the villain crosses the state line but your tire iron is missing, the GM will take away a die (or maybe more depending on what you have on hand to replace the missing tool). Note that your first penalty die makes the total -2d6, not 0d6.
Naturally, bonus dice and penalty dice cancel each other out. If the final total is negative, you must roll the specified number of dice and keep the lowest result among them.
Players create whatever skills are appropriate for their characters using Character Points according to the following table:
Rank CP Total CP 2 1 1 3 1 2 4 2 4 5 3 7 6 4 11 And so on.
For instance, if your character had “Apprentice Ranger 3”, it would cost 2 CP (1 for rank 2, and 1 more for rank 3). Later raising it to rank 4 would cost 2 more CP, for a total of 4 points invested in the skill.
If you don’t specifically buy a skill, but your character would logically have at least basic knowledge of that skill, your GM may let you attempt a Default Roll.
Your GM will tell you how many CP you can spend according to the game’s power level. For normal humans, you get 6 CP. Starting skills can not exceed rank 3.
You should choose skills that suit your character. They can be as focused as “Master of the Longbow” or broad as “Fight!”. Your GM will determine how focused your skills need to be. Here are a few ideas to get you started: “Ladies’ Man”, “Swordmage”, “Wild West Show Trick Shooter”, “Master Chef”, “Grizzled Retired Army Sergeant”, “Knight of the Round Table”.
Rounds: In its simplest form, combat takes place in rounds, with all of the heroes acting on their turn, and all of the bad guys acting on theirs. Exactly who acts when during each of those turns is up to the players, but everything that round happens at the same time. It’s also possible for each character to take a separate turn; details are covered later.
How Long is a Round?: It is traditional for rounds to last six seconds, but the GM should choose a duration that fits the feel of the campaign. Sometimes you may not want a hard duration at all; you might prefer to have rounds as long as they need to, like in Wushu. It is entirely up to the GM – just be consistent and make sure the players know what the duration is.
Who Goes First? (Initiative): If using the Traits or Equipment rules modules, each character may have attributes that add to or subtract from initiative. The total of all of those modifiers (whether positive or negative) is that character’s Initiative Roll and should be noted on the character sheet. Otherwise, each character’s Initiative Roll is simply a Default Roll.
Sometimes it’s obvious who goes first. For instance, if the party walks into an ambush they are obviously not going first. If it’s not obvious, then a representative of each side makes a Default Roll or the party’s average Initiative Roll (which should be recorded somewhere). Highest result goes first.
If you want individuals to take separate turns, simply have each player make a separate Initiative Roll. Players then take turns in order, starting with the highest (don’t forget that the GM is a player too).
Did I Hit Him?: To attack someone, simply roll the appropriate skill vs the target’s skill. If you win the roll then your attack succeeded, and the poor sucker gets one Setback token (you could use poker chips, rocks, coins, or whatever else you might have lying around).
What Is a Setback Token?: When you receive your third Setback token, your character is out of action until recovered in some way; exact details of that are determined by the GM according to the situation. In combat that might meant you are lying unconscious, retreating to tend your wounds, captured, or even dead. Out of combat, defeat could mean almost anything.
Enemies you fight may have more or less capacity for dealing with Setbacks than PCs do. Mooks, thugs, and other disposable henchmen may only take one Setback to defeat. The mob boss, on the other hand, might need six – or more!
GM Eyes Only Beyond This Point
Once we get the basic rules nailed down, I will provide a separate document for GMs that will include:
- Example CP totals based on genre
- Further scaling the game by using bigger dice (perhaps d12s for superheroes?)
- Advice on assigning appropriate skill ranks and levels of Setback to enemies and objects (mostly traps, locks, doors, and other such obstacles and hazards)
- Scaling combat from two variable-length turns per round in the theater of the mind, all the way up to players taking individual turns and possibly even using minis (though I doubt it as this is intended to be rules-light)
- Advice on adding Conditions