Tag Archives: rules-light

Happiness Jar #7 for 2017-03-27

Had several good things in the last week. One was the big 50th wedding anniversary party for my parents on Sunday – a goal far too many people these days will never reach.

I also finally got back to work on the lite game I made and then abandoned five years ago. First thing was copyediting the original post. How it got past my usual meticulous proofreading is beyond me – the number of errors was appalling. But it’s fixed now, and version .2 is nearly done.


Kickstarter Roleplaying Gems – Ending Soon!

We’re really excited about – and backing! – two soon-to-end roleplaying-related Kickstarter projects.

OVA (Open Versatile Anime) is our favorite rules-lite system, and has what may be my favorite dice mechanic. This is the KS is for the long-awaited Revised edition.

The game is definitely anime-flavored, but since the word anime covers such a huge variety of genres, the game is designed to handle them all. It doesn’t have stats, just abilities and weaknesses. Abilities for starting characters are generally ranked from 1-3; weaknesses at -1 to -2.

Those numbers tell you how many d6s to add to or subtract from the base two when making a roll (not surprisingly, negative dice are bad). To make a roll you toss the appropriate number of d6s, then add up any that match; the result is the single highest result among them. For instance, if you have “Attack! 2”, you’d roll 4d6 to attack someone, whether it’s with your fist, laser eyes, or BFG 2000. If the result was 2,2,3,6, the possible results are 3, 4, or 6, so you rolled a 6. That number is opposed by the defender in combat, and compared to a Target Difficulty otherwise.

One of my favorite things about the game is its physical size. The first edition’s book is so small and thin that I carry it around everywhere in one of the flaps of our backpack so I’ve always got it for a pick up game. OVA Revised is supposed to be about the same size.

As I write this, OVA has 6 days to go and has long since reached its goal, but now is the prefect time to get in on the ground floor of the new edition, and get some exclusive d6s in the bargain.

The other project we’re excited about is a story game called Kingdom. That’s right, the confirmed GURPS geeks are enthralled by a story game – that should tell you something!

I can best describe the game using a gameplay example from the Kickstarter itself:

We’re playing with a colony ship as our Kingdom. We’re still years from the target system when we pick up the signal. Could this be first contact with an alien intelligence? Unfortunately, it’s light years out of our way. This is our Crossroad: do we change course to investigate?

The colonists are excited even if it means abandoning our carefully calculated settlement plans. But by now all the players suspect that Captain Browning (ahem, *Acting* Captain Browning) cares more about looking like a good leader than being one. He’s in charge and he wants to keep it that way. My character tells the Captain that the data’s conclusive: the signal is definitely not natural. But she also mutters that if we’re abandoning the plan and just making things up as we go along, pretty soon everyone is going to want a vote.

I’m Perspective so what I predict is true. A Touchstone character showed us what the people wanted. But the Captain has Power. He decides what we do. And I just told him that if he does what the people want his precious authority is going to be a thing of the past.

Captain Browning carefully straightens his uniform, then flips the switch to make a ship-wide address…

To get a really good handle on the game I suggest taking a few minutes to read over the rest of the Kickstarter. Being as unfamiliar with story games as I am, I simply can’t describe better than he does.

We’re excited about using the game in two ways. First is to combine it with Microscope (Kingdom‘s predecessor and companion) to really flesh out the backgrounds of our game worlds (especially since my primary game world is the world of what I hope will be my first book).

Our second use is one suggested by Ben Robbins on the KS: Take an occasional break to investigate other parts of the world in detail. For instance, if the party just captured a lieutenant in an evil organization, once they’ve broken him we can switch to Kingdom to roleplay out the events he’s describing instead of the players just sitting there listening to the GM.

Kingdom has nearly two weeks to go but has likewise reached its goal (by more than 600% already!), but some of his bundles, like getting both the PDF and deadtree of both Kingdom and Microscope for $45, are unbelievably good values.

Open Source Rules-light TRPG

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 v .1
Creative Commons License

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.

Core Mechanic

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