LONG AGO… IN A GALAXY FAR, FAR AWAY…
There was the West End Games Star Wars RPG. And it was good. In fact, it was my daughters’ favourite game for some years, and I liked it a lot too. It introduced a number of mechanics I thought were good. Stock PCs with pregenerated stats, skills and backstory, just pick one and play; the Wild Die; damage as a series of conditions dictated by the attacker’s margin of success. WEG lost their licence, and the game disappeared; but the rules were solid and well-loved, and after a time rattling around from company to company, they were re-released under the Open Gaming Licence as Open D6.
In 2010, Antipaladin Games released a free, streamlined version of Open D6, called Mini-Six. And eventually, even isolated as I am on the unfashionable side of the Orion Arm, I learned of its existence through the Mythic Roleplaying mailing list, in late 2012 (thank you, ianthemoxious).
What is truly amazing about this product is that it crams an entire RPG and five (yes, five) example settings into 38 pages. And it uses 5 of those for covers, a copy of the Open Gaming Licence, and an introduction.
How to Make a Character (2 pages): D6 is a point-buy system; in this version you divide 12 dice between four attributes, and another 7 dice between however many skills you want. Unspent skill dice can be used to buy Perks, which are the local version of Edges, Advantages, Feats, call ‘em what you will. You can also select up to two Complications; unusually, these don’t get you extra points to buy goodies with, but whenever they cause you trouble during play, you get an extra experience point – errm, sorry, Character Point.
The Game Mechanics (2 pages): The D6 System only uses six-sided dice, hence the name. Typically when your character tries to do something, you say what it is, the Game Master assigns it a target number, and you roll however many dice you have in the relevant attribute or skill; if the score equals or exceeds the target number, the character succeeds. For opposed rolls, the target number is the other guy’s score.
A variant rule I do like is Fast Static Combat. In vanilla D6, hitting someone is an opposed roll, but with this optional rule you pre-calculate the target number rather than rolling for it on the fly.
Much like Savage Worlds, damage inflicted is compared to a target number, and the margin of success dictates how badly hurt the victim is. Again, in normal D6 this is an opposed roll, whereas Fast Static Combat pre-calculates the target’s resistance. Wound levels reduce your die rolls by one die each.
Each session will net a character 3-7 character points, which can be spent to improve attributes and skills. PCs also have Hero Points, which can be spend to gain a one-time bonus on a die roll, reduce wound severity, find a small item or clue, and so on.
Vehicles (2 pages): One page of rules – combat, movement, repair – and one page of a dozen sample vehicles, fantasy, modern and science fiction.
The Simple Magic System (4 pages): This section has one page of rules and common magic items, and three pages of spells, over 30 in all, each with a neat little glyph to symbolise it. The default for the system is that you take a Perk in character creation which grants you access to spells, and then know two spells per die you allocate to the Magic skill. Casting spells is a skill roll against the spell’s target number; there are no power points or spell slots, but each time you fail a casting roll, your skill is decreased by one die until you rest. The more I think about that, the more I like it as a mechanic; I might adapt it for Savage Worlds.
Sample Characters (4 pages): This lists over 60 stock NPCs, animals and monsters by genre, each with their own stats, skills, threat level for a group of beginning PCs, and a small silhouette.
Optional Rules (2 pages): Mini Six is designed to be easily customisable, and these pages list a variety of ways to tweak it so it’s a better fit to the kind of game you want to run – for example, 12 attribute dice is appropriate for heroic characters, but a normal person would have 8-10; you can remove attributes from the game entirely, impose limits on how many dice can be rolled, replace wound levels with hit points, and so on.
Making the Game Your Own (1 page): This is your traditional "advice to the GM" section; how to develop a setting, when and how to tweak the rules, handling money and gear.
Mini-Six/Open D6 Conversion (1 page): Exactly what it says on the tin.
Sample Settings (12 pages): Each of these crams a capsule description, example PCs, character creation guidelines, genre-specifc monsters, skill lists and complications, adventure seeds, and setting rules into 2-4 pages. Respect.
The settings are:
- Perdition. A space western. *cough* Firefly *cough*
- Rust Moon of Castia. Classic high fantasy, with a map that looks a lot like those in 1980s D&D products. ‘Nuff said.
- Farnsley’s Phantasm Investigations. Sherlock Holmes meets Ghostbusters. (The original Star Wars D6 rules owed much to WEG’s earlier Ghostbusters RPG.)
- Precinct 77. Over-the-top cop shows in RPG format. Reads a lot like Starsky & Hutch.
- Imperium in Revolt. Space opera about a rebellion against a cruel galactic empire. *cough* Star Wars *cough*.
Game Aids (2 pages): Character sheet and one-page rules reference sheet.
Elegant colour covers, but the inside is all black and white, and most artwork is in silhouette; very printer-friendly. The text is perhaps a bit small, for my aging eyes anyway.
The authorial voice is informal, and in places verges on humourous, but is clear and easy to understand.
SUGGESTIONS FOR IMPROVEMENT
Since it’s a PDF file anyway, I would have preferred a slightly larger font – it’s not really legible at full-page view on the iPad. I understand there’s a printed version too, but as I recall printed things should be "done up in eights", that is, have a page count evenly divisible by 8; this doesn’t, unless the print version has some blank pages in it somewhere.
I don’t like the need for the GM to specify a precise target number from within a range. I would probably pick an easily-memorable sequence (say, multiples of four) and use the same ones all the time.
Mini-Six is clearly a labour of love, put together by people who know the rules inside and out, and also know how to condense them without losing the flavour that makes them unique. As anyone who has ever tried to do a cheat sheet for a game knows, this is a lot harder than it looks.
Open D6 and Savage Worlds are a lot alike, so since I like one, it’s no surprise that I like the other. Both are squarely aimed at cinematic roleplaying, and that is where I live.
Open D6 only uses the ubiquitous d6, which are much easier to come by – even my aging cellphone has a d6 dice roller on it, Lord knows why. However, rather than rolling two dice (trait and wild), in D6 I would typically be rolling 4-7 dice. You pays your money and you takes your choice.
Overall Rating: 4 out of 5. It’s tempting, you know; very tempting. Much more so than the Open D6 books themselves, in fact, where I got lost in the details and gave up. Maybe I should look at them again; maybe it’s a gateway drug…