Whereas advantages are all about what a character can do if the situation allows it, potential is how often a character can use those advantages. It is the raw power of the brain to process information, make decisions and act. This is a continuous process but because the 6d6 RPG is a turn based game, the brain's raw speed is translated into potential. Spending and recovering potential is the game's way of modelling a non-stop process.

Dynamic Potential

Dynamic potential is best described as attention, as in "Are you paying attention?"

Humans (and we believe all creatures) have a finite attention span which is governed by our short-term memory and ability to focus on what is important. This attention span allows us to spot changes in a situation and make decisions based on our experiences and skills. This process may be considered as our conscious thought or internal monologue, the part of our thinking that defines who we are.

Static Potential

If dynamic potential is the brain's conscious thoughts, static potential is the subconscious. It is reflexes, long-term memory and the vast store of experiences and emotions that a person builds up during their life as well as the ideas that pop into the brain without prompting.


The amount of potential a character has available places a limit on how much a character can act. They must pay for the dynamic advantages they use with dynamic potential, and static advantages with static potential. When the characters have time to think they may safely use all their potential and then rest until they recoup it. This is known as a narrative action and after each action a character regains all their spent potential.

In combat the situation is different. Characters need potential to defend themselves which makes spending everything and waiting for it recoup very dangerous. Each action, a character must choose how much potential in their bank they wish to spend. Once used the potential is moved into the spent pile. Each time the character has a turn they recoup dynamic potential equal to their Recoup score from the spent pile to the bank. Characters may still use all their potential in a single action, but it will only recoup slowly and they may die before they have recovered it.

Dynamic & Static Recouping

Not all parts of the brain work at the same rate or as efficiently whilst in stressful situations such as combat. This is why dynamic potential can be recouped during any turn but recouping static potential requires the character to do nothing. A few seconds' pause allows the thoughts and ideas of the subconscious mind to be noticed among the noise and chaos of the battlefield.

Free Resist

Free Resist advantages do not require dynamic potential to use, but only as part of resistance actions. They are abilities that the character has learnt to use instinctively when attacked. Advantages selected as Free Resist can be used in any resistance action where they are appropriate and available.

Starting characters are limited to one free resist and players can select any dynamic advantage they have for it. Equipment can be a free resist but can only be a character equipment advantage not mundane equipment. Characters cannot easily switch their free resist from one advantage to another, as a period of training is needed to unlearn the old instincts and learn new ones.

Using Potential For Innate Abilities

Some tasks are simple enough that almost anyone can do them but characters may find they have no suitable advantages to try. Instead they can use their innate abilities to move, to pick up objects and look around. Characters make a Potential Action in these situations by spending a single dynamic potential for an action worth 1d6+0.


At the end of their turn, characters may anticipate by placing potential (static or dynamic) on advantages. If the those advantages are used in actions before the start of the character's next turn, the placed potential immediately moves back to the bank rather than to the spent pile. In effect, those advantages that are anticipated with can be used for free.


As potential represents the brain's raw power it can be focused to get more out of existing advantages by concentrating. By spending a single dynamic potential in addition to at least one potential used on advantages, the character can add an extra 1d6+0 to their action. This is only available in narrative actions when the character has time to think and has less distractions.

Boban the Gnome is doing what she does best, breaking into other people's houses and stealing things. This time she has broken into the home of a rich merchant but has been unable to find anything worth stealing. Guessing the treasure is hidden in a secret room, Boban sets about looking for a secret door.

After going through her advantages, Boban decides to play her Search (1d6+1) and Problem Solving (1d6+0). In addition she concentrates to add 1d6+0 and brings her action dice up to 3d6+1.

It's Only a Game

The brain is the most complex system we know about with billions of interconnected neurons operating in ways we are still a long way from understanding. Inevitably the concepts of potential and advantages are only a crude model for representing what defines our individual strengths and weaknesses. Game Leaders should not be afraid of making adjustments and doing things differently if the standard rules do not cover their situation.

The designers of 6d6 have also taken advantage of some features of potential to provide balance and fairness in the game, notably in the way that some advantages will be static and some will be dynamic. This allows the writers flexibility in designing advantages.

You could leave a comment if you were logged in.
open/mechanics/core/potential.txt · Last modified: 2013/12/04 11:32 by tregenza
Recent changes RSS feed

The 6d6 RPG tabletop store is owned and operated by Chris Tregenza. Who also owns and runs Myomancy, a site about ADD / ADHD medication, Autism and Dyslexia Treatments and also site called Poosk. Chris also provides copy-writing, web design SEO advice to sites like Dingles' Games pathfinder rpg resources.