6d6 RPG: Experiments in Character Generation

The basic mechanics of the 6d6 RPG (e.g. cards and how to use them) has been fixed for several months, the process of how to create a character has been a matter of debate and change. Last night I tried out a new system which, whilst not perfect, I think will form the basic process for the entire game.

Point Buy and All That Jazz

Each card in the 6d6 system has a dice value (e.g. 1d6 + 2 ) based on the points value of the card. The bigger the dice value, the more expensive the card. Clearly character generation needed to be on a point / buy system with characters starting with X number of points but deciding how to organise it, how to balance the system and, most importantly, how to present the multitude of different options has been problematic.

In the very early days I simply let players pick the cards they wanted which works well when a player knows the system and where the GM doesn’t have any preset ideas for game world. But when you want all Dwarves to have dark vision or all Vulcans to be logical, there needs to be a mechanic that forces players to take the relevant cards.

And most difficult of all, that mechanic needs to be explained and presented to players in a meaningful way.

Splat Books – Just Say No

The traditional solution, started by Gary Gygax et al, is to have a rule book that describes the race or class and sets out the default abilities. This works great and consequently has been copied by just about every RPG ever since but it won’t work for the 6d6 RPG.

The core philosophy of the 6d6 RPG is that the rules, and the process which a group agrees on the rules, are just as much a part of the game as the imaginary world the group creates. Groups should have as much freedom to be creative with the rules (either by ignoring them or adding to them) as they have in creating the share world of their adventures.

The trouble with traditional rule books is that they are fixed which makes life difficult if you want to amend the rules. There is only so much space in the margin, there are only so many post-it notes you can stick on. Information gets lost and it becomes harder to pass on that class or rules amendment to other players. This limits the spread of ideas and creativity.

Freedom & Structure

The 6d6 approach to character generation has to somehow pull off what seems impossible: A basic structure that allows players freedom to create the characters they wanted. At the same time it must allows GMs to easily define their world by limiting or expanding the player’s range of options. As an added complication I wanted to make it easy for GM’s house rules to be passed on to other groups so that you can benefit from other people’s ideas and they can benefit from yours.

One final aim was to make character generation a narrative process. Something that at the very least, gave a character a skeleton of a back story so that world was not filled with adventurers with no knowledge of their life prior to that first encounter in the tavern.

Pulling all these ideas together into a workable system has been difficult. Find out tomorrow how we (may of) cracked it in 6d6 RPG: Experiments in Character Generation Part 2.