What is a Rules Set?

In previous posts I’ve described 6d6 Ultra-Lite as a rules set but what does that mean?

Remix Is In Its Genes

The 6d6 RPG is all about reuse and remixing content. For that this to work, the very essence of the game has support this idea by allowing GMs to house-rule and customise the system to their heart’s content. But (and it is a very important but) not only has it got to be easy to customise, it has to be easy to communicate those changes to players and other GMs who may want to use them.

This is done by atomising the game. Breaking the game into the simplest parts possible which that can be re-combined into an infinite number number of combinations. To do this, we have the ….

Rule Cards

I’m obsessed with simplicity in design.

Less really is more to me so when I designed the 6d6 RPG, I wanted a way to keep the rules simple. To ensure this, I placed an artificial limit on the game rules – each has to fit on to individual cards exactly the same size as the ones used to play the game (i.e. business cards).

This limits the writer to about 250 characters which forces them to really focus on defining the rule succinctly. If the rule doesn’t fit then either it needs rewriting or the concept is to complex and needs to be broken down into multiple smaller rules.

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Example Rule Card

The cards are not intended to be light reading or to teach someone how to play the game. They are only for reference purposes. Something to refer back to whenever discussions about the rules arise.

A Deck of Rules

The answer to “What is a rules set?” comes down to a deck of cards. These define the rules of the game.

Want to house-rules the 6d6 RPG?

Just remove, or add, one or more rule cards from the rule set you are using and simply tell your players. Or give them a list of which rule cards are valid for this adventure.

The same goes for rolling your own rule set. Start with nothing and simply add the cards that fit your style of play. Some play testing will be required to ensure you haven’t introduced contradictory rule cards or missed something important out but this process is much faster than writing a system from scratch.

Rules Sets Are Not Players Guide

The rule cards are designed for conciseness and simplicity which means they are not easy reading material or very good at teaching people to play the game. For this there needs to be traditional player guides and writing those need a very different approach.

By splitting the rules references from the “how-to-play” explanations it gives a lot more freedom to both rule designers and prose writers. The rule writer can focus on those 100 or so words needed to define the rule. Whilst the writer can pump-out text to their heart content in their own style.

All the writer has to do is to link their text to the relevant rule cards and add a Rule Set index at the back of the book to list all the rule cards the rule book covers.

Work In Progress

Currently we are working on the best way to link the explanatory text to the rule card.

This is a typographical problem (is it better to use footnotes, hyper links or another approach?) and a technological problem (generating indexes automatically). The solution also has to be effective for the different ways people may access the rules – on the wiki, a PDF on an e-reader and on physical print-outs of the PDF.

This work is progressing and we are learning as we go. An updated version of the Ultra-Lite PDF with all its rule cards should be out soon.