Tips for Being a 6d6 Game Master

Or as we prefer to call it, the Game Leader.  This isn’t us wanting to have a new name just to be different.  Master is used for someone who has complete control over the game.  In 6d6 that simply isn’t true, so we prefer the term leader.  Your job is to lead the group through the story, not be an arbiter of the rules.  To help you work with the unique aspects of 6d6, we’ve the following tips.

They Always Can

It’s a common feature of many RPGs that the players will ask the GM is their character ‘can’ take an action.  In 6d6 the answer is always yes.   You can attempt to fly off that building; you’ll succeed if you’ve advantages like flight or wings.  You can attempt to attack four space pirates in one round; you’ll succeed using advantages like manual dexterity and the area keyword.  You can attempt to hack a computer and throw a fireball in the same round; you’ll succeed with hacking and magic advantages.  A character can attempt any action and will succeed or fail based on the advantages they have, not because a book’s arbitrary rulings.

The Table Decides

Well, not the actual table, that’s an inanimate object.  In 6d6 the Game Leader is not a sole arbiter.  Everyone at the table works together to discuss a proposed set of advantages and which are applicable to an action. The story leader should keep an eye on people trying to exploit this, but in our experience most groups don’t do this.  If a player asks the you if an advantage is useable, refer them back to the rest of the group.  The advantages aren’t going to need approval if a player is repeating an action in very similar circumstances.

Faster Combat

Combat in 6d6 isn’t complex, but there are things you can do to speed it up.  Start by learning the advantages that the player and non player characters have.  This will prevent you from being surprised or missing an interesting trick an NPC could do to a player.  More importantly, learn what the keywords mean and how to apply them.  This will reduce how much the game is slowed by rulebook consultations.   Combat with multiple NPCs that have character points means having to juggle full character sheets in a limited space. Once you’re familiar with the advantages, you can start making quicksheets that are just lists of advantages  This will leave you free to concentrate on managing the potential pools.

The nomination method use for initiative means that every round the order will change.  Rather than keep track of this, instead just put ticks next to each character’s name as they take their turn.  You’ll be able to see who’s gone and who hasn’t without endless rewriting. Oh, and remember to ask a player if they’re going to spend potential on anticipation.  As the last thing a character does on a round it often gets overlooked.

Better Combat

You can make your boss NPCs much more of a threat if you accompany them with mooks.  They’ll bulk out the fight, give the players more to worry about, stop them concentrating solely on the boss and disrupt the turn order. A lot of combat in 6d6 is potential management.  Mooks will use up the player’s potential in defence and attack, making the combat more deadly and more dramatic.  Another trick is to interrupt the initiative.  Players will often group their actions together to exploit an enemy’s diminished potential. Interrupting lets you break this up and prevents the NPCs from being overwhelmed.

More Exploding Combat

The Dice keyword is one of the more overlooked but powerful keywords.  Feed it’s use into the narrative.  With rerolls, talk about how characters overcame little problems on their way to success.  For exploding dice, describe absurd luck or awesome moves.  Don’t just rely on physical attacks on combat.  Potential attacks can be very powerful, inhibiting a character’s ability to act.  If well timed, a potential attack will force the party into a different strategy.  Status effects can be extra bureaucracy to manage, but they can enhance danger and drama.  In addition to being caused by an NPC, they can be effects of the environment.  The heaving deck of a ship in a storm or a room full of fire are exciting reasons for the characters to be struggling to act.

Character Creation

As a point spend creation system, it is possible to create a character that is broken.  A broken character is one that frequently struggles to find advantages relevant to the actions they want to take.  If this is an intended part of the scenario, carry on. If you or players are concerned about making such mistakes before you learn more about the system, use the provided archetypes.  They’ve been written to provide a starting point for character creation.  They meet the key requirements of having a useful free resist and a balance between life and skill advantages.

Just Roll Some Dice

Don’t worry about getting the rules right. As long the balance between the player’s dice and GM’s is fair for the situation, it doesn’t matter how you decided on the number of dice needed.

Image Credit – Old Design 02 by Hector Parayuelos – CC-BY-NC-ND-2.0