At its core, the game host’s job is largely the same as any other host’s: to make sure guests have the best time possible. And just as there are certain “rules” and “tricks” for hosting a successful party, the tips in this chapter will help you to host a successful adventure session.
Sources of Adventure
Often, role-players are inspired by the plot or setting of a novel or a movie. They want to face a similar situation and discover how their actions would affect events. Or they simply want to experience the action firsthand.
This is why the D6xD6 RPG rules represent such a range of settings. With one basic set of guidelines, players can adventure in any of their favorite authors’ worlds. And the plots in those worlds can serve as inspiration for the game host.
In addition, the D6xD6 RPG rules officially recommend Eureka: 501 Adventure Plots to Inspire Game Masters as an adventure resource.
Preparing an Adventure
To prepare for play then, a game host need only
- choose a setting;
- decide on a plot either inspired by that setting, by Eureka, or from some other source:
- flesh things out using the guidelines below.
I. Choosing a Setting
Maybe you’ve recently read one of the books in the D6xD6 RPG settings list, and you’d like to introduce your friends to the concept. Maybe you’ve just finished watching a movie that inspired an idea for a great villain. Or maybe you just know that your players are fans of 1930s pulp adventure. Any one of those things can be a reason for choosing a setting.
II. Deciding on a Plot
With your main idea in mind, it’s time to lay out a plot. Note, however, that plotting an adventure doesn’t mean deciding ahead of time everything that will happen. Even professional authors say they’re often unsure how things will turn out until their characters actually enter a scene. That’s even more the case in a role-playing session, where different people control different characters.
When we talk of deciding on a plot, then, we really mean (A) establishing a specific threat, (B) predicting how that plot would unfold if the players’ characters never interfered, and (C) imagining ways the heroes could become aware of the unfolding threat. Once the heroes begin responding to the plot, it responds to them in turn, and we have our adventure session!
A. Establishing the Threat
Whether it’s an asteroid tumbling toward the earth, a dragon plundering a town, an infestation of zombies, or a gangster demanding protection money, the threat is the central problem to be resolved in an adventure. Once that threat is dealt with, the adventure is concluded (although loose ends may lead to a new, related threat later).
Many threats involve more than a single enemy. For purposes of the D6xD6 RPG rules, enemies fall into four main categories: beasts, minions, villains, and monsters. See the “Enemies” section later in this chapter for details of each.
B. Projecting Events
Once you have your threat in mind, imagine what would happen if the heroes never became aware of it. Sketch out a timeline. What order of actions will the threat pursue? If the threat involves more than one enemy, which subordinates will be involved in each step? As people fall victim to the threat, what actions would they or their friends take in response? At what point might the authorities become alerted, and how would they respond? What about the news media? How will the threat deal with each of these reactions?
C. Involving the Heroes
Different settings have different conventions for drawing its heroes into the action. In mystery genres, the heroes are the sort who keep feelers out for possible villainous activities. In horror genres, someone the heroes know personally may run afoul of the threat and either ask for help or perish in a suspicious fashion (often both). In fantasy settings, the heroes may be troubleshooters or adventurers for hire. In superpowered campaigns, a villain may actually send a challenge (perhaps intending to do away with the heroes).
Let the conventions of your genre be your guide, but also consider the personalities of your heroes, and of your players. The more you can personalize the “hooks” that draw your heroes in, the more your players will be invested in the story, and the more satisfying your adventure will be overall.
III. Fleshing Things Out
You’ll notice that in our example adventure synopsis for each setting chapter, we follow a linear three-act formula.
- Act One introduces the heroes to the threat in some way, getting them involved. If the heroes don’t already know one another, this act also serves as an introduction that brings the group together.
- Act Two presents a series of escalating problems, ratcheting up the tension while also revealing more information the heroes may need.
- Act Three opens with the climactic challenge, brings about its resolution, and provides any rewards the heroes may have earned. Depending on the grimness of the setting, it may also focus on losses the heroes have suffered.
We recommend you follow a similar format, at least for your first few adventures.
As you gain experience, and as your players provide more and more inventive responses, you may become comfortable straying from this linear plan, extemporizing your threat’s reaction to the heroes’ actions as well. As German military strategist Helmuth von Moltke put it, “No battle plan survives contact with the enemy.” The enemies you portray will need to revise their plot in response to your heroes.
Note: For mystery settings in particular, you can make the world seem more open ended by plotting out multiple threats ahead of time, dropping clues from each, and letting your heroes decide which clues to follow up on. As the group theorizes what they suspect is happening from clues they’ve gathered, they’ll likely give you ideas you hadn’t considered before, enriching the game even more. This sort of approach gives the players the greatest sense of freedom, while still allowing you to be prepared ahead of time.
As mentioned above, the D6xD6 RPG categorizes the living threats heroes face as either beasts, minions, villains, or monsters. Each is detailed here, but let’s open with a word about impersonal natural threats.
Earlier we mentioned the threat of an asteroid tumbling toward earth. Other such threats include avalanches, volcanic eruptions, hurricanes, outbreaks of disease, and nuclear disasters. Any of these things can serve as the major danger in an adventure, but without an intelligent agency behind them, they do not offer a satisfying threat.
Imagine, for example, that your heroes are caught in an avalanche on a mountainside. Assuming they survive, they may feel some sense of accomplishment. But consider how much deeper that feeling would be if a villain abandoned them on that mountainside to die of exposure, or even triggered the avalanche itself! Now not only have they survived, they have thwarted the villain’s plans—they have overcome!
So even in the case of an asteroid tumbling toward earth, give your heroes some inimical agent to overcome, whether a treacherous corporate CEO who provides them with substandard equipment, or a jealous enemy who wants them to actually perish in completing their mission. Your players will become that much more involved in the story.
These are natural creatures that can pose a danger to the heroes. To design a beast, adapt the usual character creation rules as follows:
- Name: Unless it is someone’s pet, it’s unlikely to have a name.
- Gender: A beast’s gender often dictates the creature’s behavior (e.g. a female black widow spider eats the male after mating). For some beasts, however, gender may not be immediately obvious to the observer.
- Age: In most cases, a beast’s age will not matter in an adventure. If it does, use the terms “young,” “mature,” or “old” instead of actual years.
- Attributes: As per regular characters, circle one attribute and cross out one, to indicate an beast’s strongest and weakest ratings. For some beasts, you may circle or cross out multiple attributes.
- Occupation: The type of beast—snake, polar bear, turkey buzzard—is its occupation. It defines most of the beast’s capabilities.
- Skills: Most of an beast’s abilities are directly related to its nature (its “occupation”). The skills list serves two purposes: (1) it allows you to generate a Focus number you wish for the creature, and (2) for trainable beasts such as dogs, it provides a space for “tricks” specific to that individual beast. Also, Unfocused skills provide a place to give the creature deadly attacks that don’t always succeed.
- Focus: Most beasts have a low Focus rating, a 2, 3, or 4. Fortunately, in combat, their attack range is usually limited to Brawling, and most would prefer to avoid combat and escape instead.
Notes: Beasts come in all sizes and varieties. To adapt these rules for different types, consider the following adjustments.
- Life: Small, fragile creatures can survive less damage than humans can. Some are killed with a mere Graze result, some with Stun, and so on. Other, larger beasts can survive more damage than humans can. To reflect this, allow them to accumulate two or more Graze results before proceeding with the usual damage track.
- Speed: Some beasts are exceptionally fast. To represent this, you might either give them more than one action per round (with the usual two meters of free movement each time), or add 1 to 3 points to their lower die roll each round. If you allow more than one action in a round, roll each action with a separate pair of dice (few beasts are crafty enough to coordinate their attacks for best effect).
- Toughness: Many beasts have thick hides or fur to protect against damage. Consider giving them an armor bonus—typically without a dice penalty. Be sure to apply this armor bonus before taking into account size and fragility (as described under “Life” above).
- Number: Some beasts are solitary; others travel in packs. Take care to balance your beasts’ numbers and abilities with your heroes’.
- Rat: Name, gender, and age unimportant. Attributes: Grace Focused; Brawn Unfamiliar. Skills: Focused bite, claw, dig, evade; Unfocused climb. Focus: 5. Life: Stun kills. Speed: 2 actions. Toughness: N/A. Number: Typically a dozen.
- Poisonous snake: Name, gender, and age unimportant. Attributes: Grace Focused; Brawn Unfamiliar. Skills: Focused bite, flee; Unfocused poison (Graze damage, accumulating for two or more rounds, depending on lethality). Focus: 3. Life: Stun kills. Speed: 3 actions. Toughness: N/A. Number: Typically 1.
- Dog: Name, gender, and age—ask owner. Attributes: Any Focused; Any Unfamiliar. Skills: Focused bite, hold, track, sneak, run, leap; Unfocused any number of tricks. Focus: 7. Life: Dependent on breed (from Hit kills to normal Kill). Speed: 2 actions. Toughness: 1. Number: 1 or more; can coordinate attacks.
- Tiger: Name, gender, and age unimportant. Attributes: Grace and Brawn Focused; none Unfamiliar. Skills: Focused bite, claw, run; Unfocused none. Focus: 4. Life: normal. Speed: 2 actions. Toughness: 1. Number: Typically 1.
- Hippopotamus: Name, gender, and age unimportant. Attributes: Brawn Focused; Wits Unfamiliar. Skills: Focused bite, trample; Unfocused none. Focus: 3. Life: Graze x5. Speed: normal. Toughness: 2. Number: Typically 1 to 6.
These are servants or “henchmen” of the main enemy. They come in two types: thugs and lieutenants.
a. Thugs are rank-and-file enemies. Relatively unskilled, they rely on their numbers to create a threat. Follow these character creation guidelines:
- Name doesn’t usually matter; Gender is whatever’s appropriate for the setting; and Age is most often simply adult.
- Attributes tend to Focus on Brawn, with Wits rated Unfamiliar.
- Occupation tends to fall under Outcast, though some may be Servants. (For the example thugs below, the bolded term is the occupation.)
- Skills Focus on non-combat abilities like persuade and sneak. Thugs’ combat skills are usually Unfocused, which means that even when they succeed, it is late in a combat round and limited to only one or two success levels. (Brawling is the exception, given their usual Brawn Focus.)
- Focus rating is usually 8 or 9.
- Equipment generally includes small, easily concealed weapons (things that coincidentally do less damage). Thugs are not generally armored. Other equipment is left to the game host’s judgment, as needed.
- Dice for unsupervised thugs are rolled all together, and the game host then pairs the highest result with the lowest, next-highest with next-lowest, and so on. This tends to average the results, making for lots of failed actions and few, if any, bonus successes.
Note: The game host can increase one or more thugs’ effectiveness slightly by adding a plus or two to a combat skill, allowing them armor, and/or giving them a Focused combat skill. Without someone to guide them, however, even these things are generally wasted, given the usual dice rules for thugs.
- Gangbanger: Name: Unimportant. Gender: Dependent on the setting. Age: Young and ignorant. Attributes: Brawn or Grace Focused; Both Wits and Will Unfamiliar. Skills: Focused carjack, chug, doin’ the dozens, graffiti, roll joints, shoplift, streetwise, swagger; Unfocused switchblade, tire iron, zip gun. Focus: 9.
- Blade: Name: Unimportant. Gender: Dependent on the setting. Age: Young. Attributes: Grace Focused; Wits Unfamiliar. Skills: Focused carjack, chug, graffiti, shoplift, streetwise, swagger, switchblade; Unfocused first aid, pistol, tire iron. Focus: 8.
- Bruiser: Name: Unimportant. Gender: Dependent on the setting. Age: Young to adult. Attributes: Brawn Focused; Wits Unfamiliar. Skills: Focused carjack, chug, intimidate, steal, streetwise, tire iron; Unfocused drive, first aid, shotgun. Focus: 7.
- Gunsel: Name: Unimportant. Gender: Dependent on the setting. Age: Adult to middle aged. Attributes: Grace Focused; Wits or Will Unfamiliar. Skills: Focused carjack, intimidate, pistol, shotgun, sneak, steal, streetwise, torture; Unfocused bookkeeping, drive, tire iron. Focus: 9.
b. Lieutenants are a greater threat than thugs. Follow these character creation guidelines:
- Name, Gender, and Age can be whatever the game host wishes. While lieutenants may not come to the heroes’ attention immediately, these things may become important during the course of play.
- Attributes are Focused, Unfocused, and Unfamiliar, usually following the rules for players’ characters. The game host may choose to change this for particularly experienced lieutenants, however.
- Occupation tends to fall under Outcast or Peacekeeper. (For the example lieutenants below, the bolded term is the occupation.)
- Skills often Focus on combat specialties.
- Focus rating is usually 6 or 7.
- Equipment may be anything the game host desires. Many lieutenant minions specialize in combat weapons.
- Dice for all minions—when a lieutenant is guiding their actions—are rolled together and then matched as the game host sees fit. Generally this means highest dice are matched to highest and lowest to lowest, then each pair is assigned to a figure for best effect. Often, lieutenants will take the best results for themselves, assign failures to less important thugs, and reserve the lowest results for thugs using ranged weapons from cover. Depending on the circumstances, the heroes may not immediately recognize which figure is a lieutenant (especially if the thugs have some means of secret communication: radio headsets, hand signals, psychic connection, etc.). Once any lieutenants are incapacitated, however, the remaining minions will revert to the thug dice rules explained above.
Note: The one ability separating heroes from lieutenants is that lieutenants have no Drama Points to spend. With a large enough group of thugs, however, lieutenants’ ability to assign dice makes them formidable opponents, especially early in a battle. As the number of minions falls, however, a lieutenant’s threat falters as the dice pool reduces.
- Right-Hand Man: Name: Brutus, Igor, Jasper, Jeeves, etc. Gender: Dependent on the villainous master. Age: Adult to middle aged. Attributes: Will Focused; Any other Unfamiliar. Skills: Focused fetch, intimidate, sneak, streetwise, toady, torture; Unfocused bookkeeping, vehicle (automobile, boat, and/or plane). Focus: 7.
- Team Leader: Name: Major, Captain, Lieutenant, Sergeant, Corporal. Gender: Dependent on the villainous master. Age: Adult. Attributes: Wits Focused; No Unfamiliar. Skills: Focused command, explosives, martial arts, shoot, throw; Unfocused torture, vehicle (automobile, boat, and/or plane). Focus: 6.
These are human or humanoid enemies with abilities on a level with the players’ characters, and a few other advantages. Villains serve as the motivators behind most plots players’ characters will face. A villain is created using the rules in chapter 4 and may well have one or more skills normally unavailable to the setting (i.e. borrowed from a different setting). Like the players’ characters, a villain does have Drama Points to spend in an adventure. (See chapter 3.) Most villains have no combat skills, or very few. (That’s what they employ minions for.)
- Name is often something invented by a villain to impress or strike fear into the hearts of victims.
- Gender can be whatever the game host chooses.
- Age can vary considerably. Some villains are tragically young, others old and bitter; some are unnaturally ancient. Specific years may not matter, but the game host should choose an age that somehow enhances the villain’s impact on the story.
- Attributes for a villain often follow the guidelines for players’ characters: most villains will have one attribute circled and one crossed out, to indicate strongest and weakest ratings. However, the game host may choose to break the rules by assigning more than one strength or weakness, or none at all.
- Occupation for many villains will fall under the same sorts of categories as the heroes. However, some may have an unusual or even unique occupation such as “Sapient computer” or “Living mummy.” The game host should choose something that reflects the villain’s relation to the threat of the adventure and that provides that villain with any needed abilities.
- Skills for villains may include combat-specific abilities, but many villains prefer to let their minions do the fighting. Even villains without specific combat skills may have a strategic and tactical sense allowing them to direct their minions in combat (often part of their occupation rather than a specific skill), though many rely on lieutenants even for that. Give your villain whatever skills seem appropriate, but rely on occupation for most rolls.
- Focus for most villains reflects a sense of purpose bordering on mania. A rating of 2 or 3 is not unreasonable, though a Focus as high as 6 is also possible.
- Equipment for many villains is specialized, including weapons smaller and more powerful than usual for the setting. Part of the benefit of defeating a villain may be capturing that equipment and pressing it into service against later threats.
- Dice rules for villains are similar to those for lieutenants.
Note: In addition to generally being able to choose the best results from their minions’ pool of dice, villains can use Drama Points just as heroes can. For a particularly dangerous villain, the game host may even allow two or three times the number of Drama Points available to a single hero, especially if that villain does not have great numbers of minions.
- Evil Priestess: Name: Maladonna. Gender: Female. Age: Ancient. Attributes: Wits Focused; Brawn Unfamiliar. Skills: Focused arcane magic, open dimensional portal, second language (Atlantean), summon dread god; Unfocused athane, javelin, short bow. Special abilities: protective sphere (magical armor), steal life (one damage level per round), withering touch (two damage levels per round). Focus: 5.
- Monomaniac: Name: Marcel the Merciless. Gender: Male. Age: Middle aged. Attributes: Wits Focused; Brawn Unfamiliar. Skills: Focused arcane science, computers, persuasion, second language (French), second language (Russian); Unfocused command, shoot, vehicle (any appropriate). Special abilities: construct doomsday device, hypnotism. Focus: 6.
- Serial Killer: Name: Unknown. Gender: Male. Age: Adult. Attributes: Wits Focused; Any Unfamiliar. Skills: Focused set traps, shooting, throwing, tracking; Unfocused explosives, history, martial arts, small talk, torture. Special abilities: Signature weapon +1 damage level. Focus: 5.
These are creatures that break the natural laws of whatever setting they occupy, presenting an incredible danger to the heroes and their world.
- Name: A monster’s name is often given to it by its victims as a term describing its origins, its history, or the danger it represents.
- Gender, Age, and Attributes: The concept of gender may or may not apply to a monster. Likewise, its age may range from eternal to mere seconds of existence. Monsters may or may not have character attributes of Brawn, Grace, Will, or Wits. Even those with attributes may, like villains, have more than one Focused. Other monsters are simply too large or otherworldly for such atributes to apply.
- Occupation: The very nature of a monster is its occupation—elder god, dragon, kaiju, global AI, sentient slime, etc.
- Skills: A monster’s skills tend to be special abilities outside the normal bonds of the setting—cause madness, gaze of disintegration, deadly radiation, turn invisible, telepathic control, etc. By choosing which abilities are part of its “occupation,” which are Focused skills, and which are Unfocused skills, the game host can affect how deadly effective an ability is. (A monster with a fatal Unfocused skill will give heroes something to worry about, while not ensuring their demise.)
- Focus: Monsters can have a Focus rating ranging from a minimum of 2 to a maximum of 9.
- Equipment: Few monsters depend on equipment of any sort. Even their attacks and defenses tend to be an innate part of their nature.
Note: By adjusting Focus, damage ratings, innate protection, number of attacks, and Drama Points, the game host can create a wide range of monsters.
- Alien Predator: Name: N/A. Gender: N/A. Age: N/A. Attributes: Grace and Brawn Focused; None Unfamiliar. Skills: Focused athletics, brawling, spelunking; Unfocused technology operation. Special abilities: two actions per round; claws damage as two blades; bite does kill damage; chitinous shell counts as medium armor with no dice penalty; any damage received of wound level or more sprays adjacent characters with caustic blood causing stun damage; can hold breath for up to 10 minutes submerged or in vacuum. Focus: 4.
- Dread God: Name: The Unspeakable. Gender: Any. Age: Ancient. Attributes: Will and Brawn Focused; Grace Unfamiliar. Skills: Focused dimension walk, dream speak, time dilation, unravel reality, vocal possess, vocal smite; Unfocused none. Special abilities: Ethereality means only blessed or six-dimensional weapons can attack it; only every sixth strike affects it; killing damage dispels it but does not permanently destroy it; time dilation allows it to act 1d6 times each round (each action rolled separately); its shout (vocal smite) causes either physical or psychic damage (at its choice) as if a shotgun; its whisper (vocal possess) can control a single target within Throwing range for a number of rounds equal to The Unspeakable’s Will successes minus the target’s Will successes. Focus: 7.
- Mutant Crocodile: Name: Big Yeller. Gender: Female. Age: N/A. Attributes: Brawn Focused (Grace also Focused in water); Wits Unfamiliar. Skills: Focused bite, claw, spit, swim, tail strike; Unfocused leap, run. Special abilities: Its hide acts as heavy armor with no dice penalty; iits bite does kill damage; its tail strike does wound damage to all targets within Throwing range; its claws can strike twice per round and do hit damage each time; its spit can strike at Throwing range and does graze damage each round it is in contact with bare flesh; in water its movement rate is double normal (four meters freely per round, and an additional four meters per success level on a swimming roll). Focus: 6.
- Radioactive Blob: Name: Tonkiki. Gender: N/A. Age: Ancient. Attributes: Brawn Focused; Wits Unfamiliar. Skills: Focused climb, hide, slither, strike, track; Unfocused telepathy (emotion only). Special abilities: Its radioactive nature causes automatic graze damage to anyone within Brawling range each round; it can extend psuedopods to strike at Throwing range, allowing 1d6/2 attacks per round (each rolled separately); if it acts before a target at Brawling range, it engulfs that target, causing acid damage at hit level in addition to the radiation damage; it can be damaged only by fire; a freezing environment renders it immobile (by lowering its Focus rating one point each round until zero, which does correspondingly make its Focus rolls more desperately effective each round until that point). Focus: 6.
Besides the heroes created by your players, and the enemies you invent for them, a role-playing world is populated by secondary characters representing the heroes’ friends and acquaintances, and any other bystanders not directly involved in the plot. You don’t need stats for all of these people; even those closest to the heroes can often serve as just a name and general description. If some extras end up appearing in recurring roles, because the heroes revisit them, you can generate game stats for them later, as a TV writer might for an unexpectedly popular secondary character in a series.
So far we’ve covered setting, plot, and characters (the heroes, their enemies, and any extras). Obviously, those characters will also often use tools.
Basic weapons are discussed in chapter 7, “Conflict and Damage,” because so much of fictional conflict involves combat.
You can treat other types of equipment as either
- assisting in success (giving a dice bonus on task rolls), or
- adding to effect (whether treated as bonus levels or a specified result).
For example, a first-aid kit might give a character a dice bonus of 1 or 2 points when treating an injury, or a futuristic medical bay might add a level of healing to a doctor’s successful roll, or even allow a slain character to be resurrected (“Klaatu verata nikto”). Your choice among those options will be influenced by the setting, time period, character expertise, and so on.
Vehicles are a special category of equipment, even though they’re still basically “stage props” in an adventure. We’ll discuss them separately here, however, for reasons of scale: specifically (1) movement, (2) protection, and (3) armament. We’ll also take a moment to briefly discuss chases. (Note that some settings, in which vehicles play a major role, may supersede these general guidelines with more specific rules.)
The main benefit of a vehicle is speed. Even something as slow as an ox cart lends speed over the long haul, whether in terms of allowing a character to move more material than by toting it a trip at a time, or by avoiding the exhaustion of a long walk. Of course, a skateboard, bicycle, motorcycle, or jet pack increases that speed even more.
The main sacrifice of speed is maneuverability. Which is to say that moving objects don’t just have speed, they have velocity—a vector. Changing a vector’s direction requires energy, and the greater the speed, the more energy required to change: turning an ox cart is relatively simple; turning a surface vehicle (land or sea) requires an arc; turning a jet pack requires thrust. Mass also plays a role, of course: turning a battleship requires much more energy than turning a jet ski traveling at the same speed.
As game host, your job will be to translate speed in terms of combat rounds, generally allowing a vehicle’s operator to cover more than the standard two meters of foot travel. Additionally, you will have to decide how quickly a vehicle can turn.
Most vehicles are more durable than the human body (exceptions being Daedalus’ wings and early WWI planes). Unless a vehicle encloses its occupants, however, that protection doesn’t much matter.
Which is to say, an opponent on a motorcycle may move faster than one on foot, but a single attack can equally damage either. Successfully hitting the faster target may be more difficult, but the damage may actually be greater, whether from the added impact of the attack or from impact with the ground after a crash.
On the other hand, by partially enclosing its occupants, a wagon, car, speedboat, or light plane protects them with both (a) cover and (b) concealment. Cover acts as armor, reducing the damage of an attack; concealment acts as a penalty to an attack roll, making a target more difficult to be seen and be hit.
As game host, your job will be to translate both a vehicle’s speed and protection to cover and concealment. A fast vehicle may impose a dice penalty on attacks by both its occupants and any figures targeting them. It may also add a dice penalty on incoming attacks by partially concealing its occupants, effectively making them smaller targets. And it may additionally reduce damage of successful attacks by acting as armor (“cover”).
So far, we’ve focused on attacks using standard weapons involving figures in vehicles or to target vehicle occupants. The trouble is, some vehicles, like armored personnel carriers (APCs) provide enough cover and concealment to be virtually impervious to handheld weapons. While some specialty handheld weapons have been developed for use against them—such as the bazooka of WWII, or the later LAW (Light Anti-Tank Weapon) rocket—their effectiveness is limited partly because while aiming, the user remains vulnerable to machine gun fire from the vehicle itself. More typically then, anti-vehicle weapons are mounted on other vehicles.
This is where issues of scale escalate. For purposes of this game, combat involving vehicles can be divided into the following scales.
Personal Scale: Most combat situations in the game will fall into this category and can be handled with the rules in chapter 7, “Conflict and Damage.” Where day-to-day vehicles are involved, the game host will have to adjust attacks for speed, maneuverability, cover, and concealment, as described above.
Combat Vehicle Scale: This covers battle conditions where armored ground, water, air, or space vehicles are involved. Use the same damage and armor rules as in chapter 7, but treat them as an order of magnitude higher.
- Combat vehicle armor is rated as none, light (1 point), medium (2 points), or heavy (3 points).
- Handheld weapons that score anything less than a kill against an unarmored vehicle cause no damage to it.
- Each level of armor above “none” subtracts a level of damage from personal weapons that hit the vehicle. (I.e. a personal weapon would need a kill +3 to even graze a heavily armored vehicle.)
As graze damage accumulates against a vehicle, the vehicle suffers the same sort of dice penalties as described in chapter 7, “Conflict and Damage.” The game host should translate these results as damaging a tire, breaking a tread, holing a radiator, rendering an anti-personnel weapon useless, or damaging vehicle crew, depending on the scene.
- Combat vehicle weapons are rated as doing graze, stun, hit, wound, knockout, or kill damage against other vehicles, depending on the size and nature of the specific weapon.
- A combat vehicle weapon that hits a character treats a graze as a kill. Personal armor does not reduce this damage, and though immediate medical treatment may save the character’s life, the result is generally permanent maiming.
- A combat vehicle weapon that scores higher than a graze against a character destroys that target.
A list of a few sample vehicle weapons follow the vehicle table below.
Grand Combat Vehicle Scale: For battleships on sea or in space, raise the damage scale another stage.
- Individual characters are incapable of damaging such vehicles with normal weapons, and if weapons of such vehicles somehow target a character, the result of a successful strike is generally obliteration.
- Smaller combat vehicles damage grand combat vehicles—and are damaged by them—using similar rules to the step up from personal scale to combat vehicle scale.
Of course, the game host will also need to portray dramatic effects such as the vacuum of space, the impact of flying vehicles falling from great height or at great speed, the pressure of ocean water, and so on.
Where vehicles are involved, chases often ensue. Chases may also take place on foot, of course. For chase scenes, speed (both acceleration and top speed) and maneuverability are again crucial concerns.
For foot races:
- In a flat-out race over a straight distance, have contestants make skill rolls versus Athletics. Obviously, the character who first accumulates enough successes to cover the distance first wins. If one character has Brawn Focused, you might allow that character a 1-point bonus one a die for sheer power. Likewise, if one has Brawn marked as Unfamiliar, you might impose a 1-point penalty on a die for frailty.
- When one character is chasing another over open ground, determine how distant they are at the beginning, and again have each make Athletics skill rolls. The chase continues until either the trailing character narrows the gap to nothing or the fleeing character gains enough distance to escape (into a crowd, over a fence, or whatever suits the scene). Again, Brawn might be allowed to give a 1-point bonus or penalty to the rolls.
- When one character is chasing another through rough terrain or down tangled city streets, where maneuverability becomes more important, allow a bonus or penalty for Grace instead. You might also rate each figure’s knowledge of the specific terrain as Focused, Unfocused, or Unfamiliar, and have them roll versus that instead of Athletics.
For vehicle races:
- In a flat-out vehicle race over a straight distance, have each operator roll against the ability listed for “Accelerate” in the table. (Where “Brawn” is listed, use the attribute of the creature providing the motivating force. Where “Vehicle” is listed, use the specific vehicle skill: e.g. “Vehicle: Motorcycle.”)
- When one vehicle is chasing another over open ground, determine how distant they are at the beginning, and again have each operator make “Accelerate” skill rolls. The chase continues until either the fleeing vehicle escapes somehow or one vehicle gives up (possibly due to damage).
- When one vehicle is chasing another through terrain where maneuverability becomes paramount, the operators will still roll against the ability listed under “Maneuver” in the table. (Where “Grace” is listed, it applies to the creature providing the motivating force.) You might also rate each figure’s knowledge of the specific terrain as Focused, Unfocused, or Unfamiliar, and have them roll versus that instead of the listed “Maneuver” ability.
|APC||Vehicle x2-5||Vehicle||30-60||1-2||3||HMG, Lt AT|
|Battle Tank||Vehicle x2-4||Vehicle||25-45||2-3||3||HMG, Hvy AT|
|Jet Ski||Vehicle x3-5||Vehicle||50-80||—||1-2***||Personal|
|Motorboat||Vehicle x2-6||Vehicle||20-60||0-2||0-2||Personal, HMG|
|Jet Pack||Vehicle x3||Vehicle||45||—||0-1***||Personal|
|Light Aircraft||Vehicle x5-10||Vehicle||50-400||0-1||1-2||Personal, HMG|
|Fighter jet||Vehicle x100-400||Vehicle||1000-4000||1-2||2-3||HMG, Missile|
|Starfighter||Vehicle x500-4k||Vehicle||50k-400k||2-3||2-3||Photon Cannon|
*Meters per combat round; **Occupant protection only; ***Against hand weapons, due to speed. (Created with the HTML Table Generator)
Vehicular Armament Types
Personal: See the weapon list in chapter 7, “Conflict and Damage.”
HMG: Heavy machine gun; “graze” damage vs. vehicles,“kill” vs. creatures
Lt AT: Light anti-tank gun; “hit” damage vs.vehicles, “kill+2” vs. creatures
Hvy AT: Heavy anti-tank gun; “knockout” damage vs. vehicles; “kill+4” vs. creatures
Missile: Depending on missile type, “kill” damage or higher vs. vehicles, “kill+6” or higher vs. creatures
Photon Cannon: “Graze” damage vs. grand-combat scale vehicles; “kill” damage vs. other vehicles; “kill +6” vs. creatures
Tips for Running the Session
Most of what you’ve read so far involves translating story into game mechanics and translating dice rolls back into story effects. But your most important job will be making sure everyone has the best time possible (yourself included). Here are a few tips for accomplishing that.
Give everyone equal attention.
It’s a simple fact that some people are more outgoing than others. In a role-playing session, some people will speak more, get more excited, and draw more attention to themselves than others players will. That’s only natural. If you’re not careful, however, some quieter players may feel left out.
A great way of balancing things is to make sure you frequently go in sequence around the table, asking questions or inviting responses. This is especially important during action scenes. Start with the player immediately to your left, then move to the next in line, and the next, until you’ve gone all around the table. Next time, start with the player immediately to your right, and go one person at a time the other way around the table. As you practice this, it will become easier.
Value acting and storytelling equally.
Some people like to portray their characters, like actors on stage, taking on accents, speaking in actual dialog, gesturing in character, possibly even dressing the part. That’s great.
Other people prefer to describe what their characters are doing, like novelists writing a scene, and that’s great, too.
Encourage your players to do whichever they prefer. Again, the point is for everyone to have a good time.
Remember, it’s a role-playing session, not a board game.
Chess is fine, with it’s fixed, clear-cut rules. But no one pretends that it feels like actually being a king, queen, knight, or such.
Children playing cops-and-robbers in the backyard is fine, too, but no one expects a definitive answer to the “Bang, I got you,” “No, you missed” debate.
A role-playing game should be neither about arguing fine points of rules, nor about ignoring dice rolls. It’s about portraying story with the improvisational assistance of random numbers measured against a few statistics.
For the D6xD6 RPG to work best, make sure to set task difficulties and/or declare your game host characters’ actions first, then have the heroes declare their actions, then have everyone roll dice, and finally translate those results. Stick with that procedure, and you’ll best balance rules and story.
Tips for Running Campaigns
An ongoing, episodic campaign can be an amazing experience, cherished from session to session and building lasting memories. To give your campaign the best chance of success, keep the following things in mind.
Plan it like a wedding.
The best wedding planners know not to put some people together at the same table. By the same token, not all friends get along together equally well. A one-time party can handle pretty much anyone, and they come and go as they please. For a longstanding campaign, however, you’ll need to pick and choose who to invite. Start with just a few, and consult with them before adding anyone else.
Commit to it.
Again, a one-time session is a fine thing, and these rules handle adventures like that just fine. But if you want a campaign, everyone has to be committed to it. Find the best time and place for everyone, and stick with that.
Start each session with a recap.
Hosting a game can be a lot of work. Let others share part of that work by having your players give you a recap of the previous session before you start. Not only will this most quickly get them involved, it also lets you know what they most enjoyed and best remember about the story so far, so that you can provide more of the same. And during their recap, their commentary and guesswork about events may spark ideas you hadn’t considered before. Your plots will be the richer for it.
Follow your players’ lead.
By this, in part we mean adapting your game session to the recap described above. But also recognize that sometimes people just need to let off some steam after a hard week of real life. So if you have a deep mystery planned, but your players are simply spoiling for a fight, why not indulge them? Your planned mystery can probably hold until the next session.
Consider awarding bonus experience.
Some role-playing games are designed to award specific points for monsters killed and treasure gained. In effect, players compete with one another for those points.
Other role-playing games leave it to the person running the game to award points based on how impressed she or he is with specific character actions.
The D6xD6 game is designed to make experience a personal decision of each player, to avoid either of those problems. Players who use up drama points during play gain the immediate benefit of those points; players who save points for experience gain a more long-term effect. Of course, the threats presented in your adventures will have much to say about how necessary drama points are to character survival.
One option to consider is to award the players one or two experience points as a group, and then let them decide how to award them, based on who sacrificed the most or needs the most help. A good way to do this is by secret ballot, with players each writing down names of two people they think most deserving. As game host, you can then tally those results and award the points t0 the winner.
Be sure to enjoy yourself as well.
A role-playing isn’t just about the players. It’s about the game host having fun, too. With experience, you’ll gain the best balance. But don’t be afraid to trade off game host duties with someone else from time to time.