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My Childhood d6 RPG System
When I was a kid, I heard about Dungeons & Dragons from some friends at school. I desperately wanted to join their fun, but that would take a while. In the meantime I would let my imagination run wild and from the things they told me, I was able to, with the help of some other friends make an unbalanced but playable RPG combat system based on the only dice I had, six-siders.
I no longer have a copy of the rules we put down back in the day, but recently I have been trying to remember just how it worked so that I could share it here. Before I explain the system, I want to mention what I knew about D&D from intently listening to other players talk about it while not owning or seeing any of the game.
You rolled six-sided dice to determine actions and results.
Everyone picked one Unique Character Attribute. So your character could be Intelligent, Strong, or Quick.
Players had Unique Character Trait, and levels.
Fantasy races could be played like Elf, Dwarves, Ogres, Orc, etc. We didn’t know that any limitation existed on player characters.
Players also had a class like a thief, magic-user, cleric, fighter, etc. This determined what skills they could use with a new class skill chosen at every level.
The game required a very engaged Gamemaster. As characters move up in level, they have the freedom to come up with new skills. You need to work with them to define their limit. It seems like a bit of work at first, but actually, it allows for very unique characters and gameplay. It also allows the game to be easily adapted to other genres.
Characters tend to be very specialized in the game. Its a very different type of gaming than D&D, but it was a lot of fun.
We would pick up other things, but this was about it. From here we invented a d6 game that we played as a fantasy game until I received some real D&D books from my Mother. After that, we adapted the game to other genres that I might discuss and add to later.
As you start playing the game, you need to start writing down the effects of skills and items in your world. Part of the fun of the Six Sider RPG System is that you and your players are helping to make it up together.
I have never written down RPG rules as an adult, so this will be a work in progress with lots of holes.
If you have some ideas, feedback, or you try out the game, I would love to hear how it went.
Version 0.14 (August 5, 2022) Fixed an error in how I described action resolution armor modifiers. Thanks to Jimmy G for pointing this out.
Version 0.13 (May 17, 2021) Clarified Armor Dice and rolled Defense into it. Started on a Gamemaster section under “Flexibility.” Also added version 1 of the character sheet for download. Realizing that the top-level rule set skew towards a fantasy genre and is not as generic as it could be. This makes sense since it started as fantasy, but I might work on figuring out how to make it more genre neutral when I add the example fantasy Setting.
Version 0.12 (May 12, 2021) Updated Initiative. Someone asked me about “Intent” and I clarified that a little better. Also spelling.
Version 0.11 (May 11, 2021) Small Updates. Forgot about ties and added a little more intro text.
Version 0.1 (May 11, 2021) – First Published after trying to recall as much as I could from memory and the very old notebooks that survived.
Welcome to the Six Sider RPG System. The game was created decades ago by a kid who owned a handful of d6s, some paper, a pencil, and little else.
It is was meant to be as simple as possible. Minimal rules for play and maximum flexibility for creativity.
If you are wondering about the flexibility of any rules, the answer is always, “maybe.” Consult with your Gamemaster. Remember this is a cooperative game and they are just trying to preserve balance based on how the game has developed so far.
Six Sider is a game that grows as you play it. So every game session will potentially grow the rules and contribute to the Genre you establish.
As a Gamemaster, you need to keep track of this all. I suggest you have a handy notebook and write everything down as you go along. Then between sessions organize what you learned.
To start with, You might want a section on equipment, armor, weapons, and magic items and what they cost, and their Dice Effect.
I will add an example Fantasy setting to the ruleset as we move along in thegame.
It all starts here. You are about to embark upon a fantasy adventure and your adventurer is how you enter and inhabit that world.
You have a lot of control over what your adventurer will be able to do, but remember, they are new to the life of seeking treasure and saving villages, so their powers will be limited for now.
Below is a link to download a Six Sider Character sheet. As you can see, the sheet is simple enough that you can fit two on one piece of paper. These sheets should cover most characters up to 4th level.
Welcome to a world of magic and wonder, Fred.
While Fred is a fine name, it is of this world. Let your imagination go wild and choose a name that sounds fantastical. Of course, if lightning bolt throwing wizard name Fred is how you see yourself in this wondrous world, then again, I say, “Welcome Fred.”
The world is filled with all manner of magical beings. They are all possibly fun to play. Talk to the Gamemaster to determine what will work in your adventure.
Classes determine what your possible skills might be. For example, a Wizard can cast spells. So if you want to cast spells, you should choose Wizard, Fred.
Every level of your character gives you an additional d6 to roll towards action resolution. Levels are granted by your Gamemaster as a reward for good play. So play well.
Unique Character Trait
When you make your character you pick one unique character trait. For example, since Fred is a Wizard, they might pick “Intelligence” as their character trait.
Any action that requires a character trait. Say casting a spell, gets one additional d6.
All characters start out with 1 Armor Die. That means in physical combat action resolution they will roll 1d6 plus whatever armor or trait bonuses they might have.
Armor comes in 3 flavors. Light, Medium, and Heavy. Each level of armor will remove a d6 from your action resolution in physical combat when you are the attacker.
Conversely, each level will add a d6 from your action resolution in physical combat as a defender.
These dice are listed on your character sheet under “Armor Dice.”
Throughout the game, the Gamemaster will grant d6s to players as rewards for combat or good roleplaying. These are noted by the character in their dice pool.
Dice Pools can empty out, but every day after a character has a good night’s sleep, they will wake up with six dice in their Dice Pool
At anytime a character can borrow from their dice pool to augment any Action Resolution they desire. They can add those dice at any time during the player’s turn, but once that turn is over they cannot.
Items and Equipment
Depending on the quality of an item it can give you additional d6s to roll in action resolution. This is all part of the setting of the game and should be determined by your gamemaster.
A dagger might give a single d6 bonus to attack, while a sword could give you two d6. A magical item could even add more d6s
The typical currency in a fantasy realm is Gold or Silver. But feel free to be creative.
Items, equipment, and food should have a well-known cost to your players.
Money should be part of the reward possibilities for a successful adventure. Be realistic with amounts. Coins can get pretty heavy.
What is action resolution? Action resolution happens when anyone tried to do anything in the game. It is determined by rolling some number of six-sided dice and comparing that roll to another group of six-sided dice.
Combat is the most straightforward. Before attacking a player should state their intent. Are they trying to kill the other player? Just knock them out? Chop off their hand?
Once they have stated their intention they roll initiative to see who will take their turn first. Going first can be very useful.
Initiative is a d6 with the higher roller taking their turn first. This can be augmented through magic or a Unique Character Attribute like “Fast.”
Say, two Dwarves, let’s call them Grumbles and Karl, are facing off with their axes. They roll initiative (1d6) and Grumbles gets to go first.
Grumbles is 2nd level (2d6), has an ax (2d6), has chosen axes as a Level Skill (1d6) and has the Strong Unique character attribute (1d6). She will combine these d6s with the normal d6 everyone rolls and roll 6d6. But she is wearing medium armor, which means she takes away 2d6. So she rolls 4d6. She rolls and gets 13. Not bad!
Lucky for Karl he is wearing his heavy armor. Not great for attacking, but great for defending. He gets 3d6 for that plus the standard 1d6 for a total of 4d6. He rolls and gets a 14.
Since 14 is higher than 13, Karl survives the attack. If it has been lower than 13, he would have been defeated and possibly killed if that was Grumble’s intent.
If he has rolled lower, he could have borrowed from his dice pool to boost his numbers and live to take his turn.
This is how all resolution works.
If a character wants to break down a door. The Gamemaster determines the strength of the door in d6s and then the character and the Gamemaster roll against one another to see if the character rolls higher and clobbers that door.
In the case of a tie. You roll again.
Each time a character goes up in level, they choose a new Skill. Skills can be anything, from a weapon proficiency, to casting a spell to pickpocketing. A level in a skill adds a d6 towards action resolution.
In our example above, Grumbles has a chosen axes as a Skill. Therefore whenever she attacks with axe, she get an extra d6 to roll.
You can stack skills taking higher level proficiencies. Stacked skills do not add a d6 to your action resolution rolls, but instead allow you to do multiple actions on the same turn.
So if Grumbles in the example above, who is second level, had taken a 2nd class skill with axes, she could have attacked Karl twice or split the attacks between Karl and his brother Tony.
Skill stacking in magic works similarly, but instead of an extra attack, the extra skill acts as a multiplier. So if you were a Wizard with a charm spell, who had taken 4 levels in that charm spell, you could charm up to 8 people.
Genres are settings that add rules to the game. They are defined and refined by the Gamemaster and their players.
They tend to grow as the game is played.
I will attempt to outline a few examples of how a Genre is defined during play starting with the Fantasy Genre.