Tuesday, May 5, 2009

My D6 System: Attributes

Through the course of my gaming career—ever since I first started using the D6 system in the early 90's, the rules have undergone steady modification. Many things could be termed 'house rules', but as I really began to stretch my legs with modification, the system really emerged as something different from the standard Star Wars system. I pulled bits and pieces from different games I was exposed to—most notably the D6 DC Heroes system. I've considered writing all of this up into an actual rule book form, but thus far, I've been too lazy. Blogging about this is much easier. So I'm going to do a series of posts on my system and some of the reasoning behind it.

First things first: My system deals mainly with tweaking the mechanics of the game—as far as capturing the spirit of the Star Wars movies goes, there is no way I could improve on the philosophy suggested by West End games. That's what drew me into the system to begin with. That being said, I'll start with the core mechanic of the game: Character attributes.

In the mainline Star Wars D6 system, the stats were: 

Dexterity — Represents all physical coordination, reflexes and speed—but also seemed to represent some aspects of hand-eye coordination—namely marksmanship with blasters and accuracy with thrown weapons.

Knowledge — Represents character knowledge, memory and reasoning abilities.

Mechanical — A somewhat ambiguous attribute that, to me at least, seemed to represent  hand-eye coordination, as it dealt with piloting, gunnery, driving and the like. But for some reason, it also included Astrogation

Perception — This represented not only the physical senses of the character, but seemed to also encompass less tangible things like intuition. It also governed a character's force of personality, i.e. their social skills (bargain, con, etc.)

Strength — Represents both physical strength and endurance. 

Technical — Represents a character's technical aptitude—this was a kind of catch-all stat governing all sorts of repair skills as well as skills in computer programming and operation—and even medical skills. To me, it seemed to represent the combination of knowledge of complex systems and the ability to physically manipulate them

This is and was a workable system. Sure, there are a few oddities (in my eyes) and things that don't seem to fit in one area or the other. But that didn't stop me from using it for the bulk of my Star Wars career. Eventually, though, as I started using the D6 system in other games—with non-Star Wars settings—my thoughts began to change. Strangely enough, I was already reworking the system when I first stumbled across the 'Generic' D6 system rule book. In their section about picking and choosing attributes to flesh out your personal campaign, I found some support for exactly what I was doing. Thus I came up with this:

Agility — Representing a character's physical coordination, balance, reflexes, speed, etc. I consider it as governing overall body movement and 'grace'. It does NOT govern fine motor skills and more physically removed hand-eye coordination. My justification for this is that not everyone who is graceful and coordinated—say in dance or martial arts—is necessarily capable of being a prodigy at video games, or at keeping a steady hand building model ships. Yes, there are crossovers and exceptions. But this was the distinction I made.

Dexterity — Representing a character's hand-eye coordination and fine manipulation abilities. So, essentially, I divided the old stat-system's Dexterity into two skills. However, I also decided that Dexterity is a determinant in technical abilities, too (more on that when I get to the skill system). So, Dexterity in my system also assumes a lot of the functions of the 'Mechanical' attribute in the old system.

Strength — This remains pretty much unchanged. But again, I altered what skills this covers just a little.

Intelligence — I thought this was a more descriptive term than just Knowledge, but it functions pretty much the same. This represents reasoning abilities, logic, memory, all that stuff. I essentially folded a lot of the skills governed by the Technical attribute under this one.

Perception — This now represent both physical senses and intuition—but does NOT directly govern all social skills.

Charisma — This represents a character's force of personality and governs most of their social skills.

So, looking at this list, I essentially eliminated two attributes (Technical and Mechanical) and split two of the other attributes in two (DEX became Dexterity and Agility; PER became Perception and Charisma). The skills formerly governed by Mechanical and Technical were folded into the other stats.

Overall, these aren't large changes. What really sets my system apart, however, is the way the attributes govern different skills. In the original Star Wars system, every skill was governed by one attribute. Brawl was based on Strength. Blaster was based on Dexterity, Starship-Tech was based on Technical, etc. Again, this was workable, and I used it. It made for a very easy-to-use system and character generation was a breeze.

In my system, however, most skills are not governed simply by one attribute. Some skills are governed by one or another attribute: Brawl, for instance, is based upon either Strength or Agility—whichever is higher. Other skills are actually governed by TWO attributes: A character's base Starship-Tech skill, for example, is determined by averaging Dexterity and Intelligence—thus representing both knowledge of the system, and the physical ability to manipulate it. In practice, this means that character generation takes longer. But it is something I don't mind—as in my campaigns, character generation is typically only done once. It doesn't really affect the creation of NPCs for me, either, since I only rarely fully stat an NPC anymore—I just go by the 'standard' skill levels (3D for some training, 4D for 'professional', 5D+ for expert, etc.).

So this, then, is the basis for my D6 system—still six attributes, but slightly different from classic Star Wars. When I post on this again, I'll delve into the skill system I'm using.

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