Wednesday, June 29, 2022

3d6 Dungeoneers: Design Diary 1

While I've worked on supplements for OSR games like Black Hack and BX/Old School Essentials I've been gametorming my own jam for quite awhile now and I'm going to explore it here on the blog. The first RPG I ever played was Champions 4E and while I've moved away from it, the 3d6 resolution mechanic has really been calling me to come back for a visit. I like the bell curve and I want something less swingy than the venerable d20. Additionally, I've always been a fan of Mike Pondsmith' Mekton, Cyberpunk 2020, and Castle Falkenstein. Falkenstein, specifically, is the first RPG that showed me how you could wonderfully emulate the genre with its presentation and is probably when I first started looking at what we now call "story games". While I have no interest in using a card-based mechanic what really caught my attention was dispensing with Attributes or Ability Scores and simply using Skill Ranks that mostly defaulted to an average score.

In that spirit what I'm looking at involves separating each individual component of Ability Scores, Racial Traits, and Class Traits to form a Skill List. Most characters will default to 'Average" or in other words roll a 9 (37.5% chance) or less on 3d6.

Here are the individual components as a Skill List:

Armor Class


Climb Sheer Surfaces

Detect Construction

Detect Room Traps

Detect Secret Doors

Find or Remove Traps

Hear Noise

Hide in Shadows

Hit Points


Listening at Doors


Magical Saves

Melee Attack

Move Silently

NPC Reactions

Number of Retainers

Open Gates

Open Locks

Pick Pockets

Ranged Attack

Retainer Loyalty

Resist Breath Attacks

Resist Death and Poison

Resist Paralysis and Petrification

Resist Wands

Resist Spells, Rods, and Staves

Speak Languages

Turn Undead

I'm still workin out how Hit Points will eventually work under this system but as of now everything defaults to a 9 or less (9- in the future) and things like Armor Class will be affected by equipment. At the moment there are twenty-nine Skills and you will assign Ranks to Skills in the following manner: choose one Skill a 13-, two Skills at 12-, three Skills at 11-, 4 Skills at 10-.

Ten of the twenty-nine will be better than 9- under this approach and that feels about right at the moment.

You'll notice I haven't covered magic or spellcasting yet. I'm not a big fan of of mixing spell points and spellcasting skill rolls and further, I am really comfortable with some form of Vancian magic. I'm thinking I won't separate Arcane and Divine magic and may just allow anyone to cast using Spell Scrolls or Grimoires ala Knave. I have a setting in the back of my mind that would allow anyone to use magic in a similar fashion as RuneQuest, Glorantha, and Mythras because removing the Classes, in my mind, makes spellcasting merely another Skill anyone can develop. 

More soon.

1 comment:

Anthony Herring said...

Interesting! Am curious to see how it evolves.

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