Thursday, February 26, 2015
Star Wars D6 (Week 4)
So just like last month this is the fourth and final week of my experiences with this month's game and the closest thing to a "review" I can will give on the system. This month if the tital didn't already tell you enough is the classic game Star Wars the Roleplaying Game from West End Games using their D6 System. I was incredibly happy that this one made the vote as I have a veteran gamer in my core group that praises this game up and down and in all honesty I now know why.
Once this year ends and things go back to a more stable roster of games rather than a new system every month this game WILL be coming back out. To put it simply this game is everything I personally look for in a system. It's designed to be fast an loose where the GM can make a judgement call for just about any situation and the few that really require hard numbers are all able to fit in charts on two sheets of a GM screen leaving a third for common enemies, vehicles and gear meaning if I set up right I could run a generic adventure without anything but those three sheets of paper. As for going past that the game has a single core rule, "If you don't know what to do make a target number, pick a skill, and have the character roll to hit that number." That's it. Now that's not to say that's ALL the rules the system has. Instead they go a route I wish more modern games would where the rules aren't simply modular, but evolving to fit the experience and skill of the GM. Yes everything can be run with the "core rule", but if you want more detail in your ship combat you just start adding the advanced rules for that. If you want chases or fights to be more crunchy with more precise rules they have that too. The part that makes it great is that even with in those advanced rule sets they are broken down into smaller chucks of rule so the GM can adjust how complex or quick their personal game is. It also doesn't hurt that while each of these chunks of rules could be their own splat book they are just part of the core book and all in one place.
The other aspect where this game shines is in how character's are built. For those that might not have read the article on character building (or just skimmed it) the basics are this: The GM picks a selection of templates for the players to choose. Once they pick which role they want to take on they then get to spend their skills in the options provided. Some of the templates are open to weather or not the character can be force sensitive while others are pre-decided. Basically what this means is if the GM has a story in mind they pick what broad roles will fit that story, such as a bounty hunter and fallen jedi in a dark underworld game, but not the noble up and up jedi. From their he can either pic templates from the books are makes ones from scratch if that's what's needed. The templates have what the characters concept is (such as bounty hunter), their gear, their attribute points, and what skills they can put points into at character creation. This lets the GM know what he's dealing with and build the story with that in mind ahead of time. The big plus to this over say pre-made character from most other systems is that while the skills available are already chosen they are always much more than the skills a player can start with. It's then up to the players to spend their skill points and refine the character to be who they want (Looks, name, gender). I've found this incredibly speeds up creation for new players as they only have one aspect to worry about and still allows for enough customization to let everyone feel like they are playing characters they made rather than jsut stepping into the shoes of people the GM built. Now for long campaigns with lots of player investment and more experienced players things can still step up a notch. The players simply work with the GM to make their own custom templates and thus characters from scratch so once players are ready to take those training wheels off they can with no issues.
The first problem that sticks out to me is one I feel like I'll be encountering a lot with the older systems, formatting. This game came out in what would still be know as the "early years of gaming". Thankfully my experience was with the 2nd Edition Revised so things had already cleaned up a good bit, but let's face it gaming publishers weren't swimming in time and resources so wording issues and spelling errors slip through much more often. That combined with simply being used to reading books that have benefited to decades of evolution and refinement of how to present rules left the book itself feeling clunky and awkward in many sections.
The only mechanical issue I had was simply the reliance of Strength in combat. Now we all are familiar with Strength being a core attribute in combat for anyone wielding a melee weapon, but in this game is goes a step furth as it is also the attribute used to determine if you get hurt when you're hit. When my players fought a rancor the creatures strength was 10D. This mean that it had a much better chance to not care about anything the players did than for the players to do anything. Now I know this is a big bad monster that is supposed to be tough, but I used the extremes to point out the issues since that where small problems magnify. To give so sence of how much damage something with 10D strength can sHrug off first I'll explain how it work. Basically once you hit a creature you roll your damage and the creature rolls it's Strength, depending on how much more damage your roll that the creature's roll then determines its wounds or if it is stunned. With that in mind I will let you also know that most blasters deal 2D of damage and a Thermal Detonator (A powerful ass explosive that only the bounty hunter starts with and they only get one) deals 10D. That means that the best chance is with a hard to get one time use item that would normally while a whole troupe of storm troupers instead has a fair chance to stun the creature and if they're lucky harm it. That said my players did suprize me and get creative, that combined with some lucky rolls left them able to walk away another day, but it was enough to make me worry.
You see the big problem I have with it isn't that a big bad monster is hard to kill, its that the same state that lets him crush everyone and be a threat is the one that makes him almost unkillable. That the ability to deal damage and shake off damage is one attribute means it's by far more effective than the others when combat comes into play. Even a character all about hanging back with a blaster needs to worry about it as getting hit can go real bad real fast while also worrying about their ability to actually hit the enemy. In turn the guy who goes up and wails on someone just really has to worry aobut the one stat. Yes it is balanced a bit by Dexterity being a attribute to hit things even in melee, but that high Strength character can just ignore all the damage till hit does hit and then it's game over.
(I would like to make a note that I do know this is much more than just a combat game, but let's be honest most players are going to look for fights and how damages is dealt vs taken is an important aspect of any system.)
To My Commenters:
This is where I usually defend my opinions or answer questions readers have posted in response to my earlier articles on the system. The Thing is I have a feeling this will be used much more when I DON'T like a system as when I do I haven't had anyone really disagree with what I've already said before. So with that I'm left with this filler paragraph so no one thinks I just forgot to mention it this month.
My Take Away:
Like I said once I go back to playing steady systems this will be one of them. I don't believe any system is for everyone, but for me this one is great. I found it odd reading through the book just how many ideas I thought of as "modern gaming" were actually just forgotten and now being rediscovered, but even more surprising is how some aspect of this system go even further to improve those ideas. The entire template concept I feel is inspired and if it were to come out in a new game I would have thought it was a fresh new way to get people who are used to video game RPGs into table top games while still allowing the flexibility for the veterans of the hobby. Even if this isn't normally you type of game and especially if you're looking to design you own game I would recommend tracking down a copy of this and giving it a read. IF you're a fan of Star Wars I would say this is a must own as most of what we now know as the "expanded universe" was actually fleshed out in this game and it's splat books.
For March we bring you Marvel Heroic by Margaret Weis Productions