Friday, May 11, 2012

D6F - Playing to Disadvantages (and Advantages)

As noted in my previous post, I’ve decided to run my campaign with a base D6 rule set, but with some good stuff from FATE grafted on - a beast I like to call D6F. The main thing I’m taking from FATE is the use of Aspects, which describe what a character is like, and give bonuses for using them in relevant situations.

The D6 system does have a similar mechanic in its use of Advantages and Disadvantages, but I find it unsatisfying. There are a lot of systems that incorporate the idea of character flaws into the game, but do so for the purposes of character depth only. FATE, on the other hand, makes disadvantages a critical part of game play and players are rewarded with FATE points for making their lives more difficult. So there’s a payoff beyond plain game flavor.

Take, for example, my character in our GURPS Knights of the Astral Seas game. I took a handful of disadvantages in order to get a few more character creation points, but they basically mean nothing now. Honestly, I’m not even sure what they are off the top of my head because I don’t ever use them. There’s no penalty for not playing them, and when I have role-played to them, it has often felt like a forced non-sequitur.

To its credit, D6 does give the Advantages/Disadvantages rule set some real in game purpose, but at the end of the day, it's still just a matter of character depth. I’m a real believer that human behavior responds to incentives—both in the free market economy and in gaming.

So, by making the D6 Advantage/Disadvantages into FATE Aspects, the mechanic will become an active part of play. What does this mean? Well, FATE’s FATE Points easily become the D6 Character Points (note: don’t confuse FATE Points with the D6 system’s Fate Points – ugh.) Players in my D6F system will have to spend character points to invoke the advantage of an Aspect they have. Similarly, they will earn Character Points for invoking a disadvantage or by subjecting themselves to a compel.

But wait – there’s more! In the D6 system, Character Points are not only used for doing cool stuff during the game, they are the mechanism for character development. So by taking disadvantages and creating more trouble for themselves during play, the players will actually be earning points to build their skills and attributes.

So now, instead of simply having to play out a character’s “Misogynist” Aspect with periodic derisive comments, they can actually earn Character Points to buy new skills or do awesome stuff simply by reminding the GM that bartering with the lady shopkeep may not go as smoothly as anticipated.

I think this blend of the systems nicely captures the best mechanics of both. Naturally, there are a number of corollaries that follow from this marriage, so stay tuned!


  1. I totally agree. Though in Knights, George's disads have come up: being girl-sized, wild magic, and something related to being a stuffy British gentleman.

    But I much prefer modern games that recognize that disads are the way to gain player spotlight time and not a way to make up a point deficit on your character sheet.

  2. Damn. You're totally right. I was actually thinking of the "quirks" when I wrote this. I honestly don't know what they are. The fact that George regularly blows himself up is, of course, integral to the character (and sometimes the game). I think the point about "player spotlight time" is awfully important, too.