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Attributes represent a character’s basic aptitudes—her inherent levels of ability in various areas, from physical strength to logical reasoning. Your gamemaster will provide you with either a character template (a partially created character that you can customize to use as your own) or a list of attributes that will be used for his game world (so you can create a character from scratch).
Example: Space Opera Game Attributes Strength: overall strength and level of physical conditioning Reflexes: reaction time Coordination: aim and balance Perception: observation and sixth-sense Reasoning: deduction and problem-solving Knowledge: education (formal or informal) Characters begin with a total number of dice dictated by the gamemaster, usually three dice per attribute. In our example then, a starting character would have a total of eighteen dice (18D). You decide how those dice should be divided among the character’s attributes. If you want to create a space smuggler, for example, you’ll probably concentrate your available dice on the character’s Strength, Reflexes, and Perception attributes, the aptitudes most important to someone with that career.
Example: Space Smuggler Character—18 Total Dice Strength: 4D Reflexes: 4D Coordination: 2D Perception: 4D Reasoning: 2D Knowledge: 2D
You might have noticed that none of these die codes have pips. Well, you can break up these dice into smaller units (just like you can break ten into ten ones). Each die code has three levels of pips: 0, 1, and 2. The progression looks like this: 0, +1, +2, 1D+0, 1D+1, 1D+2, 2D+0, 2D+1, 2D+2, 3D+0, 3D+1, 3D+2, 4D+0, et cetera. Since any number plus zero equals that number, we can drop the +0 pips, leaving us with: +1, +2, 1D, 1D+1, 1D+2, 2D, 2D+1, et cetera. We can then divide one die (1D) into sub-units of three +1’s, or a +1 and a +2. Just remember that three pips equals one die (1D=+3). (Don’t worry, it’s not as complicated as it seems.)
Example: Revised Space Smuggler Character—18 Total Dice Strength: 4D Reflexes: 3D+2 Coordination: 2D+1 Perception: 4D Reasoning: 2D Knowledge: 2D
Let’s check our math. First we’ll add the dice (4D+3D+2D+4D+2D+2D=17D) and then the pips (2+1=3=1D) for a total of 18D (17D+1D=18D). Attributes typically have a lower limit of 2D and an upper limit of 4D, with 3D the average. Special circumstances can change those boundaries—ask your gamemaster about them if you’re interested (or read the Characters chapter of the Gamemaster Section). Still with us? Good. Don’t worry, the die code progression is the most difficult part of the game. Once you’ve got that, everything else is simple.
When creating a D6 System game, begin with the four core attributes. These are the aptitudes required for the combat encounters referred to throughout the rest of the book (if you plan not to have any battles, you don’t need these abilities).
Alternate Names: Aim, Dexterity Coordination represents a character’s ability to perform feats that require manual dexterity or hand-eye cooperation, i.e., fine motor skills. Such tasks include firing a bow or gun, picking a lock, and throwing a grenade. Note: In Star Wars, the Dexterity attribute encompasses both Coordination and Reflexes.
Alternate Names: Constitution, Stamina Endurance is a measure of a character’s bodily resistance, i.e., how well his body stands up to attack, whether from direct injury or more insidious sources like poison, disease, or magical sickness. Note: In Star Wars, the Strength attribute encompasses both Strength and Endurance.
Alternate Names: Agility, Balance Reflexes gauges a character’s gross motor coordination, i.e., the ability of his mind and his muscles to react to a potential threat or a sudden occurrence. Examples of skills that rely on Reflexes include dodging an attack, fighting with a melee weapon (a sword, a knife, et cetera), and balancing on a tight rope. Note: In Star Wars, the Dexterity attribute encompasses both Coordination and Reflexes.
Alternate Names: Athletics, Physique Strength represents a character’s physical power—his ability to lift heavy objects and to inflict damage with a hand-held weapon (like a sword or a knife). Note: In Star Wars, the Strength attribute encompasses both Strength and Endurance.
In designing a game system, you must determine which aptitudes (other than the core) most affect play. If your game world has magic, you may want to include the Magic attribute in character creation. If you want the players to rely on their own knowledge—if, for example, you’ve set your game in the real world where the players take on the roles of characters similar to themselves—you won’t include the Knowledge attribute.
Choose those aptitudes that you would like to have reflected by die codes, i.e., abilities that require a die roll to determine their success or failure. If, for example, characters in your game world can use psionic powers consistently with no potential for failure, then don’t include the Psionic Power attribute, just tell the players that they have the ability and may use it without fail, subject to whatever other restraints you have imposed (once per day, only during a full moon, and so forth).
Example: I’ve created a game world that combines fantasy with science fiction: magic-powered technology exists in small quantities; characters carry mostly ancient-style weapons (swords, knives, and other blades); and most people have some affinity for magical bindings. I begin creating my character template by selecting the core attributes: Coordination, Endurance, Reflexes, and Strength. Next, I decide to include Knowledge, Magic, Perception, and Technology. I’ve opted to allow the players to rely on their own intellect and deduction abilities, and the rest of the attributes don’t apply to my game world. So, characters in my game (this particular incarnation of my game, at least) have the following attributes: Coordination, Endurance, Reflexes, Strength, Knowledge, Magic, Perception, and Technology. I record these names in the spaces provided on the Character Creation Template. Now I determine the starting attribute dice. I have eight attributes, which I multiply by three to get a total of 24D in starting dice. You may opt to include none, some, or all of the following attributes.
Alternate Names: Intelligence, Reasoning This attribute measures the mathematical, conceptual, and deductive capabilities of a character. Typical skills which it could govern include estimation (mentally figuring out values), deciphering languages, or code-breaking.
Alternate Names: Lore, Wisdom, Science The Knowledge attribute represents a character’s level of education in various fields, from scientific pursuits like physics to philosophical concepts, from history and languages to magical lore and planetary systems. Any information a character could know in the game world could fall underneath this attribute. Again, if you’re playing in a universe where combat rules the day and thinking takes a far second, then youse ain’t gonna care ’bout Kh-no-ligee (I’s hates dose silent letters—now where’s my big gun?).
Alternate Names: Chance, Destiny Sometimes a character succeeds at a task purely on luck—the situation just happened to work out to his benefit. This attribute requires the GM to determine when a Luck roll is called for, and what the generated value from such a roll indicates. Note that “luck” can apply to both good and bad occurrences. Example: A group of player characters exit the tavern after a night of carousing, and begin to meander down the street. You call for a Luck roll, and the highest total is 18. You had decided that if at least one of the characters rolled greater than 15, it would mean that the group would accidentally bump into the thugs sent to beat them up. If no one had rolled over 15, however, the thugs would have come in from a different direction and missed the group entirely.
Alternate Names: Dweomercraft, Mysticism, Witchcraft The Magic attribute gauges a character’s affinity for the use of mystical forces. Most skills based on this attribute are spells, though others do exist, for example, the ability to determine what incantation another character is attempting to perform. See Chapters Six and Eleven for more information on magic systems and their game mechanics.
Mechanical Alternate Names: Mechanics, Sensory Extension, Symbiotic Attachment Mechanics represents a character’s ability to repair machinery, vehicles, weapons, armor, androids, and so on. It can also measure ability in skills which require a combination of Reflexes and Knowledge, like shield operation, riding, and driving (you must first learn how to operate the device, but then you must rely on quickness to use the device to its potential).
Alternate Names: Awareness, Cognition, Observation, Sense Sometimes a character may have the opportunity to notice something in his surroundings that might provide an important piece of information. For example, a character might spot a bulging pocket on an adversary, which may indicate the presence of a concealed weapon. The Perception attribute covers such instances as well as those skills that require the ability to read the emotions or logical reasoning of another, like bargaining, commanding, or persuading.
Alternate Names: Charm, Presence This attribute represents a character’s personal effect on others. It includes such skills as oration, acting, and grooming.
Alternate Names: Psychic Ability Like Magic, this attribute applies only in game worlds where this phenomenon exists, and represents a character’s ability to wield psychic powers, from danger sense to pyrotechnics to telekinesis. See Chapters Six and Eleven for more information on psionics. Technical Alternate Names: Technology The Technical attribute measures a character’s aptitude for technological equipment, from computers to electronic listening devices to electronic security, as well as those skills that require a combination of Knowledge and Coordination, like first aid and forgery.
Alternate Names: Mental Fortitude, Mind, Spirit A character’s Willpower represents his ability to withstand mental attacks, whether they come from situational pressures, like stress, or direct assault, like magical or psychic phenomena.
Rule Variant: The No Attributes OptionEdit
You can forego the use of attributes and instead create characters with skill die codes only. Treat all skills as if they had a base attribute equal to the species minimum of a particular character (for humans, use the standard 2D). Players then select the skills they wish to increase (following the normal rules for distribution of starting skill dice). Example: Your human barbarian character has 15D in starting skill dice. You decide to apply 5D of that to lifting, giving him a total of 7D in lifting (the base of 2D plus the 5D I spent), 4D to brawling, giving a total of 6D in brawling (the base of 2D plus the 4D I spent), and the remaining 6D to sword, giving a total sword skill of 8D (2D + 6D).
The recommended starting skill dice with the “No Attributes” option is 15D. Increase or decrease this die code depending on the tone of your game world. Also, you may allow players to ignore the 2D spending limit per skill (as done in this example). You can treat the attributes (Coordination, Reflexes, and so on) as skills since you’ll need them for certain cases (like Endurance for resisting damage), or you could create specialized skills that cover those areas (like the resist damage skill rather than Endurance).
This option works extremely well for dimension-hopping, time-faring, or genre-crossing games. If a character arrives at a place (or time, or whatever) where a skills exists, he can learn it and the player can add it to his skill list. You don’t have to worry which attribute the skill falls under. You can therefore pick up any game and just use the skill names without having to spend time determining the attributes that govern each—in fact, you don’t have to worry about the attributes used in the game at all. To determine the skill die code of any gamemaster character from that game, just add use the skill value listed (e.g. parachuting 4D+1) and treat all other skills (skills that would normally rely on an attribute die code) as having the minimum species dice.