Two for Christmas

image from ArtBreeder

filed under game design on 23 Dec 2016
tagged narrative, d6, theory, 6 against the dark, 6 days to adventure, 6 feet under, and rpglet

Edit 2/08: I somehow missed linking this earlier, but here’s a noir version using a different resolution mechanic and a different scene structure, 6 Feet Under. The tips below still apply.

So I wrote a couple more games. Before I even post-mortemed the first, even.

You see, 6 Hours to Midnight was supposed to be my homage to the Christmas season. But I think it ended up being quite a bit more suitable for New Year’s Eve, seeing as how the primary themes are masks and midnight. And the ruleset is pretty tidy, but it’s very specifically about carnality and competition.

So I sat down and wrote up a set of somewhat more generic rules that incorporate more of my “standard playstyle”. If you can really call any part of a constantly evolving, mixes in bits and pieces of inspiration from every game I like, changes depending on the mood and genre, playstyle “standard”.

Anyway, the mechanics and scene structure are intended to be used as a “framework” for just about any solo game of the style I tend to run for myself, with maybe a bit more formalized structure.

Of course, I needed a hook to make it evocative!

Casting about in my brain for a good Christmas theme involving lots of strangers and high tension (and high stakes) that wasn’t a party, I was completely stumped. I knew I wanted to incorporate a strong scene structure, almost like a board game. I knew I wanted plenty of opportunities for social interaction. I knew I wanted hard choices at the end.

So obviously:

“There’ll be scary ghost stories / And tales of the glories of the Christmases long, long ago”

Yes. I wrote a game of horror for Christmas.

And then I tried to playtest 6 Against the Dark, and I liked my heroes too much to let them go inside the haunted house. I may have mentioned I’m a wimp. Yeah, yeah, kill your darlings, but that entity in there is scary.

So I made some adaptations for those of us who are a little timid. 6 Days to Adventure, a framework for those big Indiana Jones, Clive Cussler, romping across the Sahara or the Amazon, fighting Nazis and mad scientists, epic style adventures.

Then I ran a playtest and it ended up being a paranormal romance. Haha. Go figure.

Some tips:

  • There are lots of charts. Roll on them as much or as little as you want.
  • Choosing is always fine, especially as you near the end of the game.
  • All you need is a d6. The charts with multiple lines are d66; roll 2d6, use the first as the line number (or 1-2 for line one, 3-4 for line two, 5-6 for line three, or even/odd if there are only two lines) and the second as the element on that line.
  • Fiat the scene event. It happens. Things are worse now. Make the challenge about dealing with the fallout.
  • Be as specific as you can be with the complications.
  • You don’t have to fill in all the details in play. Skip ahead. Just play it quick and dirty and if you want to go back later there will be a skeleton (of a novel?) waiting to be fleshed out.
  • If you want to play it with a group, one person is GM, everyone else is a character. Everyone keeps track of their own Score and spends that Score at the end.

Merry Christmas!