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Dolmen Creative - Announcing "Destiny6 Roleplaying Game"

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The Destiny6 website mentions "tiered character advancement." this makes me think of DnD's class system ("I'm a level 6 wizard") instead of the usual D6 method of raising individual skills between games. Can you tell us anything about this aspect of your game?

 

Yes. Tiered advancement is a nice way of separating a starter character (Tier 1) from a character that has experienced many adventures/campaigns. A "tier" is a representation of the total number of character/creation points a character has. A starter, Tier 1 character in Destiny6 has 80 character points to build his/her character (basically 18D for attributes and 8D for skills). Not only does that character build his character from that many points, but so do creatures, NPC opponents, hazards, traps, and other skill obstacles (after all, not all conflict is in the form of combat). As that starter character becomes more experienced and spends character points on permanent functions of his/her character, the character's tier rises. Like scale, the difference in a character's tier vs. the obstacle's tier will give bonuses or penalties to dice rolls.

 

Example 1--Thom is a marksman template character, straight out of the Core Rulebook. He is a Tier 1 character and has followed the campaign's plot-line to its ultimate finally, a showdown with a despot king. The despot king is a Tier 2 character (built from 100 creation points). If Thom tried to snipe the king while he was in his audience hall, Thom would make a firearms skill check vs. the king's defense (as normal). However, because the king is a little more experienced than Thom, Thom would have a -2 penalty to his skill check and any damage that may be caused from the attack. If the king survived the attack and cast a spell at Thom's position, Thom would have a -2 to his resistance check.

 

Example 2--Thom and three of his companions venture into a dark alley in the slums of Cliffride. They are set upon by a group of street thugs. But, as the GM, how many thugs should be attacking? Thom and his companions are all Tier 1, the thugs are Tier 0 (unskilled, normal people). If two Tier 0 thugs equals a moderate challenge to a single Tier 1 character, then the encounter should have eight Tier 0 thugs attacking the characters. The characters (since they are skilled PCs) receive a +2 tier bonus to all skill checks against this group of ruffians. The ruffians realize their plight (from the shiny weapons and armor the characters wear and some well placed skill checks), and run off into the night without further incident with the characters.

 

Basically, this makes it easier for the GM to make conflict for a character group by mixing and matching the obstacle's tiers to equal the total number of tiers the characters have.

 

Good question. Keep them coming.

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That's an interesting concept and I'm glad you're not just creating a cool setting and dumping the same old tired D6 rules on top. However, I am wondering what purpose Tiers serve. It sounds like the Tier system double-dips since the higher-tier "despot king" from your first example has higher skills AND defensive/offensive bonuses. Isn't an experienced opponent's advantage already reflected in their higher skills? Or is it that Tiers allow for a wider range of combat skill proficiency without requiring buckets of dice for each high level character skill check?

 

In other words, most D6 skills range from 2D to 6D which is not a very broad spectrum to differentiate the weaklings from the absolute bad-asses. Under classic D6 rules, you can broaden that range by extending the reasonable skill max by making it easier for characters to get skills up to a much higher level (10, 11, or 12D) but now you and your players are each rolling buckets of dice for each skill check. It sounds like Tiers will exponentially widen that spectrum without letting skills get to ridiculous dice amounts. Is that correct?

 

The other tier system question that comes to my mind is how it will handle "high tier" non-combat characters who can kick the poop out of the low-tier combat characters. If the young and inexperienced warrior can't beat up a brittle old man because he is high-tier due to his extensive knowledge skills then that seems a little strange.

 

On a different topic, I was wondering if you could talk a little about how Destiny6 deals with classes. In traditional D6 Fantasy settings, the wizard was always far more interesting to play than the warrior since his magic abilities gave so many more options in most situations. Do your classes each have access to special abilities that they can develop to make them all somewhat "interesting"?

Edited by Option

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Yes. The tiers do widen the spectrum without too many dice getting in the way of smooth game flow. Destiny6 is all about the flow. As to the "seasoned" skilled opponent vs the young warrior, it really depends on the situation. We'll use the following example.

 

A cloistered old monk has spent his considerably long life locked away in study and prayer in a far off library. His back is bent and his fingers are riddled with the arthritis of age and uncountable hours spent copying texts. His mind is sharp and he has deciphered many of the land's secrets. A young, proud barbarian happens upon the remote library during a snow storm and is welcomed by the aged monk to join him for supper. The superstitious young man listens to the monk's tales with a growing hunger and lust for undiscovered treasure and glory. The old monk looks to be frail and the young barbarian knows he can take him in a fight for the secrets he holds.

 

Mechanically, the old monk has the physical attributes of 2D Reflexes, 2D Coordination, and 2D Strength; but his mental attributes are 5D Intellect, 5D Perception, and 5D Charisma. He also has quite a number of skills (and skill specializations) in mostly Intellect- and Perception-based skills. So (for this example), the monk is at least a Tier 3 character. The young barbarian is perceptive and a physical powerhouse, but not very intelligent, charismatic, or skilled with anything except his axe. A basic Tier 1 barbarian character. The old monk could possibly talk to the barbarian and attempt to sway him from following a course of violence, but the the decision is ultimately up to the barbarian's player who has decided to attack the old monk anyway. The barbarian will eventually beat down the monk, even with the difference in their tiers. And though the young barbarian has secured the maps and information leading to great wealth and glory, he has destroyed the man who showed him kindness and could have been a great ally or mentor in future adventures.

 

Yes, the numbers will almost always fall in favor of the barbarian in a straight up fight. However, in this example there is more to be lost than to be gained from attacking the monk. We also state very early in the book the basic Rule 0 caveat: "the rules presented here are to be used as a guideline. If something doesn't fit to a specific situation, don't use it. Just be consistent in your rulings as the GM."

 

 

As to the character occupation templates presented in the Core Rulebook. There are a small number of very simple, basic occupations that are nearly as generic as they come (ex-thief, warrior, or merchant). The simple templates are designed to give the player a base character to start with. The lion's share of templates are more complicated and have color build into them (ex-wizards, grey wardens, and aurors). These templates have more abilities built into them and are more readily defined in the game world. The trade off for this is cost. The simple Tier 1 occupation templates cost far less than the more complicated templates, thus leaving more room for customization in the simpler templates. Sure, most players want to be able to burninate the countryside with a single thought, but when you have no points left to purchase the dice in the skill to control that ability, it gets a little scary for anyone dealing with the character.

 

And, templates are just an option. Full rules are given to build a character from the ground up, increase or decrease the Tier of a template, and how to apply racial features.

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Wow, great reply JP, thank you! I recently gave DnD 4E a try and I thought it was interesting how every class had special abilities in combat. Instead of a fighter just "attacking" with his sword over and over, he could choose between a few special weapon attacks that had various advantages and sometimes even disadvantages. Does Destiny6 have any mechanics for special attacks? If so, do they have to be learned (bought with character points) or are all attack variations available to any character who can wield the appropriate weapon?

 

Also, can you tell us a little bit about character races? From the sample art you've posted, it looks like we can expect the usual elves/dwarves but it looks like there is may also be some less traditional options for races (judging from the panda humanoid). Mechanically speaking, are races going to be "packages" of advantages/disadvantages and special abilities that players can buy at character creation? Or is it more like D6 Starwars where your race is free and mostly only dictates attribute limits?

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Yes. Destiny6 does have special attacks with unique mechanics. And the basic mechanic of the attack system does need to be purchased with character points, but I am unable to go into any more than that at the moment. After all, we want to be "revolutionary" instead of giving away one of the fingerprint hallmarks of Destiny6 and becoming "I also saw that mechanic in..."

 

As to the races. They are purchased with creation points. But, we have taken a page from some much much older RPGs and have given each race a few extra ability suggestions along with color background if a character takes certain options ("Only dwarven nobility have the ability to speak to stone. You must be from one of the lost noble houses!"). Mechanically, these are packages that are purchased at character creation, and the package not only gives special abilities, traits, and attribute bonuses but also attribute limits, possible fatal flaws, and other non-mechanical information. At the moment, we have five templates available as PC races (though any creature could technically become a PC): human, elves, dwarves, dji (a humanoid insect), beastkin (the panda warrior is one of these), and two "touched" half-races: the angelically touched (also called the Pure) and the daemonically touched (also called the Corrupted).

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Thanks again for taking the time to post JP. The “Corrupted” and “Pure” half-races sound pretty cool. If I understand your description correctly, that means you could be a Pure Dwarf or a Corrupted Elf? (i.e. the “half-race” is applied to one of the full races)

 

I’ll again reiterate that I’m excited to hear you’re creating some new game mechanics to spice up the usual D6 framework. I believe additional mechanics are necessary to make a compelling Fantasy roleplaying game using the D6 system which, in its original state, is best suited to Space Opera genres (IMO).

 

That being said, I am curious if you are making it a high priority to keep the Destiny6 rules streamlined and intuitive. The generic D6 system is appealing to me because of its simplicity and flexibility. When my gaming group tried DnD (4E), I was disappointed find that our roleplaying game turned into a strategy/tactics game every time we entered combat and had to pull out a giant grid and a pile of minis. These battles took up most of our gaming time and my newer players got frustrated with the restrictive and sometimes complex combat rule system. I recognize that it may be an impossible goal to create game mechanics that are both interesting/balanced and simple/flexible but what are your thoughts on this with regard to Destiny6? Will I need to dust off our grid and minis to play?

 

PS Only user accounts that are logged in can view this forum. Perhaps we should move this conversation to the public Dolemen Creative forum?

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In regards to the half-races: yes. They are (essentially) a template that is applied to another template. After all, why do humans always have to corner the market on half-races?

 

In regards to streamlining/intuitive gaming: I cannot stress this enough, options are great but they should NEVER interfere with the flow of game play. Like you mentioned, when the player's actions are dictated by the "best" series of modifiers, the game moves from the realms of roleplaying to the realms of video games. While Destiny6 is designed for a whole market of new gamers out there (many coming from video game, 3e, and 4e backgrounds), we remain true to our grognard roots (I started gaming back in the 1970s). Do you need to dust of your grid and graphing calculator? No. Could you? Sure. We try to be as flexible as possible without suffering "feature creep." Feature creep is what happens to a long-lived game system when the written rules are unable to handle the imaginations of those playing by those rules. New features are added to encompass a new series of special events, until the basic rules have been completely obscured by them. This makes systems bulky and rigid (ex-4e combat). Destiny6 keeps a simple premise: roll a skill check, compare the result to the Difficulty, communicate results, repeat. The reins of your game are back where they belong, in the GM's hands (novel concept for modern gaming, I know).

 

Heck, I could honestly make a game system that encompassed a single page of rules that used a coin: Have the players flip a coin for every action they wish to undertake (combat, spellcasting, skill check, etc.). If it comes up heads, they are successful. If it comes up tails, they aren't. Destiny6 (and the basic d6 framework) are the next evolution from that type of gaming. Keep it fun, keep it simple, keep it dramatic, keep it fast. Never let the "rules" get in the way of good game play; how else would David beaten Goliath with a single sling stone?

 

Destiny6 does offer quite a varied series of character creation options. But, instead of unique, rarely used, or cumbersome rules to shatter the shared illusion created during play, Destiny6 uses the same rules across all options.

 

I'll chat with the powers that be to see if we can get this thread moved over to the Dolmen portion of the forums.

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I'm glad to hear that speed and ease of use are primary priorities of Destiny6. However, the fact that it boils down to the simplicity of a dice roll verses a Difficulty number doesn't necessarily mean it's fast and easy to use. Technically, the same could be said for DnD 4E: roll a D20, add a modifier and compare to the difficulty. Yet, we've seen how mucked up that can get :)

 

So I was wondering if you could talk about what "Dark Fantasy" means for Destiny6. That term makes me think of a fantasy setting (medieval wizards and warriors) with a focus on undead or demonic forces. Maybe a Castlevania or Diablo setting if you've played those games.

 

Also, I've read that you've taken a staple of the fantasy genre and added your own twist to it with Destiny6's unique take on dragons. Is this a common theme in Destiny6? Will a Destiny6 GM be able to surprise seasoned DnD players or Tolken readers? I found that with DnD, most of the players knew all about the various races and moster types. As soon as the GM described the small dragon-like humanoids we had encountered, someone said "Oh, we're fighting Kobolds!" Things like that are a necessary evil with an IP as old and prominent as DnD but I think it really detract from the sense of exploration and discovery.

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Dark fantasy is indeed a traditional high fantasy setting with dark twists. But, it's more than the idea of mortals vs. demons in a bid for survival. It's about reaching into the heart of nightmares and trying to come through the other side unscathed. It's about mortals facing their own internal demons--not so much good vs evil, but more like the id vs the ego, the light and dark sides of the core of our existence being exposed.

 

Imagine a peaceful farming community far from any major city. Everyone knows everyone else and the town celebrates their collective triumphs, mourns their individual losses, and is generally a nice place to be with friends and extended family. But, at night, the town is plagued by dark creatures that murder and devour travelers. The townsfolk know not to open their doors to strangers after twilight, or they too may be devoured by the evil the hides from the light of day. Are these ephemeral creations the coalesced collection of the town's subconscious desire to remain isolated and insular? Are these creatures protecting the village from the influence of outsiders? Are the few townsfolk that are attacked by the creatures considered to be traitors to the town's way of life and the creatures are the executioners of some form of insidious justice? These are the questions and situations that form the central base on which the dark fantasy setting of Destiny6 stands.

 

Tolkien fantasy is the basis for D&D. Dave Arneson and Gary Gygax said as much in their collectively large number of interviews over the three-and-half decades between their evolution of the first D&D game to the time of their passing. I had the pleasure of working with both of these men, but I was far closer to Dave than Gary (I was one of the lead designers of the 30th anniversary of the Blackmoor campaign setting). Cliches were commonplace in the earliest editions of that game system. As RPGs grew in popularity from the 1970s and into the 1980s, those cliches became icons. The dragons, knights, and mythology were based on the romantic literature of medieval and post-war Europe. By the time 3e D&D appeared on the shelves (when RPGs became a truly popular cultural phenomena), the iconic creatures and situations from the early days of gaming had indeed become passe. In the chats I had with Dave, I caught a glimpse of what it was like when these dusty old ideas were new.

 

Here it is 10 years later. The basic mechanics of D&D have evolved again, but the icons are still stuck in the past. When the large, armor-scaled reptile with bat-like wings and flames sprouting from its fanged maw flies over the sun-dappled ridge and swoops down on the PCs over a snowy plane, they no longer cringe in fear and awe. They simply see treasure on the wing and ask silly questions like "what color is it?" It's mechanical, cold, and lacks that staple gut-check of those early gaming sessions of the 1970s. Destiny6 is that gut-check. That is why artwork is so important and why we delayed the launch of the Core Rulebook. Anyone can purchase some filler art from 1,000 different websites and artists and make their game look like all the others: medieval European dragons, dungeon-punk adventurers, and tired old iconic monsters. We try to break preconceptions of the icons and make them more realistic without them coming across as entirely alien. The icons still have all of the old abilities (and a few new ones), but instead of giving them just a fresh coat of anime ink, we build them from the ground up to really suit the dark fantasy genre. If your D&D players aren't phased by a raging adult red dragon diving at them from out of the sun, how would they react if a fire-breathing, glider-winged reptile (about the size of two large horses), dropping in on them from the canopy of a dense forest full of old-growth trees?

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As always, thank you for the thorough reply! Although I have never played them, your description of dark fantasy brings to mind the “Call of Cthulhu” roleplaying games. I could be mistaken but I always got the impression those games emphasized themes internal darkness and struggle (to the point where a prominent feature was its mechanics for tracking/reducing a character’s sanity). I don’t expect Destiny6 will be “dark” to that extent but I’m glad it means more than just fighting zombies and demon worshipers.

 

Another feature that caught my attention when reading the product highlights of the Destiny6 Rulebook was “loads of mundane and magical gear.” This is an area in which D6 has always seemed to be a bit weak compared to many other systems since its mechanics are simple and the number of skills is relatively low. Thus, it seems like a difficult task to create a large variety of items that are different in function and/or quality. Can you tell us anything about the gear in Destiny6 and how/if you dealt with this issue?

 

On a related note, can you tell us about the potency and rarity of magic equipment in Destiny6? Would it be considered the find of a lifetime for a character to uncover a magic ring or will high level characters be covered from head to toe in magical equipment? Also, does the magic gear offer small bonuses and tricks or are they overwhelming game-changers on the battlefield?

Edited by Option

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I can absolutely appreciate the effort given to art direction for such a book. I think it is a good move on your part, JP.

 

Were you planning on releasing the PDF version before the printed version?

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Things are on hold for the moment. We lost our momentum when we discovered a devastating error during final edit. That discovery applied the breaks to the project and we've had difficulties getting the pieces picked up and moving again. However, our flame may be only embers, but its not out. We just have to find the breath to blow back into it.

 

Thanks for checking on us!

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Okay JP,

 

Good to know, but can we get more than that? I really want to throw money at this project and get at the very least a PDF copy in my hands, but it would be snazzy to know how long down the road until the embers go ablaze and burn everything in their wake.

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I'll try to not make this a big deal... every time I get my spirits up and get super pumped, I over-reach and end up falling on my face with this book. So, yes the embers are glowing hot... white hot. Will they burn everything in their wake? When the flames kick up, I will let everyone know about a month in advance. I am in the process of re-testing the new mechanics and fixing other editing gaffs the new mechanics created. Writing is 100%. Artwork is 100%. Editing is 50%. Re-testing is 25%. Layout is 10%. I promise to make a better announcement closer to each phase's completion. And thank you everyone for your continued support, you folks are what make the long hours in front of the computer worth it!

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Great. Thanks JP. It makes me wonder how compatible with other D6 related items this will have, and how interesting conversion will be since you are working to polish mechanics.

 

Can't wait to see what is coming, but I guess I have to.

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