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Friday, 12 July 2019

[Free RPG Day 2019] Mythic D6 Quick Start

Now in its twelfth year, Saturday, June 15th is Free RPG Day and with it comes an array of new and interesting little releases. Invariably they are tasters for forthcoming games to be released at GenCon the following August, but others are support for existing RPGs or pieces of gaming ephemera or a quick-start. The Mythic D6 Quick Start published by Khepera Publishing is an example of the latter, designed to provide an introduction to the Mythic D6 mechanics and a scenario for a total of four players plus the Game Master. It comes as a small, sixteen-page booklet, which includes the rules to play, a two-act scenario, and four pre-generated characters. Now it does not say any of this on the back cover blurb—and to be honest, it really should have done, because the Mythic D6 Quick Start does not sell itself on appearance alone.

With so little space, the Mythic D6 Quick Start does not waste any time in getting to the rules. Mythic D6 uses a dice pool mechanic, with the Game Master or player rolling—as the title suggests—handfuls of six-sided dice to succeed. A dice pool is typically equal to a character’s attribute plus a skill, for example, Reflexes plus Fighting in melee combat, the aim being to roll as many successes as possible. A roll of one, two, or three on a die is a failure, whereas a roll of four, five, or six counts as a success. One of the dice in a pool is always a different colour and that die is the Wild Die. When a one is rolled on the Wild Die, it counts as a critical failure, whilst two or three count as standard failures. Similarly, rolls of a four or five on the Wild Die count as standard successes, whilst a roll of a six on the Wild Die is a critical success. A critical failure cancels out another success, but a critical success allows a player to reroll the Wild Die. As long as a player keeps rolling a six on the Wild Die, he can keep on rolling.

In addition, some attributes and skills have modifiers—negative or positive, ranging from -2 to +2. This number is always applied to a single die to make it succeed or fail, although it cannot make the Wild Die into a critical success. The number of successes required for an action, ranges from Very Easy (one) and Easy (two) up to Super-Heroic (nine) and Legendary (ten), with Moderate being three and Difficult requiring four successes. The core mechanics are clearly explained in three pages before the scenario is presented.

‘Mannequins for Dummies’ is set in small town America. The player characters are members of a secret organisation called ‘the Institute’ which helps them use their superpowers to track down and destroy monsters. Tonight though, they have taken time off from monster hunting to get a little R&R at the County Fair held in Bandersnatch, Illinois, adjacent to the local high school. Suddenly, all hell breaks loose as shop mannequins attack the local event. Of course, it is up to player characters to intervene to help the quickly overwhelmed security for the County Fair. Clues—if you count the mannequins individually—point to the abandoned town mall, which is where the scenario’s second act takes place.

The adventure is okay. It is mostly all action, with some nice notes on the fight at the County Fair, though none are really given for the second act. As written, it could have done with a roleplaying opportunity or two and it could have done with some variation on what the player characters needed to do to succeed. That said, there is scope for the Game Master to develop the scenario as is her wont.

The Dramatis Personae or NPCs are reasonably well explained with values given both for how many dice an NPC rolls to act and the average number of successes this generates should the Game Master not want to roll the dice. Unfortunately, there are a couple of things that the section does not explain. First, what ‘PL’ is short for, but presumably ‘Power Level’, and second, what Hero Points are used for. Even the example of their use given is unhelpful.

Yet worse, this lack of explanation only escalates when it comes to the four pre-generated player characters. The four include an Adventurer with cyberlimbs which can stretch, a Bravo with a skills focus, an Icon capable of flight and electricity manipulation, and a Protector who is a trained (and lucky) pistoleer. The problem is that whilst it is generally obvious what a character’s attributes are, definitely obvious what his skills are, and definitely obvious what his powers are, it is not at all obvious how the powers work, how the advantages work, and indeed, how the disadvantages work. Of course, the Game Master could just make it up, but that is not the point of a quick-start or indeed, the Mythic D6 Quick Start. The problem is that the information is just not there.

Physically, the Mythic D6 Quick Start is short and small, just sixteen pages in length. It is done in greyscale throughout with some decent artwork.

The aim of any quick-start is simple. Explain the rules, provide a scenario that can be played using said explanation, and some characters ready to play that scenario. Now the Mythic D6 Quick Start does some of that—it does explain the core mechanics and it gives a scenario, but where it fails is in explaining the characters it does provide. As it stands, all it needed was an increase of say four pages to give each player character a fuller explanation of its abilities, advantages, and disadvantages, but right now, any Game Master coming to the Mythic D6 Quick Start will find that she needs to refer to the Mythic D6 full rules for the explanation needed—and that defeats the point of the quick-start.

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