Mini Six: Bare Bones Edition
A month or two ago, I was going through some of my older gaming stuff and came across a printed copy of the Mini Six: Bare Bones Edition roleplaying game. The fact that I spent the next fifteen minutes revisiting it made me remember how much I liked the game.
Mini Six is a very short RPG, published by Anti-Paladin Games in 2010. It is an incarnation of the D6 System, the same gaming engine behind the classic 1980s RPGs Ghostbusters and Star Wars, both by West End Games. To this day, I list those games among my top RPGs of all time.
West End Games sadly came to an end in the late 1990s, not long before Star Wars: Episode I: The Phantom Menace came out. Their demise was tied to their parent company, Bucci Retail Group, a shoe importer, declaring bankruptcy. There were several attempts to resurrect West End Games and their D6 System, though none found long-term success. The 2009 incarnation of West End Games released the D6 System as an Open Gaming License product entitled OpenD6. Knowing that that incarnation of West End Games was faltering, this maneuver prevented the game system from going down with its parent company. Shortly after, Anti-Paladin games released Mini Six—one of their goals being to show the D6 System was still viable.
Mini Six is a short book totaling 38 pages in length in PDF form. It is a black and white book with artwork ranging from silhouettes to sketched scenes. Maps have that old-school D&D-style hex map look and feel.
Mini Six begins with an introduction of the system. For those unfamiliar with the D6 system, it is a “bucket of dice system.” Characters in Mini Six have four attributes—Might, Agility, Wit, and Charm (a slight difference from most D6 games that tended to have more). Each attribute has a rating like 2D, 3D, etc. That indicates how many 6-sided dice you roll when testing an attribute. In addition to dice, attributes can also have “pips”—a constant you add to whatever you roll. For example, 3D+2 indicates you roll three six-sided dice and add two to your total. Pips are either none, one, or two (after two pips, you roll over to another die). When testing, you are attempting to beat a difficulty number.
Each attribute has several skills associated with it. Your base rating in a skill is equal to your attribute rating, but it can be higher. Both attributes and skills can be improved with experience, using character points gained after adventures. Improving skills is far cheaper.
In addition to attributes and skills, characters can have various perks (though at the cost of fewer points available for starting skills). This can include being an elf, a robot, attractive, supernatural abilities, etc. Characters can also have complications, a form of disadvantage. Unlike most games, complications provide no benefit to start. Instead, if the complication comes up in play, the character gets an extra character point for any session it comes up in—character points being the primary currency for advancement.
Characters also receive a boost from hero points, which provides them with various mechanical bonuses and influence over the setting.
In combat and other action sequences, characters can perform additional actions by accepting penalties. Each additional action suffers a loss of one D6 from tests for every extra action taken. One issue with the original D6 games several dice had to be rolled in combat—first to hit, then to avoid being hit, then for damage, then to soak damage. Mini Six preserves this system, referring to it as the “Traditional OpenD6 Combat” and presenting a “Fast Static Combat,” where defensive skills and soaking are handled via static ratings, with only the attacker rolling dice.
These basic rules and character generation take up just four pages. The rest of the game is dedicated to further refinements—not all of which will be applicable for all settings. For example, the two sections immediately following the basic rules are rules for vehicles and for “magic” (spells/psychic powers/etc.) There’s also a “monster” listing that provides sample NPCs, stock characters, supernatural foes, etc.
Next is a section on customization and optional rules—making skills independent from attributes, simplifying rolling for high skills, having separate paranormal attributes/skills, etc. There is also a brief discussion of how the game differs from traditional OpenD6 and how conversions can be made.
Finally, there are several sample settings, each taking up two to four pages. The sample settings provide both a capsule summary and rules additions and modifications. They are:
- Perdition – A Firefly-like Space Western
- Rust Moon of Castia – A traditional fantasy setting akin to old-school D&D.
- Farnsley’s Phantasm Investigations – Victorian-era supernatural investigators.
- Precinct ’77 – 1970s buddy cop emulation.
- Imperium in Revolt – Star Wars with serial numbers lightly filed off.
So… is this brief game a playable game? Absolutely. The D6 System has always been, at its best, a relatively light system that didn’t require a lot of rules. A gaming group should be prepared to do a fair amount of tinkering—all of the settings are presented in broad strokes. Specific options and rulings will likely be needed given the brief rules set.
I don’t think the Mini Six—or the D6 System in general—is suited for all settings or styles of play. While it gives players some narrative control, it is definitely a “traditional” RPG. I don’t think it’s the most appropriate game for dark, brooding tales of the cosmos or an in-depth examination of the human condition. It’s really well suited for the settings that West End Games used the D6 System for and the sample settings in this game—things like Star Wars, Indiana Jones, etc. While there have been superhero adaptations of D6, I think Mini Six would struggle with even a basic superhero game. For that, I’d suggest something like Mythic D6.
Perhaps Mini Six’s greatest strength is how fast you can get going with it. In the 1980s and 1990s, D6 Star Wars was my go-to system to introduce new players to RPGs. With its four pages of rules, Mini Six makes kicking off a new game, whether for gaming veterans or newbies, simplicity. While hasn’t been updated in over a decade, realistically, it probably doesn’t need to be.
~ Daniel Stack
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