Monday, February 01, 2010
Mini-Six is a super condensed free version of Westend's D6 game system that was originally created by Greg Costikyan for the Star Wars RPG in 1987. It does a good job of keeping things simple and concise and packing a lot of information into a small page count. These sorts of projects tend to excite me as a game player more than others as I like to work from RPG tool kits. I like a quick rules over view. I want to be able to digest a system's concepts without reading a novel and Mini-Six gives me that.
Greg Costikyan is a my kind of game designer. He created Toon (and the 'template' nature of attribute/skill assignment seems to be carried over from Toon to Star Wars.) He certainly seems to understand the concepts of accessibility of system and quick game play. His dedication to "playability" is evident in Star Wars, and it is retained in the small playable Mini-Six. The d6 system is a good one. It works. It is easy to teach and quick to play.
Interestingly, Westend's D6 core documents, D6 Adventure, D6 Fantasy, and D6 Space are all available for free download over at RPG Now.
This may seem to make Mini-Six obsolete, but I personally prefer the small package in which Mini-Six is presented. It's got everything you need and nothing you don't. I say download it all, take Mini-Six to the table with you to use as a reference while you play and keep the rest to read when you feel the urge.
Realizing my preference for the small and concise Mini-Six over the fluffier, prettier, official D6 Documents (which are fully illustrated, nicely detailed and quite attractive) has got me thinking. Both are free. Many would argue that the larger more attractive volumes are the better choice. Why don't I think so?
I am curious about the kinds of game information that GM's and players take to the table top when it comes to actual play. I want things that are easy to remember and reference, and that won't get in my way. That's why I like RPG's in small packages. I also think this is a big part of the OSR. Old School is familiar and simple and easy to deal with at the tabletop. The problem with this is that game systems don't sell games. A good clean easy game system will sell a copy to a group who will then play the game for years.
Fluffy games with loads of information and juicy setting details and all the trimmings will be sold and read and then put on a shelf. The gamer goes back and plays the familiar game he already has. The reader having read fluffy game "A" goes to the store and buys fluffy game "B." Gamers will buy a game to play, but readers drive the market. Readers are the ones who will buy games returning to the store looking for the next interesting "read." All the fluffy, juicy bits are what grabs the reader, because reading a game is a different experience than playing a game.
Game players do not drive the industry. Game readers do. Game readers purchase more product. But game reading is not game playing and that is why we have things like Mini-Six available for free. As I look back at the games on my shelf that I love the most, it's not the game with the most clever genre twist or the most clever setting that grabs my attention. It's the game with rules that are easy to play or to mentally envision "in play" that are the ones that speak to me. This is an important distinction because it reflects what drives me as a game designer and helps me to stay on point as I move forward in my own endeavors.