Borderlands Fan-RPG update

I posted the first mechanical draft last night. Anon has been shitting up the threads (as he so often does), so I’m not linking to the archive right now. I’ve also added to it (of course). In the meantime, I’m posting the FAQ section of the preview. This is both a sort of manifesto and a way of keeping myself honest as I start having to really buckle down and get to the nitty-gritty of hacking this system together.
Finally, I’d like to thank Anon for some of the cooler ideas in the game, including Slag Harpies, new corporate turrets, and the “Biggest Badass In the Room” rule.

What is D6? Who made it? When?
The engine was originally created by West End Games in the 1980s. It was intended to be fast-playing and cinematic, while also being easy for newbies to pick up. West End would use it as a universal franchised RPG. The two most notable licensed games were Ghostbusters and Star Wars, both of which licenses they lost in the mid 1990s. West End itself subsequently perished in the infamous D20 crash of 1999-2002. Refugees from the company still make a D6-based RPG, and the core system is now available for free from most RPG e-retailers.
I hold a special place in my heart for the first edition of the Star Wars RPG; the humor and immersion of its presentation are still basically unmatched. If you can find it, buy it just for the R2-D2 advertisement centerfold.
The insanely popular Paranoia does NOT use the d6 system, because Friend Computer is special.

How does it work?

The original system is closely related to the old World of Darkness in layout, but in practice functions more like D20. It uses a “DC “-like target number, which you roll against using your skills’ dice pools.
EXP are used to improve your Skills and (in this game) buy Quirks – unique improvements to your character that function similarly to the Skill Trees in Borderlands.

Why did you choose this system for Borderlands?
Several reasons.
• I’m comfortable working with it, since I’ve been hacking around with the basic system since I was 14.
• It’s a universal system that gives the right feel for Pandora. None of the rest really tickled my fancy.
Note, before I get into this system by system: yes, I actually have run and/or played multiple games with all of these systems. This is not just rarghrgarghfrothskub from a fa/tg/uy, this is an ADD-addled GM with 23 years of experience in dozens of systems breaking down his own logic.
• GURPS is too crunchy and yet too unfocused. Tri-Stat isn’t crunchy enough, and the mechanic is too easily-broken by character advancement.  Interlock can be readily broken in character creation and doesn’t deal with advancement well at all. None of the last three handle vehicles the way BL does – as disposable extensions of the characters. FASA D100 (Star Trek, early drafts of MechWarrior) focuses too much on the character’s history in character building, and the system is insanely lethal – hardly appropriate for how resilient BL characters actually are. I very seriously considered using a modified Crafty system for it, but D20 requires too much work on statting everything at multiple levels and doesn’t focus enough on what makes Pandora fun (guns, Skags, and shooting people with a shotgun that shoots fire instead of bullets). Not to say it wouldn’t work, but I really wanted the weapons to be modular, rather than discrete with modular add-ons. And don’t get me started on ammo tracking in D20…
• The D6 game mechanics, on the other hand, allow me to get crunchy enough for players to feel like their weapon choices matter, without losing the flow and pacing important to the game. The mechanics are intuitive for a generation brought up on D20, and you get to roll a lot of dice without being saddled with the picherfuls that Shadowrun, WoD, or Interlock can require. It’s also technically point-buy. Normally, I prefer random-build systems, but Borderlands itself is all about how you express your character off of a template, not taking what you get dealt and running with it. Character advancement is constant but incremental, and choosing between Skills and Quirks (an entire mechanic I’ve added) at low levels gives you some interesting choices. Basically, in a skill-based RPG, you can constantly feel like you’re accomplishing something without having those massive jumps in power that come with a level-based system; it also means that “human” enemies stay dangerous in packs for a lot longer.
• The BADASS mechanic just feels right for Borderlands.
I could see World of Darkness and FFG D100 (you might know it better as the Dark Heresy engine) both working, but I was comfortable here, and one anon was allegedly already working on an FFG-based system.

What did you change?
I added a LOT of mechanical crunch, with an eye towards keeping the speed-of-play and elegance of the engine. I altered or added the combat mechanics, the Ammo system (D6 uses “cinematic” ammo, like BESM, where it doesn’t matter until it does) Elemental Attacks, Quirks, Attributes, the flow of the combat round, the new Shield and Wound mechanics (D6 uses a far simpler version: this is more akin to the WoD system but more intuitive), and the new cash system. Not to mention the brand quirks and vast proliferation of weapon types.

What’s left before you put up a playtest draft?
Designing an intuitive character sheet, preferably one that includes everything you need to run an entire combat on one side of one sheet of paper.
Templating some playtest characters, and statting out enemies for them.
Writing out and/or converting several dozen more Quirks. Right now I’ve only got a half-a-dozen plus a couple of Signature Quirks.
Writing out and organizing the fluff in a coherent fashion. A couple of the people I’m bouncing this off of are unfamiliar with my inspiration: if they get the right “feel” from what I’ve written, I’ll know that the game has accomplished what I set out to do. I also want to dive more into this ‘verse; I’ve done as little “massaging” of the canon material as I can.

Legalese: No challenge is intended to the rights of any entity owning trademarks or copyrights mentioned herein. This is not created for profit, not an official product, and is in no way endorsed or approved by Gearbox, Lucasfilm Ltd., West End Games, or indeed any entity but Anonymous and myself. Use of the name of a game or other work for comparative or educational purposes does not imply that this game is a derivative of that work. Keep circulating the Tapes.

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1 Comment

  1. I played a bit of D6 Star Wars, and I thought it was excellent. I don’t feel like it needs added crunch personally, I thought it was a rather deep system actually. It seems like a great system for adapting Borderlands. It seems like the Star Wars attribute list doesn’t need to be altered for Borderlands, but I’d like to see what Borderlands specific stuff you do add.

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