(portions of pg. 126-129-Masterbook)
Combat and interaction in D6/Masterbook is enhanced by the card deck. which speeds up play and introduces an interesting aspect of chance to the game. Instead of simply determining initiative by rolling a Perception and keeping up with who has the highest in the group, the card deck is used instead. Characters on both sides can be affected by interesting “side effects” that come up when the cards are flipped.
Below is a rough overview of the Masterbook initiative system for Combat, converted to D6. Some details are left out because they are covered in Masterbook.
The Card Piles
The Card Deck
The card deck is the remaining cards after player characters have been given their cards. It should be set out on the table where everyone can see it. This deck will be used to draw cards from to determine initiative and to replenish player character hands at different times. When this, card deck runs out, shuffle the discard pile and the initiative pile and start over again.
The Initiative Pile
The top card on the pile is always the initiative card (see Determining Initiative) for the current round. The claim card cannot remove a card from the initiative pile.
The Discard Pile
When a card is used by a player, or discarded for some reason, it ends up on top of the discard pile. This is the pile referred to in the description regarding the Claim card.
During round, it is always Important to determine who acts first. This is called determining initiative. The card deck does this for you in D6/MasterBook. Instead of rolling Perception for each side, keeping up with who has the highest, etc., the GM follows these rules.
To use the card deck to determine initiative, you are determining what “side” is going first – the player character side or the gamemaster character side – in a combat or interaction round, and which side acts last. The GM needs to use the initiative pile and the card deck. At the beginning a combat or interaction round, the top card on the card deck is flipped over and the initiative line read to the players. The card should be laid out in front of the players, on the initiative pile.
- “S:” / “D:”: Every initiative line begins with either an “S:” or a “D:”. These abbreviations stand for “Standard” and “Dramatic.” They are the types of scenes the story is currently in. During a “Standard” scene, use the “S:” line; during a “Dramatic” scene, use the “D:” line. This is more or less determined by the GM. If it is not a critical encounter, then it’s Standard, otherwise it’s Dramatic. If you don’t want to make that kind of decision, simply use the Standard line at all times.
- “P” / “G”: The next notation on the initiative line will be either a “P” or a “G.” These letters stand for either ‘Player Characters” or “Gamemaster Characters.” Whichever is first in the line gets to act first in the round.
- Initiative Line Effects: Following the “P” or “G” may be one of the following words: fatigued, flurry, inspiration, setback, stymied, up, breaks, confused or a skill name. These are called initiative line effects or round conditions. If one of these results is found, apply those results to the side it is listed with. See below for definitions of the conditions.
Each flip of the card deck stands for another round. If the card is a picture card, the picture card can either effect play or be ignored, based on the GMs judgement, and then another card must be drawn for initiative. Force Cards always effect when pulled up in initiative. For example, if an Interloper card is pulled up during a space battle between the players and some pirates, the GM can say that Imperials arrive that turn. He would then pull the next card to determine initiative.
Initiative Line Effects
These initiative line effects simulate the dramatic, changing, and often dangerous nature of adventures; the uncontrollable contingencies that affect abilities and actions. Here are the different effects that can come up either on the player or gamemaster side:
Due to the stress of the situation, every character on this side must make a Resist Shock roll or receive a Stunned Result damage from fatigue.
Every character on this side gets one extra action this round with no Multi-Action penalty. Characters can receive cards for performing approved actions during either or both actions. Characters can also play cards from their hands into their pools twice if they perform two actions.
When this effect comes up, all characters on the side can remove all Stunned results, and they can get up from being knocked down in combat, if conscious. Unconscious characters wake up, but are considered knocked down. In addition, any player character on an inspired side receives a card at the beginning of the round.
Something bad happens to this side. This can take two forms. The easiest setback to play is that everyone on the affected side loses one action this round. Second and subsequent actions can be taken, but with a multi-action penalty.
The more interesting method of enforcing a setback is to figure out an appropriate “disaster” the side suffers. Combinations of disasters for some characters and missed actions for others is also appropriate (maybe one character misses an action, another’s gun jams, and a third finds the catwalk he is standing on collapsing), but no character should suffer more than one setback from this result. This should not be as severe as a Complication resulting from a 1 on the Wild Die.
The side that is stymied loses
their Wild-Die re-roll during his next action phase. If they roll the dice and gets a six on the Wild Die, they cannot re-roll. This counts for all Character points spent as well. However, if the character was ‘Up’, they would only get to re-roll one of the two Wild Dice (If the GM chose that option -See ‘Up- Condition’ above in the Masterdeck section). This condition lasts only for the next action (that round or the next) and then goes away after, even if it has not come into play during that action phase.
This side is under an ‘Up’ Condition this round for all actions. The Up it can be combined with any other Up conditions the character is entitled to or earns during this round.
Note: This effect only comes up for gamemaster characters.
When this comes up on the initiative line, the gamemaster characters have one round to either cause damage to the player characters, significantly improve their situation, or severely affect their opponents negatively, else they must break off the combat or the interaction if at all possible. If they do cause damage, etc., even if they only manage to affect one character on the player side, then play continues as normal next round. If it is not possible for them to depart, or if the player characters make it impossible, then they will resume the interaction or combat as normal, but all difficulties will be a level higher until they improve their situation significantly.
Note: This effect only comes up for gamemaster characters.
The gamemaster characters may have skills such as Intimidate, Trick, or Taunt listed on the action line. During the round, if a gamemaster character performs one of these actions successfully on a player character, the gamemaster can take one card from that player (either from his hand or pool – but hand cards are chosen randomly) and place it in the discard pile. This effect is valid for the entire round, so if the gamemaster characters are enjoying the benefits of a Haste card, they could have more than one opportunity.
Note: This effect only comes up for player characters.
The player characters are confused and their plans are disrupted. They may not perform any card play this round. They may not play cards, trade cards, put cards in their pools, or draw cards from the deck. A Seize Initiative card cannot be played to remove this condition, and it is in effect for the whole round. In addition, gamemaster characters acting on the players’ side act confused and have difficulty following orders or making plans this round.
The Approved Action Line
Immediately below the initiative lines of the cards is a line labeled “Act.” This is the approved action line. An approved action is a skill (or skills) that is randomly determined as “appropriate” for this round. Whether the action is actually appropriate or not is up to the players and the gamemaster – more the former than the latter. This is the primary influence on combat in the game and why some new skills had to be introduced.
The approved action rules are an incentive for players to do more than just blaze away with their guns. Most of the approved actions are not directly combat-oriented, and they stress inventiveness and roleplaying. Any player character that SUCCEEDS at an approved action during the round receives a new card off the top of the Action Deck. He then puts the card into his hand and may play it into his pool as per the normal rules. Characters can only receive one card a round in this manner unless they play a Haste card or a Flurry action is in effect. Note, however, that a multi-action does allow the player to get more than one card if they are performing two different approved actions, like Attack and Defend or Trick and Maneuver. This must me roleplayed out and make sense for the scene.
In order to win a card by performing an approved action, all the character has to do is succeed. The action may end up having little or no effect and still be a success. However, the action must move the story along. As the gamemaster, you will have to put your foot down on “card chasers” who only perform the approved actions for cards. It is important to remember that approved action means approved action. Only actions that require skill rolls can be approved actions – no matter how appropriate a simple action may be. See Masterbook for examples and further explanation.
Optional Rule: Order of Combat
If you play with a significantly big group and a wide range of characters, it might get boring if the same people go first and wipe out whole groups of stormtroopers before the weaker characters get a chance to act, every combat situation. Instead, within a single group or “side”, everyone can roll Perception to determine Order of Combat within that group. The person with the highest roll goes first, and so on. Character Points and Force Points can not be spent on this roll.
More On Getting Cards
There are other ways of getting cards.
The End of a Scene or Act
When an adventure Scene or an Episode ends every player is allowed to replenish/discard cards in the same manner as explained in Masterbook, pg. 129. If a character receives a Force Point or Character Point awards for a particular subplot, he receives it at the end of the Episode or adventure as appropriate.
Optional Rule: Sometimes, when a player does an exceptional job of planning, roleplaying, or leadership, the gamemaster may choose to award that player with an extra card. Follow the same rules as explained in Masterbook, pg129.
The Gamemaster Fiat can be used in Star Wars/D6 in the same manner. See pg. 127 in the Masterbook rules.
Critical Skill Resolution
On each card is a box with one of the following results: ‘Skill” followed by some letters,”Critical Problem”, “Complication”, or “Possible Setback.” This box is used for critical skill resolution, an optional set of rules that can be used for very intense, “crisis” situations. These rules are explained pretty generically on pages 128-129. These were optional in MasterBook, and I never really found a use for them.