Magazine Review: d6 Magazine Issue #1

Let me just say that I’ve never been steered wrong by any book with a Tyrannosaurus Rex on the cover. Thankfully after reading the first issue of d6 Magazine (released February 8, 2011), that streak is still intact!

The goal of the magazine is simple. It’s a resource for OpenD6-based material produced by fans of the system. That’s it. Told you it was simple. Each issue will have a theme guiding the content and those writers producing such content, which subtly reinforces all of the content for that issue with a commonality. Readers can then mix and match adventures, NPCs, and whatever else the community submits.

The first issue doesn’t have a clear theme for me, though there are a couple of “space”-themed articles (“Gas Food Lodging” and “Asphyxia, A Space Survival Adventure”). Also included are a couple of mechanics-related articles (“A Crack of the Whip” and “Never Tell Me the Odds!”), a supers-related setting (“Pinnacle City Chronicles”), and an interview with Bill Smith, the author of Star Wars 2nd Edition, Revised and Expanded published by West End Games, Inc (WEG). As a first issue, I have to say I appreciate the broad focus as an introduction to the publication.

The interview with Bill Smith offers nine pages of insights into his background and roleplaying history as well as the beginnings of 2nd edition Star Wars. Though he no longer writes for WEG, he’s still writing space fantasy stories he publishes at http://www.BillSmithBooks.com and http://www.OutlawGalaxy.com. His love for gaming comes across loud and clear in the answers to nearly every question J. Elliot Streeter asked of him.

The beauty of the Star Wars system was in the simplicity of d6. One of the most telling quotes was when he told of GMing a game in which his players went off the reservation in the adventure and he was forced to improvise… “and after I got over my initial panic, I just ‘went with it’ and we created a great mini-movie that perfectly captured the feel of Star Wars…. No stopping to flip open the rulebook. It was just ‘hey, this would be cool…'”

His retrospective on the Star Wars RPG was also very interesting. He discussed trying to keep things cinematic and simple while balancing input from nearly 20 groups playtesting the game. Some things worked well and others didn’t. He simplified the movement system, but added too many skills that needlessly complicated things. But along the way he created some things like the “Wild Die” of d6 that is now just intrinsic to the system.

Raymond McVay’s “Gas Food Lodging” article about “iceteroids” in the void of space offers a unique perspective of these minor “oases in the Black Desert” in the 23rd century. These little outposts offer fueling services, food and water, and whatever other resources their owners might provide. I can see them being useful in many space-based campaigns where being caught without fuel in the vast distances of nothing might spell your end. The map of a “typical Iceteroid refueling outpost” offers a simplified view of one of these outposts a GM can run without too much trouble. And I can see the GM benefits of having locals with knowledge of a particular area while offering a small adventure location at the same time.

“A Crack of the Whip” by Mike Foley Fraley (sorry for the misspelling!) offers some straightforward rules for using whips in d6 campaigns. Though the picture shows a female adventurer with a cybernetic leg, these rules should apply to nearly any genre the GM chooses. The picture that comes to mind is Indiana Jones of course, but I could see whips being used in cool ways in even a fantasy or post-apocalyptic campaign as well. Offering plenty of examples along with the rules, I can see whip use rising in d6 campaigns around the world!

The “Pinnacle City Chronicles: The Frigid Winter of ’05” offers just enough information about this superhero setting of Pinnacle City to whet my appetite to learn more. I love the concept of weaving a revised history into a setting, as it grants the immediate benefit of having something known and unknown at the same time. My only knock on this article is that it got my attention and then devolved into an ad for me to go find Tabletop Armory’s website. Though I may do that anyway, I would have preferred the article to provide enough detail about the setting to choose on my own to go to the site or not.

In “Never Tell Me the Odds!”, writer Ivan C. Erickson details the math behind the mechanic of the Wild Die in d6. I’m not a math guy by any stretch, so the tables were a bit lost on me, but I know several math majors who would probably appreciate such details for their games.

And lastly we have “Asphyxia – A Cinema6 Space Survival Adventure” which uses the Cinema6 RPG Framework (c6) for rules, originating from the OpenD6 OGL. Starting with a brief summary of the Cinema6 mechanics, after a few pages you get to the adventure itself. As I read through the description, I couldn’t help but think that it would make for an interesting science fiction movie. It’s based around finite resources – oxygen and time. When you can’t breathe, you’re out of time. But even before that happens you may become hunted. Will you survive?

The beauty of this issue of d6 Magazine is that it has a little bit for everyone. Whether you’re interested in the history of d6, the rules, or cool things you can use in a campaign, you should be covered.

The layout is a simple two-column affair with double-spaced text. The artwork varies in quality a bit, but all of it is pretty good and suits the article in which it appears. The tables in “Never Tell Me the Odds!” lead to some odd mixes of one column and two column layouts, but that’s understandable with the full-page-width tables. Overall it’s a quick and dirty layout that’s definitely good enough for a free PDF magazine, so I’ll be interested to see how the next issue looks.

d6 Magazine will hopefully usher in a new generation of small, game or genre-specific roleplaying magazines on the web. It would be great to see this kind of shared content for other games such as Vampire, GURPS, and others, but we’ll see what happens. Great work overall by Streeter, the staff, and the contributors, and I look forward to the next issue!

To grab your copy of the magazine, check out their website at d6Magazine.com.

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2 comments to Magazine Review: d6 Magazine Issue #1

  • Mike Fraley

    I’m flattered that you liked the magazine that we worked so hard to create, and I’m very pleased to hear praise for my article (though it would be nice to see my name spelled correctly). I was also surprised that in the article you mentioned only pros and no cons. Generally speaking is a more generous review than I’m used to reading, particularly when covering fan creations. Thank you for your kind words.

    • Fitz

      @Mike Fraley – So sorry for misspelling your name. I’ve corrected that in the review above. As for the kind words, I tend to focus on the positive more than the negative. I did point out that the layout had some issues, but overall I think this was a good first effort for a new publication. The hope is that things
      only get better with the second issue so I don’t have to point out things I really didn’t like more emphatically. That said, it’s also tough to be too hard on a magazine being given away for free!

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