This has been a month coming, it’s time for the latest release of NAA D6. Once again this is a discontinuing release, so V1.3 is incompatible with this. It is a rewrite that hopes to better the game. Mechanics have died that might never return, and sections have been excised, but new content was also added, and the game mechanics have changed for the better.
There’s a lot of improvements to the game that I want to discuss as well as how I arrived at them. If you don’t see them as improvements, sound out about them. However, overall, I feel that the game is really going in the direction I want it too and that right now I almost feel like it’s finished, like I have to grasp for things to write now because I can’t tell what more it needs. I wish the first version of the game had looked like this, but you have to stumble to learn.
The following article will be long. If you want a short version: the game is better than ever. Get NAA D6 1.4 NOW.
Let’s discuss some of the the bigger changes.
There’s still over 40 skills in the game, but many redundant ones were excised to make the game a bit leaner. Many skills now have a choice of which primary trait to use, allowing them to be defined in different ways. Some skills, like Engineering, were rolled back into skills like Science, while skills like Culture arose which took care of aspects previously nonexistent, while subsuming skills like Lifestyle. Many skills were added to the General Table, like Academics.
I want to make sure that the game remains about defining certain aspects of your character, but that being said, I don’t want to end up with GURPS The 2nd on my hands. Nor do I want there to be like 10 skills total like in D&D 4e. I shot for a middle ground and hopefully I found it so characters can be varied without having 27 pages of skills. Skills have also been slimmed down so that they don’t have much rules text, just little explanations of what they cover. Generally these skills are made so you improvise with them and don’t require too much heavy-handed rules text.
Not only that, but the Skill Table is gone. Now all skills just cost 3 XP per level. That’s it. No more having to look the table to see whether a skill level costs 2 or 3 or 4 XP. And if you screwed up your Primary Attributes, it no longer screws up how much XP you were supposed to spend on each and every one of your skills.
Streamlined Combat System
There used to be a Defending action which you could take on every enemy turn. I decided that, basically, having an Immediate Interrupt every round was a horrible idea. In my tests I had some of the same experiences people claimed to have under D&D 4e. People would just up and forget they had a defense action. Since the system was calibrated so that you would get pretty hurt if you didn’t defend, people were getting pretty hurt all the time. When they did remember the Defending action, they always wanted to use it as an analog to Dodge skills in other games – to completely negate damage. This is not how NAA works, but the Defending action offered some confusion. Not only that, but in Play-By-Posts turn interruptions are more than a little annoying to do, and I wanted the game to be well playable for Play-By-Posters (who are often not thought of at all by game designers).
So I nixed the idea of being able to act on other character’s turns. The possibility is still there by bargaining with the GM, but it’s no longer a real mechanic that everyone is expected to use. Instead it has been changed into a rather more fun system I call Stances. Basically, during your turn when you take an Instant action, you declare a Stance you will take that dictates how your character is acting this turn. A character acting Cautiously does what the Defending action used to do, give you Soak. However, an element of strategy is added in that it gives you a penalty to rolls during your turn. Meanwhile, other modes include Reckless, which reduces your Soak by 2 but gives a bonus to attacks; Hasty lets you sneak in a bit of movement or get a free Multi-Attack at the expense of your defense; Defensive gives you more Soak than Cautious and with no attack penalties, but denies you the ability to move out of your position. Calculated does nothing. It is the Neutral action which you’ll probably use more often.
So now, attacking and defending is a bit more tactically tantalizing, but it’s streamlined so all the decisions are made during your turn, and not during anyone else’s turns. Tying into this, Armor has been made a little more robust, so there are more and more balanced choices for customizing your soaking setup. So playing defense is a bit more attractive now, but Damage-dealers still have a lot of tricks for taking down a turtling enemy.
Free Movement Becomes Freer
The Free Movement system no longer has the large, convoluted table about correlating speeds with movement ranges. Now there are 5 movement ranges (Close, Proximal, Distal, Far and Outlying) and they don’t change their scope depending upon your speed (which was a ridiculous mechanic and I have no idea how I let such byzantine garbage propagate throughout the game). What changes is that faster characters can move more than 1 range with each movement action. This should allow it to perform much better as the moderately simple freeform movement system that I wanted it to be. Meanwhile, I cut out Abstract Map. It felt kind of like a silly intersection between Grids and Freeform Movement that nobody would opt for between the two.
Finally Has PDF Bookmarks
Oh yeah baby. Now you don’t have to kill yourself scrolling to the page on Advantages. Just click that sidebar. Yes, it is very pathetic that it took 4 versions before I got PDF Bookmarks on this thing.
And that’s just a few of the awesome changes. I added a section on variants, including gritty weapon properties that can make guns jam and bombs backfire and spells run out of juice. I removed the old templates section – I realized I want to change how I view templates, and I want to promote a system where self-definition of character is a bit more common. So instead of Profession templates I’ll work on a section for templates that define classic character types, like Elves or Elementals, rather than classes like Fighter or Wizard which would be more a function of what the player wants a Wizard or Fighter to do.