This entire post was inspired by this recent comment here in response to my post about using LEGO Heroica dice for a role-playing game:
Eldrad Wolfsbane said, "What about an entire RPG based on a single D6? Could it be done?".
My initial thoughts were that such a game would probably be very limiting and would not be played very much at all. After thinking about it for a while, I am starting to wonder if that initial reaction is wrong. Could a role-playing game based on the roll of a single six sided die occupy the players with a satisfying play experience? It might seem limited at first but I think it might be worth investigating to see what can be done with a game designed around that idea. A little brainstorming on my part produced the following thoughts.
An RPG design that uses only a single D6 for all task resolutions in the game. Damage immediately comes to mind as the only area that needs to use different dice than just a standard D6. There are, however, other options that will maintain the D6 only resolution mechanic.
Damage could be a specific set amount for each weapon. For example, a club could do a static 3 points of damage. To offer some variety, the damage of each weapon could be altered by the character's strength adjustment. For example, the previously mentioned club that does 3 points of damage could do 5 points of damage in the hands of a character with a +2 strength adjustment. Now there is a method to do damage that does not negate the design goal of a single D6.
All role-playing games should have a decent name for their underlying rules system. I like attaching cool labels to projects so a few I came up with include uno6, single6, unoDie, and solo6. I am not sure if any of those are near as "cool" as I would like but they do get the point across.
The best bet would probably be to avoid genres - such as supers or science fiction - that provide the opportunity for a very wide character power range. The genre should be more limited in power and could probably be done with a single D6 for western, horror, modern, or maybe even fantasy.
I am thinking that a simple chart similar to the one in the Talislanta rules might be the best option. A player would roll and apply any attribute or skill modifiers to the roll. Then the GM would call for any adjustments based on the situation or opponent and then consult the chart. There would be differing levels of success or failure based on the total of the roll. A quick playing simple system would probably be for the best.
The ideas expressed above are just my initial thoughts on a single D6 role-playing system. I honestly do not know if I will further develop it at all. I just wanted to get these ideas out of my head. It has been my experience that many campaigns are shorter than they were in the old days so I think a satisfying play experience could be realized from a simple set of rules with these ideas if it was done properly and characters did not drastically improve over a short period of time and the power level was kept at the appropriate level.