Mini Six: BKE can be customized. This custom of “house rules” dates back to the dawn of tabletop roleplaying games. Here are a few ways the game can be changed, from the purely cosmetic, to profound.
By changing attribute names GMs can influence how a game feels. For Swashbuckling games, the four attributes could be called Power, Grace, Reason, and Poise. For a game set in an homage to 70s grindhouse films, they could be rebranded as Muscles, Moves, Brains, and Cool.
Expand the Number of Attributes
The default four attributes of Might, Agility, Wit, and Charm are fairly broad. If a greater division is desired extra attributes can be added. Examples include Perception (separated from Wit), Courage (from Charm), and Toughness (from Might). The main thing to consider when doing this is what skills will come under which attribute? There’s no requirement that every attribute must have the same number of skills associated with it. Also, consider how different attributes interact with existing subsystems. For example, if you decide that Endurance should be its own attribute, you may want to consider how Soak is calculated.
Additionally, you will probably want to allow characters to have additional dice at character creation if you add new attributes. A good rule of thumb is to add 2d6 or 3d6 for each added attribute.
Vary the Number of Starting Attribute Dice
By default, BKE allows starting characters to allocate 11d6 between their four attributes. This number is intentionally not evenly divisible by four so that players are confronted with a decision right away because no character will be equally good at everything. There will be something about every default starting character that’s mechanically guaranteed to be at least a bit better or worse than all of the other attributes.
But this can be changed too. It’s assumed that 11d6 represents competent characters, but anything from 10d6 to 12d6 is likely to feel similar overall. Characters designed with only 8d6 or 9d6 of attributes will feel like “regular people,” meaning that they will fail at many challenges not commonly encountered in daily life. Characters built on 13d6 or more are likely to begin to feel superheroic, especially since this means that the game will likely have to also allow starting characters with attributes above 4d6, even without the influence of a perk.
Increased Attribute Limits
Characters are normally limited to 4d6 in an attribute unless a perk allows a higher score. Some GMs may wish to allow a higher limit. The GM may set a specific limit, or uncap it completely. This option can have a huge impact on the sense of balance in a game. Proceed with caution.
Increased Attributes at a Price
Under this option, characters can select attributes above 4d6 (or the limit the GM has set), but they cost twice as much as normal beyond that limit. This applies to character creation as well as attributes improved with XP during play. Suppose that the game allows characters to have attributes up to 5d6. During character creation, it would cost 4d6 to have a score of 4d6, because that’s not above the normal maximum. But it would cost 6d6 (total) to assign a score of 5d6 (4d6 for the first 4d6, then an additional 2d6 for the fifth die.) Likewise, characters improving their attributes with XP, spend double to improve their score beyond 4d6. The GM may still impose an absolute limit that can’t be surpassed.
All skills default to a base 2d6 and at character creation players receive 16d6 to spend on skills. Up to 4d6 can be spent in any single skill. For example, if playing a gunslinger, the player might spend an additional 4d6 in Pistols, 1d6 in Rifles, 3d6 in Toughness (to resist damage), 4d6 in Dodge, 3d6 in Brawling, and 1d6 in Gambling; recording it like this:
Gunslinger: Brawling: 5d6, Dodge: 6d6, Gambling: 3d6, Pistols 6d6, Rifles: 3d6, Toughness 5d6. There’s no need to list all of the other skills that still default to 2d6.
Note that the gamemaster will need to consider how this option interacts with certain subsystems. In the example above, the GM decided that the “Toughness” skill would be the substitute for things that the Might attribute normally interacts with (such as Soak.)
Adding Special Attributes
Special Attributes are special for two reasons; first it is possible to have 0d6 in them, representing mundane or normal characters. The second is that those who do have them gain access to restricted powers. For example in a vampire game characters might use Blood Potency, Dominate, Foretelling, Spirit, and Transformation; during character creation, the player could spend attribute dice to gain some access to one or more of them.
No extra attribute dice are given for Special Attributes at character creation. This reduces a character’s mundane attributes but the powers granted by their paranormal gifts make up for it. GMs will define which, if any, are used in their games and how they work in the setting.
Characters who begin with 0d6 in a Special Attribute may be allowed to purchase it later with GM permission. A suggested cost for the first 1d6 is 10 or 20 XP.
Some settings will allow skills under these Special Attributes. If a character has 0d6 in the associated attribute, then they may not learn the skills that fall under them.
In the Freeform Magic subsystem, the option “Magic as an Attribute” is an example of a Special Attribute. That rule suggests that there is only one skill that falls under Magic: Spellcasting, though if the GM expanded the lore of their world to include different flavors of magic, then each tradition might be its own skill (necromancy, healing, elementalism, etc.)
These are purchased as attributes at character creation but afterward are raised with XP, as if they were skills and Quasi Skills can’t have skills under them. For example, a game focused on angels might include the Quasi Skills of Spiritualism, Ethericism, and Corporeality. A starting character may have Spiritualism 2d6, Ethericism 1d6, and Corporeality 0d6. Later, the angel could spend 2 XP to improve Spiritualism to 2d6+1.
Characters who have 0d6 in a Quasi Skill might be permitted to improve to 1d6. The suggested XP cost for this is 10 or 20 depending on how difficult the gamemaster chooses to make it.
Quasi Skills are similar to Special Attributes. The difference is that they are inexpensive to improve for the characters who have them (compared to Special Attributes.)
Under this option, characters will struggle to increase their skills with XP unless they locate a willing master or teacher. The mast or teacher must have a skill that is at least 1d6 higher than the student, otherwise, they aren’t skillful enough to be helpful. Characters with an appropriate tutor spend XP to advance their skill level as normal.
Characters who can’t locate such a tutor must spend 1 extra XP to increase their skill level. This represents the extra effort required to improve without guidance.
As a fraction of XP spent, this option penalizes low-skill characters more than high-skill level characters over the long term, unless they locate tutors. The upside to this option is that adding teachers to the game can be a way to introduce useful allies into a game. This option can feel like a lot more “stick” than “carrot” to some players, so beware.
Altering the Number of Starting Skill Dice
By default, starting player characters receive 7 dice to spend on skills and perks and can’t spend more than 2d6 on any single skill. This represents fledgling heroic-level characters. The gamemaster might grant them additional dice for a more difficult campaign. The 2d6 limit might also be increased to 3d6 or more. The number of dice and maximum allocations should be weighed carefully to fit the needs of the campaign.
Skills normally always default to one particular attribute, for example, Sword always defaults to Might. In a more freewheeling campaign, skills may be detached from attributes allowing a more fluid definition of how they’re used. When skills are purchased they don’t get the benefit of any default attribute. Thus a character might have Might 3d6 and Sword 1d6. Most of the time, when fighting, the character gets to roll Might plus Sword (4d6 in this case) but sometimes the gamemaster calls for something else, such as Agility + Sword.
Players may be tempted to suggest that their most advantageous attribute is the relevant one more often than not, but the final say should remain with the gamemaster.
It is suggested that raising skills with XP should cost double the normal price for skill advancement. This sounds punitive but isn’t so bad because most skills will start so much lower than they would without this option. For example, a swordsman might have Might 3d6+2, Sword 5d6+2 under the standard rule, but an equivalent character under this option would list Might 3d6+2, Sword 2d6. For the standard character increasing Sword to the next level would cost 5 XP, but for the character under Independent skills, the cost would only be 4 XP, and that’s with the doubled cost.
A drawback of this option is that some players, especially ones new to Mini Six, may not like calculating scores such as 2d6+2 plus 3d6+2 on the fly.
Buying New Perks
If the GM agrees you may buy a perk after play has begun for 10 XP times the standard cost. Some perks make no sense to gain after a character is already established. In most settings, you don’t wake up as a new species one day, but if it can be explained in the setting, there’s no reason why it can’t be allowed.
Buying Off Complications
To get rid of a complication the GM will impose a price of at least 20 XP, if allowed at all and you should also be able to explain it in the context of the story, maybe even a quest or adventure to justify permitting the character to lose the Complication. Alternatively, as the story progresses, the player and GM might agree to exchange old complications for new ones when that makes sense.
Battle Points (Alternative to Wound Levels)
In place of using wound levels, GMs may elect to use Battle Points (BP). Battle Points represent the ability to carry on in a fight, but they represent more than only the health of the character. BP represents battle-luck, the will to live, and life force. When characters as damaged, their BP total is reduced, but all damage is somewhat superficial until the final blow or two. A character reduced to 0 BP dies. Until then, they continue to operate without penalty.
All standard player characters have 25 BP, modified by the following:
Might attribute of less than 2d6: -1 per step. For example 1d6 is three steps lower than 2d6, so a character with Might 1d6 would have 22 BP. A character with Might 1d6+1 would have 23 BP.
Might attribute of exactly 2d6: +0. A character with Might 2d6 would have 25 BP.
Might attribute greater than 2d6: +1 per step. For example 3d6+1 is four steps higher than 2d6, so a character with Might 3d6+1 would have 29 BP. A character with Might 4D would have 31 BP.
In some settings, certain perks might alter the default BP. For example in a fantasy setting, the gamemaster might rule that being an orc grants +3 BP bonus, and being a gnome imposes a -3 BP penalty. Be careful not to assign these modifiers when the difference can be explained only by differences in the Might attribute since that is already figured in the standard calculation.
Nonplayer characters don’t have to follow the same formula that player characters do. Most opponents that are meant to provide a challenge should, but the gamemaster might invoke some suboptions.
Threat Level (Battle Points Suboption)
This option is more “cinematic” than realistic. What it does, is allows players to face opponents who can vary wildly in the amount of resistance they can offer, according to the needs of the story.
Minions are opponents that are not meant to be a significant threat. They often take the form of nearly identical foot soldiers in movies. They have only 1 Battle Point. Any damage done by the heroes will take them out of the fight. The gamemaster may rule that they are only knocked unconscious if that seems more appropriate to the story. Minions typically have very low to average attributes and skills. They are only a threat to most competent player characters when encountered in great numbers.
Standard opponents are created exactly as PCs are. These characters can be a deadly threat to one or two player characters, but when a number of PCs gang up on a standard opponent, they tend to last for only a few rounds at best.
Elite opponents have bonus BP, above and beyond what a normal player character would be entitled to. This can be as a static modifier such as +5 BP, or the gamemaster might choose to make it +5 or even +10 BP per player character expected to face them at once in combat. These enemies can be very deadly, and they should only be used sparingly, to represent the most important NPCs faced in an adventure. An NPC should only by promoted to elite status when the challenge of facing them is especially dangerous.
Scale and Battle Points
The scaling modifier does not alter the number of BP. Big things damaging smaller things are already granted a bonus for the damage they do, and when little things damage big things, the big thing is granted extra Soak to negate damage.
Combat and Damage under the Battle Points Option
Combat works as normal, except if a character successfully hits an opponent, they may be granted an accuracy bonus to damage. If they exceed the target’s Defense score (Dodge, Block, etc.) by 5, then they are granted a bonus of 1d6 damage for every multiple of 5 they exceed the target by. Thus, a lucky hit has the potential to do a tremendous amount of damage. A target hitting an opponent of a larger scale than their own is not awarded this bonus damage.
Next roll damage. Subtract the target’s Soak, (modified by scale, if appropriate.) The excess is removed from the opponent’s BP total.
To heal, the character needs complete rest. After resting for one full day a Might check is made and the total is how many BP are recovered.
First Aid (Emergency medicine)
A character can offer another emergency medicine, but when they do the wounded character can’t benefit from first aid for their current injuries again (though they can still benefit from assisted healing or magical healing.) For every 5 points on the result of the Medicine test for first aid, the target heals 1 BP.
Assisted Healing (Medicine)
Once per day, a character can assist another by making a Medicine skill check. This can only be done if appropriate medical tools and a warm, comfortable bed is available. If the Medicine check results in a 10 to 19, then the target gets to double the result of their natural healing check. For 20 to 29, they triple the result, 30 or more allows the target to quadruple the result of their natural healing check.
Magical Healing (with the Freeform Magic Option)
Replace the standard Healing Effects table with the following:
Very Simple (TN 5) Waking a sleeping character or returning an unconscious character to consciousness without healing them or healing 1d6 BP.
Simple (TN 10) Allow the target a single check as natural healing.
Moderate (TN 15) Allow the target a single check as natural healing +5 BP.
Hard (TN 20) Allow the target a single check as natural healing +10 BP.
Very Hard (TN 25) Allow the target a single check as natural healing +20 BP.
Gamemasters may want to limit the amount of magical healing a character can receive. A suggestion is that a character may only receive magical healing once per day (between scenes) and once per scene otherwise.
I've updated a character sheet to work with the current version of Mini Six: Bare Knuckle Edition (0.7.)
You can download it here as a PDF.
The magic system is still undergoing playtest.
Optional Rules under consideration:
These are the optional rules I am currently considering adding to the game. They are 100% not-playtested. Please comment on these, especially the Battle Point System.