Any tabletop RPG system relies on a system, a set of rules that govern your interactions in the world, when there’s an element of chance or the outcome is not certain. Ideally there should be a synergy between the style of the system and the style of the game so that the two work together well. Examples of great game/engine synergy that I can think of would include Starblazer Adventures, Feng Shui and Call of Cthulhu.
Faced with the prospect of putting together a system for running Gor I had several options. I could create a new game system from scratch, I could license a commercial system or I could look to the Open Gaming License.
Gor is a science-fantasy game at its heart, a sort of Barsoom meets Von Daniken but with a grittier, harder edge stemming from Norman’s grounding in classics and history. It is definitely in the pulp tradition of high adventure, but a wholly pulp-oriented system would lack the blood, sweat and tears of the hard-scrabble Gorean life. A new system would have the advantage of being specifically designed for the task at hand, but the development time would be a lot longer and playtesting a lot more intensive. A commercially licensed system might have been tricky and may not have been a great fit, but tinkering around can be difficult depending how attached designers and companies are to their systems. The OGL seemed like the best bit, since I could grab an off-the-shelf game system and modify it to my heart’s content without worrying.
Other concerns came to the fore, I needed a system that would be good as an introductory system but also good for gamers of more experience who wanted a little more depth. The hope is that Gor will attract new gamers, first-time gamers and people who’ve roleplayed – but without rules. In the end I picked a system with a great pedigree as an introductory game, which uses the most common type of dice and which is thought of fondly by many gamers.
The D6 System powered the original Star Wars RPG and has, in many minds, never been bested as the go-to system for that setting. For Gor it seemed like a natural fit, with a few tweaks to make it a little deadlier and to patch some things I saw as issues with the way it played out. Gor’s caste system is a set of ready-made customisable templates for creating Gorean characters quickly and easily, dice pools are tactile ways of representing competence and the system seems to encourage gambling on heroic outcomes.
Another advantage of the D6 system is that it can be simplified even more, down to a single dice if need be (3D+1 becoming 8+Wild Die) which makes forum and chatroom play a hell of a lot simpler. While I doubt anyone will be LARPing Gor any time soon, a simple finger-draw can substitute for a six-sided die, allowing for salon style LARP using the D6 system.
Simplicity, depth, ease to learn, adaptability, customisability and – the clincher – templates, made The D6 System the obvious choice.