I have linked to JB’s resources at B/X Blackrazor before (check the OSH page I’ve got, for examples) and I’m doing so again. He has offered a one page dino-game using 4d6 and playing cards to flesh out a character whose main purpose is to evade mastication long enough to return home to a time and place on earth. This is a neat game that would certainly be fun to try out over an afternoon, and I recommend taking a look! Having said that, I’ll offer something of a review.
The down side:
- I don’t like generating hit points from scratch randomly each session. Considering the number is based on “attributes” and only 1d6 is randomized, I don’t get that; why invoke chance at all?
- “Advancement” involving moving existing resources instead of gaining more is awkward; seems a character should gain a card a session.
- I would reverse the damage situation: the game says unarmed combat does 1d6 hit points, and adding a weapon is 1d6+1; I’d have unarmed combat do 1, and adding a weapon is 1+1d6.
- I would probably also differentiate between a hefty guy with a massive club with a dino-tooth in it, and a switch of thorns, even on a system stripped down to this level.
- I would have a point-buy system for “supply.” A pistol costs this, rifle this, ammo this, etc. I would also change it to “gear” since it has more to do with knowing how to use things, and offers no guidance on how many things you have (as I understand it now.) The example of using vines and improvised climbing spikes, for example is found gear used because the character has ingenuity.
- This part is too loose for my liking; players will be within their bounds to ask how many bullets they have so they can make decisions about when to use firearms, for example.
The up side:
- I think the division of attributes (assuming some tweaking of supply) is very creative. I like how the attributes are dealt, and how they affect hit points, and especially how they can be expended for mighty effort but are not permanently lost, regenerating at the next session.
- I find the goal of getting home to be intriguing. An easily grasped objective you can sit down at the table and immediately be prepared to pursue.
- I like the use of the Joker, and also of requesting a Luck die once per session (and setting up potential complications.)
- The idea of needing successes by rolling 4+ on 1-4 d6 is standard, tried and true, easy to grasp, and fun. Also, no math!
There is enough here to start with play testing. I think it will be great when a more fleshed-out version comes out, addressing several questions; what kind of long-term sentient bad guys live here–or good guys? Is this jungle/swamp/area the zoo or playground of aliens whose array has crashed, and they’re stuck here too? And so on. But that is the sort of thing that they’d have to figure out to get home. Until then, this is all they have to start–stuck in Dino Land!
Seriously though, check it out. It looks like fun.