Introduction

Rulebook 2023

Welcome to Phase Six!

Phase Six and Realms of Tirakan are complete role-playing games. These rules and all associated materials are sufficient to play adventures in the world of Tirakan, as well as many other worlds. You can use these rules freely, and adventure with friends in any of the Phase Six worlds. Or you can create your own world based on the epochs available in this system.

The name Phase Six stands for the rulebook itself. More information on available worlds and expansions can be found later in this chapter.

This system is available as a PDF and can be played completely without electronic aids. However, the focus of the system in our modern times is to be played over an internet platform such as Discord, Teamspeak or similar. The associated platform https://phasesix.org offers all kinds of tools for managing characters and campaigns. In addition, dice can be rolled here, and dice results can optionally be passed on to a Discord chat.

What is a role-playing game?

To be precise, we are talking about pen and paper role-playing games, not computer games. Traditionally, a role-playing game is played with 2-4 players and a game master at a table, whereby the board is replaced by character sheets and dice as opposed to a board game.

The role-playing game always tells a story that is carried and spun on by all the players. The players create characters for a role-playing round, i.e. fictitious figures, which are recorded on character sheets. The character sheet contains the description of the character, his or her origins, interests and abilities. The latter are recorded in numerical values, because action in the role-playing game requires so-called tests or rolls, which determine the outcome of an action.

Tom has decided to join a role-playing group with Julia, the game leader. Julia has chosen for her round that there will be an adventure on Earth in the year 1982. Since the story is supposed to be in the style of a retro-science fiction mystery, Julia has chosen the epoch "The Cold War and the 80s" as well as the "Horror Extension".

So Tom decides to create Jamie, a journalist with high school diplomas, as the character. He chooses the character templates "Journalist" and " High School", and uses these to complete his character. On the character sheet he can now see the characteristics of his character.

Due to the chosen background, Jamie has particularly high initial values in skills such as Investigation, Communication and Politics. However, in Shooting or Acrobatics his skills are rudimentary at best.

For more information on creating a character, see the chapters Create a character and Rolls and Checks.

While the players each create a character for the game, the game master prepares a story. This is often called an adventure or plot. This story is not, as in a novel, written out to the last detail. Instead, it is a rough script consisting of a possible course of events, the description of places, as well as so-called non-player characters (also NPC).

Once the game starts, everyone acts in the role of their characters. The game leader describes situations with words, maps or drawings. The players speak for their characters in the first person ("I'm taking a picture of the house at the edge of the forest."). If the characters' actions have an uncertain outcome, checks are used and dice are rolled.

After the preparations have been completed, the group around game leader Julia meets on a Discord server to transmit video and voice there. They choose Owlbear Rodeo as the platform for a virtual game table to represent their characters there as figures with markers.

Then they finally start, and Julia describes the first scene.

Julia: "It is the 2nd of January 1982. You are in a pub in the tranquil town of Lindfield in the south of England. It is now late in the evening, and outside the door the light drizzle has caused the blanket of snow from the last few days to be covered in a thin layer of ice. It's going to be cold tonight, and slippery. The pub is well filled, and you hear Tainted Love from a jukebox as you wait for another pint. With a creak, the front door opens and a cloud of fine rain enters the pub. Immediately followed by a figure in a far too small plastic yellow rain jacket."

So this is the prelude, and Tom decides that Jamie would like to have a look at the newcomer. He announces the actions for Jamie:

Tom: "I'm going to have a very close look at the stranger, I've already noticed this ill-fitting jacket."

Julia: "You notice that wet, black hair is falling from under the hood into the face of an old man. Why don't you throw perception once to see more?"

So it is about a cooperative development of the story through the actions of the characters. The game leader has a plan of how the story could develop, which characters could appear and what their motivations actually are. Something is happening around the players' characters, and they are drawn into this action.

Where this story leads is uncertain. It may be that something bad is prevented, or that a secret is uncovered. The game leader has a rough plan, but the players mainly determine the progress.

Design note: It's all about storytelling

If you think of computer role-playing games, the strategic development of the character is the most important point. He must be able to survive future battles and have the best possible stats for possible challenges.

In pen and paper role-playing games, it is about the progress of the story, about shared experiences and memories. The best possible focus on "strong" characteristics (so-called power gaming) should not be in the foreground here. Because the story is always carried forward together, there are very flexible solutions for all challenges.

A word about power gaming: The Phase Six rulebook deliberately does not prevent the possibility of pushing a relevant value (e.g. shooting) to astronomical heights. There should be agreement in the game group on what style of play one wants to have. The rules deliberately allow such constructions in order to leave every freedom in the creation of characters and adventures.

Likewise, the old role-playing rule comes into play here that the word of the game master always weighs more than the rules. Of course, it should be the normal case that the rules are applied as written, because it is also about a framework for the players to rely on. However, if there is an unclear rule situation, the announcement of the game master decides.

Combat in the role-playing game

Even if the focus in pen and paper role-playing is less on confrontation with fists or weapons, combat still plays an important role. Not every situation can be resolved without the use of weapons. A fight can quickly break out or the characters plan to rob a bank.

Combat in role-playing is treated differently from free play. Time runs out in rounds, and you visualise the situation on a map on the (possibly virtual) table. Players act one after the other, the game leader controls her NPCs. Wounds indicate how well the characters are still doing. You can find more details on the course of the battle in the chapter Combat.

In the game, both should be balanced. There may also be adventures that consist of only one battle, but Phase Six is not a realistic battle simulation. Here, the aim is to carry out a conflict in the most entertaining, cinematic and yet exciting way possible.

When fighting in the Phase Six system, however, the following things should always be followed due to the special features (reactions, stealing actions, etc.):

  • Always use a map. A basic map of the situation ensures that there are no misunderstandings in positioning, no matter how short the fight is. A map can be a pre-made, elaborate map, but also a quickly drawn floor plan. When playing over the internet, solutions such as Roll20, Owlbear Rodeo or FoundryVTT are useful.
  • Always use a scale. Characters have different movement ranges, and for some of them it is also their strength that they can move particularly far. These characters and opponents will have their strength taken away without a scale.
  • Use an initiative tracker. Initiative determines the order of participants in combat. Initiative tracker means that this order is written down for all to see. In Phase Six, it is important for the players to know when it is their turn again (because then, among other things, their own suspended actions are lost).

Characteristics of Phase Six

Phase Six has different approaches to other role-playing systems in some areas. In part, these were designed to achieve flexibility in the possible scenarios. Also, the system puts a lot of focus on being playable as quickly as possible, and being able to perform heroic actions in combat, for example.

Normal six-sided dice are used for rolls and checks. Dice are rolled in the number of the respective value. Each die that shows a 5 or higher after the roll represents a success. Usually, a single success is sufficient for a roll to be considered a pass.

Character templates

Characters are not created or enhanced in Phase Six by allocating points to skills, attributes or other stats. Instead, character templates are used, each representing a small stage in the character's life.

Character templates are divided into occupation, education, character, talent and environment. While the templates in the first two categories carry many traits (A paramedic gets conscientiousness, first aid and medicine skills), a template from the talent section can be, for example, "Good Speaker", which brings points to Communication.

Character templates are bought for reputation, which are the experience points that characters receive for completing adventures.

Special possibilities in combat

The combat is kept in such a way that the action is as impressive as possible, but the mechanics go off easily.

The usual order of participants in role-playing games is also found here, but the whole process is a little more dynamic. Reactions are built into the combat system, each action can be saved until the next round of combat and used as a reaction.

In addition, it is possible to spontaneously create your own actions in combat by spending bonus die, which characters can receive through templates, or even steal actions from opponents through destiny die. Although destiny dice are very rare, it may be possible to steal the enemy's fatal blow and turn it into one's own action.

This may sound somewhat unrealistic, but it makes for a very dynamic course of the battle and can often lead to cinematic scenes that even the game master cannot foresee.

Weapons are designed to be upgradeable in Phase Six. There is a list of weapon modifications, which of course make sense primarily for modern weapons. Different ammunition is also represented as a weapon modification. For example, the horror expansion comes with silver ammunition, which works well against werewolves. Due to the modular structure, this can be used both in the Middle Ages for bows and in the modern era for an assault rifle.

You can find more information about the combat rules and weapon modifications in the chapter Combat.

Epochs and extensions

Phase Six is designed to be as flexible as possible. It can be used for many scenarios, whether fantasy, science fiction, horror or stories in the "real" world.

It offers a basic set of ready-made weapons, character templates, items and armour, which are divided into earthly epochs. In addition, it is of course possible for a game group to create and use its own content.

To ensure that every scenario is possible, Phase Six distinguishes between three types of extensions.

The basic rules

Some elements are always and everywhere valid. They apply regardless of which epoch or extension is chosen. Many character templates such as "Conscientious", "Gun nut", "Tattletale", but also weapons and items are always available regardless of epoch or extension.

Epochs

Epochs are earthly time periods that are the template for all scenarios (including fantasy). They provide a technological level for weapons and items and determine what is available to players. Earthly history is divided into 7 epochs.

  • Classical Antiquity - 800 BC-600 AD.
  • Medieval Ages, Vikings and Crusades - 500-1500
  • Victorian Age and the Wild West - 1700-1900
  • Imperialism and World Wars - 1900-1950
  • Cold War and the 80s - 1950-1990
  • Modern Times - 2000 and beyond
  • Science Fiction - a distant future

The content of the epochs is based on the earthly technology of the time. An adventure always takes place in one of the epochs.

In addition, the contents of the epochs are kept as free as possible from specifically earthly elements so that they can also be used in a fantasy world of their own. Of course, the Modern Era, for example, has well-known modern weapons, and the two-handed sword is also an earthly invention. However, it is kept as generic as possible so that it also fits into a scenario that is not set on Earth.

Extensions

In addition to the epochs, certain extensions can be chosen to add magic or the workings of gods to an adventure, for example. These extensions can be chosen at will by the game master and are optional.

  • Magic - adds the magic resource "Arcana" for the characters and brings spells and artefacts.
  • Horror - defines rules for dealing with horror elements, stress and quirks.
  • Pantheon - provides rules for interacting with gods: invocations, prayers and grace.

Worlds

By combining epochs and extensions, any scenario can be created. A Cthulhu story in the Wild West is just as possible as a magical world in the modern age. A classic fantasy world of one's own could make use of the Middle Ages epoch and the "magic" extension.

Some existing worlds combine this combination of epochs and extensions, and also bring with them the description of an entire world. They are available as a whole and can be used directly.

Realms of Tirakan

The world of Tirakan is a complete fantasy world that can be played at any time in a 1000-year history. An elaborate story of humans, elves, gnomes and many other peoples tells the struggle of civilisations against minotaurs, lizards and a nameless darkness.

The Adventures of Division V of the NEXUS

The story of Department V of the NEXUS is set in the modern era. It is a fictional secret organisation founded to protect humanity from alien and paranormal threats. Players play agents of Department V of the NEXUS, and through the ability to time travel, experience adventures in all sorts of eras and worlds.

  • Epoch: Modern
  • Extensions: Horror
  • World Description: phasesix.org