How do you play d6 ARKFORT?

Spoiler alert: like this!

After watching the Questing Beast review of Disciples of Bone and Shadow (a very chunky solo OSR tabletop RPG), I’ve become even more convinced that including an example of play for a tabletop RPG is a great idea. It came up just the other night for d6 ARKFORT. My life-long bestie is very supportive, and he was play-testing d6 ARKFORT, and there were a few “ohhhhhh” moments where things finally made sense—where he took the dots and connected them. Often, I find that, in a tabletop RPG, players are given tools, told how to use them, but not shown how to use them. I actually hadn’t thought of this much because that had always been my job as the GM, but, for d6 ARKFORT, I want people to be able to play without a GM because, well, it’s made to be GM-less. Being a GM-less dungeon-crawling tabletop RPG, d6 ARKFORT doesn’t really leave much to the imagination. A lot of the RP is stripped out of the RPG, but that’s how it goes. Still, there’re always stray questions like, “So, are you allowed to make the paths from areas connect back to the entrance?” My answer is usually, “Well, it doesn’t say you can’t, so it’s up to you to decide.” DARK FORT itself has this same attitude. If you make things easier for yourself in a hard game, you just have to admit it and live with knowing that you made it easier.

But how do you play d6 ARKFORT? First, back it on Kickstarter. After that, I don’t know. But I can play d6 ARKFORT and tell you how I did it. I’ll do it right here—in this blog post. And I’m also planning on adding something similar as a PDF aid.

I’ll play with two characters so I can model the extra ideas of co-op as well. These two characters are sacks of meat with 15 HP each. I’ll call them Karg and Unt.

For Karg, I roll 2d6 on weapons and ammunition, and I get a 9—that’s a bow (and a quiver holding only 10 arrows). Then, I roll d6 on armor and gear, and I get a 3—that’s a backpack. I also roll a d2 (by rolling d6 with odds being 1 and evens being 2), and I get a 1, which means Karg has one supply as well. Bow, quiver, 10 arrows, backpack, and a supply. Not bad. With just those items in my inventory, I’m not worried about being encumbered, so I don’t even both checking slots and weight just yet.

For Unt, I roll d6 on weapons and ammunition, and I get a 1—that’s a femur. Then, I roll 2d6 on armor and gear, and I get an 8—that’s a shield. I also roll a d2, and I get a 1 again, which means Unt has one supply. Still not much, so I don’t worry too much about inventory.

Then it’s straight to the dungeons below. I draw an entrance area on the map, and then I roll d6, determining that there are 2 paths out of the area, and it also determines that there’s a dying mystic that gives me a random scroll. I roll d6 for the scroll, and I get a 2—that’s Open the Northern Gate, which is basically a fireball. Scrolls have d3 uses, so I roll d3 (by rolling a d6 with 1–2 being 1, 3–4 being 2, 5–6 being 3), and I get a 2. I’ll let Unt take that.

Karg and Unt take the east path—it doesn’t really matter where the paths are placed on the map. I draw the next area, of course. Then, I roll a d6, determining that there is 1 path leading out of the area, and then I roll another d6, determining that a dungeon obstacle is in the way. I roll a d6 to determine the dungeon obstacle, and it’s a pit trap with d2 treasures on the other side, and I get a 2. It’s too early not to take the risk; so, both Karg and Unt will maneuver to get to the other side—I need to roll a 4 or higher on a d6 for each of them. For Karg, I roll a 4; for Unt, I roll a 5. Lucky break.

The two scvm continue east. As before, I determine that there are two paths leading out of the area, then I determine that there’s a random dungeon foe. In this case, I roll a d6 to determine the foe, and I get a 4—that means trash gnoum. Since the rogues are in a party, I roll d3-1 to check if there are any additional foes, and I get a 2, so a 1, which means there are 2 total trash gnoums. Combat start!

Because Karg is using a ranged weapon, I have them start at distance—this means I suffer -1 to attack and to hinder, but I get +1 to maneuver and to defend; and it also means that only ranged and reaching attacks can cross that distance—otherwise, I’d need to take a maneuver to close that distance. Unt’s just chillin’. So, I have Karg attack trash gnoum #1—I need to tie or surpass its skill 4 on a d6. I roll high enough to manage that; so, I roll d6 for damage. I roll a 6—that means 8 damage. Trash gnoum #1 is beyond dead. Unt is going to attack trash gnoum #2 with their femur. My roll is low enough that Unt fails. Their turns are over, but trash gnoum #2 needs to have a reaction taken against them—all rolls are player-facing. I’ll have Unt do it. It’d be better to have Karg do it, but it makes more sense for the trash gnoum to be going after Unt since Unt isn’t at a distance. This kind of thinking isn’t specified anywhere in the rules. There really isn’t space for it. But I just don’t want to make the game too easy on myself. So, anyway, Unt uses their shield to parry. My roll is too low—beneath the trash gnoum’s skill. Unt failed to defend, but do they take damage? No. That’s not how the trash gnoum works. Instead, they take the most valuable item (up to a certain weight) from a random slot chosen by rolling d6. You can kind of order your slots however you want—I just try to be consistent. I roll a 3, which means that Unt’s supply is taken. Fvck.

It’s the next round, and I know the trash gnoum is going to try to flee now that it has what it wants. Since a quiver is a handy item, Karg gets a free maneuver to pull out their next arrow—my roll surpasses the trash gnoum’s skill. So, Karg looses the arrow against the trash gnoum and… fvck—the dreaded roll of 1. Waste of an arrow. Unt is up to avenge their supply. Since Karg already took an action against that trash gnoum, Unt gets a bonus to take an action against it as well, but it didn’t even matter because I rolled a 6. But, wait, the femur doesn’t do a lot of damage. I have Unt take on some fatigue weight to get a bonus to the damage roll. Well, it’s another 6, so I took on fatigue for nothing, and I do 4 damage to the trash gnoum, which is enough to kill it.

Now, I check for loot. I roll d3-1 to get 1 supply, d6-2 to get 3 silver, and I get the taken supply back. So, Unt has doubled their supply, and Karg will take the ¢3.

Luckily, no HP was lost. Still, I’ll have my rogues take a beat. Unt can rest to remove that fatigue weight (and could have used up a supply to regain some HP if they had needed to). For Karg, I have them survey the area for treasure. Of course, the deeper you are, the more treasure you can find, but we’re only two rooms deep after the entrance. Still, my roll is good enough that Karg finds one treasure. Of course, it’s blocked, which means it’d take a few beats to dig up / pry open the treasure—unless, of course, Karg had a mattock. Since the treasure is being left behind, it’ll count as stashed for later, which means it might still be around if I come back to this area. Well, the beat is over, which means I have to roll d6 to determine what happens. I get a 6. Another six. Both rogues take fatigue weight and gain a slot of dread.

There’s very little flavor text because the game is so minimal, but dread is one area where I try to evoke a little something extra. Your light wanes, hunger grows; you perish at 10 slots of dread, starving in the cold darkness of the dungeon. Using up a supply during a beat is the only way to remove dread. Altogether, this is implying that dread represents running out of light, food, water, and even warmth; and that supply represents a light source (perhaps torches, or a lamp and oil), food, and water. I also imagine supply as representing bandages since it helps patch up fresh wounds. But you can also use up a supply for a bonus to cross a pit trap (which I didn’t do earlier—oops), so what’s that about? Well, in DARK FORT, there’s a rope item that gives you a bonus to cross a pit trap, but it felt wrong to bundle torches and rations and such together yet leave rope as its own thing. So, supply is a quantum item in a superposition of states until measured/used. It’s quite a clever trick, and that’s not self-congratulating—because I borrowed that from DURF. I love DURF, and one of the things that I love about DURF is the supply item: it’s “an abstract item representing basic gear a PC brought with them” that can be anything from rope to a torch to a waterskin to some rations to—wait a second. Of course, I’ve also seen it in other games. So nifty.

Back to the playthrough. Now that the basics are explained, I’ll jump ahead a bit—if I don’t, this will be way longer than it already is. Especially since, in the next area, I encountered three fvcking basilisk hatchlings. I fled. And you know what happened in the next area? I encountered three fvcking basilisk hatchlings. No, really. I swear. I’m not exaggerating to be funny. I don’t know how my rolls are so shitty. Anyway, we get out of the dungeon a while after slaying a black-robed necrotist. Karg buys a mattock for Unt—this will be immensely helpful. Then, they donate the two treasures that they managed to bring back, which means 20 XP, and that’s exactly what I needed to get them both to progress. I decide for Karg to follow the Path of Craftiness to progress, and I roll Herbmaster, which allows Karg to use up five supplies to create a life elixir during a beat. Then, I decide for Unt to follow the Path of Onslaught, and I roll Slayer Training, which means they get +1 on every damage roll.

Of course, to progress, they must rest. That’s ¢1 each for their cost of living. They remove all fatigue and dread, heal d2 HP (Karg gets 1 back, and Unt gets 2), and then it’s back down into the dungeons the next day because they’re already out of silver. With the mattock, however, treasure should be easier to get.