Welcome back, dice fondlers! After a week’s break due to our editor rolling a natural 1 in Adulting, we’re back to the world of Grimm the RPG! Our unlikely heroes, some rather unfortunate children, have been trapped in the twisted versions of fairy tales in the Grimm Lands. In Part 1 & 2, we covered the world and its character creation system, so check out the links above if you need a refresher. This week, we turn the page to the dice mechanics powering Grimm and some of its dramatic mechanics to wrap up this series. Let’s get right to it.
Dice Performance: Your Kid Could Get Held Back
The Grimm Lands are… well… grim, as you might expect. With this in mind, Grimm RPG’s dice element doesn’t give wildly random results like Dungeons and Dragons does.
Remember the grade levels we discussed last time? Well, roughly 66% of the time, your characters will be performing squarely at their grade level without any change. If you roll a single die to test a trait, a result of 2-5 will have you perform at your grade level. A 1 is a botch, where you perform at one level below and roll the dice a second time. For every 1 you roll, you perform at a grade level lower. Conversely, if you roll a 6, you perform at one grade level higher, and as expected, roll another die. Every 6 you roll, you perform at one grade level higher. Grimm RPG refers to this system as Linear D6.
However, this doesn’t mean that our characters are stuck without ways to get around thoroughly tough obstacles. They have multiple options to increase their chances of success.
Advantages, Focus, Step Up, & Team Up
First and foremost, are Advantages. Advantages can be granted in a few ways, but most commonly through the use of Tools (the game’s names for items). Usually, Advantages allow characters to perform at one or two grade levels above their current level.
Another method characters can use is called Focusing. Focusing allows characters to expand the range of results on the dice that increases their grade level. For example, if a character spends one turn focusing, they perform at a grade level higher on a 5 OR 6 instead of just a 6. If our character spent two turns focusing, that range of numbers would increase to 4, 5, or 6. There is a catch to Focusing, though. It only works for the very first roll. Any additional rolls to see if your grade level increased further all have their grade level raise number reset to 6.
The third option is perhaps the simplest. Known as Stepping Up, when a character has all the time in the world to perform an action, instead of being forced to race against the clock, they can choose just to Step Up. No dice are rolled— it is just assumed that they perform at one grade level higher than usual as a limit to what they can accomplish. This saves time and energy in making players roll dice over and over again for simple tasks that should be well within a characters’ wheelhouse of abilities.
Finally, characters can choose to Team Up. Typically, the leader of the Team Up is the character with the highest relevant Trait. For every additional helper, they are allowed to roll an additional die. If any of them come up 6, they continue the chain of grade level increases and dice rerolls. However, they may only reroll the dice that came up 6 in order to keep the chain going. Conversely, Team Up’s results will not drop a grade level unless the entire team’s efforts come back with the result of 1.
Now, I have to recommend Grimm RPG for the remainder of its chapter on dramatic actions— it frames drama, combat, and the like in purely dramatic terms. Yes, it tells you which Trait to use for specific kinds of attack or evasion, but the real juicy bit here is this— the game enables you the player (particularly the GM) set the tone for the gameplay.
For a game where the night is long and full of monsters, and the characters are children who must work together and be clever to increase their chances of success, you might imagine a game with a high body count (like playstyles of D&D or its clones). That really isn’t the case here, though. While the children are often horribly overpowered, having the first giant they meet squish them into jam is a waste of good characters and good monsters. Now, subduing them, and taking them away to keep in a cage until the giant gets hungry… Now that’s a proper Grimm fairy tale!
I hope you’ve enjoyed our brief tour through the Grimm
Lands. Next week, we’ll jump through time and space into another strange and
wonderful RPG world. Until then though my friends, remember to…