Discover more from Last Roll of the Week
How EZ is it?
My thoughts on how I've found using EZD6 to run a campaign
Some of you may be aware that I’m currently running a campaign called Revolvers & Katanas, a wild-west fantasy mish-mash of a world where the forces of magic (known as the Arcane) were pushed to virtual extinction in a war with the technologically minded Steel Empire; our PCs are surviving members of the Arcane who have fled to the fringes of the empire and now seek to re-group, gather their strength and possibly take the fight back to their enemies.
We started off using Worlds Without Number by Kevin Crawford, which is a cool game, but I made the mistake of trying to jump in at the heroic level of play before I’d fully got my head around the system and so—after the third session—I was struggling with it and discussed switching systems with the players. Eventually we settled on EZD6, written by DM Scotty. We’re fifteen sessions into our campaign now and I thought it’d be a good time to reflect on some of the things I both liked and disliked about the system.
Disclaimer: These notes pertain only to my own game and the style of game I like to run, if you like EZD6 don’t take any of my criticisms to heart, I very much enjoy the game even if I don’t think it’s a 100% match for my preferred style of game. We’re planning to continue using it to run the campaign and are having great fun with it.
Things I like…
The rules system is very easy to learn, essentially you roll 1D6 and try to beat a target number set by the GM, you don’t have traditional stats but you may have abilities that give you boons or there may be penalties that give you banes. Boons allow you to roll one extra dice per boon and select the highest roll, banes do the reverse, cancelling each other out on a 1-to-1 basis.
The magic system is lovely and vague in all the right places, essentially you pick one of a number of themes for your magic (elementallism, animalism, that sort of thing) and—when you cast a spell—you say what you want the effect to be. The GM rolls 1D6 to set the difficulty number and you can choose to put 1-3 dice of magical power into casting it, however rolling any 1s can have a negative or harmful effect. I love this since it is more freeform that having a big list of spells and allows the players to get really creative, it also creates a lot of fun and enjoyment when waiting to see how high the ambient magical resistance in the area is.
Coming up with monster stats on the fly is pretty easy, essential you start off with a basic profile, and then you add a number of strikes (the games equivalent of hit points, with characters generally having 3 and each normal attack doing one strike of damage if a wound save is failed) based on how important or tough they are and give them some appropriate boons and banes. You can also drop in some more freestyle abilities if you like and there are some good examples in the book.
Things I’m less keen on…
There isn’t really an advancement system in the main book, and I know this is mostly down to the fact that EZD6 was written for playing quick and dirty games at conventions (and it is outstanding for that), however my players like to have a bit of advancement and growth on their character sheets. The way I’ve handled this in my campaign is by just porting over the advancement system from ICRPG and using that, it has meant that I’ve had to re-write the powers to work with EZD6 but it hasn’t been too difficult, it would have been nice to have a simple system in the main book though.
There aren’t really many guidelines for treasures nor any sort of monetary system in the book, I’ve started reaching to other publications and systems for inspiration when it comes to magic items and I’ve cobbled together a simple money system based around the idea of coinpurses. Essentially PCs make rolls to purchase things and—if they fail—they can spend coinpurses to boost their roll; again this wasn’t difficult— and I can see how it’s not a priority in a convention games—but resource management and buying stuff is one of the key components of the sort of game I like to run.
PCs start out powerful out of the gate and only get more so as they accumulate treasures, even without an advancement system, this does make it a bit challenging to create a combat or an encounter where the PCs will genuinely feel pressured or challenged. There are ways you can get round this by introducing combats with puzzle elements and by getting more creative, rather than your more standard slug-fest and I wouldn’t say this is a bad thing, it does mean a bit more thought is required when coming up with encounters though.
Overall I’m pretty happy with using EZD6 for my current campaign, although I don’t think it’s going to replace the more procedural OSR retroclones and games in my heart, since I love hex-crawling, mapping, resource management and all of that sort of thing; however, I’m definitely going to be taking EZD6 with me in future when I go to conventions since I think it’ll be a big hit there with its easy to understand rules and punchy characters.
Thanks for reading Last Roll of the Week! Subscribe for free to receive new posts and support my work.