From DC, to D13, D6xD6, and BNHP

Photo by Stefano Pollio on Unsplash

What with Halloween just 13 days away, I’d like to share a tiny bit of Dark Conspiracy RPG history and of personal pitch.

My goal with DC was, as you may know, to create a setting into which any horror story could be fit. Details I needed to achieve that goal—cyberpunkish urban sprawl, anachronistic rural regions, areas of bleedthrough from hellish dimension, and a rationale for beneficent aliens becoming inimical, for example—slowly amalgamated into a distinct personality of DC’s own.

But not everyone likes the DC mechanics, the inhouse system ported over from Twilight: 2000. Note that the T2K rules did play their own role in shaping DC’s character as a combat-heavy game of meet the monster; get your asses kicked; learn its weakness; come back better armed and kill it.

For GDW it made sense to have a shared system for all of its RPGs. (Well, until Space: 1889 broke ranks.) And the other reason is I wasn’t yet a mechanics guy. My two contributions to the inhouse system were to add experience rules (in Traveller: 2300, which got me hired in the first place) and to push for a change from d10 to d20. Adding an Empathy stat and trimming the T2K weapons list to suit DC were more a matter of developmental editing.

But since that time, my design skills for game mechanics have grown. Even earning an Origins Award! In RPGs, I’ve developed a passion for minimalist precision. For universal mechanics that dependably but unobtrusively support play. Even, say, hmm, I don’t know, maybe Dark Conspiracy adventures?

So here’s the pitch. If you love DC as a setting, but not the mechanics, I have three options to sub in for them. First, D13 is specifically designed for horror, any type, a bit more brutally than DC, but with push-your-luck paranormal abilities rules suitable for DC’s Empathy stat. Second, there’s D6xD6 ( is the core rules), and come to think of it, Chuck McGrew’s use of it in Don’t Look Back 3e could handle the DC setting right out of the gate. Lastly, there’s the Bookmark HP RPG, a deceptively simple system that has been called “an epiphany in game design.”

Each game system has its own unique take on dice mechanics; all three with dependable math under the hood. So, if you love the world of Dark Conspiracy, but aren’t a fan of its mechanics, why not give one of these three a try? Links in the sidebar.

One thought on “From DC, to D13, D6xD6, and BNHP

  • October 18, 2022 at 3:40 pm

    A DC fan on Facebook asked, “Would the conversion be easy? In order to make the relatively easy step from D10-> D20, GDW published a mini-sourcebook back in the day (PC Booster Kit).”

    I thought my reply there might be helpful here:

    “Good question! I think I’m the one who put together that mini-sourcebook back in the day. 🙂 As I recall, it basically mapped old stats to new. Metaphorically speaking, a same-language update.

    “Lately I’ve been using D6xD6 or Bookmark HP to play some solo adventures in other systems: Call of Cthulhu, GURPS, Legendary Lives, etc. Metaphorically speaking, it’s like language translation—not stat-by-stat, but the essence.

    “(My YouTube channel has some example play-throughs.)

    D6xD6 is my usual choice for systems like the GDW in-house rules. Its single-stat, skill-based nature makes on-the-fly PC/NPC conversion quick, its combat system is detailed enough to feel similar, and you can mine its various 6-page settings for ways to handle psychic powers, monstrous abilities, etc.

    D13 is a sibling with slightly more detailed character stats, an extensive paranormal powers system, and tuned for grim horror. I’m particularly fond of its tarot-driven push-your-luck psychic gifts, which can slip your control and do much more than you were hoping for, and if you’re not careful might fatally drain all your life force.

    Bookmark HP RPG is my go-to for down-and-dirty, moment’s-notice play. Its 1-10 difficulty scale is quick and intuitive. And its “sourcebookmarks” are examples of how to handle superhuman abilities.

    “My thinking is that people who would prefer something different from the GDW in-house system won’t really want a detailed stat-by-stat conversion simply to roll different dice. They’re looking for a different set of mechanics altogether.

    “If they love Savage Worlds, or FATE, or Apocalypse Engine, or some such and are deeply familiar with it, “translating” DC mechanics to those is a great way to enjoy DC’s setting and adventures. That way you can keep the spirit of DC, using a system you’re more comfortable with.

    “My pitch for D13, D6xD6, and BNHP is because they’re designed to generate a character from scratch *and* play a full adventure in a 4-hour convention slot. But I’ve also discovered that even BNHP can handle a year-long campaign. So when I play DC myself, its with one of those. 🙂 And in every one of them, always round down. ‘It’s a dark world.’ 🙂 ”

Leave a Reply

This site uses Akismet to reduce spam. Learn how your comment data is processed.