Game Rules & Mechanics.   Posted by Muskox.Group: 0
 GM, 2 posts
Fri 26 Oct 2018
at 20:25
Game Rules & Mechanics
How We Roll

When To Roll, When Not To Roll

If you have characters rolling for every action, it gets pretty boring very quickly, wasting a lot of time that could be spent getting to the good stuff. All the things anyone can do without much difficulty, such as opening a door, climbing a ladder, driving normally, and so on don’t need to be rolled for.

Of course, if your character is trying to desperately clamber up an old rickety ladder with a terrible mutant beast snapping at his heels, that’s an entirely different story, definitely requiring a roll of the bones.

The V6 Engine is set up with the assumption that you only roll when a task is actually difficult. Rolls should only be called for when the outcome is in doubt, the task being attempted is difficult, or it’s important and dramatic. In short: ONLY ROLL WHEN THE TASK IS DIFFICULT, IMPORTANT, AND/OR DRAMATIC!

The V6 Engine

We call the rules used to run games of Atomic Highway the V6 Engine, short for “Victory6” because it uses six-sided dice exclusively, and because we thought it sounded cool.

Characters in the game, both those played by the Players (PCs) and those run by the GM (GMCs), frequently attempt all manner of dramatic, crazy, and death-defying actions. They leap from the rooftop of one speeding car to the next, try to shoot the snarling savage leaping at them, or attempt to convince the angry mob to release the pitiful mutant they’ve chased down.

Note: The V6 Engine system is set up so that characters succeed at tasks far more frequently than they fail. The average human (Attribute 2) with a competent level of skill (Skill 2) has a 75% chance of succeeding at a Difficult task. Even a clumsy novice (Attribute 1, Skill 1) has a 33% chance of succeeding, this dropping to 16% if they have no skill at all. If you find that success comes too easy for your tastes as a group, simply increase the number of required Successes by 1. So, two Successes are needed for Difficult tasks, 3 Successes for Extreme tasks, and so on (Tougher Tasks, page 64).

Using Skills

Most character actions are taken using Skills, such as Melee when wielding a club in an attempt to bludgeon a ravening freak, or Intimidate when trying to frighten a sniveling toady into revealing what he knows of the raider chief’s plans. All such rolls follow the same process, as detailed here, so let’s take a look. (Don’t worry, it looks more complicated than it really is.)

1)Consider the Action. Consider what your character is trying to do and how they are trying to do it.
Example: Rex is attempting to frighten a local thug into revealing to whom he sells his ill-gotten gains. He lifts the thug off the floor physically, and clenches his hand into a menacing fist inches in front of the thug’s face while snarling, “Talk!”

2) Select Attribute Select the most obvious Attribute your character is using in their attempt. The Skills section lists the most common Attribute used with each Skill.
Example: If Rex was trying to frighten someone with sheer force of personality he’d use the Appeal Attribute, but in this case he’s using a bit of brute strength and threat of violence, so Muscle is more appropriate.

3) Select Skill The Skill descriptions will give you plenty of guidance here, but in most cases this is pretty obvious, such as Drive for operating a car, or Persuade when trying to barter some scavenged goods with a tradesman in a bartertown.
Example: According to the Skill descriptions, Intimidate is the Skill to use when trying to frighten or interrogate, and continuing our example with Rex, it’s the obvious choice here. If no existing Skill seems appropriate and it’s clearly something for which skill is necessary (such as drawing a detailed portrait), simply make the roll as if your character had no Skill (see Step 5). If it’s something for which no skill is needed, such as lifting a car engine block, it’s an Attribute-Only roll.

4) Roll Attribute Dice Roll a number of six-sided dice equal to the Attribute, with each 6 being a Success. Any dice that naturally come up 6 can be rerolled, and if they come up 6 again they add another Success. This can be repeated until the die rolls lower than 6.
Example: Rex has Muscle 4, so his Player rolls four dice. He gets 2, 3, 4, and 6! one Success! He rolls that 6 again but only rolls a 2, so no extra Success unfortunately.

5) Add Skill Points You can use your character’s Skill level as a finite number of points with which to “bump up” the results of one or more dice to achieve more 6s – more Successes are better. You can split the Skill levels your character has however you want among the dice, so if they possess the Skill at Master level (5) you could add 2 points to one result, and 1 point to each of three others; or 1 point to each of five results; or all 5 points to a single result, or however else you want.

You can neither reroll bumped-up 6s to gain more Successes, nor bump up rerolls that are a result of natural 6s. Nice try though. You have access to your character’s Skill points for any and all actions they take using that Skill. Skill points do not run out, they “renew” with each roll. If your character does not have the appropriate Skill, they do not have any Skill points to add, and only get Successes from their Attribute dice roll.

Example 1: From our example above, with one success already rolled, Rex also has Intimidate 3, so his Player chooses to add those three points to the 3 result he rolled, making another 6! Two Successes total!

Example 2: Garran the traitor (Nimbleness 2) tries to leap over a pit while fleeing Gunmetal Jane! He rolls 2, 5. No Successes! Luckily though, he has Athletics 1, and his Player makes the obvious choice to add that 1 to his 5, bringing it up to 6, a single Success! Garran makes the jump!

Example 3: Gunmetal Jane (Nimbleness 4) in hot pursuit, tries the same jump. Her Player rolls 1, 2, 4, and 4. No Successes either! Fortunately, she has Athletics 4, and using the 4 points she has to play with, the Player adds 2 to each 4, bringing them both up to 6! Two Successes and Jane sails gracefully over the pit with room to spare!

Using Attributes Only

Sometimes characters try things that rely purely on raw natural ability, not upon skills or training. Fighting off the effects of poison, or trying to hold on to a chain while dangling perilously from an autogyro – such actions are Attribute-Only rolls. Attribute-Only rolls follow the same process as Using Skills above, but obviously don’t have an applicable Skill to add. Instead, the Attribute is used both for the number of dice rolled and the number of points that can be added in Step 5.

Example: Garran topples a rusting hulk as Jane closes with him, causing it to fall on her, trapping her leg! With no friends nearby, she has to try to lift the debris off her trapped leg unaided. She has Muscle 2, and no Skill is appropriate to just lifting things. Her Player rolls 2, 4. No Successes, but with Muscle 2 she can add two points to her results and wisely adds them to the result of 4, making it a 6, a Success! With a grunt of effort, Jane lifts the debris just enough to slide her leg out.

Bad Things Happen

When all the dice in a given roll come up 1, something bad has happened. The action hasn’t necessarily failed as a Master (5) Skill can turn even a pitiful 1 into a Success, but something disastrous has happened as decided by the GM. This should be potentially dangerous or embarrassing, but not outright lethal, and should depend on what was being undertaken.

For example, a lockpick might break off in a lock, preventing any further attempt to pick it. A spiked club might get stuck in the door behind the opponent you were trying to strike. You might trip as you try to show off your athletic skill and land in a disheveled heap.

Example: Garran fires his pistol at Jane, chuckling viciously! He rolls his Nimbleness 2 and gets a pair of 1s! Not only has he failed miserably to shoot her because his Shoot 2 is not good enough to create a Success, something bad has happened! The GM decides that Garran accidentally drops his gun, sending it sliding across the floor!

Competing Rolls

Your character attempts to dodge beneath the horrific mutant’s swinging claws! The gunslinger locks eyes with his nemesis, the first to flinch, the loser! When two or more characters pit their Skills or Attributes directly against each other, the winner is determined via Competing rolls.

In such cases, every character involved follows the Skill or Attribute-Only use rules above, following these steps in order to determine the winner:
1) If only one character achieves any Successes, they win.
2) If two or more competing characters achieve Successes, the character with the highest number of Successes wins.
3) If characters have the same number of Successes, the the character with the highest Skill being used wins.
4) If characters have the same level of Skill, the character with the highest Attribute being used wins.
5) If characters have the same Attribute value, the contest is a tie, with no clear winner, as interpreted by the Gamemaster – two knife-fighters might lock blades momentarily, for example.

Example: Jane and Garran are engaged in a bitter fight, both diving madly for the gun lying in the dirt nearby! Both roll Nimbleness/Athletics, with the winner being the one to grab the gun! The GM rolls Garran’s Nimbleness 2 and gets 1, 5! No Successes, but he adds his single point of Athletics to the 5 to bring it up to 6, a single Success! Jane’s Player rolls her Nimbleness 4 and gets 2, 4, 5, 6! A single Success!

She tries a reroll on the 6 but only gets a 1. She then uses her Athletics 4 to boost the 5 up to 6 and the 4 up to 6 as well! A total of three Successes! Far more than Garran’s single Success. Jane grins triumphantly as she snatches the gun from beneath Garran’s outstretched hand and levels it at his ugly mug!

Tougher Tasks

In the majority of cases, acquiring a single Success is enough to succeed at a task, but sometimes things are more challenging. It can be hard enough to pull off a tight maneuver in a speeding car, but if you have to do it when the roads are rain-slicked and you’re running on only three good tires, things get much trickier. In these situations, the GM may require more Successes in order to perform the task, using the guidelines at the bottom of the page.


It’s possible for multiple characters to cooperate on a task such as trying to push a derelict old truck over the edge of a chasm.

In these situations, use the following rule: Use the highest individual Attribute and Skill ratings of the characters involved, but add an extra die and extra Skill point for each character beyond the first aiding the event. The number of characters capable of working together on the same task simultaneously should be limited by common sense; only so many individuals can try to lift the same boulder at the same time, for instance.

Characters assisting in tasks requiring the use of a Skill must possess that Skill to provide help.

Example: Jane and Rex work together to break down a locked wooden door, shoulder charging it at the same time! No Skill is applicable, but Rex has the highest strength with Muscle 4. Because he’s being aided by one other individual, his Player adds an extra die to make it Muscle 5 for the attempt, and he can modify his results with up to 5 points instead of his normal 4. Rex’s Player rolls getting 1, 2, 3, 4, and 6! one Success! Because the door is barred on the other side, the GM has ruled that at least three Successes are needed to break it down, so Rex’s Player spends 2 of his Muscle points to raise the 4, and 3 of his Muscle points to raise the 3, giving him the three Successes needed! Under the combined assault of Rex and Jane, the reinforced door bursts open!

*Only use the highest modifier: Calculating every possible modifier to an action slows things down. Just use the highest modifier possible rather than add them all together (i.e., modifiers don’t “stack”) – it’s a lot faster and easier.

Using Fortune

It happens time and again, the heroes beat staggering odds to save the day or avoid an unpleasant fate. The arch-villain conveniently escapes to plague the heroes another day.

In books and movies, it’s because everything occurs as set out in a preordained plot – but that’s not the case in roleplaying games. To represent that level of plot immunity and jaw-dropping luck, Major characters in Atomic Highway, namely the PCs and any important villains, have something called Fortune.

PCs start each game session with 5 Fortune, but Players may earn more in play. Unspent Fortune cannot be saved from session to session, so be sure to use it! Fortune can be spent after any roll. During play, Fortune can be spent by the Players or GM to gain any of the following benefits at the listed costs:

Gain Extra Successes (1 Fortune per extra Success):
You can add an extra Success to a character’s action. This can ensure at least one Success or add to those already rolled. Extra Successes gained with Fortune cannot be used to offset Bad Things Happen.

Example: Attempting to sneak past a guard dog, Jane rolls and scores one Success. As it’s a competing roll, the guard dog rolls and gets three Successes, meaning it will notice Jane easily! Realizing she simply cannot afford to be noticed, her Player spends 3 Fortune, raising Jane’s Successes to four, enough to beat the dog’s total. Jane manages to sneak past the alert hound.

[Optional] Perform Dual Action (2 Fortune):
Ordinarily characters may only attempt a single Action in a given Round, but by spending 2 Fortune, a character can attempt two Actions in the same Round, either simultaneously or in a particular order, at no penalty. They might kick one opponent while shooting another, for example.

A character cannot perform concurrent Actions and dual Actions in the same turn.

Example: Jane is surrounded by slavering freaks and wants to take them down quickly. Her Player spends 2 Fortune, and describes how Jane launches a kick at the head of one opponent while she fires her pistol at another! Her Player makes a separate roll for each Action.

Plot Tweak (2 Fortune): You can make a minor tweak or addition to the current in-game environment or situation that somehow benefits the character. Any tweaks should be somewhat believable in the given circumstances. Examples: Rex just happens to find a rusted but usable hammer on the shelf in that decrepit shack when he most needs one. Jane suddenly realizes that the chains the raiders wrapped her in are partly rusted through on one link, and won’t be too hard to break and escape.

Plot Twist (5 Fortune):
You can make a significant twist or change to the current situation that somehow benefits a character. These twists should have some level of vague plausibility as anything too ridiculous can ruin the entire game. This use of Fortune should be carefully considered, and its inclusion should be agreed to by the whole group before play.

Examples: The jailer who comes to feed Jane just happens to be someone who owes her their life and will help her escape. The defeated villain’s body cannot be found, indicating he likely survived or escaped against all odds.

Reduce An Opponent’s Successes (2 Fortune per Success removed):
You can remove a Success from a character’s roll. This can cause them to fail entirely.

Example: Rex is engaged in an arm-wrestling contest with a local bruiser, his reputation on the line. Both contestants are equally matched in all ways, and both achieve two Successes! Wanting this contest done with, Rex’s Player spends 2 Fortune and removes one of the bruiser’s Successes, reducing him to one Success, making Rex the clear winner.

Reduce Injury/Damage (1 Fortune):
You can remove some Damage from a character or vehicle equal to half its normal full Health. Lethal and Non-Lethal Damage are treated equally, and you cannot raise the character’s or vehicle’s Health above it’s normal maximum.

Example: Jane has been pretty badly mauled in a savage fight with a mutant cougar, and though victorious, has been reduced to 3 Health, a fraction of her full 16 Health. She spends a Fortune and immediately gains back 8 Health (half of her normal full total), bringing her up to 11 Health. Grimacing, wiping away blood and dust, the pained and bloodied Jane rises to her feet in surprisingly good shape given the fight, looking worse than she actually feels.

Reroll Bad Things Happen (3 Fortune): You can completely negate the bad incident that occurs when you roll all 1s on your dice by rerolling. In the unlikely event you reroll all 1s again, reroll until you get a result that isn’t all 1s.

Example: Rex is attempting to leap from the top of a speeding automobile to a nearby truck. To his Player’s horror, all the dice rolled come up 1! This could be disastrous in the circumstances, so the Player spends 3 Fortune and rerolls.

Earning Fortune

Although every Player character automatically begins a session with 5 Fortune, it is possible for Players to earn more Fortune for their characters during or even before play sessions.

If your group agrees that you demonstrate any of the following, you can be awarded an extra Fortune in each case, but cannot retain more than 10 at any given time:

Cool Dialogue: You come up with a particularly cool or witty and original one-liner, comeback or phrase that your characters says.

Cool Stunts/Descriptions: You come up with an evocative or creative description of something your character does.

Dedicated Play: You show dedication to the game and everyone’s enjoyment.

Good Characterization: You portray your character’s personality traits memorably and accurately, even going so far as to portray them that way when doing so makes their life difficult.

Good Problem Solving/Creative Thinking: You come up with creative and viable solutions or plans to the obstacles that your character encounters in-game.

Good Team Play: You show that you place the success of the PC group ahead of the success of your own individual character.

Heroism: You put your character’s life in jeopardy to do the right thing. No awards for doing so if it unnecessarily imperils the other PCs though; there’s a fine line between heroism and brash stupidity.

Note: Fortune will be awarded every Sunday.

What Are Units?

Units are the current medium of exchange in the wasteland, aside from trading physical goods and services. Units are represented by circular, plastic chips that are not unlike old world poker chips. Old credit cards are also occasionally used in this fashion. Both plastics are considered a form of "units."


1. Be respectful to each other.

2. Expect depictions of violence in this game but nothing gratuitous. Swearing's fine but there's a 0 tolerance policy on racist or homophobic language.

3. Please shoot for 1 post a day barring weekends to keep up momentum. If you go 2 weeks without posting/checking in with no notice you'll be removed/NPCed. You're welcome to request access again whenever you're back.

4. Use coloured text for dialogue (makes things easier for me)

5. Have a written description of your character. Portraits are allowed but not required.

6. No godmodding or meta-gaming.

7. As a rule, try not to post one-liners outside of combat. If you don't like creative writing this game probably isn't for you. Each post should be descriptive enough to give myself and your fellow players something to work with.

8. Use orange text to indicate OOC in posts.

9. Please use "to" and "from" location tags when moving threads.

Just as a tip, because this game is open-world/sandbox, your character should have their own goal they're working toward or motivations. That said, I will be actively GMing the game and updating it. Having your own goals helps me curate what quest lines or plot hooks to throw at you.

If you ever have any questions feel free to PM me in game.

This message was last edited by the GM at 16:37, Mon 26 Nov 2018.