I purchased a print on demand copy of the 3Deep Core rules back in August when I was showing interest in solo RPG rules. I never used them for solo play but I did end up reading the rules over the holidays.
My copy is a slim, perfect bound 72-page booklet that is the 2nd edition of the rules. The layout is simple with mechanical type and headings and the art is all public domain. There were a few instances where a rule was not in a section I expected it to be in but the rules are so slim there is no issue with finding a specific rule.
For such a slim manual the rules have some surprising complexities and combat does not play very fast. The design concept noted at the beginning of the rules is that only a d6 should be needed and the rules should fit on 1 sheet of paper. Strangely the rules 1 sheet in the back of the book shares the solo and normal play rules on the same page so you need 2 sheets of paper. The rules are said to be designed for any setting but examples best fit science fiction and fantasy.
The core dice rolls are 1d6, 2d6, and 3d6. Characters have 5 Statistics called Stats. Stats range from 2-12. To generate Stats you roll 2d6 or assign from 40 points. The Stats are Strength (Str), Endurance (End), Agility (Agl), Logic (Log), and Empathy (Emp). The value of the Stat gives a bonus to checks between weak at -2 to exceptional at +2.
The rules have only 20 skills to choose from. At the start of play, a character can choose 7 skills. They can end up with more if they gain skills from their background.
When the character decides to perform an action that has a chance of failure the GM decides on the stat and skill to be used. The player rolls 2d6 and will add their stat bonus and skill bonus. The GM adds or subtracts situational modifiers. If the result is 8 or higher the task was successful.
Each skill may only be tested once per round. If the character does not have the skill you add a -1 to the roll. Difficulty factors can add a +2 to -7 to the roll decided by the GM. More than 1 skill can be used to attempt an action. But if there is clearly a more appropriate skill, there should be a penalty.
Progressive Skill rolls
Some tasks may take time to complete. The GM could assign a number higher than 8 for success. A roll of 8 would still be a success but the character would only be partway through completing the task. Such as requiring 3 successes to climb a wall.
Failed Skill rolls
When the character rolls less than 8 they have failed at the roll. There may be further consequences depending on the task. Also, if the roll results in a negative value, the situation will get worse.
The character attempting the action rolls first. If they succeed they can apply their Stat as a penalty to their opponents roll.
One and Six Rule
Rolled ones should result in something bad happening even if the roll succeeds. Rolled sixes should result in something good happening.
The character’s background gives them an additional +1 in three skills. Note that if they have already picked the skill it becomes +2. The backgrounds represent regions, urban, barren, coastal, mountainous, nomadic, and sylvan. The list is one part of the rules that clearly represent a fantasy campaign.
Race outside of humans gives a positive impact on a stat and a corresponding negative impact on another stat. Classic fantasy and science fiction races are given as examples.
Magic spells are powered by Mana. You also need the Magic skill. The formula to calculate mana is Logic Stat x Empathy Stat x Magic Skill.
There is a table that describes the magic cost in mana based on the effects of the spell. It looks pretty clever and covers all spells with defined effects. For each point of damage, a spell does one point in mana is spent. There is an optional rule that has 4 points of mana equal to a random amount of damage (1d6).
Spells are maintained for a single mana point per round. Outside of combat, this can be changed to 1 point of mana per minute.
There is no list of spells but these rules allow players to develop the formula for spells and record and name them. While this may seem pretty daunting for players used to the spells lists of D&D the formula provided is actually pretty easy to understand.
Mana is recovered over a 24 hour period at the rate of their current maximum mana divided by 24. That is how much they recover each hour. Note that this is their current maximum mana. Logic and Empathy stat reductions will affect this.
Magic spells require a successful Magic skill roll to be cast. A failed roll does not consume any Mana unless a 1 is rolled. For each 1 rolled the caster loses one mana point. A six will cancel out a one on this test.
A willing person with the Magic skill could send Mana to another mage. But it costs one mana (in addition to the mana being sent) to send 1 mana point.
Spells can be done together by a Coven of Mages. Two mages working together each make the Magic skill check but it is at +2.
In this system magic and mana do not last forever. There are no permanent magic items. Each use of magic from the item drains mana until it becomes a mundane item. This effectively precludes high fantasy campaigns that rely on magic swords of legend and the exploration of dungeons with magic traps. It reminds me somewhat of RuneQuest.
Learning from Experience
The rules suggest awarding 5 XP at the end of each scene. I am not certain what is considered a scene, it is not mentioned in the rules. Once a character has 100 XP he can exchange them for an additional +1 in any Stat or skill that they used recently.
Time and Speed
A turn is 6 seconds. There are 10 turns in a minute. Damage from burning or bleeding is applied each turn. Rounds are only 1 second. There are 6 rounds in a turn.
A character’s speed is half of their current Agility (rounded up). Speed is calculated on round 1 of each turn and remains fixed for the entire turn. There is a table to show in which second an action can be taken. The table of actions was initially daunting to me. But once I ran a few combat examples it became a little more straight forward. When I ran these combat examples I found that they were overly long.
Explosions do not seem natural but are listed here. The damage is designed to be higher closer to the source. Poisons do 1d6, 2d6, or 3d6 damage depending on how dangerous they are.
A critical part of combat is the speed chart that shows when characters can act. It is actually in the section of the rules on Time and Speed.
The combat sequence is:
1. If two characters can move at the same time roll initiative (not the complicated action table noted earlier).
2. The Attacker rolls a skill roll to see if the attack hits.
3. The Attacker rolls the hit location.
4. The Attacker rolls damage.
5. The Attacker assesses special damage.
6. The Attacker rolls knockback.
7. The Defender rolls for shield activation.
8. The Defender subtracts any armor from damage.
9. The Defender applies damage.
Initiative is 2d6 + current Agility + any combat skill. The higher score goes first.
The Attack roll is 2d6 + their Stat Bonus + Skill bonus - Defenders’ Agility Stat bonus + Combat Skill bonus + any situational bonus (like cover). A result of 8 or higher indicated a hit. An unmodified roll of 12 always hits.
The hit location table (3d6) determines if the location has armor and what Stat has the damage applied to it.
Weapon damage is by type but is either light (1d6), medium (2d6), or heavy (3d6).
There is also Special damage which can be very important. The total amount rolled is the total amount of damage. But each die rolled can also add 0-2 in special damage. A die rolling 1 adds zero, a 2-5 adds 1 each, and a six adds 2 special damage. The special damage affects the victim based on the type.
Slashing damage - for every point, there is a -1 to all maneuvers. This was not something I clearly understood. What is considered a maneuver? Is swinging a sword a maneuver?
Crushing damage - each point can stun the victim. Stunned characters cannot apply skill bonuses to any rolls.
Piercing damage - for each special point the character will take one point of damage every round six until treated. This is bleeding damage and can be very important in a fight.
Burning damage - does damage equal to the special damage amount every turn until extinguished.
The force of an attack can Knockback the defender. Whenever a defender is hit make a knockback roll. It is default at 2d6 but if the defender is on uncertain footing it could be lowered to 1d6 and if the defender is firmly held use 3d6. The total sum from the Knockback roll is subtracted from the total damage done. If the result is positive, that value is the total number of meters the defender is knocked back. If the defender is knocked back into a wall before being knocked back the allotted amount, they are stunned instead.
If the defender is holding a shield they can roll to see if the shield intercepts the attack. The defender rolls 3d6 and will look up the result on the shield activation table. If the shield is activated the defender takes no damage. But future activation rolls are reduced by the amount of special damage that would have been done. This reflects damage to the shield.
Armor works by absorbing some or all of the damage done by an attack. The amount of damage and special damage absorbed by armor is noted in the armor table.
The final amount of damage done after reductions by shields and armor is then applied to the defender’s Stat for the hit location. If a Stat is reduced to zero, then the defender must make a 2d6 + Endurance Stat bonus every round to remain conscious. Failing the roll (less than 8) means the character blacks out. A Stat continues to have damage applied to it even after it is reduced to zero. Bleeding damage can be applied to any Stat (player’s choice) but cannot be applied to a Stat already at zero. A character that has all of his Stats reduced to zero is dead. It is important to note that all 5 Stats have hit locations. So any Stat could be reduced in combat.
A character can attack with a weapon in each hand but he can only apply the skill bonus once. He can split the bonus between attacks. But if the second attack is made with no bonus it is treated as unskilled (-1).
Move and Fire
You cannot move and fire in a round because only 1 action is allowed per round.
Vehicles & Movement
Each round that the driver of a vehicle is in a stressful situation he should be asked to make a Driving skill roll. The difficulty should be based on maneuver and speed. If the roll is failed, then for every point it has failed the vehicle drifts 1 meter in the direction it was originally traveling.
Natural healing occurs in two rates. If the Stat is at more than half its original value will heal at 1 point every 10 minutes. Stats that are below half their full value will heal at 1 point every hour until the Stat is again at half its initial value. Stats at zero or negative values take 1 day to heal per point until the Stat is at the value of 1.
If a professional medic is aiding healing, all healing is twice as fast. But the medic must make a successful skill check for each stat separately.
Bleeding and Slashing special damage requires a Medical skill roll to be healed.
After reading the rules and making my notes. I ran combat between a human armed with a dagger and a zombie. The rules for monsters are very simple. Their Stats are given in the rules but not their skills. I had to assume that a zombie would have +1 Combat. I also did not know what kind of damage a zombie would do. It is not noted. In fact, the damage is not noted for any of the given monsters. So I decided he would attack with 1 claw and do damage like a club.
The combat lasted for 4 rounds with the zombie eventually succumbing to bleeding damage. I had to rule that zombies could bleed. More logically I think a zombie would have the special ability to be immune to bleeding special damage. However, the zombie already had a natural armor of 4 at all locations which made him nearly impossible to damage.
I ran another combat between 2 men who meet in an alley and blast away at each other with handguns. I figured this combat would go a lot quicker and it did end after 1 round in Turn 3. The slower combatant lost consciousness after one of his Stats dropped to zero and he failed the roll to stay active. In both examples, I did not let the combatants healing any damage or attempt to stop bleeding damage. Given that they were in combat this seemed reasonable to me but the rules are silent on this.
After running the combat a few times it starts to become pretty simple to do and you really do not need to check any charts with the possible exception of the hit location chart. I think the combat is too detailed to appeal to me.