Designer: Kristopher McClanahan
Artist: Kristopher McClanahan
Publisher: Deeply Dapper Games
Year Published: 2021
No. of Players: 1+ (recommended for 3+ for full impact)
Playing Time: NA
Main mechanic / Theme: rpg, six-sided dice / You’re a bug living in the Shimmer
A bug’s life may be short but they can go out in a blaze of glory.
You are a Roan of the colony. You have your tasks for the colony and your queen. But the hive mind has been depleted and you have some free will and there are the wilds of the Shimmer. The Shimmer may be a place underground, an alien planet, or another dimension. You can make it anywhere you want it to be. Adventuring may be for your own reward, for the good of the colony, or you made a wrong turn and need to find your way home.
Other creatures live in the Shimmer. Some of them are friendly, like The Pyll Brothers. Most aren’t, like Slorper Larvae. Some you may be able to defeat in a fight while other it would be best to turn and run away from. It can all be worth it if you can find treasures like gems or even nectar.
3DIE6 is a game for having fun, doing strange things, and most likely dying. This is a game best played for the comic relief—you are a bug. A bug’s life is short, and the name of the game is 3DIE6 with the emphasis on DIE. It is possible though to have characters go from one adventure to another. Characters are expected to die, so they have three forms.
Each player’s character has three distinct parts or personalities, or mental states—mental-sets. Each is represented by a different archetype. Each archetype also has their own set of statistics and body shape. So, when you are building your character, you choose three different architypes and then decide which one is starting out on the adventure.
A character can change from one form and mental state to another. At any time, a character can change from one personality to another because they all know they are in there. If the character allows the new form to take over during a period of rest, they come out of their cocooned state with the correct body to fit the new archetype being played. They can also allow a personality to take over quickly. The fast change leaves the new personality at a disadvantage because their body hasn’t had the chance to reform itself the correct structure. When one personality dies, the quick change from one personality to another is all the Roan has available.
There are some benefits of dying. Each Archetype has a “Last Gasp” action they can perform from a couple of options. For example, the Clever archetype can fully heal one of their other mend-sets.
The game uses 3 standard 6-sided dice. A pretty clever concept given the name of the game. The dice are used in determining the outcome of two different types of events, skill checks and combat.
Skill checks work by rolling and adding them together. Include any adjustments and compare the results to what is needed to determine success.
In combat the dice are used differently, and you need a set of 3 different colors. When a character attacks, the player rolls 3 6-sided dice. The first die determines the character’s to-hit, the next is their ability to defend. And the final die determines the action the enemy creature takes on its turn.
This use of the dice means the player determines their own character’s fate because nothing is hidden behind a screen. It also allows for the ability to play with a small group or by yourself without a Tunnel Master to run the adventure.
Art and Illustrations
McClanahan is an artist, and he did the work for his game. His style in writing the game and the associated illustrations provide a clear understanding of the style of game he created.
Inclusivity and Accessibility
3DIE6: A Dungeon Creepy Crawler RPG is designed by Kristopher McClanahan and published by Deeply Dapper. It can be played by younger players easily and can last any length of time you choose. The game is designed to be played on a short-term basis without the need of accessories to map out the adventure, theater of the mind.
Although Kris is listed as the game developer, his wife, Lindsey, is given credit as Director of Operations, Whip-Cracking, and Support. Since I have met them at conventions, I am sure she had at least one finger involved in the creation of 3DIE6.
Playing 3DIE6 reminds me of playing many fun one-shot convention games. Here you are playing a bug that isn’t expected to live. This provides the opportunity of taking actions you might not normally take with a character who has their life planned out. Bugs just don’t normally live that long for such grandiose plans.
3DIE6 is designed to not be taken too seriously, if at all. With that in mind we had a riot running off into the Shimmer to see what just happened to show up.
The use of the dice to determine the enemy action allowed the action to flow fast and in ways not expected. It was also good to be able to play a game with a small group, or by myself, without having to plan out an entire night or multiple sessions of play.
The mind-sets of the characters meant players weren’t as timid in their actions because they would be left out of the rest of the adventure. This promoted more stunts being performed with a lot of chuckles, laughter, and guffaws.
About the Author
Daniel Yocom does geeky things at night because his day job wouldn't let him. This dates back to the 1960s through games, books, movies, and stranger things better shared in small groups. He's written hundreds of articles about these topics for his own blog, other websites, and magazines after extensive research along with short stories. His research includes attending conventions, sharing on panels and presentations, and road-tripping with his wife. Join him at guildmastergaming.com.