Thursday, 29 December 2011

Rogue Space - Vehicle construction and use

Following the posts on the transhuman warrior and equipment, here's a possible vehicle system. I've adapted a sample from the Empyre, the Nova armoured transport gyrocopter, or ATG.

I want these rules to reflect those for spacecraft, partly for symmetry, and partly so that if you know one, the other should need little learning and cause minimal slowdown. This is key given that Rogue Space is really about speed and improvisation, fast before fiddly.

In Rogue Space the basic profiles for characters and spacecraft form easy-to-remember acronyms - FASER and SHIPS - so with the vehicles I'm continuing this trend by using CHASE, standing for Compartments, Hardware, Armour, Speed and Engineering.

If you read nothing else today...

Three posts up in the past few hours seem to me to deserve a good cup of tea or coffee and a long reflection - maybe a cup each - and they weave one into the other very well.

The first post is this, which could feel offensive, at Astrogator's Logs, on simplicity and danger in understanding of sci-fi. The second is this at The Secret Sun on Jack Kirby, synchronicity and war, which might seem rather silly. The third is this, a review of the year at From the Sorcerer's Skull, which links to what could look like gaming material.

I'd suggest delaying the reaction long enough to be inspired and to be sure you're sure...

Saturday, 24 December 2011

Insanity Clause, Slip van Kringle and Old Farther C

Dear Me,

I have been a good boy this year, and for many years now in fact, despite these most difficult of circumstances. You know that as well as I do.

There is just the one present I would like. To go home, to the workshop, back to the old ways.

Here it is strange. Whatever they have in some of these places, they are not chimneys, and the air and gravity leave much to be desired too.

I have lost the last of our reindeer - our good, dashing runners! - and been compelled to leave the sleigh. It lies now overtaken by a drift, but not of any snow I have ever seen. I do my work out of the sack, as needs must, and you can imagine how that is. Indeed.

You tell those elves from me - no more experiments! No more of that funny dust. I did it the old way all those years, and the world in a day was a bracing ride. I should not have agreed. Well, the aches had multiplied... But it transpires instead that all of me has.

For I am not alone, that I now know. I recently met a furtive man whom I instantly took to be kin. He went by the jocular name of Slip van Kringle and spoke of having met one other on his travels, an Old Farther C. These suggestive monikers are not so different than mine of course - Insanity Clause - by which alias I make light of my predicament among so many strangers. This Slip chap was loathe to assume I was not simply one of our numerous grotto brethren; I trust on reflection that he was not; it seems I am many.

I am sundered, perhaps split, though not in mind - touch wood - or anything like wood - but in essence. I am cast like last year's must-have toy into the vast spaces of myth and legend, virtual auctions. Yes, for unseen presences act. As I gather it, these lands have a common thread, are lands my people and believers visited, made or imagined. 

Not all I would sanction with the workshop stamp that much I will say, but it on reflection it is conceivable I bear some responsibility. A change of direction may be in order...

So go to work my good man, and set those elves to it. Apologies - I have been unable to find either mince pies or brandy for quite some time now, but I have left instead this blue produce. It has restored in me some of the old 'ho ho ho' and you shall see why.

Yours intrinsically,


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If you're wondering what's going on, this is the second 'Transpluristemic', a festive entry for a series of transferrable characters. This one is fairly obvious of course, so you don't need my suggestions, but if you're interested, the basics are below in the format I'll be using all the way, stat-free so you can build the characters up in any game system.

     Insanity Clause, Slip van Kringle and Old Farther C, among others, are each...
  • a stout superhuman artisan entrepreneur of great age and jolly demeanour,
  • able to traverse shafts by a tap of the nose and to produce objects to order,
  • possibly travelling in a vehicle powered by quadropedal ruminant mammals,
  • likely to be found in the midst of exchanges, encouraging good behaviour.

He's out there, but who knows how many he is exactly, and where in time and space...

Wednesday, 21 December 2011

Playing, winning and the First Dark Age of man

Recently I've been dipping into the classic First and Last Men by Olaf Stapledon. It's a stunning piece of science fiction setting out a future history at massively varied scales.

If you've never read it, I won't say you should, but I'd imagine on balance you'd also get a lot out of it. You need to know only that in places it could be shocking, and might break the odd taboo, maybe even one or two that weren't necessarily obvious before reading.

Here's a passage from early on in the book that ties in with our interests and has a lot to say, even before we pass the World State of the book. That larger context also runs into the Points of Light contest running at Hill Cantons and the specifics could be relevant to a discussion going on in wargaming, one that seems now itself to be slowly fading.

The soon to be god-man of the First Dark Age is in the supreme temple of the capital.

'... You are too serious, yet not serious enough; too solemn, and all for puerile ends. You are so eager for life, that you cannot live. ... There is something else, too, which is a part of growing up - to see that life is really, after all, a game; a terribly serious game, no doubt, but none the less a game. When we play a game, as it should be played, we strain every muscle to win; but all the while we care less for winning than for the game. And we play the better for it. ...
'... once when I was up among the snow-fields and precipices of Aconcagua, I was caught in a blizzard. ... After many hours of floundering, I fell into a snow-drift. I tried to rise, but fell again and again, till my head was buried. The thought of death enraged me, for there was still so much that I wanted to do. I struggled frantically, vainly. Then suddenly - how can I put it? - I saw the game that I was losing, and it was good. Good, no less to lose than to win. For it was the game, now, not victory, that mattered. ... Here was I, acting the part of a rather fine man who had come to grief through his own carelessness before his work was done. For me, a character in the play, the situation was hideous; yet for me, the spectator, it had become excellent, within a wider excellence. ...
'... Somehow I was so strengthened by this new view of things that I struggled out of the snow-drift. And here I am once more. But I am a new man. My spirit is free. While I was a boy, I said, "Grow more alive"; but in those days I never guessed that there was an aliveness far intenser than youth's flicker, a kind of still incandescence. Is there no one here who knows what I mean? No one who at least desires this keener living? The first step is to outgrow this adulation of life itself, and this cadging obsequiousness toward Power. Come! Put it away! Break the ridiculous image in your hearts, as I now smash this idol.'

Tuesday, 20 December 2011

Rogue Space - Ammo, jams, armour and overhauls

I'm working up ideas for possible new material for Rogue Space, focused on adapting the Empyre setting, new technology and population centres, but in a roundabout way.

Given Rogue Space is rules light, I'm keeping the new material simple and fast, ideally not overloading the in-game action with extra rolls, but integrating it within the existing.

So here goes, a series of relatively modular optional rules for Fenway5's consideration.

Sunday, 18 December 2011


Václav Havel passed away today. I've not mentioned a death here that I can remember, but I'm doing it now for how relevant he could be to wargamers, roleplayers and writers.

That said of course, in general anyone who helps bring a community together to tackle a violent domination, and does so through art, who keeps going despite a clear danger of personal loss and harm, who takes high office and appoints Frank Zappa as a special ambassador on trade, culture and tourism has a life that rewards reflection, and all in.

Saturday, 17 December 2011

Rogue Trader in Rogue Space?

To follow up on the review of Rogue Space last week, I thought I might run a series suggesting stats and rules for the system, for characters, equipment and so on inspired by other settings.

There are setting materials in the various free supplements of course, but the enormous potential in sci-fi means these are probably not what everyone is used to or looking for.

I thought I'd start with the obvious for many readers here - the 40K universe. Given the Rogue Space basic ruleset assumes a human starting character and lists light armour and projectile weapons, and the Armory supplement includes laser weapons, it's quite easy to create characters inspired by human Imperial forces like the PDF and Guard.

It also means there's a starting point for other standards, and if you want to run a game with a group of 40K players, it seems likely space marines in particular will come up.

So here's a proposal for a transhuman starting character in powered armour armed with an explosive projectile launcher, flamethrower, plasma gun or close assault weapons.

Friday, 16 December 2011

Deep thought Friday

I read John Lambshead's essay at the Baen site today and it got me wondering again how certain we can really be that civilisations didn't develop on Earth even many millions of years before us.

If exchange of ideas and transmission of cultural and technological records were communicated in movement or song, by tail and neck in sauropods say, and maybe constantly within and between large groups, rather like a more complex Occupy megaphone, and landscapes were transformed through cultivation only, would we have any more evidence than we do that we were not the first?

Thursday, 15 December 2011

Do you like shellfish and potatoes?

I have a guest post over at Hereticwerks today, on a creature called the Manitrude - a 'molluscotuberoid'.

I put it together on the basis of one of their pieces of artwork, the same piece they've used to make up the paper miniature here on the right. The mini is one of a series of three so far, with the Iron Pig and Toader.

The stats are for Labyrinth Lord, which is an old-school tactical roleplaying game like Mutant Future, and also free to download, but the info in the stats and write-up should be enough to adapt it to pretty much any game.

I recommend taking a look round the rest of the blog too, and saving the URL if you haven't yet, especially if you read the older NetherWerks or Objects of Chance.

They have a very distinctive style which mixes fantasy, sci-fi and horror in together, several settings and lots of pdfs in the sidebar, and the material just keeps coming.

Monday, 12 December 2011

Review - Rogue Space

With HoP focusing more on RPGs recently, and Von's new series, I thought I'd review a good starter game for sci-fi wargamers interested in setting up a roleplaying campaign.

The game is Rogue Space RPG by Fenway5. It's rules-light even by the standards of old school games, which makes it easy to pick up and keeps the focus more on the action and less on the detail of the mechanics. The basic rules and all the supplements so far are free, and each fits onto a sheet of A4 and folds into a booklet, which means you can keep everything in a miniatures case and play in the spaces around battles.

The downloads are here, found through the image at the top of the blog's right sidebar.

So how does it work? To my mind very well. The simple rules framework allows players to try pretty much anything they might want if they can imagine it, and in that sense the evocative name is a solid foundation, conjuring up all kinds of images of pulp sci-fi and space opera shenanigans, kickstarting the imagination even before the rules are read.

You'll need to know coming in that there are few limits with a system like this, but a bit of work may be needed, even if only through preparation or on-the-spot improvisation.

Saturday, 10 December 2011

Space marines in space

With 40K getting old, and a sixth edition probably on the way, I thought I'd ask a few questions and suggest some ideas, as a series, maybe with a title like 'flashes in a grim darkness'.

It's partly for the designers at GW, to lend a hand, even if we know they won't always want or be able to use the ideas. It's also for designers everywhere, who can add them to games direct. The point is to inspire and help keep things spicy.

The first is for space marines as a whole, who do after all look to be the buttresses holding the edifice up. Get them wrong at the edition change and it might end badly for shareholders.

Friday, 9 December 2011

Deep thought Friday

Here's a pretty big one, focused on fiction. As a DtF seed, it grew out of discussions at the FTL and greenery posts, and ties in with this past Dtf. For more reading you could try this article on V for Vendetta and the one last time on progress.

To try and fasten any responsibility on art as the cause of life seems to me to put the case the wrong way around. Art consists of reshaping life but it does not create life, nor cause life.

Can this really be true? Do ideas not lead us on?


Thursday, 8 December 2011

Winged messenger, but whose message?

Forget cloaking devices. Could the anomaly near Mercury recorded by STEREO be evidence for plasma cosmology? It was elongated and it did appear in a solar flare...

Who knows?

I'm no advocate for plasma, but it's a subject that's fresh in my mind, just as UFOs were presumably fresh in the mind of the guy who said 'manufactured object', and the tried and tested presumably fresh at the NRL with the suggestion it's just an artefact.

But all three do seem a bit premature. Reading how the image was built, it's hard not to think how complex and subjective the process could be. Are we all denying our limits?

It's not only outer space. Our own natures as reflected in archeology are also subject to our subjectivity, and I recommend The Subversive Archaeologist for a good reminder.

Wednesday, 7 December 2011

John Higginsbottom, the Intercosmic Man of Misery

Mr John Higginsbottom, 45, would very much like you to believe that he has pursued a number of highly unusual careers - as a decorated military commander, a small-town garden shed burner's assistant and even a half-starved scavenger in the tumbledown ruins of a backward civilisation.

He claims to be the victim of a cosmic joke, a claim which he readily admits will be difficult for readers of this blog to accept. It has, he says, turned his life upside down, or rather inside out.

His adventure, as he describes it, began with the activation of the latest CERN particle accelerator, a large literary experiment currently up and running below the ice of the Antarctic. The CERN project is a recurring feature of his bizarre experiences. It is, as he says in his slow, broken speech, "my nemesis".

It is also the anchor in the fantastical 20-year journey which he states quite calmly has seen him catapulted out of his ordinary life and across a range of alternative realities. Our reality is but one of these, and not an especially interesting one by all accounts.

That 'ordinary' life saw him born on Earth in the late 20th century, where by the time of his departure the principles governing plasmatic technology had yet to be discovered. Most bizarrely of all, humans in this strange world remained the dominant form of life.

The various cosmic stays are all of uniform duration: each begins as the accelerator is switched on and ends when a key event occurs. That event? Confirmation of the Higgs boson, that staple of children's literature, which he claims is a fundamental particle.

[Read more...]

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Stories are doors to other worlds so this guy could be pretty much anywhere now. If you want to use him, here's the core info, stat-free for building him up in any game system.

     Mr John Higginsbottom, the self-styled 'Intercosmic Man of Misery', is...
  • a creative and quick-witted muscular male human with an analytical mind,
  • dangeous unarmed and adept in the use of fire and exotic ranged weaponry, 
  • phlegmatic and likely to be found making enquiries on existential knowledge.

The idea is basically just a development of the propluristemic rules, inspired mainly by the crossovers at Hereticwerks, which use mechanisms like the Synchronicitor. I can see it being a series with all kinds of transferrable characters lost in strange spaces.

Friday, 2 December 2011

Deep thought Friday

Here we go then. If you'd like some background reading, try this thesis and this recent blog post.

Earth is the cradle of humanity, but one cannot live in a cradle forever.

But is a birth an imperative to grow or succeed when presumably we had no say in whether or not it happened? And if many of us play games we played in our youth, would we now aspire to grow old given the choice? Should life on Earth?

Tuesday, 29 November 2011

We've only just begun

Yep, the Expanse is now a year old, give or take. Thanks to Whisk for the reminder and the fine singing, and to everyone for the ongoing encouragement, for all the reading and commenting, especially the tough guys who've kept coming back since the early days.

There's no plan for any competition or giveaway right now, but it has got me looking at a regular more tangible gift over the long term I'm hoping will cover the interests of most. More on that as I get it, and soon if my recharged batteries are a guide to progress.

I'll be honest and say the fact of it being exactly one year hasn't got me too excited, and I've been far too distracted by one thing or another recently to really take it all in. That said, I have been looking back at the various series and projects and getting fired up all over again. Measured in posts and even useable material it's been a wild enough ride.

I've been thinking about putting links to the major strands in a single reference post, but that will have to wait for a while. For now, I've done some quick tieing up of a few loose ends behind the scenes and written up a long list of things I want to get round to at last.

Of the changes, two are more practical. For those who remember, and maybe more for those who don't, I finally got round to labelling the Deep thought Fridays, a series we can expect more of soon. I've also added a row to the graphic menu at the top of the right-hand sidebar for what's been getting the love recently, or will in the near future.

One of the older ideas I'm reworking quite heavily is the triffle, which for me is up there with propluristemic content and strange new worlds as key to the Expanse. It has real potential as a tool and I want to simplify the format, expand the scope and do it justice.

In the meantime I'll be doing some reading and posting a strange new worlds roundup.

Tuesday, 22 November 2011

Plasma screams

I've got a lot of time for weird science, or science that isn't so popular, and a pretty good example of that is plasma cosmology. This is an approach to the nature of the universe which says electromagnetism is more important in large-scale phenomena than gravity.

The chief criticism I see come up is there's not been enough work on it, not surprising given that if it is accepted we could well be backtracking to the drawing board of 1916 and General Relativity. Don't forget Einstein himself wasn't happy with black holes, and a layman might even regard some of the work since as fudge, plugging leak after leak.

Could we be that wrong? In theory, yes. Challenging a majority view is hard, and we've likely all felt peer pressure or seen someone dig a hole deeper, especially when there's time, money or reputation involved. I wouldn't say that's what we have here, but it does seem within the bounds of human behaviour. And there is a clear historical precedent.

I recommend watching the vid and doing something we're usually pretty good at - saying 'What if..?' And if the possibility of physically verifying it is far off, and we personally have little chance to do it, maybe it's better to have more fuel for the mind, and new incentive?


Sunday, 20 November 2011

Trunk - bark - object

You approach the trunk, the drone of the voices rising. The body of the oak is so broad that to reach it you are forced to climb out from among the ferns and delving root arcs almost onto the curved flank of the tree itself, up under the thick lower branches.

The bark is weathered and worn, run through with fissures, and rippling with heavy folds. Tiny creatures flitter, alight and wander across the skin. Those voices... They draw your sight off. And then, there, beyond a large curtain fold of bark you see - what? A sharp edge, a dark form, an object perhaps soft in texture... You stare. Dare you reach in?

But there is so much else still to explore here... The paths run up and down from the clearing, and behind you, amid the undergrowth and the roots, lies the dark hollow.

Reach into the fold of bark   Blog One
Investigate the hollow   Blog One  Blog Two
Go down the hill   Blog One  Blog Two
Go up   Blog One  Blog Two

Wednesday, 16 November 2011

The pay-as-you-go laser rifle

Have a read of this. Now there's a business plan, and a real piece of the action. But not necessarily for the taxpayers whose money is being spent, or the lives put on the line.

It makes me wonder why in games, books and films the protagonists so often team up with one power against another, whether it be a kingdom, a tribe of orcs, a cult leader with a private army or a rogue planetary governor and local forces. Surely if they were serious they'd supply both sides with arms, or set up a chain of armed interventions?

If the characters do have to use their fighting skills. they could always use the proceeds to support an expedition of their own. A one-two like that is nothing new in our world.

But then why wouldn't they go the extra mile - shift the suspicion and blame. How?

First, the 'heroes' could overthrow a corrupt power and set up a democracy. Next they could whittle the parties down to two and support both financially, then whichever guy gets democratically elected they have arm another power in the world - with weapons they supply - and make that power feel it has friends, comfortable enough to overreach.

Elections are held; eventually the first leader gets replaced with another. The suppliers then have that guy turn on the newly-armed power and remove the 'regime'. They top up the lost munitions on both sides and maybe diversify to pick up more of the spoils.

Sound familiar? Does a bit. Let's be honest, it is pretty old school, rather 20th century.

Sunday, 13 November 2011

40K OSR? (12)

Here goes with another full 40K OSR? update.

First things first - if you're wondering what a 40K OSR might be, potential definitions are here.

If you identify with the concept, and especially if you're coming up with new ideas, Colonel Kane's logo, which is here on the right, is ready to use.

If you do use it, consider giving him credit and adding Tales from the Maelstrom to your roll. The last post had a converted Rogue Trader crew member, and before that a set of four Zoats.

As ever, you can find all the most recent related posts using the 40K OSR? label.

        For the wild card this time there's more on scaling-down from 28mm, with Tabletop Fix looking at using 15mm substitutes for Mantic's Kings of War at BoLS; the discussion covered Epic and 40K too. If you like the idea and you haven't yet, you might want to check out the possible 6mm Necrons, Squats and imperials linked up at this post.

        As usual, feel free to suggest anything you think should be here, even your own posts.

        Update: I've just found Codicium Aeternum, where The March Rider is converting a good-looking Inquisition force, with one mini even using a Rogue Trader-era plasma gun. Also, Nick at The Dice Abide is looking to build alternative DE grotesques.


        Thursday, 10 November 2011

        The Grisly Grotto

        For last week's post at HoP Von recorded a video on what roleplaying is, and it's worth a look. When I clicked through I found it linked to a vid on Quake, a seminal first-person shooter from back in 1996, and watching more reminded me how good the design was.

        This is a walkthrough of the fourth map, the Grisly Grotto, built around a flooded cavern, one of my favourites for the character of the spaces and the clever setups. Quake never seemed especially complex in how it populated levels or reacted to events, but the bad guys and locations were arranged well to draw players on and keep them off balance.

        This is the PC version and as far as I can tell it's not using the DarkPlaces mod or any texture packs. Watch out if you don't know Quake - it's pretty gory, and could be scary.

        If you're wondering why all that infrastructure might be there, Callin at Big Ball of No Fun has a lot of options, and for more cavern inspiration check out the links at this post.


        Thursday, 3 November 2011

        Following the money, or not?

        Has anyone ever used inflation in a game world?

        Every time the party brings treasure out into the world there could be a knock-on effect, prices rising in the local area as the new money gets spread about, or those rolling in it get milked.

        Or when an army brings its guns and requisition orders and there are shortages of the basics.

        What new industries might spring up, and if there was a limited population, what might not get done? Where would the equilibrium be? Would everyone make for the caves and ruins in a new gold rush, or follow forces over the horizon for barter, auxiliary work or prestige? Would new centres of power and cliques appear, or a cargo cult form?

        How about a realm leaving the precious-metal standard? After all, if one of the functions of money is to store value, it ought to be a thing that loses little value over time, and the aim of the game could be undermining that. It needs to be a good medium of exchange and unit of account too, but in a fantasy world there might be many things to do it better.

        Even in our world there might be many things to do it better. How would our our own made-up money work in a fantasy world? Would it be laughed off, or be a scheme for a smart group to try? Could a pyramid get going, and would the lords and their lieutenants clamp down? Would the newly rich be allowed to take treasure into other realms?

        And why would treasure bring experience anyway? I guess it's just a short-hand for the process of development in getting it. Maybe a better basis for that would be number of decisions or dice rolls made, maybe with a bonus for failure or injury, for the reflection.

        Lots of questions. I didn't mention currency unions though. That could well be too raw.

        Monday, 31 October 2011

        Things that go thump in the night

        No pumpkins here. I thought I'd mark the day at the Expanse a different way, by looking at one of the scariest in living memory - Hallowe'en 1962. The world just scraped through the Cuban missile crisis on the 28th, but the missiles were still on Cuba for maybe three more weeks, possibly in Turkey for six more months and in Italy till some time in 1963.

        The first and second vids are from the movie Thirteen Days. That mention of John Paul Jones in the second could be useful for gamers and writers looking for a plot. The guy reading a new language is the man in the third. He has a message for an autumn day:

        "I wanna say - and this is very important - at the end we lucked out. It was luck ... ."

        Those are expensive tricks. They don't make Hallowe'ens like that anymore, do they?


        Saturday, 22 October 2011

        Who's in charge here? (1)

        Following up the discussion on relations between leaders in games, I've put together a couple of cards for a more specific deck. They're based on the fundamental laws of a fictional universe, but less vaguely worded given they're aimed mainly at wargaming.

        It's all pretty self-evident. These are themed around feedback and improvement, one of the areas worth looking at. There's not much can be done with two, but the fundamental laws deck is already up to 17 cards and this set should be built up over time as well.

        When it does get bigger I'd suggest dealing one card per leader at the start of the game, from unit leader up, but excluding the overall commander as the cards work relative to that position, to suggest imperfections in transmission, wherever the fault lies. The idea with the entry roll on Critic for example is the fact that the overall commander may or may not want that particular person close by, even if the advice given is good. For less impact on the result or the flow of the game, they could be dealt to higher ranks only.

        Thursday, 20 October 2011

        Scream - hanging

        You cry for help, the cry becoming a scream as the cold of the void creeps across ever more of your body. Flailing wildly, you slip further through the invisible barrier, the steady resistance of the field clinging as you go, teasing. Another gasping scream. One more. But only silence above through the torn hole in the earth; silence below among the stars.

        Fear... You clutch at nothing, strain upwards, but are almost through, almost out - no!

        And then - then - the field tightens. Solid. You are held; hung, swinging down into space.

        Freezing, choking. Oil splashes down from the pipes. You wait, between life and death.

        Beg for mercy   Blog One   Blog Twe
        Offer your thanks   Blog One
        Curse the madness   Blog One

        Monday, 17 October 2011

        You haven't heard the last of this...

        There's not enough conflict in wargames. The really bitter kind I mean. Where are those rivalries and petty disputes in and between the ranks? Following up yesterday's post on points values, and The Angry Lurker's reminder most of all, here's a generic approach.

        At the start of the game all players roll a die for every leader in their force, from squad-level right the way up, with the overall commander getting a reroll. This could be left beside the model, or a counter placed; for secrecy, maybe those to the left, which could be matched to a master list.

        A low roll represents demoralisation, bitterness at being passed over, a festering rivalry or dirt on a superior; a high roll is recent graduation, a chance at promotion, blackmail over a skeleton in the closet or heads rolling in case of defeat.

        Players could be allowed to switch some, to represent the work of the commander over time, massaging egos and making sure the trustworthy figures were in the right places.

        Sunday, 16 October 2011

        Self-balancing in place of points

        It's been a busy weekend, partly spent laying out the game. The writing is mostly done, but a key element still to be finalised is the points system.

        For those not sure, points are a rough measure of how valuable an individual is in-game, useful in trying to set up evenly-matched battles. In my case the calculation is complicated by the fact it isn't necessarily a wargame, more a skirmisher and worldbuilder hybrid, with RPG-like ideas.

        I saw three posts on points this weekend, two at quirkworthy dealing with the issue in general terms - here and here - and one at Rules Manufactorum re 40K, here. Value also came up in this post at All Things Fett on orc numbers for a tower assault ruleset.

        Following up on all of that, I thought I might describe a possible alternative approach for squad-level games I've been mulling over. It's nothing revolutionary, but might be useful.

        Thursday, 13 October 2011

        Alien overlords and would-be masters

        I followed up a memory today and rediscovered The Tripods, a BBC series based on the novels by John Christopher. I still appreciate it more than the critics in the last video did.


        Monday, 10 October 2011

        Looking down and going on

        I'm sure a few of you have already seen this, possibly without the original sound. It's a video that seems to have been filmed by a Daniel Ahnen, who may have passed away in the Himalayas in May. It shows a hike along a partially collapsed elevated walkway, El Caminito del Rey, which runs between two hydroelectric power stations in Spain.

        The walkway is over a century old and suggests the post-apocalyptic. The viewpoint might help visualise this kind of trek in roleplaying, or inspire fictional travel. It makes me think of Risus Monkey's Karst Chantry one-page adventure, but also this approach to roads in an adventure at NetherWerks and this to rivers in another at Servitor Ludi.


        Tuesday, 4 October 2011

        The withering

        A moment of potential horror. It's inspired more than anything by Trey's unsettling post on an imprisoned General Brant and Sir Timothy of Kent's rules for character ageing.

        It also ties in with the mention of Heart of Darkness and Lord Jim here and the speed of light here, the arrival of autumn, and some of the events reported over the past few days.

        I lock myself away, cut every cable, but it bleeds under doors, leeches through walls. Creeps up, washes over me, cracks my face. It's time.

        It's for Flash Fearsday of course, a piece of flash fiction in 140 characters, open to all.


        Sunday, 2 October 2011

        Lock, stock, barrels, kegs, their contents and more

        Here's an idea that struck me earlier, and it could well be a rotten one. Those are puns. It's offbeat.

        Paul's Bods is one source of inspiration - he has some pics of a set of model pots and the like, as well as sacks of fruit and veg. They look great, and are just asking to be knocked over or thrown.

        The other source are the comments on hugging walls, where Chris of Vaults of Nagoh mentioned improvisation and NetherWerks breakables and movables - both of them well worth reading.

        Thinking of wargaming now then, what does a unit do when it runs out of ammo? Would desperate warriors pick up pomegranates if they had them to hand? Would they reach for and wield nearby earthenware, swing sacks or fend off attackers with handy urns?

        Some general wargaming rule suggestions - they'll need adaptation to specific systems.

        • Low ammo - A unit is out if a given proportion of rolls are minimums to hit.
        • Impromptu weapons - Each terrain piece is assumed to be scattered with potentially useful items; in the open there is a 50% chance of availability.
        • Fending off - A unit with access to impromptu weapons may use them, either at range or in melee; they are assumed to be of the minimum quality possible. A unit attacked in this way suffers a penalty to hit of one degree.

        Monday, 26 September 2011

        40K OSR? (11)

        Time at last for a proper 40K OSR? update.

        It still feels fairly quiet, but with things slowly picking up again. The change of season might be part of it, but I get the impression the sense of crisis and arrival of sixth edition is bringing out more expressions of what we each feel is the essence, more reflections on past and future.

        Hopefully there'll updates more often because of it, but you can still find the most recent posts and links using the 40K OSR? search label.

        So then, the usual intro - what is a 40K OSR? There are some potential definitions here.

        As ever, if you identify with the concept, especially if you're putting out new ideas, feel free to use Colonel Kane's logo, at the top of this post. If you do, consider crediting him and adding Tales from the Maelstrom to your roll. It's real 40K magic, and if proof were needed of that, have a good read of the thoughtful interview with Rick Priestley.

        • The biggest development of the past few days has to be the arrival of The M42 Project, SandWyrm's move to write a 40K equivalent, one that's good for competitive gaming, but with rules true to the setting and free expansion.

        Three wild cards too. The first two are linked, one being this overview at Dropship Horizon of 15mm power armoured troops, even more worthy of a look if M42 will be easily compatible, as SandWyrm suggests. There's a similar post at In space no one can hear you sculpt, here, looking at developing a design for Khurasan Miniatures.

        The third comes via Stargazer's World, which has a link to a supplement for Barbarians of the Aftermath called Barbarians of the Future, inspired by the 40K universe.

        This is still far shorter than I imagined it would be. What have I missed? Go right ahead and leave any relevant suggestions in the comments, even links to your own posts.