Wednesday, 6 April 2011

Into the depths! (2)

This past Sunday I posted a set of simple rules for simulating heavy terrain in wargaming, but with no actual modelled terrain on the table. They're rules which would probably work well for darkness and fog too. Desert Scribe rightly pointed they'd also do for space fleets hunting each other among star systems. If so, there could many more applications not yet realised.

I recommend reading that post before going any further, but the essence is removing true space and measured distance. The forces cautiously picking their way through the terrain towards each other is represented by rolling a single die per unit, and using this to group units together into engagements.

This post is a collection of simple add-ons to the basic concepts. There are suggestions for incorporating reinforcements, corridors and alleys, wandering monsters and mass destruction, things the measurement-free approach can make quick and easy.


This is simple. When reinforcements would usually arrive on the table in whatever form, roll a die. If the number of a current engagement comes up, the reinforcements join that engagement as normal. If any other number, they join the forces still on the move.

Depending on the means of arrival, there could be a modifier to the roll. If the troops are dropping in for example, it may be possible for them to identify areas of fighting and steer towards them. Perhaps the choice of a +1 or -1, or even a re-roll.

Corridors and alleys

Given the kind of terrain we're talking about here, there are likely to be only very narrow lanes open through the undergrowth or piles of rubble. We could go a step further and imagine we're simulating not terrain but interiors, the passages and halls of bunkers, palaces, even spacecraft, whether freighters, silent hulks or Worldboats.

How about each engagement rolling an additional die when created, this determining the width in models of the routes being used? This number then becomes the maximum number of models from each unit able to shoot or fight in melee.

For more fun, each unit later joining in could roll a die, with a 50% chance of appearing behind a friendly unit and being able to do little or nothing until a gap is created.

Mounted models could count, say, two wide, light vehicles three and heavy four, so in certain circumstances a vehicle may not be able to join an engagement. If a larger model is one of the initial models engaged and the number rolled indicates it doesn't fit, you could have it trapped and unable to use maybe D3 randomly determined weapons. 

Wandering monsters

This is a concept straight out of old school RPGs, here representing bizarre jungle creatures defending territory or hunting, mutants stalking the ruins or shipboard defence systems, among much else. These could range in influence from something as minor as this week's small creatures - here and at DM Muse - to the kind of full-sized monsters seen at Zalchis or A Field Guide To Doomsday, or entities larger still...

Simply roll that dice. If an engagement comes up, there they are. They could pile in if they have stats or just cause a certain number of automatic hits or other effects. You need only decide pre-game what they'll be if a single type or how they'll be generated if not - maybe by table? - and clarify the mechanics to be used for each.

Mass destruction

If wandering monsters can be allocated, why not other dangerous events? If fighting in an unstable region, why not sudden releases of harmful gases or scalding steam, flash floods? If out among the stars in a starship in battle, why not have whole sections vaporised by ordnance, or burning up as the ship falls into an atmosphere?

It's as easy as rolling for location, i.e. group, and applying the effects.

Just a few ideas, a sense of the potential. Again, all options. Given this is a more powerful idea than it first seemed, I have a feeling there could be more to come.


The Angry Lurker said...

It depends on the umpire with difficult terrain rolls for broken legs or twisted ankles, forcing the group to care for colleagues and reducing numbers.

Sylvia Ney said...

Very cool blog - I'm stopping by from the "A to Z" challenge and I look forward to reading more from you.

Porky said...

@ The Angry Lurker - Another good idea. As Trey wrote re the Small Creatures table, the small things are often overlooked, but that kind of accidental injury has a clear place in a situation like this, with the whole landscape difficult terrain. The roll could be movement based, once per moving unit, or the process sped up by having the actual movement roll used. If the latter, it could happen on the maximum or minimum result, or both, representing certain areas being more hazardous than others, or even on a result leading to an engagement, to represent more frantic activity and less care for footing.

@ Sylvia Ney - It seems to me to be an acquired taste, not everyone's cup of tea, so I'm very glad to hear you like it!