Thursday, 28 July 2011

Scenario - Flash flood

This is an example of how the vector counters from yesterday could be used in a more complex way, to suggest movement of water across a landscape. Here it's a battlefield for a possible wargaming scenario, but it could make a roleplaying encounter too.

Wednesday, 27 July 2011

Shockwaves and drifting

This ties in with three posts - on modelling minefields, the mutant burstworm and space battle drift markers - as well as wider events. It has fiction and some counters.

First the fiction, for Expansion Joints. It has to be 15 words, one of them opening.

Opportunity? Well, it's an opening... But blasted through soft tissues, memories and dreams, chances taken?

In a lot of gaming explosions are taken for granted. As a man in demolition recently put it regarding the Oslo attack "men and boys are interested in gunpowder and bullets and fast cars". The RPG blog Compromise and Conceit has strong thoughts on that insanity.

Of course, the forces in gaming could go beyond outright destruction. On to magnetism maybe, or gravity making a slope more or less easy to climb. There can also be flows, like the water in a river that needs to be forded or the air rushing in a shaft or tunnel.

Recording this might be easier with counters. These have direction of course, and the box means a number can be marked too, predetermined maybe or the result of a roll.


Tuesday, 26 July 2011

Oooh, pretty... - Living table (3) - Entries 1-10

I don't know if these crystal cave pics are doing the rounds. If you haven't seen them, they're well worth a look for the wonder as well as inspiration.

The shapes remind me a little of obelisks, most likely because I still have in mind the Obelisk at Dawn scenario for Risus at engine of thwaak and that fallen obelisk terrain tile at NetherWerks.

It got me inspired enough to think about a cave contents table for DM Muse, like Small Creatures and Bodies of Water, but again NetherWerks are on it with their own Cave & Tunnel Hazards.

Then I thought of a table of rocks and crystals, maybe weird ones. Greg's totems for Novarium, explained here, and the post on the jeweller up at the moment at The Tao of D&D have that covered in part, but there's always scope for strange new types.

The idea ties in with the mines posts here too, the intro and nascent list of fictional mines and resources. The material might have effects of some sort, desirable or not, and if mined could impact the local community and area, later the wider world.

Needles deals with the subject in science fantasy with the Fuel Traders of Nimbus IV, maybe as satire. That theme of exploitation is also there in Moon too I remember now, a good film. A Field Guide to Doomsday also posted the borer blimp recently, not to mention back in February the very imaginative quarilla, an organic crystalline blend.

Thinking about those crystals then, here are some ideas to start off a living table.

  1. These formations bleed a palpable energy into the surrounding space.
  2. These formations absorb energies of all kinds, but whither do they go?
  3. These formations are soft to the touch, flexible and strong.
  4. These crystals sparkle, but to the rhythm of no light that falls upon them.
  5. These crystals leak - no, whisper - the knowledge of aeons.
  6. These crystals are hollow, the larger forming the passages of a strange network.
  7. These structures are growing visibly, branching and filling the space.
  8. The structures seem to convey something - are they a vast communications grid?
  9. These structures extend filaments into rock and flesh alike, growing on within.
  10. The pillars here support the world, perhaps even... Yes, even the fabric of reality...

I've just added all of these to DM Muse and they should be up soon. It's a living table, which means anyone can add new entries - if you have a good idea, don't hold back.

Update: How about treating that crack on Talysman's latest geomorph as a crystal?

Sunday, 24 July 2011

'Geddon on it (4.4) - Parley

In just a few hours the draw for the Heroes of Armageddon Charity Project takes place. If you want to donate and enter the raffle, put off reading this and head over there right away.

This is the fourth homebrew development of the series of stories I ran in May. I've already posted two possible unit types, citizens and wasteland settlers, and the option of making units survivors.

Today it's those who dared to negotiate, from Days 21, 22, 23, 24 and 25. Here they're represented not by any single unit but by what could be used as a universal special rule.


Persuasive are words of reason and passion, powerful the hand extended in friendship, no stronger than in a dark hour of trial and doubt. Many a terrible battle has been avoided or cut short by an accord, by insight, the courage to engage and compromise, and recognition of a shared interest.

At the beginning of its shooting phase, instead of making an attack, a unit with this ability may force any one non-vehicle unit within 12" to take a Leadership test. If the test is failed, the unit has its Ld characteristic reduced by 1 for the rest of the game, though it may not be reduced to zero. However, if the result on the dice is more than double current Ld, the unit is removed as lost. If the result is triple current Ld, the enemy unit comes under the control of the player whose unit forced the test for the rest of the game, regaining its full Ld and gaining the Parley ability too.

No idea of a points value for this, but thoughts on this or anything else are welcome.

Conceptually I love the idea. Think of the epic, overblown oratory. Think too of the ripples down the line as word spreads. It's an introduction into gameplay of what surely goes on somewhere on all those fronts. It fits the background of some factions, the Tau most obviously, even if it doesn't sit so well with that grimness Coopdevil complained about.

In mechanics terms it's hindered by the fact Ld is nowadays used for various things, not all of which seem linked to questioned loyalties. I'd suggest imagining a confusion is planted, a distraction which as they work through it leaves affected units vulnerable.

Remember: today's the final day for donating to Heroes of Armageddon, the final chance to win a big prize. Head across, especially if you haven't seen the armies yet.

Saturday, 23 July 2011

Myth, the universe and sucking

I finally got around to the first Myth-Marked Merchandising. This is something Jennie set up at Nine Worlds, Ten Thousand Things. The idea in the first is to use a group of words suggestive of Twilight, but avoid vampires and werewolves. Here are the words:

bestial, bloodlust, breaking dawn, eclipse, fanged, new moon, phoenix, sparkle, swan, transformation, twilight

Man it's tough. I've skirted the limits by using the suggestions as if explaining unfamiliar concepts. It's 140 words, the number C'nor suggests for Flash Fearsday. I've also tied it in with the ongoing Worldboat project at NetherWerks, building on this post especially.

Your universe has a sparkle, a twinkle. It is youth, a breaking dawn over the forests of the cosmos. It is a new moon; its tides bring a spawning in the seas of being. 
These words are a transformation, in order that you might understand, a translation not unlike ours from the laws of one universe to another. We were once swan - composed, sleek - but are reborn in this outlandish form. Not quite phoenix - more bestial. We are fanged you might say. But who does this reflect? We are not ourselves here. Is bloodlust not what the entropy of your universe demands? 
The stable paths were collapsing and we fled. Flee. But what? That is hard to translate. An eclipse perhaps, a twilight in existence. 
And we will be found here. 
We may herald your noon, afternoon, evening and night.

The Worldboat project is young too, and collaborative with it, and more than big enough for different interpretations. Who does this speaker speak for? We just don't know.

You can read more entries here, even add one. Expansion Joints is due tomorrow.

Friday, 22 July 2011

'Geddon on it (4.3) - Survivors

It's not often in a wargame we see units starting the game already injured or otherwise affected by fighting. Why not? This is a quick, simple and maybe balanced way it could be done in 40K.

It's also part of the series tied to the Heroes of Armageddon Charity Project, now only a day or two away from the draw for the four armies.

As with the citizens and wasteland settlers I've already posted, it draws on the series of stories from May, specifically Days 20 and 25.


Rarely does a force pass unscathed through a warzone or have the luxury of entering battle untested. Failures of equipment, broken supply lines, forced marches and friendly fire all take their toll, as do extremes of landscape, wildlife and weather. When battle lines are drawn, hunger, thirst, fatigue and losses may all have sapped resolve. Yet these trials can tap deep reserves, hone the most base skills and inflame passions.

Any non-vehicle unit may be made Survivors. Each member of the unit has each characteristic reduced by 1 point, though none may be reduced to zero. In addition, the unit becomes subject to three of the following, one chosen by the controlling player, two by an opponent: Fearless; Feel No Pain; Furious Charge; Move Through Cover; Preferred Enemy; Stealth.

Quick and simple yes, but that balance may well be out; all feedback welcome. There's no specific element of mutiny, but the loss of stats could be reflecting that indirectly and is serious enough. Outright mutiny would fit a different set of characters from the stories. Tomorrow I'll put up a homebrew approach to something else 40K doesn't cover directly.

Don't forget Heroes of Armageddon! You can see the prizes and enter at the website. And Mike at Santa Cruz Warhammer reminds us of the cause behind the project here.

Thursday, 21 July 2011

Brain drain

Today's Flash Fearsday, inspired by a report of a 12m sinkhole appearing under a bed.

Rush of air? More a stream of consciousness. Seems a flow of info eroded a fundamental tenet. Nearly lost my mind. A thinkhole they call it.

It's exactly 140 characters, but there's a 140 word option too. If you have a few minutes to spare, I say have a go. It's hosted every week by C'nor over at Lunching on Lamias.

Wednesday, 20 July 2011

'Geddon on it (4.2) - Wasteland Settlers

More homebrew for the Heroes of Armageddon Charity Project, now in its final week. The draw for the four armies is this coming Sunday.

Last were the concerned citizens, adapted from the series of 31-word stories I ran through May. They were statted up for Warhammer 40,000.

Today it's the shrewd wasteland settlers, who acted to devastating effect on Days 10 and 17.

Again, I've tried to work their nature into the rules. The unit is designed to be used in an unusual landscape represented by a table in the format used for the ash waste events. There's a statline for them and for a new weapon - the strung - plus the special rule.


Wasteland Settlers

Cost: 6 per Wasteland Settler (?)

Type: Infantry

Size: 5-15 Wasteland Settlers

Wasteland Settler   3  3  3  3  1  4  1   8   -

Weapons: Grip, Strung

Special rules: Ken, Hit & Run, Move Through Cover, Scouts, Stealth


Grips are basic close combat weapons, generally a rough blade or an improvised mace.


Strungs are ranged weapons fashioned from salvaged or liberated scrap and materials naturally occurring in the wasteland, most often making use of tension and momentum.

Strung    6”   2   -  Pistol


The player controlling this unit may modify each player's result on the events table by 1 point while the unit is on the table. This modifier is cumulative where multiple units in a force confer it. If an opposing force has such units, compare the total modifiers of the sides; the player controlling the force with the higher may modify the result by the difference. In addition, this unit may never be the initial unit affected by a table result.

- - - - - -

As before, feedback is welcome, not least on points cost. It's based on the ash waste events and may well need to be modified if the table is adapted to other landscapes.

Check out the Heroes of Armageddon project at the website too. Just a few days left.

Tuesday, 19 July 2011

Blooper reels and bonus features

A gaming idea and the latest piece of flash fiction for Jennie's Expansion Joints. The idea with EJ is to write a narrative in 15 words, with one given; this week the word is cut. And a it's cruel cut... 


   "A star! World at my feet. Celluloid queen..." 

   "... enthroned on the cutting room floor."

The gaming idea is propluristemic, meaning it's intended for use in various systems and settings assuming some adaptation, and it's inspired by the cinema-themed take on roleplaying in the Advanced Fighting Fantasy system. Given the styling, it's likely not useable as is, but will hopefully trigger one or two ideas that might suit a given gaming group better.

The cutting room floor

Once per game or session each player or party may choose to either a) exclude at first appearance the use of any one character, unit, vehicle or other protagonist or group of protagonists, b) skip any one encounter, c) resolve any one combat as if the player or party rolled the best possible result on each die or d) remove a number of turns equal to no more than one quarter of the standard or average game or session length.

Any one of these elements may be spliced back once into any future game or session by any other player, or by the GM/DM or equivalent, even in breach of usual restrictions.

Monday, 18 July 2011

Pro-apocalyptic fiction?

Here's a thought. Many fictional settings present cycles of existence, and focus on the period just before a potential collapse or just after. There's a doom to avert or world rebuild, assuming there's knowledge post-apocalypse of what went before.

How about playing with that a little, and writing a world in which the civilisation is being deconstructed, structures dismantled and materials returned to the earth? Scaffolding on the walls of a castle, or machinery scaling a habitat, isn't there to raise, but the ordered opposite, and resources are buried whole or broken down, not by disaster, by design.

The trigger could be tyrannical decree, divine intervention, a revolution whether sudden or slow-building and of course enlightened government, of AI say. Energies in the world might be largely be put into developing new technologies to separate materials, clean them and return them to nature. The goal might be a certain level of ongoing activity, or a stewardship, or that one day a final group, individual or device will turn out the last light.

Maybe concealed observers remain and the thing is an experiment in creating new life?

As a concept, it reflects current awareness and fears of environmental catastrophe, and die-off discussion, and the idea of a noble sacrifice, although it could also suggest the cruelty and horror of periods in very recent history. Maybe it resonates too much with our age to be compelling, or escapist. Maybe this kind of thing is already out there?

Sunday, 17 July 2011

40K OSR? (10)

Been a while since the last full 40K OSR? post.

I don't know what's up, but it seems to me output is down. I'm assuming it's just a mix of summer, anger online at price rises and limits on sales to Australia, maybe the move from metal, plus the fact GW itself is bringing old 40K material back, possibly early edition complexity in sixth edition.

I'm still linking though. I'll do full updates like this less often, but you can see the latest mentions at any point using the 40K OSR? search label.

So then, the usual. First, what's a 40K OSR? There are some potential definitions here.

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 40K magic; up now is an inquisitor's retinue.

Finally, perhaps as a wild card, Gotthammer at Collegia Titanica had a look at the development of the game, focusing on a critical juncture; first part here, second here.

If you think I've missed anything, leave a comment, and feel free to make suggestions.

Update: Big Jim has the first in a series on narrative gaming at Galaxy in Flames.

Friday, 15 July 2011

Drunk and new orderly

A quick post with links to new ideas for gaming, a set of counters and a little fiction.

The fiction is for Flash Fearsday, which I forgot yesterday. The idea is to write a short and hopefully scary narrative. I've gone with game-related and the usual 140 characters.

"Smith! That was out of character." 
"They made me. They're drunk." 
"One's a master, but the others... Our world - to them it's a game!"

If only characters knew what players can put them through. Maybe they do? You can join in at Lunching on Lamias, here, and probably write something scarier than that.

On the subject of keeping a game focused, check out two posts from the top blogroll, one at Unofficial Games and the other at Campaign Mastery. Both suggest kinds of objective, for XP in the latter. Also in the top roll, Vaults of Nagoh has a related tale.

If you're running something in which events matter, these counters might help. Place them on the table or map to record key moments. They're numbered to show order.


Thursday, 14 July 2011

'Geddon on it (3) - 31 Days

Here's the complete run of fiction for the Heroes of Armageddon Charity Project, originally posted more or less daily throughout May.

If you haven't been following it, HoA is a plan to raise money for the charity Doctors Without Borders by painting and raffling miniatures. You can donate, enter and get inspired at the site.

It makes sense to have all of the instalments in one place and in order, as with the 26 A-Z Challenge entries. This should make it easier to read of course, but also easier to refer to with the statting of protagonists I plan to do. The first set of stats is already up, for the civilians depicted on Days 3, 11-15 and 27.

There are 31 stories in all, each with 31 words. Together they form a larger narrative, which could be linked to the Armageddon setting if that's how you choose to read it.

Wednesday, 13 July 2011

Gameons and a unified theory of gaming

It's been stimulating few days, even weeks, and today reflected that. I've been working on an increasingly holistic resolution system, holistic in the sense of Beedo's recent post on tiers in a game. I've also pondered Tim's malgic, the Terminal Space spells of NetherWerks and Needles, and Gotthammer's destructible buildings for FireZone.

It has me wondering what the basic practical and even fundamental unit of gaming is or could be. I'm imagining if you mixed up all the various game systems, what you might see in the overlap is a universal game 'space' formed of particles. These particles would be the smallest elements dealt with in any game. For fun, let's call them gameons.

A human say might be composed of various gameons down to the level of individual fingers, in that injury in a given game may see the loss of one or more digits, as in say Necromunda. The gameons would have a kind of pseudo-spin so that those forming the human body generally would be affected by particular other particles, those that are solid, sharp, hot etc. They could be made lycanthropic and gain a vulnerability to silver.

These gameons would also have bonds with each other reflecting the musculoskeletal system say, or the violent dissociation Shawn mentioned yesterday. Although few if any game systems deal with this directly, some may allow particular limb movements, hacks or slashes for example, and others do assume amputation, as with those fingers.

What game systems are effectively doing is gathering up these hypothetical gameons or gameon interactions and forming them into rules, for magic, vehicle hulls, reactions in certain circumstances. I think part of what we speak of as elegance in rulesets is a recognition that the cuts have been made in the right places, or consistently.

What interests me is taking the gameon as a reflection of the broad concepts in gaming, all the potential we know and maybe don't, and producing a system corresponding to it.

Would anyone want to play a game at gameon level? Could it even be done?

Tuesday, 5 July 2011

Pulp sounds (4)

The slow wander after a soundtrack to gaming goes on. Here's another piece which manages mystery and militarism, but which doesn't seem limited to any one genre despite being part of a well-known sci-fi score, to Star Trek II: The Wrath of Khan.

Interesting film, and interesting that it seems to grow in the memory over time. Star Trek is a funny old thing. I wrote a recent post here on the radical in the franchise, and later read this enjoyable post at The Secret Sun with a different focus. It goes deep.

I'm pretty sure there was discussion of The Wrath of Khan somewhere else recently as well, but I can't remember the place. Damien G. Walter mentioned it today too.

Inspired by the film, a response to Jennie's Expansion Joints this week. The idea is to write a narrative in 15 words, with one word given; this time the word is free. For some discussion of the nature of stories and how short they can be see the last post here .

Free! But free's a crowd, of choices...
We strike out; by our decisions close caskets.

If you write your own 15-worder, you can leave it or link to it here. And have a listen.

Monday, 4 July 2011

Don't blink

Small post today, but with a big question. What's the shortest a story or game can be?

Saturday, 2 July 2011

Peake and British gaming

A couple of interesting articles on Mervyn Peake, probably best known as the author of the influential Gormenghast series. One has reflections from four writers, among them Michael Moorcock and China Miéville, the other an interview with Peake's children.

Tied in with this are two posts on British gaming and its major influences. The first is by Chris at Vaults of Nagoh and focuses on the dungeon concept; some Gormenghast too. The second, by Coopdevil at Fighting Fantasist, has more emphasis on WD and GW

Friday, 1 July 2011

Adventure - Up the Gordian Path...

I almost forgot about this, my entry for the recent Fat Frog Challenge. It's called Up the Gordian Path..., and that summarises the idea well. Click to get it more readable.

It's basically a one-page setting inspired by the mysterious Fat Frog statue Tim introduced at Gothridge Manor. The concept is propluristemic so the creatures aren't statted for any particular game system, leaving things open to individual interpretation.

My thinking at the moment is that I'll put up stats for them here at some point. I think Stokasis will be a good system for that - and for pretty much anything in fact - so it'll probably be after release. It should help showcase how flexible character creation is.