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.