Thursday, 28 February 2013

The First and Last Die

Chris pushed back the deadline for the stronghold contest so here's a last-minute entry.

The architect in the intro is the one I created for the example in the last post, and the theme ties in to the fractal gaming idea. The site is also a path between worlds so I'll add it to the list for the Ends. It doesn't need a map and is more or less system-neutral.

The First and Last Die

My memories began the day the adventurers first found me, the day I sensed that unearthly movement, as of great rocks crashing together. They knew of my ability, my work to date, and as they asked questions the knowledge flooded in. I draughted for them, oversaw the creation of the stronghold, and my past life grew. A pity they found out about the masterplan... Still. I took up with them for some time, triggering traps, searching out secret doors, building mausoleums. I studied the works of the ancient architects from within. Then the last adventurers died, a total party kill, and life began to grow faint. I'd lived through them, for their otherworldy needs. Compelled from beyond.

Time at last for my one great work.

Wednesday, 27 February 2013

A simple architect builder

The machineries didn't get going so I missed the deadline for that Hill Cantons stronghold contest.

As a form of compensation, and an outlet for my interest in it, here's an architect builder, for when your character needs to know who's available to build a stronghold, or who they've gone and hired.

It's aimed at rules-light roleplaying, but it could also be used to inspire modelled terrain pieces for wargaming: did battle ruin all those buildings?

Monday, 25 February 2013

A 40K campaign, but without the campaign?

Here's an idea I had while musing on psychology in Warhammer. If you want some of the feel of a 40K campaign, but don't have the time, ideas or consensus it can take to set one up, ponder this.

At the end of each game, note the degree of damage done to each unit which took part.

If the unit was reduced to half strength or destroyed, casualties will be replaced with reserves or trainees: the unit is classed as rookie in the next game in which it is taken.

Any unit not reduced to half strength or destroyed is classed as hardened in later games, until it would be classed as rookie, at which point it reverts to its normal status.

Rookie units roll one extra die for each leadership test, discarding the single best result; hardened units roll one extra, discarding the single worst.* Where the unit is a vehicle, a rookie crew fires one weapon less than usual, while a hardened crew can fire one more.

The variety of sixth edition means the wider strategic aspects can be assumed in the particular combination of factors in any given game. This just adds a little consequence.

It could go on until a climactic battle is arranged, agreed maybe 1D6 games in advance.

* Optional rules: Naïveté - if a rookie unit rolls a double or triple on the dice for any leadership test, the next casualty suffered fights on with a single wound; Shell shock - if a hardened unit rolls a double or triple on the dice for any leadership test, one model - chosen by an opposing player - is unwell and immediately lost.

Friday, 22 February 2013

The lit darkness - John Blanche and primeval parents

Two rather stunning thoughts struck me yesterday. I'm almost certainly not the first to think either of them, but given they're both related to gaming, and to each other in some way too, I thought I'd discuss them here. They concern living links to the past and future.

Thursday, 21 February 2013

OD&Ds in 2013, and a brief history of the early game

Brendan and I are having a discussion over at his blog, Untimately, about a rerelease of Original Dungeons & Dragons (OD&D), and the value this has. You might be interested, especially if a favourite game or faction has ever been left hanging, as with some GW IP.

Wednesday, 20 February 2013

Ten wizard's towers

Greg Gorgonmilk's last post reminded me just how unwizardly wizard towers can be. For now, warming up for a possible community project, here's a table with some ideas. They might not be easy to model as wargames terrain, but for tactical roleplaying they're fine.

The wizard's tower is... (1d10)
  1. anchored along sunbeams in a shaft of unusually vivid light and accessible only by means of a reconfigured spell for illumination adjusted to the given wavelength.
  2. zipped up in a dimensional hollow; the hollow and/or the owner may be a braner.
  3. strung taut up into the heavens, space elevator-like; the wizard may import/export offworld and/or keep a personal space fleet, or be luring someone else's from afar.
  4. inside an exceptionally dense orbital introid (a large mass orbiting within a world's atmosphere), accessible using convection currents, maybe Mary Poppins-style.
  5. tightly woven from thick silver cord and suspended somewhere on an astral plane.
  6. built upside down into the ground, the foundations showing flush with the surface.
  7. compressed into a pointed hat (I thought Jason had done this, but I can't find it..).
  8. one fractal scale further down, easily mistaken for the wizard's intricately carven staff - just as the wizard in turn is easily mistaken for a woodworm while inside it.
  9. the original inspiration for the old British police box; often imitated, never bettered.
  10. sewn of the outer skins of gas giants, bobbing like a cork on a lost sea of stars.

There's a chance ambition got the better of the wizard and it's unfinished. If so, roll here.

Tuesday, 19 February 2013

Words for worlds (2) - getting on top of falling stars; tabletop curvature, troid warfare and the sphericrawl

Back in November I made a suggestion regarding the classification of celestial bodies, coining the term troid to group the many terms for objects of lower mass than the newly-minted dwarf planet.

Beyond the pressing and practical concerns, the meteor that broke up over Russia last week poses a supplementary question in this context: can the related terms 'meteoroid', 'meteor' and 'meteorite' be rolled into an expanded solution? We know they can be confusing, and the past few days have been a reminder.

So how about this then - a possible 1d3 table to go with the two 1d4s in the earlier post.

1. troid     2. introid     3. postintroid

It's fairly clear I imagine. The first is the term for a troid outside of an atmosphere, the second while inside but still in motion and the third when in contact with the other body or an immediately adjacent entity, e.g. held by one of us, or on a display cabinet shelf.

Forget the 'stalactite' / 'stalgamite' trouble of 'meteor' / 'meteorite': it's now 'in-', or 'in-' and 'post-'. The Greek-derived root for the whole is altered by the Latin prefixes. Seems apt.

It also leaves an opening for the preintroid, as well as the intriguing idea of an extroid...

You could see this is a form of Newspeak of course, but it needn't be. If science wants all of our minds, and if English is a lingua franca for scientific discourse which non-native speakers have to learn, and if clarity of construction helps young minds comprehend, and if these terms supplement existing terms in the language rather than replace them, enriching the language rather as borrowings from other languages do, we only gain by it.

Saturday, 16 February 2013

Pathetic enough yet?

The sun is shining on our world and it should for billions of years more, rainclouds or not.

If you saw the link in the appendix to the last post, you can probably guess that I think Dr Bargle's recent post makes an argument important to early gaming. Truth is, I think he may be right. On the essential point: that the pathetic has an often overlooked value.

A question. Why strive for, say, credible probabilities for weapon damage, or worry about associated mechanics, if the character or faction you play, and the party of adventurers or army as a whole, represents incredible probabilities or is by nature disassociated?

Who are these people anyway? How did they get that skill, or that weapon, how did they find themselves in that situation? How do they support themselves? Whether they steal gold or invade worlds, the question remains: if they buy food and drink at the last homely house or carry it out from the provisioner, or if their empire provides the rations and the laser rifles, where other than through these individuals do these things come from?

How many people must there be active in a near-subsistence society to produce enough surplus for adventurers to survive beyond the farm, how many to prepare it, transport it, help store it safely? How much tithe or tax must flow in from the subject worlds to fund a galactic conflict, and how many millions - or trillions - must work in the factories or on the ships to keep that infrastructure moving? From cradle to grave, there would exist social, economic and political structures - feudalism say - to keep the source of survival in motion, a system to ensure there's nowhere to go, no way out but escape. Escape.

But why does an escapee from the grind, or even the privilege, have any particular skill beyond that needed to escape? And how much good will that do them on the fringes or beyond? Some may make it. A few may thrive, as best they can. But what are the odds they all end up together, and so complementary in their range of impressive abilities?

Why not just throw the rules out the window and assume they make all the key rolls?

Wednesday, 13 February 2013

Old school tactical roleplaying - a simple core ruleset

It may be the best time since the mid-1980s to start playing in the expansive style of the early tactical RPGs, and a new golden age for production and play.

That said, there are still barriers to entry. The range of rulesets, supplements and ideas emerging from the OSR and beyond can be overwhelming, and references to past work and debates on fine points can be confusing and may be discouraging potential players.

This post is an attempt to offer a simple starting point. Purists may dislike it, but it may help the interested potential player grasp the whole and grow the hobby. It's not a full system, more a distillation of themes and a generalisation for the early leaps. I'm using a similar approach with a drop-in campaign at a local game store and it's helping no end.

All we really need to know to get playing is how to create characters, how to explore, how to perform actions and how to resolve encounters, so that's what this will cover.