Thursday, 25 April 2013

Crewbrew (2) - tertiary functions & compartment use

Seeing the new troop variant of the Dragonfly from puppetswar, partway between thunderhawk, valkyrie and Squat gyrocopter, I got to thinking more about that underslung compartment and how small a role vehicle interiors still have in play.

So this is the second in the crewbrew run of supplementary homebrew, with suggestions this time for 40K. The first section below is a set of actions not so commonly covered in wargaming, the second an approach to compartments for systems that don't offer one.

Tertiary functions

Once per turn a crew member may perform one of actions 1-7, in addition to any usual role. A passenger may do so instead of moving, shooting or performing another action. A friendly passenger does so automatically, while an unfriendly passenger must attempt to do so, succeeding on a 4+ on 1D6. None of the set may be performed in any other way.

  1. open/close either one adjacent hatch, doorway or ramp, or all simultaneously
  2. turn interior/exterior lighting on/off - if either type of lighting is on, but not both, units firing in and/or out are one degree more accurate; in 40K, under nightfighting, the first band is 24", not 12"
  3. communicate with another compartment over the intercom - if the compartment has at least one exterior portal currently open, this turn the vehicle is able to move up to one unit of measurement further or perform one other task one degree more accurately; in 40K, +1" or +1 to hit
  4. patch into a local, aerial or orbital relay - so as to send a message as described in entry 7.
  5. send a message over standard frequencies - if the compartment has at least one exterior portal currently open, next turn any one friendly unit is subject to the effect described in entry 3.
  6. disable a device enabling any one action 1-5. - the action may no longer be performed
  7. repair a device disabled by action 6. - roll 1D6: on a 6, the action lost is available again

* No hatch, doorway, ramp etc. may be opened and closed in the same turn, even by different individuals.

Compartment use

Each closed, crewed vehicle is assumed to have at least one compartment, but may have many, e.g. for transport. If unclear, before the game the players agree the number, distribution and capacity, as well as access: the hatches, doorways and ramps leading to each. Compartments are assumed to be connected internally by single doors.

Width in human-sized models is for a hatch 1, single door 2, double door 3 and ramp 4.

This is the number who can attack or be attacked through it when open, at range or in close combat. The player controlling the passengers decides who is visible; blast attacks into a compartment affect all within. An attacker may only enter a compartment if number of occupants falls below the width of the portal attacked; for each full turn in which at least one unfriendly passenger is within the vehicle, crew cohesion falls by one.

A crew member cannot perform a usual role if a) engaged in close combat, b) firing a non-fixed ranged weapon or c) outside the proper compartment; distraction then applies.

How would that affect your game? If you're using point values, they might need tweaking.

Linked with all of this, and that Dragonfly too, you might be interested in the release of Khurasan's Polecat and Caiman, two vehicles in both the 15mm range and the 28mm.

Monday, 22 April 2013

The wombull - a possible new character class?

I read this. And with Saturday's round-up still fresh in my mind, it all started to happen.

Picture the scene. Late '80s, the UK, a temple of gaming near a rambling common. A creature looking rather like a Womble elopes with one looking a bit like a Citadel ambull into the folds of what could be a BECMI box. They dig a lair and start a character class.

If I was going to write up that character class - and why would I? - I might do it like this...

Motivation  Likes holes in the ground. Drawn to the intolerable waste in forgotten spaces; prefers not to steal, but will to put a thing to better use.
Requirements  Strength and Wisdom of 13+

Nature  Wisdom is the prime, with dice, saves and levels as per the dwarf.

Equipment  May use any; has jaws and claws (1d4 dam.), and paws only a little clumsier than human hands (-1 with missile weapons and devices).

Abilities  Digs twice as fast as a human. Has infravision, the dwarven feel for structure and a 1-in-6 chance of identifying inconsistencies or later changes in the contents of a space. May combine suitable items into a new form given that form's gp value in minutes; the new form is one degree poorer for its type and has a 1-in-3 chance of failing with each use.

Knowing the creativity of the people round here, someone's already done it, but I think I'd be happy to play any version. Now, where could a party with a wombull go adventuring..?


Saturday, 20 April 2013

40K OSR? (22)

It's been yonks since the last 40K OSR? update.

Not sure what a 40K OSR? is? If you know what a 40K is, and an OSR, you're pretty much there.

If you're part of it, feel free to use Colonel Kane's logo, here to the right, and consider linking to a superb example: their Tales from the Maelstrom.

Since that last update, they've set up and run a multiplayer Rogue Trader game, posted the photos and mused on the nature of old school.

And there's been plenty more going on too, for various systems and scales, and none.

I've probably missed a huge number of posts so feel free to leave links in the comments.

Thursday, 18 April 2013

Then they came for the lizards with guns...

Check out this post at Faeit 212 for a look behind a curtain of fear. This time it's Blight Wheel Miniatures daring, it seems, to be inspired by what may be the same old ideas.

Have a read of this bold claim: "There are an infinite number of ways in which an armed mutant komodo dragon could have been depicted". There's one for the metaphysicists...

And get a load of the demands. The question may be: what doesn't GW potentially own?

If this is the best they can do, how will they cope when major opportunities come along?

Update: If that's not enough big boy bodyslamming for one day, there's this thing now too. Following up the thinking at Aldeboran yesterday, resistance ain't futile - it's fertile.

Update: And if this decision and this one reflect a wider trend, the tide may be turning.

Wednesday, 17 April 2013

Why I appreciate S&W and you might - even for 40K

Today it's Swords & Wizardry Appreciation Day.

Lots of readers of the Expanse will know what S&W is - a rules-light tactical roleplaying game, and more especially an Original D&D 'retroclone'.

But quite a lot of people reading have probably never even heard of S&W: this is for you.

I'll look at what I appreciate about it, then what you might, then finally a way of using it to do something it's not explicitly designed to do: run 40K. There's a discount today too.

Monday, 15 April 2013

Universal soldiers and a past and future polycosmos

Thanks to John Till and Chirine ba Kal I recently found Bronze Age Miniatures. They have some real gems in 32mm, but the models that stand out for me are the three here.

They're up as 'space adventurers', but beyond maybe the trousers and a possible pistol on one hand they could be in many times and places. Are they sci-fi, fantasy, modern?

For 40K they could cover hive gangers, mercenaries or renegades, or some unknown faction, and they'd probably fit Infinity too. They could be D&D adventurers old school or new. They'd also work for pseudo-historical gladiators and Earth-bound post-apocalyptic.

Lightly armed? Maybe that facewear could be a kind of mandiblaster or banshee mask.

It makes me wonder...

Why do so few producers make near-universal models? Or, rather, what happened to the wide-open worlds of the past, the '60s, '70s and '80s? Have our minds closed..?

Friday, 12 April 2013

Noircana - a new spell sextet

Time for more noircana. Most of the discussion on this project is going on over at JD's blog, The Disoriented Ranger, and there's a brief intro here.

This time it's a modular set of six new spells for the toolkit we've been developing, for various worlds and various game systems, not least the simple tactical roleplaying ruleset here.

They're for working with magical energy, including creating sources of power and magic items, as well as manipulating magical signatures. This builds on my last contribution and should also tie in with the work JD is doing on wider landscapes and world histories.

In what seems to be the most useful order to introduce them, the six spells are Conjure Reservoir, Channel Power, Beget Source, Bind Spell, Reinscription and Filter Signature.

Monday, 8 April 2013

Creating a new codex for fun, but not profit

Still haven't had your favourite codex updated? Or seen your favourite 40K faction get a codex ever, even after all these years - if not decades? Never been offered a simple method for making a whole new one? After all, the galaxy is a very big place.

Here's an idea to experiment with while you wait.

First, think about the faction's nature, then their motivations, means and methods. Write a bit of background, draw a unit or two, convert some up.

Then for each entry in the list do the following...

Friday, 5 April 2013

Noircana - magical signatures

This is a first contribution to the noircana project I posted about yesterday, a possible campaign toolkit that JD, Garrisonjames and I are talking about below this post at The Disoriented Ranger.

This system covers magical signatures for users of magic and sources of power in a landscape, for a sandboxy, oracular-dicey campaign.

Key elements are size, signature, generation and strength, for casters and sources.

Counts-as master lists?

Quite a few people seem to be moving away from GW's aesthetics and prices, and away from the company in general. Even where players carry on with a GW system, many seem to be looking to alternative model producers. So I'm wondering...

Does anyone know of any master lists being kept that recommend options for counts-as?

I'm thinking of lists at blogs or forums with ideas for any or all of the standard units or a faction as a whole - a place to point people when they ask.

Update: Given the flood of traffic this post is getting and the lack of suggestions so far, I'm taking it there aren't too many lists. Maybe I'll start collecting up links for a series of posts. If you have any recommendations, feel free to leave a reference in the comments.

Thursday, 4 April 2013

Noircana - a campaign toolkit?

Imagine a world where magic bleeds out raw, and infuses all within. Where arcane is mundane and lines between living and dead thin. A civilisation of sorcerers all the way up, from the newborn to gods that pass unseen, a landscape gone mad, and now MAD - with Mutual Assured Destruction.

Conventions, contracts and pacts abound, but out where the rules don't apply there's radicalism and exponential growth. Ever more subtle forms of power and means to exercise it. Mysteries in mysteries, but faint trails back to puppeteers for any who dare look, and know how - or can learn.

A world where wealth is redefined and anything really will be possible. If it isn't already...

This is one possible take on a project JD and I have been talking about here at his blog, The Disoriented Ranger. It's essentially a themed toolkit for tactical roleplaying*, but could also go beyond, into other game types too: imagine a wargame where units are unnecessary and battles fought with arcane power only, but orders of magnitude greater.

It started with JD's subsystem for personal magic weapons and my mind still on Read Magic. One of the major ideas we've been discussing is the near-universal magic item, formed naturally, and the concept of a magical signature unique to a particular source, and linked with that the idea of casters having a magical fingerprint and leaving it behind.

Not a noircrawl so much as a noircana to deepen a campaign, building on lesser-used spells like Detect Magic and maybe leading to whole new sets like those in Space-Age Sorcery. It plays to dark classics, but also more recent reference points like The Matrix and the so-called singularity. Hereticwerks and others already work with material like it.

Wednesday, 3 April 2013

On those missing xeno/form/s

I'm not talking so much about the Tau delay. If I had to guess, I'd guess that's GW paring down its initial commitment to a release. If sales are falling, they might feel reducing that risk will help.

I'm talking most about the new post at Future War Stories: Where The Frak Are All The Aliens? It goes wider than many in its thinking, and it's still a pertinent question, maybe more so than ever. I recommend reading it. And thinking. Plus if you need the answer to Fermi's Paradox for any spacefaring campaign, just roll 1d10 on William's list.

Also, re the post title, I feel 'xenos' is almost a derogatory term, but 'xenoform' is a little fairer. After all, to talk about other lifeforms is to colour them with our view of what life is.

Tuesday, 2 April 2013

A defence of Read Magic, and battlefield power gain

This is for D&D, and any game with magic, psionics etc., including wargames like 40K.

A defence of Read Magic

The prompt is the discussion here at Like Being Read To From Dictionaries on the point of the Read Magic spell, and possibly a lack of clarity in the rules. I think Nagora gets it.

What's Read Magic? Put simply, in OD&D etc. just looking at magical script - at the text of a spell on a scroll say - isn't enough for a spellcaster to read it, and, if it's a spell, to learn it: it needs to be deciphered first, i.e. translated from the system and even the scrawl of the writer, a little like understanding a prescription maybe. There's a spell for that - Read Magic - but it means forgoing another potentially more useful spell to learn it.*