Sunday, November 22, 2020
Wednesday, November 18, 2020
It is however true of campaigning, as of so many other things, that the amount of enjoyment to be obtained from it is pro rata to the amount of effort that is put into it This will vary from person to person and group to group according to how much time and interest people have to spare, but the main ingredient necessary is enthusiasm for the project and a sense of responsibility toward the other players.
The other two things I wanted to share are game mechanicy. The first is his card-based system for fleshing out character traits for rulers, generals, etc., in his Hyborian campaign.
So, for each person's character you deal out seven cards. The first card dealt will decide upon his or her's most outstanding characteristic: a Heart will indicate Good Nature, a Diamond Love of Wealth, a Spade Ambition, and a Club Lave of War in a man, Patriotism in a woman. The value of the card will determine the depth of this passion, a high card being very strong, a low card relatively weak. The rest of the cards are used individually, and each hasa value of its own, as given below:
- Ace: Spade or Club, a disloyal intriguer. Diamond, loyal intriguer. Heart, exceptional good nature.
- King: Spade or Club, Energy: Heart or Diamond, Courage ·
- Queen: Great lover
- Knave: Spade/Club, Unreliability, oath-breaker, liar. Heart/Diamond, Merciless, revenge-prone.
- Ten: Loyalty, absolute in Diamonds, grading down through Hearts, Clubs, Spades.
- Nine: Physical beauty, except for Spade, which is Ugliness.
- Eight: Spade/Club, Cruelty Heart/Diamond, Generosity.
- Seven: Spade/Club, Personality Heart/Diamond, Jealous of Family Honour
- Six: Spade/Club, Lazyness Heart/Diamond, Charm
- Five: Spade/Club, Wisdom Heart/Diamond, Cunning
- Four: Spade/Club, Stupidity Heart/Diamond, Cowardice
- Three: Spade Club, Bad Temper Heart/Diamond, Good Temper
- Two: Spade/Club, Arrogance, Pride. Heart/Diamond, Merciful.
Bath also notes than an upside down Ace indicates some sort of physical abnormality or defect, such as a hunchback. I immediately thought of Peter Dinklage's character on Game of Thrones and Emperor Claudius' stutter in I, Claudius. Anyway, here's how Tony puts these card draws all together:
So, you deal out your seven cards and proceed to evaluate the character. In most cases. this will be straightforward enough, but on some occasions conflicting cards will show up. lf, for instance, you tum up a Nine of Hearts and a Nine of Spades, then physical beauty obvlously cancels out physical ugliness and you discard both cards. An example of a character reading might be a deal of Knave, King, Ten and Nine of Hearts, Nine of Spades, Nine and Two of clubs. This would give you, assuming a male, a very good natured fellow, brave, handsome, very loyal, but a touch arrogant. Of your three nines, two are beauty and one ugliness, so the three finish up as one beauty card.
The final thing I wanted to share was Tony's ingenious method for hidden movement on the campaign map when only two people can play in a campaign:
Where only two people are engaged in a campaign they will have to make do without the services of an umpire, and problems therefore increase. Obviously they cannot both just move pins or counters around a single map; even though the opposing player may not be sure exactly what the pins or counters represent, it will still give him far more information than he is entitled to. Some method of concealment must therefore be devised, and one of the best is the matchbox method. For this, you need a matchbox for every reference point - either hexagon or hexagon face - on your map. It may take you a while to collect this number of matchboxes, but if you appeal to friends, neighbours etc. to collect for you things will go quicker. You then glue these matchboxes together in a square or oblong as shown on the diagram, and number both sides of each box with the map reference it represents.
Your two players then sit at a table with the matchbox collection placed between them. Each has his own in front of him, but far enough away to be illegible to his opponent. Each has made his opening dispositions on his own map and provided himself wlth a numbered counter to represent every separate force he is using. Moving alternately, the players now place their counters in the matchboxes and, as the troops move, move them from box to box. In the course of this, if they traverse several hexagons, the player is of course entitled to look in the requisite matchboxes representing the spaces he has moved through. It will probably be best for the player not moving to tum his back while the other does so, otherwise by looking at the reverse of the matchboxes he could possibly gain some unfair indication of where his opponent is moving. [Following this Tony briefly discusses not playing with cheaters.]
Up till the time that a player finds one of his opponent's counters in a matchbox that he is entering or passing through, no disclosure is of course made of strengths, dispositions etc. When two counters reach the same box, however, same information has to be given... A commander who discovered that he was faced by greatly superior numbers was able ta refuse battle and withdraw; unless, of course, his opponent had managed to cut off his retreat by some method, either by placing a second force across it or by interposing some obstacle. This led to quite a bit of jockeying for position, and encouraged both sides to push out small forces in advance · to feel out the enemy and try to gain a picture of his overall dispositions.
This matchbox map approach is an absolute delight. In addition to the hidden movement element, it would also allow a campaign map full of counters to be easily stored on a shelf in between play sessions.
I love it when I read old gaming texts and find great ideas ready for revival.
Saturday, November 14, 2020
She took the photos, by the way.
Wednesday, November 04, 2020
Here's an old illo from Debis Loubet, one of the greats of game illustration in my opinion. You may recognize his style from the Ultima series of games. He also did work for Metagaming and was the illustrator for Steve Jackson's Cardboard Heroes, the first paper minis I ever encountered.
Anyhoo, I wanted to share this particular pic because it shows some members of this dungeon party carrying two-handed torches. You can find historical depictions of these bigass, long-burning torches in late medieval and early modern art, but I think this is the first instance I've found of them making their way into a D&D-type illo. Here's one of my favorite historical depictions:
How might these bad boys be statted up for our games? To be worth devoting both hands (and thus making it one party member's whole deal for the expedition - another good reason to have some NPC lackeys in the crew) the gain in burn time should be substantial, possibly also with a small gain in the amount of light it throws. Maybe 5 times the burn time, with +10' to the radius illuminated? For that, it should cost more than 5 times the price of a standard torch, maybe ten times. The thing to watch out for when pricing for your campaign would be to find a sweet spot between the low cost of a regular torch and the longer burn and better control of a lantern and oil.
PS: Also, note that several people in Loubet's illo are carrying torches. A dungeon crew with just one light source is begging the DM to find a way to extinguish it.
Wednesday, October 28, 2020
|The Krimaxian fleet just priot to the Battle of Aremis IV.|
Outside observers are often astonished to learn that there is no prerequisite that the Krimaxian forces win the battle. It is a tenet of the insouciant Krimaxian warrior code that no battle is won or lost except in historical perspective.
Rules for Voting
Ballots are secret and no discussion is allowed.
Each Captain submits one ballot.
The ballot records a vote for Greater Blorrp and a separate vote for Lesser Blorrp.
You may not vote for the same Captain for both Blorrps.
You are allowed to vote for yourself for Greater Blorrp and there is no cultural stigma attached to doing so.
You are not allowed to vote for yourself for Lesser Blorrp. In Krimaxian culture that is considered an act of false humility.
Any Captain who is dead, captured, or otherwise unavailable for the vote is assumed to vote for themselves for Lesser Blorrp (this supersedes the above rules).
Whoever gets the most votes wins the Blorrp..
- In the event of a tie for Greater Blorrp, the winner of the Lesser Blorrp voting actually receives the Greater Blorrp and then awards the Lesser Blorrp to their choice among the tied parties
- If the Greater Blorrp is awarded but there is a tie on Lesser Blorrp voting, no Lesser Blorrp is awarded.
- If both Blorrp ballots tie, the Captain with seniority awards each to separate recipients. It is typical for the senior Captain to give himself the Greater Blorrp. Again, it would be considered an act of false humility to give oneself the Lesser Blorrp.
Traditionally, a Captain receiving their first Blorrp sponsors an elaborate feast for their crew at the next opportunity. If the Captain is dead or missing but the crew survives, the other Captains who took part in the ballot split the costs. If the whole ship was lost the money normally spent on the feast is forwarded to the kinship groups from which the crew were drawn.
The Blorrps themselves are handmade by Krimaxian artisans on the homeworld, so no two are identical. Most known examples are made of a rough pinkish-purplish stone or a polymer designed to resemble such stone, but some are carved from a darkish wood. They typically stand somewhere between six and twelve inches tall. Greater Blorrps tend to resemble the Greek letter Phi with the inner bar missing, while Lesser Blorrps resemble triangles or chevrons pointing down. Both varieties of Blorrp features an opening through the center and either a wide, flat integral base or a tripod structure at the bottom.
Tuesday, October 27, 2020
That little red blob labeled Charted Space? That's the map above shown in scale to the Milky Way. Thanks to Joshua Bell and his great resource travellermap.com for that view.
|This chart proves that I'm|
right and the F&E designers
are wrong. Honest.
Star Fleet Battles is a fork of the Star Trek universe, incorporating the Original Series, the Animated Series, and the Star Trek Star Fleet Technical Manual by Franz Joseph. The latter is one of the truly great examples of fandom lore. One of the things that Franz Joseph does is define what the heck a Warp Factor is. Turns out that if you cube the number of the Warp Factor, that gives you the speed in terms of units of C, e.g. Warp Factor 6 (the safe cruising speed of the original USS Enterprise) is 6 x 6 x 6 C, or 216 times the speed of light. That means, according to this source at least and my own limited arithmetical skill, it would take Captain Kirk's Funtime Pals over seven years to cross a single Federation & Empire hex. Seeing as how each turn is six months, my guess is that the F&E designers ignore Franz Joseph on this point.
Since Federation & Empire first came out in the 1980's, the lovely folks at Amarillo Design Bureau (who make SFB and F&E) have expanded their universe even more. There's now an adjacent area of space, the ominously titled Omega Sector, with 20+ new polities and hundreds of more spaceships you can blow up. They've also mapped out at least one Magellanic Cloud. But my favorite expansion to Amarillo Design Bureau's expansion of the Star Trek universe is this one:
*Seriously, you may think modern D&D is complicated, but full-blown all-the-bells-and-whistles SFB blows it out of the ding dang water. The only comparable non-computerized game I know is Advanced Squad Leader.