Tuesday, May 27, 2014

Frankenrules : WWII Mash Up or Featherstone's Nuts!

I've been messing about with mashing different sets of rules together - trying to take mechanisms from each that I like and somehow make them work. No, I haven't given up on World War Risus, but that's really best suited to games with a platoon or more per side in my experience. 

As the subject line suggests, I decided to mix Nuts! 2.0 from Two Hour Wargames, with Featherstone's simplified WWII rules from his War Games book, ostensibly intended for battalion or divisions on the table, to make something playable for a 1:1 game with a platoon or less. In the end, I also used the Six Gun Sound 1st edition rules for In Sight, G.A.S.L.I.G.H.T. and USE ME WWII.

I like Nuts! 2.0 for 10 or less figures per side, but I have trouble with all of the reactions in the larger games. Still, the game has spoiled me: I want figures in a 1:1 skirmish to react to events in the game without my involvement.

In any case, this is not a robust set of rules - I rely on both Nuts! and Featherstone's rules to fill in the gaps. If you don't have Nuts!, you can get CR3.0: Final Version for free from THW and it will supply you with all you need to understand Reps, passing and failing reaction tests, etc.

Without further ado, for those who might be interested in such things, I present:

Featherstone's Nuts!

All figures have a quality rating (per Nuts! and other THW titles). With a platoon on the table, I just assign a single Rep to all members of the same squad to make my life easier.

Initiative: Decide initiative however you'd like.

Movement: I waffle on this, Featherstone suggests 6" for infantry, THW uses 8". Either way.

Reaction Check:  If a figure/unit moves into LOS of an enemy unit, either from behind cover or not, the enemy figures/units with LOS roll 2d6 to see how they react. If they pass 2, they open fire, if they pass 0 they hold. 

If they roll 1, the sides draw. 

Roll 1d6 per unit involved (or per figure if preferred) and add to figure/unit Rep. Actions proceed then from highest to lowest. The moving unit does not need to fire, but can continue their move, while the reacting side can only choose to fire or not, if they win the draw. 

Shooting: Roll 1d6 per target rating of the weapon (See Nuts! 2.0 or CR3.0: FV), hit targets in the open on a 4-6, in cover on a 5-6. 

I target the unit, not individuals and then allocate hits using a method taken from G.A.S.L.I.G.H.T. which allows for the possibility that the same figure was hit multiple times.

Saving Throw: For each hit a figure takes, they roll 1d6. In the open, they make their save on a 5 or 6, in cover, 4-6. 

If they make their save, they are forced back either 1 move or until out of LOS from the unit that fired on them (whichever is shortest) and their activation is over for this turn. It's possible that this movement will force a different non-active side unit to make a reaction check.

Melee: I use opposed d6 rolls added to Rep. High score wins. No save.

Morale: I'm not sure how to handle this or if I even want to.

Thursday, May 22, 2014

Things Go Awry in the Dungeon Near Skalafell

The other night, we played the next installment of Fjörgyn and friends in the dungeon near Skalafell. Here is the tale of that session.


After resting for a bit, the party re-lit their torches, and Fjörgyn chose to lead them back up the steps into the store room to root about the items there: seems she had gotten the idea the chests might have coin or other treasure. With Charlie Bucky and Badir watching the exits, Fjörgyn and her faithful side-kick, Zelligant fussed about with the chests.

Out in the darkness of the hallway to the north, Badir caught sight of glowing orbs moving towards them and coming in fast. 

The chests abandoned, Charlie Bucky and Fjörgyn rushed to the door to see four giant fire beetles closing in on them.

Fjörgyn unleashed an arrow but it did little good and soon the battle was joined.

The gods (the dice gods, that is) were kind to Zelligant and Badir, but both Fjörgyn and Charlie Bucky took significant damage before the surviving beetles were driven off.

Licking their wounds, literally perhaps in Charlie Bucky's case, they returned to the potential treasures. Their luck went from bad to worse.

Unable to open a locked box, Fjörgyn had Badir use his club to smash it.

Although successful, he triggered the sleep gas trap inside, which quickly filled the room with its haze. With some relief, here, finally, was a moment of luck for the party: only Badir slumped to the ground unconscious. 

Fjörgyn decided to let him sleep while they scooped out the silver and gold inside the box.

Thursday, May 15, 2014

Reflections on the 4th Session into the Dungeon Beneath Trelleborg

Last Friday, I ran my B/X open table mini-mega dungeon at my FLGS. This post is more about the mechanics/DM thoughts. You can read the summary of the session on the campaign blog.

By Thursday, I had 8 players signed up, then some dropped out, only to be replaced by others. By game time Friday, a storm had rolled in, and that cut the numbers down again to 6 players. Still, a decent turn out.

I had sworn to myself that I would start promptly at 7 PM, and encouraged new players to arrive 30 minutes early so we'd have time to roll up characters and also to talk about the rules and how they differ from 3.5 (which they also play), at least broadly speaking, because I know very little of 3.5 first hand.

Unfortunately, that aforementioned storm played havoc with everyone's travel, including mine. I think, by the time we had a critical mass of players, it was maybe after 7:30 PM.

Although I found the rush to make it to the shop by 6:30 PM (normally I start at 7:30 PM, so I don't have to get there until 7 PM) kind of trying, by 11 PM,  people were hitting a wall in terms of the energy level. Most, if not all, of us worked that day or had to work that Saturday, so it's understandable. There's only so much energy drinks or Mt. Dew can do for you. Gaming on a Saturday, unfortunately, isn't really an option - the FLGS closes at 9-ish on Saturdays, but is open until whenever on Fridays, thanks to their Magic: The Gathering Fridays.

I'm not sure how to really deal with players with flagging energy, except end the session sooner - but that short-changes those who can play longer.

One accomplishment was doing a better job tracking turns with respect to torches / wandering monsters (of which there was one). My girlfriend, who plays Fjörgyn, of Skalafell fame (or is that infamy?), called me out on my sloppy time keeping after she read the rulebook  (the first player of mine i know of, in 32 years of off and on gaming, to go out and buy the book on their own, after playing the game ONE TIME.) With a simple modification of my turn tracker to include a reminder about torches, I solved the problem.

My note keeping for the session wasn't great - I need to get better at that. Especially who talks to whom and what was said. One character made a deal with Sister Ingrid for two Potions of Healing, for instance, and I'll be damned if I remember what they had to pay.

I felt really good about enabling player agency during the session - a choice between two identical doors really isn't a meaningful choice, so i added smells, sounds etc. for players to factor into their decision process. One door, with a hand scrawled note of warning (it even included a reference to the effect of the trap), proved too tempting to resist - and one of the party is now an anthropomorphic bunny. They can't say they weren't warned.

They also had free reign to try whatever they wanted - so when they proposed making their tank (yes, a tank), it seemed so ingenious, I could not say no. I think that went a ways toward building trust for me as a DM - to know that I won't squash an idea, just because it isn't something I thought they would try.

My abstract "battle mat" also worked pretty well. I brought my dungeon tiles to prior sessions simply to show marching order - i just set out a corridor tile and they place their minis on it. But, of course, it quickly becomes a game of tactical mini maneuvering. I prefer theater of the mind combat, so in order to stave off the inclination to see minis on a grid as part of the game, and inspired by the abstract mat in Ancient Odysseys: Treasure Awaits! , I created my own abstract mat and it seemed to work rather well in getting us out of the "I move to this square" mentality.

To everyone's relief, two (possibly more) characters leveled up - a cleric and a thief - and several are much closer now and will probably level up in a session or two. Which is good - because the dungeon only gets more difficult the deeper they go.

The session was quite successful by and large - I got some very positive feedback about my DMing and people seemed entertained. The next session is in mid-June and I'm doing my best to prep areas nearest level connectors because there is no telling where they might go.

Friday, May 9, 2014

Fire Team Risus

I've been messing around with the scenario generator in Platoon Forward again, and this time generated a Screening Mission. I decided to take 2 squads without an overall commander to see if World War Risus could handle something that small.

In the event, it can, but it wasn't terribly fun. Without a leader to roll extra dice for a given sides, whole turns went by without any action.

But still, there's nothing inherent in WWR that should make it work only for higher level games. Reading Beer and Pretzels Skirmish (recently acquired), I realized the trick would be to make the smallest element the fire team / 1/2 squad. This is also what Disposable Heroes / Coffin for Seven Brother does, by the way.

And so, I based my squads 3 figures to one base and 2 to another. The 3 figure base had the squad LMG, while the 2 figure base was the rifle fire team. It really didn't matter - the figures are irrelevant but I could have given +1 die to the LMG fire team base.

What I have is basically 1:2 ratio of figures to men, except when I don't. My MMG unit for instance consists of 2 figures and is 1:1-ish.

The replay was delayed a bit by the tornado that is Pumpkin. A secret weapon for the Allies, her destruction is somewhat indiscriminate. 

Here is part way through turn 1, after the fire team in the yellow house spotted the German blind, and revealed the blinds for the whole force: The .30 cal MG and the 2nd squad's fire teams have not moved yet.

I totally forgot to take additional pictures because I got caught up in the game. That doesn't mean everything was perfect though.

Each base has a Combat Effectiveness cliche, Leadership cliche and a Morale cliche.

Every base rolls Leadership for initiative which takes a butt-load of time, so there's something that needs to be done there.

On the plus side, you won't know which unit is going to act or in what order - always good in solo games. Also, there were fewer occasions where one side did nothing.

I adjusted the morale check a bit as I'm finding it as written to have more impact than i'd like. Units were taking a check every time they were shot at, hit or miss. Now, I take it only if the attacker scored a hit (whether or not it caused damage). The exception is when the target scores 2 or more successes than the shooting unit - no morale check is required in that case.

I also returned to removing 1 cliche die when hit regardless of how many successes more the attacker scored than the target. This extends the life of the individual units and in a small game like this, that's a good thing. Although i kept the automatic loss of Morale cliche die when a target was outscored by 2 or more successes.

Something I didn't change, but will next time, is the morale check results:

  • 0 successes = fall back 2 moves, to nearest cover if possible, then pinned and lose 1 morale cliche die
  • 1 success = fall back to nearest cover, if no cover within 2 moves, then pinned 
  • 2+ successes = carry on
One final issue I feel merits addressing is what to do with units that have 3 or more pins on them. Regardless of their Combat Effectiveness cliche or Morale Cliche, at that point they are almost undoubtedly a write off.

Monday, May 5, 2014

The Adventure in Skalafell Continues

When we last left our heroineFjörgyn, she and Charlie Bucky met up with Zelligant and Badir outside of The Queen's Cauldron. 

Having thought it over, she decided  that rather than leaving town, she wanted to get some more information about the missing girl, Thorifinna, from the girl's father. However, he was nowhere to be found and did not answer when the party knocked on the door of his cottage.

[To my surprise, she left the cottage standing. Most players, in my experience, would have set it aflame for no reason.]

A brief discussion with one of the older farmers in the village gave some insight into the interesting connection of the villager slain by the ghoul and the missing girl's father - the slain villager was having an affair with the girl's mother.

Returning to the Shrine of the Forgetful Bear to ask Sister Rebecca some questions, Fjörgyn found the good Sister uncooperative [this was determined by dice rolls]. When offered some gold to help grease the wheel a bit, Sister Rebecca responded with visible scorn [a terrible reaction roll brought this about] and told the party to go find the girl, after which she closed the door on them.

Irritated by the rebuff, and possessing a general dislike of Sister Rebecca anyway, Fjörgyn  produced the still beating human heart she had recovered from the ghoul's tomb and placed it on the steps of the shrine as a warning to Sister Rebecca that she means business.

To everyone's surprise, the sky quickly filled with clouds, rain poured down, lightning cracked and the thunder sounded much like the roar of a bear. 

The carving of a bear's head above the shrine's entrance exploded into dust as a thick blackness oozed out of the heart, up the stairs and under the door.

The party wisely trudged off in the downpour to the dungeon.

[The party made it into the dungeon and spent about 6 turns in there when we had to end the session for the night. I'll save the recounting of those early moments for the next time.]

Thursday, May 1, 2014

1/32 Machine-Guns

Last night, I managed to finish up six figures for my 1/32 WWII forces.

With the exception of the tripod mounted MG-42, they are the "easy wins" of the figure painting world - prone figure; they only need to painted on the side you can see, thereby saving some time.

The 4 prone figures are Airfix, the tripod crew is CTS.

The CTS figures are, like most of the others in that set, undersized for 1/32 (in my opinion, and at least in comparison to Airfix and Matchbox, never mind TSSD). However, by themselves, on the cork tile base, they don't look too bad. 

Regardless, there aren't too many other options. I can't find anyone making a 1/32 tripod MG-42. I would like at least two more of these crews, which means two more CTS sets of figures that I will have no use for.

Even W. Britain has let me down!

The cork tiles are roughly 3" x 3" and are something of an experiment. The next game will undoubtedly see units based on the cork tiles with the help of poster tack. Although it does look like they are on very small cliffs, the thickness of the tile makes it easier to pick up than thin wooden squares.

6 Iron Spikes & a Small Hammer : Issue # 2!

It took me ages, but the 2nd issue of my old school tabletop RPG zine is now available!

It's dead tree only, for now. If I do put out a PDF, anyone who bought the print version will get a  free copy of the PDF.

(I will also consider trades for 1/32 WWI (early war), WWII or Medieval figures, maybe even 1:72 WWI like the Strelets gas-mask figures, pre-1980 wargame rules or magazines, solitaire wargames, Tunnels & Trolls Solitaire modules, etc.)

You might notice the pricing is higher this go round - that's for several reasons. The zine is 10 pages longer for one thing. But, mostly, it's because I had the print shop print the whole thing and then cut it down to size. 

Lesson learned : I will never do that again. 

Next time, I will have them print the cover only, but I will print the master of the interior pages, and then have them photocopy them.