Sunday, March 30, 2014

Black Bart Still in Grayrock City

Thanks to Comcast. :(

I popped into Michael's and bought some supplies to make castle walls for my Escape from Grayrock scenario. I planned to slap something together and then possibly play out the scenario. But first I had a chore to perform; swap out my cable box (we're downgrading service in order to save some money). Long story short, the cable company mucked up our access, cable AND internet went down, and we spent 5 hours trying to fix it. As a result, Black Bart remained beseiged within Castle Grayrock.

Monday, March 24, 2014

Escape from Castle Grayrock

I've been thinking about the next battle in my ongoing Grayrock Revolution campaign. With the recent uprising in the capital, it seems logical that the Viceroy will call for reinforcements from the Bluderian army gathering outside the pass to the Maraconi plateau. This will leave the weakened Bluderian force ripe for a surprise attack by the rebels.

As I devised this scenario, I pondered how the Viceroy could have gotten a message to the field army when his forces were trapped in Castle Grayrock, surrounded by rebel forces. Obviously, a Bluderian messenger needs to sneak through enemy lines. Sounds like a great rpg-type scenario! Perhaps I'll give the mission to Black Bart; he needs to redeem himself after being accused of disobedience.

For this scenario, I plan to use my city battle board. Black Bart will start on one of the short ends and will have to traverse across the length of the board and then scale a wall in order to escape from Grayrock City. The scenario will basically be like a dungeon crawl using my Kevin's Krawl rules. In each square of the board, Bart will roll to see if he encounters anyone, like wandering rebel patrols. We'll see if he can make it out!

I'm getting excited about this scenario. I don't have all the materials I'd like (such as castle and city walls or a figure to represent Black Bart) but I'll probably improvise something. Perhaps I'll run this scenario this weekend.

Sunday, March 23, 2014

The Weekend's Gaming

No miniature battle reports today.

My weekend gaming has concentrated on video games. On Friday, I took on this fellow:

Alduin the World Eater
And now he is no more. Yep, I beat the main quest in Skyrim. Now I just need to straighten out a minor tussle - a civil war in Skyrim.

We did play a short game of Forbidden Island for Game Night. We had 3 of the treasures in our hands and were close to reclaiming the last one. We also had a helicopter waiting for us at the landing. Then the waves came crashing over the island and we went down into the abyssal depths.

Saturday, March 22, 2014

'Tis a Silly Place

D&D world that is.

As part of my dungeon crawl project, I was searching for a list of D&D monsters, which I could convert to my game stats. Instead, I found this amusing piece about silly monsters in the game.

Later, I found this index of monsters from D&D 3.5. I copied it into Excel and then deleted out any creatures I considered silly, stupid or redundant. Of the 2,678 in the list, I kept only 174 (6.5%). Yep, D&D world is filled with silly monsters.

Sunday, March 16, 2014

Kevin's Krawl

Last night I ran a dungeon crawl session. I jotted down a short report over at my Tales of the Templars blog.

Here are a few pictures. The quality of the materials is not very good; I was basically using whatever I had at hand, including the tiles I made for Space Marine games, some half-painted metal figures, a bunch of D&D pre-paints (although figures often had to represent other monsters), a 30 year old paladin figure, and even some Khurasan 15mm sci-fi miniatures.

The Goblin Lord goes down
Fighting imps (including some 15mm Khurasan figures)
The necromancer sends his zombie hordes against us
Despite the ad hoc nature of the materials, I feel that the game was a success. I was trying the new dungeon crawl rules I worked up (and which I'm calling Kevin's Krawl). In general, the rules met most of the criteria I discussed last week. The game went for 1 and 1/2  hours, which was not bad considering that we did 2 levels. We managed to get through about 10 encounters during that time frame!

As I mentioned last week, Kevin's Krawl (KK) uses rules loosely inspired by Castle Death although I use 2D6 rolls instead of a single D6. Generally, there is only 1 modifier to apply so math is minimal. Tiles are laid randomly until the party arrives at the quest room (shuffled into the stack of tiles) where it fights the boss. Except for the boss, encounters are randomly determined (I made cards but a table could work as well). All in all, it worked out smoothly.

One clever part (imho) is that the monsters do not make any rolls. The players win initiative on a roll of 4-6. When attacked, players simply make a defend roll (against a particular target number). This eliminates the need for a person to act for the monsters and keeps the focus on the players. (It's ironic that even though the odds may be the same, making a defend roll lets the players feel that they have more power over their own fate).

Nevertheless, there is room for tweaks. In this first draft, I put no limits on how many times spellcasters could use their spells. This allowed them to sit back and use magic rather than engage in hand-to-hand combat (which is a feature I like; I hate it when a wizard has to go toe-to-toe with a monster). However, this gave them access to unlimited heals. They needed a lot, but having limits would make the game more challenging. If I do add limits (I'll probably give spellcasters a number of spell points) I will need to give characters access to other forms of healing (e.g. potions).

I still need to do some work on character advancement, additional spells, and other bits and pieces. I am happy with the game and plan to run some more sessions in lieu of a full blown RPG.

Saturday, March 15, 2014

Uprising in Grayrock City

No chores this morning so I got to do a little gaming (and luckily I have a game scheduled for tonight as we'll be testing out my dungeon crawl rules). It's been a while so I think it's time for another incident in the Grayrock Revolution.

A lull had settled in as the Bluderians prepared to force their way into the Maraconi plateau. There were occasional skirmishes but no major actions. Meanwhile, tensions were building in the capital between the native Grayrockians and the Bluderian garrison. These tension finally erupted when the Viceory decided to suspend the Mayor and City Council; initiating direct Bluderian rule. Protesting mobs gathered around the City Hall, trapping a Bluderian infantry company within its grounds. The Viceroy panicked and ordered the garrison to withdraw to the confines of Grayrock Castle. Incensed by the Viceroy's "cowardice," General "Black Bart" Blackwell checked himself out of the military infirmary (still recovering from his wounds at Balderdash Pass), commandeered some Bluderian units, and marched to the rescue of the trapped infantry unit.

Here is an account of the action from the rebels' perspective:

When the Grayrockian patriots saw the Bluderian forces advancing on the City Hall, they withdrew to better defensive positions and hastily erected barricades.
Arrival of the Bluderians.
Black Bart has linked up with the unit at City Hall (top center)
Rebel mobs are the multi-colored units.
 The nefarious Black Bart sent his cavalry forward in hopes of scattering the patriots. Fortunately, we had been well armed with muskets smuggled from Redgrave.

[Game note - I treated the rebel mobs like French Resistance in Memoir '44. They had the same attack dice as regulars (3-2-1) but could only take 3 hits instead of 4. If forced to retreat, they could move back 2 spaces per flag.]
Cavalry routs, leaving its dead on the field.
 Bart then sent an infantry company against the barricades. Once again, we held firm.
No success on the left.
 Black Bart then switched his efforts to the right.
Artillery takes some hits
Bluderian infantry moves through a block of buildings.
 Bart also began advancing in the center.
The rebels take casualties
Black Bart storms over the center barricade.
Artillery clears the right barricade.
 But a unit of former Grayrockian National Guard came to the rescue.
Black Bart's infantry is forced to retreat.
 Black Bart then sent his cavalry to the right. It stormed over the vacated barricades and attacked a group of patriots in the streets.
Cavalry attacks
 But to no avail. In the narrow streets, the patriots swarm around the troopers, pull them from their mounts, and bludgeon them to death.
No more cavalry
 Once more, Bart tried to advance on the left with equally disastrous results.
Moving forward through buildings.
The Bluderians take a lot of hits.
A mob takes out a Bluderian company.
 Black Bart switched to the center once again, but once again the valor of the patriots prevailed.
Black Bart moves forward through the park.
But his infantry unit is cut down.
With his forces seriously depleted, Black Bart was forced to retreat. Victory for the People of Grayrock!

With City Hall in rebel hands, the Viceroy withdrew all Bluderian forces to Grayrock Castle. He soon found himself under siege, with the rebels taking control of the rest of the city. Black Bart and the Viceroy quarreled. The Viceroy blamed Bart for losing 3 infantry companies and a squadron of cavalry. If Bart had obeyed then they would only have lost the 1 company at City Hall. Black Bart responded that if he had obeyed then the rebels would still have seized the city but if the Viceroy had shown a little nerve and given him reinforcements, then Bart could have swept the mobs from the streets!

A few game notes

  • I think I made things a bit too difficult for Black Bart. He was outnumbered and had to attack defensive positions. The mobs' fire was probably unrealistically effective; I think they might need additional penalties than just having 1 less hit. I will have to ponder
  • Note that each mob unit had 6 figures, but they could only take 3 hits. When hit, I would remove 2 figures. I used a bunch of unbased figures of various colors to create a sense of irregularity to the mobs. This contrasted nicely to the neat stands of regulars and National Guard. Unfortunately, they were a pain to move and I kept knocking down individual figures.
  • I created a special battle board to represent the city streets. It was simple and cheap to prepare. I wanted to use some gray craft foam to distinguish blocks with buildings vs. streets, but Michael's was out the last time I finished. I used some cardboard for some of the blocks but did not have enough for all the buildings.
  • I treated the blocks with buildings like buildings in Memoir '44 - reduce attacks by 1 die.
  • Once again, I really like the look of the Village in a Bag buildings. Bob Cordery is doing some neat things with L-shaped buildings which give more room for troops in the squares. Other gamers have followed suit with these experiments. While I really like the idea and think that the prototypes look great, I just don't have time for my own attempts. So for now, Village in a Bag wins out.

Thursday, March 13, 2014

No Cents

If you read my game reports on Tales of the Templars, you will note that I make no mention of treasure. That’s because I really hate worrying about money in my games. I want to play epic heroic fantasy, not Monopoly. When did you ever read about Aragorn, Galahad, or other epic heroes rifling through the pockets of their defeated enemies looking for spare change? Money is not what heroism is about.

Furthermore, once a game begins to track treasure, then it has to introduce things to purchase. Usually this involves better equipment to allow the characters become more powerful. This creates a vicious cycle; in order to get more powerful the characters need to adventure to get more money. The game shifts from being heroes to naked acquisition.

I understand that there are gritty “heroes” like Conan who are concerned with money, but these characters are not my gaming role models. Unfortunately, most games are very much plugged into this go out and get more mentality, but this is not my style.

Solo gaming has allowed me to break away from acquisition. Instead, my characters are part of an international organization (the Temple) that will provide for their basic needs in exchange for service. I don’t have to track revenue and expenses, I can just adventure. However, I now have a dilemma as I am designing my dungeon crawl game. While I may not like acquiring things in games, my wife is an ardent collector of stuff (at least when it comes to games). I think I'll need to cater to her preference in some manner.

Sunday, March 9, 2014

A Fantasy Dungeon Crawl

A couple of posts on TMP (this and this) have got me thinking about fantasy dungeon crawls.

Currently, my go-to game when I want a quick and easy dungeon crawl game has been Dungeon, but it has its limitations. I've been toying with the idea of creating my own game and yesterday, inspired by the posts on TMP, I jotted down a few notes.

Before I put down these notes, I should first set out the parameters of the game I'm thinking about.

  • Cooperative - players are working together in a single party rather than competing to be first to achieve a certain goal.
  • Short - players should be able to complete a game in an hour or so.
  • Easy Prep - one of the banes of my attempts at running an RPG with my wife is my lack of time to plan out adventures. I'd prefer something that can be whipped together at a moment's notice.
  • Not Too Random - although I want quick and easy, I'd also like to be able to put together adventures with a somewhat coherent theme rather than an utterly random collection of encounters. Some possibilities include a goblin's lair or an evil temple (I'm sure I could come up with some others with a little thought).
  • No GM - once the game starts, I want to play a character, and still be somewhat surprised by the encounters.
  • Simple, but not too simple, combat - Dungeon's single die roll is too simple, but I don't want D&D 3.5 either. The players should be able to finish an encounter in 5 minutes or so.
  • D6s only - a current bias of mine. I don't want to fiddle with different dice; I want to rely on the good, old, standard six-sided die.
  • Character advancement - I'd like characters to be able to get better, and take on more powerful monsters, over multiple game sessions.
  • Not dependent on a lot of materials - Jotting notes on paper is fine. I don't want the game to require a lot of materials. For example, if I need to make cards, the game will probably never get created. Therefore, tables are fine.
  • Distinct character classes - Warrior, cleric, thief, wizard (plus my favorite, the paladin, and my wife's favorite, the druid).

There are probably more requirements in the back of my mind, but these are the ones I can come up with on the spot.

Some idea so far:

  • Task resolution: Roll 2D6 >= a target number
  • Skills include Fight, Shoot, Defend, Magic, Faith (for cleric miracles), Sneak, and Defend
    • Players will have bonuses to the skills. For example, Warriors will have a bonus to Fight rolls while Wizards have a bonus to Magic rolls.
    • As characters progress, they gain more bonuses.
  • Each player starts with a Health of 3 (can take 3 wounds). Monsters will have between 1 and ?? Health.
  • Monsters will not roll to attack. Instead, if a monster attacks a character, the player will simply make a Defend roll. Succeed and the monster misses; fail and the monster hits and causes a wound.
    • More powerful monsters will have a modifier making it harder for the character to pass the Defend roll.
This is what I have so far. It's basically the system I am using for my Castle Death-inspired solo role-playing adventures.

One Hour Wargames

Someone on TMP posted a note about this book.

It's available for pre-order here.

The last part of the sub-title, "those with limited time and space," pretty much describes me. I have the e-reader version of his 19th Century wargaming book and have read his introductory wargaming book. While I don't use his rules, I think his books are great and have wonderful ideas. I'll have to order a copy of this one.

Project Update

No game report this week. I'll just note that while I may "war well" I suck at the game of Life (Elizabeth handily won).

I managed to sneak in a little work on my projects last week (and hope to do some more today).

1. I painted my kitchen sponge trees. The flash really highlights the holes where the paint did not penetrate, but they are not as noticeable on the board. I did not make trunks; I merely based them on wood disks painted green and brown.

2. Some Kallistra medievals. Spearmen in the middle and archers on the flank.

Another shot with the archers aiming at the spearmen. I wanted to display the blue hoods on some of the archers.

I am taking a minimalist approach to painting these figures. I spray painted them white and then just added a few details (flesh, weapons, hats and helmets). Up close they look awful but at a distance (and thanks to a bad camera) I think they will look fine. My "bad guy" army will be spray painted black, which I think may look better than white.

3. A Historifgs N-scale general. He is going to lead some of the Francesian armies.

Saturday, March 1, 2014

Forcing My Hand

In my last post, I mentioned my quandary regarding my Kallistra spearmen. This morning, I experimented with them a bit.
  • First I tried to use a utility knife. By cutting along the groove I was able, with difficulty, to split the strip into 2 pairs. I was unable to separate the pairs, however.
  • I then tried wire cutters. It worked great for splitting the strip in 2 and I was also able to separate the remaining pairs. However, this resulted in mangled stands.
The upshot of my experiment is clear; I need to base the figures in 2 ranks. This will require a change to my basing plans. After a little thought I decided that I will mount 2 pair of figures on a 3/4" square base. A unit will be composed of 2 bases, and each base will be able to take 2 hits.

This will require a change in rules. I initially planned to use my adaptation of Medieval FUBAR but those rules are designed for individually based figures. It seems that I am once again moving toward a Command & Colors style set of rules, although I want to make modifications to allow heroes and commanders to fight.