Sunday, June 25, 2017

Slipstream Six by Six

Over this past weekend I began the Slipstream campaign I've been discussing over the past month. I have completed scenarios 1 and 2. Here are links to the battle reports (which are on my Tales of the Templars blog):

The Scenarios
I'm not using any formal scenarios (i.e. these are not One Hour Wargame Scenarios). Instead, I came up with the context - Queen Anathraxa wants the Sunstone from the Theophilians. So how would she get it? Sneak attack, of course! Bam, I had my scenario. I then just plopped some figures and terrain down and went at it. The second scenario just built off the first and I already have another in mind for the third. In a way, it's sort of like a Mythic session; each scene just flows naturally from the prior one.

The Board
I played the scenarios using my boxed portable wargame set-up. 

The board is 8 by 8 inches, divided into 1 inch squares. Because I don't have any figures specifically representing the combatants, I improvised using my 3mm Magister Miliitum ancients that I painted up for my fantasy Anarendor campaign. Orcs stood in for primals, the Iron Legion served as Handmaidens, and Anarendor infantry became Theophilians. It worked for me!

The Rules
As I mentioned, I plan to use a modified version of FU (Freeform Universal) RPG rules. I really like its action results system. Essentially you ask a yes-no question and then roll a D6 to find the answer. Here are the possible results:
  • 6 = Yes, and
  • 5 = Yes
  • 4 = Yes, but
  • 3 = No, but
  • 2 = No
  • 1 = No, and
This system is very flexible (not surprisingly since it was designed for freeform roleplaying). A character can try anything and the system can handle it.

The system handles better or worse odds by adding dice for each advantage or disadvantage. If you have an advantage, for example, you would roll 2 dice and use the higher. A disadvantage would involve 2 dice, taking the lower roll.

The "and" and "but" results also add interesting twists. For example, a "Yes, but" result means that you succeed, but something unexpected (and undesirable) happens. Perhaps your blast takes out the charging primal but the pistol's energy charge ran out.

I did not have any formal rules on using the results matrix but in general I would roll when combat occurred. a "Yes but" meant that the enemy was defeated but they retreated in good order. A "Yes and" meant that the enemy was defeated and wiped out. On a simple "Yes" I would reroll to determine if they enemy was eliminated.

Advantages / disadvantages depended on terrain (for example, the Templars are defending a building in the second scenario so they got a bonus dice when defending). Also, in FU, characters can have descriptors, which give bonus dice in applicable situations. For example, if a character has a descriptor of Strong then he would get a bonus for lifting heavy objects. This concept can be applied to a wargame, with units getting descriptors. I did not give formal descriptors, but the visitors were weak in combat while the Templars and Handmaidens (due to their training as warriors) had advantages.

Note that I rolled against the matrix in the following situations:
  • To activate a unit
  • To make an attack
  • To save against an attack
Overall, the rules worked, albeit a bit vaguely. I did not apply rules consistently throughout. For example, early on I eliminated a unit when its attacker rolled a "Yes." Later, I began to roll saves if an attack succeeded. Nevertheless, the games were quick (~ half an hour each), involved plenty of decisions, had plenty of suspense, created good stories, and ultimately were fun.

I plan to codify the rules a bit (e.g. define what "and" or "but" means in certain situations) so expect more experiments.

Wednesday, June 21, 2017

A Six by Six Announcement

Hi, my name's Kevin, and I have GADD (Gamer's Attention Deficit Disorder).

Over the years that I've been writing this blog, I have found myself flitting from one period to the next and one rules set to the next. For example, I originally set up this blog to record campaigns in my fictional 18th century continent of Francesia. I quickly branched out to medieval, fantasy, sci-fi, air combat (my previous craze), etc. I call this tendency GADD, and I am having a bout of it now.

My current craze is for pulp sci-fi in the Slipstream universe.

I've been toying with some ideas and have been keen on playing some games in this setting. I already have scenarios in mind and even wrote an introduction to one that I plan to play this weekend.

One thing I've learned since starting this blog is that I have to go with the flow, gaming-wise. As a result, I've decided to embrace my GADD and jump into Slipstream, which leads to the following 6 by 6 announcement:

  • Effective immediately, I am dropping my Zirconia campaign from my 6 by 6 list.
  • In its place will be Slipstream battles and skirmishes using modified FU (Freeform Universal) rules
I have already made the change on my 6 by 6 tracker. I am aware that I will be losing a game (the Battle of Vesta). Also, I will play out some rocketship battles, but I will use a modified version of Spandau and Lewis (and will record those battles under S&L rather than Slipstream)

Sunday, June 18, 2017

Thinking Instead of Playing

I mentioned last week that I am experiencing some GADD (gamer's attention deficit disorder) and want to play some Slipstream. I just don't have figures. While I shrugged off my GADD last week and played a Spandau and Lewis scenario, this week I ended up contemplating game design ( I also spent some time preparing for this month's LARP scenario, but that's another topic).

Anyway, here are some ideas that popped into my head, some of them admittedly crazy.

Very Quick Play
While I already tend to play short games (usually 30 - 45 minutes), sometimes I want something even quicker - say 15 minutes.

Very Quick Set-Up
My experiments with a boxed game (below) have provided a quick set-up.

There are also other steps I can take to expedite set-up (e.g. fewer units and simpler terrain)

Sometimes it's frustrating when I have an itch to play a game set in a genre but I don't have minis. Instead, I don't play. I'm thinking of putting together a set with generic tokens that can stand in when I don't have actual miniatures.

Universal Rules System
I want one box that can handle nearly any genre (a tall order, I know). It seems to me that a set of light, universal rules, perhaps along the line of a matrix game or narrative RPG, would work. To this end, I ended up downloading the Freeform Universal (FU, pronounced foo) RPG and have been reading through it.

I have some game ideas running through my head; we'll see where they take me.

Sunday, June 11, 2017

Pip's Big Day

Over the past couple of weeks my enthusiasm for my pulp air project has been waning. As a result, I have not played a scenario in a few weeks. There are a few reasons:

  • Real life (esp. Buster) keeps taking time from gaming.
  • I want to run a zeppelin scenario but I'm not happy with my zeppelin marker.
  • GADD has struck again and now I am interested in sci fi in the Slipstream setting

Over the past week I have been pondering how to do Slipstream. I'd like to build some retro rockets for space battles (using Spandau and Lewis!). I'd also like to get some character minis for skirmish/RPG combats; I just cannot find small scale figures (10mm or less) with the aesthetic I want.

Temporarily stymied in my Slipstream project, I decided to run a Dirk Daring scenario.

Our hero, Dirk Daring, in his red-white-and-blue Peregrine fighter, is on patrol with his wingman Pip Paddington (in a Goshawk fighter). They small an EIF Condor bomber being escorted by two Raptor fighters (top right)

Tally ho! They race to intercept. One Raptor engages Pip but Dirk roars past to take on the Condor. Dirk hits the bomber but takes damage in return!

Dirk gets on the bomber's tail and blazes away. He takes more damage, though. Pip cannot quite turn on the bomber's tail but he gets a shot at a Raptor.

Dirk and Pip are hot on the bomber's tail. One Raptor pursues Dirk - more damage!

Our heroes continue to focus on the bomber. Pip blazes away and the bomber goes down in flames! The Raptor continues to pursue Dirk. Bullets rip through his plane, which begins to smoke and smolder.
[Please pardon the lousy photos from here on out]

"I'm about to go down!" Dirk radios Pip. "Let's get out of here."
But as he says this, the Raptor turns on Pip. Dirk valiantly races to his aid.

But Pip manages a nifty Immelman and sets his erstwhile pursuer ablaze.

The other Raptor had got lost in the clouds. leaving Dirk and Pip free to head back home.

With 2 kills, Pip had a big day!

6 by 6 Challenge -  3.4 complete

Saturday, June 3, 2017

Slipping into the Stream

With Slipstream, a pulp sci-fi setting for the Savage Worlds RPG.

Even though I don't play Savage Worlds, I have had my eye on this game for some time. I really love the setting - it is akin to 1930s sci-fi serials like Flash Gordon. The setting is unabashedly pulpy, with rocketships and rayguns; lionmen, birdmen, robotmen, and other exotic alien races; dashing heroes and an evil queen threatening the universe. What's not to love?

I recently discovered that Drive Thru RPG has the PDF version on sale for $9.99. I took advantage and finally have a copy. It does not disappoint; I like Slipstream so much that I consider it an exception to the "your world sucks" rule and would run it pretty much as is.

But here is my quandary - how am I going to play this? I don't use Savage Worlds so I would need to convert it to another system. I would like to use Four Against Darkness but that will require some effort. Slipstream also features 10 adventures as part of Pinnacle's plot-point setting. However, the ones I read appear to be very linear. I do not know how they would lend themselves to solo adventuring.

I noticed one interesting line in the book: "Rocketships use the rules for aircraft . . ." So now I have visions of rocketship dogfights using the Spandau and Lewis rules.

Anyway, stay tuned as I dabble with this setting!

Thursday, June 1, 2017

May 2017 Update

Six by Six Challenge
This has been a good month for the challenge. Spurred by my aviation kick, I have completed 3 sessions of Spandau and Lewis.
In addition, I completed a session of Ticket to Ride. Furthermore, I  discovered that I missed a game in my April update. I actually completed my second game of Ticket to Ride in early April.

This puts me at 20 games completed. I am past the halfway point and am averaging 4 games a month!

Family Game Night
Due to the situation with Buster our cat, we have not played many long board games. One weekend, we did bring out Mice & Mystics and we played Ticket to Ride last weekend, but for the most part it's been quick card games like Fluxx or Love Letter. I really should have made Fluxx a 6 by 6 game!

Other Games
I have been fairly active with the gaming, even if it is not 6 by 6.

One night our game-loving cat Thomasina was hoping for a game but Elizabeth was upstairs taking care of Buster. To satisfy Tom, I pulled out Four Against Darkness and played the next part of the Three Rings module,

One morning I was off work. I did not feel like setting up a miniature game, so I played a virtual skirmish with my sci-fi secret agents, Kate and Kip, which has spurred adventures.