Monday, May 30, 2011
Sadly, Sunday didn't happen either, another victim of the Memorial Day weekend, which isn't to say I didn't get any gaming in at all; we just didn't get in a B/X WW2 playtest.
I got Lance W. to drop by and he brought the old FASA Battlestar Galactica starfighter combat game, which neither of us had played in ages. He had recently reread the rules so we played a one-on-one duel. He played the Cylon, I the Colonial. He took a the three laser, no torpedo variant Raider; I went with the standard Mk. II Viper from the series. We closed to range and I lined up on him with a decent shot and fired my 2 torpedoes and my 2 lasers and missed with everything. It turned into a twisty-turney dogfight after that and we nickle and dimed each other's ships a bit until he scored his customary "Cockpit Destroyed" result, ending our game. It was a good time though, so I don't complain.
Since that didn't take long, we decided to play one of our old stand by games- Up Front! He suggested we play the DiY 501 City Fight in 3 scenario, I was game. We rolled a d30 to see who picked first, he rolled a 30 and picked the Germans. I picked the Americans and we set to spending our 501 points to buy our "squads". Traditionally I am pretty unlucky at Up Front!, but today was Lance's day to have my unlucky breaks. We both set up in the fairly traditional 3 group formation. We both bought Strength 5 radios and double Snipers. He had LMGs in groups A and C, I had a BAR in my group A. I had a mortar in group C. He had a total of 16 men and I had 21. My best men were in my groups A and B, C was my burn off excess fire cards via mortar attacks early in the game and movement cards later group; it contained a number of men I probably wouldn't have considered taking except that the large number of them made them less attractive to move towards for his men.
The bad luck started for Lance with his first attack, my group A moved, his group A had enough fire power with their crewed LMG to fire at them, the first card he drew for resolution was a red 6, the LMG suffered a breakdown. When he tried to repair it on his next turn he drew another red 6 and the weapon was destroyed, pretty much ruining the firepower potential of his group A for the rest of the game.
After that Lady Luck loved me for the rest of the game. Every time he moved a group I had a stream or a marsh to discard and usually a Sniper and nothing else really to do anyway. Wire was a constant issue for him. Whenever I moved I would draw a building card to move into. My mortar group plan worked great. I kept drawing radio cards, and only had 2 out of 7 missions fail. My mortar never missed once. My only complaint is that my Snipers only ever pinned his men.
He never got a radio card, and after the first deck wouldn't have been able to use it if he had because the guy carrying the radio had routed. His one Sniper card he got I easily Sniper checked and killed. He popped smoke once only to see a breeze come along seconds later and blow it away. He was placing his men in open terrain so I wouldn't be able to put them into bad terrain after a while. The bad luck was really getting into his head.
I didn't play without mistakes either, his bad luck made me cocky, and I advanced my B group too close too his C group that still had a functioning LMG; and I voluntarily routed a guy to do so, and not into great terrain, just -2 buildings. To be fair they had all been pinned when I started the move, he got a rally all card, followed by a hero card; possibly his luckiest draws of the game.
Ultimately, the game ended when I had an attack that broke his squad. The score was 2 Americans KIA 3 Routed, 4 Germans KIA, 8 Routed. He held out a lot longer than his crappy luck would have led you to believe was possible and fought a lot harder, we were 1/2 way through the last deck at the end of the game. I had a good time and so did he, it was nice to see Lady Luck switch dance partners for a change though; much as I love this game, and I know I have the technical skill for it, I very often lose.
Saturday, May 28, 2011
OK, I may have a problem. I have never played this game. I only really started getting stuff for it because I wanted the Clan War miniatures for use with my own Oriental Adventures/Ruins & Ronin games. I now have a large number of books and supplements for every edition of this game just because it is pretty and I keep getting really awesome deals on EBay. Apparently I can not pass up a good deal when I spot it. I paid less than $5.00 for this book, with shipping. It has an MSRP of $34.95 and is in brand new condition.
Friday, May 27, 2011
Christopher Lee has been entertaining me since he was Dracula and Lord Summerisle all the way up through his days as Saruman and Count Dooku. He turns 89 today.
Pictured-Christopher Lee before he was cured of vampirism, he assures us all is well now.
Lance W. has just been my friend since before we discovered gaming. He grew up around the corner from me and we both loved Star Wars and Battlestar Galactica before moving on to even nerdier pursuits like D&D and wargaming. He turns 41 today.
Pictured- May not actually be Lance.
Thursday, May 26, 2011
Pictured- A typical local parade.
Here in the US we celebrate Memorial day on the last Monday in May; giving us, at least, a three day weekend. The holiday started as a remembrance of our veterans and those who died during the American Civil War and after World War One was expanded to include the veterans and fallen of all of Americas wars. Ordinarily we Americans celebrate this civic holiday by attending parades, having picnics and watching war movies.
I explain this only because I see my blogger stats show a significant portion of my readership is non-American and thought you might need a heads up on the impending communications blackout.
For my family this year our parade attendance is more compulsory than it usually is because Ashli is marching in two of them with the Marine Corps JROTC. We used to just attend the one closest to home because my dad marched with the American Legion, which he still does and will again this year.
Anyway, we're also volunteering at a Red Cross blood drive on Saturday for a while. The kids are already off for the holiday "weekend", 5 days for them. So family and community stuff are cutting into my blogging time a bit. We should still be able to get playtesting B/X WW2 in over the weekend, I am hoping for 2 days worth.
Wednesday, May 25, 2011
God Damn it!
I thought all of the Blogger nonsense was solved yesterday for me but it ate my bloody post.
It was nothing important, just some thoughts on stuff that I didn't get around to in the A-Z Challenge in April, busy work to clear my head while I wait to playtest B/X WW2 again this weekend. I had gotten into the habit of writing these posts in a word processor program and then transferring them over, but I figured "What the hell, it's just a short post."; and then wrote a long-ish post, only to see bloody Blogger tell me I needed to log in to post, try that and then have the damned thing disappear into the aether.
Tuesday, May 24, 2011
Now, as a visual non sequitur, a random picture of a cat.
Monday, May 23, 2011
I already had a copy of the Wizards book,which was kind of lackluster in my opinion, and I had previously read the Dwarves book, which I thought was the best of the race handbooks; the real trophy here for me was the Ninja book, which I had only seen once before and never had a chance to read. The Complete Ninja Handbook represents TSR's only real attempt to support Oriental Adventures in 2nd edition AD&D other than the updated monsters of the Kara-Tur Monstrous Compendium add on. Given my great love for 1st edition Oriental Adventures, but my dislike for it's seriously broken Ninja class I am kind of looking forward to checking this out.
On the B/X WW2 front I have made contact with another group of potential playtesters, centered around my old gaming buddy Lance W. who is almost always up for some WW2 action. His dad served in a US Army Airborne unit in the Pacific during the war and was a Flamethrower guy, they always had a bunch of cool stuff around the house when I was a kid that he had brought back from the war, including a longbow from New Guinea that Lance and I broke trying to use. Apparently that stuff gets all brittle when it's been hanging on a wall for decades as a decoration. I kind of wish we had paid more attention to his stories about the war when we were kids since now he isn't around to ask about the details. Same thing with my mom's older brothers and my father's father, all of them had 1st hand experience of the war, they were kind of thrilled that someone was interested in hearing about it, but I was too young to know the right questions to ask.
Along with that serious downer, I have apparently caught a cold and I hate summer colds the worst; so that's probably soured my mood somewhat, tired and all from cold meds.
Sunday, May 22, 2011
I am not going to lie, I kind of miss the April posting blitz; it gave me something to make sure I had to do with my blog everyday. Sure, a lot of the ideas were half formed or incompletely explored, and it seemed like I never had enough time to get everything done that I wanted to talk about; trust me, there's a list of unused topics left over from the A-Z Challenge. Now I am back to not posting every day though and it feels like a bit of a let down. I think I may start going back through my list of topics I didn't have time for or just didn't get around to for whatever reason, it'll give me a bit of a change of pace from tinkering with rules I haven't tested yet at least.
Now a wee preview-
Optional rule for elite troops character generation:
Roll all Stats with 2d6+6
This rule is optional and goes into effect if the gamemaster wants to run an elite forces campaign. Elite forces might be Airborne troops or Rangers or Commando units.
Saturday, May 21, 2011
Hectic day yesterday. I advise against both entering your forties and having three teen-agers at once. Rain here during what is NOT supposed to be our monsoon season is still preventing me from getting some rather crucial outdoor work done. US Army keeping me from playtesting B/X WW II this weekend.
Anyway, Ashli's Marine Corps Junior ROTC Awards ceremony was last night and she was covered in glory. First there was a meet and greet pizza party dinner before the ceremony where first they handed out T-shirts to the members of their drill team, kind of like tour T-shirts for bands. On the front it has the Marine Corps devil dog logo and the name of their team and says " 5th place overall nationals champions 2011"; on the back it says 5 overall championships, 69 events, 52 trophies, 29 1st place, 10 2nd place, 6 3rd place, 1 4th place; which is pretty cool. Then when I was grabbing a slice of pizza Ashli's CO came over and shook my hand and told me that "Ashli is the best cadet we have in the program, I wish I could take credit for this, but she came to us this way."; I was a pretty proud dad right then.
Then we made our way up to the auditorium for the awards ceremony proper, which was quite lengthy, but there weren't any extraneous BS awards given out in my opinion, with the possible exception of the good conduct award which was given to every cadet in the program that had managed to avoid getting into any trouble over the course of the school year; that may just be sour grapes on my part though because I know there is no way I could ever have gotten it back in my day. There were a number of military and civic organizations there giving awards to cadets for various reasons. Ashli was presented with the Women Marines Association's Outstanding Cadet Award, The American Legion's Scholastic Medal and the following awards from the MCJROTC- Outstanding Cadet, Community Service, Distinguished Scholastic Achievement, Distinguished Conduct, Longevity/Fidelty, Drill Team and Best Drill Squad.
I try not to boast too much about my children, but I figure Ashli has it coming today. Some of those awards were no real surprise to me, she is also a member of National Honor Society and French Honor Society and has been volunteering at local food pantries since she was 14 years old. We only just moved to this school district just before the beginning of the school year though and all of the ROTC stuff was new to her, she really only joined because she had already joined the Army Reserve and wanted the benefit of some military experience before she heads off to basic training after she graduates; but she threw herself into the program with a will and it shows. She went from being a girl that had to lose a few pounds to get into the Army to being a girl that can easily pass basic training. She knows how to march, how to wear a uniform, how to shoot, and can ace a PT test (which she is doing today at her reserve unit).
Her reserve unit usually takes their pre-basics and makes them do busy work on drill weekends; Ashli has real responsibilities there now, which includes watching the other pre-basics and teaching them how not to act and keeping them in line.
Best part about last night though, I got a firm commitment from my son John and my other daughter Ember that they will both be joining the JROTC program. John is an honor student and a football player and on the weightlifting team, but I think the discipline of the JROTC program will be good for him. Em is an Honor student and does track. She runs the 200 meter and the 100 meter and throws the shot put. She used to run the 800 meter too.
Anyway, since the real Army took Ashli away again this weekend and I can't scrape up any other playtesters for B/X WW II around here; I will leave you with a mermaid my lovely wife Mona drew this afternoon that I scanned as I was writing this.
Friday, May 20, 2011
Thursday, May 19, 2011
I got these spiffy new 28mm minis from EBay, so I don't have to use the super tiny Axis & Allies Minis anymore. Sure, all of this buying miniatures on EBay is making my wife crazy, but I assume it'll all be worth it in the end.
The thing that drives me crazy about the tinkering with rules is only getting to playtest once per week or less depending on everyone else's schedules. I have taken a few things from the comments to heart and will NOT be messing with the time scale, leaving it more "elastic" with "dead" time included; frankly I didn't really want to change it anyway, I want to keep more compatible with B/X, not move away from it.
The other issue I am having is that the classes aren't mapping over exactly as well as I'd hoped. Right now it seems like everyone is either a Fighter or a Thief more or less, even the Medic at this point has more of the Thief about him than the classic Cleric because of the Thief skill based healing ability. The Sniper I had originally envisioned as more of a "Zap, you're dead" Magic-User stand in, but he is really more like an AD&D Assassin as it plays out. The Scout is really like a Thief, practically a straight port over, he's the sneaky commando type that takes out the guard by sneaking up and cutting his throat, and then cuts the barbed wire so the rest of the guys can sneak in too.
Wednesday, May 18, 2011
I was kind of disappointed here because there were more in the set and I only got the one; sniped at the end for the other two. Really who leaves the middle adventure module?
This one is the "Second book of the Shadowlands", but at least the first one wasn't there being auctioned at the same time and snapped up out from under me.
Tuesday, May 17, 2011
Pictured- Somebody's Lego WW2 Medic I found while Google searching for WW2 images, cool eh?
I am thinking that perhaps my initial rough playtest was too "finished" a presentation for the players present and that the players were out of sync, a little or a lot, with my design goals for this project. When I had them make characters it was to test the character generation process and get accustomed to the new names for the stats and classes. Certain classes don't really translated directly from B/X D&D simply because there is no magic and, much as I hate skill systems, the Thief skill system became the template I used for certain class based skills, such as the Medic's Wound Treatment and First Aid skills. I wanted them to be vaguely defined so we wouldn't get bogged down in the minutia of trying to make a D&D based game realistic, which is always a death knell.
I also wanted them to be able to jump right into play, so I guess I didn't clearly define the style of "heroic-comic book-action film" style I was going for here, and it showed in the way the various players took to their roles. Mona, as squad leader, treated the game like a D&D dungeon crawl and tried to avoid combat at all costs to accomplish the mission while expending few resources. Ashli, having just watched the entire run of HBO's The Pacific was looking at a much grittier and more violent and somewhat more morally ambiguous way of playing her character, apparently having decided that her character Pvt. Pyle would be the weird southerner that looted the corpses of the enemy dead and, at one point, had to be told not to attempt to extract the gold fillings from the teeth of the dead German soldiers. John wanted a much more hyper-realistic game with hit locations and degradation of effectiveness over time due to fatigue and injury. Lee Ann was mostly just along for the ride, but as a nurse in real life, was kind of annoyed at the vagueness of her character's Medic skills, but had no problem being a Medic that carried a weapon to fight the Nazis; which I had made an optional rule just because I figured, probably correctly, that nobody would really want to be the Medic if they really had to JUST be the Medic and heal people.
So, I have tinkered with some rules after the initial playtest. I have had some time to mull things over because we got a forced week off from gaming due to Ashli's Army Reserve commitment and a friend's college graduation. It was suggested that Snipers should maybe roll 2 dice and take the better of the 2 for aimed shots, I am still thinking on that one, but inclined to go with it. What I discussed with Mona earlier today though was that maybe when Snipers have surprise on their side, like they have not been detected by the enemy at all and there is no combat taking place, that they should get to negate all cover bonuses there target has for their first shot. My thinking on this is that if you aren't trying to duck behind cover or hide, but are caught completely unawares, it is pretty easy to get a shot in, even if you are standing in a guard tower or behind some sandbags or are in a foxhole; the next guy is going to dive for cover and be harder to hit, but the surprise round is deadly for a Sniper's enemies.
The other thing I was thinking was that I needed to have them fight an enemy patrol, just infantry on infantry, to test the system. I tested the automatic weapons fire system and it proved as deadly as I suspect it should, when the squad tried to take out the machine gun nest. The only downside to this was that the squad missed with their surprise round and then lost on initiative. Pvt. Pyle took them out with a Bazooka round, but I suspect grenades and small arms fire would have done the trick too. I need more combats though to make sure things work right. I am still not sure how long I want a combat round to be; a one minute combat round was excessively long for D&D, it's ludicrously long for a game featuring modern weapons on a tactical man to man level. I am thinking six seconds, which will rescale movement and rates of fire a little.
I am going to remain tight-lipped about vehicles and armor for now, because I keep tinkering and changing and I have a couple of completely different competing ideas I want to try to see which works better; either way it revamps the way anti-tank weapons work, so there is at least a chance of surviving a nearby hit from a bazooka blast.
Monday, May 16, 2011
Which isn't to say I didn't like the movie, because I did. I was mainly interested in this because I let it slip away once even cheaper than I got it this time and because I had read somewhere that it was designed for one-on-one play. One player, One GM. I am curious about this because in the old days I played a lot of D&D this way and we had to compensate with lots of NPCs; I want to see how they do this as the core concept of their game. I have, much more often than I would like, found myself with too few players to run a D&D game; or any other RPG for that matter and usually we just settle for playing a card game of some sort. I will probably post some sort of review when I find time to get around to reading through this book.
Saturday, May 14, 2011
Pictured- A restored WW2 era Willys Jeep I found in a Google image search.
I had to take Ashli to her recruiting station this morning for a PT test to make sure she was ready to ship out for Basic after she graduates (She's fine); then attend a party for a friend that graduated from SUNY Oswego today. Totally killed today's planned 2nd playtest for B/X WW II. Too bad too, because now I know I'll just tinker with the damned vehicle/armor/driving rules without having properly tested them first; and I am still not satisfied with automatic weapons fire.
Friday, May 13, 2011
I don't know if these are any good, and I am usually pretty leery of game fiction, but the price was right and I figured it might help me understand the setting of the game I am being more and more sucked into better. These are the only things that actually arrived in the mail today, it's just been a busy week and I didn't get around to the round up before today.
This was pretty inexpensive too, and I never owned it before; plus I love Darth Vader.
These guys are "Bayushi Shoju", "Yogo Junzo" and "Shugenja (4)", since you cant really read them or see them very well. They were reasonably priced. Now I just need to start painting this mountain of lead and find some opponents.
And a happy Friday the 13th to everyone.
Wednesday, May 11, 2011
Monday, May 9, 2011
I had a minor outpatient surgical procedure today and have a different doctor related thing taking most of my day up tomorrow. The day after that is my wife Mona's birthday. I may not be around too much for updates this week. I will try to keep checking in from time to time though, because the comments are actually pretty helpful.
For game related stuff: I am thinking of re-statting all of the weapons and movement in either yards or meters. Feet made sense in D&D, but the ranges on these weapons make more sense in yards. The only thing I don't like that way is blast radii, they just look better to me in feet.
Sunday, May 8, 2011
I was tweaking rules right up until character generation time, so I am not surprised we hit a couple of snags there. When Lee Ann got here we got started, but her and Ashli took off on a snack run, which was actually helpful because it let me concentrate on just Mona and John's character generation to begin with. Right off the bat it became obvious to me that my "chance of officer" rule was too lenient and needed to be scrapped entirely when both Mona and John made 2nd Lt. So I ditched the officer rule and went more squad level, which was what I was aiming for anyway; I just added the officer rule because I thought it would be cool. I was wrong. It was annoying. Oddly enough, my rule for starting at a rank above private probably needs to be tweaked to be more lenient, because with 4 players we got 2 privates and 2 PFCs. My plan was to have rank (and medals) be rewards for leveling; I think now that I may just have to have the group vote for one of their own to be the "party leader" or "Sarge".
Character generation also made me break down my "Fighter" class the GI into two separate classes, tentatively called "Rifleman" and "Heavy Weapons"; and I think Heavy Weapons is going to be forced to specialize in a specific heavy weapon- the fighting later on showed us that.
In the end we wound up with most of the classes represented. Lee Ann played a Medic named Candyman, Mona was a Sniper named PFC "Nevada" Jones, Ashli was a Heavy Weapons soldier by the name of Pvt. Pyle, and John played a Rifleman named Pvt. Reed who we nick-named "Professor" because of his super high education stat; he was also the only on randomly determined to have volunteered rather than been drafted. Since PFC Jones, as a Sniper, was in a combat arm and the only other PFC was a Medic the group determined that Mona should be the squad leader.
Equipping the Characters was pretty easy, they each got a weapon issued to them appropriate to their class, if there was more than one I let them choose. I was pretty lenient with sidearms too. I let Medics carry weapons if they want too, ours chose to. I gave everyone 1d4 pineapple grenades too. I put off assigning stats to the weapons until the last possible second, trying to balance rates of fire, damage, recoil penalties and how realistic I wanted to go with magazine capacity and number of rounds carried. John in particular kept begging for more realism. So they got, at the last possible second, statted out with real magazine capacity and rates of fire for a six second round*.
Now, what I didn't count on for this early alpha test, since I didn't have any vehicle rules at all yet, was that they would beg me for a bazooka. Worse, was I said OK; I figured what the hell, I'd just statted out all those other weapons, what's one more? So I gave our BAR Heavy Weapons Soldier a Bazooka and 3 rounds for it just to see how that would turn out.
Then we started. I couldn't decide on a setting or scenario right up until the last second, I had a few running through my head, so I went with mid-June 1944 Normandy, on a prisoner snatch mission. They were given intel about a farm house being used as a CP by the Germans and wanted to snatch an officer, so over land and through some hedgerows they went. They avoided an enemy 1/2 track; which I threw in just so they'd have a chance to use the bazooka, but they figured would be too loud and would alert the enemy to their presence so they just hid from it instead. Their next encounter was with a machine gun nest set up guarding a field they were going to have to cross to get to the enemy farm house. They spotted the Germans first, so I figured it really wouldn't be much of a fight. I was wrong. Sniper set up and Rifleman set up to fire after the sniper. They both missed. This made me think that maybe I should have pregened the characters myself instead of having them do it, or made there be prerequisites for entering each class. Turns out the Sniper's Coordination (Dex) wasn't that great. Neither was the Rifleman's. The Nazi's opened fire with their light machine gun (MG-42) and tore through both the Sniper and the Rifleman; teaching me a lesson of modern warfare and D&D- more shots is better. It also taught me that if I want to have a comic book feel to this game I may need to greatly increase the number of hit points for characters. I failed to remember to have them make saving throws here, but it still wouldn't have mattered, even half damage would have put them into wounds, unconscious and out of hit points.
Now is where my weapons defining hubris and the poorly defined Medic skills come into play. First, our BAR gunner Pyle doesn't even consider trying to duel BAR vs. MG-42, he drops that and loads up the Bazooka he's been lugging around too, then blasts the Nazi machine gun nest to hell. Well played. Now I have to redefine the way bazookas and other anti-tank weapons work. I am thinking that they will have a separate attack value vs. armored targets and a separate damage type. I probably would have thought of this if I had considered any vehicle rules yet, but what ever; you live and you learn.
Now the Medic I had been using the 2d6 Thief skills B/X variant for Medic skills, essentially a "heal" check after each wound. My thinking on this is that this is not supposed to be a realistic game, this is the cleric replacement but there are no spells, as you level you will get better at treating wounds and we need some way to keep PCs alive and moving. Now I realize that I need to more clearly define what constitutes a distinct wound, "Professor" Reed took 3 rounds from the machine gun, is that 1 wound or 3? Does the Medic get 1 check or 3? My thought was that a Medic would get 1 check per combat encounter, but that may not be sustainable.
Next, the Hit Points themselves, which I need to rename simply because they specifically do not only represent physical damage** to a character in this game; I need more of them and I need more ways to quickly restore them. I am thinking that the Medic can have this ability to automatically "fix you up" if you have lost any HP in an encounter after the encounter is over. I am also thinking of giving "Sarge" a leadership check to try and inspire. We'll see. In the most strongly anti-munchkin moment I have ever seen in a game, John actually thought that wounds should be worse for his character and have a more deleterious effect on his ability to perform in the field. I told him there are realism options coming for the future, let's just playtest the basic system for now, eh?
Next the squad made it to the farm house with out further incident and then chose to go with a smart plan rather than something I would have expected. They hid in the pear orchard behind the farmhouse and avoided the guards while they waited for an officer to come and use the out house. Then they rushed over and took him prisoner pretty much without incident. Since it was late we broke there, but their plan at that point was to toss grenades into the barn where most of a squad of German infantry were, by this time, sleeping; then steal one of the kubelwagens parked out front and drive back to allied lines with their prisoner.
*Which I surprised myself by being shockingly accurate with just off the top of my head, all those years of tactical level WW2 gaming were not, apparently, wasted.
**In fact I would say that HP represent only the most minor physical damage here, more like bruising, knock-out damage and fatigue than permanent harm.
Saturday, May 7, 2011
Friday, May 6, 2011
This guy was labeled Grenadier Ranger, I'll take their word for it, but I don't recognize him.
This guy was called Mideast "Lay" Leader- I don't see anything that screams middle eastern about him though.
He was called "Lame Beggar", I can see that.
Human with Horn was an accurate if none too inspired description of this Celtic guy.
Helmed Adventurer with pack didn't really do this guy much justice either.
Fighter with Battleaxe.
Fighter with 2Handaxe.
Armored Noble Knight may have oversold this guy. Armored cranky old SOB by the look on his face would maybe have been more apt a description.
Thursday, May 5, 2011
Wednesday, May 4, 2011
2nd edition Twilight: 2000 was not my favorite iteration of the game, I vastly preferred the 1st edition despite it's flaws. 2nd edition fixed some things and introduced new flaws while subtly changing the flavor of the game in a bad way too, in my opinion, and I won't even get going on the 2.2 update! Anyway, this is the single supplement I always intended to pick up for the 2nd edition of the game and never got around to, it just kind of fell off the radar too quick- so when I saw it for $3.00 on EBay I figured I had to take a shot. Apparently I was the only one who felt that way, so huzzah for me!
These two GURPS historical books represent probably the last GURPS books I will ever buy, I now have, I think, every GURPS setting book that I could possibly be interested in using as a resource for other games. I have said it before and I will probably say it again, GURPS isn't my kind of game, but they make some great setting books.
I have 3 ideas running simultaneously through my head here-
First is that there are a couple different modes of running a WW2 RPG that are not necessarily mutually exclusive of each other. The supernatural elements can be kept completely absent for a "natural" war RPG. The supernatural elements can be kept to a discrete minimum, for example the occasional "unquiet dead" or "Nazi occult activity"; this also works for occasional science fiction elements where Nazi scientists are experimenting with Tesla technology or some other weird science to create super weapons; since they actually did this it is barely in the realm of science fiction, just here you can have it actually work- sometimes! Lastly, you can have an all out magic works and supernatural creatures are everywhere kind of a game, in this case you can have Magic-User and Cleric PCs and are pretty much just playing a WW II themed game of D&D*; I haven't played it and I don't own it, but as I understand it, this game has pretty much been done as a D20 game called Weird War II**, so I am not going to go that route here, although it is clearly possibly to do so with what I am working on.
Next is that there are a couple of ways to handle the mortality level here. Modern weapons are meat grinders for PCs. I have already stated my preference for running the whole thing as though it's a comic book or TV series version of WW II, I think this is the only way it's really going to be fun for people to play as "realistic" or even slightly supernatural game; any game without clerical healing magic, healing potions or resurrection/raise dead spells is going to end with a lot of dead PCs if you play it straight, rules as written, D&D with modern weapons; even if you bump starting levels of PCs up to say, 5 (which I am opposed to on general principal), a single burst from a submachine gun is going to cut that guy down most likely. I have a plan to accommodate both modes of play here anyway, just because I hate to toss an idea out when I get it, so for realism we can look forward to wounds that diminish capacity and more maiming, mortal wounds and instant kills as critical style hits.
So we have 2 axises of realism here: the Natural-Supernatural and the Heroic-Realistic. My default game plan is to set things up for Heroic-Natural/Slightly or Occasionally Supernatural play; but I can see how it might be fun to play the Realistic/Supernatural, kind of like the Call of Duty Nazi Zombie scenario. My son loves that scenario more than the regular game.
Next along the list is the renaming of stats. They need to map directly back to D&D, but have different names that feel more like they belong in a WW2 game. I am pretty sure that intelligence in D&D has usually been strictly a measure of IQ, here I am going to make it more a measure of educational level, you know, "book-learning". That contrasts it pretty well with Wisdom which has always been a pretty murkily defined stat in D&D anyway, encompassing everything from willpower to faith to perception and "common sense"; here I think we can ditch faith (except for supernatural games) and add "street-smarts" to the mix. Anyone got a name that covers all that? Strength can probably stay as it is, but I am thinking Constitution can change to something less Teddy Roosevelt sounding and maybe just get called Health? Or will that be too confusing with Hit Points? Dexterity is another catch-all stat that I kind of hate the name of, it implies simple manual dexterity, but what it really encompasses is that plus speed, agility, and, apparently, good eyesight because it gives bonuses to hit with ranged weapons. Charisma I am probably just going to rename Leadership.
At this point I should note that I haven't bothered to dig out the Sturmgeshutz & Sorcery article because I was informed that I would need a copy of Tractics to make proper use of it via comments, and I don't own a copy; and I don't really think I'll need it at this point. The memory of it alone was a good jumping off point for me.
I also note here that I was thwarted in my desire to alpha test some stuff last night because I have raised my kids to be too responsible. I encourage them to be involved in after school activities like sports and then when they get home late they just want to eat and do their homework. Actual play testing may have to wait for the weekend at this point. I am chomping at the bit though.
*In which case I suggest limiting Magic-Users to pistols as sidearms. Clerics are iffy, maybe they should be restricted to only being allowed to fight supernatural creatures, but use any weapon when doing it?
**This is not a slight to the makers of Weird War 2, I think it sounds like a cool game. D20 games aren't my thing really, but I'd consider giving this one a shot; it's gaming with my wife and kids that keeps me from diving into truly esoteric stuff like this.
Tuesday, May 3, 2011
I used to do this all the time when I was a teenager. We'd decide some setting or genre was a passing fancy, I'd whip up some quick rules, pretty much on the fly, and away we'd go! Funny thing is, now that I am older and I am trying to write this up for people who won't be sitting at the table with me for me to make a quick judgment call, it's a wee bit harder.
Anyway, I am planning on doing some alpha testing with my family tonight after supper and we'll see at least some of what needs tweaking.
So far saving throws vs lots of things and cover based AC bonuses are looking good. Mission objective based experience points and combat based experience points are looking like how the XP system is going to work.
I have a few ideas that I am going to include as optional, because they draw us away from an even compatibility with B/X or LL, but present them straight out of the gate anyway, just because they enhance the feel I am going for; for instance my HP vs CON as wounds plan, I think straight out lethality in a comic/TV serial version of WW2 should be for NPCs and Bad Guys.
I am also not sure how I can go about making it a rule, but I think it would be great if everyone played as a super clichéd member of the team, the southerner(From Georgia or Alabama, with a grandpa that fought with General Lee), the guy from New York City (usually Brooklyn or the Bronx, bonus points for Hell's Kitchen), the Texan (always a west Texas cowboy type), the scrappy Irish kid (usually from Boston), the European immigrant (his family came in the last generation, maybe from one of the antagonist countries causing tension in the squad), the mid-westerner (Tragically, this is always the nice blond kid that dies horribly to show what bastards the Nazis/Japs really are). Sometimes for diversity we throw in a Jew, a Mexican or an Indian, the rest of the country really is under represented.
Obviously for right now I am concentrating on Americans in Europe/North Africa, but this can easily be extrapolated for the Pacific theater or other nationalities too. I think a French resistance campaign could be a lot of fun too and the British invented Commando style warfare, so that could be cool too.
Fantasy/Supernatural are being considered as a default option, because every war has those kinds of ghost stories and Nazi Zombies are starting to crop up everywhere. Plus we all know from the Indiana Jones movies about the 3rd Reich's obsession with occult artifacts.
Monday, May 2, 2011
Secondly, my eldest daughter has returned from her JROTC Drill team nationals and her team won 5th in the nation! Congratulations Mexico High School Marine Corps Junior ROTC!
Thirdly, I got these in the mail today-
I never owned this, but I remember it fondly as being kind of more helpful for DMs than for players. I never saw it with the smooth cover like this though, must be a later printing. Anyway, it was .99 cents.
This set was incomplete, but it was really super cheap, even with shipping.
Anyway, I am still rereading through the Moldvay basic book and mulling over my conversion ideas for the B/X WW2 game, which is going to need a name at some point too I guess.
*Like 5 hours from Manhattan, up in cow country. I am closer to Canada than I am to NYC, people who live in other states are closer to NYC than I am; New Jersey is right across the river for instance. Everyone that isn't from NY state always assumes that the entire state is New York City, it gets annoying; I mean look at a map NY state is huge.
Sunday, May 1, 2011
First off, I want to thank everyone that has recommended sources for me to check out. I have decided not to use them because I don't want to be too derivative of anyone else's work. Retro-cloning is a little ambiguously close to this anyway, but I figure with the glut of D20 stuff that hit after the OGL I can be given a little leeway on this, I just want to make a cool game where everyone gets to play without having to learn a whole new rule system. I have made my own entirely different games in the past, so I am pretty secure there*.
I have decided to work on this using a number of sources limited to-
B/X D&D as my primary engine. When I get stumped I will turn to it's closest relatives for answers, in this order; Holmes Basic, OD&D, then AD&D- but only the PH or DMG.
EGG's article "Sturmgeshutz and Sorcery" for his take on modern WW2 weapons in D&D (when I dig it out, it has literally been decades since I read that.).
Sgt. Rock Comic books and possibly adding in Sgt. Fury, Unknown Soldier and Haunted Tank Comic books. Mostly from memory, because I don't actually still have any of these.
Old Episodes of Combat and Rat Patrol, both of which ran before I was born and I have only seen occasionally and sporadically in syndication.
I have a couple of other ideas too, since I had time while I was over helping my dad switch out the snow thrower attachment for the lawn mower on his tractor; but I am still mulling them over. I am kind of excited about this project though!
*No, none of my stuff was ever published. My game designing days were mostly pre-college, and pre-internet; I never submitted anything anywhere for publication. The only evidence of my design days that I have left are some variant rules stuff I wrote for Axis & Allies that survived by virtue of being stored in the box with my Axis & Allies game AND having been written fairly late in my game design "career".
B/X WW II anyone?
So I started looking at making a B/X version of Star Wars because, well, it's Star Wars which just rules all on it's own; and then I had a hankering this morning for some tactical WW II action and I got to thinking, after a while, why not a B/X WW II game too? Honestly, Star Wars and WW II have a lot of the same design issues that need to be addressed; although, unless you are going for a Weird War 2- Nazi Zombies and Werewolves kind of a thing, magic and Jedi are off the table. I was thinking either a Sgt. Rock kind of a deal or, maybe, a resistance thing; commando raids and sneaking around Nazi occupied areas, behind the lines kind of stuff; although patrols could be pretty cool too I guess. I am planning on giving myself bonus points though if I am still fully compatible with D&D, Sturmgeshutz & Sorcery style.
My first actual rules thought is to change the way Hit Points work to something like this-
You roll for your HP like normal, but 0 HP=Knockout.
Hit Points regenerate on their own at like 1/hour maybe with modifiers.
Negative HP start subtracting from your Constitution score as actual wounds.
Medics can "heal" hit point damage with first aid as a class skill, I am thinking once per encounter, it keeps a more "heroic" pace.
Medics can "heal" wounds, I haven't decided how well yet.
I also haven't decided yet if Medic is a Class or a skill available for players to choose, I am leaning heavily towards Class though. Mostly because I hate and want to avoid skill systems.
Obviously, I want to keep this abstract and comic book style heroic, so blast damage is likely to knock heroes out and bullets are likely to graze them or hit their helmets or whatever. NPCs and Nazis probably will just get regular style HP though, why make it harder on the DM?
OK, so here's some Nazi Zombies too.