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Wednesday, May 4, 2011

B/X WW II Update May 4th 2011

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.