Nov 272010
 

So unfortunately official Warzone figures can be hard to find.

Prince August in Scotland still has some in stock but they are getting fewer and far between. So it is time to start looking for substitutes out there:

Luckily human scifi figures are easy to find in 28mm. It’s just a question of finding figures that match well.

When looking for a proxy figure, I’d worry less about looking exactly like the figure in question, and more if it has the right “feel” to it. What’s important is that it looks like a Bauhaus Blitzer to YOU.

So let’s look at this by army:

Capitol:

Capitol are likely the easiest as they are basically just soldiers. The cheapest option is the Cadian Shock Troops from Games Workshop. Very reasonably priced plastic kit, easy to pose in a variety of ways, and if you pick up some spare weapons from somewhere, you can create a good variety of figures.

http://www.craftyspot.co.uk/images/cadian%20shock%20troops.jpg

For some of the more specialized troops, you’ll want to look around. Free Marines could be done cheap with Catachan Jungle Fighters, especially if you could find the older metal figures

http://4.bp.blogspot.com/_wRZ1N9p2Fyg/TIJDd3-QbxI/AAAAAAAAAMI/En-Ay33eTJw/s1600/Oldschool+models.jpg

There’s also an excellent Vietnam war range from TAG that can do well for a lot of Capitolian grunt types, like Sea Lions.

http://www.theassaultgroup.co.uk/store/home.php?cat=21

The same manufacturer also does modern day american infantry, which would be a great fit for Desert Scorpions.

Heavy infantry might be represented well by the Pig Iron System Troopers

http://www.pig-iron-productions.com/system-troopers-c-11.html?zenid=2efd78cc5b7d18611cd29dadf305e2f1

Overall, as a Capitol player, you are well served by the market, as there’s a wealth of stuff out there. For units like Martian Banshees you may have to get a little creative, the same going for the vehicles, but the results will be a unique and interesting army, at a pretty low investment.

Nov 242009
 

It’s almost the end of the year, and I’d like to talk a little about the past, present and future of FAD.

These rules have been around for 7 years now. They began as hastily written comments on a notepad, after playing and having my mind blown by Stargrunt II.

The things I knew I wanted, when I started the project was this:

Suppression should be automatic.

Only 6 sided dice.

Combat should be squad based.

The core mechanics would be roll 2 dice and pick the highest or roll 2-3 dice and see how many score over a certain target number.

With that in mind, the original game came into existence. My friend Paul liked it and gave some feedback, and I proceeded to talk it up a little on theminiaturespage.com and the old GW fan site Portent.net. As time went on, I realized that I had struck something that people actually took an interest in. I saw threads where people asked for advice on a rules set, and people I didn’t even know would suggest FAD. I googled it occasionally and found it mentioned on forums and websites I had never even frequented.

As time went on, I even learnt that people had run games using FAD at a few conventions across the world. That blew my mind.

Yeah, it’s nowhere near the popularity of games like 5150, Stargrunt II, Warhammer 40.000 or any of those. The twohourwargames yahoo group has 3600 members and multiple posts every day. The FAD group is fairly quiet and has just shy of 500 members. But it’s something I had never anticipated or experienced before.

Now it’s November of 2009, and FAD4 has been out for a good while now. So what is lying ahead of us all?

First and foremost are a few projects that have been in various states of development for the past year. We have a lot of little additions to the core rules (night fighting, more traits, some clarifications of points that could be clearer, that sort of thing) which will eventually become FAD 4.3. I don’t think there’s any chance of having this done by December so expect something in the first half of 2010.

We have been working on a campaign setting as well (Cyberia) which will give a “out of the box” option to people who don’t want to fiddle with designing their own units from scratch. There’s also work on a WW2 and possibly modern day options. These are propably more distant projects though.

One thing that have been churning in my head lately is the idea of having money go into, and come out of, FAD. I am not talking about making the game commercial only (I watched my old ww1 rules Trench Storm whither and die from that decision) or making a living off it. Let me explain:

There’s a lot of things I think could be achieved with a bit of cash. A few include:

Commissioning artwork, writing etc: This is by far the biggest one. We’ve been extremely lucky in having some very talented volunteers provide us some great art to use. However, volunteers are subject to the randomness of life, and are motivated mainly by interest and passion.

Being able to have some artwork commissioned for FAD products would give us another, additional source of material. It could also go to additionally reward and motivate people who have volunteered their efforts.

It would also permit some additional incentive to prospective rules writers who may otherwise be disinclined to spend hours developing a rules supplement.

Advertising: I would like to do a bit more work advertising (and thus paying money into supporting) popular tabletop gaming sites like theminiaturespage.com and rpg.net. Having some cash flow would allow for that, as well as give FAD some additional exposure.

Miniatures: This is faraway and expensive idea, but having a range of miniatures developed for FAD would be pretty cool.

Conventions: I’d love to have something setup where we could showcase FAD at conventions, and possibly provide some stuff for that, such as freebie print copies of the rules or whatever might be the case.

Cooperation with a miniatures supplier: This talk has come up before, and at least one supplier showed interest, however the arrival of my son into this world made me unable to follow through on this. I am however very interested in having some cooperation with manufacturers of scifi figures, particularly some of the small-scale operations. This would enable us to provide FAD stats and points values ready to use, and give them more exposure and advertisement, while giving FAD more exposure as well.

There’s other incidental expenses that could occur as well, such as server space if we move to our own server, website maintenance and whatnot.

So where does money for these ideas come from? Well, it can come from my pocket. I generally can’t really afford that, and I’d love for FAD to sustain itself.

I am also not keen on the idea of selling PDF’s. Anyone can develop for the game, and that is how it ought to be. So if I sell a supplement on urban warfare, and another guy does it for free and his is better, nobody will buy mine, and for good reason.

The core FAD products should be free and readily available.

Printed copies: An option that will almost certainly be used is to offer the printed version of FAD through a print-on-demand service such as lulu. Last I checked the cost of a book of this size would be about 10 dollars, so it could sell for a few bucks more. Based on polling on the yahoo group and comparing to existing products, most people are willing to pay 12-15 dollars for a game of this size.

This would not change the fact that it’s available for free, and there’d be no “exclusive” version. It’d simply be a service to people who prefer getting a printed, spiral-bound copy, rather than dealing with pdf’s and printing it themselves.

Ransom model: Those who play RPG’s may be familiar with Greg Stolze’s ransom model. You offer up a game or supplement and set a ransom. People pledge whatever money they feel is fair. When the ransom is met, it’s made available for free to everybody. This avoids PDF piracy, and nobody pays more than what they want to. If the ransom isn’t met, the money either never gets deducted, or is donated to charity.

Donations: Asking for money is basically begging, and in addition to being distasteful, people aren’t inclined to give money just for the sake of doing so. In the past when the topic of commissioning artwork came up, a few people showed an interest in donating towards that, so its conceivable that specific expenses could receive some funding through donation.

These are all ideas I have been mulling over, and I am still trying to lay out the best path to really push FAD forward into the spotlight more, and capture more ground.

Lastly, I’d like to put out a call for support and aid. I am at a spot where I have projects that I think FAD needs, but I do not have the luxury to work on all of them myself. I need people who are competent designers and tinkerers, creative writers or just plain thinkers, who may be willing to pitch in for some specific projects.

I’ll put forth more specifics, but the two main projects are: FAD WW2 and help with the Cyberia setting. I have two people lined up for the latter, but I need more, to really make progress in a reasonable time.

It’s been a strange and amazing 7 years, and I’d like to thank all of you out there for everything you’ve done. Here’s to another 7 years of fast and dirty wargaming

Ivan – authordude

Aug 092009
 

So this kicks off the WW2 rules quest.. what will hopefully become a series of blog posts about ww2 wargaming, as I and my friends go through a ton of wargame rules, analyze and talk about this, and test out the same scenarios with each system.

The series will cover both commercial and “freeware” rules.

The first on the list is Landser, which is free from the yahoogroup located at http://games.groups.yahoo.com/group/Landser/

This is a first glance before putting the rules to the test. The rules are short and compact: Only 4 pages in total and only covers infantry combat (which is all I am interested in, generally). No army lists are included, though the downloaded included separate PDF’s covering US, German and Soviet squads. The game is aimed at about a squad on each side.

Turn sequence is a straight (I go, then you go). When its your turn to go, each figure can perform one action, such as moving, hiding, firing etc. Its possible to fire on the move, but at very low accuracy. There’s a fair number of actions, and I like the inclusion of a hide and sneak option, though I’d prefer an alternating activation sequence

There’s not much in the way of command/control. Figures can move off as they see fit, and there doesn’t seem to be any particular benefit to the squad leader.

Combat looks very quick and dirty. You roll to hit, and then roll for effect. Automatic weapons get a template, and there’s rules for the most common weapons types (various machine guns, grenades and rifle grenades). As an interesting touch, most hits will simply force the target to hide, causing a suppression effect.

If you do get wounded, the wound may be light or heavy, and each has a small chart to roll the actual effect. Very nice touch as it gives a good range of possibilities. As it reads, it looks like long range fire will be relatively safe but can easily disrupt a squad, while an MP40 at point blank range is bad news.

Morale is simple. Once 2 men are dead, you test morale with a D10 against the number of men left. If you fail, you break off the fight. Its unclear if you are supposed to test once, every turn, or every turn you take an additional casualty, though the latter makes the most sense. This “break point” increases for more determined or well trained units.

National traits are briefly discussed in the separate PDF’s. Soviet soldiers cannot fire on the move, while Germans and Americans can only assault if a leader does so.

Fielding most infantry types should be relatively easy, though I did not find rules for the Sturmgewehr and no distinction between self-loading or bolt-action rifles.

Overall, Landser is nothing anyone havent seen before. It is however a nice, quick and effective skirmish game, with some fun touches to it. I definately look forward to playing it, and I could see this little freebie becoming a recurring game at my table.

Mar 282009
 

Synopsis

Dungeons & Dragons has long been a game about exploring new places and fighting dangerous monsters. Usually these adventures are set either in an established campaign setting or a home brew world devised by the dungeon master. This variant outlines a method in which both the players and the dungeon master can create a world together, creating a new method for world creation.

Basic Rules

This method of world creation is quite simple; the dungeon master and the characters each take turns naming facts about the world, its geography, its people, its customs, and its legends. Both the dungeon master and the players are encouraged to think creatively and to place locations and legends that they’re interested in exploring and examining. This is a simple process that has only a few basic rules.

  • Everything Exists: Any information found in the core rules supplements exists in the world in some fashion. No participant in this process can state a fact or legend that invalidates a choice found in the rules books. The dungeon master and the players should be able to select any rules option in the books in this campaign setting.
  • The Basic Premise is True: The basic premise of dungeons & dragons is still intact in this world. Tieflings once hailed from Bael Turath, all of the core deities exist in some fashion, and adventurers still explore dark dungeons and buy magical treasures. While individual facts about the common legends might change, the basic premise cannot be altered with stated facts (though legends can offer different options).
  • No Contradictions: Once a participant in the world building process states a fact or legend, nothing can contradict this statement. If a player states that the village of Green Hills exists in the Flowering Valley another player cannot then state that the village doesn’t exist. Once someone states a fact it becomes just that: a fact. You can, however, append additional information to a stated fact. In the above example a player could state that the village of Green Hills is linked to the Feywild and that it only actually appears during the daytime, disappearing at night.
  • Beware the Monkey’s Paw: While this is a cooperative world, the GM does hold ultimate power over the setting, mostly in order to ensure that the game is actually a challenge. If you state that the town well holds powerful magical items the DM can alter this fact to ensure that 1st level characters don’t start off with holy avengers. Be careful what you wish for, as the DM can alter facts if they’re clearly placed only to give an unfair advantage to the players.
  • Be Cooperative: This is a group exercise and as such try not to rain on someone else’s parade. Work with everyone else at the table to make an enjoyable setting. If someone raises a big objection to one of your facts ask them why they object and consider meeting them halfway. While you have ultimate power on your turn you can and should talk to the other players if there’s some question about your fact or legend.

Building the World

Filling in the map is an easy and enjoyable process. Simply gather your group together, grab a piece of paper, and place a dot somewhere near the middle of the paper. This is the starting village where the characters will begin their adventuring career. You can name it now or leave the name as the first stated fact of the world building process. Then elect one player as the scribe (this is usually the GM). The scribe writes down all the stated facts so that there’s a written record of the world.

There are two smaller parts to the entire world building process. The first part is the phase, which is a broad category of the world building process. The phase determines what kinds of facts and legends each player can state during each round. Each round every player can name one fact or legend for that phase. Most phases consist of two to five rounds before the next phase begins.

Each round every player gets a chance to name a fact or legend appropriate to the phase subject. These statements can either be a simple word or phrase that other players can elaborate on or a one or two sentence statement. Players can make two types of statements.

A fact is something that is completely true (so long as it follows the general rules above). Examples of a fact would be the location of some terrain feature, a general truth about a race, or the name of a place or culture.

A legend is like a fact, save that the details of it can change to fit the story or the needs of the world. Legends can also simply be keywords, adventure ideas, or common beliefs of the world. Unlike facts, legends can be changed by the GM in secret to surprise the players. Examples of legends would be a story that a dungeon exists in the Sunlight Plains, that dragons cannot see people who wear their own color or that when a wizard casts a spell his eyes glow.

The Phases

While there are no hard and fast rules for how many phases are used before play begins or for how many rounds each phase contains, the general outline below will produce a vibrant and adequately detailed region suitable for adventuring.

Phase One: World Myths [2-3 Rounds]
World myths are almost universally legends rather than facts. World Myths tend to include legends about how each race was created, vast world spanning legends, and facts that everyone should know. This phase is intended to get everyone thinking about the broad theme of the world.

Phase Two: The Races [2-4 Rounds]
This phase can contain both facts and legends about equally. This phase allows the players to detail the races and how they might deviate from the core books. This phase is most useful for players who want to come from a unique culture or for players who want to ensure that a race is either common or uncommon.

Phase Three: Local Geography [3-5 Rounds]
In this phase the players begin to fill in the blank map with details about the local geography. Everyone takes turns drawing in terrain features such as mountain ranges, rivers, plains, and other such things. Players can either leave the places unnamed or given them a name that might suggest further facts.

Phase Four: The Village [2-4 Rounds]
In this phase the players begin to name facts and legends about the starting village. These can include the absence or presence of services or people, the local religion, the general feeling of the town, and other such things. This phase can be expanded if the players expect to spend a great deal of time there.

Phase Five: Local Threats & Factions [1-3 Rounds]
Once the world has been filled with a few terrain features and a local village, the players now need to place a few threats and monsters in the area. Threats are generally found in the surrounding terrain while factions are generally reserved for the starting village or for neighboring nations. Players can be quite vague here, leaving a lot of wiggle room for the GM to plan adventure around.

Phase Six: Local Legends [1-3 Rounds]
This phase is entirely limited to legends, not facts. Players should start listing common legends about places, people, and races. These are intended to give the DM ideas for story seeds and adventures, so the more evocative and vague you are the better.

Phase Seven: The World Beyond [2-4 Rounds]
During this phase the players all take turns filling out facts and details about the large world. This can be where the roads lead to, neighboring towns or villages, facts about the local nation, or even the presence of another continent. This is intended to provide locations for further adventures once the local area has been explored.

Phase Eight: Final Details [3-8 Rounds]
This final phase is intended for a catch-all where players can name a few last details about the world. No subject for facts or legends is forbidden and this phase is generally used to flesh out existing facts a bit further.

Bringing it All Together

Once all of the phases have been brought together, the DM should compile all of the information into one easy to read format. This is now the beginning of the campaign world. As play begins the DM and the players can further define the facts during play. Should the characters find themselves lost for something to do they can simple start naming more facts that the DM can use to create further adventures.

When the players finally progress beyond their home region you can go through this process once again to create a new region ripe for exploration. Simply start at phase three for the new area, keeping in mind that previous facts cannot be invalidated. In this way you create the world a little bit at a time.

Final Word

This process is far from the final word on cooperative world building, and indeed it is not even that unique. These are simply my suggestions for the process and you should change them to better suit your own group and play style. Above all remember that building the world should be fun for everyone.

Oct 132007
 

I imagine this will end up running as a series of articles on the blog. If its gets to any reasonable point, it can be compiled in a nice PDF.

I think the optimal number of formations is 3-5. More than that, and it gets very sprawling to manage. Less than that, and too much can hinge on each portion. Each formation can contain multiple elements as long as they are fairly coherent.

Military doctrines carry this out. If we look at ww2, a squad leader has typically 9-12 men, grouped (on paper anyways) into 2 or 3 teams. A platoon commander has 3 squads, plus supporting weapons, a company commander has 3 platoons, plus support, and so forth. Now, Glorantha is not WW2 (riflesharp?), but the logic remains, because its tailored to what a person can comfortably command.

A big focus in Glorantha is the personalities and heroes. These are the people that interact with the world and represent their cultures. It follows that a logical army setup is something like:

Great Hero + retinue (1 unit of elite troops)

Hero + followers (2 units, maybe 3)

Hero + followers (2 units, maybe 3)

Auxiliaries (healers, sages, camp followers and assorted hooligans. Possibly “youngbloods”. Young and inexperienced heroes eager to please themselves)

Each hero is directly in command of their associated units, providing them with leadership benefits and direction. Units loosing their hero will either look to the great hero, tag along with anyone that seems to have an idea what is going on, or simply revert to very basic reactions. Fight a nearby enemy, run away or stand around untill either of the other 2 responses occur.

An individual unit will be comprised of 3 to 20 indiduals, each represented by 1 figure. Im imagining most units wont range much over 10, except for very large forces, or low class units (trollkin, rubble runners and various other rabble). Since we’re dealing with loose units and warbands, rather than compact massed formations, troops will generally operate in a dispersed fashion.

Core classifications will be Morale and Readiness. Additional traits will be covered later.

A units Morale can be qualified as either Shaky, Steady, Determined or Reckless.

A units Readiness can be qualified as either Reluctant, Hesitant, Prepared or Eager.

Morale is a units tolerance of hardship, as well as how dedicated they are to their objectives. Readiness quantifies unit training, aggression and will to fight. While many units will be rated equally in both qualities, its entirely possible that ratings could differ. A village militia might rate as Determined in protecting their homes, but are also Hesitant, due to poor training. Elite mercenaries that are retreating from an unsuccessfull battle are great troops, but not willing to die.

Troop dispersion is 1″ between each model for Reluctant troops, 2″ for Hesitant, 3″ for Prepared and 4″ for Eager troops. Units dispersed further than this at the end of the turn must test morale.

Heroes are free to move as they please, but to control a unit, must remain within 6xdispersion distance. Thus, a Prepared unit is considered in command if within 18″, while Reluctant units has to remain within 6″ to be in command.

Oct 082007
 

Usually I tend heavily towards historical or science fiction with wargames. Fantasy warfare mostly doesnt feel very interesting. It either becomes gimmicky, or ends up being a badly written historical set with lightning bolts.

However, a thought has been churning in my head, after seeing lots of cheap 1/72 scale Ancients (celts, romans etc) plastic figures at the local gaming store.

Wargaming in Glorantha
The tentative goals (and I’ll most likely end up writing this one from scratch) are:

  • Plays with a range from 10 to about 50 or 60 figures
  • Command&Control rules for units
  • No requirement to move in fixed formations, though common soldiery should fight in loose units.
  • Combined arms.. the rules should support a variety of activity.. slings, archers, melee troops, pikes, magic and monsters
  • Heroes can make a difference and impact, but are not impervious.
  • Cultural and doctrinal differences affect gameplay.
  • Focus on morale and training.
  • Magic is present and available, but fairly low key (mostly… A sunspear to the forehead can settle things nicely.)

There are some decent fantasy wargames out there, but nothing that seems to fit the ticket. So we’ll see how it comes along.