Tuesday, 27 February 2018

Five Parsecs - How does the combat system work?

I thought I'd discuss the core Five Parsecs mechanics a bit, now that it's become a bit of an institution.

All of the scifi games work on this basic framework, while the upcoming historical title will not use it exactly (but will be fairly similar).

This primer ONLY covers the battle field system.
The campaign mechanics will be covered in another post (and differ more between campaigns in any event)

What is the point of the rules?

The point of Five Parsecs is to be a solo game first and foremost.
To me, that means it needs to be a bit simpler than I might have written it otherwise, since a single player handling both the system and every figure is more work than playing with your friends.

It's not too hard to write a very simple game, but writing one that is still fun to play can be a challenge.
Since Five Parsecs is played as a campaign, we have an advantage: The player will know the characters and the combination of pretend-personalities and the random scenario generation will create a story.

If this story is interesting, then we can have a fairly simple mechanical system because the player is already hooked narratively.

At the same time, we can't just throw out all the options.
If there are no choices to be made, then the player is going to lose interest pretty quickly since every encounter will play out the same.

The turn sequence

With a few tweaks, the basic turn sequence works like this:

At the start of the turn, roll a handful of dice (D6)equal to the number of figures in the players force.
Ignore the bad guys.

The point of these dice is they are compared to the Reaction score of your characters.
If a character is assigned a die that is equal or below their Reactions (typically 1-3 for most characters) they will act BEFORE the bad guys.
If they are not assigned a die, they will act AFTER the bad guys.

So if I have 6 characters with Reactions 1, 1, 1, 2, 2, 3
And my dice roll 1, 2, 4, 4, 5, 6

I can immediately throw away the 4's, 5's and 6's.

The 1 can be given to any character I want to act quickly, while the 2 would have to be given to one of the characters with a 2 or 3 Reaction score.

Taking your actions

I opted to forego a normal "2 actions system".
Instead when a figure goes, they can move and then perform a combat action (either fighting hand to hand or firing a weapon).

Figures going before the enemies go can hang out and perform snap fire at moving enemies if needed, allowing you to set up a bit of a defensive situation.

Combat

Rolling to hit is a simple D6 roll plus your Combat Skill.
The target number is a 3+ if the target is in the open and within 6", 5+ if in the open otherwise and a 6+ if in cover at all.

This means that for starting characters, plinking at enemies behind walls isn't likely to be particularly worthwhile.

Some weapons get multiple shots per turn, but they are not super common.

If a shot hits, you roll to render them a casualty. If you don't, they become Stunned.

There's no "wounded" states though the Compendium introduces rules for such situations.

Hand to hand fighting is an opposed roll with occasional chances of both characters being hit (or a character being hit twice).

Stun

Characters surviving any hit become Stunned.
When a Stunned figure activates they are limited to performing only one action: Either moving OR fighting.

You remove one Stun marker each turn after acting and you can potentially stack up multiple.

Think of Stun as a combination of shock, confusion, physical discomfort and general worry about your personal well-being.

What does the bad guys do?

In Bug Hunt, its a bit easier because the bugs want to eat your face and will move towards you to do just that.

In the other games, enemies are assigned to different AI modes.
These are very simple but essentially give you information on how the enemy is expected to move and act.

They are not complex flow charts, but serve to give opponents some simple guidance on the table.

For example, in Gang Warfare, an Aggressive opponent acts the following way:

Aggressive enemies with opponents in sight will advance at least half a move towards them, attempting to remain in cover if possible.
Enemies that are unable to see any opposition or which are within 12” will advance as fast as possible towards the nearest opponent, attempting to enter into a Brawl.

Heavy weapon figures will not move if they have a line of sight to a target.

Notably, all AI rules are written directly into the relevant chapter of the rules.
So when you are reading the rules for shooting, you will also learn how to handle AI shooting at the same time.

What if I need more detail?

Luckily, I did a Compendium full of extra details, such as being pinned down by fire that doesn't hit, soldiers not responding to orders, panic, wounds and much more :)


You can check out Five Parsecs through the different campaigns (all stand-alone games)

Bug Hunt

http://www.wargamevault.com/product/228512/Five-Parsecs--Gang-Warfare?cPath=23449_29728

http://www.wargamevault.com/product/231076/Five-Parsecs--Salvage-Crew?cPath=23449_29728

http://www.wargamevault.com/product/226810/Five-Parsecs-From-Home?cPath=23449_29728

Trench Hammer bug. And tanks in general.

Was alerted that there's an omission in Trench Hammer.

This will be updated when I get a chance, but when firing field guns at tanks, they follow the same rule as tank mounted guns (do not apply the +3 hit penalty for armored targets).

Perceptive readers will also note that firing at tanks in October Hammer is a bit easier (+2 to hit penalty) compared to the +3 in Trench Hammer.
This is intentional. It accounts for the somewhat modest performance of tanks in the civil war and the fact that limited supply situations meant that more modest damage could be viewed as cause for retreat.

Monday, 26 February 2018

Winter Hammer available



Following up Trench Hammer and October Hammer, the world of easy-to-play war game rules comes to the Soviet-Finnish Winter War.

Requiring only a pair of D6 and 8-12 troop stands each, Winter Hammer includes rules for everything from barrages to KV tanks.

Games are playable in an hour or so, including a quick and easy system for rolling up random forces and conducting a war games campaign.

Time is short and none of us get to do as much gaming as we want to.

We all have wargame projects we never got around to finishing because we needed 200 painted models to play and the book was 348 pages.

Why not jump into Winter Hammer? 6 bucks, 45 pages and 10ish troop stands each and you're ready to play.

Fancy that.
More time spent playing games and less time perusing the "To hit adjustments for left-handed gunnery when vehicle is on a modest incline Subsection B" table ?

http://www.wargamevault.com/product/235256/Winter-Hammer-Easy-Winter-War-gaming

Sunday, 25 February 2018

End of February sale. Four great games. 7.99 each



Until the end of February, you can pick up some great wargaming deals from Nordic Weasel:


Pick up a copy of No End in Sight (our premier cold war platoon skirmish rules), Starport Scum (scifi adventure game), Five Men at Kursk (half platoon WW2 campaign action) or Clash on the Fringe (Rogue Trader style scifi action) for only 7.99 each.


These are not cut down versions, they're the full deal: Five Men at Kursk is over a hundred pages of WW2 chrome and action, just to give an example.


So go ahead. Indulge yourself. Upgrade your gaming a little.

Make sure to use the discount codes listed below or you won't get the discounted price.


http://www.wargamevault.com/browse.php?discount=9fe0907baa


Starport Scum 7.99


http://www.wargamevault.com/browse.php?discount=9fe3e4be0c


No End in Sight 7.99


http://www.wargamevault.com/browse.php?discount=9fe5676b0e


Five men at Kursk 7.99


http://www.wargamevault.com/browse.php?discount=9fe74bbcb4


Clash on the Fringe 7.99

Saturday, 24 February 2018

Random NPC for Five Parsecs

So with our spiffy new Five Parsecs Compendium, let's roll up a random NPC.

This will just be a random fool, roaming the area where a normal mission will take place.

They could be a survivor (or clandestine operative) in a Bug Hunt mission or simply someone our Salvage Crew comes across.

A quick roll of 3D6 gives us 3 - 5 - 4.

That means our friendly NPC is a Professional of some sort (like a doctor or scientist), they are Aggressive (meaning they are not afraid to get in a fight) and are here to Destroy something.

Hm, sounds like someone trying to cover something up.
Maybe even something interesting!

We might put a small crate or something else interesting in the center of the table. This guy is trying to reach it and blow it up and will shoot at anyone from either side getting in the way.

If we can grab it first, maybe there'll be some goodies inside.

Base Profile for a Professional is 4 Speed, 0 Combat Skill and 3 Toughness but being Aggressive raises the CS to +1.

Another D6 roll of a 3 means he's armed with a Carbine.

Finally, I roll 2D6 to see if there's anything odd and get a 9. Oh boy, turns out it's an alien scientist.
Rolling a 12 for an Alien trait, our scientist exudes Noxious Fumes.

That won't have any effect here (it prevents friendly figures from getting near him) but it's a fun characteristic.

* * * * *
So we have a stinky alien scientist out to blow up the remnants of some shady technological experiment, in the middle of a normal Five Parsecs mission.

Sounds like a movie plot to me!

Five Parsecs Compendium available





An ever-expanding universe.

The Compendium adds a massive collection of new rules, options and expansion possibilities to any Five Parsecs campaign.

Whether you play Salvage Crew, Gang Warfare, From Home or Bug Hunt, the Compendium will have something to offer you.

Within these pages you will find:

New Combat options

Options and variants that can be fitted into any campaign with ease:

Suppressing fire, New rules for fighting stunned characters, Pinning, Bugging out, Slowing down critters, item usage, Combat wounds, Going prone, Knock downs, Panic Check, Battle response and Return Fire.

New Character options

Expanded ways to build and upgrade characters:

Hit points, Hero characters, Veteran ranks, Skills, Personality, Agility, Combat-oriented XP costs.

Game play options

New systems to add facets to game play:

Spotting, Cowardice, Personal contacts, Gun craftsmanship, Gun smithing.

Build options

Go all out with

20 Alien traits, 20 Mutant traits, Random weapon generator, Random NPC generator.

* * * * *

No matter the campaign you run, you will find something of use in this Compendium.

Do you want some more tactical options in combat?

Do you need a couple of random NPC's to roam the battlefield?

Maybe a mutant character?

New ways to level up?

It's all in here.

* * * * *

Best of all, the Compendium will be the only one of its kind.

When new options are added by myself or through player submission, they will added to the Compendium as a "living document".

If options receive widespread approval, they will be graduated into the core rules and removed from here.

This means you don't have to keep track of an ever-growing list of rules booklets.

Simply buy the Compendium and you are always on the bleeding edge of game options.

http://www.wargamevault.com/product/235035/Five-Parsecs-Compendium

What games did I play?

Design never happens in a bubble, so I thought it might be illustrative to share a few of the miniatures games that I've played a lot.

Some will probably not be surprises at all.

I am using "A lot" to mean "10 or more games". There's a lot of systems we played 3-5 times and would play again, but they never became standard.

So if there's really obvious omissions on the list (like Chain of Command) that's why :-)

I am also omitting anything I wrote myself. That'd be kind of self-serving wouldn't it?


Science Fiction

Warhammer 40.000 (principally RT, 2nd, 3rd and 8th)

Warzone (1st and 2nd edition)

Battletech (I'll count it as a mini's game)

Necromunda (original)

Inquisitor

5150 (original version)

Laserburn

Beamstrike

Stargrunt 2

Historical

Nuts (original and 2nd edition, mostly the original)

Command Decision (1 and 3)

Crossfire

Red Poppy White Feather

1916/1943

Face of Battle (ww2)

* * * * *

There, that's about it I think.
If we were including games that we played 5 times or more the list would be enormously long, so we won't be doing that.

Any surprises on the list?

What would yours look like? Go ahead and share it below.

Monday, 19 February 2018

Five Parsecs From Home 1.031 available

The only change is that the rule to transfer characters to a Bug Hunt campaign have been added to the very back of the book, in the Infinite Adventure chapter.

Enjoy!

Gang Warfare and Salvage Crew will be updated this week, though if you own From Home you can use the rule presented there as is.

Saturday, 17 February 2018

So more Renegade Scout thoughts.

Thoughts about the project that definitely isn't happening.

See previous blog posts for what this project is about. If it existed.


There's a number of ways to do it, with the awareness that this might be a lot more work intensive than other, similar projects.
This is me musing about it, soliciting unsolicited advice and generally being a prat.

1: 
Do the thing I always do.

Create the book myself, finish it, sell it online, voila.

Advantages:
*I have complete control.
*Nobody is out of any money if I suddenly catch the crazy-people-virus and decide to become an eskimo.
*I am used to the process. There's no question of something external fucking it up.
*I can be an okay-sized fish in a small pond. Less people will notice a release on Wargame Vault but it'll have less competition as well.

Downsides:
*If the project takes longer (which it very well might) that becomes an issue because I need to be able to pay my rent in the meantime.
*Any art comes out of my pockets (which aren't that well-endowed).


2:
Kickstarter. 

Kids tell me it's a magical website where you go tell people you have created a smart-phone adapter that lets you connect your smart device to your corgi dog, then strangers give you 8 million dollars.

Advantages:
*Take advantage of hype. Kickstarter is a big place and nerds will throw money at literally anything.
*Potentially raise a whole bunch of money in advance, which would mean working on the game without wondering if I'll bounce a rent-check.
*Budgeting for art (for example) becomes a lot easier to do.
*Potentially a lot more customers in the end. Huzzah!

Downsides:
*I don't want to do a bunch of stupid shenanigans with stretch-goals and promising people extra chotskies to weasel more money out of them.
* It seems the sort of projects that go on Kickstarter tend to be a lot more glossy: Games with lots of plastic miniatures, 500 page glossy rulebooks and all that.
An "old school' PDF game is going to look pretty jank in comparison, which could hurt the project.
*Running a "campaign" is time that could be spent writing "definitely not Dalek" rules instead.

3:
Open beta test. Full version later.

I've done this before (such as Starport Scum) where we had a public beta version for a pretty playable version, then later we did the full version and sold it "for real".

Advantages:
*Get feedback from a wider range of players than my usual suspects (as loyal and skilled as they might be).
*"Double-release". You get to cash in on the hype from both the beta test AND the full release.
*People tend to understand that they are buying a beta version and that it may or may not pan out. As such, I think you may get more realistic feedback.

Downsides:
*If the beta version is too extensive, you end up cannibalizing sales for your final game since people won't see a point in buying the full version.
*If the beta is too short or bare-bones, people will assume the final game will be crap too.
*Some of the feedback you get will be from crazy people.

4:
Crowdfund later

An interesting possibility is to use a bit of both worlds:

Develop the base game using the old school method (1 above) and then kickstart (or whatever) for added benefits later, such as  a nice artwork edition.

Advantages:
*Provides options for both fans who want a cheaper solution and those who want something visually pleasing and "modern".
*The core project doesn't depend on crowdfunding, only add-on bits.
*Having the existing product "in the wild" would help a kickstarter campaign.

Downsides:
*All the downsides of both 1 and 2 combined, to some extent.
*It'd end up essentially charging the cost of the game twice, which only the most hardcore fans would be on board with.

5:
Release in stages

The game might break up into stages rather well (core game, scenario and D100 tables, army rosters)

So you release stage 1 as complete as possible, test it out, get it solid.

When it's good, release the game again with stage 2 included.

Finally, release the game again with stage 3 included.

At each stage, take the time to do all the benefits of public testing.

NOW, the trick is:

Each stage is clearly marked as a "Beta' or "early" version.

Stage 1 and 2 is very cheap, so the total cost of buying the game at all three stages adds up to about what it'd have cost from the beginning as a full game.
F.x. if you were aiming at a 20 dollar game, charge 5 dollars at stage 1 and 10 at stage 2 and 3.

Advantages:
*Take advantage of public playtesting without being quite as barebones as a "beta test".
*The final game can end up cheaper than originally anticipated since it was funded "along the way".
*Players who are only interested in the core engine can buy Stage 1 and then stop there.
*Patient players can get the game a bit cheaper by just waiting for the final version.

Downsides:
*Process might be confusing and unfamiliar.
*Knowing a more complete version will come along later might discourage people.
*Increased potential for confusion as you will have multiple versions circulating.



Thoughts? Suggestions? Mad ramblings? I am all ears.

Friday, 16 February 2018

Five Parsecs Bug Hunt is here



"All scifi gaming eventually leads to the movie Aliens" someone once told me.

Maybe that's not quite true, but the 1986 sequel to the original Alien certainly does loom large over miniatures gaming.

A squad of heavily armed marines alone against the ravening hordes of extra-terrestrial killers. Good stuff.

So now, you can indulge in the same sort of thing using Five Parsecs.

Create a handful of characters and lead your crew of soldiers as they accomplish objectives and fend off the alien terrors.

As with other Five Parsecs titles, everything is aimed at solo play (though you can play with a friend and even earn some bonus rewards, to account for the fact a human opponent usually is more devious).

Everything flows in a campaign structure with random events and unexpected things happening, though we've changed the structure quite a bit to account for the military nature of the campaign.

New mechanics include a fire team mechanic (many of your supporting troops will be squads of soldiers), new takes on the "contact" mechanics introduced in Salvage Crew, a Reputation mechanic that lets you cash in mission success for occasional benefits and a system for Mustering Out which should make Traveller players feel a tiny bit nostalgic.

Of course, you also get all the tools you need to transfer your Bug Hunt character to another campaign.
Start in the army, go AWOL and join a gang, clean up your act and get a salvage job. It's all up to you.

Updates are coming shortly to the existing game line, to allow transfers into Bug Hunt.
The new rules are all up to 1.03 standard though I'd expect a small update shortly after launch to clean up a few vague wordings and the likes.

You can grab the new game here

Saturday, 10 February 2018

"Renegade Scout" - the agenda


Note that this is still not a sign that anything is going to happen, there's more work to do, thinking to do and planning to do before I commit to anything.

But... let's talk about what the goal of "Renegade Scout" would be as a Rogue Trader retro-clone.


First, let's talk about what it CAN'T be:

It can't touch any 40K IP whatsoever

Maybe that goes without saying, but no genestealers, eldar etc.
Of course, many of these concepts are hardly original to begin with so substitution can be made.


That means it needs to find its own legs to stand on.

Mechanically, the Rogue Trader system is rather solid (In my view) but nothing unusual, especially in 2018.
What people remember was being able to grab random figures, develop stats for them and play story-oriented scenarios.

A lot of people remember the big D100 mutation tables and things like that, but I am not sure how often those ever made it into an actual game.
I propose they could be replaced with something more interesting, such as a "Adventurer skill" table or an "unexplained phenomenon" table, that sort of thing.

The rules can be tweaked...a bit

People are used to tinkering with the Rogue Trader rules (and like old D&D, it may be a system where nobody really played it "by the book" to begin with) but there are limits to how far that can be taken.

Of course, the book could include options and alternative suggestions but in the end, it must feel "correct" for what it was.

That puts some limitations on how creative I can get with mechanics, but then, it also helps to ground it a bit.

I think everyone can agree that the Rogue Trader rules are not exactly elegant, so a little bit of stream-lining won't hurt anything at all as long as reasonable legacy compatibility is maintained.

If it can't be full of Warhammer stuff, then what?

As I suggested in the original G+ post, I think the real key to success would be to allow "television" scenarios.
If the book comes with profiles for "Assimilators" and "Exterminator bots" and such, alongside ww2 soldiers and SWAT teams and cavemen, I think it'll hit that wonderful "feel" that most Oldhammer players tend to chase after.

Of course, this runs the same issue: You have to file off the serial numbers but wargamers are used to that sort of thing, at least if my GZG "Crusty" mini's are anything to go by.

As an additional bonus, if a manufacturer could be brought on board, we could include ready-to-play stats for a few miniatures ranges too.

So is this just for fat old bearded dudes with Sepultura t-shirts?

Well, if it happens, it'll be written by a fat, bearded dude with a Sepultura shirt :)

But no, I think aiming this exclusively at Oldhammer players would be a mistake, though they are certainly part of the intended audience.
I think any players that like somewhat traditional mechanics, creative scenarios and using unique miniatures from their collection would be a potential player.

The fact that it would be legacy-compatible would be a substantial added bonus of course.

What about those other guys who've tried to do this?

As far as I know the failure rate of previous attempts has been 100%.
If I am wrong, please let me know.

What about Inquisi-munda and In the Emperor's Name?

Different goals (and mad respect to both teams for doing great work).

They aim to create 40K based gaming, that's not the goal here.
I don't think we'd overlap at all.
If this existed, which it doesn't.

What makes you the right guy to do this?

Anyone can do this.
The only thing that matters is who can stick with it until completion.

When is the kickstarter?

I don't feel comfortable with kickstarters but maybe this would be a good exception.
I don't know.
Let's say "Never" and go from there.

If this happened, would it be a big glossy book?

No. But it might have art-work.

Can I help?

It's not a project that exists currently, so no.

If it becomes a project that exists, I will be looking for a team to help with various aspects (proof reading, testing, painting the odd mini, etc.).

So...can I ?

Let's do this:

If you feel you have interest, time and qualifications to help with this project and would like to be on the short list IF THIS PROJECT BECOMES A THING WHICH IS NOT AT ALL CERTAIN
then ping me at runequester@gmail.com with who you are and what you can do.

I am NOT interested in any variation of "Idea guy" and I am NOT interested in a co-writer.

Friday, 9 February 2018

So if I was doing a Rogue Trader retro-clone...

...this is what I would do.

The goal here would be compatibility with the original but any IP would have to be avoided.



*Replace the rulebook combat mechanics with the ones from the Battle Manual (in particular the improved blast weapon, overwatch and sustained fire/following fire rules)

*A Choosing a Target system that's a bit more structured than "each of my 30 guys can shoot at anything I like" but not as chunky as the Battle Manual/2nd edition system.

*Replace the Reserve phase with the 2nd edition Run move.

*Replace the Rout and Psychology rules with the 2nd edition versions.

*Keep the psychic rules but rewrite pretty much all the actual powers to be more interesting and more applicable to the table.

*New weapon lists would take a little bit of a page from 8th edition in using lower save modifiers and damage values in general.

*Weapon lists by era (low tech, high tech, futuristic) for multiple settings.

*Use the vehicle rules from the Compendium/White Dwarf (with the various damage tables). Maybe ?

*Create a list of Traits (similar to the Universal Special Rules in newer editions)

*Create new troop types to include in the book, mainly inspired by video games and television.
Klingons vs Daleks ?
(Also, I just realized the spell check accepts both Klingon and Dalek without complaint)

*Sort out a really cool mission system for randomly generated scenarios that would require troops to do more than just shoot each other in the face.

* * * * *

NOW......If I was doing an "advanced" version, I would do the following as well:

*Do away with Initiative and Attacks on the profile.
Instead, Weapon Skill of 5-6 gives you 2 Attacks and 7+ gives you 3.

*Consider getting rid of Strength as well.

*Use the Space marine morale rule (shaken on first failure, broken on second) for all troops.



I would also be really tempted to "flip" Ballistic Skill, so you are rolling equal or under your BS, instead of the whole "7 minus BS is your hit number".
That way you could just apply hit modifiers directly to your BS.

But rolling under instead of over might be a "bridge too far" for the old timers?



Wednesday, 7 February 2018

5P option - Suppressing Fire

A character can opt to perform Suppressing Fire:

You receive one additional shot, hitting on the same score as before.

Each hit places a Stun marker but no damage is inflicted.

Enemies will not use this option.


Rationale:
While the idea of firing specifically to suppress instead of kill is a matter of some debate among gamers, we're a bit more cinematic in our approach:

This action represents any situation where a character blazes through a bunch of ammunition very quickly without aiming.
The chance of actually hitting anything is pretty low, but the wall of lead can be quite intimidating on the receiving end.

Give this a try and let me know. It's for consideration for 1.04 or 1.05

Tuesday, 6 February 2018

Five Parsecs 1.03

Version 1.03 is uploaded for your enjoyment.

The changes include:

*A ton of small improvements: Better wording, unclear rules being clarified, typos, that sort of thing.

*A section has been added specifically covering terrain.
This gives definitions of terrain types and how line of sight works in all cases, as well as clarifying exactly when you are in cover.

*A two page section titled "Unusual situations" has been added.
This covers a few odd-ball situations and how to handle them.

*The rules for Brawling combat have been updated a little.
Melee weapon characters now get a +1 to their roll, while those lacking melee weapons must -1.

*Pistol is a new weapon trait, allowing you to use the pistols damage value in Brawls and roll at a +0 modifier.

*The movement rules now have a movement cost listed for entering doors and windows.

*A section has been added for competitive (player vs player ) games.


If you recently printed your rules, you can simply print the new rules sections and add them to your booklet or binder.

All three games (From Home, Gang Warfare, Salvage Crew) have been updated.
The K'Erin booklet will be updated later today to add the Pistol trait to the appropriate weapon.


I hope you are enjoying Five Parsecs.

Saturday, 3 February 2018

5P World generator available

The Planetary Generation for Five Parsecs is available and can be grabbed below:

http://www.wargamevault.com/product/233139/Five-Parsecs-Planetary-Generation

To some extent, it's a replacement for the old "Every star an opportunity".
There are fewer tables overall, but I think you'll find they impact game-play to a larger extent.

I added in a Traveller-style Animal system as well, both letting you create random critters from scratch as well as a small pre-made table allowing faster play.

Players who like developing a number of game worlds to travel between will get a lot of mileage out of this booklet, as will Gang Warfare players (as gangs tend to be stuck on one world for a longer period of time).

Go git 'er.


There'll be more 5P news very soon, including some unexpected ways the system might go (swords? Muskets? Orcs? Time travel? Stay tuned)