Sunday, 28 September 2014

Random bits for this week

Demoed a few "Five Men in Normandy" games yesterday at Guardian Games here in Portland.

It looks like there'll be a recurring "historical gaming day" once a month or so, so if anyone is in the area, maybe I'll see you. 11th of October is hopefully going to be the next one.

* * * * *

For No End in Sight, try this optional rule: When treating a casualty, roll a D6. A 6 means the guy is recovered to fighting condition. On any other roll, he is simply stabilized.

High quality body armour: 
This will be covered in the scifi rules more properly, but if you want to reflect more high-quality armour than the standard "body armour" in the rules, simply make a small tweak: On a casualty roll of 1, the guy taking the hit is pinned instead of wounded. A 6 is still dead and any other score is wounded as normal.

This might be appropriate for American body armour vs AK47's and whatnot. I'll leave it up to the player to figure out if it shouldn't apply against certain weapon types.

* * * * *
I'll have another instalment of the Traveller's Guide to the Fringe. Any requests for what kind of character you'd like to see?
Let me know in the comments

Tuesday, 23 September 2014

[Parsecs] Travellers guide to the Fringe. The Merak.

Where they came from is unknown but from time to time, an invasion fleet of the death droids known as the Merak will emerge on the edges of human space.

While conventional invasions can be broken up by Unity fleets, experiments with time manipulation and teleportation have resulted in assault groups appearing virtually everywhere in Unity space.

While the Merak show fundamental abilities to communicate, they rarely have any inclination to do so. They seem driven mainly by an impulse to slay and eradicate all life they encounter.
They will occasionally utilize organic lifeforms to further long term plans, often employing various control mechanisms or genetically engineered slave species.

Modelling Merak:
Any slightly old-fashioned robot miniature that is not too humanoid will do. Merak rarely exhibit any sign of individualism and should be painted in a coherent, uniform fashion though the leader of an assault group may receive an alternate colour scheme.

Merak utilize terror extensively and see no values in camouflage.

Merak in the game:
Merak move at the speed of normal infantry. They can cross low obstacles and rough ground by hovering. A stationary Merak can levitate itself one floor up or down if it begins within 1" of the edge of a building or similar.

They will never withdraw from a visually observed enemy though they may remain in place. Due to extensive scanning software, stealth is worthless against them and they are not subject to limits on visibility from weather or darkness.

When firing, Merak receive 2 Kill dice and may allocate results to any targets in sight. No Shock dice are rolled. They have no concept of suppressive fire and will only fire if they have a clear lock on a target.
They do not guard fire but will snap fire out to 8".
Targets may be in any directions.

A Knock down result scored against a Merak will stun it. It will spend its next activation recovering but is otherwise unaffected.
An Out of Action result forces it to begin it's self repair procedure. This has the same effect as a Knock Down would have in the regular rules.
Roll each activation with a 1 causing it to remind repairing and a 6 causing it to finally die.

Any Shock dice results will push them back 1". A Marek pushed into an obstacle or another model is stunned as above.

They will not initiate brawls but are treated as a normal human figure if attacked in this way. This represents a main weakness and the primary way of taking them out, if one can get close enough.

Merak in the scenario:
Merak can show up in a variety of ways. A lone droid, jettisoned from a destroyed invasion ship may show up on any world, continuing its plans of world domination and annihilation of organic life.

Organized Merak incursions will fall into one of two types:
Infiltration groups consist of one Merak and 4-6 human or alien servants. These are generally under chemical or similar mind control and will never exhibit any skills or talents beyond purely passive, racial abilities.

They may be attempting a wide variety of covert missions.

Assault groups always number 4 Merak and are deployed purely for annihilation. They will attack any organic lifeforms without hesitation.

Merak in the campaign:
Merak will not cooperate with organic lifeforms unless they dominate the situation and it serves their genocidal purposes.
As such, they don't make suitable player characters though someone could no doubt put together a campaign of them infiltrating a world.

Merak are extremely dangerous. Use them in your campaigns and scenarios to spice things up but bear in mind that they can cause massive damage, especially if multiple are present.

Any similarities to a certain popular type of time-travelling aliens in robot suits, with a penchant to exterminate are a figment of your imagination.

Saturday, 20 September 2014

Tease from Five Parsecs supplement

Work is progressing nicely on the first supplement specific to Five Parsecs.

There'll be more detail on things like bounty hunting, mercenary work and whatnot. You will also get a bunch of random generators for fleshing out your campaign worlds a lot more. For those interested in the more RPG oriented side of things, you might enjoy this a lot.

A sample world I just generated:

A hot world (by Earth standards) with a normal breathable atmosphere. Despite that, there's almost no naturally occurring biosphere. (meaning the gaming tables will be a lot of rocks :) )
The world has seen extensive terraforming (presumably dropping its temperature from an earlier more unlivable level. This might also explain the lack of life).

A few small settlements exist. We'll delve into one where the adventurers will be located.

"Brynn's Wish" - a small ex-colony turned general Fringe settlement.

Using the "Settlement generator" tables we find that power is contested by a corporation, a powerful organized mercenary outfit and a charismatic leader and their followers.

Presumably, the mercenaries were brought in to safeguard corporate interests but eventually became a political force in their own right. The charismatic leader may well be a revolutionary type, giving us some instant conflict.

The social model is a regressive bureaucracy. At some point, this may have been a different governmental type but at this point, the layers of red tape has become impenetrable and no one wants to clear up the mess since the whole thing might fall down.
The main export from the planet is knowledge. Presumably corporate research that is sold off to interested buyers.

We generate two problems for the settlement, to give us some more adventure fodder. We get "loss of export resource".
How do you lose knowledge? If your scientists are being abducted by (or are defecting to) the rebels!
A second roll gives us "local warlord". Sounds like the mercenaries are getting a bit out of hand.

With a few dice rolls, we have what looks like several campaigns worth of gun fights, exploration and insanity. Perfect for the fringes of human space.

Supplement should be available in a few weeks time.

Friday, 19 September 2014

No End in Sight. Q&A

A lot of questions have come in, so I figured I'd answer some of the more common or interesting ones.

General questions about the game:

What scale of miniatures works best?
Any scale can work as long as you can identify which figure is which. You need to be able to tell who has the SAW or RPG and who is the squad leader.

The ranges and whatnot are roughly intended for 10-15mm  but people tested the rules with 28mm and it worked fine.
For the big figures, you might want to increase the base movement rate a little.

How many figures do I need?
The aim is platoon level gaming, so figure 3 squads of 8 or so miniatures each, plus a few vehicles supporting them if you like.

We ran tests with a full platoon of 3 squads, 3 APC and a tank on each side and had no problems though pushing above that might get a little busy. You'll have a lot of leaders to keep track in particular.
Smaller games could be done easy enough. Take a US infantry squad, treat each 4 man team as its own squad with its own leader and put them up against 15 or so insurgents and you could have a nice little skirmish.

What size of playing space do I need?
Not terribly big. 2x2 or 3x3 feet will work fine. Troops should be deployed one or two moves before contact, rather than setting up far from the enemy like you usually do.
No End In Sight is about the actual fire fight. The entire table is maybe 100-200 yards across.

Supplements, expansions, scifi, bunnies, I want it all!
Multiple people asked for a hard scifi version almost immediately upon seeing the rules, so I am obliging that.
I'll ask for testers once we get closer to having a workable product but it'll be pretty exciting. It's still several months away but nothing prevents you from playing some near-future games right now.

Other than that, you guys will have to tell me what you want. WW2 isn't out of the question and there may very likely be a WW1 variant in the not too distant future. If people want big, long lists of vehicle data, you'll have to send me some booze.

Rules questions:

Vehicles seem very fragile.
They are. This is intentional.  On a 3x3 foot table, you are essentially at point blank for vehicles. Even a T55 presents a threat at that range.

If it still bothers you, bear in mind that we are playing for effect. A "hit" with an anti-tank weapon means you hit the target and inflicted some type of result on them. Missed shots may have scratched the armour with no effect (this is why RPG have a hard time hitting in the game).

Why don't insurgents take stress from casualties?
I wanted insurgents and regular troops to feel different. In many cases, it seems insurgent forces are less likely to cease combat to tend to wounded than trained soldiers are.
My research indicates that taking multiple wounded will often slow or stop a squad from operating effectively and I wanted the rules to reflect that, so stress builds quickly.

Insurgents are more likely to leave the wounded to be recovered after the fact. However, to reflect their brittle nature, they have to make a "casualty check" to see if any of them bail when they take losses.
This means insurgent units can often start big, but if they get hit hard, they will tend to melt away.

I can't hit a **** thing!
Ranged fire won't inflict a lot of casualties. You have to either get in assault range, severely outgun the enemy or drive them off through suppression.
This mirrors accounts of fire fights in modern warzones. A platoon can go through a brutal fire fight, get kicked in the teeth and fall back and only have taken 3 or 4 actual casualties.

Thursday, 18 September 2014

Five Parsecs supplement progress

About 10% done. Planet generator is finished. Random worlds to flesh out your campaigns.
People who've played Traveller will enjoy this, though it's more space adventure than attempting science.

Sunday, 14 September 2014

No End in Sight. A look at the game mechanics.

Somewhere in Afghanistan 1983.

We're scouting out a village under Mujahideen control. I have 6 men in my squad, huddled along a wall on one side of a street, with the rest of the platoon further back, spread throughout the village.

It's my turn and I activate my squad leader, roll 1D6 for his activation points. I get a 3, and I decide to move the RPK and two riflemen across the street.
We're moving outside of sight of enemies and into cover, so each soldier takes a 3” move, crossing the street.

I place a Stress marker on my squad leader to indicate he has been activated once. Now the game changes to the other side.
The Mujahideen player activates the leader of a nearby group, rolling a 4. The leader activates four of their troops, sneaking forward through cover and placing them where they can look down the street.

When activated, a soldier can both move as well as fire at a target, so they open up on my troops, firing at the group that haven't crossed the street yet.

4 irregular shooters with rifles gives him 4 points of fire power. This means 4 dice are rolled for shock, trying to score a 5 or 6 on each of the dice.
Scoring 1,2,5,5, two of my men are pinned down.

Pinned troopers:
A pinned soldier can't take any actions. An activation point has to be spent to rally them. If enemies come too close to a pinned soldier, they may fall back.

Of course, bullets tend to hurt people too though fire fights tend to inflict much fewer casualties than you might be used to in war games. With 4 fire power, the enemy gets to roll 2 dice to inflict hits, requiring a 6 to hit. The dice come up 3 and 6. Man down!
Dicing to determine the effect of the hit, my man is wounded.

In a fire fight, most gun fire is suppressive in nature. When you read about encounters taking place at range, extensive fire is exchanged but only a few casualties might occur, unless an assault takes place at close quarters.
As such, the chance of scoring casualties (especially against troops in cover) are very low. Firing at troops in cover will cause several to be pinned and continued fire may push them back, but the normal gaming tactic of annihilating troops in cover by shooting at them long enough won't work.

Any time a group is fired upon, they may be subject to a morale test. I took 2 pins and a casualty, for a total morale score of 3. Rolling 1D6 for morale, I roll a 2. Since the roll was equal or under the morale score, the group falls back a distance equal to the dice roll, in this case 2 inches.

Morale affects troops within 2” of each other. My squad is split up into two groups with about 3” apart, so the group that already crossed the street stays where they are, while the other group retreats 2”.

The Mujahideen leader gets a point of Stress and play passes back to me.

I review the situation and decide to activate my squad leader again. I can pick any leader at my disposal but I am worried that the squad will be over run if I don't push them into better positions.
Rolling for activation, I have to deduct the Stress on the leader. He has one point from earlier, so I roll 1D6 minus 1 for a total of 4 points.

I spend 2 points to recover the two soldiers that were pinned down and spend the other 2 to activate two of the soldiers that crossed the street. They're not in good positions to fire from where they are but there's a wrecked vehicle a bit further up the street.

Rushing the open ground:
Any time soldiers move in the open, while in sight of the enemy, things change. Instead of a slow, cautious advance, soldiers move by rushing a short distance, hoping to reach cover before enemy fire gets too close.

To rush open ground, I nominate my destination, which is the wrecked vehicle slightly over 3” away. I roll 1D6 for each soldier rushing, scoring a 2 and a 5.
Since a move of 5” is more than plenty, I place one guy in cover behind the vehicle. Luckily, this was the RPK gunner.
However, a 2 is not enough to get there, so the assistant moves 2 inches before being pinned down in the open. The Afghans get to roll to see if they hit him, but fail to score a 6.

* * * * *

From there, the game continues but that should give you a decent snapshot into the movement and combat mechanics of the game.

Wednesday, 10 September 2014

"No End in Sight". The end is in sight.

Writing is essentially done. Proof reading and getting the whole thing to be as understandable as possible starts tomorrow.

For the uninitiated, "No End in Sight" is my contemporary / post WW2 war games rules for platoon level combat.
I cheapened out a little by not including detailed TO&E's. You do get a guideline to how they generally work and a basic example of American and cold war Soviet squads.
The campaign rules are quite sexy. I think people will be pretty excited about those.

This has been the prototype cover. I kind of like it but let me know what you think.

Monday, 8 September 2014

Possible feature list for a post-apocalyptic game

Some rough thoughts on what might go into a post-apocalyptic game using FiveCore:

An Apocalypse generator (this will basically let you roll up a random setting, including what nature the apocalypse took, follow on effects and how long it's been)

Some apoc specific character generation options.

Rules on foraging, wilderness campaigns and food/water/medicine.

Tables to generate: encounters, enclaves, cults and societies, political factions.

Random event tables for campaigns more focused on survival, maintenance and endurance.

Maybe hit somewhere in the 30 page range? Longer than a typical FiveCore supplement but not big enough to be a fully fledged game on its own.

My thinking is to focus a little more on the more human and "realistic" side of a post-apoc environment. People can use the alien traits from Five Parsecs to generate mutants and whatnot though I suppose adding in a "mutant generator" might not be a terrible thing. Thoughts?

Also will need a snappy title with "five" in there somehow. "Five days after the end" ?

September for NWG

September should see the release of "No End in Sight". Platoon level rules for late 20th century and modern day warfare.

Hope you lot are excited. The playtesters have been almost universally happy with the rules and I think I've managed to hit on some interesting mechanics. A lot of moment to moment decision making and of course all the campaign goodness you've come to expect.

I also have a bunch of ideas for a supplement for Five Parsecs. I'd like to flesh out the RPG aspects a bit more, maybe introduce a few new critters and some such. It'll be a little bit of a grab bag of stuff to spice things up.

The next project to be pushed will be "9th Platoon". This takes the FiveCore mechanics and adapts them to a "1 stand is 1 squad" level of gaming.
Its about half done but still needs more testing to make sure it actually works nice and is fun.
I think there's a market for platoon level gaming with very few components and on a small play field and I think this will do the trick nicely. A typical army is about 4 infantry stands, maybe 1 or 2 vehicles. Hardly rough on the wallet and great for people dipping their feet into WW2.

Stay tuned! (and I haven't forgotten about all the rest of you, especially those who want to see a medieval or fantasy game :) )

Thursday, 4 September 2014

Goons and Characters

First introduced in Five Men in Normandy, the concept of the Goon from Five Parsecs bears a bit more discussion:

Essentially, we divide the people you may command and encounter into two broad groups:

Characters are the movers, shakers and personalities of your games. Usually, a character will be fully detailed with a background and motivation.
Any figure that has been given skills or other unique abilities is automatically a character.

Goons are then the vast, teeming masses of humanity (or alien-kind). A goon usually has a name, a weapon and that may be it.
Goons might be more fully established with motivations and backgrounds or the player may fill these in later in the campaign.

A goon will never have skills or other abilities however.
In "Five Men", they make up your regular soldiers. They will fight reasonably well and obey all the general rules that apply to the game.
In "Five Parsecs", they're the various crooks, adventurers and plain old civilians that you find anywhere you travel.

The basic stance of FiveCore is that a human is just that: A human. Everyone fights according to the workings of the basic game rules, unless they have an ability or trait that changes things. The goon is simply a thematic way of defining those figures.