Sunday, 21 January 2018

Musing about things

This isn't related to any project in particular.

Infantry firing mechanic:

When a squad fires, roll 2D6.

If either die scores a 4, remove a figure from the target squad per 4 rolled. 

Take the highest of the two dice, add any bonuses the squad has (quality, weapons, mg) and compare to a target number based on cover.

Target is pinned if you beat the score. 

If a pinned target is hit again, they become suppressed.
If a suppressed target is hit again, they break. 

My GI's fire at some Krauts hiding in the woods.
I roll a 3 and a 5, so my die is a 5. 

My guys are Regular, so no fire bonus.
They have semi-auto rifles (+1) and a single automatic (the BAR) for no bonus.

So my total score is a 6.

The krauts are in soft cover (target 4) so they are now pinned down. 

* * * * *

Example 2:
A Kraut MG opens up from the flank.
They roll a 1 and a 4.
Their die is a 4 and I must remove a guy.

The Krauts are Veterans (+1) and a MMG gives them +2 for a total score of 7.

My guys are in hard cover (target 5) so they are now pinned down. 

* * * * *

Various thoughts

You could additional effects to beating the target number by a certain amount. 
Maybe beating it by 3 removes an additional figure or forces a "fall back" reaction.

Why 4's ? It's my favorite number. 

How do guys recover? Dice roll when activated? Leader ? Not sure yet. 

What are the effects of being Pinned or Suppressed ? Pinned can't move, Suppressed fires at -2.

How would assaults work?
Similar, but with more dice to start with. 

Does the number of guys firing matter?
No. Though squads below a certain size (5?) might roll only 1D6. 


Friday, 12 January 2018

S-day is here. Five Parsecs Salvage Crew is available

The third step of Five Parsecs adventuring is here: Salvage Crew!

You can check out the new logo too.
When I get a chance, that will get added to the existing Five Parsecs games too

So what is Salvage Crew? (SC here after).

It's a new campaign you play, using the same mechanics and systems as the two previous Five Parsecs (FP) games.

Build up a random crew with their own backgrounds and ideas and then take on the universe.

Salvagers tend to be a bit less militant so you will find your crew may end looking a little different.

Campaigns work in a similar fashion: Assign your crew to jobs and play out table top missions. 
Money is a much bigger issue now: Salvagers earn more of it, but they also begin the campaign owing a lot of money for their ship and license. 
Bottom out and you can have your campaign ended by your ship being seized (seems like a great chance to delve into a Gang Warfare campaign then huh?)

Turn to turn game play is what you expect, but we now have rules for things like "contacts" (which can turn out to be enemies or not, a bit like PEF's in 2HW titles) and exploring "points of interest".

This is where the big change is:
Your salvage crew is mainly here to loot. There are things to be found on the battle field and you may or may not run into enemies. You'll have to evaluate the risk of getting a particular piece of loot or not, if it might trigger an enemy squad of bandits.

The result is an experience that feels pretty unique, even if the starting point is the same.

The rules are fully compatible with Five Parsecs From Home and Gang Warfare (the GW update will be live in a day or two, sorry for the delay) and you can transfer characters around.

Does it stop here? Probably not. 
Five Parsecs could theoretically go any number of places.

Fighter pilots? Mercenary captains? Colonists? Private investigators? 
There's really nothing you couldn't do.

Stay tuned.

Thursday, 11 January 2018

Five Parsecs From Home - tiny update

As we speak, the "Infinite Adventure" section at the back of the book has been updated to make way for Salvage Crew being released shortly.

No need to print anything else again, I didn't touch the rest beyond fixing one typo somewhere.

Five Parsecs optional rule: Stumbling

The intention is that Stunned characters cannot enter Brawling combat and for simplicity, they are not currently penalized either if engaged.

Optionally, you may try out this rule:


A Stunned character that enters a Brawl for any reason (whether initiating or defending) will fight as normal but must roll 2D6, picking the lower score for their Brawling score.

The Stunned character will suffer an additional hit for EACH of their dice that score a 1, meaning they can take up to three hits (ouch!).

There's a chance the Stunned character is actually faking it to lure an attacker.

If either of the Stunned characters dice is a 6, they will inflict a hit on the opponent, even if they ultimately lose the Brawl. This could mean both characters are struck.

A Stunned character rolls a 2 and a 4. Their final score is 2.

A Stunned character rolls a 1 and a 4. Their final score is 1 and they take an additional hit.

A Stunned character rolls a 2 and a 6. Their final score is a 2 but they will inflict a hit on the opponent even if they lose.

A Stunned character rolls a 1 and a 6. Both combatants take a hit (and the Stunned character likely takes another hit for losing)

Saturday, 6 January 2018

Readability and games.

Layout is tough. I'm self-taught and there's still big flaws I am looking to correct.

However, I think it's also a skill where a few tricks can go a long way and with self-publishing being all the rage in the RPG and wargaming communities, why not learn from each other?
A lot of games look bad.

I don't mean in the sense of art work: Many games have lots of gorgeous art (and most games have more art than NWG titles).
I mean in terms of the text being readable and easy to use.

There's a lot of style guides out there for writing which people may use, however, those are almost universally intended for text that is meant to be read (and often only once).
But games aren't like that.
Your player is going to need to reference the rules for "Single handed melee attack during adverse weather conditions" in the middle of a game, to determine if "a rain of acidic frogs" is considered an adverse weather condition or not.

I think we need to create our tools.

So... here's "Weasel's Rules of Making Text Less Bad":

These are not in any particular order of importance.

I welcome comments on these.
Feel free to share them or expand upon them as you see fit, as long as you give me a shout-out or link back here.

Pick if you intend the reader to print or read on the screen.
Personally, I despise dual column layouts for screen reading, but on paper, a single column tends to be wasteful and inflate the page count.

Tables, flow charts and similar should fit on one page if at all possible.

These are things the player will refer to during play, so having to page flip is a terrible experience.
If you are doing a print book, a table or flow chart crossing facing pages is acceptable.

Try to avoid having a few lines of text spill over to the next page or column.
This again reduces readability when the player is trying to reference a rule in play, but it can also lead to parts of a rule being missed or not understood.

Try to define your rules terms and avoid using the same words in casual conversation.
I typically put rules terms in bold to make it clear when I am talking about morale as a dice roll, versus descriptive text of the Azhkhanarnian army having low morale during the Wurzenboigen campaign.

In the same vein: Try to use consistent terms.
This can be tricky but it does improve the usability a lot.
Avoid switching between "figure" and "miniature" in a war game for example.

Rules text should be concise and clear, because it'll be referred to during play.
If possible, try to separate flavor text and rules text out so it's easier to parse the paragraph at a quick glance.

"German machine guns typically had high rates of fire, permitting the squad to rely on them to a greater degree.

Add +1 Attack Die when firing a German Machine Gun Team"

While it's considered old-fashioned, I think the old board-game style of rules and sub-rules works rather well.

Use formatting to indicate whether a rule is a sub-set of an existing rule. For example, if you have your Movement rules, you may have a sub-set that discusses Running or Hiding.
If each main rule is in BOLD AND ALL CAPS you might have sub-sets in CURSIVE CAPS.

You can do similar things for optional or advanced rules.

Limit the blocks of text.
I use a rule of thumb to never have more than 5 lines of text before a line break.
In dual column layouts, you might go to 6 or 7.

Large, dense text blocks are hard to read for a lot of people and are hard to reference during play.
Remember, we're writing games, not literature: Our use cases are different.

Consider more line breaks in your text as well.
"When failing an ammo check, the player character must reload. This takes an action" 


"When failing an ammo check, the player character must reload.
This takes an action"

The effect is not pronounced for a single line like this, but when it comes as part of a text block, it can make spotting the rule much easier.

People smarter than me have suggested that if possible, try to break up each page with /something/ else than text: An image, a table, an example, a text box etc.

I still need to work on this, but I wanted to include it anyways.

Also something I need to work on:
Illustrations that somehow correlate to the text on the page will improve usability of a book massively.

We've all had rule books where you remembered how to find a particular often-referenced section because "it had the picture of the dude with the sword".

Plus, it just makes the game look more cohesive.

When it comes to writing rules, pay close attention to your choice of words like "will" and "may".
When you review your game rules, read them as literally as possible because that's what a substantial portion of your audience will do to.

If read literally, does the rule say what you intend it to say ?

"Characters within 2" of an enemy may attack in close combat".

Does this mean I can also choose to shoot?
Did you intend that I can opt not to attack at all?

That's it for now.
I have more things to say, but I thought 10 was a reasonable amount for one day.

What are your tips?

Do you disagree with the obvious nonsense I just posted?

Lemme know.

If this was helpful to you, why not say thank you by buying a copy of October Hammer so you can see how I screwed it all up :-)