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Saturday, June 6, 2009

[Wargaming] Solo Game Design-

This post started out as a reply to one of David Larkins' The Mini Corner blog entries.

At one point I just walked away from the gamers I was 'stuck with' given my location, and broke out my minis and began designing a condition-modified solo game system in which I had no control over events or the opposition, all determined at random (within said conditional framework akin to Victory Games' Ambush!).

I would sit at the kitchen table and get bombed and then move my handful of minis around the terrain as the dice determined at manner of terrible near-future and sci-fi CQB situations. It was a rare victory for my Necromunda Escher gang figures, and each time I sent out a veteran of previous games, I felt the sense of dread at what would befall her.

My SO would come in and smile at my set-up and my pained expression as the girls were pinned down or wounded out in the open.

So, it is possible to be a soloist and be in a steady relationship ('stable' certainly didn't apply in that case).

Bruck-up, soldier! ;)

I devoured Victory Games' AMBUSH!, SHELL SHOCK!, LEATHERNECK! games, and had become such a great enthusiast of Kabal Gaming Systems' M.I.S.S.I.O.N., that it may be argued that it was inevitable that I would devise a sort of Artificial Intelligence gaming engine to keep myself entirely off balance while plotting my protagonist(s) incursions or exfiltrations on the gaming surface.
In its most stable incarnation, I used 2d12 to randomly determine the Condition of the enemy in whatever area my figures (sometimes only a dot on a sheet of paper as I plotted its/their continuous course) had entered, and dealt with the consequences as they arose using a dirt-simple d6 resolution system.
My favourite maps were those included in the Victory Games' games and modules, and I still use them to this day on the rare occasion I feel my RPG sessions require player visual aids.

In one scenario, my elite squad of drop-troop misfits (including a conscript with Psychic Invisibility) were sent into an enemy research camp to steal an experimental hovertank. Two of them died when their Fall-Limiter gear failed to function: One impacted, another snapped her neck, hung up in the forest. Although shaken (a Condition), the surviving members slowly, slow infiltrated the camp's lightly guarded outer perimeter into the abandoned hamlet, and then broke up into to elements to make the best use of time.
The commander of the mission, his honour guard Sgt, and the colour guard Corporal dealt with the bulk of the guards, while the other element (including the conscript) stealthily entered the hanger bay wherein the hovertank was located.
In the subsequent Rounds, the foreign conscript advanced one sub-measure of the hanger hex each step, as he moved directly toward the two guards who were playing cards. Just as he moved to within striking distance, one of the guards saw through the psionic screen and noticed the guy, but missed him and unintentionally struck one of the other infiltrators, mortally wounding him. The psychic and the other member were then engaged in a very loud CQB that alerted the rest of the camp, one guard at a time until the klaxon was sounded.

With no one left to pilot the craft, the two activated it and slowly crash-drifted through the quonset hut, unable to effectively steer it while the rest of the team ran through a hail of gunfire to jump on. Three wounded, one would soon die.
The movement was slightly faster than the guards could muster until the hovertank slid down an embankment and picked up enough velocity to barely outdistance a pursuing 'jeep'. The action moved off map, and I picked up the next game a day or two later.

Everything, from mission gear loads and ammunition had all been accounted for; jams, friendly-fire, everything.
I was exhausted.

I was thrilled.

Unfortunately, the next game proved a loss, but two of the original squad managed to 'DD' out of hostile territory after the conscript gave his life to detonate the hovertank to set the enemy's plans back a few months, if not more.

So, any of you ever run solo scenarios?

[Playtest Campaign] Hot Time in the Old Town Tonight-

We started around 5PM (as opposed to 3), and were down the one player for most of the game, excepting the one hour he was present. I reminded them of what had occurred two weeks ago, and I was reminded of a fact I had forgotten.

The PCs (both parties) banded together and attempted to evade a force moving parallel to them through the misty-rained filled, dirty and soot and cinder-covered streets of Qerzyk. A brief stop in a squatter's enclave provided them with a water-refresh opportunity, and a lead-lined box in which to place the communication device Tybalt has used a few times, and is the object for which the Hierophantic Church agents desire.
Contact was re-established with the Kherstic League (their patron organisation) who warned them of the danger of wandering into the Church's scouts, but informed them that two groups of the League were triangulating onto their coordinates.

In the subsequent battle with Church-hired mercenaries armed with Coilstocks (coil-spring operated quarrel launchers actuated by a side-mounted cocking tab), and led by a Church Wizard, the PCs held a defensive position and used it to great advantage (having a black-bear equivalent in the doorway paired up with Ashta the Western Isles Hjighlands lass ('barbarian') seemed to have done the trick). Delver ('Dell-Ver'), the Western Isles lesser noble, and his female battle companion, Ceaneq (?) the quasi-Buddhist-merchant Cleric (?!) deftly dispatched two foes in two Rounds while the Wizard fired MMs at Ashta and the bear, 'Kitty'.
Ashta charged from the doorway, failed to defeat the Shield spell he was protected by, and was wide-open for the rest of the Round. The subsequent Round, she eviscerated the lout, upon which he uttered, "...impossible...' and crumpled to the bloody cobbles, at which point something small exploded out of the crown of his skull and flew off into the dark skies.
With the mercenaries no longer employed, they ceased hostilities and were not cut down by the PCs.

A moment later the Kherstic League group prematurely dispatched one merc with a quarrel in the throat, but aided the wounded once the fog of battle had cleared. The League Overseer, Daen, Jedi'd the merc captain to simply walk away.
The PCs and Kitty, and Mela Mela's riding bird all were escorted into the posh side of town. The PCs were bathed and refreshed and shown to an upstairs study in a palacial mansion, the actual building's footprint being roughly 240 acres.
There, the PCs extracted a rat-being they had captured in the sewers and began to question it in the presence of Overseer Daen. The thing, rather insane for the experience of having been turned into a humanoid, cackled in his little ratty voice, gibbering on about the Elders sitting upon their thrones, deep-deep in the earth. Then another voice began speaking through the creature as a bright light began to shine forth from the increasingly hot little creature's skull.
Daen recognised their rapidly-approaching doom, and uttered a Void spell of high enough energy-level so as to inflict aging effects upon her in consequence, a white shock shot through her luxuriant raven hair and a tremble showing in her hands at the exertion.

The rest of the session consisted of them discussing how best to spend their hefty recompense for the safe return of the comm unit, as well as selling (some of) their Mummy Spice*.
No clear plan had been formed by the time we called it a night.

It seems my concerns regarding the player are perhaps unfounded.

* "In addition to black pepper, cinnamon, ginger,
and sa ron, such spices as galangal, zedoary, long
pepper, and \grains of paradise" (malagueta pepper
from West Africa) were commonly used in medieval
cookery, along with sugar, which only later became
the commodity that we know today. These, along
with many others, including even ground mummy,
were used as medicinal drugs, while expensive aro-
matic resins and animal products such as ambergris,
castoreum, musk, and civet were used as fragrances,
both for aesthetic and for medical reasons." -- Paul H. Freedman. Out of the East: Spices and the Medieval Imagination. New Haven: Yale University
Press, 2008. x + 275 pp. ISBN 978-0-300-11199-6; $30.00 (cloth), ISBN 978-0-300-11199-6.