#RPGaDay 2017 – Which #RPG do you prefer for open-ended campaign play?

#RPGaDay August 14, 2017

pic514176#TravellerRPG, nee Cepheus Engine. No surprise if you have been following my #RPGaDay for 2017. But, not just any version or style of Traveller, but what Tales to Astound calls “Out-of-the-Box” Traveller. This version of Traveller depends on using Encounters as they were originally laid out in the 1977 Little Black Books – as tools for creating the setting, situation, and play. It wasn’t laid out for you in an adventure or campaign arc; the GM created it on-the-fly.

It’s true that such an approach is not exclusive to one game; indeed, I use this approach in my Edge of the Empire campaigns. More narrative-driven games, like FATE Core and FATE Accelerated actually use game mechanics to encourage this kind of on-the-fly creation. But no game does it as well as Classic Traveller does.

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#RPGaDay 2017 – What is a good #RPG to play for about 10 sessions?

#RPGaDay August 9, 2017

Every RPG should be good for 10 sessions. Unfortunately, I don’t see many RPGs designed to support long-term gaming campaigns.

thebroadswordclassmercenarycruiser6
spacesquadrons2998.blogspot.com

I grew up in the early days of Traveller RPG and I couldn’t afford all the adventures. Instead, I used the tools presented to me and made my own adventures. One adventure after another.

Unfortunately, what I see so many RPGs do is sell you “adventure campaigns” or “modules” and the like. Each of these products is usually one campaign arc, and often use the “three-act play” approach. Can one get 10 sessions out of them? Yes – if a few of the sessions are stretch out. My point is that what is usually sold as a campaign most times does not go out to 10 sessions.

This “short campaign” focus highlights to me a problem that the RPG gamespace – many games provide the means for world building and long-term adventuring but published adventures and campaigns work in an opposite manner with a campaign that can be started – and completed – is a reasonable (as in few) sittings. I recognize why companies do this; they need to see you more products and giving you one product that doesn’t depend on future sales is not necessarily a profitable strategy. Indeed, I think many gamers expect shorter games, especially if the RPG is based on a licensed RP. The source material is often “episodic” and the going-in assumptions often so not support long-term adventuring but rather the “adventure of the week.”

Now, before you all accuse me of doom-n-gloom, let me say that I am excited at what I see on the Net and Twitter and the like. There are many home-brew campaigns that are the foundation for long-term campaigning. Home-brew, like I have been doing for nearly 40 years.

 

#WargameWednesday “The Great Pacific War”

The Great Pacific War 1940-1944 by Don Baumgartner (Self Published, ISBN 9781493580569); Middletown, DE; Printed 15 May 2016.

As a long-time fan of the Admiralty Trilogy series of naval wargames, I religiously read The Naval SITREP. Issue #50 (April 2016) included a small half-page review of The Great Pacific War 1940-1944. Though not very well marketed as such, this is definitely an alternate history book. For a naval wargamer, it can be a sourcebook for scenarios or campaign inspiration.

The major historical point of departure is the death of Hitler during the Munich Crisis of 1939. Upon his death, the path towards war in Europe halts, allowing the author to explore a “what if” situation where the British Empire and Japan instead clash in the Far East. The story of these titanic naval battles are laid out in the book and each battle can easily be converted into a tactical scenario and gamed out.

Style-wise, the book could use a good editor and I encourage the author to get help laying the book out properly. Font selection should be reviewed because in my copy, all the 10’s digits are rendered as the letter “I” meaning we get “I4” guns. The maps could also use some work for they lack consistency in appearance or even orientation. Finally, tables and photos could use layout help.

Alternate history is hard. It is very easy to take historical reality, file off some serial numbers, rearrange letters, and say you have an alternate history (I’m looking at you, Mr. Turtledove. Naming the tank commander Morrel instead of Rommel? Really!) The problem in this book is that not enough changes. The author takes historical battles, moves them to to a different location (though often not that far from the original) and drops in a different set of combatants. Without needing to look too close between the lines, one can find the battles of Coral Sea, Midway, and night actions around The Slot off Guadalcanal. The result are battles not unlike what historically happened, but with the British generally substituted for the Americans.

It is easy to find a copy of Royal Navy Strategy in the Far East 1919-1939: Preparing for War Against Japan by Andrew Field (I used my public library privileges to search online databases and get my copy). Field lays out how the British thought they were going to fight, not how the Americans and Japanese eventually duked it out. There is enough difference between Field and Baumgartner that I (reluctantly) have to say that The Great Pacific War missed a golden opportunity. The British view of naval airpower was different than the US or Japan (for instance, see Geoffrey Till, “Adopting the aircraft carrier: The British, American, and Japanese case studies” in Military Innovation in the Interwar Period). Exploring those differences are what I find really intriguing and the stuff that makes for interesting games. Unfortunately, Baumgartner’s  The Great Pacific War does not delve down into this form of “what if.”

Is The Great Pacific War worth purchasing? For a serious naval wargamer its probably worth it, if for no other reason than scenario inspiration. The background and orders of battle would make good material for a convention game. But if one really wants to explore the “what if” of the British and Japanese fighting it out at sea, it may be better to look elsewhere.

#StarWars #EdgeoftheEmpire RPG – Nimble Cash Episode 1

So the RockyMountainNavy boys and I sat down this weekend for a real serious start of a new Fantasy Flight Games, Star Wars, Edge of the Empire RPG campaign. Having started – and quickly stopped – several previous campaigns we all made a commitment to making this adventure “for real.”

First up was character generation. The party is four adventurers; a Cornelian Human Smuggler/Charmer, a Wookie Hired Gun/Bodyguard, a Twilek Technician/Mechanic and a Drall Technician/Outlaw Tech. This is not a balanced party with two “techies.” Oh well, it is the characters they boys want! The group has a slightly modified YT-1300 Light Freighter named Nimble Cash.

The first session started in-res, with the ship carrying a “slightly” illegal cargo and being chased by a pair of TIE fighters. This encounter allowed each adventurer to participate in the combat sequence. Eventually, after a not-too-difficult time, the ship escaped.

Next encounter was with the groups nameless contact to deliver the cargo. The Charmer tried to use his natural, well, charm to get a better price. After a short social conflict sequence, he succeeded. The group got almost all the money they wanted. In lieu of some of the money, their contact gave them another job. A simple mail job to deliver a letter.

While preparing to leave, the inevitable “Imperial entanglements” arrived in the form of a Storm Trooper squad led by a Sergeant. Not having anything to hide, the group boarded the ship before events went sideways. In the course of the battle, each adventurer got a spotlight moment:

  • An enraged Wookie bashing the head of a Stormtrooper and knocking him out cold
  • The Drall with a Goo-Gun “gumming” up a trooper and letting the Mechanic dispatch him
  • The Charmer taking a glancing stun bolt, improvising a melee weapon, and tripping and falling in the middle of combat.

This was really a near no-prep session. Came off pretty well with an emphasis on the narrative dice. The RMN boys caught on quick, and grabbed at the opportunity to contribute to the story.

Tune in next week for the continuing adventures of the Nimble Cash.

 

 

 

Zhongli Quan Traveller/Tomorrow’s War Campaign – Week 4

This Mercenary Campaign uses Spica Publishing’s Outer Veil (OV) Traveller RPG setting for background.  The Campaign Game Resolution System is a combination of the Conflict chapter of Mongoose Publishing’s Traveller Hammer’s Slammers (HS) setting book and Tomorrow’s Campaign from Osprey Publishing/Ambush Alley GamesTomorrow’s War (TW). All combat actions are fought using Tomorrow’s War.

Basic Campaign Flow

The war is fought in weekly segments. Scenarios are either designated or created using Tomorrow’s War Mission Generator (TW 176). Victory Conditions generate Mission Result DMs that are used for monthly Conflict checks in accordance with theConflict chapter in Hammer’s Slammers (HS 182).

Click here for Campaign Background and Forces.

Click here for Week 1 First Strike scenario. For Weeks 2 & 3 see here.

Jane’s Dragons, a platoon of the mercenary Smith’s Wild Raiders, continues its fight across Zhongli Quan. The Loyalist government is still resisting. Depending on the battles in the past few weeks, the Citizen’s Movement resistance is growing stronger – or fading away. The next crucial test calls for stopping the sole Loyalist Armored Battalion before it fully mobilizes. Per their Mercenary Ticket, Smith’s Wild Raiders lead the fight, with Jane’s Dragons in the front.

Loyalist Heavy Tank (Courtesy thedonovan.com)

Week 4: Tin Shield

Scenario Information

  • Duration of Game: 6 Turns
  • Initiative: Raiders for first two turns. Test on following turns
  • Special Conditions
    • Due to generally rough terrain all vehicles are limited to TACTICAL speed only
    • See Familiar Terrain rules for Loyalist and Citizen’s Movement Militia in background
  • Fog of War: Generated by Reaction Tests
  • Table Size: 4′ x 4′; terrain should be mixed (clear and lightly wooded); no roads but maybe a few trails

Loyalist Mission

Your tank platoon must cross enemy-held territory to link up with other units in defense of the capital.

Loyalist Victory Points

  • Use Typical Victory Points for Regular Forces (TW 178) with the following additions
    • Per tank that exits board by game’s end: 5 pts
    • Per Gun Truck that exits board by games’s end: 3 pts
    • Per loaded Troop Carrier that exits board by game’s end: 2 pts

Loyalist Forces

  • Armored Platoon (See Background for basic attributes)
    • Set-up within 6″ of west end of board
    • 1x Heavy Tank with Leader
    • 4x Heavy Tank
  • Operational Momentum Points equals 2d6
  • If the cumulative Mission DM is -1 or -2, ADD 1x Infantry Squad to the Loyalist Force for 0 Operational Momentum Points
  • If the cumulative Mission DM is -3 or -4, ADD 1x Infantry Squad AND 1x Mechanized Infantry Squad with Troop Carrier for 0 Operational Momentum Points
  • If the cumulative Mission DM is -5 or -6,  ADD 3x Mechanized Infantry Squad with Troop Carrier  and Gun Truck to the Loyalist Force for 0 Operational  Momentum Points

Raiders Mission

The first elements of the mobilizing Loyalist Armored Battalion have left their garrison and are attempting to link up with the rest of the battalion. Jane’s Dragons is to ambush and destroy the armored units before they can link up and bolster the Capital’s defenses.

Raiders Forces

  • Jane’s Dragons Platoon (see background)
  • Operational Momentum Points
    • If cumulative Mission DM is negative, roll 2d6 – cumulative Mission DM
    • If cumulative Mission DM is 0 roll 2d6 unmodified
    • If cumulative Mission DM is +1 or +2, then Operational Momentum Points equals 2d6+2 +cumulative Mission DMs
    • If cumulative Mission DM is +3 or +4, then Operational Momentum Points equals 2d6+4  +cumulative Mission DMs
    • If cumulative Mission DM is +5 or +6, then Operational Momentum Points equals 2d6+6
  • Citizen’s Movement Militia variable quality based on cumulative Mission DM (remember to use modified TQ and Morale – if any – from Week 3)
    • If -6 or -5 then Morale -2 steps (minimum D6), Low Confidence
    •  If -4 or -3 then Morale -2 steps (minimum D6)
    • If -2 0r -1 then Morale -1 step (minimum D6)
    • If 0 then no effect
    • If cumulative Mission DM is positive then increase Troop Quality 1 step (maximum TQ8)

Raider Victory Points

  • Use Typical Victory Points for Regular Forces (TW 178) with the following additions
    • Tanks count as “Enemy AFV”
    • Gun Trucks count as “Enemy AFV” -1 pt
    • Troop Carriers count as “Enemy AFV” -2 pts
    • Points for Citizen Movement Militia losses are doubled

Mission Result (Used as Mission DM for HS 182-183)

  • Compare VPs
    • Wild Raiders 3:1 or better = Exceptional Success +2 DM
    • Wild Raiders 2:1 but less than 3:1 = Success +1 DM
    • Wild Raiders less than 2:1 but better than 1:1 = Partial Success +0 DM
    • Loyalist less than 2:1 but better than 1:1 = Partial Failure -0 DM
    • Loyalist 2:1 but less than 3:1 = Failure -1 DM
    • Loyalist 3:1 of better = Dismal Failure -2 DM

Zhongli Quan Traveller/Tomorrow’s War Campaign – Weeks 2 & 3

This Mercenary Campaign uses Spica Publishing’s Outer Veil (OV) Traveller RPG setting for background.  The Campaign Game Resolution System is a combination of the Conflict chapter of Mongoose Publishing’s Traveller Hammer’s Slammers (HS) setting book and Tomorrow’s Campaign from Osprey Publishing/Ambush Alley GamesTomorrow’s War (TW). All combat actions are fought using Tomorrow’s War.

Basic Campaign Flow

The war is fought in weekly segments. Scenarios are either designated or created using Tomorrow’s War Mission Generator (TW 176). Victory Conditions generate Mission Result DMs that are used for monthly Conflict checks in accordance with theConflict chapter in Hammer’s Slammers (HS 182).

Click here for Campaign Background and Forces.

Click here for Week 1 First Strike scenario.

After the initial attack on the mechanized infantry company compound, Jane’s Dragons conduct several weeks of limited combat missions. The emphasis is working with the Citizen’s Movement Militia and enhancing their confidence and training.

Resistance Fighters (Courtesy http://www.history.ucsb.edu)

Week 2 – Shared Blood

Mercenary player uses Jane’s Dragons. If the Mission DM from Week 1 was POSITIVE, the Loyalist player has an Infantry Battalion Platoon; if the Mission DM from Week 1 was NEGATIVE, the Loyalist player uses a Mechanized Infantry Platoon.

Generate a Random Mission using Tomorrow’s War Campaign (TW 173).  Operational Momentum Points for the Raiders/Loyalist player equals 2d6 plus/minus the Mission DM from Week 1. One Citizen’s Movement Fireteam (Resistance Cell) is added to Jane’s Dragons for 0 Operational Momentum Points.

Victory Points are accumulated per the After Action Sequence, Step 1: Operational Assessment, Victory Points (TW 178) with the following modifications:

  • VP for all Citizen’s Movement casualties are DOUBLED
  • For every turn the Citizen’s Movement Fireteam engages in combat: +2 pts
  • For every turn the Citizen’s Movement Fireteam does NOT engage in combat (except for Turn 1): -1 pt

Week 3 – Brothers in Arms

As Week 2 except for the following:

  • If Mission DM from Week 2 was POSITIVE then increase Citizen’s Movement Militia Troop Quality to D8
  • If cumulative Mission DM is POSITIVE, add second Citizen’s Movement Fireteam for no cost in Operational Momentum Points
  • If cumulative Mission DM is NEGATIVE, Jane’s Dragons must PAY first 2 Operational Momentum Points to add single Citizen’s Movement Fireteam
  • If Mission DM from Week 2 is NEGATIVE, reduce Citizen’s Movement Militia Morale to D8

Zhongli Quan Traveller/Tomorrow’s War Campaign – Week 1 First Strike

This Mercenary Campaign uses Spica Publishing’s Outer Veil (OV) Traveller RPG setting for background.  The Campaign Game Resolution System is a combination of the Conflict chapter of Mongoose Publishing’s Traveller Hammer’s Slammers (HS) setting book and Tomorrow’s Campaign from Osprey Publishing/Ambush Alley Games Tomorrow’s War (TW). All combat actions are fought using Tomorrow’s War.

Basic Campaign Flow

The war is fought in weekly segments. Scenarios are either designated or created using Tomorrow’s War Mission Generator (TW 176). Victory Conditions generate Mission Result DMs that are used for monthly Conflict checks in accordance with the Conflict chapter in Hammer’s Slammers (HS 182).

Click here for Campaign Background and Forces.

Gun Truck (Courtesy http://www.100thww2.org)

First Strike (Zhongli Quan Campaign Week 1)

Jane’s Dragons leads the first attack after landing. The target is a mechanized infantry company compound. As the Loyalist unit is still mobilizing, limited opposition is expected.

  • Duration of Game: 8 Turns
  • Initiative: Wild Raiders for Turn 1 and 2; test thereafter
  • Special Conditions: Night
  • Fog of War: Generated normally by Reaction Tests
  • Table Size: 2’x2’
    • Garrison Layout: Central HQ/Admin Bldg (Average Bldg -6D/Decent Construction D8, command bunker in basement) surrounded by 3x Platoon Barracks (single story Weak Bldgs – 3D, Shoddy Construction D6); central motorpool with 3x vehicle sheds (Weak Bldgs – 6D, Shoddy Construction D6) with each shed housing 1x Jeep, 4x Troop Carriers, 1x Gun Truck. Garrison surrounded by barbed wire fence (no cover) with 4x guard towers (light fortification with searchlights at one level above ground) and ECP with Guard Shack (light fortification).
    • Hotspots: All placed within 3” of barracks buildings

Wild Raiders Mission

  • Objective is to Overrun Mechanized Infantry Company Headquarters. Destroy C2 and vehicles. The garrison will likely have a security force patrolling the perimeter with additional forces on call from barracks. All vehicles will likely be in their vehicle sheds.
  • Operational Momentum Points: 2d6-2 (Recently landed, still organizing; not yet fully linked up with Citizen’s Movements forces)
  • Rules of Engagement: Citizen’s Movement desires to minimize casualties to Loyalist military forces in effort to draw them away from the Loyalist.
  • Victory Points
    • HQ Command Bunker Destroyed (At least 3x Merc soldiers spend complete turn in bunker – unpinned – with no movement or combat): 10 pts
    • Per Loyalist jeep destroyed/immobilized: 2 pts
    • Per Loyalist troop carrier destroyed/immobilized: 3 pts
    • Per Loyalist gun truck destroyed/immobilized: 5 pts
    • **All vehicles in a shed are destroyed if at least 3x Merc soldiers spend complete turn inside shed – unpinned- with no movement and no combat **
    • Per Loyalist infantry killed or seriously wounded: -1 pt

Loyalist Mechanized Infantry Company

  • Objective is to defend HQ and protect vehicles; battalion is mobilizing and will be a vital part of suppressing enemy forces by acting as a rapid response counterinsurgency force.
  • Operational Momentum Points: 0
  • Security Force
    • 1x Platoon on Guard Duty (5x Fireteams)
    • Secretly Roll 1d6. If 5+ then 1x Gun Truck out of shed on security (deploys as a hidden unit)
    • Starting Turn 3, roll 1d6. Result is number of additional Loyalist Fireteams ready for action. For each fireteam roll for random hotspot location. Maximum fireteams placed in play by this means is 10
  • Victory Points
    • Per Mercenary Killed or Seriously wounded: 3 pts
    • Per undamaged Jeep at end of game: 1 pt
    • Per undamaged Troop Carrier at end of game: 2 pts
    • Per undamaged Gun Truck at end of game: 3 pts
  • Mission Result (Used as Mission DM for HS 182-183)
    • Compare VPs
      • Wild Raiders 3:1 or better = Exceptional Success +2 DM
      • Wild Raiders 2:1 but less than 3:1 = Success +1 DM
      • Wild Raiders less than 2:1 but better than 1:1 = Partial Success +0 DM
      • Loyalist less than 2:1 but better than 1:1 = Partial Failure -0 DM
      • Loyalist 2:1 but less than 3:1 = Failure -1 DM
      • Loyalist 3:1 of better = Dismal Failure -2 DM