Saturday, August 17, 2019

My Campaign Turns 40 Years Old

    There is a bit of an argument; I thought I started Seaward on August 18, 1979 but my old friend George (who played a ranger) insists it was the 11th.
  Either way, we're celebrating today!

  The party is trying to get to (what they call) Level Four in Skull Mountain. I think they'll clear it easily. Then (what they will probably call) Level Five - which might kill them all. If so they will join about 17 other PCs that have died there.

  We are also, naturally, having adult beverages and a cake as well as a LOT of beef.

  My keen insight on running a long campaign? Try here.

Sunday, July 28, 2019

Long-term Campaigns and Growth

  In a very short period of time my AD&D campaign will be 40 years old. I want to take the time to discuss how a campaign can last that long.

Thursday, July 25, 2019

Warhammer 40k Roundup: Other Guns and Stuff

From Jack

In a recent article, my father gave his summary of our recent Warhammer 40,000 gaming, and the takeaways about the game that he derived from it. I agree about some of his points, and disagree on others. Now, obviously, neither one of us is an expert or veteran player (in particular, I think I'm the worst player in my group), so these insights are probably going to nearly all be some combination of wrong and obvious. 

To restate what was covered in the prior article:
     There are four of us who play. I settled on the forces of Chaos as my army pretty early, but whether I favor Daemons or Chaos Marines remains uncertain, and I plan on playing the Sisters of Battle as a secondary army once they're finished. Dad plays all Imperial forces, but mostly the Guard and the Mechanicus. Sam plays T'au and Thousand Sons (he's the lore player in our group). Nick still hasn't settled on an army, but mostly favors the Tyranids, and, to a lesser extent, the Necron so far.
     We've been playing for less than a year. We use tokens and chits to mark models that we don't yet have. We cycled through various armies and builds early while trying to find what suited us. We use a variety of terrain and missions, put probably still aren't quite playing "normal" games. We were never exposed to editions prior to 8th, but have vague information about their rules.

Now, my points:

Places where I agree with my father

Board control matters
...but not for the reasons he listed. In a game with objectives, and especially a game with tactical objectives, being able to seize a portion of the board quickly, or prevent your opponent from doing so, can decide the game. Leaving 10 cultists with a heavy stubber way in the back field in case they need to advance on an objective, or sticking 5 flayed ones in deepstrike in case you suddenly need a unit in the opponent's deployment zone, is key. Preventing deepstrike and reacting to enemy assault is also nice, but not as important as scoring.

Strength is everything
The way the math works out, every possible strength or toughness value is totally different S3, S4, and S5 are all totally different values, and they're not even close to the disparity between S7, S8, and S9. Lasguns and boltguns may be the same against a gorkanaut for some strange reason, but they're radically different against yer comm'n boyz. Similarly, S9 is one of the most valuable things you can get. Higher is always better. Get as much strength as you can.

Places where I disagree with my father

Real world tactics don't win
Early on, my instincts were to treat this like a real war, where ordinary infantry in a combined arms assault win nearly every engagement, while special assets are off doing special things. But this ain't a real war. Tactical marines serve a purpose, but they are incapable of finishing the enemy off. A balance of real-world forces is often effective, but sometimes a mix of disposable swarms and magic super-weapons is much better. The effective thing to do is always to maximize your number and proportion of really good super-tactics, regardless of how this would look in real life.

Cool and good go together
One of my favorite things about Warhammer is that they really do bring fluff and crunch into line, at least in 8th. Sure, there are some things that should be better than they are, like Necron Monoliths or Heralds of Tzeentch, and some things that are better than they should be, like Ogryn, but overall, things that are cool in lore are cool on the tabletop, and vice versa. Assault terminators? Daemon princes? Avatars of Khaine? Onager Dunecrawlers? All awesome in fluff and in crunch.

My own points

Probability is on your side
One of the beauties of the 40K rules is that they're highly dependent on very random rolling, but you roll so many individual dice that averages usually prevail. This is good, because it means that there's minimal variation in overall effectiveness, so your 30 boyz or your wedge of guard tanks should have similar performance every game; but there's also room for cool swings of fortune, like your Space Marine Captain surviving a daemon prince's charge and killing him in the ensuing duel. You can have cinematically random moments in your otherwise standard game. Most of the time, anyway. Also, this breaks down in certain situations, such as very small games, or games featuring lords of war.

Get your money's worth
As far as I can tell, the path to victory is to make sure you get the maximum return on your points invested in each unit. If you buy a gun, make sure you shoot it, shoot it well, and shoot it at the right target. If you buy a bike, make sure it carries you to the objective, the enemy's heavy support, or both. Don't buy anything you don't use, at least in matched play terms.


So, what do you think? Am I right? Am I playing the game wrong? What do we have left to learn? Let me know!

Monday, July 22, 2019

Warhammer 40K Roundup: Guns and Stuff

  Starting a series on my insights into Warhammer 40k.
  To start with, please understand that to a lot of hardcore Warhammer 40K players my insights will probably seem ridiculously obvious -we've only been playing less than a year and we largely avoid online forums, etc. This is much more of a "newbie learns the obvious" series I am starting, not a "deep delve into forbidden lore" series

Weekend Mania
  Over the weekend we played 4 games, all at 1,500 points-

  • Adeptus Mechanicus vs Space Marines
  • Imperial Guard vs Necrons
  • T'au vs Chaos Space Marines
  • Orks vs. T'au


Monday, July 15, 2019

DM Report: Seaward - The South Ford of the White River and Pirate Port

  In anticipation of the 40th anniversary of my 1e campaign next month we started a cycle again.

  The South Ford of the White River: The evil Lord Whitehill, formerly a noble warrior of the grand Duchy of High Morath, has completed his fortress in the Bandit Lands south of the capitol city. Only the foul magics of his consort, Lady Jacinth, allowed him to do so over the winter.
  The king has hastily erected a line of towers and rushed reinforcements to Longnor Fell, the walled town that protects the norther ford over the White River. he also sent out the word - all noblemen and knights of the realm must prepare for war. The nobles of Ekull must guard the Briars, Eagle Valley, and the Stone Hills;  Timberlake the North and the border with Eastford; and this frees royal forces to muster against Whitehill.
  The paladins of the Shining Keep also are mustering to the king and, for the first time, the monks of the Order of the Way are sending members to war under the banner of Seaward.
  Also summoned? The Company of the Dark Moon.

Thursday, June 27, 2019

Atlantaverse: Psychotronic World Building

  When I am doing worldbuilding for fantasy games I may spend too much time on verisimilitude - making the world at least internally consistent. Seaward, Blackstone, the Patchwork Lands - I work to make them sensible, consistent and familiar without being boring. But there are always little things, like the steam-powered war moose construct.

  Now that I am making a Champions setting I am in full-on Psychotronics mode!

  Psychotronic is a slang term used in parts of the movie buff community to describe a certain sort of movie. I've never found a good universal definition of what 'Psychotronic' means that covers all the bases, but here I go with my own idiosyncratic one;

Psychotronic: 1) the blending of genres, typically with low budgets
                       2) Low-budget exploitation films
                       3) Films with very non-traditional manner of storytelling

Monday, June 17, 2019

To-Do Lists, Making Friends and Influencing People, and Ruling the World

  One thing that I can struggle with is making sure NPCs stay dynamic. They aren't just animatronic puppets that sit in their castles, inns, and lairs waiting for the PCs to do something.

  I mean, that is a TON easier - everything remains in a stasis-like status quo until the characters get to it = no work for Rick so that is OBVIOUSLY the best, right?

Unfortunately, this makes the game(from OD&D to Champions to any other RPG) predictable and booooooorriiiiiiiiiiing. So how do I solve it?