Thursday, 28 July 2016

Fandexes & House Rules: Playing Wargames With "Unofficial" Rules

It is a truth universally acknowledged that inside almost every player of games is an aspiring designer of games.

It's a rare gaming group which does not include people who produce their own house rules, even if they're fairly minor - "the player who won the last game goes first this time" or "players can discard their hand once at the start of the game and redraw".  Hell, some people don't even realise they're playing house rules - you can have a good laugh asking people what the rules to Monopoly are.

Roleplaying games are particularly rich territory for this.  As long as there's been forums for nerds to communicate they've swapped their custom classes, monsters, traps and spells.  Dragon Magazine and the fan press of D&D's early era survived on fan submissions of their house rules; the 90s internet saw Usenet users swap ideas and consolidate them into text file "netbooks"; the 2010s and the growth of ebooks sales saw people commit their personal creations to free, cheap or "pay what you want" PDFs and EPUBs.

I'm sure you guys and girls can solve these two riddles without breaking a sweat.

With roleplaying this is fairly easy because there's something of a hierarchy in rules creation/amendment.  If as a dungeon master I decide I want to use Elements of Magic-spellcasting or Time Wights in my D&D campaign, then I don't really have to answer to anyone - I just start to include it. (And in the latter case I did, albeit changing them from time travel to alternate universe beasties and calling them Crisis Wights.)

Sure, I would probably still talk through any amendments I made to Mutants and Masterminds with my group but if I decide to be a dictator and amend the grappling rules off my own back then the players are likely to shrug and accept that's my prerogative as a referee.  A full-on player revolt is unlikely unless I'm doing something really weird, like "replacing dice with a KerPlunk based mechanic".

Probably still a better ruleser than Old World of Darkness though.

Wargames, however, are a bit trickier and Games Workshop wargames more so....

Wednesday, 20 July 2016

Justice League Beyond - A Peak Behind The Source Wall

Not pictured: a six-armed Indian battlesuit, a spirit of nature and a time travelling French performance artist.
 The latest RPG campaign I've been running has been a block of Justice League Beyond using the DC Adventures / Mutants and Masterminds rules.  Regular readers will know, and comic fans can maybe guess, the theme of this game - a near-future world in which the Justice League have reformed after an absence of some years and the next generation of superheroes have taken up the mantles of the previous generation.

We're 10 weeks into this game with just our final three part finale to follow - albeit with a week's pause because a group visit to the cinema to see Ghostbusters is happening this Thursday instead of dice-rolling.

Fuck the haters, I'm giving this a go.  (Though I'm a little nervous at the way the african-american lady is portrayed in the trailers, which feels a bit more cliche-riffic compared to Winston.)

Ghostbusters is, as has been commented before, an RPG tradition around here and I'm at least partly going to nick some ideas for new ghost-busting equipment and to see if it inspires my ever-mooted present day adventure for my usually late 80s/early 90s set game, "Whatever Happened To The Glasgow Ghostbusters".

I thought it might be interesting to share some of my notes with you.  I made a sort of season plan in advance marking out what different stories I was going to do and what NPCs/locations/etc were going to feature.  By comparing these notes to the reality, we can see quite how a GMs plans can vary in the months, weeks or even days between having them and acting on them.

The magic is ruined!

There may be some very mild spoilers for my players in this article but I would have to say that it's unlikely to be anything they haven't worked out for themselves - I mean, the fact that our season finale was going to involve Arkham Asylum in some capacity isn't a spoiler so much as something I've been trying to hint towards for some time!

Sunday, 17 July 2016

Anachronista 40,000: Campaign Turn 3

Bad guys always have the best costumes
I haven't given you a campaign update in a bit.  The mentalness of British politics has distracted me - it seems we can't go five minutes without someone resigning from a major political institution and we're at the stage where transferring all my money into Warhammer figures might actually be the better option than keeping it as pounds sterling.

Racist attacks, economy crumbling, a female Prime Minister and Dangermouse back on telly.  Truly, the late 70s/early 80s are back in fashion.  Have I already missed a punk resurgence and if so do I have to hold out now for the Spandauu Ballet/Adam And The Ants equivalent?

I saw Debbie Harry in Glasgow a couple of years ago. 

...Still would.

Anyway, then, let's recap - our Warhammer campaign is an Imperial Vs Chaos affair and when you last read I had finally netted myself a victory in an two player versus two player game.  While the Imperials still felt the stronger force, their failure at Marpullium was a good day for me.

The campaign map at the start of turn 3.