Tuesday, June 28, 2011

Looking forward

I haven't been posting much lately because I've been trying to fight off the combined assault of a nasty summer cold and the end of a statistics class. As much as I love poring over old tables in the DMG and looking at the probabilities for various things based on those tables, I really struggle with the math involved in stats. Fortunately, we were expected to use Excel to solve most of the problems, so I was able to muscle my way through most of the stuff for the class without much strain to my brain.

I'm also getting ready for GenCon again, and that means both planning my schedule and deciding what to look for in the exhibit hall. Lately I've been filling in a lot of holes in my gaming collection. I finished my collection of OD&D and supplements, got another copy of the Rules Cyclopedia, got a copy of the Traveller boxed set and Book 0, and picked up copies of the Gamma World and Boot Hill rulebooks on eBay. I also picked up Woodland Warriors and the two supplements for it. The gaming shelf is looking like it used to back in the day, with a few choice new supplements like WW.

In addition to all the physical stuff, I've got quite a pile of electrons to sort through as well. I've been slowly going through a lot of pdfs, free and purchased, deciding exactly what to print and use at the game table. I have quite a few references that have found their way to print so I can see how they play.

All that said, I'm not sure what I'm excited to see at the con. I know I'll be stopping by the OSR booth to see what's available. I'll probably check out the Gamescience booth for some new dice. Other than that, I'm not really jazzed about anything in particular. Is there anything out there I should be looking for?

On a similar note, I'm not really scheduled for any events. I may be doing a True Dungeon run with some old friends if it works with my volunteering schedule, but otherwise I don't have anything specific planned. Any of you old schoolers have a game planned I could jump into? Or is there a game you'd love to play you couldn't fit in the schedule that you'd like me to run? Or does anybody want to just get together for breakfast or a late dinner and swap some old school war stories? Drop a comment or an email my way and tell me what I should be looking forward to.

Tuesday, June 14, 2011

Checking Out Chainmail, Part 4

This is the fourth installment in my Checking Out Chainmail series. The other installments are here: Introduction, Part 1, Part 2, and Part 3.

The next section of the rules deals with terrain, beginning with descriptions of the effects of different types of terrain and ending with a section on choosing specific terrain for the battlefield. There are rules given for the following terrain types: hill, wooded, marshy, rough, ditch and rampart, river and stream. All of the terrain types slow movement by 50% except rough and river and stream. All terrain prevents charge moves. Most also have other special rules or effects on particular troops. Most of these are fairly standard adjustments.

Rivers, though, are slightly different. For rivers and streams: "Treat individually as to fordability, penalty for crossing, and so on. (A typical stream would require 6" to cross and prevent charge moves, while a typical river would require troops to halt before and after crossing and cost an entire move to cross.)" (p. 10) This kind of variability and need for planning between opponents is a reminder of when these rules were written and the breadth of their applicability. In rules sets developed more recently, the normal tactic would be to describe the effects of streams and rivers in more detail or simply write them off as impassible except at particular points like bridges and fords. The variability in regards to rivers also highlights that these rules were written by and for gamers who like to house rule and modify their games. Just like the options in the turn sequences, this is a reminder that none of the rules is set in stone. They should be modified to best simulate the kind of play the group wants or that the battle situation warrants.

In regards to choosing terrain, the rules present a system where different terrain types are listed on 3x5 cards. The players take it in turns to draw and place terrain on the table. It's a nice, elegant system that I am probably going to adopt for all my wargames from now on. It's also a great example of the kind of subsystems that are so typical of the classic wargames and roleplaying games.

Friday, June 10, 2011

Touching base and weighing in

It's been a while since I posted, but my non-gaming life took over for a bit. Between looking for jobs, dealing with a couple chronic medical issues, and taking graduate classes, I've been a little too overwhelmed to do much writing. I have been reading lots of other blogs, though, and I wanted to respond to a couple things.

First, there is a great set of resources for Labyrinth Lord linked over at Mithril and Mages. My reference sheets and monster matrix are in the list, but my stuff definitely pales compared to a lot of what is there. If you like LL or B/X D&D, check it out.

Second, almost everyone has weighed in on the DCC RPG beta. I haven't even bothered downloading it, because I have too many other things I'm interested in looking at already. I also agree with Al over at Beyond the Black Gate. I have enough flavors of D&D to run any game I could ever want to play.

The way I figure it, with what I have on my gaming shelf or in pdf on my hard drive, I can run a game with six different core systems: OD&D, Holmes Basic, Moldvay/Cook B/X, AD&D, Mentzer BECMI, or AD&D 2E. I could also run one of the retro-clones, near clones, or derivatives: Swords & Wizardry, Labyrinth Lord, OSRIC, Woodland Warriors, Backswords & Bucklers, etc. If I want, I could add in elements from TSR's Warriors of Mars, Metamorphosis Alpha, Gamma World, or even Boot Hill. I could pull in things from Judges Guild supplements, Bard Games' Compleat series or Arcanum system, a dozen different magazines (old or new), and all of the various websites, blogs, forums, and products that are being put together and published by people online. I have a wealth of materials that I can draw on for a game. I don't need another game. I don't even need another supplement, really.

Expect another episode of the Chainmail read-through in a bit.