2019/02/15

OSR: On Zak (Sabbath) Smith

If you're not sure what all this is about, Justin Stewart (Dragons Gonna Drag) has an excellent summary post linking to several stories and accounts. You can also look through the Old School RPG Planet list. I'm not going to try and repeat any of it. Other people more closely connected to the entire event have already covered all the major points. So if this post is mostly about trivia, it's because I don't have much else to say. As usual, Cavegirl's got it covered.

 I believe women. I believe Mandy, Hannah, Jessica, and Vivka. Their abuser cannot debate, intimidate, or manipulate me into silence. There is no place for abusers among us. 

Everything below the jump is significantly less important than the preceding paragraph.


2019/02/10

OSR: One Page Dungeon: The Biggest Aspidistra in the World

The Magical Industrial Revolution book I'm working on will have a few dungeons in it. Here's a quick low-level one. Everything about it is still in draft form of course, but it might be useful.

It's the biggest aspidistra in the world! Click here or on the image for the PDF.

https://drive.google.com/open?id=1itfF2aI1vYmtjgQ1WLLgVkoY94eXqCMO

2019/02/07

40k: Unified Skirmish Terrain Theory

I've been playing a fair bit of Kill Team recently. Everyone has opinions on strategy and tactics but nobody really seems to know what to do with terrain. I've seen all kinds of setups. Some worked, some produced very short or extremely one-sided games.

Objectives
-Produce interesting, dynamic games.

-Force players to make meaningful choices.

This article isn't about positioning terrain to guarantee a win. It's all about setting up a board to produce a fun game for everyone involved.


Guidelines

1. Don't put terrain on the outer edge of the board.
Not sure where I got this image. It's a nice board overall but the stuff around the edges is just decoration.

Not sure where I got this one either. The buildings in red are in deployment areas. The models in them will just sit there all game sniping away.
You want to encourage movement. Putting terrain in a ring around the edge of the board and then leaving the middle empty makes for short and boring games. Teams deploy in the best buildings available and blast each other to bits. Anything foolish enough to wander into the empty middle can be targeted by anyone.

Tall terrain on the outer edge of the board also means you'll spend all game leaning over and trying not to snag a sleeve on a parapet. The official GamesWorkshop boards can trick you into putting buildings along "roads". Not the best plan.

2. The best positions require movement to reach.


Image provided by Ramanan S. The red soup can tower has two snipers on it. The poor models in white can hide in the green areas, but the snipers can hit any other part of the board.
If you can deploy a sniper (any model with a long-ranged high-powered weapon) in a spot where they can see the entire board, they can very easily control the entire game. It should take a turn or two of movement (and not shooting) to reach a position where the model can fire at two or more quarters of the board.

3. Place objectives carefully.
It's surprisingly hard to find images of objective placement, so here's an example of good placement I set up. There are multiple ways to get to the objective.
Objective markers are ubiquitous in skirmish games. Try to put them in locations that will drive conflict. Objectives in the open are difficult to hold; no cover means no protection. Objectives protected by walls on 3 sides are too easy to hold; all attacks will come from one direction. I like putting objectives on the second level of buildings or in areas with two different approach lanes.

I recommend using the objectives rules from the 2018 Nova tournament (PDF) for Kill Team. They create much more dynamic and close games.


Terrain Plan

Ok, this might be a bit difficult to follow but bear with me.

Top left: It's a skirmish board. The white areas have no line-of-sight-blocking terrain in them. The mid grey areas are places where one-story terrain should go. The dark grey square in the middle is for two-story terrain or higher.

Top right: Here's a potential layout. The light grey areas represent the back side of buildings.

Bottom left. The board divided into quadrants. In most games you'd deploy either in opposite quadrants or opposite board edges.

Bottom right: The board with examples of good objective placement. Corners are good. Objective  1 is out in the open, but there are no better locations in that quadrant. It's OK to have one or two objectives out in the open, just not all of them.


Guideline: Gap -> Ring of Buildings -> Gap -> Taller Central Building



Example Board


I set this up a earlier today. The outer edges of the board are empty. All the two-story terrain (and all the best firing positions) are near the middle of the board. The objectives are accessible in several different ways. One objective marker is on the upper level; I could put marker (1) up there too to drive a bit more conflict, but it's already a fairly powerful position to hold. Moving models in the centre of the board will be tricky but not impossible. There's a completely open side to the catwalks.

2019/02/01

OSR: The Eight Deadly Sins of Endon

I'm trying to find ways to better utilize a city map. Sure, there's a list of landmarks and major buildings, but I'd like to have a few pages to provide easy answers for GMs. "Where can I waste my money?" "What is my secret passion and how can I gratify it?" etc. One of the ways to make a city feel like a city is to have lots of interconnected areas, reinforced in the mind of the players by repeated associating under different context. Basically, they keep finding themselves in the same areas for completely different reasons.

If you're designing a city, consider listing where the seven (or eight) deadly sins can be gratified. It's very helpful.

Alexandru Negoita

The Eight Deadly Sins of Endon



Just as they recognize the eight points of a compass and the eight true colours, Endoners recognize (and cater to) eight deadly sins. Costs can be found on pg. ##.


An enterprising GM may want to inflict a single Sin on each PC at character creation; their secret vice, guilty pleasure, or open cause of ruination.
 

1. Gluttony: Dining Halls of Haymarket Square

Fiskelby’s, the Chuzzle, The Wobegone Club, The Red Lion, the Grand Cafe, Boutillon’s.

The fashionable restaurants and clubs of Haymarket Square (6, pg. ##) provide dishes to stagger the imagination. The Upper Class “dines out” rarely, the Middle Class whenever it can afford to, and the Lower Class gorges itself at pie-shops, gin dens, and roasting places.

2. Lust: Rampant Prostitution

Rathbone Place, Miss Chaterham’s, the New Parliament, the Duke’s Stables, Fancy-Free. 

For many, the only way to avoid starvation. In the knocking-shops around Colbraith Square (19, pg. ##) any preference can be accommodated at a few moment’s notice. Nearly everyone visits.

3. Greed: Betting Shops

Wise Fortune’s, Glengallery, Tipping House, the Great Sweeny’s, the Bell, the Chapel.

Endoners bet on everything: horse, dog, and pony races, dog-on-rat fights, boxing, tides, politics, and spur-of-the-moment wagers. Vast fortunes are lost on a throw of the dice or a turn of the cards. The best-appointed gambling dens cluster near Loxdon College (21, pg. ##).


4. Pride: Fashionable Tailors

Velvet Concourse, the Elm Trees, Matwick’s, the Brothers Bamstead, the Old Reliant.

Fashions change every Season. Dandies, courtiers, and ambitious young people follow fashion’s siren song to Needle Circus (24, pg. ##).

5. Envy: Watching Carriages at the Long Mall 

Ooh, there goes Lord Ginthem with a paid companion. And Lady Shreevly, like a clipper with all sails set. Look there, it’s the Duke of Bradham in his dress uniform, back from Foreign Parts, with Miss Scrupe, star of the stage.

Throughout the Season, the rich and powerful take long drives or pleasant walks through the Long Mall (12, pg. ##), watched with awe and envy.


6. Wrath: Boxing

Knock-em-Down Hole, the Splitters, Jack Rail’s Den, the Whisperplane, Hal Harrow’s, Squeakers 

Fighting pits and rat-rings are technically illegal but are rarely shut down or prosecuted. All red-blooded Endoners love a good fight. Anyone can participate if they don’t mind a few bruises. They can be found near Saint Nigel’s Workhouse (23, pg. ##). 


7. Sloth: Opium Dens

Land of Dreams, the Blue Steeple, the Clay Bins, Beckim’s, Master Morpheus’s Chambers
 

Though it is not a widespread vice, many people of all Classes and backgrounds take up opium to dull the everyday pain of life. Many dens of lassitude and decay can be found near Hasselby Court (10, pg. ##). 


8. Hatred: Newsagents

Foreign Agents in Our City, Sick Poor Spread Plague, Den of Iniquity, Child Murderer Walks Free, Luxury in Jail, Hanging Is Too Good For Him, Dozens Dead: Who to Blame? 
 
In Endon, it is said that any beast can be wrothful but only a men and tigers can hate. Wrath is bodily, foggy, red. Hate is cerebral, sharp, icy. Many small newspapers and pamphlets are deliberately inflammatory, playing on the worst fears and the deepest prejudices of their readers. Newsagents can be found on every street corner; discarded pamphlets in every dustbin. Of all the eight deadly sins, hate is the easiest to obtain.