Friday, January 28, 2011

PBEM, anyone?

Basically the only gaming I get to do these days is play by email, especially using Vassal. I haven't actually played a PBEM game in a while, and I'd like to get back into it. So I'm wondering if anyone out there is interested in playing any of the following, using Vassal (and ACTS, if appropriate):

Keep in mind that with the exception of TRC, I pretty much suck at all of these games, and want to play to improve. So if you're looking for a challenging opponent in these games, look somewhere else.

Also, because of my very tight schedule, I may only be able to do a turn or two a week (that's a cardplay or two a week in a CDG). Some weeks I'll be able to do much more, but sometimes I simply won't be able to do that. So if you're looking for a really fast game, look somewhere else.

If anyone is interested, let me know.

Wednesday, January 12, 2011

An idea for magic

For a number of years, I've thought about trying out a simple but (I think) interesting system for magic in a fantasy RPG (although I suppose it could be used for other genres as well). It's based on the idea that a gifted person can twist probability in his favor, but there are consequences to this action.

The basic idea is simple: the gifted character can, at any time, gain a bonus to a die roll affecting them (or any die roll, depending on how magic works in the game). The bonus can be any size (although the system you're using will obviously affect the size and meaning of the bonus). The GM keeps a running tally of the bonuses used by the character. At any time that he feels like it, the GM can then use some or all of this tally as penalties against the character. The GM can parcel out the penalties in dribs and drabs, or one huge whammy. Do whatever is dramatically appropriate.

For example, in a Fudge style game, a PC takes a +1 bonus during a battle in which he fears for his life. Later, he takes a couple of +1 bonuses to healing checks to recover from the battle. So the tally is now +3. Later in the session, the PC tries to use diplomacy to get an NPC to cooperate, and the GM drops the whammy--a -3 penalty, which leads to catastrophic failure of diplomacy.

I think this system could be adapted in many different rules systems without a problem. And it is balanced if the GM does in fact use the tally to penalize the player. I think it could be a lot of fun.

Tuesday, January 11, 2011

The Battle for Moscow

I've spent a bit of time lately toying around with Battle for Moscow, a small and freely available wargame covering Operation Typhoon at the end of 1942. The game was originally published by GDW back in 1986 as a free giveaway to get people in to wargaming. I have no idea if it succeeded at that, but it did succeed as a fun and quick-playing wargame. I think you could probably finish this one in two hours or less, especially after you get to know the rules (not that they're particularly complicated).

As much as I like longer wargames (e.g. The Russian Campaign, maybe the greatest wargame ever), it is nice to have a game like this that moves quickly and can be played in a short period of time. Especially now that I have kids, time is very precious, and I can get the wargaming fix in a short time.

By the way, Victory Point Games recently published a new and cleaned up version of this one. And VPG has also published several other games by Frank Chadwick using a fine-tuned version of this system.

Monday, January 3, 2011

Games I Want to Run or Play In

I think it's probably typical for roleplayers, but there are many, many games that I'd love to play in and/or run. Here's a short list:
  • A long-term Traveller game: I've only become interested in class SF fairly recently, and it'd be a lot of fun to do a sandbox type Traveller game. I actually managed to start a game like this, and I think it was going well, but then I had to stop gaming on account of the impending arrival of twins.
  • A low-magic fantasy game. I'm not sure D&D would be the right system for this, but I'd love to run a game that is very close to medieval Europe, but with magic and horror lurking in the shadows. I've sketched out many setting elements and ideas for this type of game over the years, but never managed to actually run one.
  • A World of Darkness game: I love the World of Darkness games (at least the old WoD games; never played the new ones), and I haven't played one of them in years. I'd love to remedy that. A while back I ran an mash-up of Mage, Unknown Armies, and a bit of Kult for some friends, it was a hell of a lot of fun. But that was years ago. I miss being steeped in that setting.
  • Something set in ancient Rome. That's why I find Cthulhu Invictus so interesting, although Rome could be a great setting for lots of types of campaigns.

I could easily expand that list.

Saturday, January 1, 2011

Is my wheel burning?

An RPG that I'm very tempted to try is Burning Wheel, a fantasy game that gets rave reviews for encouraging characters to take an active role in driving the plot. I love that in a game, both as a player and as a GM. So it sounds like Burning Wheel would be a perfect fit for me.

However, BW is also fairly crunchy--it's got a lot of a detail. I don't think it's excessively complex, but there's a lot of interlocking parts. And from what I've heard, it's so well constructed that tinkering with the system can have massive effects. I'm not sure that such a system is for me. I'm especially not sure it's for me when you consider that if I got the game and introduced it to my friends, I'd have to explain it to them. And I hate explaining complicated rule systems to others. If everyone got a copy of the game and read it, then I'd be more willing to try it. But I doubt that'd happen.

However, BW still tempts me. I'd love to give it a try, but I don't know if it'd work for me.

P.S. Anyone interested in learning more about BW but don't want to buy the game, check out the Podgecast. It's an excellent RPG podcast in general, but they love BW, and talk about it a lot. There's even a series of campaign recaps from (so far) two different BW campaigns they've played. Well worth listening to. And I really want to play in a game with those guys.