Friday, 18 March 2011

Plot a course for adventure

OK, so a little while ago I had the idea of creating a Starblazer Adventures plot point campaign. Now a plot point campaign is a Savage Worlds idea, which is basically that you provide a series of adventures that can be completed in almost any order as the player's wish, usually each tied to a specific or type of location.

For example an adventure could be that some information the player's need is to found on a rundown space station, but details beyond that are sketchy, or while on a jungle moon orbiting a gas giant there is some equipment that will prove invaluable to the coming mission.

These adventures can be dropped in as the players move around the galaxy, indeed some can be relocated so that they occur wherever the players happen to be. This avoids the common 'railroading' complaint of many published adventures, and a clever Story Teller with a few helpful Aspects can pull the characters around the known galaxy to places they need to be and for it not to feel like a heavy handed technique (or the players will hopefully just decide to follow the clues!).

So what is needed for a plot point campaign of your own? Well here are some guidelines, which I hope to follow as I create a plot point campaign of my own.

An ultimate goal
This is the thing which will drive the campaign, if it is interesting enough the players will want to pursue it and will chase around the galaxy to unravel the mystery or defeat the evil villain or organisation.

An introductry adventure
Sounds a bit obvious really, but you need to use the introductory adventure to bring the players together (again in SBA) and reveal a tantilising amount of the overall campaign peril so that the player's start to chase after it. Ideally you want the players together by choice or duty, heavy handed pushing is to be avoided if at all possible!

Planetary Gazette
Details of all the known planets in the galaxy (however vague at first), these will provide the locations for your adventures, it is up to you if the location or the adventure comes first, but there are merits in both and sometimes one automatically begats the other.

Some unconnected adventures
These are adventures that do not drive the campaign plot forward but give a side track that enriches the players experience or lengthens the campaign so that it is not complete within a few short weeks.

For example:
The characters are all members of the Galactic Patrol (or on assignment from somewhere else) onboard a smallish patrol craft. They receive a signal to investigate a distress call received from a diplomatic vessel close to minor planet.

Once they arrive they find the ship inoperable and deserted, any traces of recent warp ship activity are negative. A wider search reveals a ship landed on a nearby moon, which then contacts them (or contacts them should they think of slipping the system).

The other ship is a diplomatic ship from a rival alliance, which informs them that the ship was attacked by an unknown enemy and that they have some survivors aboard their ship. They say that they arrived a short while after the attack and found the ship almost destroyed, they immediately sent out a team to get survivors from the wreckage. They did however pick up a warp signature and will provide the co-ordinates to the Patrol.
The mission was to be a diplomatic mission to discuss the current cold war between the two galactic alliances, things have been escalating recently and it was hoped a peaceful resolution could be negotiated.
That hope is somewhat lost now as the main negotiating team appears to have been lost.

I think I'll stop there, hopefully this provides a number of avenues for enquiry, namely the attacker's identity, the survivors of the attack, the wrecked ship etc. If I ever get the time I may well finish this mini adventure but feel free to take it whereever you please.

Until next time Steve

Monday, 14 March 2011

Modular Space Board

I had the idea over the weekend of creating a modular board for space battles using Starblazer Adventures. Now in SBA you move and fire according to 'zones'. These aren't like squares on a board exactly, being larger and irregularly shaped depending on the environment. So a small system might have a few open space zones, an atmospheric zone or two and maybe a couple of moons, also zones.

Now in effect these zones do function like squares being used for range etc. but they are not 'squares' per se, if you see what I mean?!

I had a go at hand drawing some, and they were pretty awful, no actually very awful, art really isn't my strong point (otherwise I'd have other projects I would have a go at, good grief!). So I've put a call out on the SBA forum, hopefully some helpful sole will point me in the right direction.

Funnily enough I've just twigged that I could use stock space art, maybe even from the Hubble telescope. This is something to pursue if nobody comes back perhaps, mind you even if I got the art required I lack a decent program to create what I'm after (MS Paint is it unfortunately!).

I don't know, maybe some SBA angel will heed my call and do the hobby a real favour!

Until next time Steve

Tuesday, 8 March 2011

Argh! Thar be Lego on the horizon

OK, so stricly speaking this is not an indea you can steal for a game, but I do feel that I should 'get it out there'. This thought came while playing Lego Indiana Jones on the DS with my youngest, it is (in case you haven't guessed) Lego Pirates the video game!

It's character building

So, most of the Lego games have been about using different characters to solve puzzles, well this is what I came up with:

Captain - has a parrot, or a monkey (like Marion in Indy)
Rower - needed to row a boat, rather than them moving themselves as in Indy
Bomber/Grenadier - can throw bombs, or set them
Rope monkey - can use a grappling hook
Digger - uses a spade
Musketeer - can fire a rifle
Local guide - can unlock 'secret pathways'
Vooduns - can levitate Lego objects, or use magic in some other way

So what about the bad guys and other characters?

These are the most obvious to me:
Naval officer - British/French/Spanish
Soldier/Marine - as above
Governor's daughter - definite love interest!
Native chief
Native savage
Skeletal/ghost captain
Skeletal/ghost pirate

Gunpowder, treason and plot

OK, so you've got characters, what about plot and locations? How about:

Marooned on an island - the character has to find enough items to start a fire
Rapids - has to row down rapids avoiding rocks and natives firing things from the sidelines
Governor's mansion - infiltrate the governor's mansion and rescue the pirate's sweetheart
Fort - breaking into, and or out of, a fort
Docks/port - chasing around a port trying to get to your ship or reach a contact
Boarding action - obligatory fights onboard ship, clashing with the authorities
Ghost ship - onboard a ghost or being attacked by one
Aztec ruins - perhaps looking through ruins with traps etc. to catch the unwary, maybe even Eldorado (definitely no giant gold eagle/plane though!)

Possible Plot

The character is marooned by his own navy for insubordination. He has to find his way off the island by raising the alarm, a big bonfire ought to do the trick, of course there are natives on the island...

Once onboard the ship engages in a ship to ship action against the French, the character meets the French Governor's daughter (he does not know who she is) and they fall in love. She is left on the French ship after another ship turns up and chases them away, the character moons for a while.

The pirates bury the treasure on an island, and are attacked by natives.

The pirates head into port and have a good time in port. Eventually they are captured by the local militia and taken to the fort.

They break free from their cell but have to get out of the fort, and then out of the fort's grounds and to the ship. (This section probably split in two)

Once onboard they set sail, and one night when the character is on watch they are attacked by a ghost ship. They fight an onboard action against the ghosts (on both ships, both above and under deck, and possibly in the rigging and top masts)

They attack a port and the character sees the governor's daughter from afar but cannot reach her.

Once onboard again the captain argues with the character and he becomes the new captain. The captain leaves with his treasure map and some of the crew, forcing the character to go to port and recruit some more men, while avoiding the local soldiers.

They sail to the treasure island and find the previous captain there, after a fight the character gets the treasure, now he just needs to get the girl.

They attack the governor's manion and have to get inside, once inside they must find the girl and escape.

I'm sure there's a million other things that could happen and there are some plot weaknesses (perhaps the ghost ship had a map, which led to the port, which leads to another map, which leads to a lost city, which the ghosts want back etc.), I haven't included a rapids scene for instance (this could come in the ingress to the lost city), and swashbuckling characters are often captured more than once(maybe once by a ghost pirate)!

Divvying the loot

Well, there's no extra licence fee unlike Star Wars, Indy et al.
They have a great range of minifigs that it could all be modelled on, including Brickbeard
It could tap into some Pirates of the Caribbean vibe, with the fourth instalment on the way
It's pirates for God's sake!

It may not have the same pull as the licensed properties (but make it good and they will come!)
A new play method - ship to ship combat would have to be developed

Personally I think it's a prospect with a lot of merit, OK it may be a little rough but with a tiny bit more work it could be developed into a workable swashbuckling/romantic/ghost pirate/lost city plot.

Until next time Steve

Friday, 4 March 2011

O solo mio!

Recently I lost my gaming group, a bit careless I know, I'm sure I left them round here somewhere...

Anyway, that got me thinking about solo gaming, and dicussions on the Fudge mailing list led me to look into Mythic, however, never satisfied I continued to look into solo gaming and thanks to an unremembered source also found Larger than Life by Two Hour Wargames, actually designed for very small pulp skirmish games (in fact almost an RPG it seems).

Now while both are relatively cheap, Mythic in particular, I'm one to never be happy with anything as first presented, perhaps that why I never finish anything!

There's only one possible solution

So with my brain churning, as it always seems to, I thought 'could I create one of my own?' and of course the simple answer to that is 'Yes!'.

So, with what I can infer Mythic, appears to be about answering Yes/No questions, with occasional extremes and random events. Meanwhile Larger than Life takes a different approach, assigning locations, people and an aim for every scene with occasional random events.

For a start I couldn't see how a simple Yes/No gave you any details unless you asked a million questions so the random events must be the main drivers, and I knew that Larger than Life gives you scene details, people etc. so what would a system that melded them together look like?

Now I can die happily

OK, so I've got the idea, what dice should I use, percentile dice seem a good idea, but then I usually shy away from these because they seem a little clinical to me, 'a 67% chance of there being guards' vs '4 or less there are guards'. I don't know, the more abstract numbers just seem easier for some reason, I guess for me percentiles detract from the atmosphere.

So what choices do I have:
d4 - too little probability and obscure, unless playing a Mummy game!
d6 - the industry 'standard', maybe roll 2 compare to a chart (I don't want a bell curve, I think you need the extremes) it's a possibility
dF - as used in Fudge, again either a bell curve or a chart, plus really only three sided, so sorry folks!
d8 - a bit negelected, but then it still seems to have too little sides
d10 - a possibility
d12 - funnily I like d12, maybe it's got something to do with Advanced Heroquest, a game that brought me further into the hobby (maybe it's because it's a d6 in disguise!)
d20 - a love the d20 mechanic in Pendragon, but it's also in my pet hate system, can I forgive it?
d100 - as I said, already discarded for being too clinical

Finally I settled on the d6, it is such an industry standard it is hard to ignore, it will require a little table but nothing too onerous hopefully.

So now I've decided on the die, what next...

Until next time Steve

Thursday, 3 March 2011

It's a start!

Well, this is my new blog, so how about introductions?


I'm Steve, I've gamed for most of my life, first with things like the much loved Milton Bradley boardgames HeroQuest and Space Crusade before Space Hulk and Advanced HeroQuest and books like the Fighting Fantasy series. Around this time I was introduced to role-playing "proper" with a wide variety of games, systems, and settings from the traditional to the indie, to Games Workshop war and skirmish games (never really got introduced to any others, I guess that's what comes from living in a cul-de-sac the UK).

This blog

If you're anything like me (and I sincerely hope not!) then you have a multitude of competing ideas swirling around your head at any given moment. This blog I hope is going to be my cathartic exercise. The reason I want to do this? Well, beyond the fact this will hopefully free my brain for certain endeavours, I think some of my ideas are good, and though I cannot make use of them myself, someone else out there might take them and polish them up a bit (OK a lot!) and get some real use out of them.

So what sort of thing can you expect? I'm not exactly sure at the moment, musings, links, adventure, campaign, and character ideas, RPG design thoughts, solo playing and a thousand other things possibly. Hopefully it will be the sort of place to drop by now and again and see just what has disgorged from my game addled mind.

If for any reason you use some of these ideas, particularly if they go well or not, or you are so inspired you'd like me to assist with a related project please get in contact, I'd be delighted to help where possible.

Until next time Steve