Sunday, November 21, 2021

This is How We Grow

   Got a call Thursday, asking if I could run the second half of my Traveller adventure on Saturday.  I said, probably, but it would be short as there wasn't much left for the party to do and I wouldn't have time to prep anything as I was writing reviews for work and had plans Friday night - oh. and I was driving an hour to help the youngest work on his house Saturday morning - so timing was iffy.  I was told no problem, one of the regular players (the bartender) was interested in running something.

    Well running a cable around the outside of his house to feed it through an existing hole took an hour longer than expected, so I was running late when I got there with my kit.  No problem, they had started rolling characters.  He'd had Dark Heresy on his shelf for ten years, had never played it and never run a game before.

    I've never played it either, but I do have Warhammer FRP 1e on my bookshelf for the last thirty odd years, unplayed.   So I had some familiarity with the underlying system. But he got everyone through character generation and equipment, taking his time and looking things up as he needed to find them.  Nobody showed impatience, we were all learning the system and gave him suggestions like - instead of doing weapons one player at a time go through the table and everyone who has that weapon can write down the specs together.

   He wanted to ise an introductory scenario, as much so he'd get familiar with the different types of checks as we would, and he reassured us that combat would only be a minor concern as we were weak and crunchy anyway.  The scenario was set up to introduce social interaction checks, like Inquiry first, then physical skill checks, then combat.  Now, we were skeptical, because the group tends to shoot first and question the souls of the dead afterwards, but OK.

I immediately short-circuited the social interaction checks by doing a 'take me to your leader' routine as soon as we touched down.  So no following up on people mysteriously coming up and talking to us.  Although one character did intimidate a quartermaster out of his own suit of armor and got us some frag grenades to boot.

We manage to short-circuit the physical skill checks to.  Instead of jumping across a chasm, we go back and retrieve a door we'd taken off the hinges earlier and make a bridge.  So we very quickly got into combat with groups of abominable mutants.  Where we all felt comfortable and we got to work out the mechanics of Warhammer Critical Hit System.  Lots, I mean LOTS of gore in the descriptions.  I've always enjoyed them.

  The whole time,  we were offering suggestions and discussing rule interpretations with our new DM - three of us have run games before.  Ranging from - don't show fear to "OK, he made the absurd skill check, but here's a suggestion on how to handle it so it doesn't derail the scenario.

At the end an enjoyable evening and a new DM for the group.  This is how we build our hobby, one player and one DM at a time, playing together rather than competitively.

3rd Reich - Spring 1940


BRP Calculations

    Germany - ended 1939 with 50 BRP, grew it's base to 175 BRP and gained 20 BRP for Poland.  195 BRP total

    Britain - ended 1939 with 50 BRP, grew it's base to 145 BRP total

    USSR - ended 1939 with 50BRP, grew it's base to 105 BRP and gained 20 BRP for Eastern Europe.  130 BRP Total

    France - ended 1939 with 10 BRP, grew it's base to 88 BRP and gained 5 BRP for Luxembourg.  93 BRP total

     Italy - ended 1939 with 15 BRP, grew it's base to 78 BRP and gained 10 BRP for Greece.  88 BRP total.

    I was discussing this with my friend Jim, and he pointed out that 3rd Reich is an economic game, rather than a war game and you need to build you economies so you can build the units to conduct the war.  He agreed with my assessment of the previous turn that while taking advantage of my lapse in the Maginot line was probably what Hitler would have done.  In the meta game terms, Germany may have been better off to take Belgium and Holland in 1939, providing as many BRP as they would have spent in conquest and broadening the front against France, deferring the growth of the BRP base for one year.

Strategic Warfare

    Both Germany and Britain put about 5% of their BRP in SW, both favored building defensive units.  No SW Warfare resolution until 1941

    Resolution comes before building, so I'll be six turns in before I work out how Strategic Warfare functions.  Yes, I know it's an exchange system, followed by BRP adjustments, but haven't looked at strategies for maximizing/ minimizing effects.  I created a quick random table for the first year distribution of BRPs, to imitate NO ONE knowing how it was going to work out.

2 - 10% to defensive SW

3 - 2% Offensive SW, 8% Defensive SW

- 1% Offensive SW, 4% Defensive SW

5 - 2% Offensive SW, 3% Defensive SW

6 - 5% Offensive SW, 5% Defensive SW

7 - 2.5% Offensive SW, 2.5% Defensive SW

8 - 5% Offensive SW, 5% Defensive SW

9 - 3% Offensive SW, 2% Defensive SW

10 - 4% Offensive SW, 1% Defensive SW

11 - 8% Offensive SW, 2% Defensive SW

12 - 10% Offensive SW


Germany - Took another hex of the Maginot line, retook Luxembourg and Sedan, Metz is no longer out of supply.  In the process they destroyed 2/3rds of the French armor and half of the Armee de l'Air.

Italy - Minor victories in the Alps and in Libya.  Redeployed infantry to Tripoli and armored units to Milan

France and Britain - redeployed units from Belgian border to the south.  Massive attack re-retakes Sedan and shortens the lines.

     Home Fleet transports reinforcements (12th Inf) to Calais, prompting sortie by Kreigsmarine from Kiel.  RAF suffers significant losses attacking German ships, but Royal Navy wins again in the Battle of the Norfolk Banks.

     Reinforcements sent to Egypt

     France recalls 7th and 18th Infantry from Tunisia to the Alps to cover for losses and troops moved to the Moselle front.

USSR - Stalin begins slow build up of units.  Creating an armor reserve and bolstering the defenses of the Baltics and Leningrad.

Sunday, November 14, 2021

S.S Ethics 4 Once

  So, I got a call last week from an old Navy buddy and gamer, asking if I'd be interested in starting a Traveller campaign with his group.  After unearthing - and repairing - the old GDW Deluxe Edition boxed set with the Spinward Marches and tracking down my "Classic Games" reprint with Snapshot, Azhanti High Lightning and Striker etc (it was down at the eldest's farm); I agreed and whipped up a quick salvage and bug hunt scenario.  By quick, I mean two pages of notes - half of which is a drawing of how the pods on a dispersed structure starship connect, and lot of good intentions and half-way remembrances of how the system works.   

  I picked up two additional resources to add to my Books 1-6.  Book 7, Merchant Prince and, on a recommendation from Eric at Swords and Stitchery, the game Hulks and Horrors for adventure ideas.  The eldest, after I helped him clear brush and get the snowblower attachment on his tractor; joined in and contributed Supplement 7 Citizens of the Imperium along with his presence at the table.

    We had a chaotic time trying to get five people to generate characters at once.  Personally, I'm a fan of having the players generate their characters themselves, not at the table waiting for me to tell them what their die rolls mean.  What should have taken each of them twenty minutes working in parallel took better than three hours in sequence.  Since four of them were complete newbies to Traveller, but experienced in computer RPGs and D&D we ended up with a set of characters both too over powered (all of them had done five terms to max out their skill rolls) and not balanced at all.  They had two scouts with ships; two retired Navy officers (one a Duke and one a Marquis), a retired enlisted Merchant and a retired Diplomat.  No one had better than Computer-1 and only one had any combat skills, no Electronics skills either as I recall.  I'll admit I screwed up on some of the character generation; missed the paragraph on Merchant enlisted advancement, so that character is owed five skills.  Oh well, blew the rust off at least.

    Because of the imbalance I made some quick changes, declared that while they were officially retired, they were actually on a clandestine Imperial diplomatic mission in District 268 and had been issued a Free Trader to use as cover and transportation.  This of course made them want to find some cargo to ship so they could make extra money.  As they were first jumping to Tarsus, an Agricultural, Non-Industrial world they found a broker who could line up a few tons of that specific cargo, along with a number of other cargo loads to carry.  Ignoring that the group has two or three characters with Admin-2 or Liaison-2 and trying to shave the fee; they offered the broker full time employment in exchange for 5 tons of cargo space.  He wasn't interested, but he had a cousin just breaking onto the business who would be.  She negotiated not only the 5 tons cargo, but also retained the 5% fee she would have charged for her Broker -1.  Essentially, they've agreed to carry her around while she hones her skills and make contacts, while paying her full fee and allowing her to trade for herself.

   At this point the Diplomat, who's player tends to run excessively Chaotic characters, got worried that some of the cargo they only carrying in sealed containers might *gasp* be illegal to ship.  This lead to the naming of the ship 'Ethics for Once'.

   With the ship straight from a maintenance availability and refined fuel, there was no chance for a misjump - but they didn't know that.  Coming back into N-space, they found themselves surprised to be close enough to something that they had a radar contact.  (They asked me what it looked like.  Drawing on a dozen years of watching radar screens on ships , I deadpanned "A blip".)  They now realized it would be nice if someone had some sort of skill with shipboard sensors; but eventually one of the Naval officers figured them out and was able to tell it was a ship massing about 800t, built as a Type 7 Dispersed Structure in a series of linked oval pods.  It was also tumbling through space, giving them a pretty broad hint it was in trouble.  The duty pilot rolled box cars and chose not only to match course and speed, but also frequency of rotation to simplify going across in vacc suits.  Another discussion occurred when they determined they had no characters to act a muscle in a potentially hostile situation.

     After one failed attempt, one of the scouts reached a pod they thought might contain small craft, connected a tether between the ships and found an emergency airlock.  They found writing on the hull near the airlock, in form of eight armed asterisks.

   As each arm has three possible value, not present, normal length, double length - this gave up to 512 different meanings for each symbol.  Sending imagery back, they again struggled to figure out how to connect feed the visual input into the ship's computer to identify it.  Someone with say Computer skill would have been useful at this point.

Succeeding eventually, the computer could only tell them that it matched the script used by a minor race near the Solemani Rim - the Ahoggya, who are 1.5 meters tall and broad, with trilaterally symmetrical bodies and a grumpy disposition.  Further information wasn't available.  The Merchant's player did some research and found a nice picture of them (not this one from the original publication).  I reminded them that while every race from from a future with space faring I never said they would all be from Traveller.

Because I have a soft spot for Tekumel

   My inspiration for the Ahoggya star script is the remembrance knots I recall them being described as using in lieu of a written record.

    Entering through the emergency lock, they found a passage painted in muddy greens and loud hooting, screeching and rhythmic stomping coming from the every speaker in the ship.  WHen they asked the compueter what it might mean, it threw up the guess an alien version of WAP by Cardi B.  (I'm given to understand this is a song currently considered to be uplifting music using sexually explicit lyrics to shock old grognards like me.  Never listened to it, haven't listened to much of the music recorded since Reagan.)   They found a couple of small craft, with seats that lookedlike they would be for a trilaterally symmetrical lifeform.  A maintenance bay with all of the tools welded into a sculpture of a double helix and the crushed bones and carapace of a lifeform they assume to be an Ahoggya.

    Moving on they figured out how the ship's door access controls worked, moved to another pod full of cargo and then found a passage into the control section.  They managed to figure out how the controls worked, and even though they were built for three hands the scout managed to stop the tumbling using thrusters, but also determined the main drive was offline.  Another skeleton was present along with a snub pistol (snapped up by the Diplomat; pity he didn't ask if it was loaded.)  All attempts to get information out of the Ahoggya's ship's computer were stymied by their inability to translate the language, even after they found the main menu.  Of course, no one checked if the Ahoggya had a translation program loaded.  They also noticed a floor level vent was lying on the deck and the console around it seemed to have been shot at by the snub pistol.  One of the characters/players figured out at this point they were in a bug hunt scenario, with something in the air system.  (Another place I screwed up, I'd brought Gamma World to use the Artifact Charts for understanding alien technology and forgot to break them out).

    Continuing to the next pod, they found crew quarters, deserted but for a couple more skeletons and they heard a ventilation cover being pushed out behind them.  The character who figured it was a bug hunt, also happened to be the only one with gun combat skills - and had brought his rifle over.  Even though nothing could be seen by the vent cover moving - but not in a direct line from the vent itself - he opened fire and was rewarded with a loud screech, a spurt of purple blood and the sound of something large going back into the vent.

   We broke here, they're discussing venting the Ahoggya ship to space to kill the thing (a wingless Blight from Gamma World) - although they haven't searched half the ship for survivors.


Thursday, November 11, 2021

3rd Reich - Winter 1939


Germany - Abwehr agents determined that the northern flank of the Maginot line was only weakly held by disaffected reservists  [I had used a reinforcement counter just to hold the line during initial set up and forgot to reinforce it during the French Fall 1939 turn.] and as the RAF was operating out of southern England, they would be unable to intervene at the chosen point of assault.  Planning for Fall Gelb  changed to orient the attack through Luxembourg and to the south to take advantage of this opportunity. Preparations were accelerated and the attack was launched in November, with  the Luftwaffe engaging the Armee del'Air  suppressing the Gallic squadrons.  The panzers succeeding in overrunning the Maginot line and taking Metz.  The tanks wheeled north and took the regular French infantry in the flank at Sedan.  Despite being surprised the regular French troops destroyed a Panzer division before they fell.   Hitler has moved new panzer divisions to the Rhine along the Belgian border.

Italy - Athens fell after a bloody siege, where British and Greek the defenders traded their lives for an equal number of Italian troops.  In a bold move, Mussolini ordered the execution of Operazione C3, sending the entire Italian fleet as an escort for the troops invading Malta.  The French, having previously reinforced their Mediterranean Fleet and forward deploying it to Corsica and Tunis, forced the Strait of Messina and engaged the Italians off Cape Peloro.  The Regia Marina defeated their French Fleet, but Admiral Cunningham  had also committed the entire British Mediterranean Fleet to the effort to stop the invasion.  With the ships from Alexandria carefully routed along the coast of Cyernaica, they slipped past the patrols of the Regia Aeronautica operating from their bases in Rhodes and rendezvoused with the entirety of Force H from Gibraltar off of Cape Passero, where they inflicted a crushing defeat on the Regina Marina in a pitched battle.  All the combatants retired to make repairs.

France - after the first Battle of Sedan, the French moved their troops south from the Belgian border and north from the Alps to counter attack, even pulling their armor reserve out of Paris.  The RAF redeployed to fly Ground Support missions against the Germans in conjunction with the French counter attacks.  Sedan has been regained and Luxembourg liberated; two panzer divisions remain surrounded in Metz.  Marshall Gamelin loudly assures the press that the Boche will swiftly be expelled from French soil come the new year.  They hurriedly reconstituted their battle losses, ordering aircraft from the United States as Dewoitine is retooling their aircraft factories to produce the new D.520.  In North Africa, the French Army has crossed the border into Libya, but rumor has it they will be ordered back to metropolitan France with the New Year.

Britain - the BEF was redeployed to cover more of the Belgian frontier when the French Army moved south, along with the RAF send a Group to Dieppe to support the French.  The Royal Navy is flush with it's victory over the Italians, they lost ships of their own but the government sees them as successful and not needing a major reinforcement at this time.  Units in Egypt have moved into Italian Cyrenaica and are reported at the gates of Bengasi.

Russia - Stalin broods in the east, awaiting the new year and the new decade.  The Decade of the New Soviet Man who is destined to crush the fascists and destroy the capitalists in the West.  The only question is how he will accomplish it.

Wednesday, November 10, 2021

More RQ Classic Creature Generator Updates

As I convert adventures to Runequest, I'm creating templates for creatures from other systems, from lowly kobolds to demonic remenatns. In doing so I decided that it would be a good idea to be able to filter the "Races" by the game system in case anyone other than me is looking for something. So, there is a new control "Source" that toggle between the systems I've been converting from and seven new monsters - Manes Demons, Giant Rats and Centipedes and the lowly Kobold from Dungeons and Dragons along with a Demonic Revenant (should be Remnant, I'll fix it another day), Cannibal Molemen and Cursed Humans from Frog God Games, Swords and Wizardry adventure Grimmsgate.

Conversion of creatures from other systems is for my own use and enjoyment and has not been authorized by the various copyright holders.

Sunday, November 7, 2021

3rd Reich - Fall 1939

     Solo-gaming for the first time in over twenty years, I can leave the board up and play as and when I can.

Germany executes Fall Weiss, her panzers over run Polish defenses and are in Warsaw before the Britain and France can react.  The campaign is over in less than a month.  Hitler orders more infantry divisions raised and another Luftflotte; the panzers are redeployed to the West. 

Italy launches Operazione Mummius invading Greece from southern Albania.  Dedicating the best units of her army, she punches through the Greek defenses at the battle of Ioannina and her fast tanks race to the gates of Athens cutting off the bulk of the Greek army still deployed in the Pindus mountains.  Mussolini mobilizes army reserves, expecting Britain or France to come to Greece's aid.  He reinforces the Piedmont and garrisons potential invasion sites.

Greece - her army destroys itself in a fruitless counter offensive into Albania.  All that's left is a division of infantry under siege in Athens.

Britain - the War Cabinet and General Staff view the Greek position as hopeless, with insufficient resources in theater to intervene.  Churchill overrules them, demanding the nation be seen to take action after being unable to come to the aid of Poland.  They agree to send the Palestinian garrison to Greece.  Force H in Gibraltar is tasked to intercept the Italian Fleet in the Gulf of Taranto to prevent them from intervening; but the Regia Marina sailed early collecting the detachments from Brindisi and Durazzo enroute to the Myrtoan Sea to stop the British reinforcements.  Admiral Cunningham, however had directed the fleet sail through the Cyclades, chancing navigational hazards over an encounter with the numerically superior Italians.  With both intercepts failing, the British landed in Athens.   At home, the BEF holds Calais and the left flank of the French, covered by the RAF operating out of England.  Regiments are being raised and redeployed as fast as possible, with priority being given to the Mediterranean given France's great military strength.  Infantry has been sent to garrison Gibraltar and troops and tanks have been sent to Alexandria.

France unwilling to await the Germans, but also reluctant to move out of the Maginot Line or invade an even more  reluctant Belgium, ordered the Armee de l'Air to conduct bombing raids on the Luftwaffe bases around Bonn.  These were extremely successful, almost destroying an entire Luftflotte.  The Daladier government called the nation to arms.  Marshal Gamelin, impressed by the Italian armor's ability to penetrate the mountains of Greece, built a centralized armor reserve capable (he believes) of stopping attempts by the German panzers to flank the Maginot line through the Ardennes and positioned to cover Paris.  He remains indecisive on how to respond to a projected German invasion of Belgium in the face of Belgian refusal to plan cooperatively.

Russia invades Eastern Europe bloodlessly taking over the Baltic States, a share of Poland and Bessarabia.  Stalin announces a modification to the Third Five Year Plan limiting military expenditures to focus on building the Soviet economy.