Thursday 22 July 2010

Theatre of the Absurd

The Amazing Inflatable Trotsky!
Tonight, in our sort of pulpish, kind of steampunkish game set in amidst the chaos of the Spanish Civil War, we made an inflatable Leon Trotsky to lure away the NKVD from our area of operations, so that we could sneak on board a Russian freighter by means of a mad scientist's untested submersible, launched via a mile long underground railway running beneath the streets of Barcelona.

That's one of the things I really love about roleplaying games. You can create the most amazingly ridiculous scenes that, in the context of the game, are a perfectly rational response to circumstances.

Maybe not rational. But fun.

Wednesday 7 July 2010

Red Hot Sword

I found this image when I was trawling about through the files on my laptop. I have no memory of why I made it, but according to the file info it was some time in 2006, in Painter IX. Was it in response to something I was reading, or something I saw on TV? Or did it just come straight out of my brain-meats? I have no idea, but it looks like it could be useful as a good monster to put the wind up my hapless adventuring party, especially the elf who is allergic to fire attacks. It's a quickie sketch — it looks like it probably only took me ten minutes or so — but I think it's quite evocative in its vagueness.

It's obviously some kind of demonic warrior, and that red-hot sword looks as though it could be a bit nasty. Are the horns built-in, or is it wearing some sort of helmet?

My S&W campaign is in hiatus at the moment, giving me a break from GMing for a while (I'm playing in a free-form game set in the middle of the Spanish Civil War) but I think I'll get this guy into the action when we start up again.

Thursday 1 July 2010

Char B1 (bis)

This model is a 15mm (1/100 scale) resin and metal offering from Battlefront. They sell it as a flame-throwing beutepanzer (captured tank in German service), but fortunately they also provide the original 75mm hull-mounted howitzer so that I could return it to French service.

The Char B1 (bis) was a French heavy tank, designed between the wars in the early '30s along WW1 lines. It was a potent fighting vehicle for its day, but let down by antiquated design and tactical principles. After the fall of France in 1940, the Germans (as was their habit) inducted quite a few of them into their own second-line forces. The Char B1 was often refitted as a flamethrower tank, replacing the hull 75mm howitzer with the flamethrower nozzle.

I rather like this French 3-colour camouflage scheme, but I thought I had painted it better before I saw it in the harsh glare of close-up photography.  Apart from anything else, the green is too viridian, especially in the photo — it does look a little better in real life, but it really should be a bit more olive.

Note:  that cylindrical thing with the two lugs one the top of the hull just in front of the exhaust pipes is actually supposed to be the front-right idler axle. I've since moved it to where it's supposed to be.

Simple damage: a cautionary tale of pointlessness

I was reading through some ancient gaming articles recently, and encountered something that set off a very dim light bulb in my head. One author, referring to the buffness and studliness of characters and monsters used the term "hits" rather than "hit-points".

It occurred to me that one might define a creature by, among other things, the number of average whacks with an average weapon (a sword, say) it would take to render it hors de combat. In such a case, there'd be no need to determine damage when one hit in combat; each blow would be a "Hit".

On further consideration, I thought this would tend to make combat a bit too mechanical and predictable. If an ogre always takes 4 hits to take down, there's no real suspense. So I thought, how about if critters had a standard base number of hits, plus or minus a few to reflect tougher or weaker individuals?

Then I thought, what about varying damage a bit? We could throw a d6 and treat a 6 as two hits, a 1 as no hits, and 2-5 as the standard 1 hit.

Then I thought, it's not reasonable that a hit from a dagger should be exactly the same, damage-wise, as a wallop from a pole-axe. So I thought that maybe weapons should be split into a number of damage classes: maybe a dagger would subtract 2 from the die roll while a pole-axe would add 2....

And THEN I thought.... I'm doing a lot of fiddling to end up with a combat damage system that isn't really any simpler or more useable than the standard D&D system.

So then I gave up.