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Archive for Mike Ricotta

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One Hundred and Seventy Seven traits. Thirty One scenarios. Thirty Two war band advances. Thirty Six magic items. Thirty Six spells. One game.

Mike Ricotta
United States
Norfolk
Virginia
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The epic campaign system for Song of Blades and Heroes is almost done. I managed to fit all of the above into one campaign system. As a quick reminder the system doesn’t use build points, so it is more like Mutants and Death Rays, and such has some interesting quirks. In the end though it is starting to look good, if not a little long. There is still some work to do but right now it is 15 pages long, no art, no backstory, and a few quest points left to make.

The last bit of rules work to do is how to handle a knight who wants to (and is able to) quest for the grail. The SAM book makes the grail quest into a 3 game ordeal for the knight, and it looks great, but that is overly ambitious for this game. Here I need the quest to be over in one game win or lose. The grail is the only quest that is different. Well technically you aren’t allowed to quest for Galantine as it is handled as a special mission. Yes I’m aware that there may be multiple copies of Galantine around, I don’t care. I just need to figure a way in making the three games for the grail somehow down to one tricky game for the questing knight. Other quests are fairly straightforward, both sides play the treasure hunt scenario, if the knight gets the treasure they get the item they had quested for. If the other player gets the treasure they sell it for a pittance, they didn’t recognize the true nature of the item.

Of course I have to write up a back story. A reason WHY all these war bands are willing to go out and beat each other silly. Also to explain a few of the design choices. Why the build point system was abandoned.
The basics are that an age of peace has come over the land. (I know age of peace game about killing people, stay with me) The once fierce knights have all retired. There are a few knights left, but they are nothing like the legends that came before them. So the people of the land need entertainment. Thus the fighting tournaments began. Teams of fighters (the war bands) set up a league and go out to fight, hopefully making some money while they are at it. They put out a call for certain warrioirs, but they are never quite sure who is going to show up. This team really needs an archer, well a guy with a crossbow showed up, guess he will have to do. We need a wizard! Well we got a necromancer, he will have to do.

Gold is the key. Teams are paid for victories and for entertaining the crowd. Gold is spent to improve the chances that your warband develops the way you want it to and that your guys live after the fight! Of course there are other prizes, I hear a guy over in Terre Haute won a brewery! Gold can also be used to increase the size of your warband over the initial five guys.

Your stars need to have a little extra of course. In the game this means that you have to pay your personalities part of your winnings or they get a little money hungry (they gain the greedy trait and now you know how you gain the greedy trait!).

There are twelve classes of guys, Wizard, Archer, Fighter, Big, Animal, Undead, Rogues, Knights, Monk, Fungi, Utility and Land Owner. Each class has three to twelve variations and an unique table for gaining additional skills. Also you can spend some gold to send guys to weapons school (were they learn a weapon skill or a block skill).

After I figure out the grail quest, which I’m sure will be super important and come up all the time. I’ll be ready to put a group together and start play test. If you live in the Norfolk Virginia area let me know!
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Wed May 13, 2015 6:18 pm
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    Building the epic campaign for Song of Blades and Heroes – Scenario Questions

    Mike Ricotta
    United States
    Norfolk
    Virginia
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    Fun fact, there are 32 scenarios available in the books I’m using. Seems like a lot really. Since the idea here is to use everything from all the books I guess I’ll have to figure it out. A few of them aren’t going to make it though. Actually five of them are going to be hitting the cutting room floor.

    The duplicates, there are 3 scenarios called Rescue, all have similar (if not the same) rules. I really need 1, sorry other two.

    The dungeons, due to the increased terrain and rule requirements the whole dungeon concept has been cut (I have discussed this before). So the dungeon raid scenario and the dungeon raid (special) scenario are out. Nothing personal, just business.

    Finally the easiest cut of them all, even easier than cutting duplicates or cutting thing you already decided to cut. HOLDOUT. I really really don’t like this scenario. Everyone who played in the last league we did really really didn’t like this scenario. In fact when I mentioned working on a new campaign to the group the first comment was NO HOLDOUT! For those of you not aware, holdout is a scenario in which the defender has to hold 1/3 of his army off the board. At the start of his turn he rolls a die, on a 6 the reserved portion can come on. There is no bonus to the defender. The victory goes to whoever killed the most guys. Sorry holdout, unless I’m missing something here I don’t understand you and you are out.

    The first step in the scenarios is making sure they all fit into the new no unit cost framework. Since most of them determine victory based on the unit costs of guys killed almost all of them need some work. Also I never felt that the voluntary fleeing (ie choosing to resign) was well worked out in regards to victory conditions. So some basic clarifications are called for. In the end there wasn’t that much that needed work, mostly it is just “Victory – Until one side is eliminated or chooses to resign” Since I’m not really going for a VP based system all that matters is who wins and who loses. Makes like a little simpler I think.

    With all the scenarios worked out I came into a problem I’m having a bit of trouble with, basically how to pick what scenario to play each game night. I really want everyone to play the same scenario across all games. Also I want to be able to have “special” nights where there are some additional prizes or rules. For example a property (blacksmith or tavern) would be given away to the winner if a certain condition is met (thus adding in those rules) or there is a werewolf out and about and may infect one of your models (thus adding in the were rules that aren’t anywhere else yet!). Also once people get property and such the raid scenarios need to come up. Finally the Questing Knights, how to make all that work. Also questing for the grail, a whole OTHER issue.

    I sort of want a system where if certain conditions are met specific scenarios are possible but not guaranteed. The flavor or theme of the campaign doesn’t lend itself to just being able to do whatever you want. So if a condition is met, a knight can and wants to quest, a player owns property that can be raided, a personality died last game and thus Rescue comes up, I want those quests to be possible or even probable in some cases, but not guaranteed. Some kind of die roll seems to be the best but I’m not sure on how to make it work.

    Modifiers? A plus 1 to a die roll making certain things possible? A dice pool where each condition adds a die? Some kind of flowchart? Just can’t seem to make the idea work in my head. Suggestions are welcome!

    Questing is a bit easier I think. If the questing knight gets the go ahead the scenario is Treasure Hunt. The knight pays 3XP for the chance. If you pull out the treasure gets to keep it even if they lose the game. In cases with no knights one of the non-chivalry based magic items can be the reward. Perhaps it would be random since they aren’t spending XP on it.

    The grail on the other hand is still up in the air. Clearly the grail quest is out as playing three games is a bit much, perhaps a modified version of it? Needs work.

    Still some work to do here, but moving right along!
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    Tue Apr 28, 2015 2:11 pm
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    Song of Blades and Heroes EPIC Campaign – What is hitting the cutting room floor.

    Mike Ricotta
    United States
    Norfolk
    Virginia
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    In the last few posts I’ve been discussing my efforts to write a new epic campaign system for Song of Blades and Heroes that uses EVERYTHING in all the books. If you want to know why I would do this just go back a few posts and read all about it. I’ll wait.

    Last time I talked about how unit selection is done. Go read it, I’ll wait, I haven’t got anything else to do. I’ve slowly put together the tables and assigned all the traits. I’ve kept track of what has been used. The idea is that every trait gets used so it has a chance (even a small one) to be used and can come into the campaign at some point (but may not). Some of these are easy, some are not, but I have almost all of them into the lists in one form or another.

    Happily I’ve got every trait in the books with the exception of 5 and one of those I have an idea for! I’m proud of myself at least.

    Instead of talking about the unlucky few I’m going to talk about a major cut in scope to the game. It gets rid of a lot of stuff but I think it is necessary. Last time we played a full SDG campaign none of these rules came up so I assume it is safe to cut here. The dungeon rules are not being used. They are just to different to really make work. Also you would need to carry all the stuff to make a dungeon around each game day on the small chance you would need it. Just doesn’t seem worth the effort to me. So sadly the dungeon rules are gone. I’ve never actually used them so I can’t say I’ll miss them, it just seemed to be the right thing to do.

    So the first trait that isn’t being used is hopefully fairly obvious to you now. I mean you do have an encyclopedic knowledge of all traits in all books right? I mean there are only 137 of them (I don’t own splintered lands so those don’t count anyway). The trait in question is traps. No dungeons means that traps aren’t really going to come into play so no trap trait. Sorry to see you go (not really).

    The next trait out is simple book keeping. There aren’t going to be any unique units so the unique trait is out. I suppose that it could have been used to make a special unit or something but that seems to be against the spirit of what I’m going for here and I can’t see much gnashing of teeth over it.

    Another bit of book keeping gets us to Hero’s Horse. Yes there are knights, yes there are mounted units. This system doesn’t use the unit cost point system so there isn’t a reason to have a dual cost unit. I can’t really imagine a scenario where you wouldn’t want a mounted unit to be mounted anyway, I’m sure one exists but I can’t think of it.

    One trait I am a little sad about but I can’t make it work. If you have an idea let me know! That is Summoner. I thought about having a list of monsters you can summon or you get a random monster but none of that is satisfying really. In that scenario you just get a good model and are hampered by a weak model. It just doesn’t sound good to me. I think the original summoner rules are neat and allow some flexability with discounted summoned units but it just doesn’t work out in this system. I’ll keep thinking on it, and if it can be made to work and be interesting I’ve got a slot it can fit into no problem.

    The final trait that isn’t used is going to be used in another section of the book (hopefully!) and that is were. I guess I could have had some were units in the lists but it seems that would be pretty powerful. Instead I think it should be part of one of the scenario setups. Like there is a random werewolf in the battleground and if he kills (but not permanently) a unit that unit can gain the were trait with an alternate form of some kind. I think it is a better “thematic” fit and might be more fun!

    Some traits are kind of hard to work in, Legendary Wizard and Immortal. Both are expensive in the point build system (legendary wizard is the most expensive trait in the game by a large amount). Still they have to be added dang nab it. Anyway I think I have a few mitigating factors. Not discussed yet but there is a bit of an upkeep system that makes you pay gold to personality units. Legendary Wizards just require more gold than others (3 times more). Personalities not paid become greedy, if they are already greedy they just leave you. Immortal is just hard to get. You have to be killed and then roll a 16 on 2d6 for the injury table. You can pay gold to modify the die roll!

    That is all for now! I’m always open to ideas / suggestions!
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    Fri Apr 3, 2015 2:38 pm
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    Designing an EPIC Song of Blades and Heroes Campaign, Lets Get Classist!

    Mike Ricotta
    United States
    Norfolk
    Virginia
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    So I have a crazy idea to design a campaign for Song of Blades and Heroes that uses every available trait, war band upgrade, magic item, and special terrain found in all the books. I have some reasons for this and if you are really interested please see my last entry! Anyway the first task was to make a comprehensive list of it all. That being done, the second task is to design the war band recruitment system.
    I really liked the way war bands are set up in Mutants and Death Rays. There you say I really need a robot on my team and you roll some dice and a robot shows up with some starter traits. It works in that setting as it is a post apocalyptic wasteland and the pickings are slim yo. So the idea is to set something like that in the SBH system. The SBY system has a LOT more traits, so I’m sure it will be easy right?

    First though you might ask how the mechanic fits the theme? Well I have a base idea for the theme / backstory / idea of the campaign and I believe I can make it work. Basically your war band isn’t some high and mighty army and is just going to have to be happy with who shows up on recruitment day. I expect there will be reasons.

    So, the first question is how to divide it up. In Mutants it is done by races sort of (human, mutant, robot, mutant plant (!!) and so on) and I thought about that for a bit. You want an elf or a human or a gobilin? In the end I decided against it since there are so many races pre-stated out in the books I didn’t want to mess with it. Also I wanted you to be able to “chase” certain skills (since initial model skills are random you might take a risk on getting something you really need) and if you have to go out of the “race” of your war band (or model collection) it might be annoying. So I discarded the race idea and went with a class system. Of course the problem here is balance, how to make a rookie knight equal to a rookie archer? It will be an interesting challenge to balance for sure!

    So what classes did I come up with you ask? Enjoy the list below!
    Fighter – Basic guy walking around hitting people
    Big – Like a fighter but bigger (ie gets the big special rule)
    Archer – Shoot things!
    Animal – Animals!
    Knights – Gets the Knight, Chivalry and Mounted Special Rules
    Undead – Zombies and such
    Rouge – Thiefs, tricksters, shifty types
    Utility – The harder to classify stuff, artificial, workers, inconvenient
    Land Owners – The blacksmith, the Brewer, those guys that make land holdings better. This is a special category I haven’t worked it all out yet.

    So, you might be asking yourself why not just take 3 Knights and 2 big guys and be doe with it? Sure the traits you know you are going to get are good times but there is a balance of course. The Q ratings are worse and the available traits aren’t the top tier ones. So it is a stronger base model in some aspects but weaker in others. Lets just say the top of the line knights aren’t willing to join up with your war band.

    Lets look at an example of how it will work. Say I really want an archer on my team (and who doesn’t). I’d pick archer and roll a d6 and get a 1. That means an archer with a long bow shows up to my recruitment call. He has Q4 C3 Shooter (long). Nice! What if I had rolled a 3? Then a Ranger showed up, Q4 C3 Shooter (medium), Forrester. Not bad.

    The other bit that is tied to your classes is the available skills when you upgrade or level up. As I mentioned before part of the balance is (hopefully) tied to this. Fighters can be Combat Masters, Knights and Big guys not so much.

    I’m not 100% through all the tables for all the classes but I can already notice a few stumbling blocks if I’m going to use them all. The main problem right now is the summoner who uses reserved build points to summon stuff, problem being there are no reserve build points so what can they summon? It is tricky for sure! The elementalist is similar but there is a list of elementals and I simply decreed you can summon one of those at a time.

    The other question is evil. I ended up deciding that since this is a less than reputable group you are putting together when you get a new guy you roll a die, on a 5 or 6 he is evil no matter what class.

    Well that’s it for now! Stay tuned for more!
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    Thu Mar 26, 2015 1:16 pm
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    The Next Song of Blades and Heroes Campaign is going to be EPIC.

    Mike Ricotta
    United States
    Norfolk
    Virginia
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    Our group has enjoyed playing Song of Blades and Heroes quite a bit. We finished up a campaign of it a while back that was certainly enjoyable but had a few drawbacks, nothing major but you know how it is, got to complain about something! Anyway I have taken it upon myself to develop a brand new campaign for us and I have decided to chronicle it here.

    First a note on abbreviations, I’m not going to type out the names of all the books every time. I’m so lazy! Anyway as a reference here are the abbreviations I’m going to use: SBH – Song of Blades and heroes, SWW – Song of Wind and Water, SGD – Song of Gold and Darkness, SDG – Song of Deeds and Glory, SAM – Song of Arthur and Merlin, SSL – Song of the Splintered Lands, SHF – Song of Hammer and Forge, FF – Fighting Fungi.

    The first decision is going to be what’s in and what’s out. As of right now there are officially (that I have books for) 135 character traits, 22 fantastic terrains, 7 weather conditions, 33 warband advances, 32 scenarios, and 36 magic items. These are of course scattered through various books. It should be noted that I do not own SSL, I’m not sure if it is really worth getting at this point, nor SHF as it isn’t released, nor FF as it isn’t released but will be soon (I hope!). Anyway that is a lot of stuff. Some people would lop off a big portion of it but not me! I want to make it all work together! Perhaps I’m some kind of glutton for punishment? NOTE: Although I don’t own SSL and SHF the names of the traits are in the SBH character creation list so I know they exist I just don’t know what they do, which is super sad.

    But wait you say! Doesn’t SDG already exist? Isn’t it a full campaign system for SBH that covers almost all of it (SAM won’t really fit)? Aren’t you just being redundant at this point? Well I don’t think so. The last campaign we did run the full SDG campaign and had fun, but see some room for improvement. What can be improved? Read on!
    First, I mentioned that all the special rules are scattered all over. The first hurdle is to put them all in one file so we don’t have to flip around all the time. No you can’t have the file. Of course I’ll have to add to it when FF comes in but I put it in excel so it isn’t that tough. Also SHF, please those traits look so sweet!

    Next I need to pick what I want in and what I want out. I really want everything I can possibly get in to be in so the list of things I leave out is going to be short, I hope. First off the campaign, XP, and event system from SDG is out. Not that it is bad but I do have a major issue with the event table. You roll on the table after every game. For the most part the higher you roll the better reward you get. There are 48 entries and you roll a number on d6 based on how well you are doing. All of this is fine except that the really low stuff (especially 1-3) is really bad, including killing off party members bad. If you are only rolling 1 die on the table you are already doing really bad in the campaign (you get 1 die for completing a game, thus if you only have 1 die it means you haven’t won any games yet AND your leader was injured in the last battle (bad weather can also give you -1 die though). Did this happen in our game? YES, TO ME, SEVERAL TIMES. So you just had a horrible loss, your leader was injured, perhaps someone else got killed and you only roll one die. Of course you roll a 1 and thus yet another guy dies. Clearly this table is out. AS of right now the only other thing I really want out is one scenario named Holdout. In this scenario one person has to hold a portion of his force out of the battle. They roll a die every turn and on a 6 they rest of the guys show up. The person with the reduced forces gets no additional bonus, benefit or easier victory conditions. Guess who never rolled a 6? Guess who only rolled one die on the event table? Guess what scenario is out? Finally the “pure” warbands are out. I’m not sure about the others but let me tell you about the pure animal one. So animals have downsides and thus they are cheaper models to field. If you run a pure animal warband (with a non-animal beast master) in SDG all those downsides go away for the most part so your models are just cheaper.

    So that leaves everything else in for now. Some of these things I really want to be in but are going to take some effort. Knights from SAM sound like to much fun to leave out. Some things I know are slightly OP and need some limitation, I’m looking at you entangle.
    For inspiration in all this I am looking at Mutants and Death Rays, a SBH system game set in a future dystopia. For games in this system you don’t get to design your warband or even pick from an extensive list of guys, here you pick what kind of guy you want (a human, a robot, a mutant, and so on) and then roll on a table or two to see what skills they have. They come with pre-set C and Q scores. I really like the idea of this as it makes it uncertain what you are going to end up with!

    To make this work though I’d need to develop certain classes that you can pick from. You need an archer? Roll on this table. You need a big guy or a knight or a fighter? So what classes are there, what skills should be available to them? What are the Q and C of each class? What are the limitations?

    So that is the base point of what I want to do. I think there is a lot of work ahead to do it though. So the short list of what to start with is to 1) Complete the table of traits and such, 2) develop a list of classes, 3) what traits go with what class?
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    Tue Mar 17, 2015 1:59 pm
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    A rules abomination

    Mike Ricotta
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    I had heard a rumor that there was a rule in an upcoming game that was an abomination. A rule so against everything I hold dear that it could hardly be believed. I didn’t want to believe it as some day I would actually like to play this game. I withheld judgment until I saw the foul atrocity in print (well PDF). Sadly it is true. With great regret I present the following:

    “A figure can move into a space occupied by a friendly or neutral figure at no additional cost. A figure can move into a space occupied by a hostile figure, but must spend one additional movement point to do so. A figure cannot end its movement in a space containing another figure.”

    Cut and paste directly from the “Learn to Play” book of Star Wars: Imperial Assault (SWIA).

    At one point I was told that SWIA was going to fix all the problems with Descent 2 (which are many) and be the best version of Descent there could be. It was lies, all lies. In fact SWIA does fix some of the problems I had with Descent 2 like characters never dying and how the overlord deploys new dudes. Also it has that cool walker figure and a few other nice looking dudes. Also it appears that the bizarre shrinky big guy movement is gone. I’m not sure as the shrinky movement was odd, but it more or less worked and didn’t involve rules about how big things can step over little things and so on. Not the best but in the end it worked more or less.

    I now have to imagine this conversation going on during a fire fight
    “Hey man I know you are actively trying to kill me but I'm just going to move on by you slowly, that's cool right?”
    “Yea no problem, but I’m going to shoot you in the back in a minute”
    “Well not really as my facing doesn’t matter”
    “Well I’ll just shoot you right now”
    “Nah I’m going to walk through you first as I am now some kind of magic ghost”
    “damn”

    So instead of going on and on I’m going to have a debate with some imaginary internet people

    “This stops the overlord from just blocking off objectives!”
    Correct me if I’m wrong but isn’t the goal of the overlord to stop the heroes from getting to the objectives? I was told that the descent system is great because it gives incentive for the overlord player to win. How is the overlord supposed to win if they can’t set up to do the ONE thing they are supposed to do? Now the overlord has to create a chain of guys in hope that you can’t just walk through all of them!

    “They must be using the force!”
    It doesn’t limit this ability to people with the miticlorian disease so clearly that isn’t it. In SWIA everyone is just overly polite apparently.

    “They are sneaking by!”
    I shot at you last turn, did I forget you existed?

    I need to make up some kind of plastic wrist band to support ZOCs! AS I said clearly I have not played the game and yes I feel justified in not doing so based on a few sentences in the rules. I mean I did set up and run this facebook group....https://www.facebook.com/#!/zoneofcontrol
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    Tue Nov 4, 2014 1:43 pm
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    An Ode to ZOCs

    Mike Ricotta
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    Norfolk
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    An Ode to ZOCs

    If I was a skilled writer this would clearly be an epic poem or even a haiku. Those things are beyond me. Instead you get a poorly written blog post AND more importantly I started a facebook page dedicated to ZOCs, you should join it, all the cool kids are. [url]https://www.facebook.com/#!/zoneofcontrol
    [/url]

    So, just in case you were wondering ZOC stands for Zone of control and is usually the hexes or squares that surround a unit. It is the basic way to represent that units influence on the area surrounding it. I’ve always enjoyed a good ZOC (who hasn’t?) but I can accurately tell you the first time I got angry at the absence of a ZOC in a game. It was in a video game, Fire Emblem to be exact. A bad guy ran around my knight to kill my healer. The knight just sat on the horse and smiled at the whole thing. BULLSHIT

    Of course all ZOCs are not created equal. Also there are a few things that aren’t really ZOCs that could be. In my humble opinion anything that allows a unit to project offensive capability when it isn’t their turn is a form of ZOC. Thus I would consider opportunity fire (overwatch) a kind of ZOC that isn’t called it. You aren’t letting the enemy run around willy nilly and that’s the point.

    Most non-wargames use ZOCs when a unit is leaving the space. Think of DnD 4e where entering the space next to a bad guy doesn’t do anything, but leaving gives them a free attack. A good example of a ZOC that works for me thematically and isn’t super complicated. Of course in 4e you can also shift which allows you to leave a ZOC without getting hit, but also drastically reduces your movement. Again it works as you are slowly backing out defensively, or pulling some kind of awesome flip maneuver, whatever.

    So different games use ZOCs different ways, here are a few examples and what I think about them.

    Destruction of retreating enemy units – Makes sense right? I mean you guys are running away into more bad guys? Probably won’t end well for you. You think my guys are just going to let you back up into my welcoming embrace. Sure, as long as my embrace is a lot of bullets…

    Enemy units must be attacked – Ohh so painful. I mean it makes sense sometime; our units aren’t just going to stand around looking at each other exchanging pleasantries are they? The only thing I don’t like about this style is it allows for some silly moves. Well, I’ll send my flipped scout unit in the line to soak up the required attacks. They won’t mind much I’m sure.

    Increased movement cost – Kind of lame really, you can walk by us but it has to be SLOWLY. I know I know it is more about doing it defensively or in good order or some garbage but still! I guess this goes back to the shifting in 4e.

    Interdiction of enemy supply lines – Man those supply trucks are easy to shoot. Perhaps they shouldn’t drive past my armor unit? Nah, what’s the worst that can happen.

    Partly negate enemy zone of control – Actually I don’t care for this. Can’t we just agree that both of use have a ZOC on the space and call it a day? Seems simpler that way, I don’t know. I think this just kind of allows for funny movement. I’m not against it but I’m not for it I guess?

    Prevent further movement, including voluntary advances or retreats – Commonly called sticky ZOCs (at least commonly by me). A simple effective rule and one of my favorite ZOC uses. If this is all they do in a game it is enough. You come stand next to my guy you have to stop. No running past to get to my tasty artillery behind me. I’m like protecting it or something.

    Reveal hidden enemy units. – I’m projecting my power into your space…I see you!

    I recently played Heroes of Normandy which had an odd ZOC rule in it. Infantry units had sticky ZOCs which was fine. Tanks however ignored the infantry ZOCs, also fine really as at that scale a tank could probably drive by a fire team fairly safely, especially if it doesn’t have any anti tank capability. It is better to say that infantry ZOCs don’t effect tanks than to start into the path where infantry units don’t effect tanks unless they have anti tank capability. That just gets messy quickly. The real problem was that tanks don’t put out a ZOC on infantry. Did the machine gunner just take the day off? It didn’t come up in the one game I played of it as tanks and other vehicles got obliterated if they dared to advance but it was an odd bit.

    Another set of rules that has an interesting ZOC is the Song of Blades and Heroes miniatures game. Here they have the standard sticky ZOC (1” around units I believe), the no running away from combat (it is called a free hack), and the no retreating (recoiling) into another ZOC (another free hack). The fun bit is that when melee combat occurs each enemy ZOC you are in gives you -1 to combat. It’s tough to fight when you are overwhelmed!

    What about sports games you ask (I know you did)? They don’t even have guns or swords right? Well Blood Bowl calls their ZOCs Tackle Zones! Try to leave one you have to dodge out (or you get knocked down and might die. Try to tackle someone who has friends around, it is going to be harder. When I see a new sports game come up (Dreddball, Kaosball, Slaughterball, so many!) I often wonder, is it better than Blood Bowl? Does it have ZOCs?

    In the end I really think that most games should have ZOCs. I actually get a bit upset if they don’t! I guess it is a pet peeve or I’m insane. You pick. But wait, is there an exception? Of course there is! It all comes down to scale. Games with area movement instead of hexes or squares probably don’t need ZOCs, but a movement interdiction system might be nice perhaps? Games set in space probably don’t need it. I mean the hex is only 10 light years big.

    Well if you have read this far you must also be a true lover of ZOCs and should join my facebook page (https://www.facebook.com/#!/zoneofcontrol). I don’t know why, but you should.
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    Fri Oct 3, 2014 2:27 pm
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    Roll with me, discussions of a new idea for a dice rolling mechanic!

    Mike Ricotta
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    So I think I have laid out a lot of the basic concepts floating around in my head about my idea for a fantasy race game (please see previous entries) and as general concepts go it all is looking fairly good. The real problem is going to be mechanics (and not the guys that fix your car) and how it all works. I read an interesting discussion on the facebook about a roll under or a roll over system (when you roll you try to get under or over your skill level) and it got me thinking a little. Just trying to roll over or under a number using some d6 isn’t as exciting as I would hope for a crazy race game. I half remembered a mechanic from a hex and counter game I own but never played (luckily I only have a few of those) called CSA where you could roll as many dice as you wanted, but if you went over a certain total your attack failed. I feel I can build on this.

    The question is more how to build on it. Some things, like movement, I don’t think should require a roll unless you are trying to do something wacky. Sadly I am sort of at a loss on how to make the whole thing work. I like the idea of pushing your luck when you really need something done though. I will attempt to rough out what I’m thinking, but really I hope to get some feedback!

    So whatever you are trying to do has a difficulty assigned to it. Trying to do a quick stop, perhaps the difficulty is a 5, a hairpin turn might be a 7, an attack would be your opponents defense value. So there is a target value. Roll as many D6 as you want to try and exceed that number. However you don’t want to roll overly high! How much of a buffer there is is based on the skill of the crew. The skill number sets the upper limit and then creates bands of failure. So for example the target number is 5 and your skill is 3 the results table would run like this. Less than 5 failure, 5-8 limited success, 8-11 success, 11+ major failure. As you can see the bigger the skill the better you have at success. What a failure means is dependent on what you are doing.

    Perhaps an example is in order? You need to pull a hairpin turn or you will crash into a wall. Keeping the same values as above the results would be <5 turn no hairpin, must move and turn as normal, crash into wall, normal damage. 5-8 allows the turn but you damage your tires. 8-11 turn works perfectly. 11+ no turning at all, move ahead at full speed, all crashing does double damage.

    It should all follow the basic formula, low rolls are just failures, minor successes work out but it isn’t perfect, a success gives you exactly what you want and a major failure is gonna hurt. So for shooting a gun it would be failure is a miss, limited success is normal damage, success is double damage, major failure is gun misfires, roll a d6 on a 1 it explodes causing damage to your car, otherwise it takes a turn to clear before it can fire again.

    The one thing I want to ensure is that every time you roll it is the same system with the same style results table. I hate it in games where one kind of roll you want this and another kind of roll is completely different. I want one mechanic to rule them all.

    So this is of course a rough idea, any inputs would help!
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    Fri Jul 25, 2014 2:20 pm
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    More discussion of the un-named racing game that seems like a good idea and it is also super racist but not in a bad way, I mean it is about elves and dwarves and such, come on now…

    Mike Ricotta
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    Virginia
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    In the last few entries I have been talking about working up a league based game about racing. The main idea being that whoever shows up can race and earn points and cash, no need for matches or anything. I have a few ideas on how I’d like things to look that I have covered and a few more still banging around in my head.

    So today I was thinking about crew. Not like a pit crew, as I don’t think I want to get so much detail that we need to worry about fuel and tire changes, but the dudes in your car driving about. Originally I was thinking about a game on the scale of Gorkamorka with actual modeled everything, but in the end I think that might be overly ambitious and difficult to find models for your car and enough table space to have a proper race! If we shrink down to hot wheels sized cars I can imagine an easier time coming up with cars for racing but we lose some of the fun of actually having the visible crew. I think in the end though the smaller scale would work better and just be easier all around. It does mean some abstraction for things, but I can live with that, this isn’t a simulation after all but hopefully some silly fun.

    So what is our newly abstracted crew? Each member of the crew has an ability score for what he does, drive shoot and so on, also they have a list of skills that give bonuses to the car. So who is on this crew? Well clearly someone has to drive. I’m fairly sure that guy will be called the “driver”. An odd concept I know. Drivers will be rated on their driving skill and have abilities that allow certain maneuvers, like sharp turns, emergency stops and so on. I want there to be multiple paths to car/team building so a lot of these can be augmented or even done by adding equipment instead of driver skills. That costs money however instead of just waiting for your driver to learn it!

    Also you need a gunner for turreted weapons, fixed weapons could probably be fired by the driver. Gunners can have rapid re-load ability, perhaps the ability to use alternate ammunition. The gunner rating would be his ability to make trick shots or get some extra range. I imagine that each car could probably only have one turreted weapon (on the roof?) so only one gunner per car? Perhaps some cars wouldn’t even have the big turret and could skip the gunner all together, I like having options!

    Some of the crew would depend on what type of car you are driving. This might include an engineer to wack on the engine and do emergency repairs. A mage, for magics, a cleric for divine intervention and so on. Probably a technology based car wouldn’t be able to take a mage on. Everyone can’t have everything!

    The final crew question is boarding parties. Should we have them? I like the idea of guys jumping across from car to car or using boarding planks but in the end I don’t know if it is going to work really. It would again all have to be abstracted. I’m not sure this is something I’m going to end up wanting in the game. It might get to be overly complicated and slow the game down. I imagine shooting a weapon to be a simple die roll with some modifiers. A boarding attack would have to be several rolls and modifiers and I am not sure if it would be worth it in the end.

    Well it is finally time to get racist. Of course I mean races of fantasy guys, come on now. Dwarves, Elves, Orcs, Goblins, and so on can crew the car. So the two questions here are do we allow mixed race teams and how big an impact do the races make? I think in the name of balance a mixed race team is probably going to be out, it seems to hard to balance a game that allows you to cherry pick the best guys for each position. So we are already picking a car type, now a race, so you would end up with Magic Elves or Holy Goblins. I think that the type would end up being 2/3 and the race 1/3. Hopefully that 1/3 can be important though. Crew cost, crew starting ability, skills can all be subject to the race picked. I don’t want to limit the available skills to race, but perhaps some races get bonus race specific skills, like elves are lighter so their added mass doesn’t slow down the car like a giant orc would. Goblins are kind of crappy but super cheap to hire so you don’t care as much when they get killed. Ohh yes I always assume that the crew will get killed, this isn’t the safest sport around!

    To end off I think I’ll try and throw together a preliminary list of race and type so we can start to get an idea of what the options are. This is what I have ideas for so far, I’m sure that there can be a lot more options!

    Car Types
    Technology – Better engines and guns, can have engineers that can make repairs on the fly and try and get more out of the engine in a pinch
    Magic – Has access to wizards and magic weapons. Wizards come with a book of one shot spells to use through the race. Magic weapons can have a variety of different powers and abilities.
    Holy – Has access to clerics that can heal guys and pray for divine intervention, can use the conversion gun that converts other teams to believe in their god and makes the holy car go faster, flame weapons to burn the unclean
    Beast – Riding a flying dragon or some other giant animal has advantages, natural weapons and abilities come with the “car”. Other abilities not normally available like flight or jumping. Can take Druids which have powers to make their beasts perform better or can alter the terrain of the track!
    Necromancy – All your crew is an undead version of one of the races, so this is the way to get a mixed race team! Being undead though they are not very good, but free! You get a necromancer with fun powers to make up for it

    Races
    Humans – Normally the “vanilla” race, which is lame and I never play them. So I need up think up some kind of bonus that makes humans cool again!
    Dwarf – Hard to kill, skilled, expensive
    Goblin – Easy to kill, cheap, strange abilities not available to others
    Orcs – Good at killing things, not so good at driving
    Elves – Lighter so they don’t slow down the car as much, good at driving


    So yea it all sounds fairly generic, but I’m not sure this is the project were we invent a bunch of crazy new races. Is it better to go with stuff everyone knows or to make up a bunch of crazy stuff?
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    Tue Jul 15, 2014 1:21 pm
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    Hey kids I done gone and wrote something that got published…

    Mike Ricotta
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    During our campaign of Song and Blades and Heroes (using the Song of Deeds and Glory (and all the other books)) we lamented the fact that the knights from Song of Arthur and Merlin couldn’t really be used as the options of questing and chivalry weren’t really there. Someone should do something to fix this injustice we cried! Well later on I did, I re-worked the ideas found in SDG to include the knights (and fix some other stuff we didn’t care for).

    I sent it to the game designer Andrea Sfiligoi to see what he thought and apparently he liked it so much he published it in Talespinner magazine. As the magazine is now out I recommend you all go out and buy several copies.

    [url]http://www.ganeshagames.net/product_info.php?cPath=23_42&pro...
    [/url]

    I mean who doesn’t want to run a band of knights in a quest to rule all of England? All that is required is a copy of Song of Arthur and Merlin, but I recommend using all the song books so you have all the delicious options!

    Well I mean you need dice, minatures, and a ruler as well, but you should have all that. One of the cool bits about the song series is that there is no minis line you should be using, just use what you have!
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    Mon Jun 30, 2014 5:24 pm
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