My gaming group is play-testing custom campaign rules for FP-FR, which I call "Fire 911". This will be a diary of our experiences with that set of new rules. New rules include an XP system, character & fire station development and event cards.
Season 1, Session 1
On the outskirts of the town a new fire station is build and manned by a fire captain, an operator/driver, a generalist and the CAFS firefighter. The paint on the fire station's walls has barely dried, when they get called to their first assignment: one of the suburban houses (core game, 4 door map; recruit level of difficulty) is on fire after an explosion in the kitchen during a birthday party. Luck is with the bold, so the major fires could be put out with the help of the driver and the captain's wise tactical choices commanding his two men inside, who quickly got rid of the dangerous materials before evacuating the inhabitants of the house. The generalist (named appropriately Mike Smith) was wounded once by an explosion, but could heal up quickly. All the people in the house and their pets could be saved and no major explosion happened. The firemen could contain the major damage to the corner of the living-room, although the question remained unsolved, why the fire in the bathroom would re-ignite so often.
After the incident, the city council decided to fund better equipment for the fire station and transferred new members from the other side of town to the new station.
Since new members and special training needed to be unlocked first, we could not swap characters, so getting the hazardous materials out of the house was the primary goal before people were saved. Dice were greatly in our favour, so it was kind of easy - but for a "first game" this was intended. We could use the "wound rules" once (the fireman needs to be treated at the ambulance for 2 AP for each would token). The team gained enough XP to unlock available both fire station expansion "Hazard Unit" (allows them to use the HAZMAT & The Imaging Tech guy) and "EMS & Rescue" (Rescue & Medic professions) and hired the new firemen for the station.
A new and less experienced gaming group (with less luck) would have had less people saved, so we are currently fine with how much XP got awarded for the session - although we will keep an eye of the total numbers. It is currently planned to balance a fully upgraded team and station at around 10 gaming sessions, which we considered reasonable.
PS: What is it about?
Flashpoint quickly became our main board game, after I got it (German version, by Heidelberger Spiele). As my gaming group has been playing pen & paper RPGs, we decided to give the sessions a feeling of progression and a way to work with some additional ideas and house rules. This is how "Fire 911" was conceived. Its foundations are a gain of experience points for being successful, event cards to add variety to maps and upgrades to both the fire station and individual characters. Two extra rules have been added, which is getting wounded by knock downs and the need to evacuate the building, fire fighters including.
PS: Thanks for approving this newby thread
- [+] Dice rolls
New Rules for "Fire 911" (part 1)
Escape from collapsing building
We did not want the game to end abruptly, when you reach 7 saved victims (which still is our baseline to a successful mission, more later), so the new rules says that the mission ends, when all firemen are outside the building. This means there is a need to evacuate your fire fighters too.
Should a fire fighter be inside the building, when the structural damage is too high, he gets severely injured. Each player has to roll the red d6 to determine the fate of his character. If the number is 4+, the fireman is injured and needs to recover. This means he is not available for the next mission. If there result is 3-, the fire fighter gets killed and will no longer be available for playing. The d6 roll can be modified by wounds the fire fighter has (-1 for each wound) and if the Medic is in game and outside. The Medic can spend one of his (remaining) Healing Tokens to grant a +1 to an individual fire fighter, although they are not cumulative. As a first responder after the disaster, the Medic raises the chance of getting fire fighters out of the debris alive. There is also an upgrade for the complete team called "Mascot" which grants every fireman a +1 to the roll.
Medic with 2 remaining Healing Tokens, so he could grant two firemen in the collapsed building a +1 to their roll.
Fire station upgrade token "Mascot" (those are put on the station's base card, explained later in this thread)
This gives the Medic, who normally is kind of under-performing, a much bigger importance in the game and also demands some "taking care" of your fire fighters. It also adds some need to have a second specialist available for your team , because one of the team members could not be fit for the next mission. We added an XP sink that way to the game.
Knocked down firemen being magically transported back to the fire engine is perhaps the most "unrealistic" game mechanic in Flashpoint. We briefly thought about the fireman to be moved to an adjacent spot (not on fire) on the map, but that is not possible in some situations. Also, having him/her being rescued by another fire fighter could be too difficult, especially if you play solo or with just two firemen. We settled for a middle ground for this mechanic.
A knocked down fireman needs to roll d6. If he rolls 4+, he gets one wound token, if he rolls 3-, he gets two. Firemen with one wound cannot save up any action points. Fire fighters with two wounds can't carry objects (ladders, HAZMAT, victims) any more. Any fireman can heal one wound at an ambulance for 2 APs. The Medic, if on the same spot as the fireman can treat the wound for 1 AP on his turn and for saved 1AP outside his turn, if he has saved up an AP. (e.g. a wounded Generalist moves past the Medic in a corridor, the Medic can discard one of his two saved AP markers to heal the Generalist).
Wound token (two wounds) to be put on the character card in front of the player until healed
A fireman with three wounds dies. So, if a wounded fireman does not bother to get treatment and gets knocked down again, he can get killed in action. The modifiers mentioned in the "collapsing building" section do not apply here. This is to prevent reckless behaviour by the players. Also, this rule gives the Medic another tactical role in the game.
Things we might change after play testing: The possibility to get two wounds from a knock down. This might be too punishing, considering it takes out the (average) fireman for one complete round, while still making him roll to spread the fire.
- [+] Dice rolls
New Rules for "Fire 911" (part 2)
The Fire Station
Not really a new rule, but an additional game supplement where the firemen have their home base in between session. Each "base" defines what specialists are available to the gaming group at the table and what kind of upgrades can be slotted for the mission.
1. The Fire Station
Every campaign starts with the basic fire station. Specialist available are the driver/operator, the generalists, the CAFS Spec. and the captain. Those are the characters for your first mission. The fire station also has 3 upgrade slots.
2. The Search and Rescue expansion
After unlocking the search and rescue expansion via XP earned on missions, you can hire Rescue Specialists and the Paramedic for your fire station. This expansion has an additional upgrade slot.
3. The Special Response expansion
After unlocking the special response expansion via XP earned on missions, you can hire HAZMAT and the Imaging Tech Specialists for your fire station. This expansion has an additional upgrade slot.
4. The Academy expansion
This is the final expansion to your fire station. It unlocks all other specialists, like the Structural Engineer, the Veteran or the Rescue Dog. It three more expansion slots.
The purpose of the three expansions is to create a "level up" experience, when you suddenly can do something new and have access to moves not possible before (like removing HAZMATs) or to simply allow groups to gradually expand the rules for newcomers to the game. In our first beta-game session we really missed the HAZMAT Tech and movement speed of the Rescue Specialist and cheered when we could hire them to the fire station's roster.
The XP (experience point) system
I will not go into deteail here, because the balanced numbers here are the thing most in limbo during beta-sessions, but the XPs are used for the fire station, character develeopment, firestation upgrades and hiring new firemen. I have added XPs earned to the initial post's first session, too. I think you have to keep up with the post and get a revised set of numbers after a few games (as we have already started to alter the initial concept).
More on the expansion slots in a future posts. I recently acquired the 2nd Story maps and we will probably use them for another beta-session tomorrow. I will keep you posted on those and how the Fire 911 rules worked out and have been discussed at the table - probably in the next few days.
Season 1, Session 2
The crew of CHigo Fire 17 had been called to a building down town (2nd Story,"A" map; 4 fire men; Veteran level) and just after setting foot inside the smoke filled house Captain Kelly heard two thundering explosions from upstairs (2 HAZMATs exploded). The fire engine started to dowse the fire pretty efficiently and the team could start to put out fires, set up a ladder to the first floor at the side of the building. Captain Kelly spent most of the time downstairs, commanding his brave men (and woman). Mike was once again injured in a back draft incident in the kitchen, but in the end almost everybody could be saved. Sadly panicked screams were heard once inside the building and after the house had burned (16 damage tokens up when evacuation was over), the firemen are still searching for the body of the unfortunate woman.
It was an exciting mission, which looked pretty dire at the beginning with the explosion of two HAZMATs. The deck gun controlled a lot of fires during the next few rounds. For the XP we gained this time we bought the "Accuracy" character card for the Driver/Operator, which allows him to aim at quadrants with firemen inside. We also made some adjustments to the XP gain on "recruit" level, allowing extra XP for additional saved victims to be only earned on "veteran" or "heroic" level. This is to prevent "farming" the easy difficulty.
- [+] Dice rolls
Season 1, Session 3 (2nd Story,"A" map + Attic; 4 fire men; Recruit Level)
A high rise building in the business district of the town was on fire, when the firemen arrives, two rooms close to the ally walls were set ablaze and the staircase was also burning. The team was able to put out the fires in the rooms very quickly through broken windows with the monitor on the ladder and the firemen spread throughout the building. Not a lot of new fire raged inside the building, but there was smoke, lots of smoke everywhere. After getting rid of the HAZMATs, we switched out the specialist for the Rescue woman and set up two additional mobile ladders for faster access. Two firemen where lightly wounded and treated in the ambulance to get back into action. We had one victim to the flames the team could just not reach in time, but in the end got eleven people out.
We started with the Driver and switched that out for the Captain after the two big fires were dowsed and switched from HAZMAT to Rescue after those were cleared. CAFS & Generalist stayed in the team the whole time. We were very lucky with dice rolls and hot spot distribution, so we had very few big fires throughout the whole mission and hotspots escalated very slowly.
Concerning the campaign rules we got quite a few XP via rescuing extra people, which kind of started to worry me for reward balance. But more on that later.
Season 1, Session 4 (Honor & Duty; train station 4 fire men; Veteran level)
Old and malfunctioning high voltage cables have set a tram on fire at Bowers Street station and the team saw walls of smoke and fire when they arrived. Hardly setting their foot on the stairs to the station more explosions and screaming could be heard from below. From the beginning it was a race against time, as the firemen where sure that the station would be lost in a few minutes, not matter what they would. The firemen were able to save a total of eight people before they had to evacuate for their own safety. A small victory for them, as they sat outside covered in sooth and sweat.
First time ever playing this map. The first three advance fire rolls all resulted in explosions, leaving an absolute mess on the board. Mike, the Generalist was wounded by one explosion too and lost time healing up. Kim Wong, the CAFS guy, we set up badly and had to move across the difficult terrain (since we have set the house rule of not being able to change specialists to get to the other side of the station's entrance). As we did not want to get an firemen trapped inside the collapsing building and risk getting them killed, we evacuated with two structural markers left when everyone was outside. Being critical abut our tactic, we decided to replay the map.
Season 1, Session 5 (Honor & Duty; train station 4 fire men; Veteran level )
Terrorist attack on the subway! When the firemen arrived, the police had already arrested the second terrorist, who's bag of explosives had not blown off. The first attacker had been able to blow himself up in one of the trains waiting for the commuters. While Mike and Captain Kelly worked around the train area of the station, Kim Wong kept the expansing fire away from the bomb squad specialist (HAZMAT) who took care of the four improvised explosive devices skill scattered around the ticket booth area. Once all the bombs where defused, the Rescue specialist got into action leading as many people outside to safety as possible, who were still inside the station too frightened to move by themselves.
Having the CAFS stay at the ticket booth area really helped in terms of tactics and mobility, as well as "dice luck" during set up, when three HAZMAT tokens were located right around one ticket booth with no fire too close. We were able to save all 12 victims and had no HAZMAT explosion in the end. This round proved though, that the current beta-distribution for XP awards was a bit too much XP for additional victims saved, so I decided to cut a few points there (from +1 XP for every victim beyond 7 to +1 for 9+ and an additional +1 for 11+). From our experience you either hardly get seven or can get a lot fairly easy. Cutting down from +5 to +2 (there is an additional point for no victim at at all at any time of ending the mission) looks more balanced now.
We also discovered that the total gain of XP during the five missions was a bit too fast, as we now had been able to buy all the fire station upgrades (including the Academy), four Character expansions and one permanent upgrade. This felt a bit too fast (for us), so we might do some more tweaking on the points.
Season 1, Session 6 (Honor & Duty; airport 4 fire men; Veteran level)
We just watched the plane burn.
Seriously. This was the prime example of having bad luck during set up (two explosions, left and right of the wing's base) and with the advance fire phase (more explosions on every turn at the wing). When we entered our third turn there were 21 damage markers already on the board, the wing had pretty much blown up and two thirds of the hull was on fire. We rescued the dog (which was the only POI outside the plane and was located almost in front of the ambulance) to not feel extremely incompetent and evacuated the game's map to suffer no losses or wounds in the team. No XP gained, we left with our tails between our legs, heads down.
Just a disaster. We had no chance at all to control the fire. I decided to look on the geek forums for some strategy tips and we called it a night around the table.
What did we learn for "Fire 911" so far
>> It is a good way to add some house rules into the base game
>> Progression was a bit too quick, but we have addressed that with rule changes
>> We found some flaws with both our expansion rules (e.g. some extra abilities are tied to e.g. the use of the fire engine (not available on the ships & subway; or to ladders in case of the Rescue Specialist) and to the base rules (the Paramedic is so weak!!)
>> Unless we have been jinxed by a very bad start and dice rolls, we are too experienced to play Recruit and it is too easy
>> Character upgrades are quite strong, once almost everyone in the game has some as they add up to tick balance. Wounds and escaping the building does not make up for that. We need to play with the Event cards the next time in "Season 2" to streamline everything and avoid power play on easy mode.
- [+] Dice rolls
Season 2 of play tests
1. Session (airport, Recruit)
We started the airport map again with a random set-up of explosions on Recruit level (after our bad failure S1x06). We encountered pretty much the same problem: huge fires around the wing and engine, one extra HAZAT located on the wing exploded within the first round and it quickly went downhill. We were able to abandon the site with two people rescued and all firemen alive.
2. Session (airport, Recruit)
We restarted the map and no changed the explosion set-up to one explosion for each row (1+2/3+4/5+6 d6), which distributed the initial explosions a bit better across the map (no overlapping fires this time). Driver/Generalist/CAFS/HAZMAT as a starter team. We managed to contain the fires on the airfield and wing and extinguished almost everything there (being lucky with POIs not in danger during that phase). After that, the Driver was able to put the special foam out and that greatly improved our chances (he alternated between the two airfield fire engine spots and after that we hardly had any fire popping up there). The rest of the team defused the HAZMATs and went inside the plane to fight the fire there. We finished with a full success (all persons rescued, no HAZMAT explosion). Compared to the failures we had before, this was intense, but almost easy.
3. Session (freighter, Veteran)
The freighter. We started as Veterans (a bit cocky after our last success on the airfield) and had to fires in the engine room from the start and one in that long room next to it. It looked like a balanced game until I rolled the 1/24 chance grid which added a damage token to the engine and knocked out two firemen at once. With the "Fire 911"-rules for being wounded (all two of the got two wounds of course, it looked bad for us very suddenly. A "conservative" round of players would have abandoned the mission, but we decided we were play testing and went for the heroic attempt to take out the fire before the engine took four damage tokens. Of course we failed and the home-brew rule set for collapsing buildings made us lose three fire fighters when the ship sank.
With the Xp we got from the previous session, we could cope and hire new people to our team, especially because we had not lost any characters with upgrades already (which would have been more expensive).
4. Session (Submarine, Veteran)
The submarine. Because everyone is so close to each other, we added the Veteran to the team of four and he got us a few extra APs during the mission. The wounds mechanic was challenging again, because the CAFS guy took forever to heal (he needed to get from the central spawn spot to a med-bay and had to use two turns to heal up there (because he only has 3 points to spend). We rushed to the exit as soon as we had seven people rescued and barely made it out.
What we learned:
- general observation: no time to get foam barriers up on the airfield and you are doomed. Once you have foam up and you are not forced to wash it away, it was quite easy. The set-up method "of rows" allows for a more balanced and less random start and we will add that to the home brew-rule set.
- The Driver upgrade (for being able to aim at areas of the map with firemen inside) is very strong and we considering adding a "lose all saved APs" when hit by a splash for balance reasons.
- Wounds have played a much bigger role this time, both with firemen being taken out of the action and in the collapse building phase. We liked that. We even considered swapping in the Medic at some point, which is always a good thing.
We should be able to hire the rest of the FP team (Prevention Sp, and Dog and Engineer) and get another character expansion.
We want to try adding the event cards the next time on maps that we know and play well to survey the impact of those.
- [+] Dice rolls
I have added the current "game sheet" we are using to keep track of our firemen and the upgrades. It is in German (as all our game material, but I guess you can see how it is set up:
Names, roles, character upgrade checked on/off and hospitalized after an injury.
We have hired an additional Fire Captain, Generalist and CAFS person, because the others have been injured (we decided to set the "killed" people to injured status, because of our kind of reckless beta-testing behaviour no other party would have done.
- [+] Dice rolls