Sunday, March 3, 2019

A Better Answer For Desert Scribe On Rules

From Desert Scribe February 10, 2019 at 9:34 PM

Hi Chirine! So are you using the same rules for this sea battle that you used for the Longest Day scenario you ran last time, or do you switch rules to better suit the narrative (i.e. zoom in to individual characters or zoom out to a larger battle as needed)?

First off, thanks for your patience; this is the first quiet weekend we've had in a while. Between the snow, the cold, and the problems with the van, it's been exhausting. The van is now gone; it was unloaded, stripped of anything of use to us, and sold for scrap / parts last weekend. I do miss the old beast, but we did get our money's worth out of it...

Right, then, rules.

The attack on the little town by the pirate raiders was pretty much a straight one-on-one RPG, with the addition of "Chainmail" / "Qadardalikoi" morale rules for the pirates. The problem withs game, from my point-of-view, was that I had to both run the game and run the pirates; I prefer to have live opponents, but in this case the poor weather that day meant that we had to run with what we had.

So, every turn I'd roll for initiative for each of the four shiploads of pirates, and their reactions to what the players were doing. As the melee progressed, and casualties started to mount, this was also factored into the dice rolls. Eventually, the surviving pirates broke and ran for their ships, leaving the players in command of the field. (And a mess to clean up, but there you are.)

The upcoming sea fight will, as you put it, 'zoom out/ a bit to treat the individual ships as 'PCs', and the individual Akho the same. This will make for a short sharp action; getting individual melees going will really slow down the action, and as this is a pretty large 'mass game' I'd like to avoind that. If this was a 'straight RPG', I'd 'zoom back in' and put out the ships or deck plans and use the 'man-to-man' rules for the fighting.

This game is going to be all about sinking ships / killing Akho, so I'm going to use pretty minimalist rules for sailing and melee; I don't know if the players have done much of this kind of thing before, so I'm erring on the 'keep it simple' side. Simple rules, turning circle templates, that kind of thing. I also mounted my 2' x 4' piece of dry-erase board onto the wall in the miniatures room, and the short and sweet rules are all now written on that for players to look up at.

So, yes, I think the answer to your question is that I do indeed zoom in and out the rules to match the size of the action. In a large-scale battle, it's be "Chainmail" or "Qadardalikoi", or something similar. I don't have a set or actual game rules for mass naval actions like this that I like, and certainly none that I'd want to saddle my players with. So, we'll keep this as simple as possible, and let the players loose on the water.

Does this help, at all?


  1. Thanks for clarifying; this sounds like an awesome way to run a campaign.

    For a simple set of naval rules, may I suggest Pirates of the Spanish Main, a collectible strategy game? The rules are available for download on the BGG site. We used them for quick battles as prelude to our games of Ghost Archipelago.

    And no worries about the lengthy response time, I understand you have more pressing issues! :)

  2. It would certainly work for me. When my players needed to rocket away from the moon Kashi, I put them in little two-person ships and wrote up a simple four-sentence set of rules. Because of course they were pursued by enemy ships! I just crash-landed them back in Jakalla this morning, and played them the appropriate video clip from Life of Brian. (I'm sure you know the one.) Yes, they were quite lucky. Now, if Jakalla can only survive the Tripod invasion...

    1. If I ever start a band, I'm calling it Tripods of Jakalla!