Saturday, July 19, 2014

Essay On The Braunstein - Part The Third - July 19th, 2014 - Rulers, Numbers, And Crunching

Oh, dear...

Last time out, I gave the individual 'team' / 'faction' cards; let's take a look at them in more detail, if we could...


Moves on the table should be proportional to the size of the table. Back in Ye Olden Dayes, miniatures rules writers obsessed over 'realistic' ground scales, and how these affected things like movement, unit frontages, and other such topics. If you have a look at my own rules, "Qadardalikoi", you can see that I did this myself - we all did, as it was expected at the time.

Now, if I was playing a 'historical' game set in Tekumel, I'd do things the same way as I did back when I wrote my rules. For the Braunsteins, though, I 'loosen up' quite a bit to make the game play faster and more rapidly. So, I make the movement rates proportional to the game size - the bigger the table, the faster the movement rate. In this particular case, since the table is a nice big 120" long, I went with 12" per turn as the basic movement rate.

This is also largely influenced by the pile of 12" rulers I happen to have to hand; making the move a standard size that also happens to be the standard length of the measuring stick is very, very handy. I also have a huge lot of 6" rulers, which is why the shorter movement rates all tended to be portions of this smaller size.

Keep it simple!!!

Complication in the pursuit of 'realistic accuracy' tends to really slow the game down, and the players loose interest. By give up a bit of 'realism', you can keep things moving along at a smart pace - it's more fun for the players, as they have to think on their feet and stay alert.

Combat Resolution:

I went with that old reliable stand-by, the original "Chainmail"; the stats are more or less from those rules, and one resolves combat by simply subtracting the defense factor from the attack factor and looking on the results table. Quick, fast, simple, and consistent; it keeps things going.

If I can emphasize anything, it's BE DECISIVE! Roll dice, make a decision, and move on! Use your best judgement, and if you need to get your players' input. After the question is answered or the decision made, keep the precedent and run the entire rest of the game that way. That's why you are the GM / referee / Lord of Chaos - you are there to arbitrate and keep things moving. Your players will provide all the motivation and drive that you can handle, so go with the flow and ride the shock wave...

Force Sizes:

Back in Ye Olden Dayes, the gods were on the side of the Big Cohorts. Big units look great on the table, in my biased opinion, but are a pain to move and use by one person. A Tsolyani legion at full strength is 80 figures at a 1:100 scale ration, and works best on the table when it gets broken down into it's normal components - and a live player to run each sub-unit.

I don't do this for my Braunsteins; I give each player between a dozen and twenty figures to use, and make sure that each player has a roughly balanced force. For example, in the game we're using as an example, one faction has bows because they are slightly less powerful in melee; it also makes them worth negotiating with, an additional bonus in our games.

This also takes advantage of the current tendency of miniatures manufacturers to sell their wares in small units (often called 'warbands') which makes them both easier to use on the table and easier to paint. Howard Fielding, he of The Tekumel Project, specifically caters to this with his 'Warbands' and 'Hordes' ; it makes it very easy to make up units with this, and I really find it handy. The figures are great, too!


Right, then! Next up, game presentation and game aids! (I think I need to shoot some photos, hence the pause...)


  1. I'm enjoying this series, and taking mental notes for the Ogre scenario I'm running at a convention in November.

    1. Thank you for the kind words - I hope that by blathering on and on and on will help you get a bit more enjoyment out of your games! You can adapt my 'methods' to anything, I think; all I do is try to think the possible ramifications through, and then run the thing...

      - chirine

  2. I'm going to curse if I have to type this one more time and my comment gets swallowed into the ether. Hopefully, you're not receiving a dozen comments with the same content. Onward and upwards (:

    I just wanted to say that I think this material is great!

    I missed part 1 & 2, but will be going back to read it now and I look forward to hearing more.

    Maybe Braunstein is what I've been looking for because all your points in this essay seem to jibe with me.

    1. I had the same problem with Blogger yesterday; infuriating!

      And thank you both for looking in here and your comment - please feel free to ask any questions you want, too!

      - chirine

    2. Chirine, I am going to take the advice of the blogger you linked to, Ars Ludi, and withold food and water from you until you spill all the beans about your gaming past.

      Seriously, I'm taking notes and questions will be forthcoming.

      Also, I liked the airbrushed painter's drop cloth tip ++

      thanks for the insights.

    3. You're very welcome!

      I think that all I'm doing is trying to report on what I do - which is, quite honestly, what I've been doing since those Tuesday nights we spent in those meeting rooms in Coffman Union all those years ago. I still game that way, with much the same style (and figures - some of those little guys are older then my daughters, for goodness sake!) and panache that we did back in the day.

      My book, "To Serve The Petal Throne", will try to Tell All. But I'm going to tell the stories in a fun way; that's the way we played, back then. (102,000 words and still going strong! Whew!)

      Please do ask your questions - I'm like a fossil in the museum, here for you to ponder over... :)

      By the way, if you don't have an air brush, use spray bottles like yo get with a well-known brand of glass cleaner. I use water-based latex and tempera paints, so I don't have paint fumes making The Missus' asthma worse, and they run through spritzer bottles just fine. (Rinse well after each session, of course.)

      And I saw your post over on the forum in the "Chainmail" section, too; thank you for the mention! (It showed up on my traffic sources page, and I went over and took a look.) You're very kind; thank you!

      I don't post there, or on very many other RPG fora (like, The RPGsite, etc.) as there didn't seem to be a lot of interest in what I had to say - I got the feeling that there was a lot of 'culture shock' at the notion that anyone of my generation of gamers is still alive and playing, let alone still playing the same kind of games in the same kind of way. If you think I'me being helpful, then please feel free to use any of my material any way you want to - it's what I'm here for!

      - chirine

    4. I have a number of questions Chirine. I’ll try to keep it brief.

      You explained that movement is proportional to the size of the game you’re running. I like this. But how do you handle time in game? Is the measure of time simply winged or tossed since it does not have any real impact on play? Also, could you explain what “secret movements” are.

      Along the same lines, when dealing with scale, you mentioned unit frontage. Is it just a matter of keeping the basing consistent with all figures without getting bogged down with exactitudes?

      You also talked about the size of forces- “I give each player between a dozen to 20 figures to use”.
      Does this mean that scale is irrelevant in Braunstein or that it is also variable and based on the size of the game being run?

      I’m very curious about how you use Chainmail to resolve combat. Are you using Man to Man or the Mass Combat tables? Or have you adapted the rules to your own tables, since each faction has a numerical attack and defense factor? Do you resolve missiles in the same way?

      Lastly, the goal of finding the two sisters involved collecting a ransom. In your game, is this an end in itself or do you run it as a campaign where loot can be used for other purposes?

      Well, I guess I’ve chewed your ear enough for now. Maybe some of this will be answered in future posts.

    5. Great questions! I'm going to copy them into a full post for you...

      - chirine

  3. It's always fun to hear how someone else does a thing like this. Thanks for sharing!