Friday, January 30, 2015

First Strike explained...

At least as it applies to my USR Sword & Sorcery campaign. The Equipment List includes some weapons, such as the flail, which come with a "first strike" attribute.

First strike weapons allow a character to make an initial melee attack without their opponent being able to inflict any damage against them, even if they win the contested attribute roll. This initial attack roll is made in conjunction with the character's regular Action roll for the combat round, in effect, giving the first strike weapon two attack rolls versus your opponents one.

Once engaged in melee a character cannot make a first strike attack. If two or more characters are attacking each other with first strike weapons, no one can make a first strike attack.

First strike does not apply to ranged weapon attacks.

Wednesday, January 28, 2015

LotFP Language Rules for USR Sword & Sorcery

My players came upon a book, and, after a year of play, for the first time I had to know if any these motley louts could read. True to their sword and sorcery roots these adventuring heroes have yet to approach any task without crushing blows, and flashing blades. Illiteracy among them all was a real possibility, so I ruled that none of them could read. But that didn't feel complete. I mean, what is the chance that they are all illiterate?


I needed a mechanism to decide an unknown question such as this and James Raggi's LotFP rules for language is the only one which ever struck me as a functional, in-game method for literacy and language questions. So the following is how I've hacked them to suit my USR Sword & Sorcery game.

Language Rules for USR Sword & Sorcery

Most PCs are assumed to begin play being fully fluent in their native tongue.

They are literate as well if they can pass a 6+ difficulty roll against their Wits.

Any specialism which can modify the results, good or bad, should be applied. Any specialism which implies literacy (scribe for example) would confer automatic literacy in the PC's native language. Any other modifier the CK wishes to impose can be added to this initial literacy roll.

When a PC comes into contact with another language their chance of speaking the language is determined by passing a 6+ difficulty roll against their Wits. Did they make it? If they did then you need to determine if they are literate too. Make another Wits roll against a 7+ difficulty.

To learn an unknown language takes six months of full immersion, fluent in two years. A language can be taught by a tutor, but that takes two years of at least five lessons a week (at 3sp a lesson) to become comfortably conversant, and fluency does not come until being immersed in the language.

Sunday, January 11, 2015

Messing Around with Amoeba Wars

This simple Avalon Hill game sits on my shelf, and I always want to use it as a light weight gateway game for people who may have never played "wargames" before.

Problem is, I've also found it to have some game flaws which I've really wanted to remove and make the game more enjoyable.

There are a few stabs at it on Board Game Geek, but all raise some issues just as much as they try to solve some of the game's perceived problems.

What are these problems? The biggest complaint about the game is "turtling", a strategy where a player makes no moves each turn slowly building up his space armada in his home solar system and then making a single late game push to the center and the win.

Another issue is turn order and how with 5 to 6 players there is much down time in between your turn. Some players have made stabs at changing the turn order mechanics to create more interaction amongst players around the board. For new players to the game I don't think this is much of an issue. The novelty of the game and figuring it out has a tendency to create interactive banter around the board. This issue is more of one for veteran I feel because the game, despite its evocative title, lacks some personality which can bring down the excitement for veteran players.

This is where I've decided to launch my attack on reviving this 80's nostalgia nugget from the grave and getting it on the table. To give the game some additional personality. Amoeba Wars attempts to create some personality for your colored counters with the inclusion of Special Power cards which, as an optional rule, each player gets to draw one randomly at the beginning of play. While drawn secretly, once you use it the rest of the players know what you are packing for the rest of the game and can compensate.

Instead of using XXII. Optional Player Powers rule as written, I propose you get to draw a Special Power card when you have captured production points. 

One production point gets you one Special Power, two gets you two Special Powers, up to four production points gets you three Special Power cards. Once the cards are all gone, no one can get them anymore. This should also have the additional benefit of making the Turtle Strategy less viable as a neighboring player can accumulate some significant power through expansion while the turtling player twiddles his thumbs. Power which can put this strategy farther out of reach of success, hopefully. 
You should be able to put the power into play as soon as the card is acquired, and acquiring new cards will keep opponents guessing on what one is packing. 

We will see.