Pig Sticker Etiquette 101

December 16, 2009


Roll Dem Bones

Out of mind on Tuesday moanin’! This my unofficial review of Battlefields 2009, which is a miniatures gaming convention run by ProorCon, http://www.proorcon.net/,  at facilities on the campus of University of Michigan in Dearborn, Michigan. It was a wonderful experience as far as gaming conventions go. As expected I got to play in a civil wars game run by John Holcomb. John had a wonderful miniatures board set up. The rule set used was the regimental version of Fire and Fury, which also happened to be some quasi-beta version of rules yet to officially be published. I was more familiar with the brigade version of the game and greatly enjoy playing that version of the rules. 

Allow me to take a moment to explain what the difference is in playing brigade vs. regimental rules. On the field of play you have an army designation, usually 8-10 stands with three soldiers on each stand. Brigade play involves each stand representing several hundred soldiers and regimental which represents usually less than a hundred soldiers. Playing brigade rules is a better way to simulate the entire battlefield of a battle, ie. Gettysburg. Regimental rules allow you to focus on a smaller element of a major battle like Gettysburg, ie. The battle of the Roundtops. 

My point being, rules make a huge difference in how much enjoyment one might get out of a game. At Battlefields was this detailed role-playing game with a focus on miniature play adaptation of Stargate SG-1 run by Glen Cooley. The game featured a wonderfully detailed board set-up with a Jaffa pyramid ship and a planet-side representation of an ancient Egyptian-like pyramid complex. The attention to detail was astounding. Glen was using an adapted Spycraft D20 rule set for running the action. I am not a fan of D20 anymore. I have found joy and exhilaration running and playing Savage Worlds role-playing games. With the Savage Worlds rule set you get fast, furious fun without all the rules headaches of D20.

Glen Cooley told John Jamison and myself that he will be running his game at the Origins Gaming Convention and this is one game not to miss. Further, if you can’t wait until Origins, there is a good chance that you will see this game at MichiCon 2009 at the top of May. 

Now that I have done my part about some of my experiences at some of the gaming events at ProorCon, lets talk a bit about rules and swordplay in a role-playing game environment. I have been pondering this for as while. Some of this was inspired by a Star Wars RPG game John Jamison will be running using the Savage Worlds rule set. Quite honestly, the hardest character to capture for role-playing games is a Jedi. Jedi are the most twinked-out characters because of all the things that they can do with so many different character disciplines. The term twinked out comes from the award of a Hostess Twinkie that GM’s I have played with in the past gave to the players that found the most creative ways to abuse and misuse rules common and available to all players in the game.

A Jedi can do all these Force powers like: telekinesis, mind-control, lightning bolts, master swordsmanship, a weapon that deflects energy weapon blasts back at its source and a multitude of other powers. The light saber cuts through most anything, and as John Jamison describes, its damage is not character strength dependent. For simplicity sake I believe in KISS (Keep It Simple Stupid) when it comes to role-playing games and that’s why Savage Worlds is so elegant. But herein lies the conundrum to all role-playing games. In a sword fight, not only is the sword an attack weapon, it is also used significantly for defense. Does a sword improve armor class and if so by how much?

Part of this comes from watching some programs on the History Channel, Warrior and Battles BC. Take a katana for example. It’s a rare and expensive sword in most settings. A katana does excessive amounts of damage depending on the role-playing system. Yet the missing intention in providing a katana weapon in game play is what a warrior can truly do with it. A warrior trained in the use of a katana should do excessive damage. A run of the mill warrior might be able to use a katana as a sword but would lack the elegance and skill to use it to it’s greatest potential, hence, the defensive bonus to armor class. An obvious thought on this is as a warrior gets more experienced; they too will improve their defensive uses with the katana. 

Savage Worlds, has as part of their rule set, an element called Parry. Parry accounts for a character being able to defend themselves in hand-to-hand melee combat. Basically how difficult it is to hit them in combat. A character’s Toughness determines how much damage happens to them after a successful attack that beats their Parry score. In addition, armor can also soak damage. This is the basis of Savage Worlds, simple, elegant and it works. With no hard rule set in place, a GM can make simple effective adaptations to account for a katana or light saber as they feel it applies to the gaming experience they are sharing with their players.

Wow! Over 900 words to get this out and share with you. Remember, sharing is good. Share your gaming experiences at the Metro Detroit Gamers website:  http://www.metrodetroitgamers.com/.  Roll Dem’ Bones!


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