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Thursday, 17 November 2016

Melee and Wizard as simplified roleplaying fantasy trip

Melee was published in 1977 as Microgame #3. It was a small skirmish game about pre-gunpowder melee (hence its name) fighting.
Wizard followed in 1978 as Microgame #6. It was a game of wizards duels, but it could be combined with Melee to give a kind of wargame fantasy arena.
Wargames battles between fighters, wizards, demi-humans fighting on tactical terrain. It was almost a roleplaying game and it was used as such by a huge number of players who liked the simplicity and ease of the game.
Those were very fun games,  easy and simple, but full of flavor.

So, it was quite logical to turn the system into a complete rpg called The Fantasy Trip. It took some years to do and it was eagerly awaited.
When it was released, in 1980, it included Advanced Melee, Advanced Wizard and In The Labyrinth.

That was a fine game, but the expansion of the rules of Melee and Wizard made it more complex and not very different of others games of the time. Of course, it was possible to play The Fantasy Trip with basic Melee and Wizard and In the Labyrinth, but the discrepancies between the different levels of difficulties was not very fun.

That was the problem, the game was a more serious and complete game, but it had lost its fun factor (which is generally something that game designers don't really understand about their own games, I should write a post about it).

The charm was broken as was the collaboration between Metagaming (the publisher) and Steve Jackson (the designer). Steve Jackson was to design GURPS to expand its ideas, whilst Metagaming did publish a less complicated set of rules based on TFT and called Underearth. It was probably more like what TFT should have been (even if TFT fans don't like it too much for being not a Steve Jackson design). It was too late anyway.

TFT is one of those games that has kept a big following on the internet through the years and I had suddenly a urge to play some one-offs scenarios with it. Or more accurately with Melee and Wizard.
As I wouldn't use In the Labyrinth (except maybe as a ressources when in need for a rule), I decided to just write the minimal rules needed to add a roleplaying layer on the game.
YMMV of course, about what is the minimal amount of rules needed and how to write them. Here is my version anyway.

The basic Melee and Wizard rules can be found on the internet with a Google search (and you'll also find the derivatives, more or less akin to the original; some of them are really worth a look, being fine games on their own, though I prefer playing with the originals).

My addon rules are HERE if you want to try them.

I'll probably also publish the cardboard figures (like the orc on the left), paper scenery, virtual tabletop battlemaps and tokens I am using.
It is a very mixed campaign: cardboard figures with paper 3D scenery or tokens on maps with Maptool, depending on what is available. The idea is to keep the game rolling, so I prepare the stuff for the game on a session by session basis.

Saturday, 1 August 2015

Isometric VTT - Roll20 too

It has been a long time since I used Roll20 (I am still waiting them to accept Paypal for payment instead of having to send my credit card info to an unknown company).
So, I was quite sure that isometric gaming was not possible with it. But...
Since my last visit they have added a feature called Rollable Table Token and that's just what is needed to play with isometric figures.

Here is the result:

It works quite easily. All the stuff made for Maptool would work with it (I think, I am not a specialist).

Tuesday, 21 July 2015

A few more isometric Maptool figures

Just a few more isometric Maptool figures (uuhhh! yes, it was already in the title....).

True isometric figures

Fake isometric figures

The following figures are also fake isometrics, but they are made from my old cardboard figures illustrations. Because they were drawn at a very small scale (they were drawn directly at 30mm height), they are less detailed (and probably less well done) than the figures above. They are 200 pixels figures like the true iso figures, though it makes no difference in use, Maptool taking care of scale effect.

Isometric objects

Isometric generic tokens

Because, you are certainly going to need generic tokens to represent the NPCs for which there is no figures, here are a few pawns (with colored backs).
Adding letter states to the generic tokens:
If you need to individualize more those  tokens, here are two sets of letters (A to Z, in blue and red), that can be set as states and then, turned on or off on the tokens. You probably don't need the 52 states, but having a, b and c in those two colors can help during play.

Sunday, 14 June 2015

Maptool goes isometric!

There are wonderful news from Maptool. Jagged has released a beta version of Maptool handling isometric play natively. Meaning not only the handling of figures, but also the management of field of view and lights. And from what I can understand, later versions should make it possible to use not only flat maps (I mean your usual maps transformed in an isometric view), but also true iso maps with iso objects.

Figures are made from  four views of the token that give the impression of change of direction. I had begun to sketch a few of them when experimenting with isometric framework on my own. So, I decided to finish some of them to let you also experiment a little.
I intended to release a bigger pack of them to begin, but, of course, everyone around me decided that it was the best week-end to ... anything else.
So, here are a few figures to begin and I'll post the following ones as soon as they become available.
And as I also intend to make new ones, so don't hesitate to ask for what you would prefer to see.

The first type of figures here are the real isometric figures, meaning that they are drawn at an angle to conform with the isometric view. As their orientation is quite evident, they don't need a base. As they are drawn at a very small size, the resulting figure is 200px wide (which is not important, Maptool rescale it to your game scale), and shouldn't be used at a too big scale.

The second type of figures are false isometric figures, meaning that they are front and back figures (normally made as cardboard figures) and placed on a base showing their orientation. They are more detailed and result as 400px wide figures (which Maptool shall rescale to your gaming scale anyway).
The use of a base with an isometric view mitigates the fact that the figures are not drawn into isometric perspective though it is still visible, particularly when used alongside true isometric figures.

The main advantage of this kind of figures is that there is a huge lot of cardboard figures files waiting out there to be transformed into isometric VTT figures.


Later, I also intend to post tiles and parts of background to use in Tiled to make your own maps directly in isometric views, with some elevations (walls, pillars...).
And later, if the handling of objects becomes available in Maptool, I'll post isometric objects (and a tutorial to make your own in Sketchup).

Friday, 1 May 2015

Planetcrawl: editing the planetary 3D map during the campaign

Now that we have found a way to create easily 3D planet maps with hexes, maybe we should give a little more attention to tools that could help us to run our planetcrawl.

And the first one is how we can display new informations on the map, or even edit the map as a consequence of the actions or discoveries of the characters.

Sketchup floating labels
The easiest way is to add a floating label that points directly to the place that you want to mark. The advantage is that you can add as much text you want into it. The drawback is that if you have too much of those labels, they are going to make the planet map very confusing.
Anyway, they are easy to make:

-Choose the label tool
-Click on a point on the map and extend the label to its position
-Fill the text in the label

Editing the map
It is also possible to draw directly on the texture map that covers our 3D planet model. Indeed, Sketchup has a function just for that.

-step 0: before being able to use that function, you need to have a graphic program linked to Sketchup:
              -Preferences>Applications and choose a graphic application like GIMP or Photoshop

Now, you can edit your map, from Sketchup, on the fly:

-step 1: right click on a face of the 3D map, choose texture>edit texture image and it should open in the program chosen in step 1.
-step 2: make the modifications to your map in your graphic program. Hint: if you are making a change on your map because the players have discovered that their map was inaccurate (there is a city where their map indicated a forest), a simple copy and paste from another hex is quick enough.
-step 3: Flatten the image and close it. When the program asks to save the changes, click yes.

Given the size of the mapping texture, it won't be possible to add many informations onto the hexes. At best a symbol of two or an index indication directing to a note in your scenario.

But, whatever solution you use, it won't be possible to map the planetary 3D model with the details that could be needed once our characters are on the ground.

So, we are going to need sub maps for zooming in on the area covered by one hex of our planet (only those with interest, that need some focus, of course). But as soon as we do it, we are into known territory: the classic hexcrawl that we have known and practiced before.
You'll find a lot of advice by reading the articles about hexcrawls that were posted on The Alexandrian blog, more to the point that I could hope to write.
Anyway, to map those hexes, you can go back to Hexographer, Tiled (a post about that wonderful program is long overdue) or sketch them on paper.