Wednesday, December 26, 2018

Trimming the Fat: The Final Trimension

(Continuing on from the previous posts here and here, as well as some of my thoughts on gnomes here and here. Unlike its namesake, hopefully this installment won't be a tepid retread with Mako in a minor role.)

In my quest to build the perfect portable gaming kit, I decided that where the rules are concerned I need something small and lightweight - not just mechanically, but physically. White Box (a digest-sized and very beautifully laid out redesign of Swords & Wizardry White Box) fits the bill, and it's dirt cheap too. If my players insist on adding additional classes, it's pretty easy to integrate the ones from Swords & Wizardry Complete, and only slightly more difficult to add the few additional ones (bard and illusionist) that aren't found there.

Thursday, December 20, 2018

Bases & Spaces

As I've been slowly sowing the seeds of an old-school RPG campaign (probably using White Box, supplemented with things from the Swords & Wizardry Complete Rules and various other sources), my mind has turned to the question of miniatures. I like collecting them (though not painting them), and several of my players find them extremely helpful in play. But the current vogue for RPG minis - 28mm tall, with a 20mm circular base - makes enforcing detailed facing difficult.

I can't use 1" square bases with 1" square spaces on a mat; if someone needs to face diagonally (which will probably happen a lot), they'll be partially blocking all four cardinally adjacent spaces. I thought about hexagonal bases, but the problem of front/flank/rear spaces - or rather, assigning them so they'll be consistent between figures with symmetrical, wide, and long bases - gave me several days of headaches a little over a year ago before I just decided to drop it. So as far as shape goes, I've got two main ones: square (for obvious reasons) or octagonal.

Why octagons? Simple: they fit just as snugly as square bases of the same size, but allow for easy 45-degree rotation. The downside of octagons is that they aren't nearly as common as squares or hexes, but this site has a good selection of them, plus a handy custom-build option that lets you choose your material and size. An option I've been considering (octagons made of clear acrylic) runs under $8 USD for a 25-pack.

Now for the size... 3/4" square bases are a great option for a number of reasons. They don't overlap 1" spaces as much, they're easy to find (I grabbed a big bag of wooden squares from a chain craft store's woodworking section), and they're the size used for a number of games - including Battlesystem, vintage Warhammer, and Daniel Collins' rather excellent Book of War. And something else I realized: if I go with 1 1/2" spaces on the tabletop (to more closely model oD&D's 1"=10' scale), then up to four figures could fit in a single space if packed tightly enough. The downside of 3/4" bases is that some of my minis have a bit too wide of a stance to easily fit on a square that small - hence my consideration of 1" octagons.

Having said all of that, as much as I like Fitz's mat of offset squares, it wouldn't play as nice with octagonal bases. They could still work, but I'd be a bit miffed at two whole sides going unused. And 3/4" octagons would be even harder to fit some figures onto.

I honestly don't care if this meme is dead.

Friday, December 14, 2018

On Thaumaturgy

Just a brief quote from Isaac Bonewits' Authentic Thaumaturgy (which I've sub-quoted here - and boy, have some of my opinions changed since writing that post). It's rare to see an intersection of real-world and fantasy Magic from a standpoint other than alarmism, and this piece of wisdom makes me want to improve my game, at the very least.

“The whole artistic and intellectual joy of magic is in the subtlety of it all, and in the occasional need for instantaneous rational and/or intuitive judgements about life and death situations. All this is missing, and so is the simulation accuracy, when a magical wand becomes just another sort of laser pistol.”

Sunday, December 2, 2018

Fixing Fifth Edition

It's looking more and more likely that my options for local RPG play will be severely curtailed unless I can suck it up and get over the worst of my issues with D&D 5th Edition. I've suspected this for a while now, but as everyone gets increasingly busy with schooling and work (except me - I got downsized this past Friday), I may have to take a few hesitant steps into the hypodermic-needle-strewn oceanfront that is public gaming.

I've said before that the ultimate core of 5e isn't one that I have issues with; I cut my teeth on Pathfinder, and after several years of AD&D 2nd Edition I can see why certain design decisions were made. The main problem is the guff that has accumulated from years of poor thinking and bad influences (not all of which can be blamed on 4e), and the way that completely green players have had their assumptions set and their preferences shaped by bad refereeing passing itself off as good. There are a few relatively easy things that I could do to limit this, and make a game more to my taste that can still be played in by those who have already sunk $150 or more into the currently supported product line.