Tuesday, July 8, 2014

Old Game, New Game

Old Game:

Last night a couple members of my Olde School Wizardry homebrew campaign crew came out to finish our three-part Marvel Super Heroes Advanced Set spin-off, set in the classical past of our campaign world.
As a hurricane bore down on the nameless sea-side village, The Speculator helped with the evacuation efforts, carefully removing from the watchtower the crude bronze bell that housed Vaz Dragul, the enigmatic elemental spirit once bonded to slave-champion It-Sweeps.  Trouble broke out as Baat, the village troublemaker, tried to seize another man's wife, claiming that he would remain behind and survive the storm and that any who opposed him would be sorry.  Soon the meaning of Baat's cryptic threats became clear as a pair of Pastores swept down on the refugees.  These elementally augmented champions served the cruel Auldish overlords and had come to seize the villagers as new slaves for their wicked, elfin masters.

A super-powered slugfest ensued as Speculator handed off the bell to villager, Same, who became the new host of Vaz Dragul's power and the pair took on the Pastores.  One of the villains (statted from Captain America) was blinded by Speculator's touch, double-teamed, and knocked out, Same fell, plowed under by a rolling, hollow stone sphere and, after a few tense rounds, Speculator finished off the other foe (statted from Cyclops).  In the end, the unconscious villains were loaded into their own slave-capturing spheres and sent rolling out to sea.
from weatherstock.com

As we resolved some Charging, Grappling, and even a Power Stunt, my fondness for this vintage rules set was reawaken.  It was really the idea of degrees of success, governed by the Universal Chart, that set Marvel Super Heroes apart from most other early entries in the hobby.  For example, when attempting to grapple, a character could Miss, get a Partial Hold (yellow), or a Full Hold (red) whereas an attack with an edged weapon could generate a Miss, Hit, Stun, or Kill ... so technically Aunt May could end Bullseye with a simple kitchen knife, it just isn't very likely.
The turn-by-turn use of charts has largely fallen by the wayside in tabletop role-playing in favor of target numbers and more sophisticated character sheets.  Correspondingly, it seems like GM screens went entirely out of fashion for a while there, until revived by Pathfinder and some retro-clones, but regular reference to charts was a staple of wargaming and so rests pretty deeply in the DNA of the role-playing hobby.  Nostalgia aside, we did find it quicker to record the target numbers for each degree of success on the character sheets (index cards) in the style used by 3rd Edition D&D to record the chance of rolling a critical.  E.g. "Fighting: Excellent 20 = 41, 71, 95" listing the 1d100 target numbers for Green, Yellow, and Red results.

The Universal Chart!  Check the top section to get a hint about degrees of success.

New Game:

Yesterday I also continued plugging away on writing Ghult: The Blood Coast, the scaffold board game that will tie together the activity in next week's middle school class.

Here is the random events chart!

Random Events: Immediately prior to the first player’s turn roll 2d6 and announce the event.  Unless noted otherwise, random events are resolved following the end of the last player’s turn.

2 Hurricane - “A strange hush falls over the shores of Ghult as clouds begin to mount higher and higher on the horizon.”  All ships that are not in a harbor space by the end of the turn sink.  The captains of ships sunk by a hurricane lose their next turn before being rescued and placed at Haut Port with an Expedition Marker and a Wounded Marker.

3 The Fever - “The men stumble and sway as they pick their way along the jungle trails, their eyes glassy and cheeks sallow.” All expeditions receive a Wounded Marker.

4 Cannibals - “Terrified villagers dash for cover -- the Eaters-of-Men have returned!”  Any expedition that is not in a space containing a harbor, village, ruin, Haut Port, or a base camp suffers a 1d6 attack at the end of the turn.

5 Natives are Restless - “The servants exchange furtive glances as drums throb in the night.” Roll 1d6 for each village: 1-3 discard any Pacified Marker; 4-6 no effect.  Any plantations in or touching spaces with unpacified villages stop producing gold until the villages are Pacified again.

6 Pirate Raid - “Black sails on the horizon!  Reavers have come in search of booty!”  Any base camp in a space containing a harbor suffers a 1d6 attack.  If the pirates win the fight the base camp is not destroyed, but any expedition in that space receives a Wounded Marker and any gold in that location is stolen.  

7 No Special Event - “Somewhere in the jungle unknown birds utter strange, human-like cries that rise above the unceasing drone of myriad insects.”

8 Squall - “A sudden storm lashes the coasts of Ghult.”  All ships that are not in a harbor space are driven one space in a random direction.  Roll 1d6: 1 north; 2-4 south; 5 east; 6 west.  Ships that are forced into a space containing land but no harbor receive a Damaged Marker.  Ships that are forced into a space containing no water remain in place and receive a Damage Marker.

9 The Kracken - “It rises from the deep, driven up from the cold blackness by a great hunger -- The Kracken has come!”  All ships that are not in a harbor roll 1d6.  On a result of 1-2 they are devoured by the kracken.  The captain of ships eaten by the Kracken lose their next turn before being rescued and placed at Haut Port with an Expedition Marker and a Wounded Marker.

10 Tremors - “The earth quivers and mutters underfoot as the crashing of falling trees echoes through the jungle.” All Fortified camps discard one Fortified Marker

11 Volcanic Eruption - “Clouds of burning ash are spewed skyward from the distant peaks.”  Plantations produce no revenue this turn.  Each base camp suffers a 1d6 attack at the end of the turn.  Expeditions in base camps that are destroyed receive a Wounded Marker.

12 Roll Twice More - disregard any roll of 12

The entire rules set will come out at about three pages, but I still need to develop play-sheets for each captain to help them track gold and such. I'm also stumped as to what to use for game tokens / markers, but if I figure something decent out I might be able to play Ghult: The Blood Coast during the regular school year!

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