How the heck does movement work in Braunsteins and multiforms???

edited May 2013 in Story Games
I know a few of you have either played Wesely's Braunstein or in an Aussie style multiform, so maybe you can help me.

I'm trying to figure out exactly how movement works in that stuff.

Here's my impression:
The thing is kinda like a LARP crossed with Diplomacy, with some kind of table set up to show physical positions of the characters.

Like a LARP or Diplomacy, lots of the fun stuff is in secret meetings and negotiations between the players, who will be moving around the broader real world play space. So far so good.

But how does that interact with the movement of the miniatures or markers on the map/table layout?

Does it work a bit like Diplomacy where there's a bunch of freeform play/negotiations going on, then a time at the table, then the thing repeats over an over?

Or is something else going on, like there's a Ref/GM at the tableside, and players can kinda just go up and show their moves, which then justifies them going off and meeting with different players/characters based on locale of the markers?

Or is it something else entirely???

Also, if combat or action sequences occur, how does that fit in?


  • I don't know these games but the big miniatures/diplomacy games that Frank Chadwick used to run over in Champaign/Urbana IL (now long ago) sort of used turns but the synchronicity of turns soon got out of whack. What seemed to happen is that in some places where fighting occurred turns went faster or slower (depending on the rules lawyerness of the players). While diplomacy actions happened in real time quite separate from the movement turns of the game. The games were great fun but really chaotic. As long as you didn't look too close you'd think they worked but really we were just making stuff up as we went along.

    Howard Whitehouse's mega games have the same effect except that he would divide up the large game board into areas with their own GM. In my area in one wild west game the Indians left on the first turn - leaving a young guy running the ranchers all along. I improvised a solo Matrix game for him where I'd give him a challenge and a set number of arguments to accomplish it. The tasks were big because he was effectively settling Arizona Territory. Immigrants came, farms and ranches sprung up, we even brought in the rail road. Then at the end of the game the Indians came back to find their land occupied and the balance of power forever changed - while they fought one skirmish in the next area!

    When I've run big games I keep it either abstract enough that you can hold everyone to the same schedule or made the rules lose enough that exact time scales were not important. Learn to story worrying and love the bomb - to pull in Dr Strangelove.

  • edited May 2013
    I don't know of a single working Braunstein-like system. But as a long time fan of larps, I've played in some games that had things in common with Braunsteins.

    There is a local live combat larp that occasionally does special events for abstract troop battle stuff, and it has a lot of similarity to the Braunstein format.

    From seeing how those work, I'd make the following suggestions:

    - Develop or find a nice simple board game for troop movement.
    - The mechanics should be as simple as possible so that large scale results are determined EXTREMELY quickly. That way, the rest of the time is available for the talking, negotiating part. Test your system so that, even at the end when things are getting complicated, a round can be adjudicated in about 1 minute, including all the figuring out of which variables are being used and how they work.
    - Remember that everyone is going to be new to the mechanics and is going to be wanting to spend time thinking about the negotiating part. So simplify the mechanics even more.
    - The only variables in the board game should be the things that the various player roles can directly effect. For example, movement speed around the board should only matter if there are going to be people in charge of supplying horses or speed spells or something like that.
    - For the negotiation stuff, tie it to limited resources and make those resources physical things. You're not just negotiating for "my good graces" or "my approval", you're negotiating for "this land grant" or "use of this group of horses in the battle" or other things. Make people trade physical items, even if they are just cards, to seal the deal.
    - Make the resources abstract. Deal in numbers like 1s, 3s, 5s. If you want to talk in cash, only talk in hundreds or thousands or millions of dollars (depending on the period). Start everyone with, say 3-5 resources that are not the ones they need to succeed.
    - Give EVERYONE goals (and tie the goals to the resources), not just the battle commanders. The guy in charge of the livery, who can control whether you get horses, needs at least 3 cash units to pay off his debts . And if he can get 4 or 5 cash for them, he'll have money for his daughter's dowry. Things like that.
    - A good pacing usually involves lots of negotiating time at the beginning, followed by a back and forth of negotiating and taking board moves later. Like maybe 1 minute of adjudication followed by 4-5 minutes of talking. Use this to figure out how many moves can be made in the game time you have allocated. Make sure the battle can be resolved in plenty of time.
  • Wow, very different answers, and both very helpful.

    Rob, I knew a little about the resources trading concept, but that clarifies it immensely, so thanks for that.

    Chris: I suspected that it never truly worked as planned, but I'm glad to see that it can be banged into functioning. I'd suspected that games like Howard's almost certainly required multiple refs, but the man has never mentioned this once, not even on his Yahoo group. Things make much more sense now.
  • Matrixgamer, can you just give me a short account of how that game worked overall?
  • In Frank's games I think he had movement rates and combat rules that riffed off the "Comand Decision" WW2 miniatures rules simplified.

    In Howard's game he didn't actually mandate a particular set of rules so I just made up rules. If you don't worry too much so many things can happily live together.
  • We did a diplomatic Star Wars LARP one time that took place on several planets/in several ships. When you flew from one place to another we had a small guest room that was marked "Wipe Cut". It was also our generic out-of-character space with refreshments and such.

    You and the other passengers would go in there. The pilot was handed a timer by a GM. When the timer was done you could come out and go to the room/location that was where the next roleplay would take place. If we'd had an unlimited budget, I think we would have made an in-character "en route" room, at least for each of the factions, so the roleplay could continue.

    Of course the ideal thing to do would be to simply have multiple locations around the city and your car is the spaceship.
  • JD:
    That's kind of a great idea actually, especially since it was combined with the OOC/snack area. About how much time was usually put on the timer?

    As for the idea about driving around, a few of my friends and I had posited a similar type of game, but in parts of cities that were easily walkable and had all kinds of casual hangout spots already. Never got it off the ground though, so no idea how well it would have worked.

    I've been pondering how to respond to the info you're giving me, but my thoughts are muddled I'm afraid. I know I started the thread by asking about movement, but your responses are pointing me to different questions. At a real level, I'm trying to find out the upper level stuff that makes these things work, and movement I suppose is just one part of that.

    Having hung around here enough, I start to think about what "system" ( the methods used to achieve fun play) are in an event.

    What I'm getting from your responses is that the core of the system revolves around having a person who puts the game and situation together who then recruits a small team of pals to help them out when it comes time to actually get the players there and playing the thing.

    All of those team members are basically neutral refs, all of them are authorized to use whatever mechanical methods seem best to them ( I'm assuming the main organizer will have some preferred, suggested mechanics), and everybody on the "ref team" goes in with kind of a commitment to be helpers to players during play.

    I'm also getting the impression that ideas about scale time can just go sit in an ash-bin alone once play has begun, although some guidance or suggestions might be used, or play broken into some break times with a "fast forward" to the next big representative time block.

    [An example of that might be something I saw in a LARP I played in. Players would play for an hour of real time representing one day. Then a break of play, a little re-gathering of the players and break for snacks. Each one hour block of play was another day. Of course, at the break there could be recaps and new info added into the scenario and maybe a little general info that everyone would know about given out]

    I think I'm starting to see how some of this works out. I'll post this for now, then do a re-cap post of my collective impressions of how I think these things are supposed to work later, and you guys reading it can poke at my impressions and show me where I'm on the right or wrong tracks.
  • edited May 2013
    That's kind of a great idea actually, especially since it was combined with the OOC/snack area. About how much time was usually put on the timer?
    Each pilot had a navigation chart, you tested your piloting skill and that determined how much you added/subtracted. Typically you were required to be en route for something like 8-10 minutes.

  • JD:
    Any noticeable player reactions to that good or bad?

    I know when I played some old vamplarps that insta-travel used to bug the piss out of me, but pretty much no one else at all seemed to care.

    Did people feel it was enough time to account for travel without being annoying and locking people out of the fun of play?
  • So here's the overall recap post:

    Right, so let's say I want to put one of these Braunstein/Megagame/Multiform things together. Roughly, this is how I'm currently understanding it, from a number of different people's ideas.

    1) Getting set up
    Okay, the first key thing as the person who is pulling one of these things together is to go in with the right mindset/attitude, and that's a bit different from other kinds of GMing, whether of trad games or dirty hippy games or even GMless games.

    A bunch of the initial fun is Lonley Fun/Solo Fun. I get to grab all of my goodies that I'll use for the table layout and come up with a setting+situation. I get to create that whole web of characters/resources and define a lot of the conflict web. And, I'm going to have the fun of inviting a whole bunch of people t participate in it, including at least a couple of pals as helpers/co-GMs during the event. I might even note down some extra stuff that's possibly going to occur, events and so on, that enter into the fiction as the game is played.

    With all that done though, on game day, I need to back off a bit and just act as a helper/ref. There isn't exactly story at all. I've set up the possibilities for story in the stuff I did already, but then it's time to just watch as things spin whatever way they go. The characters are all already kinds pointed at one another. What players do with their characters' abilities and resources are all up to them.

    2) Helper Team stuff
    During play, helper team is just there mostly to be the "rules rabbis". There probably aren't really a whole lot of rules at all. The rules could probably be summed up as "Go Freeplay with one another and if you can't work out results on your own, grab a helper team member to assist as needed. They have a kit of tools they are authorized to pull out to be used as they see fit to resolve this stuff".

    And of course, the helper team does have those things. Generally an agreed upon simple set of mechanics for various purposes, and authority to create or use other mechanics using their best judgment.

    3) Real world time and scale time is funky, but don't stress too much about it.
    My helper team and myself probably have some sort of real world time limits we're working with, and we may have agreed on some events or breaks during the full session time, happening on some sort of hidden schedule. So maybe something like "At Start +45 minutes, we announce that event X has occurred!" or "At Start +1 hour, we take a break and declare In-Game Day 1 has ended and have a 10 minute break and recap before starting Day 2"

    During the normal game time when everyone is wandering around negotiating and conspiring and free roleplaying, we mostly leave things alone. If there's some kind of on-table action going o that needs to be reffed/adjudicated, one of the helper team is posted table side to aid with that stuff. Likewise, they're there to help with movement conflicts that may arise as people move their pieces to new areas to make contact with other people's characters.

    No matter what, there's no need to really stress about whether all of the time that should be used up from travel or combat or whatever matches up for all of the players, because frankly no one will care except for those situations they're involved in, and notable inconsistencies can be smoothed over by whatever local helper is on the spot at the time or by the helper team when they recap at break times.

    4) Roughly, everybody on the helper team has these kinds of duties/goals during play:
    Make sure all players are getting some interaction/play in. By preference Heplers do this in a way that points players back towards interacting with one another rather than interacting with ad-hoc NPCs/Critters, etc.

    Are there to aid with action sequences and other on-table stuff.

    To keep an eye on developing play events, spread rumors and news of events to players to try to keep the swirl of interaction going. Possibly acting as town criers/news reports/whatever as needed.

    To help maintain the vibe of play. [Vulpinoid once noted that even in action-packed Aussie freeforms, players didn't tend to kill one another's (main) characters in the early part of sessions because of local play culture. maybe watching for that and aiding getting across that vibe is important too].

    To enact timed events and location specific events and note appropriate changes, sharing info with one another and players as appropriate.

    To help with break time recaps and summaries and help set up for the next part of the session after those breaks.


    Okay, that's what I've got so far. Comments y'all?
  • JD:
    Any noticeable player reactions to that good or bad?

    I know when I played some old vamplarps that insta-travel used to bug the piss out of me, but pretty much no one else at all seemed to care.

    Did people feel it was enough time to account for travel without being annoying and locking people out of the fun of play?
    Everybody was used to insta-travel, but because it was a built-in break (and there were usually people in the refreshment area to hang around with), nobody minded. It actually didn't have much of an effect on play at all other than to mandate 'stop playing for 10 minutes' every so often.
  • edited May 2013
    Hmm. Thinking about the idea you mentioned JD for the starship travel and MatrixGamer's comments about multiple refs, let me posit a mechanic and see what y'all think.

    "Announced movement for Non-Tactical situations"
    The point of the mechanic:
    Allowing players to move their representative pieces on table without the need for organized group turns at the table. They can do this as needed at any time.

    Meant to represent travel time without being overly complicated.

    Meant to allow players to generally be off negotiating nearby, but still somewhat aware of other players' movements around the table layout, so they can interact if they choose.

    Organizational stuff that would help with this mechanic:
    The table layout roughly consists of four quarters, each generally known by some name readily identifiable.
    Players meeting and negotiating are encouraged to stay close to the quarter where their miniatures are located or just diagonally away from it.
    There's at least one ref/helper near the table just keeping an eye on things in case a tactical situation does develop.
    Terrain features like buildings and streets have little signs or stickers on them giving them names that are clearly know to the players as a whole.

    The actual mechanic:
    When a player is moving their miniature around the board, they just go up to the table, grab a handy movement marker ( say a 12" ruler), announce their character's name, announce a nearby landmark where the movement is occurring, then make the movement. After movement is made, the player pauses for a silent "3-Mississippi" count to see if any other player reacts and tries to interact with their movement. If this does not occur, the player can continue their movement as above.

    Announcements are made in a normal voice range, neither a whisper nor a shout. The table ref is there to help if any controversy exists regarding the movement ( another player announces and intercept on roughly the 4th Mississippi or something) or if a tactical situation develops.

    [Then of course there are any number of variants possible on this stuff. maybe a player with a sneaky character can in fact whisper their moves, or the scary guy with the tank always has to make tanky-y rumbling noises while making the movement, or someone gets to use a bigger movement stick if they're fast, or really, who knows what.]


    Not quite as cool as knocking off to the SnacknChat area, admittedly, but workable?
  • Your overall grip on what you need to do as designer and what helper GMs need to do and all that is excellent. Yes, the designer's fun during the game is in observing what happens with this stuff you prepped, rather than trying to create lots of stuff midgame. Most of the bad large group games I played were bad because there was too much creating during game rather than before (which is kind of the opposite of my experience with small group tabletop games).

    As for the mechanic, that's probably good, except I'd put a longer pause on it. Like way longer. Like maybe 3 or 5 minutes. If other people are negotiating stuff and someone else is changing the situation every 3 seconds, that's not nearly enough time to allow for the negotiations to actually happen. I mean, if this is a situation where people are at odds with each other, then pretty much all movement is tactical, right?

    Like I said above, I usually like pacing things as approximately 1 minute of adjudication followed by 4-5 minutes of negotiation.

    One of the games I play regularly uses cooldown timers for pretty much everything. Little kitchen timers set for 5 minutes and labeled. If the timer is running, you can't do a move. If it's finished, you can do one move whenever you want, then set the timer.

    You can get fancy with it if you like. You can let players submit their next few actions on facedown cards and have a GM helper flip them when the cycle comes up and play them out. If the rules are simple and straightforward enough (like, if you get within __ inches of an enemy, you automatically shoot them, if you touch, you automatically engage in hand to hand, things like that) then you can have things play out RoboRally style.

    You could even have preplay be part of the mechanic. Maybe there is a delay in getting orders down to the field. So maybe your next 2 moves are locked in and you can only change moves more than 2 down the queue. That could potentially be a lot of fun. And have a pseudo-realistic feel to it as well. (Also, players could use it as an excuse - "Sorry, I already committed my forces to attack yours. But I'll have them back away as soon as I can, now that we've reached an agreement on that resource swap.") Sure, preplay is tactically complicated, but if all you are doing is declaring movement and the attacks and stuff happen automatically following a set of clear procedures, then it's logistically easy to adjudicate. And that's pretty much the optimal goal - interesting tactical decisions but fast, clear adjudication.
  • edited May 2013
    What about those little sand dials? The player could flip the dial and wait till the sand goes out before the next move. People looking could see the time running. I wonder if they have any that are for longer than a minute?
  • Actually, 3 minutes is the most common time for small sand timers. For 3 minute eggs.

    In fact, I recently bought a dozen of these for a steampunk airship command larp to use for that exact purpose. (I wanted ones a little prettier, so I went with these wooden ones.) Out of the dozen I bought, 10 were very consistent in their times and 2 ran quite a bit faster. Which is pretty good for $1.50 products. I also bought a dozen cheaper plastic ones and had the same consistency results.

    3 minute sand timers are very good for that sort of thing. And they're nicely portable. You can put them right on the map, if you want. Heck, you can put labels on the top and bottom and they can be your "minis".

    Of course, more important is to first figure out what sort of game you want to do (setting, etc), what sort of constraints you are likely to have (space, time, electricity, wireless access, etc.) and what sort of feel you want (gonzo action, traumatic drama, historical accuracy, etc.) and then let the details of mechanics serve that. You must determine your design goals before you can determine whether your design meets those goals.

    Not that I'm trying to lecture folks on design fundamentals. Just trying to not get caught up in minutiae before figuring out the basics.
  • I would be tempted to apply something like Diplomacy movement rules (very simply, move to an adjacent area, or stay still, but all movement/orders are hidden and then disclosed simultaneously). Combine with a simple mechanic of some sort to handle disagreements/conflicts (e.g. two factions/characters who want to enter the same place at the same time roll off against each other's Troop Strength), and the ref can get creative handling the rest.

    Another idea for the "announced move" orders would be to have a whiteboard on the wall. When you wish to move, you write your intended movement there. The ref puts some kind of timer beside it (in the minutes range, as Rob suggests, or even more like 10 minutes--it'll probably vary depending on the move attempted), and when the timer's run out, the movement is complete. So if you want to know what's going on around you, you need to look up at the chart to see what's going on. You could easily miss some movements if someone is, say, distracting you with intense negotiations or a fight or something like that, and that would be part of the fun: "Hey, Lucy, distract George so he doesn't notice me sneaking off to steal his treasure map from the Temple."
  • Lots of interesting thoughts! Thanks folks.

    I guess I better backtrack a second and talk a little about what I'm imagining will happen, and that may give a clearer picture of what I'm coming from.

    TL;DR Version: I like the idea of the timers and Diplomacy style simultaneous movement, but I have concerns about players getting bored, especially in context of a game that uses miniatures as a central deal and where players are going to be away from the board negotiating/roleplaying.

    Not much of a wargame.
    Yeah, fighting, combat, maybe even character death, but most players probably won't have too much in the way of troops individually at any time as a resource. If they do, it's likely to be a small squad of guys, not a platoon.

    The rhythm of the game in terms of breaks and overall time
    I figure about 4 hours of play time, with maybe another hour total of intro+ scheduled recaps/breaks+debrief/winners announced. At best guess, the first play period is going to be closer to 2 hours as people start to get into the game, then break/recap. After that, an hour of play ending with a recap/break. The second hour people have this down and things naturally intensify for that reason. The final hour, when everything seemingly inevitably comes to a bloody climax and then the debrief/winners announcements.

    During play periods
    This is when things are simply kind of chaotic. Players are going to be moving around, roleplaying, getting into fights ( with the aid of Helpers) and horse-trading. Outside of tactical situations that develop, players are kinda on their own.

    To interact in any way, players' minis need to be roughly in contact on the board, so some kind of movement is necessary. Some cost of time and attention is also desirable. After all, negotiating players will be near, but not too near, the table generally.

    Mind you, I want to use the table layout. The minis use is for me personally part of the fun.

    I'm concerned about boring the players. That's why I liked JDCorley's snackroom space movement. It will sound dumb, but 3 minutes just seems like a long time to me, especially if a player is moving their mini on their own.

    The announcement concept is really only there as a heads up. When combined, it allows players to make their on table moves, while allowing other players to set up ambush areas and so on. OTOH, if a player is away from the tableside negotiating and not paying too much attention, it allows people to maybe set up ambushes or surround and capture attempts.

    The three Mississippi count is more to give a chance to respond than anything else.

    As for that 12" movement with Announcement I was talking about, I know a couple of common minis game ways to modify the base concept without getting too intricate or allowing totally instantaneous movement. One easy way is to declare that 12" movement must be in a straight line, and then add some "terrain crossing as a whole movement" segment rules. Anyone who is not familiar with that sort of thing, lemme know and I'll expand on that. The summary is that moving across the table even with a three-count pause will probably take the three minutes anyway.

    Paul T: Your distraction idea is kinda what I'm going for with all of this. You'd fit right in with the mentality I would hope players would bring to this kind of game.

    The break+recap
    Nothing more than an idea I stole from a LARP I played in. I just think it works well, and it lets you do some time passing on a scenario scale.

    Paul T : This is when I'd be most likely to use some version of your Diplomacy style movement. I might modify it a bit. Is given a blank note card, and they write down where they are at the start of the next hour of play and what they're up to. everyone hands them in, and then the refs go through them and read them aloud in any order, dealing with conflicts and secrets as necessary. Afterwards, the new play period begins.
  • Straight line movement with terrain obstacles and Announcement

    I don't really know who does and doesn't have experience with minis gaming, so for any thread followers who are a bit baffled, I'll explain this a bit.

    The basics of what is happening during play:
    Players have characters who are going to want to negotiate and horse trade and just plain interact, just like in a non-physical combat LARP.
    To interact, they need to have their minis close together on the tabletop.
    Character minis don't necessarily start in the same areas of the tabletop, and this is a good thing.
    Yes, inevitably there will be some kind of action involving the minis, but the subroutines for tactical situations are not a concern this moment.
    Wise players will tend to stand near-ish the table, roughly diagonally away from the table corner closest to where their miniatures are located at the moment.
    There's no whole play-group movement sequence, because this is more amorphous than a war game and more like a LARP.
    Attention and real world time really are player level resources to be considered.

    The mechanic:
    When a player moves a miniature on the tabletop, the miniature moves it up to 12" ( use a standard measure stick).

    At the beginning of the movement, the player announces the name of the character mini they are moving and the nearest named terrain feature or general area.
    Example:"Robin Hood is moving in Sherwood Forest"

    The player then uses the stick to show and measure movement, and places the figure at the new location.

    Player then takes a 3 count pause, during which time any other player may attempt to intercept or interact, in which case things switch to the tactical subroutine, usually with a Helper's assistance.

    Movement is always in a straight line, but does not have to be the full length of the measuring stick.

    Changes of direction will end the movement and movement may not be broken up.
    Example: The mini is being moved through a town and the player wants to go around a corner onto a street perpendicular to the one they're currently on. The move any distance up to 12" on the current street, then end movement on the intersection. It's the start of a new move to turn and begin heading down the new street.

    A miniature cannot both enter and exit a terrain feature on a single movement.
    Example: A miniature is moving across a part of the board filled with area terrain of trees and decides for whatever reason to go through rather than negotiate around those trees. The miniature starts in the open and the straight line path shown by the player takes them right through one of the tree clumps. The player may move the miniature in that straight line into the forested area up to the length of the movement stick, but would not be able to exit the opposite side, even if they still had movement left on the measuring stick. Exiting the terrain feature would be another, new, move. On the exiting move, the player would do all of the normal stuff, but because they've exited terrain, they couldn't combine the new move with entering another terrain feature. They would have to stop their mini just outside of it.

    Only one figure can be moved at a time.

    In a nutshell, that's the concept.

    Players can move their miniatures on their own.
    The straight stick movement, terrain movement+ exiting/exiting rule, and the required pause should take up some, but not too much, time.

    The announcement portion gives players standing nearby at least some heads up that someone is moving near their miniatures, and give Helpers a heads up that a tactical situation may be about to occur, so they can be handy to help with refereeing it.

    Moving only one miniature at a time and having to go through the whole process for each is a way of limiting the power of players who may well have gangs or soldiers compared to players of characters who are more or less civilians and whose goals and capabilities are less combat oriented.

    Tactical rules and situations are another kettle of fish, and mostly something that is the same as this but on a smaller scale. I'd deal with that another time.
  • Y'know what would be interesting? Have the Diplomacy-style "I submit my orders via sealed envelope/folded card" and combine it with a queue for simpler resolution. Once you hand in an action, you've committed to it, but if someone else committed an action to the queue first, their action fires earlier. The referee is in charge of executing and evaluating movements a la Kriegspiel.

    This would require a ref, naturally, and some way to not make "take the first action" the always-optimal course. But it could work well. And lead to fun snafus, along with encouraging players to deliberate swiftly and come to agreements (because stagnating lets other players seize the advantage).

    I'm thinking you might have a resource that gets expended on moves (when you run out, you can't issue orders), and it's refreshed on a regular basis.

    (Now I'm desperately hoping that I didn't somehow overlook that this idea was mentioned earlier in the thread, and apologize if it has.)
  • I would suggest positioning the players as remote commanders, rather than as characters who are on the board themselves. That way, the players are allowed to talk to any of the other players as they see fit and you don't get any continuity discrepancies with people chatting with people who are on the other side of the board. Otherwise, the guy whose pawn is by itself on the board would not be able to communicate with anyone else, which is way more boredom-producing than 3 minute moves.

    (By the way, making 3 minutes not boring is more of a matter of making a map with less granular spaces on it. If you can get to most places in 4-5 moves, 3 minute moves is not a very long time. When I play Starship Valkyrie, a 5 minute move cycle sometimes feel hectic and fast paced once things get heated up. Once you get past 6-7 players, the time that it takes to communicate change starts increasing heavily.)
  • I don't think I quite followed that Rob.

    Are you suggesting more of a set up where players can basically move anywhere, provided they have a three-minute time out from play?

    With what I'm envisioning, no one much has forces to be removed from. Most players will have just their own character and a representative miniature. Some few might have a helper or two, and a very few, in a very combat oriented kind of thing, might have a small squad.

    When players are involved in the game, they need to basically have a miniature in contact or close enough in order to justify stepping away from the table and chatting/negotiating/roleplaying. That would be the general normal state of affairs for most players most of the play time.

    The other thing they may be doing is actually being gathered around the table for those action/combat sequences when/if they occur ( and that would have more helper oversight especially initially when players are getting used to whatever mechanics are available).

    Hypothetical game and layout:
    MatrixGamer mentioned an Old West Game. Okay, that's a commonly known setting, so lets run with that as a concept.

    The players are all characters in the setting. A goal and resource web is in place. Some factions are in place so players at least have some relationship between their character and some other characters from the get-go.

    The table is 4' x 8', and roughly divided into four 2' x 4' sections, kinda like a window pane. It's one big overall setting, but each of the four parts has a themed to it and they roughly have a physical relation to one another.

    Starting at the top left (NorthWest quarter) and going clockwise:
    Indian territory: Indian encampment, some hills with a mining camp, roving herds of buffalo or game, a starting entry point for a railroad or wagon train route.
    Fort Custer: A cavalry barracks, trading post/post office, maybe a ranch or two, telegraph lines, maybe a reservation/Indian encampment.
    Badlands an outlaw hangout, a single ranch, lots of hills, maybe a lost mine, desert, a small town across a river in Mexico.
    DriftWood A frontier town, with all of what you'd expect to find there.

    Going hand in hand with the sort of movement I talked about upthread, each area will undoubtedly have some annoying to navigate terrain at its edges making it difficult to go from one of these areas to another, and slightly less of it within each area.

    Character goals will tend to cause players to need to travel, whether within an area or between areas.

    Whenever players have their character minis within contact ( about 3") they can go into meetings and negotiate. The players stand somewhere near the table quarter where their minis are located, just like if this was a larp and there was a sign that said something like "driftwood saloon" and you had to go over near there to have your character in the Diftwood Saloon.

    Except we're a little lazier than that so anywhere approximately close will do. Paranoid players maybe just should stay closer to the table. Part of the fun I suspect is trying to get one over on players who are so intent on chatting with one another that they ignore other characters moving past them on the tabletop.
  • edited May 2013
    So here's what I'm seeing. You're going to get a largish group of people together to play a game together. And then you're going to tell them that they're not going to be able to interact with a given other person until they've spent a bunch of time moving their pawns around on the table and gotten them close to each other, at which point they are allowed to talk.

    That sounds boring as hell. If that's all you want the board to accomplish, just skip the board altogether and do a straight up larp.

    The way I picture a Braunstein working is that the players use the board to represent movement on a grand scale. Like armies moving around Europe, or at least around a few hundred miles of territory. And the players represent the key figures controlling those armies who are meeting in a negotiation zone and talking. Essentially, the board represents a status update and in order to make things happen, the leaders are sending off messengers (as the justification for what is happening, you don't actually have to play out the messengers part).

    That, I think, would be a fun game. It would combine the fun of boardgamey strategy stuff with the fun of character play larpey stuff.

    But a game where I'm at basically a larp but I don't get to freely interact with the other players would piss me the hell off. It takes the stuff that is best about a larp and puts it into a straightjacket.

    (Just to be clear - I'm being opinionated, but I'm not trying to be mean and attack. I hope it doesn't sound like I'm attacking you as a person.)
  • edited May 2013
    Nah, I need honest opinions from people who have run similar stuff, so no offense taken at all.

    Only thing is, Braunstein itself and the games that followed it and other megagames seem to work at least a bit more like what I'm talking about*, hence my confusion.

    Edited to add a day later:
    *...By which I mean people (generally) using single figures(one character) and having more war game style movement rates and so on.

    Also, I like some of these other suggestions as well, but they remind me more of kriegspiels or committee style war games. Which are fun, just not what I'm looking for advice on.

    The timers: I really do like these and can think of a bunch of uses for them in different lengths.
  • When I read the David Wesley wiki article, nothing in it suggested to me that the scenario was set up in a way that the players were restricted from interacting with each other until their pawns were within range or anything like that. Which is why I was not initially assuming that was part of your intent.

    Then last night I listened to the Theory From The Closet episode with David Wesley, and it sounded like he did try to set it up with his map off in one room and his players having a series of conferences with him and whomever was near to them on the map.

    And the players didn't stick to the format. They rebelled. They had their own in-character conversations all over the place while they were waiting.

    Because his original format design sucked. And he agrees that it sucked. And that the magic of the game was the freewheeling interaction between the players. The larp part, essentially. That's the part they enjoyed.

    And that's the whole point of getting together with a group of people to play a game, right? If I want to not interact with other people while we "play a game together", I'll just go play an MMO. :)

    No reason not to improve on the original concept using what has been learned in the last 47 years, rather than repeating what the original designer considered a failed attempt.

    I think you can do something that is similar to the Braunstein layout - have something happening on a wargame board and have a larp happening around it. But I think you should change the parts that Wesley did poorly.

    That's why I don't think character pawns on the table is a useful thing. The most significant, fundamental feature that larp has, that is different from every other medium of expression, it the way it creates the sense of simultaneous action - of multiple things happening simultaneously but in a connected context. I wrote an article about it a couple years ago. I think losing that larp aspect and having constrained interaction would be a huge mistake. And I think Wesley would agree.

    That's why I picture the game being about movers and shakers in a meeting room who can control/influence the things that are on the board, which represents a larger context - armies and such. I think that's just a way better game. It takes the failed experiment of the original Braunstein design and makes a good working version of it.
  • Hmm. Well, I guess you're right: people are going to get together and chat and whatnot regardless, so I should account for that inevitable behavior.

    OTOH, maybe that's just not a big deal. Just assume they'll do that part, but if they want to get involved in the on table action, that's when the movement rules kick in.

    They can negotiate and trade as much as they want, but if a tactical situation breaks out, they're located where their miniature is for purposes of intervening in events.
  • There's some great other advice in this thread, but here's my response to the original post.

    Does it work a bit like Diplomacy where there's a bunch of freeform play/negotiations going on, then a time at the table, then the thing repeats over an over?

    Or is something else going on, like there's a Ref/GM at the tableside, and players can kinda just go up and show their moves, which then justifies them going off and meeting with different players/characters based on locale of the markers?
    I've played in both of these styles of game. The first way is pretty common in high-player multiforms. The second idea mentioned in the quote is the way "Raven's Nest" worked.

    The first method (henceforth referred to as "style-1")is pretty common. It typically works pretty well in a game where players have psychic powers that allow their communication via meta-game means, or where the players are gods controlling avatars in the world depicted on the board. It really doesn't work where the players portray the characters specific embodied by the figures on the board.

    The second method ("style-2")does have the issue where players get bored waiting for the GM's attention, but this is something I've seen in virtually every style of Aussie freeform or LARP. The only times I've seen this issue overcome reasonably well is through the application of the "1 GM per 5 players rule" (which has it's own logistical problems...but back in the day we kept GMs in communication with a network of 2-way radio headsets).

    I've been toying with both methods for the Goblin labyrinth project. Verging toward "style-1" when I aim for a more narrative driven story, and verging toward "style-2" when I'm aiming more tactical.

    Also, if combat or action sequences occur, how does that fit in?
    If you're utilising "style-1", it seems best to use an abstract combat system. The conflict resolution method in Diplomacy might be a good fit, but then you might as well be playing a 20-player custom Diplomacy map (which is a hell of a lot of fun, but may not be what you're after).

    "Style-2" lends itself to more detailed conflict, but needs to be fast if it wants to keep pace with the rest of the game world. More nuanced, but still on the abnstract side compared to what most players expect out of an need something that resolves a round in a minute or two.
  • Hi vulpinoid! I was hoping you'd pop into this thread with a bit of advice and insight.

    I've been messaging with a guy over at RPGnet ( goes by the handle of chirine ka bal) who is soon to be running a Tekumel based B'stein, and getting a bit of his insight as well.

    Here's the part I'm finding weird: no one who runs these games seems to actually have too much problem with the stuff that I'm so worried about.

    On the other hand, I'm also starting to get the impression that some of the very successful games of this type that they're running may well be pretty jerry-rigged, held together mostly by shared player attitude and GM know-how, and not actually much in the way of solid mechanics.

    That makes the whole thing a bit of a different animal.

    One (possibly mis-)impression that I have is that referees simply don't worry too much if players do all sorts of negotiations together, even if their character miniatures are not actually physically close together. They might need to be physically close together if they actually have to pass off objects or launch some kind of joint action, but otherwise, players just do what they want to do, since you really can't prevent it anyway.

    My next post is a sort of generalized summary of what I think is broadly going on. Vulpinoid, Rob, MatrixGamer, JD, anyone else who is following along, please comment as you have time.
  • What I think is going on, so far...

    Setting up:
    This is mostly an opportunity for the person pulling things together to create a scenario, show off their cool toys, and give a present of the game-event to their pals. The designer ( and likely head referee) has their fun at the creation stage, picking the scenario/period and building a web of goals/conflicts resources into it. The other fun is in trying to invite the right sort of people, and there seems to be a bit of an art to this as well (noted by Dave Wesley in some podcast whose link I can't recall right now). Same for recruiting the referee team as needed.

    Fun in play is simply watching the whole thing develop and spiral through events. Any story as such is a product of what the players do with the set up, once the game begins. Inevitably, it spirals away from the original visions of the designer.

    Attitude: Humor is important
    Even forced humor, like joke character names or odd goals, or maybe in the set up itself, or in the miniatures used. It's partly to set the tone and to keep this from being only a skirmish wargame.

    Attitude: It's still a skirmish wargame
    Use of miniatures always implies a bit of action-adventure to pretty much all of your likely game recruits. It just does, so you might as well run with it ( and have mechanics ready to support it. The key is to give things to do outside of just shoot em ups. That's where goals and resources come in, and even faction ties.

    Attitude: this is a one off event
    All sorts of implications here...
    1) Winning and losing and even character death are not important in the same way they are in a campaign war game or RPG.
    2) Playing the character to the hilt is desirable, either as an easy to known stereotype, your interpretation/impression of a known character from source material ( your character is Ben Kenobi), or just as you see fit. Make an impression by portrayal.
    3) Interact with as many players as possible
    4) There is a winner or winners. They will come out in a post game time wrap up when players all get a brief chance to talk about their character goals/success/failure, when winners are chosen either by Referee team or group acclaim or some combo of both.

    Of necessity, mechanics for movement, combat, character stats/abilities must be super lite. At most, each player should have about an index sized card of info.

    Referee team mechanical info should be able to be fit to a one-sided sheet of paper.

    Referees really need to have some common, general use mechanics. I there is a team of referees, the designer should meet ahead of time with them and lay out his or her preferred mechanics for this. In any case, referees are deputized to make mechanical judgment calls all on their own.

    This stuff is the thing of nightmares for people coming from a mechanical, system matters mind set ( or at least me when I view it from that direction). On the upside, there is actually a system here. It's just very much in referee hands, with players generally only needing to know a couple of very basic mechanics (if even those). The mechanics are basic enough that some players may simply take over refereeing duties for themselves and other players, rather than wait for a referee, and this is fine.

    The Negative Viking Hat Effect is mitigated by a few things, however:
    This is a one-shot, and referees are neutral in the sense of having no particular favorites among the players or characters.
    The players themselves have their characters pointed at one another by goals/resources/conflict, so less need for complex rules.
    The game is played under time constraints.
    If there is character loss, there are lots of characters readily available to replace a character, so little or no player freeze out time.
    Because of the post game wrap up, even players who lost can still garner the appreciation and social recognition of the other players.
    Player modifier grubbing or rules-fighting or even balls-out in-game aggressive pursuit of character goals may actually garner negative reactions by other players at the game wrap up if it becomes anti-social
    Notable character failure, otoh, may garner positive recognition, again if done well, especially humorously and involved other players.

    Mechanics necessarily must be speedy to employ and simple.

    Feasibly, the time represented could be tied to real world play time, and can even be fairly abstract. For example, the first hour or two of play could be declared to represent "November", the second (or third) hour "First week of December", the last "December 8th". You can then cheat things a bit in terms of timing and events this way. Or whatever blocks of fictional time you choose.

    Characters are given basic starting locations, and within that area are probably close to where they want to be for some part of their goals anyway.

    Breaks between periods of play can allow for repositioning and perhaps recognition of results of any longer term projects if that is part of the game, before action re-starts. Following the last example, the gamers break for five minutes after "November" ends. When they return to play, go around the table and ask each player to place their characters where they are and announce what they're up to, prior to restarting. Referees give any general updates at that point ( perhaps also spreading rumors or adding new, non-character stuff).
  • continued and sorry for the wall o' text...

    Movement and interaction concept
    The game works on the principle that a major goal is to keep things chugging along and keep people involved.
    Refs have huge amounts of authority to do whatever they need to do make that happen.

    Basically, treat it as a rolling skirmish with Referee aid.

    Main character names are on cards. Shuffle cards and flip one at a time. Ref who is flipping the cards can always look at the next card while movement is being completed. If there is obviously no direct interaction likely to occur, just reveal and announce so next player can start movement.

    As players are making their movement, they should announce any intent that might be relevant. Things like:
    We're sneaking cautiously through here
    We're setting up an ambush
    My police squad is going door to door rousting the usual suspects
    My gangsters are rolling up on their rivals and giving them a face full of tommy gun fire

    Refs take note of this. Other players affected by this stuff can make responses as appropriate, but initiative player has priority. Those other player can also just say what they're doing with their character or characters and any unplayed characters can respond by referee direction.

    While a fight is happening or some local action sequence is occurring, initiatives continue.

    If this results in a pile-in situation, a local referee aiding the situation has authority to say when another piling-in player can enter the sequence and is expected to use judgment on this.

    Black Bart is holed up with his gang at the hide-out and has stated that his guys are on watch duty
    The Posse player has his initiative and makes a move saying that they're going to roll up and ambush the outlaws
    The ref makes any judgment calls and uses mechanics as necessary to determine what, if anything, Bart's boys can reasonably do in reaction to The Posse's actions. Rolls of some sort are likely.
    A shoot em up starts and begins to be resolved.
    Initiative still occurs as above for other players.
    One of the later initiatives is local Indian braves. they want in on this fight too, and the player announces his move and begins moving his pieces.
    The referee is there to aid this, and can announce when, where, and how those braves become involved in the ongoing fight at the hideout.

    While this is all going on, other players are continuing to do their moves and activities. If there are a bunch of players involved in other stuff, referees aiding in a local battle may take the cards for those players out of the main stack and create a "battle stack" for that area. This lets the other players do their thing, while these guys murderize one another in one area of the board.

    If a battle ends, put the local battle stack back into the used pile of the main stack. When it reshuffles, they get back into the sequence just like everyone else.

    Is it messy? Yup. Hopefully, it also gives players who are going for non-combat stuff time to make moves, work on projects, and negotiate as they see fit, while the fighty types lose out a little on the roleplaying/negotiating end of things playtime wise but have a whole lot of shoot em up fun in the meantime.

    Does it do horrible violence to concepts of sequence and fictional scale time? Probably, but from what other people are telling me, not much of anyone playing these games really seems to care about all that anyway.

  • So, someone is going to do a streaming of the Tekumel Braunstein they're running the 8th:

    That's the RPGnet thread talking about it.
  • Hi

    I think you really meant Australian freeform, not Australian multiform. An Australian multiform is typically the same size as a table top in terms of number if players (about 4-6). From the rest of our message it looks like youa re talking about larger games. Australian freeforms most commonly have 15-30 players, although slightly smaller (down to 10-12) and much large (a recent example had 50) are known.

    It's an incredibly rare that a freeform use a table or any other representation of the player's characters and their positions. Most Australian freeforms take place in a single large space/room. Sometimes there might be more than one room, or the single space is divided up, for example by curtains. At one Australian convention, held at a high school the school's drama room is used for most of the freeforms.

    If the freeform is set in a single space (such as a bar) then the real world space is considered the game world space.

    If the game world setting is more complex (such as a mansion) then certain portions of the real world space may be designated as respresenting parts of the game world space. However, this is rare. More typically the relationship betwen game world space and real space is fluid, wherever a group of players happens to be in the real world space will (implicitly) become some point in the game world space. The next group of players to occupy that real world space might consider themsevles to be in a different part of the game world.

    In summary, it's not fixed, it's very dynamic, it depends on imagination and agreements between the players and gms. The agreement might be explicit or implicit. To me, at least, the real difference between freeform and larp is that the former depends a lot less on real world settings and props and much more heavily on the imagination.

    It may sound chaotic but it works. Sometimes players will have to say to each other, "no, I can't talk to you/you can;t find me, because we're off some where private" and other players respect that. They certainly don't have to get persmission from GMs to be somewhere together (unless there's a game world restriction on access to an area).

    Hope that helps. It's a bit tricky describing something that's become second nature given the number of the things I've played.

  • Hi Michael Hitchens, (since there's quite a few Michael's around here, I'll just use your handle "dr_goth_mh"),

    You can probable answer a lot of the questions around here that many people have had about Aussie Freeforms, being far better versed in them than I.

    KomradeBob and I have spoken on many occasions about the nature of multiforms, particularly the "Raven's Nest" style of Braunstein that was run at Sydney conventions decades ago. This inquiry is basically a part of that ongoing public discussion about taking the hobby back to those parts of its roots. "Raven's Nest" was a very particular game, where miniature movement dictated the positioning of characters within the game and the ability for players to role-play within specific parts of the city.

    I've tried to discuss the nature of freeforms here quite a few times, but the instinctive nature of these games means that a lot of the concepts are hard to put into've just got to play a couple of them, then once you've done that you need to run one to really understand them holistically.

    If you're going to be posting here more often, it'd be great to bounce ideas in the open to better help explain freeforms to the rest of the world.
  • Hello dr_goth!

    Nice to hear some more info.

    I'm still trying to wrap my head around some of the info, as vulpinoid has explained.

    I think I may have muddled up some concepts, and that may partly be a result of the term multi-form, which I had interpreted as meaning something like "multiple format". Basically live action/freeform + use of physical artifacts.

    I'm starting to get the impression that my interest in Raven's Nest itself may have caused me to interpret things specifically about that game more broadly than are actually applicable.
  • Hi Vulpinoid and Komradebob

    I'm happy to talk about our freeforms. I don't claim to be the ultimate oracle, but I'll do what I can.

    The Raven's Nest games were very unusual for Australian convention games. I can't think of any other like them. They were certainly not representative of Australian freeforms.

    Multiform is a term used in a very particular way in Australian convention roleplaying (well, NSW/ACT/Victoria anyway, which is as far as my experience extends). Convention roleplaying in Australia began with what might be called table tops (not that I've heard that term used much at conventions here). A group of players and a GM around a table. Then came the freeforms. They started at Australian cons in the early 80's - which was before I started going, so I'm not sure why the term was coined.

    It may simply have been that the players were 'free' to move around. They weren't 'locked' to the table. So for a while (in the 80's) we had small team games, where you sat at a table, and freeforms, where you could move around.

    Then some people hit on the idea of having team games (around 5 player) were you could move around the room. The term 'multiform' was coined to differentiate that style of games from the freeform and the traditional table top. So in NSW/ACT/Vic convention usage 'multiform' means a 4-6 player game were the players will not stay sitting at a table, but will move around the game space (typically a class room, most cons here being held in school or university buildings).

    From the above you might ask, "well, isn't a multiform just a small freeform?". There is a similarity, in that the players move and therefore (like a larp) physically enact their characters' actions. They both differ from a larp in a similar way - minimal or no use of props and a reliance on the players' imagination to create the game world within the play space. Also, like my previous comment on freeforms, the relation between game world and play space is fluid.

    But there is another crucial difference. Multiforms tend to differ thematically from freeforms. Most (and I do say most) Australian freeforms tend to be political. They depend on negotiation and trading. Almost without exception multiforms are psycho-drama, of one form or another.

    Sure, you can have psycho-drama based freeforms. It's been done occasionally. But in Australia it's rare (unlike Scandinavia). When we do do it the limits of our terminology is apparent. But, as I said, those games are rare, so the terms have enough meaning to be useful within out context.

  • edited July 2013
    Okay, so some of my confusion clearly stems from a mis-impression that Raven's Nest was a well-known example of a certain type of game that existed, rather than being a bit of its own thing entirely.

    Sadly, that puts me back at square one for my purposes.

    Well, not exactly square one. I have learned about some techniques and approaches that I can borrow for the things I'm interested in. I've also learned a bit more about a couple of types of gaming I didn't initially know a lot about. Both of those are positives.

    I've also learned that sometimes you just can't cross mechanical DNA of different types of games.

    I think I could take a stab at some of these different types of games, and the minis using ones ( my specific interest), but it wouldn't end up being what I'm actually looking for, even though it might be very interesting in itself.

    I discovered that much when I wrote a Braunstein-ish thing for the contents of that Reaper Bones Kickstarter recently. The feedback on that alone taught me a great deal.

    I'm also learning that, at least initially, when I want to build more what I'm envisioning and seek feedback online, I really need to seek out specific individual with a rather peculiar set of backgrounds and interests first, before asking for more broad feedback.

    Which has been both enlightening and a bit frustrating at the same time.

    The upshot of that (and returning to my initial post), is that my initial question has an answer that amounts to: these two things simply don't go together ( or if they do, it's currently beyond my capacity to blend the two successfully).
  • What about some kind of hybrid, with people milling about in-character, but also with a strict(er) minis-based game going on at a table?

    I'm imagining something like the Trojan War: you've got a bunch of minis moving around on a board, like a wargame. All the players play Greek Gods and Godessess walking around Mt Olympos, and they can mill about and negotiate and threaten each other, and finally pass on orders or directions to the various units on the table to you, at which point you adjudicate the results and show them what's happening "down on Earth".
  • Not watched this thread for a while. All the talk of players moving about from table to table, interesting.

    When I think of a minis game there is a separation between the players and the minis, so while people will sometimes play act in their character's voice, that is the exception rather than the rule. Instead players are talking about the minis. The minis retain the primary focus of the action. If players walk from table to table performing psycho-drama, the minis will be forgotten and the game moves towards being a LARP.

    Nothing wrong with LARPs, they're just not minis games.
  • Paul:
    That is a fairly popular approach in some ways to the general game type. In a sense, that's what big, multi-player war games are like. What you're describing is somewhat like variants of the early military training games that casual, for-fun miniatures wargaming developed out of, primarily the old Prussian Kriegspiel training games. In those particular cases, there would have been less Gods' Eye View stuff and negotiation, however. Basically though, you're on a common track and one successfully experimented with.

    At this point, I think I'm risking sending my own thread off on a big tangent. Typical, eh?

    I've learned a lot about Braunsteins and related types of games in these discussions. I've got a bit better handle on what they are and the goals and the design thinking. They're fascinating and I'd be happy to delve more into making them. I'd love to talk with folks interested in exploring these things more thoroughly and supporting one another in hacking them together. Probably better for another thread or a trip over to Praxis to do it.

    I've also realized that what I'm interested in personally, while a cousin of Braunsteins in some way, really isn't a Braunstein ( or the other stuff like Braunsteins that go by different names as people essentially create the same kind of thing all on their own in different places at different times).

    Part of that realization stems from the fact that I realized a large multiplayer format doesn't support well a concept involving a whole lot of GM type input from players, nor a more "play to play, rather than play to win" approach. That other "thing" is something best served by a small group type set up.

    The other, other side of that is tricky is that where I'm coming from exploration-wise is simply from a different place than miniature war gaming, and that's something I've constantly been banging my head against in trying to explain this thing. What I want fundamentally is not a descendant of Little Wars, it's a descendant of Floor Games with additional structures and techniques pulled from various freeform and Story Game approaches.

    But you're right: For me, at an important level, the miniatures are central to play. They just are simply used coming from a different perspective than that of a war game.
  • I'm with you on the "Not a war game" angle. Sure there can be soldiers and shooting but it is the story surrounding the characters that I'm interested in.
  • I'm with you on the "Not a war game" angle. Sure there can be soldiers and shooting but it is the story surrounding the characters that I'm interested in.
    Okay, we're fully off the original subject now, but I'm convinced that for that sort of thing to work players actually need to think of miniatures as toys first, and remember the fun they had with toys and what they did making up imaginary stories with them in those days long before they ever encountered a wargame or RPG.

    If they can't do that time travel mentally, they will never, ever get what this is about, and you'll inevitably only ever end up with a wargame.
  • On the other hand, occasionally even minis wargamers come up with something weird and fascinating, starting from a wargaming perspective/approach and working outward.

    This example here, where someone took the end of Les Miz and made it into a wargame, with special rules involved for the players singing various show tunes:
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