[Minis+] Brainstorming techniques for more freeformy miniatures action and combat

edited May 2016 in Story Games
This is a general brainstorming thread. We aren't going to attempt to create _a_ system, but rather discuss general ideas that can be folded, spindled, and mutilated by the participants for their own purposes!

I said in another thread that when I've tried to use minis with gaming, as soon as combat or action type events come into play, there's a real tendency for people I game with to jump to wanting very wargame style mechanics. Basically, lots of finicky measuring, iniatiative, combat rules and so on.

Me, I'm looking for techniques that more smoothly blend with more naturalistic freeplay approaches that are used outside of combat.

So let's open it up to everyone's ideas.

On your marks, get set....Go!

Edited to add:
To focus the discussion a bit, I'm going to recommend ( but certainly not require) starting form your own, happy memories of imaginative toy play as a child. think about the unspoken methods used as kids and what success they had, but also the failure points/problems. I suggest starting there, and only then borrowing methods from more common gaming traditions as we work through this brainstorm.


  • edited May 2016
    3:16 Carnage Amongst the Stars' combat range-map is a beautiful thing. And as pictures say a thousand words:

    Following you recommendation I'm going to plunge down memory lane for a second:

    Of what I can remember of my imaginative toy play as a child, while very happy, was also intensely personal. I recall being mortified at having to share and explain my characters-projected-onto-toys with other children or, worse yet, adults! I think I very quickly moved into a purely imaginative play-space with real-world locations and props being coloured and transformed rather than projecting down into the miniature space. There's something about being this invisible god or giant prime-mover in the world of imaginatively animated toys that didn't appeal much, I wanted to engage and participate more myself.

    The point of this rambling was that you'll find no love for [Minis+] in me but I wish you well in your endeavours and I'll help if I have any more thoughts. If someone wants to take some time to explain how I'm missing the potential, they're very welcome! :)
  • Great things from childhood:
    • extremely distinctive, completely unrealistic, differentiated accents/dialect
    • physical, interesting terrain: my "minis" (stuffed animals, blankets, some action figures) used lincoln log houses, trebuchets, bridges, etc., used the shelves around the house, blanket forts, etc.
    • the setup is the fun: when playing battles, lots of setup, placing forces, building bunkers, etc. but very little resolution
    Problematic for gaming now:
    • ridiculous accents/dialects don't work as well in serious games
    • setup without coordination mechanics seems like lonely fun more than group gaming
    • lack of resolution feels like it would be unsatisfying now
    • "minis" forms were all over the place, including two blankets with personalities
    Feels like the simplest "port" is to something like Dungeons and Bananas, which already has plenty of zany and does not already make use of minis.

    Playing with minis feels like narration. To put narration into a game well you're going to want teeth (cf. "IIEE with teeth" http://lumpley.com/index.php/anyway/thread/456). So to put minis into a game well you're going to want teeth. The issue is that players gravitate towards wargame-style mechanics; the potential issue is "well why are we even using minis anyway if they don't mean anything?"

    The obvious things minis get you include what the mini looks like, what's on the mini, where the mini is in space, and where the mini is relative to other objects including other minis. The obvious problem that comes up is authority - if you're not happy with the mechanical outcome of me putting my mini next to yours, you will wonder "is he really able to put his mini next to mine? I was soooo far away!" and suddenly there are movement rules and initiative and etc, whoops.

    The classic, easiest authority is "players, say what your characters do and definitely don't say what anyone else's character does. GM, say what everything else does and if there is a conflict or chance a character could fail to do what the player said, adjudicate." How does that look ported to minis? Seems fine, with the same failure modes - convince the GM, player charisma and bullying have outsized mechanical effects, etc.

    What about some crazy authority distributions, like Terrain, Movement, Engagement, and Physics? One player has complete authority (and coherence responsibility of course) for each.
    • Terrain - say what the landscape is, how it affects the characters and objects in it, etc. If a player wants to put their character up on a bookcase to take the high ground, Terrain says what the bookcase is - a mountain? flagpole? tree? - if not already known, or affirms/denies assertions by the player as to what the bookcase is.
    • Movement - when a player says where and how their character moves, either physically move their mini or affirm/deny that they can move their mini as they are currently doing
    • Engagement - when a player wishes a mini to interact with another mini or object, affirm/deny that the interaction is possible. Responsible for range, line of sight, etc. Also responsible for "you stepped in lava on the way there, you die" (lava engages mini).
    • Physics - catchall for other calls where the miniworld has mechanical effects. "Do I have the high ground?" "Does darkness impose a penalty?" "Are we flanking?"
    Players, when speaking on behalf of your mini, say what their intent is and how they plan to achieve it. Players, when executing your miniworld roles, think like an impartial DM, deferring to others when your role is exceeded.
  • Potemkin:
    While 3:16 is amazingly abstracted, I've actually used something of a similar approach with minis but in a more traditional way, where little peoplez are scattered around a map/table space.

    Basically, think of concentric circles ( what you'd get if those bands went all the way around on that mat), with the large center circle ( or square or rectangle...whatever) being the center focus of the scene, where the important stuff is going on, and at least two other bands ( each slightly thinner in width) representing areas further away from the focus.

    The center area was more or less what you'd expect from minis use.

    How far away were the other two zones? Who knows. The one closest to the focus area was the "Imminent threat area". Zombies are shambling towards us and we can see them but they aren't quite here yet! The furthest zone was more like the Distant Foreshadowing Zone. Even more zombies are accumulating in the countryside! Oh Noes!

    I didn't use any exact measures for any of this, but each further zone meant a decrease in interactivity with the main zone and less frequent movement towards the main zone ( or the mid zone if way out in the far zone).

    It did fit with the way me and my pals would play with army men or action figures as kids, so it felt fairly natural. In practical terms, it greatly increased the value of our tabletop space.
  • edited May 2016
    Also, for the record, I'm not against using some wargamey type concepts. I'm thinking more ways to chop them down to simple, and essential forms.

    For me, often that's more about asking, well, what is the point of this thing anyway?

    For example, ignoring stats-mongering for a moment, what exactly does a heavy machine gun do, especially in the context of adventure fiction you might emulate with minis? What are its limits? How does it interact with focus/main characters/heroes?

    Howabout things like initiative? From adventurous fiction, it seems like, if something is gong to potentially impact a main character/hero, there's almost always a preliminary set up they can react to. Our heroes are running through the ruins, chased by Gestapo Goons with submachine guns! Oh Noes! Two of those Goons come barreling around the corner, looking right at our heroes! Interestingly, those Goons seem to have to skid to a halt for just a second and arise their SMGs, giving our heroes a split second to do something before they fire. Hmm.

    (Also, I think, for toyplay, part of the equation is to remove the whole concept of GRRRHARDCORE!!!! from play.)
  • Okay, well, I may have killed the thread, but here goes:

    I don't have solid methods here, but I want to talk very generally about these concepts that may be useful. Most are more useful for loose-goose make believe games than gamist type miniatures play. These things all have overlap and interactions.

    FreePlay until ya don't
    Take Turns with your fellow players voluntarily
    Every possibly contested event has a set up
    Guidelines rather than set, hard values for wargame-y types stats ( ranges and distances)
    Genre Effects vs. Statted-our, Measured effects (terrain, weaponry)
    Mooks vs. Main Characters, Combat vs. Non-Combat Heroes

    FreePlay until ya don't
    Okay, this one seems pretty obvious. Start play at an appropriate point in the scene set up and just roll with events until something comes up that requires dropping into a more "bullet time" type situation or is going to result in a possible contested/unsure outcome. Once that ends, go back to freeplay. Only stay in the sub-routine for the smallest amount of time necessary, but feel free to bounce between the two regularly. Don't go inot some kind of subroutine/resolution routine in a contested situation if there are null outcomes or if things are a forgone conclusion.

    Take Turns with your fellow players voluntarily
    Don't be a spotlight hog. Do your thing then, ad hoc, pass the spotlight to someone else. Go with what seems obvious in the sequence that is developing.

    Every possibly contested event has a set up
    Especially where important characters are concerned, there's always a momentary pause for player reaction. There's always a brief bit of foreshadowing to any event, and a moment for a quick reaction, even in an ambush/surprise type situation.

    Guidelines rather than set, hard values for wargame-y types stats ( ranges and distances)
    Okay, so this one is a bit more wargame-y, but have a general idea of how far something can move or how distant an effect a weapon can have, relative to the size of real space being used, and maybe even have some idea of where a weapon is most effective. But treat this stuff as guidelines, a bit fuzzy at the edges." A regular dude walking at a decent, but not running pace, can cross about 1/3 of the way across the scene set-up. Or about 6". Ish." Or for weapons: " A pistol is very dangerous when miniatures are almost touching, but not actually touching. At more than 6"/ 1/3 of the scene distance, a pistol is wildly inaccurate if not in an expert's hands. You'll really need to throw out a lot of lead quickly or take time and expose yourself for a more accurate shot if you want a chance of hitting anything!"

    That stuff would drive a proper wargamer nuts, but is perfectly fine for a more Make Believe Toy Play approach.

  • (continued)

    Genre Effects vs. Statted-our, Measured effects (terrain, weaponry)

    Okay, this is what I was getting into a bit with an earlier post, when I pondered what a Heavy Machinegun does in terms of adventure fiction being emulated. Let me use this as an example to explain what I'm getting at. Going from both minis wargamer background and genre thinking, these are the things that I think about when I think "HMG":

    Takes time to set up and break down, a lesser amount to reposition for a different firing angle
    Is supposed to have a few men working it to function properly
    Has a much longer range than pretty much anything else carried by normal guys, save mortars
    May jam, run out of ammo, or have other mechanical problems at just the wrong time
    Has a limited arc of fire ( you can get it from the flanks if they don't notice you coming!)
    Makes a whole area dangerous to cross as it "beats down" an area, although not terribly accurate
    Is normally suicidal to charge and close with from the front, especially for unnamed(mooks) and non-combatants. Even dangerous to badasses.
    Someone really should always make appropriate sound effects when it is used.

    So those are the genre expectations. Not a stat a bout rate-of-fire or range there, but you get the idea of what the thing can do for the basis of making decisions about it in game. Again, wildly fuzzy, but useful for Make Believe.

    But what about terrain? I mean just generally, not more specific types of terrain. Well, howabout some of these things?

    It makes you move slower, so show that. Even simple things like a using a ladder or stairs, going through a door, or hopping a wall can cause a "pause" where someone else may act/react.
    Chases in rough terrain are almost always going to threaten involved parties with potential accidents, ranging from minor to deadly.
    When terrain, weather, or lighting conditions interfere with sight and other senses, combat will be up close and sneaking and hiding are almost certain to come up in play.
    It may or may not stop or deflect a bullet, but the concealment value can make you hard to hit anyway, even if the terrain is flimsy. It's amazing how often a couch saves someone from a guy with a gun!
    A clever enemy may use terrain against someone in cover by setting it on fire or knocking it over on them.
    Things that destroy terrain are almost Fun by Definition in action sequences. Slowly spreading disasters affecting terrain are equally fun.

    So again, loosey-goosey, genre related, and not specific to any one kind of terrain feature.
  • (continued)
    Mooks vs. Main Characters, Combat vs. Non-Combat Heroes

    Alrighty, there are two axes here, and they again have to do with genre conventions and how all of this interacts.

    Axis1: Main Character versus Mook
    This is mostly about how much of a character a miniature is in the fiction. If they have names, personalities, have interactions with other characters, something that a reader/viewer could hook onto quickly, they're a character. If there's lots going on in that regard, they're a Main Character. There are, of course, levels of importance/characterness.

    Mooks are unnamed types, and usually threatening types. Good Guy Mooks, Bad Guy Mooks, it doesn't really matter. they're kinda just nameless. They're the soldiers or angry mob members in the background. Maybe once in a while, one of them would get a single line of dialogue, or it looks like they're in charge of something minor.

    Mooks generally should be treated as dangerous within the Make Believe, even if whatever rules/mechanics/methods we're using are unlikely to have them threaten Main Characters in practice.

    Axis 2: Combat vs. Non-Combat Heroes
    The quick thing about this is that Combat Characters ( some may rise to the level of BadAsses) can, well, succeed by combat. Yeah, I know that's circular. But these are the guys that tend to directly take on dangerous baddies/goodies through direct and violent means and are good at doing so. (BadAsses are the ones that are so good, they can really take on baddies that genre conventions say to treat as Real Dangers. Like directly charging an HMG, for example). When they fail, often their friends get hurt, they lose stuff, get wounded ( but grit their teeth and go on), or suffer some kind of "cliffhanger" type demise.

    Non-Combat characters can still succeed in action sequences, but the style is different. They succeed by running away, dodging, using their wits to outsmart the baddies, use indirect methods, or succeed by lucky and/or humorous circumstances. Often, they leave the baddies in the dust if they succeed, but without permanently KO-ing the baddies. When they fail, it often means capture and threats by baddies, although the same stuff as for Combat Heroes is also on the list of possibilities.

    An aside about Beats, Brutes, and Death Machines
    These are a little weird in that they work kinda like mooks, but are more dangerous, even to BadAsses. Basically, they're actually dangerous mooks that are going to take some effort to defeat, but they don't have much personality. Often, they're defeated only after lots of effort and often by discovery of a special weakness or the use of Just the Right Tool for the Job.

    So again, not much in the way of war game style mechanics, but some pretty good pointers on how to use this all with more Organized Make Believe types mechanics.

  • edited May 2016
    So what's the takeaway?

    We can get away with a nod to war game type mechanics, without going whole hog in miniatures play. In fact, some nods to more typical war game methods help, if left a bit fuzzy, in that they help develop the fiction. Tactics and planning don't disappear simply because we get fuzzy with mechanical representation.

    We can even get away with lots of freeplay, and only moments of mechanics at most, provided that we aren't really there for the GRRRHARDCORE! gamist play, but more for wallowing in genre emulation.

    But what about Braunsteins??? They're still Gamist Right? They have win conditions after all!

    Well, yes. But Braunsteins may still benefit from simpler rules, genre expectations, and so on. And in a real way, simpler may be better just for dealing with a large number of players and having GM team types to make calls where things are fuzzy mechanically, if only for speed and ease of play.

    There's also a few things with Braunsteins that may have an impact on thinking about rules/methods/mechanics for them.

    They don't seem to be GRRRHARDCORE! at the level of skirmish wargames.
    They can have multiple winners, of varying levels of success.
    Individual factions and characters may have multiple goals of varying importance, or may choose to attach more significance to certain goals as play develops.
    Many goals of characters/factions in Braunsteins seem to go outside of normal war game type goals, things beyond crushing one's enemies, grabbing counters, or being at a certain geographic location at the end of play.
    They may benefit from an Event LARP style of post-game Debrief to determine actual winners, and allow players to crow about what they were up to even if they failed horribly. In fact, failing horribly in an amusing way may be a kind of win in itself on the player-to-player, real world, social level.
  • I often rely on dice rolls and GM fiat to determine movement instead of using a grid and assigning a fixed number of spaces for players to move their minis. In the end, it's just a matter of either being in range for an attack or not.

    Also, if you can afford the waste of time and paper, I would reccomend making actual damage to paper minis, even if it's just for the final battle of the campaign. Use red markers for blood, rip, cut and puncture when appropiate, but don't set your table on fire, that's just too much. Though water works fine as acid or lava on paper minis.
  • edited May 2016
    I often rely on dice rolls and GM fiat to determine movement instead of using a grid and assigning a fixed number of spaces for players to move their minis. In the end, it's just a matter of either being in range for an attack or not.
    If you're using a GM or have something like Mythic GM Emulator, I think that's decidedly the way to go. I mean, it works fine for description-only games. Why should it be different for minis-use?

    Dice for random movement rates have an old history with minis gaming. there's a lot that can be stolen from systems that do that, and lots of variations.
    Also, if you can afford the waste of time and paper, I would reccomend making actual damage to paper minis, even if it's just for the final battle of the campaign. Use red markers for blood, rip, cut and puncture when appropiate, but don't set your table on fire, that's just too much. Though water works fine as acid or lava on paper minis.
    That's rather timely as a suggestion. I was just looking p old FASERIP Marvel Superheroes stuff online, and some of the downloads have paper minis as part of the product!

  • edited May 2016
    Since I'm over-caffeinated and have the day off, here's a possible Braunstein-ish movement mechanic I've been playing with for a while. It might have other applications as well.

    In a Braunstein, there are two things I'm concerned with design-wise
    1) Having a larger number of players and few or only one GM/Ref
    2) Not wanting players to completely be able to flit around and intervene in scenes they hadn't been involved in without at least some nod to the idea that movement/intervention isn't instantaneous

    The first one is simply a matter of making things relatively simple, so players can do them on their own, and something like simultaneously. I don't want to have 20 players rolling initiative and a bunch of people sitting on their hands waiting for 18 or 19 other people to go before they can get involved That would suck.

    The second one is to prevent something I used to see in VtM LARPs. The way the ones worked that I participated in years ago, the actual, real world play space was usually a bar and the parking lot near it on a slow night. Often, players would declare that some corner of the sidewalk where they had gathered was some other part of the city, and start playing out their interactions. Often combat or other mechanics would be involved and lead to a slow down in handling time. While this was going on, other players who'd been elsewhere would have a tendency to simply "pop" into the scene, regardless of what they'd just been doing elsewhere or travel times ( even if the Dead Do Travel Fast!).

    So, the basics:
    Limited range, straight-line movement, with an Announce Move-Pause-Enact Move sequence they can do on their own.
    Limited Range
    Pick an arbitrary distance useful in your design, and make a move stick for it. Or just buy cheap plastic 12" rulers. Or whatever you choose.The maximum distance radius for a single move is based on that.
    Straight line
    Show the path of the miniature. You may stop anywhere along it, but not beyond the move stick distance. You may not turn along the path. The stick shows your maximum distance, not some kind of move points. You may turn before or after a move.
    Terrain effects
    Basically, you move around minor items of terrain, and the straight-line nature of movement means you may have to take multiple single moves to ve very slowly through something like a maze of streets or a forest represented by single trees scattered around. If you're using area terrain, your miniature may not both enter and leave more than one piece of area terrain in a move. For minor, crossable obstacle ( a hedge line, stairs, ladder, a low wall, a door or window), it must be still in contact with your miniature at the end of the turn.

    IOW, to get your full movement range, you must not move through any thing but open ground for the full move distance. Tricky designers might give special abilities to some characters or get clever in designing terrain to produce desired effects.

    Announce Move-Pause-Enact Move sequence
    You must announce aloud your movement and indicate your path with the move stick. You must them silently count "1-2-3 Mississippi" before enacting the move. You must then repeat the silent count before announcing another move, repeating the sequence. This is to give any other nearby participants a chance to react to your move during each of the pauses.

    Now, the next part is trickier: Regional Boundaries

    This one I'm less sure how to deal with, but the gist of it is this: There are physical scene/location boundaries that must be respected and dealt with before players can cross their miniatures into a scene space where other events are already happening.

    In theory, the players themselves could place some kind of markers to define a boundary as needed, removing it when it is no longer relevant. The scenario designer themselves may make more easily recognized, marked boundaries with their physical layout too. For example, the action may take place in a city with several distinct neighborhoods or locations, and have generic border markings.

    To move across a boundary ( and thus be able to now interact with what is going on there currently), a move up to the boundary is necessary ( with normal procedure). Once there a timer, or roll, or pause in the current action sequence within the location (or combination of these) is used to determine when miniatures can enter and begin interacting with the events already going on.

    Again, special abilities may get around some of this. Some may allow interactions of some sort while still in the boundary marker area.

    In any case, the player with miniatures at the boundary must clearly indicate their intention to enter the action already in progress, with proper pauses and other methods. If timers and so on are being used, players must show good sportsmanship/sharing of attention with the folks already involved.

  • Movement distance starts to matter only when things reach a conflict point, until then what matters is time. Does your group arrive before the oponents or after? With how many turns/minutes/hours of difference? That gives one side time to prepare, take better positions, hide to ambush etc. You can roll to see which group arrives first and use the same roll for initiative. As for who goes first in big groups, taking turns clockwise (or counterclockwise) around the table beats any other mechanic: it's less confusing and takes less time.

    So, both sides meet at the same region at two moves from each other, just outside firing range or visual range, whichever distance is applicable and greater.

    I'd recommend to replace rulers or the move stick with strips of paper or flexible rules, to shape them in the path used by the minis to traverse obstacles. Firing range on the other hand does require a stick to help player determine if cover applies or not. About measures and cover I'd also reccommend from the very start of the game to talk a bit with the group to remind them that it's a game and the fun here is to let anything happens, either good or bad. The X-Wing community calls this "fly casual", a mantra that helps them focus on having fun with the game instead of discussing or agonizing over half and inch of distance.
  • I've seen some games that use flexible rulers ( there's even a company specializing in very gamer oriented ones).

    The straight line move thing is something I've seen in a couple of different games. It's a different approach, and hinges a lot on having lots of terrain you have to work around to create an effect like reducing movement, but without the math.

    As for dealing with taking turns with a bunch of players, I've seen a few approaches, including popcorn initiative where players choose who goes next, cards ( like in Savage Worlds), and initiative only by area with a GM dealing with arrivals and working them into the turn sequence.

    Mostly that stab was taking at a system for large groups was a way to try to push off some of the work onto the players themselves and off the GM team.

    It really is more of a thing that only really matters when you have lots of players all acting on their own time and there is a competitive aspect.

    A few players against GM run baddies? Not really necessary or even desirable.
  • This is all so, so good! I've got tons of thoughts, but work is hectic right now. I'll make some time late this week or this weekend to respond. (In other words, I actually kinda like the slower pace of this thread/threads these days--they better match my own ability to post, rather than just lurk!)

    I especially want to say something about how I use "zones" to control the space, rather than distance-based movement. Also about your types of characters, because you got me thinking. Also, something about LEGOs (I know, I know, my imaginative play hobbyhorse, but interesting crosspollination, I hope). (Sorry for the list--mostly a reminder for me, but poke me if I forget to mention one of these.)
  • edited May 2016
    I'd love to hear your thoughts on all of that, Stephen.

    Also, WarriorMonk, I was thinking more about your post regarding time and preparation and so on. A long time ago, I ran into some stuff referring to a concept called "variable length bounds" in wargaming ( especially minis using wargaming).

    It was very much like what you're talking about.

    Naturally it got terribly pooh-poohed by more traditional competitive war gamers, but was much mulled over and discussed on the more experimental end of the hobby.

    From WarriorMonk:
    "About measures and cover I'd also reccommend from the very start of the game to talk a bit with the group to remind them that it's a game and the fun here is to let anything happens, either good or bad."

    You're absolutely right about that, and it might be good to have a discussion about that in regard to everything, not just combat. I've played with some ideas about those things, in the form of trying to add methods to keep everyone involved throughout play, and for non-competitive stuff, add recognition/debrief methods that emphasize "wins" outside of character wins.
  • Another Braunstein specific method I came up with that may have other uses...

    Preplanned NPC upgrades
    I used this in a Braunstein I wrote up for use with Reaper Bones minis from a Kickstarter some time back.

    Basically, every main, pre-gen player character had a companion character or two ( or more if they were really weedy). The most obvious companion character also has an upgraded version handy, in case an actual human player arrived and began playing it or the main character got KOed/made uplayable by some means.

    I also made sure that each upgraded PC had some better capabilities/gear than the original, simple, companion version, but also had some goals that made them an unreliable ally for the main character. Hopefully, it also gave them some things entirely different to do from the main character if the main character was now entirely out of play.

    If both characters were still in play, and the companion remained loyal, I didn't want the effect of having two players now playing a single, co-ordinated faction from becoming too overwhelming compared to players who were still playing their main character, as well as their assistant. Just by having one team able to operate simultaneously in different areas of the layout was fairly powerful already.

    The game also used something like hit points, and these were less than a main character had. This was to keep them from thinking too much about direct betrayal of their "master/leader/boss". It was also because, if they were replacements for a KOed main character, they'd likely start later in the session as a player character, and I didn't want new, fresh characters to suddenly overshadow damaged characters that had been in play already throughout the game.

    Anyway, not really combat related, but maybe useful for folks designing Braunsteins specifically.
  • Did the characters in Braunsteins have stats like? Like traditional RPG? Wargames? Some combination? Or just motivations?
  • They're all over the place, since they tend to be fairly idiosyncratic. Also, you sometimes run into a thing where someone has recreated the wheel, and doing the same sort of thing as a B-stein without ever having heard that term at all.
  • edited May 2016
    Sorry Hopeless Wanderer, I realized that wasn't much of an answer.

    Eero's minis game wasn't a big multiplayer, competitive ( at some level) game in the vein of a Braunstein, so as I understand it, he mostly got away with simple, self-defined descriptions with a few more closely defined qualities ( although those may have developed through play. Not sure about that part).

    I've been able to do similar things when playing a 2 player game using Mythic GM Emulator in the past, with next to nothing even written about the characters. I think it was smashing success. But both Eero's Sipi gameand the MGME supported game I did used some well trod genre conventions in the background ( his were fairy tales. Mine were "pulp" genre conventions)

    You can look at the Braunstein I made a couple years back for the Reaper Bones 1 kickstarter if you'd like. The stats in that are extremely lite.

  • edited May 2016
    Although my own "mini gaming" experience were more in line with Potemkin's, above (perhaps best as a solo venture), what this thread makes me think of is this:

    You have figures which represent specific characters.

    You have figures which are reusable, and instead represent types or archetypes. ("A Deadly Beast", "A Wise Advisor", etc.)

    You have sets/locations/backdrops which represent environments or locations.

    Why not design some kind of method of using these together to generate scenes?

    For instance, player A draws 3-6 minis from the bag, and those are the characters which are present in the scene. Player B chooses a set, and that determines the location.

    Maybe the main characters then go back into the bag, but the archetypes don't, so you end up cycling through the whole collection.

    Player C asks or answers a few leading questions about the specific scene.

    "Who is chasing whom?"
    "Who is seeing or hearing something they shouldn't?"
    "Who is, unbeknowst to the others, at this moment preparing violence?"
    "For which character is this place familiar, or even home?" (Pick a mini out of the bag...)

    Stuff like that.

    Could be a neat way to create scene material for the game. A little bit like In a Wicked Age..., but using the minis themselves as the oracle for the game.

    The individual items could develop deeper meaning and associations over time.

    The first time we draw the swamp and the Wizened Elder, Julie asks "For whom is this home?" So now we have Yoda in the swamp, greeting newcomers with mystery.

    Later we have a scene at the palace, and the Wizened Elder is drawn again - well, now we have some interesting backstory implied by the earlier scene. And so on.
  • edited May 2016
    That would be a cool concept for building some on the fly gaming.

    I probably wouldn't put minis in a bag though, unless they were 'Clix or something similar!
    ( Cards or charts of characters are certainly possible instead. Mythic GM Emulator makes great use of developing-in-play lists of PCs and NPCs and plot threads to accomplish something similar)

    Still, that has some great potential. I actually have a printed out, large fantasy "city" that is kinda sorta meant to be something like Sanctuary from the Thieves World books, and a whole bunch of Reaper Bones minis. I've been trying to figure out what to do with them. Your suggestion would be really great for using that stuff.
  • edited May 2017
    I have organized some miniature wargames were "story" was the main driving force, rather than combat mechanics. Setup was a historical battle. Players were dealt random missions, written from the point-of-view of a unit commander, aide-de-camps, villagers, etc. Each player had 3 missions, could be for both sides. No-one was in control of a single army, and the purpose of the game was not that the battle was won. Rather, the battle was the backdrop in which various missions took place.
    Players took turns, and in a turn, a player could propose an action or event for any unit or group of units on the battlefield. In one game we rolled a die, but in other games we had a voting mechanism. if the event passed, it was played out on the table (moving miniatures, some simple combat mechanic if necessary), and then the next player took his turn.

    The game ended when the "battle ended". Missions were then revealed, and a short discussion followed to discuss who had played his missions in the best manner.

    I wrote this up for Battlegames magazine, published some years ago.

    Link: http://snv-ttm.blogspot.be/p/narrative-wargaming.html
  • Thanks Philip! I look forward to digging into that. It sounds very much like something I'd be interested in, and a bit like old time Kreigspiel !
  • Yes, it is a similar to kriegsspiel run by committee, i.e. no player is aligned to one side of the battle, and the missions handed out to each player guaranteed that the game moved forward.
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