[minis +] A new, internet based phenomenon I'm seeing...

edited May 2019 in Story Games
Any of my [Minis+] fans still around these parts?

About, I dunno, ten years ago when I was doing a lot of thinking on minis use in RPGs/SGs, I was also in contact with a few other fans of pushing some limits design-wise, who were scattered around the world.

One of the downsides of working with minis in gaming is, well, it's probably the least compatible type of gaming WRT long distance play. There's a strong aesthetic and tactile element for minis+ people, as well as strong Lonely Fun and DIY collection building aspect, and this also creates some communication problems.

IOW, shit is way easier to explain if I have you in my gaming space in person, than trying to type about it and talk about it online. And minis gaming by internet is basically completely useless if the actual minis are important ( as opposed to simply markers in space).

Anyway, because of these issues, I proposed something to an internet pal of mine way back when that I'm starting to see an echo of in the fanbase activity that surrounds a commercially available game, called Rangers of Shadow Deep.

The proposal: Paired Solo Play

The concept:
I've got my minis collection ( of whatever type and style and genre base). I catalog and photograph it, put those pics up online, write up a description of roughly what I'm interested in doing with it, perhaps with some starter world/setting info. Meanwhile, pick or create some solo-play friendly rules ( I like Mythic GM Emulator, but whatever).

Now you, Internet Minis+ Gamer pal, do the same thing.

Then we act a bit as each other's GM/Other end of the Czege Principle. We aren't going to directly GM, the way you would with Play By Post. We're going to set up scenarios that the other person plays solo, based on what we think the other person will dig. They play them, report on them, and expand their collections. And the other partner does the same thing at the same time.

Cool right? I knew you guys would love that. Because it's brilliant.

Mind you, it never actually got off the ground. :D

But someone very talented has, at least partially accidently, created an even betterer version of the idea.

I'll get into that in the next post.


  • So what is so freakin' cool about Rangers of the Shadow Deep?
    It's a simple minis game with low entry barriers. Rules are simple, a small space and number of miniatures are needed for play. Like a lot of small scale minis play, it's a campaign based style of play, with character improvement, both for your Ranger ( main character) and your helpers.

    Also, it's built to be played solo or multiplayer co-operative, with Players vs. Scenario ( well, mini linked campaigns anyway. Probably RPGers would call them shorts series of linked encounters. RoSD calls them Missions for the chain of encounters).
    Well, yay, right? I mean we've seen stuff like that before. That's not what got me excited.

    What got me excited was what I see happening around it on its Facebook page.

    1) Fans are creating an enormous amount of scenarios. It's almost like the concept behind the OGL and D&D 3e has come to fruition with an entirely different game ( although no one seems to be interested in selling beyond the initial designer).

    2)Participants at the FB page are really excited about taking and sharing pix of their DIY/Lonely Fun stuff, with a broad range of hobby skill levels and aesthetic differences being shared and mutually celebrated.

    Because of point #1, however, there's also starting to be something of a shared experience effect going on. A bit like when OSR types talk about the shared experiences of well-known old modules like The Keep on the Borderlands or The Isle of Dread or Ravenloft.

    And of course, scenario designers are playing off one another as well. This guy plays that guy's scenario, then adds their own scenario that they played after the first guy's scenario to the files list.

    Anyway, the whole thing is frickin' nifty and points to some other possibilities for community building but also long-distance minis use in games.

    Just reporting right now, but would love to hear your thoughts, comments, questions on the topic.,
  • That's pretty exciting! I love the idea, even though it's not something I'm likely to participate in any time soon.

    There's something pretty beautiful about a bunch of people all taking turns effectively writing "adventures" for each other.
  • Yeah it's quite shocking the sheer amount of stuff being created.

    Part of it is that the basic rules themselves and the example adventures contained in the book really set forth an easy how-to create adventures by way of example. The systems are simple enough that scenario/mission specific variations can be created easily as well.

    The other thing I'm finding interesting though is the way people are sharing the pix of the varied look of their collections back and forth, however, and how that plays into the scenarios they're creating.

    Roughly speaking, RoSD is pretty much the Rangers of Gondor, pre-WotR, situation with serial numbers barely scrubbed off, with a slightly D&D-ified take on it.

    Checking the shared photos though, while most folks are going the obvious routes in terms of their collection builds, there have also been Lego builds, steampunk builds, and something I want to call "fairytale forests" build with a very cool, but very non-traditional ( for minis gamers) aesthetic.

    That too is really adding to my fascination with this phenomenon.

    And of course, lots of personal blue-booking going on and AP reports constantly rolling in.
  • When my kid comes back from college for the summer I'm going to try to get him into Rangers. It looks like a nice mix of storytelling and wargaming.
  • @komradebob Bluebooking? What's that mean?
  • edited May 2019
    A book of all law (US)
    A series of books summarizing each a state of knowledge on a specific topic.
    Champions RPG book of rules.

    In each case : the sum of all knowledge in a field.
    Therefore, bluebooking : extensively documenting rules + house-rules.
    Correct ?
  • It is, but I think a lot of it has to do with creating very successful solo/co-op game with light competitiveness ( super light in wargame terms) and then finding a way to share that.

    I think it helps that it follows two very successful, but more traditional, competitive campaign skirmish games by the same designer.

    It's also really easy to AP/bluebook, making for another sort of storytelling.

    It's also kinda sandboxy in the order that the scenarios can be played ( or whether to play an individual mission at all).

    Still, the main notable thing I'm seeing is the community interactivity, both in type and level.
  • edited May 2019
    A book of all law (US)
    A series of books summarizing each a state of knowledge on a specific topic.
    Champions RPG book of rules.

    In each case : the sum of all knowledge in a field.
    Therefore, bluebooking : extensively documenting rules + house-rules.
    Correct ?
    I missed your question earlier DeReel. Apologies.
    Edited to add: I couldn't figure out why you'd been unable, after internet search, to find the gaming context for the term, so I did a search of my own. Turns out that you get better info if you look for the verb form ( blue-booking) rather than the noun form ( blue book). Even better search results come from insuring that rpg or role-playing were in the search also.
    In this context, blue-booking is more like writing up fictional content based on the actual play between sessions.

    Example: Writing up the events of play in first-person perspective or writing up info that fleshes out the setting.

    In some games, it also is a record of things your character is up to "off-screen", between actual play session.

    Example: Writing up a list of activities your PC's minions are up to between adventures, info on how the castle you're having built is coming along, tracking information on income from various non-adventuring sources and cash outflow for long-term projects.

    My understanding is the term blue-booking in a gaming context comes from the inexpensive, small, blank, lined paper booklets that are commonly used for exam essays in schools in the US.

    They commonly have blue covers. I guess it simply became industry standard for them. You can apparently still buy them at office supply stores for about $0.40 USD each.

    They are cheapo enough that, especially in pre-internet availability days, a group could buy some to use for their game, and share them around or hand them into the GM to skip wasting game time on those off-screen projects. The fiction-writing became a somewhat natural outgrowth of that.
  • edited May 2019
    Aaron Allston coined the phrase blue-booking talking about his Champions campaign in the Strike Force supplement in 1988. As @komradebob said, it was written role-playing to add more side material to the campaign. He also noted that some players were much more comfortable doing personal role-playing (like having romantic dinners with DNPCs or whatever) in writing than talking at the table, so it gave the game more emotional/character depth.

    And yeah, they used those cheap blue-covered exam books. They wound up with stacks of them archiving side stories from the campaign.

    EDIT: to be more clear, in the original description, the GM might write a few paragraphs describing an NPC approaching the hero, then pass the book to the player to write what the hero does/says, then they pass back to the GM, and so on.
  • I had that experience once, as a teenager. I was GMing a long-running D&D game when I moved away to the other side of the continent.

    To keep the game going, the players simply wrote some fiction to continue the game (it was by email, but, in a way, it was kind of like forum roleplaying). It was absolutely shocking how much character development happened instantly, the moment the players could express themselves from a different stance. Shocking! I was floored, and very excited. Just a page or two of text transformed the game completely.
  • Thanks.
  • DeReel, you'd mentioned an interest in using minis in RPGs in another thread.

    Any particular point of interest on this topic?
  • I like the DIY aspect of them, owning several kilos of lead and tin, molds, and a paint set.
    I am on the lookout for minis narrative ideas with a goal of my own.
    What interested me was using puppets because they spontaneously bring narrative ideas specially with kids and they are a worldwide spread and ancient aspect of both popular and high culture.
  • What is your personal goal that you mentioned?
  • Grabbing concepts from narrative miniature games to port them to finger puppet play.
  • What sorts of things have you decided to use for that ( mechanical, rules, other)?
  • No technique. I am stuck. With puppets the mobility is total, dice are impractical. It's like one medium is the opposite twin of the other.

    I still believe there's a common layer regarding "projection". The way I empathise with the object and then connect to the object space. Suspension of disbelief of a common nature.
  • edited May 2019
    What about something like the Itras By/Archipelago cards instead of dice?

    ( I'm looking to see if I can find a link)

    Here it is. Cards at the end.

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