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Wednesday, 5 April 2017

The Fantasy Trip played with figures and without grid

I am not exclusively a roleplayer, though it is the most frequent thing that we play when my group meets.
But, we also play wargames and whilst it happens less frequently, we have, on occasion replaced our rpg sessions with figures wargaming, sometimes for year long campaigns.

Peoples who knew me from my old Brabantini yahoogroup know that I make my own paper figures (and that I also use those from my favorite figures artists).

All this means that I have a collection of paper figures and 3d (mostly) paper scenery. So, why not use those in my TFT campaign? Of course, there will be no hexgrid on the table, even no grid at all, but that is certainly not a problem.

Paper figures and scenery have a lot going for them: cheap, easy to store and produce (easier anyway than painting and assembling lots of lead and plastic figures and scenery), particularly if you use an automated cutter (the main reason I am back into paper figures).

Figures must be mounted on appropriate bases. If using paper figures, glue them on card bases or if you prefer non permanent bases, use the litko bases (that's what I am using now).
Alternatively you can use One-Monk style basing, it is available HERE, and a lot of figures sets available on the web include variations of it.

Now, more to the point, what do you need to do to adapt TFT for tabletop gaming? Well, not much...

Figures Facing

First, TFT uses the orientation on the map for determining the front, side and back of the character. It can be quite easily translated into figure gaming by using standard squares bases.

To find from which side an attack comes, find in which direction the center of the attacker's figure front falls.

And, to be able to attack an enemy, the target must be in the attacker's front arc. Simple, No?

Distances in Hexes

To measure distances and movements, we must translate the hexes used in the game into units measurable on the table. That's quite self evident: distances in hexes are just used as inches on the table.

Distances and areas in Megahexes

TFT also uses a specific unit of distance/surface called a megahex. It is simply represented by a hex and the hexes around it. So, it is not very difficult to translate them on the tabletop.

If the rules speak about:
- A character's own's megahex: use a one inch area around the figure.
- An area of one or several megahexes: Use a template 3 inches in diameter.
- A distance in megahexes: each 1 megahex distance equals 3 inches on the table.

Campaign use

As I said in an earlier post, my philosophy for my TFT campaign is that what works works.

So I am not going to prepare all that I need to play a scenario specifically in 3D.
If I already have what is needed, fine, if not, a battlemap and tokens on Maptool or Roll20 are also fine.
Or figures on a sketch map drawn directly on a paper tablecloth for that matter.
Whilst it can add some flavour to a game, the physical representation of the action is not the important part. What matters is the action itself.

Thursday, 17 November 2016

Melee and Wizard as simplified roleplaying fantasy trip

Melee was published in 1977 as Microgame #3. It was a small skirmish game about pre-gunpowder melee (hence its name) fighting.
Wizard followed in 1978 as Microgame #6. It was a game of wizards duels, but it could be combined with Melee to give a kind of wargame fantasy arena.
Wargames battles between fighters, wizards, demi-humans fighting on tactical terrain. It was almost a roleplaying game and it was used as such by a huge number of players who liked the simplicity and ease of the game.
Those were very fun games,  easy and simple, but full of flavor.

So, it was quite logical to turn the system into a complete rpg called The Fantasy Trip. It took some years to do and it was eagerly awaited.
When it was released, in 1980, it included Advanced Melee, Advanced Wizard and In The Labyrinth.

That was a fine game, but the expansion of the rules of Melee and Wizard made it more complex and not very different of others games of the time. Of course, it was possible to play The Fantasy Trip with basic Melee and Wizard and In the Labyrinth, but the discrepancies between the different levels of difficulties was not very fun.

That was the problem, the game was a more serious and complete game, but it had lost its fun factor (which is generally something that game designers don't really understand about their own games, I should write a post about it).

The charm was broken as was the collaboration between Metagaming (the publisher) and Steve Jackson (the designer). Steve Jackson was to design GURPS to expand its ideas, whilst Metagaming did publish a less complicated set of rules based on TFT and called Underearth. It was probably more like what TFT should have been (even if TFT fans don't like it too much for being not a Steve Jackson design). It was too late anyway.

TFT is one of those games that has kept a big following on the internet through the years and I had suddenly a urge to play some one-offs scenarios with it. Or more accurately with Melee and Wizard.
As I wouldn't use In the Labyrinth (except maybe as a ressources when in need for a rule), I decided to just write the minimal rules needed to add a roleplaying layer on the game.
YMMV of course, about what is the minimal amount of rules needed and how to write them. Here is my version anyway.
The basic Melee and Wizard rules can be found on the internet with a Google search (and you'll also find the derivatives, more or less akin to the original; some of them are really worth a look, being fine games on their own, though I prefer playing with the originals).

My addon rules are HERE if you want to try them.

I'll probably also publish the cardboard figures (like the orc on the left), paper scenery, virtual tabletop battlemaps and tokens I am using.
It is a very mixed campaign: cardboard figures with paper 3D scenery or tokens on maps with Maptool, depending on what is available. The idea is to keep the game rolling, so I prepare the stuff for the game on a session by session basis.

Saturday, 1 August 2015

Isometric VTT - Roll20 too

It has been a long time since I used Roll20 (I am still waiting them to accept Paypal for payment instead of having to send my credit card info to an unknown company).
So, I was quite sure that isometric gaming was not possible with it. But...
Since my last visit they have added a feature called Rollable Table Token and that's just what is needed to play with isometric figures.

Here is the result:

It works quite easily. All the stuff made for Maptool would work with it (I think, I am not a specialist).

Tuesday, 21 July 2015

A few more isometric Maptool figures

Just a few more isometric Maptool figures (uuhhh! yes, it was already in the title....).

True isometric figures

Fake isometric figures

The following figures are also fake isometrics, but they are made from my old cardboard figures illustrations. Because they were drawn at a very small scale (they were drawn directly at 30mm height), they are less detailed (and probably less well done) than the figures above. They are 200 pixels figures like the true iso figures, though it makes no difference in use, Maptool taking care of scale effect.

Isometric objects

Isometric generic tokens

Because, you are certainly going to need generic tokens to represent the NPCs for which there is no figures, here are a few pawns (with colored backs).
Adding letter states to the generic tokens:
If you need to individualize more those  tokens, here are two sets of letters (A to Z, in blue and red), that can be set as states and then, turned on or off on the tokens. You probably don't need the 52 states, but having a, b and c in those two colors can help during play.

Sunday, 14 June 2015

Maptool goes isometric!

There are wonderful news from Maptool. Jagged has released a beta version of Maptool handling isometric play natively. Meaning not only the handling of figures, but also the management of field of view and lights. And from what I can understand, later versions should make it possible to use not only flat maps (I mean your usual maps transformed in an isometric view), but also true iso maps with iso objects.

Figures are made from  four views of the token that give the impression of change of direction. I had begun to sketch a few of them when experimenting with isometric framework on my own. So, I decided to finish some of them to let you also experiment a little.
I intended to release a bigger pack of them to begin, but, of course, everyone around me decided that it was the best week-end to ... anything else.
So, here are a few figures to begin and I'll post the following ones as soon as they become available.
And as I also intend to make new ones, so don't hesitate to ask for what you would prefer to see.

The first type of figures here are the real isometric figures, meaning that they are drawn at an angle to conform with the isometric view. As their orientation is quite evident, they don't need a base. As they are drawn at a very small size, the resulting figure is 200px wide (which is not important, Maptool rescale it to your game scale), and shouldn't be used at a too big scale.

The second type of figures are false isometric figures, meaning that they are front and back figures (normally made as cardboard figures) and placed on a base showing their orientation. They are more detailed and result as 400px wide figures (which Maptool shall rescale to your gaming scale anyway).
The use of a base with an isometric view mitigates the fact that the figures are not drawn into isometric perspective though it is still visible, particularly when used alongside true isometric figures.

The main advantage of this kind of figures is that there is a huge lot of cardboard figures files waiting out there to be transformed into isometric VTT figures.


Later, I also intend to post tiles and parts of background to use in Tiled to make your own maps directly in isometric views, with some elevations (walls, pillars...).
And later, if the handling of objects becomes available in Maptool, I'll post isometric objects (and a tutorial to make your own in Sketchup).