Saturday, August 22, 2009

Sunday, August 16, 2009

Heroquest 2.0 Mecha: Veritech

We played a Robotech playtest one-shot last night using Heroquest 2.0. I gotta say it was downright entertaining. The most important part is that it felt right. We were able to do justice to the fiction because it was what drove our common understanding. I'm thinking that Mr. Robin D. Laws is onto something. ;)

Once at the table the decision was made to hew toward the slightly crunchier side of things. We could have made Veritech a keyword and been done but we wanted to bring the mecha a bit more to the forefront. Using the Mecha Game Requirements Doc and the resulting PDQ Robotech Character Sheet as a guide we were able to quickly put together a multi-mode Veritech in HQ 2.0 terms.

Keyword: Veritech

Fighter Mode:

  • Speed 12
  • Maneuverability 6
  • Afterburner 15
  • Wide turning radius 10 (-2)

Guardian Mode:

  • Speed 8
  • Maneuverability 8
  • Stable 15
  • Non-flight mobility 10 (-2)

Battloid Mode:

  • Speed 6
  • Maneuverability 12
  • Hand-to-hand 15
  • Poor flight 15 (-3)

  • Head mounted laser(s) 8
  • GU-11 Gun Pod: 5 Mastery

The story

The sole player character is in a VT on a routine patrol when a call comes in that a group of Zentraedi in battle pods are battling it out with overmatched local security over a protoculture chamber. It is imperative that the Zentraedi marauders be stopped.

Bearing 010, 21 klicks...

The VT pilot strafes the zentraedi position (minor victory) with the GU-11 blowing a leg off an unaware battle pod and announces that they are to lay down their weapons. The marauders will have none of it. As the veritech changes modes to evade enemy fire a Nousjadeul-Ger male power armor grabs the protoculture chamber and begins heading toward the nearest tree line.

Deciding to ignore the battle pods the intrepid RDF pilot transforms to Guardian mode and skates his way toward the fleeing protoculture chamber thief. The thought that there's an escape ship hidden in the trees zips through the VT pilot's mind.

The battle pods rally on their leader and pursue the enemy while raining down withering cannon fire. For the most part the VT pilot evades but a few blasts strike home. He's starting to feel outmatched and is thinking that it was a tactical error pursuing the power armor without first dealing with the battle pods. On top of all that it turns out that it's too dangerous to take a shot against the power armor because he might hit the chamber. He can't get an angle.

Particle cannon blasts shake the veritech causing its systems to flicker.

The Zentraedi have scored 5 resolution points versus the VT pilot and are ready to strike a parting blow.

The VT pilot keys his radio ready to call in a SITREP and to request backup while disengaging the enemy.

The zentraedi fumble their parting shot while the VT pilot rolls a critical success which gets him back into the game.

The battle pods became too eager in their pursuit and strung themselves out causing problems of position and diminished concentration of fire. Their error presents the VT pilot a small window of opportunity that must be taken in the next moment or it will vanish.

In jet mode the veritech is wheeled around with afterburners lit. Skimming the deck with a wash of dust trailing behind, the VT pilot bears down on the male power armor that has just made its way to the trees.

In a split second the veritech transforms into battloid mode. Still hurtling toward the tree line a short burst from the GU-11 cripples the power armored thief taking his exposed leg out from under him.

Now from the concealment of the forest the VT pilot rocks the GU-11 with deadly accuracy wreaking havoc on those that were once his pursuers. Those that are able to flee do so. Those that cannot are either dead or are in the process of giving up.

The VT pilot has taken the zentraedi to 5 resolution points and succeeds in his parting shot easily kicking the enemy while they're down.

Finally able to take a break a call back to RDF base is made and it is declared that the protoculture chamber has been secured. The enemy is fleeing and support is necessary for pursuit.

From behind the VT pilot's position an obviously salvaged zentraedi troop transport ship bursts from the forest and heads for destination unknown. The VT pilot won't be pursuing today. His orders are to stay put till reinforcements arrive and to return to base for repairs.

Saturday, August 15, 2009

PDQ Robotech Character Sheet

Resulting from the Mecha Requirements Doc here is the PDQ Robotech character sheet that I whipped up:

Note the bolded abilities. These abilities are common to all mecha modes. If a common ability suffers impairment all modes are affected. For example, while in Fighter mode if the Speed ability is impaired one rank and is reduced to Good [+2] both the Guardian and Battloid modes take one rank of impairment to Speed. Guardian speed is reduced to Average[0] and Battloid Speed is reduced to Poor [-2].

Monday, August 10, 2009

Setting Development Through Gaming

For the last 9 months we've been hard at work developing 'Solus' a post apocalyptic setting for our live-action airsoft game Firefight! After setting the premise and constraints of the game world much of the process has consisted of creating individual gaming events that fit our vision.

Brainstorming and LEGO-style snapping of ideas together takes the concept of developing "adventures" in a game world only so far. Typically what looks like a complete event outline has holes and leaps of logic that are not only inelegant but also difficult to bridge once the game starts moving. The gaps can be closed on the fly but this isn't an optimal approach because in live action hand-waving an NPC as an agent of change into or out of existence is quite difficult. In attempt to close holes ahead of time we've been using tabletop gaming to jump into the setting to test our outlines. As we have increased utilization of this technique the positive feedback given after game events has gone up.

We started with The Shadow of Yesterday to test the concept and it worked out very well. The system felt neutral enough to allow us to really play in the Solus setting. Next we tried PDQ and it worked great. Both systems are very good games and are flexible enough to accommodate virtually any setting.

I picked up Heroquest 2.0 because I had heard so many good things about it over the years but had never seen it. I had no idea that in time it would become the system that really kicked the setting dev process into high gear.

Heroquest has the qualities of fast and flexible but it also has something else. Keywords. A Keyword is a sort of macro that encompass a broad set of character abilities wrapped up into a single word or phrase. This feature allowed us to not only flex the system for our setting but it also helped us reinforce the setting with the Firefight! system even though they are two different rule sets.

In Firefight! there are 3 main character types; Brains, Jack of all trades, and Action. Each character type has exclusive access to system bits that provides unique abilities in the game space. The beautiful part is that these character types became Keywords. The benefits were myriad. Character creation time was dramatically reduced which allowed us to jump straight to the point of the endeavor - setting development. The amount of material covered in a very short of amount of time went way up. Concentrating on the setting took far less effort. Upon reflection I think the productivity gain is the result of reduced "context switching" between the setting in play on the tabletop and the live action system that will be used out in the field.

The scope of Solus scales up from the struggles of the individual through that of their comrades in arms to the actions of larger entities maneuvering to make life better and/or to snuff out those who get in their way. This too was pleasantly easy to handle.

Don't think that I look at Heroquest 2.0 as just a tool. It's a lot of fun and hope to get a proper campaign off the ground soon. Who know. Maybe it'll be Solus.

"Turning and turning in the widening gyre
The falcon cannot hear the falconer;
Things fall apart; the centre cannot hold;
Mere anarchy is loosed upon the world,
The blood-dimmed tide is loosed,..."

-W.B. Yeats

Monday, August 3, 2009


It's obvious that I haven't been posting much recently. It's certainly not because I don't have much to say. We're full bore into prime airsoft season and it has taken most of my attention for game development.

At the moment we're running our Firefight! Solus campaign and I'm developing software to manage MILSIM games.

In parallel I'm reading Heroquest 2.0 and am loving it. I could have skimmed the book and started running but I'm taking it slow so that I can absorb the HQ lessons of approach and style. I'm glad for doing so. Much of what I've read reinforces my notions about story telling through gaming. Some of it doesn't but that's okay because everything makes sense. It feels good to be learning something.

Over and out.