Since travel has kept me from posting as often as usual the last two weeks, it's only fair you see some pictures from the games I've been running. Tom Harris and I ran a big game up at Little Wars two weeks ago and I ran anothe game out at Border Wars in Kansas City a week back. These pictures are all from the Little Wars game, but the Border Wars game was visually similar.
The main difference at Border Wars was I tried out a little more detailed system for the game encounters, which tied them (and the associated wonders) to three general geographic types: Higland, Arboreal, and Lowland. That helpedthe game, as skills like botany and animal were more valuable in arboreal encounters, artifact in lowland encounters, and minieral more in highland encounters (at least for the wondes, and often for the encounters as well) it gave the players a little more strategy to deal with in sending their expedition around. There's still a high level of the unexpected, but players feel as if they can exert at least some influence on it. I think referees who use the system for running a specific crafted episode can use this to benefit as well -- for example giving an expedition a native guide or naturalist to forge a way through the steamy jungle to get to the Valley of the Kings, where the archaeologist will come in handy. (Oh, the killer vines got him? Bummer.)
To start with, here's a picture of the Japanese Hunting Party about to experience a Highland encounter. This also shows off the detail in the great highland terrain my pal Glenn Kidd made for the game last year. I don't know if I've shown you this before, but I made up these encounter markers with two exotic vases on them to mark the encounter points on the table. You need something which does not detract from the overall look of the table and these are just the ticket. I got the idea from Frank and Christin Sciuli who did a bunch of these for the White Pearl Black Heart game Glenn Kidd runs with Frank Sciuli a lot. (I'm not sure if Frank or Christin came up with the idea.) The "vases" are actually colored beads which come in a large plastic packet -- a lifetime supply for a couple bucks -- at most big craft stores. I just glued two to a round base and did a very little landscaping on the base. The beads are pretty glossy right out of the packet, but a quick drybrush in earth tone color fixes that. They come with the carved patterns already inked so that's all there is to it. If you were really ambitious you could paint a bit on the designs on the vases as well, but since I needed over twenty of these, this was good enough for me. There is enough variety in beads in the packet you end up with a nice mix of markers.
Here's another Highland encounter, this time the Belgians have run into a delegation of Hill Martians who have taken the opportunity to lodge a vigorous protest against King Leopold's colonial policies in the Coprates Rift Valley. Fortunately the Germans have decided to help them and a unit of Venusian Schutztruppen have charged the Hill Martians from behind, all but wiping them out.The two survivors fled immediately after this, as I recall.
Tom Harris has made up terrain peices which represent most of the wonders encountered, and while they are not absolutely necessary, they add a lot to the visual aspect of the game. Here the British discovered a large fossilized animal and we discovered the terrain piece fit perfectly on the mountain ledge where the encounter took place.
Certain types of "wonders" are associated with specific encounters. Most of the encounters with parties of native Martians involve freeing a prisoner or prisoners. By the same token, an encounter with native Martians does not have to end in violence. There is a listed chance the natives will attack immediately, modified if you have a character present with Native skill (a local guide, a Martian shaman, etc.) If they do not attack, you can of course attack them and get the element of surprise. However, if you do not attack, they roll again the next turn to see if they attack, and if they decline a second time they join your party and surrender up whatever wonder they were guading. In this case the Belgians have decided to break with tradition and try a peaceful approach to the locals, which has paid off handsomely. A party of ten Hill Martians joined their expedition (figures on the right) and freed a group of five European prisoners they had been . . . protecting. Yeah, protecting, that's it! The Europeans, spent by their ordeal, are about to board the Belgian steam lorry.
Here the Anarchists are about to come into conflict with the Japanese over who has access to whatever wonders are within the Village of the Pink Birds of Prey. The front rank of the Anarchists are a unit of Evil Minions armed with electric rifles, and supported by a gaggle of clockwork spiders. The minions are figures from Parroom Station and the clockwork spiders are my conversions.
The clockwork spiders attack! It's always gratifying to to see your creations used for their intended purpose. Bwaa-ha-ha!
We've got some more pictures of the game and I'll post them in a few days. This should hold you for the moment, however. And tomorrow I'm going to post some really big news.