2022 #TTRPG CharGen Challenge – Playing secret agent in James Bond 007 (Victory Games, 1983) #RPGThursday

In my early days of roleplaying games I studiously avoided Dungeons & Dragons. Although I had friends who played, I kept to science fiction RPGs like Traveller. As a wargamer I tried Behind Enemy Lines but it never caught on with my group. Come 1983 the wargaming world was upset with the collapse of Simulations Publications, Inc. and Avalon Hill and the rise of Victory Games. Seeing how Victory Games was the spiritual successor to Avalon Hill and SPI, I wholeheartedly supported them when they jumped into the roleplaying game space.

Besides, it was James Bond 007. Who didn’t want to play Mr. Bond?

[OK, OK, this was deep in the Roger Moore era…but still…]

In terms of game mechanisms, James Bond 007 was far, far removed from the simple roll 2d6 for 8+ in Traveller. Now the player had to deal with Primary Chance and Ease Factor and Quality Rating. At first my group bounced off hard from all the “mathing” required. However, very quickly the game grew on us. All that math was actually on the character sheet or the GM screen. It wasn’t hard; indeed, the resulting play it produced was rather cinematic.

Years later I deeply appreciate James Bond 007. The example of play is still amongst the best ever written. The Chase rules are brilliant. Secret agents were wargamers! Most importantly, it feels like Bond.

Working through this little character generation drill, I see some “aging” in the system. The skills, abilities, and fields of experience probably need to be updated a bit from the 1980’s. I know of “modern” systems derived from James Bond 007—I’ve tried at least one—but at the end of the day no espionage RPG can beat James Bond 007.


Characteristics are on a scale of 1-15 with 5 being the minimum for an Agent.

Lawrence Hone

Former reporter, now Rookie Agent

STR 7 / DEX 7 / WIL 10 / PER 10 / INT 5

Skills (Skill Level/Primary Chance): Charisma (8/18), Driving (8/16), Electronics (3/12), Fire Combat (6/14), Hand-to-Hand (5/12), Sixth Sense (5/14)

Abilities: Connoisseur, First Aid, Photography

Physical Aspects: Height 6’1″, Weight 185 lbs., Age: 30, Appearance: Good Looking, Fame Points: 15, Hero Points: 0, Speed=2, Hand-to-Hand Damage Class=A, Stamina=28 hours, Running/Swimming=25 minutes, Carrying: 101-150 lbs.

Fields of Experience: Computers, Political Science, Wargaming

Weaknesses: Fear of Spiders

Weapon: Walther PPK (Performance Modifier +1 / Shots per Round=2/ Damage Class=E/ Jam=99)

Lawrence grew up in a small town with traditional values. He always seemed to have a nose for news and went to college to be a journalist. After graduation he worked for a while but grew disillusioned with all the “fake news;” he wanted his politics to make a difference. While assigned to the Washington, D.C. news bureau Lawrence was recruited by The Company and has just completed his basic training. Now a Rookie Agent, Lawrence is anxious to get out there and face down his nations enemies. But is he really ready?


To give you a sense of how James Bond 007 works lets check out how Lawrence handles a little shoot out with a thug.Lawrence has turned a corner and come face-to-face with a thug carrying a Colt 45. Range is 30 feet (3 gridded squares in combat) making the shot CLOSE Range.

Starting Ease Factor=5. Lawrence is moving (-2 EF) but the close range gives EF +1. Performance Modifier is +1 EF for an adjusted Ease Factor of 5. Cross referencing Hone’s Primary Chance of 14 with Ease Factor 5 is 70. Die roll is 40 which on the Quality Results Table is “Acceptable 4.” Consulting the Wound Level Chart a Quality Rating 4 for Weapon Damage Class E says “LW” or light wound. The thug is stunned. However, the Walther PPK fires two shots per round. The second shot adds another -1 to the Ease Factor making it 4 with Primary Chance 14 giving 56. Die roll of 34 is a Quality Rating 4 (again) and another LW which becomes Medium Wound due to damage accumulation.

At this point I just know that some of you are going, “Wow, that’s too much math!” Part of the brilliance of the James Bond 007 game is that much of what you need is on the character sheet. It makes it faster to look it up and roll than to explain it!

James Bond 007...old school secret agent goodness!


RockyMountainNavy.com © 2007-2022 by Ian B is licensed under CC BY-SA 4.0

2022 RPG CharGen Challenge – Wargame as RPG with Behind Enemy Lines (FASA, 1982) #RPGThursday

I started playing roleplaying games in 1979/1980 with Classic Traveller. By 1982, one of the many small companies that grew up to support Traveller was FASA. In 1982 FASA published Behind Enemy Lines, a military RPG set in World War II Europe during or just after D-Day. Unfortunately it didn’t find commercial success. Which is too bad because Behind Enemy Lines is in many ways an outstanding military roleplaying game adventure generator. The heart of Behind Enemy Lines is the Encounter Tables. Behind Enemy Lines seems near-perfect for a Saving Private Ryan or Band of Brothers-based adventure.

Character Generation in Behind Enemy Lines was very simple; in many ways simpler than even Traveller. Characters were usually enlisted soldiers—real G.I. Joe types—though you could make an officer. The real discriminator in chargen was the background of the character; City versus Country. City slickers tended to be a bit better educated, maybe with leadership and languages. Country boys were simpler but often came with relevant skills.

Another important “skill” was Combat Experience which is used as modifier in various situations. For example, when attempting to sneak up on an enemy position, the player had to roll 2d6 against their Agility. Rolling above your Agility alerted the enemy. However, you gained a -1 die modifier for every level of Combat Experience. It also serves as a modifier when attempting to rally troops. Combat Experience also plays a role in interrogations and rumors.

Normal Range of Values: Physical characteristics range from 5-10. Most skills cannot go higher than 6.


Clinton Graves

Private First Class hailing from the Empire State of New York.

Strength 10 / Endurance 5 / Agility 7 / Stamina 8
Weapon Handling 9 / Combat Experience 5 / Skill Pts 2
Weight 175lbs / Carry 70-80lbs / Lift 175-200lbs / Drag 225-250lbs
Background: Country
Rifle 1 / Pistol 5 / Swimming 2 / Orienteering 2 / First Aid 1
Combat Skills:
Rifle 2 / Leadership 1 / Hand-to-Hand 2 / BAR 1 / Submachine Gun 2 / Grenade 1 / Rifle Grenade 1 / Bayonet 1 / Bazooka 1 / 60mm Mortar 1 / M1919 .30cal MG 1 

Clinton joined the US Army in early 1943 when he turned 18. Growing up in mid-state New York, he learned to shoot both a rifle and pistol while hunting with his uncle who worked for a survey company (Rifle, Pistol, Orienteering). He was the captain of his high school swimming team (Leadership, Swimming).

Clinton came ashore with a later wave of troops and was departing the Anzio beachhead late on December 2, 1943 when the Luftwaffe launched an air raid. Several ships were hit, including a merchant vessel that blew up into a tremendous mushroom cloud. The ash and dust of the explosion had mostly dissipated by the time it reached Clinton’s unit, and like many of his fellow soldiers Clinton used a muffler to not inhale too much. However, ever since then Clinton has been short of breathe (Endurance 5).

Now, in August 1944, Clinton and his unit are part of Patton’s army and working hard to break out of hedgerow country and race to the Rhine. 

(For the backstory of the Bari Raid see https://rense.com/general16/WWIIluftwaffe.htm)


Feature image courtesy https://quotesgram.com/d-day-quotes-from-soldiers/

RockyMountainNavy.com © 2007-2022 by Ian B is licensed under CC BY-SA 4.0

2022 RPG CharGen Challenge – RPG roots with Traveller (Game Designers’ Workshop, 1977) #RPGThursday #TravellerRPG

Christmas 1979. While searching for presents I stumbled across a small store tucked away in the upper level of a now long-gone mall in the suburbs of Denver. The store—Fascination Corner. This little corner of heaven quickly became not only my fascination but my obsession. First it was wargaming, but then I found a small black box. My first RPG. My first RPG love. To this day my true RPG love.

How I love the simplicity of character generation in Classic Traveller. Quick and easy. Sure, most of the characters will be military veterans and combat will very likely be a way of life in their future, but what did we really expect from a wargame company when it made an RPG?

Do you know how to read the Universal Player Profile? The UPP was read using hexidecimal code from left-to-right; Strength, Dexterity, Endurance, Intelligence, Education, Social Status. A factor of 7 was dead-average, 0 often meant dead and 15 was the top of the scale. Skill levels rarely exceeded 4.


Cyris Ozcar

  • UPP 9776B9
  • Age: 34
  • Retired Army Lt Colonel
  • Skills: Air/Raft-1, Blade Cbt (Cutlass)-3, Fwd Obs-1, Gun Cbt (Auto Pistol)-1, Tactics-2

Ozcar (original UPP 887499) might not of seemed the brightest guy around but he worked hard (low INT, High EDU). Due to his good DEXTERITY and EDUCATION he successfully joined the Army (DM+3). He survived his first term and was both commissioned and promoted (Rank 2). In his first term he built up his strength (STR +1) and learned how to handle a Cutlass (Blade Cbt-1) and Tactics (-2).

Reenlisting for a second term, Ozcar survived and was again promoted. He learned how to fly an Air/Raft (Air/Raft-1) and more Cutlass skills (Blade Cbt (Cutlass)-2. In his third term he was promoted again (Rank 4) and finally became proficient with a firearm (Gun Cbt (Auto Pistol)-1) and how to act as a Forward Observer (Fwd Obs-1).

Ozcar’s fourth term was a bit of a disappointment. He failed to promote and found time only to refine his Cutlass skills (Blade Cbt (Cutlass)-3). He also found he had lost a step (Aging, Dexterity -1). Deciding to Muster Out, he now faces the universe with 25,000 Credits to his name and a final bit of some education (+2 INT, +2 EDU).

Looking around, Lt. Colonel Ozcar seeks employment with a mid-tech mercenary unit where he figures his Tactics skills can be beneficial.


Feature image courtesy of https://www.pinterest.com/pin/237846424043702509/

RockyMountainNavy.com © 2007-2022 by Ian B is licensed under CC BY-SA 4.0

2022 #Wargame #Boardgame @Kickstarter Update w/mentions of @gmtgames @compassgamesllc @AcademyGames @LederGames @SchilMil

With 2021 “in the books” I surveyed my outstanding preorders and Kickstarter list. At one point in 2021 this list reached maybe close to 30 titles; today it stands at 20. That’s not so much a testimony to late deliveries but more an accounting of how I cancelled out of more than a few.

P500

GMT Games is the top publisher in the wargame space. Last year I “acquired” 14 GMT Games products, almost as many as the next three publishers combined. Every month Gene sends his GMT Update with the status of the business. The monthly newsletter often (always?) includes at least one—often more—new games for the P500. For a while there I jumped in on whatever caught my fancy. After all, it’s “pledge now, pay later” so it don’t matter, right?

One of the products I acquired this past year was Panzer Expansion #1: The Shape of Battle – The Eastern Front, 2nd Printing. I pledged for this product sometime back in 2017, meaning it took nearly 4 years to fulfill, and then only because somebody decided that the entire Panzer line deserved a reprint regardless of the P500 pledge numbers (which Expansion Nr. 1 never had enough of to “Make the Cut”).

When the reprinting was announced I looked hard at what I had on order and that was when I started making cuts. The entire issue forced me to reconsider my entire approach to P500, preorders, and Kickstarter.

I recently paid close attention to the December 2021 GMT Games P500 GeekList on BGG. What shocked me is how long so many games have been on the list. Like five (5) years in some cases! There is actually one expansion that has been listed for almost 10 YEARS. Hey look, I love that P500 helps gets game published but the timeline is getting ridiculous.

Now, before all the rabid GMT Games fanboys get uppity (Harold, I’m watching YOU!) I realize it is not always GMT’s fault. For example, designer Brian Train of China’ War, 1937-1941 admitted in his end-of-the-year roundup:

China’s War 1937-41: Development screeched to a halt when I lost my gaming space to renos in summer 2020. In the fall of 2021 I developed a 1938 scenario for the game. I recently heard from the GMT developer who also got sidetracked on things, and work will begin again in early 2022. We hope to finish testing and development by the end of summer. Over 1,500 pre-orders now.

https://brtrain.wordpress.com

Of my 20 games on P500/Preorder/Kickstarter eight (8) are P500. Two might deliver in early 2022 and maybe one or two more by year’s end but all seven? No chance…

  • China’s War, 1937-1941 – My P500 since October 2019. Made the Cut – In Art and Final Development
  • Next War Supplement #3 – My P500 since February 2020. Made the Cut – In Art and Final Development
  • Red Storm: Baltic Approaches – My P500 since April 2020. At the Printer
  • Red Dust Rebellion – My P500 since October 2020. Made the Cut – In Art and Final Development
  • Stuka Joe’s CDG Solo – My P500 since January 2021. At the Printer
  • Next War: Taiwan – My P500 since February 2021. Not There Yet
  • Panzer North Africa – My P500 since July 2021. Made the Cut – In Art and Final Development
  • Flashpoint: South China Sea – Had been on my P500 when first announced how many years ago? Put back on in Dec 2021 but if something needs to fall off this is the best candidate.

Now, I get the “desire” of GMT and the P500—Gene and company (and don’t forget, it is a COMPANY) are looking at where to invest their capital. My disappointment is that the P500 has become the “preorder fanboy cult” as many new games are quick to “make the cut” followed by no real commitment as to follow-on timelines.

Preorders

I presently have five (5) games on preorder all with Compass Games. Four of the five supposedly have a chance at releasing in 2022:

  • Blue Water Navy: World War III – The Pacific. Since September 2020. Now “late 2022”
  • Carrier Battles: Philippine Sea – Since September 2020. Now “mid -2022”
  • Eastern Front: Operational Battles – Since February 2021. No date scheduled
  • 2040: American Insurgency – Since February 2021. Now “late 2022”
  • Air & Armor: Operational Armored Warfare in Europe – Designer’s Signature Edition – Since February 2021. Now “late 2022”

Like GMT’s P500, Compass Games use preorders to measure interest. I (stupidly) hit the wrong button on a few and preordered—not pre-pledged—which means my money is paid. Now Compass has my money and I wait for my “interest” to be paid back in the form a game. Maybe Compass is better off going the Kickstarter route and taking my money just before production. Speaking for myself I certainly feel my money is being used better that way.

Kickstarter

There appears to be some major churn over just what Kickstarter’s NFT-related announcement really means. I can’t tell you because I can’t make sense out of it. The best explanations I have heard talk about a using blockchain not for monetary transactions but as some sort of new IT backbone. Practically speaking, I already feel I have too much Kickstarter exposure and am reluctant to back new projects. Exceptions will likely be with known publishers that use Kickstarter as their preorder mechanism (like Worthington Games and increasingly more Compass Games).

  • Reality Shift (Academy Games) – Funded December 2020 with a projected May 2021 delivery. Maybe mid-February 2022 according to Nov 2021 update…
  • Root: The Marauder Expansion + Root: The Clockwork Expansion 2 (Leder Games)- Funded March 2021 with a projected January 2022 delivery. Per December 2021 update – “Right now there are a number of scenarios with delivery dates ranging from late Q1 to mid Q2. We won’t have more specific guesses for at least another month.”
  • AuZtralia: TaZmania + AuZtralia: Revenge of the Old Ones (SchilMil Games) – Funded April 2021 with a projected November 2021 delivery. Per December 2021 update – “Shipments have not yet been booked/confirmed, so I am waiting to hear an expected ETA for port arrivals”.
  • 2 Minutes to Midnight (Plague Island Games) – Funded July 2021 with a projected December 2021 delivery. Per December 2021 update – “Currently the game is in the production queue.”
  • Imperial Campaigns Series 1: The Boer War (Canvas Temple Publishing) – Funded September 2021 with a projected August 2022 delivery. Per November 2021 update Jon Compton has urgent family issues he must handle and will return to production as soon as possible.

That last update is important; family first. Yes, I want my game and, yes, it can’t get here soon enough but, yes, FAMILY FIRST.


RockyMountainNavy.com © 2007-2022 by Ian B is licensed under CC BY-SA 4.0

New Year 2022 brings #Wargame reorg and #TTRPG CharGen Challenge (mentions of @ADragoons, @alegisdownport & freelancetraveller.com)

Happy New Year!

The Year Ahead

Am trying to figure out what sort of (informal) gaming challenge/resolutions I want to make for the coming year. I already have the #TTRPG CharGen Challenge (see below). Youngest RMN is changing work schedules meaning that a return to Friday or Saturday Night Family Game Night is possible. The RMN Boys also want to host game nights for two other families. For myself, I really want to deep-dive into some wargames this year which is part of the reason I pulled several series games together (see below…again). I’m interested in experimenting with using those series games to create a story (wargame narrative).

I’m also going to try to write on a more regular basis for the Armchair Dragoons. I have a long piece I’ve been working on over the holiday. Not quite done yet…but close. I also want to submit some writing to #TravellerRPG sites like maybe @alegisdownport or freelancetraveller.com. For some reason, the most popular posts on this blog are often related to the Traveller RPG and not wargames.

For this blog, I’m going to try to focus on a couple of areas:

  • #Wargame Wednesday
  • #RPGThursday
  • #HistoryToWargame

2022 Order of Battle Update

I decided to reorganize my wargame shelves this weekend. Previously, my wargames were arranged by publisher-date of publication. While this had the advantage of making the shelves look neat (generally similar boxes/labels/sizes together) it also made it harder for me to see what “genre” of games I own. Where are all my air warfare games? Or the Panzer series? So I reorganized by era, combat domain, or series. While it doesn’t look as neat, it is easier for me to find different games.

Here is how I organized:

  • Eras (arranged chronologically within each era)
    • Pre- World War I
    • American Revolution
    • Napoleonics
    • American Civil War
    • World War I
    • Interwar
    • World War II
    • Korean War/Chinese Civil War/Vietnam
    • Modern Historical
    • Cold War Hypothetical
    • Science Fiction (arranged by “universe”)
  • Air/Naval Games (Air & Naval each arranged chronologically)
  • Series Games
    • Great War at Sea/Second World War at Sea-series
    • Panzer-series
    • Tank Duel-series
    • Wing Leader-series
    • Admiralty Trilogy Games
    • MBT-series
    • Fleet-series
    • South China Sea-series (includes predecessor Breaking the Chains)
    • Next War-series (includes predecessor Crisis: XXX games)
    • Commands & Colors-series

We’ll see how this works out for me in the new year.

Tabletop Roleplaying Games

I see there is a 31-day #charactercreationchallenge in the TwitterSphere. Making a new character every day in January is a bit much for me, but I made a 2022 Challenge for myself of RPGGeek to generate a new character at least once a week by going through my TTRPG collection from oldest to newest. So far I have 48 titles to work from. In the next few weeks expect to see the “retro era” roll out (heh heh) with Classic Traveller (GDW, 1977), Behind Enemy Lines (FASA, 1982), James Bond 007 (Victory Games, 1983), and Star Trek: The Roleplaying Game – 1st Edition (FASA, 1983).

Here’s wishing all of you a blessed New Year and may 2022 be joyful for you and your family.

RockyMountainNavy.com © 2007-2022 by Ian B is licensed under CC BY-SA 4.0

RockyMountainNavy’s 2021 Role Playing Game of the Year – or – Hostile Cepheus Deluxe Alien Traveller Explorer’s in Clement Sector

This year I dabbled a bit into role playing games (RPGs). As my forthcoming accidentally already posted 2021 “By the Numbers” post shows, I acquired 20 RPG items in all the year. Six (6) of those were core rule books, but only five (5) of those were from the past year (with four of those published in the last two months of the year!). Thus, the candidates for RockyMountainNavy’s 2021 RPG of the Year are:

…and the winner is…

This one was very hard to decide. ALIEN got lots of attention this year but it just really isn’t my thing. Mongoose’s Traveller: Explorer’s Edition is more a player aid than a core book. Which leaves the Cepheus Engine (CE) games.

Cepheus Deluxe is the latest, well refined version of the CE rules. Clement Sector is an excellent space opera setting and the new Third Edition brings so much of the material together it literally has become a one-stop guide to the entire setting. The HOSTILE Rulebook is another one-stop guide but focused on a gritty sci-fi setting.

Gotta decide…

HOSTILE Rulebook

To be honest, in terms of rules there is nothing really “new” in the HOSTILE Rulebook. One could make the argument that it really is the ALIEN setting with the serial numbers (and much of the horror) filed off. What I like about the HOSTILE Rulebook is how the simple was repackaged into a very thematic setting.

HOSTILE Rulebook from Zozer Games (2021 Revised Edition)

Feature image courtesy https://conceptships.blogspot.com/2017/05/spaceship-art-by-rodrigo-galdino.html