Category Archives: Fluff/Inspiration

Boardgames and Roleplaying

There are quite a few boardgames or miniature skirmish games with elaborate background stories that almost beg to turned into a roleplaying game. In some cases the developers of these games came up with their own roleplaying game. And some games like Heavy Gear or Savage Worlds can be used as either a miniatures game or a roleplaying game.

Recently a friend of mine proposed we could play some Battletech again. Battletech is a tactical board game where you control one or several huge mecha called Battlemechs. The game was initially created by the now defunct FASA Corporation. His idea was to use the rules from Mechwarrior (we decided to use the 2nd Edition rules) to create some mechwarriors that are in charge of their own unit of mercenaries fighting in the wars of the 31st century. We will use standard battletech rules for the mech-vs-mech fights and the roleplaying game for all other encounters. When everything turns out as planned, we all will have a great time.

But this made me thinking. There are a lot of games that would work great as a combat system for roleplaying games. Take some miniatures skirmish game like Games Workshop’s Necromunda for example. In that game each player controls a gang in the Underhive of a huge 41st millenium megacity. The combat rules are very detailed and there are even rules for campaigns and improving the stats and skills of the gangers. So, why not turn it into a fully-fledged roleplaying game? You can of course write up you own rules but it’s much easier to keep the combat rules of the skirmish game intact and add some other rules for the non-combat parts.

This is easy to do with a roleplaying game like FUDGE. FUDGE allows the GM to choose the attributes and skills he needs for his campaign. So just use Necromundas Stats and Abilities as detailed in the rules of the skirmish game and you’re done. You just have make sure that the fighting skills for the combat part of the game can easily be represented using FUDGE. Necromunda like all GW tabletop miniature games uses WS (Weapon Skill) and BS (Ballistic Skill) for combat checks. All stats including WS and BS can usually range from 1 to 10. FUDGE normally uses skills and attributes ranked from Terrible to Superb with 5 steps in between. For normal gangers you can set Terrible=2, Poor=3 etc. until Superb=8 and you’re mostly done. You can now easily convert between both systems. That could work for other GW games as well.

Another game that comes in mind, when thinking about boardgames that would make a great background for a roleplaying games is Crimson Skies. Crimson Skies is a tactical boardgame much like Battletech (it was created by FASA too), but this time you control fighter planes in an alternative early 20th century. The background is pretty detailed and gives a lot of opportunities for adventures outside the cockpit. For a fitting roleplaying game for Crimson Skies I would just take Spirit of the Century since it’s close enough to FUDGE to being easily adaptable and it’s already the right genre. Just use the standard Crimson Skies rules for air combat and you’re done.

What are your thoughts on that matter? Have you already used a boardgame as part of the roleplaying experience? As always, feel free to post your thought into the comment section below!

Monotheistic religions in roleplaying

Usually most roleplaying game backgrounds feature polytheistic religions like the classic D&D pantheon. You have several gods that are responsible for certain domains like war, trade, luck, you name it. Monotheistic religions resembling real life religions are usually avoided in high-fantasy games. In my opinion monotheistic religions are much more interesting from a roleplaying standpoint.

In most fantasy settings gods are real and the interact with their followers in a direct way. In D&D for example the gods grant their clerics power in form of spells. And it is not unheard of gods walking the earth in the guise of mortals or by using avatars. Gods can be challenged and even slain. Although there are clerics and temples of certain gods it’s not unthinkable that a larger temple of Pelor perhaps includes a shrine of Bahamut. And even good people pray to the more sinister gods from time to time in hope they get spared from their wrath. Even the most devoted member of one god will not deny the existence of any other god. Continue reading Monotheistic religions in roleplaying

Dungeoncraft: Asecia reboot

During the last few months I have been working on a campaign setting called “Asecia”. The development of this world has been documented in my Dungeoncraft articles. But recently I was starting to get discontent with some of the decisions I have made and I am not entirely happy on how Asecia turned out. I had introduced some radical ideas to the world and in the end I had some trouble to get it all together.

So I decided to try some kind of reboot. I took a sheet of paper and wrote down all the things I liked and what I didn’t like and thought about how I could emphazise the strong points of the setting while eliminating the things that just didn’t work out.

On Magic
I’ve made some major changes to get the mood of the setting more in touch with what I had in mind when I started working on it. Although I really like the idea of the sorcerer marks and all what came with it, it doesn’t exactly fit the pseudo-victorian feel of the short story I wrote. And I had some trouble on how to make the avatar idea more than some nice fluff for gamemasters and players to read. So I decided to go another route with magic. In the “rebooted” version of Asecia magic was lost for a thousand years. Before the fall of magic, there were powerful magicians and they ruled over the world, but suddenly the magic winds subsided and all wizards, sorcerers, witches etc. were robbed of their powers. For a long time magic was thought to be a myth. Then, shorty after a industrial revolution was in full swing, magic suddenly reappeared. Now, a century later, Mankind tries to harness this new power source and a few magic academies have started training new wizards all over the world. It’s a time of change.

On Religion
The religions of Asecia will change a bit because of the lack of magic for a thousand years. The Brotherhood of the Three Sisters was created during ancient times, when there still was magic all around. When magic came back they found out that the rituals they repeated in their worship were actually working magic rituals. Several people that started to dabble magic have also started to pray to the Sisters, so that they may help them with their magical development.
The Church of St. Michael still exists in the rebooted version but it’s quite changed. In the “rebooted” version of Asecia, Michael d’Arellien was the second son of a noble from the Western Isles that chose the life of a monk in the Church of the Architect around 300 years before the return of magic. During that time church has become corrupt and many high churchmen were more interested in the gold in their coffers than in spiritual affairs. He became abbot of a monastery and started to preach against the corruption of the church. He started a movement that lead to a split of the Holy Cerynian Church of the Great Architect. The Michaelites, as they were called, finally converted most of populations in the Western Isles and western Cerynia. Today the followers of the Great Architect are still split into the Cerynian part of the Church and the Church of St. Michael.

Both the Church of the Great Architect and the Michaelites are wary of magic and the clergy if forbidden to practice magic, but the Brotherhood of the sisters fully embraces the magical arts.

On Technology
For over two hundred years the industrial revolution is in full swing. There have been major improvements in technology that lead to steam driven trains, airships, steamdriven ships, modern ways to wage war, like firearms and cannons. With the recent comeback of magic the industrial revolution was not set back. Some inventors have successfully combined magic and technology. Magic driven warmachines, called Wargolems have appeared on the battlefields and the armies have started recruiting wizards and sorcerers.
Since most practitioners of magic treat their art like just another scientific field, most people see magic as nothing else as some fancy new technology.

On the World
The world from a geographical standpoint will not change that much. And there will still be the same countries I wrote about before, but they will all be quite different because of the major changes when especially magic is concerned. My current plans is to start an Asecia campaign using FATE rules soon. The focus of the campaign will be the city Cerynia, home of the Holy Church of the Great Architect, center of learning and art and home of the Cerynian University of the Sciences, Arts and Magick.