Wednesday, 15 May 2013

Roleplay & Gaming Aids

When I first started playing tabletop games it was the Games Workshop based Milton Bradley board games HeroQuest and Space Crusade. My brother and I then moved to Warhammer 40,000 2nd ed. These games had a few things in common a great story and game universe, narrative driven conflict, loads of miniatures and 3D terrain.

Many years later my first experience of a true Role-playing game was a sit in on a session of D&D 4th ed. I wasn't familiar with the game universe but I could appreciate the imagery that the DM was weaving as the party played through a few interactions. I enjoyed the free form and unstructured nature of play. You could declare that you character was taking any type of action only constrained by your imagination and the roll of a d20.
I was a little bemused when it came to combat the DM would draw simple maps, the party and adversary's were represented by paper tokens.

HeroQuest Dungeons
I was expecting a board more like the HeroQuest dungeons of my childhood. 3D Doors and furniture, swarms of horrible monsters and mighty heroes all in miniature form. I was wondering why bother with the paper maps and tokens at all? The magic of the noncombat encounters seemed broken by the board game like combat. It wasn't until I got my hands on the player's hand book that I realised that D&D was two games. The free-form Role-Play game and not a bad tactical miniature skirmish game with structured rules. Any combat using the book rules would be difficult without a tactical map movement and positioning in combat was immensely important and tokens would be necessary to avoid confusion. After some research I found that in previous editions this was not always the case. And in the future it may no longer be the case.

Now that I am running a game, I find myself at an impasse. I like the feeling of a game has when it is condensed from the combined imaginations of my players. But I still long for a scene of tiny heroes crawling over the ruins of a destroyed alien city in the pursuit of forbidden treasure.

Warhammer 40K Terrain
The game system I am running is Rouge Trader and the combat rules seem malleable enough to used in a purely narrative fashion. However my long time geek love has been Warhammer 40k and its universe. A lot of what defines 40k is its armies of overpriced plastic warriors battling to the death on top of synthetic battlegrounds.

So the compromise I have reached is all of the noncombat and most of the minor combat encounters are played out in purely narrative form and the larger more important cliffhanger combat encounters I plan to do something special. Full 3D terrain and miniatures. I only have a small assortment of minis suitable for Rogue Trader mostly Reaper stock. The bulk of my GamesWorkshop figures are Orkoid so I have turned to paper-craft to fulfill my vision of blood-soaked away missions. Terrain would be supplied by the excellent quality World Works Games TerrainLinkX and the bulk of the opponents will be paper standees obtained for a very reasonable price from OneMonk Miniatures.

Paper-craft  products may be incredibly cheap but to produce a quality product takes time if I wasn't running a campaign book I don't think I would be able undertake these projects. Even with a pregenerated plot to follow I found I didn't have sufficient spare time, the TerrainLinkX is a nice product but it takes forever to cut, fold, glue and then leave to dry before gluing again. With a little CADfu and a A0 plotter I found a quicker way. The props and standees were still done the traditional slow way. While googling Paper-craft I stumbled upon some insane 40K vehicles by Eli Patoroch an insanely talented Russian 40k fan on 4shared.

A1 battle mat  

Closeup of TerrainLinX detail

Giant paper-craft bugs

The party is jumped in an alleyway

Tiles & alleyway junk from Worldworks