Wednesday, 31 March 2021

Methods for a FKR Skirmish Game

 I've been running an online game for about 2 months now, stemming from this idea I tweeted about "Hrmm what about a miniature skirmish game with three players. One player is the referee and it's pretty much free  kriegsspiel rules. And by that I mean the referee just adjudicates things as they come up". It's not been a game featuring any miniatures, but it has been a lot of fun. 6 player warbands tromping around the following hexcrawl: http://save.vs.totalpartykill.ca/grab-bag/wastes/ Exploring, making alliances, and fighting each other. I'm loving running it, but very much want to take part in a similar game as a player. As such I am sharing my notes so some one else might give running a game like this a crack - and I can play in it!  

Update: Here are some clear and straight forward rules to use: 

"There are at least three players, one is the referee. The other two are in command of a number of units (the referee determines how many units/how powerful the units are/unit selection/etc). The referee describes the battlefield to the commanders and the units position on said battlefield. Each round/turn/hour/day (at the discretion of the referee) each commander gives orders for their units to the referee. The referee takes each set of orders and works out what happens as a result of them. The referee updates the commanders about what happened in the round/turn/hour/day and the process repeats itself."

“Skirmish in The Rocks” – John Blanche 

Initial Notes: 

  • Have an overall description for each faction/warband

  • Have description of each unit in warband 

    • Keep a digital document with a list of each warband/unit to track how they are all going (health, morale, etc, wise) 

  • Players need to provide a description of each of their units

  • Consider access to food, water, shelter, and impact of weather and other environmental effects.

  • Also day/night, light and dark! 

  • In combat consider Weapons, Armours, Magic effects, Speed, Strength, Etc

  • Consider Morale and Fear 

  • Turns broken down into Day/Week/Month/Year depending on agreement of players (Note: I've been just receiving orders and working out how long everything would take in that order and than normalizing time spent relative to other warbands in my head - just do what feels right)

  • Combat is turn by turn, referee adjudicating, tables for combat success below.

  • Orders are private. Referee receives orders then computes them, then describes what happens to the players

  • Referee will tell players what dice to roll after orders received (Note: I have found it easier to just do all dice rolls on my end)

  • If getting players to do their rules RANDOMLY DETERMINE WHETHER A HIGH OR LOW ROLL IS GOOD - this should keep players honest! 

  • Provide maps for battles when useful

  • Only roll when necessary 


Additional Notes:

    • Players provide a picture/description of their army/warband  
    • Players can do something on a hex or move on - time spent is relative (so some units and warbands will be further forward in time/quicker/etc). 
    • Players can invent backstories for their band/units as they play or beforehand. 

    Setting/Map/Warband And Unit Selection: 

    This is obviously up to the referee. There are some great hex maps here: http://save.vs.totalpartykill.ca/grab-bag/ . You could make your possibly player faction selection as wide or narrow as you like! 

    Notes and Ideas from Running the Game: 

    • Idea: each unit only has: name, title and a certain number of keywords. Could codify the way in which players describe their units. Not necessary but may streamline things and make power normalisation more straight forward. 
    • I ended up creating a by hand turn tracker! Comparing each players actions on a little grid. This made keep track of time spent easier.  

    Messages that I sent to the players to get the game started/explain the game: 

    "The whole idea is you don't need to worry about the rules at all.
    I will send you a message with relevant information and you tell me what you want to do. I might ask doe a dice roll or two from you, and you just tell me the results. Then I will send up another message updating you with what happened.
    You just let me know what type of warband you want to play. 
    You just have an idea of the type of warband you want to play  (honestly anything from a bunch of horse barbarians to space marines) and I will tell you how many units you can have. A picture can help. "

    "You have have X SPECIFIC UNITS. If you could give me a brief description of each and indicate which one is the leader that would be great. Any names, backstory, etc is useful but not necessary. I may give some further instructions on changes to your units for power normalisation reasons. 
    I will keep everyone's identity private  (until the end of the game I guess) just to make it more interesting. That said you can give me orders that open up communications with the other bands so alliances/double crosses are possible. 
    For the time being all you need to do is read the messages I send you here, and send me orders here. When we start playing you can always ask me for any clarifications as needed "

    "Some notes: Your warband does not need to worry about: Food, water, sleep (but anything else could be an issue). It is currently day time but I will let you know when/if that changes. 
    Because people will be sending orders asynchronously (and also due to the fact some actions will take longer  than other) it should be ok if some people get a little bit behind in their orders and then catch up. If it is ever critical that I need to interpret orders from two or more players at the same time, I will let you know, and slow down the turns in that area of the map (Time is relative!)
    That said, if you are going to be absent for a bit, or need to leave the game let me know! Sometimes if things have ground to a halt and we are waiting on one person I might assume your warband keeps doing what it was doing when you gave your last order.   
    Finally, sometimes I will ask you for specific dice rolls (Mostly d6 probably). To keep everyone honest I will randomly determine whether a high or low roll is good/bad for that specific test/check. 

    "Let me know your orders, they can be as detailed or as brief as you like. Feel free to ask for clarification, and I will ask for clarification on your orders if needed. 
    (Hey all, if its easier for you/you prefer I can handle all the rolls on my end for you - let me know if you would prefer that. I'm happy either way [but do have a slight philosophical preference to the player doing the rolling])"

    As stated earlier, I recommend the referee handling all the rolls on their end. 

    Roll Tables, for resolving conflicts (with the game world/other players): 
    • I like using dice resolution because I find it more interesting than me just adjusting the outcome of a conflict. This approach isn't strictly FKR in nature - its just a personal preference. 
    • The more dire/important the situation, the more granular a dice I will use (general PC versus NPC is a d6, and PC versus PC is d8 or d12.) 
    • Roll a random target if unsure of the odds
    • Don't roll if it's impossible! 
    d6:

    Skill level or chance of success 

    High is good 

    Low is good 

    1 in 6, very unlikely, unskilled or not very good at something 

    6

    1

    2 in 6, somewhat likely, there's a chance, a little training or skill 

    5,6

    1,2

    3 in 6, likely, training or some skill 

    4,5,6

    1,2,3

    4 in 6, quite likely, well trained or quite a bit of skill 

    3,4,5,6

    1,2,3,4

    5 in 6, incredibly likely, an expert or very talented. 

    2,3,4,5,6

    1,2,3,4,5

    6 in 6, perfection, success is guaranteed 

    Don't roll

    Don't roll 



    D8: 


    Skill level or chance of success 

    High is good 

    Low is good 

    Impossible 

    Do not roll! 

    Do not roll! 

    Very unlikely, unskilled or not very good at something 

    8

    1

    Somewhat likely, there's a chance, a little training or skill 

    7,8

    1,2

    Likely, training or some skill 

    5,6,7,8

    1,2,3,4

    Quite likely, well trained or quite a bit of skill 

    3,4,5,6,7,8

    1,2,3,4,5,6

    Incredibly likely, an expert or very talented. 

    2,3,4,5,6,7,8

    1,2,3,4,5,6,7

    6 in 6, perfection, success is guaranteed 

    Don't roll

    Don't roll 


    D12: 


    Skill level or chance of success 

    High is good 

    Low is good 

    Impossible 

    Do not roll! 

    Do not roll! 

    Very unlikely, unskilled or not very good at something 

    12

    1

    Somewhat likely, there's a chance, a little training or skill 

    10,11,12

    1,2,3 

    Likely, training or some skill 

    7,8,9,10,11,12 

    1,2,3,4,4,5,6

    Quite likely, well trained or quite a bit of skill 

    4,5,6,7,8,9,10,11,12

    1,2,3,4,5,6,7,8,9

    Incredibly likely, an expert or very talented. 

    2,3,4,5,6,7,8,9,10,11,12 

    1,2,3,4,5,6,7,8,9,10,11

    6 in 6, perfection, success is guaranteed 

    Don't roll

    Don't roll 


    The referee determines the outcomes of successful/failed rolls, here is a table to help with that. I don't really use it very often but it may be helpful: 

    Tables for interpreting the results of a Conflict Test: 

    Success, Passed by X: 


    1. Desired outcome is just barely, and temporarily, achieved. 

    2. Desired outcome is just barely achieved. 

    3. Desired outcome is confidently achieved. 

    4. Desired outcome is achieved with overwhelming benefit to PC.

    5. Desired outcome is achieved with overwhelming and long lasting benefit to PC and allies.

    Failure, Failed by X: 


    1. An embarrassing minor set back. 

    2. A potentially dangerous negative outcome. 

    3. An immediately dangerous negative outcome. 

    4. Catastrophic negative outcome to PC. 

    5. Catastrophic negative outcome to PC and allies.


    And if all else fails: 

    D6 Kontextual Table, for when The Referee is unsure what happens next. 

    1. The situation suddenly becomes more terrible. 

    2. The situation slowly becomes more horrible.  

    3. A miasmic malaise wafts through the situation. 

    4. A glimmer of positivity twinkles through the situation. 

    5. The situation slowly becomes more agreeable.  

    6. The situation suddenly becomes delightful.

    Damage: If an entity is hit by an attack roll a d6 to determine where: 1-2: Legs, 3: Torso, 4-5: Arms, 6: Head. The referee can then extrapolate the impact of a wound in that area. Taking too many hits in the same location (2 or 3 depending on the location and the weapon) will result in death. The Referee must contextually judge how weapons and armour worn may affect the outcome attacks and damage.

    Winning: Determining victory conditions, game tone, game scope, etc is all in the hands of the referee.

    And that's really it. Its mostly just bookkeeping and clear communication on the referee's part. Have fun! Run a game and invite me to play in it please.

    11 comments:

    1. I have been thinking about something like this for about three years and just could not wrap my head around how to make it happen (spending too much time thinking about rules, how to handle the asynchronous comms, etc). Thank you for posting this, gives me some really great ideas on how to handle things that I just could not figure out!

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      1. Glad to hear it was useful. Just having the referee be the "computer" who processes all the orders and spits out the results back to the players works really well. And then you can have the rules be as granule or contextual as you like because you are the one processing them all - the players don't need to worry about it. Like I said im super keen to play in a similar game so let me know if you end up running something!

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    2. This is cool. Could you share more about the units in the game you are running?

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      1. Sure! I offloaded all the warband and unit creation stuff to the players - they come up with a warband they want to play and I just told them how many units they could have (considering their relative power levels). So the warbands are: A crab herding tribe of kobolds, a group of space marine lizard men, A group of sci fi rifle weilding camel riders, a group of time warping void knights, a group of crusader biologists (like scientist knights), and a group of magma/metal skeletons.

        I love how wild and different they all are!

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      2. I am curious how you...for lack of a better term...balanced those warbands. I mean, it appears to be quite a large disparity in power levels between the crab herding kobolds and time warping void knights.

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      3. Basically LOTS of crabs - and not many time warping knights haha. The more powerful the warband the less units they get. I considered a bunch of factors but that was the basic calculus.

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      4. Did you have numeric power levels for the different warbands? Not that the players knew, but you had to help you determine outcomes?

        Darn you, now you really have me thinking about this.

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      5. Haha, again, please run it so I can play!

        No power levels, it was all "from sight" as it were. When your dealing with magma skeletons and crusader biologists et Al, I think numerical codification is a wild goose chase haha!

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    3. Thanks, sounds pretty wild. I would be quite interested in hearing more about the game and the sessions. Doing this PBEM sounds fun

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      1. I've done a couple of mini updates on twitter, but I want to keep things pretty private until after the game - just to maintain that fog of war for the players.

        I do have a map where I'm keeping track of all the warband movements. I think I'll use that to do a recap when the game is done (in maybe a few months?)

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      2. I understand. Sounds great!

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