Guns of Pellucidar – Pt 1

So, a few interesting things happened Friday when running my Pellucidar game.

We had only three people able to make it, so we ended up not only doubling up on characters, but did something of a squad-based system for the big combat at the end. Now, if only two people had shown up, I was prepared to fully wargame it, but as it was, we did kind of a hybrid.

The random world generation I used accidentally created some super relevant, almost plot-related content in the first hex the party explored.

Due south of the dirigible’s landing zone, I rolled for mountains. Whenever a party “explores” a hex (rather than simply move through it), I roll again on the terrain and by animal/encounter type, and plan to cook something up in my head based on what I roll. That way, the game isn’t just running around through hexes looking for random encounters; a “search” of the hex will force some sort of relevant content to be there. So, on the second roll, I got “body of water” and “Lizardmen”. When rolling how many Lizardmen there were, I rolled ridiculously high (nothing lower than a 5 or 6 or 6d6), so I figured “Okay, there is a mountain spring and small lake here in a rocky bowl, with a Lizardman village just above it on a plateau.”

Guy taking point on the way up the mountain trail critically fails his psych roll, so something bad’s going to happen. While the recon team is filling canteens in the spring, a group of Lizardmen spot them and attack from above. A handful of them charge down the slope with spears and clubs while several from above rain javelins down on the soldiers. A couple of well thrown grenades and rifle-fire are able to scatter the attacking Lizardmen, but those up on the slope throwing spears do their damage and hurt some folks pretty badly. The team beats it back to base where they are debriefed.

The Colonel fills them in on why they’re there, what the Hollow Earth is, what the Nazis may be planning there, and says that it’s imperative that they seize that hill – with high-ground and a source of fresh water, it would make an ideal spot for a base-camp that would be far more secure than the present LZ. The team is given additional men to take the plateau, including a fire-team of riflemen and a 3 man mortar team. (Yeah, I got to use the mortar!)

Team goes up the trails to the spring just below the plateau, sending one two-man fire-team around the west, a two man fire-team to cover the spring and guard the mortar team, one guy at the base of the hill with the Commu man, and the rest set to climb up the direction they’d been attacked from.

The Lizardmen fishing on the far side of the pond critically failed their Psych roll, so did not manage to spot any of the guys in the two eastern teams moving into position. Sure enough, on top of the plateau, the troops spotted an entire lizardman village. The sergeant signaled the mortar team to start laying in fire. All hell broke loose once the first shells started landing. The lizardmen scrambled and started rushing to their defenses. Plus, their chieftain hopped onto a big dinosaur. It was a damn bloody fight, and including both PCs and NPCs, the party lost around 1/3 of their men, but able to route the Lizardmen. One of the highlights was the NPC mortar team killing the chieftain’s mount with an almost point-blank mortar shell at the charging beast.

So far, combat worked out both as designed and as expected – soldiers with fire-arms will have an extreme advantage against any opponents at range. Since I’m using Star Frontier’s order of combat, anyone with a fire-arm will always have advantage over someone trying to close in without a ranged weapon, regardless of initiative. Once opponents are able to close the distance, it becomes another story – the lizardmen who were able to get into melee range (except for the few who rolled exceptionally poorly) tore into infantrymen who couldn’t go toe-to-toe with them. Suppressive fire rules worked out well in most cases. Because of the shift in scale (we used minis, but it was done a bit abstractly), it was a little trickier to adjudicate things like grenades, so I allowed 1d4 and 1d4+1 on groupings.

The soldiers took the hilltop, the medic patched up the guys who were not dead, and the commu man radioed for reinforcements to secure and hold the village. After a couple of hours, another 40 soldiers showed up, carrying light and heavy machine guns to begin fortifying the position. In the aftermath, the Colonel made the call to move everything from the LZ to the new location, setting up a permanent base-camp in the Lizardman village. The dirigible could then be sent off for additional troops and supplies.

Anyway, I have no idea what next session will bring. We might have more players, but everyone got down how things worked pretty well. Since there’s high-ground, we might have long range artillery after all! I haven’t rolled up any other hexes, but if we ended up with something that awesome on the fly, I have high hopes for how things will turn out.

What’s the Solution, Lew?

Interesting bit from Stelios today on the OSR and Lew Pulsipher’s latest EN World article. Feel free to pretend like my comments are today’s Cirosova blog post!

The Word of Stelios

To those who don’t know: Lewis Pulsipher has been around in RPGs for a long time.

If you open up the AD&D Fiend Folio, you’ll see his name credited to monsters like the Elemental Princes of Evil and the Poltergeist. He contributed articles to Dragon magazine back in the 1980s (one of my favorites being “Be Aware and Take Care” from issue #79). And I’ve kept up with his blog over the years. Interesting stuff. He brings with him years of insights when it comes to the hobby and game design.

Then I read his recent post on EN World: Consequences and Reward in RPGs, and wasn’t sure what to think.

It reiterated and summarized much of what he has said on his blog:

  • Role Playing Games these days just aren’t like what they used to be.
  • Back in the day, consequences mattered in RPGs. Now only rewards…

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Pellucidar Game Notes

I’ve had some great feedback on the weapon system I’m using for the Pellucidar game I’ll be running friday.

It’s still going to be a fairly light system, but I’ve done the following:

  • made a mini-monster manual with 5 pages worth of stuff from B/X and Isle of Dread.
  • Come up with a random terrain table. It may come out with total garbage, but rather than try to draw a map ahead of time, I’ll have the world be completely emergent. Eventually, towns and Nazi bases will show up via random rolls. Or they won’t and either the party will have to keep looking or I’ll have to drop one somewhere once they meet some friendly humans.
  • Come up with encounter tables for the terrain types. These aren’t super detailed, because I’m not going with the full X1 encounter tables, but I wanted to include everything in my micro monster manual and make each type of terrain be somewhat distinct in terms of what might show up there.

Army Men Figures

So, I was kind of hoping that I’d be able to grab a cheap bag of army men or something to use as minis in my Pellucidar game. Except I am kind of weird and autistic and was confronted with a strange problem – I found that all of the army men I looked at were extremely disappointing.

The dollar store bags all have a soft and moldy look to them and look like they’ve been sand-blasted. In addition to having giant seams and injection marks, they did not have any real subtle details to them. Unfortunately, other bags at other places had similar problems. Even the super expensive $10 army men sets were kinda weak on the detail.

I swear that I remember that the army men I had as a kid in the 80s and early 90s were much higher mold and sculpt quality, some of them roughly on par with Reaper Bones. I wish that I still had those old ones because there isn’t exactly a lot of competition on the toy shelves for quality army men.

You can still get them, but you have to order them online, and they aren’t cheap! I can’t tell you which sets I had as a kid; I can only go by which sculpts I recognize, and I had a LOT of army men as a kid. But here’s a comparison of the sort of stuff I had that you can get still get online vs what you can find today in stores.

army men 1

Think I had a decent share of both the Americans and Germans from this; never had the Japanese or Brits; I’d’ve remembered the pipers. Also, wow, that’s a lot of bazookas! I remember having way more grenadiers.

army men 2

Probably comes out to about 1/3 the quality at 1/4 the price. So, a bargain, I guess? What you can’t tell from this pic is that the plastic literally looks like it’s covered in a film of mold.

You can’t really tell from the pictures, so I didn’t include it, but the Toys R Us True Heroes line was still really seamy.

If we end up running my game for more than a session or two, I might actually invest in some figures, but if it’s between shelling out $20 for a bucket of half-way decent soldiers or a buck for really lousy ones, we can just use whatever minis we already have.

Also, I must have looked like some kind of freak standing there with an armful of resin triceratops trying to decide whether I should buy them now or wait.

“If I can buy a herd of triceratops for $4, but then I’ll want to force a scripted triceratops encounter. But I don’t want to buy all of these dinosaurs today. And I don’t want to buy just one of each, because what if they’re fighting more than one of something? Aaah! Someone’s coming!” ::dumps armload of dinosaurs and runs away::

New Interviews & WWII D&D

In case you missed it, I was recently interviewed by Stoic Writer.

Also, today a really great interview with Cirsova contributor Michael Tierney went up at Castalia House. Some great insight into the comic business, plus Michael has a 4 volume art history Edgar Rice Burroughs that will be going live for order this week.

I’m not ready to share it quite yet, but I’m working on fleshing out my WWII B/X system. If I’m lucky, I’ll get to test it out this friday. If not, maybe two weeks from friday.

I don’t really have a concrete scenario in mind, yet, so I hope my players will just be stoked by the prospect of firing off a few rounds from an M1 Garand at a Stegasaurus before they get trampled to death.