Sweet Ride

It’s been a while since I’ve sat down and put together a blargpost.  As it is gaming has been fairly routine for me lately.  Not that that’s bad, but it means there’s not a whole lot that jumps out and says “Hey, write about me!” But our last few RPG sessions saw an interesting reaction between players, GM, and props.

Our current game is a Sci-Fi setting using the Savage Worlds ruleset and have been using some of his son’s Lego Minifigs as miniatures when we play. A few sessions ago we were given a task to perform and hummer-esque vehicle to take to our destination. We initially started with a couple large flat Lego pieces to represent the vehicle but our nerdiness couldn’t let the abstract stand.  So while we played, a couple of us started putting together a vehicles with whatever pieces were in the box of Legos near the table. Thus, the “Sweet Ride” was born. And no, before you ask, you’re never to old for Legos. Ever.

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FATE & Abstract Combat Mapping

FATE uses an interesting system regarding positioning in combat and the like, grouping areas into zones and adding borders to specify difficulties in mobility.  It’s a pretty simple system, but still one that can benefit from a physical representation on the tabletop when a large number of parties are involved.

It’s no secret that I’m a fan of miniature use in role-playing games, but for our Manaburst game I wanted to try something different.  I was worried that if the players – who were new to FATE – saw the miniatures on the table it might distract from the looser, narrative way FATE designates location in a scene.  So I decided to try something new:

A sample combat zone setup for a boarding action.

Whenever a map is necessary, I sketch one out on a pad of paper and thumbtack it down to a couple cork tiles.  We then use straight pins to mark locations and move them around as necessary.  The pack of small push pins I purchased contained three different colored pins, which helps keep from confusing groups on the map.

For the PCs or  important  NPCs I use larger pins, with the PCs’ getting extra attention.  I had asked the players for pictures of their characters before the campaigns started so I could surprise them with their pins at the first game.  I cropped and resized these pics before printing them out as two .75″ x .75″ squares side by side which  were wrapped around pins and taped into place.  It makes it easier for each player to quickly see their own pin given the smaller size of the maps we use.

So far the only complaint has been that the maps can be a little small, but that could be easily resolved with some larger cork tiles.  Other than that, though, the process has been quick and abstract, allowing more room for narration.  Seems like a success to me.

RPGs: Metal or Plastic?

I’ve  always  enjoyed painting  pewter  figures over their plastic counterparts.  The heft makes them easier to handle and they feel like they just take paint better (a trick of the mind, I’m sure).  Plastic models are far easier to customize and modifty, but pewter makes for a more solid figure that I prefer for some intangible reason. Lately though, I’ve found my opinion switched when it comes to using figures for role-playing games. The pewter is still preferable for painting, but plastics seem more beneficial at the table.

Wayne's character "in the belly of the beast"

I think that this is primarily due to the resilience of plastic. Dropping (or even just knocking over) a pewter figure can result in damage.  Beast case scenario, that means a weapon or arm has to be bent back into place, but worst case scenario it means something snapping off that needs pinning and replacing… in multiple places.  And that’s not to mention the repainting necessary.

In contrast, plastic figures have a resilience that lets them take a fall better. The relative elasticity of the medium, combined with the model’s lighter weight, means an accident with a plastic miniature is far less catastrophic than its metal counterpart.

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