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Author Topic: (24 hour game) 1940 -England Invaded  (Read 3965 times)
Simon W
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« on: April 21, 2003, 03:31:56 PM »

Ok, I know nobody actually said they like it, unlike Troubadours of Verticaile (I love this game!), Criminal Element and the others (oh yes, it hurts!), but nevertheless I also decided to add to my 24 hour effort. This is it, in version 2.
http://www.geocities.com/simonwashbourne/1940v2.pdf

I've stuck in some actual weapons (rather than the generic offerings in the first version), I've taken advice and extended the skills and Hero Point rules, given some rules for recovering from wounds and so on.

I will be adding a few vehicles, tanks and so on. I have also started a separate campaign book, with details of an imaginary locale and village 'somewhere in southern England', details of the villagers and the Nazi occupiers and a few sample missions.

Any thoughts o any of this? What else could I do with? Are the rules easy enough to follow? Anything need more explanation?

Gideon
http://www.geocities.com/simonwashbourne/Beyond_Belief.html
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Mike Holmes
Acts of Evil Playtesters
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« Reply #1 on: April 21, 2003, 05:54:21 PM »

I was talking to Ron. What it needs is something uniquely British. I mentioned jokingly a "Stiff Upper Lip" mechanic. That was tongue in cheek. But I meant the sentiment. What would make the system specifically about the idea of German occupation of England? As opposed to just being a generic stab at a High Premise.

Mike
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Simon W
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« Reply #2 on: April 21, 2003, 09:14:23 PM »

Hey Mike, you are right. I must admit, I thought of having something like 'Bulldog Spirit' whislt I was writing it, but in the heat of writing within the time limit, promptly forgot about it.

Maybe Bulldog Spirit could be instead of Hero Points?

That still leaves Stiff Upper Lip, which I like. I'll think about that one.

Meanwhile, if anyone has any ideas.....?

Gideon
http://www.geocities.com/simonwashbourne/Beyond_Belief.html
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Ron Edwards
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« Reply #3 on: April 22, 2003, 05:06:42 AM »

Hi Gideon,

Let me clarify the point that Mike and I were making in private conversation.

We were not discussing a feature of a character like Strength or Agility or anything like that. By "mechanic," Mike did not mean "character descriptor," he meant any kind of game element that promoted that particular point. Our shared concern with the game is that it refers to the indomitable spirit of an invaded people, but does not include it during play.

In your text, it's clear that you care about this spirit from your opening paragraphs ... but that's the only place it shows up. I'd get more thematic punch from re-reading those paragraphs than from playing the game.

So what Mike and I are saying is this: we don't care how that spirit is expressed, but the game isn't "England Invaded" unless it's expressed somehow.

Here's an example (only an example) - Stiff Upper Lip could designate the success of the player-character's efforts in the larger picture. Are you punching any holes in the local Nazi war effort? Are you at least keeping the spirit of resistance alive in the people of your community? This idea could completely replace any "character improvement" mechanic (which is in my view totally out of place in this game), such that the only success-metric available in the game is Stiff Upper Lip.

Basically, your game is, "Let's do the French Resistance except in England." That's fine - now stick with that and get it solidly into play as a game mechanic (any game mechanic), and get out of the mind-set that a character is (a) a to-hit metric and (b) a pile of improvement points to get better at (a).

Best,
Ron
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Simon W
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« Reply #4 on: April 22, 2003, 10:33:09 AM »

The penny drops.

How about I start by adding some elements that show that the British Spirit shall not be broken - characters will still go down the pub for their pint of real ale, they will carry on holding the annual village fete, cricket and morris dancing on the village green and so on. Build the uniqueness into the design of the game and the setting. By day they carry on as if 'Jerry' is just a slight inconvenience like the British weather and at night sneak out to destroy another bridge or whatever.

BTW - I have realised that there is a bit of a theme amongst my games - a lot of them are uniquely British - Tales from the Wood, Lashings of Ginger Beer and 1940 (even Captain Kronos, whilst set in Europe is based on Hammer Horror).  I wonder if I can build on this in some way - to put British role-playing (back) on the map so to speak?

Gideon
http://www.geocities.com/simonwashbourne/Beyond_Belief.html
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Ron Edwards
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« Reply #5 on: April 22, 2003, 10:40:05 AM »

Hi there,

You need to listen to the penny's echoes a bit more.

Showing the reader any of those things accomplishes nothing. You can fill the game with insprirational examples, with local color, with tons of material intended to "show" them what to do and how to think about it.

None of which means diddly when the rubber hits the road. It's a good start, yes. But if you rhapsodize about flying, then put the person onto a tricycle, they will quite reasonably put aside your rhapsody about a vehicle they don't have in favor of properly driving the vehicle they have.

That's why Mike and I used the term "mechanic" in the first place. I suggest parsing out System all the way: character creation (which requires understanding Currency), resolution (which requires understanding IIEE and Drama/Karma/Fortune, metagame mechanics, and reward (only one piece of which is "improvement"). Then find which piece or pieces are, in action, Stiff Upper Lip in your game.

That doesn't mean just naming a standard mechanic in some picturesque or inspirational way. That's merely Color. I'm talking about making one or more mechanics (a) front-and-center and (b) interactive in such a way that Stiff Upper Lip becomes the actual point of play.

Is the game about whether you do or don't hit that particular German in a shootout, or is it about preserving the Resistance no matter what the personal cost? If it's the latter, then make the mechanics do that.

Best,
Ron
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Mike Holmes
Acts of Evil Playtesters
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Posts: 10459


« Reply #6 on: April 22, 2003, 10:48:06 AM »

Swing and a miss. You can put all sorts of setting in the game, but unless there's some reason to interact with it, it just remains color or part of the text.

What you need is some way to incorporate this into the system such that it becomes part of the point of play.

For example (and a bad one, but better than nothing), you could have a morale stat that would be boosted by doing these "normal" things, or by seeing others doing them. That way, their inclusion into play is mechanically supported. Ron suggests something more abstracted. How about the Village has a "Fighting Spirit" pool from which players can borrow dice? As these event you mention occur, the Pool is refreshed. And the Nazis can take shots at the Pool by performing attrocities, etc.

Thus the system supports a back and forth.

And also going in Ron's direction, there's got to be some end to it all. That is, at some point, if the characters are successful enough, they put everything on the line for the last mission. If they lose they die, but if they win the task they accomplish destroys the Nazis will to stay, and they leave. Either way the players go out like heros.

This isn't to say that the tasks that the characters are taking on are actually critical to the whole resistence effort. Merely that they mirror other similar efforts going on all over England, and that their success represents the resistance getting closer and closer to it's goal.

BTW, I can see an American cognate for this (Red Dawn the RPG?). I mean with all the weapons American's own I'd almost feel sorry for anyone who tried to invade. I've said it before, but nobody's taking LA without Nukes (or other genocidal methods).

Mike
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Simon W
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« Reply #7 on: April 22, 2003, 10:51:32 AM »

Red Dawn the RPG has been done - only it was called Price of Freedom (West End Games 1986, Greg Costikyan). I refer to it as an influence on this game.

Gideon
The Truly British Game Designer
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Valamir
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« Reply #8 on: April 22, 2003, 10:52:42 AM »

A couple of ideas that occured to me along those lines Gideon.  In Dust Devils there are a variety of ways to get wounded that are reflected in a decline to certain traits (which depends on the nature of the "damage").

"Healing" in the game includes things like recovering your spirit by spending time with a saloon gal...or downing a shot of whiskey.  In otherwords, mechanical encouragement to perform distinctly "wild west" type of activities.

Might be interesting to have a similiar reinforcement for distinctly mid century English activities (whatever those might be...shooting darts over a pint at the pub or what not).

Might even be interesting to have the PCs as the proxies for the continueing of this English way of life.  Victories over the Germans by resistance fighters might earn actual "Victory" points.  Instead of these serving as a source of XPs, the players can "invest" them in a laundry list of distinctly English activities.  If the PCs are losing they will have fewer such points and various activities will go unsupported.  Over time these unsupported activities will drift out of the picture, lost except in the memories of old timers "remember when we used to throw darts down at Jimmy's Pub...yeah...no one throws darts any more".  That sort of thing.  I don't know enough about period English culture (or current English culture for that matter) to suggest what the list looks like, but I'm sure you have some ideas.  Might even be certain products...the way Lucky Strikes are associated with the period.

Sort of an over all "cultural preservation in the face of occupation" theme.
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Simon W
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« Reply #9 on: April 22, 2003, 11:02:14 AM »

Good ideas all - I shall think on it.

Gideon
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Simon W
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« Reply #10 on: May 04, 2003, 10:24:17 AM »

Ok, I've listened and decided I'm going to go with TWO variants of the rules for the game. The setting is the same, so it is then just a matter of preference as to which rules a GM will go with. This is version 2: -

There are two character traits in 1940 - England Invaded; these are Bulldog Spirit and Stiff Upper Lip. They are rated on a sliding scale, which goes from –5 through to +5. These traits will go up and down as a result of actions and events during the course of a session, but initially players have four points to be split how they like between them.

Bulldog Spirit deals with the character’s get-up-and go, his gung-ho attitude, doing things physically. It would be used to empty your Sten gun at a section of advancing Nazi’s, or to toss a grenade into the open hatch of a Panzer tank or to escape pursuit in woods with the enemy all around. It does not necessarily mean the character is physically strong, it his attitude towards doing these things that gives him the strength to complete them, or at least to try.

Stiff Upper Lip is a reflection of a character’s mental and emotional state. It helps a character to deal face-to-face with the Nazi’s and other NPC’s. It is aloofness, showing no emotion, just getting on with what must be done. It is used when a character wants to ‘brazen-it-out’ whilst being questioned, to bribe a German officer to look the other way or to present the passionate delivery of a speech to the rest of the village in order to rouse them into action.

Where the traits are on the sliding scale is a reflection of how the character is feeling at the time. If she has a level of 5 in Bulldog Spirit, she is feeling full of beans and ready for action.  If she has a –5, she is feeling sluggish and tired, ready to buckle under the slightest pressure. If his Stiff Upper Lip has reached +5 he is resolute and forceful but if it is at –5 he is feeling down and emotionally drained or ‘out-of-sorts’.

Where the rating is on the sliding scale is how much bonus or penalty that is applied to skills (rolled on a d20), when the character uses them. For example, Horace Wimpole has a skill of 9 in Public Speaking and wants to rouse the lads in the pub to create a distraction so that he can slip out the back door before the Germans catch him. However, he is buoyed up by a successful raid the previous night and his Stiff Upper Lip rating is at +3, so instead of needing to roll 9 or less, he must roll 12 or less.

Community Spirit

Community Spirit represents the feeling and sense of well being within the village or area of operation of the characters. Again, this rises and falls with success or failure of raids and so on. However, it is different from the player-characters scores insofar as it will only rise and fall with events that the community know about or that get reported. So this is more to do with propaganda, gossip and news. The player characters have to make sure community spirit remains high so part of their job is to make sure that news of their successes gets around and maybe to ‘dress up’ their failures. Organising social events will help as may even getting the round of drinks in at the pub.

Community Spirit affects character actions in this way. The level of Community Spirit is the highest modifier that the characters can add to their skill rolls. So Community Spirit is say 1, but character Bulldog Spirit is 3. 1 is the number added to character skill rolls. Community Spirit rises to 4, but Bulldog Spirit falls to 2, 2 is added to all character skill rolls.

The following are ideas that affect the ratings. They only affect ratings if known about. So a failed mission for example reduces a character’s Bulldog Spirit or Stiff Upper Lip by 1. If the community are not aware that there was a mission (let alone that it failed) the Community Spirit will not suffer. Of course, the German Propaganda Machine will try its best to let the community know about the failure!

Things that might increase traits/spirit       

Highly successful missions +2            
Successful missions +1         
Very good news on the radio +2                  
Good news on the radio +1         
Events (Cricket, Fetes, etc) +1               

Things that might reduce traits/spirit               

Failed missions -1
Nazi acts of atrocity -1 to -3
Completely failed missions -2
Very bad news on the radio -2
Bad news on the radio  -1
An NPC dies -1
A character dies -2
Suffered a heavy wound or worse -1


It stil needs work, but that is where I am at so far. Comments welcome. I'm still working on the 'Endgame' idea. I like the idea of characters going out in a blaze of glory. Or not.

Gideon
http://www.geocities.com/simonwashbourne/Beyond_Belief.html
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b_bankhead
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Posts: 259


« Reply #11 on: May 04, 2003, 12:35:21 PM »

By coincidence I just finished the book 'SS-GB' by suspense writer Len Deighton.  It deals with an alternate history in which England was invaded by Hitler and it has LOTS of atmosphere and is a REALLY good read. You can get it CHEEP on amazon right here...

http://www.amazon.com/exec/obidos/search-handle-url/index%3Dbooks%26field-keywords%3DSS%20GB%20Len%20Deighton/102-7177842-4499354
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