The setting’s author and designer, Bryan Steele, has been producing gaming products for publishers for over a decade. He has worked with such iconic worlds as Judge Dredd, Conan, Starship Troopers, Babylon 5, RuneQuest, and Traveller. He is probably most well known for his being the primary narrative writer for the original, award-winning Warmachine: Prime and Iron Kingdoms RPGs. His pen has put millions of words into the hands of gamers across the globe, and Seventh Crown is his newest – and by his own claim – possibly finest work to date.
7 Unique Facets of the Seventh Crown Roleplaying Setting
• Dwarves once ruled a dynasty, but Ogres ruined everything
The continent of Kanis (where Seventh Crown is based) was home to a successful, thriving empire of elves, men, gnomes and halflings led by a central dwarven government. The Audaran Dynasty was strong and filled with beneficial alliances, but not strong enough to withstand the landfall of ten thousand ogres in gigantic black warships. The ogres were led by a single “king” who controlled them all magically with a golden headdress and mask, turning chaotic, simple-minded beasts into a hellish, organized army. The ogre king was eventually defeated and his artifact mask shattered into seven pieces, but not before the Dynasty’s alliances split apart. The Ogre War ended, but the Kanisi people suffered greatly and could not maintain the empire.
• Six magical Crowns rule this world
The pieces of the ogre king’s unfathomably powerful mask were salvaged on the battlefield, and it was discovered that they held a portion of the original artifact’s tyrannical powers. Those who held the golden chunks became the will of their people, and anyone who shared their racial bloodlines would be mystically bound to obey their laws, edicts and commands. The chunks were forged into six Crowns of Leadership—the most powerful items anywhere in the world. Whoever wore a Crown would become the undisputed ruler of their own species, creating kingdoms that are not defined by territory or religion – but instead stretch to anywhere the people are. It is the use, abuse and coveting of these Crowns that make many of the plotlines in this world.
• Not everyone has or wants a Crown
Despite the attraction of holding immense control over everyone of their own species, there are several sentient races that do not have or even desire to have a Crown of Leadership. Dragonborn do not necessarily share blood with the King of Dragons, but they traditionally have been raised to do what their fully-draconic masters tell them to. Gnomes have mathematically deduced that they must serve the laws and culture of dwarves without the influence of a Crown, eventually inheriting the rulership of the world by means of their Great Equation. Kanisi halflings, once talked into being part of the Dwarven Empire, turned back to their nomadic gypsyesque lifestyles after suffering horribly during the Ogre War – and now they are nearly anarchist in their refusal to settle down or serve any king. While most cultures are bent on gaining or holding a Crown to strengthen their race’s kingdom, some see things much differently.
• Monsters are people too!
Just because a race of sentient beings is often bent on evil and tends toward violence and savagery, it does not automatically label them as “monsters.” Goblins, kobolds, orcs and even the merrow may have their only real statistics represented in tomes of monster lore, but in Seventh Crown they have fully fleshed-out cultures, communities and in a few cases – Crowns of their own. In fact, one corner of the continent is rife with a war that is being battled between the crowned Queen of Kobolds and the would-be heir of the deposed (and murdered) Goblin King! In that part of the continent, players might just find themselves serving one set of monsters in a battle against a different set of monsters!
• There is a lot bumping around in the dark
There are two very distinct halves of Kanis: the surface world, and the Great Beneath. The Great Beneath is a subterranean kingdom that exists miles below the surface that is the home of dark elves, deep gnomes, dark dwarves and other things that dislike the touch of the sun. It is a world beneath the other, and it will be host to a huge number of plots that cause the two worlds to intermingle. The Great Beneath is home to the current and longstanding King of Elves, an evil dark elf bent on expanding his real estate above ground through the mixing of elven bloodlines – making the sight of dark elves and “dusk elves” much more common on the surface in recent centuries.
• Each city or landmark is a new story to explore
In a world where kingdoms are based on blood in a person’s veins instead of lines on a map, local governing agencies make most of the day-to-day rules – creating new plots and hooks everywhere a player goes. The city of Dusk Landing has a multi-tiered urban structure that literally rains filth and refuse down on the lower levels, physically creating the upper and lower classes and all the problems in between. A swampy city on the eastern coast, XeSon, holds a two week long celebration of food and liquor to empty out summer storehouses for the annual trade ships to refresh them, much like a high-magic fantasy version of Mardi Gras! Each point on the map holds new and interesting local information that DMs and players can use to craft some amazing plotlines of adventure!
• New Deities, Backgrounds, Trinkets, Feats and Spells!
No good roleplaying setting is without its own unique “crunch,” and Seventh Crown is no different. It comes with nifty new gods to worship, backgrounds to build characters with, and awesome new Feats and Spells to augment any character (even those not being played in Seventh Crown… shh!). Druids that can punish enemies into animal form, wizards that can bind their life force to inanimate objects, and clerics that can put faith before fealty, these are all spell effects that Seventh Crown brings to the table. New Feats enforce the ideas of freedom from being ruled, service to an oath of loyalty, and even just trying to have pride in your brothers-at-arms. For roleplayers of any setting, there is some cool stuff to use in Seventh Crown.
• • •
In order to go and see the Kickstarter campaign, the backing levels, and the updates to the effort so far... and of course to back the project... follow this link: https://www.kickstarter.com/projects/1854841382/seventh-crown-tabletop-fantasy-rpg-setting
High level backers get the opportunity to be immortalized in the Seventh Crown world narratively, or even as part of the RPG miniature line!
By Richard S. Hetley, Kickstarter project manager of Lone Wolf - The Board Game. Which is relevant, we swear.
I love a good game. It could be anything. Clever little custom-dice game? Awesome. Social game with no props whatsoever? Cool.
Same goes for a good book or a good story. Who cares how many style buzzwords it has? Is it any GOOD? Then it's a good game, book, or story, and I'm glad I had a chance to meet it.
Which is why I was glad to be raised by gamebooks. You know, those "Choose Your Own Adventure" books where you flip back and forth between different pages based on where you want the plot to go? "Choose Your Own Adventure" is a brand name, and maybe you've heard more about "Fighting Fantasy" if you grew up in Europe. But hopefully, if you know about gamebooks at all, you've heard of "Lone Wolf."
Gary Chalk, who illustrated the first Lone Wolf gamebooks.
The Lone Wolf gamebooks, more than anything else, taught me how fantasy was supposed to be. Thanks to them I still think "armour" should be spelled with a "u" despite a lack of recent and personal British ancestry. In those books, heroes weren't championed by "fighters" and "magic-users"--no, they called on monks and border rangers. There was a shocking minimum of green dragons, green-skinned goblins, and trolls with green blood that regenerated for no clear reason--instead there were shapeshifters, dark knights, and ships of drowned sailors that rose in undeath.
When I was a kid, I played gamebooks on the same days that I would play videogames. Now, why play an "interactive book," filled with mechanisms and hacks to pretend it had the complexity of a computer, when I could play a game ON the computer? Oh, I don't know: maybe I just said I played both. Maybe you just read that sentence a moment ago.
"Why are you playing THAT?" Because if it's good then it doesn't matter how flashy it is. You enjoy it on its own terms.
Sample of Gary Chalk's art for the 1980's Lone Wolf gamebooks; the series wasn't about talking animals, but it's appropriate that this same artist went on to illustrate Redwall.
It's just like the specific microcosm of videogames. Computer technology advances, and each year there are ads for "the latest in cutting edge graphics!!!" One day we passed the threshold where default technology could power 3-D games, not just sprite-based games, and it's only gone up from there. But if that's true, then why are there ANY 2-D games still in existence? Why would Bioshock come out with its stunning 3-D world in 2007, and Aquaria come out in 2-D at the end of THAT SAME YEAR?
Oh, I don't know: maybe drop-dead gorgeous 2-D art is still drop-dead gorgeous, and Aquaria is still a "good game" just as Bioshock is. The invention of the car has not halted the advancement of the bicycle.
So to this day I enjoy a good gamebook, because, by definition, they're "the good ones." That's why I and my buddies have been doing contemporary gamebook projects. Then, a few months ago, I heard chatter coming through about something different: Lone Wolf in a board game. A wargame, in fact, played on a board.
Hey, really? I like Warhammer 40,000. Is this like that? And made from LONE WOLF?
Demo battlefield from Lone Wolf - The Board Game.
Eventually I got to playtest their print-and-play scenario. I was amazed. Here on my tabletop was a simulation of the game world I knew. And it played faster than any game of Warhammer 40k! Once I knew the rules, I was plowing (excuse me, "ploughing") through a battle just as I'd read a book.
It felt just like my childhood. Sure, the setup was more "traditional" for a fantasy realm, involving the grey-skinned "Giaks" of Lone Wolf, who bear certain parallels to green-skinned "goblins." Nevertheless I loved fighting Giaks, and I'd seen the art that said one day there might come Drakkarim (dark knights) and maybe even Helghast (undead shapeshifters).
And moreso, it was all drawn in 2-D art on stand-up figures!
Battle mock-up from Lone Wolf - The Board Game.
Oh, I see where this is going. Oldstyle art for an oldstyle game world, right? Yup, that's something I love. But when we started sharing this project online, we realized we would bump into the age-old question: "Why are you playing THAT?"
Of course, gaming technology advances, and one day we passed the threshold where gamers expected games to have 3-D miniatures by default. Well, sure, I've played Warhammer 40,000--maybe even on the same day that I played a gamebook or a videogame. But what's special here was that Gary Chalk, the artist who had brought life to the pages of Lone Wolf during my childhood--and, for that matter, to Redwall, and to HeroQuest, and to many other worlds that were richer for it--had spent 30 years becoming an even better artist. Bioshock . . . meet Aquaria. (Psst: my touchscreen tablet plays Aquaria. Think it would take Bioshock?)
Samples of Gary Chalk's art for the board game playing pieces.
I love a good game. Same goes for a good book or a good story. And the same goes for a good piece of art. It does not matter that I COULD buy some plastic miniatures from a gaming store downtown: there is a beauty to the hand-drawn art of someone who loves what he does. If it's good, then it doesn't matter if it meets the expectations . . . for SOME OTHER TYPE OF ART. You enjoy it on its own terms.
We are now trying to fund Lone Wolf - The Board Game via Kickstarter on the basis of a good game design at its core, a history of good gamebooks behind it, and a good artist at its helm. Think anybody will play it?
So far, looks like there are a few takers. And you're welcome at my table when you're in town.
Richard S. Hetley, who put all these words on your screen.
Fans of the fantastical have long been entranced by the idea of creatures that are human on top and beast-like down low. Sphinxes, centaurs, mermaids, harpies, driders, satyrs, lamia, and, yes, even unipegataurs -- they all appeal to the idea that humans can be more than what they are in our drab, mundane reality. My particular interest is in wemics, also known as liontaurs: basically centaurs, but with the horse bits swapped out for lion parts. Human from the waist up, leonine from the waist down, these creatures have a history that dates back thousands of years, although they get less press than their more widely-known kin. Let me beg your indulgence for a whirlwind tour of the history of the wemic.
We start in Ancient Assyria, where the kings of the day decorated their palaces with statues and drawings of protective spirits. And yes, there was a spirit that watched over you while you were taking a bath -- the "urmaluhlu"! A true liontaur, this monster guarded the "ablution room" in the palace at Ninevah, circa 3,400 BC. Read more about the urmaluhlu at my site, here and here.
The Ancient Assyrian urmaluhlu
Now, there are hints I have found of wemic-ish things in Ancient Greece, in Constantinople, and even in the doodles that monks drew in prayer books back in the Dark Ages. But the next undeniable wemic sighting I have found is on the coat of arms of King Stephen of England, grandson of William the Conquerer. He ruled from 1135 to 1154, and the liontaur on his shield was referred to as a "sagittary."
Two variations on the Coat of Arms of King Stephen of England
Stephen’s enemies called him the “Sagittary of London Park,” and I think they meant it as an insult, but it sounds pretty bad-ass to me. Stephen was not only King of England, but also a French noble, being the Duke of Normandy. Here’s a French sagittary that was once a decorative buckle on a small coffer, circa 1180.
A medieval sagittary, or lion-centaur
Moving on, no less than the Bard of Avon sang the song of the sagittary. In his 1602 play, "Troilus and Cressida," Shakespeare mentions a horrible monster. "The dreadful Sagittary / Appals our numbers. Haste we, Diomed, / To reinforcement, or we perish all." But is this sagittary a centaur or a liontaur? There’s reason to think it could be either.
Honesty compels me, though, to admit that most medieval sagittaries were references to traditional centaurs, for example, lingering on to the modern day as the constellation Sagittarius. But the ones shown above are clearly true leonine sagittaries!
And that's it for history. Well, okay, there's the Lion Centaur of 1846, but I'm just not sure what to make of that.
In the modern day, there have been, I believe, three separate reinventions of liontaurs. First, in 1974, in Poul Anderson's SF novel, Fire Time, a major race and several major characters are clearly liontaurs! Here's the art from the cover of the paperback, and it does a good job of representing the author's words:
Poul Anderson's Ishtarian
Then, in 1982, D&D publisher TSR released an expansion set of "Monster Cards." Each set included a couple brand new monsters, and the very first set introduced the wemic. This liontaur was the first ever "wemic" by that name. It was created by Dave Sutherland, an iconic artist who drew many classics for D&D:
The very first "wemic," a Monster Card special for Advanced Dungeons and Dragons
And the famous Quest For Glory video game series first used the term "liontaur," so far as I can tell, with the introduction of Rakeesh the Paladin in Quest for Glory II: Trial by Fire.
A screen grab of liontaurs from the Quest for Glory II game
See how these three lion centaurs are different? The Ishtarian is a sci-fi race with photosynthetic capabilites (see how the example above has a greenish cast). The wemic is a pure centaur-analog, completely human from the waist up. And the liontaur is furry -- even the humanish parts -- and has a beastial face with catlike features. These differences are part of my circumstantial case for three seperate reinventions. Did Dave Sutherland read Fire Time? Did the makers or Quest for Glory ever meet a wemic in playing D&D? Maybe, maybe not! ... But why, then, did Anderson call his creatures "Ishtarians"? Maybe after Ishtar, the Ancient Assyrian goddess known for her love of lions? Maybe it all goes back to the urmaluhlu after all?
But either way, wemics, liontaurs, felitaurs, lion-centaurs, chakats, cattaurs, and all the rest have found new lives in games, stories, and art, especially online. And for fantasy fans, that's fantastic.
NOTE: All sources for art and lore can be found on my site at the links given, or write to me at email@example.com.
Written by Cayzle of Cayzle's Wemic Site
Note: user was awarded 25 Shmuckers for this post! -Rob]]>
This is the setting for WoldianGames.com, an online D&D world founded for a tabletop game in 1985 and played continuously online since January 1998. And the feature that makes it a good fit for the rhythms of a PBM audience? The Wold is a play-by-post game, with players checking in once a day, reading the posts from the game master and the other players, and then making their own daily post. Disclaimer and disclosure -- I refer to the Wold a lot below because I love it and I help run it. But you can use the tips in this article to run a great PbP game anywhere.
Of course, people love D&D and other PRGs. And they love playing games online. There are forums upon forums filled with players seeking DMs and DMs starting games. Here at Erfworld.com, we have our own forum for PbP gaming. But there are a few things that most of these games lack … things that make the Wold stand out. Based on my own 15 years of experience in these games, here are five tips to make your play-by-post game a long-lived success:
1) Set Regular, Frequent Deadlines
Some PbP games have an irregular schedule, with turns advancing when all the players have posted, or just whenever the game master has a chance to get online. At first, turns are processed daily, then a couple times a week, then a couple times a month. Player interest lags, and the game dwindles and dies.
In the Wold, players must post every weekday. Sixty-odd players make about eight games, each with eight player characters and a GM – that makes a required nine posters, five posts a week, in eight games, for an ideal 360 posts a week total. The Wold has a Sherriff who tracks posting, and he reports that the Wold falls short of that ideal by about 20 to 30 posts a week. His weekly reports are widely distributed, highlighting games with good records, and noting those that need improvement. Players who miss too many posts are encouraged to step up, or get a substitute to take over their character, or maybe take a short break. This expectation for consistent posting, fostered by a community standard and active empathic engagement, keeps players invested in a game they know will not falter.
2) Develop A Reserve Bench
The real world always throws a spanner into your plans for a smooth-running game. People move or change jobs or get married. Computers and cars and enthusiasm dies. People get burned out. There WILL be turnover in every online game. For the vast majority of PbP campaigns, that means the players fall below a critical mass, or the game master falls off the map. The game ends with a whimper. But there are ways around that. Run the game with a co-GM, which not only helps prevent burnout but keeps the game running if one game master quits. Decide on an ideal number of players, and aggressively recruit new ones as soon as there is a vacancy. Keep a reserve waiting list of people who might be interested in the game.
In the Wold, playing eight to ten campaigns in the same game world means that there is always an extra GM to step in. That’s especially true since co-GMs are the rule. Each game also has an “Assistant DM” a player in the game who steps in when a game master is on vacation or falls sick, and who is often a game master in training. With a deep bench of active members, a player in the Wold can usually find a substitute to take over in emergencies.
3) Foster A Sense Of Community
The lesson we learn from Facebook and social media is that people like to connect with each other. For a long-lived game, provide ways for your players to become friends rather than just gaming acquaintences. Encourage out of character chat, jokes, and stories. And in game, look for ways to foster in-character friendship as well.
In the Wold, there are out-of-character boards for real life chit-chat, as well as a weekly lottery to encourage posting. There is a board to discuss rules, and another to debate politics and other controversial topics. There is an in-character board where characters from different games can meet, get to know each other, and even play games and mini-adventures. Whenever a new person joins, every member is encouraged to send the newbie a welcome letter with some personal details about themselves. Also, GMs are rotated every so often from game to game, so that players get to experience different GM styles and so that our GMs get to know more people on the site. The fact that the Wold is entirely free (zero cost) also makes the members “friends” and “volunteers” rather than “customers” and “staff.”
4) Offer Rich Content To Keep Players Interested
For a short game, a prepackaged module set in a bland generic world is fine. But if you do not offer your players a rich gaming environment, with a detailed setting and interesting rules options to explore, they will get bored.
The Wold has a decades-long history of creative development, with a unique cosmology, 20 gods and demigods, two new base classes, four unique races, 28 Woldian prestige classes, 14 campaign feats, new spells, magic items, monsters, and more. The vast majority of that content is found in the "Woldipedia," a 930-page wiki. The Wold has also evolved with the game, from D&D 2.0 to D&D 3.5 to the Core Pathfinder flavor of D&D. This richness gives players a feeling that the Wold is a special place, not just a bland clone of a packaged setting – and that keeps them coming back.
5) Embrace Churn
It is inevitable that players (and game masters) will come and go. Some game organizers try to ensure stability by setting a high barrier to entry. If a player has to submit an application, or pass a test, or submit references, then the players who jump through the hoops will prove that they are devoted. However, my experience is that even devoted players may come and go.
There is another philosophy. People will rotate in and out of your games – that's a feature, not a bug, because with time you select for players who do well in your setting. Let players enter your game freely, and leave freely, and eventually the ones who like the game and do well in it will stick around. The Wold, for example, features a "no application or tryout policy." It is easy to join, and easy to leave. Those who end up staying prove themselves just by staying. In time, your stable of stable players grows.
Endnotes & Resources
In addition to the links embedded above, there are tons of resources out there online. Here are a few nore notable ones.
Here's a nine-year-old (gasp) article I wrote on PbP gaming that included interviews with two people running PbP sites.
A comprehensive series of 20 articles on PbP gaming from Alisha Brock at the Knoxville RPG Examiner. She covers IC and OOC terminology, characters, scenery, writing posts, and more.
Here's an entry on Play By Post Games on the always distracting TV Tropes site.
A PbP thread on Reddit.
A blog post by Eric Martindale on the best play-by-post roleplaying sites.
A Gaming Security Agency blog post on Tips and Tricks for PbP Gaming.
Here are a number of places to try PbP gaming:
Tim Harper's PbP vlog: Play By Post RPGs Via Forums.
A video intro to PbP and a plug for the DnD Online message board gaming community at RPG Crossing: A great video introduction to play-by-post RPGs
Written by Cayzle of Cayzle's Wemic Site
NOTE: User was awarded 50 Shmuckers for this submission -Rob
The Adequate Commoner
by J.M. Perkins – author of The Adequate Commoner – the everyman’s guide to surviving and thriving.
1. When in Doubt: Run Away!
Normal adventurers don’t retreat often, assuming (usually) that any challenge they are likely to face is ‘balanced’ to their level. Commoners never have this luxury, and so you should run away whenever things appear like too much to handle. As a matter of fact, whenever possible they attempt to prep the environment so they can more easily retreat which allows them to more readily use the next tactic of…
2. Hit and Run
Also known as the most basic (and most effective) tactic to help technically ‘inferior’ forces overcome their betters. You don’t have to kill that fell monster tonight: assuming it can’t heal itself you can pepper it with a few crossbow bolts, run away, pepper it with a few crossbow bolts, rinse and repeat until the monster is dead. As a commoner, you’re going to be using tactics that are much closer to ones found in the real world.
3. Use Reach Weapons
A longspear, or other weapon with reach, gets you a free attack as the monster is charging up and can even be used to completely deny your opponents their hard won iterative attacks depending on your rules you’re using to play*. Don’t go to them, let them come to you and eat the tip of your longspear in the process… wait that, that came out wrong.
(see the Adequate Commoner for more information)
4. Don’t Ever Enter how your Enemies Expect
See that door? The door you’re supposed to walk through, the one that your enemy has trapped and planned an ambush around? Yeah, screw that. Use a magic scroll or even a magic item (or when worse comes to worse, explosives or hard work) to make a door where you want it (or better yet, walk up to the higher level of dungeon and come in through the roof).
5. Use the Environment to Your Advantage Instead of Letting them Use it to Theirs.
Caltrops and marbles sound like home alone style tactics, but they’re surprisingly effective at denying your opponents freedom of movement so you can deny your enemy their movement. You can also move furniture, make dirt walls to provide yourself with cover.
6. Stealth is your Friend
Sneak everywhere: if you can avoid it, don’t be seen. Go around fights, murder the archmage final boss guy in their sleep, and in general don’t let your enemies (or even your friends) know where you are. You’ll never be as good at sneaking as a rogue, but given your armor limitations you can become quite skilled in it. There is no greater advantage than getting to unload your attacks before your opponents – especially if you can down them before they even had a chance to act.
7. Make PETA Condemn You, and Convince Your Vegan Party Members that You’re Evil Incarnate
There is no reason that you shouldn’t be raising and commanding a veritable army of trained war dogs to callously send off to fight and die in your place. Remember! Animals are replaceable, you are not.
8. Creative Use of Your Downtime Will Keep You Alive
Ordinary adventurers may get to kick back when not adventuring with a frosty mug of ale and a busty wench or well endowed boy-toy: after all, they’ve spent the last fortnight smashing stinking horrors in the city sewers. Well, you don’t have luxury – your downtime will be spent crafting alchemical lifesavers and/or getting to the library to research as much as you possibly can to gain whatever slight advantage possible over whatever beast you’re likely to shortly encounter.
9. The Name of the Game: Stacking Advantages and Disadvantages
A commoner vs a warrior? Commoner doesn’t have a chance. But that same warrior, hit with a tanglefoot bag or some other alchemical debuff, trying to cross a floor full of caltrops while sling bullets rain down, taking two attacks of opportunity from a longspear before he can reach his target? That’s a fight the commoner can win.
10. Did We Mention Running Away?
Seriously, you’re playing the weakest class in the game, the one that isn’t supposed to be used for gameplay – you can approach a problem multiple times waiting for the situation to be most advantageous to you before committing to violence. Remember, without magical healing any wounds you take are going to last a while if you’re not killed outright. A paranoid commoner is a commoner that lives to fight another day.
Want to learn more about advanced tactics, improvised traps, and how to survive and thrive as a clever everyman? Check out The Adequate Commoner live on Kickstarter today!
(This article originally appeared on Geek Native)
With the threat of the gods hanging over their heads, the Great Mages decide the best way to end all the fighting for control over the land would be to fight each other for control over the land. This is where you come in; you play as one of the great mages in this 4x genre strategy game. Using your magic, and your armies, your goal is to win total dominance over the land by either killing your rivals, defeating one of the god's avatars, casting the unity spell, or by capturing more than half of the holy grounds in the world.
You can watch the full video review here:
NOTE: Galdon was awarded 50 Shmuckers for this review!
Master of Magic is a 4x game (like Civilization) that offers so much I really can't boil it down into just a few sentences.
But I can direct you to a review I made (years ago) in which I did a decent job showcasing the game: http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=nZ470zHEhDI
and also to more recent videos (I was challenged to create the worst wizard possible and play it): http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=_GJ_Zx-muJs&list=PLSQLREUw9vwkSvEp4tPvu9XTKLM3vK2Z5&index=2
The game can be found on GoG, and I can highly recommend it to anyone who enjoys fantasy wargames to check it out.
Note: Sum Gai was awarded 50 Shmuckers for this submission
This case is a good example of how the most complicated issues can arise from the simplest rules in the simplest games. It came from a game called Hex Hex. For those of you unfamiliar with the game, it’s essentially a card game version of hot potato. At the beginning of each round, a “Hex” token enters play. When the Hex is passed to a player, he or she must use one of his or her cards to pass it off to someone else. Inability to do so results in the player being “Hexed,” causing them to lose a point (called “voice”) and causing the person who passed them the hex to gain a point of voice. There are various ways the Hex can be modified and bounced around, most of which are irrelevant to this case and won’t be discussed here. The three most basic cards for passing off the Hex are Turn Aside Left, which passes the Hex to the player to immediately to your left; Turn Aside Right, which passes the Hex to the player immediately to your right; and Pass Across, which passes the hex to a person across the table. The first two cards are pretty self-explanatory and have never really caused any problems. Pass Across, while it might seem self-explanatory at first, is actually where the dispute arose.
The problem is that its effects can be dependent on the seating arrangement of the players. Consider a four player game in which there is one player sitting on each side of a square table, like so:
In this case, the interpretation is quite simple and easy to put into practice. Pass Across sends the Hex to the player directly across from the one who played the card. The problems enter when there are different numbers of players in different configurations. Consider, for example, a three player game in which the players are sitting at regular intervals around a circular table, like this:
No player has someone directly across from them. In addition, no matter who Pass Across sends the hex to, they could have been reached with a Turn Aside Left or Turn Aside Right card. Is Pass Across even a valid card in this scenario? This was actually the easiest scenario to resolve. As the game rules provide no real direction, in this case I would recommend allowing Pass Across to send the Hex to either of the other players. In this way, you avoid having a large section of the deck become entirely useless, as rendering Pass Across invalid would do. It is also in keeping with the somewhat vindictive, screw-the-other-guy-over spirit of the game (all in good fun, of course) by allowing players to choose who they wish to target with the Hex.
However, a three player game was, as I mentioned, the easiest difficulty to resolve. Consider instead a five player game taking place at a rectangular table, with two players on each length of the table and one at its head, as shown below:
Certain scenarios in this configuration seem quite simple. Player A plays a Pass Across card and sends the Hex to player E. Player D plays one and sends it to player B. The issues come in with that troublesome Player C. If each person can only use Pass Across to target the player directly across from them, then Player C cannot use the Pass Across card at all and no one can target him with it either. One could make the argument that Player C’s diminished capacity to receive the Hex is balanced by his diminished capacity to pass it on, but this line of thinking is not without its issues. The inherent randomness of dealing out a hand of cards could result in a scenario in which Player C has no Pass Across cards in his hand and thus is immune to a card that the other players likely possess while suffering no disadvantage for his immunity. Conversely, he could also be dealt a hand of nothing but Pass Across cards, and thus be entirely unable to act if the Hex is passed to him through other means.
Ultimately, though, this seems like a poor solution for the simple reason that it forces the rules to treat one player differently than the others in a game that is ostensibly supposed to be equally balanced. Now that we've ruled out the solution that we don’t want to use, it’s time to discuss what we actually do want to do in practice.
The solution my group came up with was to allow Pass Across to send the hex to anyone not adjacent to the one who played it. I will admit that this is not a perfect solution. It results in some counterintuitive restrictions. For example, Player A and Player E can no longer Pass Across to each other even though they are sitting directly across the table from each other. While it is not a perfect solution, it is a fair one. Each player can Pass Across to exactly two other players, and each player can receive a hex via Pass Across from those same two players. If you’re still bothered by the counterintuitive inability to Pass Across to someone directly across the table, try removing the table from your thinking and instead imagine the group just sitting in a circle all facing directly towards the center.
Perhaps more importantly though, this solution is good enough. By the time we reached this conclusion, my gaming group and I had discussed the issue for probably at least a half hour. Everyone was getting sick of the discussion and somewhat irritated with each other. At that point, it didn't really matter what solution we went with, as long as we got back to actually playing the game. This may sound ironic in a post dedicated to debating and discussing game rules, especially when I've already gone on so long on such an apparently simple issue, but rules debates in a game, while sometimes necessary, are frequently counter-productive. The most basic point of playing a game is to have fun, and a lengthy discussion on the finer points of the rules can bring that objective to a screeching halt. Those who don’t have a stake in the debate and aren't involved in it can get bored and irritated with the players who are holding things up. Those involved in the debate can get frustrated and even genuinely angry at each other if things go too far, always something to be avoided between friends if possible. The next time you’re playing a game and a rules question comes up and no obvious solution presents itself quickly, consider just conceding the point, even if it would put you at a disadvantage. Think about it this way: which would you rather do, reach a quick, amicable solution that allows you to keep playing, even if you are inconvenienced, or hold up play for an extended period of time by engaging in a debate with no clear answer just to gain an advantage?
That kind of debate is better held after the game, when there isn't so much riding on it and you’re not holding anything up by having it. Or better yet, write up the question and the arguments and send it in to firstname.lastname@example.org You and your friends can keep gaming, and that way, if the answer isn't what someone wanted, they can get mad at an anonymous person on the internet instead of at you.
Whew! Thanks for sticking with me through all of that folks, this was my first case and it kind of spiraled out of control in terms of length. If this gets a good response, I have more I can post soon, and the more you send in, the more I can post. My own gaming history can only provide so much, you guys have to provide the fuel if you want to keep this thing going. If you've got a case you'd like to submit, you can do so by e-mailing it to email@example.com, or posting or messaging it to www.facebook.com/SupremeCourtOfGaming.
NOTE: User was awarded 25 Shmuckers for this submission]]>
Hope you enjoy them!]]>