Thursday, July 09, 2009

Atmosphere and Elegance

In commenting on this post over at the Grog I said the following:

I got closest (to the epitome of 'elegance and atmosphere', minimal rules, maximum affect) when I used the philosophy of cutting, not adding, elements in the rules and campaign setting. I boiled it down to a couple pages of charts. All was taken from AD&D (1.00000). The emphasis shifted from books and paper to dialogue, imaginings and the dice. With less dice rolled, each became more important. It was great.

When I walk into a game store these days that stocks the latest morph of D&D I never cease to be amazed at the number of volumes available, their expense, their quality of production and the amount of shelfspace they consume. Adding it all together I come to the conclusion that, besides being much more affluent than me and my 1e gaming friends were, modern gamers seem to be much more 'thing' oriented. I won't rant about the consumer society, but it worries me when I see the concentration on this vast profit making enterprise to the exclusion of home made fun and backyard businesses.

This isn't just about AD&D, RPGs, mass market computer games and so forth, but includes the other types of game as well. For example, in my little history of flight simming I have played on something for the Super80 way back when (!) right up to my present IL2 passion. I have tried maybe two dozen flight sims in my time. My favorites were 'wings' on the amiga, '1942 - Pacific War' on windows 98 and IL2 on XP. Each of these games faced off against more action oriented or more extravagent simulations, yet it is these to which I continue to return (in the case of IL2 and hopefully one day in the case of the others). Why?

Because they work well (elegant) and you can 'smell the avgas in the morning' (atmosphere).

It's like comparing the joy of the orginal squad leader game with the monster that it became - one is beer and pretzels , the other is abstract literary expertise. Both are fun, don't get me wrong, but you can probably guess which one I prefer.

Tuesday, July 07, 2009

Drummore, hive of activity

It is now about two weeks since I first distributed plans for Operation Drummore. There are presently around 16 soldiers in Drummore (which I expected) with squads from all the towns (which I had hoped for).

I am about to start a three day 'advanced training course' for six of my officers/NCOs. They will head out and 'scout' the nodes on the road between wigtown and drummore. I will be running a tour of inspection of their positions with two of my MacTavish bodyguards. I have all the different scouts operating on different 'settings', and will get a chance to see what they see, and what I see, during the inspection. We will all need to post our sightings on the regimental forum to pass the examination.

While advanced training is happening the soldiers will be all working in the Drummore mines, except of those rostered for sentry duty. They will post what they see on the Regimental forum. This is their basic training.

I have asked all the soldiers in the mines to give me their 'receipts' for their labours. I will be collecting them on the Regimental forum. This is our 'civil aid' mission.

While the above is all happening ingame, we are running a 'military camp' Role Play thread on the town's local forum. I also seem to be meeting a lot of soldiers in the generally otherwise empty taverns. This is raising the profile of the RSA in this isolated town.

From around 10 July, the first scouts will leave town to cover the route for the return journey. On the twelfth, the squads of the Regiment will pull up their stakes and go back to their homes. This will complete the basic training requirements for the recruits. By leading one of the squads and participating in the scout training or cover force, the NCOs will have completed the formal element of their training.

When we get home I will collect all the receipts which the troops have collected when they worked in the mines and see how we can use this to obtain some cash from the County.

Of interest, since we have been in town the price of bread has risen, the wages paid in the mines have dropped, and some of the locals are whinging about the fact that where we go we are bound to attract trouble.


(With this post 2009 becomes the year in which I have (so far) written more posts (n=66) than any year bar one (2007) since 2004).

The General's Office

It has been interesting getting a second chance to do the job of 'general' in the Galloway Regiment of the Royal Scottish Army in RK. The first time I ran around the country from one fragmented crisis to another until became an absolutely exhausted tragic hero in popular imagination. Good for tall tales in the tavern but not what was needed. Though, looking back, it was about the only thing that could have been done, and provided a popular base for the rebuild.

Here I am, half a year later, with the privilege of leading the Regiment again. The decay and demoralisation upon entry was pretty bad, and numbers are down. So. I have taken a rather different approach to my duties.

Have spent a lot of time in the General's Office, a subforum open basically only to the general. I must say I have got done a lot of work in there. I appointed officers to all the vacant positions in the regiment and set a timetable for setting up the infrastructure (town band forums, usergroups up to date, numbers, names) and a plan of action. People were hanging out for activity.

Putting a lot of time into it in the office, I soon had timetables, newsletters, task lists and piles of correspondence begining to pile up. It took a lot of planning and sweat to get it all happening.

And most of it happened behind closed doors.

Friday, July 03, 2009

Drummore or bust!

In RK I am on a little jaunt with 'my' regiment the Royal Scots of Galloway of the Royal Scottish Army ('RSA'). I had quite a plan worked up, drawing squads from the three main bands together in Wigtown and then marching them over to Drummore. There was force procection scouts planned to be on the nodes before we passed, a 'slack' day in Wiggie to absorb inevitable delays, and a coordinated push through to Drummore, picking up the scouts on that road as we passed.

Things have not gone as planned.

Whithorn put together two squads, which could have been one. They had a scout leave town, but he has kept on marching and arrived in Drummore after three days out on his own. I was intending to lead the second squad to wiggie on the day after the first squad. Turns out the first squad left the day after me. They have only now gotten to Wiggie, the day after we were meant to leave.

My squad has therefore had a day chopping wood. We would have left on the day planned except that the Kirk squad has also arrived a day late. And they didn't scout the road before them.

As for the Wiggie band, the band leader seems to have 'disappeared'. She is still opening her mail so I assume she has read her orders, but I have had no response and it seems that the no one in town is doing what they're meant to. Which means there's no wiggie squad waiting to go out, and there is no one scouting the road to Drummore ahead of us.

The delays to Whit squad 1 and Kirk squad were both caused by waiting for someone to finish some business in town.

Dariangreen is trying to get something happening with the wig band. He used to be their adjutant before he became my military councillor so he has the contacts. Not much operational experience though.

When we get to Drummore I am seriously thinking of rostering the soldiers to mines/sentry duties, while I take the officers on a crash course of small unit tactics (command protocols, scouting techniques) so that they can then start training the soldiers of their bands on the return journey.

An interesting subplot that has worked was organising for the officers and those of my former bodyguard to be issued 'RSA Sporrans'. This entailed getting the town mayor of Whit (in the case of the non commissioned bodyguards) and the County Trade Minister (for the officers) to 'issue a travel grant' to these people. Basically, a grant is an inventory that is independent of your personal inventory that travels around with you. Thus, even if thieves rob your personal inventory, the contents of the grant remain safe. So I rebadged it as a RSA Sporran, had them issued, ordered the officers to keep emergency rations and weapons in them. Seems to be a popular move. Will have them issued to the whole regiment just as soon as we complete Operation Drummore and work out exactly who is in the Regiment these days.