Monday, January 26, 2015

Thoughts on Kas'trum and Old School Game Design.

The scenarios in Space 1889, especially those in the core books, have received a lot of criticism for being on rails. Some modern commentators have rightly remarked that players and game masters both are locked into a single story line. For example, if  On Gossamer Wings is played out as written, no matter what the players do to fix Professor Grant's ether flyer, they will always crash - no exceptions and no player input.

So too is much of the rest of the Space 1889 background. When working up possible organizations of my Martian lead pile, I found that the options I wanted to use did not fit into any of the published city states and especially not Oenotria. Instead, I put them in the previously unknown city state of Kas'trum. I wanted to put Kas'trum off to one side of the main British advance preferably in the swamps between Crocea and Gorklimsk. According to known maps, the only way the British can get to those swamps by water is through Crocea with canal routes further north blocked by mountains. Crocea itself is still powerful enough to block any raiding red men coming down the canal and the British are close enough to its walls to make shoe-horning in a decent sized city state difficult.  So what was I going to do? After much hemming and hawing, all I had to do was remember how we used to do things. I'll let Frank Chadwick speak from the designer's notes for the Soldier's Companion rules:
Let me close with a piece of general advice to players and referees alike. Miniatures gaming is a form of entertainment, and these rules are intended to provide you with the means of putting on an entertaining game. It is foolish, then, to let the printed rules stand in the way of your enjoyment. The bulk of this book should serve as testimony to the effort put into making it as complete as it can be, but a set of rules is sterile without an active set of players. If you disagree with anything in these rules, please feel free to modify it to suit your own tastes. Just don't argue about it while the game is being played. During the game, the referee's word is absolute law, above even the printed words of the rules.
So with a plan refreshed by this wisdom Crocea is going to get moved further south, new canals dropped into place and Kas'trum will be put exactly where it needs to be so nothing stands in the way of my enjoyment.  Besides, the Earther maps were likely wrong to begin with.

To no particular scale - but around 3.14159 miles to the hex.

This is entertainment. If you are not re-fighting particular historical battles or you are not playing in a tournament where consistent rules are a necessity, throw out the canon and rewrite the rules until you get the enjoyment out of the hobby that works for you. It's what we did in the old days so there is historical precedent.      


ColKillgore said...

Sounds like an efficient plan to me.

Paul O'G said...

Good for you - I wish more people did this and offered their constructive options rather than just bitch about things being 'broken'.

In the meantime I hope your detachment of Parhoon rifles give Johnny Martian a bit of what for!

Yours in a white wine sauce,

Clive G said...

Yeah, go for it - Your Mars May Vary!

I'm actually populating Mylarkt, as t'were, which is close enough (actually next door to) the British colonies, but also hard against the Meroe Badlands (with the added delights of Giant Green Martians - take that Frank!) and Astusape highlands on one side, and the Neith steppe & Nilosyrtis Hills on t'other (beyond which lies Shapstash). It's also the main route for spice from the Boreosyrtis league, and the Germans are keen to disrupt that. So there's probably not too much in the way of inter-city conflict, but Mylarkt has the spurious independence of a no mans land. Pity the Prince!

That was all from memory, so don't hold me to it!

Pat G said...

Sounds great Clive!