Escapism

Jan. 20th, 2017 03:41 pm
marjaerwin: (Default)
I am disabled. I get pain-beaten and strobed.

I am in pain, and sometimes in danger, from abled policies which require pain-beaters and strobes.

I am also autistic and trans. I got bullied and bashed unconscious as a kid, and I learned to hate myself for it.

I am a gamer too. Sometimes I play and design games to explore history. Sometimes I play and design games to escape this situation, though and that’s okay.

I want to find games that won’t strobe me, won’t trigger my migraines, and will allow me to play with my sensory and coordination issues. Most tabletop games work for me, but relatively few computer games do.

I also sometimes want to find games that allow more of us to escape the nasty situations some of us face, though, too. Even if only for a while. I don’t want to get stuck with games which *support* racism, sexism, ableism, etc., so I try to avoid games when the publishers complain about “SJW” “censorship,” or of course, if they support racism, sexism, ableism, etc.

P.S. And I've been thinking about how to bring escapist social justice into a semi-historical setting. How about a Roman-age setting, in Scythia east of Dacia, where Spartacus's rebels have settled after escaping from Italia, with Amazons from the east trading horses, Gutones from the northwest trading amber, and so on?
marjaerwin: (Default)
Between struggling with my illness, and with the beatings and strobings, I've been working on a board-and-counters wargame of parts of the Ukrainian Civil Wars of 1917-1921.

http://www.legionwargames.com/legion_pre-order.php#TAT

The first set of scenarios focus on the conflict between the Directory, the Bolsheviks, and the Whites, after the fall of the Hetmanate. These take place between December 1918 and February 1919. The second set of scenarios focus on the conflict between the Makhnovists and Whites, with the Bolsheviks returning to southern Ukraine at the end. These take place between September 1919 and January 1920. There are 2-player and 3-player scenarios.

I could use more playtesters. With the playtest version, you would need to print out the maps and double-sided counters, and mount the double-sided counters on cardboard. With the final version, that won't be an issue. If you are interested in playtesting, please contact me.

176 Playing Pieces

P.S. From my last playtest of "Fall of the Directory:"



This time, the Directory held on in the Kyiv-Chernihiv area, after defeating Zelenyist forces there.
marjaerwin: (Default)
For example:

1. A roleplaying game set in the revolt, with the player-characters as paricipants. Of course, it'll run into the usual problems of historical campaigns and of armed campaigns. First the characters would be a few amid tens of thousands [amid one hundred and fifty thousand, if we can trust the Roman sources]. If there is something a few people can do to change history, why would it be something the characters are trusted and able to do? Second, the characters could get killed and shouldn't reasonably have plot armor.

2. A battle game covering the battles of the war. Unfortunately, we don't know where most of the recorded battles took place, though Barry Strauss has suggested some in his The Spartacus War.

3. A campaign game covering the whole conflict in Italy, with an expansion or another game covering a possible escape into the Balkans.
marjaerwin: (Default)
I will be trying to playtest a Pathfinder adventure shortly. I am not familiar with the Pathfinder system, find character classes an obstacle to roleplaying, and do not have the full rules. So I am not in the best position to test the balance, but at least I can try to test the plotting. I talked with the designer and will be using the Basic Roleplaying rules.

Anyway, here are some of the house rules I'm using to try to fit these together.

Character Creation

Pathfinder uses levels to differentiate character abilities, but does not define these levels. Basic Roleplaying does not. Character creation requires adjustments to ensure that (1) different-level characters can be included, as appropriate (2) Basic Roleplaying characters are not too vulnerable for the Pathfinder adventure and (3) some but not all characters can use magic, or sorcery, as the case may be.

The main player characters start at 5th level in Pathfinder. They should probably start with 24 points for attributes, potentially 6 spells, and 310+INTx14 points for skills, modified for age in Basic Roleplaying. They should get the total hit points option, where they have twice as many as the default, and the skill category bonuses option, where attributes affect skills. They should require the literacy skill to read or write; if they can take language (other) as a professional skill, then they may take literacy as one.

Basic Roleplaying Pathfinder Equivalent Character Creation Stuff
Normal 1st Level 24 points for attributes; 4 spells; 250+INTx10 points for skills
Heroic 6th Level 24 for attributes; 6 spells; 325+INTx15 for skills
Epic 11th Level 24 for attributes; 8 spells; 400+INTx20 for skills.
Superhuman >16th Level 24 for attributes; 10 spells; 500+INTx25 for skills.

The magic rules do not specify who can or cannot use magic, and do not impose any special restrictions on magic users. I will restrict magic to characters with POW≥14, and the points required should balance things between magic users and non-magic users.

The allegiance rules assume random allegiance values, but I will allow the players to distribute up to 10 points between good and evil, setting aside chaotic and lawful.

Difficulty Multipliers

Pathfinder uses difficulty numbers, but does not define these numbers. Basic Roleplaying uses difficulty multipliers. In some cases, it also makes sense to apply difficulty additions.

Basic Roleplaying Pathfinder Equivalent
Automatic
Easy x2 Difficulty Class 5
Normal x1 Difficulty Class 10
Hard x1/2 Difficulty Class 15
Very Hard x1/4 Difficulty Class 20
Impossible Difficulty Class 30

There are certain exceptions to these difficulty numbers.

Optional Rules

The following optional rules are in play:

Point-Based Character Creation, p. 19. This replaces rolling for attributes.
Total Hit Points, p. 30. This gives the characters a better chance of survival.
Increased Personal Skill Points, p. 24. This gives higher-level characters extra personal skill points, as well as professional ones.
Skill Category Bonuses, pp. 20, 31, 48. This applies attribute modifies to the skills.
Freeform Professions, p. 41. Because.
Literacy, p. 67. Because Medieval.
Distinctive Features, pp. 34, 35. Because.
Allegiance, p. 315. Alignment.
Power Use in the Action Phase, p. 189. I'm not sure how to do Initiative, but this seems appropriate.
marjaerwin: (Default)
http://humaniterations.wordpress.com/2012/01/05/letter-to-the-undead-of-geekdom/

Well, it's not always the same. I'd geek out because I wanted to set things right, I'd geek out partly because I wanted to know what was wrong and how and what could be right and how, but also, because I wanted to know for its own sake. I delight in stories. I delight in exploration. I tend to back away from judgement.

I designed a game of protest tactics in the Battle of Seattle, but the situation has changed, and the lessons seem out-of-date. And I never figured out how to cover practical day-to-day activism, pre-protest organizing, street theater, except abstractly, getting food and shelter and enough bike locks, street medicine, or coping with police harassment and/or post-traumatic stress, each of which is just as important.

I want to design a roleplaying game, tentatively titled 'Every Empire Creates its own Resistance,' on trying to make do as people find themselves on the edges of a steadily-narrowing society in a self-destructive Empire.

But it's pretty dark, and I'm coping with other stuff.

Once my hands heal I'll finish some of my historical games.

I doubt I'll design a hard-core activist roleplaying game in the next few years. I am more likely to try to create an escapist fantasy where, for example, certain parties have slipped lesbian concentrate into the water supply, with more dramatic effects than they had dared to expect. It wouldn't be about our-world activism, it would be about escape, but in such an escape, I hope to create a healing space, and heal, and regain the strength to help heal the world.
marjaerwin: (Default)
I'm planning to work on the following game projects over the next year, in addition to final playesting and final revisions for *Tatchanka,* and complete at least two or three of them:

"Resistance" or "Every Empire Creates its own Resistance"

- A near-future science-fiction roleplaying game set on the margins of a crumbling empire. Typical characters are outcasts and/or rebels. The storyline will borrow from my unfinished *Rebel Dawn* project, some ideas from cyberpunk works, and some ideas from space-opera-rebellion works. The system should be pretty simple, but the game should pay more attention to social ties and economics than most. The characters have to deal with distrust, identification, stigma, etc. This is probably the biggest project, and I should draft one or two adventures first.

"Fall of the Tsar"

- A boardgame of the February Revolution in Petrograd. My current draft uses area movement, but I might redraw the map and use point-to-point movement.

"Argentoratum and Hadrianopolis" or "Battles of the Late Roman Empire"

- A boardgame of two major battles of the Late Roman Empire. And yes, I'm choosing these two because they are better-documented than most. My current draft is based on the *Renaissance of Infantry* system.

"Urreis Gutthiuda"

- A boardgame of the Gothic Revolt. A strategic companion to "Hadrianopolis." At this point, I don't have any playable draft; I intend to use strength points and variable movement, and incorporate depletion into the supply system.
marjaerwin: (Default)
This is my current game project. It's already in playable condition. The website doesn't yet include my revised maps and historical notes.

http://www.legionwargames.com/legion_tatchanka.html
marjaerwin: (Default)
Snce it's hard to attach files to Livejournal, I'll link to the posts on Consimworld, with photos:

http://talk.consimworld.com/WebX?14@310.E5wUbb7xLup.15225823@.1dd2e848/97

*Makhno's Return* playtest, August 30th, 2010.

M. Erwin, solitaire. Updated version, using the minimum at-start Makhnovist forces and the maximum retreating Volunteer forces.

September IV 1919

Makhnovists defeat the Simferopol Officers' regiment and march east. Directory sends three regiment-sized divisions around the White flank toward Tiraspol.

October I 1919

Makhnovists and Directory move first. Directory takes Odesa on a 1:2 attack. Makhnovist infantry takes Lisavethrad. Makhnovist cavalry reaches Hulyai Pole.

Whites scramble to hold their bases around Mariupol and get back into supply near Ochakiv.

October II 1919

Whites move first. They naval-move one brigade from near Odesa to Berdiansk via Kerch. They cut off Odesa and retake the city.

Makhnovists take Katerynoslav and Volnovakha. Their cavalry threatens Taganrog.

October III 1919

Whites move first. They surround and destroy the Makhnovist cavalry, three units, near Taganrog.

November I-II 1919

Only 4 White units desert. 3 are replaced in the same phase. The Whites retake Lozova and Orekhiv.

Directory forces repulsed at Odesa, but the White concentration against Makhno is looking quite risky. Makhnovists defeat the Chechen Horse Division. (Without their own cavalry, they are hard-pressed to threaten White bases.)

November III-IV 1919

Whites take Oleksandrivsk and Hulyai Pole. They fall back to more defensible positions in the Odesa sector.

Makhnovists send two infantry regiments and the remaining tatchankas into the White rear to try to disrupt the White offensive. Directory moves its forces toward Kherson.

December I-II 1919

Makhnovist forces forced-march to try to take Mariupol. They lose one regimet in the forced march, bringing the attack to 1:2. They are repulsed. Directory forces take Kherson.

Whites take Katerynoslav and reinforce Taganrog.

December III-IV 1919

Whites attempt forward defense from Poltava, to just south of Kharkiv, to Luhanske, with reserves at Lozova. They retake Kherson.

Bolshevik attacks cut through White positions. Bolshevik forces rail-move through the breakthrough and occupy the Donets basin. (That may seem strange, but similar rail-mounted offensives were common in 1918 and weren't unknown even in late 1919.) Retreating Whites cut those Bolsheviks' supply lines in the 2nd combat phase, but the Reds continue to advance aggressively.

January I-II 1920

Makhnovists are unable to retake Oleksandrivsk.

Horse Army takes Rostov. Latvian Riflemen take Mariupol.

The Whites still control enough cities, particularly including Katerynoslav, Kamianske and Oleksandrivsk, to win without playing through their turn. Given their losses, their position is no better than it historically was, but they *do* hold some cities they had historically lost.

Overall Result

The updates seem to work fairly well. The mobilization system and supply system have seen the biggest changes, and both worked surprisingly well. The new supply system might work better if the Whites are x3 when in supply instead of x4. The Bolsheviks and Directory are x2. The combat system should be bloodier. The Whites suffered few losses but they were able to rebuild their losses at the rear-area bases the Makhnovists were trying to take. All, or at least most, of their units should have to remobilize at their parent armies' forward bases.

The victory conditions should penalize the Whites for excessive losses – counting logistical bases if not other units. The Whites effectively won the game by destroying the Makhnovist cavalry and nearly, but not quite, lost that by defending too far forward.

It's going to take more experimentation to see how well the initial Makhnovist raid, and various White responses, work. It looks like the maximum estimate for the retreating Whites is too strong; not strong enough to stop the Red Army, but strong enough to delay them in ways that seem historically doubtful.

P.S. In the December and January photos, units are rotated if out-of-supply in the last friendly supply phase. The final game should include out-of-supply markers for ambiguous cases.

http://talk.consimworld.com/WebX?14@310.E5wUbb7xLup.15225823@.1dd2e848/108

*Fall of the Directory* playtest, November 26th, 2010.

Marja Erwin, solitaire. Updated version. The current combat results table is bloodier than the previous one; the current forced march table is more generous. The game now uses one-week turns throughout the year, and reduces movement rates in frozen weather. The game will use a two-step mobilization system, with forming units. I have yet to write up the rules for the two-step mobilization system, and am playing it by ear. *Fall of the Directory* also includes political rules. These could later be adapted to a chit-draw system, like Joseph Miranda's *Ancient World* series.

December IV 1918

Although, when they organized into regiments, the Makhnovists would form 5 weak regiments, it better reflects their strength and capabilities to give them two regiment-sized units and one local/militia unit. The striking group takes Katerynoslav, which the Whites have abandoned and the Directory has not occupied in any strength. The Bolsheviks can place an urban uprising unit adjacent to the city, and they get one for each major city, but they keep it in reserve for better opportunities.

At the start of the game, the Bolsheviks have 8 rifle regiments and 2 more forming. They advance all along the front. Right now, the supply multiples are harsh, perhaps too harsh, for the Volunteers and the Directory; the Bolsheviks actually had a logistical advantage at this point, although the Volunteers would have the advantage once Entente supplies reached them. Their supply advantage allows 2 Bolshevik regiments to get a 3:2 attack on 2 Directory regiments at Kharkiv. They capture the city, and mobilize 3 forming units using the captured equipment.

January I 1919

Bolsheviks move first. Directory forces drive off the first Bolshevik attack on Chernihiv. Bolshevik forces surround the 2 Directory units which had retreated from Kharkiv the previous turn, and eliminate them, including one of their irreplaceable elite units. Directory forces drive off another Bolshevik attack on Chernihiv, inflicting heavy losses. Bolshevik forces cut the Poltava-Lozova railroad.

Directory moves second. They declare war, which removes certain movement restrictions and allows them to remove bases and mobilize, starting next turn. It has political costs, and allows the Russian Bolsheviks to intervene to support their Ukrainian allies They retake Katerynoslav. They have 1 unit stranded in the Donbas, where it can't defeat the Volunteers or the Bolsheviks, and would be lost. The Bolshevik advance has cut the rail line back to Poltava, so they will need to march as fast as possible. They forced march. They fall back from Poltava – the Bolsheviks will probably capture the base next turn, but the Directory can't do anything about that but hope for lucky die rolls.

Volunteers and Intervention Forces move last. They convert one of the forming units to a new cavalry brigade. They remove the base – the Hetmanate's arms stores – in Odesa, and place 2 forming units. The Directory beats off a Polish attack on Rozdilna, inflicting heavy losses. The French take Berezivka.

January II 1919

Volunteers and Intervention Forces move first. They shift their forces toward Kherson.

Directory moves second. Since they move before the Bolsheviks, they can convert the base at Poltava before the Bolsheviks capture it. They reinforce Chernihiv. With only one political effort remaining, they keep it for emergencies.

Bolsheviks move last. They receive several Russian units because the Directory has declared war. They persuade Zeleny to switch sides. Most of these enter the Donets basin, avoiding the need for the Ukrainians to divert units to the area. The Bolsheviks stake Chernihiv with a 1:1 attack – they need to take Directory bases to mobilize their own units, so luck in these battles can really tip the balance.

January III 1919

Volunteers and Intervention Forces move first. The 1st Division lands at Mariupol. The 156th French Division takes Kherson.

Directory persuades Zeleny to return to their side. They trade their base at Kyiv for 3 more forming units. They surround and eliminate Bolshevik rebels near the city. Their forces, defeated at Chernihiv the previous turn, return to Kyiv. They concentrate their southern and eastern units toward Piatakhatki and give up Kamianske and Katerynoslav, hoping that other requirements will draw Bolshevik forces away from Poltava and the above cities.

Bolsheviks again persuade Zeleny to switch sides. The Directory used their last political effort on him, and the Bolsheviks have 2 left over. The Bolsheviks take Horlivka. They pursue the Directory to Kremenchuk, giving the Directory no time to reorganize.

January IV 1919

Bolsheviks move first. The fail to persuade Grigoriev to switch sides. Directory forces drive back their first attack on Kyiv. Zeleny moves to cut off any possible retreat. Directory forces hold off the second attack.

Directory forces retake Kremenchuk and destroy one Bolshevik regiment. Their largest force holes up in Kyiv, while bypassed units try to cut the Bolshevik supply lines toward Kyiv. Rhey destroy another Bolshevik regiment and retake Kamianske.

The Simferopol Regiment takes Oleksandrivsk.

February I 1919

Bolsheviks move first. Again, they fail to persuade Grigoriev. They make another 1:1 (actually 28:27, including supply multipliers) attack on Kyiv, before supply determination, but fail. Using rail-mounted reserves, the Bolsheviks manage to surround most of the units blocking their supply lines and destroy them. They make a 1:2 attack on Kyiv in the 2nd combat phase, but it fails.

Volunteer forces take Hulyai Pole.

Directory forces make low-odds attacks which drive Bolshevik forces away from Kyiv, and an attack on Katerynoslav which fails with heavy losses. At this point, the Directory has 4 pts; they need 5 to win a marginal victory. The Bolsheviks have 7 pts; they need 9. The Volunteers have 6 pts, just enough.

February II 1919

Directory moves first. They take Poltava.

Volunteers mobilize and move a few units, but decline to attack.

Bolsheviks concentrate forces against Oleksandrivsk and Kyiv. They fail to take either city on 3:2 attacks. The Directory and the Volunteers each scrape through with a marginal victory, and the Bolsheviks are defeated.

Overall Result

The system worked smoothly, although the supply multipliers may need tweaking and the rules for removing one's own bases may be too generous. The game came down to the last 2 die rolls – that's probably not typical, but the role of luck in the battle for Kyiv seems too much. Historically, the Directory abandoned the city after defeats east of it, but events outside Kyiv never seemed as important as the attacks on the city.

I think the Bolsheviks also mismanaged their reserves. They ended up with not-quite-enough in three different directions, and more use of rail movement might have changed things.
marjaerwin: (Default)
It has been a busy week, between working on *Tatchanka* and preparing for the trip. But *Tatchanka* is coming along nicely, and I've updated the maps and counters.

Hmmm... internal server error... I don't think I'll be able to show you. Sorry.

If you are interested, I'd suggest looking at the thread on Consimworld. *Tatchanka* attempts to model some of the military campaigns of the Ukrainian Revolution of 1917-1921.

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