The hobby has been great to me over the past few years. Through the Oldhammer Forum and community events like BOYL and NOVAOSGROT I've been able to meet some very talented like-minded hobbyists. There have been more Oldhammer related super-secret Facebook miniature projects and Kickstarters over the past two years than you can shake a stick at. The icing on the cake is that I've been able to correspond with other hobbyists and really ramp up the productivity level. I've been fortunate enough to be able to get my painted figures on the same table as some of the figures I had only ever seen on other blogs and forum posts.
THAT. BEING. SAID.
It's time to step it up on the gaming front. While i'm all about beer and pretzels gaming, it's time I really step up my gaming efforts. While its been loads of fun to be able to just throw stuff on the table and have great time rolling dice, it's time we got our act together and put together some really well planned games and campaigns.
The subject of doing a better job planning our games was brought up by Cheetor at BOYL last year and also recently when airbornegrove26 came over to my house for a weekend of gaming. While the games we've had over the past few years have been tremendous fun, it has mostly been about the experience and not the game. I think we've all gotten our jollies from putting our old lead on the table and it's high time we really do some work on the gaming front.
Yes, BOYL is THIS awesome.
Don't get me wrong, several members of the community have done a great job of putting together fantastic one-off games for events like BOYL and Oldhammer USA. Rather than put on a couple well developed one-off games, I want to work on a long campaign, a very long campaign. A very, very long campaign that never ends. I think of the D&D games that have been going on for 15 years. At this point in the community most of the involved members have pretty substantial collections of painted miniatures and terrain, we owe it ourselves to put together some really well crafted games and let the games build the narrative and not the other way around.
A nefarious space pirate with a story waiting to be written.
Setting the stage
Put on your thinking caps. The year is 1989. A simpler time. Betamax was a thing. You just picked up a Rogue Trader blister pack and tore it open and inside.... WORLDBURNER! He has no back story, just a name in a catalog. You start flipping through your Rogue Trader rulebook looking for equipment and weapons. This is where his story starts.
The original satanic bible
Where do we start? Back in the old days of 2nd edition AD&D I always started with character creation. Something about the process of rolling for stats and buying the crappiest weapons and armor fueled the narrative. The problem with Rogue Trader is that nothing has a point value and your characters can pretty much be equipped however you like. You've also got to decide what kinds of games you'll be playing and with how many models. Personally I don't like to put down more than 20 models per side, but I still want my main characters to be able to go on dungeon-crawls in between pitched battles and skirmishes. With these considerations in mind I'm going to set the following conditions for my campaign.
1) Create no more than 8 characters per force. These will be the main cast of my story; the Boromirs, Han Solos, and Commander Datas of spaaaaaaaaace.
2) Pick a couple rulesets. I want to be able to send my characters on adventures in space hulks and Ambull caves as well as having them lead or participate in big battles. I want to use the Rogue Trader rules as an anchor, so they will probably all have the standard Warhammer stat line. This will be important for the next condition.
3) Figure out a progression system. THE. BEST. PART. How will my characters progress from game to game. We all know that Warhammer is a merciless place. How many games have we played that resulted in the total extermination of all tabletop life as we know it? I need a way for my characters to survive the games, gain experience and progress from game to game. Maybe in ten years my humble Imperial Army Sergeant will be the commander of a fleet of space pirates. Who knows? Anything can happen.
Street Samurai - the epitome of Cyberpunk badassery
I've run a couple campaigns in the past that were loads of fun, but they would usually reach their conclusion at around the two month mark. At this point, the main characters were as powerful as primarchs and there were a couple units in every army that had half the special abilities in the rules. I still want that to happen, but it should happen over the course of a few years. For Warhammer/40k games I mostly stole all the charts out of Mordheim and Necromunda so I will probably be borrowing heavily from those games again, but I still want to draw ideas from other games as well.
When Cyberpunk ruled the world
I've been watching some YouTube gameplay from "This is not a test", post-apocalyptic RPG/tabletop skirmish game. There were some interesting progression ideas I'll probably borrow. I would love to get my hands on some 2nd edition AD&D books for ideas. One thing I really enjoyed was that seemed to take forever to gain enough experience just to get to the point where your character didn't suck at everything except for one thing. I actually really enjoyed that aspect because it made the character progression a lot more rewarding. I want to get away from the tabletop gaming idea that you get rewarded with stuff just because you played a game. There will be no participation trophies.
Shadowrun 2nd Edition was another huge influence on me as a gamer. The Karma system was really cool because you could choose to do whatever you wanted with Karma points and it was really hard to gain Karma. I also really enjoyed that characters were constantly spending their Nuyen on weapons and equipment upgrades.
Being that this campaign is going to be set in the Rogue Trader universe, I want the players to be able to incorporate their planets/territories into their game. I think something along the lines of how territories worked in Necromunda. Territories should affect how forces resupply, how they gain new recruits, etc.
Also, different forces will progress and resupply/acquire new weapons and equipment depending on what kind of faction they are. A Space Marine expeditionary force isn't going to loot teef from the battlefield and buy multilasers from a sketchy arms dealer at the spaceport, but that makes sense for a space pirate or mercenary type. I will have to ome up with different categories of factions for players to choose from.
Create your own renegade Space Marines!
So the wrap up, what you can expect from me over the next few weeks/months will be the framework for campaign play. I already have a few people interested, but the idea is that anyone can join in because no one person is running this campaign. Any GM can run a campaign within this campaign and still progress in the same way as a group of gamers across the Atlantic. Hopefully this will encourage thoughtful and rewarding gameplay and really help develop the narratives we've all come up with for all our different forces.