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"Narative Campaigns" Topic


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1,008 hits since 12 Sep 2012
©1994-2014 Bill Armintrout
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Timothy V Inactive Member12 Sep 2012 8:52 a.m. PST

Has anyone run a Narrative Campaign using platoon & Company Level Engagements with engagements being story Driven not Driven by abstract Point Cost? I have started writing up a Story Line & have come up with a couple Platoon & Company Level Objective Driven Scenarios but it has been years since I ran my last Campaign. The Campaign is set on The Planet of Over Watch & will primarily be fought in the Capital City that has been devastated by Planetary Bombardment & is now under ground attack. The Invasion fleet out in space will not be playing any significant role in the campaign as it will be engaged with an enemy relief fleet. I have already set up Rule for Preliminary Orders & Deployment for the Games which Limit the Units to certain actions until the enemy is Detected or Engaged with the units being forced to proceed on Orders until they Spot the Enemy or otherwise detect him. Eliminating the Gods Eye View that we Gamers have Over the Table which the Commander in the Field does not have.

I am Still Painting up the Forces & Building the Terrain for this Campaign any Ideas or Suggestions on Special Rules or other stuff you can Think of that might help with Running & Playing a Campaign is Appreciated.

The Invading Forces Still In Progress Company Pictures





More Pictures & a very Basic Oganization at my Blog
link

Eclipsing Binaries12 Sep 2012 9:06 a.m. PST

I want my campaign to be story driven rather than just a points bash. I've been building up the background on my blog as I build up the figures. Got a long way to go…

Personal logo snodipous Supporting Member of TMP12 Sep 2012 9:12 a.m. PST

Sounds like you're looking for Platoon Forward, by Too Fat Lardies. You can get it as a .pdf here:

link

Phil Dutre12 Sep 2012 9:21 a.m. PST

I'm currently running a narrative campaign, SciFi setting.

Every player has a personalized squad (5 to 6 figures), part of a larger force. I, as GM, come up with missions, usually special forces stuff (free hostages, take out gun base, recon mision, capture hostile terrorist, … ). Either I play opposition for all players, or one player whose squad is not particpating plays opposition.

Players get briefing, come up with a plan, then we play the game. Figures can get knocked out during the game (sometimes killed), but can recover between missions if rescued from the battlefield. Every player also has to write up a mission report after the game. All reports are bundled in the campaign log. The campaign log is spiced up with announcements from the higher echelon, pictures found on the web (aliens, planets, …) etc.

In between missions, figures who survived can gain some additional abilities (20% chance per figure). This personalizes each player's squad very much. Players are encouraged to come up with nicknames for their figures, or nicknames for squads. Figures are sometimes repainted or replaced to show training, wounds, badges, medals etc.
Players also have made suggestions for the campaign development. E.g. what to do with new alien species encountered (answer: raid alien breeding grounds to get mre DNA samples)? What to do with captured prisoners (answer: penal squads were founded, such that prisoners could redeem themselves). Etc.

I am considering using the Mythic Game Master Emulator as well.

A small report from one mission:
link

Key to a succesful narrative campaign: everyone can provide input and ideas, but GM has final say.

Personal logo Ed the Two Hour Wargames guy Sponsoring Member of TMP12 Sep 2012 9:46 a.m. PST

All THW games run narrative campaigns without points. They also generate the missions, track campaign morale, replacements, repairs, etc.

5150 Star Army
link

Even if using other tactical rules still worth it just for the campaign features.

Moqawama Inactive Member12 Sep 2012 12:09 p.m. PST

I see Old Crow and Khurasan models there, plus the Robot Legion Skirmishers from Blue Moon,

what are those bigger two legged walkers on the extreme left of the table?

:D

Dan 05512 Sep 2012 7:25 p.m. PST

I ran a 15mm scifi campaign many moons ago where the players were the commnanders of company sized mercenary units in the pay of "The Empire", acting together to put down a rebellion on a colony planet.

The Empire had no troops "available" for this important mission, so the mercenary companies were called up instead. (the players never did figure out that the Empire was there illegally).

The players had a certain amount of "dollars" to build their companies, and received pay in accordance with how well they did in the battles. They could use this pay to replace losses, or hopefully – increase their company's size.

We had a huge map where we kept track of their progress, and ran a continuous narative of the campaign. Final success depended on conguering the entire map.

Lion in the Stars Supporting Member of TMP12 Sep 2012 8:58 p.m. PST

I'm about ready to start a campaign inspired by [read as: "blatantly copied from"] General Pettygree's once-a-month adventures.

Just need to finish the ~50 Baluchis I need for the first scenario.

Elenderil13 Sep 2012 4:39 a.m. PST

As I have said elsewhere I see a good campaign as being akin to a story. The umpire and players are writing the plot as they go along. The umpire's job is to be a "Games Master" rather like in a good RPG session. They create the scenario, the background and motivation of the players before the campaign starts and then let it roll.

Often the game moves in unexpected directions and the umpires role is then to nudge it back into line if the devation is spoiling the players enjoyment. Their main role is to ensure consistancy within the campaign world. So if it is a campaign set in our classical world, lets say the Pelloponesian War and a player wants to develop hot air balloons the umpire should forbid it. If it is in a Fantasy setting with the same technology levels the umpire might let the player run with the idea but place serious stumbling blocks in the way based on cultural fear of new technology, or lack of materials good enough for constructing the balloon, all based on their view of what is right for that world. In narrative terms the Umpire is the lead author.

Timothy V Inactive Member13 Sep 2012 7:00 a.m. PST

I have Run Multiple campaigns in the past but never above the Platoon Level. I will be Running this Campaign using the Gruntz 15mm Science Fiction Rules & part of what I have been waiting for is the release of Version 1.1 which should be out within the next couple weeks. I have been playing gruntz with my Small Gaming group at the Platoon & Company Levels with only a couple of modifications to the Core Rules. I have the Campaign mapped out for the first 5 Games. I have done away with the Points System as all Point Systems are abstract & instead am going with a Narrative Driven System using full TO&Es that are usually fairly balanced, but I have some Story Driven Scenarios where one Side is completely Over whelmed an example of this is I have one scenario if the invaders win the next scenario the defenders have to choose a Portion of their remaining troops to act as a rear guard to hold the Invaders while the rest of the army is falling back & are not meant to defeat the invaders just to buy Time & Withdraw if possible. The Outcome of each Game determines what the next Scenario will be & what forces each Side can bring to bear. The Campaign is going to be both Story & Map Driven forcing each Side to Deploy troops to an area to either hold it or to assalt the enemy & they must deploy whole Platoons & can deploy full Companies & more if enough Platoons are present.

(Jake Collins of NZ 2) Inactive Member14 Sep 2012 2:49 p.m. PST

I'm using Platoon Forward for a sci-fi narrative campaign. They seem perfect for this type of thing.

Victor Kravenhoff Inactive Member14 Sep 2012 4:36 p.m. PST

Timothy, obviously since your not into point systems, your willing to sacrafice some balance for story, but if each game effects the next, doesn't that kind of start a vicious cycle for the loosers? (winners having more and more, losers having less and less)

Dragon Gunner15 Sep 2012 8:21 p.m. PST

I ran two campaigns in my time. The first ended in disaster becuase the players could not grasp they would need their baggage train and transport throughout the campaign. They let both die for short term gain in their first battle.

The second campaign was fantastic and well thought out with maps and some solo playtesting on my part. I thought I had idiot proofed it. I had one set of instructions for the players, show up one month from now with one light airborne force picked from the army list, no vehicles.

The big day arrives and one player shows up with an armored force. I asked him if he understood the instructions? He said he did but chose to ignore them because he did not like them. I informed him we would play a game but it would no be part of the campaign. He instructed me his armor was all airborne made from light hand wavium alloys and it was going to be used today. He then proceeded to puff up his chest, stand on his toes and try to kill me with his incredible stare. I actually thought he might resort to violence to get his way. I agreed with whatever he wanted, quickly lost the game and let him gloat. He was never invited back and I hope I never see him ever again.

Lesson learned retain as much control as you can and assume the worst will happen.

Victor Kravenhoff Inactive Member16 Sep 2012 1:10 p.m. PST

Man, thats screwed up. I hope you have other, more cooperative partners

SpaceJacker17 Sep 2012 2:04 a.m. PST

I just got platoon forward and am about to play a solo narrative campaign using FUBAR and 15mm sci fi models. Quite excited about it!

CAPTAIN BEEFHEART17 Sep 2012 4:47 a.m. PST

I prefer the narrative choice over the points base as it allows the players better insight in the quality of their forces. You may have an order of battle or a table of organization that may be perfect on paper. Once you fill in the blanks with a storyline, you may be running a paper tiger.
This can allow an exciting campaign as the forces may be very asymmetric. …just my vote

Moqawama Inactive Member17 Sep 2012 4:57 a.m. PST

Timothyyyyy????

"what are those bigger two legged walkers on the extreme left of the table?"

;-D

OSchmidt17 Sep 2012 8:03 a.m. PST

Dear Dragon Gunner-

Sympathies indeed. I would simply have told the guy to get out.

In my narrative campaigns It proceeds in a very simple schema.

1.I determine the orders of battle of each side at the start of the campaign. As I provide all the figures no one can bring anything and if they do it can be for show and tell, but it won't be used, or it gets substituted on a 1 for 1 basis (his line infantry for my line infantry).

2. The game begins with each side giving me their intentions in a simple statement. Subject, verb, limited adjectives and adverbs and direct object. like "I want to seek out a general engagement with the enemy."

3. Once both sides tell me what they wish to do I determine what happened and what the resulting battle will be when we meet.

4. If the person doesn't show up, they lose. If they show up and we have the battle I determine who won by the evidence and situation on the field and in light of the original intentions.

5. I then ask for intentions for the next battle. If the intentions are not comensurate with what they have left after the battle, I say "No, try again."

6. Players are not allowed to determine events in the game. Such as one person saying, after suffering a catastrophic defeat "I receive massive reinforcements from the homeland and go over to the attack on the enemy again." Nor are they allowed to determine battles, such as "After the Next battle which I win decisively I will march to…" You get one sentence of no more than a dozen words.

Dragon Gunner17 Sep 2012 1:38 p.m. PST

I have more time to comment now and will give examples of what I have learned. Oschmidt and I think a great deal alike on this subject so I will comment on his six points…

1. The orders of battle are determined at the start of the campaign by you if possible. If you want the players to determine their own OOB it is submitted to you in advance for approval. Do not let any player show up on game day without submitting his OOB in advance. Whenever possible supply all the miniatures.

2. Oschmidt allows players to write their own operation order in a simple statement. I tend to do the same but channel their choices (you get A, B, C or D) and inform the players of the possible outcomes based on their choices. I do not use a free form map where players can wander around and never find each other. I use area movement, if they occupy the same area at the same time a battle occurs. I also create the conditions that will force them to come to grips (i.e if you lose this area the OPFOR gains this…)

3. I agree with Oschmidt you decide the nature of the battle. (ie. Player one did not move so he is dug in. Player two moved into player one's area so he will have to attack or withdraw etc…)

4. If they don't show up they retreat or lose. The same goes if they fail to show up with miniatures they were supposed to provide. If they do not move and do not come under attack then they sit in their map area and dig in that turn.

5. I give the players a debrief from that battle then offer them limited choices (A, B, C or D)

6. Oschimdt hit on the biggest one right here. The players NEVER get to decide events. They get choices and ramifications of their choices preferably pointed out to them in advance. They are not allowed to add to or delete their OOB. They are not allowed to create events as part of the narrative that hinder others or give them unfair advantages.

Dragon Gunner17 Sep 2012 2:25 p.m. PST

In regards to point driven campaigns with established OOBs I recommend some solo play testing. I have found the defender should get less points if the attackers OOB is never going to get reinforced. This becomes critical if the attacker is expected to fight numerous engagements.

(Example. The attacker gets a 2,000 point airborne force to attack a force of 300 points defending an airfield.)

In a narrative driven campaign I would penalize the loser by removing some option from his OOB.

(Example. You lost the airfield to your opponents airborne drop, as a result he was able to destroy your air support on the ground for the rest of the campaign you will have no air support)

Timothy V Inactive Member18 Sep 2012 2:19 a.m. PST

Moqawama

Sorry it took so long to get back to you but I haven' been 0n in while. The Big 2 legged walker is from Khurasan Miniatures is the 15mm Nova Respublik PA-3 Python Power Armoured Suit (set of two complete suits, with two different leg poses, four different arm poses, two cockpits and two missile launchers, all pieces are pewter) the smaller of the walkers is from the Out of Production Star Craft Board Game as are the tracked drones & flight drones. The Sci Fi German Storm troops who make up the human portion of the army are From Eurika Miniatures.

OSchmidt18 Sep 2012 4:39 a.m. PST

Dear Dragon Gunner.

A bit of redirect.

1. The orders of battle are determined at the start of the campaign by you if possible. If you want the players to determine their own OOB it is submitted to you in advance for approval. Do not let any player show up on game day without submitting his OOB in advance. Whenever possible supply all the miniatures.

A noble idea! Be prepared for failure. Players I have found are notorous for not doing prep-work. Most campaigns simply fall apart when the players are expected to do work. One or two will, most won't. Second if you allow them to submit OB's you will get into endless arguments over this or that thing you don't want to approve. You've got to rule with an iron hand at this point. If you don't you'll have people wanting to show up with Greek Hoplite Armies with Feudal Knights and Mongol Cavalry to boot.


2. Oschmidt allows players to write their own operation order in a simple statement. I tend to do the same but channel their choices (you get A, B, C or D) and inform the players of the possible outcomes based on their choices. I do not use a free form map where players can wander around and never find each other. I use area movement, if they occupy the same area at the same time a battle occurs. I also create the conditions that will force them to come to grips (i.e if you lose this area the OPFOR gains this…)

Good method, but NEVER promise outcomes or possibilities. let them group around and get their fingers chopped off-- it's a learning curve. Once you offer outcomes they will hold you to your words and re-interpret what you said to suit what they want. If you get questions like "What will happen if I do X" the answer you give is a shrug and "depends what the other guy wants." Second, if you offer them choices, YOU are providing the operations not they, and then the semantic shoe is on the other foot. They will hold you to their meanings they attach to your words. They will argue over your choices.


3. I agree with Oschmidt you decide the nature of the battle. (ie. Player one did not move so he is dug in. Player two moved into player one's area so he will have to attack or withdraw etc…) Agreed, it rewards showing up. Remember to tell a person that even their own death will not excuse them from the consequences of a defeat if they don't show up. You then put on another battle, but the player has lost the battle that was supposed to be and each successive no show entails an even more catastrophic defeat. You will soon find out who can be counted on. Most o fthe time you will find that when a players suffers a defeat the odds are 50% he won't show for the next battle where he will have to suffer the consequences of the defeat, and it increases by half the last increase for each successive game.

We live in the "re-boot" generation where the situation is "Oh, I lost a minor engagement in the computer game!? No problem, let's just hit thet-there-reboot button and start over.

4. If they don't show up they retreat or lose. The same goes if they fail to show up with miniatures they were supposed to provide. If they do not move and do not come under attack then they sit in their map area and dig in that turn.

This is a much different problem. Players will not want to sit around. Better yet tell them to put their minis on the side and give them commands within the forces engaged.

The way I handle this is I work it with a "narrative stream." For example, assume I have a campaign where Saxe Burlap und Schleswig Beerstein is at war with Bad-Zu-Wurst. The Empire of Viagra and Framboesia are allies of Saxe-Burlap und Schleswig Beerstein and Land O' Goshen and Oxymoronia are allies of Bad Zu Wurst. To same my fingers typing we will now simply use the first letters of the above.

I would start the game out with S and B having a battle, then letting the campaign go for two or three battles. Then I might shift front and let V and F engage B on antoehr front, then have O and maybe L plan a naval descent on the coast of V or F, then go back in a sort of round the track again, having several activities going on at the same time, taking a battle here a battle there for variety etc. This way no one gets bored, no one is out, and at each battle whoever shows up gets to play. For example, Assume S and B have a battle coming up but B can't make it. It's a legitimate excuse, let's say, and you can substitute something from L attacking S or the like. This allows the other players to use their armies if they have them.

In all cases whoever shows up plays on the side of their alliance. If NO ONE from that side shows up it's a defeat.

Now I have to tell you that I have not been entirely forthcoming with you. I have a vary elaborate campaign system that does not require a map but which can handle everything from military movements, economics, trade, intrigue, etc. which is largely invisible to the players. This is all handled by cards (specially made cards, not playing cards) and it requires NO record keeping etc. I've actually played the system with players and it makes an interesting game, but it's primarily for me. It also means I can include or not include what I want. In all these things it allows me to govern and form a basis on what to make up battles with "on the fly." It is vitally important that you keep this part secret from the players otherwise they will want to know your methods and will try and "game" you .

5. I give the players a debrief from that battle then offer them limited choices (A, B, C or D).

This is OK, but I would simply ask them what they wish to do and let them come up with it. It saves you work and you gain the benefit of their original thinking. They can often come up with some fairly original stuff. For example, after one heavy defeat one player said, when I asked him what he wanted to do, he thought for a while and said. "I want to send two regiments of Dragoons on a mission to try and bushwack and capture the enemy king! I allowed him to do it but told him the odds were pretty slim he would succeed. He agreed and the next game we fought out a really wild action with his regiments attempting to find and capture the enemy king while he was transiting from his capital to the army. The guy had about a 10% chance of doing it, and he pretty much failed miserably, but it was a lot of fun. But he did put the fear of God into the other guy and the other guy grossly inhibited his own movements because he was afraid the guy would try it again. I had told the guy who tried it that I would allow him to do this ONCE in the entire campaign, but the other king did not know this.

But on the whole you seem to be on the right track. Remember, NEVER compromise your position as Umpire or GM.

Moqawama Inactive Member18 Sep 2012 4:48 a.m. PST

Sorry Tim, I meant these ones in the red circle here

picture

Timothy V Inactive Member18 Sep 2012 5:19 a.m. PST

Those are the Goliaths they are from the Star Craft the Board Game.

Moqawama Inactive Member18 Sep 2012 5:30 a.m. PST

"Those are the Goliaths they are from the Star Craft the Board Game"

OH NOES!

I liked them SO MUCH!

The starcraft boardgame sells for obscene prices, no way I am gonna spend that kind of money for a few playing pieces.

:(

Dragon Gunner18 Sep 2012 7:34 p.m. PST

Excellent advice Oschmidt.

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