Monday, October 31, 2022

Star Gravin' Across the Universe

Those readers with long memories will remember that, before the Plague Years, Stuart and I attempted a a Mordheim Frostgrave campaign. Since then, Mordheim Frostgrave has spawned a second edition, as well as a science fiction spinoff that I would love to call Notromunda because it keeps the joke going, but is in fact entitled Stargrave. Stuart and I decided to give the latter a try.

I don't have nearly as many painted scifi miniatures as I do fantasy models, but Stuart and I are in theory building up forces to fight a series of battles running through each edition of Warhammer 40,000 so I do have some Eldar ready to go, and so it was that the followers of Fateweaver Duu'ey ventured out into wild space to teach the Mon'keigh a lesson!

We have played a couple of games so far; you can read Stuart's summary of the first battle here. Notrumunda is an interesting change from Mordheim Frostgrave; although a great deal of the text is lifted from the second edition of the fantasy game -- to the extent that I do have some reservations over whether there were better ways to package and sell the two -- there are some key differences in play. Notrumunda captains are less powerful and flashy than Mordheim Frostgrave wizards, and almost everyone gets a ranged weapon in the dark future in which there is only war (probably) so the balance of play is quite different. There are two different types of treasure in space, and while one is easier to steal transport both need to be unlocked before they can be claimed, which also forces some interesting decision-making.

All of which meant that my usual Mordheim Frostgrave tactic of sitting back and shooting Stuart's people wouldn't work this time. I needed to be more clever, which can be a bit of a struggle for me.

I think it's fair to say that we have come out of the two games so far at a roughly equal footing. The skirmishes have been brutal, with lots of casualties, more so than I remember from Mordheim Frostgrave, but this adds to the fun. In the first battle, one of my robots made a daring building to building leap, then kicked Stuart's first mate off a high edge, but alas not to his death.

The second battle saw my robots destroying Stuart's crew for most of the skirmish, until his space rat -- one of the cheapest, weakest troop types in the game -- somehow developed a raging bloodlust and chewed through my space elves like they were space cheese.

Meanwhile, I have discovered the joy -- although I'm not sure Stuart would call it that -- of grenade launchers.

We have been playing at our local Dice Saloon, which has an excellent terrain library, as you can see from the photographs. Stuart has been providing the miniatures for the random encounters, which means that we've sort of accidentally created an ongoing side narrative with a pair of familiar-looking bounty hunters shadowing both crews for some mysterious reason...

Notrumunda has been great fun so far and I'm keen to play some more as soon as Stuart's schedule aligns with mine. More soon, I hope!

Friday, October 14, 2022

Magic Finger(print)s

In some editions of Shadowrun -- maybe all; I haven't played since the third edition -- you can trace a magical effect back to the spellcaster that created it. This idea is inspired by that, because I've been looking at Shadowrun again of late, for... reasons.

In addition to the usual effects of Detect Magic, the caster also sees the mystical "fingerprint" of the entity that created whatever is being examined. How this manifests is up to you, but I favour a sort of multi-coloured ribbon of light. Spellcasters somehow -- probably because they are weird -- remember this pattern and can recognise it if they see it again.

Easy Mode: By concentrating, a spellcaster can see the auras of other magicians, including their "fingerprint".

Not-So-Easy Mode: Casting Detect Magic on a magician reveals their "fingerprint".

I would probably rule that hiding behind an illusion would also hide a magician's "fingerprint", at least up until the illusion itself is recognised, at which point the "fingerprint" becomes obvious. I don't think shapechanging conceals the "fingerprint", unless an illusion effect is also applied. Why? Magic!

I also like the idea of spells leaving a sort of residue behind, even if they are instant effects like Fireball. In these cases, the residue contains the spellcaster's "fingerprint" so a clever wizard can find out who Magic Missiled the chief of the city guards.

All of this does make Detect Magic do a lot of heavy lifitng, and I would consider making it a cantrip or innate ability, but perhaps that is making things too easy.

As ever, if you try this out, let me know!