Friday, November 14, 2014

Fantasy Wargaming Player Survey Continued: Myth and Magic!

This is the second post I have written concerning Bruce Galloway's 1981 tome of essays, history and role playing rules and errata known as Fantasy Wargaming; the Highest Level of All.

The post previous to this one gave a general summary of the differences that one could expect to find regarding FW as compared with D&D.

So, given these differences and the seeming complexity of the rules, I asked the question, why play?

I will cite the fascination we as gamers have with the dark age and medieval cultures as a major reason (who would not enjoy at least occasional gaming sessions set in real world history?), but I think the major selling point in running this game is the magical flavor.

That very feature might drive some away--its a like or hate thing.

The notes that a player will assemble to keep track of their spells could well end up looking and feeling like an actual grimoire. Spell components are to be gathered, and these are all related to a zodiacal table of correspondences.

One example given in the book is a Taurus wand. The Bull sign corresponds to hornbeam, copper and sapphire, so these items are used in the construction of the wand. Astrological lore is key to running the magic system of FW.

Spells cast in the month related to Taurus and the time of day and in areas will have great effect, being diminished by opposite controlling signs.

The spells will necessarily have to be related to the spheres of influence which correspond to Taurus.

Gemini, for example, relates to hidden knowledge, concealed things and mysteries, so divination spells will be most auspicious when cast using physical components that correspond to Gemini.

The GM is actually required to make notes of these ethereal zodiac influences in specific areas of his adventure and relate them to the mage character is needed.

Complicated? Could be? But nice flavor and authenticity, as well, if a mage is your thing.

In my next post I will discuss magic in FW a bit further and also talk about Religion, which works in much the same way except that character conduct and piety continually influence appeals for Divine Aid, whether you are a cleric or a warrior.

Its all a bit to keep up with and very much changes the nature of the game, but if you can craft a scenario out of these subtleties and make them part of the game itself (instead of assumed magic preparations which we find with D&D), you might have a thoroughly enjoyable session.

More to come.

Tuesday, November 11, 2014

The Highest Level of All! Bruce Galloway's "Fantasy Wargaming" Rules Cyclopedia

Ah, the possibilities.

This book has tantalized me since finding it at a B. Dalton bookstore in Oklahoma City, circa 1985 (...maybe?) at the impressionable young age of fourteen.

Bruce Galloway's essays vastly improved my D&D game, though any hope of playing his strange and eccentric system was beyond miniscule since the his taste for the obscure, the esoteric and for absolute realism made his game mechanics cause my brain to melt and run out of my eye sockets in puddles around my wringing hands.

But I am again thinking of giving it a try, and this is a heads up for my prospective players.

 I've always wanted to run at least a series of scenarios based on the rules, but I state this with the caveat that it must be the closest facsimile of Galloway's rules that I can possibly manage, since the normal calculations for magic and combats during a round seem, at long study, to require Stephen Hawking as a DM. Oh, yes, I can understand them...can I execute them in a manner expeditious enough for a role playing game session?

Without serious truncating, my guess would be no, and so I will use what parts of the rules are expeditious and leave the rest for Mensa members.

Should you deign to join these sessions, know that this game will be vastly different from D&D for the following reasons:

1. It is historical. You will be a character in a real world medieval or ancient setting in the real world of earth, albeit magic, religion, and monsters will be real.

2. All player characters will be human.

3. At times during the game you may lose control over the actions of your character. These times are when morale is checked before and during physical combat, when going berserk in battle, and when you are required to roll a temptation savings throw. This is based upon your character attributes, and is used when a DM thinks your character's refusal of a proffered temptation is not in alignment with your these scores.

4. Astrological influences are considered paramount to magic. The proper estimation and application of these ethereal influences are integral to your crafting of spells and the outcome of the same. Although a sample spell list is given, you and the DM are required to craft spells as you conceive of them, calculating an array of influences and arriving at a "Degree of Difficulty" which determines your percentage chance of casting. Three rolls are needed--one to establish a "link" with the ethereal plane, one to determine whether a target saves against your spell, and one for the actual casting. Mana points are expended to cast magic spells--these are gathered through rituals and preparations as well as by gaining magical levels.

5. Religion works along the same lines as magic but success is determined by a point system which awards or penalizes a priest or cleric for their daily actions depending on keeping with the Deity's established codes of conduct. Prayer, fasting and penance increase scores as well.

6. You gain a new level of Experience with every 1000 adventuring points. Points are gained through using character skills. Upon attaining a new level you will receive 2 points to spread among your physical and mental attributes as desired.

7. There are only four basic types of characters: clerics, mages, fighters and thieves.

So, these are the features of the game--quite different form D&D as any experienced player can see. Why play, you ask? If D&D is a good meal you enjoy regularly, look upon Fantasy Wargaming as an exotic cuisine to enjoy occasionally and with great appreciation.

Any takers?