Thursday, December 11, 2008

Cthulhu Hack

At last year's MACE (a gaming convention in High Point NC) I enjoyed playing a session of Call of Cthulhu with a group of strangers. All the while I was playing, I kept thinking that all I really needed to keep me happy was a bit of a positioning mechanism. Probably one tied to a re-roll now and then.

This morning I had a little seed of an idea. Instead of spending points from a limited or semi-limited resource, there is no limit to the number of times you may re-roll your dice. But! Every time you re-roll you have to put a token in a cup that fuels the GM's resources.

I'm not sure exactly how I'd hammer down the details, but I imagine the tokens being counted & used in that standard Cthulhu third act when the horrors eventually show up. The tokens couldn't be just a straight resource, though. If the players know they're just feeding the GM's chances to kill of their characters then the choice to re-roll or not would be too straight forward.

No, those tokens would have to be seriously random and chaotic and story infulencing to be cool. Anyway, there you have it.

Sunday, December 7, 2008


Last night Mark, Andy, and I played ourselves a full-blown game of Vincent Baker's Mechaton. We dug it muchly.


We're hack-addicts. There is no game we can play that does not beg for us to modify it. Mechaton is no exception. In fact, we started right out with two hacks; one intentional and one accidental.

Our first hack was that Mark and I decided not to play with legos. Legos are awesome. But the thought of having to build and rebuild my mecha every time we played just wasn't appealing to me. So we searched out and found ourselves some really cool 1/400th scale Gundam minis.

Our second hack, the accidental one, was with the spotting dice. The rules say that spotting dice must be cleaned up at the end of the round. That just dosen't make sense to us, since it means that the last mech to go, the mech with the best initiative, doesn't actually get to spot anyone if the spotting die he lays out gets cleaned up before anyone can make use of it. Poo on that, we say.

But I don't think we're stopping there. There are a few other bits of Mechaton that either don't make sense to us or just aren't fun at our table. So, here's a short list of things I'm going to propose for our next game:


1. More Movement
I'd like to see our Gundams zooming around the table. Therefore, I propose that every mech can assign up to two dice to movement. These dice will be added together for a total movement of up to 12.

This change would not only mean a more dynamic field of battle, it would also mean we could do away with that pesky green d8 that keeps getting under my skin. When you can close from direct fire range to melee range in a single move, your laser-axe weilding mecha can totally put the hurt on without needing any special benefits.

2. No Turn Down
I can clearly see why Vincent designed the Blue and Yellow dice to turn down one point every roll. However, I don't think that's necessary. If we make a tie between attack dice and defense dice means a HIT for zero damage, then a 1-point spot suddenly becomes valuable. Removing the turn-down will (I think) have the ultimate effect of making the spotting die more powerful. If this change turns out to make the spotting die too powerful, I won't be terribly surprised. We'll see.

3. Spotting is Special
I'm not sure how Mark will feel about this one, but I'd like to see us play once where only mechs that roll yellow dice can spot.

4. When Spotting Dies
Mark had suggested that, instead of removing all spotting dice at the end of a round, that we turn down each spotting die by one each round. I think that's an okay modification, but probably not a very strong one. I propose that the end of the round has no effect on spotting dice, BUT, when you shoot a mech with a spotting die, that die is removed even if you don't use it. In the fiction you've eliminated your advantage, wether or not it helped you. In the game it means that you don't have to sit there and look at a 5-point spot on your mech for hours on end.

It's not the best solution, but I think it's better than what we've got right now.

5. Screw the d8s
Mark mentioned last night that he'd like to see symmetry by providing for a potential d8 in every color. I think that might be nifty and fun. However, since the game already calls for a metric ass-ton of dice, I'm kinda wary about adding more to it. I propose that we don't need any d8s at all. We haven't played with any rockets at all so far and only Andy has used the optional rule with two weapons in the same range. If we want to keep disposable rocket attacks and doubling-up on weapons, perhaps we can come up with some other rule that doesn't require more dice?


Finally, I'd really like to come up with some kind of rule about the maxiumum opening size of the battlefield, but I'm just not sure what it should be yet. The current rules allow the attackers to place their stations pretty much anywhere, which... I dunno. It just seems like it allows the attackers to keep their stations out of reach. We probably need more play time under our belts before we come up with a good modification here.