1930's, 28mm, AD&D, Call of Cthulhu, CoC, Dwellers of the Forbidden City, Indianna Jones, miniatures, pulp, Realms of Cthulhu, RoC, roleplaying, Savage Worlds, Slipstream, Thrilling Tales, wargames, Wargaming
Few things are more boring than reading a blow by blow account of some one else’s role playing experience. Wargame reports can be marginally more interesting because you have photos of the little toy men on the table. But RPGs. Unless the writer really has the talent for writing, are just dull. You had to ‘be’ there.
So it that vein I will not give a blow-by-blow description of the session that Greg and I played recently: Savage Worlds game where we actively attempted to meld RPG and skirmish miniatures gaming.
This probably comes as no great innovation to the vast majority of players who have been brought up on, particularly the modern version of, D&D. It’s all just skirmish gaming, right? Well, no. We have come from a world where the two forms of game have been poles apart. So this use of Savage Worlds to swap between the two modes of play is new – to me, anyway.
The attached image shows the tools we had. The action was set in the 1930’s – an Indianna Jones antiquities hunting adventure – the treasure being found in the classic AD&D module ‘Dwellers of the Forbidden City’. The Call of Cthulhu and Realms of Cthulhu were there to give us more info on the period. I also have Thrilling Tales (not pictured as Greg has made off with it to study), but for all the wealth of period detail it gives very little equipment information. RoC, similarly, has a nice list of guns. But what we really needed for the first session was info on other pieces of equipment that would be available to an adventuring party in 1930. Such as torches. For this we referred to the master of all source books, CoC (4th ed, in this case).
Slipstream sat ready as well just in case any super-science artefacts should turn up. But in the end none were, so it will stay on the shelf next time.
So to cut a long story short, the initial role-playing session went as expected. A little banter with a local chief, some scene setting. Some hints of the coming story. Characters were explored to find out who they are. Greg and I are of the school that start off with minimal stats for characters and allow them to find their abilities in play. For example, Bud, a college undergraduate and assistant to the professor, had only a d6 for shoot and was armed with a conventional .38 revolver. But where he fired he Aced and then Raised, knocking the pygmy beastman on his arse. We knew immediately that Bud had the Marksman Edge, and we developed a background around him being on the school pistol shooting team.
But when we came to the scene that was a skirmish war-game with miniatures, the action just fell to… fighting. Penny the journalist could do nothing but find a .32 in her garter and blaze away, and this was not how we had imagined her at the start. A war-game implies fighting, and diminishes – or at least taxes the imagination – to find a role-playing activity.
Or so it seemed last night. With a little more practice we may be able to see more.
This was the first session in what I hope will be a mini-campaign to move through this classic module.