USR Wednesdays: Miniatures Rules

Rules light games are known for being played “theater of the mind” style: everything is described by the GM and the players, including the stuff more crunchy rules sets use miniatures and maps for, like combat positioning and movement. Instead of moving a small plastic figure six spaces, then counting another few spaces to make sure your character is in range of a target, you just say, “I’m near the door, can I hit him?”

But if you’re like me, and you want to use all the miniatures and maps and terrain and stuff you use in other games and have spend years collecting — and at the same time you want to play USR — you need another option. So I’m borrowing from my own Microlite 20 rules for USR miniatures rules.

IMG 3877 300x225 - USR Wednesdays: Miniatures Rules
A recent game – elves and humans vs wolves and rats standing in for wolves.

If you have miniature figures (about 1 inch or 25 to 28 mm tall) to represent the characters and their enemies, you’ll need a ruler or a battle map covered in spaces (squares, hexes or 1 inch measurements). One space equals 5 feet or 2 yards, and the average human-sized character and monster moves 6 spaces per turn, even diagonally. This is the character’s movement rate.

Small characters (like halflings or gnomes) move 5 spaces per turn, while characters wearing heavy armor (splint mail, banded mail, half-plate, full plate) move 1 space less each turn. On older-style (i.e. OSR) maps, where one space equals 10 feet, the average character moves 3 spaces per turn.

Characters can move through the same space as another character or enemy, but cannot end movement in the same space as another figure. Rubble, darkness, heavy growth and other difficult terrain “costs” 2 spaces of movement per space moved by the character. Moving up and down is the same as moving horizontally (a character does not have to “spend” extra movement to climb or fly). Moving just 1 space is considered a “free” action, as long as the character does not move any farther that turn.

If there’s a question whether a character could see an enemy to hit it, draw an imaginary straight line from the center of the attacker’s space to the center of the target’s space (or one of its spaces, if it takes up more than one space on the map). If there is no major obstacle or enemy in the path, the character can make the attack. Allies of the attacker do not block its path. Characters can attack through windows and other partial obstacles at a -1 penalty to hit.

To avoid calculating attack ranges each turn, melee attacks must be made against an enemy in a space adjacent to the character. Thrown and short-range weapon attacks can be made against an enemy up to 10 spaces away. Long-range weapon attacks can be made against an enemy up to 25 spaces away.

There you have it, simple rules for miniatures. I’ve used them in several games I’ve written over the years, and they seem to be a good starting point. A character with a high Action stat or Specialisms related to agility and dexterity might move a space faster, and the difficult terrain and obstacles rules could get much, much more detailed (Action rolls to move through terrain? 1/4 cover?).

Do miniatures play a part in your USR games?

USR Wednesdays: Social Combat

Given the history of RPGs, finding ways to use the “Action” and “Wits” stats in USR is easy; Action  is everything from acrobatics to yo-yo tricks (admittedly, the latter is not a common Specialism…). Wits can handle research and the supernatural, like magic and psionic combat. Ego, or social skills, are less used in role playing. A character may need to roll to intimidate, seduce or seek information listening to rumors. But the number of times Ego is used compared to the other stats means Ego almost shouldn’t even be a stat. Let’s change that, and give debaters, manipulators and schemers a chance to fight the good fight.

cersei lannister - USR Wednesdays: Social Combat
Social combat can be just as interesting when fought by a master.
(image: celebdirtylaundry.com)

The Song of Ice and Fire RPG, and my other game, Microlite 20, have rules for social combat. For ease of use, it’s basically like standard combat, except with different Specialisms in play. In fiction, social combat is usually over much quicker than battle, so each character begins with “social hit points” equal to the highest value of his or her Ego stat (i.e. 6, 8 or 10). Each attack and defense uses Specialisms like Bargain, Stir up trouble, Stubborn or Immune to her charms.

There’s no equivalent to weapons or armor, though one Ego roll can affect the next. For example, befriending a powerful political family can help quell (or stir up) a rebellion. Allow players to describe what their characters are saying in the conversation. If it’s convincing or inspiring, grant an extra +1 to the roll.

Make a simple Wits roll as initiative, to represent the planning of meeting times and places that best suit the character’s goals. Social combat usually “heals” immediately after the combat ends. Just like standard combat, a character that loses all of his or her social hit points is defeated, but this doesn’t have to mean death or unconsciousness. Instead, political foes can be humiliated, and enemies can be outwitted (it’s much easier to trick an ogre than to try and cut it to pieces). Adventures can be just as exciting, and a lot less hazardous to life and limb.


What are the best Specialisms for exciting social combat?

Playtesting

As I get back to working on my blog more often, it’s prompting me to take another look at my games. The role playing games will get special attention, since I have a lot of ideas for Microlite 20 and USR. They’re not dead games, especially since the latter just got a new book from its creator and the former is part of the d20 system, designed to never die (just look at Pathfinder).

So I’m going to look more at the other games I’ve put together, like Monsters Menace Monopoly, Plastic Attack and Mutant Hunter. Are those the best rules sets they could be? I “eyeball” my rules a lot, and don’t actually get people together to test them all that often. Solo playing games designed for multiple, competitive players, doesn’t always work. This is an ongoing project, but I can at least provide a more up-to-date version of the rules for people to enjoy.

Plus, I have hundreds of miniatures and dozens of maps, let’s make use of them somehow.

M20 and USR: Captain America

“Captain America: Civil War” was released on DVD this week, though if you’re reading this, you probably saw it in the theater. As Honest Trailers suggested, it really was Avengers 2.5, and a lot of fun to see all the superheroes together.

Captain%2BAmerica - M20 and USR: Captain America
The movies are great, but I miss the red swashbuckler boots. And the little wings on the mask.

I created stats for Captain America on the old, now long-gone blog, but I’ve since updated the rules for Microlite 20 Costumes, so this the revised version. His financial status is Sponsored, to go along with his position in the movies (as an agent of S.H.I.E.L.D.), and to simulate his long career in the comics I might update him to level 14 or even 15.

Microlite 20 Costumes: Level 12, 180 Power Points
STR 21 (+5), DEX 19 (+4), MIND 17 (+3)
Leadership 12, Weapon (Shield): Gadget 12
Physical 17, Subterfuge 16, Knowledge 15, Communication 17
Hit Points 81, Initiative +11, Melee/Hand-To-Hand +18, Missile/Ranged +16, Magic/Supernatural +15, AC 20
Heroism Points: 12, Financial Status: Sponsored
USR superheroes
Action D12, Wits D8, Ego D10
Specialisms: Icon Of Bravery +2, Star-Spangled Avenger +2, Super-Soldier +2
Hit Points: 20
Combat Gear: Body Armor +1, Vibranium Shield +2

Narrative Points: 4

M20 & USR: Ghostbusters

Everybody’s talking about the Ghostbusters, so here are stats for the whole gang. No, not Venkman and Egon (you can find them a few different places), and not Gilbert and Holtzmann, either (I haven’t seen the new movie yet). These guys.

Filmmation%2BGhostbusters - M20 & USR: Ghostbusters
Go go Ghostbusters!

If you’re like me, your parents got you a Ghostbusters comic book as a kid, and you wondered why there was a talking car and a gorilla and no Bill Murray. But, bustin’ ghosts is bustin’ ghosts. Here’s the team. Characters that are made for comedy, like Eddie, need a little something more to be playable in a RPG, so I made him the heavy.

Jake Kong Jr.
Microlite 20 Modern-Day
Character Focus: Charisma, Level 1
STR 11 (+0), DEX 13 (+1), MIND 17 (+3)
Physical 1, Subterfuge 1, Knowledge 2, Communication 1, Technology 2
Hit Points 15, Armor Class: 11, Speed: 30 ft/ 6 spaces, Initiative +2
Melee/Hand-To-Hand +1, Missile/Ranged +2, Magic/Supernatural +4
Equipment: Dematerializer, Ghost Buggy Jr., Ghost Pack
Special Abilities: Charming (+1), Quick Draw
Eddie Spencer Jr.
Microlite 20 Modern-Day
Character Focus: Might, Level 1
STR 16 (+3), DEX 13 (+1), MIND 11 (+0)
Physical 4, Subterfuge 0, Knowledge 2, Communication 1, Technology 1
Hit Points 24, Armor Class: 14, Speed: 30 ft/ 6 spaces, Initiative +1
Melee/Hand-To-Hand +4, Missile/Ranged +2, Magic/Supernatural +1
Equipment: Ghost Pack, Flight Jacket (Leather)
Special Abilities: Encourage, Tough
Tracy the Gorilla
Microlite 20 Modern-Day
Character Focus: Might, Species: Gorilla (as Sasquatch), Level 1
STR 16 (+3), DEX 13 (+1), MIND 11 (+0)
Physical 4, Subterfuge 1, Knowledge 0, Communication 1, Technology 2
Hit Points 20, Armor Class: 11, Speed: 30 ft/ 6 spaces, Initiative +1
Melee/Hand-To-Hand +4, Missile/Ranged +2, Magic/Supernatural +1
Equipment: Ghost Pack

Special Abilities: Driver, Heavy Hitter (Melee/Hand-To-Hand), Muscle
*****
Jake Kong Jr.
USR
Action D8, Wits D10, Ego D6
Specialisms: Ghost Sensing Nose, Idea Man, Handsome
Hit Points: 18
Combat Gear: Dematerializer +2
Narrative Points: 5
Eddie Spencer Jr.
USR
Action D8, Wits D6, Ego D10
Specialisms: Loveable Goofball, Absent-Minded, Thinks Positive
Hit Points: 14
Combat Gear: Dematerializer +2, Flight Jacket +1
Narrative Points: 4
Tracy the Gorilla
USR
Action D10, Wits D8, Ego D6
Specialisms: Strong, GB Pilot, Loves To Eat
Hit Points: 18
Combat Gear: Dematerializer +2, Backpack of Gadgets +1
Narrative Points: 4