A monster on the verge of eating an adventurer.

Some friends were discussing how one might approach making RPGs play a bit more like skirmish war games. From my perspective, playing with minis and measuring distances are the only ingredients you need in order to change how a game feels. A good wargame will make the choices you make around positioning matter.

It’s often the case when playing D&D using “theatre of the mind” that characters simply move from monster to monster, fire their ranged weapons from anywhere to anywhere, etc. It’s hard to keep track of where everyone is, what the complex state of the game world looks like. To mitigate this I will sometimes sketch on paper (or on the screen) when playing to help players better understand their circumstances, what they can and can’t do. I am just as likely to simply eat the messy abstraction: it makes combat play much faster. When I was playing 4th Edition D&D a single combat might be the bulk of a gaming session!

Approaching running a skirmish style RPG by looking directly at indie narrative skirmish wargames might be interesting and fruitful as well. Games to checkout include: Forbiden Psalms (based on Mork Borg) and it’s many variations, Brawl Arcane 28, A Song of Blades and Heroes, and Sword Weirdoes. These games feel like they could form the basis for playing an RPG in and of themselves.

— Ramanan Sivaranjan, microblogging, April 25, 2024 [skirmish wargame ] #