Friday, 20 March 2009

Flash Gordon using Larger Than Life...

Yesterday I sat down and perused the Internet to look at the various rulesets I could use to play my planned Flash Gordon miniatures game. Scale doesn't matter so much as I have the magic powers of a calculator but I definitely want to stick to a skirmish type game, the other is that it has to be fun.

There are currently quite a few 28mm/40mm games out there featuring not-Flash, something of a classic sci-fi revival in fact but the game which piqued my curiosity most was Two Hour Wargames Pulp ruleset, Larger Than Life (LTL).

Two Hour Wargames and their reaction based games system are (as far as I know) quite unique. You play out the preamble and run up (and fallout) of a game using multiple campaign tables and the actual fighting itself has a clever mechanism where you're never quite sure what the figures under your command are going to do, let alone the bad guys. because of these cleverly designed tables the game lends itself to solo and (my favourite) co-operative play the rules are fast paced and fun.

With LTL the core gaming system remains mostly the same as previous games but much more streamlined and a lot of work has gone into the campaign structure to make the games you play feel like a pulp adventure and if Flash Gordon in my mind was anything, it was those Buster Crabbe black and white serials that were repeated on TV during half term holidays when I was a kid (these were repeats in the 80's, I'm not that old).

So all excited I bought a downloadable copy of LTL and waited for it to arrive. One of the small irritaters with Two Hour Wargames is that they email you the file after a certain period of time (up to 24 hours) instead of it being instantly downloadable. So after a nights sleep my file arrived and I started reading through the book, creating my characters and campaign as I went. One thing to be aware of (which did catch me at first back when I bought my first Two hour Wargames product Warrior Heroes (WHAA), their fantasy ruleset) is the layout of the book, it doesn't follow the normal formula for a rule book it's laid out more like a flowchart with each section dovetailing neatly into the next one you need. Once you get used to this you'll wonder why other manufacturers don't do this. Also the LTL book is streets ahead of older rulesets (like WHAA) as when you do need to jump to another section it's clearly labelled which page you have to go to.

So how did my adventure go, it went something like what follows, whenever I play a Two Hour Wargames game I start a new Document and write down things as I go, I have copied my first foray into this excellent ruleset below, a battle/campaign report if you will. The sections in blue are fluff that I wrote after I'd finished the dice rolling for each section before continuing on to the next. The sections in green I've added here to make it flow a bit better.

Flash Gordon using the Larger Than Life Ruleset by Two Hour Wargames

- The rulebook breaks down what is a pulp and explains what the main factors are. I added in my Flash Gordon details as I went.

Star – Flash Gordon
Co-Stars – Zarkov
Love Interest – Dale
The Big bad – Ming
Femme Fatale – Aura

- Then it has full details of how to create your Stars, the main players of the tale.

Flash Gordon (Star)
Star Power: 2
Larger Than Life
Cheat Death
Free Will
Home – TBC
Reputation: 4
Brains: 2
Brawn: 4
Bravado: 2
Advantage: Natural Athlete
Disadvantage: Chauvinist – He cannot choose to attack a female unless she has attacked him first.

– Having a look through the disadvantages none of them seemed to fit with the idea of Flash so I made this one up.

Profession – Jack-of-all-trades (use the Adventurer Crisis Table)
Acrobatics (Brawn)
Shooting (Brawn)
Influence (Bravado)
Melee (Brawn)
Employer: National Government.

– I wasn’t sure what to pick for Flash as he’s on Mongo and is the only one but I decided that working for America probably makes the most sense.

4 Recruiting Points

- I used the story of Flash to help me here, even though not technically at Home (as Flash has no home on Mongo at the start of his adventure) I’ve chosen to recruit two co-stars Dale Arden and Hans Zarkov.

Dale Arden (Co-Star & Love Interest)
Cheat Death
Rep: 4
Brains: 2
Brawn: 2
Bravado: 4
Advantage: Sexy
Disadvantage: Petite - I used the Runt disadvantage but decided to call it petite, to be more in the spirit of Flash.
Journalism – The ability to investigate as well as report the news.
Crisis Test: Civilian
Employment: Private Company (Daily Herald)

Hans Zarkov (Co-Star)
Cheat Death
Rep: 4
Brains: 4
Brawn: 2
Bravado: 2
Advantage: Photographic Memory
Disadvantage: Addict (Drunkard)

- I gave Zarkov this but am using it to represent an addiction to stimulants, he always seemed a bit of an oddball character.

Crisis Test: Adventurer
Employment: Self-employed

Flash, Dale and Zarkov are on Mongo and using the wreckage of their crashed Rocket Ship as a base of operations. It’s in the middle of nowhere so is classed as Jungle (Rocky Desert).

Opening Scene

What does the star need to accomplish? - Find a person (Enemies protecting)
Who is the Big Bad ? – Slavers (Ming’s Palace Guard)
And how bad is he ? – Same rep as the Star
The Master Plan – Steal treasure

After crash landing on the planet surface, Zarkov picks up a radio transmission being sent by some of Ming’s Palace Guards back to the palace. In the transmission the Guards reveal that they have captured the crown prince of the Lion Men of Mongo, Prince Thun ! They are holding him captive in an attempt to get their hands on the Lion Men’s fabled ancestor stone.

How many scenes before the final scene ? - Get info from someone in a Story Advancing Scene

Travel scene – Have to go to Jungles (Arborea) using a Safari Vehicle, there is no encounter whilst travelling.

Under Zarkov’s instruction Flash and Dale manage to salvage parts from their crashed rocket ship and construct a basic flyer to take them to the nearby mountains where the transmission came from.

Scene 1 - Get info from Someone (Story Advancing Scene)

Is the Big bad here ? No
Time of Day ? Daytime

Travelling through the mountains as close to the triangulated signal as possible they discover that the Palace Guard are no longer here as this is just a relay post that was used to forward the transmission. Noting that the relay station appears manned they land their flyer and set out to find the small building with the intention of questioning the inhabitants.

Difficulty of finding the person ?
Rolled 2 and 6
No modifiers as person in Jungle
Roll 2d6 vs Rep = 6,4 – 1 pass
Roll 2d6 vs Difficulty = 4,6 – 0 pass
Searcher finds the Quarry but will suffer Complications when questioning the Quarry.

Solving the Clue
Rolled 4,3
Flash = 4 – 2,1,2 – 3 successes
Clue = 3 – 1,6,4 – 1 success
Star solves the meaning of the clue (Clues solved = 1)

Sneaking up on the outpost with the hopes of getting the drop on the sole guard within Dale trips up and they’re worried they may have alerted the guard to their presence. Luckily for them he did not hear and they quickly overcome him and manage to persuade him to give them what he remembers of the co-ordinates of the original transmission. Sadly it is incomplete, they tie up the guard and leave him behind.

Advance the Story: 4+1+1d6 = 7 !

Get info from someone in a Story Advancing Scene.

Travel scene – Have to go to Jungles (Mountains) using a Safari Vehicle, there is no encounter whilst travelling.

Scene 2 - Get info from Someone (Story Advancing Scene)

Is the Big bad here ? No
Time of Day ? Night

Flash and his companions trace the signal from the relay station and decide to head to the next one with the intention of seeing if the guard their can recall any more of the co-ordinates. They get back in their anti-grav flyer and head off in the direction of the next station.

Difficulty of finding the person ?
Rolled 2 and 5
No modifiers as person in ‘Jungle’
Roll 2d6 vs Rep (4) = 4,1 – 1 pass
Roll 2d6 vs Difficulty (2) = 2,5 – 1 pass
Searcher fails to find the Quarry.

Upon locating the next relay station finding it sadly unmanned Flash and his companions were not able to find out any more information about the co-ordinates of where the signal originated.

Advance the Story: 4+1+1d6 = 8 !

Get info from someone in a Story Advancing Scene.

Travel scene – Have to go to Lost World on foot there is an encounter whilst travelling.

Scene 3

After the failure at the last communications relay they examine the information they down loaded from the rocket’s computer and track the origin of the signal as best as they can. Zarkov believes the signal to have come from the entrance to a nearby cave. Leaving behind their flyer they enter the forbidding cave on foot.

Scene 4 – Travelling Encounter – being followed

Not long after they enter the cave network they realise they are being followed.

Scene 4 becomes a Stand Up Fight

Suddenly the tunnel our heroes are following opens up, thinking they have traversed the whole width of the mountain the look up but they notice the sun is paler in colour to that of Mongo’s surface. Above them is clear blue sky and the strange coloured sun is centrally positioned. As they look down from their ledge they see a lush and verdant grassy plain, unbeknowst to them they have entered the inner world of Mongo. Amazed by the wonders this alien world has to offer they descend to the plain, but no longer being able to conceal themselves in the tunnels their pursers catch them up and attack !

- Hmm the rules did seem to neglect to give you who you are fighting when a being followed turns into a Stand Up Fight. I am just going to roll on the Interaction tables as normal and then follow the full combat bit.

Interaction with Dinos !

Setting the Stage (p.40 [46]) - The scene takes place in an open and flat area of grassland.

Assemble the Cast
4+4+4 = 16
Roll 1d6 = 5 : +1 Clue = 6 : Big Bad Rep 4 = 10 = The enemy has equal the Rep of your group.

Small Feeder
Rep 3
Star power 2
(Three of them equalling 9 Rep)
Special Characteristic:
Crisis test: Feeder

Small Ferocious Flyer
Rep 4
Star Power 2
(Five of them equalling 20 Rep) – I reduced this to 2 of them making the overall rep of the encounter 17 instead of 29 !
Special Characteristics:
Crisis test: Ferocious

Place the Actors on their Marks

Leaders start 11 inches from each other (28mm scale), place all other with 12 inches of leader but no closer than he is to enemy.

Action Section – Take the Gaining the Upper Hand test
Flash – 4,5,5,3 – 1 Success
Dinos – (+1) - 5,6,5,1,5 – 1 Success
Flash – 6 - Fail
Dinos – (+1) - 5,2 – 1 Success
Dinos won

Score 1 more success than opponent

• All will fire if possible. Go to the Combat Rules section.
• Otherwise charge into melee but enemy may fire. Go to the Combat Section rolling Activation normally

- Not owning any Flash Gordon miniatures I stopped there for the moment !

So in ten scant minutes I had an excellent scenario laid out in front of me leading to a rumble with the inhabitants of Mongo's inner world. I could play it solo from then or have people playing Dale and Zarkov and even someone playing the Dino if I wanted to. All in all I was very very impressed with how this ruleset let me follow Flash's footsteps on Mongo and I can't wait to give the fight a go this weekend (with proxies) and will let you know how the combat mechanism works ! One thing I forgot is that my Flash and his co-stars are not armed so it might be an easy win for the Dinosaurs !

Over the weekend I will also be looking at a recommended source for the Lion Men of Mongo and maybe trying to source a Zarkov whilst I'm at it.



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