Open Combat has been available online for a couple of weeks now and judging by the emails I’ve been receiving, and the comments scattered about online, it’s well received by those of you that have downloaded and played.
In amongst the comments and emails there’s been several mentions of ‘magic’ from gamers using Open Combat for playing fantasy skirmish games.
A few days ago I had an email exchange with one gamer, Steve G, about the issue. Here’s what Steve G had to say:
I’ve just purchased ‘Open Combat’ & want to congratulate you on producing such a professional, elegant, straightforward & fun set of rules – brilliant! I’m really looking forward to trying them out but was a little disappointed to find no basic magic rules for fantasy games included. From what I can gather, these will follow at a later date, but it’s a shame something wasn’t included already.
That minor gripe aside, good luck with your new release & I look forward to seeing what else follows.
…and here’s part of my reply:
Magic in the core rules is something that is partially handled by the Psychological Attacks (see page 27). We haven’t expressly used the term ‘magic’ but the intent is that those attacks could be magical abilities by sorcerous individuals or regular verbal assaults from fighting men (which is more appropriate in an historical context)…
…In playtesting ‘Intimidate’ was used by a Celt Fanatic in some of our historical games and by a warlock in our fantasy games. The same rule but with different models and environments.
My reply to Steve went on in a little more detail which I’ll get to in a moment.
One of the key intentions when writing Open Combat was to produce a system which allowed you to use whatever miniatures you owned to play whatever kind of games you wanted to play. With this in mind, I made the conscious decision to use terminology suitable for historical games as much as fantasy settings. This resulted in less fantasy language appearing within the text. I did originally have a sentence in the Psychological Attacks section which mentioned that these attacks could be sorcerous or verbal in origin depending on setting but it got removed at some point along the way.
So, where does that leave us?
If you’re playing games in a pre-gunpowder historical period you’re good to go with the core rules ‘as is’. That scruffy looking Viking model you have gesticulating wildly at the enemy could well be using ‘Taunt’ to get them to move closer ready for a good kicking. In a fantasy setting that same ability could easily be viewed as representing some magical mind control.
But that isn’t the end of it for those fantasy gamers amongst us (including me!) wanting to fling fire and lightning about the place. In my response to Steve I went on to suggest he look to the weapons section and view them as spells rather than weapons. The Renown system is intentionally flat so you pay a single point and you get single ‘something’ in return.
Looking for a fireball? Pay a point and give your wizard the crossbow rule. Looking for a lightning bolt? Pay another point and give the model the bow rule. What about some kind of mini magical shards attack? Try paying another point, giving him the sling rule too!
This model isn’t lugging around a crossbow, bow and sling along with ammunition for each. It is using some mystical, magical means to blast it’s enemies from afar in a similar fashion to these weapons instead.
Your imagination and the model collection you put onto the table bring the mechanics of the rules to life. You decide whether it’s the solid thunk of a Norman crossbow bolt putting the enemy down or a blazing inferno of magical flame blasting the enemy from the tabletop. It’s all good if you’re getting those models in your collection into action.
It’s all in the Mind
The above suggestions are perfectly fine going forward and give you plenty of possibilities to tinker with but it isn’t the end of it as far as magic in Open Combat is concerned.
Both myself and Gav have a number of expansions in various states of progress which will expand and explore the magical or mystical aspects of fantasy gaming in Open Combat. In most cases these focus on using ‘Mind’ stat as a resource for your magic using models.
I can’t go into much detail at this stage but the intention is that use of magic does drain the individual using it but that’s the price they pay for meddling with powers they may not fully understand. (Mechanically speaking it keeps things clean and simple too!) They can always take a rest action to get their head back together.
To give you an idea of how it may work here’s a little preview (Please bear in mind this may stay as is, change or otherwise disappear entirely depending on how development goes):
New Ability: Magical Assault
The blaze of magical flames, an eruption of strangling tendrils or the sudden attack of ethereal beasts upon the hapless target, this magical assault can take many forms as it rains agony upon your enemy.
Model may make a Shooting Attack, reducing it’s MIN by 1 to gain 1 Attack dice for the attack (instead of comparing ATK and DEF as a normal Shooting Attack). A model may reduce its MIN by a maximum 3 for 3 Attack dice in any one Action. May score Additional Hits.
You’ll see that this ability while costing a single point of Renown to gain does cost MIN (and contribute to your Break Point) as you use it.
We’d love to hear what you think and how you get on if you give it a go.
As I’ve mentioned, both myself and Gav have a number of expansions in progress and exploring various magical abilities is in amongst the mix. We may drip the odd preview out along the way but bear with us as we’re in this for the long haul so we’ll be taking our time with product releases.
The Open Combat core system provides a huge amount of flexibility and this is something I will be illustrating over the coming weeks and months on the blog.
Thanks for your support!