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Author Topic: New concepts in GM-ing a game: a dungeon crawl?  (Read 2447 times)

abou

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New concepts in GM-ing a game: a dungeon crawl?
« on: 24 December 2015, 17:37:52 »
I have been GM-ing an ongoing Alpha Strike campaign for a few months now. I am doing my best to think of new ideas and scenarios, but sometimes you wind up doing the same thing: Force A v Force B to destruction. I also participate in a D&D game, which game me some insight. Namely, what if I ran a game of Alpha Strike like a dungeon crawl?

Last night the game I ran involved my players' heavy lance as they made their way across three different maps and fought against three different lances of light and medium 'mechs. The players were allowed two additional 'mechs as cavalry if they were doing poorly; I allowed myself an extra lance if the players did too well. It seemed to work out fairly well. I did "pull" some punches in order to avoid destroying 'mechs, but also managed to keep the pressure on and allowed the tension to mount.

I am still tweaking this idea. I want to introduce more elements and achieve that dungeon crawl feel while remaining within the system of Alpha Strike. I may still need to use bits of A Time of War -- or to use it entirely. After all, it's not like there is a cleric on the field that can heal your 'mech. But mainly I am wondering if anyone has done anything similar or would have any insight to such a method.

idea weenie

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Re: New concepts in GM-ing a game: a dungeon crawl?
« Reply #1 on: 24 December 2015, 22:32:43 »
I don't think you can do this in Alpha Strike, but the regular tabletop you could have a Cargomech or vehicle with spare shields (slab of armor with a handle) for the Mechs to carry, along with a few Handheld weapons.

Instead of healing after a battle, the players have to decide if they should use up the shields and handheld weapons ahead of time, or save them for later.  Should they use the handheld weapon with five RL/10 at the beginning of the crawl, or save it for dealing with later opponents?

cavingjan

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Re: New concepts in GM-ing a game: a dungeon crawl?
« Reply #2 on: 25 December 2015, 09:03:27 »
The Mage Knight Dungeons rules could be adapted to a mech dungeon crawl.

Pat Payne

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Re: New concepts in GM-ing a game: a dungeon crawl?
« Reply #3 on: 25 December 2015, 19:02:48 »
After all, it's not like there is a cleric on the field that can heal your 'mech.

This is the problem with the idea (which does have merit) -- you're setting up the collision of two very dissimilar fictional paradigms. A Dungeon Crawl is predicated on easy (or at least vastly-less-difficult-than-real-life) healing, handwaved resource management (when was the last time a sword broke in a dungeon from overuse, or players tracked armor damage without threatening to tar and feather the DM? :P) and an inherent power imbalance in an often paradoxically hyper-balanced scenario (you have a necklace of magic missiles, the goblins have... more goblins). BattleTech/Alpha Strike runs on a totally different set of rails. Damage is handled and tracked realistically and cannot be repaired "on the fly", while resource management is, at least in CBT, handled very realistically. Further rather than an asymmetrically equal enemy (you have more capabilities in combat, but the enemy has more live [or undead] bodies than you can potentially cope with as well as plenty of time beforehand to concoct nasty traps) you and your opponent are almost always on a direct equal footing -- you may have an assault lance, so does he or she, and perhaps a platoon of infantry and a few minefields.

One of the issues can be handled, if you are comfortable with homebrewing rules -- in some of the computer games (MechCommander, most notably), there were insta-repair vehicles that could be used a limited number of times on a mission. That knocks out at least the healing and resource management issues, though it also gives your force a new objective -- keep the party cleric Mobile Mech Repair Facility from being destroyed (this is a feature, not a bug, right? :D)...

nckestrel

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Re: New concepts in GM-ing a game: a dungeon crawl?
« Reply #4 on: 25 December 2015, 22:18:51 »
Mechs can be repaired , it takes time and resources.  The dungeon crawl needs to be changed to meet Alpha Strike's repairs.  (Or AS changed to allow faster "healing", but I'm going to go wth changing the dungeon.
Make the world a dungeon.  You need to find the location of the quest object (raid on command, computer center?).
Then you need to find a way to the object, maybe some recon raids.
Then you need to bust through a guard room ( assault).
No time for any repairs now as they rush for the object.
And finally fight their way out again.

Use the chaos campaign to track repairs, they only have so many war chest points for repairs before the mission is scrapped as a lost cause, until they are in the middle of the crawl where there is no time for repair any way.
Some repairs might even be too lengthy (engines?), so they can fix armor in time for next mission, but have to leave some crit damage if they want to achieve the objective.

Or a "crawl" where they are on the run, trying to survive until reinforcements arrive.  They have limited families and supplies, achieving additional facalities/supplies must be compared to the risk of taking them.
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PurpleDragon

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Re: New concepts in GM-ing a game: a dungeon crawl?
« Reply #5 on: 25 December 2015, 23:53:11 »
Mechs can be repaired , it takes time and resources.  The dungeon crawl needs to be changed to meet Alpha Strike's repairs.  (Or AS changed to allow faster "healing", but I'm going to go wth changing the dungeon.
Make the world a dungeon.  You need to find the location of the quest object (raid on command, computer center?).
Then you need to find a way to the object, maybe some recon raids.
Then you need to bust through a guard room ( assault).
No time for any repairs now as they rush for the object.
And finally fight their way out again.

Use the chaos campaign to track repairs, they only have so many war chest points for repairs before the mission is scrapped as a lost cause, until they are in the middle of the crawl where there is no time for repair any way.
Some repairs might even be too lengthy (engines?), so they can fix armor in time for next mission, but have to leave some crit damage if they want to achieve the objective.

Or a "crawl" where they are on the run, trying to survive until reinforcements arrive.  They have limited families and supplies, achieving additional facalities/supplies must be compared to the risk of taking them.

This is how I've always tried to run my Battletech AToW campaigns. 
give a man a fire, keep him warm for a night. 
Set him on fire, keep him warm for the rest of his life!

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Deranith00

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Re: New concepts in GM-ing a game: a dungeon crawl?
« Reply #6 on: 26 December 2015, 00:17:29 »
I'd say it's absolutely possible, after all, they made several video games based around the concept of extended incursion missions into enemy territory.  Success in dungeons (regardless of system or game) is predicated on the players being quite superior to the forces the individual encounters they face, allowing them to advance through multiple encounters without stopping.  How the superiority takes form is dependent upon the system, but you have some options:

1) You might utilize Alpha Strike's tendency to be very unforgiving to lopsided forces and balance based on the number of units they fight at a time.  A company sized force fighting off a lance or augmented lance at a time will suffer less damage than a company that takes on another company, allowing them to progress further.

2) You can give the players a skill advantage.  Better skills represent the players being heroes rather than average pilots, which is common in many RPGs.  D&D 3E actually had weaker classes for the common NPCs as the players represented exceptionally gifted individuals, just as an example.

3) You can give the players a tech advantage.  This is most easily accomplished by giving the players a significantly higher PV than the opposing side, even if the quantity of combatants each side are equal.

Your use of the reinforcements on both sides is a great way to dynamically balance the encounters.  Alpha Strike is a fairly lethal game as far as how fast things go down, just being mindful of that and recognizing the point that your dungeon "boss" should appear (if using one) is all you really need to be successful with the goal.

blackjack

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Re: New concepts in GM-ing a game: a dungeon crawl?
« Reply #7 on: 26 December 2015, 11:56:50 »
This sounds fun! Make them get a couple repair units for field repairs (vehicles & a couple industrial hauler mechs) & use the expanded campaign rules from the handbook for repair.  You could actually run them underground, use the Kurita Solaris VII map. Could be how they run across the repair equipment.... 
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JadedFalcon

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Re: New concepts in GM-ing a game: a dungeon crawl?
« Reply #8 on: 26 December 2015, 20:35:24 »
Deranith00's suggestions are pretty solid. To expand on them, making the enemy subject to forced withdrawal is a way for the players to achieve victory by running off their opponents instead of having to destroy them completely. Except for the boss mechs, of course. Since vehicles are easier to immobilize (and thus be abandoned), they may make for good "goblins" in the game.

Having non-combatant support is also a good suggestion. Didn't Mechwarrior 3 have repair crews that followed the player mech? If you're not allocating downtime for repairs, then your could have support crews on the board and create some simple rules for repairs under fire, kinda like the paramedic rules in Tac Ops. The previously mentioned Chaos Campaign system helps limit player resources, and could give rise to supply depot raids to keep the players armed and armored.

If the players get too trashed, there's also the possibility of letting them captured unattended mechs.

Fear Factory

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Re: New concepts in GM-ing a game: a dungeon crawl?
« Reply #9 on: 28 December 2015, 01:12:50 »
I'd say it's absolutely possible, after all, they made several video games based around the concept of extended incursion missions into enemy territory.  Success in dungeons (regardless of system or game) is predicated on the players being quite superior to the forces the individual encounters they face, allowing them to advance through multiple encounters without stopping.  How the superiority takes form is dependent upon the system, but you have some options:

1) You might utilize Alpha Strike's tendency to be very unforgiving to lopsided forces and balance based on the number of units they fight at a time.  A company sized force fighting off a lance or augmented lance at a time will suffer less damage than a company that takes on another company, allowing them to progress further.

2) You can give the players a skill advantage.  Better skills represent the players being heroes rather than average pilots, which is common in many RPGs.  D&D 3E actually had weaker classes for the common NPCs as the players represented exceptionally gifted individuals, just as an example.

3) You can give the players a tech advantage.  This is most easily accomplished by giving the players a significantly higher PV than the opposing side, even if the quantity of combatants each side are equal.

Your use of the reinforcements on both sides is a great way to dynamically balance the encounters.  Alpha Strike is a fairly lethal game as far as how fast things go down, just being mindful of that and recognizing the point that your dungeon "boss" should appear (if using one) is all you really need to be successful with the goal.

You pretty much took the words our of my mouth.

I'm one of the players in Abou's games, and so far, it's been going well.  These crawl games have been keeping me on the edge of my seat.  It's a different feeling and I've had to adjust my strategy a few times in the same game.  I have also play-tested this idea against my daughter and I like it.  As a GM, it allows me to take more control over the outcome of the scenario.  This is a good thing since I really didn't want my kid to lose the game, and lose interest in it, but I also didn't want to hand her a victory so she can learn the ropes.
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glitterboy2098

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Re: New concepts in GM-ing a game: a dungeon crawl?
« Reply #10 on: 28 December 2015, 02:09:01 »
actually, instead of DnD it might be more useful to look at another "dungeon crawl" game.. Spacehulk.

create a map that's mostly passage ways and 'rooms' (say, a canyon network or the interior of a underground base, etc.. something like Ishiyama would be neat)
use the blip counters and such so the players can't tell what is what, and Line of Sight in the tight confines becomes a bigger deal.

instead of repair and such have the enemy's coming in as staggered groups every so many turns from a random point in the play area's edge.. .. so that the side with the smaller force has a chance to take down one group and move on a bit before the next enemy group reaches them.
thus the smaller force has a chance to defeat its opponents using tactics and concentration of fire, etc.. while the bigger force has a chance to whittle down their opponent via attrition.

abou

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Re: New concepts in GM-ing a game: a dungeon crawl?
« Reply #11 on: 29 December 2015, 00:29:27 »
I'm glad that some of the suggestions are similar to my thoughts as well as seeing new ideas. One thing that I will definitely do is to give the players' mechwarriors SPAs, which act similar to feats in D&D. That may help quite a bit.