Eine Lanze für Orks

Danger Zone und dnalorsblog schrieben vor einiger Zeit über das Für und Wider bezüglich der Orks, in Reflektion auf einen der Essays in Roll Inclusive. Und auch der Deutschlandfunk spricht über das Thema. Im Endeffekt gibt es folgendes Spannungsfeld:

  • Othering ist Mist, macht Empathie kaputt und sollte eigentlich nie eingeübt werden.
  • Monster verkloppen ist ein integraler Bestandteil des Fantasy-Rollenspiels, und sollte ohne echtwelt-moralische Bedenken möglich sein.

Um „moralisch unbedenklich“ Spaß an der Monsterklopperei haben zu dürfen, müssen diese Monster leider eben doch ge-„othered“ sein. Denn wie dnalorsblog schildert, kann man nicht mehr nach Herzenslust Goblins weghauen, wenn diese eine Kultur und Daseinsberechtigung bekommen haben. Wenn eine Welt ihre eigene Monster Ecology hat, dann haben eben auch Orks und Goblins ihre Daseinsberechtigung, und sind keine gesichtslosen Monster mehr.

Jetzt schreibe ich ja gerade selbst an einem Monsterklopper-Rollenspiel, Raiders of Arismyth. Das Thema ist also für mich daher brennend interessant. Die Leute sollen Spaß mit Kämpfen in dem Spiel haben, und daher brauchen Sie Monster mit denen sie kämpfen können. Manchmal sollen sie dabei auch darüber nachdenken, mit wem sie warum kämpfen.

Aber eben auch nicht immer. Manchmal soll einfach der interessante Kampf und das Gekloppe im Vordergrund stehen, und die Moral nicht das zu beackernde Problem sein. Und damit kommen wir zu den Orks.

Die meisten Gegner in meinen Spielrunden haben eigene Motivation die mehr ist als nur „ich bin böse!“ ist. Sie sind hungrig, versuchen Geld zu verdienen, jemanden beschützen, und so weiter. Manchmal kann man so Kämpfe umgehen, und manchmal sind die Dinge, die die Gegner wollen absolut konträr zu denen der Gruppe.

Orks bei mir sind anders. Sie sind wortwörtlich nicht von dieser Welt. Kein Ork, dem man in meiner Spielwelt begegnet ist einfach nur da. Es gibt keine Orkdörfer mit Orkbabies, keine unschuldigen „ich bin nur Farmer“ Orks. Zumindest nicht in der Spielwelt. Wahrscheinlich gibt es all das auf der Herkunftswelt der Orks, aber die ist… woanders. 

Orks, denen man auf meiner Spielwelt begegnet sind die selbstgewählte Speerspitze einer Invasion, mit sinistren Zielen. Die Details dazu wollen noch im Spiel herausgefunden werden, aber eines wissen alle am Tisch: Die Orks sind Monster, und sie sind es nicht qua Geburt, sondern weil sie es so wollten.

Alle anderen Gegner sind vielschichtig, die Gruppe ist sich nie wirklich sicher, welcher Gruppe sie nun wirklich feindlich gegenüber stehen sollen. Aber Orks? Orks sind zum wegkloppen da.

My 3D printer wishlist

3D printing things is one of my hobbies. And while I am reasonably happy with the printer I currently have,there’s always a new and shinier resin 3D printer around the corner.

But they rarely manage to really excite me in the way that I actually want to swap.

So, this is the laundry list of things that I want to see in one machine:

  • A heated vat or chamber. I print with an open window, and that means the room can get cool or even cold. 3D printer resin has a certain optimal working temperature, usually between 25 and 30 degrees celsius. That means a bit of heating.
  • A bed pressure sensor. That is pretty useful for two things: It tells the printer when there is something stuck on the bottom of the resin tank, and whether the print is releasing fine from the film. I haven’t yet had a printer with such a sensor, but I hear brilliant things about them.
  • A tilting resin vat. Again, not something that I had so far, but the Prusa MSLA printer and the new Elegoo Saturn do feature this, and apparently it makes for cleaner and faster prints.
  • A decent build volume. 20×30×30 would be ideal, but 20×25×25 is fine too.
  • A decent resolution of pixels per cubic inch. Although, to be fair, all current printers have that. This is not where technology needs to advance.
  • Fill lines in the vat. Really, how hard is that?
  • A slide in locking mechanism for the vat. I have it on my GKTwo, and it is brilliant.
  • Same for the lever locking mechanism for the build plate. Again, brilliant.
  • Magnetic flexible steel sheets that attach to the build plate that aren’t after market installs. All the FFF 3D printers have these by now, why not the resin ones? It’s super useful.
  • Flip up lids, or doors. With a handle. None of this „lifting a shroud and then looking for a place to put it“ nonsense.
  • An easy way to add an external ventilation hose. Generally, good air management, to keep the resin fumes controlled.
  • A good way to filter the air coming out of the printer.
  • An easy-but-sturdy levelling system. Although again, the GKTwo one works fine for me.
  • A vat with a proper non-drip spout for emptying leftover resin.
  • A non-flimsy vat cover. Sealing the vat firmly, instead of just loosely sitting on it. I want to be able to shake the whole vat full of resin with the cover on!
  • A sensor to pause the print when resin runs out.
  • Feet on the vat, so you don’t scratch the FEP when setting it down somewhere
  • Easy to swap screens with a good screen protector by default.
  • A built-in way to cure the whole vat for capture leftover floating resin bits.
  • A built-in way for exposure testing multiple settings in one go, to speed up dialing in any given resin.
  • Any USB or memory card slots and buttons in the front of the device.
  • Surfaces with as little nooks and crannies as possible, to make cleaning the device easier.

The above are basically things I see as must haves in order to make me want to switch. The following are nice to have features:

  • Make the vat high enough to hold a whole litre of resin.
  • Wifi connectivity is nice, but not really that vital for me. IF there is some, I’ll mostly use it to monitor the print status and being able to cancel the print in case something went wrong. Starting a print is.. eh, not really a thing I’d do remotely.
  • But managing the sliced files on the printer over wifi, adding and removing them would be nifty.

I see printers that have some of these features, but not one yet that has all of them. Any takers? :)

I’m not a Warhammer player, but…

…I unironically like the old Warhammer 40K universe depictions and canon. You know, the Rick Priestley, John Blanche era. Where everything was bad, grimy, gloomy and evil.

This is peak Leman Russ, as he should be:

A black and white pencil portrait of "Marine Commander Leman Russ", taken from the first edition Rogue Trader book - his face is warped from scars and cybernetic implants, everything looks distorted and gloomy

Not this:

A colour illustration of a very heroic looking Leman Russ with flowing blonde hair, taken from https://warhammer40k.fandom.com/wiki/Leman_Russ

Warhammer 40,000, as depicted and conceived in the 80ies absolutely was a satire and reaction to Thatcherism in the UK, quite in line with comics like Judge Dredd and other things from the 2000 AD magazine. Space Marines were fucked up purposefully mutated humans that were fighting fucked up accidentally mutated humans.

And in that take of the universe, I think it is fine to have uber-macho all-male Space Marines, to have a devoted cult of the emperor, to have the humans shout „death to all xenos“. Because it is clear from the artwork alone that this is a fucked up world, full of fucked up decisions. No one in there looks or stands in for anyone in our real world, which is a neat thing to have when the game is about wholesale slaughter. (Of course, a lot of the „human factions“ take on decorations and themes from armies from our real-world past. But they are so exaggerated, that I don’t really think a matching and identification is possible.)

So, yes, I actually like this take. It brings me back to the 80ies, to crusty Punks and Hair Metal, to counterculture and rebellion.

But today, as the artwork starts to become squeaky clean and actually heroic. Games Workshop is clearly trying to focus on about how cool the Space Marines are. Nothing on the surface tells you that they would be fucked up, and the lore keeps telling you that they have to be the way they are, that the xenos threat is real.

And with that, the satire looses its teeth. Games Workshop of course knows this, so they end up having to make the good guys, you know, actually good. These toy soldiers cannot be doing warcrimes left and right anymore, they become more good-looking, and (and that is where the sad puppies start howling at the moon) you start making figures that your whole audience can identify with.

And that means including people of colour, a variety of gender being represented outside of Slaaneesh cults, and so on. Because the factions aren’t all villains anymore.

This change is the natural consequence of the slow-but-sure transition of the Space Marines from „crazed fanatics willing to die for the cult of a dead Emperor rotting on his golden throne“ to „somehow heroic, noble and virtuous. As good guys.“ (quotes from freethoughtblogs.com/pharyngul)

So, if you want the Space Marines and the Empire of Man to be „the good guys“, you have to embrace the good sides of humanity too. And that means including ALL of humanity, in all its multi-gendered, multi-skin-hues, multi-anything glory.Sorry to the sad puppies, I don’t make the rules, I’m just telling you how it is.

I’m writing another game!

It is a few months since I finished Mail Order Apocalypse, and apparently, writing games is a tiny bit addictive: I’m already about 70 pages into writing the next game. (For comparison: MOA clocks in at 106 pages, a lot of them being random tables)

So, the next game, what is it?

The working title is Raiders of Arismyth, and it is supposed to be a modern dungeon crawler. Which is slightly unusual territory for me. My gaming shelf has lots of „story“ games, with abstract mechanics, collaborative narration, player empowerment and so on.

But I also have collected a few hundred gaming miniatures over the years, and I wanted to use them again! I prefer games that are rules-light, easy to grok, and ideally have not too big character sheets. There are a few options of course, but none of them really appealed to me.

With Mail Order Apocalypse, I decided early on that I didn’t want to reinvent a whole game system, and thus chose Into the Odd for the mechanics. For Raiders of Arismyth, I wanted something that feels similarly simple, but does offer more crunchiness on two fronts: Character generation and advancement, and combat. Especially the latter — it doesn’t make sense to bring miniatures into the mix when distances and such isn’t particularly relevant.

At the same time, I didn’t want the system to be too mathematical. Choosing how to advance ones character shouldn’t require too much in-depth system knowledge. Choices made today shouldn’t completely block later choices.

In the end, I have settled on a few things:

  • There are no attributes, just skills
  • There is no vancian magic, and no mana points or similar either. You know a spell, feel free to cast it as often as you like!
  • Dice are rolled in pools. Any result on a die that is greater than half the total value (ie. 4+ on a 6‑sider, or 11+ on a 20-sider) is a success.
  • Combat should be about movement. Those miniatures want to be moved around after all!
  • The rules aren’t just there as mechanical abstractions, they are there to form the game world and its metaphysics.

Sadly, all this means that where Mail Order Apocalypse managed to cram all the rules onto one single page, the core rules of Raiders of Arismyth need about 10 pages. Let’s dive into how magic works a bit, so you can see what I meant with the last bullet point about the rules influencing the game world:

Magic spells are learned as skills. Learning a new spell skill allows you to perform the least powerful version of that spell with an uttered incantation plus necessary hand-movements using both hands. With additional advancements on that spells skill allows one to make it more powerful, extend the range, or be able to cast it without an incantation or moving the hands.

In order for this to work, the spell and the advancements are tattooed onto the skin of the magic user, anchoring the mystical energies. The positioning of these marks is important, especially if the mage still needs to touch it to perform the spell. One can learn a lot about a mage by looking what sigils are placed where. And of course, seeing someone who chose to spend their precious advancements in order to be able to perform a simple light spell without any hand movements or spoken incantations tells you something about them too…

I did a few test runs with the system already, and the results were quite promising: It played smooth and easy in turns of rules application, but also allowed for some a lot of interesting tactical choices during combat. The latter felt deadly enough to the players, but not overwhelmingly so.

A lot of things are of course still missing: The skill list needs to be finalised, I need to flesh out the example magic rituals, think about equipment, or at least rules on how to improvise weapon statistics in a coherent way, and the world wants some more fleshing out.

But overall, I am quite satisfied with this, and really think this is actually a more complete game than Mail Order Apocalypse (which is more of a setting than a game). You can buy the Ashcan preview edition for a buck at DriveThruRPG if you're curious. But please, let me know your feedback!