The Arioniad – Season 1 Finale and Retrospective

One thing I forgot to do last night was check Arion for recovery. I’m assuming that Dmitri and Coriander returned after Schrodinger and his minions left, taking the cats with them, and that the cats hadn’t got around to eating Arion at that point; so his sidekicks picked up the pieces and carried him back to the Dolphin for surgery. (I’m going to change my mind about the Dolphin and set it as Arion’s home; I’ll worry about what that does to recruiting later.) I roll 3d6 vs 4 (it would be 2d6, but Stars get an extra die): 1, 3, 6 = pass 2d6. Checking the table on p. 55, Arion recovers all lost Rep, so he’s back to Rep 4.

After about 20 scenes under Larger Than Life, and a couple under Mythic Roleplaying, I’m reflecting on the pros and cons of each.

Both LTL and Mythic use dice to generate the story, though the player/GM puts the story’s flesh on the skeleton erected by the random tables. Mythic is deliberately intended to create surprises, and can take the narrative off in any direction; LTL, like the pulps it strives to emulate, uses a set formula to unfold the story. That makes it easier for me to understand and to run, by creating a more structured framework; I can see that eventually this might get repetitive, but so far I have no problem with it. Within the tighter structure, though, LTL is more elegant and easier to play; it has more tables to reference, but paradoxically this feels easier and faster to do, at least for me. This is nothing against Mythic, which is a fine idea well executed; but since most of my games wind up as pulp adventure even if they don’t start out there, a game focussed on recreating that genre is simply a better fit to what I do.

On the down side, LTL‘s story engine is too slow-moving for my taste – on average luck, a beginning Star needs about 25-30 scenes to reach the climactic battle; a dozen Story Advancing Scenes, a dozen Travel scenes, an Initial Scene, a Final Scene and the Big Bad’s Revenge. However, there is an easy fix; count each clue as a +2 on the advance the story table rather than a +1.

For a number of reasons, all matters of personal taste, I will probably replace the skills, attributes and character advancement of LTL with those from Savage Worlds. Partly this is because I like them more, partly it’s to maintain compatibility with my other campaigns; it’s simple enough to do, just halve the die type and take that as the level for LTL – for example, Fighting d8 would become Melee 4; no Fighting skill at all would default in SW to d4-2, which would effectively be level 1 for LTL, as it is that game’s default. Rep most closely equates to Spirit, I think, with Brawn being split into Agility, Strength and Vigour, Brains being Smarts, and Bravado being Spirit as well.

While I found LTL‘s combats much more fun on the tabletop than in the abstract, even while being comprehensively smacked silly by the bad guys, it is an advantage that much of LTL can be done without miniatures and scenery. Out of a couple of dozen scenes, maybe 3-4 would have been done as tabletop skirmishes had I been playing it properly. I never tried the Mythic combat system, as I was intentionally using it as a GM emulator layered over another game, in my case Savage Worlds. LTL‘s combat system is a variant of the standard Two Hour Wargames reaction system, which probably deserves its own review at some point. Ranged and melee combat use different mechanics, which is fine; melee has been deliberately extended into multiple rounds of combat to increase tension, but I want something faster-moving here too, and adopted a suggestion from the Yahoo! Group, namely just counting passes from the first round of dice rolling. It works, and it’s faster.

Overall, LTL is billed as “all about the story”; and I found myself caring about the characters, eager to take Schrodinger down, and ready to move on to season 2. I’m already planning map changes, story arcs for the sequel(s), and other uses for the game engine. I’ll be coming back to this one; but meanwhile, All Things Zombie beckons for the next few months of evening entertainment.

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One thought on “The Arioniad – Season 1 Finale and Retrospective

  1. One project I am already mulling over is Ordo Hereticus, using LTL to follow the adventures of an Inquisitor and his retinue in the Warhammer 40,000 universe, along the lines of the Eisenhorn books. The game engine is very versatile and well up to doing this, and the adventures would generate backstory for a face to face and PBEM RPG game I’m running where the PCs are the Inquisitor’s acolytes.

    So far, I’m thinking about how to convert the W40K figures to LTL stats. Brawn will be the average of a figure’s Strength and Toughness. Bravado will be half its Leadership. Brains I’m not sure about yet, needs more thought.

    Melee and Shooting skills will be WS and BS respectively; that just feels right. Magic skill, as required for psykers, will be half the figure’s Leadership.

    Weapon attack dice will be the weapon’s Strength – so a bolter will have 4 dice.

    Armour is the trickiest one, since LTL doesn’t really have armour; however, I can treat it as Star Power, which serves a similar purpose in saving against damage. So we’ll say armoured Extras have Star Power equal to seven minus their armour save – that gives Space Marines Star Power 4, as an example.

    To do this properly would require some new army lists, probably based on the Witch Hunters Codex which is lying on the shelf waiting for me to start a new army; but that’s more effort than I want to put in right now, especially as I expect to be running a Savage Worlds/Two Hour Wargames hybrid by the time I run this, which is unlikely to be before 2011.

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