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A question suggested by

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What board games could you play to generate large scale events for RPG settings?

Dan's example would be Freedom in the Galaxy which could have 1 turn between RPG sessions to create events in the galactic setting. Player actions could impact the next game turn.


Do you have a question you want asked as QOTD? Post here!

And if you want to find an old QOTD: The big QOTD Summary and Subscription Thread Volume 3
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Just about any wargame at the strategic scale.

Fortune and Glory: The Cliffhanger Game can be used easily to generate major threats to be dealth with in RP mode...
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I did a WHB battle as a climactic background event for a campaign finale. So I know that works, there must be tons more. Human creativity is boundless.
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I would think that the board games that would be easiest to do this with are the games that have RPG systems ready to go for them. For example, play a certain number of rounds in Star Wars: Imperial Assault, then zoom in with Star Wars: Edge of the Empire (or something similar). Transitioning between the two wouldn't be that hard.

Or Mice and Mystics paired with Mouse Guard. The latter is more roleplaying, with crunchier mechanics, but actions in both translate to the other quite well.

Because my instinct was to name a game like Twilight Imperium (Fourth Edition). But the issue there is creating an RPG system that works with the setting, and also correlates to turns in the game. There are plenty of RPGs in space. But very few where the gameplay resembles anything in the board game. Transitioning between one and the other in the same game would be very difficult. Much better to pick ones that are only separated by degrees.

Lastly, we could go Gygaxian here and say old-school wargames. The original systems that would become D&D were simply zoomed-in looks at the individuals in their elaborate war games.
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Back in the D&D 4E days, they created a Risk-like board game set in the same world, though the setting area of Nentir Vale was just a small part. It also had all of the classic dungeons of D&D located in different parts of the map, and part of that game was sending heroes into the dungeons to recover artifacts for your armies.

Dungeons & Dragons: Conquest of Nerath Board Game

I absolutely loved the 4E Points of Light setting and the Nentir Vale. I had planned to use the board game to create a world-spanning war, but we never got that far.
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I suppose it would depend on the intent. If you're trying to rapidly determine outcomes of "big events" like battles, some systems have wargames that dovetail seamlessly (Iron Kingdoms Full Metal Fantasy Roleplaying Game, etc.). If you're trying to drive geopolitical development, something like Aria: Canticle of the Monomyth is similar in concept - a "world-view" meta-game, of sorts.
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IIRC One my friends played either the Star Trek RPG or Gurps set in Star Trek. One the board games was not Star Fleet battles but one where you moved Fleets instead of single ships. So on a good week end it was Play the RPG either using a planet encounter or ship encounter. The result of that affected the sector of the boardgame.
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Curious... there's no RPGs that have this kind of thing baked in already?

My group has toe-dipped into this "macro scenario" in the past, but haven't really gone anywhere with it, mainly because either:

1) The GM needs/wants more control of the larger world narrative.

2) The boardgame requires just enough modding to make it feel like a cob-job.

We attempted to implement Eclipse at one point to govern the macro-actions of a bunch of smaller space-nations moving in tandem/against a larger one, but point 1 came into fruition really fast, and it more or less just derailed the game and/or felt forced. I had a lot of issues trying to re-envision my universe to accommodate Eclipse’s machinations (it also didn’t help that I’m not a big fan of Eclipse anyway and left that part of the campaign administration to another player).

If an RPG baked that into the mechanics and narrative seamlessly, as one integrated system, either fantasy or sci-fi based (or other), that could be pretty interesting if handled correctly.
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I think there are three possible ways this can work (which are not exclusive):

* Using a board game to represent a specific large scale event in an RPG.
* Using a board game to generate the initial state of the RPG in some fashion, with the role-playing taking over
* Using a board game in an ongoing fashion to decide how the wider situation changes.

The first bullet point is pretty common across the history of RPGs (especially if you loosely interpret "board game" as including miniatures games). Lots of RPGs have had mass combat systems, for example.

The 2nd bullet point seems like it would be the most easily implemented. There need not to be any mechanical integration of the games at all, the one precedes the other. My understanding is that the folks at GDW played some kind of large scale game to translate the setting of Twilight: 2000 to 2300 AD, but I do not know that for a fact.

The 3rd bullet point is the hardest, because a true feedback loop can be difficult to set up. Its easy to have events from the board game to feed into the RPG, but much harder to go the other direction. Mark said something similar above:
mawilson4 wrote:
But very few where the gameplay resembles anything in the board game. Transitioning between one and the other in the same game would be very difficult. Much better to pick ones that are only separated by degrees.


As to the question itself, I've always thought that the basic rules of Diplomacy could be used somehow to generate large scale events for RPGs. I mean, all you really need is:

* a map of some sort that shows the regions of interest and the borders. It doesn't have to be a literal map, it could be a diagram of political factions and centers of power, for example.

* marking some of those regions as supply centers that generate new pieces

* an initial placement of pieces for each faction/participant.

And away you go!
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MOTHDevil wrote:
Curious... there's no RPGs that have this kind of thing baked in already?



Over the years, D&D has attempted to bake in world building or mass combat. Two that come to mind are Birthright Campaign Setting and Battlesystem Fantasy Combat Supplement.

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I believe that Spartacus Blood and Sand would make a good RPG.
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merb101 wrote:
MOTHDevil wrote:
Curious... there's no RPGs that have this kind of thing baked in already?



Over the years, D&D has attempted to bake in world building or mass combat. Two that come to mind are Birthright Campaign Setting and Battlesystem Fantasy Combat Supplement.



Mass combat, yes... But I always thought of that as retro-fitting the older Chainmail-style minis action back into D&D…?

Not very familiar with Birthright. What I was thinking was a system that uses the same mechanics as the parent RPG in order to constantly change the world-stage power balance… sort of like Forgotten Realms by way of WW2, then using that as the backdrop the PCs are operating in. Their actions in the campaign can potentially also tip the scales for one side, or even grossly affect it (say… retrieving a specific artifact or assassinating a nation’s leader), and that would also be reflected in the macro game.

Heck, even structure sides/nations like classes, with their own specific abilities and feats, then use the world map (maybe some sort of shifting tile thing or abstraction?) as literal game board.
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merb101 wrote:
MOTHDevil wrote:
Curious... there's no RPGs that have this kind of thing baked in already?



Over the years, D&D has attempted to bake in world building or mass combat. Two that come to mind are Birthright Campaign Setting and Battlesystem Fantasy Combat Supplement.



Yeah. That was my response to that. Birthright was an attempt to intertwine kingdom-management with an RPG setting. My reading of it was that it was okay, but the game system wasn't tight enough to really make it compelling. The math behind the game systems was too loose, and I think it would break down in long-term play. It suffered from not enough playtesting. (This is a common theme in games in general, and RPGs in particular.)

Re: Miniatures games. If you're talking larger-scale miniatures games to handle mass combats, I get it. But things like Warmachine and Warhammer 40,000 are awfully close to RPG scale in the first place, and I don't see a big advantage to using them.

Although I do remember one game of Warhammer Fantasy Roleplay (3rd Edition) where the GM took a one-night break from the RPG to pull in a game of Mordheim: City of the Damned which was integrated into the story. It was a neat one-night diversion that had an impact on the larger game. Good fun, but not anything I'd use for a long-term, overarching effect on a campaign.
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jasperrdm wrote:
One the board games was not Star Fleet battles but one where you moved Fleets instead of single ships.


Is that Federation & Empire?
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MOTHDevil wrote:
Curious... there's no RPGs that have this kind of thing baked in already?


About a year ago, I got curious about a Kickstarter that aimed to do just this, and provided system-neutral rules for kingdom management and large-scale conflict that complimented the more granular exploits of nearly any RPG system. Wish I could remember the name. In any case, this concept exists, but I don't know that it's gotten much attention.
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I think Tyrants of the Underdark would work in a D&D campaign where drow politics influence the game.
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mawilson4 wrote:
MOTHDevil wrote:
Curious... there's no RPGs that have this kind of thing baked in already?


About a year ago, I got curious about a Kickstarter that aimed to do just this, and provided system-neutral rules for kingdom management and large-scale conflict that complimented the more granular exploits of nearly any RPG system. Wish I could remember the name. In any case, this concept exists, but I don't know that it's gotten much attention.


Although far from perfect, Reign takes the interesting approach of describing organizations of any scale with PC style statistics and feats. A bakery might has 1 Treasury and 0 Military while a Rebel Militia might have 0 Treasury and 2 Military, etc. Individuals can take feats that effect things on the organization level, and companies can be nested with in one another for simulating political divides.

No boardgame element, but a clever way to integrate kingdom management. I wish I liked the dice mechanics more. The system was designed to be easily grafted on to other systems.
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You could play Small World to establish the starting campaign state of a fantasy world; which races existed and have dominance in which areas.
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jasperrdm wrote:
IIRC One my friends played either the Star Trek RPG or Gurps set in Star Trek. One the board games was not Star Fleet battles but one where you moved Fleets instead of single ships. So on a good week end it was Play the RPG either using a planet encounter or ship encounter. The result of that affected the sector of the boardgame.


Was it Federation & Empire?

Doh! Rob+5 beat me to it...
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The key is that the board game turns MUST be simple. Otherwise, everyone gets board or at least out of rp mode too long. I used to use Lionheart, which was a simple sort of Chess with dice. Each unit represented a platoon. The players were attached to two platoons so any damage on those pieces were reflected by the death of platoon members.

The turns only took about 2 minutes so not too long to abstract.

For space trading, I would consider using Merchants of Venus. Instead though, I use a simple but clever phone RPG to determine:

quadrant wide faction actions (e.g. Trade wars, spy actions, full war, special ops (bounty hunter / assasinations), blockades
Missions at each planet,
a description of a city
A description of the wilderness on each planet
Random encounters with other faction ships
Pricing of a half dozen category of objects on each planet (e.g. plants, weapons, etc.)
Battle actions by antagonistic space ships

It worked very well for Uncharted Worlds, which is a PbtA in space with no built-in factions or universe. This game also just has the 6 or lower is a fail and GM fiat so the battle actions also help.

This phone game is does what Merchants of Venus would but quicker.

It is the original Space Traders rpg by the Trese Brothers.

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Inkwan wrote:
The key is that the board game turns MUST be simple. Otherwise, everyone gets board or at least out of rp mode too long.

It'd be an interesting experiment to bind two groups together. One group likes board games and plays something "overarching" to set the campaign events and direction. The other group likes RPGs and plays something "set in" the mutating campaign world. See how that develops.

Board Game: "Russia invaded China and won, but then the RPG characters resisted strongly and enjoyed a major heroic victory, so we have to wind back that Russian victory somewhat..."

RPG: "Why in the heck is Russia invading China all of a sudden? That seems random..."
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GeoffreyB wrote:
I believe that Spartacus Blood and Sand would make a good RPG.

Mechanics: No named person ever dies in combat, regardless of wounds or odds or outcomes.

Unless the tragic narrative picks them for the episode - but then they can spend half the evening developing their romantic backstory.
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mawilson4 wrote:
I would think that the board games that would be easiest to do this with are the games that have RPG systems ready to go for them. For example, play a certain number of rounds in Star Wars: Imperial Assault, then zoom in with Star Wars: Edge of the Empire (or something similar). Transitioning between the two wouldn't be that hard.
In that particular case, it's intentionally harder than it needs be. FFG specifically has endeavored to make the ratings not intercompatible between the lines.
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I recently had a couple of games of Star Wars: Rebellion, in both games the Rebel base was on Nal Hutta. In one game Nal Hutta was destroyed by The Empire.



So based off events of that game I've planned a new Star Wars campaign.
In this version of the Star Wars universe the Rebel Base was not on Yavin IV, it was on the Hutt homeworld of Nal Hutta. The Empire followed the Millennium Falcon to the Rebel Base, and the DEATH STAR destroyed the Hutt homeworld, ending the Rebellion!

However, the Hutts have now joined their Clans and and are about to show the Empire why they have been the true rulers of the galaxy for thousands of years. Combing pirate fleets as well as their own hidden armada the Hutts have declared war on The Empire.


Once we begin we'll have to answer a few questions;

- Did Luke manage to escape?
- Did Leia escape? Unlikely.
- If Luke escaped then that means that R2-D2 probably did and still has the Death Star plans.
- Is there any other way R2-D2 could have escaped without Luke?
- Is the Rebellion gone?
- What systems would join with the Hutts?
- What systems could become targets of the DEATH STAR ?
- What role would the PCs have in all of this?
- Where is Han Solo? He left before the DEATH STAR arrived. Do the Hutts hold him responsible?

Looking forward to running this, hopefully it will be later this year. I'll be using the Star Wars (WEG Original Edition).
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MOTHDevil wrote:
Curious... there's no RPGs that have this kind of thing baked in already?
Several, actually...

Battletech/Mechwarrior: Games on each of several levels:
Succession Wars: the grand scale, moving regiments.
Battleforce 2: The invasion scale and the supertactical scale
Battlespace: space combat
Battletech: the tactical scale for vehicles.
Battletroops: a tighter focused tactical scale for infantry actions
Mechwarrior/A Time of War: RPG
The original Mercenary's Handbook also included an abstraction layer for running merc units, and a resolution for unit-to-unit combat as a pen and paper sim

Renegade Legion was getting the same treatment
Leviathan: capital ships
Interceptor: fighters & patrols
Centurion: ground combat (with rules for fighter/patrol interactions)
Legionnaire: RPG

Traveller... iteself an RPG
Fifth Frontier War: War between the Zhodani Consulate and the 3I
Invasion Earth: Imperium capturing earth in the Solomani Rim War - rules can be (and are intended to be) repurposed for planetary invasions anywhen in the OTU.
AHL & Striker: alternate combat system; also scale up to (respectively) shipboard boarding actions and company to regiment size ground combat

Rolemaster...
War Law boxed set for mass combat

Spacemaster:
two boxed games; one for ships, one for ground combat

AD&D 2E:
Birthright setting includes a month-turn holdings system.
Battlesystem allows mass combats in AD&D.
One could use The Great Khan Game for a FR based campaign's overarching setting changes... not great for generating battles for battlesystem... but workable for generating a war arc.
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