October 23rd, 2008

Tactical_CoverWarSpike is based on the work of the ‘Historical European Martial Arts‘ (HEMA) movement, which attempts to recreate the lost ‘Arts of Mars’, who’s work has changed the way we think about the combat capabilities of European warriors of yesteryear.  Knights are no longer lumbering tanks but highly skilled warriors, as were many of the common folk armed with sword and buckler, and this presents a very different view of our past. It is in the light of these conceptual developments I thought it would be a great idea to put this knowledge back into war-games. Thus ‘WarSpike’ was born, though the foundations of this realistic game system were laid many moons ago.

The WarSpike rule set is geared to illustrate the concepts of the fighter, the thought processes of a martial art, and to serve as a basis for future teaching. A very basic ‘combat primer’ of sorts. WarSpike is built on information taken from sites like ‘the Association for Renaissance Martial Arts‘ (ARMA), and I highly recommend (not endorsed by the ARMA or anything). The idea is to introduce new ‘memes‘ into the gaming community, while also grounding the player in realistic concepts of armed combat. It is more a teaching tool than a pure game, and matches should be supervised by someone with the required knowledge to interpret the rules correctly. WarSpike will not teach you the Arts of Mars, but it will give you a frame of reference, and it requires a well versed human to guide the formation of the frame of reference.

This overview is to help orientate new players, a heads up of sorts, of to what to expect from the system. There are areas where WarSpike deviates from the norms of the gaming world.  It may seems familiar and alien at the same time, and often pre-conceived ideas born under other systems will royally screw with your understanding. I have tried to use plain English wherever possible, and to carefully explain everything is detail. However some knowledge of the subject is essential. I recommend the articles and essays on the ARMA (or similar site) to give you an understanding, else you may be totally lost.

Quick Taster

I think there are three areas that will give you a taste of the flavour of WarSpike, and whether it will be of interest of you as a ‘game’ and to read further. If you don’t like these, you really aren’t going to like the rest of the system!

  • Fundamentally it’s a ‘percentile system’. Nice and simple, but while fast, traditional percentile systems have limitations.  WarSpike introduces the idea of ‘dynamic equilibrium’. This is a fancy way of saying that the percentile chance represents an actions set to a given tempo; a standardised set of parameters. This is do to allow a simple mechanic of  ‘what you take from one side must be taken from the other’ and allows us to circumvent  one of the biggest weakness of a percentile system, the old ‘how to handle VS’. For more on that read this plog post: Design Notes: Tempo. This enables WarSpike to retain the streamlined percentile system, yet can handle ‘VS’ taking into account the skill of one affecting the other. To see how this plays out head over to this plog post: Prototype: Basics of Combat Resolution
  • The next notable divination is the ‘simultaneous’ turn management system, based on ‘paired resolution’. The keeps both players in the game, every step of the way. For more more read this prototype page: Turn Sequence: Basics
  • Next up is the Attributes used. They are not single values, but dual values, and are defined as ‘Binary Attributes’. Each binary attribute has two aspects. These aspects are inversely proportional; an increase in one aspect decreases the other. For more on that see this: Attributes. You may also like to read through the Stature Attribute as an example of how a binary stat is defined, and how the ‘definition template’ can be used to generate many ‘values’ used in game play from a single Attribute value.

WarSpike covers all aspect of war, be it on the personal combat level, units engaged in tactical battles, grand strategy or political back room dealings. In order to manage this, the entirety of human conflict is divided into four ‘Spheres’. The Spheres of War. The Spheres being: Technical, Tactical, Strategic, and Political. The complete system of WarSpike can be a little intimidating. Fortunately each sphere can be played in it’s own right. Each is a separate game that can learnt in isolation from the others. As each is learnt it can be combined with the others, until the full system is known. Once you have gotten your head around the idea that WarSpike, and the four spheres of war which all share a common set of concepts and game mechanics, it is very easy to use.

  • The four spheres of war are arranged in a circle (like the Greek classical ‘elements’.) to symbolise their relationship to each other.
  • All rule sets are related. In a series The rules set for a sphere generalises the sphere preceding it (clockwise). Therefore: The Tactical Sphere generalises the rules of the Technical Sphere, likewise the Strategy Sphere generalises the rules of the Tactical Sphere.

I think after reading those three you’ll have an idea if you like the system or not. You may also have a few questions, and if you do I’m happy to answer them!

Further, on the RPG side of things…

Character Development in RPG

There are three main areas to the WarSpike development system.

  • Experience of situations affect Mentality and gives modifiers listed under ‘Attitudes’. These are very important and compliment the skill set, as experience allows a person to stay calm and focus on the task at hand. Inexperience provokes nerves (fear of the unknown variable, leading to doubt, and the realisation of the fear of possible death. The mind races, and distracts) and leads to mistakes. In effect Experience allows the skills learnt to function correctly, and with optimum efficiency. (there is a post here)
  • Training is done ‘out of session’ and run via email or forum. You need a teacher, a school and to allocate time.
  • WarSpike also has an out of session ‘career system’ to track training and work skills. You need skills and training before you gain employment, else you need to do an apprenticeship. This Employment gives money and keeps the skills used to do the job sharp.

All combined it simulates a system of how we learn.

Traditional XP based games that gives skills are a rewards is moved over to ‘divine inspiration’ or ‘rewards of the gods’. It is not how people actually learn, but this system will be available (I’ll just call it as it is!)

As with all WarSpike – none of this is binding and an Augment can overwrite all of it!

Overview of what’s covered and what’s not.

This is a breakdown of what will be covered by WarSpike on this site, the static site and the PDF and POD versions.

Core Rules: Basically the core rules will cover all combat skills; using all real world weapons. Starting with the Romans but with reference to the Greeks and Macedonians, and working up to Medieval Europe and topping out at the Renaissance. It will also cover other skills of these periods that are general and common to all (like carpentry), but specific technologies or specialist skills that die out will be covered in ‘Augments‘, such as ‘The Roman Empire’. Augments expand the system.

Rule Augments: The first official Augment I will concentrate on once the system is up and running is ‘Fire-power’ and covers the age of firearms, types of firearm and tactics (suppression fire, leap-frogging) and grenades. This is where the turn system of WarSpike really shines!This augment covers fire-arms, and tactics, up to the modern age. I also hope to cover SWAT team tactics, and to start introducing guerilla warfare, though this may be punted over to a new follow on Augment ‘Asymmetric Warfare’ and tie into the Sphere combination game of Asymmetrical Warfare

Third Party Augments: Fantasy and Sci-fi are not covered by the core of WarSpike at all. They will be completely absent, and will never turn up. Only real world stuff turns up in the core of WarSpike or the WarSpike (rule) Augments.

All Fantasy and Sci-fi is covered by Sciror, a meta-framework, which does does a similar job in laying out the ground work for Fanatsy and Sci-fi rules. This is where non-real stuff turns up like ‘rewards of the gods’ XP systems, magic and psionics, demons and anything weird and all a bit Twilight Zone. I will also release some settings that use Sciror, such as Twistasy via my personal site and some easrly concepts can be found here: WarSpike: Fantasy.

Again, as with all WarSpike, Sciror can be ignored and overwritten with new rules and concepts – but Sciror is so vast an ‘umbrella’ concept that you could categorise almost anything within Sciror.

Category: Prototype Rules Page

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