Game Day: The Fast and Furious Streets of Dark City

The Dark City A Team campaign (and we really do need to come up with a better designation for the upper level characters) resumes tonight after the unexpected death of the entire B Team at the hands of the Kobold King last week. Before we do so though, we’ll be running through a playtest of Berin Kinsman’s lightweight tabletop miniatures game Toybox Wars.

Toybox Wars

As those who’ve been following already know, Toybox Wars is the end result of two projects that have been rattling around in Berin’s brain for the last few months: the Car Wars miniature combat game and a Godzilla Final Wars RPG. The original idea behind Car Pools was to come up with a dice pool mechanic for running Car Wars-style games without all the rules overhead. The original idea behind Godzilla Final Wars was to create a system that could handle battles between giant Japanese monsters and their human adversaries, represented by toybox army men.

You can feel the synergy happening, can you?

Both games would have players raiding their toyboxs for minis they could use in tabletop skirmishes, so why not use the same rule set? Thus, Toybox Wars was born. The playtest version of the game is available as a free download from the GrizzlyWiki. It’s very much a work in progress — I think Berin’s managed one playtest at Ides of Gaming — but the basic mechanics are there.

Those mechanics are pretty simple. You’ve got 10 six-sided dice to split up between three pools: attack, dodge and floating. When you want to avoid something, you roll dodge dice; when you want to attack something, you use attack dice. Anything higher than a two succeeds. Floating dice can be used for attack or dodge, but their success threshold is higher: you need a four or better.

My hope tonight is to run a playtest or two tonight, focusing on vehicular combat. The Car Wars inspired playtest will feature 2-5 pirate-themed Matchbox cars attempting to complete a three-lap race around an oval track. I’ll be using two homegrown rules in addition to the core ones:

  • Stunt Pool: Players will be able to speed up their cars by allocating dice to the stunt pool; rolling better than a two using this dice gives you an extra move. The Stunt Pool was part of the original Car Pool draft, and Berin plans to work it back into Toybox Wars in the near future.
  • Initiative: The game doesn’t have any initiative rules, so I’ll be using the playing card mechanic from Savage Worlds; high card goes first, wild cards go whenever they want and yield an extra success of the players choosing (attack, dodge or Stunt).

I ran a quick playtest of the rules this afternoon with three cars, and found things went fast and brutal, which is exactly what Berin was shooting for. I look forward to trying it out with real opponents. I’ll post my playtest notes sometime this weekend.

In Media Res

Cory takes his first turn behind the DM Screen with our group tonight. He’s running a Dark City adventure with an unusual hook (at least for an RPG): the game will begin in the middle of a scene. The scene will play out, and then we’ll flash back to the real start of the adventure. We’ll then play back up to the scene.

It’s a cool idea, and one we see a lot of on TV (Joss Whedon’s a big fan of it on Buffy and Angel, and those series provided inspiration for Cory’s adventure).

While there’s some skepticism as to how well it will work at the gaming table, everyone agreed to give it a try. Personally, I’m excited to try it out — I welcome anything that mixes up the standard gaming tropes — and I think this sort of thing fits perfectly with Dark City. It’s a very role-playing intensive campaign (or it can be) and I’d like to see us try out more plot tricks like this.