tag:nordicweasel.posthaven.com,2013:/posts Nordic Weasel Games 2023-12-04T21:48:34Z Ivan Sorensen tag:nordicweasel.posthaven.com,2013:Post/2058427 2023-12-04T21:48:34Z 2023-12-04T21:48:34Z Game update: Rogue Hammer 1.09

Version 1.09 is an army list expansion, giving every army a new unit, option or vehicle. Please enjoy. 

Ivan Sorensen
tag:nordicweasel.posthaven.com,2013:Post/2053539 2023-11-21T18:17:59Z 2023-11-21T18:17:59Z Upgrade your design: Cross referencing rules

Just a quick post today since I am pretty busy. 

Cross referencing rules throughout the rulebook: Yay or nay?

By cross referencing I mean that each rule will list any applicable conditions and modifiers found elsewhere in the system. For example if you have a rule for smoke grenades that adds a -2 hit penalty, then you might add a note of that in your chapter on ranged combat or in the table of hit modifiers. 

As another example if you have a rule that figures that get hit might be pinned down, but androids and zombies are immune to this, you might add that to the section on pinning.

The advantage of doing this is that each rule becomes effectively standalone and comprehensive. If I check the rules for pinning, I can see all possible conditions and effects. This reduces the chance of me forgetting about it during the game, especially in cases where I might not otherwise be aware the secondary rule exists at all.

As such cross referencing can be tremendously helpful and is likely to improve the usability of your game rules (and remember game rules are utilitarian: They are intended to be used actively at a table). 

There are a couple of drawbacks however:

If your game has a lot of special rules and exceptions (such as is the case for many sci-fi and fantasy games) things can get out of hand pretty quickly. If your book has 20 different functions that can all modify the hit roll due to particular bits of equipment, rules, conditions or abilities, do you really want to list everyone? A common answer here is to limit yourself to either certain categories (so tabletop conditions and status effects might be in, equipment modifiers are out) or try to only pick out the most common occurrences (fog and night time modifiers are in, left-handed shooting of a medium sized firearm while balancing on a hoverboard is out)

There is also a significant amount of upkeep involved in establishing cross referencing and maintaining it afterwards, because the same rule is now referenced in multiple locations. I recently flipped through a rulebook that gave retreat distances as one distance in the main rules for morale, but in the movement phase summary of how units move when they have failed morale, the distance was different. The more items you try to cross reference the more you will run into this problem. 

You can alleviate this somewhat by using consistent terminology, so you can use cmd+f / ctrl+f to find all instances where a particular rule or term is mentioned.

A final concern happens when material is across multiple books such as expansions or army books. It can be helpful to have these elements referenced, but for players who are not using that expansion it can add to the clutter (not to mention irritating people who are not ready to purchase more content yet)

The upshot of it all is that at least some cross referencing is helpful to make your rulebook more accessible in play, but it does bear some thinking about how to do it.

That is all for today folks. If you like these types of posts, please consider supporting my Patreon at https://www.patreon.com/nordicweasel 

Ivan Sorensen
tag:nordicweasel.posthaven.com,2013:Post/2045501 2023-11-07T16:55:14Z 2023-11-07T16:55:14Z Upgrade your design: Separate flavour and rules text

Let me present you with two presentations of the same rule:

The Spell of Extreme Death is an ancient ritual that conjures up the shadows of the netherworld on a casting roll of 7+. Tendrils of evil shadow reach out to a range of 9" and the target must make a saving throw as the choking vapours of Blitterbops assails them. Due to the nature of shadow magickz they do not affect cybernetic units. Consuming a healthy breakfast of oatmeal will also provide protection from the dire perils conjured up by this forbidden arcanery.


The Spell of Extreme Death is an ancient ritual that conjures up the shadows of the netherworld as tendrils of shadow assailt the target with the choking vapours of Blitterbops.

Casting roll 7+, Range 9". Saving Throw required by target. 

Does not affect Cybernetic units or units who had oatmeal for breakfast (only)

Now imagine that the page has 9 more spells crammed in on it and you are trying to find the information quickly, because you are gaming with Bob and Bob never writes down the details for his spells.

I am also generally a proponent of reducing "colourful" commentary ("If they fail a saving throw, the target is vapourised in a shower of hot metal fragments") in games text, though this is strictly a personal taste. I just prefer keeping things tight and tidy. To me, the rules section should be clearly available on its own, because it is going to be referenced during game play and you want the player to be able to do soat a glance. 

Remember that a game rulebook is a functional text first and a book to be read for entertainment second. 

Ivan Sorensen
tag:nordicweasel.posthaven.com,2013:Post/2044611 2023-11-05T19:00:34Z 2023-11-05T19:00:34Z Common Questions (Update)

An update to an older post, covering some common questions that get asked once in a while. 

Who are you exactly?

My name is Ivan, I am in my early 40s, I was born and grew up in Denmark and live in the United States currently. At this point I have spent about half my life in each place and depending on which day of the week I feel like one, both or neither.

What is your day job?

Nordic Weasel Games is my day job and pays for my rent, car and other things. It has been so for quite a few years. 

Are you / do you believe in / do you support X ?

These days I do not tend to discuss politics with people I am not friends with. 

If you understand Danish politics, I voted SF before I moved. 

What is your opinion on X hobby/industry topic?

I do not generally comment on hobby drama or personality clashes. 

Do you do x social media platform?

Probably not. I try out things now and again but I tend to find the experience aggravating and unpleasant.  

I do post on the Five Parsecs and Five Leagues Facebook groups since that is where the majority of fans seem to contribute these days and even I must go with the flow of progress. 

What do you play personally?

A bit of everything when I get the chance. I often play games made by other people when playing recreationally, since it helps me to not be in "work brain" mode all the time. I also like to try different games. 

With a couple of exceptions I tend not to like games that require purchasing a specific range of figures so I prefer more generic science fiction games. 

These days most of my miniatures gaming is historical with WW1 and WW2 being the primary topics. I also enjoy hex-and-counter wargames and do a lot of roleplaying. I don't really play CCG's any longer though I do enjoy the format.

Are you part of OSR/Oldhammer/some other movement?

Not generally though I have dabbled in all kinds of things over the years.  

What scales of miniatures do you collect? 

15mm and 1/72 are the primary ranges.

I have some smaller piles of other stuff but I try to avoid accumulating too much stuff.

Is it true you write for 15mm first? 

I usually test games in 15mm or 1/72 scale first. It happens that the distances I like in those scales also tend to match up with common ranges and movement rates for 28mm games, so it works out just fine. 

What happened to X product?

Some game lines just don't catch on and I can't justify spending time on them. Other games I did everything I wanted to and the game is finished as far as I figure it. Sometimes I just simply don't have the time to do more with it. 

Specifically regarding Trench Storm and FAD the rights were sold off.

Why do some betas not get a full release?

This usually happens if there wasn't enough interest or because in hindsight the system was too fiddly or not very fun to play. Some games saw a hundred or more downloads during the beta and not a single comment on them, which is a good sign that the idea needs more work. 

Why aren't you doing X obvious thing?

It may be because I am not super interested in the topic (superheroes), I need to do more research first (naval combat) or it is a really good idea but I haven't had the time for it yet.

If the idea is one that requires significant upfront money or a high chance of getting stock with unsold items, I am 1000% less likely to be interested. 

Is there some secret logic behind what projects you do?

It has to be something I am interested in personally. It needs to not be overdone in the market (usually) and I need to have an idea of how to put my own spin on it. It also needs to be something that I think somebody will pay money for. 

Is it FiveCore or 5Core?

Both get used online. I prefer FiveCore. 

I want to write games, what advice do you have? 

Write a lot. Build up a back catalogue. Every project will encounter "The Suck": Learn to power through it. Stay out of internet drama. Treat every person with kindness. Don't pursue internet trends. 

What things will you never do, so we should stop asking?

Anything to do with the OSR or D&D stuff in general. 

Any edgelord stuff. 

What are your favorite bands of all time?

Bolt Thrower and Blind Guardian.

What are your favorite movies of all time?

Aliens, Shawshank Redemption, Pretty Woman.

What are your favorite authors of all time?

Michael Moorcock, Mercedes Lackey, Jack Vance.

Ivan Sorensen
tag:nordicweasel.posthaven.com,2013:Post/2041315 2023-10-28T16:07:33Z 2023-10-28T22:15:16Z Musing: Collecting for games

The topic of today is collecting for games, which in our case usually means miniatures. 

I think it's safe to say that nerds generally like to collect stuff. We all end up with extra stuff we don't quite end up doing anything with, whether its half an army for a game that didn't take off, a few packs we got for cheap at a convention but never opened or a couple of characters in a scale we don't collect and for a conflict we don't game. 

It's common enough that people coin the term Pile of Shame to describe their unused stuff. Board gamers and RPG'ers have a similar thing regarding unplayed games (usually called the Shelf of Shame). Curiously while a lot of miniatures gamers do buy a lot of rules they don't get around to playing, I rarely see people fretting over the number of unplayed game rules in the miniatures hobby. Maybe a reflection that the miniatures are the primary investment? 

In the last few years I have rooted out a lot of old stuff and ended up getting rid of a lot that I had bought and never gotten around to using (and more importantly knew I wouldn't get around to using). I weeded out my board game and RPG collections along similar lines: If I was going to keep a physical copy, it had to be something I actively wanted to play again. 

A lot of this was miniatures stuff that didn't add up to anything playable: A handful of 2mm ACW blocks, some 6mm scifi that I had no terrain for, a couple of true 25mm scifi figures that match up with nothing else I own at all. You can probably look at your own shelves and find a lot of similar remnants. Worse was that I realised none of these were projects I wanted to finish. 

The whole thing gave me plenty of time to sit and think about the hobby in general and formulate a few thoughts:

* If you are going to start a project, consider starting with a pretty decent chunk. If you are collecting for a specific game, buy enough that it will add up to at least a small army for that game. Having figures you cannot play games with can be really demoralising. 

* However don't over do it up front either. Yes I know "Do this but not too much". Some people will realise that they will just shut down if they are looking at painting 300 infantry figures, so if that is you, take the "small army" part seriously.

* Be sceptical if you are considering buying something in a scale you do not normally collect. Are you going to build potentially a couple of full armies and the terrain to go with them?

* Consider whether you actually want to have a playable army or if you are just after painting a few figures or a couple of units for the shelf. Deciding this up front can relieve a lot of stress. 

* Don't underestimate the need for terrain. Some things are universal of course (rocks!) some things are usable in a pretty wide range of settings (old fashioned European farm house) but your sci-fi landing pad probably won't see a lot of use outside of science fiction games. If you do not own any suitable terrain, it makes an additional hurdle to get over.

* Are you going to provide both armies or only one? If you are getting into a project with someone else, coordinate with them so it does not turn out you both decided to do 1940 French. If you are doing a project for solo gaming, then you are of course free to do anything you like, but you also need to double the amount of work. 

* Consider setting some time frames. Remember things take longer than you think they do and they often take longer if you are not pushing yourself. Can you paint a squad per week? How long will a tank platoon actually take? Routines work well and having a regular painting night is also a great way to de-stress. 

* Be suspicious of the human urge to "buy it now because then one day I might want to use it". You probably won't. 

Happy painting.

Ivan Sorensen
tag:nordicweasel.posthaven.com,2013:Post/2038931 2023-10-21T20:58:39Z 2023-10-21T20:58:39Z Parsecs house rule: Scatter terrain as cover

If you saw the Tactics playtests you are already familiar with this. The rule will also be in Planetfall and is easily adaptable to Five Parsecs From Home.

Scatter Terrain

Scatter is terrain that is small and individual such as a tree, boulder, crate or barrel. A typical piece of scatter is about big enough that a single figure can take cover behind it, but no larger. It is called this because it can be "scattered" around the gaming table. Usually at the end of setting up your terrain, you might do that to just add a little more visual flair. If you have a few wide areas with no terrain, a couple of trees or rocks can break it up visually and make things look nicer. 

The Scatter Terrain rule is a way to take that process and make it actually a part of the game mechanics.

A figure immediately behind (and touching) a piece of scatter terrain is in cover if they are being fired on from the opposing side.

Additionally if the firer rolls a natural 6, the shot blows apart or collapses the cover. The target avoids harm but the scatter terrain is removed from play. 


The rule is as it is because it is quick and easy: No additional roll is required and you just have to check for a natural 6. 

If you feel it is a bit weird to penalise a 6, you can change it so it occurs if you roll exactly the target number (or even if you roll 1 below the target number or a natural 1). 

You could also make it a saving throw instead if you prefer to go that route. 

Ivan Sorensen
tag:nordicweasel.posthaven.com,2013:Post/2037633 2023-10-18T15:05:04Z 2023-10-18T15:05:04Z Game update: Clash on the Fringe printer friendly

Please check your Wargame Vault library section and you will find a print friendly / low ink version of the Clash on the Fringe rulebook. Enjoy!

Ivan Sorensen
tag:nordicweasel.posthaven.com,2013:Post/2037025 2023-10-16T18:48:16Z 2023-10-16T18:48:17Z Game update: Rogue Hammer 1.08

Rogue Hammer v 1.08 is now live on Wargame Vault. Patrons at 10+ dollars have also received a copy.

This clarifies how anti vehicle assaults work and updates all the unit profiles to have a distinct anti tank value when assaulting. The game should be a lot clearer to understand now.

Ivan Sorensen
tag:nordicweasel.posthaven.com,2013:Post/2036353 2023-10-14T15:49:52Z 2023-10-30T09:01:52Z Preview: Planetfall

Please note that Planetfall is not finalised as the title.

I thought I would share a little bit about how characters will work in Five Parsecs: Planetfall. Broadly your professional crew consists of three classes:

Scientists, Explorers and Troopers. 

Each has their own starting profile, capabilities and special type of armour. 

Scientists are your go-to when it comes to a lot of the mission tasks such as scientific curiosities. In particular they will help you improve the odds of gaining rewards and completing certain objectives. They are of course the least capable when it comes to combat. They also feature advanced environmental protection suits. 

Explorers grant bonuses to avoid being ambushed and can help get better results out of unexplored segments of the battlefield. They are also highly mobile both featuring short range jump jets and being able to choose if they move before or after firing.

Lastly the Trooper is there to kill things. They were armour and can lay down rapid fire (if they act in the Quick Phase and dont move they can fire in both player phases). They also have access to the heavier firepower. 

Your campaign roster will have 4 of each and hyou are free to pick the composition of a squad you send into the field. Note that unlike other games you can have more than one battle per campaign turn. Sending out all your Troopers for example might mean you are short of bodies if you get attacked elsewhere.

There is a bonus class known as Specialists. By default these can consist of things like operational staff, medics or unity agents and offer their own benefits. If you import characters from another game they also act as specialists allowing you to bring your favourite characters along for the adventure on a new world.

Ivan Sorensen
tag:nordicweasel.posthaven.com,2013:Post/2034671 2023-10-09T21:59:25Z 2023-10-09T21:59:25Z Design diary: Laserstorm

One of the games that I always felt a very deep fondness for was Games Workshop's "Epic" line of games. I had started with Epic 40.000 and got into NetEpic (based off the 2nd edition Space Marine/Titan Legions games) later on. I had also helped playtest Peter Ramos' Heresy rules for Epic scale combat. 

For a while it seemed that as Epic receded, other rules would take over the mantle but none seemed to establish themselves as a premier option and I eventually decided to throw my hat into the ring. I had taken inspiration from Space Marine 2e in particular before, with my Trench Storm rules, but this was the first time I would do so more directly.

As such I knew that I wanted the basic mechanics to be similar: Roll to hit for each major weapon system and saving throws to determine survival. This would allow combat between units of tanks to be resolved quite quickly and still allow a fair amount of detail with weapons having different hit rolls, save modifiers and potentially other traits. This was expanded by letting weapons be designated as Anti-Infantry, Anti-Tank or General Purpose. 

An additional tweak to the Space Marine formula is that infantry take their saving throws on 1D6,  tanks on 2D6, Super heavy tanks on 3D6 and so forth. This works pretty well to make those units quite resilient and also helps open up the range of numbers. A weapon with a -2 save modifier is concerning to a tank but a desperate measure against a super heavy tank for example. 

Early in the design process I decided that there should be no tracking of any kind: No markers, status effects or tokens. For the largest units this ended up being a bit wonky. While a "behemoth" (giant robots etc.) has a rather respectable saving throw on 4D6, they do go down from one failed save. In hindsight that was probably taking the idea too far. 

Morale works very well however. Units that fail a morale test are removed from the table but can be regrouped and brought back near a commander later on, making for an extremely smooth experience where units are fought off and then brought back to launch new assaults or reinforce a different area. Its a very cool effect that feels more clever in play than it was perhaps ever intended to be. 

For the turn sequence I went with a card system which I was into at the time, but I wanted to avoid huge decks of cards. As such each army is assigned to only 3 cards making for a very compact deck. This also results in a decent amount of combined arms feeling as units on the same card can move and support each other. A few extra cards thrown into the deck allow some reaction fire to occur to make things a little less predictable.

The package is rounded out by a bunch of unit builders and, unusually for a Weasel game, a full map driven campaign with unit rosters and everything. This was inspired by the "mega wars" campaign system for Epic and 40K, published in the Citadel Journal. 

All in all Laserstorm was a clear attempt to take an existing idea and advance the mechanics to new goals. It was also one of the first cases where I was explicitly targeting a particular figure scale. I am pretty pleased with it as a design though there were some shortcomings to be fixed in a future new edition.

You can purchase Laserstorm here

Ivan Sorensen
tag:nordicweasel.posthaven.com,2013:Post/2031797 2023-10-02T20:34:43Z 2023-10-02T20:34:43Z Q&A Round up 18

As we are getting settled into the new home and the Weasel HQ is taking shape, I wanted to answer a few more general questions that come up from time to time. 

A few may be repeats from elsewhere.

How come you write for smaller gaming tables?

 My gaming table when I started NWG was a round table that was just about 24" across. This was basically the worst possible gaming table, but I was determined to get some use out of it and so I started looking for ways to make the most of it. While I have a nice, big gaming table available now, I still like to cater to smaller sizes. 

I think 3x3 feet  is probably my favourite size of gaming space, but a lot of people have realised that the tight, no-nonsense space of 2x2 feet can be really appealing. I even saw a blog post of someone running Five Men in Normandy on a 12x12" table and that still worked!

What scale do you playtest in?

Unless the game is explicitly written for something particular (like Laserstorm) the original test is always for 15mm figures. 

I don't tend to include adjusted ranges for other scales for two reasons: First because I rarely use them myself and second because the most likely scale people use is 28mm and games written for those figures tend to have movement speeds and weapon ranges that are about what I think feels good in 15mm. So (mostly) everyone is happy. 

Will you ever revisit X?

I have a very long list of old games to revisit for updates. With the new office, I am hoping to be more systematic with that kind of thing. 

The biggest loss of productive time for me tends to be working on a project for a while before realising it's not any good or that it'll turn out to be too much like something else. 

I am also trying to be more guarded about timeframes and plans, since I think that kind of information can often be misunderstood and its easier to just play the cards a bit closer to the chest.

Do you take suggestions?

In the past some games have come about due to fan suggestions (Weaseltech being the most obvious) so it does happen. When it does, it usually happens for quite some time down the road. What happens is this:

I won't do a game unless A: I feel strongly about it. B: I feel like I can put my own spin on things (i.e. make it Weasel-y). 

So sometimes an idea sits for a while before I have a good grip on it. 

Ivan Sorensen
tag:nordicweasel.posthaven.com,2013:Post/2021228 2023-09-05T21:06:59Z 2023-09-22T03:25:44Z Back catalogue reminder: Shoot People in Space

Okay so it is not that far into the depths of time but if you enjoy the chaotic and often very immersive experience of classic games like Spacefarers and Laserburn, you could do worse than check out https://www.wargamevault.com/product/398913/Shoot-People-in-Space from last year.

Shoot People in Space is played with single based figures (individual characters or 3 figure squads) and has a number of built in mechanics to produce unexpected outcomes: Your little soldiers will certainly have a mind all of their own. The rules include points systems, a progression system and options to play against another player or solo. The included units are the usual grab bag of Unified Space characters, easily adaptable to most scifi figure ranges (including actual Laserburn figures if you have any lying around). 

So go give it a shot. You may find you have a grand old time.

Ivan Sorensen
tag:nordicweasel.posthaven.com,2013:Post/2020833 2023-09-05T02:23:42Z 2023-09-06T03:15:29Z Did you know?

Clash on the Fringe was originally supposed to be called Starstrike, until we realized that was the name of an old gaming book. In hindsight it was probably also going to sound too much like a starship game.

My wife and I had drawn up 40 or so names on a notepad and went back and forth over them, before settling on Starstrike which is the title I used to refer to the game on the old blog while developing it.

I do not remember where the new title came from, though I seem to recall it was not among the original batch. I think that list went in the bin when we had picked.

Ivan Sorensen
tag:nordicweasel.posthaven.com,2013:Post/2009501 2023-08-08T18:03:48Z 2023-10-02T22:13:27Z Five Parsecs Tactics: Campaign progression

It has been a bit since I've been able to sit down and blog, but today we have a snippet from the upcoming Tactics game: Campaign progression.

The progression system is built so that it exists separately from the two campaign systems: The idea is that you may want to use one, two or all three components depending on your needs. One of the challenges is that a Tactics campaign has less of a fixed format than what I did in Parsecs. You might command a few units that participate in a range of battles, you might fight your way through a narrative campaign or you may even command an army but without being tied to specific units. 

Each battle you play you will earn Campaign Points (CP) awarded both based on a random roll as well as Victory Points earned during the battle. CP can be spent to buy both advances to specific units as well as other benefits. So lets take a look at what you can do:

Unit upgrades

These are the most traditional, offering you the chance to get better units in a campaign. These are used when you keep a roster of units. Upgrades include gaining veteran skills (there are 10 squad skills, 8 sergeant skills, 6 individual, 6 gun crew and 6 vehicle crew skills), retraining a unit (to get a new veteran skill), upgrading an individual figure to become a hero or making a non-leader figure into a leader.

Roster changes

If you play with a roster of units you can spend CP to refit a unit (such as swapping out the equipment loadout), customize a unit with options that are not included in the army builder., replace a unit with a new unit of the same type (f.x. replacing an armoured car with a tank), add units to your roster or replace destroyed units.

Battle advantages

This allows you to bring in support options using the support mechanic in the book, such as engineer or fire support. You can also buy initiative, luck or finesse advantages. These are all single use benefits that can tilt things a bit. Luck lets you roll for two sets of attacks and pick the one you would like to apply while Finesse lets you tweak the clock in games (for cases where you need things to end sooner or last longer). 

As you can see the CP system of course works best if you use a roster of troops that can gain improvements, but one of the benefits of doing it this way is that you want to swap forces (for example to play some battles from the other side or even swap to a different battalion in the big war or whatever) you can keep your CP pool and spend them on the new force. 

Ivan Sorensen
tag:nordicweasel.posthaven.com,2013:Post/2004642 2023-07-26T20:03:39Z 2023-09-09T08:04:20Z Designer diaries: No End in Sight

After FiveCore and Five Men in Normandy garnered some degree of popularity on wargaming forums, there was a bit of pressure to prove to myself that I was not just "the FiveCore guy". The result would be No End in Sight (NEIS), a game of cold war infantry action.

The impetus for NEIS was partially affected by discussions I had with people online. In particular I had been musing on the fact that infantry combat typically is much less lethal than what our tabletop games suggest* and that it did not seem to me that modern warfare could be accurately represented without accounting for wounded soldiers and the need to provide aid to them.

This met a surprising amount of resistance along the lines that a game like that would not be fun to play and that there was no point in doing so, often from people who were otherwise obsessing over modelling the correct tank turret rotation speeds and so forth. I suspect in hindsight that I ran into a case of "we've always done it this way" syndrome. At the time, it just made me mad and I set out to establish that you could absolutely do both and have a great game.

I don't recall where the mechanics started but the whole game revolves around the idea that reaction fire is not a specific state: Instead it is perpetual and any movement is subject to it. This means that it can be viewed as a test of the moving unit as much, or more so, than it is a test of the firing unit. The way I did this in the mechanics is through requiring dice rolls to move across fireswept ground. If the roll is not enough to reach cover, you get pinned down in the open. 

Regular combat uses Shock and Kill dice like I did in FiveCore but they function a bit differently. Soldiers can be pinned down and hits can result in them being wounded or killed. 

The turn sequence works in a different way to most infantry games, though I have seen similar mechanics before: Units accumulate stress each time they activate which increases the chance of them failing to activate again. A single unit will often activate multiple times during a turn, but as the stress mounts (along with the unit usually taking fire and getting pinned down) it can be very difficult to get everything done that you need to.

When testing the game, we realised pretty much immediately that the game felt very "gritty". What starts as infantry platoons manoeuvring against each other ends up as a dirty brawl as you try to knock out their last APC, while 3 soldiers are holding down one flank with desperate fire. In short, it felt very cinematic for a Vietnam or modern warfare type of film. 

At the time I had the impression from the population of a particular, unnamed forum, that contemporary wargaming was primarily something to talk about, by war-horny weirdoes who fantasise about bombing places they can't pronounce and not something that people actually sat down and played games about. To ward that crowd off, I started each chapter of the book with anti-war quotes from artists, politicians and soldiers. I rather expected someone would get mad about that but nobody ever did. At least they did not tell me if they did. I did get a few positive comments from people who had served in the military and who enjoyed the game, which meant a lot to me. 

The original design suffered a little from close combat being a bit of an afterthought and some rules not being explained as well as they could have been. A 2nd edition update was made available to fans and I hope to do a 3rd edition to really nail it in the future.

* People always explain this by saying that a "kill" does not mean dead, but the figure is still permanently removed from the game.  

Ivan Sorensen
tag:nordicweasel.posthaven.com,2013:Post/2004182 2023-07-25T18:42:04Z 2023-07-26T03:14:27Z Q&A Round up 17

It has been a bit since we did a Q&A Round up so let's have another one.

If you are new this is where I answer questions regarding Nordic Weasel games:

Some questions may be repeats if they are frequently asked. 

I will try to give priority to any question asked directly on the blog, otherwise they are just questions I gather up from discord, facebook and my email inbox. 

Five Parsecs questions:

When I engage in a brawl, exactly when are Stun tokens removed?

They are removed as soon as you make contact. In effect they are traded for a hit bonus at that moment. This means that you cannot "stun out" the enemy if they had 2 markers and you hit them in the Brawl.

In Bug Hunt, do teams have to move together?

No. They receive a Reaction bonus if they move together but are not required to. 

What's the deal with gun sights and single shot weapons?

It's meant to mean "weapons that are single use" (no laser sights on hand grenades). My bad. 

Five Leagues questions:  

Are enemy Leaders melee or ranged troops?

They are always Melee troops.

Can I sell damaged items?

Yes for 1 mark. (yes, this means 1 mark items are often not worth repairing) 

Renegade Scout questions:

Does "Cool Down" count as a malfunction for the purpose of abilities that affect malfunctions?


Squad Hammer questions:

When exactly do units lose the Defend status?

When they move for any reason (including moving in response to a firefight) or they are given a new order. 

Ivan Sorensen
tag:nordicweasel.posthaven.com,2013:Post/1995628 2023-07-03T19:11:31Z 2023-07-04T20:46:57Z Parsecs Tactics: The Story campaign

As noted there are basically two campaign systems provided, which can be used on their own or in combination (and either can be used with or without progression systems).

The one I am going to take a look at today is the Campaign Story - This is basically a fairly open-ended and narrative campaign approach where we focus primarily on story beats. 

I am going to play through 4 "rounds" of this. A round can have any number of tabletop battles. This might be a single battle (if you want a campaign with lots of events) or every 2-4 battles if you want more tabletop time.

In this case, I am going to be working with a campaign pitting Unity troopers trying to take out a moon base held by notorious pirates. 

I will be taking the role of the Unity grunts and my campaign will follow a platoon or so of troops (say 4 squads and a walker for support). You dont have to follow a specific unit but thats the typical: Its more colourful if you do. 

The opening battle is probably a direct assault: The Unity grunts drop from their shuttles and have to fight through a thin defensive line of pirates. You can use an option from the book or just concoct your own. We are starting out easy, so I might be up against half my number of pirates so we don't end up gaming out the opening to Saving Private Ryan. 

After that I roll for the first story event and it is Side story. A secondary story takes place during the campaign. Having a think I decide that before the troopers storm in, there was actually a schism in the pirate ranks and a firefight had broken out. In that case my next scenario will be the two pirate factions slugging it out over who gets to be in charge. 

I could do multiple battles here but I decide to just do the one and then generate another event.

The second event then is Unconventional Operation. One side carries out a special operations mission of some sort. I could pick randomly (I like assigning a 1-2 / 3-6 chance to the two sides) but it seems obvious the grunts are going to be doing this. I come up with a quick scenario where they have to raid and blow up the pirates shuttles so they can't escape. 

I want a bit more table time this round, so I also play out a standard firefight where my platoon is getting stuck in with the pirates on the barricades. The special operation will be a new unit that I name but won't otherwise follow. 

Event 3 is a Critical Strike. This indicates an assault on a priority target of some sort. Seems similar to the prior event but the stakes here are higher. If my grunts won their mission, we are probably in position to knock out the defense networks of the base, allowing the rest of the army to show up. But I decide actually lets turn it around: The pirates are going to try to push through and recapture a big defense cannon to shoot our shuttles out of the sky.  That should make for a fun and tense scenario.

Luckily they fail and I think by now the pirates are probably on their last legs. I am going to interpret the last event with that in mind. I roll a New Character. This is what it sounds like: A new character is introduced to the story, typically in the players unit. I think this campaign is probably gonna come to a close here but lets leave a hook for later: A mysterious Unity field agent shows up and commandeers my platoon to secure a strange cargo crate, under strict instructions that they are not to be opened. 

I am now set for the final mission of the campaign and with a good hook to set up a new campaign.


I hope this helps show how the campaign story can unfold. Each result in this example was rolled randomly. The results in the book all come with both suggested player effects AND have a tie-in to the operational campaign rules if you use those but more on that in the future. 

Ivan Sorensen
tag:nordicweasel.posthaven.com,2013:Post/1994795 2023-07-01T19:52:45Z 2023-07-02T04:45:14Z Some Weasel Q&A

Instead of a rules Q&A, I wanted to do a round-up of various questions I get that are in a more general or personal sense:

How can I get a hold of you?

Email is always best: nordicweaselgames@icloud.com 

If you don't reply, do you hate me?

It is possible but odds are I just lost track. If it has been a couple of days just email me with a reminder. 

Can I ask you to look at my <insert game material here>?

I am happy to do so but I must warn that I don't have a ton of free time, so please be armed with patience. If you are looking for an in-depth paragraph by paragraph review of a rules text, I will ask to be compensated for my time. 

Can I ask you about something regarding game design or game publishing?

Yes absolutely. 

Can I show you my hack combining one of your games with another game?

Happy to see things like that, but I can't usually comment on them or help with them.

Will you ever make a hack of your rules to use another setting?

Probably not. I think that is something best left to fans. 

Can I recommend a book, band, show etc. that is like the ones you list as inspirations?

By all means!

Can I send you a copy of my game because I'd like you to have it?

That would be very kind. 

Will you come to this convention?

I'd like to do some convention stuff this or next year and am happy to do seminars or Q&As. 

Will you endorse my group/movement/hashtag?

Probably not. 

Ivan Sorensen
tag:nordicweasel.posthaven.com,2013:Post/1990397 2023-06-20T17:12:54Z 2023-06-20T17:57:39Z Five Parsecs Tactics: Combat changes

Post number 2 for Tactics, this time discussing how I changed the combat rules to account for larger scale actions.

I am going to just say Tactics when I mean Five Parsecs Tactics and From Home when I mean Five Parsecs From Home, so I don't have to type each title out a million times.

Now it is important to note that these changes are not "Five Parsecs 4e". They are used when playing battles using the Tactics rules. The idea is that when you play a scenario, you decide if it is a From Home or a Tactics scenario and use the relevant rules.

HOWEVER they are also generally modular so you can use Tactics as a grab bag for things you like. For example if you want to put a tank into a From Home scenario (quite the heist!) you can just use those rules. 

Make sense? Okay, lets proceed.

The concerns Tactics have to tackle is how to work well with more stuff on the table and how to work well with bigger stuff on the table.

A From Home battle typically has 6 characters against 8ish enemies. You can absolutely play Tactics at that scale too but if you want to play, say, a platoon of troops on each side, we are looking at 3-5 squads of infantry (each of which might have 5 figures) and probably a tank or robot or three. So things add up pretty quickly and of course we have to account both for players that want to play very small games and ones who want to play very LARGE games. 

The turn sequence

The first (and perhaps biggest) change is the turn sequence which functions a little differently. This works roughly as follows: The two sides alternate taking a phase. When you are taking your phase, one of your units activates normally then you roll 3D6 and can activate units with a reaction score equal or higher than one of the dice. So if you are lucky, you might activate 4 units in your phase and you might activate only 1. The players then alternate until every unit on the table has acted. 

When units act they carry out their actions such as moving, firing weapons and all the rest. There are some additional options available such as overwatch, sneaking around or scanning the terrain for hidden troops. 

Note that units here can either be a single character, a single vehicle or a squad of soldiers. 


Movement rules are not very exciting and there was not a lot of reason to change things up here. You should recognize most things just fine.

Shooting at people

A number of new things here such as some limitations on what you can shoot at, rules for height advantage (units on the ground generally shoot at the closest target, units up high can pick from the two closest) and such. The most interesting new feature is suppression!

Yes, From Home battles are pretty space opera affairs but on the battlefield things get a bit more gritty. When units get shot at they get suppression markers which hinder them when they try to fire. The effects are handled very simply: If a unit has 3 suppression markers f.x. 3 figures in that unit will hit only on natural 6s. The owning player gets to pick who so you can minimise the effects a bit.

In return, the stun rule is not used in Tactics battles as we really dont want to have to track both. This also makes damage a bit simpler: You have to roll over the Toughness or nothing happens to the guy. Many figures have multiple Kill Points which means it takes several hits to bring them down. Conversely some weapons also inflict multiple damage rolls now.

A section on Tactical Options brings up a number of options you can add to your game if you like. These include units being able to hide, sitting tight on overwatch to shoot at moving enemies and the option to fall back in order to relieve suppression.

Close combat

Doing individual opposed rolls for 6 sets of combats per unit would be a lot, so close combat is now handled in a way more similar to shooting, though the opponent gets to counter attack and you can potentially end up with a couple rounds of this. 


Infantry squads of course have to worry about morale as well. This is now unit based, with units testing morale if they took casualties during the turn. The new mechanic for this is fairly simple: You have a current morale score equal to unit size + any morale bonus of the unit. Roll 2D6 and if both dice are individually higher than your morale score, the unit breaks. This means that large (or brave) troops can avoid a few morale checks (because they cant fail them) while small units get quite fragile. 

For players who prefer a more tacti-cool experience, an option is included to retreat in place of testing at all.

Thats it for today

There are a ton of other things like off table support and of course vehicles, but that is going to be left for a later post. I wanted today to just focus on the infantry side of things and what things look and feel like on the larger firefights you will be able to do.

Of course a lot of these new rules still work just fine with a handful of figures on each side. I want to emphasise that you do not have to paint up 50 guys to play. 

Take a look at your current collection. You likely have a number of characters to pick from and several squads of various aliens and mercenaries. Grab some of those. Maybe paint up one more squad and find yourself a cool vehicle. Now you have a Tactics force or two. 

Ivan Sorensen
tag:nordicweasel.posthaven.com,2013:Post/1989522 2023-06-18T17:42:21Z 2023-10-03T19:12:25Z Five Parsecs Tactics: What to expect

What is Five Parsecs Tactics?

Tactics (so I can save on typing) is the next game in the Five Parsecs “universe”. It allows you to play out battles that are beyond the scope of the regular “From Home” experience. With the Tactics rules you can easily have a platoon or more of troops on the table along with vehicles and much more. 

 One of the thoughts behind all of this is that people have built up some very impressive figure collections playing the current campaigns. So it seemed to me that if you already have 10 or so pirates and a handful of soldiers and some K’Erin, then you are half way to a pretty good sized wargame scenario already.

So what can I do with Tactics?

You can play the game in a lot of different ways. 

You might play out military actions, boarding actions etc that happen in your existing campaign to add character and flavour. 

For example if your world is invaded you might play out a Tactics battle (or even a whole campaign) so you know what happened during that invasion. Or your crew had a job to find dirt on a space pirate gang so you decide to game out the Unity enforcers storming the pirate compound.

Of course since the two systems are compatible you can have your crew take part in a military mission or bring military elements into a special scenario. The vehicle rules in particular will probably appeal to a lot of people who want to do something along those lines.

Tactics also stands alone as a game and is playable on its own, in a number of ways.

If you want to play a pick up game, a points system is included to let you just that, along with scenario options.

If you prefer to play solo, well, we got you covered there too. The game is of course solo playable and can feature both pre-selected enemies as well as discovering the enemy forces during the battle. 

You also get two campaign systems, one using a map and one strictly centred around narrative progression. The two can even be combined and allow you to both fight over ground on the battlefield as well as experience narrative flair such as the perspective of the campaign changing or a third party entering the war.

Of course all of this is not restricted to military actions specifically. Tactics will do just fine for space pirates, colonists fending off Swarm infestations and just about anything else you can think of.
Since I am confident you can think of a lot, the book is also jammed full of advice on creating scenarios and running a game, as well as canned rules for everything from encountering neutral groups to concealed troops and characters being suspicious of things.

I haven’t neglected the military side either for combat nerds, with rules for infiltrating troops forward, calling in engineer support and more.

All of this hopefully adds up to a game that both offers a lot of campaign fun to solo gamers, acts as a “big brother” compendium of cool tricks for your existing campaigns and is a perfect tool for people who enjoy GM-led wargame scenarios (or would like to explore that).

Woof, thats a lot but I wanted to give you people a lot to chew on and think about.

Future posts will talk about adaptations to the core game rules as well as probably an example of how a narrative campaign might play out. 

Ivan Sorensen
tag:nordicweasel.posthaven.com,2013:Post/1988936 2023-06-16T22:32:08Z 2023-06-18T02:02:20Z Designer Diaries: FiveCore 1e

When we last left off the designer diaries, we had talked about Five Men in Normandy. 

As the game was getting out there, raising questions and spawning discussions, a number of people began asking for a version that would not be specifically set in the Second World War. I decided to take a hatchet to the rules, cut out most of the chrome and detail and release it as a smaller, stand-alone game.The idea was that it would be roughly intended for post WW2 gaming and that you could buy two packs of miniatures and get them to the table quickly. If you wanted to f.x. get started on doing Cold War gaming you might buy a pack of West Germans and a pack of Soviets and instead of having to do up a whole army, you could just paint up 8 or so guys each and have a go at it.

The game had to be called something and since it was the core of the Five Men system, FiveCore came to mind as both fitting the topic and sounding pretty dashing to boot. As a side note, while people often refer to it as 5Core the proper title was always spelled out, though 5C is fine as an abbreviation. 

FiveCore saw a rash of small expansions adding various things such as optional rules, some monsters and other such things. These were fairly popular and I was encouraged by positive emails I received from people. It became clear that something bigger and more comprehensive would be required in the future. 

I suppose it is fitting that the second game released under the Nordic Weasel Games branding was also the first spin off, as I have often found it fun to create new games out of the same game engine. It was also the dawn of NWG as a company that offers a lot of optional rules: With a game like this there was so many different ways that if you keep thinking about it, you will keep coming up with more things. Likewise some ideas were not suitable to the main book but deserved some time in the light of day. As such a collection of small expansions started appearing. 

It soon became clear that this really needed to be a much bigger book and thus, the need for a second edition arose. *Ominous music*

Ivan Sorensen
tag:nordicweasel.posthaven.com,2013:Post/1988407 2023-06-15T14:18:09Z 2023-06-17T09:20:15Z FAQ on Nordic Weasel Games and Modiphius.

 As you have no doubt seen by now, Modiphius has acquired the rights to several NWG titles. 

If you have NOT seen it, swing over here https://www.modiphius.net/blogs/news/modiphius-entertainment-acquires-five-parsecs-from-home-five-leagues-from-the-borderlands?fbclid=IwAR33ML5nN3rYQmEe6is6IqPZfs46hM2ANouQ1VzqKsAA2P5hYEBb_qlmNio and have a look.

Assorted questions that have come up yesterday in no particular order.

To save on typing, I am going to use NWG to mean Nordic Weasel Games (my company) and MP to mean Modiphius Publishing (affectionately “the overlords”). 

What titles are now owned by Modiphius?

MP has purchased the rights to Five Parsecs From Home, Five Leagues From the Borderlands, Weaseltech and the “Fivecore” series of games including Five men in Normandy and Five Men at Kursk.

Titles that remain with NWG are basically whats not mentioned above, including the Squad Hammer series, Clash on the Fringe, Starport Scum, Renegade Scout, Shoot people in Space, Knyghte Pyke Sworde and a whole bunch more stuff. 

Are there new games already planned?

As per the announcement two full, stand-alone Five Parsecs games are coming: Tactics and Planetfall which will help expand Parsecs into a whole crazy universe.

We have discussed a range of other books too but it is a little early to discuss those just yet though everything listed in the announcement is being discussed. 

I will have further Q&A’s about Tactics and Parsecs coming soon.

Will we still get a compilation of Parsecs expansions?

Yes. Once expansion 3 is done with editing, all 3 plus an updated version of Bug Hunt will be available in hardcover. 

Will you still be the writer for these game lines?

Yes. I remain the head designer and writer. I am not sure if I can go into details about legalities but we have an agreement in place that covers all of that. 

One of my hopes is that down the line this will mean more writers so we can have more scenarios and the likes. 

Are you now a Modiphius employee?

No. I will be working with them very closely and have helped with select projects in the past, but I will not be part of the company as such.

Will there be a community content program?

We have talked about this. Stay tuned.

What happens to Nordic Weasel Games now?

The company still remains for remaining titles as well as new products of which I have multiple planned. 

Will more games follow suit beyond those named?

That could happen.

What are the benefits to me as a player?

For one glossy new editions of a number of games. Secondly it allows MP to create various merchandise, play aids and trinkets. Thirdly it means I will basically be busy at work creating and supporting a whole bunch of cool games.

What are the benefits to you as a writer?

It allows me to really just focus on writing and creating, while having access to the resources, artists and editors that MP brings to the table. 

What will happen to your Patreon?

No change. Patreons will still receive previews, playtest versions, experimental rules, scenarios and so forth. I have explicit agreements for this. 

Will this change anything regarding your involvement with the community?

Not at all. In fact part of my duties is explicitly to support the game lines. 

Will this change anything for the Facebook communities?

Not at all. They were fan created and while the moderators take my views into account on the rare occasion I have asked about something, they run these communities without any involvement from me. This will continue to be the case as per our new agreement.

Ivan Sorensen
tag:nordicweasel.posthaven.com,2013:Post/1985840 2023-06-09T00:31:00Z 2023-06-11T22:46:37Z The Weasel and online availability

I realised a while ago that I had garnered a bit of a mysterious reputation, when a few people told me that it was hard to find any information about me online. I never really set out to be intentionally evasive though in recent years I have taken things like privacy a lot more seriously, given the prevalence of hackers, online fraud, scam artists and weirdoes.

In the last year or so, I have begun thinking a lot about how I spend my time and whether activities that I do are benefiting my general well being or not. Increasingly online interaction is falling into the group of "not". 

As such I have slowly removed myself from most of the services I used online that were forums or social media.

I do maintain a Facebook account so I can answer questions from the fan groups on there, as well as post news and updates. I do not otherwise use that account to communicate any more so please do not spend time trying to message me or follow me there.

As of today the only forum I use is the Wargames Website and fairly sparingly at that. While I have had accounts on other boards, I no longer intend to check those.

The best way of contacting me has always been email and that remains the case. I am trying my best to reply to things the same or the next day but regrettably sometimes an email slips past and if it does, its easy to get lost in the inbox. If you have contacted me and did not hear back, please don't hesitate to write me again. 

If you wish, I am also active on the NWG discord server and I welcome messages on there, provided you are patient with a reply. 

I do not generally check messages on Patreon so please email me instead of asking there. 

Ivan Sorensen
tag:nordicweasel.posthaven.com,2013:Post/1985652 2023-06-08T16:55:47Z 2023-06-10T16:26:16Z Why I don't comment on current events

Once in a while I get a question about this or that current industry thing, whether its a big thing like the OGL debacle, drama, allegations or even something as simple as a new game release.

My policy has always been to not comment on stuff like that. This stems from a couple of reasons.

First in a lot of cases it really doesn't matter. If two game designers or web site owners or whatever are having a spat, that's not anything I need to get involved in. It often feels like people are just contributing because their BRAND (tm) needs to have this or that opinion.

Second I don't really have the energy to sift through things and try to find out all the details. When WOTC wanted to change the OGL the internet exploded, but trying to find out what the actual changes would actually mean and what real lawyers thought of it was a lot of work. If it is a topic that is less relevant to what I do than that, I would rather just read a book to be honest. 

Third once you opine on things like that, you are now permanently assigned to a box by people who had an emotional stake in that particular issue, regardless of what the current situation is. 

Last I have been trying to maybe talk less and listen more in life and I don't think that's such a bad idea on the internet in general. Here, do this exercise:

Go to a social media site and click on a post from some famous person or company. Look at the replies. How many of them are just shouting into the void, often barely related to the topic at all? How many of them are actually sitting down to understand the issue? I wager very few. I can't change the world but there's no reason for me to contribute more to the muddle.

Please note that this should not be confused with me supporting the argument that "politics don't belong in gaming" or any such stance. I think people should create whatever they want and will not give support to any such position. 

When it comes to game releases, I do comment on occasion but I only do so if I find a game to be fun or interesting. I am not in a position where I feel like I can comment on a game feature I dislike, due to the impressions it could cause. I am also generally inclined to just not spend a lot of time thinking about games I did not enjoy, after all that time could be spent on a game I did enjoy. 

Ivan Sorensen
tag:nordicweasel.posthaven.com,2013:Post/1983803 2023-06-04T19:06:36Z 2023-06-06T01:52:47Z Q&A Round up 16


Leagues questions:

Do I have to win the encounters to meet the Aid the Community contract goal?

It was intended yes, however by a strict reading of the text I'd say you don't have to. Returning and letting the town militia know you engaged some ruffians and giving them the location is fine. You can do it either way depending on how challenging you want the game to be.

Does the origin bonus and skill bonus stack?

Yes. For example a Duskling with Traveling skill receives a total bonus of +3.

Note that some items specifically do not stack. This will be clearly stated. 

Parsecs questions:

What is meant by gunsights not being usable on single shot weapons?

It's an unfortunate word choice on my end and is supposed to say "single use" weapons. The confusion gave rise to a joke about hand grenades with laser sights on discord. 

Is there a limit to what I can carry in Bug Hunt?

Not specifically. Unity Grunts are famous for packing as much as they can lug around. 

Expansion 1: What happens if I roll the Sniper! Escalation Option but I am fighting enemies that do not use weapons?

I am not sure if there any enemies this can happen to, but just in case apply the event as written. It happens to be a modified/mutant enemy with an acid spit/psionic death ray/laser eye beams.  

Parsecs and Leagues:

What happens to Seize the Initiative modifiers if a scenario does not allow a roll?

The scenario takes precedent and no roll is made. If the modifier applies to a specific campaign turn (for example meeting the Elfin Scouts in Leagues) the benefit is lost. 

What happens if multiple "end of battle round" events occur at the same time?

Until I can clarify this, resolve them in whatever way is most beneficial to you. If you prefer more of a challenge do it in reverse!

Squad Hammer questions:

Do units given a Defend order get the Defend marker if they move as part of the order?

Yes. The wording is a bit awkward but you move and then receive the status. You then keep it until the unit moves again or is given a new order (which of course could be to Defend again). 


Parsecs lore:

Are there corporate run planets?

Yes many colonies are founded by corporations given a charter to do so, typically for resource extraction purposes. In Unified Space they are still under Unity law but are given pretty broad jurisdiction to manage things as they see fit.

Such installations are expected to manage their own defences though they can appeal to Unity for aid in the event of an attack. Unity rules dictate that permanent populations over a certain amount requires the colony revert to Unity administration. As such, corporate colonies are generally fairly specialised. In some cases this can result in "dual rule" where some colonies on a world are corporate and others are not. 

Ivan Sorensen
tag:nordicweasel.posthaven.com,2013:Post/1980539 2023-05-27T14:54:02Z 2023-06-18T02:05:08Z Designer Diaries: Five Men in Normandy

While it was not the first game that I published commercially, Five Men in Normandy was essentially the birth of Nordic Weasel Games as an entity and so I would like to talk about it a little bit today.

The genesis of the game was the experiences we had playing an awful lot of Nuts by Two Hour Wargames. The campaign structure had left a big impact on me and I really wanted to create something similar but with my own spin on things, particularly in regards to characters. 

A lot of the basic mechanical ideas came out of experiments I had been doing on paper. I was curious if you could make a combat mechanic that did not rely on dice modifiers and if you could compress all of the effects of fire combat into a single roll of the dice. Thus was born the Shock and Kill dice mechanic where attacks have a certain amount of each type of die. This allowed for 4 "effective" outcomes (two morale related and two damage related) and since multiple results will "spill over" to nearby units it also produced some very cool effects like a shot knocking down one enemy and sending another scrambling for cover.

The mechanic had (and still has) a few quirks but it is very fast and efficient and was something that stood out in playtesting as being cool enough to build a game around. The general focus of the Fivecore mechanics of having things happen only on 1's and 6's also came from here. Hand to hand combat still used a conventional opposed roll which I think was mostly due to my preferring that sort of resolution. The idea of using the Shock and Kill dice for melee combat did get brought up by playtesters (and was used by Tom when writing Chevauchee) but I am not sure it ever occurred to me during the initial design process for some reason.

I do not remember where the turn sequence idea came from. It may have been one of those things that was tried on a whim and it ended up being liked well enough. Over the years this was the sort of mechanic that really divided people. Some thought it was fantastic and others really could not wrap their heads around it. In short you roll a die when it is your turn: A 1 indicates you will "Scurry" which allows all of your troops to move. On a 6 you are in a "Firefight" which allows no movement but everyone can fire. Any other roll allows activating a fixed number of figures (originally 2) to move and fire. 

With time, a similar system would show up in Five Men in Kursk  where it works as a pool of dice you assign to specific figures or groups, which tends to work better but there is a fast paced charm to the original mechanic. Turns blaze by and give the game an odd sort of "real time" feel.

The key to the Five Men experience (which would live on into current games like Five Parsecs) was the campaign sequence. Each turn you would play out a mission and then you would have random events happen which could affect your characters in different ways. The idea of receiving both a campaign and a character event should seem awfully familiar. Of course being a military game you don't have a lot of opportunities to do other things so there is no campaign action system as such, though an early version of the Player Action mechanic did show up, allowing players to kind of justify whatever they felt was fair if they could make a roll.

The rules also has the first example of character creation with motivations and backgrounds, most of which have game effects tied to them (if occasionally rather minor). This sort of thing is quite rare in WW2 games: Platoon Forward has something pretty similar but I had not read it at the time.  

One of the final decisions was to keep the scope extremely tight. That incidentally is why the game is called Five Men in Normandy. To make it clear up front that you were only meant to play with a handful of figures on each side and prevent people from cramming the table full of stuff. I deliberately left out tank rules for the same reason and any supporting stuff is usually limited to a single platoon mortar or the likes. 

Was the game a success? Yeah, it's hard to say it was not. After all it is basically the reason for everything else that followed though that is a story for a future post. For a while, I was pretty much known in indie circles as the FAD and Five Men guy.

The original PDF sold 332 copies in its time. That seems small in hindsight but is obviously huge for an independent author with absolutely no name recognition at the time, beyond some old FAD die-hards The updated "30 cal edition" sold another 1045 copies for just shy of 1400 sold. 

Ivan Sorensen
tag:nordicweasel.posthaven.com,2013:Post/1979839 2023-05-25T17:44:15Z 2023-06-03T02:13:17Z Q&A round up 15

As a note it is getting increasingly hard to check every prior Q&A post for repeat questions. However, some questions do occur frequently so please bear with the occasional repeat in the future.

Five Leagues questions

Does the Lair scenario always feature an aberration?


When the rules say I encounter aberrations, how many do I encounter?

Thankfully only 1 unless the rules explicitly say otherwise. 

What do I do if the only activity I have in the campaign turn is travelling to a city?

You just end the turn but you may opt to Trade (using the normal pre-battle trade rules) during the turn in which you arrive. 

Five Parsecs questions

Can I ever have a turn where no battles happen?

Not as written: You would always fight an Opportunity mission if nothing else has come up. After further thinking though, I think it is fine if you want to lay low for a turn and recover from injuries. Just roll for events and pay upkeep.

Do I have to take an offered Patron job?

No, you can turn it down. This does not affect a known Patron either (they usually offer the job to multiple freelancers).

Do I have to progress a Quest?

No. You always make the "Determine Quest Progress" roll after playing a Quest mission but you can choose not to progress until you are ready if you need to recover or have other tasks to pursue first. If you prefer a bit of time pressure, roll 1D3: You must pursue the Quest within that number of campaign turns or it fails. 

Lore questions

5P: How much does Unity defend and garrison its colonies?

Colonies have to be able to defend themselves at least somewhat, so every colony will maintain some sort of militia. This can range from a bunch of weekend warriors to pretty regular looking military forces often led by veteran NCO's from the Unity armed forces. Corporate run colonies will have either corporate troops or well paid security forces. 

If a world is particularly value, at a critical location or near enemy controlled space, it is likely to also have regular troops stationed there. Depending on the colony this can range from a single platoon of bored troopers to a full mechanised assault battalion.

5P: Are the Enforcer unit supposed to be Unity law enforcement?

Unity employs Enforcer troops to deal with pirates, well armed criminal syndicates and Converted infiltration. They function as both a sort of galactic law enforcement, support to local governments and a first line of defence against raids.

The "Enforcer" enemy encounter will tend to represent local security forces which can range from upholders of law and order to militant thugs extorting the locals for protection money. 

5L: Can you talk about the "old gods" and the "new gods"?

Both are pantheons that are (or were) worshipped throughout the lands. The New Gods have generally supplanted the Old as their worshippers are more organised: Church building and organised religion is a New Gods phenomenon while the Old Gods tend to worshipped in more individualistic manners. Tension can exist and some communities discourage or forbid the worship of one or the other, though open hostility is rare. 

Doctrinally, the Old Gods are said to be capricious and erratic and are said to favour the bold and the fool hardy, while the New Gods are said to be exacting and demanding. They are said to favour the determined and the committed. 

Ivan Sorensen
tag:nordicweasel.posthaven.com,2013:Post/1979390 2023-05-24T15:15:16Z 2023-05-25T03:16:55Z Upgrade your design: Who are you writing for?

The dark priesthood of the marketing cult will talk a lot about target audiences for a product: Who is intended as the buyer of the widget you are trying to sell? Obviously a commercial product needs to have some sort of audience that is willing to exchange money for goods and services.

With tabletop gaming the broadest possible audience is "tabletop gamers". In theory every person that plays a tabletop game is a possible buyers. (people who don't play tabletop games are also possible buyers but that is a lot less likely in the indie publishing sphere). 

Of course many tabletop gamers are not inherently going to be interested without some persuasion, personal interest or temptation. The RPG folks are not typically into hardcore naval warfare simulations and the euro board gamers probably don't want to make too many morale checks. Even within the miniatures gaming community your choice of theme or setting will narrow the field more. A WW2 game will obviously appeal primarily to people who are interested in that conflict (though converts can be had if you are clever or have nice presentation). 

Within that specialisation, things continue to break down in smaller groups: A game intended for beginners may appeal to a veteran that would like a more casual experience at times and will do better at drawing in interested, but inexperienced, gamers. A game that aims at experienced players will appeal more widely to people with extensive gaming experience in the period, but may find it more difficult to gain crossover appeal and converts (though not entirely: Some people know they want a hardcore experience from day 1). 

The rules themselves will also affect who might be interested. A lot of successful rules fall into what I call "one clever thing": The game rules are mostly very conventional but have one or two clever bits to make them stand out. Chain of Command fits this bill by having very conventional combat mechanics (roll to hit, roll for effect) but having a very clever turn sequence and patrol phase. 

Some games rely on strictly conventional mechanics throughout and while they will often not appear very exciting, they offer a solid experience that is easy to get into. Rapid Fire might serve as an example here which has remained a popular game at conventions for a lot of years. They also benefit from making it easier to adapt scenarios.

On the other end of the scale we have very "clever" games with unique mechanics such as Crossfire or my own Five men at Kursk. These games tend to attract very loyal audiences but because they are very radical in their assumptions they can also deter players looking for a more conventional approach.

Some settings lend themselves to a fair bit of tech nerd content (detailed tank lists, stats for 200 different variations of French line infantry etc.) which will appeal to certain gamers but overwhelm others. 

Even something as seemingly minute as the writing style might affect who gravitates towards your game. A more casual style may seem more welcoming but could also seem less professional. An abbreviated style appeals to those who prefer simplicity but may deter players who want thorough explanations. A "British" approach where things are left somewhat open to interpretation can act as both a selling point and a criticism depending on the audience.

These are all just examples and you can no doubt think of a dozen more. My point with today's ramble is that almost every choice you make during your design will influence how particular audiences and groups will respond to your game. That makes it worth sitting down and thinking about before and during the process. You might even write out on an index card (or on page 1 of your word processor file) who you are expecting to purchase it so you can refer back to it. 

Ivan Sorensen
tag:nordicweasel.posthaven.com,2013:Post/1977244 2023-05-17T16:15:36Z 2023-05-17T16:15:36Z Q&A Round up 14

Five Leagues questions

Are the restrictions during character creation permanent for the whole game?

The restriction on the number of heroes and followers is only at creation. Once you play the game, you may end up with all followers, all heroes or anything in between.

The restriction on missile weapons is likewise only at creation (though some players stick to it as a house rule).

The warband maximum size you select IS a campaign restriction but only to the number of characters you can bring into a battle. If your warband size is 6, you can still have 9 people in the warband but only 6 of them can accompany you into a battle. 

Five Parsecs questions

What does "reroll a natural 1 once" mean for the Krag special ability (Freelancers handbook)

If the new roll is a 1 as well, it cannot be rerolled again. 

What happens when a Skulker rolls 2D6 Credits at character creation? (Freelancers handbook)

As written, they still receive the full payout (Some Skulkers do get fabulously wealthy, they are just not good with money in general). 

What happens if a world is double invaded? 

Through a series of pretty unfortunate events, it is possible for a world to get invaded twice in the same game turn. While I am tempted to say that the place just disintegrates into chaos as everyone fights everyone, randomly pick which enemy if you have to fight. For Unity to regain control of the world, roll on the galactic war progress table twice treating each enemy separately. If EITHER roll indicates the world is lost to Unity, human forces withdraw completely.

Do Savvy tests succeed on a 6 automatically?

No. If the target number is 7+ a character without a bonus can't succeed at all. 

Can I spend multiple Salvage units on ship repairs etc. in one turn?  (Freelancers handbook)


Lore questions

5P: In the "Creature" Salvage event, Swift get a bonus to tame the animal. Why is this?

They have a latent psionic field that makes them seem slightly less threatening. 

5L: Do the Threats cooperate against us or do they fight?

They may ally temporarily, though they are as likely to oppose each other and probably skirmish with each other when you are not looking. Many of them have mutually opposing goals or would ally only for convenience.

5L:  What "traditional" fantasy peoples exist in the world of 5 Leagues?

Goblins (part of the fey realms), Halflings (we already know this), Dwarfs (will be the focus of expansion 2) for sure. 

Orcs don't exist. Lizard people are covered by the Oldest Kin. Elves (related to but distinct from the Fey) do exist somewhere. 

Ivan Sorensen
tag:nordicweasel.posthaven.com,2013:Post/1975718 2023-05-13T17:38:03Z 2023-05-13T17:38:24Z Designer diaries: Fast and Dirty

The first "real" game I published online was Fast and Dirty (FAD). Originating as a scrappy PDF exported directly from libreoffice, it nevertheless found a small following online in the days of Yahoogroups. The game happened to more or less coincide with the boom in 15mm science fiction which meant there was an audience looking for something that let them use any figures they could buy. 

The inspiration for FAD was very much Stargrunt 2 (SG2), though some aspects were things that I had been mulling over in various games me and my friends had experimented with but which had never been published. I wanted to take a lot of the same elements Stargrunt had (particularly suppression and dealing with casualties) but make them a bit smoother and faster to handle. The end result was a game that didn't really have any specific rules element in common but which clearly pays homage to the concepts of SG2.

One of the key features of FAD is the "Under Fire" mechanic. At the time I was intrigued by suppression mechanics in games but I didn't like how in most games it was an all or nothing affair. The Under Fire rule was one of the first things I wrote down on my notebook and it would remain mostly unchanged in function through 5 editions of the game: A unit that is shot at is always marked Under Fire and is then limited in its ability to move and fire. 

This gave me the result I wanted: Units cannot be shot at without reacting in some manner, but they are never completely immobilised or prevented from acting.

Everything else kind of fell into place around that basic idea. Some elements such as dealing with wounded soldiers, armor rolls being an opposed roll and troop quality affecting weapon range came from SG2, others such as quality determining which units you can shoot at were my own creation. The idea of using 2D6 and picking the highest for combat came from playing the 1916 and 1943 wargame rules (by the War Times Journal) and liking the idea of a single roll determining the amount of damage, but disliking that it was so random.

A few people have asked if the morale check mechanic (rolling 3 dice and counting successes) was borrowed from Chain Reaction (which hit the scene at the same time) but I didn't play Chain Reaction until a few years later. The inspiration for the morale checks came from my experience with the White Wolf role playing games instead. In hindsight morale could probably have been reworked to just use a simpler approach but the idea of unified dice mechanics was not something I was invested in at the time.

One innovation that I was proud of at the time but probably would not have done today is how traits were handled. I got the idea that a particular ability, such as moving through terrain with no penalty, would be more valuable to a strong unit than a weak unit and so all traits were given a cost multiplier. This worked pretty well, but was a bear to manage for army building ("okay so this unit is 37 points times 1.2 times 1.4 times..) and caused weird problems when one player took a lot of traits and the other didn't. 

The game succeeded in carving out a small but surprisingly loyal audience and I still receive an email or two from people every year saying they remember the game or just started playing it again after years of break. Considering how rough those early versions looked, that is pretty amazing. I suspect that the game leaning into the "hard military" vibe which has always been a bit of an underserved niche in sci-fi miniatures probably helped.

In total there were 5 editions of the game. The first is unfortunately lost to time but did feature a fair bit of original artwork by a gentleman who offered to draw up a whole bunch of illustrations for me as a favour. 

The second was a revision of that, featuring a lot of additional rules but unfortunately lacking artwork except the cover picture of the soldier with the katana. 

Third edition saw the help of Steve Green who was a fantastic help in both revising the rules and giving the game a proper layout. this is the "army edition" which featured photos of modern military troops, with photoshop filters over them, since we did not have any proper artwork available. This was also a pretty big overhaul of the game rules.

Fourth edition is the last that was available online and featured a number of additions and changes, as well a host of original new artwork provided by the folks on the Yahoogroup. This is the "power armor" cover.

A fifth edition was released on the Yahoogroup but was not available otherwise. It featured my planned additions to the game, particularly regarding vehicles. 

In the final years of FAD, I struggled with what to do with the game. In particular, I had pondered putting it under an open license but the process seemed rather difficult and I had a hard time justifying spending a lot of time on the game, compared to writing material that I would be able to sell. As I left the rules alone, they mostly fell by the wayside and Yahoogroups would eventually fall to the cold hand of internet decay. Eventually a gentleman reached out and offered to buy the rules from me, which I agreed to.

In a lot of ways, FAD is the game that lays at the foundation of everything else. Without that game and the boost of confidence it brought, it is perhaps doubtful if any of the subsequent games would have ever been created.

Ivan Sorensen