I’ve been wanting to put up part 3 in my “Physical Space Of The Game” series for a while, but because of the subject matter the format of part 3 needed a little more than a post full of words and pictures. After acquiring some equipment and help, I finally got around to making this Video Gnoment. I had some issues with my camera telling me it was widescreen and not really being widescreen, so please forgive the slight issues with the video quality. I’m hoping to do some more of these (with the new HD widescreen camera I’m going to buy), so drop some love in the comments telling us about the coolest things you’ve done with the physical space of the game and also let me know what you think about the video.
The Physical Space Of The Game Part 1 — Understanding What The Space Means
One piece of advice is to slow down when you talk and try to enunciate a little more. In the intoduction it was a little difficult to understand everything you were saying. When you talked about the psychology and your previous articles it came across a little blurred to me.
I really liked the simplicity of your examples of going epic. Although the projects may be a little time consuming for a game, having a major battle or part of the campaign take place in this fashion is awesome. The airship looks like something that anyone could build or build something similar if they cared enough to try. I am not saying it looks bad, just it looks like somthing that others could make.
The only problem that I have with the “going epic” is that many times this requires a lot of time setting up during the game. Having the airship or the giant “mini” ready to go helps, but then you need to carry that airship to the game. If you game at home this is less of a problem, but I game at my school and transporting something like that airship would be difficult.
Now one of the coolest things I have done with the physical space while gaming is having a bulette attack the party when they activated a giant chess game in a dungeon. I used index cards cut to size and taped them to the battle mat to make the board and had a pre made game scripted for the chess pieces. The players had to get out of the way of the pieces while fighting a creature that would burrow and ambush the party. Some players from that game still talk about that scene.
I have also had great success removing the minis. Narrative combat, when I instructed the players to improvise and that if they wanted a stalactite in a cave the could have it, really helped the players do more than just follow the same patterns. One player tried to throw an alchemist’s bomb into a dragon turtle’s mouth to do a ton of extra damage. It was great.
I have recently purchased a bunch of the Mage Knight castle figure. I have a keep, 2 towers, a gate house, and plenty of walls. I can make a castle of parts of one as the party works their way through a the castle. I can also use many of these pieces to substitute for other things. Ruins, mage’s tower, gates to a walled city, 3d dungeon walls, and more. I like trying to get fairly generic pieces that can work for a lot of games.
@Razjah – I don’t make the best on screen talent, and I was sadly rushed on time when I made this. Still, for a first attempt I’m not displeased.
I had a few scenery elements that were much more polished than these, but I chose these to use specifically for the reasons you mentioned. They are the types of things that anyone could make with a bit of time. I usually use epic scenery to begin a campaign or end one. That either gets the players into it right off the bat, or rewards them and keeps them engaged in the action of the finale.
Well the bar has been raised for the Video Gnoments! Great work John!
@Patrick Benson – Thanks. I looked over yours a lot to see how they were done. Mine aren’t better in terms of content, but I’ve got access to editing equipment and used to make a living doing video work. The skills are old and rusty, but they’re still there.
@Razjah – Didn’t have time to respond more in depth while I was at work, but you are right in that the bigger the epic physical element, the harder it is to transport. The merciless takes up my entire back seat and actually has multiple interior levels. Something like pandegaarum is nice because it can be thrown in a few boxes and assembled anywhere. A couple of my wargaming friends devote HUGE boxes to their scenery and carry full tabletop scenarios around in their trucks, but to me that is half the fun of wargaming. Without that awesome place to play, wargaming wouldn’t seem nearly as interesting, imho. And that’s what makes epic sets so intriguing. They make an awesome place for the players to physically engage with.
Wargaming terrain can make great epic scenes. Many wargame figures are about the same size as minis for rpgs. This allows a lot of the terrain to be used for the epic moments and a lot of it is more modular which adds to flexibility. If I need to spend time, money, or both on something for my games I want to be able to re-use it.