Sunday, 3 February 2013

Path to the Realms of Chaos Glory - or changing the rules halfway through

A few days ago I was poking around through my old rule books and came across this:

For anyone who doesn't recognise it, Path to Glory is a small booklet sized supplement, given out free with White Dwarf, providing rules for a skirmish level chaos warband based campaign system. Essentially an update of Realms of Chaos for the then current Warhammer 6th edition Hordes of Chaos army book. Like Realms of Chaos, players start with a basic champion and randomly generate his followers and chaos rewards with more of each being generated over the course of the campaign.

When MLB and I started our Realms of Chaos campaign, I had known that I had a copy tucked away somewhere. But it had much smaller and more limited tables for generating chaos attributes and rewards and its follower tables, brought into line with 6th edition models, had none of the glorious craziness of Warhammer 3rd edition (no halflings, giant snails or zoats in these warbands). So I had dismissed it out of hand and not even bothered to look it up.

It seems that may have been a mistake. While I was right about the limited tables, the supplement has a couple of other useful features. For a start it has a list of simple basic scenarios; the ones in Realms of Chaos are sometimes insanely specific. It also has a rather good victory points table. Realms of Chaos' is not very balanced across the champions of the different gods and hands out points for events that hardly ever occur (such as infecting an enemy with Nurgle's rot) and giving out none for things that actually do happen (like killing enemy followers). Also, while the reward tables are quite limited, they do allow champions profiles to improve. Realms of Chaos is odd in that rewards and attributes only rarely modify a champion's profile and often for the worse leading to the odd anomaly that a champion with a dozen rewards can have a worse profile than most of his follower or, for that matter, a much less experienced champion who happens to have started out as a level 25 hero.

The victory points chart is pretty easy to sneak in, its swapping one chart for another and 3rd and 6th edition Warhammer are similar enough that there isn't anything in the new chart that doesn't make sense in a 3rd edition game. The chaos reward chart with profile upgrades is more complicated, but I am already thinking of ways to make it work. But it has raised some issues for me about modifying written game rules.

I wouldn't have called myself a purist about rules, but when it comes to the point I do feel a bit funny about ignoring, updating or changing the Realms of Chaos rules as written. I think it may have something to do with the age of the game. Playing a RoC campaign has been a goal for a numebr of years and by changing the rules it feels like I'm not quite doing that any more. The victory points table is peripheral enough that it doesn't bother me too much, but changing the chaos reward table feels a bit like stepping over a line.

The other issue is with changing the rules of a campaign half way through. I suppose my issue here is that if you can change the rules at will then you may as well not have them or make them up as you go along. If this were a single game I would play to the end with the rules agreed at the start and make changes during the next game. But when playing a campaign you have a choice to continue with rules you don't like, abandon the campaign and start over with new rules or bite the bullet and make changes that may make things work better but will make the campaign feel inconsistent.

I suspect I will suck it up and make my changes, especially to the victory points, which really do suck in RoC. But it does show the difficulty of rules writing and shows why some player prefer to stick rigidly to the rules as written. The alternative is having to think a bit too hard about what you are doing and why.

No comments:

Post a Comment