Alternate History – Afterthought 25

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We take a little time to discuss our own favorite alternate histories, like what might have happened if the Kennedy assassination didn’t, and so on.  We also answer a great deal of awesome questions (that’s going well, keep it up!).  A couple of show notes.  First during this day’s recording session, my computer exploded, so we have temporarily lost our theme songs.  No worries, I’ll just play whatever I want for a while.  Second, during this episode we claim that we’re skipping Movie Mastery this week because of my computer.  This is a lie.  We got it done anyway.  So don’t lose heart, fellows!  Enjoy the show.

15 responses to “Alternate History – Afterthought 25

  1. Two of my favorite alt history settings are both different directions of pulp.

    First is Crimson Skies, which never really got a real RPG but it started as a minis game and became the PC and Xbox arcadey dogfight games most people know. Post WW1, the US balkanized into a bunch of mostly-independent countries. Air travel took off (ayyyyy) in a huge way because border disputes make trains a problem are everywhere, so zeppelins and sky pirates are everywhere.

    The other is GURPS Age of Gold, a small e-book on Warehouse 23. Originally designed to be a setting to show off the alternate magic systems in GURPS Thaumatology, all the system stuff is pretty easy to leave out for a 1930s where magic is rediscovered, alchemy sort of relieved the Great Depression, etc. It’s got more of a focus on the “mystery men” style characters of pulps like The Shadow, so the magic tends to come in the form of minor superpowers or artifacts instead of Gandalf throwing fireballs at Hitler.

    Though, that does sound a little rad.

  2. Something people can use to replace figurines is Legos. Of course, if you don’t have those, then they are crazy expensive.

  3. When I was in highschool and playing 4e, I used erasers as miniatures and just put everything on a big piece of paper I drew the lines on myself. It wasn’t pretty, but it got the job done.

  4. My tabletop group will often play games with at least a tenuous nod towards miniatures combat, but for various reasons we also do not own corresponding miniatures. What we do instead is to swipe figures from my board game collection (specifically Starcraft, Forbidden Stars, and Descent 1E/2E) to use as stand-ins for individual characters, and construct scenery out of Descent tiles and spare dice. It’s a bit goofy looking, but one brick of Chessex dice and a handful of figures from Starcraft will go a long way.
    As for a grid – really useful for 4E – you could still employ Descent tiles, which can be flipped depending on the relevant terrain…but of course you’d need to have separately purchased an $80 board game. (Unfortunately Fantasy Flight is no longer selling the deprecated Sea of Blood expansion for Descent 1E at a steep discount, because $5 plus shipping for a large square-grid battlemat is pretty nice.) Hopefully you’ll be able to find something to press into service; you’d be surprised at how much you can scavenge from one tabletop product to make an approximation for another.

    • This reminds me of a very similar thing I did that is now incredibly sad. I used to own the Hero Quest board game and we would use the figures and terrain from that when playing old AD&D. My buddy was just learning how to paint figs and wanted to borrow the pieces to practice on. They basically looked like shit and also I ruined what is now a super expensive board game. Hooray!

      • Speaking of super expensive board games, if I should ever need a hex grid I can always pull out a map from Campaign for North Africa. (I acquired it for a song on a whim and only later found it that it’s some ridiculous collector’s item.)

  5. The easiest solution for miniatures, in my experience, is to use coins – preferably quarters, but nickels can also work. Distinguish them from each other with masking tape, markers, or by putting a die on top of each one. Or you could just use dice to denote combatants, with each participant getting a different number.

    The key is to visualize distances in terms of the width of your miniature (or whatever you’re using in place of the miniature). If you’re using nickels, then the width of a nickel is equal to five feet, and a power with range 5 will hit anyone within five nickel-widths from your nickel. Anyone within one nickel-width counts as adjacent, etc. If you have any talent for spatial visualization, this should be pretty intuitive. Try to not get too caught up in measuring things; things won’t conform perfectly to a real grid, but this should be more than sufficient to make the game playable.

    If you have a lot of one type of die, and you’re not using them as miniatures, you can scatter them over the table to create an impromptu dice map. Put a bunch of them in a line to form the walls of the room, and use different colors (if possible) to denote terrain. Since most people have one matching set that they use for actually rolling, we usually use the larger six-sided dice (standard dice, with the pips) for this purpose.

  6. You fools! The coming of the Rifts won’t happen for another eighty years! It’s not too late! Also I’m ashamed of both of you for not catching that. Did our Rifts games mean so little to you? ;_;

  7. The Hobbit and Flight of Dragons are Rankin/Bass productions (as is the standalone Return of the King.) Bakshi made the theatrical Lord of the Rings animated feature which stops after the battle of Helm’s Deep and pretty much sucks all the balls.

    To my knowledge, the only dragon-related things Don Bluth made were Pete’s Dragon—for which he was the animation director back when he still worked at Disney—and the video game Dragon’s Lair. He did direct The Land Before Time, though, which had dinosaurs, and dinosaurs are kind of like dragons, I guess.

    I could see Dragon’s Lair being a decent RPG setting but not too different from any other medieval fantasy setting. His followup video game Space Ace would also make for a decent setting. But hands-down, The Secret of NIMH is the clear winner. I would play a Rats (and Mice) of NIMH game in a heartbeat!

  8. Also, didn’t you guys kind of compare the Confederacy to Nazi Germany in the Dinosaur Planet: Broncosaurus Rex episode when you made an analogy in which President Robert E. Lee freeing the slaves is like a hypothetical reality where World War II reached a stalemate, Joseph Goebbels succeeded Hitler as Fuhrer, and he reversed the policy of Aryan supremacy and ethnic cleansing?

    • Probably. That sounds like something we would do in the service of making fun of a dumb story line. Has all the right hallmarks to match Dinosaur Planet (proposing that the big historical asshole was an asshole, sure, but not his asshole followers!). That said, we rarely remember what we said in any given episode, let alone how it sounds in context to another episode, so you might need more context here.

      • Also, I sometimes forget about the fact that I’m responding to things that are months old since I’m still catching up.

        Anyway, this was in response to how, while discussing the alternate history in which the post-Civil War South ended up following the same path as post-WWI Germany due to its economic collapse, you said that you enjoy making fun of the South, but you wouldn’t go around calling them Nazis. Technically, you didn’t call them Nazis, you just made the comparison.

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