I was flattered to get feedback from a reader after I posted the game RETURN TO LILLIPUT: Pirate Attack in THIS POST back in December of 2009. As usual, I was happy to post this as a freebie, it’s fun to share an idea, but most times people hardly notice it– and when they do, they don’t appreciate it. “Free” has a certain cache of being “not worth the time and effort of a commercial game”. That’s fine; I have no pretensions that material I create is worthy of publication. So I was quite pleased to be contacted by Duane Guilbeau from Lousiana with constructive criticism and questions about some missing pieces from my initial post to Calameo. People love to download freebies but usually don’t give it this much thought afterward– I might be a rare exception. Duane is another.
Many of the games I run at conventions start from free rule sets, like the first version of THE RULES WITH NO NAME, which I ran for years from a free (heavily tinkered with) set of rules by Bryan Ansell. There have been others–wargaming with miniatures is by nature a tinkering and artisan’s hobby. Almost everyone who plays with miniatures is a designer at heart, and we all share ideas to help make our projects fly. The problem with designing a rule set and giving it away is they are so rarely edited by a capable editor. The “Howard in a box” syndrome sets in. This is a term we gave to the huge pulp adventure games put on by Howard Whitehouse at conventions– Howard has such a huge collection of period style miniatures, custom terrain, and his own inimical style of running these affairs at cons, that when he sold his pulp rules commercially, some of were commenting “I can’t run this unless Howard comes with the box”. An overstatement to be sure, but it does indicate that some games earn their reputations because of the personality (and let’s face it, the performance level) of the GM running their own games. My friend Otto Schmidt runs a game that is (from the material perspective) executed with paper dolls and a representation of fin de siecle Vienna (Morning, Noon and Night in Vienna). It’s a hilarious game– involving Viennese elites trying to “hook up” in modern parlance– it has very little to do with classical miniatures and everything to do with performance. When Otto was asked if he’d ever publish the rules, he said “Nope, Never.” “Why Not?” “Because you can’t box up Otto to go with it”. In a very real sense, whey your run a game you design, your performance as a GM has much to do with the acceptance of the game.
“Battling Biguns – Return to Lilliput”
We players be pirates, what have run aground on the uncharted reefs of Lilliput Island. Having sore hangovers, we want only to build a raft to return to the sea. But what’s this: tiny, noisy people, making such a racket. Will they not let us cross the island and be off? Do they have any rum?
Rules: Return to Lilliput by Walter O’Hara
(Rules available on Line)
4-10 players who will expected to talk like pirates
(from the Bayou Wars Preliminary Events List, Friday night listing 7-11 PM)
With all that said, it was a bit of a thrill to hear that Mr. Guilbeau had put together a very handsome rendition of the Return to Lilliput Game for presentation at BAYOU WARS in Lousiana; I was tickled pink to learn this. Even MORE tickled pink to discover that Duane (who is very active on a yahoo group called “low cost wargaming”) had made a set with painted closepins as the pirates, and little craftee bits as the lilliputian villagers.
(all pictures provided by Duane and republished with his permission)
All this is of course the kind of thing that I love to see– people exchanging ideas, helping each other, contributing to a fun time. Alas, the crushing part of it all is:
“I was a Bayou Wars last weekend and setup to play Return to Lilliput. No players showed, huge bummer.”
Man… that’s disappointing, but I can understand it. Trying something goofy requires a player to step out of his or her comfort zone. It’s not much fun for the GM to set up what is, for them, a labor of love and then face a “rejection” of sorts. It’s happened to me. We just soldier on and try again with the next big idea.
Thanks for the Bayou Wars report, Duane. I am tickled pink and hugely flattered that you used the Lilliput rules.