29 January, 2012

Do you want to appear in an RPG?

As I draw more images for the new incarnation of Walkabout, I'm wondering if there are any people in my circles who might be interested in having their likenesses immortalised as illustrations of post apocalyptic survivors...


 For those who are interested in being depicted in a post apocalyptic light, find a suitable picture for me to work off and send it my way. The pictures I'll find most appropriate are at least 300x300px (preferably 600x600 or more), with an interesting lighting.

For everyone who has responded so far, I've been going through your profiles trying to find suitable photos. But a few of you have no photos at all.

When, or if, you have an appropriate photo fopr me to base a picture on. Either privately send it to me here, or direct it to my regular email address (vulpinoid (at) mail (dot) com).





I'm not necessarily looking for headshots, but you do want a headshot please be looking in some direction away from the camera. I'm not planning to create White-Wolf style, angsty portraits of dour looking tragically hip individuals.

If you want to be doing something in particular (writing, working on something, in a pose fighting and imaginary something that I can add in later...be creative) I can certainly work with that.





If you've got a picture you'd like me to use (or if you want to take a particular picture for me to use)...I'll use that.

If I don't get something from people over the next weeks or so, I'll try to find something suitable from their Facebook/Google+/Other profiles. Remembering that a close up picture will give me a better chance of depicting you...a distant shot could be an image of anyone (what's the point of appearing in an RPG if we can't tell it's you?).

If I don't get anything, and don't find anything suitable on a profile, then sorry...opportunity lost.



So, how about it?

27 January, 2012

Two More Walkabout Images

Some more images I've created for the Walkabout game revision.


There are plenty more on the way. I'm hoping to have at least two dozen of these illustrated over the next couple of weeks.

24 January, 2012

Monsterhearts

This has got me excited.

A chance to use all my old White Wolf books again with a gamer system that might actually do them justice.

Have a look.


Monsterhearts pitch video - IndieGoGo from Joe Mcdaldno on Vimeo.

22 January, 2012

Hell on Eight Wheels: Nine – Fouls


With this new structure in place, a simple rule for fouls becomes apparent. A skater may risk a foul by replacing their played card with the next random card from the deck. If the new card is more successful than the replaced card, it takes effect (altering the hit location or causing extra damage) but the skater’s foul risks being seen by a referee. If the new card is less successful, it must be used anyway.

Some skaters known for playing dirty might gain access to skills/traits that make fouls less visible to referees or more effective.  

I'll throw together some play examples with the next post.

21 January, 2012

Walkabout Atmospheric Image

My other project for the year was the revision for my post apocalyptic "Walkabout"...

...here's the first atmospheric shot for it.

Hell on Eight Wheels: Eight – A Unified Core Rule


Before we go much further, a new blanket rule will be instituted to help pull the various mechanisms into a more unified concept.

The highest card wins, as long as it is below the relevant attribute for the action. If two skaters are comparing cards and one skater plays a card higher than their relevant attribute, the other skater wins; but if two cards are played higher than their respective skater’s attributes, the higher card wins.

On the negative side, this means I’ll need to reconfigure some of the rules that we’ve looked at so far. On the positive side this mean that once a player understands one part of the game, they’ll have a general understanding of all parts of the game. It also simplifies a few things, and makes them quicker to play through without needing to add figures together to determine results.

When we apply this rule to the concept of skater speed and distance moved, the mechanism now changes to…

Skaters have “Speed” and “Strategy” attributes, and they have a “thrust” (name subject to change). A player should aim to place as high a card as possible in the “speed” and “strategy” categories without exceeding the relevant attribute values. As long as they place a lower card in their speed, they gain a number of forward movement actions equal to the card rank (each forward movement action pushes the skater a number of sections equal to their thrust [walk = 1, run = 2, sprint = 3]). As long as they place a lower card in their strategy, they gain a number of strategic movement actions equal to the card rank. If the speed category is allocated a card with a higher rank, the skater overexerts themselves and risks suffering a penalty to their speed attribute for the remainder of the jam. If the strategy category is allocated a card with higher rank, the skater becomes confused with the potential options available (and risks suffering a penalty to their strategy attribute for the remainder of the jam). If both categories are allocated cards with higher rank, the skater risks immediately falling over (and possibly causing a cascade of falling skaters).

When we apply this rule to the concept of conflict between skaters, the mechanism remains basically intact because the fundamentals of the hit mechanism are based on the targeted combat model. But the notion of conflict results and damage can be applied to the strength statistic…

1)      Active skater moves. If the active skater moves into the threat zone of another skater, a block opportunity arises. At this point, the active skater becomes the defender, while the skater whose threat zone has been invaded becomes the attacker. 
2)      Attacker and Defender compare their respective strategy scores to determine how many cards they may draw and play. If the active skater has entered the threat zone of two opposing skaters, the opponents add together their strategy scores against the active skater. If the active skater has entered the threat zones of skaters from both teams, they must resolve the conflict sequence before any opportunity for an assist or whip.

Respective Strategy Scores
Adjacent Track Section
Gap of 1 Track Section
Defender more than 3 Higher
Attacker 1 Card
Defender 3 Cards
Attacker 1 Card
Defender 3 Cards
Defender Higher
Attacker 1 Card
Defender 2 Cards
Attacker 1 Card
Defender 3 Cards
Attacker Equal or Higher
Attacker 1 Card
Defender 1 Card
Attacker 1 Card
Defender 2 Cards
Attacker more than 2 Higher
Attacker 2 Cards
Defender 1 Card
Attacker 1 Card
Defender 1 Card

3)      Cards are played for the assault and the defence. Both players may play cards from their hand instead of the cards dealt at this time to the skaters (this gives the players a stronger element of strategic play).
4)      Once cards are revealed, each skater involved in the block/conflict may draw an extra card by risking a foul. When an attacker does this, they exchange their attack card with a random card from the top of their deck. When a defender does this, they discard one of their defence cards and replace it with a random card from the top of their deck. In either case, if the new card has a higher rank than the replaced card, a foul is performed.
5)      If (once cards have been finalised) the attacker plays a card with a suit unmatched by the defender, then the attack gets through. Comparison of card ranks determines how savage this attack is. The attacker uses the rank of their successful card (if they are lucky enough to have two successful cards they may choose the card used), the defender uses the highest card rank below their strength attribute.
6)      If the attacker’s card is higher than their strength, they risk a fall (and possibly starting a fall cascade).
7)      If the attacker’s card is higher than the defender’s, they inflict an injury to the victim’s targeted attribute. If the victim has already suffered an injury to this attribute, it becomes more permanent. A victim suffering permanent injuries to two attributes is rendered too injured to continue play.
8)      If a fall is risked, the skater must draw a card with a value lower than their strategy attribute to avoid falling. If a fall occurs, anyone in the threat zone of the falling skater now risks a fall.
9)      If the active skater still has moves remaining, they may continue their movement around the track.

Any more complicated rules come in the form of special abilities available only to skaters who possess the relevant skills or traits.

For example, one trait might provide the ability to cause a fall risk rather than applying damage to an opposing skater. One trait might provide the ability to adjust a card’s rank up or down by a single point when involved in a specific type of action. Another trait might allow an extra card to be drawn when a specific action type is being performed.

Traits such as these would be limited throughout the game, mainly possessed by veteran skaters who have developed their own special skating techniques, or available under certain circumstances if members of the team engage in a specific play formation.

20 January, 2012

Hell On Eight Wheels: Seven – Targeted Combat


If you’ve been reading through this series of game development blog posts, you’ll have seen many references to Freebooter’s Fate. This is a great miniatures game released by Freebooter Miniature last year. I don’t think it will catch on with the likes of Games Workshop and other bigger companies dominating the market…but I’d love to hope that it gets a good, dedicated fan base.

In this game, combat stats are rated on a scale from 1 to 5 while there are six possible hit locations on the body (Head, Torso, Right Arm, Left Arm, Abdomen, Legs). The elegance of the system is the way in which the combat stats mesh with the hit locations…it’s so simple I have to wonder why no one had considered it earlier (maybe it has been used earlier and I’m just not aware of it).

When a figure goes into combat they select a number of body locations to assault equal to their attack score, the defender selects a number of body locations to protect equal to their defence score. If the attacker has picked a body part that the defender hasn’t protected, the defender is hit and takes damage. If the attacker hits two or more parts that the defender hasn’t protected, then a critical hit is scored.

In the case of a regular hit, damage is marked off from a pool of vitality. In the case of a critical hit, each body part has a corresponding figure attribute (the attacker must choose one of the body parts successfully assaulted), then the relevant attribute is weakened until healing can occur (or until the end of the game).

When playing the game you actually get a feeling for swordplay as you sweep at certain parts of your opponent with a flurry of blows, only to see whether or not your attacks for the round have been successful. Attacks are strategic (you can choose to disable certain attributes of your opponent), combat feels like your decisions have weight (rather than the arbitrary whim of a die result), and the action is played out fast (faster than most other miniatures games anyway).

But how could you run a style of combat like this in a roller derby game?

If we’re looking at four attributes linked to the four suits in a deck, then we can simply say that a blocking skater plays one or more cards representing the target’s body locations when they block, while the defending skater plays one or more cards representing the parts of their body being covered by defensive actions.
  
Head
Spades
Strategy
Torso/Arms
Hearts
Soul
Abdomen
Clubs
Strength
Legs
Diamonds
Speed
The location/suit correspondences seem to sit fairly well, an appropriate diagram should reinforce this notion.

The attacker assaults one or more locations, and the victim tries to block the location(s) hit.

But how do we determine how many cards the attacker gets to use for their assault, and how many cards the victim gets to use for their defence. It would be nice to keep this relevant to the unfolding strategies on the board (taking into account closeness of skaters and relative speeds), and since this game is incorporating variability of skater skill, it makes sense to connect these to the sequence.

Respective Strategy Scores
Adjacent Track Section
Gap of 1 Track Section
Defender more than 3 Higher
Attacker 1 Card
Defender 3 Cards
Attacker 1 Card
Defender 3 Cards
(-1 damage card flip)
Defender Higher
Attacker 1 Card
Defender 2 Cards
Attacker 1 Card
Defender 3 Cards
Attacker Equal or Higher
Attacker 1 Card
Defender 1 Card
Attacker 1 Card
Defender 2 Cards
Attacker more than 2 Higher
Attacker 1 Card
Defender 1 Card
(+1 damage card flip)
Attacker 1 Card
Defender 1 Card
Idea: Perhaps a team member can be involved in an assist. If someone is assisting the attacker (or defender), do they add a card to one side of the conflict or do they add their strategy score to the attacker’s value before determining how many cards to apply to the situation.

Cards have the ability to rank as well as suit, and a game mechanism that has variable degrees of readability can streamline the output. In light of this, we can read the suit to determine the location of the strike, while we use the rank to determine the intensity of the hit.

As an example: Attacker’s Card Value plus Strength vs Defender’s Card Value plus Strength

If the assault is successful, the attacker compares their strength plus their card value to that of the victim. If their value is less than the victims, movement is impeded and the victim has to spend a bit more energy finding another way around. If the attacker’s strength plus card is higher, then the defender risks falling down and/or injury.

…and this is where the damage flips (mentioned in the table above) comes in.

This is a mechanism I like from the Malifaux miniatures game. Basically, if things are going your way, you draw an extra card or two and keep the best one for your result; conversely, if things are going against you, you draw an extra card and keep the worst of the two results.  

I’ll write up a few examples of play, if things aren’t making sense at this stage, hopefully they’ll clarify matters.

I seem to be heading in a few directions at once with the game, and one of my pet hates in games of this type is disjointed mechanisms. I should be able to pull the ideas together into a streamlined and coherent whole, but you'll have to bear with me for a bit while I'll brainstorm through the specific elements.

17 January, 2012

Hell On Eight Wheels: Six – Skaters Stats


I’ve already decided that I like the idea of cards for this game, they can be played out quickly or held for strategic play forms. I’ve also decided that I’m aiming toward something between the quick abstract combat of Magic the Gathering, the targeted attacks of Freebooter’s Fate and the “cheating” formalised within the rules of Malifaux.

I could develop a unique set of cards, perhaps for the creation of customisable decks (like MtG), but this makes the game a bit more esoteric. I want the game to be pretty quick to pick up and play. That leaves me with the standard 52 card deck (13 ranks in 4 suits), malifaux comes up with some interesting effects using a 4-suited deck of this type, but links really strongly into the hertiae of wargaming with an abundance of stats and special abilities for the miniatures. Freebooters fate is a bit more elegant in this regard…I’ll be drawing more cues from there.

Four suits ties pretty elegantly with 4 character attributes. I’ve used the concept previously in The Eighth Sea (released 2008), The Great Bard (for 2011’s Game Chef contest) and a few other games that I’ve written. It helps that the 4 traditional suits have some esoteric connotations that link the different aspects of the persona.

Generally…

Hearts = Emotion
Spades = Thought
Diamonds = Mystic Soul
Clubs = Physical Force

I don’t think that this breakdown directly fits roller derby, but it can be tweaked a bit.
    
Hearts = Soul – Used to determine morale, concentration and teamwork effects
Spades = Strategy – Used to determine availability of tricks and bonus effects (key for pivots)
Diamonds = Speed – Used to determine movement rate and evasion (key for jammers)
Clubs = Strength – Used to determine combat skill, damage dealt and damage resistance (key for blockers)

…but having four attributes and four suits is just a single mechanism, and still a long way from a complete game system.

Translating these stats across to a Magic the Gathering type of system (or that found in many Collectable card games), combat could simply be an option of comparing “strength (clubs)” to “strength (clubs)”. Higher result wins unless some specific card element dictates otherwise. If we throw in a random modifier in the form of two cards we might get…

Combat = Strength + 2 Cards vs Strength + 2 Cards (allocate one to attack one to defence)

This gives some possible variation in the results.

A skater winning both continues skating with no penalty
A skater winning attack but losing defence may keep skating but suffers an injury
A skater losing attack but winning defence has their movement stopped but suffers no injury
A skater losing both suffers and injury and has their movement stopped, it’s likely that they fall.

This is getting close to what I’m after. It doesn’t feel exactly right compared with the visions of game play that I have in my head…but it’s on the right track. It also doesn’t account for the fact that blockers will have high strength scores and will thus be an even match for other blockers, but the jammers should be able to get past them (after all, that’s their job). So we need to incorporate some kind of effect to give the jammer’s movement (diamonds) an influence on the combat procedure.

…but we still need to keep it fast.

Some other options running through my head at the moment.

Perhaps a combat system like the miniatures game Confrontation (2nd-3rd Editions). Combat is strategy versus speed, and a successful hit has damage determined by comparing the strength of the two combatants.

Perhaps instead of adding attribute plus card to get a result, simply use the high card to give one of the skaters a +1 to their relevant attribute. If attributes are left at smaller values (say 1 to 5), then this makes numbers quicker to add up and resolutions easier to achieve. Magic works with a lower spread of attributes by giving many of the creatures special abilities beyond their raw numbers.

Perhaps I move more toward a Malifaux style of play…where two skaters compare their relevant attributes. If the values are equal, the two players draw a single card each and compare values to determine a winner. If one skater has a higher value, this player draws two cards and uses the best result. If one skater has a value that is more than 2 points higher (or maybe twice as high) they might draw a third card. Special abilities might allow extra card to be drawn, or might prevent opponents from drawing extra cards.

The final thought here is a bit more radical, a bit more reflective of what might be going through a skater’s head, and a bit more closely attuned to the combat mechanisms of Freebooter’s Fate. It deserves a post of its own.

Hell On Eight Wheels: Five – Further Movement


Confrontation (2nd and 3rd Editons) from Rackham had a quick and easy system for miniatures combat, it combined the location of a victim’s hit with difference between attacker’s strength and victim’s toughness, and combined it all into an elegant solution for how much impact this had after an attack was resolved…all by simultaneously rolling 2 dice and comparing a couple of numbers.

Malifaux from Wyrd Miniatures has a system where you randomly draw cards. In certain circumstances a character quirk lets you draw an additional card; if it’s a positive quirk you pick the higher of the two cards drawn for your result, and if it’s a negative quirk you get stuck with the lower of the two cards drawn. This system also allows you to strategically play a card from your hand to gain an advantage during play.

I’ve found that card play works more quickly than dice rolling in the various game systems I’ve used, and since I want the strategic element that we see in Malifaux, I’ve already decided to use cards for this game.

But now it’s a case of combining the elements I like from each system.

I have the idea that game play will basically follow this pattern.

1)      At the start of a jam, each skater is randomly dealt two face-down random cards, and each player holds a hand of cards reflecting the teamwork and strategic planning of the team.
2)      Skaters are activated in turn around the track. When activated, their two cards are revealed, one is assigned to speed, and one to manoeuvrability. Speed plus a constant attribute value indicates how far the skater moves (maybe referenced off a table), manoeuvrability plus a constant attribute value indicates how many times the skater may move to an inner or outer ring on the track (also referenced off a table).
3)      If a skater moves adjacent to an opposing player, both skaters draw one or more new cards to determine the result of any block attempt. A skater may be knocked down, blocked, slowed down or might get through with no problems.
4)      Once activation is complete, any cards used in the activation are shuffled and a skater is assigned two more face down random cards.
5)      Activation moves to the next skater.

Preliminary table idea
Stat+Card
Result
Walk
Run
Sprint
Move
Manoeuvre
Move
Manoeuvre
Move
Manoeuvre
2-3
3
1
5
1
6
1
4-5
4
1
6
1
8
1
6-7
5
2
7
1
10
1
8-9
6
2
9
2
12
1
10-11
7
3
10
2
14
2
12-13
8
3
12
2
16
2
14-15
9
4
13
3
18
2
16-17
10
4
15
3
20
2
18-19
11
5
16
3
22
3
20-21
12
5
18
4
24
3
22-23
13
6
19
4
26
3
24-25
14
6
21
4
28
3
26
15
7
22
5
30
4

Skaters will have states from 1-13 (basically Ace to King from a standard deck), adding a card value of 1-13 gives a total value from 2 to 26.

I’m hoping this isn’t getting too complicated.

14 January, 2012

Another Roller Derby Game

It appears that I'm not the only person developing a Roller Derby boardgame at the moment.

Impact Miniatures are in the process of playtesting a game called Impact City Roller Derby. I'm not afraid to say that this game is out there, and the miniatures look good.

I've signed myself up as a playtester to see what they have in store, and it will be interesting to see the final product.

I'll still be working away at Hell on Eight Wheels though because I think my take will be a bit different coming from a roleplaying perspective.

I'll be focusing on the individuality of the skaters, with a bit more personality thrown their way in the form of personal rivalries, character backgrounds and development over the course of a season.

Impact City Roller Derby looks like it is going to focus on teams...but I' not going to make any guesses at this stage and I'm certainly not going to start second guessing Ho8W.

12 January, 2012

Because images are good.


Hell On Eight Wheels: Four – A Closer Look at Movement


Once we start nailing down the procedures used to move skaters around the track, we define one of the core aspects of the game.

Moving on wheels is different to walking, a good procedure should reflect this. Without skill, this form of movement is difficult because traction between the mover and the ground works differently. But all skaters have a degree of inherent skill, they must possess a range of mastered skills before they may be recognised as skaters by the WFTDA.

With this in mind, even the most inexperienced skaters in a bout are not complete novices. The worst skaters simply aren’t allowed on the track because they are a danger to themselves and to others. Not a deliberate danger, they would be prone to mistakes under pressure.

But the key to a high stakes game is that there is pressure…and even experienced veterans have the chance of cracking under pressure.

This brings up issues of skater statistics and the various aspects that might differentiate one skater from another…but I’ll leave that for a later development post. For the moment I’ll stick to movement.

Now that I’ve looked further into the game Formula D, I’ve found some fun mechanisms. In this game you choose a gear at the start of your turn, then this allows you to roll a specific die to determine the distance moved. 1st gear provides low movement (but more control), high gear provides high movement (but less control). This is the kind of thing I want for Ho8W.

Instead of the six gars in Formula D, it is probably better to strip the movement down to three levels. We’ll temporarily call them walk, run and sprint; but these names are neither bad-ass nor roller oriented, so they will be subject to change later on.

With 36 movement segments around the track, we can work out some basic rates of movement. These rates of movement are loosely based on reality, but are more defined by the competitive balance of the game. There is no way that a game like this will manage to be completely accurate according to real world physics; and the closer we try to get, the more boring the game play will be. We looking for the spirit of roller derby in a board game, if you want reality, get out and buy a pair of skates….but enough rant.

A game needs to remain fairly competitive throughout the course of play (or at the very least, this needs to be the appearance). Players needs to get the feeling that they are actually progressing toward a victory, closing the gap on their opponent, or being involved in something dramatic with every move they make.  

The slowest movement speed is not moving at all; this isn’t exciting, but it is the aftermath of a crash or a fall (especially when multiple skaters pile on top of one another in a pack collision). We don’t want skaters stationary for long, at most it will take a single turn to get up (unless a serious injury has occurred).

The slowest speed while actually moving is the “walk”; this could basically be considered the default speed for the blockers of the pack. It will take 4 to 5 complete turns of movement to get around the track at this pace, and working backward with this in mind a typical “walk” action should allow for movement of 6 to 10 segments.

The fast speed is the “run”; this could basically be considered the default speed for the pivots. It should take about three complete turns of movement to get around the track at this pace. Again, working backward, this means that a “run”  should allow for around 12 segments (let’s say 10 to 15) of movement.

The fastest speed is the sprint; the default speed for the jammers. We never want the jammer to lap the activation marker, otherwise they would miss out on a complete activation turn after sprinting and would suffer as a result. But since the scoring is all about the jammers, they need to move fast. I’m figuring that an unimpeded jammer can make it around the track in under two turns. This means a pace of about 15 to 20 segments with each movement activation.

It would be easy to fit this into a triangular number sequence…

1 = 1
3 = 1+2
6 = 1+2+3 (Minimum Walk)
10 = 1+2+3+4 (Maximum Walk or Minimum Run)
15 = 1+2+3+4+5 (Maximum Run or Minimum Sprint)
21 = 1+2+3+4+5+6 (Maximum Sprint)

But that seems a bit contrived at the moment…maybe something to fall back on if other ideas don’t pan out.
I like the Formula D concept of acceleration and braking; it fits the ideas I have for movement in this game. Skaters start stationary, and if they want to build up speed they have to progress through stages of walking and running before they reach the sprint. If they want to slow down, they have to either gradually reduce their speed or fall to the ground (and start again from scratch). I don’t know how accurate this is from an actually derby skater’s perspective, but it seems like a reasonable approximation.

There’s plenty more work to do on this, but I’ll leave it here for this post.

11 January, 2012

Hell on Eight Wheels - Track Infographic

The skaters move counter-clockwise, the turn activation sequence moves clockwise.

Hell On Eight Wheels: Three – The Track and The Board


There are a few groups running roller derby bouts. But at the time of writing, the largest organisation in the US is the Women’s Flat Track Derby Association (WFTDA), in Australia most of the leagues play according to the WFTDA rule set, and I can only imagine that the rest of the world follows suit (I know of Derby leagues in the UK and have heard of some starting up across mainland Europe).

The WFTDA rules have a very specific section detailing the measurements of the track, and since the game is being based on these rules, it makes sense that the board’s track should match these specifications.

But the actual drawing of the track only bears a vague resemblance to the sequence of actions taken to move around it.

Move Forward, Turn Left, Move Forward, Turn Left.

If we are using figures, activation takes them a distance around the track. But how many times should a figure activate in order to complete a full rotation of the circuit? How detailed are those activations?

An abstract version of the game might divide the track into four sections; a curved section at each end and a straight section on each side. Figures in this type of board might move forward a single section at a time, dealing with the other figures in their section via a series of die rolls.  

Another version of the game might not have sections marked at all. Such a game might be like most traditional miniature wargames where figures are moved a set distance depending on their statistics, perhaps being allowed a certain break in their movement to turn (in exchange for a sacrifice from their total move distance). If figures come within a certain range of one another they might gain the opportunity to block/trip/injure/foul/assist one another. It’s certainly a viable idea, but individual movement of figures according to movement rules can be slow and tedious (as many an experience wargamer has seen).

Since one of the inspirations for this game is Bloodbowl, a look at that board might be in order.

The Bloodbowl board is marked up into squares (eleven across, nineteen long). It means that movement isn’t precise (especially when you compare diagonal movements to cardinal movements), but it allows quick calculations and fairly rapid play.

According to the WFTDA, the standard track is divided into 18 sections of length (3 straight on each side and six around each end curve), a skater typically has to skate ten feet to get through one of these sections to the next. The average width of the track is about 14 feet. It makes sense to follow this scheme for the Ho8W track, or possibly even subdivide these sections further.

 
A reasonable assumption is that a person can stretch each arm by two feet on either side of their body so we could make the track sections four to five feet wide (a foot accounting for torso width); this would make a track with a width of three sections.

Since a blocking action may only be undertaken with the torso, abdomen or upper arms down to the shoulder, it might be more reasonable to divide the track into sections two to three feet wide. This might be good because it introduces the concept for foul actions. A skater can block someone who moves through their section without breaking the rules, or they can risk a foul by blocking someone in an adjacent section. This is getting closer to what I want from the game.

If the sections are three feet wide, that leaves a width of five sections. There are three blockers and a pivot on each side, each trying to prevent the opponent’s jammer getting through. That’s 4 blocking skaters covering five section widths, always leaving a fifth section that can be passed unless a foul is performed and a penalty risked.

If the sections are two feet wide, it becomes a bit less granular. That makes seven sections wide with 4 blocking skaters and a slightly wider range of strategic options. Slightly smaller sections mean that skaters can block adjacent sections without fouls or risking penalties, we also now get the opportunity to apply a rule where no two skaters may exist in the same section without some kind of collision or tackle; this brings a bit more potential for violence.

The shape of the sections on the board plays a strong semantic role; it tells us about the nature of the game through implication. Movement in square sections implies that lateral movement is just as easy as forward movement. Movement in rectangular sections varies the degree of implied lateral movement. Roller derby is a fast game, so from a semantic perspective it makes sense to have sections that are longer than they are wide.

With 18 marked section lengths around the track, these could be left as the section markers, leaving scaled track sections 10ft long and 2ft wide; probably a bit too extreme for our purposes, especially if we are incorporating a rule where two skaters may not exist in the same section at the same time. It might be a better idea to halve the length of the sections, leaving them at a scaled 5ft long x 2ft wide, roughly the outline of a skater who has fallen flat on her face after a fall. This layout requires a skater to pass through 36 sections to complete a circuit of the track, that’s not a bad number to play with.

Forgetting semantic applications, if we make the sections square at 2ft x 2ft, it will take 90 section steps for a figure to move around the track. Games slow down when people have to think about high value numbers, especially if those numbers don’t have nice factors. If we’re using “square” sections, then we need to add some other effect that will hinder the lateral movement of the skaters…to keep them moving forwards around the track rather than side to side.

Let’s go with the halved WFTDA sections for the moment. It also makes things easy with the WFTDA rule that a pack consists of blockers who are no more than 10ft in front of or behind one another (you can have no more than a single gap section between skaters).

CURRENT BOARD CONCEPT