Thursday, July 17, 2014

Movement Rules Matter

One of my little peeves is the Movement rules. I always check the movement rules in various game systems because it is actually the most Accessible understanding of how the Body works. Running sites litter the internet, and marching performance can be found in many war manuals like in Vegetius's De Re Militari and more recently the Small Wars manual (and the Combat Leaders Field Manual).

If you don't have a good model for movement then I guess we are of different wavelengths in gaming.

Walking and Running can be analogous to many other physical activities. Swimming, Climbing, Push-ups, Digging, Heavy Lifting, etc... can be derived from a good set of WORK (SI) related rules. Each different task is just a modifier on the rate of energy expended in such tasks. I can Jog 10 minutes at 7kph or roughly 5mph and my heart rate won't rise by so much, but make me do push ups for 1 minute straight and my heart would be pounding and my arms shaking.

A good model for Work is always a useful metric and tool in everyday life – travel, chores, and various other physical tasks can be quantified and assessed for utility over time. Planning Trips, like going to the NY to visit relatives and I'm bringing along my 32lb 3yr old (who is a very picky eater) translates to a lot of work – ALOT of work (adding 32lbs to my carrying encumbrance)

In an Airsoft game, I'm surprised by how slow we move – simply because we don't want to trip over and get stabbed by various factory implements sticking out of the ground. My 26lbs kit weighing down on me and the occasional sprints and slides into cover with my trusty knee and elbow pads. My fit bit tells me I didn't run as much in a 3 hour game day as I would have in 40 minute run adds to the metrics minded ness of measuring Work and Endurance (last I check maybe just 1k of running lolz).

So yeah, if the game system doesn't care about Movement Rules enough then they're are ignoring the most easily measured and processed activity in an adventure. Its that detail that makes me too tired to counter attack if I reach cover or move to place in the battlefield where I am needed, or too tired to be aware of my surroundings, or unable to make an effective reaction as the situation changes. Fatigue doesn't come up in a game, then we Ignore the most challenging internal enemies of a character. Fatigue is the ally of his doubts, his biases, and the limits of his attention.

As a GM, If I'm not bringing PCs down to 1/3FP I'm not doing my job right. I don't think a win is satisfying if PCs don't break a sweat, and the last Ass Kicking we ever gave in an Airsoft game made us shaking from exhaustion.

Edit. I'm aware we can all hand wave movement. As much as we can handwave every challenge that can comes up in the game into the ones that matter to the players and the GM. if movement does not matter for you, that's (sigh) ok by extension Logistics too. You probably like social and combat challenges, if not that's ok. Maybe I guess its just telling a shared story where there is an internal conflict... no - no internal conflict such as biases, personal weakness, and conflicting beliefs and loyalty... ummm... anyway enjoy your game in what ever way you wish this is a hobby where you can do no wrong, until it breaks the shared convention because any other imagination game without convention or consensus is just day dreaming. 

Related Post: 

Some notes on Endurance
Persistence Hunting  - gives you a sense of perspective what our endurance is in the animal kingdom.
Bipedialism -  gives you an idea of what a perfectly evolved biped looks like, in light of the 5 toed "running" shoes legal case.
Small Wars Manual - it has pack animal endurance metrics as well as marching metrics. It also talks about how long it takes to set up camp and protocols. Its a great all around book and any GM who runs "physical adventures" will benefit from this book. If your try to be more outdoorsy this should also help. Note that after travelling set up camp and security, and foraging are very time consuming activities.
De Re Militari - more doctrine goodness. 20 roman miles (30km or 18mi) in 5 summer hours (which is from dawn to before mid-day or about 5:30am to 1pm or 7.5 hours lolz) that is 2.4mph or 3.8kph it does not say with a Kit and if you read on it talks about marching and running.

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