Wednesday, April 27, 2022

Chainmail Played Theatre of the Mind

 This past Monday I put my Hellions of Xen campaign group in the capable hands of Stephen Smith for a fascinating experiment:

Could we play Chainmail with Theatre of the Mind?

My players brought in their Swords & Wizardry characters, and I did a quick & dirty conversion of my mage from the World of Weirth campaign. Then the party fighter was handed command of a group of light cavalry and mounted archers.

Finch, Reine, and Zeelagur, the PCs of Hellions of Xen

When we ran into a large force of Orcs, the rubber hit the road.

Player Characters rolled initiative as normal, and had the option to act independently using PCs abilities, or to issue commands to troops 

Just like our normal TotM play, players asked a lotof questions and made commands based on that information.

What was invisible to us was that Stephen was moving units around the board like a traditional wargame. When we commanded soldiers, he interpreted our commands and resolved the unit-to-unit battles in the background with Chainmail.

We didn't get to see the board. All we had was the traditional Theatre of the Mind setup. 

It was blindingly fast.

Despite their being over 120 creatures in the battle, it took us less than an hour from spotting the Orcs on the horizon and scouting their forces to routing them, running them down, and looting the wagons 

I never thought of trying wargaming using TTRPG tools in this fashion. Although it should be a surprise to no one that 1977-era D&D rules and Chainmail flow pretty seamlessly.

I will link Stephen's notes on the experience as soon as they become available.

Update 1: Here's Stephen's YouTube summary:

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