View Full Version : Writing a Solo Scenario - Questions

12-09-2014, 10:22
I'm interested in writing a few scenarios (either for myself or possibly for the campaign), but I have a couple of questions I'd like to get some opinions on, both because I'm worried they may make the pre-scenario decisions too complicated (almost like a choose-your-own-adventure beforehand) or because it may lead to some very awkward game-play that's not enjoyable right from turn one. I really enjoy writing solo scenarios (or at least imagining them), simply because they don't need to be balanced, or because several unbalanced ones in a row will eventually get to a meta-balance during the campaign (so not every scenario needs to be a pitched battle between equal forces).

1.) What are the group's opinions about starting off the scenario with vessels already in combat? I'm imagining scenarios where a single LOB ship is already engaged against an overwhelming enemy force and the rest of your fleet is starting from a board edge trying to reach the battle and fight off the attackers.

2.) Similarly, what about having variable enemy forces or alternate starting positions available to players, either due to random pre-game rolls or player-decisions?

For example: your frigate was in the middle of watering on the island when the enemy was sighted on the horizon. With a substantial portion of your crew on the beach you have a decision to make. Lose two turns/moves to the approaching enemy while you wait for your boats? Or deploy to the advantageous Zone "X" and start the game down your first two crew markers on your log (and losing any Crew Popularity abilities for this scenario, as your topmast jacks give you a sideways glance for leaving half their watch on the beach).

Or: The more ability/influence your chosen admiral has, the more intelligence he's able to gather from his network of spies and informants, and the more resources he's able to bring to bear. French agents have been pressuring a magistrate at a neutral fort to join Napoleon's side. Before this engagement the fort (and it's three dozen 24-pounders throwing glowing red shot) will be allied with the French on a roll of 3+. Expend 3 Influence points to have your admiral's agents "negotiate" with the magistrate (fort will now side with the French on a roll of 5+).

Are these mechanics that need to be fully included in the scenario and the captain's characteristics, or is there a campaign-level component that can come into play as well?

3.) How does the group feel about scenarios which are designed to lose friendly ships/captains? Such as a scenario involving blockade running against overwhelming odds; or a messenger scenario where your only objective is to get one of your frigates (carrying treasure or a political figure) off a table edge, regardless of of how many other ships are sacrificed? If the campaign is built around a group of captains earning advancement, I'd hesitate to involve a scenario designed to kill/capture multiple of them (the old D&D Dungeon Master dilemma, as he's killing off all his player's characters). Perhaps these should be unnamed (or even AI) friendlies?

4.) Lastly, since I'm not familiar with the game mechanics yet, I'm uncertain as to how easily you're able to negotiate terrain. If your escape from an enemy ship depends on you shooting a gap through a reef that's only twice as wide as your ship, how random is that movement? Does the AI auto-movement have any chance of negotiating something that tight? Is this easy enough that I should include a dice-roll if I want that element of danger (frigates grounded on a 5+, LOB ships on a 4+)? Maybe a modifier based on whether your captain knows the flood of the tide?

As you can see, I've got a ton of ideas floating around in my head (mostly based off engagements from P'OB's books), but I'm unsure as to how deep to go into them. I know for a fact that I would get extremely bored with a large blue-mat of open ocean pitched-battles, but I also know that not everyone is going to enjoy constantly putting their boats and captains into ridiculously dangerous suicide missions that involve threading a needle between shoals, cliffs and auto-killing enemies.

12-09-2014, 11:44
1. In general, I don't see any problem starting already engaged. Sometimes, it can be tiresome spending several turns just closing when little actually occurs while closing, i.e. little to no change in direction, strategy, etc. I think the main thing is to consider victory conditions. For example, if such a lone ship lasts so many turns, does the player gain a point. As long as victory conditions are based on something other than last-man-standing, I think unbalanced games could be quite fun.

I need to return to work, so I will post thoughts about the other points a bit later.

Sign up for a month on the upcoming solo campaign. :swordright: Having a diverse set of scenarios is needed for a campaign to sustain its fun.