Writing about Charles S. Grant’s Table Top Teasers got me thinking about scenario collections for small scale skirmishes. Grant’s scenarios are great for games which involve at least a couple of units on each side, but I think they wouldn’t work very well for games involving only a dozen or so of individuals, as the tactical problems get quite different at this level. So what’s out there for players of popular skirmish games such as the Songs of… family by Ganesha Games, steampunk rules like In Her Majesty’s Name and Empire of the Dead, sci fi systems such as Infinity, MERCS and Deadzone, or lacepunk fantasy rules such as Freebooter’s Fate or Carnevale, to name but a few?
Of course, most of the rulebooks contain scenarios than may be adapted for other systems. However, the books are often expensive and if you don’t actually collect them, you are probably not inclined to pay the price just for a handful of new gaming ideas. Fortunately, some game manufacturers offer the rulebook, or parts of it, as a free download. One example is Carnevale, which not only is an attractive game in itself, set in an intriguing background, but whose rules also contain some interesting scenarios. Those are quite short but represent scenes of a larger narrative and, when played together, provide an exciting series of linked games. Some other companies offer quickstart rules for free, which is a great way to try out a game but not very interesting from the viewpoint of scavenging scenarios, as they mostly contain only a very basic situation aimed at learning the rules.
As far as I know, for small scale skirmishes there is no single person like Grant who stands out as a scenario writer. However, there is one community which is perhaps more prolific than any other: players of Games Workshop’s Mordheim. The game itself has been discontinued, but the thriving community has collected a vast archive of gaming material, including a huge collection of scenarios. While written for the fantasy world of Mordheim, most of them can be easily adapted to other fantasy or historical settings. They offer wonderful and often imaginative situations embedded in nice narratives and make great inspirations for games.
The more historically oriented wargames magazines seldom contain scenarios for small scale skirmishes. Some of the Command Challenges from Miniature Wargames might work, such as the Western gunfight in issue 363 or – one of my personal favourites – the Christmas ghost story in issue 369. For players of science fiction games, interesting ideas can regularily be found in the magazine Ravage. Originally a French journal and published in English by Cool Mini or Not, the magazine often contains scenarios for popular science fiction systems such as MERCS and Infinity. The first issues contain a MERCS campaign with some original objectives – such as defusing a bomb – that could be easily adapted to other rule sets.
Of course, an easy source of scenarios are movies and TV series. Who hasn’t dreamt of replicating the marines’ assault on the building from Aliens or the train heist from Firefly on the tabletop? Time to scratchbuild some tracks and a railway set, I guess…
So, what have I missed? Do you have any recommendations for scenarios for small scale skirmishes?