Saturday, April 11, 2009

Book Update "Battle Gaming: The New American Sport"

People have been asking me about the state of the book. So I decided it is about time for an update.

As many of you know I am writing a book called "Battle Gaming: The New American Sport." Some of you have heard me say that it is a book about Dagorhir, Belegarth, Amtgard and Darkon. This is not entirely true. It is a book about Battle Gaming which I believe is what is at the core of what Dagorhir, Belegarth, Amtgard and Darkon do.

As for the schedule, the book is now officially running 5 months behind schedule. And I believe the schedule will continue to slip. The main drivers for schedule slippage are:

1) Reworking all the weapons construction stuff.

2) My day job just drains me.

3) Writing a book takes longer than I thought.

Here is what's going on.

I am simplifying weapons contraction instructions with a focus on accessibility of materials. My original plan of using many of my Action Armory instructions has not panned out well. The instructions I had created for specific kits where I provided the materials. Many of these materials I bulked ordered through Action Armory for the production of kits. The average reader of the book is not likely to have access to some of these materials (at least not easily). Therefore a new approach to a modular weapons construction instruction set is being created. This is a major undertaking and represents a rewrite of about 1/2 the book. This includes standardized methods for creating sharp points (thrusting points), hammer heads, punch protectors, pommels, sticks weapons, ax heads and pole arms. The new system is an ala-carte set of instructions. There is one worksheet for making a pommel, it is used on all weapons. A flail is simply a noodle sword (one worksheet) with a chain and ball (another worksheet). A arrow head is the same as a sharp spike you would find at the end of a small ax. Etc. I tested some of the instructions on the neighborhood kids with some success. Several people from Dagorhir Mordor have seen some of the samples I have been bringing out to practice and they want to know more. I will soon be inviting them to a weapons making workshop and see if we can shake out the instructions.

The book is targeted at a new player who is expected to be between 10-19 years of age. Test drives find that the book is written at a minimum 13 year old reading level. I will probably not try to fix that. There was some feedback that I need more information for parents working with kids. I had originally planned (2 years back) to have a chapter specific to this topic, but it did not exist in current work. I started building this chapter from all the work we did with Creative Sword Play, but then realized I would need to cut most of it. I will likely merge some material into Part I. It will talk about the 3 general groupings of kids: 6 and younger - they love the swords and have no concept of taking shots; 7-9 years - are ready for the simple stuff; 10-13 are ready to go, but need some safety guidance; with 14 and up are ready for the full deal.

The book teaches the Open Battle Gaming System Core Rules. This is simply a system that I created that is a merger of Dagorhir, Advanced Dagorhir, Belegarth, Amtgard and Darkon. It plays on the common root of these clubs. It attempts to draw some of the most interesting concepts from each of these systems. There are light, mortal, and death wounds as found in Darkon. There are heavy weapons that can break shields like Dagorhir and Amtgard. There are throwing weapons like found in Amtgard. There is a core set of rules that play a very generic strike and tag game. There are lots of optional rules that effectively allow the rules to morph into Dagorhir, Belegarth, Amtgard or Darkon like combat.

The Open Battle Gaming System separates the combat rules from the mock weapon technology used for play. These are covered by the Padded Weapon Technology Rules which basically are designed to grandfather in most existing Dagorhir, Amtgard, Belegarth, and Darkon weapons. So in some ways it is a slightly looser standard. In many ways it is more ridged. This standard specifies things like the minimum amount of closed cell foam or open cell foam that is needed for a particular construction. It specifies the density for open cell used in certain constructs. It specifies the use of punch protectors (blunts) at the ends of cores, as well as the use of rip resist parts. It also states that meeting the minimum padding may not be sufficient to get your weapon past the referee inspection. The entire Padded Weapon Technology Rules are demonstrated in the weapon construction portion of the book.

Since the combat rules and the technology rules are kept separate in the Open Battle Gaming System, there is a small portion of the book about applying the combat rules and battle game scenarios using SCA Rapier and SCA Heavy Weapons combat. I also hint at applying the combat system and games using latex style molded LARP weapons. All of this is at the edge of the scope of the book, so do not expect detailed instructions.

The Open Battle Gaming System also has the concept of player classes like found in Amtgard as well as creature class found as Amtgard monsters. But to keep it simple Core Rules has no concept of levels and only define the standard (Dagorhir/Belegarth) player classes: Warrior, Archer, and Healer. Players by default are limited the creature class: Human (as in Dagorhir/Belegarth). The main purpose for allowing the concept of a player and creature classes was to make it more ease to describe the battle games. A zombie tag game includes the creature class Zombie which then defines the actions a player who is playing this creature class can take.

There is no concept of a simulated magic in the Open Battle Gaming System Core Rules.

The system is specifically designed to be morphed by players, organizers, and game designers. The Open Battle Gaming System Core Rules in the Appendix of the book are being published under the Wizards of the Coast Open Game License v1.0a. I have specifically have no intention for there to ever be an Open Battle Gaming national organization. I would rather the rules be used like D&D or GURPs are today. Many clubs, running their own variation of the games with their own variation of the rules.

The book is suffering from overcrowding at this point. From a usability and price point it needs to be limited to 300 pages. It is clear that the contents have exceeded this limit. As a result there will be a major cut of content. Feel free to leave feedback about my suggested cuts shown in the outline below.

The plan for marketing the book is to sell it in two forms. There will be a black and white soft cover addition as well as a color E-book addition. Printing in color is not cost effective, so I decided that if an individual wishes to print a color version, they can purchase the E-book and print it themselves. I have not decided on the print house yet, but it will be self published under the name of my new company (more about that in a later post).

Here is my latest outline. Some things to note: A Worksheet is an item with very specific instructions to create a very specific item. A How To is a more general instruction set that requires some skill on the part of the reader to figure out how to make the project work. These are primarily armor projects where materials, tools, and patterns will vary from one reader to the next. The order for the Worksheets within chapters is still yet to be determined.

I have marked items that I am considering cutting from the book due to content overflow. The book looks like it will go from three parts to two parts. The remaining part which mostly contains "Part III: Running the Games" will be repackaged into a second book. This book will be published about six months after the initial book. It will likely be something of a game masters guide.

Please write comments and send me feedback.


PART I: Playing the Games

1) Chapter 1: A New Kind of Sport

2) Chapter 2: Safety First

  • a) Referees
  • b) Outdoor Cautions
  • c) Ensuring Safety
  • d) Safety Equipment

3) Chapter 3: Quick Start Guide

4) Chapter 4: Let the Games Begin!

  • a) Game Types, Sizes, Configurations
  • b) 20 Game Descriptions (I have limited it to 20, I could have more)

5) Chapter 5: Combat in Detail (mostly OBGS Core Rules with interpretation)

  • a) Target Zones
  • b) Weapon Classes
  • c) Shield Classes
  • d) Armor Classes
  • e) Actions - Sports Actions, Attacker Actions, Defender Actions
  • f) Optional Combat Rules

6) Chapter 6: From Sport to Game

  • a) Athletics vs. Strategy Game
  • b) Player Classes
  • c) Creature Classes
  • d) Common Game Creatures
  • e) Creating Your Own Player or Creature Class (Considered for Dropping)

7) Chapter 7: On The Battle Field

  • a) Forming a Team
  • b) Taking Shots
  • c) Movement and Strategy

i) Individual Techniques (a lot on how to sword fight)

ii) Unit Strategy (strategy at the team level) (Considered for Dropping Some Items)

Part II: Equipment

8) Chapter 8: What You Will Need

  • a) General info about Weapons
  • b) General info about Costuming
  • c) General info about Camping at Events

9) Chapter 9: Technology

  • a) History of the Mock Padded Weapon
  • b) Flat blades vs. Round blades
  • c) Internal Parts of a Padded Weapons
  • d) Design Guidelines (OBGS Padded Weapon Technology Rules)
  • e) Constructing Your Own Weapons (background)
  • f) Construction Materials Catalog
  • g) Construction Tools Catalog

10) Chapter 10: Swords

  • a) About the Worksheets
  • b) From Dagger to Great Sword
  • c) Worksheet: Make a Pommel
  • d) Worksheet: Make a Pool Noodle Sword
  • e) Worksheet: Make a Tubular Weapon Cover
  • f) Worksheet: Make a Box Style Puncture and Rip Resist
  • g) Worksheet: Make a Flat Blade Sword
  • h) Worksheet: Make a Simple Guard
  • i) Worksheet: Make a Rope Handle Grip

11) Chapter 11: Pokies and Bludgeons

  • a) Worksheet: Make a Sharp Point
  • b) Worksheet: Make a Pick
  • c) Worksheet: Make a Spear
  • d) Worksheet: Make a Hammer Head
  • e) Worksheet: Make a Hammer
  • f) Worksheet: Make a Stick or Staff
  • g) Worksheet: Make a Circular Mace
  • h) Worksheet: Make a Flanged Mace
  • i) Worksheet: Make a Horseman's Flail
  • j) Worksheet: Make a Footman's Flail (Considered for Dropping)
  • k) Worksheet: Make Numchakus

12) Chapter 12: Axes and Pole Arms

  • a) Types of Pole Arms
  • b) Worksheet: Make an Ax Head
  • c) Worksheet: Make an Ax
  • d) Worksheet: Make a Pole Arm
  • e) Worksheet: Make a Pommel Spike

13) Chapter 13: Thrown Weapons

  • a) Worksheet: Make a Throwing Dagger
  • b) Worksheet: Make a Bandelier (Considered for Dropping)
  • c) Worksheet: Make a Throwing Hammer
  • d) Worksheet: Make a Javelin
  • e) Worksheet: Make a Cool Rock
  • f) Worksheet: Make a Pot or Kettle
  • g) Worksheet: Make a Brick

14) Chapter 14: Archery and Arrows

  • a) Selecting a Bow
  • b) Selecting a Crossbow (Considered for Dropping)
  • c) Selecting Arrows
  • d) Worksheet: Make a Padded Arrow
  • e) Worksheet: Make a Crossbow Bolt (Considered for Dropping)
  • f) Worksheet: Make a Standard Quiver
  • g) Worksheet: Make a Large Quiver (Considered for Dropping)

15) Chapter 15: Shields

  • a) Shield Size, Weight, and Cores
  • b) Shield Shapes
  • c) Worksheet: Make a Plywood Backed Shield
  • d) Worksheet: Make a Saucer Sled Shield (Considered for Dropping)
  • e) Worksheet: Make a Solid Foam Shield
  • f) Worksheet: Make a Curved Shield (Considered for Dropping)

16) Chapter 16: Armor

  • a) General thoughts on Armor Construction
  • b) How To: Make a Gambeson
  • c) How To: Make Light Leather Armor

i) Adding Studs

ii) Adding Rings (Considered for Dropping)

iii) Adding Scales

  • d) How To: Make a Heavy Leather Breast Plate
  • e) How To: Make Heavy Leather Vambraces
  • f) How To: Make Heavy Leather Greaves
  • g) How To: Make a Leather Gorget
  • h) How To: Make Heavy Leather Pauldrons
  • i) How To: Make Chainmail
  • j) How To: Make Brigantine (Considered for Dropping)

17) Chapter 17: Helmets

  • a) Battle Game Safety Standards
  • b) Worksheet: Make a Banded Helmet
  • c) Worksheet: Make a Dark Age Helmet (Considered for Dropping)
  • d) Worksheet: Make a Psudo-Roman Safety Helmet
  • e) Worksheet: Attach a Hockey Grill to a Helmet

18) Chapter 18: Uniforms and Costuming

  • a) Making First Impressions
  • b) Basic Costuming
  • c) Winter Costuming
  • d) Worksheet: Make a T-tunic
  • e) How To: Make a Belt Pouch (Considered for Dropping)
  • f) Worksheet: Make a Weapon Clip

19) Chapter 19: Game Props (Considered for Dropping, Entire Chapter)

  • a) Getting the Setup
  • b) Worksheet: How to Make Raised Hoops
  • c) Making Your Portable Keep
  • d) Worksheet: The Portable Wall
  • e) Worksheet: The Portable Entryway

Part III: Running the Games

20) Chapter 20: The Organizations

  • a) History of the Battle Gaming Movement
  • b) Dagorhir and Belegarth
  • c) Amtgard
  • d) Darkon
  • e) The SCA and Battle Gaming
  • f) The Crossover Player

21) Chapter 21: Starting Your Own Club (Considered for Dropping, Entire Chapter)

  • a) Setting Goals
  • b) Types of Battle Gaming Clubs
  • c) The Evolution of a Battle Gaming Club
  • d) The Demographics of Battle Gaming
  • e) Controlling Your Liability

i) Using Property

ii) Hosting Minors

iii) Non-Profits

  • f) Creating Your Legal Entity

i) 501(c)3 vs. 501(c)7

ii) Filing for Incorporation

iii) Applying for an EIN Number

iv) By Laws - Your Operational Methods

v) Involuntary Dissolution

vi) Trademarks

  • g) Promoting Your Club

i) Newspapers

ii) Radio and TV

iii) Internet

22) Chapter 22: The Successful Game Day (Considered for Dropping, Entire Chapter)

  • a) Choosing the Games
  • b) Finding a Site
  • c) Organizing Players
  • d) Ensuring Safety
  • e) Game Oversight
  • f) Dealing with Problem Players
  • g) The After Game

23) Chapter 23: Working with Kids

  • a) Matching Abilities
  • b) Equipment for Young People (Considered for Dropping)
  • c) After School Programs (Considered for Dropping)
  • d) Summer Camp Programs (Considered for Dropping)

24) Chapter 24: Build on Success

  • a) Using Positive Reinforcement (Considered for Dropping)
  • b) Write Your Own Game Scenarios (Considered for Dropping)
  • c) Creatively Extend Battle Gaming (Considered for Dropping)
  • d) A Shared Vision of Fun


  • Organizational Rules Comparison Tables

o Weapon Classes Across Organizations

o Shield Classes Across Organizations

o Armor Classes Across Organizations

o Player Classes Across Organizations

  • Open Gaming License v1.0a
  • Open Battle Gaming System Core Rules v1.0
  • Open Battle Gaming Rules Variant Definition Document v1.0 (Considered for Dropping - post online)
  • Open Battle Gaming Game Definition Document v1.0 (Considered for Dropping - post online)
  • OBGS Amt Rules Variant - A rules variation that plays similarly to Amtgard
  • OBGS Dag Rules Variant - A rules variation that plays similarly to Dagorhir (Considered for Dropping - too similar to the Belegarth Variant, post online)
  • OBGS Dark Rules Variant - A rules variation that plays similarly to Darkon
  • OBGS Belegarth Rules Variant - A rules variation based on the Belegarth rules published under the GNU Open Document License.


Will said...

One thing I failed to mention in the post is that Chapters 1,2,3,4,5,6,7,9,10, and 20 are solidly finished. Lots of churn in 11 - 19 as per the post above about changes in equipment instructions. Lots of written material for the later chapters which I will likely feed into the second book.

Dave Graham said...

That last post was by me (Dave Graham). I had not realized my son had swiched users when I made it.