Yesterday mi hermano del abogado Jonesy came round and we finally got to playtest the new GASLIGHT Morale house rules. I don't have time to do the full battle report right now, but one will be forthcoming soon. I'd like to talk about the rules, which I'm afraid is going to be of zero interest to non-GASLIGHT players.
The new rules worked really well, hitting all the goals I'd set for them. They certainly didn't seem any slower to check than the original rules, and the result of a failure was much quicker to implement. I was playing with two units of militia, which were quite fragile and as a result we saw a couple of cases where a unit failed morale, was scattered and had to spend a turn or two reforming, but then were able to return to the fight.
We came up with a couple of tweaks based on things that happened in the game. I had a unit in heavy cover inside a building that failed morale. According to the rules wot I writ, they should have fallen back 6" which would have put them outside the building (and left the whole flank undefended). Jonesy suggested that instead they just fall back away from the windows but remain inside the building.
Another one that came up was a vehicle that received a Fall Back result, but couldn't reasonably have made that mandatory move having taken a steering hit. We decided that instead the crew should bail out and complete the move instead. In the following turn we looked at it again and decided that instead of running away from the vehicle, a crew forced to bail out would instead take cover behind their stricken machine, but that the vehicle would be treated as having failed Sustain. That way provided they weren't killed or driven off, it would take a turn for the crew to re-enter the vehicle and resume their stations and on the following turn they could make Service or Start rolls. The aim of this is to make the effect of failed morale a penalty, but not a catastrophic one. Losing 2 turns in the scope of a 7 or 8 turn game seems to fit the bill.
We also started thinking in more detail about unattached main characters taking control of units. which is something we'd started doing casually in the last big game. What we would up with was different effects for two different circumstances. Effectively we'd allowed an MC to share their activation card with an adjacent troop unit that hadn't already acted that turn. The troop unit would take its turn immediately, and would ignore its own activation card when it came up in the deck.
But then we started considering what happens when a unit loses its leader figure - original GASLIGHT suggests units of eight Extras and two Main Characters (NCO and Officer) but typically we've been playing with nine extras and one Officer, with some units having sergeant figures among the extras. This streamlines things a bit giving players fewer sets of attributes to keep track of in a unit. After toying around with a few options for lost leaders, we decided to raise the morale penalty from +1 to +2. A sergeant or another ranker would instantly take over and the unit could act normally provided it passed its morale, but +2 penalty would be permanent, making them more brittle in combat. The only way it could be removed would be for an unattached Main Character to permanently take command of the unit, in which case either the unit or the character's card would be removed from the initiative deck (we don't generally use heroes, but if we did I'd say remove the unit's card leaving the hero's two initiative cards in the deck.) Army leaders, we decided, would still give their additional -2 morale bonus to the unit they took command of, but would be so busy micromanaging they wouldn't be able to give that bonus to other allied units.
So there you have two different ways of MCs "taking command" - one giving a unit a temporary leg-up on initiative, the other taking permanent command. I think we reached a verbal consensus on this, now I have to work out how to phrase it clearly in "rules-English".
So without further ado, here are the latest revision of the GASLIGHT Morale and Tests Of Manhood house rules. They should still be fairly easy to slot into the existing game, and are now playtested with the Dr Vesuvius Seal Of Approval.
GASLIGHT Morale and Tests of Manhood - Vesuvian Reforms 0.3
It was a very useful game session as we're starting to re-read the rules with a critical eye - and in some cases actually playing the rules as written rather than the rules we though we read somewhere. For example it was only in a recent read-through that I realised I'd been doing unit integrity wrong for at least a year ("each figure of a unit within 3" of another", instead of the correct "all figures of a unit within 12" of the leader")
It was also an exceedingly fun game. Though more of that later when time permits.