GoD Setting up

2 Setting up

2.1 The star map

Galaxy of Damnation is played out on a star map representing a sector of space. The first task for the Gamesmaster is to draw up the map. An example star map with 50 locations is shown below. Each location is represented by a numbered circle that may be connected to one or more other locations by a solid line. The lines represent stable warp routes, and fleets may only move from location to location along a line of travel (unless the advanced rules for warp jumps are in play – see later). Making some locations key gateways to other star clusters (such as locations 20 and 36) can stimulate strategic gameplay (since players in control of the location may control passage through it).

Not every location need be a normal star. Some can be designated as special locations such as warp gates or black holes. The sector grid is mainly for effect but can also help players find and refer to locations or other phenomena.

This map was drawn up using Paintshop Pro, but most graphics editing programs should be up to the job. If (like Paintshop Pro and Photoshop) your graphics program supports layers it is a good idea to place the circles, numbers, lines and grid on different layers – this makes it easier to recycle the same map with new numbers and routes. Each player will need a copy of the star map to mark on their planets, enemy planets, warp jump locations and other intelligence as they explore and discover. You will also need one as the Gamesmaster, and another to pin up in your games room. This map is reproduced at full size in Appendix 1. If you can it is a good idea to use a photocopier to make an enlarged version for wall display.

2.2 The Book of the Universe

Once you have a map the next task is to populate it with locations and set up a method of tracking the details of each place. There are a number of possible ways to do this. You could use a book with a page for each location (which we affectionately refer to as the Book of the Universe or BotU). Number a page for each location. As the details of a location become known, or you as Gamesmaster define them, you turn to the appropriate place in the BOTU and enter the details.

An alternative method is to use a box of index cards with a card for each location. The advantage of this method is that you can hand the appropriate card out to a player who arrives at a location.

Finally perhaps the easiest way is to use a simple computer database to keep track of locations. We have developed a database in Microsoft Access that tracks location details and performs other functions to make the Gamesmaster’s job a little easier. This is available from the same web sites as this manual.

A completed location card or BotU page for a standard planet will look something like the example below.

It doesn’t really matter how you set out your cards or pages. This card is for a location called Alpha Centauri (not a very original name!) that is in position 20 on the star map. You can see that it is a dead world that is worth 0 campaign points, and has a 2% points penalty (these details will be explained later).

Dave Capon annexed the planet on campaign turn 6, and he has not installed planetary defenses or jammers (also explained later).

Remember that you can use the back of the card too to record changes of ownership or other details and you can always start a new card if the original gets crowded. Players will find it helpful to make copies of the cards for the locations they own. This makes it easier to add up the total value of their empire and keep track of how many planets have defenses or jammers installed.

Most of your cards will be blank at the outset of the campaign except for their location number. They will be filled in when a player visits the location and generates their details. This is explained a little later. However, you will probably want to pre-complete some of the cards with special locations.

2.3 Special map locations

As the Gamesmaster you are free to make up any location you like, however off-the-wall, and with special instructions to the players. All you have to do is decide where you’d like them and to fill in their cards with the appropriate details. When a player arrives you will retrieve the card complete with instructions for the player and hand it over (unless there are some details you’d prefer to keep secret for the time being…). Some examples of special locations are given in the advanced rules section.

2.4 Warp Gates

Most maps will benefit from warp gates at some stage in the campaign. Map based campaigns like this can get bogged down if players find themselves a long way away from the action or unable to get past a location owned by a strong player. A warp gate joins two distant locations and allows a fleet to ‘jump’ a huge distance in one go. In the example map above I might connect locations 2 and 42, for example. This would be written on the location cards (‘Warp Gate connecting with 42’ on card 2, and ‘Warp Gate connecting with 2’ on card 42). You may want to wait until the campaign gets underway for a few turns before opening the gates. In this case just write ‘This location appears to be empty space’ or something similar on the cards when you begin the campaign. When you want to open up the warp gate just swap the cards for substitutes with the warp gate details written on them. Players are not allowed to own locations with warp gates. When they arrive at one they may enter the gate on their next campaign move, or move past it normally to the next connected location. There is no reason why you should necessarily tell the players where the gate will take them – that’s for them to find out! And there is no reason why you should leave the gates open all the time if you don’t want to – if it improves gameplay (perhaps by making life difficult for the player who has a strong lead) then just swap the cards back again to ‘close’ the gates!

Warp gates can be stable or unstable. A stable gate always connects to the same place. An unstable gate sends the player to a random location. You can write a list of target locations on the location card and roll a D6, say, to choose one, or you can make a D66, D1010 roll or whatever to generate a completely random location.

When a player reaches a warp gate they are told what it is and given the option to enter the gate or move on to a normal location beyond. A player can never own a warp gate, and his fleet never stays at the warp gate location. If the player enters the gate and is relocated to another warp gate (by chance or because it is a stable warp gate) then they immediately move off the receiving gate to a normal location.

2.5 The Common Knowledge Map

Each player will have a different knowledge of the star map. They will know about locations they have visited and pick up other bits and pieces from other players in trade, bribe or barter. In Galaxy of Damnation knowledge is power and players would be wise to guide their knowledge jealously.

Some details will be known to all players – planets can issue distress calls, for example, that broadcasts a player’s location to everyone in the game (yes, this is explained later too…). Such things are marked on the Common Knowledge Map (CKM). The CKM is a copy of the star map (preferably enlarged to A3 or bigger) that is pinned up in the gaming room for all to see. The Gamesmaster updates the CKM at regular intervals. You may want to fix it to a pinboard so that you can stick flags and notes in the map.

2.6 Fleets and Fleet Cards

Players move their fleets from location to location taking over neutral worlds, attacking the worlds of other players, exploring the star map and pursuing any other sub-plots or tasks set by the Gamesmaster. Each player has a fleet card on which to record the desired destination of their fleet, the worlds they have conquered, special equipment they have purchased and their current status in the game.

On the fleet card to the left Aaron started in the campaign at location 13. His Imperial Guard fleet moved on to locations 14, then 17 and 18 and it annexed a planet at each move. The fleet is currently at location 20. The fleet card also records the campaign points value and army points penalty that Aaron accumulated from each planet (these are explained later). The planets give a total of 8 campaign points, but Aaron has spent one campaign point on a probe and another on a scanner (yes, you guessed it – these are explained later!). The point about the fleet card is that it summarises the essential information about the fleet for future reference. How you lay out the card is up to you and doesn’t really matter – it could be better, in fact, to list the planet details on the back of the card. You should write the player name at the top of the card or down its short edge, though, so that you can see it if it is inserted in a card index box or the BotU. If a fleet card gets full copy it onto another card and leave off redundant information such as planets that have been won but lost again. If your players could be prone to losing their cards (or you want a backup in case of disputes) it’d be a good idea to duplicate each player’s fleet card details in a notebook.

2.7 Allocate starting locations

Your final task is to allocate starting locations for each of your players. Write these on their fleet cards and hand them out. You can either let the players generate the characteristics of this starting location themselves, as described below, or just allocate everyone the same type of world. We suggest you allocate each player a dead world each and find positions that will allow him to make at least one move before encountering another player. This allows players to get one or two planets under their control fairly quickly and makes the startup more interesting.

2.8 Victory conditions and the size of the star map

The example map that we have included in this manual consists of 50 locations. How large you should make your map and what you should set as victory conditions are related questions. We have some guidance on this but it will make more sense to you after we have explained how planet details are generated and what campaign points are, so we will return to star map size and victory conditions a little later.

2.9 Decide size of 40K/Epic 40K games

As you will see later the number of points available to a player to use in a battle is influenced by a number of things, but you should set a base size for your 40K games. We suggest 1500 points, which usually gives a game that is comfortably fought in an evening.

2.10 Local house rules and restrictions

You may wish to introduce some rules of your own to get the style of campaign that you would like. Are special characters allowed, for example? What about alliances (we have something to say about allies in the advanced rules section). Do you wish to impose penalties for unpainted miniatures? Are you going to insist that every player has a properly drawn up roster, and what will you do if they don’t? Do models have to be a strict representation of the unit they represent, with wargear shown on the model? These things are very much up to each Gamesmaster. For the record, these are the house rules we prefer:

No special characters or assassins unless a sub-plot calls for one (but if both players really want to use them then fair enough)
No allies except as agreed by the Gamesmaster, and definitely none for the first 4 campaign turns.
Penalties for unpainted miniatures. One possibility is to remove the race characteristic for an unpainted miniature or a unit with one or more unpainted miniatures – so marines do not regroup when falling back, Eldar can’t use fleet of foot, Orks can’t waaagh! And so on. Another is to impose a leadership penalty or better still, make all leadership rolls for a unit with unpainted miniatures fail on a double (leadership penalties in terms of minus X points unfairly punish races with low leadership to start with – this is avoided with the doubles rule). The player has not taken the trouble to prepare his troops properly (paint them) so they are ‘untrained’ and likely to run away.
Every player MUST have a proper roster with all troops and wargear accounted for. I hate it when my opponent has his army list ‘in his head’. No roster means you forfeit the game.
Models should be WYSIWYG (what you see is what you get) – that is, a model with a lascannon on the roster should really have one on the model. I refuse to play against players who announce ‘this Battlefleet Gothic ship is my Ork warbike, OK?’ (Yes, it did happen).

2.11 The campaign diary

We recommend that you get a small notebook to use as a campaign diary. Use a page per turn to record the battles that are to be fought, any tasks you need to remember to do, and make any other notes that seem helpful. If you mark the pages up in advance you can also write yourself reminders of things to do in the future, perhaps relating to a sub-plot or special location.

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