Friday, April 15, 2011

O is for OGRE!

Yeah! Ogre is a game from Steve Jackson games about AI supertanks fighting each other and more conventional forces during a future war. It started off as a single boardgame but has generated several others plus a computer game and a GURPS supplement, creating its own small universe that is interesting as near-future tech-heavy sci-fi. The future looked pretty bleak at first. This is the board for the original game:

Nothing but desert and craters and a desperate attempt by some scraped-together conventional forces to stop a rampaging robot with tactical nuclear weapons from obliterating their command post.

Originally there were two types of Ogres, the Mark II and the Mark V. The others were filled  in over the years but it started with just those two. This is the Mark III:

The miniatures came somewhat later, 10 or 15 years after the boardgame got popular. I painted my Mark III up like Dale Earnhardt's #3 Chevrolet. I'm not a huge NASCAR guy but I thought it would work out and it did.

Silver strip at the bottom right above the treads, red stripe above that, then black. Silver gun barrels with red tips... it looked pretty good.

For my Mark V Ogre I wanted a contrasting color, something bright instead of dark like the Mark III. So I painted him bright metallic gold with red trim and named him Caesar (C35R). He looked really good on the table, kind of like this one.

Only bright shiny gold and with most of the black replaced with red. Now you may have noticed I have not shown pictures of my actual Ogre minis. This is because I painted them about 10 years ago, played a few times with my nice new awesomely painted tanks, and then I moved and in that move they were damaged. By "damaged" I really mean "destroyed" as in every possible part that could be separated from another part was, and then the box was given a vigorous shaking to ensure that all of these separate metal parts would rub up against each other and scratch up the paint very nicely. While I sometime try to achieve a nice weathered look on military miniatures, I had not done so with these and was not happy with their state when I opened the box. At the current time they are in a box at a very early stage of reclamation having been cleaned up and re-basecoated, but progress is on the "when I think about it" schedule and so moves very slowly.

Anyway, if you're wondering what the RPG part of the Ogre universe looks like, well, it looks like this:

If you're wondering what's inside it let me say "Nothing that I would ever run as a full campaign but instead two possibilities for mini or side campaigns". To clarify:

  1. The book spends a fair amount of time talking about the world and the war and playing people in it. Boring. It does spend a small chunk talking about playing Ogres as characters and this is where the book should have focused in my opinion. Where else are you going to get the chance to play a building-sized super-tough character armed with nuclear weapons and existing in a world where it's OK to use them. I can see it playing a little like a Mechwarrior campaign except that your pilot will not be leaving his mech - he IS the mech! Now I can;t see this as being a lengthy multi-year sandbox campaign but I do think a good DM could come up with one solid adventure to run. It would probably be combat heavy and if you;re players are interested in playing intelligent super-tanks then it probably should be combat-heavy. I also doubt I would run it in GURPS - I think Savage Worlds might be fun, starting with the premise that all Ogres are wild cards and everything else is not. It could be fun for a convention game too.
  2. Use it as a reference for a pocket universe if you're running a supers or time-travel or dimension hopping campaign. It has everything you would need so if your heroes get caught in some kind of time storm have them dumped out on Ogre Earth and let them decide if or how to intervene and discover a way to get back. Maybe there's a secret research lab deep in Combine territory that has a gate that will take them home. The Paneuropeans want to destroy it, so a deal is made with the heroes riding on the back of a Mark IV or Mark V on a one-way run to the lab, helping the ogre fight off attacks along the way. It would be a chance for Justice League or Avenger level heroes to really cut loose when they face off with a trio of enemy Ogres sent to stop them. 
 That's about all the role-playing potential I see in it. When playing the boardgame or miniatures it's fun to assign personalities to certain Ogres or military units but you don't really need rules for that. It just sort of happens as you play, which is one of the ways this whole hobby got started.

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