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The obligation to invite everyone

I should've known it'd take space ships to lure me out of hobby hibernation. And why have I been painting space ships? Firstly, because the Battlefleet Gothic models are great. Secondly, because I'm about to embark upon a campaign which will be a 50-50 mix of wargame and roleplay. Like Hornblower in space, what with BFG always harking back to the Age of Sail.

The Imperial patrol group.
The players, Jon and Maisey, will each command one of the two capital ships.

Naturally it's damn hard to photograph models on a black background, and a lot of the object source lighting simply doesn't show up in these photos, but oh well. I won't be talking about the paint job in this post. 

Instead, I'll be talking about a social phenomenon that is by no means unique to wargaming: that when you hang out with a friend, there's no obligation to invite anyone else, but as soon as you invite two or three people, there's a sense that you haven't invited everyone else. Am I alone on this one? I can feel guilty for not including everyone, and worry that they might feel left out (because hanging out with me is life-affirming, obviously).

In a wargaming context, this self-imposed obligation to include everyone usually rears its head when you have a thing that would work really well for three players, but know more than three players and feel obligated to invite all of them, thus creating a logistical nightmare and compromising the very thing you set out to enjoy. You endeavour to account for everyone's armies and gaming preferences, and then realise you have three Space Marine players, one other Imperial player, and only one non-Imperial player. Gutted.

All the lights/engines got a bit of an object source lighting drybrush, so on the board
you mainly see the ships' ornate prows, then the glow of their running lights.

This is a problem encountered even more frequently by being the guy who has boards and scenery and generally ends up being the orchestrator of things, what with it being a bit awkward for people to invite themselves over to my house to use my stuff.

Honestly I'm not sure what the solution is; some people won't care that they aren't invited to everything, and some people will be hurt, and you can either spend the rest of your life feeling responsible for other people's fun, or you can just get the hell on with it. Personally, I think I'll gun for the middle ground: do some things that involve everyone, and some things that are smaller and easier to organise. If they want to spend time with you, they'll let you know.

In short: you can organise some of the people some of the time, but you can't organise all the people all the time.

As you can see, all the ships have their names painted on, a) because yes,
and b) because it'd be unfair of me to expect the players to remember them all.

In the event that you're actually curious about how I painted those ships despite how badly they photographed, or wish to share your pain re: the above conundrum, thrust yourself into the comments section like a boss.



  1. Nice to see you back online!

    I understand the pain to take pics of spaceships, moreover if you have a crappy cam like me... Anyway, you're ships looks really nice, I love how the ships remain mostly dark with prow and light beacons making it popping out.

    I'm a little bit curious about your game system. Will you use Rogue Trader RPG? And what about BFG? I've always feel that escort quickly drop dead as flies...

    As for your "logistical problem", I think that considering you own most of the gaming board and scenery (and probably spend money and time in it), playing mates should accept that you make the rules, especially if you have familly, kids, etc... I guess its easily understandable to anyone that you don't want necessarly 5 or 6 peoples in your home every week end... And if they are really great buddies, they could give a hand too in logistic!

    1. Thanks Major, glad you like the aesthetic :)

      Given that both you and Jordan in the 3rd comment asked about how I'll be running a RPG/BFG hybrid, maybe I should write a full post on the subject. The short answer is that we're using the BFG ruleset, and that there are no additional rules for the roleplay elements. Essentially it's a wargame where one side is controlled by a GM, but where much of the actual conflict in the narrative is about the captain's attempts to keep his crew loyal to him.

      Escorts are indeed super fragile, with one advantage: the rules are very unspecific as to what's happened after they're removed from play. If a capital ship gets reduced to 0 hull points, you're rolling catastrophic damage. If an escort's taken out, the model's just removed. Therefore I reckon an incapacitated escort will roll a Leadership test when taken out. If it passes, the crew managed to batten down the hatches and go dark, drifting out of the combat area but with severe damage, making the ship useless for a while. If the Ld test is failed, the ship is a hulk that can be salvaged, and if an 11 or 12 is rolled on the test, the ship is completely destroyed. If that ends up being too gentle, I'll tweak it as I go along! Thoughts?

    2. Good idea, I had a similar idea for a homebrew campaign system for Firestorm Armada. You may also add some sort of modificator to the role, depending if damage was cause by Lance, battery, torpedoe; if the battle was win or lost; etc...
      You're note on salvaging also make me think that using upgrade from the campaign rules might be a nice thing to add.

  2. Yeah I understand what you mean about the guilt trip. My RPG group has about 10 players in total, on average we have 5-7 attendees every week.

    Sometimes when I'm planning ideas for a game I would like to GM, I'll be like: "This game would be better for 3-5 players" or "This game would be great for Player X, Player Y and Player Z."

    But then I know that everyone will want to get involved to some degree. Which is compounded by the fact that they come to my place to play and I have to work it around my family too.

    We've recently had it pop up with an escalation campaign for 40k, three of us wanted to do it, plus one more sporadically due to the distance he has to travel.

    Now others have started asking "Why wasn't I invited to this?" The answer to many of them was generally:
    "well you haven't been interested in wargaming for a long time, you even said as such yourself, so we were just involving those of us that do want to and keeping it easier to manage".

    Which usually gets a bit of a sour face and: "But I'd have been interested in this!"

    It's a pretty thorny issue, one we still have trouble to get around in our gaming group.

    1. You get badass points for handling 5-7 players a week, I struggle with 5! Seven must by like herding cats covered in chainsaws.

      Ahh, social lives. So many hilarious pitfalls.

  3. I've had this issue a few times. Most recently with the organising of Inq28 games in my area. I have a select group of friends that have a similar mindset to myself when it comes to how they percieve the 40k universe and because of this invited those people to a game, however it backfired and several other friends who are a little more 40k-light wanted to get involved and I felt I would lose the ambience I wanted to achieve with the smaller group. I ended up cancelling the event in the end in order to save face, but will have it in the future come hell or high water. I'm interested in hear about your BFG roleplaying however! How exactly are you planning on running it? What sort of mechanics would be involved?

    1. Oh man, that must've been frustrating. And there's just no way to avoid seeming elitist if you just say "sorry, you're too unfamiliar with the story world to take part."

      I've found that 40K things I've run (i.e. Inq28) with non-40K players have been great, but definitely haven't had a classic 40K flavour. They've been brilliant, just in their own way, and it's tough for the players, since not knowing a story world that well makes it hard to make informed character decisions. On the upside, as they get more familiar with the 40K mythos, the problem is dissolving.

      As both you and MajortheRed asked how I'll be running the campaign, I might write a separate post on the subject. Short version: there are no additional mechanics beyond it being GMd games of BFG, with completely free-form roleplay outside the context of the space battles (see my response to MajorTheRed for a few extra details!).

  4. Those are just beautifully done! I really dig how they turned out, awesome work man!

  5. Just don't. Only invite those you want to be there. Hand have a cut off time so you can tidy up afterwards and still be OK for work on Monday. And/or not in trouble with the rest of your family, especially if they are non-gamers.

  6. Hey Charlie, how'd you get so inspirational, eh?

    I need to dig out my Imperial fleet and get it painted properly.


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