Sunday, December 24, 2023

Movie Review: Rebel Moon (part 1)

On Friday, my older son and I watched the new Zack Snyder film on Netflix, Rebel Moon (part 1). 

For those who don't know, this started out as a pitch for a Star Wars film that Lucasfilm rejected. 

And for those of you wondering if it has curse words, not really. Other than the violence and one attempted rape scene (no nudity), it's pretty kid friendly. 

Now I'm not a huge Snyder fan, but I've enjoyed some of his works in the past. So I was curious to see what he would have done with a Star Wars film. Obviously, this film has been changed. The serial numbers have been filed off, but I also assume some things have been changed story-wise as well since it was pitched to Disney/Lucasfilm. But the curiosity was there. 

While watching, at first, Flynn kept puzzling over what era of Star Wars this would have been set in, if LF had picked it up. Was it Palpatine's Empire? The Sith Empire? Some future era? The opening narration tells us that it happens after 100 kings had ruled (or was it 1000?) but that could easily have changed from the original SW version. Were the Bloodaxe siblings originally Luke and Leia? Probably not. We never could figure it out.

Anyway, about the film itself: we were both disappointed by it. 

I don't want to spoil things, so I'll just say this: the pacing was slow and plodding, which you'd expect from a more character driven piece. But there was little to no character development, and most characters were introduced in a way that didn't give us much emotional involvement with them. The ending wasn't a surprise, and didn't really leave me thrilled to have spent two hours watching this thing. 

Snyder is known for his cool visuals, and this film was lacking in that as well. The CGI and the settings looked OK, but they used camera settings that hyper-focused certain things and left the periphery looking like vaseline was smeared over the lens. At first, I thought it was my eyes or a smudge on my glasses, but no, it was the way the movie was shot. And when there were big action/adventure set pieces, they weren't that amazing. Fairly run of the mill, really. 

I'm not sure if I'll bother with Part 2 when it comes out in a few months. 

Would I recommend it? Not really, but if you're already paying for Netflix and you've got a few hours to spare, it's not the worst thing you could watch. There are a few things you might be able to pull from it as gaming inspiration, but don't expect to be taken away to a place long, long ago in a galaxy far away.  For all of George Lucas' faults as a writer/director, the worst of his Star Wars movies are still better than this.

Friday, December 22, 2023

Thoughts on the Pre-Modern Mindset

I recently finished reading Juval Noah Harari's Sapiens. Yeah, it's a decade old by now. I'm behind the times. I may finally get around to watching Black Mirror or Star Trek: Enterprise now that I'm done with the book. 

I received the book a few years back from a friend who was leaving Korea. He dumped a bunch of books on me. This one intrigued me, since a libertarian friend of mine had sworn up and down that the book was total garbage. I was curious about what the book might have said that would make him hate it so much, especially since I'd mentally lumped it into the "Oprah-lectual" category with books like anything by Malcolm Gladwell or Thomas Friedman. The sort of book that's a best-seller because it's just smart enough to make the uneducated in a particular field feel educated about that field after reading it, but it's really actually fairly superficial. People who've read it pretend they're experts on the subject at cocktail parties. That sort of book.

Wow, I sound like such a book snob, reading that over again. Well, so be it. I'm not too particular about the fiction I read. B-class dreck, if it's entertaining, is fine with me. But I read way too much serious academic writing for work to be impressed by these pop-academic works. 

Well, Sapiens was interesting, after all. I have some quibbles. Harari seems suitably cautious with some of his pre-historic claims early in the book, but presents other claims about pre-history as dead certain. That makes me wary of his historic claims as well. But overall, it gave me not so much better insight into humanity as a whole, but some ideas that might translate to better gaming. So that's a win. 

The final third or so of the book, if you haven't read it, makes a big argument that the Scientific Revolution, Capitalism, and Imperialism are intricately linked and without all three happening in Europe around 500 years ago, the world would have just kept chugging along Medieval style until now. The reason is that people before that time, or in other areas of the world around that time and for some time after, were convinced that there was nothing new to be learned about the world. The Ancients had had it all figured out (or it had been handed to people by gods in ancient times) and so there was no need to be curious. No need to innovate. And even if people had been curious, without capitalism to fund it and imperialism to support capitalism, the science never would have caught on. 

I'm a bit dubious of that claim. But I'm not a historian, so I'll not try to argue the point. 

I will focus on that mindset Harari presents for the Pre-Modern. 

There's no need to innovate, we already do things in the best way possible. We (as a society) already know all there is worth knowing.

Obviously, that isn't true. Technology did advance over the centuries. People did learn new things. People did go out and explore beyond the horizon. Sure, the pace was slow, compared to the Renaissance through Industrial Revolution, and glacial compared to the rate of change these days. But there still were people who were curious, and who figured new things out. 

But the vast majority of people were still pretty complacent. Really, the vast majority still are today. That's why you get people at school board meetings or elected officials saying things like "I didn't have to learn all this new-fangled gobbledy-gook when I was a kid. Readin', writin', and 'rythmatic is all the kids need to learn today."

So how does this relate to D&D (and other medieval-style fantasy games)? 

First, I think it would argue against the idea of "magic as technology" seen in settings like Eberron. As post-moderns, we might like to think that trains and telephones and the like would inevitably be developed by industrious mages. But if we consider the pre-modern mindset as laid out by Harari (assuming it's true), that likely wouldn't happen. 

Most wizards and clerics would be hoarding their magical powers, leveraging the rarity of them for their own benefit. Making magi-tech that benefits all in society, or assuming that there are hundreds of low level craft-mages making society chug along, would weaken the power of the mighty wizards and patriarchs/matriarchs. 

Besides, those clerics have access to commune with the Powers that Be. Surely, if non-spell imbued religious leaders in our own history could make the real-world populace believe that all the insights of the Heavens had already been laid out in a book, clerics with actual spells and actual access to the words of the gods would foster that mindset even more strongly. 

So even more so than in our own history, a fantasy setting's populace should be pretty set with the idea that society had its peak back in some fabled Golden Age, and it's all down hill from here. There's no progress worth working for, as we're already at or past the peak. We know all the spells that are worth knowing. We have all the weapons and armor we'll ever need.

Second, it would help set the PCs as "adventurers" even further apart from society. What's over that hill? What's down in that dungeon? What's across the sea? What would happen if we overthrow the tyrannical dragon that plagues our town? Most people think it's a bad idea to even consider it. But not those pesky adventurers. And their meddling is going to bring us a whole lot of trouble down on everyone else.

It would just make things a lot more interesting, I think, if the "spirit of adventure" wasn't lauded in the society of the D&D world. 

Third, though, is the effect that those adventurers have on the society, which logically would go against the above. Following Harari's argument, it was the invention of the concept of 'capital' as a loan leveraged against the future profitability of a venture, rather than loans leveraged on established wealth, that led to the development of modern society/scientific revolution/imperialistic expansion. 

Before that became a thing, the wealth of a society was relatively static. 

Adventurers going out and bringing back the long lost wealth is going to disrupt that. 

Now sure, we've all seen the advice given to explain pricing in the various D&D editions as "boom town" pricing based on the influx of wealth from the megadungeon. And yes, some DMs do depict the disruption to society caused by the influx of wealth from adventuring. But in my experience, this is the exception not the norm. 

Adventuring brings surplus wealth to the society, and it's surplus wealth (or the expectation of future surplus wealth, according to Harari) that allows for science to develop, but also creates the need for imperial expansionism of the European imperialist tradition, rather than those of earlier empires like Alexander or Genghis Khan. 

Adventurers (and by this I mean specifically the player characters) are likely to be the impetus for all of this revolutionary change in the game world. They're going out and conquering new territory, plundering the wealth of the conquered areas, and through inventiveness and application of their resources, creating new spells and magic items, eventually becoming rulers of territories, and possibly setting up the magical industrial revolution -- or trying to, at least. 

Society as a whole, especially if it's even more fanatical about the concept of "all that the world needs to know is known and was passed down from the Golden Age/the gods," is going to be dead set about stopping this from happening. 

Religious groups and powerful wizards don't want their mystique shattered. Kings and nobles don't want their authority challenged. Wealthy landowners or merchants don't want their wealth devalued. And John Q. Serf doesn't want to deal with cognitive dissonance. All levels of society are going to be against a group of upstart adventurers trying to "make the world a better place" if they do go about trying to revolutionize things. 

And if the players just go along with things the way they are, using their wealth simply to increase their own power/prestige, but not change the world, there will still be conflict over that, but it wouldn't turn the world into the magi-tech world of Eberron.

Again, this is just from my limited gaming experience, but it seems like most campaigns never really touch on the political and social implications of adventuring. And this is most likely because of the mindset of the players and DMs being post-modern. We've all grown up with stories of plucky businessmen who founded simple businesses that became multinational corporations. Explorer/conquerors like Columbus, Magellan, Cook. Inventors and scientists as kooky geniuses creating marvelous gadgets and uncovering the mysteries of the universe. That's all normal to us. 

And so, we make all that seem normal to the NPCs of our game worlds. But there's probably a lot more interesting game to be made if we stop giving post-modern world views to our NPCs, and start giving them pre-modern ones instead.

Saturday, December 16, 2023

Modifying the Mass Combat System (War Machine) again

As advised after a previous post on my War Machine modifications, I took a look at how Dark Dungeons does it, as well as the advice in the Stormbringer RPG, and some thoughts from internet commenters about some other RPG systems' mass combat rules. 

As I think I mentioned before, Dark Dungeons X switches from d% to d20 rolls, so all the bonuses from War Machine are divided by 5. It also (I don't think I mentioned this) has a table look-up for basic troop quality as with War Machine, and a Troop Quality based on how much you pay for your troops. That gives you a number. I don't mind chart look-ups in general, but the original War Machine gave me a number without a clunky chart reference, and I prefer that. 

Stormbringer basically says the DM decides who wins or loses the battle, and characters involved roll to see whether or not they took damage/died, and if not whether or not they improve their skills. Too abstract for me. I want something a bit crunchier, and out of the DM's hands. I like to be surprised. Plus, we're playing a game. Taking your character's forces into battle should pose some risk. 

So I'm sticking with my basic idea, although this evening I went and streamlined a few things. This moves it a bit farther from War Machine (a good thing, if I want to publish this), and also hopefully makes things a little easier for the players to calculate. I've tried to stick to simple bonuses/penalties (+5, +10, -20, etc) for most things after the initial force calculations. 

Another change that I made this evening is that for the tactical choices (engage, overrun, surround, feint, hold, withdraw), which is pretty much as in War Machine, certain armies will get an additional bonus. Archers help with normal engagement, heavy troops (foot or mounted) with overrunning, mounted troops with surrounding, magical/spellcasting troops with feints, pikemen/halbardiers with holding, and light troops with withdrawing. 

That's something I think was lacking in the original rules. A more balanced force will get more bonuses for troop composition, but the specialized force gets a tactical bonus if you play to their strengths (but of course, the opponent may select a tactic that counters the optimal tactic...).

I'll try to play test these rules soon.

Thursday, December 14, 2023

Taking Unusual Skills

In our recent Call of Cthulhu campaign, the main Keeper, Richard, took a break for a few sessions to let his friend Brady try his hand at being a game master. For Brady's game, I rolled up a jazz drummer named Theo. He's running a module that requires all the players to have mob connections, so my jazz man is way in debt for lots of booze, drugs, and women. 

In the session last week (the third session of Brady's run), our investigators have become trapped in the boarding house where the thief we're trying to track down lives. There are all sorts of weird things happening in the house. In one of the rooms, there was a young girl playing violin, and my PC and the mob hitman ended up in that room while other players investigated other rooms. The music she was playing was strange, and the hitman checked the bedroom to find the girl's parents dead with blood pouring from their ears. 

It wasn't hard to put two and two together. As the girl (ghost? demon?) started to play again, my PC decided to instruct her on the finer points of jazz rhythms. After a bit of discussion, Brady had me roll my Arts: Jazz skill, and I got a hard success (less than 50% of my chance to succeed). So Brady decided that instead of the 2 minute performance she was supposed to give -- at which time bad things would happen -- my rhythm lesson sped up her performance and since it was over in only one minute, we were able to escape the room unharmed. 

Yes, that's right. I was able to avoid catastrophe with jazz. 

Never let a min-maxer tell you you're wasting your time selecting non-optimal skills or a non-optimal background. You never know when those oddball skills/proficiencies/knowledge may come in handy!

Sunday, December 10, 2023

Planting Seeds of Adventure

Sorry I haven't been posting about the War Machine revisions I've been working on. I did check out the version in Dark Dungeons X, which was recommended to me. It's simplified many aspects (including making it opposed d20 rolls instead of d% rolls, so smaller numbers to work with overall), but has some layers of complexity that I've gotten rid of in my current version. Anyway, I've been too busy with grading assignments and other real world stuff to bother much with it this week. Probably not this coming week, either, but who knows. 

Today (my final day at the ripe young age of 49), we had a really fun session of my TS&R Jade campaign, and I think it illustrates some of the things I'm doing to enrich my campaign world and plant seeds of future adventures, including setting up potential for "end game" domain/war game/planar adventures type things in the future. 

Before I talk about today's session, readers will need a bit of background on the campaign. 

So it's an Asian goulash fantasy setting, and I've started it from a home town area with a 1 mile per hex scale (although there's a local region map at 6 miles per hex, and the PCs have ventured off the initial map once to visit the daimyo, more on that below). The home town is called Pine Bridge Town because it sits at the confluence of two small rivers into a lake, and has a large bridge across one of those rivers. Near the home town are some smaller villages, and plenty of ruins and monster lairs, including The Pits of Lao, the local "megadungeon" although it's only 3 levels deep and I don't plan to increase that. 

Early in the campaign, there was a group of martial artist bullies who came to town. They were disciples of Coiled Serpent Bao, a martial arts master warlord (BBEG type). The PCs managed to kill or capture all but the leader of this group, who fled back to Coiled Serpent Fortress (on the regional map, not that close to Pine Bridge). Because of another early adventure hook in which the constable of Pine Bridge was neglecting her duties (actually an Asian doppelganger called an aswang), the party decided to visit the daimyo, tell of defeating the ruffians, and get some support to protect the town. This succeeded, and the daimyo sent a troop of soldiers to guard things while the PCs sorted out the aswang menace (eventually). 

Meanwhile, they did make a few light forays into the Pits of Lao. They also explored some other local adventuring sites, like protecting the Holy Tree from yasha (small annoying demons), battling bandits and finding out that the local Imperial garrison doesn't care about the bandits or the bakemono menace, and visiting the local Yokai Village and making some friends there. 

Oh, another rumor that they initially started to follow up on but dropped was that the local Temple of Morning needed money, and would provide sohei to support they group if they would eliminate a lair of nasty bakemono that were causing trouble. 

Most recently (the previous three sessions) they were following up on a rumor. The nearby Nabeoka Village had a plague, but the local wu jen (magic-user) Seung had read of healing waters in the abandoned Nishino Iron Mine. They also encountered some ninja who also were seeking a plague cure (a potential seed for later) He sent the party to get the waters so he could make medicines. In the process, the party made an alliance with some bakemono (goblins), found out that koropokuru (dwarves) had set up shop in the upper levels of the mine [bakemono and koropokuru don't get along], and that various dangerous giant bugs lived below. Well, long story short, after three sessions and several slain henchmen, they recovered the waters, along with a magical spear, a spellbook, and a foreman's tally book. 

I'd originally put the tally book in just as a bit of color. But one of the players kept asking questions about it, hinting that possession of it might lead to information on who has claim on the mines, wondering if the PCs might take it over. Well, I wasn't going to let that go to waste. Over the break, I gave them a rumor that says the Nishino family served the Hasegawa family, so any deed to the mine is probably in Ghost Castle Hasegawa (long time readers may remember that name from my Chanbara playtesting--yes, I'm reusing it). The name has kept them away from that dungeon despite other rumors trying to draw them there. 

Additionally, the magic spear, I decided on the spot during the previous session, was forged by the legendary Huang the Swordsmith (a special encounter in the Pits of Lao), as was the magic blade of the koropokuru leader. More seeds. I gave the party a rumor that Master Xu, the Lotus Fist, might know more about Huang. The 18 Chambers of Lotus Fist is a location on the local map that they were curious about, but hadn't visited before.

Finally, now that Seung the Wu Jen has made medicine and the residents of Nabeoka are recovering, the 12 yangban (aristocrat) families of the town invited the PCs for a celebratory feast. But Uncle Chiu, who runs a noodle stand in Pine Bridge and always has lots of rumors and inside information, warned them that the yangban families probably just want to give them some bothersome mission or other. That was the third rumor I gave them. 

OK, lots of long set up done, but it is necessary to demonstrate how all of these seeds, interconnections, and rumors can play into each other. Sometimes I have these things planned in advance, other times I make the connections on the fly, as demonstrated above. But you can't make any connections if you don't have more of the world planned out than just enough for the next dungeon delve. 

Today's session in brief. After discussing rumors the party (level 5 vanara thief/ninja with level 1 dog hengeyokai sohei retainer; level 4 crane hengeyokai kensei with level 1 human mudang retainer; level 4 human wu jen with level 1 raccoon dog hengeyokai retainer; level 4 human blade mage with level 1 human fighter retainer; plus one man-at-arms that they more or less forgot about and dismissed after the first day) set out to the feast at Nabeoka. Arriving at night, they learned a little about the village (12 aristocrat families, other lower class families serve them, mostly rice farming going on), and the feast would be the next day. 

With plenty of time on their hands, they set out to the 18 Chambers of Lotus Fist, which was only 9 miles away. They met Master Xu, and found out that the temple was overrun by monsters. He had cleared out the main hall, but in order to train others, the 18 Chambers (training halls) would need to be cleared. The party set out to clear the Hall of the Foot (Dex related), fighting ethereal marauders in the Chamber of Balance (harder than expected fight, they lost the wu jen retainer), and quicklings in the Chamber of Reflex (hard but manageable). 

They decided not to press their luck, and headed back to Nabeoka for the feast. They found out that yes, the yangban want them to get some bakemono who have been kidnapping children (the same as the Temple of Morning rumor mentioned above), and they would like the PCs to investigate. 

The next morning, the PCs, refreshed with new spells, and having recruited a new 1st level wu jen henchman, decided to return to the Lotus Fist temple and finish the job on the Hall of the Foot. They fought two flailsnails in the final chamber to clear it out, and collected some loot. Master Xu told them that Huang the Swordsmith can be found on the third level of the Pits of Lao (they've explored about a quarter of the 1st level, but have a map bought from a thief with some vague indications of areas they haven't explored).

But on the way, they had a  random encounter with "martial artists" which presented me with a nice opportunity. I decided on the spot that if reactions were unfavorable, they were Coiled Serpent martial artists coming for some payback. If they had positive reactions, they were looking to become students of Master Xu. They ended up being Coiled Serpent lackeys. The party avoided them (they managed to surprise them), but considered returning to take them out after battling the flailsnails. 

In the end, they decided not to go after them at this time, but they had another random encounter with bakemono. They first tried to fast talk the goblins, but that didn't work and a fight broke out. After slaying the bakemono, they went through their belongings looking for evidence of kidnappings. There were none, but now they seem hooked on that. 

On the return trip to Pine Bridge, there was one more random encounter. I rolled for 2 duelists. Well, of course they were not a friendly pair, it was a stand-off! I've been waiting for this result to come up for a while now. The party stopped to watch. My 9 year old, Steven, wanted to interfere, but everyone stopped him. Then the players started taking bets. Denis (who plays the kensei and mudang) bet on the samurai, everyone else bet on the ronin. Then I gave control of the duelists to Denis and Steven. They played out the duel, and the ronin won. Everyone had a lot of fun with that encounter. 

Nate (playing the thief and sohei) commented that they shouldn't try to ally with a disgraced ronin, and I commented, maybe he just earned his honor back. Anyway, the ronin waved to the party then headed on his way. But that's another potential seed for adventure in the future. 

So after this one adventure, we have all sorts of potential for future adventures. 

  • There are bakemono kidnapping children. 
  • There are 15 more chambers of Lotus Fist to be cleared out, and potentially training with Master Xu some time in the future. 
  • There are more areas to explore in the Pits of Lao, and they have yet another rumor to follow up (there are several outstanding rumors about the Pits), one which could result in custom made magical weapons. 
  • There is the tally book, pointing to Ghost Castle Hasegawa. 
  • There are Coiled Serpent martial artists in the area, apparently looking for revenge. 
  • And there's this mysterious ronin duelist. What's up with him? I have no idea yet. But he may well return some time in the future.

Experienced old school DMs probably don't need to hear this, but if you're new to DMing, or you've just been playing the WotC way, this is how you start building up that campaign world. Make connections. Tie this to that. Think of ways to turn random encounters into adventure seeds. Give the players rumors and hooks. If they don't follow them, maybe let the laps. Or maybe, find a new way to get them interested. 

My players weren't interested in fighting bakemono with help from the local temple, if they had to split the profits. But rescuing kidnapped kids? They're all about that. 

The players have ambitions about making their place in the world (using the mine operation as funding, for example), and I've given them hooks to follow to make that happen. 

One player has his wagon currently undergoing renovations to become a battle wagon. There is a tanuki armorsmith who can make mastercraft armor, who is doing the work. Another session or two and the battle wagon will be ready. 

Another player wants to head down to the coast on the regional map to buy a junk (Chinese ship, not garbage) and maybe become a pirate captain. 

If the players can end the curse of Ghost Castle Hasegawa, the Hasegawa clan can reclaim it. Daimyo Isenoumi would like to send his army to check the growing power of renegade warlord Han Ji Shen (haven't mentioned him yet to you guys, but I've dropped rumors to the players -- another potential BBEG). Having the Hasegawa clan restored would help that effort. 

Exploring the Pits of Lao, the PCs may encounter all sorts of other encounters which can lead to further adventure (dragons, planar portals, treant gardeners, evil cultists, allies and enemies...)

Some of these things I've had in the works since I made the regional map (Warlord Han Ji Shen, Coiled Serpent Bao, a few other potential BBEG types). Some since I made the local map (The Pits of Lao, Ghost Castle Hasegawa, the 18 Chambers of Lotus Fist). Some I've thought up based on previous PC actions. Some I just make up on the fly. No matter where they come from, they can all make the world richer, and more lived-in. And they get the players into a situation where they have more goals and ambitions than they can handle at one time. And my campaign is just transitioning to the mid-level sweet spot zone. 

When we get to high levels, I plan to continue to put as many irons in the fire as possible for the players, to keep the campaign fresh.

Sunday, December 3, 2023

Mass Combat: Testing and Adjusting

On Saturday, Steven and I messed around with my new mass combat rule revisions (streamlining the War Machine rules from the Companion Set). Unfortunately, his ADHD got the better of him, as watching his big brother play GTA5 was more interesting than doing a bunch of math and pretending that math was creating armies and having them fight. 

But I pressed on. We made two armies, a Cleric leading a mixed force of men and skeletons with cleric officers, and an army led by a Fire Giant consisting of orcs and hobgoblins with ogre officers. We had them fight a battle, with the clerical army winning, but taking 20% losses and being fatigued. The fire giantish forces lost 50%, were exhausted, and had to retreat. 

Creating the forces (each had a budget of 5000gp) didn't take long, and calculating their battle ratings and resolving the conflict was pretty quick as well. Steven provided some details to the battle based on a few questions from me (terrain, time of day, other conditions), and it was pretty easy to figure out the battle modifiers. Steven selected tactics for the cleric's army, I did for the fire giant army. Then we resolved it with opposed d100 rolls. 

I have a roster of troops, expanded from the Expert Set mercenary costs, to include more humanoid troop types (hobgoblins, gnolls, lizard men, gnomes), and then based on the 2E AD&D Battle System point costs, I made a roster of upkeep costs for monster troops. I added the creatures from the 2E BS book, and some more that I thought would be cool to have in armies, estimating their costs from those given. I had this done before we started, but afterwards, I was thinking that maybe the monster upkeep values were too high for most of them. The point costs for most standard troop types in 2E Battle System are higher than the Expert mercenary upkeep prices, so I decided to cut them down. Most were cut in half, some were reduced more or less, depending on how powerful the monsters might be. 

I also added notes on HD and any special bonuses the troop types would qualify for, such as flying, spellcasting, or special abilities.

Of course, what we did yesterday was just one battle, with no maneuvering, no costs over time to worry about, etc. So I was thinking that we should create a map with various forces, let him create a larger army (maybe 20,000gp) with the new, reduced monster upkeep values, and have him try to fight his way across it. But I didn't have time to do that today. 

What I did have time to do was look over the "Fall of the Black Eagle Barony" scenario at the back of the Companion Set's DM book. It's the tutorial to help players get used to the War Machine rules. What I did have time to do today was figure out the by the book Mentzer War Machine values for each force, and then figure them by my rules. There are a few places where the information doesn't match perfectly (I have changed some factors), but overall, the values are relatively similar across the two systems. Some forces did better in War Machine, some did better in my system, but the values aren't crazily different for any except the "Men of Kelven" force. I may plug the values into SPSS at work tomorrow and see if they're statistically similar or not. 

For anyone curious, the various forces and their values in War Machine and my system are: 

Black Eagle Guard 165:154

Men of Kelven 33:59

Ducal Guard 109:109 (surprised by that one!)

Western Elves 106:123

Eastern Elves 109:118

Thyatian Mercenaries 151:143

The above use the full War Machine rules, the forces below use the "quick BR" system in Mentzer. For the forces below, information on their training times or the presence of mounted troops would increase all their scores in my system.

Gnomes 52:60

Orcs 51:49 (assuming at least half have ranged weapons, no percentage is given, otherwise 39)

Bugbears 54:50 (assuming some have pole arms, something I often arm these creatures with, otherwise 40)

Goblins East 29:27 (assuming a fair number of wolf riders, not listed, otherwise 17)

Goblins Northeast 29:27 (again assuming wolf riders, otherwise 17)

Lycanthropes 75:83