Inspired by V. Baker’s painfully awesome AG&G, I’m building a situation element generator into Grey Ranks. It was there all along, but instead of picking stuff, now it will be picked for you.

Vincent’s uses evocative but vague elements:

1 An ambitious farmer, hungry for gossip or silver.
2 The unscrupulous landlady of a roadside wayhouse.
3 A village executioner, practicing his trade on a caught burglar.

And I’m wondering if this is a good approach for GR, which takes a real documentary approach to the Warsaw Uprising. So I could go one of two ways:


1 A Nazi officer with a dangerous plan.
2 A concentration camp commandant in unexpected distress.
3 A murderous foreign thug intent on a massacre.


1 SS-Gruppenführer Heinz Reinefarth, mass murderer and commander of the elite urban warfare unit Gruppe Reinefarth.
2 SS-Hauptscharführer August Kretschmann, commandant of the Gęsiówka concentration camp, stuck with a pair of flat tires.
3 Ayaz Hesuinov, a particularly brutal Azeri officer of RONA, herding civilians into the Wola football stadium.

In some ways the same, in some different. The latter provides names (important) but constrains invention. The former allows free-wheeling associations, but kicks my documentarian goals in the teeth.

Thoughts are welcome! I need some fresh eyes.

Grey Ranks: Pick-Lists
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4 thoughts on “Grey Ranks: Pick-Lists

  • April 20, 2006 at 2:43 pm

    I’ve always said that I think your grasp of “local color”- i.e. setting, names, historical context, etc.- is one of the most interesting aspects of your game design. My vote would be to go with the details (“Documentary Style”) by default, and perhaps leave openings for experienced players to jettison those defaults and roll their own once they’re comfortable.

  • April 21, 2006 at 7:22 am

    Thanks for that, Steve, it makes a lot of sense.

  • April 21, 2006 at 8:51 am


    I agree you should go with the documentary details. However, your documntary style examples 2 & 3 are better than example 1, because they not only name a historical figure, but also place that figure in a situation that is already in motion.

    I think this is a very interesting (and provocative) way to handle historical material and I am looking forward to seeing it up and running.


  • April 21, 2006 at 9:36 am

    I agree, Jon, and I’m trying to walk a line in crafting them that will allow some latitude in interpretation but still provide that documentary feel. We’ll see how it goes – I have to write 216 of these!

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