Monday, October 20, 2014

In House Rules, the Water Tower Rule

I have had a long fascination with H.G. Wells' War of the Worlds, and by extension with the great scares perpetrated by Orson Wells on Oct. 30, 1938, Páez's version in Quito, Ecuador on February 12, 1949,* and most lately, Beach and Neavereth's radio hoax in Buffalo, NY on Oct. 30, 1968.**   One of the stories of that scare concerned the people of Grover's Mill, New Jersey, where the Martians reportedly landed that evening. 

Grover's Mill Water Tower
Shamelessly stolen from the website:
One version of the story went as follows.  A group of people formed a militia to repulse the invaders.  They moved around, and happen to sight the towns water tower, and opened fire.  Days later, when the issue came up on fixing the water tower, it was decided to leave it be, as a reminder that all people are fallible. 

I have always taken this story to heart and have with it a small collection of similar idiocies that occur when people are faced with the unusual.  The escaped panda bear in Amsterdam*** and anti-vaccination fanatics for example.  Where in reflection, no sane person would, but otherwise sane people did and do.  But in the days of the internet, I haven't found a source for my version of the story, but have found versions that were far less exciting, and with no anecdotal moral to the story.  Mainly no impromptu militia, just a couple of shots by person or persons unknown, and no subsequent memorial.  Though the water tower still stood as of a couple of years ago.

To that end, for All Quiet on the Martian Front, I am instituting a house rule.  The Water Tower Rule.

1) Main Rule: All Tripods that are within 6 inches of a water tower, gets a cover value of plus 1 to all shooters that are within range of both the Tripod and the Water Tower.  Usually this raises the to hit number from 6 to 7.  Should the to hit number match exactly the uncovered number, in this example a 6, then the water tower takes the hit instead of the tripod.  If the hit is by a cannon then the water tower is destroyed, and no longer has any effect.  Small arms fire, including machine guns cause no apparent destruction to the water tower.

2) Anti-Exploit Addendum.  The purpose of this rule is to reduce the chance of Martian players overly exploiting the main rule by clustering around it.  When defending, humans may pay points to trap the water tower by filling it with gasoline.  When the water tower is hit, the tower explodes, forcing a roll on the tripod damage table for all tripods within 6 inches.  All human forces within 6" also make a damage check at minus 2.  The Martian player may attempt to preempt this trap by shooting at the water tower with a heat ray.  The tower has a to hit value of 4, and any hit destroys the water tower, setting off the gasoline, if any.

*Which led to the mobilizing the army and police force of the city.  When the mob found out it was deceived, they burned down the city news paper and the radio station.  6 people died, the perpetrators of the hoax went into exile in Venezuela.

**Which led to the Canadian Army mobilizing to stop the invaders at the key US crossing sites.

***Where the panda had escaped from the Amsterdam zoo, and in an effort to find it, was publicized for people to call a hot line number.  Over 10,000 calls were received of sightings.  The panda was found a few days later, next to the zoo on the train tracks, killed by commuter train.  It had been dead for days and it was realized that not one reported sighting was valid.

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