Monday, April 22, 2013

Hammer's Slammers

I recently reread all the Hammer's Slammers stories by fantasy and SF author David Drake.  Although he's known mainly for his military science fiction and space opera output, the author has produced quite the catalog of fantasy--both (quasi-)historical and otherwise.  However, the gritty future universe of the Slammers series has always been my favorite of his works.

I've learned a couple of things from reading these books:  The first is that war is hell.  You put armed men and deadly machines in a high-pressure situation, and someone's gonna get hurt.  Or killed.  Drake doesn't flinch from depicting what can happen to a human body in wartime.  He also doesn't hesitate to show the reader what war does to a human mind.  I've never seen combat, and thanks to this author, I hope I never do.

On a lighter note, another thing I learned from reading David Drake is that it's OK to borrow from history.  He does this all the time in his works: filing the serial numbers off the Byzantine Empire in one SF setting, or using a time of strife among Greek city states as background for another future war novel.  This is something that gamers can do when designing scenarios, and it's something I tried with my own short-lived Chancellor starship campaign.

Since the Slammers books are all about future armored combat, they make a great resource for scenarios in your sci-fi tank games.  And while there is a Hammers Slammers wargame, the encounters Drake describes would not be out of place in Dirtside, Future War Commander, or OGRE.  I'm curious; has anyone used a Slammers story as the basis for a wargame scenario?  Please share in the comments.


Austronaught said...

I love David Drake's writing. Hammers Slammers, Daniel Leary and his fantasy works are all cracking reads.

I havent actualy done it but I am planning on using Rolling Hot as the basis for a series of games at our anual games day. Do the assault on Camp Progress, tha rat*#$k at Happy Days, the crossing of the Santine and the final tank battle at Sugar Knob.

Id make the slammers really strong and the concis pretty weak but have slammers casualties carry over into each successive scenario.

MAJ. DIZ ASTER said...

Read Hammer's Slammers as a kid, then reread the Complete Hammer's Slammers vol.I through III last December. Never used any of the stories as source material in my wargaming, but the Slammers are always an inspiration for any mercenary units I've designed to be used in wargames, especially Traveller, and now Gruntz and 5150:STAR ARMY.

Austronaught said...

Have you read the RCN series? I quite enjoyed it, although it gives me more ideas for skirmish and RPGs than naval games.

EastwoodDC said...

I've used a scenario from the older Mayfair Games Hammers Slammers as the basis for a Battletech scenario.

If I recall, Drake is a Vietnam War veteran, and that experience is the basis for much of the Slammers series.

Maj. Guiscard said...

I used to carry a paperback copy of the first "Hammer's Slammers" around and give it to anyone who seemed to have potential to read it.

Sort of like a Gideon's Bible thing for military SF.

Desert Scribe said...

Astronaught, your gameday series sounds like it would be fun to play out. Regarding Lt. Leary, I've read most of the RCN books, and you're right--they make for some good skirmish scenarios, but not so much for space battles.

Eastwood, you're correct. Drake served with the 11th Cav (the Blackhorse) in Vietnam.

Maj. DA, I'm looking forward to seeing your SA force on the table.

Maj. G, did you give them the book or just loan it?