Advisory Note

Please Note: This blog contains poorly painted toy soldiers that may offend those of an aesthetically sensitive disposition.

Friday, 16 June 2017

Portable Ancients

Having just purchased Bob Cordery's latest book (Developing the Portable Wargame) I was keen to try the Ancients Rules. Your humble author, being a great procrastinator, does not yet have the miniatures prepared for combat (though has many ambitions in that area), so resorted to quickly creating a virtual battlefield and armies.
A flat plain was selected for the scene of battle (8 x 8 grid in Excel) and the armies of City State Red and City State Blue were harvested from the Junior General website and fiddled using MS Paint. A fine lunch-hour battle ensued.

Starting positions

Turn 3 General Blue rushes in
By turn seven Army Blue had reached exhaustion point (one third of its initial strength points SPs) and could only defend.
Turn 7
Roster at Turn 7
At turn nine it was clear that the position for Blue was hopeless; the remains of the army withdrew to fight another day.
Turn 9 The end is nigh

Even playing this virtual wargame was great fun, so with miniatures and a more complex battlefield, well you know what I mean. I bought the Epub version of Bob's book from LULU for less than £3.00 (Sterling)! Bargain.

Saturday, 10 June 2017

4AD Adventure the Third

Adventure 3 – Temple of the Lizard God (Part 1: Getting there)

Resting up for a few weeks in Mournestead has used up the proceeds of Krud and Ildore’s trip to The Giant’s Tomb and they begin to think about finding actual work (Gods forbid). Fortune however looks favourably on the brave. During an evening of drunken card-playing at the Oaken Heart (a hostelry of no repute) Krud learns of the existence of an allegedly unpilfered temple away to the South which is sure to be crammed to the ceiling with treasure and maidens in need of rescue. Krud is a naïve but deeply romantic young warrior.   The next day Krud, and a reluctant Ildore (the aging Hedge Wizard) set off in the direction of Greylipp (a village halfway between Mournestead and the Temple of the Lizard God).

At the edge of the forest they spy a figure in black robes that turns out to be Brother Gilbert. The cleric has not had a successful visit to Mournestead; the locals are not easily swayed from their heretical beliefs and are too well armed to persuade forcefully without backup. Krud is keen to have Gilbert join the adventure, to which he agrees. Ildore eyes him dubiously but says nothing. The three companions enter the forest…

1 On the trail South, the party’s first encounter is with a group of Gnomes on a fishing excursion. The Gnomes are peaceful and the journey continues….

2 All is quiet for a long time until crashing on to the path comes a hungry troll. Krud and Brother Gilbert attack the troll at once but do little damage. Ildore yells at them to step back and unleashes a fireball killing the troll stone dead. The cleric bandages a wound whilst Krud empties the fire-damaged troll-purse finding 7 GP. They continue South…

3 As the party clear the woods a gang of four brigands appears from the long grass (not the Gang of Four by the way) spouting the usual “money or your life” line. The encounter with the troll has annoyed Krud, what with having to rely on a Hedge Wizard and all, and he attacks the nearest thief without a word. The others join him. The fight does not last long. A further 9 GP are liberated from the would-be bandits who now won’t-be bandits.

Pooling their meagre resources, the adventurers get a meal and bed for the night at The Goblin’s Head Inn, Greylipp; the next day they resume their march South into the featureless plains… (As the magnetic compass has yet to become common knowledge, and none of the party are Rangers / trackers, a dice roll was used to determine whether they continued to go in the desired direction while crossing the grasslands).

4 Almost immediately the trio spy a horde (nine actually) of Goblins emerging from a hollow and clearly looking for a fight. The Goblins are eventually despatched; Ildore (of course) suffers an injury.

5 Just as they have recovered their composure, six more Goblins (confederates of the former foe) rush at them. The fight ends with the same result. Nothing of value is recovered.

6 The plains are clearly a busy place as our heroes have hardly moved on much further before encountering a band of seven Ne’er-Do-Wells leading a heavily laden pony. Krud clearly would like to attempt armed robbery but his companions lead him away…

7 Meandering in a vaguely Southerly direction they are drawn towards the smoke of a camp-fire and their next wilderness encounter. Four heavily armed Orcs are consuming roast meat, possibly a wild dog. Krud lops the head neatly from the shoulders of the first assailant, then quickly cuts down his second attacker. The Cleric and Wizard are having less luck; both have wounds and are parrying blows with mace and knife. Gilbert finally overcomes his Orc while Krud cleaves the head of Ildore’s opponent. A gem set in the helm of a dead orc is pocketed by Krud. The group move on…

8 On hearing the sound of hooves, Ildore groans “What now?!”; five Centaurs cautiously approach, pointing their spears at the adventurers. The sharpness of the spears inclines Brother Gilbert to attempt diplomacy first. The Centaurs appear content to remain peaceful but are not forthcoming with any information. Our friends head South…

9 “More bl**dy Goblins” mutters Krud as the approaching cloud of dust reveals its contents. They are quickly destroyed but once again carry nothing of value.

10 Three more centaurs gallop up to the party; they are inquisitive and on hearing the destination of the trio, offer help in the form of directions. “South-West is your goal, though you are too few to face the Lizard God’s protectors” is all that they will say. “Thanks” grumbles the Hedge Wizard to the retreating hind-quarters…

11 The expanse of the plains appears to be well-populated this day; six robbers emerge from the undergrowth with burglarious intent. Once five robbers have fallen to sword and mace, the last throws down his weapon and begs for mercy. Whilst Brother Gilbert converts the thief to the Way of The Night before sending him on his way, Krud recovers 3 GP and 2 bandage rolls from the slain. Ildore patches up yet another wound.

12 The afternoon wears on, mercifully free of Goblins, but as night draws near the group hear the dire howling of wolves... Two large hungry looking wolves approach but sensibly choose discretion over valour when Krud waves his shiny sword at them.

The three adventurers continue South-West, and as dusk falls they see the silhouette of a large vaguely pyramid-like structure emerging from the gloom. “What is that foul stench?” growls Krud. “Swampland” mutters the cleric, worrying some beads and religious symbols he wears round his neck.

Adventure 3 – Temple of the Lizard God (Part 2: Treachery in the Temple)

Having spent a fairly sleepless night in a gorse covered hollow, perpetually bothered by insects from the nearby swamp, the intrepid adventurers emerge at dawn ready(ish) to tackle the Temple.

“Huh! An invitingly open doorway to a crumbling ruin; how bad can it be?” Ildore sarcastically grumbles. “Think about the money” quotes Brother Gilbert, “And the maiden-in-need-of-rescue potential….” Says Krud very keenly.

1 Peering in through the doorway they see an anteroom with two doors. The room is clear of debris and has a recently used feel to it. They choose the NW door…

2 Hearing no sound through the wooden door they open it and cautiously move down a short corridor to a square room with a door in the West wall. As they proceed to the door three skeletons rise up from the dust and attack them with rusty swords. The skellies don’t last long and soon are piles of broken old bones. A good search of the room reveals 11 GP.

3 Through the door is a cross-passageway. As Krud walks out into the centre to choose a direction he feels a tile move beneath his feet – Krud gets the full force of the poison gas trap in the face and it is a little time before he is able to move on again. In the meantime, Ildore has recovered another 6 GP that were hidden below the tile. Moving South…

4 They pass through a door into a small room, surprising 4 trident- armed Lizardmen (denizens of the swamp). The fight is short and the Lizardmen are slain without injury to the adventurers. Brother Gilbert recovers a lizard-shaped broach from one of the corpses. The trio exit the room through its other door and peer around a corner where they see…

5 The Temple’s Sacristy. The High Priest of the temple, another Lizardman, is sitting at a desk inspecting a parchment of obvious antiquity. Spying the intruders, he leaps up with frightening agility and grabs two very sharp looking swords. Krud and the Cleric try to get to each side of their opponent but the room is cramped. Ildore keeps well out of harm’s way, ostensibly listening at the door in case any other Lizardmen approach. The Priest is fast and vicious and Gilbert takes a wound, but the relentless attack from our heroes (plus some lucky dice rolls) wears him down and finally Krud is able to finish him. Ildore moves to the desk and finds 4GP. He also takes the scroll the High Priest was reading. Krud inspects the rich looking robes hanging on the walls and is distracted by the bright colours.

Looking up Ildore sees Brother Gilbert has taken one of the Lizardman’s swords and is about to stab Krud in the back! Thinking surprisingly fast, the hedge wizard fires off his remaining fireball spell, instantly slaying the Cleric. “Gods! What did you do that for?” yells the slightly singed warrior. “He was about to murder you” Ildore replies. The stunned Krud considers the corpse; “He was from the Brotherhood of Night I suppose. They are happy to kill all non-believers I hear. Even so…” The flapping of many webbed feet is heard. “Lizardmen!” yells Krud, grabbing the sack of the late Brother Gilbert. “Let’s go!” The two companions depart the Temple with all speed.

4AD Adventure the Second

Adventure 2 – Return to Mournestead


As they slowly traverse the plains on their way back to the village, Ildore and the wounded Krud meet Brother Gilbert of the Brotherhood of Night. While he is healing the Warrior, Gilbert explains that he is travelling to Mournestead to preach and convert (with extreme prejudice) some of the local sinners. In return for the Healing spell, the twain agree that the Cleric will join them for the remainder of the trip. The party approach the forest East of the village as the day comes towards an end…

1.       A short way into the forest the group encounters a party of 4 orcs. In the ensuing melee Krud kills one Orc, Gilbert dispatches three of them, with his Mace of Righteousness, whilst Ildore is once again wounded. The Cleric bandages Ildore as Krud searches the bodies for loot. 8 GP are found on the Orcs; Krud splits them with Gilbert. They move on…

2.       Halfway through the forest the party runs into a gang of 5 brigands who demand money with menaces. Krud and the Cleric attack the nearest two thugs; Ildore fires off his last Fireball spell. Two brigands are down but the fireball turns out to be a damp squib and fizzles off into the trees, temporarily stunning a weasel. The remaining men momentarily waiver, but not for long. Krud and Ildore take down their next opponents whilst Gilbert fights on with the band’s leader who eventually succumbs to the blows of his mace. 6 GP are distributed amongst the slain, and quickly pocketed by our heroes.   

3.       Near the Western edge of the wood the party meet 12 argumentative Gnomes who are out gathering mushrooms. Brother Gilbert starts singing a Psalm and the diminutive mushroom pickers scatter.

The forest comes to an end and the party of travellers see the lights of Mournestead in the distance and appreciate the fact that they have survived another adventure.

4AD - Adventure the First

4AD (Four Against Darkness) is a Solo RPG published by Ganesha Games.
Adventure 1 – The Giant’s Tomb

Krud (a young overzealous Warrior) and Ildore (a middle aged down at heal Hedge Wizard) have met at the Oaken Heart Inn situated in the village of Mournestead. Both are sorely in need of cash and have learned from the Landlord that there may be “a great treasure” in the “Giant’s Tomb”. The entrance to the Tomb is reported to be in a cave in the mountains, a day’s march to the East of the village. Krud is keen to get started. Ildore grudgingly agrees to carry the lantern.

Their trip to the cave’s mouth is surprisingly free of encounters (your author didn’t bother to make any rolls for random monsters etc).

1. The cave is empty (apart from a few animal bones). A passageway leads off the back and the duo soon reach a crossway. Turning right the pair reach a door…

2. Entering a room Ildore spots another door in the North-East corner. Krud spies the six vicious rats that rush towards them. The rats attack. Krud’s sword kills two and Ildore skewers one with his knife. The rest flee.  Searching the dust and litter on the floor recovers no treasure. After a brief discussion, they return and try the left-hand passageway…

3. As our heroes enter another room they are surprised to see four strangely glowing skeletal rats (ancestors of the previous encounter?) approach with clearly evil intent. Krud smashes the first with the flat of his sword breaking it to pieces. Ildore pulls out his wand and squeaking out the incantation in a shaky voice, casts a fireball that burns another to ash. The remaining vermin attack and Ildore is wounded. The skeletal rats are finally dispatched and a search of the room ensues. Krud recovers a necklace of antiquity (and value) and throws it to Ildore to stow in his sack. Ildore’s wound is bandaged and they explore the other door to the room…

4.  Through the door is an S shaped passageway terminating in a further door. Unfortunately, halfway along they encounter three angry looking Hobgoblins coming the other way. There is only room in the passage for Krud to fight one of the creatures at a time. Ildore starts muttering another spell. The first Hobgoblin falls. A bright light shines out and the next monster in line is blasted by Ildore’s magic. The final Hobgoblin fights with more voracity but eventually is slain. Krud searches the bodies and finds on the last a gemstone which he pockets.  Through the door, a short stretch of passage leads to…

5. A room containing three smug Orcs (they are smug because they have recently won some gold from three Hobgoblins, now deceased). Krud and Ildore engage and kill two with sword and knife. The third attacks Krud, who sustains a wound before despatching his foe. A search of the corpses produces 5GP (the winnings). After patching Krud’s wound with the remaining bandages, the two adventurers move to the door…

6. After another short passage they enter a room. As they come in a colony of vampire bats, woken by the lantern, attacks them. After eight of their number have been slain, the bats fly through the passage and escape. Krud sustains a bite but is not poisoned. The pair proceed through the opposite doorway…

7. The fountain room contains nothing but the aforementioned water feature, however Krud soon discovers that his bat bite has healed after a wash in its blessed waters. On through the South door!

8. Another cross road. Our heroes go South.

9.  A small empty room leading via a door in the south wall to…

10. A large room with a rough tunnel mouth broken into the North-East corner. Lurking in a pile of rags, the bones of a large man and other sundry detritus is a fearsome ogre. The monster is open to bribery but Krud would rather test its mettle and attacks. Initially the fight seems to be going well but Krud soon starts to get seriously damaged; “Blast it with magic” he grunts at Ildore. A ball of fire hits the ogre who is momentarily stunned, but not for long. “I’m out of spells” whimpers Ildore. His knife is less than affective against the ogre’s tough skin. Krud fights on and eventually the ogre’s wounds weaken it enough and the warrior prevails but only after taking a serious beating. Ildore searches the rubbish in the room and finds a small gem embedded in a slightly larger than usual, human’s skull.

Moving through the tunnel, Krud leaning rather heavily on his companion, the two emerge once more into the daylight.