Advisory Note

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

Saturday, 26 August 2017

4AD Adventure the Fifth

Adventure 5 – Raiding the Necropolis
Introduction – Thieves in the Temple

Krud the warrior and the Hedge Wizard Ildore were, as usual, almost terminally short of cash. On a whim, they foolishly chose to attempt a robbery at the Temple of the Brotherhood of Night. This resulted in them being caught and having to perform a task for the Bishop (the alternative was taking the role of the sacrifice during the following Sunday’s service). Their penance was to take a trip East to recover an artefact (a ring with a strange symbol on it, “a dark sun with three rays”) from a very unpleasant location…


To the East of Mournestead, in the dry treeless plains just over the large black line known as the fold in the map, lies the dusty, windswept Necropolis of Antiarth. The site is surrounded by a high wall with two gates. The adventurers enter from the South gate…
(Note on game mechanics – the location was already set up so a direction dice was used to randomize movement and the Room contents table was used for each tomb visited, with a game specific table for any minions encountered and a final Boss monster pre-created.)
1.       On entering the gate, they move left following the line of the wall. “Let’s try that one”, says Krud, pointing to a tomb. They approach cautiously and peer in the broken door. This House of the Dead consists of a large dusty chamber with an empty sarcophagus and a stone man-sized statue. Krud searches the tomb but finds nothing; “It’s empty, let’s go” he grunts. “Wait” says Ildore approaching the statue, “I wonder…” The wizard lightly touches the figure, which promptly crumbles to dust. Among the debris there is the glitter of gold! (90 gold coins)
2.       They move North to the next structure. On this tomb, the door is intact and Krud checks it for traps before putting his shoulder to it. Inside is darkness; “Lantern!” the warrior whispers. Like the first tomb, there is nothing here but a sarcophagus. As the adventurers approach it the ghost of a woman in ancient garb rises up: “Travellers bold! Go East and retrieve for me a branch of the Tree of Life so that I may live again” wails the spirit. “Err, we’d rather not” says Ildore. The ghost sighs. “Close the door on the way out then” she says and vanishes. The room is bare so they leave…
3.       Moving North and East our heroes choose the door to the first tomb in a row; “Terrace housing! Welcome to the cheap seats” quips Ildore (the old cynic), “I doubt the Ring will be in there”. Krud ignores his colleague and enters. Inside the small chamber among the dust and debris is a disarticulated skeleton. The warrior recovers some ancient jewellery but no ring.
4.       Further East they explore a larger building. This was clearly the resting place of more important individuals. Carved stone chairs and beds line the walls but there appear to be no funerary goods surviving, just mounds of dust and debris. “This one’s been raided before” says Krud, but as he turns, six animated skeletons rise up from among the detritus (think Harryhausen animation). Ildore raises his staff (pilfered previously from the Mountain King) to ward off an attack and is surprised when a fireball flies from it destroying the approaching skellie. “Nice” rasps Krud as he reduces the remaining animated bones to rubbish, “I should keep that. Could be useful”.
5.       Emerging from the tomb they cross the path to the one opposite. As previously, raiders have been here before them but clutched in a skeletal hand, Krud retrieves a curious bronze box. “Perhaps the ring is in here!” he cries and sets to, attempting to pry it open with his dagger. “Give it here” says Ildore, “It’s obviously a puzzle box needing a keen mind”. “Where are we going to find one of those?” the warrior chortles handing the box over. After an hour of pacing the chamber Krud hears a click and a disappointed sigh from the wizard. A few coins are all the box contains. “Let’s go” says Krud, “It’ll be dark soon and I want to be away from here when night falls.”
6.       Moving North through the Necropolis, the pair see a very large structure looming through the gathering dusk. “This is the place” whispers Krud, “The ring will be in there somewhere”. “Along with something very unpleasant I’d imagine” mutters Ildore. Inside the broken doorway all is silent. In the lantern light, they see a sealed room lies in the centre of the tomb. Crossing the dusty space Krud starts to check the door; as he touches it a Groaning Spirit materializes behind them. The warrior goes into a temporary state of shock (diced for fear) but Ildore’s staff aids them once more and the spirit departs to the netherworld.
(Image from AD&D Monster Manual)
Having ascertained that the door is safe they enter the inner chamber. Ildore mutters a protection spell (for himself) and illuminates the room with the lantern, keeping his staff raised. Stacks of grave goods line the walls, pots and furniture for the afterlife, and in the centre is a dais on which has been placed a throne. The throne is occupied by the robed and crowned form of a large man. He has clearly been dead for many years however something (evil will?) is keeping his corpus in an articulated condition. “Look!” squeals Ildore, “On its hand!! The Ring!!” Judging by the number of explanation marks being used, even Krud comprehends that an important moment has arrived; he slowly advances. As the warrior reaches out the figure springs up! An axe appears in its claw-like hand and Krud is forced onto the defensive. The fight is long and Krud suffers some wounds but his strength prevails, aided by a well-aimed fireball (in the back) from the cringing Ildore. The creature is finally put to rest (again) in a lot more pieces.
While Krud is bandaging his wounds, Ildore takes the ring from the skeletal hand. For a fraction of a second the room appears to go slightly out of focus. “Did you feel that?” says the wizard, “What?” “That… something, like the world had shifted slightly” says Ildore. “I felt a bit of indigestion coming on if that’s what you mean” says Krud who suffers from an acute lack of imagination. “Let’s go and give that ring to the Bishop before the damned Brotherhood come after us”.
7.      Departing by the North gate they emerge into a sunlit verdant valley. The lush grass is damp as if it has rained recently. Down the hill, on the edge of a forest a herd of deer are grazing. “That’s odd” says Ildore. “What, the fact it’s suddenly day-time? Perhaps we were in there longer than we thought?” replies Krud, “Or do you mean the six-legged, blue deer?” “I meant the dry dusty plains suddenly becoming grassland, but now you come to mention it…. I think that meddlesome priest has tricked us”. Ildore turns to re-enter the Necropolis in time to see the gateway and walls fade away. “Oh heck!”


Friday, 18 August 2017

Simple rules for skirmishes

In answer to a request regarding the Cowboys and Indians skirmish published last month, following are the rules used - these were based on Donald Featherstone's iconic Rules for Close Wars from his wonderful book War Games (published in 1962 and now back in print thanks to John Curry). My version was originally for a grid of 1 inch squares but were adapted to 3 inch squares once I made a bigger board!  
Over at the Man of Tin blog there is another fine variation on DF's rules being used, and doubtless many other wargamers are doing similar, demonstrating the durability of this simple but effective system.
A few pictures of a game that used these rules follows the text (unfortunately my camera broke in the middle of the game so the affair was never published). 

Mr Featherstone, I presume? (Rules for both 1 Inch grid board or 3 Inch grid board)

Roll dice for initiative – highest moves/fires first.
Troops may move OR fire once per turn.

Troops can move forward, back, left or right for as many squares as shown below but may NOT move diagonally.

Obstacles that can be moved over (streams, walls, fences, barricades) take one complete turn, so troops must be in an adjacent square on the proceeding turn.
Movement – 1 inch grid

No. Squares in open flat
No. Squares Uphill
Native / Irregulars
Firing – 1 inch grid

Range 5 Squares (straight line NOT diagonally from front of base).

Number of Squares
Roll to hit (1d6)
Roll to save (1d6)

Movement – 3 inch grid

No. Squares in open flat
No. Squares Uphill
Native / Irregulars

Firing – 3 inch grid

Range 3 Squares (straight line NOT diagonally from front of base).

Number of Squares
Roll to hit (1d6)
Roll to save (1d6)
Hand-to-hand combat

Hand-to-hand combat takes place when figures are in adjacent squares – these MAY be diagonally adjacent. Each figure involved in the combat rolls 1d6. Highest wins. Saving roll is 4,5,6. For 3 inch grid, front 3 figures in a square may fight the 3 (or less) opposing them.

Example: 2 Red Troops (both facing Blue) fight a Blue soldier. Red rolls 5 & 4 Blue rolls 5. Red figure that rolls a 4 must take a saving throw.

Attacking to flank or rear adds +1 to throw. Mounted figure +1.
Morale test – once a side has taken 50% casualties, each remaining figure rolls 1D6 and acts as follows:
5 or 6 – continue as ordered
4 – Halt for one turn.
2 or 3 – Retreat: turn 180o, move one full turn (if movement takes the figure off the board it may not return)
1 – Rout: turn to rear, move full moves until off the board, do not take further morale checks.
If a Commander is within 3 grid squares in any direction, add 1 to the D6 score.
Pictures from a game entitled "Tin Lizzy Down"
An archaeologist and his daughter, guarded by some FFL break down in a village and are attacked by hostile natives (entering board in waves); the FFL must hold out against a larger enemy force until help (US Marines, who else?) arrives.
The village
Under attack
"Natives, sir! At least 8 of them..."
The Yanks are coming!
End of reel...  at this point the camera had had enough of my nonsense.

Thursday, 17 August 2017

The Portable Fantasy Wargame

Encouraged by the kind words of Bob Cordery here are my thoughts to date on a Fantasy variant of his Portable Wargame - Ancients. These are rough and untried and have been written for play with some 10mm Fantasy figures I have (play test to follow!) at Army level rather than the skirmish of the previous post, but the values in the table below will allow either level of play I think.

A few explanatory notes/clarifications:

My personal taste leans towards Tolkien so these rules do not (yet) include Spells in combat.
I strongly believe that "rules" for games are a personal thing and are not "Laws", and encourage anyone who wants to use them to adapt to suit their own view of Fantasy Gaming. Those with Warhammer type figures (or any others) can obviously just adapt the rules to fit those types.
Human types are covered by Bob's rules but again one might write specific rules for specific types/races.

Draft Rules (require Bob Cordery's Developing the Portable Wargame)


All units reduce movement to 1 grid except Elf units that reduce their move by 1 grid; Ents move at normal speed
Elf units and Ents need not stop immediately on entering woods

Range of elf archers is reduced to 2 grids in woods 
Giants/Ents may throw boulders if in landscape containing them - behave like artillery.
Giants and Ents are not slowed by rivers.

Orc "Cavalry" are Orcs mounted on wolves hence the bonus in melee.

Sunday, 13 August 2017

Hungry, hungry Trolls

Scenario - Four hungry trolls have descended upon the demesne of the local lord to steal cattle. The peasantry and hunters/woodsmen naturally want to stop them.

Rules - Bob Cordery's Portable Ancients rules with the following game specific features

Unit                 SP          Move         Range
Troll                4             2                Adjacent
Knight             4             3                Adjacent
Men at arms   4             2                Adjacent
Peasants        3             2                Adjacent
Hunters          3              2               3
Cattle             N/a          1                N/a

To move the cattle a unit must be adjacent and have sole possession of them.
The Knight and his men at arms arrive at Turn 5.
Exhaustion Point is at 50% of Strength Points (SP). If this point is reached the humans can only stand and fight but if it is the Trolls they will withdraw and look elsewhere for dinner.
The Trolls are effectively outnumbered (total SP = 16) once the Lord and his soldiers arrive (Total SP = 23 at turn 5) and so have to be quick to eliminate the peasants guarding the cattle and withdraw with their prize.

Opening position

The trolls approach and engage
Hunters fire from a distance as more peasants advance
Half the troll force pushes forward hoping to block the human advance
Turn 5. Poor dice rolls have stopped the trolls and reinforcements have arrived
Sir Over-privileged
It's all gone horribly wrong for the trolls
Run away!

In the end it appears that the peasants and woodsmen could have despatched the trolls without the Lord and his men - one up for the Working Class!
With hindsight the trolls were unlucky but probably should have been given a higher SP rating - well they're pretty fierce. Also the Cattle should have had a reaction test each turn - they were very docile in the face of the hungry trolls (who were clearly weakened by their hunger). Good fun all the same.
For the bovine spotters, the breed of cattle is Hornby 00 Gauge.

Saturday, 12 August 2017

Cervantean Interlude

What happens to Player Characters between adventures in dungeons and "Wilderness Encounters" with monsters from Manuals? Are there ever occurrences in their "down-times" that are worth describing? (Clearly your humble blog writer doesn't have time for a game today but is going to attempt Creative Writing, Gods help us).

The Space Between (a Cervantean Interlude)

A hot and windless day; the most canine of Summer’s Dog Days. Two figures are slowly approaching through the heat haze, both so covered in dust they are almost indistinguishable from the dirt road they traverse. One is a tall warrior, judging by the sword at his side and shield on his back; the other has a staff and the remains of conical hat, now drooping like its wearer's shoulders. Perhaps he is a wizard, or a scholar. The general demeaner and lack lustre appearance of the two men suggests that the Fates have not been kind, and they are still a good few miles from their destination, the Inn known as The Oaken Heart in the village of Mournstead. The plodding footsteps of the travellers, and the cicadas interminable scratching are all that disturb the arid afternoon air.

 A distant thundering of hooves brings the pair out of their silent meditations. Languidly they move off the road and wait in the sparse shade offered by a thorny treelet. A vast cloud of dust approaches them, and from it appears an aged knight with prodigious moustaches riding a skinny grey mare. He is followed by a stout yokel on a mule; he (the man not the mule) could be the knight’s servant or possibly a farmer caught up in someone else’s quest. The knight stares straight ahead, his bloodshot eyes focusing on who knows what fantastical phantasms and doesn’t register the two onlookers. As his servant passes he turns, holding onto his battered hat, and shouts a greeting of sorts in some incomprehensible tongue, whilst pointing at the fast-disappearing knight and attempting to stay aboard his mount.

The riders hurtle on, soon vanishing over a rise in the road. The two men continue to stand and stare, trance-like.

“What did the last fellow say?” asks the warrior, sometime later as the dust begins to settle and the cicadas search for middle C before embarking on their next performance.

“I’m not sure” Ildore replies absent-mindedly, “but I think his donkey’s ok, though I can’t imagine why that’s worth shouting about”.

“Well that’s nice” says Krud, without conviction. “Come on, I need a drink. Got any money?”

Monday, 7 August 2017

Experimenting with 28mm

Preamble - in which the author squints into the distant past a bit and tries to explain what it is he is doing, in many more words than was probably necessary

As a child I was blessed with some Britain's plastic 54mm Guardsmen in red coats and bearskins; this fine body of men paraded and then went on to fight a protracted conflict with an unruly bunch of Timpo soldiers of the American Civil War. Having witnessed the glorious looking battles that are being fought with similar toys on blogs around the world (the reader is, no doubt needlessly, reminded of Battle Game of the Month, Battling with Britain's and many more) I naively thought I might go and purchase a boxful of said plastic chaps and refight the wars of my youth. I had of course failed to comprehend that pocket money toys were now antiques with the price tag that name implies. Looking around for an alternative, those nice people at Irregular Miniatures suggested their 28mm figures; and so, as we finally grind to the point, I have invested in a few. Here follows some pictures of a couple of skirmishes by way of a tester using the Portable Wargame by Bob Cordery.

Game #1

The forces of Swarzlandia (Army Black) have occupied a border town. Albionan soldiery (Army Red) seek to drive them out, and succeeds in doing so.

A Cavalry engagement
Albiona's General directs the Naval Gunners

Line Infantry and Naval forces approach the town


Game #2 (Operation Just Desserts)

In Albiona's colony of Uqbalistan some slavers are holding their captives at an oasis. A force is sent to rescue them.

Slavers and their prey

Albiona's Finest engage the enemy

Enemy reinforcements appear

The Uqbalis reach Exhaustion Point

The captives are liberated...

and recovered under fire.

 Post Script - always quote your sources

Most of the figures featured are by Irregular; there are also figures by Foundry and Empress Miniatures.