Tuesday, 19 August 2014

Prelude to a Meeting at Longlier, 22 August 1914 [CDTOB]

It has been a long time coming but I think we are finally going to play a WW1 game tonight. I have spent ages fettling my GHQ Terrain Maker hexes, cutting them true so that there are not too many gaps between them, and reflocking many of them. I have reworked the stream/river hexes with new paint and a spot of Woodland Scenics Realistic Water. I have painted a bunch more buildings so that we have enough built-up areas. N.B. I am not a fan of painting buildings. I never seem to get them quite right, so I tend not to have enough. Not being able to afford to buy more at the moment, some of the buildings for tonight's game are really medieval cottages. It bothers me a bit, but not enough to do anything about it! Fields were constructed to provide additional cover and the roads were fettled to my satisfaction. It's not perfect but I am much happier with the hexes than I was in my previous post about them. The answer is to trim the bought hexes and supplement them with some hand-cut ones that I made myself. The 1/4" hexes that I used for my old rivers are still not right, but I can replace them later as I build terrain for more new scenarios. I have also had to make compromises with some hastily constructed templates, because some of the wooded areas are sized to be only really useful for this scenario. I'm not going to make specialist hexes with limited usefulness until I have a much fuller set of more useful terrain.

My French army for this battle is fully painted and all units now carry objective/control markers to demoralise Steve by clearly showing how much of the table my troops control. Expect to see the Tricolore being raised above each town and village as I capture it. This is sure to be a morale victory for me that will lead Steve to surrender in record time!

So, the terrain is set up, and I now eagerly anticipate some family emergency occurring and forcing us to cancel. If it does not, then tonight we shall refight an action at Longlier that took place on August 22nd 1914. The scenario is number 2 in the Death of Glory supplement for Command Decision: Test of Battle. The scenario begins with cavalry recon elements encountering each other at Longlier. They are reinforced as the game goes on by a regiment of infantry each, supported by a battalion of artillery. The goal is to capture the built-up areas and destroy the enemy.

The game will be fought using Irregular 6mm miniatures.
The view from the west. A French cuirassier squadron (centre) rides towards Longlier
A passing aeroplane snapped this aerial shot from the west
The view from the south. French reinforcements enter from the south. German reinforcements enter from the east.

Saturday, 16 August 2014

8-15 Thaumont 1000AC - A man with a mission

1 hex = 8 miles
Broneslav set out early on the 8th. His first goal was to head east to Penhaligon around the southern side of the Windrush Lake. The roads were poor and the forested hills made it heavy going. He had barely covered 20 miles by the time he settled down to camp for the night. He was woken in the middle of the night by a large party of men passing close to his camp. Fortunately the fire had died down ages ago and the smell of smoke dissipated. They sounded a rough lot. Broneslav was pleased that they had not noticed him. The rest of the journey to Penhaligon passed without event and he reached there late on the evening of the 9th.

From Penhaligon the roads were better, because he was following the Duke's Road but that did not make the toiling through the mountains any less arduous. Broneslav was cursing his luck on the third day out of Penhaligon when a large shadow flew overhead. He had heard of dragons before but the sheer heart-stopping terror that accompanied the beast's sudden appearance and sheer physicality was not what he had expected. Diving into the lee of a rock, Broneslav waited and hoped. Ten minutes later he emerged uneaten. The dragon had not spotted him or was not hungry. He would take either of those options happily.

Eight days after setting out, Broneslav reached the Duke's Road Keep. He was half way to his destination but the worst of the climbing was not over yet. He sighed with relief as he relaxed in the common room and wondered why he was bothering with all this. His feet hurt and he had spent rather too much time being cold and miserable and wet already. He supposed that this would be the way of things if he did not prove himself, because the family would disown him. Ah well. Half way there and he could look forward to relaxing in Selenica in week's time with enough money to have a properly good time.

I ran out of time to fit in much on Broneslav's journey this past week and a bit. I had hoped to take Broneslav to the start of B7 Rahasia in this post. Writing up this bit happened quickly enough but I have had no time for mapping or working on the next part of the journey, so I decided to post now with the 8 mile/hex map instead of producing the 1 mile/hex map for the whole of Karameikos. If I have time I shall return to the stupidly large map. Alternatively, as I outlined in this post, I shall produce maps of individual 8 mile hexes at 1 mile per hex and try linking them all together into a bit interactive map. The lack of time is disappointing and I hope to get more done later.

This time around Broneslav had two wilderness encounters that could easily have slaughtered him. He wisely chose to hide and got lucky enough that the bad guys did not spot him, although I made the test fairly easy because they were not looking for him.

Broneslav Torenescu (S16, D14, C15, I12, W10, Ch14, F1, hp9, AC4, Sword 1d8+3, Bow 1d8)
Human (Traladaran)
XPs: 60
Torenescu Family Member 1
Hunter 1
Keen Vision 1
Good Education 1
Empathy with Animals 1
Goal: Prove that he is an adult following the Shearing Ceremony
Quest: Deliver a parcel to Merisa in Gray Mountain Village

Tuesday, 5 August 2014

Broneslav's Progress: CC3 and Mapping Karameikos

I was fiddling with Campaign Cartographer 3 and decided to do a standard 8 mile per hex map of Karameikos. Looking at my 1 mile per hex map, I had started to wonder if it would become too large, so I thought I might amend it. CC3 will let you produce maps with hyperlinks that allow you to click on an area and the next map in the series will come up. One example of this might be clicking on a town icon on a larger scale map to see the town map. The town map might have important buildings linked to floorplans of those buildings.

I would love to do that for all of Mystara but need to work through the tutorials to learn how it works and how to structure it so that I can have a fully clickable map. The idea would be to work from the 8 mile per hex map so that each hex is clickable and brings up a 1 mile per hex map of the hex itself. Then, any settlements, dungeons or places of interest could be linked from the 1 mile map. In this way I could build a fully interactive map of Karameikos and surrounding areas as Broneslav explores the place. By building the map slowly I can avoid burnout, I hope.

In the meantime, here is the 8 mile per hex map showing Broneslav's initial travels. I think some of the settings still need tweaking, but it's ok. The red arrow shows his journey in the campaign so far (of course). The areas north of the Karameikan border have only been filled in along the route that Broneslav should take to reach Gray Mountain Village and then Selenica.

Monday, 4 August 2014

7 Thaumont 1000AC - An Important Meeting

Broneslav Torenescu
When Broneslav awoke, he knew immediately that the Ale Troll had been. He could feel the lightness of his purse where it had taken all his money, and his guts churned where it had punched him in the belly. His head ached where it had repeatedly shaken his brains too. He groaned. He had no money for breakfast, but that did not matter. He doubted that briefly renting some food would be good value for money. The previous night had been a good one with music, song and dancing. It turned out that he had many friends in this town. They shared the beer he bought and danced with him through the night. Good times.

He splashed cold water over his face and spruced himself up as much as he could. He needed to find the factor, deliver the message and then find some money. Then he needed to make a start on succeeding in life so that the Old Man would accept him back into the clan. It took him most of the morning to finally get control over his body. Then he stepped out of his room and headed downstairs. He asked the bartender for directions to the factor's office. The bartender did not know, but did direct him to the right quarter, where Broneslav was able to get further directions.

The offices of Sindar a'Chossum were typical of the area. They occupied the front of a warehouse and comprised painted wood. Sindar probably had a bedroom in the back, like most factors for merchant houses. When Broneslav stated his errand, he was quickly ushered into the office itself and faced a plain desk covered in paperwork, behind which sat a silver-haired elf. Sindar was old even by Elven standards and his clothes were of a fashion that was out of date even before Broneslav's great-grandfather had been born. Still, Sindar was comfortable in them and clearly did not care so much about the latest fashions.

Sindar read the letter and tucked it away in the drawer in his desk. Broneslav waited patiently, his head still buzzing. Sindar looked up.
"All seems in order. You have done well to bring this letter to me. It will benefit Clan Torenescu in the long run, I think. Now, what are your plans? I see that you have been sheared and must make your own way. How do you propose to do this?"

Broneslav replied croakily through his dry throat, "I'm not sure, sir. I had thought I might join an adventuring company from the Guild of White Shields and see where that lead."

"Tsk, that sounds a little dangerous. Perhaps I can help you get started. I have a package that I need delivering to my cousin Merisa in Gray Mountain Village to the south of Selenica. If you do this for me, I shall pay you 10 Royals now and give you a letter of introduction to my trading partner Arnulf in Selenica. He will be instructed to pay you a further 10 Royals upon proof of delivery of the package. Arnulf may be able to point you in the direction of further work, or you may be able to buy a share in a caravan from there. Arnulf can help you with that too. How does that sound?"

Broneslav winced at the thought of more travel, but he had drunk almost his entire purse last night. He had little reason to look this gift horse in the mouth, so he accepted and listened carefully to the directions that Sindar gave him. It would take nearly three weeks to reach Selenica and the roads between Threshold and the Duke's Road to the east were not good. Things would get better once he was on the Duke's Road, so that was a small mercy.

Broneslav left Sindar's office and headed for the market. He needed food for the journey. That ate up half of the advance. He decided to husband the rest and headed to bed early that night, despite the obvious desire of many of the inn's denizens to party with him once more. In the morning he would be on the road again.

Notes: There were no random encounters this time around and I wanted Broneslav to follow a particular adventure path, so there was nothing to roll here. He gained 10XPs for delivering the letter.

Broneslav Torenescu (S16, D14, C15, I12, W10, Ch14, F1, hp9, AC4, Sword 1d8+3, Bow 1d8)
Human (Traladaran)XPs: 60Traits: Torenescu Family Member 1, Hunter 1, Keen Vision 1, Good Education 1, Empathy with Animals 1Goal: Prove that he is an adult following the Shearing CeremonyQuest: Deliver a parcel to Merisa in Gray Mountain Village

Saturday, 2 August 2014

Some thoughts on playing an RPG solo

My recent foray into solitaire RPGing has highlighted for me a couple of issues that I have had with it in the past. Previously I have sought to play the character in a range of situations. I have identified with the character and then got frustrated because it is not a simple matter to role-play, when you are also determining the situations they find themselves in. This has inevitably led to the death of each campaign. The only ones that have had some success were those that were task-oriented.

I followed a character through a variety of exploration missions in a diary-based Traveller campaign back in the eighties or early nineties. The game was based on an article on real-time Traveller in Journal of the Travellers' Aid Society 13. It was an interesting experience with the character's timeline following my own exactly. I kept a (long-since lost) diary that varied between minimal entries and quite expanded entries, and my character explored uncharted areas of the galaxy for a while before I got bored and wandered away from the campaign.

The other successful solo campaign was a GURPS one. I had a fire wizard who was based in my core fantasy world of the time. I still have the massively extensive notes from that game world. I guess I really did not have much else to do back then! Anyway, this one used the GURPS job system to determine what was happening. The character did not go on adventures as such but rolled for the jobs he was doing and I adjudicated things based on that. It was ok, but lacked something.

In both cases I was interested in being the player character, because I was the GM in almost every game I played. Both games were moderately successful in their own way but they still lacked something and it is only really now that I have worked out what. They lacked a GM. I know. It sounds odd that a solo game should lack a GM but it is true.

This is where the Scarlet Heroes game comes in. I have chosen to take the role of mostly GM in this campaign. I say mostly GM because my character has been created to suit me, and is one I would be happy to play, but I have written him up with character traits which I can measure his actions against. Instead of deciding what he will do in every situation, I can test against his character traits to see if he does the expected or does something wildly out of character. If he does something out of character, I can develop his character some more by working out why this action does not fit his normal pattern of behaviour. In this way, the character is a lab rat in my GM's maze. I am also mostly GM because I let the solo system in the rules guide the narrative, but I still draw the strings together and make decisions about what directions it should take in areas of doubt, or where I think the narrative will be more interesting by ignoring the dice rolls.

It's an interesting position to be in, and I am finding it very satisfying at the moment. This mix of investing myself mainly in the role of GM and partially in the role of character feels right, where my role as mainly character in the other solo games felt out of kilter. With any luck I can maintain my impetus and keep posting adventures once or twice a week alongside my regular miniatures and board gaming, because the solo game does not take long to run through and write up. I look forward to seeing where it all leads.

Thursday, 31 July 2014

6 Thaumont 1000AC, Marta's Story, Part 3

I got my nose to the ground again right after breakfast. I had a hunch that Brandyleaf Mousenut was in the game. My contacts told me he was in town. To look at he was nothing. Just another barefoot, fatgut Halfling with a pipe and an eye for an extra meal. In reality he was as dangerous as red dragon guarding her egg. I knew he had offed some serious clout in Karameikos and Thyatia. Well, I was going to mix it up with him. I needed a word and this might be what I needed to get the target out into the open.

Notes: I rolled an investigation scene. It was 'Ambush a dangerous Actor'. The dice then produced an elite halfling assassin for me. Ok, I can roll with that.

Brandyleaf was laying low at a highbrow eatery on the good side of town. I spotted him immediately as I went into the main room. He was the one with enough plates of food before him to keep the entire army on the campaign trail. The empty plates beside him told a story of their own too. I needed to get near enough to add some herbs to his food but I needed a distraction first. It could not be too obvious. This guy new the business and would recognise something off immediately. Fortunately I had a plan. My herbs would do the trick. There were a couple of others in the room near the Halfling. I joined their table and ordered lunch. As I reached for the jug of water I sprinkled some herbs on the nearest guy's food. Then I waited. It did not take long after he tucked in. Suddenly he retched. I got ready. Then he sprang to his feet, falling over the bench we were sitting on. He scrambled up again clutching his hand to his mouth, retching all the time. I jumped up to avoid the rush and stumbled against the Halfling's table. I was too slow. The Halfling grabbed my arm as his other hand grabbed his knife and thrust it at me. I wriggled and dodged but he still ran a line across my ribs (-2 HPs). I managed to get my arm back and let rip with a spell. He froze, off balance and then toppled to the floor. I could see in his eyes that he wanted to murder me, but he could not move at all. I grabbed him and hightailed it out of there. I needed my quiet shack for the next bit.

Notes: Brandyleaf Mousenut (HD6, Elite Slayer). I chose this to suit his character and reputation. I made the test to put poison in his food an opposed one and he won easily. This meant that he got the drop on Marta. She broke away after being knifed and cast a Hold Person spell, which he failed very badly. So much for the Elite Slayer bit then. Bad luck can get anyone. Using spells in this part of town raised the Heat by 2.

Back at the shack I got to work on Brandyleaf. I strung him from the rafters and waited for the spell to wear off. I also cured my knife cut and swore to get some better armour next time I took on an elite assassin. After he came round, I explained his options to him. He could die here and now or he could tell me how to get into the target's home without setting off any traps or alerting the guard. If he told me right and I made it back, I would free him and let him live. He quickly told me what I wanted to know. There was no percentage in silence for him.

Notes: With 10 victory points Marta moved to the final action scene. I rolled 'Convince an Actor ally of the foe to betray them'. She succeeded easily.

That night the new bride of Eltheriem Chossum killed herself with poison after penning a note decrying the perverted and corrupt practices of her new husband. She gave the note to a messenger and sent him off to deliver it to Chossum's biggest rival in town. Looked like New Chossum would be in for a shake-up then. Brandyleaf was not in the shack when I returned. Probably best for him. I could not let him live with what he knew. I was a worried he might try something, but once I was out of town and into the forest we were on my turf. He was a townie and knew it. I'll keep an eye out for the Halfling, but I don't expect him to come after me unless there's money involved. Honour is not enough motivation for him.

Notes: So, that's Marta's story. We may see her again or we may not, as the gods will it. I'll return to Broneslav next week.

Level 3 Cleric
Hit Points 12
Herbalism 2
Streetwise 3
Long Distance Runner 1
Contacts in the Veiled Society 1
Spells: Cure Light Wounds, Detect Magic, Hold Person

Threat: 3
Marta's Victory Points: 10
Target's Victory Points: 3
Heat: 3
Clues: 1

Wednesday, 30 July 2014

5 Thaumont 1000AC - Marta's Story, Part 2

The assassin was careless. What a schmuck! I did not even need to rough him up. A quick word in the shell-like of a guard and the assassin was in pokey facing the usual bad guard worse guard routine. The target would know I was around now. Good. They might slip up. I still needed to get them out in the open, so I needed to cause more carnage. I had a plan for that.

Notes: The action scene was 'Sabotage a tool, evidence or ally'. Marta easily passed the check.

Time for some fun. I had stashed the Elf at a brothel owned by some 'friends'. It catered to alternative tastes and I reckoned that his image would be spoilt by being found there. There was this mug called Anastasios at the Bitter Oak tavern. He hung out there like a bad smell and occasionally did a bit of looking into things or sword work. He would make a great patsy, so I let it be known that the Elf might be worth shaking down and where he could be found. I didn't have to tell Anastasios twice. You coulda heard the Elf howl on the other side of Karameikos. I reckon the target musta heard it too. Might be the target tried to off the Elf now, or maybe make the problem go away another way. I just needed to watch and wait.

Notes: I chose another action scene to use up the second clue and rolled 'pass an incriminating or disgraceful Clue to an Actor'. I decided that Marta had not killed the Elf but had chosen to use her contacts to make sure he could be found in the right place to suit her. Again she passed the check easily and the job was done.

I hung out near the Elf's pad again. I figures the target's goons would be round to check on him soon. It took a while but soon enough a squad of local toughs piled through his door. A short while later they came out again. I followed them to a Wheelwright's workshop on the seedier side of town.

Notes: The next scene was an investigation one. I rolled 'Stake out an Actor or location'. It seemed obvious that the Actor should be the Elf. Marta's dice were on fire tonight. She scored another Clue and another Victory point but the delay netted the target one more point.

Might be there was something in there worth taking or the boss might be in there. I could do this the easy way and wait for them to leave before I broke in to steal everything or I could do it my way. I chose my way. The target mighta been in there so I figured it was worthwhile. As I went through the door I saw a fat man leaving out the back. There were eight toughs between me and that door. I waded in. Two of the goons went down immediately and two more on the backswing. Then they had their swords out. I ducked under one sword and straight into two more (-2HPs) before jumping over their leader's sword. I followed this up with a jab to the throat and kick to the groin, before spinning to break the jaw of a goon. That left two. One dropped his sword and ran. The other waved his sword wildly in my direction. I disarmed him and broke his skull. I ran for the back door but the target was long gone. I was getting closer though. I bandaged my wounds (+2 HPs) and ransacked the place. I found some papers clumsily hidden there. I headed for the inn to read them. I had time for some sleep too before I moved in on the target.

Notes: With a Clue in my pocket I chose an action scene. I rolled 'Plunder resources necessary to the foe's plan'. Great. I figured that the goons would lead Marta to a hideout and she might find out more about the target. She had the option on making a check at +2 or going to a fight. I chose fight because she is a bit of an action girl. The fight went much better than the last one.

Level 3 Cleric
Hit Points 12
Herbalism 2
Streetwise 3
Long Distance Runner 1
Contacts in the Veiled Society 1
Spells: Cure Light Wounds, Detect Magic, Hold Person

Threat: 3
Marta's Victory Points: 9
Target's Victory Points: 3
Heat: 1
Clues: 0