Saturday, 27 December 2014

27 Thaumont 1000 AC - Through the magic door

Broneslav and Alki stepped into the left-hand corridor at the crossroads in the upper temple, following the directions the Siswa claimed to have used. Twenty feet down the corridor a solid wall appeared behind them. Ahead, the corridor stretched a long way. To his left was a short corridor ending in a stone wall. To his right, another corridor stretched out. He could make out doors on either side of this corridor. He would check those later. First he wanted to follow the Siswa's directions to see where they led. This would mean heading straight up to the first set of doors.

Pausing at the doors, Broneslav listened carefully. The doors were heavy-looking, large wooden doors, so he did not expect to hear much through them, and his expectations were not disappointed.

"Watch my back, Alki."

His companion nodded and turned to look up and down the corridor.
A poorly masked image of the temple level as seen by Broneslav. I also noticed that there are issues with some of the floor levels for me to fix before he searches the rest of this level.
Broneslav eased one of the two doors open as gently as he could. The hinges creaked alarmingly, so he just threw it wide open and stepped into the room, sword ready. It was a large octagonal temple and lit by oil lamps instead of the torches that lined the walls of the corridors. The roof was some thirty feet above his head and a large compass rose was carved into the floor. He saw large double doors in the wall opposite him, and in the one to his right. To his left was a raised platform with a statue on it that was twice the height of a man. It depicted a strong man with a long beard. As his eyes took in this sight, Broneslav spotted a black-robed person behind the statue. Suddenly there was a flash of smoke and flame. When Broneslav's eyes had cleared again, the person had gone.

Hearing the commotion, Alki came in, and announced that it must have been the Rahib, when Broneslav told him what had happened. The intrepid pair moved to the platform to see if there were any clues where the Rahib had gone.

"Hey, look," Broneslav hissed, "There's a trapdoor hidden here, and that bit behind the statue looks like another one." (Yay for successful search  checks! I made them average, because this is meant to be a low level dungeon and Broneslav passed both thanks to good dice)
"The Rahib was standing here in front of the statue when he disappeared, so I think we should try this trapdoor first. We should probably try to check this whole area out first, but I think we can clear the place more easily if we stop the Rahib first. So, let's see if we can catch him."

He reached for the trapdoor and heaved it upwards ...

Character
Broneslav Torenescu (S16, D14, C15, I12, W10, Ch14, F1, HP 8/9, AC4, Sword 1d8+3, Bow 1d8)
Human (Traladaran)
XPs: 358

Traits:
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
Goal: Slay a red dragon
Quest: Deliver a parcel to Merisa in Gray Mountain Village

Ally
Alki (HD 2, AC 4, Att 1, DAM 1d8, Skill Bonus +2)

Saturday, 20 December 2014

27 Thaumont 1000 AC - Siswa, bandits and a treasure

Broneslav went first.

"Watch my back, Alki. I'm trusting you here and Rahasia won't be pleased if we fail."
"Don't worry. I'm right with you, and I hope we can do better than my previous attempt."

Broneslav looked around the corner of the wall carefully and peered up the corridor. It was another dusty stone corridor filled with cobwebs and nothing shiny to attract a newly-Sheared Traladaran. After passing several alcoves he stopped short of a junction in the corridor (7). Ahead was a long corridor which flickered with light. Two shadowy figures could be seen at its far end. To the right was another corridor, again with two shadowy figures at its end. To the left was a corridor with a curtained doorway. Broneslav decided to check the curtained doorway before moving up the corridors to deal with the guards at the end of them.

The two heroes stealthily approached the curtain (8). Low muttering and a scraping noise could be heard from beyond the curtain. Broneslav gently lifted part of it and looked in. He could see part of a long room. Moving silently to the other side of the doorway he peeked from behind the curtain at that side. A small group of robed figures were now visible. They were sharpening curved daggers of a type popular in Ylaruam. Broneslav stepped away from the curtain and motioned to Alki to move back.

"There's five of them," he whispered, "With surprise I think we can take them."
"If they are Siswa, we must capture them alive," Alki whispered back.

Broneslav was not happy, but he agreed. The two allies lined up on either side of the curtained entrance. Broneslav nodded to Alki and leapt into the room with Alki close behind. He swiped with his shield and slammed one enemy to the floor, while knocking a second out with the return swing. A boot to the groin disabled a third, who staggered into a fourth whom Broneslav punched in the face with his sword hilt. The last of the enemy had gathered his wits by this time and fended off Alki's attack, before stepping inside his sword and stabbing him in the belly (1 DAM). Broneslav stepped in and ended it with a savage blow to the back of the head that left the Siswa in an undignified heap on the floor.

Broneslav and Alki quickly tied their unconscious foes up, before tending to Alki's wound. Then he turned his attention to two sacks with a black panther design on them. They contained gold which Broneslav quickly loaded into his pack. No point letting it go to waste or be used by the forces of evil after all!

With the Siswa still unconscious, Broneslav left Alki to guard them while he scouted the end of the corridor. He was worried that the sounds of the fight might have attracted attention from the guards he had seen. Sneaking back the junction (7), he noticed that there was now one guard along the corridor ahead of him. As he peered around the corner to his left, he spotted a guard poking his head around the end of the corridor. This seemed odd to him. Why would the guards be poking their heads around the corners like that? (Passed a difficult test to spot the guard's head. Good job that Broneslav is sharp-sighted! This may help him later.).

Broneslav backed away from the junction. In doing so, he noticed that the other guard directly ahead of him was also backing away from something. The guard seemed to be keeping pace with him too. He turned and jogged back to the room with the Siswa. Alki was still there and the Siswa were not awake yet, so Broneslav decided to investigate the other end of the corridor (9). To his right and ahead of him the corridors ended just twenty feet beyond the corridor. To his left the corridor continued back to the shrine containing the alter with the hole in it (6). As he paused at the junction, suddenly four armed men emerged from the dead-end corridor to his right.

Broneslav reacted immediately and without thinking. His sword ended the life of two of the men in one great sweeping arc. The remaining two attacked Broneslav but he easily fended off their blows with his shield. With time to think more he realised that these were not Siswa. He thrust with his sword, driving it through the body of one of the men. As he withdrew it, the body slumped to the floor, and he slammed the other man with his shield. The man was hurled back into the wall. Suddenly the man threw his sword and shield to the floor.

"I surrender! I see now you are no Siswa!" he yelled, backing away until he could move no further because his back was against the wall he had come through. (The man failed a morale roll in the face of a red-handed hero)

Broneslav quickly disarmed him and escorted him back to the room with the Siswa where he hoped to find out what was going on here. He learnt that the men were thieves who had sought treasure in the temple. They had entered, as Broneslav had, through the main entrance, but had found themselves lost after entering a long corridor. They had turned to look back and found that the corridor behind them was blocked by a solid wall, so they could not return. Investigating further, they had wandered around only to find that at various crossroads in the temple the corridors could only be traversed in one direction. Each time a wall appeared behind them as they moved through an area where the light in the temple shimmered slightly. The man who was called Teikus explained that all he wanted now was to escape the temple with some of the treasure he had gathered. Broneslav could keep the rest if he would only let him go. Broneslav agreed but made Teikus show him the shimmering light. As suspected, it was at the start of the long corridor (7). Moreover, when they looked down the corridor, they could see two figures in the distance, where previously there had been only one. Broneslav jumped up and down. One of the figures did the same. Yes, he was clearly looking at his own back from a great distance. Intriguing magic, he thought to himself.

He escorted Teikus to the entrance to the temple without mishap and watched the bandit leave. Then he returned to Alki before investigating the corridor near where he had encountered the bandits. Off the corridor to his left were a series of deep alcoves, while in the corridor, brown and dry flower petals had been strewn in front of the statues that occupied the alcoves. Investigating more closely, he found a golden pendant around the neck of one statue (10). Set in the pendant was a black jade stone of obviously great value, if only because of its size. Broneslav tried lifting it off the statue, but it would not move at all, no matter what he did to it.

When he returned to Alki, the Siswa were now coming to. Time to question them. From them, Broneslav learnt that they had a set pattern for entering the temple and that the shimmering light was in fact a magical door to a different part of the temple. Well, he would investigate that next by following their directions. But first he secured the Siswa so that they could not come after him. If he returned alive he would return them to the Kota-Hutan for justice. If he did not return alive, well, he would be beyond bothering about their fate.

Character
Broneslav Torenescu (S16, D14, C15, I12, W10, Ch14, F1, HP 8/9, AC4, Sword 1d8+3, Bow 1d8)
Human (Traladaran)
XPs: 358

Traits:
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
Goal: Slay a red dragon
Quest: Deliver a parcel to Merisa in Gray Mountain Village

Ally
Alki (HD 2, AC 4, Att 1, DAM 1d8, Skill Bonus +2)

Saturday, 13 December 2014

27 Thaumont 1000AC - An Ally

Broneslav pushed through the doors into the main temple. He was now under the hill and it would have been dark in here, were it not for the lit torches in brackets along the walls. These showed that people still inhabited the place and that he must be careful. Curiously, there was an ornate compass rose on the floor in the entrance and, on the wall opposite the entrance, a glowing drawing of a hand pointing to the right.

N.B. In the following description, bold numbers in parentheses refer to the numbers on the map accompanying this post.

He paused and listened before drawing his sword. He felt no desire to harm the Siswa, but you never knew what else might lurk here. Using the sword blade he lifted the curtain on the alcove to the left (1). As he did so, a sword slashed through the curtain at him, succeeding only in cutting the fabric. Broneslav reacted instantly and dived towards the attack. As he did so, he realised that his opponent was an armoured Elf who blocked Broneslav's blow with his shield. His opponent then opened a cut in Broneslav's leg with a deft flick of his sword (3 DAM! Ouch!) but Broneslav hammered the Elf with his sword pommel. His attacker's eyes rolled up in his head as he collapsed bonelessly to the floor. With the aggressive Elf unconscious, Broneslav took time to bandage the cut to his leg (heal 2 hit points) and then checked the Elf.

Remembering the pool outside (2), he quickly disarmed the Elf and slung him over his shoulder. Moments later, he had thrown the Elf into the disgusting water. The Elf thrashed around a bit, spluttering and choking but clearly conscious once more. Suddenly the water itself reared up and started forming around the Elf who struggled to his feet as Broneslav grabbed for him. Aided by Broneslav, the Elf staggered backwards out of the pool, still choking and coughing, but now covered in slimy green algae. The pair of them backed away from the pool which was now thrashing tendrils of water at them (Water Weird: HD 3, AC 5, Att 1, DAM Save or take 1 point of damage from drowning each round). Once at a safe distance they paused to catch their breath. Broneslav had a thought.

"You," he said to the Elf, "Wait here or I will hunt you down."

The Elf nodded assent as he sought to clear his lungs of water.

Broneslav dived in towards the creature and swung his shield at its watery limbs. His clumsy blow thudded into the creature and the limb collapsed to the courtyard splashing suddenly normal water everywhere. A second liquid tendril struck at Broneslav but he ducked beneath it and riposted naturally with his sword. Wet from the previous blow, his hand slipped from his sword's hilt and it went flying into the pool. (I rolled a 1 and invoked DM's fiat to make it a critical failure because it amused me) Stunned by this lack of dexterity, Broneslav forgot to duck as the water creature grasped him with its remaining limb and hauled him into the pool. As he was dragged under, Broneslav managed to take a huge gulp of air. He flailed at the creature to no avail as it kept him under the water by sheer force. Suddenly it stopped holding him down and his head cleared the water. The Elf was now standing over him with Broneslav's own sword in hand. Clearly the Elf had slain the creature. Now the point of the sword was directed at Broneslav and the Elf's face was grim. Time stretched out until the Elf quickly reversed the sword, returning it to Broneslav.

"You're not one of them. I'd be dead if you were. So, who are you, stranger?"

Broneslav introduced himself quickly and explained his errand. The Elf grinned.

"I was one of the rescue party. I'll help you, if you will have me. We failed our mission, but you seem made of sterner stuff. It takes guts to take on a water weird like that. My name is Alki."

Broneslav snorted as he suppressed a laugh. Alki sounded like the Traladaran word for someone a bit too fond of their beer.

"Yes, join me. But first, I noticed a lot of gold in the bottom of this pool when I was dragged in, and I am going to need money for new clothes, I think. These are a bit too blood-stained and mucky for polite company."

The pair quickly gathered the coins from the sludge at the bottom of the pool. There was around 60 Royals extra in Broneslav's pocket as the pair returned to the room where he had encountered Alki. As they entered the temple once more, they came face to face with a skeleton warrior (HD 1, Att 1, AC 7, DAM 1d6) (3). Broneslav swung wildly at it while fending off its spear with his shield, and then stepped in and smashed it to the ground with his shield. It did not stir again.

Once inside the room, Alki re-armed himself and the two warriors stepped out into the corridor to face whatever challenges the rest of the temple had to offer. They could see rooms to their left and right at the ends of the corridor they were in, and there was another room behind a curtain to the right of the entrance. The curtain offered concealment, so our intrepid hero and his sidekick stepped quickly through the curtain to surprise anything that might lurk there (4). The candles in the room did look rather startled but the chests under the table were impassive. The pegs on the walls suggested that this was once a cloak room, and the piles of mouldy cloth on the floor suggest that the clothes have not been word in some time. A quick search of the room found a lot of copper coins and a dozen or so silver ones which Broneslav quickly put in his pack. Waste not, want not, as his uncle still often said!

From the cloakroom, he led the way to the right hand room (5). Moving cautiously along the wall, he pulled up short to listen but heard nothing. Poking his head round the corner, he saw that the room was lit but empty. A statue stood on a platform with an altar in front of it. A dusty pile of old cloth lay in front of the altar. Checking them quickly, he realised they were robes and not in bad condition either. They were on the small side for Broneslav, but would fit Alki perfectly.

"These look like the robes of the Siswa," Alki told him, "Perhaps I could wear one and we could try to bluff our way past anyone we meet. I fear that your size would give you away immediately though, but this one might fit."

Broneslav donned the robe, cut a slit in the side to make it fit better and was then content that he had done what he could.

Sneaking to the other end of the corridor they found another room with a raised platform, altar and statue (6). This time the altar was round and had a hole in it some four feet wide. Broneslav felt into the altar but could not feel the bottom. It was pitch black as far as he could see and went a long way down.

With the two rooms scouted and the options being one of two corridors, Broneslav decided to follow the direction of the glowing hand on the entrance wall. He headed back to the other shrine and prepared to follow the corridor out of that room ...

Character
Broneslav Torenescu (S16, D14, C15, I12, W10, Ch14, F1, HP 8/9, AC4, Sword 1d8+3, Bow 1d8)
Human (Traladaran)
XPs: 186

Traits:
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
Goal: Slay a red dragon
Quest: Deliver a parcel to Merisa in Gray Mountain Village

Ally
Alki (HD 2, AC 4, Att 1, DAM 1d8, Skill Bonus +2)

Saturday, 6 December 2014

27 Thaumont 1000AC - Entering Kota-Hutan Temple

Broneslav reached the temple gates without incident. As he approached, he realised that they were decorated with animal and plant motifs. The walls of the temple were covered in vines and Broneslav thought that it would be better to climb the wall and scout the interior before he entered. He tested a vine and it fell quickly. A different one felt firm enough and he began to climb, only to fall on his backside as it too would not bear his weight.

Are the vines climbable? Unknown quantity. The oracle says that they are not but that something the hero believes is actually wrong. Thus he thinks he can climb it but falls.

Nothing for it but to charge the gates then, he thought. Checking them, he found that they swung open easily. He stopped and listened before stepping quickly into the apparently empty courtyard. Small wooden sheds stood on either side of the courtyard and two stone structures occupied the external corners of the courtyard wall. Above him the rock towered over the double doors that must lead to the temple interior. The dirt floor was well trampled and showed signs of neglect. Weeds grew everywhere and rubbish had been left haphazardly around the place. There was a large reflecting pool in the centre of the yard. The water in the pool looked manky and algae-ridden.

Turning to the left, he stalked panther-like along the wall to the stone building in the corner of the courtyard, pausing only long enough to admire the delicate dome that roofed it. It was a shrine with a statue on a dais and a small altar in front of the statue. He recognised it as Elayas, the immortal from the shrine.

Following the courtyard round clockwise he moved stealthily towards the four wooden shacks next to the shrine. They were empty and long unused.
1 square equals 10 feet
He retraced his steps round to the stone building on the other side of the courtyard where he found a shrine that mirrored the one he had already investigated. This, too, looked deserted, so he skirted round it and moved to the wooden shacks on that side of the courtyard. These appeared empty until he checked the last one. Two sacks lay discarded at the back of it. Upon investigation, these turned out to contain a couple of hundred copper coins. Although the sacks were rotting, a black panther symbol was visible on them and the word 'Tithe' could be made out. Broneslav pocketed the cash and moved towards the stairs leading up to the temple's main entrance.

There's little point spending ages checking everything out like most D&D players would do if this were a live game with DM and players, so I figure to race through the empty areas. Broneslav has missed being ambushed by a gargoyle at this stage because he did not see anything worth investigating in the shrine at bottom right of the map. Perhaps it will emerge when he is on his way out. We shall see.

The map is made with Campaign Cartographer, as usual, using the Jon Roberts dungeon style that was issued with one of the annuals. I am still only moderately competent with the software and could do with learning an awful lot more about it, but I reckon it gives great results despite that, although I have just noticed that two of the movement arrows have disappeared beneath the stairs. Time to add a new layer to the map for the arrows. That way I can keep them above the other map symbols. I have also just realised that I left the grid switched on but that it is not visible in all parts of the map. No harm done, eh?

Character
Broneslav Torenescu (S16, D14, C15, I12, W10, Ch14, F1, HP 9, AC4, Sword 1d8+3, Bow 1d8)
Human (Traladaran)
XPs: 60
Traits:
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
Goal: Slay a red dragon
Quest: Deliver a parcel to Merisa in Gray Mountain Village

Tuesday, 2 December 2014

Picts invade Vikingland - a Dux Bellorum mini-AAR

A couple of weeks ago the Picts and the Vikings had a rematch. If you recall, the Vikings trounced the Picts in the last game. This time around the Vikings were a more settled bunch, having invaded and taken land from the Picts, so I used the Saxon army list.

I decided to try some different strategies, so I opted for some War Pigs (War Dogs in the list) and I chose to try an Assassination. Steve had chosen War Dogs and Veterans, and I believe that he opted for very large numbers of Leadership Points (LPs) too. My army was bulked out with Ordinary Warriors to give me greater numbers. I feared that Steve would have loads of troops and that I might get surrounded and cut down rather too quickly.

The assassin was rubbish and failed to kill even the enemy leader's teddy bear, let alone assassinate the enemy leader, so we began the battle.
Note: Assassination is expensive. It costs almost as much as a unit of Noble Warriors. It also only has a 3 in 36 chance of success (causes the enemy to lose 3 LPs) versus a 10 in 36 chance of costing you 1 LP. The effect if it works is great, but I do wonder about its cost-effectiveness given that you have a three times greater chance of hurting yourself than you do of hurting your opponent, and even without an effect you are down a Warrior unit on the field. I'll still use it though. It would be worth it to see my opponent's face when it does eventually succeed!

With the pre-battle assassination attempt out of the way, we set up. I was the defender and had chosen a piece of impassable ground and a lake as the terrain.
The Vikings are in the foreground. Black dice are my LPs. Red dice are Steve's LPs.
I anchored my right flank on the lake and deployed my Nobles mounted together with their trusty War Pigs. I planned to defeat Steve's light cavalry and circle behind the enemy line, using the big rock as cover. Steve set up to flank me with his light troops while hammering me down the middle with his War Dogs and Warriors.
The Pictish light cavalry took fright at he approach of the War Pigs and headed for the centre, while the Pictish archers fired desultorily at my flank and failed to score any hits at all. My cavalry clashed with the light cavalry while the War Pigs headed round the big rock as planned. The Pictish War Dogs charged straight down the middle and hit my skirmishers. It was at this point that I started consistently failing to put my LPs in the right place. Note that the War Pigs have 3 LPs allocated to them and no way of using them. I managed to do that a lot in this game!
Blue dice represent Viking casualties. White dice are Pictish casualties.
The battle progressed. The Pictish warriors began to advance as the Viking cavalry sought to cross the battlefield. Casualties mounted and I really wished I had a traffic plan as my troops got in each other's way and I continued to place my LPs with the wrong units. Still the Pictish archers failed to score any hits though. Around this time I turned the War Pigs around to try to support their Noble masters on the horses.
Sadly, the War Pigs failed to reach the Noble Riders in time, and I once more managed to put my remaining LPs in the wrong place. At the end of the battle, the Pictish line had been broken and their numbers massively reduced but the Companions and the Veterans still remained. They were battered and bloodied but still they fought on, each declaiming their ancestry and great deeds as they fell to the Vikings. At last they were so worn out that the Pictish general fell. His veterans took to their heels and fled. The Vikings held the field and retained their small hold on Pictland. I had won despite every mistake I made!

It is clear that Dux Bellorum suits us well. The playing time is short enough for our regular gaming sessions and the strategies add the kind of colour that we like to see in our games. The armies are small enough that we could easily collect several too. It's like DBA but better!

Saturday, 29 November 2014

27 Thaumont 1000AC - The Approach to Kota-Hutan Temple

At first light Broneslav arose and breakfasted well. It would be a busy day and he would need all his energy for fighting. He packed only what he would need for the day and left the rest of his supplies in the room at Rahasia's house. He figured that he would be able to carry more treasure out of the temple that way. No doubt Rahasia would want her stolen dowry returning, so he needed to make sure he could carry that as well as the vast wealth that would soon be his. Evil sorcerers accumulated wealth, did they not? Or was that dragons? Oh well, he would find out soon enough.

"I am ready," he announced, "lead me to the fray."

With that he, Rahasia and a couple of the larger Elves set out on the trail to the temple. It was another cold and dreary day, lifted only by the unnatural light that seemed to pervade the Elven forest. Thaumont was always cold and dreary, at least it was when Winter was not trying to prevent Spring from arriving by snowing again.
Broneslav's map of the route to the temple
After an hour's walking the going got tougher as they entered the hills south of Kota-Hutan. Half an hour later they had reached a small shrine by the trail.
"We stop and rest here for a short while," declared Rahasia. She herself entered the shrine and placed several pieces of fruit on the altar in front of a large statue of strong-looking man with a huge and imposing beard. She murmured a short prayer and returned to the others. Broneslav stuck his head through the door. The shrine was wooden and built in the Elven style. The statue and the altar stood in the middle of it facing the door. To either side of the door were unoccupied and unused alcoves.

Glancing into the shrine past Rahasia, Broneslav noticed something odd about the two alcoves (Successful Hard check versus his Keen Vision attribute). He tried stepping past her to check what he thought he had seen but she stepped in his way.

"I'm sorry, but you must not pass the Old One's gaze. It is disrespectful to him. He was once Elayas, a wizard of great power who founded the Quiet Way that was followed in the temple until the Rahib arrived. Elayas was the spiritual leader of the Siswa, but it is said that he disappeared in a terrible battle with three witches. He is one of our immortals now."

Broneslav considered pushing past Rahasia anyway. There was something funny about the patterns of dust in the alcoves that intrigued him. However, good manners won out and he stepped outside the shrine. Maybe he could investigate later when she was not around. (I thought it unlikely that he would be so ill-mannered as to ignore Rahasia's wishes and the oracle agreed with me)

The group continued up the hill towards the temple that was now visible. It was cut into the hillside with a wall around it some twenty feet high. Great silvered gates dominated the centre of that wall and reflected the sunlight down into the valley. Broneslav wondered how far into the hill the temple was cut. Well, he would find out soon enough.

Rahasia announced, "I shall wait for you near the shrine where I can hide and watch for you. Take care and please succeed. If you do not then things will go much the worse for us."

"Yes, and if I fail then things will have gone pretty badly for me too, you know," Broneslav responded snippishly. Then, more gently, "Don't worry. I shall do everything I can to rescue your loved ones and the Siswa."

He hitched his belt up, settled his pack on his back, and set off up the hill through the bushes beside the road. It looked like there was only one entrance, so he would have to use that, but there was no sense in not being careful too. There might be hidden watchers nearby.

Character
Broneslav Torenescu (S16, D14, C15, I12, W10, Ch14, F1, HP 9, AC4, Sword 1d8+3, Bow 1d8)
Human (Traladaran)
XPs: 60
Traits:
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
Goal: Slay a red dragon
Quest: Deliver a parcel to Merisa in Gray Mountain Village

Tuesday, 25 November 2014

Meeting at Longlier - CDTOB AAR Part 3

We completed the Meeting at Longlier scenario some weeks ago, but I have only now managed to edit the photos and write the game up. I am such a slacker! Anyway, this is the final part of the scenario write-up. Part 1 and Part 2 were posted some time back on the blog. At the end of the last turn, the Germans were pushing hard on their left flank and things looked grim for the French on that side. The town of Longlier was hotly disputed in the centre with both sides occupying half of it. The battle on the right was much more open and the German cavalry had broken round the flank and were aiming to capture the French regimental command.
The situation at the end of Turn 7
How it looked to us
As the French cavalry chased the German cavalry, a French company was dispatched to intercept the Germans, Meanwhile another French company captured a village near the railway bridge and a third company of that battalion was moving to capture the village on the ridge, but it was going to have to fight through a German company in the woods first.
French infantry move to intercept German cavalry
The battle in Longlier saw the Germans pushed back and taking losses, while two French companies closed the pincers on the town to ensure that the Germans would have nowhere to go but into the bag. Artillery and machine-gun fire were doing a good job of suppressing the Germans to ease the French advance.
Longlier from the south (The beige markers show pinned German units. The French are on the left of the photo)
Longlier from the north with the French on the right of the photo
On the French right flank, it was a completely different picture. The fight in the woods had heated up and lead was flying everywhere. The French 75s were working overtime to try to suppress the Germans, while the battalion commander was busily rallying one of his companies. The Germans were starting to take heavy losses here too, but the French definitely had the worst of it with damaged and demoralised companies trying to hold the line and give the artillery time to escape.
The battle for the southern woods. Beige markers show pinned German units. The other pin markers are French and the red and green markers show demoralised French troops
Fortunately for the French, the German infantry had found the whole affair too hot for them too and their entire left flank became pinned down. At this point, the German commander decided to cede the day to the French and regroup his troops. There was be time enough another day to assault Longlier.
French losses
German Losses

Notes
French losses in this game were very light, as the photo shows. The Germans took horrendous losses. This was one reason why Steve called it a day and ceded the game to me. I got lucky in that his morale rolls at the end of turn 7 were terrible, resulting in a very large part of his army pinning. His morale might have held out better had this not happened, because he could then have driven home against my battered troops there. This would have freed up his left flank to relieve Longlier. He would have had between 1 and 5 turns for this, depending upon the game end die roll, so it could have been feasible. Having to rally and regroup his troops first meant that he probably would not have had time for this.

This was a good fun scenario. It worked well as a training scenario to teach Steve the new rules and to remind me of how Command Decision works. I am now keen to play the rest of the scenarios in The Death of Glory, but I also wonder about reducing them in size. They are all really too large to suit the available time we have for gaming, so we need to consider how best to reduce the size of the forces and still play an interesting scenario.

Saturday, 22 November 2014

25-26 Thaumont 1000AC - Rahasia

Broneslav kicked back for the day in Reedle following a long lie in. Reedle was a village that provided services for caravans making the arduous trek along the Duke's Road, as well as having a very healthy agricultural background that had made many of its farmers very wealthy.

The ice that was still forming on the puddles in the muddy streets encouraged Broneslav to seek his entertainment indoors and he soon found himself a couple of Royals up in a card game when a yell in the street had him moving from his seat to see what was going on, just as a cartload of logs shed its load against the wall of the Rusty Sword tavern. The tavern was flimsily built and the wall gave way quickly. Skipping out of the way of the logs, Broneslav took this as his cue to leave. The rest of the day passed uneventfully.
The following day, he got up early, shouldered his pack, and set off northwards on his errand. He made good time, encountering only the usual travellers on his way and reached the smaller road into the woods that Sindar had instructed him to take. As he followed this road, he noticed that the trees around him soon seemed taller and more imposing. Spring seemed to be arriving early in this part of the forest, because he noticed that some trees were even now in bud. Wondering at this, Broneslav rounded a corner on the path and the low afternoon soon glinted off something metallic in the undergrowth beside the trail. He stopped to check. It was an Elf. His coat of mail was badly damaged and the blows that had caused the rings to break asunder had done similar damage to his body.

Checking to see if the Elf carried anything that might identify him, Broneslav noticed a scroll tucked into the body's belt. He read it quickly and realised that the Elf had been a messenger coming from Kota-Hutan. Someone called Rahasia had sent the Elf to seek help, and the message was a call to arms for any brave enough to face the threat that Rahasia's village faced.

"Aha!" thought Broneslav, "This looks like the first step on my road to glory, and it goes in the right direction too, for this package I carry is to be delivered at this self-same village. So, I shall defeat this Rahib and then be able to return covered in glory and gold to my beautiful Milka, she of the rose red lips and snow white skin. I shall rest my head on her breast with my reputation established and all shall be well."

He pondered who and what the Rahib might be as he followed the path further. He or it was certainly some kind of sorcerer, for the curse seemed real enough even allowing for hyperbole. The acolytes at the temple, the Siswa, may have been turned by the Rahib's magic, hence their refusal to permit any of the villagers to visit and the disappearance of this Rahasia's father and of her fiancee Hasan. Yes, this was shaping up to be a proper adventure, and Broneslav could be the hero that saved the day for Rahasia and the two other maidens that the Rahib had demanded. Damsel in distress: check. Evil sorcerer: check. Hero with sword: check. Perhaps accounting himself a hero already was a bit much, but Broneslav was prone to such daydreaming. It was better than the cold, wet, muddy alternative of actually being on an adventure.

With his thoughts occupied by dreams of glory, gold and the reddest of lips, the last part of the journey to the village passed quickly. A few Elves were abroad at this time and Broneslav was quickly able to meet with Rahasia. She was incredibly beautiful, even by Elven standards of ethereal grace, but Broneslav's tastes ran to more substantial women.

"Bit too skinny for my liking," he thought uncharitably, before agreeing to sort the problem out as Rahasia requested. He thought he noticed some doubt in her face about his ability to cope with the Rahib, but he quickly dismissed it in his own mind. After all, three feet of steel sticking out of his chest should severely discourage the Rahib from continuing to live.

Rahasia had food brought for Broneslav and talked about the temple as he ate. She announced that she would guide him to the base of Grey Mountain where the temple lay so that he would be on the right path, but she did not dare go further in case the Rahib captured her.

With food in his belly and Rahasia's instructions in his ears, Broneslav took a hot bath and went to bed early. Tomorrow would be a busy day.

Character
Broneslav Torenescu (S16, D14, C15, I12, W10, Ch14, F1, HP 9, AC4, Sword 1d8+3, Bow 1d8)
Human (Traladaran)
XPs: 60
Traits:
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
Goal: Slay a red dragon
Quest: Deliver a parcel to Merisa in Gray Mountain Village

Tuesday, 18 November 2014

Vikings invade Pictland - a Dux Bellorum mini-report

Last week we played Dux Bellorum. We are playing again this week so I thought I should try to remember what happened and post a short report before the new game completely wipes the old one from my memory. I fielded a Viking army as Land Raiders. Steve used his new Picts. This meant we knew who would win at the outset because my Vikings are veterans of many games and newly painted figures never win their first outing, except against other newly painted figures.

I had chosen Champion's Challenge, Fanatics and Mead as strategies for my army. I also bought an extra Leadership Point. Steve had bought an extra 3 Leadership Points, but I don't think he had bought any strategies. Steve was the defender and I was the attacker. He set up the terrain as you can see below and I chose to deploy between a field and some woods, forcing him to split his army so that it could move easily in groups. My champion called his out and won, reducing Steve's Leadership Points by one as a result of being demoralised at the death of their biggest bloke.

Vikings at the bottom of the picture
There was little tactical subtlety in the battle. I began by sending my berserkers (Fanatics) off on a charge against Steve's right flank (my left). I hoped that they would disrupt his formation while the rest of my force picked apart his main body.
Berserkers to the left of me, Warriors to the right, and here I am stuck in the middle with you
The berserkers saw off a unit of skirmishers but were very quickly cut down, so I sent a unit of warriors off to delay the enemy some more. They did this rather well which surprised me.
The main body assaults the Pictish main body and is threatened by the skirmish horse from behind, Meanwhile the warriors on the left are holding up twice their own number and winning. That mead I gave them sure paid off.
My warriors actually won on the left flank while my main body, fuelled by mead proceeded to pick apart the enemy. The game ended with the Pictish general surrounded and eventually cut down. His bodyguard died with him and will be remembered in our songs.
The poor surrounded Pictish general
This was a good fun, but brutal game. We got a couple of things wrong but not too much at all. The key to winning it for me was picking the right fights in the main combat. Rolling well also helped, but it is fair to say that the mid-game was characterised by my inability to roll fives or sixes despite rolling whole buckets of dice. I'm fielding the Vikings as Saxons in the next game and shall try some different strategies this time around.

Steve got frustrated in the last game because he did so little damage to my troops, but that did not stop him from declaring what fun the rules are. I concur. I am now planning an Elven army using the Late Roman list and a Norman army based on the Romano-British list. It may well be time to find my painting mojo again.

Wednesday, 5 November 2014

Grand Admiral: Castles of Steel - WW1 Naval Game

We played Grand Admiral: Castles of Steel last night. I have been looking for a fast-playing naval wargames rules set for WW1 for some years now and found this to be interesting, so I bought and downloaded it. Previously I have played a lot of General Quarters 2. GQ2 is a fine game but it does not play quickly enough for the size of game I want to play, i.e. Jutland.

Anyway, it all began many years ago, when I bought a Conflict Miniatures (formerly Knight Designs) 1:5000 fleet set with all of the ships required for Jutland. These tiny beauties ranged in size from approximately 10mm in length for a destroyer to 20mm for a battleship and I have always thought that they must be 1:10000 and not 1:5000 scale. For their size they are brilliant. Individual classes of ship are recognisable with the larger models and I was quite taken with them, but I always found naval wargaming to be a bit sterile. Still, I painted them all and they languished in the cupboard for years awaiting a willing opponent. Then last night I finally persuaded Steve to play. Yay!
The British squadrons are at the bottom of this picture. Light cruisers are on the left, battleships in the centre and battlecruisers on the right. The German battleships are steaming at full speed down the centre, while the two battlecruiser squadrons are manoeuvring up top left.
I quickly put together two small battle-groups of three squadrons each and offered Steve the choice of sides. He picked the Germans, so I wound up with the British. We set up our ships and set to. It was a simple engagement that saw both of us steaming towards each other, although my own efforts to cross the T were slightly subtler than Steve's plan of steaming right into the middle of my ships with his battleships while his battle-cruisers lagged behind. The net result was that I was able to concentrate fire on his battleships and sink them all before engaging his battlecruisers and sinking enough of them to win the game. Steve severely damaged several of my ships and sunk a few, but the advantage was definitely mine.

The game itself played rather well, although it took longer than I expected. The key mechanic of the game is the card draw for movement and firing. A deck is constructed consisting of Ace through Six and two face cards in different suits for each side (we used hearts for the British and spades for the Germans). Each player holds a hand of three cards at the start and plays one card from that hand when it is their turn. They then draw another card. Play continues until all the cards have been played and the deck is then reshuffled ready for the next round to begin. When a player plays a number card (Ace to Six) all ships of the side associated with that suit whose speed is equal to or greater than the number may move. When a face card is played, all ships of that side may shoot. Players are not allowed to discard or pass, so they must, at some point, play cards that let their opponent act. The key is to work out when this is most advantageous for you. I like this mechanism, because it adds a bit of planning ahead to the game and introduces some uncertainty. Both of these are things I like in my games.

For shooting, the game uses the bucket of dice approach which we enjoy, but it also provides an optional single die resolution system. With the bucket of dice you roll for hits first based on being at short or long range, and then you roll for damage for each successful hit by rolling equal to or greater than the target's armour value minus your gun's penetration value. Damage causes ships to first become crippled and then to sink. Thus, ships have two floating states which amount to full strength and half strength. There are no critical hits or other fripperies, because this is intended to be a fleet level game played in a reasonable length of time.

Grand Admiral is designed to be played on a hex grid but we just counted one hex as two inches and worked everything out from there. The only way this affected the game was that our squadrons would have been deployed in one hex each and could have turned as a squadron on one movement card. The way we played, they needed several movement cards for the whole squadron to change direction while remaining in line. This slowed movement down, but felt about right.

Overall, we enjoyed the game and will play again at some point. I shall certainly try to get Steve to play General Quarters too, but that will have to be for smaller games because of the extra detail in those rules. Now that I have used my ships, I think I may rebase them to be more user friendly too. At the very least, they need names that are visible without having to pick the ship up or have an encyclopaedic knowledge of ship profiles from the period. It might also prove useful to base them on small hexes to aid with working out arcs of fire. I look forward to the rebasing and hopefully playing with these figures that I have bought over twenty years ago now.

Wednesday, 17 September 2014

Meeting at Longlier - CDTOB AAR Part 2

We continued our slow progress through the Meeting at Longlier scenario once more. The fighting is becoming more intense, Longlier is occupied by entire battalions from both sides and the Germans are desperately attempting to march around the French flanks.
The situation at the end of Turn 6
As can be seen from the map above, the French advanced rapidly to form up a line centred on Longlier. The Germans are trying to flank the French on the right with a battalion or more of infantry (it feels like more at the moment!) and the German recon cavalry is in the north-west of the map attempting to gallop around and capture the built-up areas behind French lines. Not all units are shown on the map, for the sake of clarity.
The view from the German lines at the end of Turn 4
Turn 4 saw the French artillery deployed and ready to rain all-out thermonuclear heck on the Germans, while troops of both sides marched towards the front at full speed. We set to and I gleefully rolled for artillery response for my first artillery unit. No response. I rolled for the second. No response. What were these idiots up to? I cursed my gunners as they failed to fire at all.

Meanwhile Longlier was becoming the Stalingrad of the Lorraine area. Both armies occupied it but neither was making much headway as new troops were fed in from the rear. On the German left flank forces were building up and things were starting to look dicey for the French.
View from the French end of the table at the end of Turn 5
Turn 5 began with the artillery stonk that I had hoped for on the previous turn. It was much better than the planned stonk from the previous turn because the Germans had parked all their artillery in the walled field to the east of Longlier (top of the picture above). A couple of artillery templates covered the artillery and some infantry, and some lucky dice rolling destroyed the entire artillery battalion. BOOM! The infantry were not happy either. Suddenly the field was empty.

The fighting in Longlier continued as more troops were fed into the meatgrinder, and the German left flank continued to march around towards the French artillery. It looked like they would be able to charge the artillery on the next turn, which would probably not go that well for the guns and the gunners.
End of Turn 6 as taken by an observation pilot in a Bleriot plane. North is to the top of the picture.
The start of turn 6 went well for the French. All the guns fired, suppressing infantry in Longlier and blunting the flanking attack. Better yet, the French won the initiative and were able to charge the first flanking force, destroying part of it and causing the rest to become shaken. The fight in the eastern woods dragged on with honours being even on both sides, but the French troops became pinned by their opponents. Next turn may not go well for them and reinforcing companies are also advancing rapidly around the flank. It may be too late for an orderly withdrawal from that side of the battlefield, but there are no strategic objectives there, so sucking the Germans into a drawn out firefight might actually work in the long run, but at the cost of some brave poilus.

In Longlier casualties mounted up but no progress was being made. Meanwhile the French had a company advancing around both sides of the town. It will be tough digging the Germans out, but it is still a possibility.

To the north of Longlier, German infantry and cavalry were advancing round the flank. A battalion of French infantry was deployed to try to cut them off. The French cavalry who had held part of the town from the start mounted up and moved out through the infantry lines to try to catch the German cavalry and sort it out.

We've made mistakes with the rules along the way, but the scenario is turning out to be good fun. Fog of War cards add something to the chaos without unbalancing the game, and the forces seem fairly evenly matched. Steve is showing his tricksy side with his flanking manoeuvres while I have focused on driving through the middle in best Viking berserker tradition. It's a shame that we cannot play more and finish it sooner but overall I think I have sold Steve on CDTOB now.

Saturday, 13 September 2014

Norway 1940 in 15mm

Many years ago I converted a bunch of Peter Pig and Old Glory 15mm DAK troopers into a Norwegian army for PBI2. Since those heady days, the figures have languished in a box file awaiting a return to PBI2 or any other game system that will permit their use. Then, earlier this year, my friend Nathan suggested playing the scenarios from the Skirmish Campaigns Norway 1940 scenario book. I had the book, I had the figures, and I was sold instantly. There was just a small matter of buying a few Brits and some Frenchmen for some of the scenarios, but I could live with that, so I dug them out and began transferring them from multibases to skirmish bases. More recently, Feathersword on the Command Decision forum was asking about Norwegians so I responded, and he responded by asking for photos. These are some photos of my Norwegian army in response to his request. Hopefully it will not be too long before I get the scenarios played too, although my friend has inconveniently decided to breed a proto-wargamer in the meantime which is likely to mean reduced opportunities for gaming.

Officers

I think both of these are pretty much straight from the PP DAK officers pack

Officer and LMG Gunner
Officer as above. The LMG gunner is a British Bren Gunner with pack removed and head swapped for a DAK head, which is close enough to the Norwegian cap for my purposes.

MG Gunners
The LMGs in this photo are a British Bren Gunner and a Japanese LMG. The number 2s on the guns are both Japanese. The MMG is a British Vickers with the barrel end cut about a bit. The gunners had their packs removed and their heads swapped. It's close enough to the Colt for wargames purposes. I think I may have the ammo feed from the wrong side, but it's hard to tell in the photos I've seen because the same photo is printed both right way round and reversed, and there is nothing to tell me which is which.

Riflemen
For the riflemen I mostly used DAK riflemen, but I also used Germans and Russians in greatcoats for that winter chic. The guys on the left are partisans or RCW types who I use as local volunteers with no military equipment. It may not be entirely right, but it is romantic.

Ski Troops
It's not Norway without skis. These are German ski troops with helmets removed where necessary and caps added.

Sniper
A German sniper straight from the PP pack painted in Norwegian uniform.

Mortar
More DAK troops to provide support. This time a medium mortar. Let's hope that gunner is carrying tins of ammunition and not more lutefisk.

75mm Gun
This 75mm gun is the bastard offspring of a British 18lber and a Krupp 77mm from the PP WW1 range. It has the old-style wheels because apparently only a very few 75s were converted to pneumatic tyres for towing by vehicles. The crew are more PP DAK troops.

Looking at these guys, I now have a nostalgic urge to play PBI2 again, and a strong desire to cover my gaming table in snow.

Wednesday, 27 August 2014

Meeting at Longlier - CDTOB AAR Part 1


Last night, we continued the Command Decision: Test of Battle game that we began last week. At our current rate of progress it will take us another couple of weeks to finish the game. The scenario is the second one in the Death of Glory supplement. It pits the French versus the Germans in the Lorraine area in August 1914. Both sides have a regiment of infantry, a battalion of artillery and a recon cavalry squadron. The game will be 8-12 turns long depending upon a random die roll.

The game began with the recon cavalry ensconced in and around Longlier. The French had dismounted to occupy the town better while the Germans remained mounted. Reinforcements in the form of a battalion from the regiment arrive each turn, marching to the sound of the guns. The German artillery battalion must arrive as a unit, while the French artillery battalion arrives as individual batteries together with an infantry battalion. After three turns the French forces have all arrived and the final German battalion is nearing the battle area.
The situation at the end of turn 3 (Not all units are shown to make things clearer)
The French in blue arrived from the south. The Germans in grey arrived from the north-east. As you can see, a traffic jam was building in the town of Longlier. The northernmost French recon cavalry unit (hollow blue symbol) charged the German recon cavalry in the rear but the Germans were able to turn to face and eliminated the French unit. It was at this point that I realised that cavalry charging get no significant benefit from doing so. Boo! We are French, we are dressed well and we have style. We deserve significant bonuses for that!!
The table at the end of turn 3
At least by this stage I have deployed two artillery pieces and can bring fire to bear on the Germans. With any luck I can suppress the enemy infantry with artillery fire in the next turn and my brave poilus can charge home and drive the enemy from the woods with great elan. For the rest of it, I think there is going to be a turn or two of marching and re-ordering the troops so that we can occupy good firing positions and protect our homeland.
View from the west towards Longlier. French troops march bravely to support their brethren while singing lustily as they go
The scenario requires both sides to capture built-up areas, and to destroy the enemy. There are 3 victory conditions: one for capturing the most built-up areas, one for destroying enemy personnel (infantry/cavalry) stands, and one for destroying enemy artillery stands. The winner is the player that has achieved more victory conditions. I made some French and German flags to mark control of the built-up areas.
View from the south-western road. My artillery deployed on the reverse slope where their commander can call fire onto the enemy positions. A second artillery piece will take up position next turn
I am hoping that artillery on this hill in the south-east corner of the table will be a good firing position for my artillery. With two pieces there and the artillery battalion commander, I can call fire onto the approaching Germans and also shell Longlier in support of my own troops as needed. It only requires that my infantry drive off the Germans in the woods. I think I'm going to need better dice!

Figures by Irregular Miniatures
Hexes are GHQ Terrain Maker hexes that I fettled myself

Monday, 25 August 2014

Ancient Black Ops - TV Series


A new TV series Ancient Black Ops will be airing on Yesterday from 17th September. It is a series of programmes about various elite warriors of the past. The first episode is about the Assassins, and will be followed by an episode about the Spartans. Probably airing sometime in October will be a programme on Berserkers, in which I am the talking head. It was good fun filming it earlier this year. Look out for my natty woolly jumper if it makes it into shot.

I have no idea how the programme will have been edited, or anything like that, so I shall just blame all bad things on the editors (the producer was lovely so it's not her fault at all! :) ). The programme on Berserkers will be followed by one on The Varangian Guard to keep the Vikingophiles happy.

I suppose I had better get back to my normal service now. I'll try to get the next Scarlet Heroes session up soon, and there will be photographs from our refight of the battle at Longlier on August 22nd 1914. I meant to take a photo at the end of the session last week, but forgot, so I must try to remember to do so tomorrow evening.

Saturday, 23 August 2014

I am officially a world expert!


If Professor Judith Jesch says it (or tweets it) then it must be true. My twitter ID is @Berserkjablogg and I have a much-neglected but doing better Viking-themed blog on Wordpress if you want to check that out too.

Basically, this means that I passed my PhD on berserks in May. Pass with corrections gives me 3 months to submit an approved version of my thesis and is the most common result. So, I submitted the corrections in July and they have now been approved. The corrections were not overly onerous and it is a satisfying conclusion to a part-time PhD that has occupied most of my forties. Next up is actually paying for the hard-bound copy to be produced and submitted. Eep! My wallet is already cringing in anticipation of the hit. Once the final version has been submitted, I shall be Dr Dale and my wife will have to start keeping a diary to broadcast on the BBC Light Programme. I look forward to listening to it.

With the corrections submitted, I really am the world expert on Viking berserkers. I have to admit to being pretty damn chuffed about this. Expect future discussions on forums about the subject to implode as a result of me stating 'I'm right, because Dr Berserker!'. ;)

Now I just need to get a proper job again, write the thesis up as a book, write a couple of articles based on it and write a popular publication on berserks that is targeted at the wargaming market. Not much to do then, eh?

Wednesday, 20 August 2014

16-24 Thaumont 1000 AC - A Harrowing Journey

Broneslav woke early at the keep. He had little choice because the dormitory where he slept was too busy to permit him to sleep late. With no choice but to get up, Broneslav broke his fast as heartily as possible and set out into the grey drizzle of the day. The road northwards was largely empty with only the occasional traveller heading southwards. The first two days passed in a misty haze but on the third day disaster struck.

The mist had cleared by mid-day but a hunting red dragon spotted Broneslav and soared down from the clouds. It was a few hundred yards away when Broneslav noticed it. With few places to hide he unslung his bow and loosed a stream of arrows at the creature. Those that hit it bounced off its armoured scales. It roared and a stream of flame poured over Broneslav (-4 HPs). He gritted his teeth against the pain and dived forwards under the advancing dragon. His sword slid off its steel-hard scales but he had not seriously been trying to hurt it. The blow was just reflex. The dragon tried to claw him as he rolled forwards. One mighty claw struck him and sent him hurtling off the path into a small ravine caused by a stream. Fortunately the foot-long claw only caught him a glancing blow that slid off his armour (0 damage). Wet and muddy, Broneslav let the blow's momentum keep him moving and squelched towards a narrow gap that he had spotted. Fire erupted behind him as the dragon breathed again. The stream's water boiled and steamed. The hissing covered Broneslav's escape and he was soon huddled away from the dragon's gaze as it rampaged by the road looking for its meal. Eventually it gave up and went looking for easier dinner.

Why do I keep rolling dragon encounters in the mountains? I did not think that Broneslav could survive this, but he is meant to be heroic so he fired his bow at the dragon as it approached. He missed lots and was then hit by its breath weapon. Basic D&D has an evasion roll for wilderness encounters. I rolled that Broneslav was able to evade this encounter and wrote that into the story afterwards. At least he will have something to tell people. He probably needs a new cloak now too.

On the sixth day out from Duke's Road Keep, Broneslav saw two stone giants fighting near the road. He sneaked around them. He was still hurting from the encounter with the dragon and did not want to draw attention to himself once more. "One day, though," he thought, "One day I shall wear that dragon's hide."

On the eighth day he made it out of the mountains and onto the plains. He was in Darokin now. Late in the evening he strode into the village of Reedle. This was the first proper settlement in Darokin on this road. Gratefully he slumped onto a bench in the local inn and ordered a meal and a bath. He decided to rest up for a day and continue on the following day. There would be time enough to complete his mission after he had recovered from his journey through the mountains.


Character
Broneslav Torenescu (S16, D14, C15, I12, W10, Ch14, F1, HP 9, AC4, Sword 1d8+3, Bow 1d8)
Human (Traladaran)
XPs: 60
Traits:
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
Goal: Slay a red dragon
Quest: Deliver a parcel to Merisa in Gray Mountain Village

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.

Character
Broneslav Torenescu (S16, D14, C15, I12, W10, Ch14, F1, hp9, AC4, Sword 1d8+3, Bow 1d8)
Human (Traladaran)
XPs: 60
Traits:
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.