Thursday, August 15, 2019

Second Crack at "A Gentleman's War" Rules.

   This past Monday I was able to visit with fellow HAWK, Rob Dean, to have another go at "A Gentleman's War" rules by Howard Whitehouse.   We decided we'd make a day of it, and have 2 battles with a break for lunch between.   Like my first try of the rules, back at the end of July (See Blog Post here), we once again used our 40mm homecast Imagi-nation armies; only this time I was facing Rob's Schoeffen-Buschhagen army, and not his son's Wachovians.
     We wanted to try some of the rulebook scenarios this time, so we rolled for random forces, and then picked a suitable scenario (based on the armies we generated) for the first action.  Rob's force seemed to be of a "Flying Column" nature, and mine was a more balanced Infantry/Cavalry force (though lacked artillery), so we settled upon the Isolated Detachment scenario.
    Rob had set up the terrain beforehand, in a pleasant countryside layout.  Now with a scenario in hand we did a quick arrangement of some of the terrain to create an enclosure for the Isolated Detachment to defend, and we were ready to go.  We made the mistake, as will be seen, of rating the walls of the enclosure as high walls and heavy cover
 
   On to the action:
I was immediately hampered by an inconvenient set up position, hemmed in by two woods, with only the narrowest of clearings between them.  I opted to put my cavalry in the clear terrain to facilitate them getting a quick jump off, and assigned my infantry the task of slogging through the woods.

Things got off to a rough start, as my cavalry, brigaded under General Grotsky, were slow to build up speed (poor movement roll) and quickly came under fire from the gun and infantry in the enclosure.  The 25th Hussars began taking casualties.  Meanwhile the infantry plodded along, emerging from the woods in a state of disorder.

The infantry now came under the enemy guns, and the Hawks' 1st Company began taking losses.  The cavalry by this time had cleared around the enclosure, and attempted to sweep in behind them before reinforcements could appear.  The Hussars had been badly mauled at this point by the cannon and long range infantry volleys from the enclosure.  The sole survivor continued on with his brigade.   Still no sight of enemy on the horizon so the cavalry pushed on.

My infantry moves closer to the walls, and the losses mount.  Unfortunately, I do little damage to the defenders behind their well-built walls. The cavalry moves into position to strike, though they must move fast, as the first  Schoeffen-Buschhagen reinforcements can be seen coming down the road in the distance.
Bravely the first squadron of Dragoons charges the S-B gun.  They take half casualties from the canister fire, but continue on.  A swirling melee develops around the guns, and two more of the horsemen fall, but the gunners take casualties too and the survivor abandons the gun.  With one remaining figure, the Dragoons claim their hard-won prize.



The second squadron of Dragoons does not fare so well. The enemy uses a hold card allowing him to form square, and issues long range fire.  One trooper falls from the volley, and for the rest charging the wall of bayonets goes poorly.  The surviving horsemen Run Away in disorder.   

By now my remaining infantry reaches the enclosure.  One company has been destroyed by fire on the way in, and the second has taken 1/3 losses.   Hoping for a miracle, they throw themselves at the wall, but the results are inevitable. By now the reinforcements have entered the field in mass, and with my cavalry and infantry shattered , the one good infantry company prepares to form a rearguard as I call for a general withdrawal from the field.

    After our lunch break, we came back for our second engagement. This time, we picked a scenario first and chose forces based on the scenario.    We chose the Capture the Bridge scenario, and decide, from a narrative perspective, that it is the start of the campaign season and my North Polenburg forces are trying to seize important maneuver locations in preparation for a general attack.  I failed at clearing the important road juncture in the first game, so now it becomes vitally important that I secure the bridge crossing if I hope to have any chance at moving my armies quickly into enemy territory for my main attack.
     With a scenario in place, Rob opted to roll for a "Garrison" army, and I did a "Main Body".  We weighted my army, as attacker, with  9 units, against Rob's 6 units.  Then, after we had deployed, we decided Rob's troops looked exceedingly vulnerable sitting out in front of the bridge without any cover, so we agreed to let him place some defenses.  Here again, in retrospect, this was a slight mistake, as we once again rated them as +2 Heavy Cover.

Initial deployment. Once again I am plagued by a terrain-filled deployment area, having to set up between a couple woods, and a farm.  This causes me to have to stack some of my infantry for entry.  I set my cavalry on my far left to try and take advantage of the open area, and the bulk of my infantry on the right in hopes they can swing around the right of the defenses. I set one battery between the two groups of infantry and the other on the left between the cavalry and the end of the infantry line.  I set one general to operate a cavalry brigade on the left, and the other to operate an infantry brigade on the my right.

My attack sets off.  On my left the cavalry pushes across the river, as the cannon on their right does a series of prolong and fire moves.  Rob's light infantry and gun on his right fall back in good order as my cavalry advances.  On my right, I once again slow down as I try to shake my stacked infantry out into a line as they emerge disorganized from the woods and farm. My cannon with the infantry also does prolong and fire moves, but does nothing against the defenses.  Rob's gun however begins to chip away at the Queen Jennifer Regiment in the center.

 The Queen Jennifer Regiment in the center continues to push forward, taking increasing casualties. The second company breaks and flees back to the woods.    However, to the left of the QJ regiment,  I have managed to get one of my cannons into position in a field behind a stone wall, where it has an excellent flanking field of fire on the enemy defenses.  Meanwhile, my cavalry has pushed across the river, but long range fire from their cannon, combined with an orderly firing withdrawal of their light infantry, has taken its toll on the Dragoons, who are reduced to one figure. Rob withdraws his half section of Lights on his right flank and send them to rejoin the other half of their unit over on the left, as my Infantry line begins to advance and nears the woods on the left flank of their defenses..

The 1st Co. of the Hawks Regt. finally gets close enough to the woods on the enemy left to charge their Lights.  The Lights issue a volley and flee back out of the woods. I capture it, but am disorganized. The Hawks 3rd Company has been reduced to a third of their strength under the withering fire as they near the breastworks; while the artillery accompanying the regiment continues their series of prolongs and fires. Meanwhile, over on my left, the cannon behind the wall continues to pound the flank of the enemy works, inflicting constant casualties on the defenders.  However, with the stalemate between my Hussars and their Light Infantry, their cannon on their right decides to turn and lob long range counter battery fire at my gun in the field; first one gunner is hit, and then a lucky shot hits an ammo chest and takes out two more in one turn.  Only one gunner is left to man the gun and his time is limited. 

Foolishly, I try to break the stalemate, and send in my Hussars. The Light Infantry form square, and the result is devastating on my horsemen.  




Things go poorly on my right as well, as the enemy Light infantry that fell back before my charge, now form skirmish and reenter the woods, a volley sends my disorganized troops fleeing out from the trees.

I manage to get my gun all the way up to their works, and a final point blank volley sends the defenders running away.  But it's too little too late.  

As I try to maneuver my one good Infantry company into position to take the abandoned defenses. Their Lights form to defend them, and their infantry that fled thinks better of it, and is already returning.  My chance is lost, and with my troops too weakened now to press the attack much longer,  and the daylight hours fading, I once again sound the withdrawal.
An enjoyable pair of games!  I've learned some good lessons about heavy cover in this game, and the abilities of Light Infantry.    I think we had rated the cover in both games as +1 I would have had a better chance.  But such is the fortunes of war.
     We now figure my North Polenburg forces are falling back to lick their wounds, and that since my initial attacks have been beaten back, it is Schoeffen-Buschhagen's turn to seize the initiative.  I must strengthen my frontier as I expect their reprisal any day now.

Monday, July 29, 2019

First Game of "A Gentleman's War", Using Imagi-Nation Armies

I got to play my first game of "A Gentleman's War" (AGW), by Howard Whitehouse and Danial Foley, this past Saturday under the GMing/tutelage of fellow HAWK Rob Dean; with his son Norman Dean as my opponent.  We used forces drawn from our homecast 40mm 18th Century Imagi-nation armies, normally used with the classic Charge! rules; my North Polenburgers, vs Norman's Wachovians.  We used the random force generation from AGW, which, when rolled up, looked to us to be some sort of pursuit scenario of Whachovians trying to overtake a retreating North Polenburg army, and being met by a North Polenburg delaying force.
     Wachovia had a flying column consisting of: 3 Light Cavalry units, 2 Light Infantry units, and 3 Line Infantry units; while my North Polenburg army had: 3 Line Infantry units, 2 Field Artillery batteries, a Light Cavalry unit, and a Light Infantry unit. So after a brief scenario discussion, we ruled Norman's army needed to exit 4 of his 8 starting units off my table edge, and I had to prevent this with my 8 defending units. It was an exciting battle with the fortunes seesawing back and forth and the outcome undecided until the last turn.
North Polenburg Initial Deployment
     We both sketched out our opening deployment on paper, and then set up our troops as per what we had drawn.  This allowed us to set up simultaneously, though we were locked in our deployment without having any idea of how the enemy was deploying.
     I set up symmetrically with my Line Infantry brigade in the center to block the road, with a Light Infantry Unit and Artillery Battery on each flank; figuring the maneuverability of the Lights, combined with the long range of the cannon, could help deter any attempt to sweep around my flanks. I deployed my Light Cavalry in the center, behind my Line Infantry, where I hoped it would be in position to catch anything that got by the Light Infantry and Artillery.  I had hoped to push forward quickly to give myself more room to delay them farther from where they hd to exit.  This did not happen.
Wachovia Initial Deployment
      Norman set up somewhat similarly, with his Line Infantry straddling the road, with a Light Infantry unit on each side.  He brigaded his Light Cavalry together, and set them up just below a low hill on his right.  It was clear his plan was to punch a hole through my left flank with the mass of cavalry at his disposal.
The brigaded Wachovian Light Cavalry come thundering over the hill towards my Light Infantry and Artillery on my left.
      Things started off ominously for North Polenburg, as Norman's Wachvoian's got the 5 first Activation Cards, allowing his cavalry to come storming over the hill, and smash into my Light Infantry holding the left flank.  My lights repulsed the first unit, leaving both units bloodied and the Cavalry falling back on the field in disorder, but the second fresh unit of enemy cavalry swept them from the field.  This left my Artillery extremely vulnerable.  Luckily, the charge of the third unit of enemy cavalry fell less than an inch short of my cannon, allowing me to let fly with a round of canister at point plank.  While it didn't have as big an effect as I wanted, it did disorder the horsemen.
A swirling battle develops and I turn my left Line Unit to help secure my flank. before my Artillery is overwhelmed. 
      Quickly, I was able to swing around my leftmost Line Infantry unit to face the enemy cavalry and protect my line; but it was an inevitable fate for my guns.  The remaining enemy Light Cavalry swarmed over them.   My Light Cavalry now also moved to protect the flank, as the enemy cavalry found itself all disordered and spread over the field.
Overview of the table about midway through the battle.
      My infantry shot a few rounds at the closed unit of enemy Light Cavalry as my Light Cavalry charged another.  The Wachovian horsemen countercharged and we met over the silent cannon of my battery.  In a fortunate turn of fate, I not only caused a number of casualties on the enemy, but the attached General with them was mortally wounded.
Cavalry vs Cavalry over the silent guns, and the enemy General falls.
      Meanwhile, on my other flank, my Light Infantry unit and Artillery battery had, from the beginning of the battle, been pushing forward while conducting long range harassing fire.  They had finally worked their way onto the flank of the enemy and were close enough that they were becoming a serious threat.  The Wachovian Light Infantry finally felt the need to come forward and discourage me rather than sit as a potential threat in the safety of a nearby woods, and my Lights found themselves split between fending off their enemy counterparts on a low hill forming the enemy right flank, and  sniping at the enemy Line Infantry in a nearby field.
Action on my right flank as I get dangerously close to their line, and their Light Infantry come forward from the security of their woods.
      With my left in an uneasy state  and the remnants of three enemy cavalry still on the field, the Wachovians seized the opportunity and were able to push a unit of their cavalry off my table edge, achieving their first victory point.  However, with a bit of luck, I was able to stabilize my left flank enough, to drive off the remaining two enemy cavalry units using my own horsemen and fire from the Line Infantry unit I had turned to face them.
     However, the distraction of dealing with my collapsing flank had allowed the other unit of the enemy Light Infantry, and their brigaded Line Infantry to get very close to my Line Infantry; the Lights pouring fire in the turned flank of my leftmost Infantry unit, and the brigaded enemy infantry firing at my infantry with a numerical advantage.
I prepare to drive off the last of their Cavalry, as their Lights rush forward on their right to stabilize their line.
       At that point a disaster happened on my right flank, as an effective volley from the enemy Light Infantry on the hill caused my lights to fail morale and fall back.  Their path carried them directly into my artillery, effectively blocking its fire.    The enemy Lights then seized thier opportunity, and raced passed my disorganized troops towards my table edge.  My guns were only just able turn in time to issue one round of ineffective fire, before the enemy Lights made the table edge, and were off.   A second victory point achieved for Wachovia.
Disaster hits, as my Lights fall back off the hill into my battery. Everybody's disordered.
      The end came quickly after that.  I was able to drive off the enemy lights on my left, with an effective charge; but the charge took my infantry unit well past the enemy line, and they were never able to get effectively back into action.  This left only two of my Line Infantry, and the remnants of my Light Cavalry, to hold the enemy line of three Regular Infantry units.  While my remaining Artillery and Light infantry were able to issue a few ineffective shots, their pursuit of the fleeing enemy Lights on my right had taken them far enough away from the center that they were't able to play an effective part again.
      With masterful use of the Hold cards, a well timed charge,  and good fire and morale results, the enemy was able to one by one eliminate my two blocking infantry units.  This left them with enough firepower to brush my cavalry aside, and evade my remaining light infantry and artillery; escaping off the table for the 2 remaining victory points and thus winning the game.
The end, as my Cavalry tries to futilely hold the road.
     While the game started off with some bad luck with the activation deck for my North Polenburg forces, things soon swayed in the other direction; and the fortunes of war swayed back and forth throughout.  While initially the enemy felt confident following his destruction of my left, things soon turned my way with the reestablishment of my left and the advance of my cannon and Lights into close range on his right.  It looked like I would be able to overwhelm him with firepower.  Then, with the breaking of my Light infantry on my right, and them falling back into my artillery, things seemed to sway back towards the enemy.   The battle then came down to the desperate fight in the road, and in the end, I think my inexperience with the rules, lost me the day.
     Nonetheless, I had a great time and look forward to having another crack at these fun rules. They really have a great old school feel to them and seem the perfect thing for Imagi-nations and big "toy soldiers".

Wednesday, July 24, 2019

The BARRAGE '19 Website is Open for Registration!

    Just an update to let everyone know that the BARRAGE '19 website is open for registration!   BARRAGE is being held September 27-28 in Havre de Grace, Maryland.
    Gamemasters get you games in, as the grid will fill up fast; and players, now is the time to sign up to get the slots you want!
     Barrage is a low-stress gaming event, focusing on having fun with miniatures games of many different genres, scales, and sets of rules.  In the past we’ve had a half dozen dealers, a few flea market tables, over 200 attendees, and thirty or more miniatures games. 
     Full details at the BARRAGE Webpage: BARRAGE '19

Tuesday, June 11, 2019

Vintage Historicon Programs from '84 & '86

       I was doing some cleaning and came across these old programs from the '84 and '86 Historicon conventions.    I decided I didn't need to keep them anymore, so took some photos to list them on eBay.  Since I had the photos, I thought I'd share them here, since there are probably other old-timers like me who would enjoy seeing them.

Click any photo to see it larger.









Thursday, May 16, 2019

Ghost Archipelago '19, Game 5: The Mysterious City

     This past Saturday we played the fifth game of our Ghost Archipelago Champaign.  We had 5 of our regular players in attendance, and used a 3' x 7' table.  For our scenario this time we turned back to the original Frostgrave rulebook, and did a modified version of "The Keep".
     Whereas the original scenario takes place within the ruins of a single building, we changed if for our game by spreading it out to be the ruins of an entire village.   In this village there was a series of mysterious teleport discs spread throughout that had enabled the original residents to move quickly from place to place thorough their swampy jungle village.   Now the system had either malfunctioned, or maybe the crews just don't know how to properly use it; but whenever a figure would step on any of them, they'd immediately be transported to a random one on the table, including the possibility of ending up right back on the one where they started from.
A view of the table.  The numbered circles denote the teleport discs.  The light blue ones are the Central Treasures.
     We placed two special discs with the central treasures on them, then each player placed two discs like they would treasure, and placed their treasure tokens on top of the disc.  If you stepped on  a disc you'd be immediately transported to the next disc, so you couldn't pick up the treasure on the disc you stepped up, but you could pick up any treasure on the disc you landed on.  Also, we ruled you couldn't use any magic to move treasures off of the discs; they were treated as magical null zones.
    I did poorly with my place in the order of Start Zone selections, drawing chip number 4.  The good thing was, with there only being 5 players, that I was still able to get a corner spot on the 3 player side.  Unfortunately there was only one teleport pad and treasure anywhere near me.    I ended up with the Heritor Barl the Librarian directly on my right,  and the Heritor Gnomeo across from me and a little to the right

The Report

     The storm was blowing  more strongly now,  and the Captain headed to the Heritor's cabin to have a frank discussion.  The ship rocked and swayed, but the old seaman easily kept his footing.

       A little while later he was finishing up his summation of the situation. "...the simple fact is we need to find a protected bay or inlet to ride this out." he concluded to Barley.  The little Halfling Heritor sat at her desk looking a little green and sipping from a small mug. She nodded and, taking a big swig of the last of the amber liquid in the mug, replied, "You're the expert, Captain.  I defer to your judgement."
   "Good." the Captain said, relieved.  "My man up top had spotted what we think is an island a short distance to port before the storm hit.  We'll head for there."
   As it turned out, the island had a small bay that shielded them from the worst of it.   When the gale had passed, Barley surveyed the coast, and quickly spotted the ruins of a tower, up in the low hills beyond the thin strip of beach. 
   "It looks like there was some sort of outpost or settlement here", the Halfling Heritor said to  her Human Warden, Tork.  I'm thinking we should investigate before we leave.  It will give the Captain time to see to repairing any damage from the storm, and chart us a new course.
My starting deployment
         A couple hours later, they had reached the remains of the tower.  It stood half crumbled and long deserted. After considering it for a while, and glancing into the shattered remains of the walls, Barley was about to declare it a wasted trip, when Tok spotted the signs of an overgrown path leading further into the jungle.  Barley figured while they were there, seeing where it went would be worth while.
   A short distance away, they came to the outskirts of a ruined town.  Crumbling, overgrown buildings were visible in all directions.  Barley took the time to divide her crew up into three commands: with herself she took her Scout, Perkin, the Crossbow-woman, Lily, and the Crewman, Habby.  With her Warden Tork, she assigned; the two Archer brothers Billy and Jikam, as well as Crewman Link.   Crew members Corel and Ginsink would act as an independent reserve, helping out where needed.
         Barley advanced towards a large tree on their left.  She could see a small stream flowing a short distance away, seemingly dividing the village into two sides.   What caught her eye was an ornate mosaic disc(12) set on the ground beside the stream.  It measured about 10 feet across, and was mysteriously pristine when compared to the ruins and overgrown vegetation all around them. On the disc, the Heritor noticed sat a small chest, toppled to one side as if it had been dropped.
     Then, as the Heritor studied the curious disc and the chest upon it, the air above it seemed to shimmer for a few seconds, there was a brief hum like a hive of bees, and suddenly a rotund Dwarf appeared magically, standing directly on the disc(12), right next to the chest.  He appeared confused at first, but had the presence of mind to bend down and grab the chest.  With a double take, Barley recognized it as the Heritor Ragnam!
Barley, Perkin, and Lily advance to the left, as Ragnam appears on the  nearby disc (top center of photo behind clump of tall grass)
         Barley was still puzzling over what just happened, when Tork came running towards her, and shouted "Little one, behind you!"    The Halfling Heritor whipped around to see a Mountain Goat trotting towards them.  Tork stopped in his tracks, and quickly attempted to use his Control Animal ability, but he rushed it and failed.  The Archers, Jikam and Billy, both ran forward as well, and pausing, let loose with their arrows.  Both missed.  The Goat was angered now, and stopping a second, pawed at the ground before lowering its head and charging directly at Barley.  The Halfling nimbly stepped aside, and brought her sword around with a powerful swing against the beast, stabbing it directly in the side.   The animal skidded to a stop, flipping over and was dead before it hit the ground.  (I roll 17, Goat rolls 3).
     Then, there was a sudden loud roar in the distance that seemed to make the whole jungle go quiet. In the silence Barley could hear Tork, her Beast Warden, say to himself, "Uh, oh. Big Monster."  And he was right; for just a short distance away, above the trees on their right, they could see the huge head of a Monarch come unto view among the highest branches. (Monarch from a Treasure Random Encounter enters behind Barl's Start Zone)
     Before Barley had a chance to consider the implications of this new arrival, she heard the hum again from the disc(12), and turned in time to see a Human Crewman (belonging to Cassilda's crew) now appear on the disc(12) next to Ragman.  The new arrival was as startled to see the Dwarf as he was to see her. Beyond the disc and its occupants, the Halfling Heritor could also see movement, and members of the Heritor Gnome's crew came into view, moving among the ruins on the far side of the stream.
The Monarch enters directly behind Barl's start zone.
     Quickly, Barley gathered her wits, and taking cover behind a nearby tree, unshouldered her bow, and let fly an arrow at the Dwarf Heritor.  It struck Ragnam in the shoulder, and the dwarf clutched at the shaft cursing (I roll a 17 +2S).  Perkin joined his Heritor behind the tree and he too shot at the Dwarf, hitting him as well, in his thick thigh. (I roll 17 +2S again!)  The Dwarf's leg went out from under him, and he went down with a thud.  Ragnam weakly crawled off the disc, dragging his prize with his good arm, then turned and crawled back on.  This triggered the disc again, and with a hum and a shimmer of light the Dwarf disappeared as suddenly as he had appeared.
     Tork once again tried to Summon Animal in an attempt to gain them an ally, and this time had success.  Making a link with a Snapping Turtle further down the stream, he called the creature to assist them.   The Warden then advanced, along with the two Archers, to a low ruin of a stone building that appeared to be the remains of a well house, as the masonry of the round well could still be seen.   The two Archers seeing the strange Crew-woman still on the disc , both fired upon her, and both missed.
     Crewman Link decided to follow the Dwarf with the treasure, and so ran after him, onto the disc.  As soon as his foot touched the mosaic surface, he felt a strange spinning sensation, and the world around him blurred into a swirl of color and just as quickly reformed into  unfamiliar  surroundings.  Looking down the mosaic on the disc was different.  He quickly realized he had moved to another disc(5) somewhere in the village.  Turning, he realized there was a Human standing on the disc next to him (Another of Cassilda's crew); and before he could react, a large fist clutching a sword, swung at him and the metal of the hilt connected with his temple.  His head snapped around, the world went black, and he collapsed onto the disc unconscious.
Barley and Perkin take aim at Ragnam from behind the cover of a large tree.
     Back near the other disc(12) where the rest of the crew were, the Human Crew-woman, like Ragnam, quickly stepped off and back onto the platform, and instantly disappeared.  In her place a Gnome now appeared, and Lily the Crossbow-woman quickly took aim at him and fired.  She hit him squarely (I roll  19 +2S), and the little Gnome dropped like a rock and rolled off the disc, dead.
    Suddenly, there was a distinctive "hiss" from the tall grass behind Barley, and turning quickly she spotted the head of a Giant Snake bobbing and weaving just a dozen yards away. (Summoned by the Gnomish Beast Warden).  The little Heritor brought up her bow and fired, but the arrow went wide.  "Perkin!", she called to her Scout, and in a flash, he too spun around and readied his bow.  Perkin's arrow hit its mark, piecing the Snake just below the head, and it dropped down into the grass, dead.  (I roll 19 +2 S = 21) 
    "Thank you!", Barley said, relieved; and continued, "I think you should follow Link, and see if you can help him with the Dwarf.  And with that, the loyal Scout turned and ran for the disc(12).  Setting his foot upon it,  Barley watched as he disappeared.    The Halfling Heritor then turned to the Crossbow-woman, and called over to her, "Lily,   follow Perkin and see if you two can help Link with the Dwarf.   In the distance they could hear the Monarch give a loud roar that echoed among the treetops.
    Tork seeing the three Halflings  run to the disc assumed that everyone was supposed to, and he told the two Archer brothers to come with him, and the three of them ran for the disc.  Like with the others, as each stepped upon it, each was immediately teleported elsewhere.
Tork, Billy, and Jikam advance to the old well house and the Archers fire on Cassilda's Crew-woman. (On disc behind clump of tall grass.)
     Meanwhile, when Perkin materialized on a different disc(8), he quickly realized the Dwarf, Ragnam, was nowhere around. Neither was Link.  He was shocked however to suddenly realize there was a dead Human laying on the disc, and to his right was a Gnome Crewman.  The two eyed each other suspiciously, but before either could act, there was a sound of loud wind and a sudden crashing of branches and both occupants of the disc stared in horror as the Monarch suddenly was blown past a nearby patch of jungle and landed just a few yards from the pad where they stood.  (Barl's Warden successfully casts Wind Blast against the creature.)
     Lily had landed only about a hundred yards further away from Perkin, on another disc(4 Central Treasure).  She was struck by the extra elaborate nature of the mosaic, and noticed a fine leather pouch studded with gemstones, laying in the center.  She reached down to pick it up, admiring the craftsmanship.
    Back on Perkin's disc(8), the Halfling and the Gnome were frozen with indecision, not knowing whether to run or attack. As they stood there, dumbfounded, the air shimmered between them, and Tork now arrived on the same disc.  He quickly realized the situation, and looking up at the big creature before them, said, "Oh, no."  and instinctively threw his arms up to cover his head.
     The Monarch however, had no doubt of what to do, and seeing an easy meal before him charged at the three occupants of the disc.   Perkin, Tork, and the Gnome cowered, and though none were looking, they could feel the beast's closeness and awaited the inevitable.  None of them saw as the Monarch, leaning down, his jaws open wide, placed his leading foot on the disc.  With a shimmer and hum he vanished.
The Monarch is blown to a position near Perkin and a Gnome on disc 8
    He wasn't truly gone of course, for as Lily ran her hands over the jewel encrusted pouch on the ornate disc(4), she became aware of a loud hum, and the sudden appearance of a large shadow above her.  Looking up, she had barely time to let out a scream as the huge jaws descended on her. She tried to leap away, but the Monarch's power jaws clamped down, just getting a hold of her cape.  She was lifted high in the air, as the Halfling struggling to free herself.   The Monarch, realizing it had missed the meaty part of its target and was trying now to flip the Halfling up into its mouth.   Desperately, Lily grabbed at the clasp holding her cape, and ripped at it.     It came loose just as the Monarch tossed her, and as the cape came free of her shoulders she was flung even higher into the air.  The beast clawed and snapped  frantically at its now-flying meal, but the creature's arms were too short, and its mouth was still tangled in the flapping cape.    Lily found herself hanging in the air for an instant, and then the rapid decent began.  The Crossbow-woman came down hard, her head hitting the edge of the disc, knocking her out cold.
The Monarch teleports itself to another disc (4) where it finds Lily with a Central Treasure.
     Meanwhile, Jikam the Archer had found himself alone on another disc(6), and his brother Billy landed a little further away on yet another disc(7).  There was a chest on the disc(7), as well as a Gnome.  Drawing his bow quickly, the Archer shot at the Gnome, hitting him directly at such short range.  The Gnome fell back off the disc, unmoving.     
     In the meantime, Crewman Habby, had also moved to the original disc(12), and he was now transported to join Billy on his disc(7)     Billy, pointed to the chest, and told Habby to grab it and go.  "I'll keep you covered", the Archer added.   As the Halfling Crewman grabbed the prize and started dragging it towards a nearby arm of jungle that jutted out into the village, an Archer from Ragnam's crew came into view from around the far side of the same jungle area.  He saw Billy first and shot at him, hitting him in the side.  The half-Halfling Archer spun around and fell backwards, falling hard to the ground with his head dangling into a shallow pond next to the disc.   Another of Ragman's Archers followed the first, and this one caught sight of Habby with his treasure.  His arrow, cut into the Halfling back, and the little Crewman almost fell over, but kept his footing.  Despite the pain, Habby pushed on (Reduced to 3 HP)towards the cover of the trees and vegetation.
Habby and Billy both land on disc 7 and recover the treasure there.
          It was now Barley's turn to try the disc(12); and like the others before her, she too ran forward and leaped onto the mosaic circle.  In a swirl of color she was gone.  Her trip was shorter though, as she materialized on another disc(10) that was just across the river and next to the ruin where she had first spotted Gnomeo and his Crew.  And, to her surprise, there was the Gnomish Heritor himself, in the ruin just a short distance away, dragging a large wooden box with decorative inlays on it.
     The Warden, Tork, back on the the disc(8) he first traveled to, had seen the Monarch materialize in the distance on the further disc(4).  Worried the creature would return, the Warden had immediately hopped off and back on to the disc(8) where he was.   In a swirl he vanished and reappeared on a disc(9 Central Treasure) just a short distance away, on the far side of a branch of stream from where he had been.    This was a much more ornate disc(9 CT) than the two he had been on before, and upon it sat a well made chest  with gold and silver inlays .    After admiring it for a brief time, Tork reached down and heaved it up onto his shoulder, and made for the cover of a nearby patch of jungle.
     Crew members Ginsink and Corel, who had spent the last hour trying to work their way into a beneficial position behind the Heritor Barl's crew, had finally given up, and now tried to find their way back to where they left the others.   They came across one of the discs(8), and having not seen one being used yet, were unsure of what it was.  First Ginsink stepped upon it to study the fine mosaic work, and when she disappeared in a shimmer, Corel ran onto the disc(8) too, to see what happened.  Miraculously, they both reappeared in the same place; standing on each side of their Heritor, Barley, on the disc(10) she had materialized upon.
   The two new arrivals, also saw the Heritor Gnomeo and his treasure.  The three Halflings were so distracted by the excellent opportunity before them, they didn't see the Gnome Archers who lingered around the ruin as well.  First one, then another fired, both hitting Barley. (-4HP, and -2HP, reduced to 14HP)  She staggered as the first arrow gashed her leg, and the second left a crease in her arm.  Ginsink and Corel rushed forward to try and reach the shooters, but it was too late.  Gomeo himself stopped, and turning shouldered his bow.  Using his Trick Shot ability the Gnome Heritor took aim at Barley and hit her squarely in the right shoulder, knocking her back.  The Halfling fell and blacked out before she hit the ground.  Without thinking her two nearby Crew members rushed forward, and grabbing the unconscious Heritor.  They started dragging her back to safety on the far side of the river, as the Gnomes shouted insults in their wake from the protected safety of the their ruin.    The two Crew members jettisoned her light armor, sword, bow and quiver, to make her easier to move.  They, along with the rest of the crew, now all started making their back to where they had  landed on the beach.
Barley, Ginsink and Corel teleport amongst the Gnomes.
     Back on the Jolly Scallop that night.  Barley sat at her desk, all bandaged up, and sore, but functional enough.   It had been a Close Call for her, and she wasn't happy about losing all her equipment.  Luckily, it was all easily replaceable from the ship's locker, as she was carrying no magic items.  Lily and Link would both heal nicely too, their injuries not being that bad.  Billy the Archer however, had been Badly Wounded, and would need at least a month to recover. 
        Treasure had been difficult to come by, and the Heritor felt lucky that her crew was able to bring home anything at all.  Tork's chest (a Central Treasure) had held 100 Gold Coins.  And the one Habby had retrieved had held 10 Gold Coins and vial with some Gillivourt weed in it.
   Her mind turned to the increasing pile money in the ship's vault, and the number of Magic and Superior Weapons stored there as well.  Perhaps, the Heritor considered, it was time to make a trip back to the Mainland.  They could do some repairs and upgrades to the ship, take on fresh supplies, and perhaps find a potion that would cure Billy a little quicker.
       A week later they were in a port on the mainland.  Their haul of weapons brought a hefty sum! Barley found a beautiful Compass for the ship (-200GC) and Tork had found a stray hound that befriended hm, and begged for them to put a kennel on the ship.  (-200GC) He asked for so little, Barley felt she couldn't refuse.  They had also located a potion (-50GC) that would help cure their Archer.  And they still had plenty left over.  Bailey considered adding Extra Quarters, but that would drain their treasury to almost nothing. Maybe next time, she thought...
The final tally.


Epilogue

    What a wild and crazy game!  It was bad enough that treasure was so hard to get, but having the Monarch appear on turn 1 certainly didn't help.  Luckily, I think I was the only one to land on either of the Central Treasure discs, and to have actually gotten one away was sheer luck.
     I also wanted to add a note about the Snapping Turtle that Tork Summoned in the second turn.  A Swamp Zombie entered the same turn in almost the same spot, and the two spent the entire game fighting each other, with neither managing to hit the other.  So he was never able to play a roll in the game.
     I finally decided to head to the mainland and cash in all my treasure, even though I haven't lost any Specialists.  Those of you who have been following along with my reports will know that many of the treasures I have found have resulted in Magic or Superior 2-handed weapons; and since I don't have anyone in my Crew who carries such a thing, they were useless to me.  So they have been gathering dust aboard the ship. I finally felt it was time for them to go.  They brought in over 1000 GC, which helped pay for the trip, a new Compass, and a Kennel.   We'll see how that all works out next time.
   

Thursday, May 9, 2019

Ghost Archipelago '19, Game 4: Battle on the Rooftops

     Two Saturdays ago we played the fourth game of our 2019 Ghost Archipelago Campaign.  We had 6 of our 9 regular players in attendance and used a 8'x3' table.
     We did a modified version of the "Battle on the Rooftops" scenario from the Gods of Fire supplement book.  In this scenario, the crews are attempting to recover treasure on the rooftops of a long-abandoned mountainside city.  The treasure has been hoarded by, and is guarded by, strange savage birdmen-like creatures called Cathaka.  The table is set up to represent the rooftops of the city, with gaps between them that can lead to possibly fatal falls.  Moving between rooftops requires jumping, a few walkways and bridges, or various Heritor and Warden abilities.  Being pushed from a rooftop can be disastrous. 
     There were no central treasures, and treasure tokens were placed with equal number of real and dummy tokens.  So players never know if they are heading for a chest of gold or somebody's old laundry.  Between each pair of players there was a large Central Platform rooftop that had the bulk of the tokens, which starts the game being guarded by 4 of the Cathaka birdmen. 
      I luckily got an early set-up chip, and took one of the corner spots.  I ended up with the Heritor Gnomeo, and his shooter-heavy crew across from me, and the Heritor Arkham to my right.  Diagonally across from me to my front right was the Heritor Barl.
A view of the table showing starting areas.
 
The Report

     The Halfling Heritor Barley Gimblehill  squinted against the sunlight, trying to see what her Warden, the big human named Tork, was pointing at.  "See, city!  Built into cliffs.  There!"  he said exasperatedly.
 Finally the ship had sailed close enough, that the little Heritor began to see the shape of the buildings against the rocky sides of the mountain.  Many of the structures were carved from the very rock of the island, so blended in perfectly.  The haphazard architecture was build topsy turvy almost down to where the mountain reached to touch the sandy strip along the coast.  The highest buildings though seemed to tower up near the clouds.  As Barley peered upwards, she could see tiny black specks circling lazily around the rooftops...some sort of large birds she pondered.
    She looked at Tork, "What birds are those?" she asked pointing.
    Now it was her Warden's time to squint into the sun.  "Big ones." was his only reply.
The Heritor could tell the city was long abandoned; no smoke rose from the chimneys, and many of the structures had toppled over, or stood half crumbled.  And an abandoned city meant the possibility of worthwhile clues or treasure being left behind. 
     Barley hopped down from the crate she stood upon, and said over her shoulder to Tork, "Let us go check it out."
  Tork replied simply, "Big birds..."

     It was two hour later that Barley, Tork and a group of specialists and crew from the Jolly Scallop found themselves climbing staircase after staircase, and a few rckety ladders, to reach the higher rooftops of the city.  As they had neared the city they could clearly see gold glinting from the topmost rooftops in what appeared to be big piles of assorted belongings and detritus; small pieces of furniture, armor, weapons, cloth...  And the "big birds" turned out to be some sort of strange bird and man combination.  Vulture like in their appearance, but with arms and legs and torso like a man.  They wore scraps of clothes and some carried primitive weapons.    For the most part they left the Halflings alone.  One or two curious ones approached within a few dozen yards to check the little folk out, but for the most part the birdmen kept their distance.   Barley and Tork noted that it appeared the strange creatures were responsible for the piles on the rooftops, as they could see one every now and then fly some load to one of the roofs where it dumped it upon one of the piles.  Others would flutter over and inspect the new addition.
Barley's initial deployment.
     The band of diminutive adventurers eventually reached the top of a building near the highest structures of the city.   They could see the birdmen and their piles much more clearly now.  Directly in front of them, on the next building over, was a large expansive rooftop containing a pyramid structure in the center and decorative columns on each corner.  It contained a number of large piles of belongings.  There were also 4 of the bird creatures who lingered there.  They cast wary eyes upon the Halflings, and Barley clearly recognized them as guards of some sort.
    As the Halfling Heritor sized up the situation, Tork removed one of his Divining Rods and worked its magic.  Pointing over to the right he said, "Gold close. Over by pool,", and pointed to a low rectangular structure to their right on a nearby rooftop. (I move token from within pool, 3" towards my start zone, bringing it out of the pool.)
     Barley organized her crew; giving Tork command over the two Archer brothers, Jikam and Billy Wizzit, as well as Crew-woman Ginsink.   The Heritor took along with her,  her Scout Perkin, and the two Crewmen, Corel and Habby.  Crewmen Fernando and Link positioned themselves between the two groups to help out where needed.  The little Heritor had Tork position himself and his command to move towards the central platform; while she oriented herself and her group to move off to the right and check the gold the Warden had detected by the pool.
     It was an easy leap for Barley and her group to jump the span between the building they had entered on and the building with the pool next door.  They could see a worn wooden chest laying by the pool atop a pile of what appeared to be old clothes, and the Heritor ordered Corel over to check it out.  As he went, Barley pointed out a nearby outbuilding on the same rooftop, and suggested to Perkin they go check it out.  She told Habby to stay and assist Corel.
Barley, Perkin, Corel and Habby, make the jump to the building to the right of their start zone with the pool and the nearby treasure token.
     Meanwhile, Ginsink, never one to follow orders well, spotted a promising leather pouch laying on a rooftop to their left, and she ran off, easily making the leap to the other roof, before Tork realized she was gone and could call her back.  The Warden was too busy trying his Summon Animal ability, but alas they were too far from any animal he guessed for any to respond. (I fail my roll.)  As he worked his spell, Jikam and Billy took aim at the closest bird-man; Billy hit wounding the creature, but Jikam's arrow went wide.
     At that point they became aware of a chattering of voices on the far side of the large rooftop, and they could see Gnomish members of the Heritor Gnomeo's crew come into view.  Fernando and Link realized time was against them now that another crew had appeared, and rushed over an old wooden gangway towards the large roof; hoping that the two archers would take care of the guards by the time they reached their destination.
     By now Ginsink had reached the pouch, but before she could bend over to inspect it, an arrow from Gnomeo's crew hit her in the shoulder, and she cried out in pain.  Before she could react in any way, a second shaft struck her, this time in the leg, and she toppled over cracking her head upon the hard roof beneath her and was knocked out. 
     Tork attempted his Summon Animal spell again was was shocked when he made a mental link to a Snapping Turtle!  How did it get up there he wondered.  The creature sensed his question, and he got the mental image of the turtle being carried to the roofs by one of the bird-men, who mistook it for some sort of treasure chest while it was sleeping.  It had since wandered the roofs living off rats and mice.   Seeing Ginny go down, the Warden instructed the Snapping Turtle to move towards the pouch that the Crew-woman had been heading towards and guard it.
     The two Archers had now notched their second arrows, and once again Billy's hit, dropping the first guard; while Jikam's went wide again. Billy could not stay silent over that, and commenced to relentlessly tease and comment on his brothers poor marksmanship.
In the foreground, Tork tries to Summon Animal, as Billy and Jikam shoot at the Guards.  Fernando and Link dash across the gangway towards the central rooftop. 
     By now, Barley and Perkin had made their way to the outbuilding, and began to climb a ladder leading to its roof.  Two arrows whizzed by the Scout from the Gnome crew, but neither hit its mark.  The pair began to climb, and another arrow came towards the Scout, but this one hit, sinking deep into the Halfling's thigh. "I can't continue up!" he said through gritted teeth.
   "Alright." Barley acknowledged, "head back down and take care of your wound.  The Scout slid as best he could back down the ladder, and crouching behind a nearby pillar, worked at removing the shaft.
       As Barley continued up  the ladder, Corel reached the chest and giving the old lock a good whack with the hilt of his sword, pried the lid up and was pleased to find it filled with gold coins!  (I flip token and reveal a "T" treasure marker.)
          Having reached the top of the outbuilding roof, the little Halfling Heritor moved over to a large cloth sack on the rooftop and quickly unlaced the cord tying it, only to find it stuffed with old rusty serving pieces and flatware. (I flip token to reveal an "X".)
As Corel recovered his chest of gold coins, the wounded Perkin takes cover behind a column.  Near the top center of the photo, Barley checks the token on the outbuilding rooftop.
    Over on the rooftop they had started from, Tork could see Perkin was badly hurt, so he quickly cast Water of Life on the Halfling, and the Scout could feel his wound magically begin to heal. 
      Meanwhile, Fernando and Link had crossed to the large roof, and both moved towards the nearest piles of debris.  Link pulled at a small chest, and hearing clinking inside, opened it to reveal some pieces of fine gold jewelry. (I reveal another "T" token!)  Likewise, Fernando found an ornate wood box, and prying it open, saw it contained gold coins and some heavy potato sized object wrapped in smooth cloth. (And yet another "T" token!) He had no time to investigate further as a loud flapping behind him warned him that the surviving guard had taken issue with his prying.  Quickly the Halfling Crewman turned and brandished his sword, wounding the bird-man with a well placed thrust. The Birdman fluttered backwards in pain, giving the Archers a clear shot; and this time Jikam found his mark, killing the creature.
The birdman attacks Fernando as he and Link try to steal the creature's treasure. Near the top center of the photo, the Gnomes can be seen working on recovering a treasure of their own.
     With the guards dead, the Archer, Billy Wizzit, decided it was time to go try and investigate the pouch that Ginsink had tried to retrieve earlier.  The Snapping Turtle stood nearby at the base of a bridge leading to a further rooftop, upon which one of Gnomeo's crewman stood dithering as to cross and tangle with the hard-shelled creature or not.   The Gnome Heritor could see the situation, and using his Trick Shot ability, put a well placed arrow right into an opening in the Turtle's shell.  striking it right at the base of the neck.  Almost dead, (1 HP remaining!) the Turtle still faithfully stood guard at the base of the bridge.
     Meanwhile, Link and Fernando had secured their treasures and were making their way back down the old gangway back to the rooftop from which they had started.
Link and Fernando return cross the gangway with their treasure, as over on the left Billy (figure with yellow shield) can be seen hiding behind a pillar.
     Over on the building to the right, Corel moved with his chest back towards safety. The Halfling was then shocked to see two animated Skeleton soldiers ascend a nearby staircase and come marching towards him. (Brought on by the Gnome Warden, Julliette's, successful Beast Cry!)   Quickly, the wounded Perkin moved with his bow towards the new threat.  He fired an arrow which struck one of the Skeletons, sending it crashing to the ground where it shattered into dozens of loose bones.
    Meanwhile, Barley had come down from the outbuilding rooftop by this time, and she too moved to help, as did Crewman Habby.  But new danger appeared nearby.
Two skeleton soldiers appear as Corel drags his chest towards safety.
         One of the distant circling birdmen had spotted Fernando and Link carrying off their treasure, and swooped down to stop them, heading directly at Link, claws outstretched.   In a flash Barley was there, using her Leap ability to easily cross the gap between the two buildings and moving directly into contact with the creature to help Link.  Link had drawn his sword, and slashed at the flying creature.  striking its wing.  He did no real damage, but feathers fluttered all around him, and the bridman circled up into the air before making another attempt.  (I win fight but do no damage, push birdman out.)
     The creature now tried its luck with Fernando, swooping down powerfully at him.  With a might thrust the Halfling stabbed the birdman in the gut and, though badly wounded, it still continued to flap and claw at its opponent. (I roll 20, leaving the Cathaka with only 3 HP) .  Barley saw her chance, and moving up behind the creature stabbed it from behind.  It took a few weak flaps hit the roof and fluttered off the nearby edge where it plummeted to the ground far below.
A lone birdman swoops in to attack Link and Fernando.
     Back on the nearby roof to their left, Billy crouched behind a pillar, as an arrow from the Gnomes whispered past him.  The Gnome Crewman on the far side of the little bridge finally found his courage, and charged at the Turtle.  Billy knew it was now or never and dived for the pouch.  He heard the clink of bottles inside and threw the pouch's strap over his arm.  (I reveal another "T"!) The Turtle and Gnome engaged, but neither managed to damage the other.
     Back on the other roof, Perkin shot again, disabling the second Skeleton.  Coral now had a clear path to escape with his treasure.  Likewise Link and Fernando began to descend the nearest staircase, making their way back to the ship. Tork once again cast Water of Life on the injured Scout.
Billy finally recovers the pouch as the Snapping Turtle still guards the bridge against the Gnome's advance.
     Billy fled with his pouch, and the nearby Gnome knew that even if he killed the Turtle, the Halfling Archer was well out of his reach, so he too began to make his way back to join his crew.

     Later that evening, back onboard the Jolly Scallop,  Barley looked over the day's haul.  The chest Corel had retrieved from near the pool contained 100 GC!  The Little Heritor estimated the jewelry in the chest Link had recovered was worth around 40 GC; and the pouch Billy Wizzit had retrieved contained a few broken and empty potion bottles, but there was one still intact that the Warden, Tork, had determined contained a Potion of Regeneration.  Lastly, there was Fernando's Chest; it held 50 Gold Coins, and wrapped in the cloth was a flat stone the size of Tork's big fist, with runes on one side and what looked like a primitive sea chart on the other showing three islands.
    After puzzling over it for a few minutes, Barley handed it over to Tork, saying, "Any ideas?"
    The big Warden studied it closely and ran his fingers over the worn carvings.  "It's Map Stone" he said matter-of-factly, and continued, "Clue to location of Crystal Pool."
     Barley jumped from her chair; "It shows where the pool is?" she exclaimed!
     "Yes... and no, " the Human magic-user said shaking his large head.  "It shows part of a route to the Pool.  It is just piece of larger puzzle. We must find more to know complete path." He set the stone gently back down on Barley's desk.
     There was a map. In pieces, yes, but a map nonetheless.  Barley pondered the implications.  If they could find more of these stones...  The little Heritor felt invigorated.  Her ship's hold was filling up with more and more gold, and they now had a specific objective to search for.  Barley gazed out the window of her cabin at the moon lit water; her mind already plotting their next destination.
Final outcome.


Epilogue:

   This was an enjoyable game, and played more like a bank heist than a regular battle.  The nature of the buildings kept everyone for the most part separated, and it really came down to defeating the guards, grabbing the loot, and running.
    I must say I did have an inordinate amount of good luck though.  The majority of tokens I flipped proved to be actual Treasure; a fate not shared with all the players.  Also, once I had the treasure and was lugging it away, I would have been easy pray for the Gnomes and their preponderance of missile troops;  but I lucked out that two of the Cathakas arrived in their rear area at just the right time, keeping them quite busy guarding their own recovered Treasure.
    I only had one figure fall, the Crew-woman Ginsink, which is very unusual.  And, luckily,  she fully recovered.
     I couldn't believe my good fortune at getting 4 treasures; but my luck let me down on the treasure rolls.  Three of them were under ten:  4, 8, and 9.  Which are not particular valuable results.  My one big number was a 20, a map stone.  But quite honestly for what is basically a 12 month/game campaign it's hard to ever find more than one or two of these stones so they have no real effect.  I would have preferred a nice magic weapon or armor.
    Luckily, I don't have to wait long for our next game as it is this coming weekend.  Stay tuned for a another report soon!