Friday, 24 August 2018

Hash-ups I have Known.......

The experiments that went wrong….

Still the fighting season (Dover Castle t'other week, Battle of Bosworth last weekend, Hever Castle this weekend coming) therefore bruises, cuts and abrasions in place of gameplaying/BatReps or painting, so a little musing on past Solo failures.....

As an inveterate tweaker & dabbler I will often experiment with concepts and methods in ways only suitable for inflicting on oneself (one of the many the advantages - or pitfalls - of Solo play).  From the large scale (the “Battle of Watling Street” debacle) to the relatively tiny (RPG or hunting/chase/robbery/rescue games) they are always fun - if not always successful first time around..

Below is a prĂ©cis of some of the ones that “need further work”… 



"The You’ll do it My Way Fiasco”:

A RPG adventure concept, wherein I was trying to play as the  “Dungeon Master”, rather than “Adventurer”: setting out my dungeon, deploying clues, secret doors, obstructions, guardians etc. in order to manipulate a group of adventurers so as to get them where I wanted them to be (i.e. outta my face with minimal loss to my minions and maximum embarrassment to the “Heroes”..).


Unfortunately, in actual trials the Adventuresome parties did NOT cooperate: proving to be...:

Too stupid, unobservant or slack to discover my carefully placed clues.

Too blind to stop themselves walking blithely into trap-filled corridors..

Too cautious to follow my carefully briefed “chase me” sentries.

Too suicidal when confronted with a fight – e.g. throwing themselves against superior forces etc. etc.

Although driven from my lair with bloody noses, the Adventurers were NOT steered into doing what I wanted… They almost seemed to have minds of their own, dammit…. 

I said DON'T answer the door.........


Also, once my dungeon had been designed & set up my only “job” was running my minions around as bait or into “blocking positions” (and occasionally combat I wanted to avoid), so that my role (apart from throwing dice to see what the Adventurers would do) was quite limited and (as I should have foreseen) passive….

An interesting reversal of the usual Solo Dungeon Crawl,  but not interesting enough to repeat.


The “No Throne Left Unturned Stalemate":

The peasants are revolting (not); wherein a peasant army was supposed to give me headaches by throwing themselves against my defences, while I deployed my tiny band of tooled-up professionals to defend my little Tower of Strength against their waves of active assailants. Basically a test of my abilities to plug gaps with minimal resources  (think “The Warlord”… Or “Zulu” with peasants & polearms in place of impis with iklwa).

Except they wouldn’t….  They stood, and stared, and “tested”, but neither the desire for social justice, vengeance and loot, nor revolutionary spirit, nor inspirational leaders could tempt them into throwing themselves against my crossbows and castellations.. Even sending a Forlorn Hope out to provoke them was a waste of time (the bovine peasantry stood & stared..).  
As a
jaquerie it was a total sell - and when the relieving party arrives the serfs just did a runner ("Scarper lads, it's the rozzers...")

"The Seven Sherwooders Situation":


Build a medieval "Merrie Englande" village. Place peasants terrified of rampaging Routiers due to return to, well, rampage again... Advertise "Servile population of a collection of hovels at risk of general massacre and attendant horrors seek suicidal volunteers to die to protect their chickens, pig and daughters from murderous marauders. All the parsnip pottage you can eat. .  Please apply to etc.etc. "


An everyday story of down-trodden folk....


Add seven of Sherwood's Finest.

Use "Preparation Points" to deploy - do I train and organise the peasantry or get them to build defences - or a bit of both...? Do I set ambushes.  This bit was fun.......

Cue the bad guys (controlled by dice driven tactical decision table). Three times they decided "Oh what the hell, just rush 'em". Departure of villagers in panic. Death of the "heroes".....

I used the same principles for a larger game; more outlaws and the assailants being the Bishop of Huntingdon's enforcers. Who turned up en-mass.... With (event card) reinforcements in the form of Prince John and a right Royal Retinue of professional killers.... THAT ended badly.....


"Thaaaasands of them...."
 

I think I set the bar too high for myself with that one.....

"The Watling Street WTF!!!":


This was a “Crowd Control” experiment, in which, acting as Celtic C. in C.

I had to coordinate my card-controlled polyglot army of disparate Celtic tribes and their bolshie Big Men; getting them to draw the enemy Romans into MY kind of fight – avoiding a “charge, get pilumed, get charged and get broken piecemeal” approach – skirmishing, drawing them down to the flat and flanking, before overwhelming the legions with my superior numbers...  I didn’t expect to actually win, but the point was to test my organising skills….  With all of my “near enough” Celts & Romans on the field this was as Epic as I get.

Things began well enough, with my skirmishers and chariotry peppering the passive Romans. The Tiber Boys were expected to be pretty static in their good defensive position; presumably “hoping” to draw me into THEIR kind of fight. There WERE options for actions on their part, to keep me off balance, but the odds were that they would be “sensible”.

As might be reasonably expected their skirmishers engaged (“So, trying to provoke me into YOUR kind of bash eh..?”). My cavalry responded against orders, and got battered for their trouble, but nothing drastic. Then….. Oh, oh…..



"Here they come; shiny as shiny and thick as planks..."


“General Advance” sounded from the other side of the field and the whole enemy shooting match came down the hill at me at speed….. While my general scurried around trying to organise things the serried ranks of legionaries pushed onwards, squeezing out my chariots & skirmishers and making my life thoroughly difficult…. Instead of organising an attack on the flanks I was managing shaken and disorganised bodies of men,  trying to preserve my centre – while my “Big Men” did exactly what I didn’t want; launching penny-packet attacks and generally getting bloody noses for their pains.

Things went pear-shaped very quickly. My bods were getting shaken and pushed back wherever the Romans came to grips, my best warriors were already down and some units were having to be rallied. The Latinistas were suffering from their rash attack in places (mainly shock) but things were going badly for me. A local success on my far left by an over-confident Big Man only ended up presenting an open flank “Target of Opportunity” to the enemy cavalry. They charged, he broke – and the drop in my Army Moral triggered a route…..

Best laid plans etc.   I will try this “Crowd Control” experiment again (and write it up properly at some stage). 

_______________________________________________________________


Well, those are the most interesting fiascoes (fiasci?). When time becomes available I will be delving into more projects and BatReps. Meanwhile; the Battle-Wagon is packed (my "Mary Poppins's Carpet bag of a small car - a Suzuki WagonR;- if a vehicle can't take an eight and a half foot spear it's no good to me) and it's off to do a three day Pirate show at Hever... "Arrrrrs" are NOT obligatory.....


"WTH..?"

Tuesday, 14 August 2018

The Table's ALIVE...!!!!!

Or, " How I run a "Live" environment..This being the middle of the "fighting season" I have been kit-bashing and being bashed the last few weeks (20+ new bruises, cuts and abrasions - and one suspected chipped bone - since the beginning of last month. THAT'LL teach me to dress for comfort in the heat. Or not....) at home n' abroad, so that in between reenacting and working I haven't progressed anything new.

That being so I thought I'd set out a few tips & ideas on how I work a "Live Environment" to enliven small skirmishes. Some of these will have been seen on previous posts.... 




The premise, for those not used to the idea, is that the table is not an inert, sterile battlefield, like a chess board, but part of the game itself. There may be hazards, inconveniences, bonuses and neutral "things" to add colour and variety (and frustration) to the game play. Some of these phenomena will be represented on the table by means of figures, tokens, buildings or markers. Some will be off table, waiting to come on (or not, as chance dictates). Some may be "Event table" driven. Players of Sharp Practice 1 will likely be aware of this concept already.

In general terms I set out a table, decide how complex the environment will be and what will trigger the effects. For example; in the recent "Pig  Rescue" post there were dogs and herdboys to be avoided, in the "Hunt" game potential outlaws, civilians of different types, wildlife, traffic and the lure of drink to contend with. Below are just some thoughts and processes which I use for my Robin Hood scenarios, but which can be adapted to any period skirmish...


Figures (No Event Cards/tables needed).

Damsel in Distress:
"Help, Sir Knight. Help!" - King Richard, The Sheriff of Nottingham, Robin Hood, Alan a Dale, Gary & Graham and any of the Minor Knights passing within 6" must test. A 1-3 means that they, and any units they commanded that move, are now "stuck" to the Damsel, who will move randomly across the board as an element of  "traffic". This may include leaving the board altogether. Maid Marion, Friar Tuck and Sir Guy of Gisbourne can, if approaching the damsel, "free the "trapped" Personality. 



Black Knight: "You shall not pass": Any named Personality passing within 3" must make a morale check. If test is failed Personality and any accompanying unit must recoil and avoid passing within 6" of the figure for the rest of the game (note; unit does not suffer any shock - simply follows recoiling personality). If test is passed Personality must engage in single combat and defeat the Black Knight four times.  If personality is defeated he/she is not killed but must recoil/avoid further contact for the rest of the game as above. Figure is removed if killed - does not respawn. Unnamed/unled units ignore this figure.

Patsy: "It's only a model": Ammunition and water replenished without penalty.




Plague doctor: "Say "Aaaagh...": Every unit passing within 3" must check. 1-2 unit halts for 1 turn. 2-3 unit recoils 1 turn (random direction) and loses 1x6d figures (do not count as casualties for VP purposes). 5-8 no effect. 


Wench: "Love for Sale" Every unit passing within 3" must test. Throw 1x6d (minus accompanying Personality/personalities). If this exceeds the level of the Personality the unit halts for duration of the turn and "gathers round" the figure. The unit moves on next turn, but loses one figure. Loss does not count as casualties for VP purposes. 

Huckster: "Roll up, Roll up":  Every unit passing within 6" must test with 1x6d. If that thrown exceeds the Personality level the units halts for duration of the turn and "gathers round" the figure . At the end of the turn throw again 2x6d. Two 5's, 5+6 or two 6's and a fight breaks out; 1 unit figure v the huckster. Hand to hand without any charge bonus. Huckster killed counts on the Robinometer 1x6d.Figure removed if killed - does not respawn.  If no fight; next turn throw 1xd6 (minus accompanying Personality/personalities) - any throw/result above 2 and the unit remains in place for another turn.



Travelling Players: "The play's the thing": Every unit passing within 6" must halt for duration of the turn and "gather round" the players. Next turn throw 1xd6 (minus accompanying Personality/personalities). Any throw/result above 2 and the unit remains in place for another turn. 

Jester: "Here's a funny thing.." Every unit passing within 6" must halt for duration of the turn and "gather round" the figure if 1x6d exceeds Personality level. Next turn throw 1xd6 (minus accompanying Personality/personalities). Any throw/result above 2 and the unit remains in place for another turn. 



Children:
"Mister... Mister....." Any unit wanting to pass through must test. Throw 1x6d (minus accompanying Personality/personalities).  A throw of 1-4 and the unit must make a detour around the figures, not passing within 3" of it OR halt one turn. If forced to detour in a street/bounded by impassable terrain a failing unit must either halt & retry next turn, or retrace its steps. If unit passes the test and marches through throw 1x6d. This counts against the owning player on the Robinometer 1x6D.



Once the unit has passed children will throw stones. Count as slings but close range only. Stoned unit must dice for each figure hit as usual shooting rules.  "6" kills. "5" results in 1 point of shock, "1" and the figure chases the children (moves 1xaveD) or shoots if missile troop.  Children always recoil from hand to hand (+2 to dice). Any child casualty from shooting counts 3 x 1x6D on the Robinometer. Child casualties do not respawn.

Crowd: "Make way!!" Any unit wanting to pass through must test. Throw 1x6d (minus accompanying Personality/personalities).  A throw of 1-4 and the unit must make a detour around the figure, not passing within 3" of it OR halt one turn. If forced to detour in a street/bounded by impassable terrain unit must either halt & retry next turn, or retrace its steps.



If the unit passes the test and marches through the crowd throw 1x6d; this counts against the owning player on the Robinometer. Then throw again 2x6d. On a two of 5's, 5+6 or two 6's a Brawl breaks out as per Brawl rules....   Any crowd figures killed count on the Robinometer 1x6d each. Once unit has moved on crowd respawns on throw of 5-6. If in a street/bounded by impassable terrain a defeated unit must recoil & retry next turn, or retrace its steps.

Beggars: "Alms for an old crusader.." Any unit wanting to pass within 3" must test. Throw 1x6d.  A throw of 1-4 and the unit must make a detour around the figure, not passing within 3" of it.  If forced to detour in a street/bounded by impassable terrain unit must either halt & retry next turn, or retrace its steps.


Herder: "Angry, Angry Herdsman": If passing within 3" of any herd of sheep, goats or cattle throw 1x 6d. 1or 2 and the herd moves away from the unit (random direction 3x6d) and is replaced on the spot it previously occupied by the angry, angry herdsman and two herd boys with slings. They will shoot at the unit while it is in range. They will retreat from any hand to hand attack as per normal evasion rules but otherwise do not move. Any herdsman figures killed by counter fire/hand to hand count negative on the Robinometer 1x6d each. Once the offending unit has moved out of range they vanish, to respawn if herd is activated again. They will respawn at the new herd location even if killed in the first encounter.
 



Barkeep/wenches/cook:
"Fill yer turnshoes.." Every unit passing within 6" must halt for duration of the turn and "gather round" the figure. Next turn throw 1xd6 (minus accompanying Personality/personalities). Any throw/result above 2 and the unit remains in place for another turn. Each turn held in place the unit loses one figure. does not count as casualties for VP purposes

"Barrel o' beer: "Rolling drunk" Every unit passing within 3" must halt for duration of the turn and "gather round" the figure. Throw 1/6d. These figures are removed for the the duration of the game (drunk). They do not count as casualties for VP purposes . Figure is removed once activated.

Merchant/market: "Stalled by a stall": Every unit passing within 6" must test. Throw 1x6d (minus accompanying Personality/personalities). If this exceeds the level of the Personality the unit must halt for duration of the turn and "gather round" the figure. Next turn throw 1xd6 (minus accompanying Personality/personalities). Any throw/result above 2 and the unit remains in place for another turn.




Naughty ladies: "Hello Boys..." Every unit passing within 6" must halt for duration of the turn and "gather round" the figures. Next turn throw 1xd6 (minus accompanying Personality/personalities). Any throw/result above 3 and the unit remains in place for another turn.



Gallows: "Hanging around" Every unit passing within 6" must throw 1xd6 (minus accompanying Personality/personalities). Any throw/result above 2 and the unit halts for duration of the turn and "gathers round" the gallows.



Priest/shrine: "Holy smoke". Every unit passing within 6" must throw 1xd6 (minus accompanying Personality/personalities). Any throw/result above 2 and the unit halts for duration of the turn and "gathers round" the figure. If unit passes the test and marches on throw 1x6d. This counts against the owning player on the Robinometer 1x6d. 

Deer: "Chasing the wild deer" Every horsed unit passing within 6" of deer must throw 1xd6 (minus accompanying Personality/personalities). Any throw/result above 2 and the unit loses 1x6d figures chasing the deer, which move off randomly till exiting the table. Figures exit with wildlife. Every Outlaw unit passing within 3" of deer must throw 1xd6 (minus accompanying Personality/personalities). Any throw/result above 2 and the unit loses 1x6d figures chasing the deer, which move off randomly till exiting the table. Figures exit with wildlife. Do not count for Victory points.




Farmer/s:
"Get off moi land"  Any unit wanting to pass through sown farmland where there are farmers must test. Throw 1x6d (minus accompanying Personality/personalities).  A throw of 1-4 and the unit must make a detour around the figure, not passing within 3" of it OR halt one turn, testing again next turn. If forced to detour in a street/bounded by impassable terrain unit must either halt & retry next turn, or retrace its steps. If unit passes the test and marches through throw 1x6d. This counts against the owning player on the Robinometer. Then throw again 2x6d. Two 5's, 5+6 or two 6's and a Brawl breaks out. Single combat then ensues. Any farmer figures killed count on the Robinometer 1x6d each. Killed figures do not respawn. If in a location bounded by impassable terrain unit must either halt & retry next turn, or retrace its steps. 


Heron: "Big Bird Problems - Bad Omens": Unit passing within 3" must throw 1xd6 (minus accompanying Personality/personalities). Any throw/result above 2 results in 1 point of shock. Units within 6" move at half speed. I bird flies then the penalties also apply to its flight path. 

Leper: "Unclean. Unclean": Unit passing within 3" must make a morale check (no Personality effects). If test is failed then the unit and any accompanying Personality must recoil and avoid passing within 6" of the figure for the rest of the game (note; unit does not suffer any shock). 

Peddlar: "Stop me and buy one": Every unit passing within 3" must throw 1xd6. That number of figures are "tempted". Throw again 1-3 for each figure. That figure is "held" for the next unit turn. 





Drunks: "Merry, merry apprentices": Every unit passing within 3" must throw 1x6d. That number of figures are "tempted" to join the party. Throw again each figure. 1-3 thrown - that figure joins the fun and is "held" for the next 1x6d turns. If a 6 is thrown that figure gets into a Brawl with the apprentices. Should that happen throw 1xD6 for the unit. That number of figures are also tempted to join the fight. Throw 1xD6 for each such figure, adjusting for Personality present (minus). Figures throwing 3-6 join the fight. All fighters are "held" for the reminder of that round, then fight as per single combat next round. Losers are thrown for: 2-6 rendered hors de combat for remainder of the game, on a throw of 1are killed. Unit can move on as normal.  If unit remains in situ Personality may attempt to restore order. Each turn the unit remains in contact more figures are diced for (i.e. fights can escalate). Adjacent/nearby (within 4") or passing units (in civilians) can be drawn into the fight as above on the side of the Apprentices. Fights may last as many rounds as it takes for the Personality to restore order or the Apprentices/unit figures are defeated. Player figures lost do not count for Victory Points. Apprentice/civilian figures killed count on the Robinometer against the owning Player.

There is a faint possibility that opposing Player units/figures could be drawn into a Brawl.


 
Body: "It's a stiff.."There is a dead body lying on the ground. Unit passing within 3" must make a morale check (no Personality effects). If test is failed, then the unit and any accompanying Personality must recoil and avoid passing within 6" of the figure for the rest of the game (note; unit does not suffer any shock). IF the test is passed the body can be examined. It may provide a clue or Maguffin relevant to the scenario.

Witch:
"Cackle, Cackle": Any unit/Personality wanting to pass within 3" must test. Throw 1x6d. A throw of 1-4 and the unit must make a detour around the figure, not passing within 3" of it. If forced to detour in a street/bounded by impassable terrain unit must either halt & retry next turn, or retrace its steps. IF the unit passes successfully within 3" of the figure then throw a dice. 1-2; The unit is cursed - it receives 2 permanent Shock Points and all future movement and combat strength is halved unless it later halts one move adjacent to a priest/shrine/holy man, in which all penalties are removed. 3-5 No effect. 6 the unit is blessed. It will fight with an extra die per 5 dice in combat. Personalities passing within 3" will react based on their "Character Notes". 




Spooky Place/Ritual Site:
"It's spooky, boss...."
Unit passing within 3" must make a morale check (generally no Personality effects, except for Friar Tuck, who ignores all spookiness). 1-2 = they recoil and cannot approach within 6" of the place again. 3-5 = they may move through/past, but at half speed. 6 = No effect.

Hern the Hunter: "WTF!!" All units unless commanded by Robin Hood or Friar Tuck test.  1-5 = unit panics and moves back the way it came by 8" + 1x6D . Add 2x6d shock to any non-Forester Baron unit so affected.



The above are just some of the ideas/types of random persons who might clutter up my fighting space. Add to them road traffic and other imponderables and, used sparingly, they can be a great addition to the fun of skirmish play.

As always, any queries & comments welcome... 

Oh dear....

 No Real excuses... Only.... 1) It's been too hot to think about playing, up in the attic.... 2) I was reading  Pratchett's   "...