Final (for the moment) Thoughts.
The Simple (Film) Option:
In the previous posts I scattered some thoughts which might be used, tweaked or combined to help put a game together based on the "The Man Who Would be King" adventure. Following that theme, this post is throwing up a simple, stylised version of same, looking primarily at the world of the movie - rather than "reality" or the original novella - to generate scenarios and for folks to pick n' mix, or to spark folks' thoughts..
Really simple concept. In the movie, once the protagonists actually arrive in the first Kafiristan valley, and slap the assailants of the folk of Er-Heb, they get a foot in the door. We will start at this point. They have arrived at Er-Heb, been fêted, and thus have a military force at their disposal. All that remains is to achieve their ambitions...
The main protagonists are the British "Gentlemen at Large" Dravot & Carnehan.
They are both courageous, good shots, good-at-hand to hand and are inspiring leaders Dravot in attack and Carnehan in defence. The Player is representing or playing in their interest.
They have partner in their adventure; Billie Fish (in the original story a local chief, but in the film a Gurkha rifleman - lone survivor of a lost expedition). He also is courageous, a good shot, expert at hand-to-hand and is an inspiring leader in attack. He can act as a subordinate commander; leading armies and taking Settlements. He is fiercely honourable and loyal, and so can also be put in charge of Loot Mules.
Establish a "Kingdom" by getting control of all of the secular settlements on the map - while maintaining good relations with the priests at Sikandergul - OR to obtain and exit the map with Loot to the value of £30,000.
Control of individual Settlements may be obtained by getting them to Surrender on Terms by intimidating them (defeating their defensive forces in battle or killing, demoralising or capturing their Chief) or capturing them by totally defeating their forces.
The Map and Movement:
The map is a stylised location-to-location map. The protagonists and their forces move along the red lines from location (Settlement Zone) to location to force control of same, or to move the heroes off the map to safety with any loot (the red lines leading off the map. Once the map has been left no returning is allowed.
Sikandergul itself is a sacred site and as such cannot be controlled by military means. It can only be visited by the protagonists if they are alone or when only accompanied by mules, Billie Fish and/or "The Rifles".
All Zones and routes are considered equal for Movement Purposes (however, see below re. Passes and terrain)
The heroes may only move THROUGH uncontrolled Settlement Zones under certain conditions. These are:
1) When they have been summoned to Sikandergul by the priesthood
2) When escaping from Sikandergul
3) When sneaking off the map with Loot
In the last two cases they may be subject to Interception. Again, they can only carry out the above actions when alone or when only accompanied by mules, Billie Fish and/or "The Rifles" (see below).
Armies/forces can only move when with one of the protagonists.
Armies cannot move THROUGH any uncontrolled Settlement Zone at any time. They must halt on reaching such a Zone and may only stay in such a Zone if they they are making an attempt to take the Settlement.
When moving towards an Uncontrolled Settlement Zone there is a chance that Armies will be intercepted, confronted or even ambushed en-route by the Settlement's own forces (see "Interception and Ambush" below) .
Pretty arbitrary, to be frank, as this is a stylised system; say one move equals one month. This doesn't so much reflect actual travel time, but the whole hassle of doing ANYTHING here in the Backwoods of the Hindu Kush ("A fool lies here, Who tried to hustle the East."). Time is really only relevant in keeping track of when Winter arrives, and the passes are closed (see below).
Each Move the heroes can do all or any of the following:
1) Individually or together move from one Settlement Zone to another Settlement Zone. This can be done alone, with an Army or other forces or just with mules, in accordance to the restrictions above.
2) Dispatch Loot to Sikandergul; this only has to be "dispatched"; there is no need to keep track of its progress. It WILL arrive safely. Credit for doing this is immediate (everyone knows what you've done..).
3) Fight as many battles as are relevant in the Movement being undertaken (e.g. the Army, with no Baggage Train, moves from Kamdesh to Bagindra. It is ambushed in the forest, but brushes the enemy aside without significant loss to either party, it is again intercepted in the hills above the forest, and again pushes the enemy away without a major fight. There is a third, more decisive, victorious skirmish in the hills above Bagindra. On arrival at Bagindra itself a test is made and the Settlement surrenders on terms. This is all ONE move.)
4) Retrace their steps to a Controlled Settlement if defeated in battle en route or in an Uncontrolled Settlement Zone (in the above example if, on arrival at Bagindra, they failed to take the Settlement and therefore had to retreat to a Controlled Settlement this would still only count as ONE move).
Thus in a single move each of the protagonists, Dravot and Carnehan - and their co-conspirator, Billie Fish, could EACH:
1) Move independently to different Zones (with or without different forces) or by different routes to the SAME Settlement Zone - fighting as necessary.
2) Dispatch Loot as a gift to Siknadergul.
3) "Retreat" to a Controlled Settlement Zone following a repulse/defeat.
Note: a Force or Army may not move other than to go and from a single Settlement Zone per move (i.e. it cannot be "picked up" by one protagonist and moved again).
The game starts in April.
In October the weather starts getting worse. Throw a 1x6D each October; result of 1-3 = Normal Weather. 4-6 = Winter is early; the passes to the outside world are closed to all traffic - there is no going in or out of Kafiristan. The Madul pass is closed to all traffic.
November: Winter sets in automatically. As above but no need to test.
December to February: No Army movement permitted at all. The passes are all closed to all traffic - there is no going in or out of Kafiristan.
In March there is a chance of an early thaw. Throw a 1x6D; result of 1-4 = No change - it is still Winter, 5-6 = Spring weather is early. Army movement permitted and the passes are open.
Otherwise weather is ignored (unless the Player wants to make this a factor on the Map or on the table).
Interception, Ambush, Settlements:
On arrival at an uncontrolled Settlement Zone with an Army a test must be made
on the Settlement Defence Table part of the Ambush Table. This may result in a battle, standoff or the surrender of the settlement. However, an Army may be subject to interception at Rivers, passes, Hills and Forests.
Armies having to cross a river to get to an uncontrolled settlement may be met at the river by defenders. The defenders will stand on their side of the river, making the attackers cross/attack at a disadvantage (see Ambush Table).
Armies having to use a route which goes over hills to get to an uncontrolled settlement may be ambushed or met by defenders in said hills. The defenders will stand on high ground to their advantage, making the attackers attack at a disadvantage or may ambush attackers while still in column of march (see Ambush Table).
Armies having to use a route which goes through forest may be ambushed from close cover while in column of rout (see Ambush Table).
The Madul Pass (on the Pashal-Apsai road) is a high mountain pass. Basically a rocky defile, so rough that no Baggage Train can go that way. Armies may pass, but are possibly subject to being blocked by defenders in the pass or ambushed if trying to get to an uncontrolled settlement (see Ambush Table)
The Gates of Ab-Pech on the Shidgul-Kamdesh road are a series of narrows where the mountains and the river rub shoulders, with cliffs on one side and a drop to the river on the other, so that it is basically a road's width of passable terrain - and easily blocked. Baggage Trains may pass. If the Army is ambushed here hidden enemies will roll down rocks. They can be suppressed with rifle fire, but are otherwise unassailable.
The Sikandergul Gorge is impassable to Armies, not least because the majority of locals will not go armed to the holy site at Sikandergul. Only the protagonists and The Rifles may visit Sikandergul.
Some routes have multiple potential trouble spots/interception points and appropriate tests should be made at each (e.g. moving to Apsai from Shui-Pashur the rout crosses a river and a range of hills. A test for interception must be made at each. On arrival at the targeted Settlement Zone a check on the Settlement Defence Table must be made. The Shui-Pashur to Pushki-Grom route has a range of hills, then a forest, then more hills, so three tests must be made en-route, then a check on the Settlement Defence Table).
As noted, test must be made at each such point UNLESS an enemy blocking force/ambushing force has already been totally annihilated or reduced to less than a third during a previous interception (rather than, say, just having been forced to retreat). In these cases only a test on the Settlement Defence table is necessary - the defenders being too intimidated to attempt another Interception.
A force with no Baggage Train must fall back to a friendly Settlement Zone if it fails to take the targeted Settlement.
A force failing to take a targeted Settlement but in possession of a Baggage Train may remain in situ and attempt to take the Settlement the following move. If it fails it must fall back to a friendly Settlement Zone
If a force takes a Settlement Zone it must stay there at the end of that move. It can move elsewhere on the following move.
The Military Situation:
As mentioned above, it is assumed that our heroes have already established themselves at Er-Heb.
From the film it looks like they set out on their first battle with their trained riflemen (18no. plus Peachy and Billy Fish - given they start with 20 rifles), a dozen mule riders, about twenty archers and a "command group" of the Er-Heb chief, Ootah, about ten standard/umbrella bearers and musicians.
When they fight their first battle against Bashkai the locals there seem to be able to muster about 200 or so peasantry from the town itself, roughly a fifth to a quarter of whom seem to be archers) with about 40 actual warriors (the aggressive, posturing guys in masks, with swords, shields etc. at the front).
When The Army marches out from Bashkai for further conquests it seems to have swollen to The Rifles (neither of the Europeans are carrying rifles, so lets say Billy Fish and 19 trained riflemen), fifty mule cavalry (lances/long spears and shields), then infantry in nine units of about 50 men each (what look like five units of spears, four units of what seem to be archers and/or swordsmen ?) plus musicians, supply donkeys, baggage etc. etc. (i.e. the rifles plus about 500 fighting men).
Given that this force appears after the training period it seems reasonable to assume the force above is made up of the townsfolk of military age of both Er-Heb and Bashkai, plus their dependant farms and hamlets. Thus it also seems reasonable to assume that the other towns/Zones could each potentially muster about half that number (i.e. about the same number as Bashkai managed in the battle there).
Because of the difficulty in feeding a large force in the terrain the above is to be regarded as the maximum size of the Army.
Losses are automatically made-up to this figure every time a Settlement Surrenders on Terms, but NOT if the Settlement is captured through direst combat. Making up losses involves the force staying in situ at the surrendered Settlement one move. Recruitment can ONLY take place the move after the Settlement is captured (i.e. a force cannot move off, having not recruited, then return to recruit, neither can another force visit subsequently and recruit).
The Baggage train is not actually "expended". It is assumed it is replenished automatically (unless destroyed by enemy action).
Building an extra Baggage Train follows the same procedure as recruiting (above).
a) Warriors: Throw 1xdD minus one, and multiply by ten for the number of "warriors" (e.g. a throw of five means 40 warriors, a throw of one means no foot warriors)
b) Mule Cavalry: If NO warriors were produced as a result of the above throw throw 1x6d and multiply by five for the number of mule cavalry (e.g. a throw of five means 25 mule cavalry). In these cases the Chief and any sub-commanders will also be mounted.
However, if warriors WERE produced throw 1x6d minus two x five for the number of mule cavalry (e.g. a throw of five means 15 mule cavalry, a throw of one or two no mule cavalry)
c) Throw four 1x6D and multiply by ten. This is the number of levy/peasantry (untrained troops) available. Divide by 4 (rounding up) to get how many of these are archers/slingers. (e.g. total dice score is 16. That is 160 troops; divided by 4 = 40 archers.
d) Each Settlement is assumed to have a Chief and a Vizier. Throw 1x6D to see how many sub commanders the Settlement has in addition to these.
The Warriors will all be in one unit under the Chief or the Vizier. The Horse may divided into two units or in one unit can be brigaded with the Warriors under the Chief or the Vizier. Other foot will be in equal-size units depending on the sub-commander throw (Note: archers and other levy foot can be mixed. In situations where archers are inside the settlement they must have a sub-commander or Chief/Vizier with them).
It looks, from the film, that the Bashkai - and presumably most other local groups - rely on the pattern typical of a lot of "primitive" warfare; consisting of intimidation and aggressive sallies by a group of highly motivated Big Men or warriors, backed by shouting, posturing, arrows and thrown stones from their "supporters". All individuals should have the ability to pick up and throw stones.
While there might be a bit of hand-to-hand when the Big Men become worked up, presumably it is only when the enemy are intimidated enough to waver or retreat that the rest of the force comes into play. Once the Big men are down or are themselves wavering, the rest of the force is likely to be vulnerable to panic flight.
It would be easy enough to replicate this on The Table with "tribal" morale rules.
Against them will be the drilled levies of the protagonists' forces. Although movement and Command & Control might be easier and they will feel secure against the townsfolk of the other Settlements these units may have equally brittle morale when faced with Big Men/warriors in hand to hand. Only the Riflemen (and the protagonists) seem to have the grit we associate with trained soldiers.
The Priests at Sikandergul will rank as "fanatics" in terms of sheer courage. All will be good stone throwers. All will pick up fallen weapons.
Each settlement will give 1x6D x £1,000 of Loot if it Surrenders on Terms or 2x6D if taken by force (i.e. the defenders Break in battle outside the actual Settlement or are reduced by two-thirds in a Battle of Interception) or if the Chief is captured. Personally I'd keep a record of loot gained by using tokens, rather than bookkeeping.
Loot must be carried by mules (one mule per £3,000), which must be either left in a Garrisoned* Settlement or accompany the protagonists. There is no recruiting cost or recruiting time for mules - they are just "acquired" locally.
Puski-Grom has a turquoise mine. Any loot/tribute gained from here on the above Loot test is tripled in value.
In certain circumstances the priests at Sikandergul (see "Summoned to Sikandergul Table") can be duped into parting with Special Loot to the value of £90,000, carried on three mules (this is more a measure of what can be carried, rather than what might be available).
If the priests subsequently become suspicious all movement of the loot will be subject to the Flight Table.
(*There is no actual need to garrison settlements to maintain Control unless there is an intent to store Loot there. However, garrisoned settlements do not revolt, and so can supply a safe Line of Retreat. To be garrisoned a settlement must contain at least one of the Protagonists or Billy Fish plus 100 other troops or at least 5 riflemen and 150 troops)
Loot can be sent to Sikandergul as a offering at any time. This buys favour with the priests (see "Summoned to Sikandergul Table").
Escaping with Loot; if it is decided to skip the country before - or after - a Summons to Sikandergul
Summoned to Sikandergul:
Once Bashkai has been taken there is a chance the protagonists will be summoned to Sikandergul to appear before the priests.
After Bashkai has been taken every time a Settlement falls/surrenders to the protagonists thereafter throw a dice, adding one to the dice for every two (total rounded down) Settlements controlled. As soon at the test result totals 10 or more Dravot and Carnehan have been summoned to appear at Sikandergul. They then have a choice:
1) Cut and run with their loot - with the possibility this may affect their Popularity and could trigger a Revolt (see Revolt Table) .
2) Prevaricate while taking more settlements. However, this will also affect their Popularity and may precipitate a Revolt.
3) Go to Sikandergul without taking their Army along at all. They can take the riflemen and any loot, but that is all. They are considered to have been granted "safe passage" for this summons and can pass through uncontrolled settlements without effect in order to go directly to Sikandergul. Coming and going from Sikandergul are the the only times the protagonists and Rifles can pass through an uncontrolled settlement without risk.
4) Campaign so as to take Apsai as soon as possible, then, once it has been taken, proceed to Sikandergal with the Rifles alone; leaving the Army at Apsai. However, there is a risk this will be seen as prevarication.
Billy Fish does not have to go with them, but there are advantages if he does (he has local knowledge and language skills).
During a battle, so long as they are not at that moment themselves under attack/fire, giving orders or involved in melee, Dravot, Carneghan and Billy Fish can spend that move sniping at enemy commanders. Each snipe takes a full move.
One could also add a "near Miss" effect. In the event Dravot or Carneghan miss at Long or Very Long range on a double when shooting at a Chief , then a person standing next to the target has been struck - or a flagpole was shattered or some similar "Oooh, THAT was bloody close" incident has taken place - which results in a Moral Check for the Chief. If he fails this he is so spooked he orders his army (and settlement) to surrender.
Very basic. Armies either carry their own supplies or have a Baggage Train accompanying them.
If an Army with no baggage train marches to an uncontrolled Settlement Zone it MUST take that Settlement that map move or return to a Controlled Settlement to feed itself at the end of that move. It may move again the following move.
(Example: Friendly Army marches to Apsai from Shui-Pashur. It isn't intercepted or ambushed. The Defence Table result is that the Settlement's force stays in the Settlement. That SAME Move the Friendly Army must make its way to a Controlled Settlement).
An Army with a Baggage Train can sit outside an uncontrolled Settlement Zone for a maximum of two moves (including the move in which it approached). If it does not take the Settlement at the end of the second Move it must return to a Controlled Settlement and spend a full Move replenishing its Baggage Train.
(Example: Friendly Army marches to Apsai from Shui-Pashur. It isn't intercepted or ambushed. The Settlement Defence Table result is that the Settlement's force stays in the Settlement. That is the end of that Move for that Friendly Army. Next Move the Friendly Army should test again. It MUST take the Settlement or retreat to resupply. It does not. It must now, at the end of this second Move, make its way to a Controlled Settlement, where it must wait another full move before it can proceed further/attempt any other attack).
Note; if an Army is in place on its second (last) move outside a Settlement (and is thus exhausting its Baggage Train this move) and it is joined by another Friendly Army with a Baggage Train that move BOTH Armies can remain in situ for the following move and make another attempt on the Settlement. If they fail in this attempt then they must BOTH return to a Controlled Settlement at the end of that move. Basically they have shared the second Army's Baggage Train to allow the First Army to stay the extra day.
Baggage Trains will be the main target of any Ambush. They can be destroyed, and must be replaced.
To build a new or replacement Baggage Train (not replenish an existing one) takes a full move. A protagonist must remain at a Controlled settlement for one full move and pay £2,000 in Loot to create one.
Battles/On the Table Action:
There are a number of situations where action can be transferred to the table:
Battles outside Settlements; when an Army arrives at an uncontrolled Settlement.
Interception Battles; when an Army is intercepted in hostile terrain while en-route to an uncontrolled Settlement.
Escape Clashes; when the heroes are trying to escape from Sikandergul or fleeing with Loot through uncontrolled Settlement zones.
Any period Colonial skirmish rules will do and can be "solo-ised" as desired (see other posts on this blog).
|“When we’re done with you you’ll be able to stand up and slaughter your enemy like civilised men" |
The usual (predictable?) range of thoughts above sound to me like a simple, fun game and scenario generation tool (adaptable of course to other situations).
I have yet to play-test all of this as a "package" as yet - since in theory I am in mid "other project", but but caught up with playing with this idea; hence the above (Note to self: Why have I been scouring the Web for 1.72 mules.....?)
As always, any thoughts, queries or even snipes, welcome...