Sunday, April 25, 2010

Pondering Post-Battle Resources in Chaos in Carpathia

Now that our Chaos in Carpathia campaign is off the ground, it is time to start thinking about some of the post-game mechanics that play such an important part in campaign-style games.  Obviously, the collective story-telling is one very satisfying aspect of long-term adventure gaming.  However, the other rewarding part of such games is the post-game sequence.  For those who haven't played such rule-sets, the post-battle game in most skirmish-style adventure games consists of the following activities; tracking wounds & deaths, recording and spending experience points to improve warband members, and calculating a warband's earnings and spending profits on new equipment and members.

Most CinC character models start-off as very effective units.
Unlike some other games, rapid advancement isn't necessary.
Our group cut our adventure-gaming teeth (so to speak) during our old west campaign using Warhammer Historical's Legends of the Old West rules.  Although we had a barrel of fun playing that campaign, we encountered a couple of problems as it developed.  First of all, characters developed a little too quickly.  Therefore, when people in the group weren't playing equal numbers of games, a large gap developed between warband ability levels.  Secondly, it was a little too easy to earn money between games.  So again, those who played the most earned lots of money, and before long, were hiring more new blood for their posses and leaving other members of the group in the dust. Now that I (supposedly) know better, I've come up with some simple ideas to help prevent this from happening during our Gothic Horror campaign.

Longer Experience Track

The first one is the simplest - double the standard increase-level from 5 to 10.  In other words, during our campaign, a character will have to gain twice as much experience to earn a roll on one of the advance tables. It still allows for character advancement, but it really gives players something to aim for.  During an average successful game, one character model might count on earning one experience for surviving and another for KO-ing an enemy character for a total of 2 xp earned.  At that rate, a character could expect an advance every five games.  Those characters that excel during the battle would, of course, advance more rapidly.

Base all income on MIND

As an Adventurous Scholar, Ms. Poundwood would be very 
valuable to the warband during the post-battle phase, even 
when the scenario at hand doesn't allow her to use her 
scholarly skills to their full advantage.
The standard rules allow the player to use each character model's highest attribute as a basis for earnings.    So, a human monster hunter with a STRENGTH of 4 could roll 4 dice during the post-battle resource phase, with each goal earning 2 GBP.  Then I got to thinking, why not have all character models in the game us their MIND attribute instead.  The most obvious effect of this method is that most warbands will earn a little less, which is a good thing.  I think that, on average, a warband should have to work hard and save their pennies in order to hire new members.  Furthermore, this method has the added advantage of making scholarly types very valuable, even in scenarios where their special skills aren't so important.  So for example, in a Battle in the Wilderness scenario (which is pretty much a slugfest, with no objectives to find or puzzles to solve), Prof. Richard Alcock still serves a purpose; namely, to stay standing so that he can earn a tidy sum for the warband.

Destiny Points

This idea is the one I like the best.  I'm thinking of developing a system whereby players can take their earnings as cash (for hiring new members and buying equipment) or as Destiny Points (which I'll call DP from here on in).  The concept hasn't been tested yet, but I'm thinking something like trade-in 5 GBP for 1 DP (Or maybe more?)  Whereas Fate Points are designed to help individual character models curb events to their favour, Destiny Points would allow the player to do the same for the warband as a whole.  Here are a few samples off the top of my head:

Spend 1 DP = Re-roll the Special Event for the next scenario

Spend 2 DP = Choose the Special Event for the next scenario

Spend 2 DP = Re-deploy one model after all deployment is finished.

Spend 5 DP = Re-roll an Injury Table result for one model (even death)

I'm thinking that for those that take place during play (i.e. the first three), a player would announce his intentions (i.e. "I'm spending 2 DP to choose the Special Event this scenario") and his opponent would have the opportunity to spend the same amount to counter  (i.e. cancel) the effect.  For example, as a werewolf player, I might notice that there are three possible Special Events for the scenario we are about to play; Rare Book, Ghostly Voices, and Stygian Darkness.  I might decide to spend 2 DP so that I could choose Stygian Darkness rather than risking either of the other two from coming up.  Or perhaps a human player, if Stygian Darkness was rolled, might spend 1 DP to re-roll, hoping for an event that doesn't hamper his long-range shooters so badly.

All of these ideas may be morphed and changed as we experiment, or might be discarded entirely.  Whichever way things develop, we will certainly come up with a way to make the post-battle sequence enticing, rewarding, and subtle enough support a long and balanced campaign.

Thanks for reading,

Thursday, April 22, 2010

The Curse of the Dertflinghans: Chapter One


12 April. Old West Road, Transylvania - It has been two weeks of road, sail, and steam since our departure from Le Havre.  With Bohemia behind us the locals seem more and more superstitious and dependable help becomes scarcer.  This last point was most grievously-proven upon our awakening this morning.  Ms. Poundwood awoke to the sound of galloping hooves, only to find Master Rendst and his associates riding westward, and although our supplies were left more or less intact upon the damp earth behind the tents, we find ourselves without guides, mounts, or even a single beast of burden.  After selecting the most necessary of our provisions, we divided the load (with a lesser portion to the slightly-built Ms. Poundwood) and continued eastward.  The old Dertfinghan man's letter was all urgency in spite of his kind manner and I feel that we may not find him well. - TM

12 April. cont'd - A full day's excursion by foot with a heavy load and no encounters on the road.  After making camp, Dick prepared a substantial yet mean meal of beans and hard bread, after which we retired to our tents.  The howling of great wolves made us all uneasy within our feeble shelters, but exhaustion did its work in the end, and we all gained some degree of much needed rest.  As I lay in a state of half-consciousness, Rutter sat upright at my feet, ever my loyal guardian.  I feel that his animal instincts sense more than corporeal threats in the dark forests about us.  I sleep with my knife under my sleeping roll and my pistol hidden in my boot. - TM

13 April. Old West Road, Transylvania - Tonight we take well-deserved rest in a rustic hut whose occupants have either fled or more likely been slain by the hellish beasts who foul this cursed land... but I get ahead of myself.

As evening grew close we spotted a vulgar collection of buildings at a junction.  Dick commented that we might hire a new and more courageous guide, or at the very least, might purchase a mule or some other means of transport.  As we drew near the first hut a warning call in a foreign accent rang out from the trees and we found ourselves facing three hard-looking men with their rifles trained.  However, the Mannleigh name seemed to make an impression (as it has done numerous times before in farther flung places), and I soon learned that the apparent leader of the two others was none other than Johann Von Dertflinghan, the nephew of the old fellow who had written the letter.  Since the letter's dispatch, it seems the uncle has gone missing, and Johann seemed genuinely surprised that our party had not encountered him on our journey eastward.  Our conversation was interrupted by Rutter, who's incessant and uncharacteristic barking drew all of our attention to the surrounding environment.

In the first, we realized that the place was completely abandoned of people and livestock alike. Neither man, ass, nor hen patrolled the road nor the enclosures as one would surely expect in such a rural setting at this time of day. Secondly, Ms. Poundwood noticed that all of the animal pens were ajar but undamaged, as if some friendly custodian had set them free from their captivity.  Dick began exploring the back of the nearest hut, and  with some effort, gained access through the window. And then the horrible silence was broken by a sound even more horrible, nay hellish, in it's timbre. A mighty howl penetrated the darkening twilight and the party (minus the absent Alcock) drew weapons and prepared for the worst.

At first I spotted an unfortunate looking fellow near a kitchen garden at the end of the lane. Surely he could not be the perpetrator of the dark call.

Then, Rutter crept around the the small hut, sniffing and growling as he went.

Without warning, a screaming form came rushing from the edge of the small stream towards one of Johann's companions (whom I was later properly introduced to as Egon Fisching). As it drew near we realized that it was no beast (in the occult sense, at least), but some lunatic woman garbed in a nightgown,  Although she wielded a mere children's toy she portrayed murderous intent and the steady man prepared his blunderbuss.

Then came a moment that I shall never forget. I am a Mannleigh, and take some pride in a family reputation that I have helped in no small part to maintain and advance. Although I have seen and  bested immortal adversaries in combat before, I have yet to see such a massive and foul countenance as what came striding out of the darkness towards the unfortunate hunter.

Before the poor man could ready a more appropriate weapon, the frenzied beast had flung him to the ground with violent force. With Flasher drawn from its scabbard (my silvered sword from the Borneo expedition) I realized I had but one option.  I bound over the fence with Rutter charging past me and assaulted the beast forthwith. As I drew near I felt a veil of horror descend upon me. The stature, strength, and savagery were all most concerning to me, but it was the cunning intent within the beast's yellow eyes that tested my resolve to its limit. We engaged in a frenzy of claw and steel, and in truth, I was hard pressed to tell how the engagement might culminate.  

As we clashed, I became aware to my horror of more hellish howls, and it was then that I realized I was not the only member of the party so engaged.  As the loyal Rutter distracted the beast for brief moment, I saw my chance and took it.  I drew Flasher back and thrust with all of my physical strength and spiritual resolve into the beast's upper torso, under the exposed left army.  My blow found it's mark, and with that, it let out a deafening roar that almost caused me to lose my footing.

Von Dertflinghan and Ms. Poundwood were being tussled in a most unfortunate fashion by what appeared to be a subordinate beast and a pack of giant wolves.  However, the sword thrust to the dominant beast's chest seemed to make him think better of testing my skill and patience further, and with another mighty howl, he and his companions fled into the night.

At present, we six and Rutter have barricaded the doors and windows and have stoked the fire to a scorching intensity. I realized after the brute fled that I had suffered a gash across my upper leg. Johann (who has turned out to be a most excellent  and resourceful fellow) has bound the wound, but not before washing it thoroughly with a concoction consisting of some unknown herb boiled in a small pot of what I'm sure the fellow identified as holy water. Of course, it may only be the fellow's humble English causing misunderstanding on my part.

All we know is that this tiny settlement is abandoned, and yet, all of the former occupants' belongings seem to have been left behind. It seems that my travelling companions and these hard hunters of the Carpathians are rather thrown in together. As for tomorrow's undertaking, we shall stall our decision until morning when, with any luck, our fortitude shall rise with the sun. - TM

Thanks for reading,

Saturday, April 17, 2010

Workbench Update: Getting 15mm Sci-Fi Off the Ground

Things have been relatively busy for the past while.  In addition to the usual business of life, we've been car-shopping and had lots of appointments and obligations on the calendar.  Both my painting and regular playing have suffered, but I'm finally starting to get back in the saddle.  After trying and quite liking Future War Commander, I decided to start preparing a force to face off against Chris's 15mm GZG combined infantry/tank force.  With the new baby only a couple of months way, spending little to no money continues to be a trend on the geek front, so I decided to add a couple of packs of 15mm infantry (from Chris) to my unpainted collection of Heavy Gear walkers.  Here's what I've been pondering:

The smaller gears (or mechs) stand in nicely as semi-plausible pseudo exo-skeleton/battle armour.  I'm basing the entire army on washers for a couple of reasons. First of all, I think that a round base gives them a very skirmishing look.  Secondly, I want to be able to use the Gear models to actually play Heavy Gear someday, so I didn't want to burn any bridges by basing them on squares or rectangles.

I have two of these rather largish mechs that I'll be tooling up for long range fire.  You'll notice that it has tracks built into its feet, so I'm thinking that these guys will play the same role as a heavy battle tank... if a heavy battle tank you pummel you in hand-to-hand combat that is. :)

Right now, the geek table is in chaos, which pretty much equates to productivity.  The mechs require a medium effort in the assembly department, but now that I have a vision, I'm starting to clip along.  The force I'm aiming for will consist of approximately 8 or 9 mechs and around a half a dozen bases of infantry.  In all, the entire project should paint up rather quickly and will easily provide me with about 1500 points of playable models.

I'll have enough stuff left over to take the force to about 2000 points, but that stage will likely be quite some time off.  Probably after the first batch is painted, and some more Gothic Horror is finished off, and some Alkemy models are done, and a few bases of Irish are prepped up.  And this was supposed to be a hobby.

Thanks for reading,

Monday, April 12, 2010

Future War Commander: The Trial Run

One of my mechs peers out over the tree line.
One of the games we've pondered for the future (double meaning intended-J) is Future War Commander by Specialist Military Publishing.  The game uses a similar Initiative Phase-Command Phase system to Warmaster Ancients, and as I've always loved (and miss) that part of Warmaster,  I was happy when we discovered a rule-set that makes use of it.

Chris and I broke out part of his collection of Battletech miniatures and tried out a couple of test games.  As expected, the game was fun and I think it will be a winner.  Like Impetus, the unit construction is fairly generic, and therefore leaves the player with a fair amount of license when choosing models to represent his units.

I should mention, all of the models in this post were painted by Chris.  I know very little about Battletech, but I do know that these models look very nice when painted.  We won one game a piece, and I think that we pretty much learned the core rules of the game.  There are rules to cover recon, artillery, and air support, and in the future, I'm sure we'll explore these and play the game to its full extent.

For the first game, we each played mech-heavy forces.

The second time round I played a varied force consisting of mechs, tanks, and infantry.

Chris recently painted a 15mm GZG force with FWC in mind.  I have some minis poked away that I'll be breaking out and putting "under the brush" sometime soon, so expect more science fiction content in the future.

Thanks for reading,

Saturday, April 10, 2010

Rodger In Chains

After the mercenaries' defeat at the Battle of the Borgo Verde Fields, Stockwood began heading back towards his primary entrenched position to the North.  As the army reformed and marched onward, outriders reported that the Milanese were following hot on their heels.  Stockwood realized that the Italians were under a new command.  The city-bred Prosciutto would never have made such a bold pursuit.  Obviously, this Austrian commander was a far more worthy adversary, and in fact, was responding in exactly the same fashion as Stockwood would have if he were in the victor's chair.  After a quick meeting with his war counsel, Sir James decided to prepare for another battle on the open fields near the Pass of St. Ambrose.  The terrain was ideal for his archers, and if a serious enough blow could be dealt to the enemy, perhaps he and his men would be left in peace long enough to reach their fortified encampment where they could regroup and resupply.

The Battlefield:

With the exception of a small copse of trees, the battle took place in a long, flat valley under the shadows of the steep steppes to the east.  We used the same 400-point forces that we did for the last match.

The Battle:

Realizing that there was no escape from the Italians on the open ground, Stockwood decided that a good offense would probably serve as the best defense.   Skirmishing broke out as the lines closed.

General Prosciutto felt terribly ashamed as he played the role of secondary general, over-seeing the artillery, baggage, and supplies.  The Austrian upstart had already worn out his welcome as far as the proud son of Milan was concerned.

Just before the breaking of the dam.

As the mercenary arrows rained down on the enemy, the Italian cavalry (under the command of Dertflinghan) engaged Stockwood's infantry in a ferocious melee.

Von Dertflinghan and his knights charged Rodger of Lynn (see dice roll-J).  Neither side gave any ground until Rodger was set upon and almost unhorsed.

With his nerve broken, Rodger panicked and fled the field with his knights in tow.

Prosciutto, eager to prove himself to his men, charged the men-at-arms, and at one point found himself on foot and fighting at the forefront of the engagement.  Irreparable damage to his favorite hat aside, he led his men competently and secretly felt that the foreigner would be put in his place before long.

However, unbeknown to Prosciutto, Karl Von Dertflinghan and his men had galloped off after the fleeing Rodger and successfully overtook him.  By the time the battle was concluded, Karl and his knights were heading hastily back towards the Milanese border with the pompous young ass bound and slung over a spare horse.  The Milanese had a prisoner.  The question was, how much would his safe return be worth to James Stockwood?


It had been much too long since our last game, so Chris and I decided to make an effort to get the 15mm Impetus rolling again.  As usual, the game doesn't disappoint, and the 15mm models are so visually satisfying when based on those large rectangles.

I'm eventually going to learn to hold my cavalry back as a reserve and to make proper use of my long range advantage.  Maybe.  I'll try.

Thanks for reading,

Sunday, April 4, 2010

Workbench Update: Planning the Norse-Irish for Impetus

I thoroughly enjoyed painting (and still enjoy playing with) my medieval Free Company army for Impetus.  As a later medieval project, there were endless colour options to try out and the beautiful Corvus Belli models were a real joy to paint.  When it was time to start planning a second 15mm Impetus army, I decided that I wanted to do something that was a little less conventional and that would play differently than my combined longbow/cavalry force.

A respectable pile of 15mm Irish javelinmen from Feudal Castings and Corvus Belli.
These will be used to populate bases of Irish Nobles, Bonnachts, and Kerns.

After discussing numerous options, Chris and I settled on the Dark Age period, and with the recent release of Extra Impetus #2, he chose "Normans in Normandy 900-1072" and I went with "Norse Irish 840-1100."  From a player's perspective, I chose the Norse-Irish because of the high concentration of javelin-armed light foot and skirmishers.  Such a mobile (yet fragile) force will offer a completely different play style than my medieval army.  Furthermore, the inclusion of Norse allies would allow me to paint some Viking infantry, but not so much to get me bogged down, and would provide a nice solid shield wall to present to the enemy.  The first 300-point chunk shown below will help guide my painting.

NORSE IRISH (300 points)




Poor CS, Fair General x 2, Poor General x 1



Nobles (with mounts)









Irish Bowmen



Huscarls (veteran)



Huscarls (rear ranks)




Viking Bowmen



I've painted up one test unit of Bonnachts already (shown here) and I plan on prepping up some more models for painting in the very near future.  This project will be interspersed with various 28mm odds & ends (a little Gothic Horror, some Alkemy stuff, a few Cygnar models), but I hope to start producing on a regularly within the coming few weeks.

Thanks for reading,