Shootout in Gunsight

As an agent for the White Star Society (precursor to SAGE, the Strategic Authority for Global Equality), Sir Reginald Swanleigh is ordered to the frontier town of Gunsight to investigate rumors of a major villain causing trouble in the Gold Country.
Sir Reggie takes the train from Monterey to the edge of the Crown Colony of California territory. Known as the Gold Country after Lord Sutter's discovery of gold, England's frontier area is a prime target for spies from across the border in the United States.
During the trip, Captain Chapelump of the CCC army introduces himself and, despite repeated hints to the contrary, decides to accompany Sir Reggie to Gunsight. Sir Reggie prefers to travel with no one but his valet, the taciturn Mooshu Tsing Tao.
The train depot at Gunsight is on the edge of town. We join the action as Sir Reggie, Mooshu, and Captain Chapelump walk over the rise and get their first view of the quiet town.

It does not remain quiet for long...
[The plan placed Juan dosTrece and his group in the bank; his #2, Tiburcio Tiburon and two more were in the tavern, robbing the safe. Good guys are in the hotel and the sheriff's office. They were to emerge from their various points as the game progressed.]
Sir Reggie's group moves first, then Juan's group emerges from the bank. This triggers an insight test for Sir Reggie and the shooting begins.
[There was no chance for a second initiative roll! A second round of shots were actually exchanged, with Sir Reggie's Star Power saving him from certain death. Juan also was saved by his Star Power in the process.
Note that I forgot the "outgunned" rule; Sir Reggie should have ducked back behind the wall when Red Tongue fired his rifle...]
Juan dosTrece rolled "retire" and beat a tactical retreat before things got any more frantic. There's always other banks to rob, and his boss Professor Hollister McAllister takes the long view in his campaign to forge an independent society where he can pursue his research undisturbed.
By the way, big thanks to whoever it was that started the comic book style of BatRep. It's almost as much fun as playing the game. Almost.

Rolling dice is like adding salt

Alton Brown said "Salt is what makes your food taste bad... if you don't add it!"
If the life of a solo gamer is a meal, rolling dice is the salt.
I was all fired-up about getting in a game; I'd put the buildings out for an Old West town called Gunsight. I'd even settled upon the rules to use: the free Chain Reaction by Two Hour Wargames.

I set up the camera and took a basic shot (above). I selected my figures and put together the stats for them. I planned to produce a nice write-up for the blog.
Then I froze. Well, I got distracted. I played with the picture. I made new scenery. I painted a few more figures. I read alternate rules.
I stalled.

It turns out that I was avoiding playing because deep down, I was afraid it might not be fun. It took three days for me to realize what was going on. I'd made it too important. It wasn't a game any more.
And that's stupid. Who will know if my Star gets killed in the first round? Only the people I tell. The point is supposed to be to play, to have fun. So I declared a "practice game" and just started rolling dice. My Star, Sir Reginald Swanleigh, member of the secret White Star Society, was killed three times in a row.

But I had fun. And it turns out that the figures on the table don't hold it against me if I kill them. Certainly, the thousands of readers of this blog won't know if I don't tell them.
So add some salt. Roll the dice! As any good GM will tell you, sometimes a quick toss of a few d6 answer a question faster than an hour of research ever will.


Further RRtK armies

A few people have requested copies of the Rally Round the King (RRtK) paper units, so rather than send them to everyone, I've uploaded them to another site.
So far, there's Goblins, Orcs, Stygustani, Black Moon, Brethren, Undead, and White Company/Black Company.
Jump on over to Tassano.org/games and have a look.
I'll eventually get back to RRtK, and will add more armies.


Making World Maps

I admit it: I'm addicted to maps. They let me explore new places without the stress of learning another language, changing money, or finding a restroom.
My favorite style of map is the old one used in Traveller, which was derived from Buckminster Fuller's Dymaxion map; we now call it an icosahedron.

As Fuller described it, the Dymaxion map is free from the majority of the horrid distortions created by the Mercator projection (familiar to school children everywhere). An icosahedron map shows distances accurately along the edge of any triangle with the distortion increasing only slightly toward the center of a triangle.
And with the addition of small tabs in strategic places, the map may be cut out and glued into a reasonable 3D object. Imagine a d20 with a map painted on it...

I use these tools:

Here's an example from Donjon:

This was a square projection. Once I got an image I liked, I saved the image to my computer.

Load into Photoshop and run Flexify:

I turn off tabs and grids, but enable edges.
Play around with latitude, longitude, and spin until the lands are where you'd like them.

I often add an overlay of hexagons to get a leg up on mapping for gaming use.
I absolutely LOVE Hexographer, by the way. It's a Java application for making hexagon-based maps. It can run for free in your browser, or purchased to run standalone with extra features.

Sometimes, though, I'm in the mood for a more artistic map.
Here's one done in Photoshop, based upon a triangle in a different map:


Rally 'Round the King paper units

Being an inherently frugal gamer, and lazy to boot, I have found a good way to produce all the army units I want.

I used Adobe Illustrator (though I suppose one could use Word) to make a block that's 3 times deeper than a unit. On one third, I place the unit information: name, Rep, AC, number of figures. I leave the center third blank. On the last third, I paste images of the figures for the unit.

For example, here's a Goblin unit in various stages of assembly:

Goblin Unit

In the upper left is the paper unit as it comes out of the printer. The upper right is the partially-folded unit. Notice the piece of tape? The stat-block is trimmed a little shorter to allow the tape to attach to the center third. (I used to use glue, but this is faster and doesn't warp the unit)

In the bottom is the unit as it appears to the opponent.

There are a limited number of unit types in the Goblin army, so it was a short task to assemble them onto a single page:

Goblin Army

Of course, this is just a screen shot of the PDF; the real paper image puts the Goblins at about 20mm tall.

The images are in the public domain, AFAIK.

If you'd like copies of the armies (I have about 10 armies completed), drop me a line on my gmail.com email account, 'mftassano'.


RRtK Campaign: Spring and Summer

Rally Round the King Campaign
01 Spring
The first year of my Two Hour Wargames fantasy campaign begins in the year 01.
Here's how the northeast quadrant looks at the outset:

For the first battle of the season, I ignored the map and allowed the Red Sun Dwarves to attack the Orcs. I was intent on comparing the battle I'd just completed using Piquet's Hostile Realms and wanted similar armies, same terrain, etc.

In the battle, the Red Sun Dwarves (RSD) narrowly defeated the Orcs, but in the process captured the Orc chieftain. This resulted in squabbles back in orc land, and the orcs ended the war in defeat. Elsewhere, the Skeleton army of undead selected the Black Moon Dwarves as their target. In RRtK, the Undead are truly a tough army: they never take reactions (the heart of THW games) and must be destroyed with weapons; they can't be driven from the field. The Black Moon Dwarves had decided to attack the Silver Elves, but when the Skeletons arrived, they went on defense.

In the end, the Skeleton army was too much for the Dark Dwarves and Undead took their land, neatly crossing the RSD territory:

01 Summer

The Summer season found the RSD forced to face the Skeletons. Still new to the campaign process, the two armies deployed only partial armies, leaving portions as garrison forces.
The Skeleton Undead attacked the Red Sun Dwarves from their newly conquered lands. Checks of the other nations revealed that no one else nearby was interested in warfare.

This time, an improved tactical sense allowed the RSD to hold off the Skeletons, the Skeleton general finally withdrawing with only his cavalry surviving. The battle is outlined in an earlier post...

At the end of the second season, the quadrant looks like this:

01 Fall

Fall is when armies motivated by loot are most likely to attack, and this is what has happened: the Red Sun Dwarves have gone to war again. This time, though they had decided to remove the remaining Orc province, they were attacked by the Mangu (Mongol-derived) horse army.

The next installment will describe that battle.


RRtK Undead vs. Dwarves

RRtK Summer 01

So far this year: the Skeleton Undead invaded and destroyed the Black Moon Dwarves. The Skeletons split their army, the basic portion returning to their home province, the 200 (or so) points added to the base remaining in the Black Moon Dwarf (BMD) territory.

The Red Sun Dwarves had crossed the BMD lands and attacked their old enemies, the Orcs. (I won't go into why I had not consulted the map before this battle.)

Now it is the Summer of the first year.

The Undead continue by attacking the Red Sun Dwarves (RSD) with their expeditionary force left behind in BMD territory. Each army took their recruiting rolls, adding a unit or two to their

The Skeleton Undead (SU) army now consists of 3 cavalry, 2 skirmish archers, and 5 infantry units.
The Dwarves will defend with 5 crossbows and 4 elite infantry units.

The RSD determined the terrain, but the initial "rough" layout was declined by the cavalry of the Skeletons. The second layout was "hilly", with a clear path on the RSD right flank.

The Red Sun Dwarves deploy first as they are seriously out-scouted. The Undead form into three bodies, the SU King in the lead unit of the cavalry column. He keeps them stationary while the right and center advance. A skirmish bow and two infantry move into the woods, seeking to hit the Dwarf left. An archer and 3 infantry are ordered to enter the center woods, and halt when they reach the far edge.

The SU right moves through woods, eventually taking fire from the 2 Dwarf crossbows; they are fanatic and don't react. They move to their own skirmish range, but it's obvious that one skirmisher in the woods isn't going to harm the dwarves the way their two crossbow units cut up the undead, so they charge.

The undead skirmish archer disappears under the crossbows, but when the undead cross the distance, the two RSD crossbows rout away in terror. The two skeleton infantry that hit the lone dwarf elite infantry make short work of it. (RSD got a roll of 6,6).

The 3 skeleton infantry in the center advance. They reached the far side of the woods, moving through the skirmish archer. At the edge of the woods, just out of crossbow range from the weak Dwarf right flank (CB/Inf/CB). The Dwarf king sends his reserve crossbow to the flank line. (His center is weak as well, having only his own soldiers and one more.)

Even with 3 crossbows shooting, the limit of one hit inflicted per firer means it will take 4 turns to destroy the advancing skeletons. They are only a bit more than one move away. The Dwarf king tries a desperate move: he sends a single soldier unit ahead of the crossbows, hoping to delay the skeleton advance long enough for the crossbows to destroy them. (I'll allow shooting into a melee as long as the target is not blocked by a friend) Just as the infantry unit moves ahead, it occurs to the king that without support, the lone infantry won't hold the undead long enough.

The undead center moves to threat range. The Dwarf Soldiers test: Rep5. Roll is 4,6, pass 1d6. Undead move to 1", Soldiers test again at -1 for Terror threat, being charged. Roll is 2,6, and the dwarf soldiers stand and take the advance. As the undead approach and contact the advance Soldier, they enter threat range for the two crossbows. They are Rep4, supporting each other. No matter, the roll is 1,6. Missile troops retire and take a hit.

The two skeletons fight the single soldier. They roll 11, putting two hits on the AC4 dwarves. In their turn, the dwarves roll 5, +1 for Elite making 6; that's 2 hits against AC2. Now for reactions. The skeletons don't test, but the dwarves do: Rep 5, -2 hits, -1 outnumbered, -1 terror = effective Rep 1. Roll is 3/5 and they rout.

The three remaining Dwarf crossbows fire, each easily causing a hit. One skeleton infantry melts away.
The Dwarf king advances, coming up behind the last Soldier unit. Together, they withstand the attack of the two skeleton units. They give and take damage, but with the king behind them, the soldiers only give ground. They don't break...

The 3 crossbow units fire upon the sole target: a skeleton unit. It melts away.

Now the RSD king and his Soldiers melee a single skeleton unit, destroying it quickly. They pass 2d6 and stand a while longer.

The king's body withstands being charged by the two skeleton units from the woods, but roll only a combined 3, putting a single hit on the AC2 unit in front of the King. They pass 2d6 on the Involved in Melee test and stand a while longer.

The Skeleton King decides it's time to commit his cavalry. He's 3 moves away and may have mis-timed his attack.

The dwarf crossbows join the back of the melee for morale and the Dwarf King fights on: they score 3 hits on the skeletons, putting both of them at 3 hits each. At 4 hits, they die. The skeletons could not pierce the dwarf armor.

The SU king and his cavalry sweep around the woods, scaring the detached crossbow back 3". The crossbows fire on them in turn, doing 2 hits on the King in the lead of the column. He tests to see if he's at risk, but he is not.

The Dwarf King and his body destroy the two skeletons they face, and one front line dwarf gives ground.

At this point, the Undead King only has a skirmisher in the woods and the 3 cavalry in his group. He already has 2 of its 4 maximum hits. Even though a fanatic, he knows better than to destroy himself against a body of 5 dwarf units, with their king in the center. The undead concede the field and retreat.

Major pursuit phase: after all the tests, the Undead only permanently lose a single skirmish archer.

The Red Sun Dwarves add the old Dark Dwarf province to their lands, effectively blocking the Undead advances.


Yerba Buena

Back to the Crown Colony of California.
When Seymour takes control of Yerba Buena, he makes it his base of operations in the CCC. He can't really rename it Victoria as the one in Canada has been in existance for a while.
His queen, Victoria, married her cousin in 1840, so he calls the city Alberton, and the great body of water it overlooks is now called Victoria Bay.

Westward expansion by the United States grinds to a halt facing the stiff resistance of the CCC, especially after the stalemate in Mexico.

The discovery of gold within the decade raises the CCC in the hearts and minds of the English and a vast emigration begins, further strengthening the boundary between the CCC and the USA.


Return of the Dwarves

My name is Marin Saturnia and things have not gone well for the Red Sun Dwarves.

The Saturnia clan returns to hunt for the trolls that nearly wiped out the last scouting force.

Death Cheated

The glancing blow from the larger of the two trolls I fought last time had shattered a boulder at my side, knocking me out and covering me in rubble; at least this is the only explanation I can find for my survival.

We launch a new expedition into Orc territory, with anger in our hearts!

With us now is a gunner named Tonkin and the famous troll-slayer Rooni. It is said that Rooni once slew a troll with his bare hands, though he is carrying a slay-pick today.

I suggested to the Clan Chief that we recruit some archers from the elven Silver Horde, but was shouted down. I am now lower in status than before and my words carry no weight.

We return to the scene of the last battle, to begin again.

Entering the same terrain, we scout again. For a few turns, we move from sector to sector, seeking some trace of the orcs and trolls. Turn 4 generates another Possible Enemy Force (PEF) but at some distance.

Turn 5

No troll movement, but we get to test a PEF nearby. It is revealed to be the main body of orcs, equal in size. There are no trolls here, just two big orcs and 14 goblins!

We roll a Test of Will, and pass 4d. The orcs pass 1d. We also pass the charge test by 1d and rush toward the enemy, but our slow movement prevents us from closing to melee. Tonkin fires his enormous weapon and puts the orc leader Out Of Fight (OOF). This is bad news for the orcs. With their leader lost, 6 goblins break and rout, three more exercise discretion and flee the field with slightly less haste. This leaves one orc and five goblins.

We're active and Tonkin fires again and misses. Four dwarves on my right rush to attack. Two of them make contact with the orc but the combat results in one being pushed back, the other standing his ground.

Turn 6

No one moves.

Turn 7

Draw, another PEF appears.

Turn 8

No one moves.

Turn 9

Tonkin misses a goblin; the pair fighting the orc continues. The orc loses badly, becoming Obviously Dead (OD) from the fierce attack. The same happens to two more dwarves, each killing (OD) their goblin opponents.

The remaining 3 goblins flee the field!

We move, scouting through the woods. The PEF there was a false alarm and we continue on.

Turn 10

The next PEF turns out to be a troll and 4 orcs, 12" away in rough ground.

We test or will: we roll well, the troll rolls better. The troll group may charge us. They test to charge, and we roll very well. Even with "frenzy", the troll and its group stand where they are. Tonkin fires, misses again.

The initiative roll allows the troll group to act first. They test to charge us, succeed, but don't reach us due to rough ground.

Tonkin fires again, misses again.

Our orc-slayer test to charge the troll, takes a fast move and reaches the troll!

Four dwarves move into the rough ground, two stay behind to cover the gunner (though why they bothered is a fair question).

The slayer hits the troll hard, moving it to Hardiness 2 (0=dead). The troll rampages! (I use a scatter die to determine random direction of move during rampage). The troll stands his ground, so the melee will continue.

Turn 11

The troll is rampaging, its random move slams it straight into the slayer so combat continues. The orc-slayer's luck runs out and he goes down under the furious attack of the troll.

My brother on my right ties with his orc; the one I'm fighting is fierce and pushes me back. On my left, an orc beats my brother dwarf.

We're active now. The troll is standing alone (the slayer being dead now) and Tonkin fires!. He misses. Our leader ties in combat with his orc, but another dwarf kills his orc. This leaves the one facing me. I push it back, then kill it. Revenge is sweet!

Turn 12

The troll group moves, we stand. The troll rampages into the open. Our leader pushes back and forth with his orc, then is killed! We test our morale and all pass. (As a Star, I get to choose my reaction)

Turn 13

Again, the troll side goes first. The troll moves toward Tonkin the gunner. Orcs attack everywhere.

On our move, my brother attacks and gets a tie with his orc. I attack the last orc, also getting a tie.

Tonkin misses again. The two dwarves covering him move to attack the troll. They fight valiantly, but even outnumbering the troll, it's too much for them and they both go down.

A forced crisis test: Tonkin passes 1d but is all alone and routs away. I attack my orc, and fail miserably. I'm OOF. The last dwarf fails his crisis test and also routs.


The troll and two orcs survived; two dwarves rout away, the remainder are killed. I lose another Reputation point for using Cheat Death, putting me at Rep3. That's pretty bad, frankly, and I should probably retire Marin Saturnia.

Where is the CCC?

Somehow, I got distracted by RL and have not added much to the tale of the Crown Colony of California.
I've been reading a pile of alternate reality short stories, though, after scoring the complete "What Might Have Been" 4-volume set for $2. This has inspired me to combine the New Year's enthusiasm with my interest in history and gaming. The result, I hope, will be a few posts this year!

Dwarf patrol into Orc territory

Using the great rules from Two Hour Wargames called "Warrior Heroes: Armies and Adventures", I decided to try a short encounter.

I have some dwarf figures salvaged from an eBay purchase, so I made my party with them. I selected 6 axemen, rated at Combat Value (CV) of 2 each.

With WHAA, you are never sure where the enemy is or how strong he is. Since I play solo games, this is perfect for me.

The table is divided into nine sections and the terrain determined randomly. I finished this process with a number of rough hill sections, an impassible sector, and a bit of water I interpreted as being a mountain lake.

The dwarves entered on their scouting mission. The rules provided a couple of Possible Enemy Forces (PEF) that represent potential enemy units. We (as Hero I play one of the dwarves) had to investigate each of the PEFs.

Turn 1

We entered the table following a trail, but it faded to nothing in the rough ground. We were in sight and close enough to the first PEF to discover that it was nothing. It might have been an animal, a dust devil, or just a false sound. Empty.

Turn 2

We advanced into the rough ground and the second PEF moved toward us as well.

The second PEF was revealed to be the main body. The rules provide for random determination of enemy strength, so I went to the list and began rolling. We had a combined CV of 12 and the rules informed me that the force was slightly larger than mine. (haha, as you will see)

I first rolled a Troll! This wasn't too bad, a CV of 8. Then I rolled a mounted orc and a foot soldier. Not bad, a total of 12. Since I had to face a slightly larger force, I rolled again and got another troll! The CVs were now my 12 vs. the orc 20! It did not look good.

Turn 3

A test of wills as we could see each other. The orcs, with the benefit of the Troll's reputation, won and decided to charge us. Because of the rough ground, the orcs would need to Fast Move to reach us, and their test succeeded.

Four of us spread out into a fighting line to get room to swing our axes. Bravely, we faced the enemy in one-to-one combat.

Dwarf 1 and the orc on foot rolled a draw, continued combat.

The mounted orc pushed back Dwarf 2 two times, then got a draw on a bad roll.

I faced one of the trolls, but I got a good roll and won by 2. Normally, that would have put the opponent Out Of Fight (OOF), but since this was a troll, it got to test against its hardiness. It passed and was only startled by my attack.

The second troll, in a stunning roll (passed 4d vs. pass 0d) left my brother on my right Obviously Dead.

Turn 4

Both trolls attack me now that Dwarf 4 is down. I'm outnumbered and the trolls get extra dice for inducing terror. I am pushed back, then pushed back again. Each push back reduces my abilities, and on the next roll I lose by 4 dice! This puts me Obviously Dead as well, but WHAA allows the hero (me) to Cheat Death.

By some lucky turn of fate, I survived the terrible blows and was only unconscious.

The mounted orc, outnumbered now, is pushed back a bit before tying with his opponents. Dwarf 1 succeeds in killing his orc.

Turn 5

We're fairly battered and only the orcs move this turn. The mounted or is now fighting 3 dwarves and he's beaten (loses by 2d) and is Out Of Fight.

The trolls, believing they have killed me, each turn to a dwarf and melee. The first troll ties, but the second wins by 2d and our leader is OOF! This forces a check of morale, but only one dwarf (a weak-willed cousin) flees the field. The other two continue to fight.

Turn 6

The initiative roll is a tie, so I test the last PEF and learn it is a straggler unit, but the orc Big Bad is with them. I don't bother to roll him up as yet.

Turn 7

The dwarves get to go first. Dwarf 1 passes 2d but the troll passes 5d and the dwarf is Obviously Dead. The troll turns to help his brother troll. Dwarf 2, outnumbered now, loses by 2d and is OOF.


Not good. There are two orcs dead, two trolls left standing. The stragglers and their leader had not even entered the field. Of the dwarves, one escaped, 4 were killed, and I was forced to use my Star status to Cheat Death. When the dust settled, I staggered off the field and stumbled home to report. My Reputation is reduced by one for having had to use my Star status to survive.

Better luck next time!