Monday, September 29, 2014

76. A New Era Has Dawned!

I have a new blog!  Because, since I so obviously keep up with this one and my second blog SO WELL, I just NEEDED a new third blog.

Alone Amongst Many

Seriously, there has been nothing to report here for so long, it depresses me.  Work and family have kept me so busy that there are numerous unpainted figures just sitting there waiting for me.  So there has been nothing to show here.  And the same goes for Orbital Barrage.

What I have been doing is getting pretty hyped up on the Old School Rennaissance of D&D gaming.  Reading lots and lots of other people's blogs about OSR.  And over the last year and a half or so I've gotten lots of good info about playing RPGs solo.

I never knew such a thing was possible.

My new blog is what I have been doing while travelling, and not able to paint or play with real miniatures.

Come take a look.  I had fun playing, I hope you'll enjoy reading about it.  And hopefully I'll be able to keep up with it at least a little bit.

Wednesday, June 18, 2014

75. A Return to KatManDog Part Deux

At long last I have returned from Real Life-imposed exile, to offer my report on the continuing exploration of KatManDog in Kellytopia.

Part 1 of this report can be found here.  You might want to read that first.

We begin with Turn 11.  After successfully (finally!) dispatching the dreaded carnivorous dinosaur, Our Heroes ... are unable to move due to the Activation Dice rolling a 6 for their side.  I guess they were all catching their breath, high-fiving each other, cleaning up their drawers, etc etc.  The Dinosaur-side PEF's, however, moved around some.
Two PEFs in the distance....
Turn 12 saw the Humans move their normal distance (8") into some nearby cover.

I count the "wheat fields" as blocking LOS.  So technically the characters cannot see the PEFs yet.
Side note "Inside-Baseball-style":  If you think this second report has taken a long time to appear, it took just as long for me to get back to the game.  I am fortunate in that I could leave it set up undisturbed for that length of time.  I would go in and look at it sometimes.  However when it actually came time to play again, I had sort of lost my train of thought.  What did I originally want to accomplish?  I couldn't recall.  So I decided that the hunters would try to explore as much of the table as possible, starting with the temple in the Northwest corner.  Later, when I re-read my first post, it turns out that was actually what I had intended to do.  How lucky was that?

Anyway, looking at the positions of the PEFs, it made a nice tactical problem of how to get to the temple without alerting/spotting/being-spotted-by the PEFs.  In Two Hour Wargames games, it's never a good idea to let PEFs sneak up on you; far better it is to sneak up on them, or avoid them entirely.

Naturally the hunters don't know the precise location of a PEF; it simply represents "something moving out there."  It may end up being nothing--just the wind in the trees.  Nevertheless, with my new-fangled PEF resolution tables all sorted out (see this post for my quandary), I didn't want to chance it being another almost-unkillable monstrosity, and me with no convenient building in which to run and hide.

So the hunters moved as you see here, and even though the PEF doesn't represent anything YET, it still is a see-or-not point, and I made darn sure my men couldn't see it at the end of their movement.
I sorta-kinda tried to see the PEF but the LOS crossed the edge of a terrain feature, so no soap.
Running away might be very necessary, and if they've already moved, well, then that becomes more difficult.  Meta-gaming, you say?  Probably.  The other PEFs moved around again.
Here, the PEFs have moved.  This changed the nature of the tactical situation.
Turn 13:  Nobody moved due to the Activation Dice.  Both sides held their collective breaths.

Turn 14:  The PEFs moved/not moved/moved depending on their dice rolls.

I did a little more meta-gaming.  I wanted to see where the group could Fast Move to.
The left arrow represents 16" worth of movement through difficult terrain.  The right arrow is 16" worth of movement around the field.  I wasn't sure I wanted to reveal the PEFs from the edge of the field so close to them, if they turned out to be Nasties.  The difficult terrain would make it ... difficult to retreat if retreat became necessary, as well as limiting the ability of the shooters to have any time to shoot at all.
In the end the hunters decided to fast-move as a group around the field, easily moving 16".

At the 15" mark, the Star (Sir Reginald Porpington Smith-Smythe-Smith) brought the PEF into view (thereby forcing it's resolution)...

...and then he backed up 1" into cover (out of sight).

This is a perfectly permitted maneuver specifically explained in the rules, so does it count as meta-gaming?  Probably.  I think of it more as, "Oh crud, what's that?  Let me duck back out of sight!"

I then, in breathless anticipation, rolled on my shiny new PEF Resolution tables, that I specifically constructed to accurately represent and relate my view of my gaming world.

How exciting!

I rolled 2d6 vs the current Encounter Rating of 4, and passed 1d6.  This, per my house rules, caused the ER to increase by 1 to 5.  The co-result is that the PEF in question is removed, "Nothing is there, just a case of nerves, but something is there somewhere.  The next PEF resolution will be something."  None of this is my own pure invention; it is heavily adapted from AitLL ("Adventures in the Lost Lands") and many other THW's rules.
"I could have sworn there was something there...."
How disappointing.

I am conflicted, because while I want to use my shiny new tables, I also don't want my characters to die.  My shiny new tables are specifically constructed to bring mayhem to the table.  Characters tend to die when there's mayhem about.
A top-down view of the tactical situation.  The temple ruins are in the far upper left corner beyond the river.
Turn 15 arrived.  The Activation Dice totaled 7, so that produced a new PEF, now with a Reputation of 5 (to equal the ER).  The Hunters still want to explore the ruins but feel there are too many PEF's too close and in the way for comfort.  The humans move only slightly, the better to see and react in case the PEFs should decide to approach.

The two old PEFs either move away or hold still.  I make up a house rule on the spot that a new PEF cannot move on the turn in which it is placed.
The closest remaining PEF moved away, after my men had arranged themselves to provide the maximum firepower if it had moved towards them (thereby "becoming" something).
Turn 16:  Once again the Activation Dice total 7, so another new PEF is placed on the table at Rep 5.  However the Dinosaur-side Activation Die was a 6, so even though their side "gets to go first" in point of fact they don't get to move at all.  The humans seize this opportunity (a pause in the action, so to speak) and Fast Move as a group for 16".

At the 14" mark, they can now see the nearest PEF and are allowed to move 2" more (two of whom go out of sight of the PEF).  But this is enough to force the In Sight Resolution of the PEF:  I roll 2d6 vs the ER 5 = Pass 2d6.  This lets me roll 2d6 vs the PEF's Rep 4 = 6, 6 = Pass 0.  I roll on the "Pass 0 Table" and score 9 = a Feeder type.  I have several different types of Feeders (other than dinosaurs) now on my new shiny list, so I roll again and get a Feeder Dinosaur.  Specifically 6 Protoceratops, small, Rep 3, Melee 2, with a 16" move.  I placed them all facing in the direction of the last move (by the PEF).
Hurray!  It's something, this time!
It seems like a lot of dice rolling but it goes really quickly, and I like the variety of results.

After the resolution, there were still two humans In Sight.  The In Sight test resulted in the Star with 2 successes, the Foreign Legionnaire with 3 successes and the Dinosaurs not able to see the humans.  Jeane-Claude Van Damme passed 0d6 so did not fire, and halted.  I had my Star finish his movement and not fire.

Turn 17:  The Activation Dice came up Dinos 3, Humans 1.  The Protoceratops had no reason to move, as per the rulebook, just feeding away.  One of the newer PEFs moved to be within sight of the Protoceratops.  2d6 vs ER 5 = Pass 2d6; 2d6 vs PEF Rep 5 = Pass 2d6 table; "Pass 2d6 Table" roll = 12 = Roll again = 2 = This PEF is nothing but something is out there next time; Also the ER goes up by 1 to 6!
This PEF turned out to be nothing.  Again.  "Nothing" is not that common on the tables.  It just seems to come up a lot.
The other PEFs move around a little.  The humans all move 8" into cover by the river.

Turn 18:  The Activation Dice yet again totaled 7, however since the ER was already at 6, it can't go any higher.  Theoretically, the higher the ER the more dangerous the area.  It automatically guarantees a Pass 2d6 result when rolling for PEF resolution.
This is where the newest PEF was placed--in the temple ruins across the river.
The Protoceratops continued to eat without moving; one of the PEFs moved closer, the other didn't move.

The hunters moved 8", which now put them In Sight by the Protoceratops.  Now we will see if the dinosaurs care if they see humans.  Paddywack the Askari triggered the In Sight at 6" into his move.
Paddywack risks life and limb for the good of the hunt.  And, probably, because he was told to.
The humans did not roll for In Sight since they already had.  The Protos were inactive and scored zero successes, so went last anyhow.  They rolled 2d6 vs Rep 3 = 5, 5 = Pass 0d6 = Ignore.  They just keep on eating.

The rest of the humans moved to the river.  I then recalled that, technically, each time someone new enters In Sight, the dinos would have to check again.  So I had all three move together.  The Protos only were able to Pass 1d6, which still equaled Ignore.

Turn 19:  The humans Activated first and crossed the river with a normal 8" move into cover.
I count the riverbank as partial cover.
The newer PEF (Rep 5) hiding nearby is now In Sight of the humans.  So 2d6 vs ER 6 = automatic Pass 2d6 = Contact!  2d6 vs PEF Rep 5 = 1, 6 = Pass 1d6.  Rolling 1d12 on the "Pass 1d6 Table" =  Men.  "Men" has three sub-categories in my tables; 1d6 = Cavemen!  How many?  Now we can use the tables in the AitLL book.  I find that the PEF translates into 1 Female Able-Bodied Villager, Rep 4, with the Brute characteristic, carrying a flint-tipped spear.  Another 1d6 shows her to be Hostile!  (And it just so happens that I have a female Cavewoman carrying a spear.  Pure luck!)

Obviously the modern men have violated the sanctity of the unholy sacrificial temple, and the chick who cleans up/guards it/was passing by is greatly incensed!
Here is a clearer view of the tactical situation.  "Tactical situation"--that's my favorite new phrase for this report!  That, and "meta-gaming."
We move immediately to the In Sight checks:
Star:  enemy concealed; rolling 4d6 = 3 successes.
FFL:  enemy concealed, Stone Cold; rolling 5d6 = 3 successes.
Askari:  enemy concealed; rolling 3d6 = 1 success.
Bearer:  enemy concealed; rolling 2d6 = 0 successes.
Cavewoman:  Inactive; rolling 3d6 = 1 success.

I allow the Foreign Legionnaire to resolve first.  2d6 vs Rep 5 = Pass 2 = Fire!  But he misses!
Sir Smith-Smythe-Smith chooses to fire ("Hey, ya Blighter, she was a hostile antagonistic muscular Cavewoman springing out of the shadows in a surprise flanking attack, with a big pointy stick!  You'd have done the same!").  Hit!  Impact 4, 1d6 vs 4 = 4 same as Impact = Cavewoman goes Out of the Fight!
Hmm.  Well, that was quick.  "Bows and arrows against the lightning, what?"
Turn 20:  For Activation, I rolled two sets of doubles, twice, so we just pretended nothing happened.  I guess everyone was stunned by the callous shooting of the beautiful savage woman.  When the Activation Dice finally decided not to roll doubles, the Dinosaur-side PEF moved a little closer.  Then the Hunters moved 8" in order to investigate the barbaric shrine.
"I say, is that dried blood?  Heathen savages!"  "Sir, it might just be their kitchen."  "Quiet, you!"
Sir Smith-Smythe-Smith, thinking how his reputation back at The Club will suffer if it becomes known he killed a helpless female, orders Knick Knack the Bearer to carry the unconscious Cavewoman.  In a judicious command decision, Sir S-S-S cuts the Expedition short, and decides to return to Base Camp in order to provide medical attention to the beautiful but deadly Cavewoman.

I could have simply said they make it off the table, but since it had been so uneventful getting here I decided to risk it.  It does still take a few turns to travel the physical distance, though.  Nine, actually.

Turn 21:  The Activation Dice total 7.  A new PEF is born.  The Hunters are not able to move, being busy desecrating the temple and looking up the Cavewomans skirt--er, that is, settling her comfortably on Knick Knack's shoulders.

Turn 22:  The Hunters begin their return to Base Camp, carrying the Cavegirl.  The old and newer PEFs moved around, one coming In Sight but resolving as "nothing this time, something next time."

Turn 23:  There is yet another new PEF from the Activation Dice.  One of the closer PEFs resolves In Sight of the current Protos and the Hunters.  It turns out to be...more Protoceratops!  Yes, the exact same result.  Perhaps I need new dice, or dice that roll other numbers.
I don't actually have enough models for 12 Protocertops-es, so I split the six I have to represent both groups.  The new group is on the upper left.
This resolution brought another PEF In Sight as well! (as you can see in the picture above)  This was resolved as a child Cro-Magnon (ie, Caveman by my tables), REP 2, Move 6", unarmed, "Skittish" trait.  I have no children models at all, much less a Caveman child, so I had to "borrow" something barely remotely similar.  I went through the In Sight process for the new dinos and the Cavekid, and neither side Acted or Reacted.  The Feeders don't really care, and the kid is either hiding or scared or really smart.

However, there is one of the Hunters who is In Sight of the new dinosaurs:  Paddywack the Askari.  His In Sight results of 2 successes end with him shooting at the dinosaurs and missing (I notice how he decides to shoot at the harmless Feeders, and not at the frothing meat-eating monster from last report).
The Proto's Reaction to being shot at was to move 16" away.
After that very eventful turn, the Hunters Fast Moved as a group (yes, the Bearer can still Fast Move while carrying someone, but only using the best single d6 of the test).  Everyone moved 1.5x their normal move, so 12".
This put them right up front with the "old" Protos, but they've stayed In Sight the whole time, so they're calm.  It's like a Prehistoric Petting Zoo!  Hmm, there might be a novel in that idea somewhere....
Turn 24:  Nothing on the Dinosaur side gets to move this turn, but Sir Reginald Porpington Smith-Smythe-Smith thinks that the kiddo might be related to the beautiful but dangerous Cavewoman, and would think himself terribly unchivalrous if he left him on his own to die, what with Sir Smith-Smythe-Smith being the one responsible for the kid's mother being gunned down and all.  So Sir "P" decides to bring the little tyke back to Base Camp with them, and appropriately orders everyone to hustle over to the boy before he can run away.  (Fast Move x1.5)
"Shhh.  There he is.  Don't spook him, lads."
Turn 25:  Activation = 7.  New PEF in the center of the table.  The Dinosaur side does not get to move at all.  The Star approaches the Caveboy.
"Spread out, men, in case he makes a run for it."
In Sight tests occur:

Star Rep 5 = 5d6 - 1d6 (boy in cover) = 4d6 = 1, 1, 3, 4 = 3 successes.
Caveboy Rep 2 = 2d6 = 2, 5 = 1 success.

Sir "P" holds his Action and waits to see how the boy will React.
The Caveboy rolls 1d6 = 5 (in the AitLL rulebook) = Hostile!  2d6 vs Rep 2 = 3, 6 = Pass 0 + Skittish trait = FLEE!

I ad libbed this next bit.  I decided to roll successes to see if anyone caught the Caveboy as he ran, or if he got away.
Star Rep 5 = 5d6 = 2, 2, 5, 5, 6 = 2 successes.
FFL Rep 5 = 5d6 = 1, 2, 3, 5, 5 = 3 successes.
Askari Rep 4 = 4d6 = 2, 2, 5, 6 = 2 successes.
Bearer had his hands full.
Caveboy Rep 2 = 2d6 = 4, 6 = 0 successes.

Jean Claude Van Damme catches the fleeing Caveboy!  Good job, JCVD!
Now we'll have to lug two dead weights around with us.
Turn 26:  The Activation Dice come up D 2, H 1.  Interestingly enough, the newest (last turn) PEF in the center of the table moves 8" towards the nearest group (which in this case is the original Protoceratops-es) and comes into contact and is resolved.

I get to use my shiny new tables.  I use the "Pass 2 Table" chart, roll 1d12 = 11 = Ferocious!  A further 1d6 = 4 = a Giant Spider!  Yay!  Something new!

My own created stats for the Spider (adapted from other THW publications) are Rep 3, Vicious, Terrifying, Poison, Climb, with 2 Wounds, and a couple of other small enhancements.

The Protos end up with 1 success for their In Sight test.  The Spider has 2 successes and I used the "new" melee method from THW, adapted as I have been doing.

The Spider begins with 2d6 - 1d6 for being outnumbered + 1d6 for being Vicious = 2d6 = 5, 6 vs its Rep 3 = Pass 0.

The Protos start with 2d6 - 1d6 for Fear - 1d6 for the Spider coming out of Cover = 0d6 = automatically Pass 0.

What's that coming out of the deep jungle?  Oooo, it's gross!
With the same "Pass" number, the Spider (with 2 successes on the In Sight test) goes first and charges into Melee.  The Dinos don't React.

For Melee, the Spider rolls Rep 3d6 + 2d6 (Vicious) = 5d6 = 1, 1, 3, 4, 6 = 3 successes.
For the Protos, only the targeted dinosaur rolls Rep 3d6 - 1d6 (Fear) = 2d6 = 4, 5 = 0 successes.  This is 3 vs 0, or '2 more than.'  This causes a Hit and the Spider Locks On.  The Spiders bites for damage, but does not do enough and the Proto Ignores it!  However the Spider also has Poison:  1d6 vs Impact of '2 more than' = 6 = No poison.

Meanwhile, the Hunters, sensing that things could easily go awry with a huge fight between them and their Base Camp, Fast Move x1.5 as best they are able, keeping out of sight of this new monster.
"Be vewwy vewwy quiet, I'm twying not to get hunted by a big hairy spider."
Turn 27:  This turn involved a lot of dice-rolling for melee between the Protos and the Spider.  I won't go into it in depth (although, then again, if you'd read THIS FAR without going mad, you might enjoy the details), but suffice it to say, after the Dinosaurs ganged up on the Spider, the Spider decided it had bitten off more than it could chew.  It was actually rather difficult to conduct the melee between six dinos and one spider; or rather, it was difficult to document it in such a way as to be legible to myself later.  Lots and lots of Locking On, and Enraging, and Ignoring, each of which affects the next melee roll.

The Spider did kill one poor Protoceratops (the first one it attacked).

Throughout this whole turn, the Hunters were stunned into non-motion by the ferocity of the battle (ie, they rolled a 6 on their Activation Die and couldn't move).

Turn 28:  The Dinosaur-side Activated first, with 2 vs 1.  I was really sweating it, as I wanted to get the Hunters away from this battle.  This turn also involved much meleeing and dice rolling.  More Wounds, more Enraging, more Ignoring.  This was the turn in which the Protos, in revenge for killing one of their own, eventually drove the Spider off.

Before that happened, though, I Activated the humans and attempted to Fast Move them out of harm's way.  However, on 3d6 I rolled 6, 6, and 6 (never a good combination, in more ways than one), so no one was able to Fast Move, and only a normal 8" move was made.  (I may have messed up, in that I rolled for the monsters' Reactions to their Wounds at the END of the turn, instead of at the end of their Activation.  To be perfectly honest, right now I can't recall the correct way, and at the time I really just wanted to finish the game and be done with it.)

One dino and the Spider both ended with a result of FLEE.
One Proto exits stage left (or is it right?, depends on your point of view, dunnit?) and the Spider retreats somewhat back the way it came...and in the general direction that the humans are taking!
Turn 29:  Activation Dice = D 3, H 2.  The leftover Protos don't move; the Fleeing Proto Flees some more; and the Spider Flees more too.
The Spider Flees into the wheat field, seeking cover...
...which is what this is supposed to represent.  The Spider has disappeared.  It's probably a good thing the humans didn't go in there before; who knows what sorts of things are hiding in there?
Finally, the humans Fast Move x1.5 to make it safely back to their campsite.
Home Sweet Home!

The end.

Thanks for reading.  Seriously.  If you made it this far, thank you.  These things take me far longer to write up than I think they will, but I also know they take a long time to read.  I really need to work on shorter games.

All in all, I enjoy these games.  I think I should play some without the detailed recording.  The games will play faster and I think I'll enjoy them more.  Or maybe a compromise:  just take pictures and summarize for my report, instead of details of all the dice rolls.

After all, there's still a lot of table left the Lost Lands of KatManDog in Kellytopia!

Monday, February 17, 2014

74. Resolving PEFs - Assistance Needed!

I mentioned in my last post (somewhere down around the middle when the dinosaur first appeared) that I was unhappy with the method I was using to resolve PEFs.  PEF stands for Possible Enemy Force, as used in Two Hour Wargames rules.  It's a method of maintaining uncertainty of what enemy you may be facing in a game, as you sort of "play against the rules."

One thing Ed of THW does is to pre-load the PEFs in his personal games, meaning he makes a list of possible enemies he might encounter, and then when it is time to resolve the PEF into an actual enemy he has a starting point; or you might say he has a better idea of what's coming without it being purely random, and yet it remains unpredictable.

So for my current solo game, I had the choice of using the pre-written PEF tables in the "Adventures in the Lost Lands" rulebook as is, or of modifying them to suit my tastes.  Considering that I have added to the list of possible enemies as compared to the rulebook, I have decided to ignore the original lists and use my own.

However the main thing that I am not happy about is the methodology of resolution.  I don't really like the default "roll 2d6 and consult the table."  I feel it is a bit ... inaccurate, for lack of a better word.  Everyone knows that the results of a 2d6 roll produce a bell curve effect of results, with 7 having the highest chance of appearing, and 2 and 12 the least chances.  And yet the basic table is simply a list of possible dinosaurs with no real regard to where they are placed on the 2 to 12 scale.

I recognize that the way to correct this would be to properly scale the entries to match their potential for appearing, but I don't really know what that should be; and it might change depending on how dangerous the particular location is, which is completely unpredictable and would be entirely arbitrary.

Here is an important point, my stumbling block, if you will:  I don't want arbitrary in my randomly determined enemies.  I want randomness properly mixed with appropriateness.

I think that a 1d6 chart would be more balanced (especially in keeping with the fact that THW rules use nothing BUT d6's), with perhaps a sub-chart of a 2nd d6.

With that in mind, here is what I have come up with.  The assistance I need is in determining which of them will produce the better effect of randomness properly mixed with appropriateness.

(You will see "Monster 'A'" and "Monster 'B'" below.  This is just a way of keeping some of the surprise for what might appear in the games.  I don't want to give it away before you get the chance to read about it!)

My modification of the Original 2d6 Table:
2,3       Nothing Appears
4,5       Something is Out There; Next Turn Roll Again ignoring any results of 5 or less
6,7       Dinosaur (Feeder)
8,9       Dinosaur (Ferocious)
10,11   Men (Cavemen)
12         Roll Again

The primary thing I dislike about the above table is that it does not take into account my newly added monsters.  Naturally I could fit them in.  What I do like is that everything has an "equal chance" of appearing, in the sense that each entry has two numbers associated with it.  However, as I mentioned before, the bell curve of 2d6 actually weights this in favor of 7 appearing the most often.  I don't know how to decide which monster should appear more often than another.  Maybe it should be a Feeder; maybe not.  But the main thing is I don't want to have to decide this "for myself" each and every time I roll on the chart.  I want it pre-arranged.

Another thing I changed from the original table is that I don't increase or decrease the likelihood of something appearing based on whether or not it is the first or the fifth PEF.  The original tables may things less-likely to appear the further on you go (which always seemed a little backward to me).  My "world" is big enough, I feel, that each time you encounter something, it could be the same entry as the previous roll.  In other words, I just use one table.  I like simple.

My 1d6 Table:
1  Monster "A"
2  Monster "B"
3  Mammals
4  Dinosaur (Feeder)
5  Dinosaur (Ferocious)
6  Men (Cavemen)

The above table benefits from simplicity, and straight-up even odds of each entry appearing.  However, what I don't like about it is it does not take into account that, perhaps, sometimes certain monsters should appear more often than others.  As I said in the paragraph above, I don't know how to decide which monster should appear more often than another.  This one is almost too simple.

My 1d6 Table with a 2nd d6 Sub-Table:
1,2  Ferocious
          1,2  Monster "A"
          3,4  Monster "B"
          5,6  Dinosaur
3,4  Feeder
          1,2,3  Mammal
          4,5,6  Dinosaur
5,6  Men (Cavemen)

This table currently rates as my favorite, because it is the most impartial with regards to what appears when.  It's pure 1/3 odds of which type of monster appears, with a second roll detailing what sub-type appears.  This seems to be suitable randomness (without being just purely random), and it seems to be properly mixed with appropriateness (as forced by the 2nd d6 roll for sub-type).

My biggest problem with this is the initial d6 roll.  There is, in fact, no weighting for which type creature appears; and I don't feel comfortable with arbitrarily removing or lessening one's chances as, say, the following:

1,2  Ferocious
3,4,5  Feeder
6  Men

The assistance I seek from you, my few and wonderful readers, is to help me see any flaws I've missed with regards to the different methods.  And to help me with my creative roadblock regarding the weighting of this last method, always keeping in mind my mantra of " I want randomness properly mixed with appropriateness."

Thank you, thank you, thank you (in advance) for your help and assistance!

Saturday, February 8, 2014

73. A Return to KatManDog

In today's exciting(?) installment, we join our intrepid hero as he attempts to explore another corner of the Lost Lands of Kellytopia (which really needs to stay lost).  A previous expedition had discovered the secret entrance to the legendary paradise of KatManDog, in the Lost Lands of Kellytopia (a subsidiary division of Kellytopia Industries, Inc. Registered Trademark).

This adventure has nothing to do with that.  This is a completely different corner of Kellytopia (although there *may* be a backdoor servants' entrance to KatManDog nearby).

There are new dangers to be discovered, beyond the hum-drum dangers of rampaging dinosaurs!

The rules to be used are my own homebrew mish-mash of Two Hour Wargames' numerous sets.  I've picked and chosen the bits I like and I've discarded the bits I don't like to create my own personal go-to set of rules. Like Ed says, they're a toolbox.

As you all know by now, you can click-en on the pictures to embiggen 'em.
The Land to be explored.  I had no real plan.  I just set up four somewhat-different terrain quadrants for variety.  I set up 4 PEFs, all Rep 4.
The view from the Hunters' base camp.  The Star, Sir Reginald Porpington Smith-Smythe-Smith, Rep 5, armed with a Victorian-era big game rifle.  His hired help, Jean-Claude Van Damme (no relation to the movie star of the future), late of the French Foreign Legion, and renowned for his "Stone Cold" coolness under stress, Rep 5, carrying a bolt-action rifle plus bayonet.  Third, Paddywack, a local Askari, Rep 4, armed with a bolt-action rifle.  And last, Knick Knack, a locally-hired Native Bearer, Rep 3, unarmed.  Sir Reginald and Paddywack are also armed with long knives.
Turn 1:  The group decides to Fast Move and successfully double-moves 16" to hide behind a small hill.  My intention at this point is just to explore the table and survive.  It's a sort of refresher for me for the rules, too, as I haven't played a game in far, far too long.
Turn 2:  Activation Dice:  Dinos 5, Hunters 2.  The group again Fast Moves a double move.  I guess I'm trying to get to the plantation houses to see what's going on there.
Turn 3:  Activation Dice:  D6, H1.  Yet again, the group Fast Moves successfully to the house on their right.  Sir Reginald and Knick Knack have enough movement to enter the building through the open doorway.
Turn 4:  Activation Dice:  D1, H4.  Sir Reginald and Knick Knack use their full normal movement to go up one level inside.  Van Damme and Paddywack take up watchful positions.  Something is moving closer across the river....
Sir Reginald and Knick Knack emerge onto a second floor balcony, of sorts, as part of their movement going up one level.  This gives them a good view of across the river.
This is the view across the river.  Something comes crashing into sight.  What could it be?  It''s a...'s a Saurophaganax.  Everyone knows they are a medium-sized dinosaur, Rep 5, Melee 12, there is only one appearing, and they can move 12"!
(I am unhappy with how I am pre-loading my PEFs.  I have three different methods but at this point I haven't made up my mind which I like better, so I just went with the "default" method.)
Careful readers, and those who demand authenticity in their tabletop games, will recognize that this model is not actually a Saurophaganax.  Alas, I didn't have a Saurophaganax model.  I'm not sure a Saurophaganax model is even made anywhere.  So this will have to do.  (Then again, if you're reading this and demand historical accuracy, I should impress upon you that this is not, in fact, a historical re-creation.  Victorians did not hunt dinosaurs.)
In Sight tests were rolled for the various opponents.  In my house rules I have the Inactive side take a -1d6 penalty when taking the In Sight test; however, "Adventures in the Lost Lands" (henceforth known as AitLL) has a rule that says, essentially, when a PEF resolves into a dinosaur, no one is surprised.  So I let that cancel out the -1d6 penalty and just let it be a straight up roll.  Here are the number of successes scored:

Van Damme = 4, Sir Reg = 3, Knick Knack and Paddywack = both 2.  The dino = 3 (I did count the humans as being in cover to the monster).

The Foreign Legionnaire rolls 2d6 versus his Rep 5, scoring 4 and 4 = Pass 2d6.  I consult the AitLL QRS for Adventurer (which is what I classified him as) and get a result of "Fire!"  His bolt action rifle scores a hit (dice roll + Rep 5 = 11), and I roll 1d6 vs the Impact of 3, getting a 3.  This is good; I get to roll 2d6 + Impact, so have a good chance of killing it.  I promptly roll 2+3+3=8.  The beast Ignores me!  "Merde!"
Next, Reggie ("That's Sir Reggie, to you, you blighter!"), being my Star, chooses to fire.  He misses with a 7.
Next, the Saurophaganax rolls 2d6 vs it's Rep 5, getting 4, 6 = Pass 1d6.  On the QRS this is "Charge."  He moves towards the closest enemy and the one who shot at him last.  At 4" away, we take the Charge into Melee test.  Sir Reginald ends up with Pass 3, the dino with Pass 1.  This is 2 more than, so Sir Reginald gets to shoot again before melee begins.  "Now's my chance to show my true mettle," he thinks, before promptly rolling 6 and missing.
Anyone within 4" of the Charge-ee also has to take the Charge into Melee test.  This included Knick Knack and Van Damme, but not Paddywack (who was safely and intelligently hidden behind a building).  I fully expected Knick Knack to run away screaming incoherently, but the dice had different plans. Knick Knack got Pass 2, the Dino kept its Pass 1.  This would normally allow him to fire his weapon.

Unfortunately the Bearer has no weapon, so I guess he just stood there flailing his arms madly at the approaching beast.  Van Damme also Passed 2, 1 more than the Dino, and was able to fire again.  He, being of sharp eye, got another hit, but when he only scored 1d6+3 for damage, I knew it wouldn't help.  With a dinosaur of Medium size or greater, you really have to have 2 dice worth of damage to have a hope of killing it, or even wounding it.  Van Damme rolled 3 + Impact 3 = 6.  He was ignominiously ignored again.

So I have a "grunt" who can hit but can't do damage, and a Star who can't hit.

We're still in the middle of Turn 4.  We haven't even gotten to melee yet.  Oh wait, here it is now.
"Rarrgh!"  "Great googly-moogly, it's trying to eat me!"
This is what melee looked like, somewhere during the TEN-TURN-LONG melee that occurred.
I'm not going to give you the full blow-by-blow ten turns long.  We'll hit some highlights.

First we determine the number of successes each participant rolls.  Each turn, my Star rolled Rep d6 + a 1-handed weapon (1HW) = 5d6 + 1d6 = 6d6.
The FFL grunt rolled Rep d6 + Stone Cold + a 2-handed weapon (2HW) = 5d6 + 1d6 + 2d6 = 8d6.
The Bearer grunt rolled Rep d6 = 3d6.

The dino divided its 12d6 worth of melee dice amongst all the opponents, plus it added +2d6 for being Size 6, and minus -1d6 for it's targets being in some sort of cover, for a total of 13d6 divided by 3.  This obviously doesn't divide equally, so I opted to put 5d6 on the Star, 4d6 on the FFL, and 4d6 on the Bearer.

Each set of successes was then compared to its opponent's successes.  The results were either:  score the same number as; score 1 more than; score 2 more than.  And then I referenced a chart that said, you score a hit, and / or are locked on or pushed back (which can effect how many dice you roll for the next set of successes).

So with all that being said, here's how it went down.

At various points in the next 5 turns, the dinosaur scored fewer successes than any of its opponents, and was "forced back" and "locked on" to, by and from different Hunters. Sometimes the Hunters scored more successes than the dino but were unable to capitalize on the hits to do any damage.  The dinosaur also would roll really poorly when it got a hit and inflict no damage (this was VERY lucky for the humans).

It was both frustrating and comical.  Finally the Star and the dino were "evenly matched," which allowed Sir Reginald to move away and end his part in the melee.  I hoped that by doing this he could bring his elephant gun to bear and cause some real hurt on the dino.  Melee is not the preferred method for killing dinosaurs; big guns are!
"By Jove, by Jiminy, by crackee, I'll bag this beast yet!" said Sir Reginald, bravely standing behind Knick Knack.  "I say, Knick Knack, keep his attention, would you, whilst I reload, there's a good fellow."
Meanwhile, the PEFs had been milling around, not doing much of anything.

Also, Paddywack the Askari had circled around during the melee to add his (rather ineffectual) shooting to the mix.
Paddywack says, "Look at all dos markers.  I surely can do bettah dan dat!"
At last, in Turn 7, Sir Reginald hit with 2d6 + 4 = 13.  This, at last, Knocked Down and Wounded the Saurophaganax!  Huzzah!  The dinosaur could only test to recover when it became Active, and the Activation roll in Turn 7 for the Dinosaur side was a 6, meaning it could not Activate this turn at all.  There is also a rule in AitLL that says dinosaurs can't rise while engaged in melee.  So this was a Good Thing.
Since the dinosaur was now officially Knocked Down, I figured it could no longer melee with Knick Knack on the second floor of the house.  It could still melee with anyone on the ground, though, meaning Van Damme.  In fact, that was crucial to killing it:  keeping it in melee so it couldn't get up!  Oops, did I just give away the ending...?
Turn 8 saw the melee go nowhere, Sir Reginald *miss* a knocked-down 16-foot-tall behemoth, and the barely-trained Paddywack shoot and hit with 2d6.  Yes!  Too bad the result of 10 only "enraged" the beast!

Knick Knack had had enough and darted into the house, going downstairs.

In dinosaur-human melee you only fight one round of melee per Activation, but both sides were able to Activate this turn, so Turn 8 saw a second round of melee.  I think this is correct, but it actually depends on the definition of "one round per Activation."  If you Activate first, melee with me and we both survive, I don't see why I can't melee with you when I Activate next.  This is admittedly different from man-to-man melee, but I think it's right.  Anyhow, that's how I played it.

This second round of melee in Turn 8 had Van Damme rolling 10d6 and scoring only 3 successes, and the prone dino scored 4 successes.  Luckily, the hit on the Legionnaire only forced him back, and "enraged" him.  Another case of the dino rolling low on damage.  Whew!  And by being forced back from a Knocked-Down creature, I figured Van Damme could have his choice next turn, depending on who won Activation:  either count himself out of melee and be able to shoot, or resume the melee if necessary.  (Either that, or I just forgot as I was playing, and am now justifying it ex post facto.)

This picture illustrates the above paragraph.
Turn 9's Activation dice:  D 5, H 1.  The Saurophaganax was now Rep 4 due to its wound, so couldn't Activate.  Sir Reginald shot and missed.  Again.  As I was getting a little tired of this (what with all the note-taking required for a write-up like this and all), I suddenly remembered old Sir Reggie had the "Marksman" ability.  No, really, he did.  This allows him to roll 2d6 instead of 1d6 and choose the best result for shooting.  What luck, this gave me a hit!

Which led to an "Ignore" result.  Damnation!

However, Van Damme was finally able to roll 2d6 for his hit, scoring another Knock Down & Wound (KD&W).  What's more, Paddywack also got 2d6 for his hit, and scored a single Wound.  Feast or famine, as they say.  That was a total of 3 wounds of damage to the 5-wound dinosaur, leaving it at Rep 2.  It was not able to Activate at all this turn and so remained Knocked Down.

Turn 10:  Activation Dice:  D 3, H 4.  The humans go first.  Sir Reginald took careful aim, fired, got a hit, and rolled 2d6 + 4 = 16.  Finally, an Obviously Dead result!  Finally he was able to shoot a nearly-motionless, almost-dead giant-sized creature.  Good for him.  This is what sportsmanship is all about.

"Well, that was easy."
So at long last, the team had it's first kill.  Sir Reginald descended into the building to join the cowering Knick Knack, and Van Damme and Paddywack joined up near the front of the house.  They could both hear the three original remaining PEFs moving out there in the wilderness, and they seemed to have been joined by a fourth!  (Activation dice 3 + 4 = 7.)

However, Sir Reginald, from his prior vantage point on the roof of the house, had seen some interesting-looking ruins off in the distance, that certainly bore investigating.  "What, what, hey?"
Hmm.  Ruins.  Interesting.  And is that...?  Why, I think it is!  A sacrificial altar!  For sacrifices!  How extraordinary!
To be continued in the next installment, coming to you whenever I can find the time to play it and then write it up!

Thanks for reading all the way to the end.  You're a real trooper, or a glutton for punishment.