Thursday, 30 November 2017

VSF Diversions with Hordes of the Things

Mark Stevens recently sent me some reports of Hordes of the Things games he had, and kindly gave permission to post them onto this blog. I'll put up subsequent battles as separate posts;

I had a free evening recently, so out came my VSF HoTT armies that haven’t seen action for a long long time.

For both games the French and British faced off at the village of Prosecco, in the Lombardy countryside. There’s obviously a missing back story here, but I can’t find it right now.

Royal Bicycle Artillery to the rescue!

The first battle of Prosecco was a standard 24AP affair. The French were nominally defenders, but with way better PIPs for most of the game they attacked with their customary elan.

The first photo, taken from an observation balloon behind the French lines shows the Foreign Legion (3xSh) advancing up the road to take the village. At the rear of the column is one of the new wonder weapons from Louis Vuitton - a power armour suit (Pd). To their L the line infantry (4xHd) cover the flank. To their R the steam tank is a Bh(G), and on the R flank a cuirassier brigade on the latest ‘bicyclettes’ (3xKn) also advances. The weird Bh thing on the baseline is the French stronghold. Note to self: make a plausible VSF stronghold.

In the distance perfidious Albion awaits its inevitable fate, seemingly transfixed by the sight of the advancing French (or perhaps, a run of terrible PIPs). They have a thin red line (6xSh) supported by a power armour suit (Hr(G)), troop of lancers (1xKn), a Sn (great detective & loyal companion), and a battery of the Royal Bicycle Artillery (1xArt).

The French pushed forward, taking the village and threatening the British L with the cuirassiers supported by the Pd & Bh. The British Sn was swept away (flee move) by the advancing cuirassiers. It played no further part in the battle, although it was beginning to line up an attack on the steam tank Bh(G) as the game ended.

The second photo shows first contact (not counting the Sn road-bump), when the Pd destroyed a company of redcoats, but a cuirassier element was forced to recoil. I bungled that, it should have been destroyed (beaten by Sh with which it has just moved into contact) and didn’t realise until too late to change.

Anyway, the French piled on the pressure. Casualties were low but positionally the French had all the advantages. The British desperately used their few PIPS to hold them off hoping that something would turn up.

Which of course it did! The last photo shows the final turn of the battle. The British L has almost collapsed. And although the British Hr(G) and surviving Sh are giving the French L a hard time, it looks like the Frogs will win by turning on the exposed British flanks.

And then, the gallant chaps of the Royal Bicycle Artillery saved the day. They took a shot at the French Bh(G) and the dice in the photo tell the story. The final score: 4-8G to the Nation of Shopkeepers! The frogs lost a Sh, a Kn, and the Bh(G). The lobsters lost 2xSh.

Saturday, 18 November 2017

Treasure Hunters of Charlemagne

The latest adventure from Ganesha Games in the Four Against Darkness (4AD) series is Treasure Hunters of Charlemagne. I wrote this supplement, and thought it might be a good idea to say a little about it...

From cover to cover, it is 44 pages, and requires two of the core books to play, the original Four Against Darkness and Four Against the Abyss, written by Andrea Sfiligoi. The reason is that the party starts at 5th level, so all the rules in Four Against the Abyss come into play, such as expert skills, madness, lycanthropy, hirelings etc. I really love the additional things Four Against the Abyss brings to 4AD, and this adventure has been developed with those rules in mind.

Treasure Hunters of Charlemagne is set in Europe in the late 8th Century. You use a party of 4 characters which can be of any class, except for elves, dwarves and halflings. Despite being in a real world setting, it is outright fantasy, so you still have wizards with all their spells, clerics, barbarians, rogues, warriors and swashbucklers.

Inspiration is drawn from mythology of the time and works such as chanson de geste. The world is full of mythical beasts, enchanters, and magic items. It is also full of deceit and intrigue, some of which makes its way into this adventure.

The game takes place on a map of Europe. You decide which areas to travel to. Each area has its own fixed encounter and background, so you have a lot of control in the path taken and developing the unfolding story. The campaign is not meant to be scripted, there is no one correct answer. Many different paths that can be taken to achieve the end goal.

Random encounters happen as the party travels around Europe from place to place, from things jumping out of forests and mountains, to bustling towns. The game is meant to play like an "edited highlights reel", where sometimes you travel without incident, at others all manner of things start to go wrong.

Towns are very important, it is here where a party gets to recover and engage in other activities; there might be a jousting tourney for warriors, thieving opportunities for rogues, wizards might try to track down ancient books for spells and clerics pray in a monastery. You might also bump into interesting people and hire some help. Things can also go terrible wrong here, such as characters getting into drunken brawls and even be arrested.

Another aspect I wanted to model was party unity, or fellowship. Unlike a one-off dungeon bash, here the game could represent many months of travel, so keeping the party motivated becomes an issue. The party will face tests of its fellowship, that could see a character storm off!

The ultimate aim is for the party to find clues, survive all the various challenges, including political and other intrigues that may be thrown its way to recover the spear of destiny and deliver it to Charlemagne. No doubt that once this happens, new chapters will be added to the chanson de geste!

Saturday, 3 June 2017

Disposable Heroes 2: Somewhere in the Ardennes

This year I painted up a platoon of 28mm US forces so they can be used in some 1 to 1 scale gaming. After having tried some other rulesets at the Sutherland Shire Gamers, we are starting use Disposable Heroes 2 (DH2)which has only recently been released.

One thing about playing games at a club, is that there can often be more than one player per side, and it is good if the rules can handle this. We found the Chain of Command rules struggled somewhat in this regard, as one side had to wait until all opposing players made their moves, with a possibility that, due to lucky dice rolling, those players could get even more multiple moves.

With DH2, each side instead alternates activations, which makes the game far more engaging with multiple players a side. Each activation gives a unit 3 tactical points, most commonly each tactical point is spent either shooting or moving, and tactical points can be shared. You can also activate the same unit all the time, so it makes for some interesting tactical choices.

In the most recent game we played, we had Rafael running his panzergrenadiers, and myself with Stephen running the US, using 1,000 points for each force. This gave us roughly 10 or so units side. The US ran a HQ with bazooka team (2 units), three rifle squads with AT grenades (6 units as each squad has two teams), 2 Shermans, and an 80mm mortar that was kept off table. The Germans ran a HQ with LMG's, 2 infantry squads (with panzerfausts, AT & HE grenades), a panzerschrek team, a sniper team, an 8cm mortar (off table), a PAK40 75mm L46, and a Stug IIIG. The table looked as follows;

Initially, there are no units on the table. Each side gets 5 deployment areas, and units are preassigned to each, showing up within 6" of each as they are activated. Both sides used their off table mortars to do a barrage on a single enemy deployment area, but both failed to hit anything. The germans deployed a team (unpainted 😢) that moved onto a hill. The US had an infantry squad get up to a hedgerow and get the first fire! (This is quite a tense mechanism - whoever shoots first has the ability to really inflict damage - it is called "all hell breaks loose", as both sides know the fight is on!). It does create suspense for the start of the game, and there is a cat and mouse game involved as to who gets it first. The BAR team went ahead, but with some really bad dice rolling, only inflicted one casualty. This seemed to set the tone for the US, who in general, couldn't hit a barn door throughout he game.... The scene is below;

Eventually, we had more units deploy on board. On the right flank, a US squad took a ruined building, but then came under fire from some MG42's, and a Stug IIIG. This was probably a tactical mistake on my part, as I moved the US team too far forward without support. I had to throw in a Sherman to try to counter the German tank threat as below;

As it turned out, the US teams got supressed and were starting to fall back to regroup. The Germans used a push activation (this is a bonus activation you can get if you pay for better training) to charge the infantry into the building. The Germans won the fight, but only had 3 figures at the end of it, so the hand to hand was quite brutal. The Sherman tried to shoot into the ruins, only managing to inflict a couple of supressions, and then used a push activation to move in front of the Stug and shoot. The Sherman acquired and hit, but failed to penetrate the armour. In reply, the Stug rolled almost perfect dice and blew up the Sherman. Things were starting to look bad for the US.

On the right flank, the US brought out the second Sherman, but the road was covered by an off table German 75mm anti tank gun - quite luckily, the Sherman survived being shot at a few times. In response, the US off table mortar put down a smoke screen to cut the beaten zone;

Eventually, the Stug now moved across and took a pot shot at the Sherman, failing to acquire. The Sherman shot back, using a normal activation and push activation to shoot, missing on all attempts. The Sherman's luck ran out as the Stug came in for another direct hit, scoring its second kill.

At this point (we were about two thirds of the way through the second turn), it was decided the US position became untenable and promptly withdrew.

Overall, we found the DH2 rules worked well. There was some infantry shooting, but I think as happens in WW2 games, once tanks show up, they steal the action. There is a learning curve with tactics, and we will probably house rule a few things. One thing is that we will probably use the lists in the v1 army books, eg from the "Blood & Guts" and "Angriff" supplements, as they are far more extensive than those given in the main rule book

Saturday, 27 May 2017

Rogue Stars Skirmish

After a bit of a hiatus from sci-fi skirmish gaming, I had a game of Rogue Stars, using the WoTC Star Wars miniatures with Martin at the Sutherland Shire Gamers. Rogue Stars are a very interesting set of rules, as they are a complete revamp of the original Songs of Blades and Heroes activation mechanic.

They use a d20 rather than a d6, have increased interactivity with reaction moves, and you can continue with your turn, even if you roll multiple failures. A stress mechanism ensures, however, that you cannot continue indefinitely, and the opponent will eventually seize initiative and start their turn.

The two sides were a force of Star Cops (Imperial stormtroopers with some Bespin security) against Pirates (a rag tag force lead by Lando). An abduction mission was rolled up, so the stormtroopers had to capture Lando. The setup is to the left.

Lando is in a bar with a couple of gang members, a wookie and a Rodian armed with an assault rifle. The building was already surrounded by two Bespin cops. The stormtroopers were still on the baseline, and a couple more pirates were in other buildings.

Unfortunately for the pirates, a Bespin cop got a clear surprise shot on the wookie, who failed to react. This caused a wound and a crippling of the shooting arm.

However, this was as good as it got for the space cops, as the Rodian with the assault rifle put the Bespin trooper OOA.

The stormtroopers, who were moving up in support, suffered badly on the morale roll.

The Rodian was able to put another OOA (shooting first) allowing the pirates to escape off the table, and Lando being able to escape.

We played a second game, this time it was a Destroy Property mission, where the stormtroopers had to blow up 6 different structures. Interestingly, on the location roll, it was the defenders home planet, giving the pirates a bonus to morale, so the narrative fit nicely. This time around, the stormtroopers won, with the image below showing some of the burning structures.

The ruleset is quite a detailed, and will take a while to figure out the nuances. However, we found the game to be quite good, and are thinking of trying it as a campaign, where characters can develop over time

Wednesday, 26 April 2017

Leptis Magna Season 2, Episode 14 (Finale)

Following on from the last episode, we carry onto the next round. My posts are in blue, Marks are in green, and any post-editing commentary are in red. The gladiator rules used are Munera Sine Missione - note that this version may have differences to the current version. Each round will be posted as a weekly episode.

The Legate and his guards & entourage will enter on the street at bottom L and follow it around the corner to exit at top C. The famous Markets he is to visit are just off-table there.

The next photo below shows the situation at the end of move 1. The white marker shows Macer, surrounded by his bodyguards and entourage in a formation that ensures no one can get into contact with him. The red marker at top is Senex who has entered the scene over the footbridge. The other two red markers show (a) Quadratus and his dog loitering in an alleyway and (b) Flaviana and two of her "sisters" trying for customers at a street corner.

Senex rolled well in turn 2 and moved to position himself behind the Legate's party, seeking an opportunity to strike. It looked as if he would have to kill an entourage member to get to Macer, unless some lucky chance arose. The main problem for Macer and his group is that they are only able to move at S speed if they want to keep their formation, because of the jostling crowds.

Luckily for Senex an opportunity arose right away, when in turn 3 one of the entourage members rolled a turnover, separating both of them from Macer and the two guards who moved on ahead. Senex's luck held when his turn came: he rolled 3 actions. He moved up and struck at Macer from behind. However Macer was somehow able to dodge the blow, or perhaps Senex got cold feet. I dare say it's lucky Quadratus did not see the incident or he would have used some choice words about incompetence! I gave Senex an ambush bonus, but still not enough. Because of the total surprise factor I allowed Senex to run off for his third action without facing a free hack. He ducked down a small alleyway. But now Macer knows there is a plot afoot.

Macer tries regrouping his party before moving on, not because he dismisses the plot, but because he knows there is a picket of legionaries on guard duty at the market gates, not too far ahead (just off table). Once there he will be safe. But his entourage seems to have gotten lost in the crowd and continues to lag behind, so he and his loyal guards push on without waiting.

The next photo shows the situation at the end of turn 4. Macers party is split in two, with himself and the bodyguards pushing on ahead and the entourage trailing behind. Senex has rolled well for actions again and does a rat-run along some alleys to position himself near Quadratus and Flaviana, at a spot where the Legate will have to pass.

And the next photo shows a view down the street as we approach the critical moment. Macer can be seen accompanied by his two guards (with red and yellow shields), and further back behind them his lagging entourage members. Flaviana and her sisters are doing their best to distract passers-by on the side-street corner, and Senex can be seen next to them (with the white tunic and raised sword). Quadratus and Rufus are also in the side street, just out of camera shot.
In turn 5  Macer and the guards come within distract range of Flaviana, while his entourage further splinters when one of them rolls a turnover. The conspirators bide their time waiting to see how the distract affects their target's next turn. Turn 6: Hells bells! No effect, both guards and Legate walk right past the alluring Flaviana and the other exotic dancers, without a second glance. Who would have thought it.

But it is "now or never" time. Quadratus steps in to try and create an opportunity. He moves closer to the guards and unleashes Rufus to attack the nearest guard. Rufus jumps on the unlucky guard, savaging him and he falls to the ground. Senex rolls three actions and moves in for a power blow on Macer. I did not give Senex the ambush bonus this time, but he beats Macer anyway, who falls, wounded. Quadratus then attempts to move in the finish the job but is hindered by passing civilians (rolls insufficient actions).

Turn 7, and the Legate's party looks in trouble: one guard and the Legate himself are on the ground with attackers in contact. The other guard rolls low and is unable to intervene. The mauled guard rolls better, stands up and counter attacks and Rufus falls. Macer rolls three actions. He stands up and attacks Senex with a power blow, but without result. The entourage are not coming to help, they roll turnover again and are apparently lost in the throng.

Senex also rolls three actions and attacks Macer with a power blow but Macer manages to fell him!  Rufus also gets back in the fight and continues the fight with the guard. Quadratus is still unable to intervene.

Turn 8: everything goes pear-shaped for the conspirators. Macer kills the fallen Senex. The two guards get together and kill Rufus. A picket of legionaries, alerted by the commotion, emerge from the markets and move at the double towards the scene. Even the long-lost entourage get their bearings again and move up.

All Flaviana and Quadratus can do is go their separate ways, slinking back into the alleyways before any attention is drawn to them.

Quite a bad turn of events! Looks like it all came down to that last blow of Senex which completely failed…

A bitter end to the campaign, Quadratus will miss his dog, and Androcles falls out of favour with the procurator, having failed at the assassination. One question that no doubt distracted Senex is why Flaviana failed to help, was she secretly paid more by the Legatus all along??


It seemed like a close run thing with your description, but did it favour the legate too much? One concern I had was the “Lucky” trait on the Legatus, in that a good hit could be undone.

It was tilted to the Legate but that was in keeping with the somewhat amateurish nature of the assassination attempt. If Garutianus had been a serious conspirator he would have arranged multiple assassins at the least.

In the end I did not use Macer's "lucky" ability, although it was tempting when he was knocked down. I decided to reserve it until needed to avoid total disaster, which it never was.

On reflection I think the failure of the first attempt by Senex was because Macer was wearing armour under his toga.

Flaviana was genuinely trying to help ... the problem was that after Senex's first botched attempt, Macer and his guards were far too wary to stop and enjoy the show the girls were putting on.

I feel Androcles will be in a spot of bother, as the body of Senex may be traceable to his ludus (through information provided by the ubiquitous Samasu and the other Macer) and he will then have inconvenient questions to answer. The Legate could then confiscate the ludus and give it to his brother. He had better leave town now before Garutianus has him arrested and "disappears" him to prevent him confessing.

Oh well, the procurator got it right in the end, as mentioned by Tacitus in his annals: (histories book 1, chapter 7)

"It happened too that the executions of Clodius Macer and Fonteius Capito were reported at this same time. Macer, who had unquestionably been making trouble in Africa, had been executed by Trebonius Garutianus, the imperial agent, at Galba's orders."

Multiple assassins being present (such as JFK conspiracies or the King and Assassins game) would have been interesting, but think that this would have been more fun if the fight was moderated (or controlled) by an umpire, so that Senex would not know of their existence. They probably were there, but Quadratus fled before seeing them :) Androcles might get some credit from Garutianus for creating the opening...

I was worried it would be too tough, the intention is that the gladiator does not meet his end during an "inbetween" action. However, it does follow the strange trend we have had that once the first gladiator goes, the second follows shortly after. And it was a spectacular finale!

Wednesday, 19 April 2017

Leptis Magna Season 2, Episode 13

Following on from the last episode, we carry onto the next round. My posts are in blue, Marks are in green, and any post-editing commentary are in red. The gladiator rules used are Munera Sine Missione - note that this version may have differences to the current version. Each round will be posted as a weekly episode.

First off – Bookkeeping! Senex last tally was 34 gold, since he has won 10 gold then 14 gold taking the total to 58 gold. He gets paid 14 gold for the boxing (1 for each wound!), but spends 6 in debauched pleasures (you did say he was carousing again) – leaving him with a total of 66 gold. In a rather unfortunate side effect of the fight, Senex suffers some facial scarring, making him somewhat less “attractive”. (note: he lost 6 from 9 wounds, so I gave it a 4 in 6 chance to scar, and rolled a 2). He was quite concerned as to what Flaviana would think of him now. This seemed to give Quadratus some sort of perverse pleasure, who commented “No longer the pretty boy, eh?”.

It was noted that the procurator, Trebonius Garutianus, was clearly impressed with the efforts of Senex, nodding approval a few times throughout the match. Though, as mentioned in your description, the discerning judges amongst the onlookers thought Subar was too rash in his choice of fighting methodology. At the end, there was an animated discussion with the procurator and Androcles. The next day, Androcles called Senex in for a discussion….
Androcles spoke a lot about politics, throwing in emperor Galba’s name, but most of it went over Senex’s head. He was only able to gather that the Legatus, a dangerous egomaniac, was to be killed, and that Senex, a now hardened fighter, was the chosen assassin. The Legatus was due to leave with his legion in the coming few days, but is anticipated to visit the famous markets of Leptis Magna. Senex, without armour, and carrying a concealed sword, was to sneak up and deliver a mortal wound. There is a big payout if Senex succeeds.

I was thinking you could run this with Songs of Shadows and Dust. Using the lists (starting page 36), the Legatus is a Militia Officer (95 points – page 36), and he is flanked by two of his infamous German bodyguard, who try to stay in base to base contact with him (Foreign Bodyguard 42 points each, page 37) for 179 points total. Senex counts as a Thraex (50 points, page 38). If Senex comes under attack, Quadratus (Retired Gladiator 54 points, page 36) will show up at any location with Rufus (Pet Dog 36 points page 38) to save him – total 140 points. I’m thinking it would be like that “Kings and Assassins” game – the Legatus starts on one side of the board and if he exits the other side, he survives. Not sure how many moves this should be, maybe 4 or 5? Both sides of the table are flanked with market stalls, and there are vignettes everywhere. Senex can replace any vignette to attack. As an option, if Flaviana is paid 5 gold (from Senex’s money, as this would be on his own initiative), she can also be on the board at any location (treat as Famous Courtesan, 38 points, page 37). She might be able to distract the German bodyguards… The Legatus has to die before he exits the board.

As you can see from the photo below, the game is all ready to go. Now for the hard part - finding time to play!

I have used a small board, only 600x900 and set up one of the main entry roads (and associated alleyways) into the famous Leptis Magna markets which L Clodius Macer is due to visit. His party will enter at lower R and follow the street around the corner to exit at top C if he survives. The markets are assumed to be just off-table at top of photo.

There is the usual street traffic, perhaps less than you would expect in such a situation. My idea at present is not to move these figures, nor count them as normal SSD bystanders who could get involved, but instead to make them obstacles the characters have to move around (or through at reduced speed). We'll see how that works out.

I have included Flaviana in the characters per your suggestion.

I have also given Macer an entourage of two people as well as his guards. A VIP like him would always be accompanied by flunkies, toadies, clients etc. They will count as civilians except have no special rules. His chief political adviser, and "a lady not his wife ...". They can be used to accidentally get in the way of anyone approaching Macer.


Wednesday, 12 April 2017

Leptis Magna Season 2, Episode 12

Following on from the last episode, we carry onto the next round. My posts are in blue, Marks are in green, and any post-editing commentary are in red. The gladiator rules used are Munera Sine Missione - note that this version may have differences to the current version. Each round will be posted as a weekly episode.

Such is the fickle fate mortals face. On the blow inflicted by Kemsa that took Asiaticus to 1 strength, the small silver amulet shaped as a caduceus was dislodged from Asiaticus’s belt, falling onto the sands. Did the loss of this cause him distraction? Or did it mean that Asiaticus lost protection? The item was not on Asiaticus when he was dragged through a corridor, his brother cultists noticed this and thought that Asiaticus forgot to wear it, and suffered divine punishment as a result. Quadratus, looking upon the scene said “I picked it from the start! He had a lucky run against incompetents, but once up against a skilled opponent, it all came to nothing!”

The house of Androcles did not fare too well. Bion won his fight, killing his opponent, and became Primus Palus. The Legatus, standing near the magistrate, whispered something into his ear. The magistrate, looking rather pale, awarded the rudis to Bion. In shock, Bion had to accept it, and he was directed out of the arena as a free man. Quadratus muttered a number of expletives. As the primus Palus position was vacant, it was instead awarded to a gladiator from the ludus of Macer. Shaking his fists towards the podium, Quadratus yelled out more expletives.

It was seen that the dashing final move by Senex was that of a skilled gladiator. Senex wins 14 gold and is able to gain another skill. Interestingly, the coinage given to Senex was newly minted and bore the face of the Legatus, Lucius Clodius Macer in place of the emperor. It is clear that he was now in complete control of Africa.

After some weeks, Androcles is going to have an important guest arriving, the procurator Trebonius Garutianus. It is said that the procurator is very fond of cestus fighting. As is the custom in these private fights, the guest chooses the fighters, and, on the big day, all the gladiators lined up. The procurator, a very intense individual, chooses Subar, a new recruit of Androcles, and Senex. “Watch out” Quadratus warns Senex, “this might ruin your pretty boy looks”.

Use your cestus fighter figures and the tiled “private” fight board you have (or a hex board, doesn’t matter). Cestus Rules: All MSM rules apply except:
  • Treat the cestus as a normal weapon except when attacking, roll a d4 instead of a d6. (defender still rolls a d6, all other rolls are still d6).
  • A “double 1” event signifies cestus strapping coming loose. The gladiator needs to spend 2AP to correct, or they are limited to just one attack each turn.
  • Gladiators cannot use any skills gained in arena fights (each has zero skill level).
Let me know the outcome. There is no appeal to the crowd, the loser will survive.

Despite Quadratus's cynical warning, Senex was confident going into the fight. He had been watching Subar in the few weeks since Androcles had purchased him, and saw nothing particularly impressive. And also his visits to the red light district, watching Hannibal and the other pit fighters, had given him some insight into such matters.

The match was held in the local ruined Carthaginian temple, a site convenient and often used for such private entertainments by the elite of Leptis Magna.

The image below shows the starting lineup, with Senex at the top and Subar at the bottom.  Androcles had been careful to lay on plenty of refreshments for Garutianus and his entourage, you can see the amphorae and a slave circulating with a food platter. The guards are also wearing their best armour which has been carefully polished and carrying special matching shields that Androcles has rented for the day.

Senex started with a Strength of 9, Subar with 7. As the fight got under way, Subar was quicker off the mark, but the more experienced Senex got in the first blow, which Subar managed to duck. His counterpunch was a real haymaker, knocking Senex down, but Subar was unable to follow through (not enough AP for a second attack with a disadv weapon). Senex got back to his feet easily enough and quickly hit Subar for 2 damage. Subar chose to back off and work around to a flank, but this tactic almost failed disastrously as Senex (rolling 6AP and having +1AP in his profile) was able to turn and hit with both fists. Somehow Subar was able to parry both blows, showing an unexpected level of skill.

The fight continued with neither man landing a serious blow, and fatigues began to build up against both of them. Both were following defensive tactics, trying to keep a little distance and waiting for a really good AP roll. Subar was the first to catch the wave with this, launching a side attack that caused 3 damage to Senex, and suffering 1 damage himself when Senex responded.

Fatigue was becoming a problem for Subar by this point, he had 4 Strength left and 4 fatigues. I rolled to see what his strategy would be: all-out assault, continue as before, or try to lose the fatigues: he opted to continue as before - a sure sign of inexperience in the minds of many of the audience.

The decision soon paid off though, as another high AP score enable Subar to make another side attack on Senex and caused another 3 damage. At this point Senex had 3 Strength left and 4 fatigues (exhausted), while Subar had 4 Strength and 5 fatigues (also exhausted). Subar was a tougher nut to crack than he had expected, thought Senex.

As it happened, both fighters then rolled a sequence of low AP, making it hard for them to achieve anything, so both caught their breaths and shed some fatigue.

Now no longer exhausted, Subar was the first to start attacking again, although with no success this time. It was Senex who was able to manoeuvre the next side attack, causing 2 damage and tipping Subar back to exhausted. He was able to try one attack, but it failed and increased his exhaustion.

The initiative was now with Senex, if he could make use of it. First another side attack knocked Subar down, and because he was so exhausted he was not able to get up again. Then Senex was able to finish the fight by forcing Subar to submit [took him to 0 Stength].

Senex: lost 6/9, Vincit
Subar: lost 8/7, Missio

Androcles anxiously awaited the post match comments from Garutianus and the other guests: had he put on a good enough show to please these snobbish Romans?


Wednesday, 5 April 2017

Leptis Magna Season 2, Episode 11

Following on from the last episode, we carry onto the next round. My posts are in blue, Marks are in green, and any post-editing commentary are in red. The gladiator rules used are Munera Sine Missione - note that this version may have differences to the current version. Each round will be posted as a weekly episode.

At the pre-Games pep talk Androcles emphasised to his men how much it would mean to the ludus if they were successful on this big day. He appealed to their sense of pride in their school. After he left, Quadratus said a few words that were more to the point. "You can die and be quickly forgotten, or you can win and gain wealth and glory. Let's see if you have got it in you! I have my doubts, prove me wrong."

After this warm up, here is how our protagonists went ...


Senex (Attack, Stamina) started with a Strength of 11. Diomedes (Dodge, Stamina) started with 10.

Both fighters scored high AP to start the bout and quickly came to blows. Neither could make a breakthrough. Senex suffered a single wound while Diomedes built up several fatigue points.

Then Diomedes lost his sword while attacking, and Senex was able to immediately occupy the hex it fell in and launch a shield-side attack. Diomedes parried with his large shield, but could not counterattack. Then, trying another attack, Senex also lost his sword! The crowd started to jeer the fighters, thinking this was a display of match-fixing behaviour. Diomedes tried to recover by shield bashing Senex, but he avoided the blow and adroitly stepped back to recover his weapon. This allowed Diomedes to also recover his own sword, but exposed him to a rear attack, causing 4 wounds.

The fight then continued as before, both fighters attacking relentlessly to show the crowd they were for real, but only minimal damage and the occasional fatigue resulting. After quite a bit of this, Senex was reduced to 6 Strength & 1 fatigue, while Diomedes was down to 5 Strength (wounded) & 4 fatigues.

Diomedes big disadvantage was his fully enclosed helmet making it harder for him to carry out fancy moves like stepping sideways or backwards, as compared to Senex who also had +1AP for being light-armed. On the other hand his dodge-enhanced armour save roll was 5 for his front hex making it very hard for Senex to get through.

Diomedes shed some of his fatigues by taking a breather, while Senex cautiously moved around his flank, but this was all for nothing as the attack was rebuffed while Diomedes, resuming his work, started building fatigues again. Senex, tiring of this seemingly endless cat and mouse game, exerted extra energy (7AP) and attacked from the rear, scoring 7 hits, seriously wounding Diomedes and ending the game.

Diomedes rolled 12 for his appeal to the crowd, so was granted Missio. Evidently they had forgiven or forgotten about the lost swords fiasco.

Senex: lost 5/11, Vincit
Diomedes: lost 12/10, Missio


Asiaticus  (Attack, Dodge, Popularity, Stamina) may have suffered a slight injury during the Mithras trial as he achieved a Strength score of only 10, whereas Kemsa (Attack, Dodge, Relexes, Stamina) was pumped up with 12 Strength.

As the two fighters entered the arena, Kemsa's spear slipped from his grasp and fell onto the sand. He quickly retrieved it and carried on, but there was an audible gasp from the crowd, who knew an omen when they saw one. The betting odds, before this evenly spread, began to favour Asiaticus [as you can guess I had to repair a broken weapon with a quick superglue dab!].

Asiaticus struck first, immediately causing Kemsa to lose his spear again. The odds on Asiaticus shortened again, while Kemsa became almost unbackable. But he recovered well, using his reflexes skill to sidestep cleverly and recover the spear. The fight continued, both fighters using their various skills to try and gain an advantage but neither able to make the breakthrough.

Asiaticus as usual tried to stay close to his opponent, especially to hinder Kemsa's use of his long spear. This paid off, Kemsa was knocked down and Asiaticus shield bashed him while he was down causing 5 wounds. Kemsa was able to stand again, and dodged Asiaticus's follow up sword attack, but Asiaticus also shield bashed again and once more Kemsa's spear hit the sand.

Kemsa sidestepped and recovered the spear, but Asiaticus was right on top of him forcing Kemsa to use all his skill to avoid a flurry of hits. Then, right against the run of the fight, Kemsa got through Asiaticus's guard with a big hit, causing 2D6 = 7 wounds. The bookmakers were now officially tearing their hair out. Some stopped taking bets on this fight. One or two quietly left the arena and went into hiding.

At this point Asiaticus is wounded, with only 3 Strength left. Kemsa has 7 Strength left. Neither fighter has any fatigues. Asiaticus prayed to Mithra to grant him success and promised to spend big on incense if he could win this fight.

Mithra must have heard him, as Asiaticus was able to get in a spear side attack that caused 5 wounds to Kemsa. However it was not over yet. Both fighters gained a fatigue in the ensuing moves, then Kemsa hit Asiaticus for another 2 wounds, taking him to only 1, and then again, a clean thrust killing Asiaticus outright.

Asiaticus: lost 14/10, Peruit
Kemsa: lost 10/12, Vincit

So that's that for one of them! As usual no happy endings.


Thursday, 30 March 2017

Leptis Magna Season 2, Episode 10

Following on from the last episode, we carry onto the next round. My posts are in blue, Marks are in green, and any post-editing commentary are in red. The gladiator rules used are Munera Sine Missione - note that this version may have differences to the current version. Each round will be posted as a weekly episode.

The time has come for Asiaticus to become an initiate in the cult of Mithras. The first level in the brotherhood is known as Corax, or the Raven. To pass this ordeal, the initiate must dress up as a raven, with large wings made of ravens feathers. Like a bird, he must pick up a piece of food (meat) from an table using only his beak (mouth), hop across the floor while holding the food in his mouth, and drop it precisely in front of the idol of Mithras as an offering.

Seen as the easiest of the entry rites, the initiate must pass the three stages. Roll 8d6 in the first stage (picking up the food). Every roll of 4 or more is a success, if there are no successes, the initiate fails. This determines how securely the food was picked up. With the second stage (hopping across the room to the altar), for every success in the first stage, roll that number of dice in the second stage. Every roll of 4 or more is a success, if there are no successes, the initiate fails. This determines how surely the initate held the food while balancing with the hopping action. With the third stage (dropping the food in the correct spot), for every success in the second stage, roll that number of dice in the third stage. Every roll of 4 or more is a success, if there are no successes, the initiate fails. This determines how close the food is dropped at the feet of the idol. As an example, in the first stage 1,1,2,3,3,4,5,5 is rolled, being 3 successes. In the second stage 3,4,6 are rolled, two successes. In the third stage 2 and 5 are rolled, one success – and the initiate has made it! No successes at any stage is a fail. Asiaticus, all dressed up is in the candle lit Mithraeum, ready to go. The other cultists are all dressed in the paraphernalia of their rank, are chanting away, ready for the show……

Let me know the results of this. If Asiaticus passes, he must buy a raven mask, as a symbol of rank, for 5 gold, and is welcomed to the brotherhood. If he fails, he may be able to try again in future.

Meanwhile, Senex is back at the ludus, in the office of Androcles, reporting what he learnt. Androcles ponders the situation, and looks to Quadratus. Quadratus shrugs his shoulders and suspects that Bion has been afflicted with Livias herbs. Androcles agrees to paying the 30 gold, but warns that if the information gained is not of any use, the 30 gold will be deducted from Senexes future fight payments.

Senex meets Flaviania at a pre-arranged meeting spot, and Livia is there as well. Livia, a tall woman with raven black hair, mentions that a Syrian named Samasu has been a regular customer. Senex racks his brain, and knows that a Samasu comes into the ludus at various times to collect bets and give payouts, but does not know if this is the same person. Livia also gives a small quantity of a cure to Senex, she says that this counter acts the effects of the fever brought on by the substance she sold to Samasu. She says that it will be able to cure a person in time for the games of Liber Pater.

Back at the ludus, Senex reveals the details of Samasu to Androcles who nods saying “it would make sense if it is Samasu, the bookmaker, he comes and goes between each ludus as he pleases!”. One question – does Senex give the curative herbs to Androcles to heal Bion – so that he will be able to fight in the upcoming games? The position of Primus Palus is on the line, and Bion was scheduled to fight the current champion, Murena, who beat Bion once before.

Asiaticus is duly welcomed into the first level of the Brotherhood. His pass scores for the three phases of the initiation trial being 6, 3, 1. In the final part of the trial Asiaticus thought someone tried to trip him, but in any case he passed the test.

Senex hands over the curative herbs as well as the information to Androcles. He is beginning to enjoy his privileged status as a "trusted" aide of the boss, although his mind has begun to turn to how he could possibly take advantage ...

Androcles accepts the herbs and pays over 10 gold to Senex as a reward. When Senex and Quadratus leave to returns to their quarters, Quadratus slaps Senex on the back saying “There is potential in you boy! Keep up the winning and we can start making some real money.”

Asiaticus spends 5 gold on his new raven mask, and a small caduceus, the symbol of mercury to be worn at all times. He was told that not many make it on their first attempt, and his fellow “brothers” thought his skilled performance in the first leg helped with the later stages.

Over the next few days, Asiaticus has noticed that Bion has made a miraculous recovery and is able to compete in the games. He also notices that he has not seen Samasu for a while, and that a different person is in the ludus to collect bets.

The order of fighting in the games has been announced;

Senex is to fight Diomedes (2 skills)
Asiaticus is to fight Kemsa (4 skills)

Bion is also fighting for the position of Primus Palus. Apparently, a replacement had been ready from the travelling ludus of Macer if Bion did not recover in time, but is now not needed.

Anyway, the big day had arrived, with a grand parade commencing at the Temple of Liber Pater, moving past the Arch of Tiberius and towards the amphitheatre. A crowd of 16,000 gathered in the arena together with all dignitaries and the Legatus himself. All looked forward to see what twists and turns the games will bring!


Wednesday, 22 March 2017

Leptis Magna Season 2, Episode 9

Following on from the last episode, we carry onto the next round. My posts are in blue, Marks are in green, and any post-editing commentary are in red. The gladiator rules used are Munera Sine Missione - note that this version may have differences to the current version. Each round will be posted as a weekly episode.

Bookkeeping first: Asiaticus now goes to his 4th skill. He wins 17 gold, taking his total to 67 gold. Senex does not gain a skill (beating a lower ranked opponent), and wins 9 gold, for a total of 34 gold.
It is noticed that when Asiaticus wins, it tends to be a kill, with Priscus, Corax and Bardelys being victims, and Hanno being the only survivor. This has given him the grim nickname of “Asiaticus Ducit Mortem” amongst the crowd.

Androcles and Quatratus cannot work Senex out, the theory is that he is playing to the crowd. The low ranked plebs certainly did cheer him a bit when he gave them a wave, which seemed to give Senex a second wind. And laughter broke out as the scandalous Flaviana made an overtly suggestive gesture back at Senex. Androcles turned to Quadratus asking “did you encourage this? It is certainly a high risk strategy to ignore ones opponent to seek favour with the plebs!”.

Quadratus, more through luck than intent, has found himself to be a highly regarded doctore, with the gladiators of Androcles seen as being well prepared. Many of the gladiators have won, including Bion, with the prospect that they will gain good timeslots in the upcoming festival of Liber Pater. However, these hopes are being set back with the arrival of the Legatus. Coming with him is his disgraced relative, Servius Albius Macer. He has brought with him a group of gladiators to contest in the games, much to the annoyance of the Magistrate who ran him out of town in the first place.

Quite a strange Lanista, Macer allows his gladiators to take in the nightlife of Leptis Magna, with discipline being non-existent. It is also said that some key gladiators in other ludii are having strange training accidents. Even more distressing, is that Bion has fallen ill from some unknown fever. In a panic, Senex has been called into the rather Spartan office of Androcles for a meeting with him and Quadratus. “There is something happening since the legion arrived – it looks like strange accidents are afflicting champion gladiators that plays into the hands of the newcomer Macer. We think someone is working for the scheming Macer and is able to move in and out of different ludii and ‘get’ to the gladiators. We need to find our who this is! Quadratus tells me that you have developed some connections, which was quite evident during the crowd behaviour in your last fight.” He outlines a plan that Senex goes into town, to where the gladiators of Macer are carousing, and look for familiar faces. Senex can take someone with him, which can be another gladiator. Androcles finishes with “You will be well rewarded if you find success!”. Quadratus adds that there will be two of Androcles guards nearby who can be called in to help.

Choices are;
  1. Does Senex take Asiaticus with him? Not sure is there is a linking back story here for them both.
  2. When in town, does Senex go to (a) the fighting pits, or (b) the house of the rising sun?
There will be two guards (as mentioned by Quadratus) who follow at a distance behind. Spending money is provided….

I will give Asiaticus "Popularity" as his 4th skill. I don't know how he is feeling about his new nickname - it would tend to increase the pressure, maybe it will affect his performance going forwards.

Regarding the espionage mission that has been assigned to Senex:
  1. He does not take Asiaticus, as although the two of them are acquainted they are not particularly close. Senex is not part of the Mithras in-group who are Asiaticus's buddies now.
  2. Senex makes a beeline for the House of the Rising Sun. He hopes to pass some time with Flaviana, and also he surmises that is the place gossip from the various ludii is more likely to be found.
Finding it rather odd that Senex wants to go it alone, Androcles agrees, even though he believes that another gladiator might aid in some recognition.

Senex travels in the evening to the House of the Rising Sun. Rather luckily, Flaviana is in that night. During their “meeting”, Flaviana mentions that Macers gladiators tend to hang out at the fighting pits. Macer himself is said to be a gambler and goes there as well. She also mentions that a friend of hers, Livia (also notoriously nicknamed Livia the Poisoner), has had someone buying a lot of sickness causing herbs and concoctions off her recently. Flaviana is willing to get more information from Livia for a sum of 30 gold (she sees an opportunity here). This is a lot more than the few measly gold Androcles gave Senex for “expenses”.

What does Senex do;
  1. Try to negotiate with Flaviana,
  2. Go to Androcles with the information gained, and convince him to pay the 30 gold,
  3. Go to the fighting pits to look for an alternative clue,
  4. Wait for an opportunity when the two guards are just out of sight and flee this crazed city, leaving it to the Romans and their scheming ways….
Hmm, I sense a decisive moment in Senexes career is imminent. He also sees the potential of Androcles handing over 30 gold, and imagines Flaviana escaping to freedom with him. Whether he will have the courage to actually make a run for it, we will have to wait and see. But meanwhile, he chooses option (2) and reports back.


Wednesday, 15 March 2017

Leptis Magna Season 2, Episode 8

Following on from the last episode, we carry onto the next round. My posts are in blue, Marks are in green, and any post-editing commentary are in red. The gladiator rules used are Munera Sine Missione - note that this version may have differences to the current version. Each round will be posted as a weekly episode.

I'll give Asiaticus the Attack skill.

Asiaticus noted the discussion between Quadratus and Androcles, but his natural passivity plus his new devotion to Mithras meant he hurried after the others, to the prayer meeting ...

The conversion of Asiaticus to the cult of Mithras is nearly complete. He has heard of a number of initiation ceremonies that must take place, but is not aware of what they might involve. Whenever he asks about the initiation, he just gets greeted with silence and wry smiles from his new found “friends”.

Androcles addressed the gladiators one morning. He announced that the next fight will be the last before the great festival of Liber Pater, where the Legatus will be in attendance. Galba is now the Emperor of Rome, and the Legatus is the most powerful man in Africa. It is not known what happened to the former Emperor Nero, some say he was killed by his own slave, others say that he used his acting skills and disguises to escape Rome and flee to Greece. This upcoming games are dedicated to Mithras!

The order of events are (nothwithstanding last minute alterations);

• Asiaticus to fight Bardelys who has 3 skills
Senex to fight Mus who has 0 skills

Special Conditions: Senex will be quite distracted in the fight, as he will look in the stands to see if he recognizes anyone from his adventures in the city. Shuffle 10 normal playing cards (numbered 1 to 10, ace being a one). Draw one card after Senex rolls for AP. If the 7 card is drawn, reduce Senex’s AP roll by 2, as he is temporarily distracted when he spots Flaviana in the crowd. If the 10 card is drawn, Senex spots Hannibal in the crowd. Aghast at such a sight, he will skip that turn.

As the games are dedicated to Mithras, Asiaticus gains a prayer ability for these games only. If he rolls a natural 6 for AP, he can choose to skip that turn (pauses to pray) and thereafter gains the ability to ignore any negative AP effect from having fatigues, as he is filled with the bull like stamina of Mithras. This lasts until he rolls a natural 1 for AP. Not only does the effect end on rolling the 1, he gains an additional 2 fatigues at that point.

Both Asiaticus and Senex are beginning to develop a fan base among the arena crowd regulars, although neither is considered by any means a first-rate fighter yet. They are considered "prospects worth watching" and as "in with a chance" to rival the top fighters over the course of the next few Games.

It is also beginning to be noted that fighters from the ludus of Androcles are consistently entering the arena better prepared than their opponents. No one thinks Quadratus is an especially outstanding trainer - what is the secret?

Here is how the day went for our protagonists -


I gave Bardelys the same three skills as Asiaticus (Attack, Dodge, Stamina). He is a sica-armed Thracian but wears heavier than usual armour. They came on with Strengths of 11 (Asiaticus) & 9 (Bardelys).

Asiaticus opened the proceedings with an unsuccessful shield-side attack, and Bardelys, scoring max AP, immediately countered with an identical attack, which Asiaticus parried. After a few more inconclusive exchanges, Bardelys' sica got past Asiaticus's shield and caused 4 wounds. Asiaticus replied with a clever sword thrust that took 4 wounds off Bardelys.

Both fighters then took a breather. Bardelys stepped away from the fray, and Asiaticus did not follow, preferring to stay where he was and recover a bit (shed his one fatigue).

Bardelys then began to try to work around Asiaticus's unshielded flank, but Asiaticus was lucky with AP and surprised Bardelys with an attack on his shieldless side. The potential damage was a staggering 9 wounds but the Thracian dodged and was able to escape the blow. Asiaticus kept up the hassle, and in another similar attack caused Bardelys 4 more wounds. At this point, Asiaticus had 7 Strength remaining, and Bardelys had only 1 Strength, and 1 fatigue.

Bardelys launched an all-out assault, but the effort seemed to over-exert him because (double 3 special event) he was knocked down by Asiaticus's defence. However he recovered and stood up to Asiaticus's flurry of attacks, slowly giving ground as Asiaticus took fatigues. He actually managed a dangerous 5-wound attack at one point but Asiaticus successfully parried. Both fighters were using their Dodge skills effectively to escape lethal damage, but the odds lengthened against Bardelys when he tipped into Exhausted status.

The end-game was quite long and drawn-out, with Asiaticus following his usual dogged "pursue and bustle" strategy, but never quite getting through Bardelys' guard; and Bardelys grimly resisting and occasionally making a potentially fatal hit which Asiaticus was always able to deflect. But finally Asiaticus made the breakthrough, with a lethal thrust that took Bardelys to -3 Strength, a mortal wound.

Asiaticus: lost 4/11 Strength, Vincit
Bardelys: lost 12/9 Strength, Peruit

Asiaticus never rolled a 6AP so the Mithras effect never occurred. It would not have helped anyway
as Asiaticus was at no point particularly close to being Exhausted. Naturally however he believes all his new-found success is due to the protection of the God.


There seems to be something amiss with the big men among Leptis gladiators this season. Remember the disappointment of Titan a few Games ago, who was easily beaten by Senex. Now Senex faces another giant of a man, the Samnite called "Mus" (mouse, it is meant to be ironic) who is fielded with a Strength of only 6, whereas Senex is pumped with a Strength of 10. Strange days indeed, think the more discerning spectators.

Despite his heavier status Mus gets all the good AP early in the game, and Senex has to look lively to avoid being caught at a disadvantage. He decides to play a mobile game using his "+1AP" advantage to try and get in some side or rear attacks on Mus. This fails spectacularly as Mus strikes first causing Senex to lose his sword. Deft footwork and good defence enable Senex to avoid worse damage, but how to recover the sword? A game of cat-and mouse ensues with Mus chasing Senex but always careful to be between Senex and the lost weapon. At last the right AP combination (low for Mus followed by high for Senex) enables him to make a run for it and get to the sword.

But Mus is right behind him and causes 4 wounds in a rear attack before Senex can pick up the sword and get back into action. He grabs it and keeps running to put distance between Mus and himself. Spectators close enough can see him darting anxious glances into the stands as if expecting to see something. But what? Then Senex gives a sort of shudder, as if he sees a terrible sight, and stands for a moment without moving (draws the Hannibal card). Then he seems to recover, smiles and waves (Flaviana card, both cards were together at the bottom of the pack). It is noted that these strange behaviours happened after he had been looking towards the seating bloc reserved for the lowest of the plebs.

Luckily while this mysterious behaviour is happening (and being noted by Quadratus and Androcles among others, although they are as mystified as anyone) Mus has slowed down (some average AP at last) so Senex has time to gather his wits and plan a new attack. He has lost 4/10 Strength and is lucky it is not a lot more, whereas Mus is unharmed. Mus may be a rookie but he obviously cannot be taken lightly.

Senex announces he is back in the fight with an attack on Mus' unshielded side, but his thrust is parried. Mus counter attacks but also fails, and several rounds of unsuccessful attacks follow. Then Senex makes the breakthrough, with a "double 6 special event result. Mus takes 2D6=5 wounds, and is reduced to 1 Strength & 2 fatigues = exhausted status. He recovers well and even manages to mount some potentially dangerous attacks on Senex, but all are unsuccessful and only increase his exhaustion level.

Mus is able to hold off Senex for a few moves, but with exhaustion eventually building up to -3AP each turn it cannot last. Eventually Senex gets through with a lethal 5 wound attack, killing Mus outright.

Senex: lost 4/10 Strength, Vincit
Mus: lost 10/6 Strength, Peruit

Perhaps Senex will develop a reputation as a "giant killer" - unless of course both fights were arranged beforehand?

But either way, it has been a good day for the ludus of Androcles!