Cthulu writeup – episode two

Warning. This is a write up of “Uncle Timothy’s Will” in Blood Brothers. If playing that then stop reading. I have made changes to details.

In episode one we met cousins Joan Hildyson and Sigismund Krankenhofer and detective turned novelist Francis Fitzcarraldo who were attending the reading of the will of Timothy Hildyson, Uncle to the cousins and a former employer of Francis’s.

Panting and panicked by the attack of the dead, our trio start stacking books on the floor intending to wrench the bookshelves off the wall and block the window again, hoping to fort up until Monday and they can claim the inheritance from Uncle Timothy.

However the discussion turned to being more active, rather than waiting to die. Where might be safer, the attic? Either that would be a safer place to hide or they might find the secret of what on earth is going on.

Up to the first floor (second floor to Americans) and to look for the way to the attic and the group is met by Jamison. The group had instructed him to walk 12 miles to fetch help but he had said he would go in the morning and it is not yet daylight.

Francis asked him the way to the attic, “That way sir, at the end of the hall, that door leads to stairs to the attic.”

The door however, did not. It was a linen cupboard, turning in surprise they say that Jamison was being joined by the other three inheritors, Joan’s cousins, all unconscious but with a murderous cast about the way the drool dripped from their gaping mouths.

Francis shrieked and shut himself in the cupboard. Joan and Sigismund sighed and prepare to defend themselves. Cousin Henry rushed Joan, but she skipped aside, raising the poker high, and Henry tripped at the head of the stairs and rushed into the wall of the half landing, breaking his neck.

Sigismund drew a heavy annotated copy of Freud’s “Die Traumdeutung” and slapped Cousin Sydney the doctor with it, the blow hit heavily, snapping his neck instantly.

The rolls of the players were incredible. We found out why soon after this. If you have default skills in Roll 20 but have not actually filled in the space for the skill level, then the roll will come up as “1” every time. We let these rolls stand for this but made sure we did it properly thereafter.

A slash with Jamison’s neck by Joan’s poker crushed his windpipe, while Sigismund grappled with the last remaining cousin, throwing her down the stairs to slump in a heap. Francis looked out of the cupboard and, seeing it was safe, came out of the closet. They wanted to interrogate Jamison but death made that impossible. The bodies were twitching, and they knew that they would rise soon.

Francis stuck the shotgun under Jamison’s chin and fired. The shotgun, which had not been cleaned since before the war, blew up in Francis’s hands, taking a finger from his left hand.

The way downstairs were blocked by twitching and rising corpses, so the trio, thinking something useful might be in the butler’s room, dashed in there and blocked the door. After patching up Francis with bandages made from sheets and Sigismund’s long ago medical training, they conducted a hasty search of the room and chimney finding a gold $5 coin in among the soot and a notebook under the bed. The notebook had two phrases written over and over again, starting neatly and getting more and more deranged until the last few pages are written in what looks like dried blood.

“The Master must live, the master’s brew”

They were trapped in a room with scrabbling at the door, but Sigismund, remembering tales from his Uncle Joachim who served in South Africa with the Natal Police, told on an event in a church station where the soldiers dug through the walls to escape through another room. These walls, of wood and plaster were much easier to get through. By luck, the next room also contained a trapdoor in the ceiling to the attic, and the trio were able, at last to reach their goal.

The attic did not contain any occult horror, however, just dust, boxes and some ropes, obviously intended for a pulley fixed above one of the windows. The way downstairs was blocked, reaching hands were waiting under the trapdoor.

The rope provided escape through the window, down to the doors to the cellar, obviously the pulley was situated so that things could be easily transferred between cellar and attic without going through the house.

The cellar doors opened into a closed off part of the basement, some sort of workshop with discarded tools and copper tubing and a journal.That journal revealed that Uncle Timothy had plans, plans that involved the drugging and subverting of the will of his butler and maid and the sacrifice of his relatives. The bloodbath happening upstairs had been predicted in his journal, though what had happened did not fit with Uncle’s plans, and he intended to come back and at they realised that no one could remember a funeral for Uncle Timothy, or even news of the body. The journal also led them to a stack of banknotes. Not the million dollars promised in the will, but obviously what the resurrected Timothy planned to use to start a new life, well away from the horrors the authorities would discover.

Francis’s keen investigator’s mind tied the copper tubing to the lines scribbled by Jamieson, “The Master’s brew!”. There used to be a brewhouse in the grounds, back when the family brewed their own beer, and made their own tinctures and decoctions for medical reasons. After setting a fire in the basement to destroy the walking dead upstairs, Joan and Sigismund led Francis to the tarpaulin covered ruin of the brewhouse, secreted in the woods to the north of the house. The ground floor was bare but the stairs had been cleared and the stairs had recently been used.

Only Francis dared to go down, and was confronted by strange apparatus surrounding a vat from which rose an abhorrent smell, as if stale chipfat, rancid and overused, was emanating from a chippie renowned for poisoning its clients. Something came over him though, and he invited the others to come down and see the wondrous jewels and precious things. The others resisted his blandishments, and fearing for tangling with a deranged Francis or coming under the spell of Uncle Timothy, they started to chuck rubble and flammable material down the stairs. The first burning torch singed Francis, snapping him out of his stupor and he dashed out. His panting incoherent form almost earned a poker to the skull but he managed to persuade Joan to spare him and he helped complete the task.

Rancid chipfat from Hell

The stench was almost overpowering,but the three walked away, the flames behind him, as a psychic scream ripped through them like a wall of force and vanished. Uncle Timothy, the thing he had become the rendered blob that he had hoped to rise from, had gone.

They got in Francis’s car, split the funds and drove off, hoping to be far, far away before anyone came to see the twin fires. They had survived.

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Review – Airfix Battles from Modiphius

Airfix Battles, play it with toy soldiers

From the rear of the box, they want you to use to use Airfix models, but you can play the game straight out of the box

Better known to modellers and gamers from the British Isles, Airfix have produced military model kits, terrain and figures since the 1950s, being an integral part of the childhood for many British children and their first introduction to playing with toy soldiers. Their 1/72 (closer to 1/76) scale figures have been a cheap entry way into wargaming, though they need a a bit of prep before painting, and in the 70s they published sets of wargames rules and guides. So iconic were they that there was even a video game where you could fly Airfix model planes through household scenes, battling other planes, tanks and looking for pickups.

Picture of the box

The front of a compact box with the traditional, excellent Airfix cover painting

Now Modiphius, better known for their role-playing games, have issued the “Airfix Battles:Introductory Wargame” as their first published boardgame.This is a platoon level skirmish wargame for World War 2. The game has vehicles and small towed guns, but air support and heavy artillery is off-board and triggered by playing a command card.

In the box you find a book of rules, a book of scenarios, two double sided, interlocking map sheets, three sheets of counters with terrain, troops, vehicles and markers, a bag of ten  (five olive drab, five feldgrau) six-sided dice and  two packs of cards. One pack are unit cards for Americans and Germans,  the other are order cards as the game is command card driven.

The rules and scenario books

The rules and scenario books

The rules are not long, and aim to start the novice right into it with an introductory battle with each side having a Captain with a group of veterans, and two sections (squads, gruppe)  of basic infantry. Each side starts at the short end of their side of the map and attempts to kill the other, keeping the learning experience simple with orders, movement, terrain effects, combat and cover.

The game in play

The game map. terrain counters and troops

Each soldier has their own figure, a cardboard counter in the case of the set though obviously Airfix hope you might go out and actually buy some of the real things. There is a slight reference made to multiple figure bases, but no game is mentioned, but you could, in theory, use Flames of War or Crossfire bases with this, as well as single figures for games like Rapid Fire. The troop counters have a sort of shellburst icon on the reverse and you can use them as wound markers for based units, so you do not need the 1 figure = 1 troops on based figures. The map is separated into squares and all movement and ranges use these squares without diagonals, so a square next to your unit diagonally is two squares away, not one.

Command cards

Showing back of cards, with the basic orders you can always use, and some face orders for extra effect

How many cards you can have in a hand, and how many you can play in a turn depends on the quality of your commander, in the basic game you have five in your hand and can play two. The good thing is that each card is double sided, with the back of each card is a standard order, you can Move OR Fire OR Reinforce (if available), but the face side is something special, and often give you two options. This means that, unlike some card driven wargames, you are never stuck with no chance to use your units, waiting for your card to come up in the deck.

Once you have had a couple of turns to get used to the mechanics, the rules are fast and brutal. Troops caught out in the open, not even dug in will be massacred, you only get a save if in cover, and losing troops reduces your firepower. You have limited command and control, in the introductory example you have three units but can only issue two orders per turn, so you still have to think about what you do. There are cards to interrupt your opponents action or to issue one use “buffs” to improve your units performance, but otherwise the turn sequence is “roll for initiative and each side issues and order for as long as they have not spent their play limit”.

Unit cards for an American captain with attached veterans and a Sherman

American captain with attached veterans and a Sherman. The numbered chits are used to show which unit on the board they represent. A similar chit is on the unit.

 The captain shows his “play two and hold four” command capability on the right of the picture.

The dice and figure silhouette on the left of the picture tells you he hits or saves on a 4+ and has a move of two squares. The stars on the top right are the point cost. The icons on the bottom right of the captain explain the units he can command. The one without the band is compulsory, the others are optional. The veterans in the centre are purple which means they have to be attached to a leader, in this care the Captain.

The use of unit cards means that special rules relevant to that unit is on the card right there, for example the veterans above reroll misses against adjacent squares or American Infantry squads get an extra dice against enemy infantry because of the firepower they can bring to bear.

The game is definitely more on the “game” side of the game/simulationist debate, and is intended for fun, for example there is a “valour” counter, initially given to the person who lost initiative, giving one free reroll can be used then passed to your opponent, to help counter rotten luck. Since it is an introductory wargame, the basic rules are introduced in the first scenario as needed as itgoes through the steps of the turn. This works well and without them being awkward to find once you are playing different scenarios.

The some of the additional scenarios in the scenario book introduce other rules, so you get to learn them step by step and there is a point system so you can build your own forces. It is more of a boardgame in some ways than a figure wargame, but I have seen other square based games, such as the ancients game Lost Battles, being played with figures on a normal wargames table quite successfully.

The components are of good quality. The counters are thick and pop out easily from the card sheet. The maps are have the squares marked at the corners rather than ruled lines and have a dot in the centre to make them clear without being too obvious. The unit cards have the lovely Airfix art.

This is a spectacularly quick, and tremendously fun game but is still tactical and rewards paying attention to your units and not doing stupid things with them. There is a lot of thought into making it clear and consistent, right down to both the rules and scenarios book having a copy of the movement and weapons tables on the back page. Each unit has a different flavour thanks to the unit card so you get a good amount of variety. It is an introductory game, and it does introduce concepts like opportunity fire, cover, morale and pinning units, tanks having weaker armour on the sides and rear. It even has a programmed section for managing enemy behaviour when playing solo games.

Infantryman and machine gunner

Infantryman and machine gunner.against a white background close to, they are easier to make out

My only criticism is that the illustrations on the troop counters are a bit dark, making it a bit hard to distinguish at a distance, though closer to the dark blue-grey Germans are easily distinguishable from the olive drab GIs and the counters are generic, rather than having the full range of poses from the figures. Then again, they want you to buy the figures. The other issue is for long term play if you don’t want to get into the figures and vehicles, there is no sign that Modiphius will produce countersheets for the new forces they will add to the boxed set. I suspect that there may be new boxed sets for other theatres of war, if so then they may have relevant counters.

Airfix Battles is out now and costs £24.99. There is also a bonus pack of 24 unit cards available for £4.99 expanding the Germans and introducing the British. There are expansions planned and a collectors edition that expands on the base rules and expansions but aiming at proper tabletop wargaming so it will not have maps .

The rules can be obtained for free from Drivethrurpg so you can read them for yourself here.

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Cthulhu write up – episode one

Warning. This is a write up of “Uncle Timothy’s Will” in Blood Brothers. If playing that then stop reading. I have made changes to details

Timothy Hildyson, last of his line, had died. One more death in a harsh and uncaring world, but this man had connections to you

He was a distant cousin of Joan Hildyson, journalist, and an even more distant cousin and some rumoured real father of Doktor Sigismund von Krankenhoffer. For detective turned writer Francis Fitzcarraldo he was a former client and later patron.

These three and three others gathered in Timothy’s house on a lonely hill in the backwoods of Vermont on a wet Friday night. After being served dinner by butler Jamison and the maid Henrietta, they are addressed by Hildyson’s lawyer Charles Turner.

“The will is straightforward and most does not apply to you, but here is the bit that will interest you. Timothy Hildyson has left one million dollars to be shared equally among you. There is one proviso. You must stay in the house until dawn on Monday, if you leave the grounds then you forfeit your share.”

He was asked about this odd proviso and replied that, in his opinion, Timothy was used to using the power his money gave him to force people to do his bidding and this was one last exercise of power. Francis, being familiar with both Timothy as an employer and with Charles as Timothy’s agent felt this to sound like the old man.

With that he sits down and Joan orders drinks. Despite Prohibition, gin and brandy are found. The three others, Sidney the doctor, Harvey the lawyer and Mindy Elizabeth the writer/political radical soon retired to bed, followed by the staff.

Eventually even Sigismund admitted defeat and retired to bed upstairs, the bedrooms for Joan and Francis were on the ground floor. A loud thump alerted the other two who rushed upstairs to find Sigismund on the ground having slipped in a pool of blood. A trail led to a bedroom door, Joan bravely went in as Francis and Sigismund cowered behind her.

There she saw Charles Turner splayed in death on the bed, his guts opened up and lungs thrown down. Even to a hardened beat reporter like Joan that was some sight, and she had to get away to compose herself, away from any other people.


Francis stepped in and steeled hmself against a sight he had no seen since the trenches, but the blood unnerved Sigismund, he ran from the room to his bedroom, stripping off his bloodied clothes as he did so, panting in his room as he got it back together and dressed in clean clothes.

Francis examined the scene more closely, noting small footprints in the blood and that the heart seemed to have been removed from the corpse, the rest of the offal having been discarded.

The commotion roused the other heirs, who hung back from the door of horror and the butler Jamison. The foot size seemed to fit Mindy Elizabeth or Henrietta the maid, but there was no evidence of either. Jamison went to call the police but the lines were down, either cut or flooded out in the rain

Most went back to bed, locking their bedrooms behind them, ready to discuss this in the morning. Our Investigators did not, Joan searched Charles’s room more thoroughly while Sigismund and Francis followed the blood trail and looked in the Library for any sign of correspondence from Timothy that might lead to why someone could be aiming to kill his heirs.

While Joan found that Charles wasn’t an heir like them, having a fixed bequest as a fee for his work, the men found that the blood trail ran out beyond the back door, washed away by the rain. In the Library they found some mildly interesting family history and a rather disturbing copied bit of text from an anthropology work about Australian Aboriginal shaman beliefs about the soul.

That research was disturbed by a commotion upstairs.

Meanwhile Joan heard a sound behind her, to see Henrietta bearing a tray with a glass of gin on it which she offered to Joan. As Joan considered this Henrietta threw the tray at Joan’s head, but missed. Henrietta’s follow up charge was countered by Joan barreling into her and shoving her into the door, stunning her momentarily. As the men arrive up stairs they see Joan thwacking Henrietta on the head with a sturdy shoe.

Charles’s body is covered with clean sheets and the unconscious Henrietta is placed on her own bed and locked in. The three decided to fort up in the library. They have Jamison bring in food, a commode and a screen and say they will leave the house to fetch the police in the morning.

Jamison gently reminds them that they cannot leave the house lest they forfeit their share. Greed lit up their eyes and they tell Jamison to go himself. He mentions that he cannot drive so it will be a long walk, but he will go.

Fatigue and alcohol take their toll, Francis and Joan fall asleep, though Sigismund, not having drunk as much perhaps, stays awake with his thoughts. He is surprised to see Charles Turner’s corpse and an unconscious Henrietta burst through the window, Charles grappling with Sigismund, trying to grapple him down, though Henrietta fails to launch a crippling blow.


The others awake, Joan picking up a chair and smashing Henrietta sideways against a bookshelf, cracking ribs and splitting her head open and it is obvious that Henrietta is dead.

Francis grabs a dusty old shotgun from the wall and slams the but into Charles and Sigismund picks himself up. The now dead Henrietta rises up and lurches towards Joan, who, picking up a fire iron, slices into Henrietta's head and lays her low.

Charles is likewise incapacitated

Panting, bloody and confused, the three consider their options ……

Posted in Call of Cthilhu, none yet, RPG | Leave a comment

The cult of the new and multi-player solitaire

I have been thinking a fair bit about what I want from games, This appllies mainly to RPG, wargames and boardgames, which intersect in my thoughts and what I perceive as why me and current trends don’t seem to be meeting. This is purely personal, your own experience is no doubt different, possibly more satisfying.

To give a bit of background I played in a few, long term RPG campaigns in my time, seeing characters grow and develop. In some campaigns even having some effect on the world.

Similarly with board games, we got a game, we played it a lot, tried different things, tried the variations, talked about it. These were mainly board wargames, as opposed to the currect boardgame revival types. Although there were a few abstract, most would class more as Amertitrash than Euro style.

New publishing methods, new funding methods, new delivery methods mean that RPGs, figure wargames and boardgames are arriving at a high rate. Crowdfunding seems to be working, as there are not enough failures yet to spoil that as a method of providing finance, as opposed to taking on that fifth mortgage or offering the bank manager sexual favours in exchange for a loan extension.

So, the first niggle is this. Depth of play. Not in terms of play depth, but in getting enough time to explore that before moving onto the next thing. I saw that a bit at my favourite wargames club.  A new wargame with attendant figures would come out. Those with skill would have the figures painted quickly and played with long before I was ready, and they would move onto the next game.

Figures can be repurposed, well, often, but you can’t do that with board games so much, but the same is happening. The games, whether RPGs or boardgames, are not getting those exended games. Characters are not developing in their game world. Options and strategies are not being explored, one off games are happening then the next new game is brought out.

The next niggle is this. Games as a social event. Euro games in particular might as well have you playing on your own. You make sets of things whether collections of objects, territories or constructed items, and at the end you tally up a score , and then you have a winner, woooooo!

There is precious little interaction or through game competition, you might as well be playing in your own house and postin the results on a forum. Although you can stymie an opponent by closing off a route they want or taking a desired rseource, that usually seems incidental rather than deliberate.

Add to that there is the fact that these are a kind of games I do not enjoy much. If I got to play games I enjoyed more in exchange then that’d be fine. Social contract and all that, but that isn’t happening and, as a wise man once said, “if it isn’t fun, stop doing it”.

Aha! Coop games I hear you cry! All about the player chatting and decision making. “Pandemic”, “Lord of the Rings” and “Castle Panic” for example? Well, that’s the theory, but too often one player dominates and the others become proxies rather than equals, and we are back to a low quality social experience.

So what is “the answer”? Well, there is no universal answer, this is purely personal after all, so this can only be for me.

Well, I can play those coop games, I have a few after all, but I might as well play them solo at home. They are designed to be player versus game after all. I can play some of the sort of board games I like solo, randomising strategies, or playing both sides. Figure wargaming I can return to my foldable projects and tting armies painted at a glacial rate to once again play figure wargames.

As to role-playing? Do my bit for agitate for longer campaigns, but that;s a group decision. So make my case and pitch it. Might do a bit of random dungeon bashing for old times sake from time to time.

If you made it this far, thanks, you must have been stiuck for something to do tonight, seriously, but thank you, good night and may your god go with you!


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Kings of War 2nd edition – end of the first run through

Kings of War 2nd Edition hardback

Kings of War 2nd Edition hardback

To recap the first post of this battle, a group of Northmen under Jarl Sven of Bjarnulfholm are fighting the ancient evil known as the Cursed Legion, raised from centuries in death by the Nameless Necromancer (basically because I couldn’t think of one when doing the army list).

The Undead surprised the humans from the outset, with allied werewolves surging forward and ripping through a unit of archers and overrunning one of the two precious cannons.

That part of the game was played at midnight. The rest was played in the dull grey sunlight of a Scottish summer. Let’s see if that makes a difference!

North turn 3

The humans try to secure their rear

The werewolves, flush from their demolition of the cannon Hugin, got overconfident and turned towards its brother Munin, leaving its rear open to a charge from the knights of Hersir Knut. After that charge wiped out the werewolves he turned ready should the Revenant Cavalry overwhelm his lord, the Jarl Sven.

Sven assaulted the Revenants, scoring some hits but to no conclusion. The Bjarnulfholm Guard and Jarl Eirik’s troops inflicted heavy casualties on the Zombies, but they held in there despite that.

The cannon Munin blasted the Necromancer out of existence. Being able to conquer death didn’t stop shrapnel tearing him apart. Jarl Olaf’s Regiment and the Archers positioned themselves to try and block the other Undead units until reinforcements could arrive.

The Undead are starting to get hemmed in by superior numbers

The Undead are starting to get hemmed in by superior numbers

Jarl Sven has survived the onslaught from the Revenant Cavalry. the Zombies inflicted damage, and recruited new members from, The Bjarnulfhom Regiment. That regiment came close to breaking, and it was too far from its Jarl to be able to rally them, but they held steady.

Flokr’s Archers were not so resolute. They did not break, but they are now wavering, and wll be unable to prosecute any attack next turn.

Human Turn 04

The Tide has turned!

The Bjornulfholm Regiment overruns the Balefire Catapult, though Jarl Eirik’s Shieldwall might have been better to use. Luckily there were triple rolls for attacking a Warmachine, otherwise it would have been just fine.

Flokr’s Archers are wavering so do nothing, as are Olaf’s Regiment, but Ivor’s archers attacked the Revenent Cohort in the flank, but that had no effect. The cannon turns around and Jarl Sven retreats, I mean, sorry, advances to their right wing given the knights free reign against the Revenant Cavalry. They break the Revenants and change facing ready to advance next turn.

Undead Turn 4

Not long now

The Revenant Cohort could counter charge the Archers by turning to face them and attack, which is one of the changes in this version of the rules, but instead they decided to attack the Jarl Olaf’s Shieldwall, which breaks and flees. The Wraiths hit the Archers again, but they fail to inflict any damage.

The game ended there,. In a large part due to luck going towards the Northmen this time. Usually I only see that many sixes when rolling low indicates a crit.

The Revenant Cohort could have held out to the end as noone  had it in a charge position. However I had a good sense of how this played and finished up there.

Final conclusions
As I found yesterday, this is a fast, streamlined game that just lets you get on with your tactics. The different units and races do have some special effects, but the special effects do not overwhelm the game. As it should be, this is about troops getting out there and fighting. Yes a huge blast from a cannon can rip through a unit, but it is not going to blast the whole army and it is very fragile. The mages can shoot lightning, but it is more of a support attack than a battle winning attack on its own.

A good point was made by Andrew Bussey of G3, which is the club I would go to if work allowed. With Warhammer there is some “player agency”, in that if your troops have a save roll, then you get to roll in your opponent’s turn. You feel involved. In Kings of War the active player makes all the rolls. So. Do you miss this?

I do not think so. Yes, you have the sense of being involved but, in part, that becomes necessary is that a turn in Warhammer can take so long that you need something to do to stay involved. In Kings of War it is so speedy that you get your turn to roll dice and enact your plans in short order.

So. I like this. I think I like it more than the last version of WFB I played, which was, I think, 7th edition. I have Humans that I can do but I have the Island of Blood set so would love to use Ratmen, if those get added to the world, and Undead. I had a project a long time ago for a Roman and celtic undead army. It would be great to get that done.

Now to try that all werewolf army idea, what will it do?

Posted in Foldable Wargaming, Kings of War, Solo Wargaming, Wargaming | 1 Comment

Kings of War 2nd edition – thoughts and a run through the game – Turns 1 & 2

Mantic Games first came to my attention in 2009 as a producer of plastic wargames figures for massed ranked battles. They produced spindly Elves and solid, chunky late armoured dwarves and lots of undead. The next year, the veteran rules-write Alessio Cavatore, produced a light set of rules to use them,rather than choosing to use these as cheap alternatives for another rule system. These have grown from a simple downloard to a printed book and expansions.

Kings of War 2nd Edition hardback

Kings of War 2nd Edition hardback

Wind forward five years and Mantic are due to release an updated version of the rules in August 2015.

However, in a bit of cheeky PR, they release downloadable versions of the rulebook and army lists the week after Games Workshop unveiled their “Age of Sigmar” skirmish game replacement for Warhammer.

This makes Kings of War interesting as potentially the only mass battle wargame with a community support programme by this time next year. (other “in print” massed battle games do exist.)

The free rules and army lists are obviously cut down from what will be in the printed rulebook, but there is enough to have a trial game. As usual, this will be a foldable project game using counters. I have converted inches to centimetres for this. For example, a warmachine, with a 50mm x 50mm footprint, or 2 inches by 2 inches, has a counter of 20mm x 20mm. and distances on the field are likewise 1 inch becomes 1 centimetre.

Kings of War does not use figure removal to mark damage. They use wound counters, whether dice or actual markers beside each unit. I decided just to mark the damage on the army sheet. I do have tiny dice that would work (I got them for Warmaster/Blitzkrieg Commander) but I will be playing this over a few nights as I wind down.

Units are sized as individuals,war machines, troops, regiments, hordes and legions. Regiments have the same frontage as Troops, but greater depth. The same for Legions compared to Hordes, and both have twice the frontage of a Troop/Regiment. The deeper units get slightly, and I do mean slightly, more attacks than the smaller unit, but more importantly they can soak up more damage. Units in this game will fight on until their morale breaks, and the wounds taken modify the morale check.

Two other things at the moment. Firstly you can measure at any time. Movement or range, whatever. Secondly the active player makes all the rolls (To hit then to wound), except for Nerve (Morale) check. There is no “Save roll”

The opposing forces
Army of the North The Cursed Legion
Jarl Sven of Bjarnulfholm (General)
Hersir Knut of Bjarnulfholm(Troop of Knights)
Bjarnulfholm Foot Guard (Regiment)
Ulf’s Archers (Troop)
Flokr’s Archers (Troop)
Ivor’s Archers (Troop)
Jarl Eirik’s Shieldwall (Regiment)
Jarl Olaf’s Shieldwall (Regiment)
Hugin (Cannon)
Munin (Cannon)
The Necromancer (General)
Revenant Ala of Cavalry (Troop)
Revenant Cohort (Regiment)
1st Skeleton Cohort (Regiment)
Zombie Horde
Wraiths (Troop)
Werewolves (Regiment)
Balefire Catapult

Army of the North in Green. Left to Right, Knights, Archers, Cannon & General, Foot Guard, Shieldwall, Cannon, Shieldwall, Archers, Archers. Undead in grey, Left to Right, Werewolves, Revenant Cavalry, Balefire Catapult, Necromancer, Zombie Horde, Skeleton Spears, Revenant, Wraiths

I drew a couple of hills, a wood and a small stream around the centre line, and did some vaguely random motivation for the deployment. The Noteboard is 10cm too short for the true 48 cmm to match the scale for the board, but I kept the centre “neutral” area true to scale. This made the deployment area slightly narrower than it would be in reality. Army of the North in green, Undead in grey.

The Northmen won initiative, and, despite their somewhat defensive deployment, they rolled for aggressive tactics. They advanced the Shieldwalls and Foot Guard at the double, moved the knights to the shelter of the hill on the left, and the missile units went up a standard move. This let the archers fore (at a penalty) The cannons could not, but it gave them a better firing arc for later.

End ofTurn One

The Werewolves surprised everyone out of the traps

The Undead cannot march quickly, as usual in games, but they had to advance as to stay still would to be to invite being shot to death, umm, undeath, err, dissolution. You know what I mean. The Werewolves however have a long movement, and the archers on the left were within charge range (triple movement). That would not only potentially take the archers out, but the Werewolves would be behind the Northmen’s lines, and they would have to react else they would have the Werewolves hitting them from behind.

Ulf's archers about to go

The Archers take four wounds, and the subsequent Nerve test sees them routing off the field.

The balefire catapult and the Necromancer’s spells had no effect.

The Werewolves, however, slammed into the archers and caused enough damage that y failed the subsequent Nerve test and routed.

A unit that does that can take advantage. They can pursue forward, change facing or retire. The Werewolves opted to retire so as to present the Knights with a flank rather than a rear. (That was a roll, the other options would have been to change facing to the General or to head into the rear of the infantry.)

North Turn 2

The North press home their main attack while trying to defend their rear

The North charged into the infantry at the centre of the Undead, but the missile troops find themselves trying to do what they can to defend the rear now that the folly of their impetuousness has been made evident. The Knights pivot ready to charge next turn, but are helpless to do anything else. One set of archers heads left to try and shoot anything it can. The General is forced to attack the Werewolf flank. The cannon has no choice but to fire at the Werewolves.

The Werewolves and the Zombies take wounds, but are still in the fight. If a charge does not dismiss your foe then you back off, to ensure an inch, or centimetre in this case, gap between units.

End of Undead Turn 2

The Werewolves attacked the cannon and overran it. The General was attacked by the Revenant Cavalry and the zombies had their revenge

Instead of facing the human General, the Werewolves went for the cannon and the Revenant cavalry charged the General. The Zombies charged the foot guard. This is a point that hopefully the printed rules cover. the free version covers multiple units charging smaller units but not larger units charging smaller. The rules about an inch distance between units meant that, there was a bit of shuffling to keep that true.

The cannon went, the crew ripped apart by the Werewolves. The General withstood the Revenants and the Knights were wounded by the catapult and the lightning bolt of the Necromancer.

End of turn 2

Thoughts so far
Even allowing for checking the rules and deciding random chances for various decisions, this played blisteringly quickly. The resolution of combat flows nicely. Movement, as there is only one turn permitted per move (unless Nimble) has to be planned slightly more carefully than systems that allow for multiple wheels.

So far though, this seems to let you plan your tactics and get on with it. There are fewer options and modifiers, but they work well. This was about 25 minutes of time with a hot mug of milk in my hand. Great, looking forward to the next half hour.

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Age of Sigmar – thoughts after a run through the game

Games Workshop, recently killed off their long running “Old World” and mass battle game of Warhammer (*), just as they changed the name of the shops to that, and unveiled the new skirmish game, “Age of Sigmar”. This game has new models, a different playing style and is incompatible with the old game.

The rules are 4 sides of paper, free to download, as are several “warscrolls”, army lists to allow you to use legacy Warhammer Armies with the new rules. They warscrolls range from 19 sides of paper to over thirty. The forces of the new game are warbands. Units are not in ranks, but spread out in loose groups as in Warhammer 40K. There are a mix of special characters and units of about 5 if cavalry or 10 if infantry. There are no points systems in this game. A few suggested force makeups but generally you play with what you have. This is open to abuse, rampant, silly abuse, but you just have to hope that the people you are playing are adults.

So, the test game. I made up forces for two legacy armies.

Bretonnians Beastmen
Bretonnian Lord
6 Battle Pilgrims
10 Men at Arms
10 Peasant Archers
Bray Shaman
10 Ungors with shields
10 Ungor Raiders
5 Chaos Warhounds
Setting up the battle

Set up of the battle. Bretonnians in blue on the left, Beastmen in green on the right. Icons based on Redmind A Simonsen’s icons for SPI. The map scale to game maps scale is 1 cm to the normal game map inch. The game maps here is the Noteboard.

Terrain is a hill on the left, some individual trees that do not hamper movement. They have special features that were rolled for after deployment, but they did not make any different to pay this time.

The round is not a strict IGoUGO. During the phases of the round, both will get to move, shoot and fight. This gives the impression that the game is supposed to have the feel of GW’s LoTR game, though that game has more, tighter, rules and treats each figure as an individual,rather than bringing in unit cohesion rules.

Age of Sigmar test - turn 3

Turn three. The Bretonnians have found that their bows outrange those of the Beastmen, and are thinning their numbers with some lucky archery as the other troops move up

The basic combat procedure of “To hit, to wound, Save roll” remains, but there are no combat tables in this game. All the numbers are on the statline, which makes resolving combats a little faster, though I know experienced Warhammer players had those tables committed to memeory anyway.

One mechanic that this new game has that will make things faster, but which will tend to reinforce luck, is the Battleshock Phases. If you take damage then you must check for shock Fail that and you can lose yet more troops, In the test game, the Beastmen lost three figures, rolled a six on their bravery test and ended up losing a further 5 figures. Since they started off with ten then that round was a bit of an ouch.

In the test game, the Bretonnians had some good rolling and the Beastmen poor, that saw then lose more to failed Bravery tests than losses in combat.

Warhound fails the test

The last warhound in a unit failing its bravery test. The unit collapsed totally in one turn of melee

So. what did I think of it all? Well. It works.The rules are open to abuse and there will be those that will abuse them, but avoid those players if you can. It is not a mass battle system. Warhammer players addicted to mass battles then this is not for them. They should think of it as an entirely different game, because it is. In the long run I assume, but have no evidence to support, that the legacy army support will be dropped.

I think, like the GW LoTR game, that this will have problems scaling up into bigger fights. It has the advantage of units, rather than completely individual figures, so should not immediately hit that scaling problem, but I think it will as people’s armies grow.

If you like a quick, simple skirmish fantasy game and don’t mind doing a bit of the work for limits and situations yourself, then at the moment this is free and available, so why not at least give this a try. You’ve nothing to lose.

(*)  Chaos won. The Old World is swept away. The old races and nations are gone.

The starter set will have some humans and Chaos. The humans are gathered from all human nations and are heroes that look like Space Marines. So much so that the term “Sigmarine” has been coined.

Your old army is obsolete. There are lists (warscrolls) that will let you play with them for a while, but I suspect they will be depreciated over time.

Doesn’t stop anyone playing 8th ed Warhammer (or earlier), but the support from GW will be gone.

Other options include 28 mm Warmaster, Knocking together a fantasy version of “Hail Caesar “, HOTT or Kings of War. They released a free 2nd edition rules and Army Lists on Friday. There is a printed version coming out next month that I suspect will have more

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RPG Session – Solomon Kane – The Maltravers Legacy

This is a write up after three RPG session conducted by Google+Hangouts and Roll20. It is loosely based on a commercial scenario for the Pathfinder Game, The Skinsaw Murders, which is the second chapter in the Rise of the Runelords. If playng in that campaign then do not read the write-up below

Robert Poldark

Robert Poldark. Both the players who played him looked almost exactly like this

Jayne – Wise woman and to her surprise, healer
Xavier More – student of mysteries
Lord Amery Flashheart – Down at heels swordsman
Lancashire Jack – Soldier looking for a cause
Robert Poldark – reformed pirate, half naked grass cutting a speciality
Mitchell – because he’s worth it. Dog.


Mitchell, the wonder dog, saviour of the Party

Having left Uffington, they are heading to Dover to take ship for the continent, the group stop off in the village of Wantage. There they learn that there is a start of a hue and cry for the deposed Squire of Uffington, that the cousin if organising a search to apprehend malcontents who raised up the innocent people of Uffington against their rightful Lord.

Also there are stories from France of religious strife and that English ships are being turned back from French ports.

That night, in the Inn, each gets a dream. The voice that drew them all on the quest warns them that the way south is being watched. The ship they are to get will meet them in Maldon on the East coast.

Jayne gets a longer dream with a warning (OOC – The character picked for this was randomly determined. It could have been Mitchell, Xavier, Flashheart or Lancashire Jack. Lucky Jayne)

“You have an admirer, I cannot tell from where the thought comes, but it comes strong, It thinks of you, and it is not a pleasant

“You will learn to love me, desire me in time as she did. Give yourself to me and live forever.”?

With this disturbing news the group turn east towards the town of Abingdon. They notice that the farmers are wary, They follow at a distance and are obviously armed. You stop one group to ask what is going on and learn that there have been disappearances and some deaths . The attacks come at night and the wounds look horrifically like they had been caused by human teeth.

With that awful news you continue to Abingdon and find the normally welcoming town is shuttered up and the doors locked. The only Inn that is open for business is

“The Cleft Skull”, whose seven foot tall owner, hideously scarred, with a rasping voice welcomes you.

The Inn, despite its name and Matt’s failure to pick up on the reference, is wall appointed, the food is wholesome and the bedroom clean.

Fed and watered and settling down for the night, you are interrupted by the town’s Bailiff.

He enquires about any strange sights you may have seen on your travels. When asked why, he says that people aren’t travelling much at the moment, and that recently he caught a madman near some lightly chewed corpses marked with a curious symbol. So, like, weird stuff is going on

“We were assaulted by a deranged man near an ruined house east of the town along the Small Road. The man was obviously sick and insane, his flesh fevered, eyes wild, mouth frothing, and clothes caked with blood. We subdued him, but when they checked inside the house they discovered the mutilated bodies of three men.

“I might not have known them if I had not recently thrown them out of town myself. They were peddlars and thieves. Vagabonds and Mountebanks without a scruple of decency between them.

“I was not surprised to find them dead, but I had thought a knifing in an inn and thrown into a ditch more likely. Not this. They were torn and maybe eaten. Just like the others.

“All marked too. A Strange mark carved into them. A weird kind of deformed star. All three with the same, but carved, not inked. I have them in a cellar if you want to see them, but they were far from handsome men in life, and much worse in death. Plan to bury them tomorrow. Far away”

The symbol is unknown to Xavier or Jayne, though Mitchell knows all about it, as usual. However Xavier, no stranger to Oxfordshire, knows of an antiquarian weirdo near by who might recognise it.

The next morning you find Redvers Brush, who identifies it as a symbol of ancient Babylonian origin, “as recently imparted in the scholarly work Grimorium Verum. It is linked to Lucifer there”, “I have seen works calling it the “Seal of Heylel”, and claiming it heralds a new dawn, both in the literal sense and a metaphysical sense.”

He takes you to a squat round tower surrounded by houses in a grubby, squalid courtyard. The tower is slick and doorless, no break in it at all, not even for stonework, though a kind of relief surrounds it. Among the weird shapes is the symbol you have found.

Despite all efforts, including Jayne taking on the form of a bird to try from above, you cannot get in.

An urchin brings word from the Bailiff. The lunatic is lucid, he asks you to come and bring word of this symbol. Xavier and Lancashire Jack remain (I will have a think to see if there is anything else useful that they might have discovered and email you) as Jayne, Mitchell and Flashheart follow the Urchin to Christ’s hospital, a large, monastic looking building with rooms for each patent.

The bailiff meets you with the doctor and a couple of attendants, and a darker skinned man, Gergi Nicolu, who seems flushed and has a bandaged shoulder. Mitchel refuses to go near him.

Gergi is introduced to you as a local labourer of reasonable character though not beyond doing a bit of muscle work for minor criminals. Gergi looks up as you enter, staring at each before raving

“More meat for the Dead Man eh? Beware what you seek to profit by, money or pleasures, the price is never worth it.

“What? Yes. Just a job. Not bad enough. That’ll show them, bot bad enough. They got a message. Who knew they could read. Come to the old house. You will earn silver and maybe a piece or two of gold each if you come. They thought to go, and said that if their benefactor would pay silver and maybe gold for their time then they could take
him and maybe find some more silver and gold where that came from.

“Yes, yes, why do even a dishonest day’s work they said, when a little thought can get the usurer. The usurer they thought, but no, they got the dead man. He surprised us all, we were overcome, and the ropes, like a chicken for the roast I was tied up, then he brought them to the middle of the floor from where he had flung them. They were not breathing well, but they were still alive.

“Then the hands ripped, their flesh, the stench, the sound. No more, no more. The Dead Man grumbled joy. ‘My desires’ It said ‘My desires, She will be mine and all will be made well, the sinful die and I will live’.

Gergi stares at Jayne and becomes excited and agitated.
“It is her, my new Master’s one. M’Lord Maltravers will be pleased. He will love you. He will love you more than me!

Hmm, more than me. NOOOOO!”

The gypsy flushes more, looking inhuman, launching himself at Jayne, she scuttles back out of the road, Flashheart knocks him back and the attendants manage to get a hold of him.
As Lancashire Jack and Flashheart appear here, finished with the tower, Gergi is knocked out, allowing Xavier and Jayne to examine him. In addition to his weird fever, his would is putrifying as if he were already dead, yet he seems as alive as any.
The Bailiff is stunned with surprise


We rejoin the group at Christ’s Hospital in Abingdon Jayne having endured the attack of a raving madman, whose body has a wound that seems to be rotting, not festering, but rotting, yet is marvellously intact.

In the ravings the madman mentioned the name of “M’Lord Maltravers”. They could have asked the Bailiff, but they did not want to avoid the authorities in case they ended up in trouble like their actions a few days ago removing the Squire of Uffington leading to a price on their heads.

Jayne made enquiries of one of the attendants and found that the Maltravers had a house south and eat of Abingdon, a strange place surrounded by woods, which was a place of ill-omen. There were vague, dark stories but the only concrete story she got given was one about one of the Maltravers Lords going mad, murdering the household and killing himself. The Maltravers’s home, Ffion Manor, was abandoned for years before a relative came to take it over a few years ago, though it has been a while since anyone saw him in town.
With no further ado, possibly due to the shortage of time for the players, they headed through the locked up town, through the farmlands, past the suspicious farmers and to the woods.

Since everyone in Lancashire is a poacher (apparently) Lancashire Jack was sent to scout out the manor, with Mitchell for company. The others scouted around the wood.
Reluctant to go through though they were Jayne decided to explore, taking the form of a badger. She descended down and snuffled through a hole that lead straight on, as close as she could tell straight towards the manor. There were branching tunnels but she ignored them. After about 300 yards she came to an open space, with a few more branching tunnels, and reckoned that the ceiling was about 40 or 50 feet below the surface, given to slop to get here.

She continued on towards the exit in the same direction, which appeared to be heading up, when she heard a noise and a manlike thing launched out of the hole and battered her backwards.

In badger form she headed back the way she came, with all speed, launching out of the hole where Xavier, Flashheart and Robert were waiting, thus warned Robert slammed his falchion on the thing as it appeared, that seemed to break its back but it still crawled forward, moving, Xavier hit it his sword, lopping a bit off. Then, from further away, in bounded Flashheart, his blessed rapier shining with God’s holy love as he put the coup de grace to the thing.

Jayne returned shaken, but managed to pull herself together long enough to remember herhealing arts and examine the man like beast. It seemed like a rotting corpse, but the flesh was holding together well, much better than it should have, and the fingernails and teeth were elongated and there was something undefinably odd about the eyes, like they were bulging out.

Meanwhile Lancashire Jack had a longer journey to pick up the path as he wanted to scout out that route. He saw an overgrown way, the only reason it was distinguishable was because the woods were more thick with undergrowth and the overarching trees prevented the plants growing too high. Eventually he came to fields of the small plots and gardens that served the manor. They too were over grown and the nearest outbuildings fired.

The house itself was obviously in disrepair and, in places sagging, but was otherwise still intact. Mitchell, brave though he is, was reluctant to go closer until reassured by Lancashire Jack, and the thought occurred to Mitchell that, as he could outrun Jack, he’d have a chance to get away as whatever was inside ripped Jack apart. That cheered him somewhat.

Jack was cautious, and circled the house looking for signs of movement, but saw none. He looked around and about but could find no tracks save for some old wheel tracks fading into the soil.

Gingerly Jack prodded the door open, to find an empty hall, little decoration apart from a few portraits, of different people, not the same person repeated, and one of the wall tapestries covering the floor for some reason. Mould and decay was rife, and he was sure that somewhere he could hear sobbing, as of a child or a woman.
At that point the others, fresh from their rather one sided fight with the thing, arrived.


The group arrived to the rotting manor in the woods, first Lancashire Jack with Mitchell, then the others following up. They found themselves in the entrance hall, lined with family portraits, badly stuffed animals and mismatched suits of armour.

As soon as they entered in to the building they heard sobbing coming from further in, a child’s sobbing, a small girl by the sound of things It seemed to be coming from under the building.

Xavier noticed a pattern of fungus and rot on a tapestry on the floor, it seemed to be acting as a conduit for a malign will, which he resisted, perhaps divining more of its nature than it did of his,

There was a whole house to search, but the group were rightly concerned with the child. Two doors seemed to promise a way downstairs. One lead to the head of some stairs, though they found this out by smashing the door down the stairs, the other lead to a cloakroom, and, upon one cloak spike,a corpse. They removed the body from the heard, just to be on the safe side, and converted one of its leg bones to a torch by the use of one of Jayne’s spells.

Lancashire Jack led the way down to the cellar, once a well made cellar, flagstones on the floor and lined sides to the walls. There were many doors leading to other sections. The first one checked seemed to be a windowless room for a child. There were sparse furnishings, a bed, a chair, a toy box, what looked liked a box for clothes.

The only light in the room was the Femur of Illumination that Jayne had created.

There were feelings of disquiet here, nothing over powering, and the toys in thee toybox were charred, though nothing else in the room was. The sound of sobbing continued, leading the group on

The next door examined was sturdy and locked. Lancashire Jack tried to shoot the lock off but ended up damaging his own pistol in the richochet instead. Robert Poldark tried the same but to no avail. Instead the two of them shoulder charged the door until it opened. They will have some bruises in the morning that will affect them, but today they are OK.

This room looked like a ruined workshop. Benches, mouldering books, broken beakers, smashed vessels, abused periodic tables, that sort of thing. The most noteworthy feature was a pair of stained glass windows, one showing a man intent on something, the other showing him in a state of decay, yet somehow triumphant. The child sized cages along one wall did not fill the group with any joy.

These proved to be doors leading to winding staircase down. This was a stair that was older than the house, whose steps did not seem made for human feet. IT lead to passageways in the rock, this was some porous material, and the water had seemed in to made the floor damp, with puddles in places.

Lancashire Jack led the way, heedless of danger, finding a small chamber in which four rotting, animate corpses were. These were far gone, covered in the same sort of fungus as the tapestry above. They lurched towards the characters, four of them. Lancashire Jack dealt one a terrific blow, knocking it back. Not to be outdone, Robert Poldark blew another’s head off, slowing it down somewhat.

Mitchell scampered forward, seized one by the hem of her rank skirt,and pulled her around, so that her back faced the group. Xavier traded blows with a fourth.

Lancashire Jack then felled his staggered opponent, whereupon Mitchell leapt onto it, bit through the next, seized the skull out of the corpse and ripped it out, trailing the spine with it, launching it upward with such great force that it flew out of the body. From almost nowhere came the deeply spoken word “Fatality!’

Robert Poldark’s finishing off his opponent with a heavy blow from his falchion was more business like, and Jayne and Xavier managed to hold off their opponents. Surrounded now though, the remaining two were easy meat and soon despatched.

Cleaning themselves up, the group passed into a much larger chamber. This was vaulted long, and at the opposite end was a throne and before that an altar. A dessicated corpse sat in the throne, though its eyes were lit by baleful fire. Manacled to the altar was the body of a small girl, dead, though it was obvious that the sobs they had been hearing came from her. Jayne, with her Shamanistic vision, saw that the spirit of the child was still bound to its corpse.

Xavier recognised the seated body for what it was, a Lich, an undead sorceror still clinging onto existence, though in this case the body was too far gone for animation, and it had to work through others. Perhaps that is why it needed the spirits of others, to fuel the exercise of its will over a greater area. Perhaps not.

Striding purposefully to the altar and throne the group suddenly became aware of a shuffling behind them. At least twenty more animate corpses of varying stages of decay and fungal infection had filled the other end are were coming forward.

Jayne started readying a spell, Lancashire Jack leapt into action, seeking to destroy the skull in whose sockets such baleful fire sat. Lancashire Jack was transfixed. First Robert Poldark, a sad relic of the child they had found before, a scorched doll, in his left hand and then Xavier tried the same, but with the same result. The three men were frozen, leaving only Jayne and Mitchell and the undead horde.

Jayne continued with her spell but, inspired some impulse, told Mitchell to free the child’s corpse from its restraints.

Lancashire Jack and Robert Poldark managed to break free of the hold of the Lich’s gaze, and Jack decapitated it, though that didn’t seem to affect it much except to make it shorter and on the floor instead of on the throne.

At this point, Jayne released her spell, a wriggling swarm of worms rained down from the ceiling of the vault. This Rain of Worms concentrated onto the Lich’s head. disrupting its concentration somewhat, having little flesh to anchor its spirit to.

******** THE BIG REVEAL ***********
Xavier, through his contact with the fungal tapestry above, had a connection that he understood, the Lich had no working body, through his binding spells the whole house was an extension to his body, and he sought power to extend that reach.

He already had his diseased living dead, like those that had been terrorising the countryside, and animated corpses, but with the power of a young Shaman, bound to his will, he could extend the borders of his control further, maybe one day to over all of England, Wales and Scotland!

The shuffling packs drew closer, some more came at that back, these looked fresher, stronger, faster,more like the ones seen outside or which had chased Jayne when she was in badger form, if they got past the clumsier ones at the front, then all hope was gone.

Robert, guided by some connection from the doll to its former owner, knew that the right thing to do was to free the child from the rune and symbol engraved manacles holding it to the altar. With Mitchell at one end and Robert at the other, the manacles were soon off.

There was a childish sigh, a breath of clean air in this dank place, and an unspoken “Thank You”, unspoken but felt. The eyes of the Lich went out. The corpses fell and moved no more and the whole area felt cleaner, tragic now rather than horrifying.

The group left as soon as they were able, getting back to the Bailiff they had spoken to. He arranged for trees to be felled, for the tunnels to be filled with fuel and for the whole lot to be torched. An unholy miasma hung over the woods for days before dissapating, leaving the world a cleaner place, terror averted and Jayne freed of the attentions of a deranged, dead sorceror. They have done good work by which they can hope to redeem themselves and carry on down the Path of Kane.

Onwards to the Port! ………. Another day

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RPG session – Solomon Kane – The Uffington Dragon

This is a write up after two RPG session conducted by Google+Hangouts and Roll20. It uses a commercial scenario. If playing in a Solomon Kane Campaign with this adventure (Traveller’s Tales, the Uffington Dragon), do not read the write up below.

The Uffington Dragon is By Paul Wade-Williams of Triple Ace Games. If you like the sound of it and want some more of his excellent games, head to their website and buy them there.

Tamsyn was the wise woman Jayne (secondary thief Alice)
Paul T was the soldier Lancashire Jack (secondary the archer Olivia)
Matt was the closet Catholic Xavier (secondary soldier Robert Poldark)

Jayne has a dog, Mitchell, a terrier

Each (as far as we know, we are not sure about Mitchell) has had a life changing encounter with the Puritan swordsman Solomon Kane as on the start of a path to redeem past transgressions. Now a strange dark skinned man has reached out to them in their dreams and calls to them, for Kane is in trouble, and needs their help.

They did not start out together, but they have fallen in with each other on the road to Dover. Instinctively they found each other and are travelling together. That path has taken them through Berkshire, having travelled from darkest Swindon,

Cresting a ridge, they found a crowd gathered around a rough hewn log, so freshly chopped down and carried here that they skimped on removing branches etc. The log was placed at the head of a great chalk outline figure of a horse of dragon

Tied to the post was a girl, the crowd tried to get our heroes to just pass on, but they felt that their duty was there. Jack challenged the men, but while they were cowed, they did not back down.

The crowd insisted that the girl had to be sacrificed, to appease a dragon that had been seizing their animals and destroying their crops. And the night before, the local priest had gone to try and quieten the dragon. which legend said had been slain by a priest in Roman times, but had returned.

what happened next was a rising tension but not yet rising into violence, nor yet into making the men flee, but Jayne sent Mitchell to free the girl with sharp teeth, and the leader of the crowd was isolated.

Then the local Squire showed up, and the matter ended there for now. The freed girl explained that the leader was her father, and he was only doing what was right, and that lots had been drawn.

The party went down the hill to the village, finding big glops of blood on the chalk. And the fields at the edge of the village burned.

They went to the village, and it seemed again that they would be attacked by a mob, but promises to find the priest and maybe dispatch the dragon mollified them. They went into the inn where the learned the legend of the dragon having been slain by a sacred lance, and that the sheep were kept in an old hill fort, which is where the vicar went, thinking it was the most likely place for the dragon to attack.

That is where they plan to go in the morning ….

Having spend a night amazingly unmurdered at the Inn (it being the usual Innkeeper’s night off) the group set out into the wilder land south of the village looking for traces of the missing village priest or indeed of the mythical dragon.

The fields they passed through showed signs of scorching, but they did not investigate, going further along the road. They left the road, cutting through the ancient barrows and actually disappointed at the lack of undead rising bedecked in bronze.

They climbed up into the “castle”, an old Iron Age fort, that the locals fear as haunted, and looked around. Lancashire Jack patrolled the “walls” and spotted below him a patch of disturbed earth. The group headed that way, Mitchell romping on ahead, the group finding him worrying on an inadequately buried sleeve complete with arm, attached to the rest of the body. It was the missing priest, dead not much more than a day.

They covered the body with turfs to protect it and headed back to the village, via the cut dragon shape and the mound known as Dragon Hill.

They found dried in blood and it seemed to be dragging towards the depression known as the Manger. Mitchell ran ahead and seemed agitated, and some searching to find the corpse of a sheep, not much longer dead than the priest.

In the Dragon’s Hill there was much ground to cover. That’s didn’t bother Lancashire Jack as he quickly sketched a full relief map of the area complete with evidence from memory (excellent notice roll) findind hidden blood, most likely from the murder of the priest, and a button with some blood on it.

The button was recognised as bearing the heraldic crest of the local Squire, Squire Richards and it was remembered that his coat was missing a button when you met previously.

Back in the village, they told the villagers where to find their priest. They investigated the priests home and found the parish journal, mostly mundane matters of this sort

“Item: The said day the minister shew to the elderis present how that the last Saboathe, about the sun setting, Jhone Airthe, sone to Thomas Airthe in Tyninghame, had abused Alexander Davieson and his man in the said Alexander Davieson his hous, efter drinking…”

from the Churches of St Baldred, by Adam Inch Ritchie 1880

However, more recent entries, as well as worrying about the dragon and looking for legends of the lance that slew it. also worried about the character of the Squire. Rumlours of his debauchery had reached the priest, and there were signs he was lusting after Martha, daughter of the village smith, the most respected man in the village.

The group determined to investigate the Squire’s Manor at night, a view strengthened by gossip of the Squire’s cruelties

Lancashire Jack went to enlist the aid of Martha, only to find her missing and her father gone looking for her. Meanwhile riders left the manor bearing burning torches, This might be a good chance to investigate with the Squire’s thugs away.

They headed t the Manor, Grey Alice sneaking in to discover chanting coming from a room in the manor house. The group burst in, finding the Squire about to rape Martha to an A Capella accompaniment with satanic overtones

Xavier cast a fear spell, causing the two chanters to flee, stunning themselves  in the process. The Squire was gibbering, even more so as Lancashire Jack and Robert Poldark  put the frighteners on him

Mitchell rescued Martha again, and they turned the Squire over to the villagers, his plot to cow them into servile obedience with the dragon and his own vile perversions brought to light, the villagers planned to defend the village against the bullies and to bring the Squire to trial.

Our heroes leave, onward to aid Kane

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Thoughts on World Holocaust Day – 27th January 2015

Today, 27th January, is World Holocaust Day, the anniversary of the liberation of the camp at Auschwitz

This is not just “something to remember so it never happens again” because it has happened again, it continues to happen again. Not on the same scale, but it happens again.

The truly terrifying thing about the Nazi Death camps was not just the mechanised, bureaucratic mass slaughter, but that a country that seemed advanced, learned, civilised, perpetrated this

And this is what goes on,. When we seek to find some group to feel superior to, when we blame a minority, demonise them, make them an enemy, call the disabled a drain on the state, paint the victims of our hate as villains, then we are taking steps down that same horrible road.

Anyone that knows me might figure why this might mean something to me, but I want to add pictures taken a few years after by my late father-in-law, Jim Ritchie.

Nothing graphic, nothing explicit, he was stationed in Germany a few years later during his National Service, and he took these pictures at Belsen. There are a few pictures I did not include, simple pictures, small markers, just a mass grave 500 here or a 1,000 or 5000 here, but ultimately, as it says on one of the monuments, an unknowable number.

This isn’t just about Germany, this isn’t just about Rwanda or the former Yugoslavia, it happened there, but the seeds are there, in our lives and the lives of people we read about, that it could happen again, and we should do what we can to prevent that

The photos are of a wooden sign outside Belsen, the stone sign marking the gates of Belsen, the Jewish memorial, the front and back of the Soviet memorial, and the last a photo of Jim Ritchie, he’s the one in civvies.


Sign at Belsen



Stone sign at gates of Belsen



Central Jewish Committee memorial at Belsen



Soviet Memorial Bergen-Belsen



Jim Ritchie

The one in the suit


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