Sunday, February 24, 2013

Innis Byr

Radge is dead.
As we came to the north Coast of the isle, we passed great stone blocks under the water. The water orc swam to investigate them, but could not discern their Purpose.
As our boat came to the beach, we were attacked by two great Beasts, like unto Dolphins but as large as our Launch and of a sort I had not before seen. By hard fighting we Slew them, but Radge was taken, and one of the Cheray wounded, but I healed him. The Cheray men shew most brave, for, Inae being shaken from the Boat and in the water, one of them Leapt out, despite the danger of these beasts, and caught her, and swam her to the sandbar. Kanak also leapt out, not to rescue, but to Slay, and his blade wrought great Wounds on the beasts. Afterwards, he ate of the flesh of one; I know not whether this is some Rite of his people.
The Beasts being slain, and I busy tending the wounds of Inae and Laithoren, the men carried the boat to shore through the water behind the sand bar, whereupon, two Sharks sought to attack them. Kanak slew each with a single stroke, although he was loathe to do so, for he said, "They are but Hungry." I had thought to send him to search out Radge's body, but we saw many more Sharks beyond the sandbar, for there was much blood in the water, so I sent him not.
The Island rises up to a wall of Cliffs, and another wall above and behind. We made the launch fast and then sought a Road or some sign of where the Ruins lay, but saw nothing, save that Laithoren espied shaped wood on the beach some furlongs to the west. We found there ship's Timbers each laying separate, not joined together, and Above the high water mark. We found also a Stone, curiously carved with runes, and among them some words like unto Illuskin, which Kanak could read, viz, knees and ribs, and behold, there were such pieces among the timbers there; but we had not Leisure nor Craft sufficient to puzzle out the Mystery, .
And so we pressed inland, I riding on Kanak's shoulders to save my Strength, and came after a time unto the base of the first cliff. There near a waterfall we found a piece of some ancient Siege engine, corroded and weathered, near the foot, and high above, Stairs carven into the rock face. I, being the best Climber, gathered rope and tools and made ready, whereupon, commending myself to the attention of Tymora and Brandobrais, I began the ascent. The water orc, not as nimble nor, I may say, as Skilled as I, yet made up for these deficiencies with main Strength, and followed along the ropes I set, and he pulled up Inae, who came up in as Lubberly a manner as I have long seen, but came nonetheless, while Dunders and the Cheray remained below, with Laithoren who was too Weak to climb. With great effort, I led up the Wall, across a traverse, and up a talus slope with scrub, or as we called it, a thinnet, being less than a thicket. From thence, ten feet above and fifteen right, was a Hollow, or shallow Cave, this being about an Hundred and fifty feet above the base. I sought to reach said Cave, but the rock being Smooth, and somewhat wet from the waterfall spray, I slipped and slithered back down. Kanak, who had followed to the top of the slope, caught me on Belay, and started to haul me up, and then, of a Sudden, swung the rope up, with me on the end as the Grapnel, to my very great Surprize, which I expressed with the most Heartfelt invective. By Tymora's favour I landed in the cave, else my Soliloquy had been cut short ere I reached the particularly pungent profanity in Orkish, which, sadly, Kanak did not understand, being a Water orc, and knowing nothing of the tongue of the landbound tribes. But I told him that I had left Fingermarks in the rock, and behold, Inspiration struck, and I withdrew the Flask of Stonecutting from my belt, and with droplets thereof verily made such Marks, which I shewed him, when he joined me in the Cave. There was a Skeleton in the cave, of a Human, but who he was, or how he came there, I know not, for there was neither Armor nor weapon, nor Book, nor any Sign to know him.
From the Hollow, it was another climb up, and a difficult one, over smooth wet Rock, but by the luck of Langstaff, and with the aid of the Stonecutting flask, I reached those Stairs, which we had seen from below, which were about a Spearlength width. Again Kanak followed me, and brought up Inae, but the rest remained below, as we had not enough Line to reach them.
And so, having reached the broad stone Landing at the top of the Stairs, and being greatly weary from the Climb, and facing yet another cliff on the morrow, we rest.

Thursday, February 21, 2013

The Russians Are Here

The Russian Army expansion for Command & Colors: Napoleonic arrived, and Josh and I got in two playings of the first scenario--the Battle of Czarnowo, 23 December 1806.

In the first game, the French were fortunate in their card draw and, with several cards for their right sector, were able to maintain an attack. They pushed the Russians out of Czarnowo before the Tsar's troops could respond; then the French hussars launched a cavalry charge which forced the grenadiers into square, which only made them a better target for the French tirailleurs. The Russians shifted troops from the center to shore up their battered left; but then the French in the center sent two assault columns in a bayonet charge which carried the revetments. The VP requirement was 7 banners, but with the score at Russians 0 French 6 (4 for unit kills, 1 for control of a revetment, 1 for control of the town), the Russians conceded.

On the replay, the French attacked the left and center while refusing the right. After a close contest, a Russian counterattack failed to quite dislodge the French on the left, and the counter-counter attack barely finished off the last unit needed to claim victory. Final score 7:4 but if the Russians had had slightly better dice, it could easily have gone the other way. Highlights of this game included the Russian heavy cuirassiers charging into the French rear--all the way to the map edge--and overrunning an artillery battery; not enough to eke out victory, but a famous moment.

Given that most Russian units are three blocks instead of four, that the Russians get four cards instead of six (particularly damaging when you have to form square), we're wondering whether the Russians need to be beefed up a little.

Saturday, February 16, 2013

NPC preparation

Major NPCs could potentially have:

  • personnel: family, friends, employees, lawyers, guards, contacts
  • locations: house, fort, hideout, bolthole, ship, temple
  • information: about the PCs, the territory, the situation
  • resources: weapons, money, tools, maguffins

Saturday, February 2, 2013


Two Ironclads games today, with Josh, Ryan and Dan.

In the first one, Dan played CSS Stonewall vs Josh and me with USS Niagara and Sacramento, in a scenario which took place off Ferrol Spain in 1865. Historically, the Union commander decided the Confederate was too intimidating, and withdrew; he was court martialed for that, but he may have been right. In our game, Dan jinked west, then ran down the center between sandbars; he got lucky with his big 300lbr Armstrong gun and crippled Niagara first--which pretty much defeated us--and then nailed Sacramento's engine as well. Both Union ships, immobilized, anchored and waited. Dan could have stood off and shelled us to do enough damage for his victory conditions, and we wouldn't have been able to do anything about it; but he elected to give us a sporting chance by coming back around and lining up a ram on Sacramento. And we still couldn't do anything about it: Niagara didn't have a shot, and my last second, point blank, do-or-die shot only chipped Stonewall's armor. The ram stove in Sacramento's side, and she sank like a stone; Stonewall backed away from the wreck and sailed off proudly.

The second game was a theoretical action between CSS Atlanta and Savannah (casemate ironclads) vs USS Weehawken and Nahant (monitors) at Wassaw Sound, GA, 1863. Historically, Savannah was still being built when Atlanta sought action; Atlanta ran aground and surrendered after 15 minutes of close range fire from Weehawken.

In the game scenario, the Confederates come down a river and dodge around sandbars in a break for open water, while the Union ships try to stop them. In this game, once again Dan got a lucky hit early on, which did severe damage to my ship, enough to prevent us from achieving victory conditions; however, the casemates are tough, so we fought on. Ryan's Nahant went aground briefly, evading Josh's ram; by the time Savannah came back around for another try, Nahant had freed herself and frantically backed out of the way. Savannah skimmed over the shoals and pursued, and Atlanta came down and tried to box in Nahant, but we couldn't quite manage to deliver the ram. At the battle's end, my ship was low in the water and barely under way, Ryan's ship nearly out of crew, and Josh and Dan's ships were battered but still dueling. A good scenario with nicely matched forces: the Union ships are good shots and hard to hit, but their guns are slow to load and don't have much range; the Confederates have long range guns with limited fields of fire, and aren't quite as maneuverable. They also have rams with spar torpedoes, but to drive home a ram, you have to get close to those Union guns...