Thursday, 13 November 2014

FS Pirate Scenarios, organising forces, playing the games


Organising forces the Ganesha Way.  Linked scenarios.

Being the further adventures of Long John Silver and crew against the Spaniard.

Proper Planning Prevents Poor Playing

This is a follow-on from my post 6 linked pirate scenarios on

I've covered this several times in different posts, giving you alternatives from the worst, or “all mook” to the film superhero solution.

We all watch films, hopefully most of you read books. As part of that process you will have a few “cultural truths” such as:

the last day of a police officers or NCO's service is when it all kicks off
backup is never available
the quieter the area, the more extreme the event
aliens in remote areas always dig
the mission stated is never the full story
all monsters are drawn to scientists and ruins.

I'd recommend making a list, choose a few as part of the scenario making process.

There are also the stereotypes that get involved, sometimes it's easier to simply use a name:

Long John Silver, a charismatic leader who negotiates his way out of trouble, most of his men are likely to survive if they do as they are told.

The Professor and his niece. A plot device I often use needing protecting and transporting.

The rash young officer (Rupert) who wants the top job but isn't ready, who will always be teamed with the world weary sergeant or senior officer near retirement.

There are hundreds more. You can take a favourite book, take the main characters and put them into a different setting. It's interesting to see who spots what.

Mix the two and you have a format for making your game a bit more interesting.  This is my mine for a series of 6 linked games I posted earlier with a recommended quality and combat score and basic weapon mix but nothing else.

Rule number one, get the figures out and look at them. Lets start by fleshing out the forces:

Pirates, the 15 men after the dead man's chest.

8 pressed seamen with basic skills and a musket plus basic weapon Q4 C1 @ 8 Club 5 Gang 5 Green-3 musket 15 = 30 each, 240 total.

If these get caught they are going to face trial*, so they have a vested interest in the success of the mission. This motivation puts them above the “mook” level of their Spanish counterparts. They are also a little less colourful than the old hands.

4 experienced pirates with cutlass and pistol Q5 C3 @ 15 plus

(P) Brawler 15 Pistol 10 Sword 10 = 50
(D) Dashing 5 Pistol 10 Sword 10 = 40
(F) Follow-on 10 Pistol 10 Sword 10 = 45
(I) Impetus 7 Pistol 10 Sword 10 = 42
Total 177  These named pirate aren't likely to stand trial, so they have nothing to lose.

Sawbones Q5 C1 @ 5 Physician 3 Pistol 10 Sneaky 3 = 21 Probably a gifted amateur. As well as healing, it's his job to stop any wounded falling into enemy hands-.

The command structure gives the flavour to the group. Lets use Long John Silver. Fortunately Rebel has the very figure. For the bosun there's a two sword chap with another blade in his mouth that looks a proper nasty piece of work. This choice puts the action after Flint's death and before Treasure Island.  https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=yC_PR7YWQOc

Bosun Israel Hands, Q4 C3 @ 23 2Ic 10 knife-thrower 5 Blur steel 15 Sword 10 = 63.
He gets all the dangerous jobs, but he knows they must be done.

Captain Long John Silver Q4 C3 @ 23 Brawler 15 Leader 15 One-leg -2 Parrot 15 Pistol 15 Hawkeye 3 = 82
Silver's lack of mobility is a hindrance to the rest of the party and may play an important part.

Total 583

I'm playing this side. Not knowing where I'm coming on, I'm dividing the force in half.

Silver, 4 pirates and sawbones are the retrieval squad that will also cover the retreat.

Bosun and crew are the ambush party. Their job is to engage and contain the enemy, then retreat once the chest is recovered. The signal for this will be the burning of the farm.

Spanish Pirate Hunters

If you've seen the best pirate film ever, Pirates! Captain Red and his Bosun/sidekick Frenchie? The Spanish captain portrayed by Chamberlain and his crew are the the example portrayed here. I think they also served as the basis for the Spaniards in some other pirate film . One thing I'm sure, if captain Red met captain Sparrow I know who'd walk away despite having only one leg.  https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=32wtCX5MEF8

10 pressed “mook” seamen with basic skills and a musket plus basic weapon Q4 C1 @ 8 Club 5 Green-3 Guard (mook) -3 Musket 15 = 22 each, 220 total.

Unlike their pirate brethren, these have nothing to gain from the mission. Any excuse, the slightest injury and they'll act up as bad as any footballer.

4 regular soldiers with musket and sword Q4 C2@15 Musket 15 Sword 10 = 40 each, total 160. Average soldiers.

Religious fanatic with sword and pistol Q3 C3 @ 30 2ic 10 Fanatic 7 Murderous 10 Pistol 10 Rapier 15 = 82 Think Citizen Kane and you're there. He wants to kill all pirates and protestants.

Doctor Q4 C1 @ 8 Physician 3 Knife-thrower 5 = 16 Main job is to look after the officers and keep prisoners alive for interrogation.

How the command team plays is how the game will pan out. Well, that and the gods of the dice.
I see 3 basic versions:

The captain sees no honour in killing pirates, but there's even less in letting them go. All other ranks are expendable.

As above, but the contents of the chest may open doors.

A mix of the above, possibly leading to conflict.

Bosun Q4 C3 @ 23 2ic 10 Sword 10 Steady under fire 5 = 48

Captain Q4 C2 @ 15 Leader 15 Duellist 7 Rapier 15 Steady under fire 5 = 57
Total 583

Once you have these forces you have something fleshed out you can pull “off the shelf”. Don't be afraid to tweak like this. Let's make the pirate hunters British, a scratch force being commanded by Captain Pointe and Sergeant Piper from the rifle regiment raised for the rebellious colonies.

Captain Pointe is a Hero Q3 C3 @ 30 Brawler 15 Hero 15 Leader 15 Pistol 10 Sword 10 Steady under fire 5 = 100

Sergeant Piper and British Officer Q3 C3 @ 30 Brawler 2ic 10 Pistol 10 Sword 10 Steady under fire 5 = 65 each, 130

You need a second officer as each can only command 5 troops.

Their recruit Redcoats 10 Q4 C1 @ 8 Gang 5 Green-3 musket 15 Sword 10 = 35 each total 350.

Total 580

Pirates. Now facing a British pirate hunter force, the pressed seamen could claim duress under the law* so surrender a viable option. Thus returning to “mook” status, saving 24 that can be spent to upgrade others.


* Under British law, copied from that of the East India Company you are a pirate if:
you entered willingly into the company of pirates
you voluntarily participated in acts of piracy
you benefited from the proceeds of acts of piracy.
A Spanish prisoner may face a trial followed by execution or the galleys.

** When you can write a sentence like that without thought, you know you are a true wargamer and should take immediate steps.

How Game 1 played out.

The Spanish advanced down the road, then the Bosun took the troops up the hill to secure that objective, which they did for 10 turns before advancing down to chase the remaining pirate seamen.


 
 
 
The captain led 5 sailors in a flank attack to secure the chest but suffered an astounding 5 out of 6 activation fails. He didn't do much better with reactions* but did manage to get into the yard at the very end. If he'd gone in mob handed when I only had 2 with the chest?



Fanatic leads from the back, herding the seamen like cats in a water barrel. The first 5 get a hasty shot off but do little else than clog the road.
 Driven by his hate, pushing to the front he goes to engage the pirates. Passing the ambush in the yard he shoots one, knocking him down, as he passes to engage Israel. He knocks him down, but is pushed back. A quick yell and 2 seamen volley and he goes down, badly wounded. The Bosun leaps on his foe but its his turn to be pushed back. The doctor runs to the front and succeeds in getting the Fanatic to his feet. “Teez ownlay a wound of the Fleeshe”.



I won this one but only at the sacrifice of prawns, or rather the seamen, of whom only 1 survived. The poor fellows outnumbered and outflanked held their own, but there's the quick and the dead.

Silver concentrated on getting the pirates to the chest, recovering it and making good their escape. The sawbones got on table and failed every reaction.

*Main difference in play is the use of reactions. Any failed action can be rolled by the opponents as a reaction. This started with Battlesworn and can now be taken as “out of the bag”. Restrictions on what a reaction can be used for as opposed to an activation is open to interpretation, but we follow those given in Battlesworn. You can move and shoot, but not initiate combat, but can move into contact and go “aar” a lot.

Game 2. The Forest. The rules for advancing a character are new and not yet finalised. In essence no skill can be “learnt” that isn't already present in the group. This is applying common sense, mostly removing minus factors like green and mook for survivors. Your not supposed to apply minus traits, but I'm tempted in the case of the fanatic but let it go this time as ee's aaard.

Pirates
4 (new) pressed seamen with basic skills and a musket plus basic weapon Q4 C1 @ 8 Club 5 Gang 5 Green-3 musket 15 = 30 each, 150 total.

1 new “upgraded” survivor to pirate Q4 C2 @ 15 Musket 15 Sword 15 Brawler 15 = 60.

4 experienced pirates with cutlass and pistol Q4 C3 @ 23 plus
(P) Brawler 15 Pistol 10 Sword 10 = 57
(D) Dashing 5 Pistol 10 Sword 10 = 47
(F) Follow-on 10 Pistol 10 Sword 10 = 52
(I) Impetus 7 Pistol 10 Sword 10 = 49
Total 205 “Aaaaar, you'll follow orders or else-”

Sawbones Q5 C1 @ 5 Physician 3 Pistol 10 Sneaky 3 = 21

Bosun Israel Hands, Q4 C3 @ 23 2Ic 10 knife-thrower 5 Blur steel 15 Sword 10 = 63.

Captain Long John Silver Q4 C3 @ 23 Brawler 15 Leader 15 One-leg -2 Parrot 15 Pistol 15 Hawkeye 3 = 82

Total 581


Spanish

4 pressed seamen with basic skills and a musket plus basic weapon Q4 C1 @ 8 Club 5 Musket 15 = 28 each 112 total. These are the ones who saw action last time, although none was killed we can assume someone managed to desert.

4 pressed seamen with basic skills and a musket plus basic weapon Q4 C1 @ 8 Club 5 Green-3 Guard Musket 15 = 25 each, 100 total.

4 regular soldiers with musket and sword Q4 C2@15 Musket 15 Sword 10 = 40 each, total 160.

Religious fanatic with sword and pistol Q3 C3 @ 30 2ic 10 Fanatic 7 Murderous 10 Pistol 10 Rapier 15 = 82

Doctor Q4 C1 @ 8 Physician 3 Knife-thrower 5 = 16

Bosun Q4 C3 @ 23 2ic 10 Sword 10 Steady under fire 5 = 48

Captain Q4 C2 @ 15 Leader 15 Duellist 7 Fanatic 7 Rapier 15 Steady under fire 5 = 59

Total 577

In the spirit of the rules Silver tried to set up an ambush as a difficult task. With 3 fails it turned into a meeting encounter with me getting first move and choice of table edge.



The Spaniards came on in a clump, with the soldiers to the flank ready to respond to any ambush. By the time the newly-experienced sailors formed a firing line the pirates were ready. Tony used the raw troops as a sweep in the woods, but these proved ineffective.



The pirate plan was to form a firing line, let roar then retreat, hoping the soldiers would give pursuit. Nearly worked, the experienced pirates got into position and the musketeer let rip at close range, breaking their line. He died under the return fire and 2 more were pushed back. If the dice had worked the Spanish could have won then- this was swings and roundabouts where the slightly higher factors and weapon mix of the pirates worked.



The pirate firing line let loose with 2 volleys and 2 sailors perished. Emerging from the wood the pirates let rip with close in pistol fire. The captain went down as usual, but was saved as usual. The Bosun and Fanatic squared up again, but this time twas the Fanatic died the death. This caused the mook contingent to flee, but one rallied to blow (6:1) a pirates head off. The pirates cut a bloody swathe through the Spanish until their morale broke. Bar the Fanatic, all the command team with the bosun manhandling the dazed captain to the safety of the woods.



I won again, but another Pyrrhic victory. I gambled with my experienced pirates and lost too many. The Spanish lost the Fanatic and a load of cheap sailors. For the second time the gods of D6 were on my side and Tony couldn't get the forces to hit me when I was disordered. With another, blander, set?

This validates my old method that I've let slip. You noticed the letter beads to identify the individuals. I organised each (25-30) crew using a spreadsheet allowing for quick-pick. In this case Silver has lost 9 of his “backbenchers”* and 2 of his “commons or gentlemen”. The Spanish have lost 1 “lord”, 1 “common” soldier and 10 “backbenchers”. Pretty even so far, but Silver has achieved more objectives. If I do Silver's crew proper I'll add some of Rebel's musket armed “old salts”.

* I use, as they did, British parliamentary terms. Pirate Lords and the Gentlemen of the sea.









Game 3 the village. I can see the Captain calling in favours, making a fuss and getting the local militia called out to end the pirate scourge-.

Spanish

10 militia, with musket and sword Q4 C1@8 Green -3 Musket 15 Sword 10 = 30 each, total 300 .

Militia Officer, Q4 C1 @8 Rapier 15 = 23

3 regular soldiers with musket and sword Q4 C2@15 Musket 15 Sword 10 = 40 each, total 120.

Doctor Q4 C1 @ 8 Physician 3 Knife-thrower 5 = 16

Bosun Q3 C3 @ 23 2ic 10 Hatred 3 Multiple foes 15 Sword 10 Steady under fire 5 = 66

Captain Q3 C2 @ 15 Leader 15 Duellist 7 Fanatic 7 Riposte 3 Rapier 15 Steady under fire 5 = 67

Total 592

Pirates Here's the rub. I can't keep pulling low grade pirates out of the hat. These need to be the “middle” level, the gunners and other specialist crew.

7 pirates Q4 C2 @ 15 Musket 15 Sword 10 = 40 each, 240 total.

2 experienced pirates with cutlass and pistol Q4 C3 @ 23 plus
(F) Follow-on 10 Pistol 10 Sword 10 = 52
(I) Impetus 7 Pistol 10 Sword 10 = 49
Total 147

Sawbones Q5 C1 @ 5 Physician 3 Pistol 10 Sneaky 3 = 21

Bosun Israel Hands, Q4 C3 @ 23 2Ic 10 knife-thrower 5 Blur steel 15 Sword 10 = 63.

Captain Long John Silver Q4 C3 @ 23 Brawler 15 Leader 15 One-leg -2 Parrot 15 Pistol 15 Hawkeye 3 = 82

I decided that the Spanish would start in possession of the village. I diced for each pirate, the majority arrived at the right spot. Four didn't, so these were placed at 1 medium intervals along the adjacent edge. One of these used reactions to enter a warehouse like the proverbial. He was seen by the Captain who sent the militia after him. He gets out quick, but the militia are quicker. Surrounded by 3, a handful of loot it's a case of “you're nicked” with a rifle butts. The other 3 are surrounded in their wood by militia, so any aggressive action would be suicide*.



(No table is ever the right size, call it rolling terrain)

Meanstwhile, the Sergeant takes his lads on patrol. The main body of pirates get no help from their bosun (who failed just about every activation) finally got into the closest warehouse and got away with some loot. Long John led a smaller party to the next one with similar success, but came close to being trapped or shot down.



After a little interrogation the Captain (who has learned how to herd cats, sailors and militia) heads for the main pirate body. Four pirates come out to give covering fire, killed one, knocked down another – green troops, they break followed by the officer. The captain yells at the other half of the militia and they double-time it, form up and shoot. First is a 6:1 nasty death, another one goes down as does the bosun. The last pirate gets shoved back by 2 more shots. Gruesome death and leader down another morale test and the majority slip into the night. The sergeant engages the bosun, who uses a reaction to stagger to his feet. A trooper shoots, near miss and the bosun staggers back. His roll, three fails. Three pirates captured (one more just didn't move) for a stringing, no doubt the winner in this one.

A lot of moving, short, sharp actions. This game reflects why we chose 'em in the first place. *Particularly the 4 cut-off pirates who used reactions to good effect, sneaking around. We can see this happen in a LARP or real life. Completely different to most meat grinder games. Less than half shot, only 6 were involved in hand to hand yet it was a thoroughly enjoyable game.

In hindsight 6 scenarios with a small pool of troops was a bad idea. Three works well,a start, the repercussion then the end. We will use the scenarios again, possibly Song of Spear and Shield between two small cities or a Viking style series of raids and land-grab.


 



Interrogation and cat-herding for beginners