Wednesday 30 January 2013

TRWNN: The Clantons and the Eastwoods


This week at the Helensburgh Games Club, I thought I'd put on a game of The Rules with No Name.  The scenario was very simple.  Emmett Clanton and his brothers Jebediah and "Black" Bart (a nasty bunch, if ever there was one!) have just ridden into town and tied up their horses.  Note that Black Bart is so-called because of his behaviour, not because of his clothes.  Emmett is the dandy in the black suit!

The Clantons are feuding with another local family, the Eastwoods.  Of course, some of the latter are also in town.  I guess the sheriff is either away at the moment or he just doesn't want to get involved today...

Jebediah pointed to the 3 figures who were watching the Clantons from the other end of Main Street.  "Say, ain't that Eastwood and his cousin?  You remember, the ones who ran me out of town last week?  I don't know the other fella, though."
Emmett gave a grim smile.  "No-one does that to my kin!  I reckon we'd better go and ask them for an apology."  He loosened his coat and started to walk slowly down the street.

At the other end of the road stood "Blondie" Eastwood, his cousin "Kid" Shelleen and their new ranch foreman, Jesse.
"Dang, if it isn't them Clanton brothers" exclaimed Blondie.  "I told Jeb Clanton to stay out of town.  He must be as stupid as he is ugly to come back so soon.  We'd better teach them a lesson, boys."

Special Rules

To recreate that "High Noon" feeling, the players would initially be very restricted in what actions they could take.  When their character card came up from the action deck, they could either:
  • Stand still (and look menacing?)
  • Reposition up to 2".  If they moved in any direction other than forwards then this would be taken as a sign of cowardice, so it wasn't allowed.  However, because this is a slow and deliberate move, the player could also move the other figures on his side as well as his own, as long as they stayed shoulder to shoulder.
  • Draw and fire.  A player could pick one of the other faction and fast draw.
Once the first shot(s) were fired then these restrictions would be removed and gameplay would proceed as normal.  There would be no further need for challenges and backshooting would be acceptable!

The Game

Both sides advanced purposefully towards each other down the hot, dusty street until they were in medium range for a pistol.  It was Jesse who cracked first and went for his gun.  Even though he beat Jebediah for speed, his shot went wide.  Jebediah blazed away in return, but missed completely (being a Citizen, he was forced to blaze and it wasn't surprising that he missed!)

Black Bart reacted by running forwards and pumping lead into Jesse, causing a minor injury.  Emmett also fired and Jebediah followed suit, though without effect.  The Clantons were all determined to kill this big stranger.

Faced with this reckless advance, the Eastwood gang scattered.  The all ran in different directions, intending to take cover behind nearby buildings.

Kid Shelleen ran a bit further than he had intended.  Being a Citizen, he made a disastrous roll when trying to return through a patch of scrub and fell flat on his face!

Black Bart went after Blondie.  Despite the latter being partially under cover around the edge of the Trading Company's store, Bart's fusillade still hit and wounded him.

 Bart then proceeded up to point blank range and shot Blondie some more.  The Eastwood boy was Hard as Nails, though and although the bullets hurt, they didn't stop him.

Indeed, Blondie even recovered enough to fire back at Black Bart.  Sadly for Blondie, Bart was Tough and was not seriously inconvenienced by the bullets.

Elsewhere, Kid Shelleen was hiding behind a water trough further up the street.  He fired occasionally at Bart, but this was ineffective.  Emmett stood in the middle of the highway, firing at Kid Shelleen whenever he could see him.  Jebediah wasn't doing much, having been taken somewhat by surprise by the speed of events.  And finally, Jesse circled the Sheriff's office and prepared to shoot Emmett in the back.

Realising that he was getting the worst of it, Blondie tried to limp away and find cover.  However, he didn't get far before Black Bart shot him yet again!

With significant wounds to both of his legs and to his chest, Blondie could no longer walk.  Crawling wouldn't get him very far, so he gritted his teeth and prepared to face his enemy!

When Jesse fired at him (and missed), Emmett immediately took cover in a nearby alley.  You don't get to become a Legend by hanging about in the open when being shot at from behind!
Jesse then left the corner of the building where he was hiding and advanced up behind Jebediah and Black Bart.

Despite Emmett being perfectly placed for a careful, aimed shot (12 dice rolled, but he missed!), it was the startled Jebediah who spun round, blazed away with his pistol and hit poor Jesse so as to render him unconscious and bleeding bad.

Blondie was barely able to stand, but a fantastically lucky shot from him hit Black Bart in the head, killing him instantly.

It wasn't enough, though.  Sadly for the remaining Eastwoods, Emmett was on the rampage.  He moved out from his alley, took careful aim and shot Blondie dead.

Emmett then turned round to face Kid Shelleen.  Despite being under cover, Emmett's shot hit the young man and injured him badly.  The inexperienced Kid immediately threw his gun away and called out "Don't shoot!  I'm unarmed!" (lost his nerve test).


Well, the Clantons won that, I think!  Still, they didn't come through unscathed and will no doubt be grieving for Black Bart.  I wonder if Blondie has any younger brothers to continue the feud and try to take revenge?

In general, I'm very pleased with The Rules with No Name.  There's just one area which doesn't quite work for me and that's the way wounds are allocated.  There are only 5 chances out of 36 of a Dead result on the injury table (2 out of 36 if the target is Tough) and having a better chance of hitting doesn't improve this.

I've got a house rule in mind that I may implement the next time I play TRWNN to make hits a bit more serious.  It's this: for a deliberate or aimed shot, any '6's rolled beyond the first (i.e. the one needed to get a hit at all) may be used to modify either the wound location or severity by 1 each.

So if I take a really good, aimed shot and manage to roll 3 '6's then the first one causes a hit on the target (as per normal).  The 2nd and 3rd '6's could each be used to modify the hit location or wound severity dice by +1 or -1.  Of course, if I blaze away then each '6' is a separate hit and I'll just need to take my chances as to where the hit occurs and how bad it is.  Does this sound like a workable system?

Friday 25 January 2013

The Fall of the House of Ug

At the Helensburgh club this week, we played a game of Adventures in the Lost Lands.  I've not got time for a long description because we're having a new carpet fitted at short notice (all hands to moving books, toys and furniture!), but here's an overview.

The Tribe

We were playing the Gather scenario from the Lost Lands rulebook.  A small group of Neanderthals would make their way across the board, looking for food.  The women would harvest nuts, fruits, roots and berries, while the men would protect them from danger and hunt for meat.  At least, that was the general idea...

The Neanderthals would be "victorious" if they all survived (very important) and if they managed to collect at least 3 food units per member of the group.  We managed to get through 4 quick games, at least in part because some came to a very abrupt end!

Game 1: Strangers

The tribe split into 2; each group headed for a separate stand of trees to look for fruit.  An aggressive PEF (possible enemy force) moved up to the other side of the hill from Broud and the 2 women who were with him.  He didn't see the PEF, but one member of group 2 spotted it from the other side of the table.

The PEF was resolved as a band of hardy explorers.

Crug left the safety of the right-hand stand of trees and tried to run across to Broud's group to warn them about the strangers.  It seems that the white people were lost, nervous and dispirited; their leader took Crug's approach as a hostile act and opened fire on the unsuspecting Neanderthal.  Crug wasn't hit, but reacted by just standing still in astonishment.

Broud heard the shouts and the strange noises, so he ran over the hill and charged straight towards the intruders.  Their leader reacted swiftly and shot him dead.  Following that, the other man and the woman fired upon Crug, hitting and badly wounding him.  The other Neanderthals were all in woods or behind hills and would have been able to escape without coming in sights of the strangers.

GAME END: Cultural misunderstanding, the tribe loses badly!  White Men: 2, Tribe: 0

Game 2: Fruits and Roots

This time, the tribe split into 3 groups.  Broud and Uka worked up the left side of the board, while Crug and 2 more women harvested the right side.  The headstrong youngster Goov ran up the middle, looking for trouble (i.e. chasing every PEF that appeared!).
Both groups of harvesters found large amounts of food, though Uka really excelled; she probably collected more on her own than Ebra and Iza did together!
All PEFs were resolved as "no encounter", much to Goov's disgust!

GAME END: Lots of food, no injuries: massive win for the tribe!

Game 3: Let Sleeping Bears Lie

Again, the tribe scattered and began working their way up the board, harvesting food as they went.  This time there wasn't as much to collect, though.  Additionally, the number of PEFs grew rapidly; the game's Encounter Level ("danger" level) rose from 2 to 4 quite quickly.

The leader, Brun, was becoming quite apprehensive.  He wasn't able to prevent one of the other hunters from entering a thicket beside the river after noises were heard from within (i.e. another PEF).

This time it was Durc who was reckless.  He came face-to-face with an angry cave bear, which promptly knocked the man down and injured him!

Brun ran as fast as he could to try to help his fellow, but long before he could reach the river the bear killed Durc.  It then looked around, saw Brun in the open and decided to attack him.  Definitely this was a bad-tempered bear!

Brun wrestled with the creature for a while, whilst the rest of the tribe fled in panic.  He even managed to beat it in one round after becoming enraged - but he failed to wound the animal and in the long run there could only be one winner.  Bear 2, Tribe 0.

GAME END: Another disaster for the tribe.  Moral: don't disturb a grumpy old bear!

Game 4:

Once again, the tribe split into smaller groups.  The women all headed to the left to look for salad stuff, while 2 of the men headed right to chase PEFs.  Durc was left alone in the middle, unsure what to do.

While he dithered, the other 2 men headed for the right-hand forest.  As they approached, 2 PEFs were resolved at once.  The closer one turned out to be a gigantic Megatherium; the other was a party of Great White Hunters who were obviously stalking the beast.

The huge animal, unsettled by the presence of so many people, lumbered forwards.  The first thing it saw in front of it was poor Durc, so it ground him into a paste.

The white men then shot at the megatherium, but either missed or failed to inflict any injury.  Startled, it looked round - the closest people it saw were a couple of the neanderthal women.  The megatherium charged clumsily towards them; Ebra fled as it approached, but Oga hesitated and was batted aside by one of its giant paws.
Fortunately for those readers who abhor violence, we ran out of time at this point.  Still, the result was quite clear and had we continued it wouldn't have helped the remaining people very much.

GAME END: The tribe grieves again.  Megatherium: 2, Neanderthals: 0


Some of the younger members of my gaming group just couldn't seem to grasp the idea of a game where they could win by not killing things (especially if it meant that you weren't killed in return!).  The results for the 4 games clearly show that there was a lack of agreed strategy between players over things like group cohesion and whether to chase the PEFs, ignore them or stalk them.
If any real-world tribe of hunter-gatherers behaved like this then they would become extinct quite quickly.  Like Neanderthals, I suppose...

Sunday 20 January 2013

ATZ Game 9 - Return to Golden Hills


In game 6 of my ATZ campaign, the small community of survivors who were living at the Golden Hills retirement complex were scattered and separated.  One elderly couple (Albert and Gertrude) was accidentally left behind, while Bomber and his dog fled to the east.  His search for a pair of companions who were out foraging at the time of the zombie attack on Golden Hills was played out in game 7.  Bomber is now returning with a motley group of civilians to try to find his friends.  The mission is to cleanse the area around Golden Hills and to find out if anyone from the community is left alive there...

The Cast

  • Bomber: REP 6 survivalist with brawler, shotgun, baseball bat
  • Clancy: (Bomber's Irish wolfhound) REP 6 dog with brawler
  • Goofy: REP 4 survivalist with nerves of steel, shotgun, knife
  • Iain: REP 4 civilian with initiative, cricket bat
  • Pavel: REP 3 civilian with toy Star Trek phaser.  Suffered a sprained ankle just a few hours previously, in game 7.
Based on these stats, does anyone want to take a guess as to who dies and who lives?

The Location

"Golden Hills" is a sheltered housing complex.  This part of it consists of 4 cottages, of which the grey one at the front left was smashed up and invaded by zombies during game 6.  There is also a nearby filling station as well as some lock-up garages.  These latter have been previously fortified by the residents and contain their small stock of emergency supplies.

The Action

Bomber and his companions approached cautiously from the corner near the lock-up garage.  The men could see a number of zombies on the road just ahead of them, but these were all facing the other way and did not spot the humans.  The zombies just stood on the spot, heads bowed (several failed activation rolls in a row!)
As quietly as possible, Goofy opened the nearest garage door and led Iain into the stronghold.  They rummaged about for a while, trying to keep as quiet as possible.  Iain stuck a small pistol into his pocket, whilst Goofy grabbed a lumber axe.  He strode outside and pressed the axe into Pavel's trembling hands.
"Here you go.  This'll work better than that toy" he said.
"But I don't know how to wield an axe" responded Pavel.  "I can't fight!  Anyway, this is a genuine, original series, Mark II phaser.  It cost a lot of money!"
In response, the taciturn Goofy just grabbed the fibreglass prop and threw it over the roof of the garages.
"Use the axe!" he commanded.

The humans crept forwards to the corner of the garages.  Still the zombies just stood there, not moving.
"What's the plan?" asked Goofy.  "What do we do?"

As Bomber looked round to answer, he saw Iain go pale (random event!)
"Hey, what's up, man?" he asked.
Iain gulped.  "That one over there" he said, pointing to one of the nearby zombies.  "She was my next door neighbour."  He paused, then added "I had the hots for her."
"Wow.  Tough break."
"I'll be OK.  Look, if we're going to do this then let's get on with it!" (Iain passed 2d6 and was therefore able to continue without penalty).

Quickly, Bomber and Goofy stepped into the road and fired their shotguns at the 3 zombies standing in the road.  The undead didn't stand a chance and all 3 were felled without even seeing their attackers.
At the same time, Iain and Clancy ran to attack the other group of zeds, just round the corner of the garages.  The man and the dog both knocked down their respective opponents, but both zombies were still moving.  Pavel stood rooted to the spot with fright, clutching the big axe to his chest.

Bomber and Goofy ran into the melee to help, even though both still had their shotguns in their hands rather than their melee weapons.  Between them, the 3 men and the big dog put down the 4 zombies who had been standing on the wasteland.  But it was taking too long and all the time more zombies were arriving in ones and in twos.  Pavel just stood still, watching as another pair of the creatures approached slowly along the road.

Finally, as the newcomers were almost on him, Pavel snapped into action.  He dodged around the clumsy pair and fled further up the road, screaming.

Having finished off his melee opponent, Goofy turned round to find no sign of Pavel - and zombies approaching him from the rear.  He reloaded his shotgun quickly and blew away the creatures.

Bomber and Clancy had moved on a short way, into the small park.  There, the man stood on top of one of the park benches and fired his shotgun several times to exterminate more clusters of approaching zombies.  Whilst removing the immediate threat, this did attract several more...

Pavel ran round the end of the first cottage he came to, straight into a group of 3 zombies.  They were far to close to dodge this time!

Desperately, he swung the axe at his attackers.  His clumsy strokes knocked down 2 of the zombies and he managed to fend off the remaining one, for now.  Pavel called out for help, praying that his new friends would come quickly.

The other members of the party had just finished off the last of their targets when they heard the cries.  They ran in the direction of the screams, but Goofy and Clancy were a bit too slow and couldn't quite make it.  Iain was fast enough, but hesitated when he saw the zombies; he failed to attack (as a civilian, he had to take the "brown pants" test).  Only Bomber charged home, quickly felling one of the 3 zombies.
However, it was just too late.  The terrified Pavel was killed before their eyes by the other 2 monsters.

With a roar of anger, the remaining humans and the dog destroyed the remaining zombies in this group.

The survivors moved into the Golden Hills complex and started to search the houses for clues as to the whereabouts of their friends. However, they hadn't gone far before they heard ominous noises from behind them.  Looking round, they saw that a new pair of zombies had found Pavel's body and were starting to tear chunks off it and eat them!

This was too much for Bomber and Goofy!  The 2 men, closely followed by Clancy, raced back to the scene and wiped out the new zombies.

Then, with Iain's help, they dragged what was left of Pavel's corpse into the nearest cottage and found a sheet to wrap it up.  They would bury the body properly later.

The party continued to explore the cottages.  The next one (which was Captain Salty's residence when he was still alive) had been broken into by zombies before.  It was no great surprise to discover that the temporary repairs to the door and windows had failed.  2 further zombies were lurking inside the cottage, though these were easily dispatched by the battle-hardened survivors.

By now, there were only a couple of zombies wandering about outside.  One of them saw the team as they left Salty's cottage, though the humans had no difficulty in killing it quietly.

Finally, the men approached Albert and Gertrude's house.  This pair of pensioners had been left behind inadvertently when everyone else fled from Golden Hills (in game 6).
"The door's stuck" exclaimed Goofy as he tried the handle.
"Here, let me try" said Bomber.  It did seem to be jammed, almost as if something had been pushed against it from the inside.  Bomber gave it a kick and it flew open.  He charged into the building, baseball bat at the ready.
2 figures rose up from near the fridge.  The old woman was trying to start her chainsaw, whilst the man was waving a walking stick.
"Woah!  Steady on; it's only us!" called Bomber quickly.
"Hi, Mr and Mrs P." said Goofy.
It was indeed Albert and Gertrude, who had been hiding behind the couch for the best part of a day.  They had been prepared to sell their lives dearly to any intruders; their relief on being rescued was enormous!

The final zombie was now approaching the cottage, oblivious to the group of humans inside it.  However, they saw it through the windows.
"This ends, now" said Bomber.  He strode out of the front door and up to the side of the building.  When the zombie came round the corner, he beat it to death with his bat.


The mission was a success, in that the party did retake Golden Hills and did find Albert and Gertrude, alive.  This gave the survivors a chance to increase their REP.  Both Bomber and Goofy made the right rolls for this, though Iain and Clancy did not.  This means that the group is now equipped like this:
  • Bomber: REP 7 (!) survivalist with brawler, shotgun, baseball bat
  • Clancy: (Bomber's Irish wolfhound) REP 6 dog with brawler
  • Goofy: REP 5 survivalist with nerves of steel, shotgun, knife, lumber axe
  • Iain: REP 4 civilian with initiative, pistol, cricket bat
In addition, Iain has killed at least 3 zombies and has passed the See the Feast test.  In order to upgrade from Civilian, he now only needs to cause damage to an armed human.  Hmm.

So where do they go from here?  Golden Hills still doesn't look like a defensible position.  However, if Bomber's crew leave the area then how will they find the other group of friends (led by John the photographer)?  John's group were taken off to a resettlement camp, but no-one seems to know where that is.  What to do next?  And can a REP 7 character ever miss a target or be beaten in combat?