Monday 30 April 2018

Batrep: The Magnificent Six


Some years ago, I ran a game of The Rules with No Name that was vaguely reminiscent of the film "The Magnificent Seven".  If you're interested then the outcome can be seen here.  Last week I decided to do something very similar at the Helensburgh games club.  This is what happened:

The Scenario

The game setup was very similar to the previous version, but not quite identical, as follows:


We had 3 players, [plus me, running the bad guys], so each player controlled 2 Americanos.  There was a 7th Americano figure; this was held in reserve to replace the first hero to be lost [there's always one who gallops in to help his friends after the battle has started, having initially said that he wanted nothing to do with the fight!].

All of the 7 attackers were either Legend or Shootist class ["level 4" or "level 3", for anyone who doesn't know The Rules with No Name]; the banditos were all either Gunman or Citizen ["level 2" or "level 1"].


I decided to keep things simple and not use Nerve tests:
  • The Americanos would continue to fight as long as they were alive.
  • Citizen-class bandito would be put out of action by a single wound of any type.
  • A Gunman-class bandito would be out of action after 2 wounds - assuming that the first hit wasn't fatal.

To give the Americanos even more of an edge, I included a Bystander card in the event deck.  My initial thought had been that this would give a turn to whoever had been the longest without one [i.e the character whose activation card was not drawn for the longest period].  However, after just a couple of turns this was obviously not working well; it was very hard to work out who should get the action.  Instead we changed it so that the players could choose between them which of the Americanos should get the action from the Bystander card; this worked much better.

Bandito Reinforcements

There were 6 buildings in the town:
  • A bandit would appear from a random building at the start of every turn - unless the indicated building had been "cleared".  If the building had been cleared then no bandito would appear that turn.
  • To clear a building, an Americano needed to spend 2 actions at the front door without being involved in a fight.


Obviously, when [if!] all the 6 buildings had been cleared then no more bandits could appear and the game would end.  Victory would then be determined thus:
  • If more bandits escaped off the board than there were Americanos still alive then the bandits would win.  In this case, the banditos could raise another gang and continue their life of crime.
  • If fewer bandits escaped than the number of surviving Americanos then the Americanos win.  The heroes could hunt down any escaped banditos and bring them to justice, or perhaps to an unmarked grave.
  • If the numbers were equal then it would be a draw.  Nobody wins...
Simple, really.

The Game

First blood went to Black Bart.  He saw a bandito trying to take cover and ran up the main street after him before shooting him down.

This stirred things up a bit; banditos started to appear from windows and doors all over the town.

Too much happened too quickly for some of the characters.  A Mexican rifleman appeared out of a doorway behind Emmett, took aim and shot him in the back.  Emmett collapsed in the middle of the street with a serious head wound.

In the centre of the town, Blondie and Black Bart traded shots with a pair of banditos who had appeared from the sheriff's office.  Blondie got his man, but Black Bart was shot dead by his opponent!

At about the same time, a couple of banditos appeared out of the saloon.  Preacher Adams didn't seem to notice them as he strode up the street, but the bad guys saw him.  One pistol shot was all that was needed to fell the Americano, badly wounded and unconscious.

Blondie got revenge on the man with the rifle, but another bandito appeared immediately from the sheriff's office.  This new bad guy was singularly inept: he tried to shoot the hero but jammed his gun spectacularly.  For several turns thereafter, he tried to fix it while the Americano took deliberate shots at him; all of which missed.  I guess that Blondie was laughing too hard to shoot straight!

About this time, a lot of brawling started to take place.  First up was Jesse; the big man had approached the Dry Goods store to try to clear it when a bandit appeared from the inside.  Now here's the thing: Jesse is a hand-to-hand specialist.  It only took a single attack to leave the Mexican sprawled in the dirt, unconscious.

Sheriff Roberts was also trying to clear a building.  He unloaded his shotgun rather messily into one bandito and charged into melee with another.  Neither could get the upper hand for some while.  Even when a second bandit joined in, the best they could do was knock Roberts down, once.  Eventually, the Americano triumphed and knocked out both adversaries, but this took much of the rest of the game.

Remember Emmett?  He had been shot very early in the game, but finally came around and staggered to his feet.  Unfortunately, this was just as Two-Gun Rafael came out of a nearby building.  The bandito blazed away and amazingly rolled two '6's and two '1's for each gun.  He ran out of ammunition, but scored four hits on the poor Americano to add to the existing head wound.  We all held our breath as the damage was resolved; amazingly Emmett was still standing (though he was swaying a bit from blood loss and couldn't really use either arm).

So, this was the situation towards the end of the game:
  • Sheriff Roberts was wrestling with 2 banditos, whom he eventually defeated.
  • Jesse put paid to Two-Gun Rafael and then cleared the bank.
  • Blondie held the middle of the town.  Having put a number of banditos out of action near the sheriff's office, he shot one of the gunmen on the saloon balcony.  It was decreed that this casualty did the classic "fall off a high place whilst clutching a chest wound" dive to the street below.
  • Preacher Adams was still unconscious; he had lain there for most of the game.
  • Deputy Rex had been pinned down behind an outhouse by the gunmen on the saloon balcony for most of the game.
  • Emmett staggered from one building to another, checking that they were clear of bandits.  He was so badly hurt that he couldn't do much else, but still wanted to be useful...

Just as Emmett reached the gun shop, two fresh banditos appeared from within.  They must have been scared by the bloodied, corpse-like appearance of the Americano as they failed to hit him in several rounds of melee.  Eventually, Sheriff Roberts came to assist and beat up the bad guys, thus allowing Emmett to clear yet another building.

Meanwhile, Blondie still hadn't cleared the sheriff's office.  As he was about to attempt it, yet another pair of banditos came out of the door [what is this - a clown car?  Just how many bad guys are in there?].
  • Blondie was shot by one opponent but used his Hard as Nails skill to ignore the hit; he then killed his attacker.
  • Jesse attacked the other Mexican, but astonishingly the bandito felled the big guy and gave him a nasty wound.  However, seeing the [finally!] recovered Preacher Adams running up the road screaming about hellfire and damnation, this last bandito took to his heels and ran for it.

The bandit had almost made it out of the town when the Preacher came thundering after him, intending that not even one enemy should escape.

Adams must still have been suffering from his earlier wound, though.  In a brief scuffle, Cesar swung his rifle as a club and split the Americano's skull open, before heading off into the desert.

At this point, we called the game.  All the buildings had been cleared and although there were several unconscious banditos lying about the town, we were certainly not going to play on just in case any of them ever woke up (and were promptly executed?).


The Americanos won quite handsomely, by the victory conditions laid out before.  Five of the seven were still alive, whereas only one bandito escaped.  But they weren't unscathed:
  • Sheriff Roberts: unhurt
  • Deputy Rex: lightly injured (?)
  • Emmett: very badly injured indeed: hit multiple times on the head and both arms.
  • Preacher Adams: dead.
  • Black Bart: dead.
  • Blondie: shot, but not bothered by the wound.
  • Jesse: badly injured.
Depending on your view of Old West battlefield medicine (i.e. whether you think that the badly-injured characters would survive!), the Americanos lost between 2 and 4 of the original seven.

Note that I didn't document every bandit death in this account; that would just have been tedious.  Also note that bandit figures were recycled, so it's not necessarily the same guy in all the pictures.

Putting all the extreme violence aside, it was a fun game, enjoyed (I think) by all the participants!

Monday 23 April 2018

Full Thrust: The End of the World


Star-rimed space whale,
Cosmic nomad, absolute alien,
Devourer of planets, eternal wanderer, 
Beware!  The Kraken approaches!

I created a scenario for Full Thrust some time ago in which an uneasy alliance of starships attempted to destroy or divert a space monster that was intent on destroying a rich planet: .  Astonishingly, this was over 5 years ago and I haven't reprised it since - until now!

The Scenario

In short, 2 factions are rivals for influence at the neutral planet of Trondacolmakus.  The Magister of Trondacolmakus has made it clear that he will not be happy if either force should attack the other.  Peaceful negotiations are well advanced when an urgent message is received from a scout: a space monster is approaching and making directly for the planet.  Its intentions are unknown, but if it tries to siphon off the atmosphere, lay eggs on the surface or take a bath in the oceans then it would be a disaster for the planet's population.

The Magister begs the visiting navies to drive the monster away.  Together they have more than enough firepower to defeat it - but clearly the side with the most surviving forces will have an advantage in the continuing diplomacy.  Can the Ferengi and the Federation cooperate well enough to defeat the monster?  Or will narrow self-interest cause either side to hold back and give the monster its chance to ravage the planet?  Read on...

The Battle

The Kraken advanced steadily, only to be stung by early long-range phaser fire from a Ferengi vessel.  Infuriated, the monster launched a huge plasma bolt at the gap between two asteroid fields, hoping to catch 4 assorted cruisers in the huge explosion.

Sadly (for the Kraken, at least), only the Federation escort cruiser Phoebe was caught in the blast; the other targets were moving slower than anticipated.  Phoebe's shields did sterling service and saved the ship from total destruction; instead she was just badly damaged.

A smaller, but still potent, plasma bolt was fired from the monster's side at the Ferengi ships which were attempting a wide flanking move.  The opposing player was having none of that; he dissipated the threat with a handy Torpedo Malfunction event card.

The Kraken plodded on, swatting the occasional frigate without even really noticing them.  It reloaded its prow plasma and spat out a bolt at the collected cruisers in front of it at very short range.

This time, there was no mistake in its aim; all 4 of the enemy ships would be hit.  "All power to the shields!  Brace for impact!" roared the captain of the Ferengi battlecruiser Krayton [courtesy of a "Reinforced Shields" event card.  Honestly, the Ferengi player seemed to have all the good cards this game!].

It helped, but the shock wave from the class-6 plasma bolt was immense.  Endeavour disintegrated under the force, both Krayton and Danube were heavily damaged, while the already-hurt Phoebe only survived through a superb piece of damage control [a "Legendary Engineer" event card caused the warp core to be damped down instead of going supercritical and exploding].

The Kraken had a clear run between the asteroids now.  One of the cruisers in front of it was so heavily damaged as to be combat ineffective and the other two were facing the wrong way; they would have to turn laboriously before they could pursue the beast.

There were a pair of Ferengi warships (a light cruiser and a destroyer?) and several smaller ships hovering around in the distance, but these would need to move quite quickly if they were to engage the creature.

Of course, nothing is ever a certainty.  As the Kraken passed the Ferengi battlecruiser, a few weapons from the latter were able to bear.  A short volley hit the Kraken right up the backside and caused it to shudder with pain. [In game terms, the shell armour was penetrated and the damage caused triggered a threshold check.  This damaged the creature's "engines" and therefore reduced its available thrust]

A swift calculation revealed that with its reduced thrust, the Kraken was travelling too fast to be able to slow down before it hit the planet.  If its roll for damage control failed to repair its engine then it would have to turn slightly and skim past the planet at too high a speed to enter orbit - and therefore it would be unable to complete its mission.

The game therefore turned on this single roll.  Fortunately for the Kraken [not so much for the humanoids], it was able to repair the damage, or at least to overcome the pain and use the damaged system normally.

Now that it could decelerate as originally intended, the Kraken performed a 6" microjump straight forward [via a "Picard Manoeuvre" event card.  Hah - the Ferengi weren't the only ones to hold some interesting cards!].  This opened up the distance between the monster and its pursuers nicely, which was especially important now that it had its back to them [and therefore couldn't bring any of its weapons to bear].

The event cards were coming thick and fast now [indeed, I don't think I've ever seen a game of Full Thrust where so many cards were used!].  Firstly, the Kraken played an "Organian Peace Treaty".  A bunch of super-beings from another dimension turned out to be whale-lovers; they forbade anyone to fire at the injured animal.

This respite allowed the Kraken time in which to position itself near the planet's upper atmosphere ready for spawning.  The Organians soon lost interest in protecting the space beast, but before the monster could do anything else the Federation played a "Static Warp Bubble" on it, thus causing it to be time-stopped for a complete turn.

Initiative on the last turn was critical!  If either the Federation or the Ferengi beat the Kraken then they still had ships which could hurt it badly [especially as the Kraken was a mere 2 damage points off a further threshold check].  On the other hand, if the Kraken won then all it had to do was to "fire" on the planet to win the game.

This time, the monster won.  It spawned in the upper atmosphere and the thousands of eggs caused havoc on Trondacolmakus.  Large areas of the planet were rendered uninhabitable, whilst many others required a constant border watch to prevent infestation from the new badlands.  The resources needed to protect the population dragged the economy down to poverty levels unimaginable to the previously wealthy citizens and neither Ferengi nor Federation were particularly interested in trade deals with the inhabitants any more!


Sometimes you kill the monster and sometimes the monster gets you!  This was a very close-run game, where early losses didn't matter too much because the defenders could just bring in more ships.  Mind you, it wasn't really a place for corvettes or frigates; such small vessels had virtually no chance against such a huge attacker.

Had the monster been defeated then the Ferengi would probably have won, as they looked to have the larger of the remaining fleets.  But the monster wasn't defeated...

Monday 16 April 2018

ATZ: The Lost Sheep (part 2)


In the last installment, Reverend Green was about to be jumped from behind by a couple of zombies.  He was following a member of his congregation (Kimberley) who had run from the horror and not really paying attention to anything else.

A long way off, Ricky and George could see what was about to happen.  Could they run fast enough to save the priest?  If they joined in, would they end up as zombie chow themselves?  Read on to find out what happened next...

The Game (continued)

The two trailing zombies reached for Rev. Green, but some sixth sense must have warned him of the danger at his back.  In a bravura piece of brawling, he knocked them both down.  One of the monsters fell awkwardly, split its skull open on the concrete pavement and lay still for ever more.

Hearing the sounds of fighting, Kimberley plucked up enough courage to look back around the corner.  More zombies were approaching and the young woman couldn't leave the minister to face them alone.  She swallowed hard, then charged into the fray.

The young woman pushed the nearest zombie to the ground and started to hit it with her tennis racket - again and again.  When she had finished, the "fat lady" zombie was clearly not moving any more.

Ricky and George charged towards a third zombie which was threatening to outflank the reverend and attack him from behind.  Neither of them had ever seen a zombie before and neither had ever been involved in any violent activities, so it was no great surprise when Ricky bottled it and pulled up short.

George, on the other hand, charged straight in.  Despite being REP5 and facing only a single zed, he lost the fight badly and ended up on the ground, stunned.  This was extremely dangerous for him, as he would require a complete activation to recover his wits and another to stand up before he could defend himself to any great effect.

The players' luck was amazing, as once again the zombies fluffed one activation roll after another.  They moved like molasses, moaning and reaching for the living, but never quite reaching them.

George finally threw off his daze and got back onto his feet, just as Ricky pulled himself together, ran forward and whacked the zombie hard with his cricket bat.  It crumpled to the floor at the same time as Rev. Green finally dispatched his final opponent.

Suitably wary, the party continued in their quest to find Laura.  They hadn't entirely believed the news reports or government advice before, but zombies were real; there was no room for doubt any more.  This made their search all the more urgent!

The Long Search

Note the very large potholes all over the road at the end of the cottage, courtesy of a "rough terrain" random event card.
From this point on, the party decided on two things that they would do differently:
  1. They would stick together - no more splitting up.
  2. They would try front doors - no more breaking and entering.

The next house they tried was full of zombies [especially the bathroom; what's that all about?].  Fortunately, both Kimberley and George were quick enough in reacting to retreat without a fight.

"We did remember to lock the door, didn't we?"
The party became slightly strung out as they ran away from the zombie house, towards the burger bar...

...but all they found there was a single, slightly dirty man who (a) didn't know anyone called "Laura" and (b) had staked his claim to all the Doomburgers(TM) in the restaurant & wasn't prepared to share them with anybody.

George might have tried to reason with him, but the man had a very functional-looking rifle and was clearly getting a little bit agitated by their continued presence, so they left him to his food.

On to the next house, then.  This time, Kimberley kept watch outside whilst George opened the bedroom door.  There were 3 more zombies in there, but the little man quickly shut the door again, then started to drag the settee across the opening..

Ricky went into the bathroom, where his natural propensity to acquire things kicked in [remember that 'greedy' trait?].  The Reverend followed and started to remonstrate with him, reminding Ricky that this was someone else's house and in any case they really didn't expect to find weapons, booze or car keys in a bathroom.

And so it was that no-one was looking in the right direction when another zombie crawled out of a broom cupboard in the corner.

Mind you, I should read my own event cards more carefully.  The zombie ought to have attacked straight away, but we played it that the monster was just placed.

George was too busy holding the bedroom door shut to notice anything amiss, but Ricky and Rev. Green left the bathroom before the zombie could move.  Without hesitation, they both set upon it and by the time that Kimberley came to see what all the noise was about, the creature had been pummeled into the ground.


Hoping that the barricaded bedroom door would hold, the group ran from the third cottage into the fourth and final home.  This time, George stood outside whilst Rev. Green and Ricky searched the main room.  The minister found a crossbow hanging on the wall, though was somewhat chagrined to find that it only had a single arrow [courtesy of another event card, a few turns later].  Ricky hunted through the cupboards and came away with a number of tins of food [fruit cocktail, chopped tomatoes, cherry pie filling...].

Meanwhile, Kimberley investigated the bedroom.  Again, there were 3 zombies in it; all young women in various states of undress [another WTF? moment; the models were drawn semi-randomly from the box...].  Once more, the zombies were slow to react and Kimberley shut the door quickly - but only just in time to prevent the zeds' reaching arms from grabbing her.

Rev. Green ran over to help Kimberley; between them they piled trunks, the TV and chairs against the bedroom door.  On the other side, the zombies were tearing at the barricade with their bare hands, but weren't making much impact on it.

George stepped into the cottage's front room.  "Guys, it's getting quite busy out there!" he said.  "I think we should be leaving".  Several zombies were approaching from the square, but there was probably still time to escape.

"I'll just have a look in the bathroom", replied Ricky - and there was Laura, cowering in a corner.  Of course, Ricky then wasted time by looking for stuff that he could take [greedy, remember?].

I love my random event cards.  Sometimes [quite often, really], they're just so appropriate for the story.  On this occasion, the bathroom door couldn't be reopened.  Maybe Ricky had locked it inadvertently behind him and was panicking too much to realise?  Or perhaps the door was badly fitted and stiff?

Whatever the reason, the party now found that Laura and Ricky were locked in the bathroom.  There were 3 zombies in the bedroom and more approaching the front door.  What would you do?

The party quickly locked the cottage's front door, then Rev. Green and George tried to force their way into the bathroom.  Meanwhile, Ricky and Laura climbed through a back window and out onto the street.

What with the zombies trying to break their way in as well, there was a fair amount of tense action happening!

For some reason, the zombies found the locked and barricaded doors to be quite tough going.  In contrast, Rev. Green kicked the bathroom door in quite easily.  Seeing the open window, they guessed where Ricky had gone and a few moments later the party was all reunited in the street.  They paused for a moment, hugging the building's gable wall to avoid being seen by the zombies who were all congregating on the house.

"OK, everybody ready?  Let's RUN!" called the minister - and he took off without waiting to see if the others were indeed prepared.  "Wait, what?" responded George, but everyone else took to their heels and he had to follow.

Zombies in the square saw the fresh meat and moved to intercept the people.  Although slow, they were able to cut the corner and one of them got close enough to George to trip him up.

This time there was no miracle respite and the zombies tore George apart in a brief, but violent, feeding frenzy.

The remaining humans fled, appalled at the sight and in no mood to do anything other than escape.  As they did so, Laura screamed imprecations at Rev. Green.  "You IDIOT!" she shouted.  "We could have waited until they had gone the other way.  We would all have made it!" [courtesy of an 'Argument' random event card.  Laura won the argument's first round very convincingly (and very loudly!), but soon ran out of breath].

As a final kick in the teeth the heavens opened and it started to pour, soaking the survivors and lowering their spirits even more [one last event card.  Tragicomic, really].


As so often happens in games of All Things Zombie, the party ended up with a similar number of people as it had at the start; it just wasn't the same people.  I suspect that the zombies' early inertia had given the players a false sense of security, so that when the double zed activation came [as it always does at some point], they lost a party member.

Still, for a bunch of citizens, half of whom didn't even have an improvised melee weapon, they didn't do too badly.  The mission goal was achieved [how unlucky was it that Laura was found only in virtually the last possible hiding location?!], so perhaps they should be eligible to test for REP increases after all?