Wednesday 19 September 2018

Paleo Diet: A year in the life of the Stone Finger Tribe


A little while ago, I described my first ventures (nay, mishaps!) into the Paleo Diet rules.  You can read the sorry tale here, if you so desire.  Well, last Thursday at the Helensburgh Alternative Hobby Association, we tried the game again.  I had been busy painting more figures and effects (fire!) and was keen to see how these would work.

Game 1: the Mammoths

The hunters of the Stone Finger tribe were pleased.  Their group had survived the long, harsh winter without very many deaths and now that the spring was here, mammoths were on the move.  There's a lot of meat on a mammoth and their families were hungry, so if they could bring down one of these behemoths then everyone could feast!

So, here's the plan:
Grod and Vorn would enter from the left, upwind of the mammoths.  They would set fires in the grass to drive the beasts to the right...

...where Droog and Groob, Dorv and Guban would be waiting in ambush.

Ok, it's a very simple plan, but would it work?  Read on...

So far, so good.  The fire has been lit, the mammoths are getting a bit restless and (most of) the ambushers are in hiding.

One beast breaks ranks and runs forwards.  Dorv leaps up and hits it with his club (Really, a club?  Honestly, who brings a club to a mammoth hunt?  This is 50,000BC, after all...).  He does manage to hurt the animal before it tosses him aside.

While Dorv limps away, someone else inflicts another wound on the confused and angry pachyderm (I cannot remember for sure, but this might have been a lucky shot from Groob's sling).  Meanwhile, Vorn continues to light more fires, just in case...

Droog throws a spear at the injured mammoth: it's a critical hit!  The beast falls over, dying.

The rest of the hunters walk forwards slowly, shouting and waving to drive off the other two mammoths (but not getting too close).  They depart and the hunters cheer!  A successful hunt; plenty of meat for everyone, no-one died and only one hunter was injured.

Game 2: The Puppies

In our second game of the evening, the well-fed Neanderthals decided that some hunting dogs would be a nice addition to their tribe.  There weren't any dogs near them, but a wolf pack was breeding nearby.  Could the hunters raid the wolves' den and steal the litter?

So, another simple plan: approach from 3 sides and try to scare the adult wolves away (rather than fighting with them).  If the adult wolves are gone then catching the puppies should be easy...

Initially, things went rather well.  Vorn lit several fires upwind of the den; these caused consternation amongst the wolf pack.  They kept trying to pluck up courage to charge a hunter, only to turn tail and run from the smoke whenever they got close.

One animal broke sideways from the pack, but Groob injured it with a well-placed stone from his sling.

The injured wolf's mournful howls scared the wits out of Droog and Dorv; they emerged from the den each clutching a puppy and ran in the opposite direction...

...and straight into the path of the somewhat out-of-control flames that were burning forwards at an alarming rate.

Meanwhile, Groob finished off the injured wolf with another sling shot and the rest of the men queued up to grab their own puppies.  The remaining wolves were too scared of the fire to do much other than make a few futile dummy charges, so the tribe escaped with most of the litter (and a couple of badly burned hunters).

This probably counts as a successful scenario too 🙂.

Game 3: Who wants to be King?

The old chieftain died later in the year.  As he was dying, he announced that the next chief would be whoever managed to slay a large and dangerous sabretooth cat which had recently moved into the district.  Four hunters didn't even wait for his last gasp but instead gathered up their weapons, called to a couple of dogs and set off to slay the monster.

So, this scenario was co-operative, but only up to a point.  Tribesmen (and their dogs) may not attack each other, but there can only be one winner: whoever delivers the final blow to kill the predator.  There were some herds of small horses around as well, but they played no real part in the game and so I'll not mention them again.

Droog's dog, Scar, was first to attack the sabretooth.  It didn't go very well for the smaller animal; he ran away yelping with a nasty gash on his flank.

Next up was Guban, aided by his dog, Alpha.  The hunter rushed in without waiting for assistance and although he did manage to spear the tiger, he was promptly mauled to death.

Dorv leaped in as well, though too late to aid his friend.  He gave the sabretooth a crack on the head with his club, but it then turned on him and tore him to pieces.

Droog and Groob were trying to catch up, but were still some way off.  Whilst they ran and panted, Alpha and the sabretooth (both injured) snarled and snapped at each other.

Incredibly, the tiger's attacks missed the dog again and again.  Eventually Alpha got a good hold and ripped out the cat's throat to deliver the fatal blow.  And that is why, even to this day, the Stone Finger Tribe worships dogs and holds them supreme over all other spirits and gods.


Paleo Diet is a quick, simple, fun set of rules.  The animal behaviours are unpredictable, but within realistic bounds, so the (player) hunters are never certain of an easy victory.

We were able to fit three very distinct games into a single evening, with a different (but overlapping) set of players in each.  It would have been ideal as a mini-campaign - and there are rules for this, but on this occasion we weren't tracking injuries, successes or failures from one game to the next.

Next time we'll have to do such a campaign properly.  Hmm, I wonder if it would be possible to organise a club league, with people dropping in for the occasional game as & when it suited them?


  1. Hi John, when you said the grass was going to be set a light I could see a shift in the wind and the whole plan going up in flames :) but these are smart cavemen.

    emjoyable read as ever but what real interest me is seen how the tribe get on with a wolf as the king :)

    1. John?

      Yes, playing with fire can be dangerous; I'm not completely convinced that these cavemen were smart about how they used it :-) .

      I think everyone laughed when they realised that the wolf was going to become the tribe's new god-king :-) ?

    2. You know how these things work.
      Wolf gets to do the figurehead god bit, eats before the other wolves and generally gets a bit of respect form the cavemen. Meanwhile his priest/owner (the only one who can translate his wolf-speak into caveman) wields actual power.

    3. Well, there is another possibility, Steve. Since the wolf/dog's master was killed, the animal might go feral. It could become the semi-mythical, "grey ghost" type of creature that is only ever seen against a distant skyline when the moon is full and whose howl indicates impending doom for someone...

  2. Cracking set of games, which are very distinct. It's a great idea to either have linked scenarios or a campaign providing you can get the interest of the players, either long-term or on a 'drop-in' status.

    1. It's a tribute to the rules (and the scenarios included within them!) that each game has had a very different feel to it. And we haven't even covered the tribe seeing off rival hunters yet...

  3. I love the minis (and huge mammoths) for these game C6. Really nice

    1. The Lucid Eye Neanderthals are a bit cartoonish/cliched in style, but I think that works well for a slightly tongue-in-cheek game such as this.

  4. Three excellent little games, I've played these rules and enjoyed them a lot, good idea with the fire to chase the wolves off, my game didn't go as well.
    I think I recognise one of the mammoths, the one who got killed but who makes the other two?
    You've done a cracking paint job on the Sabretooth cat, very impressed.

    1. Thanks, Vagabond. Fire did scare off the wolves, but then got out of control and hurt the hunters too. A mixed blessing?

      Two of my four mammoths (only three were used in the game as one had a broken tusk) are from DeeZee and the other two are from Acheson's Primaeval Designs range. They're more fully described here:

    2. I remember your post, I read it a couple of years ago, it was one of the inspirations for me starting with Paleo Diet.
      I've got the DeeZee Mammoths from someone in the UK but I don't remember coming across the Acheson ones, but I've usually found postage kills bringing anything in from the US, so may have discounted them out of hand.
      Thanks for the info.

  5. Loved this Colgar. I'm going back to see what other posts you've made on the subject.

    1. Thanks, David. There are only two Paleo Diet posts on my blog, but quite a few other related articles. I suggest you search for the label "prehistoric" :-) :

  6. Really nice sequence of games.
    Very satisfying to see the hunters score some successes.

    I recall the beasts having the upper hand (paw?) when we tried the rules.
    Fire, but also a variety of weapons, seems to make a difference.
    I'm very keen to give the rules another go.

  7. Great report !
    The puppies'scenario is a good one.
    we have test it and get lot of fun with

    1. hanks, Eric! At first I thought that the hunters would have it too easy because the fire scared the wolves away. But I laughed a lot when the flames spread in the wrong direction :-) ...