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Friday 17 May 2024

The Kidnap!!

The Kidnap

Little Snoring from the south west, early summer 1644.

And from the south, the T shaped building on the left is the Dog and Sprocket, a well known Royalist watering hole in this part of the country.

Little Snoring has some affluent townsfolk, made even more affluent by the war.

Main Street, crossed by Weaver street at the far end. Mrs Hutchinson is leading the black pony down Main Street with a barrel of her own, home brewed dark ale, surprisingly called Black Pony Ale.

Sweeping the pavement in this affluent part of the town is the Widow Tuppence.

And a slightly better view of the Dog and Sprocket with it’s Landlady Pearl de Ville standing outside the front door.

You may be forgiven for believing that Pearl is from the continent of Europe, maybe even France but in actual fact she’s a fallen dove from the wild west of America and 200 years out of time but I hope you’ll let that pass.

From the edge of town, hard eyes are fixed on the scene, but more of that later…much later.

You may or may not remember Sir Verney Snapcase’s bold attack on the small Parliamentary garrison in Much Piddling in the Marsh and his crushing defeat. I think it was called the Gunpowder Plot. Of course if you have listened to the Snapcase version you may be under the impression it was a total victory for the forces of the Crown. Such is the power of Spin in the 17C.

Well to celebrate his convincing victory Snapcase decided he should down a pint or two of Old Buggers Bitter in the Dog and Sprocket in the centre of Little Snoring and at the same time renew his acquaintance with Molly Bright his favourite barmaid. Well his favourite barmaid in the Dog and Sprocket, he tended to have a favourite barmaid in each tavern he frequented, and I’m sorry to say, that was a lot of favourites.

His man, Titus Flemming is not invited to the bout of drinking and debauchery that’s taking place in the Inn but he’s happy to let the mad old bugger drink to his hearts content because Titus thinks he might have a chance to bed the Widow Tuppence, although he doesn’t much like the cold, fish eyed stare he’s getting from her daughter Martha

Martha is probably thinking that the small one room hovel they call home only has one bed and so she’ll end up sleeping in the wood pile again. Not a happy thought.

If she knew what was coming round the corner at the end of Main Street she would have cheered up a little, because there were four of the meanest looking Moss Troopers in the Northern Counties marching into town and they looked like trouble.

You might have heard the rumour that trouble follows Snapcase around like a lost dog, well very often rumours are true and these ruffians knew of his dalliance with Molly the Barmaid and intended to bring him a little trouble.

As they rounded the corner, as predicted Martha cheered up. A wicked smile spread across her pinched shrewish little face but she said nothing to indicate their presence.

Titus was still engaging the Widow Tuppence in pleasantries and she was wondering if, bearing in mind there was a war on, then maybe, just maybe she could up her prices and become the Widow Two and a Half Pence.

The Troopers led by James Dalbier move swiftly towards the tavern and are intercepted by Pearl.

You might be thinking “Is Dalbier going to strike a woman?”

“He’s inside” whispers Pearl, “Drunk 5 pints of Black Pony and still on his feet” “No blood mind you, I don’t want blood on the floorboards, it’s a bugger to get the stains out”

So the answer would be no then. Pearl and the Moss Troopers are in cahoots, she’s the brains as well as the beauty of the organisation, and their plan is to kidnap and ransom the raffish Snapcase. Plans, if you’ve read any of my game reports seldom go as expected and this one was no exception.

By a fortuitous piece of dice throwing, a small patrol of Royalist’s rounded the building at the far end of Main Street. They were men under Snapcases command, led by Sergeant Ford who had the unenviable job of escorting him back to camp. Knowing Snapcase well, he was aware that 6 pints of Black Pony was all he could drink and remain standing. He also knew how long it would take to consume this amount of ale and that after 7 pints they would have to carry him back or borrow a wagon, 6 pints and he could generally make it back under his own steam.

The Widow Tuppence gasped when she finally saw the troopers and Titus, looking over his shoulder realised the danger he and Snapcase were in, and promptly ran away.

Later he was adamant that he ran towards the Royalists to warn them and get help, but you and I know better.

The citizens of Little Snoring are a slow lot and no one had really reacted to armed men marching down the Main Street. Dalbier had sent one of his men inside the tavern to grab Snapcase as the rest of them prepared to hold off the Royalist who are now charging towards them.

Dalbier fires both pistols, Edward Ford is hit in the head and goes down, but he misses Samuel Gerard by a hairs bredth, Samuel decides that he needs to run back to cover, obviously worried that Dalbier has a third pistol up his sleeve.

Little Martha looks on with glee, this is much better than sleeping in the wood pile.

Samuel checks the priming in his pistol as he considers how he’s going to make this retreat sound like a clever tactical manoeuvre.

Pearl looks on in dismay, how are they going to get the blood stains off the brand new cobbled roadway, the Moss Troopers don’t give a damn. Two of them are down, cut badly by the Mortuary Swords wielded by Titus and his mate Edmund. Titus has also been wounded in the sword play with the troopers but stays on his feet, as Edmund battles it out with Dalbier.

Dalbier is wounded and falls to the ground, and then so does Titus leaving Edmund as the last man standing.

Edmund enters the tavern to rescue Snapcase.

Sir Verney Snapcase staggers out of the Dog and Sprocket bellowing “What the hell is going on here. Can’t a man have a drink in peace.” Seeing Samuel Gerard approaching from his place of sanctuary he eyes him malevolently and demands to know who all these bleeding men are and where’s the re-supply of Black Pony.

Samuel immediately responds, “It’s here Sir, I’ve been guarding it with my life Sir. Mrs Hutchinson has the new barrel on the wagon behind me Sir. "Good man " responds Snapcase.

He’ll go far will Sam Gerard.

If you’re still here, the fight in the tavern went something like this. The Trooper had pulled his pistol on Sir Verney but Verney Snapcase was too drunk to notice. Edmund Mansfield entered the tavern and the Trooper had 3 choices, put a gun to Snapcases head and try and bluff his way out, surrender, or shoot Edmund.

He chose to shoot Edmund but such is life, he missed and then just had his pistol as a weapon against Edmunds sword. This didn’t go well for either of them, the trooper is dead and Edmund is lying on the floor with a cracked skull.

Pearl is livid….think of the blood stains.

After a few restorative brandies and his 6th pint of Black Pony, Snapcase smiles at Samuel Gerard, “Well done lad, if that ale had fallen into the wrong hands it would have been a disaster” “Give Titus a hand up, he’s not too badly wounded and I promised Red Molly the barmaid we’d help out with a little problem they have in Little Snoring” “It’ll be right up your street, a bold brave fellow like yourself.”

Remember the hard eyes fixed on the town? No! Well you should have been paying more attention because that’s Sir Verney Snapcases next adventure.


Saturday 6 April 2024

Getting the Bird

In 2024, just off Wilshire Boulevard, in Los Angeles you can visit the La Bria tar pits. The tar pits trapped many prehistoric animals whose remains have been carefully examined over the last hundred years or so. To the north west of the tar pits is the San Fernando Valley, currently home to a sub species of Homo Sapiens called the Valley Girls, at least according to Frank Zapa. Nine thousand or so, years ago, it was home to the Valley Tribe. They were a long limbed, handsome tribe, clean in their habits, tanned from the long hours of hunting and gathering, a fine looking people, but they were troubled.

The world was changing for the Valley Tribe, of course they only had the stories and chanted songs of the tribal Shaman to inform them of their history. Similarly he predicted wild prophesies of a bleak future if they didn’t succumb to his teachings, but it did seem as if the large animals were less plentiful now and their world was getting warmer.

It was a time, thousands of years after the height or should that be the depth of the last ice age and global warming was in full swing. The changing climate meant that a large body mass wasn’t as attractive an evolutionary proposition as it had once been. Consequently there was more competition from other tribes chasing the dwindling numbers of these big meals on four legs as they became harder to find.

Their main competition was from the Ulrug Clan, who were based in what would become down town Los Angeles, colloquially known as Skid Row. They were moving into the Valley Tribes territory and this infringement into their hunting grounds couldn’t be allowed.

The Ulrug’s they were a low, mean looking, bunch of thieves, squat, unwashed and primordial. Not the sort of people you would invite round on a Friday night to share Mammoth steak and your finest fermented berries.

Yes, I know they didn’t have dinner parties 9,000 years ago but you know what I mean, they would slurp their wine, spill food on your best carpet and leer at your daughter.

Before the formation of banks and financial institutions, to take someone’s land, you had to persuade them to leave, or dispossess them by force and bury them in the ground. The Ulrug clan planned to do the later, although sometimes they had been known to gnaw on an enemies bones first, and so burial might be their last resort. To be honest, cannibalism was the simpler choice and the Ulrug’s were simple people and here we can see them moving forward through the open countryside that the Valley People call their home.

Although on reflection, the Valley Tribe might not yet, have developed the concept of home, but I guess we’ll never know.

The Valley tribe are not going to give up their hunting grounds without a fight and here you can see them adopting what would, thousands of years later, become the typical Zulu Impi’s formation, head, horns and loins.

Yes I know it’s hard to tell. The cave art depicting the scene was only recently discovered in 1990, so you’re just going to have to trust my interpretation of the painting.

This second illustration shows it a little clearer, apparently some teenager painted it on the same cave wall in 1995, his interpretation is the same as mine. You can see the Valley tribe coming down from the top of the painting. The tokens on the ground seem to have some significance, because both tribes appear to be heading for them. Off to the west the Ulrug left Horn is close to a red dot that marks the spot, but they are about to be assaulted by the hard men, and women of the Valley Tribes allies. These allies that are not quite human, but they have left us with a lot of their DNA.

In the centre, the tribal chieftain Akoba is boldly leading the Valley people forward. Off on the right the Valley tribe seem to be unopposed, and are closing in on another of the sacred red marker’s.

By the way, can someone explain to me why the Valley Tribe’s cave wall painting is behind glass, visitors have to pay a fee and can’t get any closer than 10 ft to it, but the teenager, whose painting in 1995 is in the same cave has had a team of cleaners trying to remove it from the wall and the teenager is doing community service as a punishment for their crime? One is heritage and one is graffiti? How does that work.

A close up of the Valley Tribes allies.

This is the first time they have been in a life or death struggle on the table and my God, do they look up for it.

The fight in the centre is initiated by the low squat intruders. They charge forwards screaming their war cry, followed by a lot of whimpering.

As they are wiped out to a man.

Then their Chieftain, Ulrug attacks Akoba the Valley Tribe Chieftain, or it could have been the other way around, I’m afraid I can’t remember which.

The fight is reasonably inconclusive but Akoba falls back, and so which ever way I spin it, it looks like he lost.

The Valley Tribe centre is now led by Ayha, strong women aren’t a recent invention, but she’s also a subtle tactician.

Sending the rest of the centre forward against the Ulrug hard men, she watches how they perform and shouts encouragement, fully prepared to back them up or run away, whichever is most appropriate. Her troops perform adequately, as do the Neanderthal allies on the left and the other chaps on the right.

The Ulrug’s have now all been slain by the valiant Valley people, only a couple of their demi hero’s remain alive, and they slink away, heading back to skid row.

You might be thinking that this is a just result, the interlopers have been taught a lesson they won’t forget and the Valley Tribe are victorious, but I’m afraid you’d be wrong.

You didn’t take into account the games master, the devious man who concocted this scenario. The man who should remain nameless, at least that’s what the Mad Lord Snapcase said should happen.

No sooner had my clean cut tribe disposed of the last of the mean, squat, ugly, Ulrug tribe, than the un-named games master – Snapcase, announced “you’ve discovered a Terror Bird nest, complete with an egg”

“Ok” I thought, “that’s not too bad, at least we get scrambled egg for breakfast”.

Then he announced “and the Terror Bird isn’t too happy about it, she’s coming your way.”

“I should have known better”.

The Terror Bird did what the Ulrug tribe hadn’t been able to do and killed off quite a few of my chaps and chapesses.

But they are a bold and brave lot and so attack again.

And more of them died.

Akoba the tribal chief seeing his warriors die, strode bravely but foolishly into the fight, he died as well.

Finally it was left to the two heroines of the tribe to meet out revenge for the rest of the dead tribesmen. They finally killed the Terror Bird but casualties had been heavy.

By this time the tribe was so reduced in numbers that the remaining members were only able to feast on the legs of the bird with the scrambled eggs making a nice accompaniment. They left the rest of the carcase to rot in the Baja sun along with the Ulrug dead……unburied and uneaten.

Wednesday 20 March 2024

The Gun Powder Plot

The Mad Lord Snapcase was travelling through the North of England on his way to collect tax and tribute from a lesser known branch of his family. On the way he stayed for a couple of days at Vagabond Manor and we played a few games, drank a few bottles of wine and roasted the winter hog, followed by some more wine.

This is one of the games we played

The small village of Much Piddling in the Marsh had seen a lot of action in the Civil War, it was currently held by a small garrison of Parliamentarians under the command of Sir Francis Gamell. Francis was an active soldier and his men carried out a constant harassment of the local Royalist forces, who happened to be under the command of Sir Verity Snapcase.

This is Much Piddling from the south. East as you will be aware is to our right.

This is the view from the East and it’s the view that Sir Verity will have when he attacks Much Piddling at day break. He has a cunning plan and intends to split his small force to create a diversionary attack up the road from the East while the rest of his troops move cautiously across the field from the south east and attack the key target.

This is the key to Much Piddling, a wagon load of gun powder.

You may wonder why Sir Francis had left the powder out in the street and the reason is quite simple, I painted the wagon and barrel on the day that the Mad Lord Snapcase was driving to Vagabond Manor and I wanted to show it off, because for once I thought my dry brushing looked pretty good.

I’m also rather proud of the street paving and the slabs of pavement I made to fit under the new Conflix houses I bought recently. Yes I know, it’s all a bit self congratulatory, I borrowed the idea for the road from someone called McYellowbelly on the Lead Adventurers Forum, and yes I did tell him I was going to borrow it.

Sir Francis is a wily old bird and cannily he’s set sentries, one at the east of Piddling.

And one at the west of Piddling.

Faulke Goring has turned and is looking to the east because there’s been a musket fired in that direction.

The poor man’s in a bit of a quandary because he wants to run to see what the noise is all about but he knows Sir Francis will nail his hide to the barn door if he leaves his post without a very excellent reason.

We rolled some dice and he didn’t get an excellent reason so we decided he would stay in position.

The noise was Henry Legge firing his blunderbuss in the air to attract attention. Henry was the sentry on the east side. He’s seen some figures approaching the village, stealthy like, and I wanted him to fire on them but cunning as ever, the Mad Lord said they could be village folk returning after a late night at the Ram Inn in the next village, the one where all the sheep look warily at any approaching local, especially if they’re wearing wellies.

The shot had also awakened the garrison in the Tower house and they were fast responders. I rolled 1 on a D6 to indicate how long it would take them to be at the door, and ready to rock and roll. They rushed out, directed by Henry pointing his blunderbuss in the direction of the unknown group of men. They lined the wall, recognised that the men approaching were wrong uns and opened fire. Everyone missed and much to Snappers surprise, they jumped the wall and charged forward.

At the same time the door of the Inn at the far side of the village opened and Sir Francis rocked out with 2 men, he’d also rolled a 1 on a D6, Snappers was dismayed, not to say discomforted and maybe even a little disgruntled at how fast I was getting my troops into the field.

As the Royalists tried to get their attack moving forward again, they rolled an event and an enraged mastiff called Henry attacked Hugh Chudleigh. Unfortunately Hugh was well armed and knew how to fight, Henry didn’t stand a chance.

An overview of the village at this point, it serves no purpose, other than I thought it was a pretty cool view.

Yes - there’s that self promotion again.

Sir Francis is leading his men quickly through the village square towards the fighting.

I should point out that the very nice fountain and statue were provided by Snappers and I was so envious of these that I’ve started building statues myself, finished them today, I just need to make a couple of fountains to match.
Sorry…just another picture I liked. It does show Faulke has been summoned forward by Sir Francis and they are closing with the east end of the village where the fighting is still raging.

The Parliamentarians had taken the sword to the Royalists. The Royalists had fired as they closed but also missed their targets. However when it came to the cold steel the Royalists got the pointy ends and went down like nine pins.

If you remember, right at the beginning, I mentioned that the Mad Lord had a cunning plan. Well the men dying in the green lane were the diversion and this is the main attack. It’s coming over the fields and hasn’t been observed by the defenders yet.

They make it into the shelter of the village, still unobserved.

Moving stealthily forward they see that Sir Francis has arrived at the east side of Much Pidding, there, he takes up a defensive line, and watches his troops make short work of the Royalists.

Having killed or wounded the entire first wave of attackers his men return and discuss the situation. All seems quiet, too quiet, why would 5 men attack the garrison of Much Piddling alone, it didn’t make sense.

That’s when Fear-Naught Murdo led the rest of the Royalists forward; they fired a volley into the defenders but failed to hit anyone.

Big smile from Sir Francis.

The defenders are quick to regain their composure and send a volley back in the direction of their attackers.

Unfortunately they also miss.

Big smile from Sir Verity.

Fear-Naught shouts charge and the men follow him into hand to hand combat.

The astute reader will have noticed that the Royalist attack only comprised 4 men whereas there had been 5 crossing the field. Well the Snapcase cunning had not failed him, seeing his first diversion fail before he could get close to the gun powder. You remember the gun powder, the games all about blowing it up. Well he’d decided it was a good plan and so he sent the rest of his troops to tie up the enemy. They were attacking double their numbers, but he’s a hard man is Snapcase. This should give him a little time to get across the road, set and light the fuse, before running as fast as his little legs would go, to escape the blast.

The fighting wasn’t going well but with odds of 2 to 1 against them that’s not a big surprise. Bible waving Kenrick Eaton and Barnabus Scudamore had fallen back from the wall. Thomas Blagge was down and rolling on the ground from a severe wound, only Fear-Naught Murdo had beaten his opponent.

Fear-Naught stood his ground daring the weak willed Parliament man to come back and fight like a man. Gerard Gasgoine just smiled, he knew that his friend Lucius Cary had gone round the back of the tower house and even now would be close to the ranting Fear-Naught. Lucius carried a sword and dagger and he knew how to use them, the preacher would be shouting a different tune very soon.

Almost immediately Lucius charged and Fear-Naught was caught in a trap. He was isolated and couldn’t turn and run without being cut down.

Taking advantage of the confusion Sir Verity Snapcase ran across the road, quickly setting and lighting the fuse on the powder barrel.

We did some careful calculations, and having decided how soon the fuse would explode, and how far Snapcase might run, and what might be the blast radius, we rolled some dice.

Note the dry brushing on the barrel, pretty impressive, ehh. The rest of it’s rubbish but what do you expect on mdf and with my skill level.

Like a ferret down a rabbit hole, Snapcase took to his heals and ran. The barrel exploded and he made it, out of range of the blast and any flying debris but he didn’t stop to examine his handiwork just kept on running.

The two men who had pulled back from the fight at the wall, also turned and ran.

Leaving Fear-Naught Murdo surrounded by his enemies. He called for quarter and with some reluctance it was granted.

Sir Francis Gamell having defeated the Royalist attack, inflicting considerable casualties on his enemy now has to consider his position carefully. With no reserve of powder, his men only have what powder they have on their person. This means they probably can’t stand against a determined assault. So should he pull back to the main Parliamentary lines or is it possible for him to send 2 or 3 bold men to replenish the lost powder before he is attacked again?

On the other hand Sir Verity Snapcase needs to recruit more men to be able to make a second assault on Much Piddling in the Marsh.

We've been playing What a Cowboy over the internet and partly because we were both familiar with the rules and partly because I wanted to try some modifications to the activation routine as well as obviously moving them forward to black powder weapons we used them to play out the game and apart from one notable occasion when out of 24 dice rolls the Mad Lord couldn't roll either a 1 or a 6 they worked reasonably well..

Well thanks for reading, if indeed you did and I hope you are ready for more from the mid 17th Century because I finally managed to buy a copy of the Witch Finder General rules and I’m hoping to catch a few witches pretty soon. Of course there's the matter of a Border Raid on the Baby Eating Bishop of Bath and Wells and some prehistoric nonsense in the San Fernando Valley when my Valley Girls came up against the low life's from Skid Row in downtown L.A. to go through first.