The Clan had found a strange forested area that they’d not explored before, they were hunting and gathering, as always, when suddenly Ayah realized there was no sound from the rest of her family, she called and yelled but there was no response, she was alone.
The forest was thick, as dense as any she had known in her short life and she knew it would deaden the sound of her calls, hopefully nothing dangerous had been attracted by her shouts.
She was lost and adrift from everything she had ever known. She knew by instinct and training which way she should be headed, the sun the moon and the stars would always point the way. However it was only in a general direction, she could not know exactly which way the Clan would go.
Moving quietly now, knowing that there were creatures in this thickly wooded area that could track and chase her down, she needed to think hard, without the Clan she would not last long in this hostile environment. She needed to find them quickly but her more immediate concern was hunger and she must eat, sooner rather than later, leading such a nomadic lifestyle meant she was travelling light and only carried a flint knife, she was going to have to be very smart to survive this predicament.
That’s when she heard the screams and yells, they were not the clan but sounded similar, the same noise that the Clan made when hunting and preparing for the kill. They had some animal trapped and were building up the courage to dash in and kill it, risking injury and maybe death themselves but food was every animals prime concern.
She had to know what was happening and the safest way seemed to be to climb one of the many trees and check if she could see what it was.
Climbing five or six man heights up the tree she froze, seeing some Simians, small humanoid creatures, about half her height but certainly just as strong as she was. From her position she could see at least 3 of them, but it sounded like there were more.
One was looking directly at her, and her blood turned to ice. On the Savannah she was sure she could out run him but in this thick jungle she was not so sure, he was in his element she was not. She waited, no, it didn’t appear to have seen her, but closer inspection revealed at least 4 of them, maybe more.
To the side of the small ape was a bloodstained rock, a big flat rock, she wondered what it was for, she knew the shaman of her Clan offered sacrifices to the spirits who looked over her people but they were offerings of food, berries, nut and the occasional small animal, but this one looked well used, there was lots of blood covering the stone.
Quietly she climbed down from her eyrie and moved back through the trees to consider what she should do next. The forest looked the same whichever way she faced, the only thing that didn’t stay the same was her hunger which grew as the sun fled across the sky.
She made the only decision that she could, and it was not a bright or heartening prospect, she was going to have to take the Simian’s kill away from them.
She could rush in and frighten them off, that was one option, not the best though, definitely a high risk strategy. She preferred the alternative approach, wait for dark, creep in quietly and steal it, then get away quickly, well before they knew she was there.
Every hunter knows that one false move and the prey will escape, but in this case one false move would be the death of her, so she waited patiently for night to fall.
For the game I’ve scattered tokens around the carcase to represent potential Simians, all my characters have various attributes such as stealth, awareness etc that I can use to make decisions in a solo game.
So in this case Ayah moves and then has to pass a stealth check to see if she has made a noise, if so, the nearest token has to pass an Awareness check to see if it is aware of the noise.
I then carry out an opposed check roll, if the token wins it identifies the noise as Ayah, is she wins, she successfully avoids detection. If the Simian passed its awareness roll but didn’t identify Ayah, it is still awake and aware, so more likely to identify her if she makes a second noise, after a certain time, 1D6 it falls asleep again and starts from scratch.
A bit convoluted but for my solo game it’s more interesting than just a straight 1 die roll.
Having done all that, I then check to see if the token is actually a Simian or not, that’s because she has to see it to identify it.
So the other thing that is happening is that Ayah is trying so see sleeping Simians as she moves forwards and avoid them, when she has the possibility to sight a token she checks to see if she sees it, then I determine if it is a Simian or just a false token, it’s quite possible for her to blunder into one and wake it without seeing it.
I’ve used sighting and stealth rules before but in an ad hoc sort of a way based on game requirements, here I’m trying to formalise it into a written rule to be used in the future, so any suggestions you might have are more than welcome.
Eventually as it always did, the sun disappeared and tonight the moon provided enough light but not too much. Ayah started towardswhat she now regarded as "Her Food", the Simians had left a large part of the carcase of whatever animal they had killed on its flat, blood soaked top of what was probably a sacrificial stone.
She moves stealthily and is now within sighting range of a token and test’s to see if it’s visible to her.
If you’ve been eating lots of carrots and your eyesight is as good as a prehistoric woman’s, then you would have seen this. She doesn’t wake it and decides to circle left, before moving towards her destination.
You’ve probably realized by now that I’m quite pleased with how the jungle photos turned out because there’s lot’s of them.
Anyway Ayah having moved around the Simian is getting closer to her target.
Closer and closer, but not as stealthily as I would have liked, fortunately the Simians appear to be sound sleepers.
She has spotted this chap off to the right and didn’t wake him, having reached the bloodstained stone she just needs to grab the food without being discovered. I know I’m not making it sound tense but believe me it was. At this point she had seen and avoided 3 Simians, discovered 2 false tokens, there were still 3 undiscovered tokens and she was in the middle of them all.
She makes the required rolls I breath a sigh of relief and she creeps quietly away, carrying a large chunk of meat. Unfortunately the meat is dripping blood, and as we will find out (probably) leads the Simians onto her trail quite easily.
Just a couple of gratuitous photos taken in full lamp light, not as atmospheric of course but certainly much clearer.
Here she didn’t see the token to the right but did see the one to the left which proved to be a small ape so she carried on circling and didn’t stumble into the token and I still don’t know if it was a Simian or not.
Just to give an overview of the table, much smaller than it might have appeared in the game pictures. A new 2’ square board I made using a bit of ply and some capillary matting I bought a few years ago, I purloined our Lazy Susan so that I could turn it easily because access to the figures in the dense foliage was very difficult.
The dead trees were made for the Vietnam game but never actually appeared on the table, so I wanted to get some use out of them, I originally intended playing this as a follow on to the search for the Grimoire of Life but saw some pictures on Pinterest of prehistoric people and got enthused (distracted) by that instead.
This was a 12 turn game, she failed to move stealthily 6 times. 3 of those times the Simians then failed Awareness test and so didn’t know she was there. Then 3 times it went down to an opposed roll and she won 2 and one turned out to be a decoy token or it could have been a very less successful outing for Ayha.
My thinking with this is that,
1) Do I make a noise
2) Are my opponents aware of this noise
3) If they are aware of the noise do they recognise it for what it is or can I recover the situation by remaining quiet.
This requires throwing lots of dice but I prefer the averaging result of lots of dice rather than the dramatic result of say a D20 that can give a huge variable with just 1 roll. Just my personal preference.
My sighting test is similar, it’s a straight opposed roll, Am I looking for some one, are they hiding or not and again a bucket load of dice to give a very average result.
For the last 3 days I’ve been working on refurbishing my 1’ sq terrain tiles, I mention this because I want to do a chase scenario, the Simians discover the missing food and chase after Ayha, I intend to use the tiles as a conveyer belt to run the chase scenario so effectively my table will be as long as it needs to be. I’ve used the concept before, back in the Hunt for Mary Scroggins although it took at least 1 failed attempt before the searchers got off the original table.
Years ago I read the Desmond Morris book The Naked Ape but I was never really convinced by his explanation as to why we are not hairy, I’ve recently been reading some other thoughts which I quite like and so we will find out if the current theory of why we are naked apes works in my game.
I’m still not happy with the tiles covering the table, I’m sure it will look better with a bit of set dressing but even though the lines between the tiles are more disguised than previously it’s still not as seamless as I would like and I prefer a mat. The reason I’ve done this is because I’ve been using them when I need a river or coast as in the previous game and they looked quite poor, I wonder if static grass would be better at hiding the seams, although maybe not as durable. Anyway they are an improvement and lasted 40 years in their previous state so are unlikely to get another refresh in this lifetime.
If you got here, thanks for reading and …..
Take care out there – it’s a dangerous world.