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Thursday, 14 April 2022

Rescue the Two Old Duffers - Part 1


To the Rescue – Part 1 

Snappers and Dougers Need Rescuing, check the link to see why.  http://vagabondswargamingblog.blogspot.com/2022/03/hello-hello-this-is-nighthawk-calling.html

Johnny Vagabond first world war scout pilot and more latterly an active member of S.I.S. and the Royal Amateur Society for Collecting Arachnids and Lepidoptera Specimens, was thinking about the world in general and cameras in particular when a strange pigeon landed on the loft roof. The pigeon looked around slowly as if getting its bearings and flew down to where Vagabond was feeding the rest of his flock and started to peck at the grain. 

By eck it’s Binky, I’d recognise them markings anywhere and he reached down and picked up his pigeon, the one he’d not seen for almost a year now and undid the message capsule from its left leg.

Reading the note put all thoughts of cameras and pigeons out of his mind shutting his prize pigeons in their loft, he mounted Black Beauty, and pedalled furiously for home with a determined look on his grim visage.

The world was a poorer place for the untimely arrival of Binky because Vagabond or Vaggers as we will call him for the duration of this current tale was musing on the possibility of mounting a camera onto a pigeon as a form of unmanned, airborne reconnaissance vehicle or Drone as they would eventually be called.

The problem, apart from flight control was the weight of the camera and he’d wondered if a bigger bird would be the answer, but then something like a Swan would be easier for the enemy to shoot down, as well as supplementing their rations so maybe not.

This is of course all academic because of the message and it was left to a Dr Julius Neubronner to patent a miniature pigeon camera activated by a timing mechanism and Neubronner’s Pigeon Picture Cards would make him famous and the toast of Europe, a success that could easily have been Vaggers, such is life.

The long hill on the way home slowed his progress a little but allowed him time to compose himself for the inevitable clash that was to come. I’ve mentioned that he’d flown Scouts in the Great War and as a member of the S.I.S. faced his share of danger in the past but the forthcoming meeting with Bunty Hampster-Crust the love of his life, filled him with dread. If you are familiar with the Snapcase Chronicles then you will be aware of Vaggers ride into the face of the Basmachi Hordes to rescue Bunty, a story of bravery and daring that in the area known as the Back of Beyond is still referred to by the local tribesmen as ‘The Demon Ride’.

The Demon was actually a Royal Enfield Model D 488cc Motorcycle that he still kept in the shed at the bottom of his garden but that is beside the point.

The message he’d received was from Spankhurst, an enigmatic character that Vaggers had met during his work for the Royal Amateur Society for Collecting Arachnids and Lepidoptera Specimens, a bit of a mouthful and usually shortened to R.A.S.C.A.L.S. this was a pseudonym for one of the Field Departments of the Admiralty Unit for Naval Tactical Intelligence, who were sometimes also referred to as AUNTY, wags at the Admiralty often called them Aunty’s Rascals, they don’t get out much at the Admiralty and sense of humour isn’t a pre-requisite to work there.

Spankhurst or Spankers was an associate of the Mad Lord Snapcase or Snappers and Vaggers thought she was still in Germany but the message proved otherwise. The message reads :-

Snappers and Dougers taken prisoner by Gestapo. Meet me at Aunty Edna’s, Greater Snoring, 21:00 Tuesday night. Spankers.

The message left a lot of questions unanswered but he’s have to get his skates on to make it in time, especially as he knew there were elements of the German Army between himself and Greater Snoring. The question uppermost in his mind though was how he would explain to Bunty that this was man’s work and she couldn’t come because it was too dangerous.

An hour later the sidecar was packed and Bunty had bagged the drivers position, Vaggers thought ruefully that he would get some protection from the elements riding pillion but map reading would be a bit of a bugger.

I’m sorry if this is a little confusing if you've not read the post linked above but the short version is that the Germans have invaded East Anglia to create a 2nd front after Dunkirk then 2 old duffers tried to stop them and were taken prisoner by the Gestapo. The old duffers are Snappers and Dougers but you probably worked that out and they are being held prisoner in Greater Snoring, somewhere in the Fens and we are going to mount a rescue attempt. We, being Spankers, Vaggers, and Bunty, there will be a few Girl Guides from the village of Much Piddling in the Marsh, the local school teacher and Resistance Fighter Molly Martin and I don’t think that Aunty Edna May White will be active in the rescue attempt but you never know.

Greater Snoring early Wednesday morning before any of the inhabitants are out on the street. The small town has been garrisoned by troops from various parts of the German war machine. The regular army have made no secret of the fact that they are billeted in the White Swan, the large white building in the centre of the town but the whereabouts of the rest are a mystery. We know that there are elements of the Gestapo and Afrika Korps but for some unknown reason there is also a detachment of Italians under the command of a pair of pompous officers. A couple of other figures that may appear to be important have also been seen, but their whereabouts is also unknown.

The town is awakened to the sound of deep throated engines as regular troops pass through.

But just as soon, silence returns as they leave by South Street and quiet descends on the town.

The evening before, on Tuesday night, Aunty Edna May White with dust pan and brush in hand inspects her front yard for any debris that dared to spoil the orderly configuration of her grounds. Although in reality she is looking out for the visitors she is expecting.

And the first to arrive are Sister Monica, Isabelle Deforest and Nicole Boursier. Isabelle is obviously not carrying her sub machine gun as openly as the picture would imply but it is in a bag slung over her shoulder. They have walked through the town and luckily didn’t encounter any of the occupying troops. Their guns would have been difficult to explain to the enquiring mind.

Sister Monica is none other that the enigmatic Spankhurst in disguise and although Nicole and Isabelle might appear to be Girl Guides (if you have a vivid imagination) they are actually French Freedom fighters and have some links to Snappers that I’ve yet to work out.

The next would be rescuers to make their way thorough the town towards Aunty Edna’s house in the north east quadrant are Patsie Jones and Barbera Vasseur. Patsie is an American and I’ve no idea what she’s doing in East Anglia, maybe she’s attached to one of the American airbases, if you can come up with a reasonable explanation please let me know. Rumour has it that she’s as mad as the hat she wears and her past actions tend to support this view.

Unfortunately as they reach the White Swan a small patrol of soldiers appear through the door from the Swan.

This leads to an encounter and I’d like to go through the details of the encounter because I’m making this up as I go along and would be interested in any thoughts that might improve the process. Note it’s a solo game and so anything to increase the tension for me is good.

Each character has a card that detail their attributes, these are all created with an average die roll so between 2 and 5 with a preponderance of 3’s and 4’s, high is good. Barbera takes the lead and she is going to try and charm Eckehard using her Charisma. He will try and see through this by using his Awareness. If he is successful he will roll against his Brains to indicate his likely course of action.

Barbera rolls 1D6 a 1 plus Charisma 3 = 4, not good.

Eckhard rolls 6 plus Awareness 3 = 9 He is immediately aware that there is something wrong and he challenges the pair of them. This could turn ugly, especially as both women have their guns concealed.

The next step is to see what he might do, I roll 2d6 and he needs to get equal or less than his Brains score. If he succeeds with both dice he will arrest them now, carry out a weapons search and take them into custody for questioning. If he passes 1 dice he will still take them in for further questioning but won’t carry out a search. If he fails both dice he will let them go, thinking they are just overawed by his good looks and charm. Not being the sharpest knife in the drawer with Brains 2 he rolled double 6 and so totally failed. They carry on to Aunty Edna's as Eckehard reflects on how his animal magnetism attracted these two young ladies, it was no wonder that they appeared a little nervous when he questioned them.

The next pair to make their way through the small town are Vaggers and Bunty. You will I hope, recall Vaggers past history and so will appreciate that he is travelling incognito i.e. under a false identity for those who don’t understand Latin. I may have overlooked the fact that Bunty also worked for the Spooks, usually as Vaggers handler a position he both enjoyed and deplored and she has taken on the persona of Hazel Arnesen, one that suits her statuesque physique, not to mention her Nordic features and blonde hair.

The final participant in the rescue attempt is also the Ring Leader, Molly Morris or as she is also undercover she will be known as Sally Brun.

With all 8 of the would be rescuers ensconced in Aunty Edna’s back room, each with a cup of her fragrant Darjeeling tea by their side they start to plan how they will endeavour to rescue Snappers and Dougers. This is going to be a difficult operation because Aunty Edna knows that the German regulars have based themselves in the White Swan, a fact that Patie and Barbara can confirm she does not know where any other troops might be, how many there are, what units they are from and worst of all she doesn’t know where Snappers and Dougers are either.

Sally Brun takes the lead and decides that first thing in the morning the rescuers will have to reconnoitre the town, talk to the inhabitants and try and get more information on which to base a rescue attempt.

Wednesday Morning

After the armoured vehicles had passed through Greater Snoring, the peace and quiet was broken once again by the sound of large numbers of diesel engines and the rescuers could see that the enemy had requisitioned all the civilian trucks and their owners had abandoned them throughout the town.

The citizens of Greater Snoring are early risers and many of them are already out on the streets, Aunty Edna’s house is at the far end of East Street (The rather desirable timber framed building beyond the green truck)

A better view of High Street and the chaos caused by inconsiderate parking. The Germans are going to have difficulties moving tanks and armoured vehicles through the town now, what were the citizens of Greater Snoring thinking of.

Reverend Green discusses with Gladys Peacock how they can increase the chaos.

As Miss Scarlet peers through the window of the White Swan we are left wondering if she is an Agent Provocateur, an innocent bystander or has some other reason for her interest that we can only guess at.

Maybe she’s interested in the back yard of the Swan rather than the blonde muscular soldiers who currently reside in the Inn, maybe we’ll never know.

Sally Brun (Molly Moris) has decided that the rescuers will go out in 2 teams of 2 and cover as much of the town as possible. It’s decided that Nicole will accompany Spankers (Sister Monica) and Vaggers (William Morris) will go with Molly. I’d rather go with Spankers but I’m not given a choice.

Molly and Vaggers lead off and decide Augustus Dingle looks to be a man of importance and so may be of some help to them.

Each citizen figure may be an encounter, I’m using half a deck of cards, Hearts = no encounter, 2 to 10 Spades are a citizen encounter and Ace, Jack, Queen and King of Spades is an enemy encounter. Cards obviously shuffled and 1 drawn for each figure once within  6” of a Rescuer.

Similar idea as the encounter with the German troops earlier. Sally uses her Charisma to try and put Dingle at ease and he uses his Brains to decide if she is trustworthy or not. If she wins I check his awareness to decide if he’s seen something that might help and is aware of its importance. Then a roll on a couple of tables to see what it is and where it is.

An immediate success, he’s flattered that this young lady is interested in his ferrets and is happy to impart the knowledge that there is a small section of Afrika Korps soldiers billeted in No 7 and that they are standing outside No7 right now.

The encounter on the opposite side of the road is a patrol of Italians, Giuseppe Strambini and Paolo Baldini, Giuseppe decides they should check out these two civilians and they start to move up the street.

At this point I checked to see what Sally and Vaggers would do, Sally is not as brave as she is charming and hesitated but fortunately didn’t move away or run. Vaggers is brave even if not too smart and so he stepped forward to greet the Italians. He’s also very charming and puts Giuseppe’s mind at rest when he tells him in halting Italian that they are going to the Newsagents to stock up on pipe tobacco, his favoured brand being Rough Shag but Giuseppe has never heard of it, he’s more of a Balkan Sabranie man himself. After an exchange of views on pipe cleaners the Italians walk back to their guard post at the end of South Street and Vaggers and Sally retrace their steps to the corner of High Street and go west to the Newsagents.

In the mean time Spankers has buttonholed a couple of likely looking characters outside the florist but they aren’t prepared to impart any knowledge to a Nun (Bad dice rolling) It was so bad that there was a possibility that they would inform the German Authorities but fortunately for the game they didn’t.

Sally and Vaggers have already passed along High Street and so Spankers follows on.

They have  no luck with Colonel Mustard or the Professor and are making their way to the Rev and Gladys Peacock when another encounter resolves itself.

Bugger it’s another Italian patrol and Bugger their suspicions are also aroused and they stop our intrepid heroines.

At this point Vaggers and Sally have entered the Newsagents.

There’s a long and fruitless exchange between Spankers and Silvano Bertone, however he makes it known that they must accompany him to Army Headquarters for further questioning but he makes the astute decision that the Nun and Girl Guide must be searched by his men.

This was astute because I’d explained the opening of the game to Mrs V and asked her if the Rescuers should wander round the town either armed or unarmed and in spite of the fact that she’s strongly against guns she said armed. So Spankers has a pistol strapped to her ankle and Nicole has one in her bag and whilst a search of Spankers might not reveal the ankle holster under all that black cloth the one in the bag would be easily found and unexplainable.

So I’m going to leave it there, this is the situation so far in the game, a puffed up and angry Silvano and his 2 men are facing Spankers and Nicole. They are at Snoring Cross, behind them is the White Swan and across the road on their left is the Newsagents Shop and you can see the Grocers No 3 on the map to help place the location.

If the women are searched they will be in big trouble, if they try and draw their concealed weapons they will be in big trouble, if they run away they will be in big trouble. Anyone have any idea how they can get out of this predicament bearing in mind that the total information amassed so far is the location of 2 guard posts and a section of Afrika Korps with no sight or sound of Snappers and Dougers.

I knew they shouldn’t have been carrying J

Thoughts greatly appreciated both on the current situation and how I'm trying to create a game with a high level of uncertainty but hopefully some amount of information so that a rescue attempt can go ahead. It will be a bit of a bugger if I don't find out where Snappers and Dougers are being kept.