Wednesday, August 29, 2012

Adventure in Wellslandia

Harry Dunwich, renowned explorer, by request of the British consulate in Wellslandia, has been tasked with escorting Father Alexander "Alexi" Pytersvanski, to the village of Slurmby on the Yada-yada river. A citizen of the Empire has taken a Russian for his bride and they wish to be wed in the Russian Orthodox tradition. For the British this is a diplomatic mission - an attempt to establish better relations with Russia.

In addition to Mr. Dunwich, Fr. Alexi has been provided with an escort of two of Her Majesty's finest British Regulars and three British-trained askari. Mr. Dunwich has hired on four native porters to carry supplies.

What follows is Mr Dunwich's account of the trip:

Day 1- A giant carnivorous plant of unknown species attempted to devour one of the porters. His flavor was apparently disagreeable to the thing and it spat him out. We had a good laugh at his expense.

Day 2 - Uneventful. A rare thing indeed. Fr .Alexi, in his heavily accented English, made the travel more enjoyable as he elaborated on the differences of Orthodoxy and other variations of faith. He is quite an interesting fellow.

Day 3 - Ambushed! The lizard tribes of Wellslandia wage a continuing war against humans, native and otherwise. A party of five spear attacked us and killed one porter (and destroyed the provisions he carried) and one Askari. It is tragic, but not unexpected. Fr. Alexi performed a simple ceremony for the fallen.

The lizard folk are anxious to rid their lands of humans.
They fall to our superior fighting ability.
The loss of life reminds the party of the dangers they may face. But, they must continue!

Day 4 - Confound it! They must be trailing us. Another small party of lizard harassed us. The askari could not hit a dead fish in a barrel. Trained? My foot! Fr. Alexi was struck during a vicious melee but the villain was dispatched. One of the devil-spawn retreated into the jungle. I fear he's gone for reinforcement.

Father "Alexi" stares death in the eye and laughs.
Day 5 - Uneventful. Perhaps not as rare an occurrence as I thought. Fr.Alexi, it seems, is an avid fan of the pugilistic science. We trade stories about the great fighters of our respective countries.

Day 6 - Mired in a swamp, our party became separated. One askari and a porter fell off the pace. Either they have been eaten by a crocodile or we shall see them again when we set up camp.

Day 7 - The porter and askari made their way to camp but they may have suffered the same fate either way. The lizard folk are tenacious. The battle was terrific and another porter is killed. With the loss of the provisions he carried, we are dangerously close to failure.
Here they come again!
The aftermath.
Day 8 - Pray your path never crosses a stampeding herd of triceratops. Another askari killed - impaled and trampled by the frightened creatures. Pray again that you not cross the path of what frightens these beasts.

Day 9 - So close to the village, it is with heavy heart that I note the deaths of Pvt. Smith and Pvt. Miller at the hands of the pestering lizard tribes. We buried the men in simple graves and covered them with stones to keep predators at bey. Fr. Alexi inscribed a prayer in Cyrillic on a piece of slate he placed at the head of the mound.
And again!
This time would be different.
The body count rises
An unlikely hero, Ngenzokwami kills a lizard and protects the remaining provisions.
Father "Alexi" surveys the damage and orders the porters to follow him, while Mr. Dunwich finishes off the lizards.
He isn't a renowned explorer for nothing.

Day 10 - Our party, so very small now, and on the brink, arrived at the village to great fanfare. There appears to be an abundance of women here. I shall rest awhile and enjoy it, before we prepare for the return trip.

The welcome party!
"A drink sir? Chilled vodka perhaps??"
The aforementioned women and the science type old guy.
Rules were a home-brew, inspired by this post by Chris at Just Another Wargames Blog and this one (which I've referenced before) from Fitz-Badger at Soweiter League.

Provisions (inspired by "Adventures in Jimland") - each porter carries 5 provisions. 1 provision is used per day under normal circumstances. 

If a porter is lost or killed, subtract 5 provisions from the total. If there are less than 5, reduce to 0

If the party is reduced to 0 provisions, all rolls suffer a -1 penalty and starvation (1 on a 1d6, save as normal) is possible. Test for all members of party each turn.

Movement -
6" (seems out of scale but it keeps things moving)
run/charge = 6" +1d6"
rough terrain, woods, etc. = 1/2 movement


Main characters have 3 hit points before killed

Troop ratings -
Poor  = -1 to hit
Regular = +/- 0
Veteran = +1 to hit

Weapon ranges
Pistol = 6"
Rifle= 12

Shooting -
Roll 1d6, hit on a 4,5,6

Shooting Modifiers -
short range = 1/2 weapon range,  +1
long range = range to 2x range, -1
target in cover -1
can not shoot if running

Melee -
1d6 each participant, higher score wins
more than one attacker, defender fights each individually

loser rolls saving throw on 1d6, on 6 ignores hit and continues fighting
main characters get +2 bonus on saving throw

Lizard folk - roll 1d6, if greater than number remaining, they retreat. Those that retreat are added to the next lizard folk encounter.

Porters - if attacked (and survive) roll 1d6, on a 1-2 they run until rallied by another figure (figure must get within 2" of porter). If makes it off table, porter is lost and presumed dead.

T. Rex (if it appears) has 5-10 hit points depending on size.
claw/claw/bite attack (roll 3x to attack) and can use tail for targets to rear (roll 1x)
Saving throw on every hit.

There are 10 possible encounters. Using a deck of cards, assign one card to each encounter and then 5 additional cards that are unassigned, i.e. blank (if creating more than 10 encounters, the rule of thumb is half as many "blanks" as encounter cards).

Shuffle. Draw a card. Play out encounter. Repeat until you've drawn 10 cards. You reach the destination after the 10th card is played.

The table I used (all are Clubs):
Ace - 5 lizard spear
2 - 5 Lizard sword
3 - 10 lizard sword - poor
4 - 5 lizard spear
5 - 4 lizard sword - veteran
6 - giant carnivorous plant - roll 1d6 on a 1 a giant carnivorous plant attacks 1 party member randomly determined. Save as normal.
7 - Swamp - Roll 1d6, on a 1, figure is delayed in swamp. If next encounter is combat ,arrives on 2nd turn.
8 - T. Rex (see above)
9 - Swamp, same as 7
10 - Herbivore stampede - roll 1d6 for each figure, on a 1, figure is caught in stampede. Save as normal.

This encounter idea (and the morale for lizard folk) is not my own.  In "Aztec Gold", by Will McNally, which appeared in Lone Warrior #166, a system is presented that essentially replicates an ambush for the solo player. Each successive native attack is reinforced by the survivors of the previous one. 

That same issue, by the way, includes the most requested article from Lone Warrior: "Enemy Behavior in Action: Renaissance Swiss". I highly recommend getting a copy -pdf or print - for both of these gems!

While I fared well this time, heavy losses are typical (the combat rules you use will influence this, of course) and I often do not reach the destination.


  1. An enjoyable (and amusing) report and it looks like a fun game! It did strike me as "Jimland-like", not at all a bad thing. I like the idea of the survivors of one attack reinforcing the next one.
    I also like the ideas of having a mission or goal, and "themed" encounters (although random encounters are fine, too).
    I keep toying around in my mind with adapting some of the Jimland ideas to a fantasy expedition (as a way to get my old dwarves, orcs, goblins, etc. out for a "spin"). This report gives me more food for thought on that idea.

    1. I think this method has a lot of promise for a fantasy setting - both in the wilderness and in dungeons.

      Maybe the dungeon entrance would be a card in the wilderness "deck" - and then use a separate deck for the dungeon encounters?

      Definitely something to think on!

  2. A very enjoyable storyline, sir. Thank you for posting it along with your rules.

    An idea for something bigger might be to have a few "decision points" in your setup. Build a much larger deck, then deal out "x" number of cards for each "path" the party might take. Some will obviously be easier than others . . . but the party won't know which ones, of course.

    I might well have to try something like this. Thank you!

    -- Jeff

    1. Hello Jeff,

      Thank you for stopping by and commenting.

      I like the "path" idea, especially in a jungle setting like this where the party would actually have to make a decision about where to travel.

      In order to provide a rationale for a choice, I might consider turning over the first card of each path. If it's a combat encounter, the narrative could explain it as simply running from the threat. If they're both combat, the party runs from the greater of two evils into the waiting arms of the lesser.

      If you haven't already, be sure to check out Fitz-Badger's improvements to the system over his blog,


  3. Thanks, John. :)
    One of my cards, the rope bridge, gives the player a choice, splitting up their force to take advantage of the bridge - it can only carry foot traffic, or keeping the force together and backtracking at the cost of time (by adding an extra card to the top of the deck).
    I expect I will create more cards over time. I can see having different card sets for different terrain, and having cards that give the player a choice between terrain types. Maybe a choice between to decks of the same terrain, but one has worse stuff to face and/or fewer days with no events, while the other deck has easier stuff but more cards. So it's a choice between tough but faster or easier but slower. Basically, there should be some difference between different possible deck choices.
    I can also see having options for how the player handles encounters, like retreating in the face of an enemy you don't want to face, maybe because your force is hurting from previous encounters. The retreat could be automatically successful, or maybe could be played out as a rear guard action. You could also add in scouting rolls, affecting which choices the force can make.
    I can see having more than one possible "end game" card, pick one face down at random and shuffle it in, so you aren't sure what your final goal will be.
    I can see a LOT of potential in this card idea! :) Easy to experiment, customize, have reasons for smaller actions and quick games, all as part of a cohesive story, with some sort of climax. And when one story ends you can start a new from there.
    Can you tell I'm enthused about this? lol I had the best solo game this past long weekend!