Friday 30 December 2011

Chapters Five and Six - Death in the Valley

Chapter Five

Three months have passed and it's been terrible so far. Only four months left in the season and Thomas can only hope that things get better. But unfazed the trio continued on. It was getting towards the end of the month and time to check the traps. The terrain was intensely wooded and great care was taken to move deliberately. On the way they ran into two parties of British Irregulars. The first inquired if the party wanted to join them but Blue Shirt politely declined. They were a bit more pressing on Thomas and Joshua but to no avail. Later they met up with another party of British Irregulars who were a bit friendlier. But that was all as they made it to the traps and recovered 8 fur bundles. Not bad for the month. This gave them a total of 12 bundles for the season.
Each trapper can carry up to three times their Rep in bundles. This would be a total of 36 that could be carried before they would have to stockpile them somewhere. Only three more months so that didn’t seem to be a problem.
So ended June…


Chapter Six


 The hunters encounter two PEFs very close to each other, a potentially dangerous situation.

Rain. The middle of July and a freak downpour covered the hunter/trappers as they made their way towards their traps.
“It will get worse before it gets better, “Blue Shirt said as he looked skyward.
One of the first words Thomas learned in French was the word for fire. So when he heard it he did, at the fellow who was shouting it! But he missed. The French NCO fired at Blue Shirt but struck a tree instead. Joshua fired and missed while another French soldier drew a bead on Thomas and fired….misfire! The last French soldier fired and missed as well.

More French, this time Regulars.

Blue Shirt raised his rifle and shot down the French NCO who tried to charge. The misfiring Frenchman didn’t have the stomach for bayonet work and stayed in place. The last Frenchman charged and stabbed Joshua in the head with a bayonet, sending him to the ground out of the fight. 

The second PEF is revealed and three French Irregulars join the fight! 

Suddenly three French Irregulars came screaming out of the bush behind the French soldiers. Blue Shirt charged and was cut down by a musket ball in the chest. The other two Irregulars fired at Thomas but both missed.
Thomas turned and headed away from the carnage at a run.
It all went to hell in a hand basket very quickly.
What was an even fight turned into a five to one battle in seconds. Taking stock of the situation I decided better to run away and fight another day. Except in Long Rifle it isn’t that easy. Running from the table only triggers a Chase Encounter. It was just a matter of figuring out how many would be chasing and setting up the table. Okay, I fudged it and used the same set up but entered from a different angle!
Thomas ran and the three French Irregulars gave chase. After a short time Thomas realized he couldn’t out run them and he turned to fight. Pulling out his tomahawk he waited. The three Frenchmen came into view, halted and drew their axes and knives. With a shout they were upon him. Thomas couldn’t remember much but after it was over he found himself, covered in blood, standing over three dead and dying Frenchmen.
After a near run thing three dead and dying Frenchmen and a thirst for vengeance.

I’m not going to bore you with a play by play of what happened but let’s just say that:
1 – Thomas used his once in a lifetime Lucky Bastard attribute.
2 – He ended up with half of his Star Power dice lost for the rest of the Encounter.
3 – And another time he reduced damage from Obviously Dead to Carry On by some damn fine Star Power rolling.
So now it’s time for him to do another Chase Encounter except this time he’s chasing the French soldiers who may or may not have captives.
Thomas headed back to where the fight had taken place. Joshua’s body lay there and the French had left. No time to grieve, Thomas began to track the enemy. After a long chase he caught up to and in front of the French soldiers. As they turned the bend and into sight Thomas fired at the French NCO and missed! He returned fire and missed as well. A second French soldier fired but missed, the third in the rear behind Blue Shirt could not fire.

Thomas confronts the Frenchmen.
Thomas pulled his tomahawk and the French NCO charged, bayonet at the ready. Thud! Thomas buried his tomahawk in the NCO’s chest. As he fell to the ground Blue Shirt surprised the French soldier next to him and broke his neck. The third soldier fired but missed. Thomas charged forward and retrieved his tomahawk. Blue Shirt picked up a dropped musket and readied himself for the attack that never came. The French soldier turned and ran into the brush.
Here's a brief recap of the events as they went to hell. The hunters activate first and move. Then the other side activated and the first PEF moved into sight and it was resolved as three French soldiers. Blue Shirt (Rep 5) ends up going last with zero successes during the In Sight.  In fact he couldn’t even act. At least he shot down the NCO when he was charged. Joshua missed his shot and was promptly bayoneted as the French were active and charged into melee.  Once the turn ended the other PEFs moved and the next one was resolved as the three Irregulars.
This triggered another In Sight between the hunters and the Irregulars and Blue Shirt went down.  That left three Irregulars and two soldiers against me. See ya! The Irregulars ended up pursuing Thomas and I realized that there was no way to escape as they activated first. That’s when it was melee time. Bottom line if Thomas didn’t have the Lucky Bastard attribute and changed the first OD to a miss he would have been dead in the first combat. The only reason he ended up winning was because of that and the Star Power benefits and it was still a very close fight. 
It made sense that Thomas could go after them and rolling on the After the Battle Table left Joshua dead and Blue Shirt recovered enough to move. I switched to a Hunt Encounter and used the Tracking Table. It got me to musket range but they went first. Luckily they missed, Blue Shirt took a successful Challenge to get into melee with one of the soldiers and the NCO charged. Thomas could shoot if he was able so I decided to throw the tomahawk. Lucky hit. After that the In Sight was over and the last soldier failed his morale and ran.
This game is pretty intense at times. I counted this as a lost Encounter as for checking traps. Went back and buried Joshua. Got the fur bundles from him as well and we could still easily carry them. We had 12 and the most we can carry is 27. Only two months left in the season.  And so ended July…

Thursday 29 December 2011

Chapter Three and Four Too! Thomas the Hunter

For the first two chapters try

Chapter One 

Chapter Two

Chapter Three

The hunters decided to give it another try. This time they would take more care, staying to the woods whenever possible. Once they reach the edge of the woods they run across the clearing and reach the wooded hill. When they reached the crest they ran into three British Irregulars from the Ohio Valley Rangers. The six spent some time exchanging info, coffee beans and tobacco. The Ranger Leader said that most of the French had been driven from the area. After a rest both parties said their farewells and headed off into different directions.
The first PEF to be resolved were "Friends". Couple of more d6 rolls and it was determined that they were British Irregulars. When you meet friends you swap information and this allows you to count the area at one lower Investment Level for the remainder of the Encounter. This represents info as to where it might be safe or dangerous. As the parties were talking activation moved to the other side. The PEFs were at the other side of the table and now moved. The closest one entered the left edge of the wooded hill and the other followed close behind. Activation dice were rolled and…
Blue Shirt and Thomas kept looking back as they reached the bottom of the hill and into the flat wooded area. "What's the matter?" Joshua asked. "We're being followed," Thomas replied.
Blue Shirt held up his hand. "Better to meet them here than to lead them to our trapping area," he said. The three turned around and held their rifles at the ready. Not obviously aggressive but not at ease either. Three Indians came into view. Blue Shirt and one of the Indians began to speak. Thomas saw Blue Shirt smile and reach into his pouch and hand the other Indian some tobacco. Thomas relaxed. After a few minutes the two groups left in opposite directions. Within minutes the hunter/trappers reached the area they had been searching for and began to set their traps.
The 2nd PEF was revealed to be a party of Neutrals from a neighboring Indian tribe. But just because they were neutral to the hunters didn’t mean that they were hostile to the French. In any case, as with the Rangers before, the interaction with them reduced the Investment Level down by one level to a one. When the Investment Level drops, so does the activity from the PEFs. The hunters easily outdistanced the final PEF, exited the table and could now set their traps. The first Trapping Encounter of the season is only about setting the traps. To see if they caught anything would mean that at least one of them would have to check on them. But I also wanted to do some hunting. Time spent hunting was time not spent checking traps. Maybe I could split the party in two. When this happens you can have more than one Encounter per month but that means someone would have to go alone. That wouldn't be Joshua so it would mean that Thomas would be the one to set out on his own. Well, as the story is about Thomas then let's give it a try. I decided that Thomas would go off to hunt by himself while the others would come back and check the traps. So ended April…

Chapter Four

Thomas headed across the river to the north to hunt. Hopefully he would have less chance of meeting anyone. Early on he found some tracks of what appeared to be Elk but these didn’t pan out and the trail disappeared after a hundred yards or so. Thomas continued his hunt and saw some small game but never got close enough for a shot. It is getting late and he is running out of time. He couldn't go back to the others empty handed. Later in the day Thomas spies a pheasant taking wing and brings him down with one shot. As he approaches the bird he spies tracks. "Wolves," he thinks to himself. Thomas follows it around and quickly loses the trail. He heads back towards the downed pheasant and starts to get it ready to transport.
The first PEF were Elk tracks. In Long Rifle the hunter and the quarry roll d6 and count successes. Depending upon the difference the hunter can get close enough for a shot, the prey can flee, or the hunter can lose the trail, as happened to Thomas. The second PEF was small game and Thomas lost the trail of those as well. The third PEF didn’t move and instead split into two PEFs. The first one resolved was more small game and Thomas got a shot off and killed it. I decided it was a pheasant. Killing small game means the hunt is not a failure but the hunter doesn’t get any Fame Points for it. But at least he wouldn’t lose any either. The last PEF were Wolf tracks, two to be exact. One of the possibilities when tracking is that ferocious prey, if they score 2 or more successes then the hunter will have a chance to ambush the hunter. Wolves, mountain lions and bears are allowed to do this. So when I lost the trail I wasn't too disappointed.
In a Hunt the beginning PEFs are animals but there is a chance for unwanted attention. It has something to do with how many shots you take and even though Thomas only took one shot it generated one new PEF. And it was guaranteed NOT to be an animal.
After each kill it takes a certain number of turns to prepare the kill for transport off the table and to qualify for Fame Points.  As Thomas was doing this the PEF moved closer and….
As Thomas is readying the pheasant he hears the brush rustle and a French Irregular steps into view. Realizing that his musket is out of reach and with a tomahawk in hand he charges the Frenchman who fires. Or should I say, misfires! Thomas bowls into the startled opponent and they roll on the ground locked in combat. Evenly matched, the Frenchman rolls away and starts to run down the trail. Thomas retrieves his musket and fires, hitting his target in the leg. Thomas runs over to the Frenchman who is unconscious from the wound. Thomas takes his powder, provisions and axe but leaves him some water. Grabbing the pheasant he starts his trek back to camp.
Okay, this guy is officially lucky. I mean come on, the guy has him dead to rights and the gun misfires? What are the odds of that happening? Okay, they're 1 in 6 but come on. Anyway, it's time for Thomas to get out of here as the shot, you guessed it, generated another PEF. I mean what are the odds? Well with 2 shots it's 1 in 3. If only he can stop shooting. But I've learned my lessons.
Before setting off Thomas paused to reload his weapon. Thomas definitely hears something, no make it some things, heading towards him. He heads off away from the trail and towards the high ground where it will be harder to be tracked. Thomas picks up the pace as darkness falls.
Not sure what the PEF would have been but glad I got off the table. Lucky for me the PEF didn’t move one time, but it did split into two PEFs. Using PEFs and not knowing what exactly to expect adds a lot of tension, and enjoyment, to the game.
Thomas didn’t gain any Fame Point but he also didn’t lose any thanks to killing the Small Game. No points were gained for taking out the Frenchman. It may seem strange but Thomas chose the Hunter/Trapper profession. If I wanted to get famous killing people I should have chosen Soldier, Indian Warrior or even Irregular where combat is always an option and a way to gain Fame.
I didn’t want to play out a Trapping Encounter with Blue Shirt as after all its Thomas's story. So I fudged it and let them roll on the Check the Traps Table but with 1d6, and not the normal 2d6, for each one. Three sets of traps, three d6 rolled. Two were successful but one had nothing. For the month the hunter/trappers trapped four fur bundles.  I realize now why it would be better to trap in a lower Investment Level territory, more animals are about. Another lesson learned!
So ended May…

Wednesday 28 December 2011

Chapter Two - Setting the Traps

Chapter Two


The table was mostly wooded with a long wooded hill cutting the table in half. All the PEFs were placed behind the hill in three different sections.
They were moving though a clearing and towards some wooded hills. Just over the hills lay the river and the spot where Blue Shirt wanted to set the traps. As the three of them came into sight of the hills Blue Shirt raised his hand, the signal to stop. On the hill to their front were three Frenchmen heading down the slope. "I see three," Blue Shirt said. "Three what?" asked Joshua who was oblivious to the situation."Three Frenchmen," replied Thomas. "It's a safe bet to think they're not friendly."
Blue Shirt and Thomas ducked into the nearby woods to their right as did the Frenchmen. Joshua stood his ground.
"Get in here!" yelled Blue Shirt. Joshua woke up and ran to join his two partners. Thomas couldn't help but think to himself, "Oh no, not again..."
Like the previous adventure the two groups came into sight out of musket range. After the In Sights were taken all of the participants had ducked for cover, the Frenchmen in the woods on the hill while the hunter/trappers into some nearby woods. And like last time the side that could move first would get the advantage. Non-Player forces are moved by the PEF Movement Table even when they become resolved into figures. After two turns where the hunters couldn’t move and the French didn't the three Frenchmen sprinted toward the woods at a fast move as the hunters didn't activate. Next turn the hunters activated first and moved to the edge of the woods causing an In Sight to be taken all around.
The Frenchmen sprint across the clearing hoping to reach the woods before being seen.

Too late! The hunters reach the edge of the woods and all sides take In Sights. A d6 is placed next to each figure than can act during the In Sight. Blue Shirt, Thomas, and one of the Frenchmen will go first.

The three hunters made their way to the edge of the woods and saw the three Frenchmen as they were still in the clearing. One of the Frenchmen dove for the ground as soon as he saw them. One fired at Blue Shirt and missed. Blue Shirt shot him in the chest. Thomas beat the last Frenchman to the shot and fired, hitting him in the chest as well. Joshua fired at the prone Frenchman and missed. But it was enough as the Frenchman didn’t have the stomach to continue the fight and ran back towards the hill.
"Look!" Blue Shirt said, pointing towards the hill that the Frenchman was running for. "I see three more French." 
The 2nd PEF is resolved, more French!

"And there," Thomas pointed."To the right of them, there go three Indians." As the hunters watched one Frenchman went over to the Indians. They could see him pointing in their direction. 

 And the 3rd PEF proves more trouble.

"Let's go," Blue Shirt said matter of factually.
"We could take them," Joshua said as Blue Shirt and Thomas turned to leave.
"No money in that," Thomas replied. "You want to fight? Go join the army."
After the quick exchange of gunfire the second PEF moved over the hill and into sight. This triggered it being resolved. It came up more enemies, more Frenchmen. Almost on cue the final PEF moved and came over the hill. Neutrals, Indians this time. Because the French were close and in sight they had to resolve the interaction with the Indians. Passing a Challenge Test meant that the Indians, at worse, would not get involved and at best join the French. A 2d6 roll resulted in a pass Challenge. I realized that we weren't here to fight but to trap and hunt. I decided it was time to leave. Did I choose an Investment Level that was too high or was I just unlucky? Mathematically I would say unlucky but all I knew is the one Encounter for the month was wasted.
Thomas didn’t gain any Fame Points as the Encounter was to set the traps, not fight the enemy. So ended March…

Tuesday 27 December 2011

Thomas Howard - Hunter/Trapper - Long Rifle AAR

Long Rifle is the black powder period immersion game where players take on one of six different roles. Set during the French and Indian War , 1754, players try to gain experience, fame and fortune in the wilds of North America, while staying alive. This is the first installment of my Star, Thomas Howard, hunter/trapper extraordinaire!

 "It's a big world out there Thomas, and you're only a small part of it." - Mrs. Howard, 1735.

Thomas Howard found himself a failure at business and even more so as a husband. Perhaps because he was a bit too young or perhaps because he was a bit too foolish Thomas left his home in Massachusetts and set out for the West. Some said he was an adventurous man, others, his bankers, said he was a no good dead beat, but no matter how or why, Thomas found himself working for an old Indian named Blue Shirt. Blue Shirt wasn't his real name and although Thomas knew a bit of French in addition to his native English, foreign languages were not his strong suit. In fact, Thomas had yet to find his strong suit. but Thomas worked cheap and he was a fast learner. Blue Shirt had seen what was coming down the pike, a war between the two white men tribes and he figured it might come in handy to have one of them as a friend. In return, he offered to teach Thomas how to shoot, hunt and trap. Thomas realized it would be a rough life but the thought of a fresh start and someday working on his own made him embrace the challenge.
After his first full year, 1753, Thomas returned to the East but not his old haunts. No those days were long gone. Thomas had made enough in his first year to make it through the winter and now it was March. He headed west back up the river to rendezvous with Blue Shirt near Potter's Ford. And this is where our story begins…
Thomas is a Star, hunter/trapper, Rep 4, and has the Hawkeye and Lucky Bastard Attributes. The first he chose. This allows him to roll an extra d6 when firing and also on the damage table, choosing the best results. Lucky Bastard would allow him to change an Obviously Dead result to a Miss but only once in his life. This Attribute was rolled at random.
Thomas is armed with a musket and a tomahawk.
Periodically I will post game mechanic comments for clarity but as the campaign progresses they may be less needed. My objective is to get Thomas to Rep 5 and finish a complete campaign year. Hunting and Trapping is allowed from March to September with a chance to visit a trading post in October to trade your furs and gain Fame Points (used to increase your Rep and Personal Loyalty value). The Territory Investment Level would be 3. This is used to determine how much activity that can be expected while moving in the territory. Almost none is 1 while high activity is 5 so 3 would be a happy medium. The previous picture shows the first table that Thomas would move over. This would be the rendezvous where Thomas would meet up with Blue Shirt.The objective was simple, cross the table to the ford then over to the other side where hopefully Blue Shirt would meet him.
The terrain was mostly wooded with the river and Potter's Ford in the upper right hand corner. Coincidentally all three Possible Enemy Force markers (PEFs) started there as well. PEF represent potential enemies, friends, neutrals, animals or absolutely nothing at all. The first two turns Thomas did not activate and two of the PEFs moved directly towards him. On the third turn the PEF entered the woods and…
Thomas heard him before he saw him. It was a French Irregular and not a fellow hunter. The scalp hanging from his belt told him as much. Thomas raised his musket as he came into view and got the drop on the Frenchman. Click! The Frenchman stopped in place realizing too late what had happened. Thomas wasn't a murderer and didn't hold no grudge against the French but he wasn't taking any chances. The Frenchman was quick to surrender. Between the little English of the Frenchman and the even less French from Thomas the Frenchman understood. Thomas shoved the Frenchman's musket into the soft dirt clogging the barrel and took away his tomahawk as well. Then he told him to start walking and count to ten before he turned around and if he didn't he'd shoot him, simple as that. As Thomas watched the Frenchman walk away he hurried off towards Potter's Ford.
The first PEF moved into the woods and into LOS of Thomas. Resolving the PEF resulted in "Enemies".
A few quick die rolls saw that it was a Rep 4 Irregular but only one. As Thomas was in British/Allied Indian Territory that made the enemy French.  Both took the In Sight Test versus their Rep and while Thomas passed 3 the Frenchman passed 0. My first instinct was to shoot but that could cause problems later on. So I took a Challenge Test with the success being the Frenchman surrendering and the failure being he could attempt to shoot. Luckily I was successful. The rest was just figuring out what to do in real life. I couldn't take his weapon but I couldn’t have him shoot me either. So I figured just clog the barrel and be off.
Thomas leaves the Frenchman none too worse for wear and perhaps a little wiser. That'll teach the Frenchman to be on the lookout when moving through the woods!

Thomas was looking backward when he should have been looking forward. He heard the blast before he saw the shooter. The ball embedded itself in a tree trunk about waist high. Thomas charged the Indian warrior but was knocked backwards to the ground. As the Indian drew his tomahawk Thomas sat up and fired his musket. The Indian fell to the ground hit in the chest. Thomas drew his own tomahawk and cautiously moved towards the downed Indian who was bleeding badly. The Frenchman had surrendered, this was different. Thomas took the Indian warrior's powder and ball, tomahawk and food. He left him some water and that was about it. "He's in God's hands now," he thought as he headed away. He wondered what the French and French Allied Indians were doing so far south in the valley.
The smoke from the Indian's musket hadn't even cleared away before Thomas was upon him. Just as quickly Thomas was knocked to the ground.  
The 2nd PEF was resolved as "Neutrals" and again it was one figure, a Rep 4 Indian. With neutrals there's a chance that if you take a successful Challenge they will be friendly. I failed, we went to In Sights and he scored higher. He fired but lucky for me hit the tree instead of my gut. My action was to charge him (go figure). He whipped my butt in melee and scored a knock down result. I rolled and passed 2d6, Stunned, but used my Star Power to make it a Carry On result. But I also lost 2 Star Power dice doing it. No choice but to fire and I did. I hit him in the chest Out of the Fight. The other PEF still remained in place.
Thomas left the Indian and continued on. He would be leaving the woods and could see Potter's Ford in the distance and a figure crossing the ford heading towards him. They saw each other at the same time. Thomas was out of range so he decided to duck back into the woods. When he peered out he couldn't see the other guy and guessed that he had did the same. Now what?
Both sides could see each other so both took the In Sight and scored the same result so would act at the same time. They could fire but were out of range so both ducked back. Lucky for Thomas as he had forgotten to reload! Okay, so I had forgotten to reload. Activation dice were rolled and…
Thomas began to reload still ducked back behind a tree. When he was ready he peered around the tree and saw the enemy crossing the ford. As soon as he saw Thomas he dove for cover on the bank of the river. Thomas sprinted forward and dove into some bushes closer to the river. It was another French Irregular, he just knew it. He cocked the musket and waited. He didn’t have to wait very long as the Frenchman rose up and made a mad dash towards where he thought Thomas was. His mistake, as Thomas fired and struck him square in the chest, the Frenchman dropped like a rag doll.
Game wise the Frenchman started to cross the ford as Thomas was reloading. The Frenchman activated first on the next turn and reached the edge of the river. Thomas popped out into sight and the Frenchman won the In Sight. As he went first and was still out of range he dove to cover to duck back behind the river bank. Thomas's action, now that there wasn't a target, was to fast move as far as possible. He completed his move by going prone in the bushes. Going prone he still could see and be seen. The next turn Thomas activated first and waited. When the Frenchman popped up from the bank Thomas won the In Sight and fired first, lucky enough to hit him in the chest.
As the Frenchman came in to view Thomas fired and down he went.
Thomas took the weapons from the dying Frenchman as well as his powder, water and food. He then proceeded to bury the extra muskets and tomahawks on this side of the ford. He'd come back and hopefully retrieve them at the end of the season. As soon as he finished he crossed over to the other side of the river. Once there he met Blue Shirt and another hunter/trapper, a young boy named Joshua Sims. As they headed up river Blue Shirt told Thomas of how war had been declared between the Whites. He told the Indian about the two Frenchmen and their Indian Ally. "I heard the shots," Blue Shirt said. "That was you?" Thomas nodded and kept pace as the trio headed towards their first stop. A day or two march and they'd be at a point of the river that would be good to set their traps. It was getting dark…
Thomas meets up with Blue Shirt and the new guy, Joshua Sims.

So ends the first encounter for Thomas. Thomas picked up 2 Fame Points for the two enemies he took out. This time period takes some getting used to what with reloading and melee being a very real possibility. Well, I learned lesson one. Stop and take the time to reload! Make that two. Know what your attributes are and use them! I forgot to use the Hawkeye benefits BOTH times. Well, like I said, Thomas is still pretty new at this.