Thursday 8 September 2011

The Fiend Pursued!

Rats on the run

 In this game Hengist must run down the fleeing Fiend before he can slip back into the night. This was a Pursuit encounter, familiar to players of Two Hour Wargames. However for this game I dusted off the original Posse encounter rules from Six Gun Sound. More about this in the game notes at the end.

The Wererats were the runners.
Fiend Rep 5, Hardiness 3
Henchrat Rep 4, Hardiness 2

Of the six other rats from the last game, two had fled the field, three were out of the fight, and one was Obviously dead.

Hengist's party were the chasers

Hengist, Rep 6, Hardiness 3
Silva, Rep 5, Hardiness 2
Bors, Rep 5, Hardiness 2

Alphonse was knocked out of the fight in the last encounter and so did not participate. Further Bors was left behind to tend Alphonse and to see is any of the rat casualties could be made well enough to be put to the question should the Fiend successfully escape.

 You can see the table set up above and to the right. As this game would not be using the grid movement of the standard Fiend encounters, it was laid out to cover a 4' x 3' area depicting the edge of  town and the beginning of the countryside beyond.

Most of the pursuit would take place off table with the figures only being placed once/if the chasers closed to within 2 feet of the  runners.

The two sides started with a notional 50" of separation.

 At its greatest the lead stretched out to 55", however Hengist and Silva were able to slowly run the rats down. By turn 10 the lead had decreased to 39". By turn 13 it was down to 29". 
On turn 16, with both sides now on the table  the lead was down to 14". It still being night time, good visibility  was only 12". However Silva's bow was deadly at that range while the Fiend's shurikens would fall far short. The rats knew it was time to find a spot of cover from which to make a stand.

On turn 17 Silva was able to get off a shot at the scampering rats. Sadly the shaft flew wide.
The rats disappeared around the nearest corner and waited. 

Hengist and Silva rounded the corner to find the rats waiting for them only inches away!

The henchrat charged Silva while the Fiend and Hengist sized each other up.  

As the Silva and her opponent traded blows, Hengist and the Fiend traded shurikens and lead.

The fighting and shooting went on for some three turns with no one getting the upper hand. 

The Fiend survived two shots that would have dropped an ordinary rat, and yet he fought on.

Silva would have felled her rat were it not for deft shield work on his part. Again and again Silva nimbly dodged his blows. For his part the rat capered and spun using his sword and shield as if there were extensions of his very ratty being.

And then the unthinkable happened. The rat broke through Silva's parry and delivered a death blow. The lithe Elf fell to the floor never to rise again.
The rat's triumph was short lived, soon turning to despair  Hengist was enraged by the death of his friend. Where before the Brother had been content to bide his time and wait for an opening, now his rage unbalanced him.

Eyes burning with hatred Hengist charged the rats with such fury that they let fly the musk of fear and fled before him. 

Hengist would not be denied his revenge and in time caught both fleeing rats and ended their verminuous existence.

It would be some time before the people of Bricole de Gribeauval would sleep soundly at night, but for now at least their terror was at an end. The Watch would be able to deal with any remnants of the assassin's pack in the days and nights to come.

With heavy heart Hengist would lead Bors to Haven on Trent while Bors remained abed recovering. 

Silva would be missed, but the fight against the rising darkness would continue.

Game notes: Nothing really new here so far as encounter design, just a necessary step  in completing the mini campaign. Had the Fiend escaped next up the heroes would put the captured rats to the question perhaps gathering enough clues to proceed to a lair encounter in the (under)city itself.

As mentioned I returned to the original Posse encounter from Six Gun Sound for this game. That encounter was what really "sold" me on Two Hour Wargames when I first played it these many years ago. You see I had been trying out many different sets of western gunfight rules and had started to write my own. The one stumbling block  in all of these rules was how to handle the pursuits so common to the genre. None that I had tried or devised gave the desired feel to the chase.

After playing the Six Gun Sound Posse encounter all that changed and I have been contributing to or writing for THW ever since.

In the original posse encounter, the pursued were always moved on the table. The lead was tracked on paper and when the pursuers got close enough they too would be placed on the table. The beauty of this method is that as/if the lead decreases the pursued have to consider where they are on the table and where they are likely to be when the enemy catches up. Do you hole up in that pile of rocks over there or see if you can eek out a lead and get clean away? 

The drawback to this method is that it involves a lot of table top movement and record keeping. It was not uncommon for the pursued to criss cross the table several times before the pursuers showed up. By way of explanation if the pursued left the table on one edge they simply reentered from the opposite edge. It could make for a long game that never even ended in shots being  fired.

In the current crop of THW games, pursuit is conduced almost entirely off table. Various opposed rolls are made to see whether the lead increases or shrinks and only when it shrinks down to zero are the figures placed on the table. At this point a standard stand up fight encounter is set up and played. The tension of wondering if you will make it to that shack or copse or whatever cover or be caught out in the open is lacking from this new method.

For this game I tried a hybrid approach. Pursuit was conducted on paper until the lead shrank to 24" or less. At this point the pursued entered the table. At this point the moves were still conducted as if in pursuit end the pursuers placed at the lead distance behind the pursued each turn. Fire could be conducted, range and visibility permitting. The game would proceed in this fashion until the lead closed to 6" (test of wills distance), or the pursued decided to turn round and fight off their pursuers.

Well that about wraps it up for now. Sorry for the long design ramble there. Hopefully if you have read this far it was of interest to you!