Thursday, December 31, 2020

Everything I painted this year

28mm Fantasy
















28mm Sci-fi







20mm Historical




15mm Historical



10mm Historical




Wednesday, December 30, 2020

North Star Oathmark Skeleton Infantry



I was really excited when North Star announced their plan to release a set of multi-part plastic skeleton warriors with European Bronze Age-style armour and weapons. There are many sets of plastic skeletons on the market, but most have rather unrealistic looking skeletons and armour and weapons that are too fantastical for my taste. In my opinion GW has some of the best skeleton warriors available - I haven't bought any of Mierce Miniature ones - but these North Star ones are right up there with them.

One of the issues I have with skeleton warriors is their armour and weapons. Most fantasy wargames and RPGs are set in the medieval or pseudo-medieval era, and skeleton warriors are usually styled as the reanimated remains of the long-dead warriors (well, long enough for the flesh to have rotted away, at least); the idea of having skeleton warriors sporting what are contemporary armour and weapons just seem off to me. Zombies, yes. But for skeleton warriors, I want a more archaic style.

When I started my RPG campaign in Terrinoth, I imagined that the civilisations there went through a similar progression from Stone Age to Bronze Age and then Iron Age, as our own did. That means that when the PCs explore (aka loot) any ancient tombs, they should come across artefacts and remains from these eras.

When preparing for my Barrowmaze campaign, I wanted to give an European Bronze Age aesthetics to parts of the complex, and to that end I bought a few Etruscan warrior miniatures to paint as bronze statues - I wanted a visual contrast between the arms and armour the PCs had and those used by the civilisation that created the burial complex. I was unable to find any figures of skeleton warriors from the Bronze Age other than those of classical Greek style, which was not what I had in mind. So you can imagine my joy when I saw the first pictures of the North Star figures.


The figures are multi-part, with the torso and legs coming in one piece, and separate arms holding weapons, and heads/skulls. As with all multi-part skeleton figures, there is not a lot of surface area at the connection between the parts, which would make the assembled figure fragile. To overcome this, I drilled holes at the bases of the skulls to allow for a better fit between the neck and the skull, and for the arms I aimed for at least one more point of contact between the arm and the torso. 

For these archers, this meant having the bow or bow arm touching some part of the torso, or gluing the arrows to the bows (to the correct side of the bow, I might add) such that there was a whole mechanical connection running from one shoulder joint through the arrow, to the bow, and then back to the other shoulder joint. As you can see from the picture, there were a few ways one could do this and still make the poses look natural.


For the spearmen I either rested the butts of the spears on the bases, or else rested the shafts of the spears on the rims of the shields.


Similarly for the figures holding one-handed weapons, I glued the weapons to the rims of the shields, giving the look that they are shielding their weapon hands while waiting to strike.

These guys still need to be put on bases, and I will also need to eventually make a banner for them, but for now they are ready for my RPGs. I look forward to using them in my next game.

Monday, December 28, 2020

Mirliton Etruscan warriors and Northstar/Frotsgrave multi-part plastic figures


To me, one of the greatest developments in the hobby in recent years are the number of multi-part plastic figures Northstar Figures have been releasing in support of Frostgrave and Oathmark. Between the two lines, a GM can probably create a PC figure for any human, elf, or dwarven PC. With the latest release of the demonic infantry box, one can also create Tiefling figures, although personally I have never had a Tiefling PC in any of my campaigns...

Shown above are two of the PCs from our Barrowmaze campaign: Francis the paladin and Tamira the cleric, both from the cult of Kellos, as evident by their red garb and golden shields. Francis was built from the Frostgrave Knights sprue and carries an Oathmark dwarven shield. while Tamira was build with the head and torso from the Frostgrave female wizard sprue, and arms from the Frostgrave Knight sprue.

I also made a "supplies" base using bits from the various sprues - this represents a cache of supplies stashed by an adventuring party in the dungeon; encumbrance is a major issue in Old School RPGs, and I assumed that at some point the party would have to leave some of their supplies behind so they could carry more loot, or that they might come across supplies stashed by other parties.

The bronze statues are Etruscan warriors from Mirliton's 28mm historical range. They are meant to represent humans, but their old school proportions are not a good match for those of the modern plastic figures. Their style, however, match those of earlier bronze age cultures, and that was why I chose to use them. They were painted with a base coat of Citadel Warplock Bronze (a very nice dark bronze), and the patina was created by mixing Citadel Sybarite Green, Citadel Hoeth Blue, and methylated spirit.

Saturday, December 26, 2020

Chronicles of the Adventurers Guild #8


On the 1st day of Ostar, guild members Laethen, Madian, Kelso, and Francis (see PC profiles here), with the bearer Karl in employment, attempted to return to the chamber where the steles were found via mound #20, but were driven back by skeletal warriors, some of whom were armed with bows, which the members surmised must be supplied by some unknown party.

The party then instead descended to the underground complex via mound #16, where they explored to the north and then the west. Here they came upon a chamber, where the remains of two tomb-robbers were found. When the party attempted to discover the cause of their deaths, the corpses reanimated and attacked them, but were destroyed.

The party then explored a blocked door along the passage, and found behind it a cave, wherein was a stone statue of a humanoid figure with a tail and antlers upon his head, which the party surmised to be a representation of the god Kurnos. A pit, hidden by an illusory spell, was discovered in front of the statue, but nothing else of note or of value was found here.

Them proceeding south with the aim of reaching the chamber with the stele, they found their way once more blocked by skeletal warriors, and retreated to the surface.

Guild member Kelso then proposed that the party explore mound #35, which previously was used by tomb-robbers as a lair, and found within a passage leading to the underground complex, which was not discovered by the guild rangers previously. Descending the passage, the party was yet again assailed by skeletal warriors, and retreated once more.

Thrice thwarted in their attempt to reach the chamber of the steles, the party then decided instead to explore barrow #34. Here they found an antechamber with the statue of a bearded warrior. Taking the passage to the left, they came upon a chamber with a single sarcophagus. When they attempted to recover the grave goods within, the remains of the occupant within animated and attacked them. Guild member Laethan was struck upon his throat, and fell, and could not be revived. The party withdrew from the mound, and returned to the guild.

Signed,

Jeras, Guild Chronicler


Prepping and Running the Game

This session was significant for three reasons.

Firstly, I decided that the Death Cultists had to take some action to prevent the incursion of the guild to the underground complex, as they were interfering with their goal. An attack on the guild itself would be too drastic and would invite retaliation. A more "natural" way of  dissuading the guild members from entering the complex would be increase the number of "wandering monsters" in the complex by animating more skeletons, and arming them with missile weapons so they can fight on an equal footing with the adventurers. The problem of course is that while rusty swords and spears might still be able to cause some damage, there was no way centuries-old bows and arrows could realistically work. The cultists (i.e. I as the GM) had to make the decision to supply them with "modern" bows and arrows, which of course advertises the fact that someone with access to a supply of these things were arming the skeletons... I guess there is no perfect solution.

The second significant event in this session is that the players have finally made the connection between the overground map and the underground map, which allowed them to predict the likely entrances to the underground complex. Using this knowledge, they were able to deduce that mound #35, previously used as a lair by the cultists, would possibly contain an entrance to the complex. They were of course correct, but the cultists have anticipated this, and placed a party of skeletons here too. While they were unable to get to their destination, the players now know that someone was actively preventing them from doing so, and with the supply chain to the area being rather limited, it will be just a matter of time before they find information that will lead them to the cultists.

The third significant event was the death of a character. In Five Torches Deep, while it is easy for a low-level character to "go down", actual, permanent character death is still rare, happening only on a 1 in 20 chance. Almost every PC in the game so far have "gone down" and suffered loss in stat points, but this is the first time someone rolled a '1' on the d20 "death roll". Worse, it happened to a player who is new to the group and to the hobby. I was reluctant to make the result stick, but I decided that the possibility of death was what gave meaning to the game.

Due to the year-end holiday season, our next session will be in about four weeks. Have a good holiday, and let's all hope that next year will be a better one.

Sunday, December 20, 2020

Ogre, Tiny Towns, and Blood Bowl Season 2

With our Frostgrave campaign concluded, FG, Adrian, and I decided to play a few boardgames in our last session for the year.

The first game we played was Ogre, which FG, Martin, and I last played two years ago. The last time we played the maths seemed a little off and the Ogres crushed everything in their paths. This time things seemed more balanced, but it seems like the best strategy is to target the Ogres' tracks. Perhaps one of these days we can play a large armour battle instead.

We then played Tiny Towns, which I really enjoy but which I am really bad at.


Finally, we played a few turns of Blood Bowl using the current Season 2 rules. The rules don't seem to have changed enough to make them totally foreign, but I am sure some of the new rules (like allowing players to jump over prone and stunned players) will be significant.

Our next game will probably in four weeks or so, and hopefully we will be able to play a non-league game for warm-up by then.

Wednesday, December 16, 2020

Thaw of the Lich Lord Games 9 and 10

 
After a short hiatus due to work, we finally managed to play the last two games in the campaign last week.

The first scenario was rather easy: with no real ranged attacks and a limited movement range, the banshees were no real threat to us and easily defeated, which gave us time to set up the second and final scenario.

The final scenario looked rather intimidating: there were armoured skeletons and cultists to overcome, before we can get at the Lich Lord, who was protected by wraith knight bodyguards.

We made a quick plan and got to it: Adrian's barbarians dealt with the skeletons, while FG's medievals went for the cultists, and my skavens, fastest and armed with the best Undead-slaying weapon we have, charged straight for the Lich Lord.

While the two other warbands made short work of the resistance, my skavens arrived in the end zone: some charged at the wraith knights to prevent them from interfering, while the three skavens with magical weapons engaged the Lich Lord.

At one point things looked grim as one of the skaven warriors was killed, and the Lch Lord fended off the other two attackers, leaving him free to cast spells the next turn... then FG's magical construct made it into melee, and cut down the already wounded Lich Lord.


Over all the campaign was fun, but with each successive game the challenge became weaker. A lot of it had to do with the fact that we were not very competitive in our play after the first two or three games: there was plenty of treasure to go around, and since we all knew that the final scenario was against a powerful villain, it made little sense to weaken each other.

FG has bought the next campaign in the series, and I have yet to have a detailed look at the scenarios, but I think we will need to build the competition into the rules, or else have one player take the role of the bad guys, either permanently, or on a rotating basis.

We will be playing the Ogre boardgame next, while we wait for Adrian and his friend to paint their Blood Bowl teams. In the meanwhile, I will need to learn the game rules - not easy as I will need to abandon the preconceptions from the previous edition - and the league rules.

Sunday, December 13, 2020

Chronicles of the Adventurers Guild #7



On the 30th Day of Lenzin,

Guild members Kimly, Tamira, Laethan, and Madian (see PC profiles here), with the bearer Lennard in employment, explored the underground chambers via the entrance in barrow #16.

Exploring to the south and then east, they came upon a chamber wherein the pillars took the forms of men and attacked them, and they retreated.

Proceeding east from there, they broke into the chamber to the north of the one which held the tomb of a dwarf, to find within it a single sarcophagus, the occupant of which rose as an undead and battled them. They were able to vanquish the undead and recover its grave goods.

Proceeding then further eastwards and then south, they came to a chamber, within which was a plinth, upon which a large bronze mirror, held in a gold-leaved ornamental frame, sat. Suspicious of traps, the party observed the room, and found a pit trap before the plinth, and protrusions in the facing stones upon the walls on either side of the chamber.

When the party entered the chamber, the protruding facing stones animated and took the forms of men, and attacked the members. While their weapons had little effect upon the guardians, the party were able to with clever use of ropes trip up the guardians, and then drag them into the pit, and recover the bronze mirror.

Proceeding then back west and then south again, with the intent of returning to the surface via the passage from barrow #20, the members heard the sounds of hammering upon stone. Suspecting unlicensed tomb robbers, the members investigated the source of the sound, and found within a large chamber six men in the act of breaking a white stele inside it. The men would not parley with the members, but immediately attacked them. The party feigned a retreat, and lured their pursuers to a junction, where they were able to trip them with a rope, and then slay two of their members; then, pursuing their erstwhile pursuers back to the chamber, struck down three more of them, and capture their ring-leader, who was a spell-user.

Within the chamber they found the white stele, which was set upon a black stone base. Upon the stele were inscriptions in the ancient Terrinoth tongue, which member Madian could read. The text on the stele, and also upon a stone door to the far side of the room, marked the chamber beyond as the tomb of one Druentes, a holy warrior of Aesodes, the "giver of gifts".

Also upon the floor was a broken black stele, made of a similar stone as the base which the white stele now sat. Upon this black stele the party discerned inscriptions in three scripts: the Terrinoth script, a script similar to it (which guild members have previously seen inscribed upon certain doors in the tombs), and the strange script which was found on the obelisk among the barrows.

The hour being late, the party then returned to the guild with their prisoner via barrow #20, which they discerned was whence the robbers entered the chambers below.

Grave goods recovered were valued at 66 Gros, of which 24 Gros were disbursed to the members according to the contract.

Signed,

Jeras, Guild Chronicler


Addendum: The prisoner, having been incarcerated in the guild cellar, was found dead on the morning after. It is not certain if he had died from the wounds sustained in the affray, or of some other cause. The matter being reported to Sergeant Tarran of Fort Rodric, the prisoner and the five men in his company were judge as tomb robbers upon the lands of the Baron, and the guild acquitted of their deaths.

Addendum 2: The matter of the black stele having been known, Brother Lothar had entered into a negotiation with Guildmaster Hassel-Hoffa for its recovery and purchase by the Church, and the expense for the labour for its recovery from the chamber had been duly approved by the Master.


Prepping and Running the Game

This session saw the addition of two new members to the guild and our group, playing the characters of Laethan and Madian. Both are new to the hobby, but took to the life of tomb-robbers pretty quickly.

With two level-1 PCs in the party, the party wisely ran away from fights they thought they could not win, and used their wits and non-weapon equipment instead. Laethan used the randomly-generated 10' chain as a bola in one fight, and the party used ropes to great effect in two fights.

The encounter with the cultists was something I had planned for for a while now. This encounter will advance the plot of the campaign via the discovery of the "Rosetta Stone", which will allow the party to read some of the inscriptions within Barrowmaze.

This encounter also put the plans of the cultists in jeopardy, as after having been denied the use of barrow #35 as their entry to the complex, I decided that they would use barrow #20; now that #20 has also been denied to them, I will need to find another entrance for them.

I imagine that these events will make the cultists realise that the activities of the guild is now interfering with their work in a way that cannot be ignored. How their leadership will respond to this fact I have yet to decide.

There is no game this coming week, so perhaps I will spend the time getting inside the heads of the cultists and decide what to do...

Friday, December 04, 2020

Chronicles of the Adventurers Guild #6


On the 28th Day of Lenzin,

Guild members Francis, Kelso, and Graves (see PC profiles here), with the bearer Lennard in employment, explored the underground complex via the entrance in barrow #16.

Entering a chamber to the north, they came upon a chamber with many burial niches, the remains within which were partly fossilised by the water that seeped through from the ceiling. When the party sought to recover the grave goods, the skeletons animated and began to attack them. Their magic having failed them, the party retreated, and returned to the Guild without goods.

Addendum: The twelve guild rangers sent by Guildmaster Hassel-Hoffa to secure barrow #35 reported it being abandoned.


On the 29th Day of Lenzin,

Guild members Kimly, Kelso, and Graves, with the bearer Lennard in employment, returned to the chamber the members had retreated from the day prior, and by luring the animated skeletons to a defile, vanquished them and recovered the grave goods.

Then, exploring to the east and then north, they ventured into a long corridor where the dragon hybrid was seen fleeing from. Here they found signs of a skirmish, and blood trails leading to the north. Following the trail, they came upon a chamber, within which was a stone altar, upon which were signs of a recent sacrifice. It is not known who was sacrificed, nor who performed the sacrifice.

Leave the chamber, they turned south and entered a blocked chamber, the floor which was flooded. Exploring the chamber, Kimly was attacked by three undead, their forms preserved by the peat-stained water, which disgorged leeches from their mouths. The party was forced to retire from the chamber, and was pursued by the undead, which they then defeated. Returning to the flooded chamber, they were confronted by an incorporeal wraith, which soon vanished. The party was able to recover grave goods from bodies found under the water.

Exploring then to the west and then north, the party came upon a pair of stone double-doors, upon of which was the relief of a man (god?) holding several javelins in one hand, and a tablet with inscriptions upon it in the other. The figures of many men, in apparel of warriors and priests, were depicted below.

Entering through the door, they found a chamber, within which was a stone statue of the same man (god) depicted on the door.  To the north was a blocked door, which the party did not seek to enter, for they had found a hidden door on the western wall. Entering through this hidden door, they followed a passage that led west and then north to anther blocked door, this one unadorned.

While they were attempting to break the door, they were assailed by skeletal warriors that emerged through doors hidden in alcoves along the passage. After defeating the skeletons, the party entered the chamber to the north, and found a single undead figure standing by a sarcophagus. The party was overcomes with fear, and fled.

Grave goods recovered were valued at 101 Gros, 33 Gros of which were disbursed to the members according to the terms of the contract.

Signed,

Jeras, Guild Chronicler


Prepping and Running the Game

This session caught me a little off guard.

The first outing pretty much ended before it started, with the two spell-users in the party failing the spell rolls almost immediately, forcing the players to return to the guild empty-handed.

The next expedition was much more profitable, in terms of gold, XPs, and plot.

They chose to go up the corridor where the dragon hybrid fought the cultists in session 2. The dragon hybrid's party came off worse, so I decided that the losers were... recovered by the cultists, and brought to one of the rooms which had a sacrificial altar in it. I actually bought and painted a Reaper Bones altar, which is shown in the photo. There was little the players could learn about the identities of those who were sacrificed and who did the sacrificing, but it was clear to them that there were more than just the usual looters running around in the complex.

The flooded chamber was nearly a TPK, as somehow my players are still making the mistake of having one character explore the room while the rest waited by the door. The wraith is supposed to advance the plot too, but unfortunately none of those present was a worshipper of Kellos, which would have unlocked the plot point. I suspect the party will return here again.

After this encounter the players took me by surprise when they decided to move far north, to a part of the complex that is "above their paygrade". In general, the "level" of the dungeon increased as one moved further away from the western part of the main entrance - the great mound, or barrow #12; however, as Barrowmaze is a single-level dungeon, there was no easy way for the GM to signpost to the players that they were moving into a more dangerous part of the dungeon. I tried to do so by letting the players know that this part of the complex seemed unexplored, and I even had Lennard express reservations about passing through those imposing double-doors, on account of the fact that so far, it seemed that the more elaborate the door, the more dangerous what was behind it turned out to be. The players, however, seemed to take that as: the greater the risks, the richer the loot.

Combat with the undead in the last chamber would certainly have resulted in a TPK, so I decided to ask the PCs to make a Wisdom save, which thankfully two of them failed.

I had earlier planned to up the stakes of the campaign by revealing more of the metaplot this session, but one thing that I have learned is that the tone of the session depends a lot on the composition of my players. Some of my players are more "serious" and interested in the plot, and some are less serious and more interested in the loot. When the serious players are not in a session, I worry that any information I give about the greater threat lurking in the background may be lost on the players, so I tend to want to reserve them for the session when one or more of the serious players are present.

Next session will see two new players join the table and the Guild, so stay tuned for more.

Sunday, November 22, 2020

A Week in Shirts

I watched a video commentary on the move "Groundhog Day", and that got me thinking and gave me the idea of this rather self-indulgent post.

Thing is, I realised that on most weeks, I go through a rotation of the same clothes every week, based on the day of the week, as follows:

Monday


Let's start with a hobby-related shirt.

Mondays are RPG days, and this is the shirt I wear each week when I GM. It's an MCDM T-shirt that I got along with the Strongholds and Followers kickstarter. I'm not a "black T-shirt" kind of guy, so it's not like I have a chance to wear this outside of game nights.

Tuesday


So a few weeks back, I joined a taekwondo class, and this is my uniform. I've never been in a martial arts class or a sports team before, and I am pretty sure my instructors have never had a student this old join them before. It's not an easy class - the dojang is not a "McDojo" by any means, and the instructors are not taking it easy on me on account of my age - but I think an old man like me can do with the help in getting in shape and staying "coachable".

Wednesday


Or as the Germans call it, "mid-week", which I've always thought was ironic when they were the ones who gave us the cool "Wodensday".

Anyway, this is what I wear to work almost every single day, for more than two decades: a plain white shirt. It takes the thinking out of the "what to wear?" every morning.

Thursday


Thursday evenings have been wargames night since the middle of this year, when Adrian, FG and I started our Frostgrave campaign. Again, this is the opportunity to wear a black T-shirt, in this case a Miniature Wargames magazine T-shirt from when I renewed my subscription (I think) many years ago.

As much as I enjoyed reading the magazine, it became impractical to store hard copies of literally decades worth of the magazine, and I never got the hang of reading magazines in soft copy. I still keep a few of the copies with articles that I particularly enjoyed though.

Friday


End of the work week for me. These days I am trying to spend an hour at least in the evening doing some training: strengthening, cardio, flexibility, and going through my taekwondo routines.

This is a sports polo that I received from my work during the 2015 ASEAN Paragames in 2015, one of the most stressful work assignments in my career (and that's counting COVID).

Saturday


Saturday is family day, and I don the uniform of the average Singapore male on weekends: a polo shirt. It's formal enough to go into most restaurants on a weekend, and comfortable enough for long walks or errands.

Sunday


A day of rest in theory, but in reality a busy day of cleaning, cooking (for the week), laundry - those white work shirts are a chore to iron every week - and hobby-related activities like painting, or prepping for the game the next day. On the weeks that my larder is well-stocked I don't even open my front door for the whole day. On days like that I wear the oldest T-shirts I have in the house: my army T-shirts. The last time I wore one of these as uniform was a decade ago. They are still incredibly comfy to lounge and sleep in after all these years.


So what has all this have to do with Groundhog Day you ask?

The point of Groundhog Day, the creator of the video I watched said, is that we are all like Phil: living the same experience from day to day, even if they were not exactly identical. What let Phil break out of the curse (?) of Groundhog Day, and what gave meaning to the otherwise repetitive days, weeks, months, or even years, is what we do with moments between the mundane, and whom we choose to spend the time with.

And I kinda agree.

Thursday, November 19, 2020

Chronicles of the Adventurers Guild #5


On the 27th Day of Lenzin,

Guild members Erik, Tamira, and Leowe (see PC profiles here), with the bearer Lennard in employment, explored the following barrows: 

#25 - Returning to the barrow they had explored the day before, the party overcame the skeletal undead in the burial chamber with the aid of Kellos' blessings, and recovered the grave goods therein.

The two other chambers within the barrow contained traps, which caused guild member Leowe to be wounded.

#35 - Exploring the barrow to the north of the Guild's lease, the party found it to be occupied by at least six men not of the guild; they were able to evade capture by the men with clever use of distraction.

#37 - A large mound, within a single large chamber with many burial alcoves. The inhabitants within reanimated when their grave goods were taken, and the party retreated as there were too many undead to do battle against.

#38 - A mound with a long corridor and a single chamber within; the corridor contained a cunning trap of swinging stone pillars, which wounded guild member Erik. Within the chamber the party recovered grave goods.

The hour being late, the party returned to the Guild.

Grave goods recovered were valued at 70 Gros, of which 24 Gros were disbursed to the members according to the terms of the contract.

Signed,

Jeras, Guild Chronicler

Addendum: The matter of the unauthorised robbers being reported to Guild Master Hassel-Hoffa, the Master commanded that Guild Rangers be despatched to the mound the next day, and the intruders be expelled.


Prepping and Running the Game

A rather straightforward session, with the players spending some time in the first barrow trying out the Turn Undead power: they learned to hem the skeletons in with the spell, then picking off those on the periphery.

The session also featured a few traps, which I imagined to be of all-stone construction, mostly of the counterweight type, with the trigger held in place by stone doors or flagstones. In all the cases I gave the players enough clues as to the presence of the trap, and then when they still triggered the traps I used the 'click' rule and asked what their character did upon realising that they triggered something. This worked quite well, and I am likely to continue doing this in the future.

The second barrow they chose to explore caught me a little off guard. This barrow holds the entrance the Death cultists use to enter the barrowmaze, and I have it guarded by several cultists at all times - a hostile encounter with them would likely have caused several deaths, and if the remaining PCs fled then there would be no chance of the characters left behind surviving; in fact, they may be raised as zombies by the cultists. Fortunately for my players and I, they chose stealth, and despite Lennard (i.e. me) botching his stealth roll, the party was able to use a cantrip to sow confusion, and then roll really well on the 'run away!' roll.

This encounter brought up a pet peeve of mine in the fantasy genre, when the players asked if the men were "dressed like cultists". The depiction of cultists as people who wore a uniform, or some form of jewellery or tattoo as a form of identification always struck me as being stupid: these people are trying to hide their allegiance, not advertise it! Except for my VSF cultists (whom I take are depicted in their lair), I have always used 'civilian" figures to represent my fantasy cultists on the tabletop.

The third chamber held too many skeletons for the party to take on, and I was secretly glad that the players contemplated coming back with the other characters, or even a temporary alliance with 'The Fearsome Four', the rival party in the guild who were operating nearby; this shows that they see the game world as something that exists outside the immediate tactical concern, with people they can interact with.

The cultists having their entrance discovered by the guild certainly throws a wrench in their (and my) plans, and I will have to evacuate the barrow and find another one as their entry and exit... this will be interesting.

Sunday, November 15, 2020

Thaw of the Lich Lord Game 8


Game 8 of the campaign was again a bit of a push-over, even though we doubled the number of zombies spawned by the Dark Cauldron. Part of the reason was because Adrian's barbarians charged right into the cultists and engaged them before to many zombies could spawn, which gave FG's medievals a chance to tip the cauldron over very early in the game. My skavens, entering the table from further away, did not even make it to battle. 

With just two more games left in the campaign, we should be able to wrap things up before the year ends. The next campaign we plan to play is a Blood Bowl league, using the latest version of the rules, which we will have to get and learn.

Wednesday, November 11, 2020

Chronicles of the Adventurers Guild #4


On the 26th Day of Lenzin,

Guild members Leowe, Francis, and Kelso (see PC profiles here), with the bearer Lennard in employment, explored the following barrows:

#10 - A family crypt. The remains of the occupants rose when their grave goods were requisitioned, but they were vanquished by the members.

#19 - A large barrow, with an empty sarcophagus in the main chamber, before which was a pit trap. The members were able to avoid the trap, and find a hidden door leading to the true sarcophagus of a warrior, which was guarded by four bronze statues of warriors, which animated when the party attempted to remove the grave goods within the sarcophagus. The party was able to lure the animated warriors to the false burial chamber, where they fell into the pit trap, and recover the grave goods, which included a bronze longsword.

#29 - A covered mound.

#9 - Another covered mound.

#1 - Tomb of a couple, with scant grave goods.

#2 - Tomb where bodies were interred in shallow pits with their grave goods. The occupants rose as undead, but were defeated by the party.

#8 - A covered mound.

#13 - A collapsed mound.

#22 - A previously plundered tomb.

#24 - Tomb with two chambers; in the first the remains of ancient tapestries strewn upon the floor. The walls of the second chamber held many burial alcoves; the columns within the chamber animated into man-like forms, and drove the party out before they could recover the grave goods. 

#25 - A large tomb with a cruciform antechamber. Entering the room to their right, the party were attacked by many undead, and retreated.

The hour being late, the members returned to the Guild.

Grave goods recovered assessed to be 200 Gros in value, of which 60 Gros were disbursed to the members according to the terms of the contract.


Signed,

Jeras, Guild Chronicler


Prepping and Running the Game

As you can see, the party made a lot of progress going through the mounds this session. Even if you discount the covered, plundered, and collapsed mounds, they still managed to loot four barrows, and partially explore two large barrows.

What is more remarkable here is how they have learned to innovate and try to overcome the opposition in each tomb by wit, instead of with brute force, which became a necessity when Leowe managed to roll a '1' when trying to cast his first spell for the day, followed by Francis doing the same soon afterwards. With no effective spells and no fighter in the party, they had to rely on their wits, or their willingness to retreat when the odds do not seem to be in their favour.

I was particularly impressed by the way they managed to put one and one together and came up with the scheme to lure the animated statues into the pit trap, effectively turning my own weapons against me.

They did not manage to find a way to overcome the opposition in the last two barrows, and I told them out of character that this being an old school dungeon, it was not unusual to retreat and come back another day.

One of the reasons why they were reluctant to retreat though was because of another element I added to the campaign.

At the start of the session I introduced a rival party in the guild, as the players had been asking about the other members in that guild. I made up a party of four, using the name 'The Fearsome Four' from the module, and made their leader an obnoxious wizard. At one point the two parties butted heads when the players wanted to explore a mound which the Fearsome Four staked a claim on. Thoughts of a member-vs-member fight were entertained, but the party was outnumbered, and I had also sent along some Guild "rangers" (NPC fighters tasked with catching illegal (i.e. non-Guild) tomb robbers), who kept an eye on the parties from a distance.

The players' efforts were rewarded, and their characters are now all level 2, which will make them more survivable. The various factions of the setting have also been introduced or hinted at, and the potential tensions between these established. This is timely, as I feel the "break in, kill undead, take their stuff" routine is beginning to wear a bit thin - having them keep an eye on people who might stab them in their backs while they do this will make things interesting.

Another moment which made the session great for me was when the players realised that the burials in the region are from civilisations that spanned across a long period, and began to speculate on the history of the place. I introduced the fact that one of the scripts encountered in their delving resembled the one used in the 'modern' Terrinoth language. This will hopefully see fruition in a future session, when they shall find the means of translating that language, as well as the even older one used by the ancient cultists.

Thursday, October 29, 2020

Chronicles of the Adventurers Guild #3


On the 25th Day of Lenzin,

Guild members Moonshadow, Kimly, Tamira and Leowe (see PC profiles here), with the bearer Lennard in employment, returned to the tombs below barrow #20.

Exploring to the east, they came upon two unsanctioned tomb-robbers, and observed them breaking into a burial chamber, where they were attacked by an undead. The undead slew one of the robbers and caused the other to flee. The guild members were able to vanquish the undead, and obtain the grave goods within its sarcophagus.

Proceeding then further to the west, and then to the sealed chamber north of the one they had earlier explored, they entered a burial chamber, whereupon the remains of those within rose. The party withdrew from the chamber, all the while assailing the undead with fire and arrows, until at last they fell, and the grave goods within the chamber were recovered.

Turning then to the east and thence south, they came upon a sealed chamber with archaic dwarven runes upon the door. Breaking into the chamber, they found the remains of a dwarven warrior upon a plinth, with a steel warhammer upon its chest. The members were able to discern that the chamber held a trap by observing certain vents upon its walls, and that a second stone door was hidden in the antechamber, poised to close down and trap those within the chamber. The party contrived to overcome the trap by occluding the vents with their clothing, and placing pieces of the broken door beneath the hidden door. As they have surmised, when the warhammer was removed from the dwarven warrior, a gas of viridian hue issued forth from the vents, and the hidden door descended from its place, but was prevented from sealing the chamber by the stone pieces placed beneath it. Our members were able to vacate the chamber, and by displacing the stone pieces, seal the chamber before the effects of the green vapours could afflict them.

The hour being late, they returned to the Guild.

Grave goods recovered assessed to be 55 Gros in value, and the warhammer was assessed to be 59 Gros in value. 40 Gros was disbursed to the members, according to the terms of the contract.

Signed,

Jeras, Guild Chronicler


Prepping and Running the Game

Square joined the campaign, and we now have five players and nine characters in the campaign.

As you can see from the account above, the PCs did not cover many rooms this session. Part of the reason was because they spent a bit of time tackling the last room. Nevertheless, I was okay with that, as I think they really got into the OSR spirit in the way they tried to problem-solve their way out of the situation, instead of using brute force: a prudent decision when your characters had 5, 3, 2, and 1 hit points left respectively!

I had earlier had some vague idea of how the gas trap would work, and when the players asked for more details of the room, specifying where their characters were examining, I was forced imagine exact details and to tell them enough for them to plot a counter to the trap. I am pretty impressed by how they solved the problem... even if it meant they had to make the trek back to the Guild half-naked.

There were some gonzo moments, like when they were planning to use the dead body of the tomb robber to do an "Indiana Jones swop" for the body of the dwarf - when told that the human tomb robber weighed more than the dwarf, they contemplated amputating the dead fellow's legs...

The trope of "corpse that only animate when you take their stuff" also gave rise to the cunning plan of using the telekinesis cantrip to steal grave goods, or otherwise pour lamp oil over the corpses and then lighting them on fire with another cantrip. The problem with this plan, however, was that this put the party a Gold behind each time it was used due to the price of oil, and (I only thought of this later) would potentially damage the grave goods, lowering their value.

I still feel I am not in full OSR dungeoncrawl GM mode, as I am still too focused on making sure I got what's in each room correct, rather than to give a more immersive description of the surroundings. I will need to be conscious of that the next session.

Three of the characters managed to level up this session, which will mean they will need to take some downtime, forcing their players to use their other character. However, when they return, they will have much higher hit points, which will change the whole dynamic of the delve.

Monday, October 26, 2020

The Skavenholme Scallywags

When the news of Blood Bowl 2020 hit and my group decided to plan a new league, I had to choose whether to field one of my existing teams, or start a new one. Since FG was ordering a Dwarf team from a third party manufacturer, I decided to tag on an order for 16 not-skavens.

When my friend Steve heard about this, he offered to send me his 2nd Edition team, which he painted many years ago. The team survived the long trip from the UK, and needed only the minimum of touching up. I out them on hexagonal bases, magnetised them, did the flocking, and now they are just waiting for a varnish.

The reason why I chose a hexagonal base was because I wanted to apply some sort of label or marking to the edge of the base, and figured a flat base edge would make it easier.

I named the team "Skavenholme Scallywags", after Steve's surname, and in homage to the fact that these lads came from the UK.



I wanted a dugout for the team, but instead of a showy but not-too-practical one like for my Egyptian or Greek teams, I wanted something that doubled as storage for the figures too. I was looking at various options, but the choice came in the form of a gift box for tea leaves that a relative gave to me. I pulled out the interior, lined the bottom of the box with a thin steel sheet, glued a print-out with the three divisions on top of it, then added the partitions with some back mounting board. The team name and tracks went on the lid.

These sculpts are old school and full of character, but unfortunately the types of players don't quite match those in the upcoming edition. The differences won't prevent me from using them though, and I am really looking forward to these guys' first game.

Saturday, October 24, 2020

Thaw of the Lich Lord Game 7

 

Game 7 of the campaign has the warbands lured into a dungeon by the Ghoul King and trapped inside. Each turn a ghoul would appear, so if the warbands do not defeat the Ghoul King and activate the levers by his throne that will open the doors to allow them to escape, the number of ghouls would become so high the warbands will all be overwhelmed... Except it didn't happen like that.

Without even discussing a plan, Adrian's barbarians moved into the line of sight of the Ghoul King, who moved towards them. Meanwhile, my skavens have moved up to near the throne (but out of line of sight), and once the Ghoul King was distracted, they sprinted to the levers and opened all the doors. At the same time, FG's humans took care of the ghouls that spawned.

Adrian's barbarians took a few casualties from the Ghoul King and a wraith that appeared to their rear, but fortunately they were the expendable soldiers.

I do feel that the challenge rating of the game is lower now that we have reduced the frequency of wandering monsters, and also because the programmed monsters are scaled to two warbands and not three. and of course, our spellcasters are not more proficient, and we all have some form of magical weapons that can affect monsters that are immune to non-magical attacks. For the next game, we will use the higher challenge wandering monster table, as well as double the number of programmed monsters, which should see a more epic battle.

Tuesday, October 20, 2020

Thaw of the Lich Lord Game 6

Game 6 of the campaign featured teleporting doors, so we decided to dust off the old Dungeon Command tiles and use the magical glyphs on some of them as the teleportation points, as we did when we playtested the game.

This scenario was particularly interesting, as the random nature of the portals meant that a warband could easily get separated and become vulnerable. Having read the scenario rules, I decided to go meta and instead of going for the treasures in the final chamber, focused my strength against the cultists coming to prevent us from looting the chamber. It was a decision that almost turned into disaster, as three of my Treasure Hunters were cut down by the zombie troll, the cultists, and a wild boar that wandered into the dungeon; fortunately, they all made the recovery roll and will be present for the next game.

With just four more games in the campaign, our little group is thinking about what to play next.

Blood Bowl 2020 is the next campaign we are looking forward to, but so far there has been no news of a release date. Between then and when Adrian has a team painted, we are hoping to play some boardgames.

Further on the horizon are the upcoming Frostgrave campaign The Red King, and of course Stargrave. I am not actively planning to get Stargrave at this point in time, but I suspect Northstar's plastic minis that will launch alongside the rules plus the hype around it will convince me to.

Sunday, October 18, 2020

Chronicles of the Adventurers Guild #2

On the 23rd Day of Lenzin,

Guild members Moonshadow, Kimly, Tamira and Folly (see PC profiles here), with the bearer Lennard in employment, explored the following barrows:

#17 - A covered barrow which they excavated with effort; within, a single undecorated sarcophagus holding a single undead which they vanquished after a fierce fight.

Being too weary for further battle, the members then broke open the cover stone to barrow #16, and returned to the Guild.

Grave goods recovered assessed to be 48 Gros in value, of which 16 Gros was disbursed to the party according to the terms of the contract.

Signed,

Jeras, Guild Chronicler


===


On the 24th Day of Lenzin,

Guild members Moonshadow, Kimly, Kelso and Aksinya, with the bearer Lennard in employment, explored barrow #16, which had the day before been opened.

Therein they found the remains of an ancient warrior upon a stone plinth, and upon him a sword untarnished by the ages. Against the walls of the barrow were skeletons, which animated and attacked the party when they attempted to remove the sword, felling Moonshadow, Kelso, and Aksinya, and only desisting when Kimly returned the sword. The party was able to destroyed the skeletons while they were in their inanimate form, and successfully claim the sword thereafter.

Here also they found a hidden passage to tunnels below the barrow, which exploring, they found to be connected to the tunnels which lead from barrow #20 (!)

To the southeast they found a foul pool, which they wisely did not drink of.

Following the tunnel to the east and thence north, they came upon an affray between two parties, one of which fled past them and thence to the west. Following this party, which consisted of two men and a dragon hybrid warrior, they learned that they had battled against "cultists", which they cautioned the party against.

The trio then ascended a rope suspended from an opening in the earth, which the guild members surmised to lead to barrow #12.

Exploring to the north, the party opened a sealed burial chamber, and while they were recovering grave goods from burial alcoves in the walls within, were attacked by animated skeletons, which they destroyed.

It being late, the party returned to the Guild.

The sword was assessed to be 52 Gros in value; the grave goods recovered were assessed to be 59 Gros in value. 40 Gros was disbursed to the party according to the terms of the contract.

Signed,

Jeras, Guild Chronicler


Addendum: The matter of unauthorised treasure hunters and "cultists" having been reported to Guildmaster Heinz Hassel-Hoffa, due warning was issued to guild members to be on alert.


Prepping and Running the Game

The two days described above took place during a single session - the deadly nature of an old school rules/dungeon at a low level means that retiring and healing up is sometimes the wiser option.

One thing I have noticed in this game, and in my other campaigns, is that players tend to regress to the level of their characters. In exploring barrow #16, they made the rookie mistake of turning their collective backs on potential threats to face what they thought was the bigger threat, and as a result were surprised by an attack on their rear that nearly resulted in a TPK.

While this is not at all at odds with the newbie status of their characters, it does reduce their efficiency, and with each "down" having the potential in stat loss, can in the long term result in their characters being unviable, which I have tried to account for by having them each make two characters.

Nevertheless, I think I will need to actively manage this by imparting some knowledge of dungeoncraft via one or more of the NPCs back at their home base.

Monday, October 12, 2020

Thaw of the Lich Lord Game 5


We have come to the mid-point of our Frostgrave campaign.

For this scenario I broke out all my Russian cardboard buildings to fill the table, but it turned out to be a bit of an effort for not much of a return.

The scenario looked interesting on paper, but once the game started it was a typical "grab the two treasures nearest to you and get out" game. We did co-operate towards the end to kind the Wraith Knight just because, but there was little challenge or player-vs-player action otherwise, and the game ended after a little more than an hour

The next scenario promises to be more interesting as it features teleporting doors. FG and I had used Dungeon Command tiles as the magical glyphs on the floor in those tiles as teleporting circles during our play-test for the first edition of the game, and we plan to do the same this time round.

The random nature of teleportation means that two figures that pass through a teleportation point consecutively may not end up at the same place. This makes it very hard to protect a treasure-carrying character, and makes a "frigate bird" strategy more viable.

We have enjoyed the campaign so far, and now FG is eyeing the upcoming Frostgrave campaign book The Red King. The information so far seems to suggest that this will be a more co-operative campaign than previous ones. It will be fun to try a different warband with it.

Monday, October 05, 2020

Chronicles of the Adventurers Guild #1


On the 21st day of Lenzin,

Guild members Moonshadow, Francis, and Kelso (see PC profiles here), with the bearer Lennard in employment, explored the following barrows:

#12 - A large barrow, the cover stone broken, and signs of recent traffic. The party was deterred from entering due to the stench of urine and rotten food.

#18 - A small barrow, the cover stone broken and the floor inside flooded. Here the party was attacked by a giant toad, and Moonshadow was felled by the beast's venom, before it was slain.

#21 - A medium barrow, its entrance covered by earth.

#20 - A small barrow, the cover stone broken, and within it a false sarcophagus that hid stairs to a series of tunnels below! Following the tunnels eastwards and then north, the party was assailed by skeletal warriors, which they vanquished. The hour being late, the party returned to the Guild.

Treasure recovered assessed to be 32 Gros in value, of which 12 Gros was disbursed to the party according to the terms of the contract.

Signed,

Jeras, Guild Chronicler


Prepping and Running the Game

Barrowmaze is a huge dungeon, with some 70 surface barrows, a few of which lead into the titular dungeon complex underground, which in turn has over 300 locations, many of which had separate sublocations! It is thus impossible to prep for the whole dungeon beforehand, or even if one did so, hold the descriptions of all the locations in one's head.

What made it even worse was the fact that while most traditional old school dungeons had a single entrance, and the difficulty/level of the encounters became higher as one descended into the lower levels, Barrowmaze had multiple entrances, and was effectively a single level once you got underground.

While I liked the basic premise of Barrowmaze and its metaplot, many of the encounters were still too high fantasy for me, and as I had devised a system to award treasures and experience points based on that given in Five Torches Deep, many of the locations became inapplicable to me. I went through the whole book, trimmed off more than half of the locations, and re-drew the map of the whole complex.

As I went through this process, I tried to recreate the history of Barrowmaze in my head. In my imagination it must have started out as burial in natural caves during the Stone Age, and then expanded by succeeding Bronze Age civilisations that moved into the region, and then by the Iron Age civilisations that came after them. I divided the dungeon into several zones, each belonging to a separate civilisation. The forms of burial for each civilisation would be different: some practised inhumation, some cremation; some urn burial, some had sarcophagi. I tried to make the monsters match the burial practices of the civilisation, so a civilisation that practised cremation may have fire-themed undead or magical guardians, while one civilisation that practised salt dessication of bodies featured undead that inflicted damage by dehydration. As the value of grave goods became progressively higher, no doubt tomb robbing became a concern, and traps and magical guardians became a feature.

In Barrowmaze, the level of the encounter became higher the further east one traveled - this can in part be explained by the fact that the source of what animated the undead lay in the east. The author had perhaps therefore deliberately place the entry point to the west of the map, but there is really nothing to prevent a novice party decide that they want to explore the overground barrows from the west, and potentially descending into the maze below and meet high level monsters early in the campaign.

For a GM, this was a real cause for concern, and despite my years of experience the idea that I did not know where the PCs will start at made me nervous.

Fortunately for me, my players decided to start in the west, although they did nearly discover the entrance to the maze below in the first barrow they visited! Thankfully, the description of recent traffic and the description of the smell of urine and rotten food convinced them that it was a plundered tomb with little to discover, and they did not even enter.

They did in fact find their way into the maze below towards the end of the session, but by then, with a combat encounter under our belt, I felt more relaxed - plus by then it was unlikely they would go much further in the maze.

This being a dungeon-crawl, there is much less role-playing involved. Fortunately, the players employed a bearer, which allowed me to insert a voice into the session.

The style of play is definitely different from our usual, and it remains to be seen if we will stick to it, but so far I am enjoying the challenge.

Friday, October 02, 2020

Return to Terrinoth: Five Torches Deep in Barrowmaze

(Image from DriveThruRPG)

Changes in my work schedule has finally allowed me to return to Monday evening sessions after a seven-month hiatus. I had wanted to go back to A Team and complete the campaign arc, but not everyone was ready to get back to gaming yet, and to be honest the players had forgotten where we left off, so I just retconned it such that the PCs just lived happily ever after in their little village...

To cope with everyone's schedule, I decided start a new campaign, and fall back on the same format I used for our Space Opera campaign: a drop-in, drop-out (what I call) 'East Marches' style.

For the rules, I decided on Five Torches Deep, which is a simpler, cut-down version of 5E, with some nice mechanics for the resource-management part of old school style D&D.

For the campaign, I decided I will finally try to run a megadungeon. I don't know how long our new campaign will last, so I wanted something that can last maybe more than a dozen sessions, and a megadungeon seemed like a good way to keep the 'plot' contained and something that's easier to prep for.

The key then was finding a megadungeon module that would fit inside my current game world of Terrinoth, and also make sense to me. Huge Underdark campaigns that involve Drows are cool, but don't really fit in Terrinoth, while those that featured more traditional dungeons are usually the products of mad wizards' minds, which was not what I was looking for.

The perfect solution came in the form of Barrowmaze, which not only made sense as an "ecosystem", but also dovetailed with our previous campaigns.

Both the A Team and the B Team campaigns started off in the Ashen Hills, a desolate region that was home to ancient standing stones and barrows of a forgotten civilisation. I decided that after their exploits, the local garrison became aware of the treasure hoards that may be buried in the barrows. Word reached the Baron, and he decided that best way to profit off these treasure hoards was to lease the rights to "explore" the region to private contractors. A charter was thus granted to an Adventurer's Guild, which had the right to remove treasures from the barrows in a specific region, with the Baron getting a cut of the proceeds.

Our PCs are thus adventurers from all across the realm of Terrinoth, who had joined up to seek their fortune... or die trying.

This being an old school campaign, PC death is a real possibility, and I asked each player to create two characters; they can choose to play either one for a given session, and if a character died the player will simply use his other character, and create another level one character as a back-up.

The characters so far are:

Aksinya, Human Zealot (Druid of Kurnos)

Erik, Dunwarr Dwarf Warrior (Barbarian)

Folly, Human Mage (Warlock)

Francis, Human Zealot (Paladin of Kellos)

Grak, Broken Plains Orc Warrior

Graves, Low-Born Elf Zealot (Druid)

Kelso, Deep Elf Mage (Warlock)

Kimly, Forge Dwarf Warrior (Fighter)

Laethan Autumnloft, Low-Born Elf Warrior (Ranger). Died on 1st Ostar at the hands of a undead in barrow #34.

Leowe Blackclaw, Stone-Dweller Orc raised by Forge Dwarves, Mage (Sorcerer)

Madian Moonridge, Human Mage (Wizard)

Moonshadow, Low-Born Elf Thief (Assassin)

Piper Willowwind, Gnome Thief

Tamira Reid, Free Cities Elf Zealot (Cleric of Kellos). Died on 18th Ostar when she sacrified her life to destroy the Heart of Nodros.

I will update the list as the campaign progress, and in the event of a PC death, also chronicle how the character met his or her end.

With a megadungeon format, chronicling the sessions in the traditional format I have used will probably be difficult, so I decided to try to write up the progress of the PCs in the form of the Guild Ledger, recording briefly which barrows they have visited (plundered) and what they found inside. This will serve the 'real-life' purpose of reminding me what happened and to update the description of each location in the module.

The records may seem dry at first, but one of the reasons why I chose to play Barrowmaze is that there is in fact a meta-plot to the whole campaign, so if you will be patient, all will be revealed in time...

Wednesday, September 30, 2020

Infamy, Infamy! Test Game

Martin and I got together to give the Infamy, Infamy! rules a try on Sunday afternoon.

I have read through the rules twice and watched several YouTube videos on the game, but the rules are so complex and (dare I say) poorly-organised that I have difficulty keeping everything in my head. The index does help a lot though. Martin is totally unfamiliar with the rules, but with some quick intro was able to get the gist of it.

I chose the Patrol scenario as it seemed the most straightforward one, and rolled up the terrain based on the 5 x 3 grid area on my mat that corresponded to the playing area in our half-scale version of the game. The first set-up had all the terrain clustered on one side of the table, which would probably have made for a boring game, so I re-rolled the terrain, and ended up with something more interesting.

Martin started the game by sending his two units of Auxilia forward to probe towards my Ambush Points. In response I deployed two units of javelin-armed skirmishers to shoot at them, to little effect. As the second unit of Auxilia got too close to my second Ambush Point, I launched an ambush with two units of warriors, hoping to sweep them off the field before the heavy legionaries have even arrived. But the dice gods had it in for me, and the Auxilia actually managed to hold off my warriors, and indeed push them back - Martin rolled an ungoldy number of 5s and 6s.

Martin then sent his legionaries onboard and quick-marched them to the flashpoint, and saw my warriors off for good.

The legionaries then continued moving against one of my remaining Ambush Points in strength, and that was when I decided to throw in my remaining four warrior units in a bid to settled the issue by force... but the legion movement turned out to be a feint: Martin sent an Auxilia unit down the other flank, and with some good dice (rolling two 6s on movement) captured another Ambush Point, and won the game

I am pretty sure we missed out most of the rules - half the time we didn't know what to do with our in-play Signa cards, but I think we got the core of it, and the spirit of the rules.

The barbarians are very difficult to play, since the warriors are essentially a one-shot weapon. Without time pressure, the Romans can advance very methodically, making it hard for the Germans to wrong-foot them.

The game is intriguing enough that Martin has decided to give the rules a closer look; we thought that we can each study our own side more closely so we can play them optimally the next time. Hopefully my Germans will give a better account of themselves the next game.