Sunday, 31 December 2017

The return of Don Marko

Another quality update from Mark in Thailand:

Hi all

It’s been two years (Dec 2015) since I last reported on the adventures of Don Marco da Pattaya the “popinjay of the Indies”. Having a day to spare, I thought I’d bring things up to date.

We last saw Don Marco in command of the successful expedition to capture the KhiNok Island from the Chinese pirates. He was appointed Governor of the islands, tasked with ensuring the lucrative trade in birds nests continued and the profits flowed back to Malacca. 

But it hasn’t worked out that way. After two years of mysteriously small profits, and rumors that Don Marco has installed solid gold bathroom taps in the Governors mansion, the Malacca authorities have sent a squadron to arrest him.

That hasn’t worked out either. Using a combination of charm, gold, and a little arsenic, Don Marco has seized command of the squadron. His best chance of beating the rap will be to sail into Malacca with holds full of loot. As it happens he knows one of the annual convoys carrying Burmese gems from Songkhla to Canton will be sailing about now.

The wako escorts for these convoys are a legend for ferocity, and the cargo vessels can also defend themselves. Taking them on will be a high stakes gamble, but what choice does he have ...

The opposing forces are:

Portuguese (total 154 points)
The galleon Santa Caterina da Goa
Q3 C4 (76 points)
chaser guns, drilled soldiers, galleon rigged, master gunner, trained gun crews

The fragata Santa Barbara
Q3 C3 (60 points)
chaser guns, galleon rigged, master gunner, trained gun crews

The merchant brig Moscado (Nutmeg)
Q3 C2 (18 points)
lateen, merchant, master gunner

The convoy (total 198 points)
The escort: pirate junks Bok Choy, Bean Sprout, and Bitter Melon
Q2 C2 (50 points each)
derring-do, intimidating, lateen rigged, reinforced hull, yare  

The convoy: dhows Zanzibar, Socotra and Djibouti
Q2 C2 (16 points each)
lateen rigged, merchantman, shallow draft

Victory conditions:

The convoy must cross the length of the table, any vessels exiting off the sides count as losses. For the convoy, each successful junk exit is 1 Victory Point, a dhow is worth 2 VP. Don Marco gains 1 VP for each pirate junk taken or sunk, and 2VP for each dhow captured but nothing for a dhow sunk.

Don Marco must not lose either of his two major units (the galleon and frigate), doing so means his officers will withdraw their support for his hare-brained scheme.

The game:

The first photo picks up the action after two turns. The Portuguese reached the interception point shortly before the convoy, which is running before the trade wind (the wind is blowing diagonally across the table from lower left). The convoy junks and dhows are easily recognisable from their distinctive sail plans. Don Marco on the Santa Catarina galleon leads the Moscado across the front of the oncoming convoy, while the Santa Barbara frigate moves downwind to head off any escapees.

At the start of Turn 3 the galleon opened fire on the junk Bok Choy, causing 1 damage point. The convoy reacted quickly. The dhows all turned to starboard and increased speed (from Running to Broad Reaching) to try and make an end-run around the Portuguese rear. The escort turned to port, intending the usual pirate tactic of engaging the enemy more closely, except for Bean Sprout which closed directly on the Sa Catarina. This photo shows the situation at the end of the turn.

In Turn 4 the Sa Catarina fired her chaser guns and port broadside at the Bean Sprout, causing 2 damage points, but the pirates were not deterred and closed the galleon, grappling it ready to swarm on board next turn. The other pirates tacked to cover the convoy, as the dhows continued their escape run. The Sa Barbara frigate at R of the photo has reversed course to intercept them.

Turn 5 started with a bang! The Sa Catarina fired a full Broadside at point-blank range at the Bean Sprout before the pirates could launch a boarding action. This caused critical damage and the pirates and their vessel sank from cumulative hull damage. See next photo. The galleon then swung around to join the general chase after the dhows.

This photo shows the end of Turn 7. The only further damage has been to the dhow Djibouti, which caught fire, exploded and sank after being hit by long range chaser gunfire from the Sa Barbara. But the convoy has also been affected by two untimely turnovers, which have had the effect of preventing the pirate escorts from engaging the big Portuguese galleon. One of the two surviving dhows (out of frame at lower R) seems to have a clear run to the exit edge, while the other looks cornered and in need of intervention by the pirates.

In Turn 8 the two remaining pirate junks caught up to the Portuguese, who suddenly found they had wako where you least need them - attacking from the rear. The next photo shows Sa Catarina and Moscado with a pirate junk grappled at the stern of each, ready to board.

Two turns later (including one untimely turnover by the Portuguese that prevented them from trying to cut the pirate grapples before they came swarming over the bulwarks) ... the next photo shows the story.
In the foreground the dhow Zanzibar has slipped past the Sa Barbara and has clear water before it. In the background the other dhow, Socotra, has taken the other tack and is sneaking away behind the action. The galleon Sa Catarina and the pirate junk Bitter Melon are fighting each other to a standstill, each has 2 damage points. The little merchant brig Moscato is showing the bigger boys how it is done. Amazingly it has caused 2 damage points to the Bok Choy (which also had 1 from earlier punishment) suffering none itself.

At the end of Turn 11 (see next photo) the two dhows seem to have made their getaway ... at extreme R and at bottom of the frame. The exit table-edge is along the bottom edge of the frame, about 2xL from the Zanzibar. The Sa Barbara continues its dogged pursuit (on the L of frame). Behind it the Moscado has shaken off her pirate attacker (using a good Activation roll to cut the grapples, then using its compulsory under-sail move to get away).

The Bok Choy could have chased it down but instead chose to alter course and close the side of the Sa Catarina, but with no time to grapple. On the galleon Don Marco, in his finest armour and plumage, had just accepted the surrender of the Bitter Melon when the heavily damaged but still game Bok Choy came alongside.

In the last round of the boarding action between Sa Catarina and Bitter Melon, the galleon rolled two successes for activation. I checked the rules, and it seemed I could use both of them to fight two rounds of boarding actions (unlike gunfire say, where a given arc of fire for a vessel can activate only one time per turn). The first round the pirates won, both ships were now on 3 damage points. This was the heart-stopping moment! But then the galleon’s crew won, taking the pirates into excess damage territory causing them to strike.

At the end of Turn 12, with my available playing time fast running out, I called it for Don Marco. In the next and last photo you can see in the foreground the Sa Barbara has caught and grappled the Zanzibar, I am counting that as a capture. In the background the dhow Socotra is the only one that will make it off table. I am allowing it to get away although if played out the Sa Barbara and Moscado might still chase it down. The Sa Catarina fired a full raking broadside, at point blank range, at the Bok Choy and blew it into very small pieces.

Don Marco has won his gamble, it seems. His squadron has sunk one dhow and two pirates, and taken another dhow (with treasure, we assume) and a pirate. Only one dhow, and no pirates, escaped. In terms of VP allocation, that’s 5-2 to Don Marco and the Portuguese.

Maybe the reception at Malacca won’t be too bad!

Cheers from Pattaya 

'Destroyer', the meanest racer in the village

The last - or more probably, the 'latest' - racer to join my son's collection for Faustus Furius is Destroyer, the orcish steam-tank. I picked this up as an impulse buy whilst browsing the Perfect Six Miniatures site. I've said it before, and I'm sure to say it again, Richard has some really superb quality products on there. It is, rather obviously, a 6mm orcish steam-tank. In the game, it will run as a heavy chariot class meaning that it's acceleration isn't good, but it is sturdy and should handle anything other racers throw at it.

Friday, 29 December 2017

All hail Minos

All hail Minos, Beloved of the Great-Mother; Priest-king of Knossos, High-king of Crete and Lord of the Islands; the Bull from the Sea, below whose hooves the very earth shakes. Minos, all hail!

Mighty words for  6mm king, but deserved words none-the-less. I have finally finished the second division of my Minoan (Mycenaean) army for L'Art de la Guerre. The Myrmidon division was finished back in October (HERE and HERE), and while these were started way back then, the last of the chariots were only finished yesterday. All figures with the exception of Minos are from Rapier Miniatures.

This is the personal division of Minos himself and represents his household guard. Composed of elite heavy chariots, medium spearmen and light infantry javelineers, on the battlefield, this will function as one of the two swift(er) divisions with everything moving a mighty 3 base widths a turn. I never said it would be a fast army.

King Minos leading the chariots - all chariots are from Rapier's Trojan range. Two of the warriors are Rapier Hittites, the rest are Trojans/Mycenaeans wearing the famous Dendra panoply. Minos's horses are Rapier Egyptian chariot horses. Most of the chariots were miss-cast, missing either part of the railing, or/and the lower part of one or both wheels. Still, even with this close up photography, you can't really notice.

Minos is a barbarian with double headed axe from Perfect Six Miniatures. I can't rave enough about how lovely the Perfect Six stuff is, and about how good the service is. They don't have  huge range yet, but what they do have is great. Go check them out.

Medium spearmen with pavise shields and missile support - both bases have a slinger and an archer in among the spearmen. All are the Rapier Trojans.

Light infantry with javelins. I wasn't sold on the Rapier Trojan javelinmen, so went with something a little more exotic - if still plausible - and bought a pack of Libyans. All have swords rather than javelins which is a minor shame, but the two sculpts in the pack are lovely, and they will do the trick nicely. 

The final division is the heavy spearmen with skirmisher supports. Coming soon (enough) in 2018. On that note, here is a Mycenaean heavy spearman to set the mood - drawn by my friend and illustrator Orestix. Check him out on Facebook and at DeviantArt.

Sunday, 24 December 2017

Fireside festivities for all!

A last minute post to wish everyone a happy festive season. As the year comes to a close I'd like to thank everyone who has shown their support throughout the year, whether by playtesting, buying, playing and posting, or commenting on, sharing and liking posts. For those who are interested in such things, a little over £400 have been donated to UNHCR in the course of 2018 as a result of sales.

For me, I am already working on an official mini-campaign for Palaeo Diet called Tales of Herc the Hero. ToHtH, will provide five new linked scenarios (very loosely inspired by the labours of Herakles) which take the form of prehistoric, fire-side stories, told by a lonely Herc as he tries to impress a new tribe. The campaign will also introduce a number of new beast profiles and reaction tables. Keep an eye out for it when the grass starts to grow and the herds drop their young.

Following on from that, if there is enough of a call for it, I will start to work on a standalone (but 100% compatible) Victorian/Lost World/Pulp version of the rules for dinosaur hunting, introducing blundering big game hunters and their guns. Davide Mana has already provided some research HERE and HERE.

If you don't already frequent the Lead Adventures Forum, you may not have been following some of the amazing looking Palaeo Diet projects that people have been working on. I post taster pics and a few links below. It is a great forum with, shall we say, less argumentative participants than can be found elsewhere on the interweb.

Engaging adventures!

Amazing cavies!

Fantastic scenery pieces!

Compelling campaigns!

Wednesday, 13 December 2017

A Furius rematch - with a better result!

Following my less than impressive performance in our last Faustus Furius race, my wee lad was gracious/cocky enough to humour me with a rematch. As last time, we only played a single lap race. This time there were six racers - Antiochos and Darius, both driving scythed chariots, and Ranzo, the orc archer class chariot were teamed up, all racing on behalf of the lad. Driving to restore my honour were Hattusilis driving a standard chariot, Medb in her agile chariot, and Romulus in a heavy archer class chariot.  

Despite having to set up behind the rest of the racers at the starting line, Romulus ended up having to activate first. He fired off a ballista bolt at Antiochos to try and clear a path, but completely missed his target. His compulsory move then saw him ever so slowly plod forward, collide with both Antiochos and Darius and flip over. Antiochos was shunted out of the way, heading off to the right (not the way he wanted to be going!), and Darius bounced away into a house and crashed as well. Thus, the game started more or less as it was to continue.

The other three racers, Hattusilis, Ranzo and Medb managed to escape the carnage at the starting line and made their way off the grid. Medb made good use of her agility and sped off to an early lead around the first corner.

My the time Romulus, Antiochos and Darius had managed to flip their chariots and get back on the right heading, the three leaders were some way off. Medb and Ranzo had a bit of an altercation, allowing Hattusilis to take the overall lead.

Medb and Ranzo continued to push and shove while the rest of the pack caught up. Between the five chariot teams and an angry mob who were annoyed by Medb's obvious lack of skill, the track was turning into a bottleneck. 

Antiochos ran his scythed chariot into the centre of the mob, dispersing it promptly, but crashing in the process. In the ensuing confusion, Medb once more proved that she has what it takes, when the mood takes her, and sprang around the next couple of corners with the grace and alacrity of a polecat.

Antiochos flipped his chariot over again and made a slow return to the race. Meanwhile, Darius and Romulus then crashed into each other - again - allowing Ranzo to swing around in front. However, the orc took the corner too wide and headed up and 'alternative' track, into the suburbs.

In the end, Medb crossed the finish line first, moments before Hattusilis (his victory had been sooooo very close), and Antiochos took third place. 

Thus, equilibrium was restored, with Daddy coming in 1st and 2nd, and the dutiful son getting third. After two races, that puts us even on the leader board. It might be time for me to retire now, before he upsets the balance again! ūüėá

Tuesday, 12 December 2017

Thorfinn's Saga

“… but when Loki, Mischief-Maker, the cause of all the troubles of the gods, admitted that it was he who cut Sif’s golden hair, Sif’s husband, Thor the Thunderer, threatened great revenge unless Loki replace every thread.

“Of course, you all know the story of Loki’s descent into Nidavellir, how the sons of Ivaldi crafted new hair for Sif, and how the Mischief-Maker then tricked the dwarves into crafting other gifts for the gods.

“But I have heard tell that Loki first past the way of the Western Lands, and while thinking up new ways to trick the gods, he carelessly allowed one of Sif’s hairs to become snagged in a branch.

“That hair was found many years later by a skilled smith, who worked the golden strand into a magical ring. It is said that whoever wears the ring will be never be without food or ale or mead, that their every meal will be like feasting in Valhalla, and that their stores will overflow with grain and their livestock will be ever fruitful…”

Before the skald had even finished his tale – the bit where he revealed that the ring was now possessed by some trolls – Jarl Thorfinn Hardluck was decided on his quest. It was true, sure enough, that he was a great man, a leader of his people. But his people were poor; scratching their meagre existence out of rock-strewn fields, sustaining themselves on the odd boar, deer or seal, and whatever else they could hunt. The possession of the magic ring would bring his people prosperity, and his name would live on forever in the sagas of the Norsemen.

Gathering together a dozen of his closest followers, Thorfinn fitted out a small knarr and set sail for the Western Lands. Although the journey started well with a stiff breeze and a gentle swell, the little trading vessel was not destined to return to Thorfinn’s farm. Within sight of their destination, the Great Eagle that flew high above the world-tree, Yggdrasil, beat its wings with merciless fury, causing storms the likes Thorfinn had never experienced in all his years. After many hours being tossed about like a giant’s plaything, the knarr’s mast prostrated itself to the wind’s power and broke. In the ensuing chaos, the knarr, turned side-on to the crashing waves, capsized below the weight of the water pushing down upon it, and was lost to the depths.

Those few who could, swam towards the grey smudge of land on the horizon until, weary and with nothing but the clothes on their backs and the tools in their hands, they were washed up on the rocky shore.

Thorfinn’s Saga was designed as a mini-campaign for Palaeo Diet: Eat or be Eaten. Although written for prehistoric hunting expeditions, Palaeo Diet is suitable for any situations that might pit solo or co-operative players against the natural world and savage beasts controlled by the games mechanics. This campaign follows the adventures of Thorfinn Hardluck and his companions as they embark on their quest to recover the magic ring.

Throughout the campaign, the player/s have access to only three characters, each with their own strengths and weaknesses:

Jarl Thorfinn Hardluck
Equipment: As appropriate for a man of his standing Thorfinn wields a well-wrought sword. The sword is treated as a Club (PDEE p.5). It can only be used against beasts or foes in base contact, but confers a +1 modifier to Thorfinn’s attack rolls.
Traits: Thorfinn is the ruler of his people and insists on leading from the front, an attitude that has made him Crotchety (PDEE p.13). Nevertheless, his experience (and the fortune of having inherited some armour) has forged Thorfinn into a formidable warrior, rendering him a Brute (PDEE p.13).

Thorvald the Touched
Equipment: Thorvald carries multiple axes which he throws at foes and wields in combat with equal skill. Axes are treated as Spears (PDEE p.5). They can be used against beasts or foes up to 1x Short distance away.
Traits: Touched by the gods and a little weird, Thorvald has knowledge of many natural and supernatural things. He is both a Healer (PDEE p.14) and a Thinker (PDEE p.14).

Thorbj√łrn Bjarnason
Equipment: Thorbj√łrn carries a bow. He may pelt beasts and foes up to 1x Long distance, but always suffers a -1 modifier to his pelting and attack rolls.
Traits: The youngest surviving member of Thorfinn’s household, Thorbj√łrn eager to prove his worth; he is therefore Excited (PDEE p.14). However, his skill with a bow is already spoken of highly, and Thorbj√łrn is known as a skilled Hunter (PDEE p.14).

Scenario 1 – A contested feast
Thorfinn started to raised his beaten body from where he lay, stared around him through salt encrusted eyes, and then let his head fall with a painful thump, back to the stony beach. From what he could make out, the beach was littered with debris from his broken knarr. A few of his crew sat hunched in a little circle further up the beach. Thorfinn could see two or three bobbing, face down, just beyond the break line, their arms or legs entangled in flotsam.

Gathering his strength, and muttering under his breath - cursing and entreating to the gods with equal measure, the jarl rose and strode as manfully as possible up the beach to the survivors. If they see the despair in his eyes, it was because they were blinded by their own.

Thorfinn licked his cracked lips and spat. In his most commanding voice, he gestured to the two most … ‘reliable’ wasn’t the best word … likeable men in the group. “Thorvald, Thorbj√łrn, we have a ring to find. The rest of you, do what you can with this.” Thorfinn gestured vaguely around the beach, at the remains of his vessel, at the bodies of his drowned crew, and the mess of their outward journey.

“Right lads” said the jarl quietly to his two companions, “if we can manage to find this thing, then we can work out a way to get home. If we can’t, then we won’t have to worry about it. First things first though, lets get something to eat eh!?”

As he said it, a pack of wolves started howling in the near distance. Thorvald gave a crooked grin, clicked his tongue and whistled. Thorfinn smiled, shook his head and walked inland, followed by a wide-eyed Thorbj√łrn.

The Norsemen have been washed up in a strange and unforgiving land. With nothing but the clothes on their backs and the weapons on their hands, their first challenge is to collect provisions for their onward journey.

Set up the table with the three Norsemen standing in the centre. Place five landscape features (any combination of hills, thickets or tricky ground, but at least one of each) around the table, leaving 1x Long distance between each piece. No beasts are placed on the table at the start of the game.

Roll 1d6 every time a character moves into, or within, a hill, thicket or tricky ground terrain piece and consult the table below to find out what the character has spotted.

Die roll
Hunter on a hill
Hunter in a thicket
Hunter in tricky ground
A single angry critter has been flushed out of hiding. Place it at the centremost point of the hill ground.
The gods have blessed us with a Boar! Place a pack preadator at the centremost point of the thicket.
A single angry critter has been flushed out of hiding. Place it at the centremost point of the tricky ground.
Nothing is found
A single angry critter has been flushed out of hiding. Place it at the centremost point of the thicket.
A single angry critter has been flushed out of hiding. Place it at the centremost point of the tricky ground.
Nothing is found
Character discovers fungus worth ½ bulk.
Character discovers fungus worth ½ bulk.
Character discovers fungus worth ½ bulk.
Character discovers nuts or berries worth ½ bulk.
Character discovers fungus worth ½ bulk.
Character discovers nuts or berries worth ½ bulk.
Character has flushed out a critter.
Character discovers nuts or berries worth ½ bulk.
Character has flushed out a critter.
Character has flushed out a critter.
Character has flushed out a critter.

Gathering fungus, nuts or berries costs one action. During the process, characters will naturally pop fungus, nuts and berries in their mouths. However, whenever a Thorfinn or Thorbj√łrn gather fungus, roll 1d6. On a roll of 1-2, they have chosen poorly and collected poisonous fungus and immediately suffer one wound as it beings to sour their bellies. Being more experienced with such things, Thorvald is not affected by eating strange berries.

The Norsemen only have a limited time to gather provisions. At the end of turn 8, roll 1d6. On a roll of 1-3, a large pack of savage looking wolves appear on the table and the Norsemen make an immediate withdraw. On a roll of 4+, the Norsemen have another turn to complete their mission. Roll again at the end of turn 9 and every subsequent turn until the Norsemen are successful or the wolves appear.

In order to progress on their quest, all three Norsemen must survive and 6 bulk worth of provisions must be collected.

New beast type: Angry critters (details to come!)

Starting at the center of the table, our brave heroes set off for the woods and immediately found a boar.

Thinking this was going to be a foregone conclusion, Thorfinn and Thorvald take down the boar, securing the first two bulk worth of provisions.

Thorfinn headed off to some tricky ground and flushed out an angry critter which attacked, but failed to wound the jarl.

In a separate tricky patch, Thorvald also flushed out an angry critter who attacked and bit him on the knee.

Unfortunately, Thorbj√łrn then messed up an activation roll. The angry critter reacted and again bit Thorvald, bringing him down in a crumpled heap and losing us the scenario.

Still, playing on, just to test things out, Thorbj√łrn continued with his turn, found some fungus, ate it, and felt immediately sick. It was clear that the game could be played to completion and a win, but we weren't going to do it! Sure, we thought, lets ay we did. And we moved on to the next scenario.

Scenario 2 – The washer at the ford
Thorbj√łrn slowly raised his head above the tussocks of wiry grass, his body prone to the cold, damp crest of the little hillock. From his vantage point he could see a slow winding river making its way through the valley. The still-looking water obviously ran deep, except for one point, where it crashed and danced joyfully across a natural causeway of well-worn stones.

Other creatures obviously knew these shallows to be a crossing point too. The gentle slopes down to the ford were well trodden, meandering paths leaving patterns through the tall grasses. The real object of his attention though, was the figure standing ankle deep in the middle of the crossing. From a distance, and with the dusk sun so low on the horizon, it had looked like some sort of stooped crone, swaying this way and that as she washed her threads in the cool waters.

Now that he was closer, however, the young Norseman knew that his eyes had deceived him. What he had taken to be abundant shawls and cowls, defence against the cold north wind, he saw now was nothing less than a thick shaggy coat. No more a stooped washer at the ford, the figure’s ursine bulk was now obvious.

Behind him, somewhere off in the distance, the pack of wolves who had been following them for days could be heard baying in the wind. Somewhat closer, at the foot of the hillock, Thorbj√łrn’s companions sat impatiently waiting his report. He shifted his body so that the earth’s bulk protected him from the bear’s view and scurried down the hillside. “Well,” he said, “There is a crossing. But also a bear. What do you want us to do Jarl Thorfinn?”

Thorfinn scratched at the base of his chin – there was something caught in his beard which prickled his skin. He was not sure if it was a thorn or if it was something biting him. Either way, it made him irritable. “Well, we can’t go back” he said gruffly, waving a thumb in the direction of the wolves. “So I suppose we have a talk with your bear. After all, there are three of us … perhaps we can persuade it to bugger off.”

The Norsemen must cross the river and escape off the table on the far side.

Set up the table so that a river crosses between to opposite sides with a crossing point at the centre of the table. Treat the river as impassable and the crossing point as rough terrain. Place at least one hill on either side of the river, and three other terrain features. Place a single apex predator at the river’s crossing point.

The Norsemen must start the scenario within 1x Medium distance of any one corner. They must escape the river valley via any board edge on the far side of the river within six turns, at which point the sun sets and they risk losing their way.

Thorfinn Hardluck and at least one of the other characters must survive and make it off the table in order to progress to the next scenario.

Having not really succeeded in the first game, we penalised out heroes at the start of scenario two by giving both Thorfinn and Thorbj√łrn wounds at the start of the game. Thorfinn started by hurling himself down the hill towards the ford.

The bear initially moved away from him, but then, smelling the blood, turned back and had a sniff of the Norseman.

Thorvald used his healing ability to patch up Thorbj√łrn, and the two sidekicks set off in support of their jarl.

Thorfinn slipped away past the bear, and in the confusion, so too did Thorvald. The bear followed him, and Thorbj√łrn was able to head off in the other direction. All characters survived, but we only just finished the scenario within the turn limit.

Scenario 3 РInto Jötunheimr
The skald had been right about one thing. There were certainly trolls around. Thorfinn wrinkled his nose in disgust as he scraped the j√∂tunn dung from the sole of his boot. On crossing the river, he had managed to leave wolf pack far behind him, but the incident with the bear had also left his separated from his men. They had all been in the hall when the skald spoke. They had all heard tell of the two j√∂tnar, brothers, who now laid claim to the ring and the bountiful powers imbued by the single strand of Sif’s golden hair. If they still lived, the companions would be making their way to the rocky plateau before him.

As he carefully made his way through the tumble of rocky outcrops, Thorfinn was able to smell them first; a potent musky scent mixed with the rich odour of decay, and the faintest hint of wood smoke. He clambered up one last shelf of barren rock as the rosy fingers of S√≥l illuminated this surrounds with the day’s first light. He was again stuck by the hopelessness of the barren landscape. Nothing but bare rocky hills, stagnant gullies and the ever present north wind, still wafting the j√∂tnar’s powerful perfume towards him.

Ahead of Thorfinn was the troll-hall, a shadowed cave delving deep under a low rise. The j√∂tnar obvious had a fire burning at the entrance of the cavern. Although the fire itself was hidden from view, it cast a fading glow through the dawn light, flinging lethargic shadows against the surrounding stones around it as the trolls moved languidly around their hearth. So, though Thorfinn, he would not be catching them at slumber. He was confident that if he could separate the beasts, he stood an even chance to bring one down. If Thorvald or Thorbj√łrn had survived, it would make it all the easier. The trouble would come if he spent what energy he had left to slay one j√∂tunn, only to find that it was the other who held custody of the ring.

And then, he reflected, if he was successful in this quest, he would still need to make his way back to the beach somehow. Gods’ willing, his surviving crew might even have thought up a means to get home.

The Norsemen must recover the magic ring from the corpse of a j√∂tunn and escape of the table. If a character manages to kill a j√∂tunn and moved into base contact with it’s body, they may spend one action to search for the ring. Roll 1d6; on a 5+, they have discovered the magic ring and pick it up automatically. On a roll of 1-4, the ring is being carried by the second j√∂tunn.

Set up the table with a selection of hills and tricky ground, two or three of each terrain type. Place a single small impassable feature at the very centre of the table to indicate the hearth. The two jötnar (great bipeds) should be placed within 1x Short of the hearth.

Thorfinn can be placed within 1x Medium of one table corner. If they survived the encounter with the bear, Thorvald and Thorbj√łrn must each be placed within 1x Medium of any other table corners – none of the Norsemen may start in the same corner.

The complete the campaign, At least one character must survive the game and carry the ring off the table edge.

New beast type: Great bipeds (details to come!)

The two jötnar are in the centre of the table. Our three heroes come in from different corners.

Thorfinn (in ambush) and Thorvald attack one of the trolls, while Thorbj√łrn's shooting drives the other off into some tricky terrain.

... but only for a moment. Continued archery enrages the beast which spins around and launches itself on the surprised Thorbj√łrn who succumbs to a series of vicious attacks.

Over with the other troll, Thorvald too was eviscerated before Thorfinn managed to slay the beast. Unfortunately, the jarl too suffered a number of wounds in the process. Searching the dead j√∂tunn, Thorfinn failed to find the magic ring and so had to move on to j√∂tunn no.2 (Thorbj√łrn's-bane). The struggle was fierce, and close, but in the end, too much for the Norsemen. Thorfinn too collapsed from his wounds, and the saga was at an end.

I actually replayed this last scenario the next day with my wee lad, and though we lost Thorbj√łrn and Thorvald yet again, Thorfinn managed to kill both trolls and get home again with the ring. So, you know, it can be done...


On an unrelated note. Here is a shot at the end of one of the other games we played over the weekend. Herc slain by a bunny. Oh the shame!