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Sunday, January 12, 2014

Reconstructing a half-forgotten card driven miniatures campaign

In the late 70s, as one of my various forays in wargames and RPGs, I conceived of a miniatures campaign that would try to evade the problem of epic clashes that make subsequent battles pointless. Mostly I played it with Scott Wisher, but a few of our other friends joined in on occasion, I particularly remember Jim Mzik from Chanute being there for one of the bigger battles involving the evil temple.

Thematically it was a small scale fantasy skirmish campaign. The rules for battle were my man to man fantasy skirmish rules that started from having played a lot of Chainmail and riffed from their towards how I felt the game ought to play. The spell tables were used straight from Chainmail with a few tweaks. Most of the changes were in the movement, morale, and combat rules. I've been sitting on a half done post presenting the rules for some time now, maybe this will be the inspiration I need to complete it. Usually we'd play fairly large battles when playing these rules, maybe 6 to 8 units, mostly of 12 figures, plus some specials on each side. This campaign took it down a notch,  the fights were smaller, some much smaller.

The campaign map was a pencil sketch on a piece of notebook paper, which I may be able to dredge back up along with the rosters. It was an area of mixed temperate forest, open fields and hills, with a couple roads crossing through from one important off map place to another, and a river or two if I remember correctly. Most terrain features were named.

The map was being contested by a variety of small factions, some Lawful and some Evil, with rosters for each faction in each side. All the non-monstrous characters that took more than a single hit were named, as were some of the monsters, and some of the single hit characters.  The factions could be very small, The Wizard in the Wood, with a few servants, creations, and monstrous minions, or a homesteading family with a farm in another clearing, or a small stand of Entwoods with a handful of Ents. The largest that I remember were a Lawful castle with palisaded village and a pretty solid garrison of knights and men at arms and evil temple up on a hill with a dungeon complex beneath it. I drew up some maps for that and another dungeon but I don't think a delve there ever came off as part of the action. The cards were red construction paper that I wrote on with a felt tip pen, all text.

 Campaign events came about mostly through the play of cards, certain cards set things in motion on the map, and when things were moving on the map, each side had both a card play and a map move to make in a turn. I do not remember the details of hand size, draw or discard. It was probably a draw one card system, with option to discard or play. I can see from some of the cards that there was a passage of time recorded, but I don't remember how card play fit in, weekly card play turns would probably make sense.

The deck was designed around the idea that most factions would be very unlikely to fully risk their existence to offensive action, so cards that activated a faction for an attack usually specified a fraction of the group that could be used. But there were a variety cards that created or broke alliances, and added extra forces or weakened a force, so that larger attacks could be organized, or broken up at the political card play level and then once a player felt strong enough, he'd play the card to launch the attack. There were also two levels of attack, Raids which were smaller, and Attacks which were larger and had to be preceded by a declaration of war. The state of war was between individual factions, not whole alignments, but factions on a side could become allied and then could be pulled in by playing the Summon Allies. There were alliance breaking cards and truce cards that would end a state of war, so that getting enough political traction to set up for military success was always difficult, keeping the campaign continuing for awhile. Each card was coded with who could play it L-Lawful, E-Evil, B-Both. As you will see in the cards listed, dungeon expeditions were another form of miniatures play. The plan was roughly to do a simplified D&D like dungeon expedition using the miniatures combat rules if I remember correctly.

The nature of the campaign was such that with the map, rosters, and a bit of a log going, and each side's hand bagged between sessions, we could sit down and play the campaign card game for awhile, often changing sides when we sat down to a new session, and play a fight, maybe two in the evening if the fights were small. Log the losses and save the game away for next time.

One problem I remember with it was that there was a gold economy in the game that could be used with some cards to reinforce groups and build fortifications I think, and pay taxes to off map powers, but the income/outflow was not in balance so we accumulated wealth in some of the stronger factions on the map. Reading some of the cards, the money was in GT, so Gold Talents, and I see a notation GTJ on the adventurers card, which probably meaning Jewelry worth a Gold Talent. ST silver talent, CG common goods, PG precious goods. A talent is between 100 and 1000 coins in D&D, will have to go through all cards to figure out a rate if every trying to tie the two together.

All that said, I came across part of the deck of cards this morning, so I will transcribe them to give more of the flavor of the thing. I think it is about half the deck. I count 50 missing numbers below 96.

Since Reinforcements cards describe a starting offmap location, I think they actually moved onto the map, and could possibly generate combats before arriving at the group they were joining.

Summon Allies is clearly an "instant" that can be played together with a combat initiating card.

The Deck

Ambush E 4
The Orcs of the wild wood may ambush one party ont he High Road with up to 1/3 of their force. Allies may be called, up to 1/4 of each may help if a Summon Allies card is played

Treaty B 8
The High King will invoke peace on all warring armies. Having determined the war to be the fault of Lawful forces, they must pay the Evil ones 10 to 60 GT in tribute. All prisoners must be returned. Ransom of 5 per Hit may be demanded.

Mercenaries B 15
All mercenaries are inducted into royal service and immediately leave for the Great Kingdom.

Invaders E 17
A band of nomad raiders from the Dry Wastes swings down from the N.E> and attacks Demsley.
Nomads: 18 M. Horse, 4 M. Horsebow, 1 3H M. Horse Hero

Weather B 19
Battle prevented by terrible storm.
Either side may withdraw. If neither does, the fight will commence the next day.

Disease B 21
Plague strikes one stronghold. Roll die for each occupant.
1-3 no effect
4-5 ill for one month
6+ killed
If besieged, add one to the die. Presence of Bishop or Patriarch will subtract one from the die.

Famine E 24
Demsley and Bannock's Freehold are struck by a famine. One CG per fighter must be expended for food relief. Any shorted will die. One raid may be attempted by each in order to capture enough food. Up to 1/2 may go.

Quest L 27
One Evil warrior, monstger, or leader will be summoned to the City of the Gods to perform an Unholy Quest. After 1 month roll a die.
1-3 slain
4-6 returns with +1 Hit, 3-30 GT and a magic weapon.

Summons E 31
The Lord of Orly Castle and at least 3 retainers must journey to the Great Kingdom to appear at the wedding of one of the High King's sons. Each will return with 1-6 GT and 1-3 PG as guesting gifts.

Undead L 32
The Undead will asssist the lawful side in one battle. 1/2 of each type will appear with the Undead Lord, coming in on a 1 or a 2.    (Note: I think this was my version of Aragorn and the Paths of the Dead, the 1 or 2 reference was probably a die roll each turn in the battle, so this card must have been playable once a battle has been started.)

Rebellion B 34
One captured stronghold will rebel against the garrison with one half their original strength but without a leader.

Tribute L 37
must be sent by the evil forces to Sea Spray in the amount of 30 GT. If it is captured by someone en route, more must be sent until one shipment gets through.

Taxes L38
Taxes may be collected by the lord of Orly Castle from tributary territories to the north to the amount of 12 GT, 30 ST, 40 CG, and 10 PG.

Dungeon Expedition L 40
One party may go from any lawful group to the Dark Citadel. This may include 1/4 of its force plus 1/4 of any ally called by the Summon Allies card plus ALL lawful adventurers if any.

Dungeon Expedition L 43
One party may be sent from any lawful force to the Great Stone Mountain. This may consist of 1/3 of its force plus any lawful adventurers.

Dungeon Expedition L 45
Any lawful adventurers may go to either dungeon.

Reinforcements E 47
12 Heavy foot and 2 Evil Vicars come from the City of the Gods to join the troops at the Temple of the Goat.

Reinforcements L 48
6 heavy Foot and 1-6 Adventurers join Demsley or Bannock. They come from Sea Spray. Adventurers:
1 Fighter
2 MU
3 Cleric
4 Elf (1-2 F, 3-4 M, 5-6 T)
5 Dwarf (1-4 F, 5-6 T)
6 Hobbit (1-3 F, 4-6 T)
1-3 Hits each, Each possessed 1-6 GT, 1-3 GTJ and has a 1/3 chance for each hit of having a magic item.

Reinforcements E 49
1-2 8 Goblins and a Bugbear join the Badlands Goblins from the East.
3-4 6 Orcs and an ogre join the orcs in the Wildwood.

and 1-6 adventurers join the Wizard in the Wood. (See card 30 for specs.)

Summon Allies B 51

( Probably most of the missing cards between 50 and 55 are Summon Allies, since I did similar cards in runs.)

Magic! L 56
The Lord of Orly Castle searches his armory and finds the Sword of the Mists. It is +2, does double hits to ogres, and casts spells as a seer. (If the Sword of the Mists has been found already, roll for another magic item.)

Magic! E 57
The Goat God bestows on his High Priest the Staff of Kings. It strikes as a flail +1, finds secret doors and casts spells as a lawful vicar.( If the Staff of Kings is already in play, roll for another magic item.)

Mercenaries E 61
A mercenary company from the City of the Gods heads to the Temple of the Goat for employment at a rate of 20 GT a year plus support.
Mercenaries: 12 Heavy Foot and a 2H heavy horse hero.

Mercenaries L 62
12 mercenary dwarves and a 2H hero dwarf come down to the Last Chance Inn from Seaspray. They will hire on for 6 GT per month plus board.

Mercenaries E 63
A company of 18 mercenary orcs come from Seaspray to the Wizard in the Wood for service at a rate of 20 GT per year plus board.

Caravan B 64
A caravan loaded with 80 CG and 12 PG travels from the City of the Gods to the Great Kingdom.
It will leave 5 CG at each stronghold along the way in payment for services. Its guard force consists of 8 longbowmen, 12 heavy foot, 6 medium horse, and 1 Magician with 8 wagons.
(Note, both are offmap locations, so this is crossing the map.)

Caravan B 66
A caravan loaded with 30 PG and 40 ST is going from Panjud to the City of the Gods. The guards are 6 Elf light horsebow and 6 Elf heavy foot.

Assassin B 69
For 20 GT an assassin can be hired to slay one enemy leader.
On a 1 or 2 he will be successful. A 1 to the roll if the target is a spellcaster. Subtract 1 if the assassin is aided by a spellcaster.

Raid E 70
Raid by Badlands Goblins on Bannock's Freehold to capture Bannock's daughter. Up  to 1/3 of Goblins plus up to 1/4 of card-called allies.

Raid E 71
Raid by the forces of the Wizard in the Wood up target of choice to capture treasure and slaves for experiments. Up to 1/2 of Wizard's force plus up to 1/3 of any allies called by cards.

Raid E 72
Raid by up to 1/3 of any evil force plus up to 1/4 of any card-called allies up any lawful force.

Raid L 73
A raid by up to 1/3 of any lawful force plus up to 1/4 of any card-called allies up any evil force.

Raid L 74
A raid by up to 1/2 of the force at Godseye may be made against the Temple of the Goat to capture the High Priest. Up to 1/3 of an card-called allies may help.

War B 76
Any force may declare war on any opposing force.

Break Alliance B 78
Break one enemy alliance.

Break Alliance B 79
Break all alliances of one enemy force.

Break Alliance B 80
Break all alliances of one enemy force.

Alliance E 82
Any evil force may form an alliance with any other evil force.

Alliance L 86
Any lawful force may form an alliance with any other lawful force.

Attack E 89
Any evil force may attack one lawful force with up to 2/3 its strength plus up to 1/2 of all card-called allied forces, if it has declared war on that force using a War card.

Attack L 92
Any lawful force may attack any evil force with up to 3/4 of its strength plus up to 2/3 of all card-called allies, if war has been declared by one force upon the other by use of a War card.

War B 93
Any force may declare war on any opposing force.

War B 94
Any force may declare war on any opposing force.

War L 95
Any lawful force may declare on any evil force.

War E 96
Any evil force may declare war on any lawful force

















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