Friday, July 21, 2017

Historicon 2017: A Funny Thing Happened on the Way to the Forum.

My son Nick and I had another great Historicon. This marked the fifth year in a row that we ran our dreaded Musical wargame.  These are games loosely based around one or more Broadway Musicals and usually involve large numbers of people singing, usually off-key.

 This year the game was based on Funny Thing Happened on the Way to the Forum.  As in previous years, we awarded the coveted Wazzi Award for the "Best Actor" in our game.

Forum, which is based on several actual Roman comedies by Plautius, is about the slave Pseudolus who is seeking his freedom which has been promised him by his young master, Hero, if the slave can help him get his beloved, Philia, a virgin slave in the next door house of Lycus, a procurer, who had been promised to the magnificently psychotic general Miles Gloriosus.

The game took up at the climax of the story.  Hero, believing that Philia had died of the plague had gone to have himself killed in the Arena.  Philia was not actually dead but replaced by the head slave Hysterium disguised in drag and feigning death.  On hearing that Hero planned to have himself killed, decided she could no longer live and would volunteer for Human Sacrifice Day at the Temple of the Vestal Virgins.  General Gloriosus was planning a dramatic funeral for his deceased bride.  Meanwhile, Hero's shrewish mother, Domina, had returned unexpected from a visit to her mother while Hero's father, Senex, was scheming to get some quality time in at the House of Lycus.  Lycus was trying to get back into his own house, his identity having been stolen by Pseudolus as part of the plan to free Philia.  Finally, old man Erroneous was charged by a soothsayer to run seven times around the Seven Hills of Rome which will somehow reunite him with his lost children who had been stolen infancy by pirates. Got all that?
We started from point where Pseudolus and his love, the large but silent courtesan Gymnasia had just rescued Hero from the gladiators in the Arena.  They then had to rush across the city to save Hysterium from the funeral pyre and Philia from the sacrificial blades of the Vestal Virgins.

Keeping their priorities straight, the trio promptly forgot about Hysterium and went to rescue Philia.  Fortunately, a nearby chariot rental place provide means for a quick crossing of the city.  They were soon assisted by the assorted courtesans of the House of Lycus and a group of soldiers under an over amorous centurion.

Hysterium realizing that no help was coming, leapt off the pyre.  The enraged Gloriosus, pursued with the remainder of his soldiery.  The courtesans stormed the House of the Vestal Virgins, the sight of which caused a four-chariot pile-up. Various groups of gladiators, acrobats, and eunuchs, all hoping for a swipe at one or more of our heroes, added to the chaos, with the Head Eunuch of the House of Lycus bewailing the loss of inventory.

Pseudolus, Hero, Philia, and Gymnasis ultimately escaped the House of the Vestals by means of a fortuitously placed crane.  As they fled to a nearby chariot, they were spotted by Gloriosus.  The general however was spotted by Domina, who couldn't resist a man in uniform.  Senex took this as an opportunity to lead a parade of citizen into the House of Lycus, all singing about the wonders of female domestic help.
The end result was a raucous chariot chase across the countryside that involved an elephant and numerous camels.  In the end, Erroneous who was in the middle of his fourth lap, recognized the signet rings worn by Philila and Gloriosus matched his own. They were his lost children, and brother and sister.  Thus, the lovers were united, Pseudolus won his freedom and force Lycus to free Gymnasia.  A happy ending of course!

Here's a cast photo, all of the players did an exceptional job and played their characters to the hilt.  The Wazzi went to John Kerstetter who, as the Head Eunuch, had everyone in stitches with his running falsetto commentary.

And we won an award!

Wednesday, June 21, 2017

Roman Warband for Frostgrave

We've been fans of Frostgrave since it came out.  One thing I like is the themed warbands.   The advent of the Forge Hero site where you can design your own miniature game me the ability to create a Roman themed one. This is an Elementalist warband.  It's got some experience so is not a starter force.
 Here is the wizard himself, Maxentius Victor.  The Hero Forge figures are expensive but they paint up nicely.

 His apprentice, Flavia Placida, also from Hero Forge

A thief and a thug, Silvester and Clement.  Both are Foundry Late Romans.  I used primarily Late Roman figures since they tend to be dressed more for colder climates

 Two archers, Gireon and Isidorus, from the Gripping Beast plastic Late Roman set

Two infantrymen, Quirinius and Constantius, and a man at arms, Sebastianus.  The three are from A&A Miniatures 3rd century Roman line

A treasure hunter, Ursinus, also from A&A 

Wednesday, March 22, 2017

Cold Wars 2017

Attended Cold Wars 2017 with a unexpected pleasant surprise.  My son Nick's spring break plans fell through so he came to the convention with me and helped my run my game, "Caesar vs. Pluck: De Bello Ruritanico ad Mare."  This was something of a sequel to a similar game I ran a few conventions back.  It was based on Howard Whitehouse's Science vs. Pluck rules.  Science vs. Pluck is essentially a Victorian role-playing game where the players portray British army commanders in 19th century Sudan.  I modified the rules for ancient warfare with most of the players being Romans.

The scenario was this:  The Sarmatian Ruritanii have again crossed the Ister River and invaded the Roman province of Sylvania, capturing the Adriatic port of Colonia Turgidium.  Local Celto-Dacian tribesmen, the Shueti have risen in rebellion and rallied to the Ruritanii. Illyrian pirates together with some far-ranging Syrian corsairs have joined them as well.

A Roman force is hastily organized under the command of Domitian, the emperor Vespasian's second and less talented son (played again by Walt O'Hara with suitably whiny arrogance).  He led a squadron of the Ravenna fleet with a landing force of Praetorians while a task force built around the VII Legion attacks from the landward side.
We had twelve players, all but one played Roman commanders.  The twelfth player ran Burebista and Burorola, twin sisters vying for the vacant throne of the Shueti.

The naval side of the battle went well for the Romans, with the pirates ships dispatched handily.  However, one Roman trireme was destroyed by naphtha fire from a Syrian pirate.  Once the bay was cleared, the crews and Domitian's gladiator bodyguard landed to support the Praetorians.  The landing force fended off attacks from the Shueti and destroyed the barbarians in battle on the beach.  Princess Burebista committed suicide to avoid being captured by the triumphant Romans.

Things went more difficultly for the Romans on the landward side.  The auxiliaries stormed with some loss the captured watch tower that guarded the approaches to the port.  They then didn't move from the hill.  The Roman cavalry pushed rashly forward and were hit by both the naked fanatics of the Shueti and the heavy cataphracts of the Ruritanii, who had emerged from a forest to strike the Romans in the flank.  After a very hard fought battle the Roman cavalry was completely destroyed, having been left to their fate by the Roman legionaries whose commanders were not enthusiastic about risking their necks in such brawl.  Only a couple of cohorts of the Legion tried to help, under the leadership of young tribune (played with aristocratic cluelessness by Howard W. himself).  Despite the loss of the cavalry, the Roman line held, the Shueti completely destroyed, and the Ruritanii badly bloodied, causing them to retreat.  The Princess Bororolla was rescued at the romantically last minute by King Rheomitalces Rufus of the Ruritanii. The two rode off vowing vengeance against the Romans...
Everyone seemed to have a great time and the game was awarded a PELA for its time slot.

I also got to play in Jeff Allan's Frostgrave game.  A magnificent table!
It was an eight player game with most of the players unfamiliar with the Frostgrave rules but things ran very smoothly and a good time was had by all.  We were divided into two teams, Good vs. Evil but each player had a unique warband.  I ran a good shaman (witch) in the center of the board and had a relatively easy time of capturing treasures and avoiding any casualties.  Many of the other players were not so lucky on casualties.

A lot of time and laughter was spent on a couple warbands pushing each other around on the ice flows in the harbor.

As it turned out, we all faced far more danger from the GM-run wandering monsters than from each other.  In the end, I even got some of the evil players to rally around my animal familiar, Greg the Bear to save him from a skeleton lord awoken in a crypt.  A very fun and memorable game.

Here's some other games that caught my eye.

Tuesday, February 28, 2017

Caesar vs. Pluck Game for the Cold Wars 2017 Convention

I am scheduled to run a game at the Cold Wars convention in March.  It's called "Caesar vs. Pluck: De Bello Ruritanico ad Mare, 73 A.D."  This will use Howard Whitehouse's Science vs. Pluck, a set of colonial warfare rules that I've modified for ancient Romans.   It's is essentially a role-playing game in which the players take the role of Roman officers while the GM controls the barbarians.

The scenario will be this:The Sarmatian Ruritanii have crossed the Ister river and swept through the Roman province of Sylvania, capturing the small port of Colonia Turgidium on the Adriatic.  The Ruritanii have been joined by rebellious Celto-Dacian tribesmen and Illyrian and Syrian pirates.  A Roman task force, both ground and naval forces, under the nominal command of spoiled Imperial brat Domitian Caesar is launching a two prong attack on the barbarians.

The table will be three Cigar Box Mat 6'x4' mats: sea, shore, and field of battle.

Here's the Roman naval squadron sailing into the harbor
The combined pirate fleet
The Roman galleys are card constructions from the Russian company Clever Paper.  They sell for $8 each.  They are a bit under-sized for 28mm but the price can't be beat.
Several cohorts of Praetorians will lead the beach assault in landing barges.
These Illyrian long ships are from a free paper file I had found on the internet.
I'm using some very old scratch-built dhows for the Syria pirates.  I plan of doing some repainting on these.
The port of Colonia Turgidium