Friday, 22 January 2021

Chronicles of Lowenheim (9)

Last episode: http://snv-ttm.blogspot.com/2021/01/chronicles-of-lowenheim-8.html

Full overview: http://snv-ttm.blogspot.com/p/chronicles-of-lowenheim.html

The event rolled for week 5 was the following: The Landvoogd makes an important announcement as a result of the planetary conjuction seen in the sky and the subsequent riots. What is it? What is the result on the morale of the inhabitants of the city?

So this is an important event - it involves the ruler of the city, the Landvoogd, and his announcement might set the course for the next couple of game weeks. But first, let's summarize what events have transpired so far:

    It seems obvious the Landvoogd wants to restore order to the city and serve his own interests. But what kind of character is he? Let's roll the dice and use our system explained before: 3D6 per stat, and the most important stat of the character rolls 4D6 and drops the lowest die. Political aptitude seems like the defining trait for a city boss. 

    • Social aptitude: 10
    • Political aptitude: 12
    • Activity: 11
    • Morals: 11
    • Physical Stamina: 5
    • Age (10D10): 52 years old.

    Hmm, this seems like an average character in all aspects. He probably got the job of Landvoogd because of his father had the same post before him. He's also not in very good health, and is possibly very ill. This might seem a bit disappointing at first (I might have preferred a stronger character), but it means there's great potential for all sorts of of factions in the city plotting to overthrow such a weak figure. This is what I like about using all sorts of randomizers to seed the story. You never know what comes out.

    But anyway, we still need a name for the Landvoogd, that should reflect both his status but perhaps also a bit his average personality. I like using names that have some connection to local history, books I've read, etc., these always are a good source of inspiration. Let's settle on a famous statesmen in the Low Countries during the 16th century, the Count of Egmont. So we have Lamoraal van Egmont, Landvoogd van Lowenheim. Remember I like to use Dutch/Flemish names. There's already too much English with silly puns in wargaming ;-)

    Lamoraal van Egmont, in front of the Town Hall.

    I now realize I don't yet have women as characters in Lowenheim. So let's fix that immediately. Since our Landvoogd seems a somewhat weak figure, we'll put a strong women next to his side, the real "power behind the throne". Let's call her Sabina (the real count's wife was also named Sabina). We'll also give her a defining stat in political aptitude (rolling 4d6 and discarding the lowest die).

    • Social aptitude: 7
    • Political aptitude: 13
    • Activity: 11
    • Morals: 10
    • Physical Stamina: 12
    • Age (8D10): 57 years old.

    Ok, perhaps not the most sophisticated plotter in political intrigues, but it perhaps adds to the notion that the Landvoogd is somewhat weak. I also tried to make her a bit younger than her husband (rolling 8D10 instead of 10D10), but she ended up older anyway :-) Let's see how these characters develop further during the next epsiodes ...

    Lamoraal and Sabina van Egmont in the private chambers of the Landvoogd.

    So, now we will have to decide what the big announcement is. Given that there have been riots, it might have to do with suppressing the population. Or given that there was the planetary conjunction as an omen, he might revoke the taxes. So it might be something good or bad for the population. Let's roll a D20 against Lamoraal's Morals score (11): A 14, so the test has failed. It means something bad for the population, so perhaps the taxes remain in place, AND there will be a curfew in the city AND perhaps there will be an arrest warrant for the troublemaker Hans De Jonghe? Perhaps he should calm the population by involving the popular Johannes Mercator? Let's list these possibilities, each with a probability on a D10. I can play around with these probabilities a bit so I give some more chance to events I will think might lead to more interesting storylines.

    • Taxes remain in place, but there will be something to keep the poplation somewhat under control, e.g. a fair or joust or so ... (1)
    • Taxes remain firmly in place, but the (popular) Johannes Mercator (who has predicted the conjunction) will be given a more formal role (2-4)
    • Taxes remain frmly in place AND a curfew is announced (5-6)
    • Taxes remain firmly in place AND there is an arrest warrant for Hans De Jonghe (7-8-9)
    • Taxes remain firmly in place AND a curfew AND an arrest warrant (10)

    Let's roll the D10, ... a 3!

    ==========

    After the riots near De Groene Draak, Lamoraal van Egmont feels resolute action is needed to restore order. He decides to call on Johannes Mercator, who has gained some popularity after predicting the planetary conjunction.

    Lamoraal van Egmont listens to the advice of Johannes Mercator.

    "Yes, Sire, how can be of help?" asks Mercator.

    "You have heard about the riots. And I want to restore order. You seem to have gained some respect among the population after your succesful prediction. And quite rightly, you predicted that troubles would come.So how should I proceed?"

    "Sire, you should either revoke the taxes, or do something useful with the money such that the people will feel that their sacrifices are for the greater good."

    "The taxes will remain in place! I like spending money for the glory of Lowenheim!"

    "Hmmm, ok. Perhaps I can suggest the new invention of my friend, Pascal Stevin. He has invented a quite wonderful calculating machine, that could bring Lowenheim into a new era, the era of science."

    "Will it generate more riches?"

    "Yes, I think it will ... "

    "Good, good! Let's make a proclamation in front of the town hall."

    "One more thing, Sire. What about the Trigonometros? Shouldn't you consult them as well ... the traditions of the city?"

    "As you said yourself Mercator: the era of science has begun. Perhaps the era of magic will come to an end."

    Johannes Mercator feels excited, but is also worried. This could mean open conflict with the Trigonometros.

    "Citizens of Lowenheim! The era of science has begun!
    We will develop a calculating machine that will bring new riches to the city!"

    ==========

    So, what do we have for game week 6?

    Here's our list of events, with any modifications in colour. Number in brackets list the game week in which the event was first listed (although it might have been modified since).

    1. The Landvoogd makes an important announcement as a result of the planetary conjuction seen in the sky and the subsequent riots. What is it? What is the result on the morale of the inhabitants of the city? [1]
      The Trigonometros wants to regain their influence, and start looking for allies. They try to make contact with Hans De Jonghe, the leader of the riots. Will they succeed? How can both parties benefit from this unlikely alliance? [6]
    2. A trade caravan arrives. Who is the trader? What does he or she hope to sell or trade in Lowenheim? What news does the caravan bring? Are there any strange creatures part of the caravan? [1]
    3. Grombo SuykerByck still feels he should be rewarded for his efforts in putting down a revolt in the city. What would be a proper reward? Will he become an influential friend of the Landvoogd? Will he get more money and/or influence? [4]
    4. The guards (along with the tax collector) go out collecting the new taxes, but a fight ensues. In what quarter of the city? Why is there a fight? (==> skirmish wargame) [1]
    5. The Magicians Trigonometros plans an attack on Mercator's tower. How will they do this? Night or day? Ground, air, tunnels, spells? Using their magical creatures, or do it more stealthily? Who will come to the help of Johannes Mercator? (==> skirmish wargame) [3]
    6. Mercator and Stevin want to see the Landvoogd and tell him about the new dawning Age of Science. Will they have the Landvoogd's ear? How will he react, and what effect will it have on the developments in the city? [5]
      A fire is erupting in the city. Which building is affected? Was the building set on fire deliberately? Who could have done it? [6]
    7. There are 4 statues at the crossroads (and a few more in the city). What is their meaning? What do they tell about the history of Lowenheim? [4]
    8. A murder takes place in Lowenheim. Who is the (important?) victim? Will there be a trial? What's the judicial system in Lowenheim? [1]
    9. The recent riots around De Groene Draak lead to heightened patrols by the city guards. What will they do to restore order? Impose a curfew? How will they do it? By force or not? (==> skirmish wargame?) [4]
    10. There's a coven of cultists hiding in the city somewhere. Who are they? What do they want? What is their secret temple? Is there an important figure part of the cult? [5]

    Let's roll our D10 again ... a 6! "A fire is erupting in the city. Which building is affected? Was the building set on fire deliberately? Who could have done it?"

    To be continued ...

    Thursday, 14 January 2021

    Chronicles of Lowenheim (8)

    We ended with this event: "One of the other scholars (besides Johannes Mercator) living in the city makes a strange discovery that is of some importance. Who is he or she? What discovery? How will it affect the city? Good or bad? Physical discovery or new knowledge? What does it mean for the tension building up between the scholars and wizards?"

    See also our last post, as well the complete overview.

    We already have the growing potential conflict between the wizards and Johannes Mercator, and I framed it somewhat as a conflict between magic and science - the wizards being the old guard, and the scholars and scientists being the new. Perhaps we can build on that a bit more, and introduce some more scientific knowledge into the city of Lowenheim.

    Hmmm, what to use? Perhaps an astronomical clock? Or a mechanical primitive robot? Or a new mathematical idea or scientific insight? But I'll settle on a mechanical calculator. I teach a class on the history of computer science, so I'm not going to let the oppportunity pass to insert some computer science into my fantasy campaign. The first mechanical calculators were invented in the first half of the 17th century, but it's fantasy after all, so anything goes! I'll use Pascal's caculator, the Pascaline as a model. Not that it really matters, but it was the best of these early calculating devices. Perhaps I could have settled for the invention of the logarithms, but an actual device has the potential of being stolen, and hence, much more potential for adventure ;-)

    And what scholar to use? Let's model our new character on Blaise Pascal and Simon Stevin (a famous scientist from the same period), and call him Pascal Stevin. After all, the previous scholar who predicted the planetary conjunction, Johannes Mercator, was also a contraption of Johannes Kepler and Gerard Mercator.

    Some musings on character stats

    Bet before we go the pretty pictures, let's take a look at out character system again. SO far, I used the system laid out in Tony Bath's book on wargames campaigns. All stats had a number from 1 to 6, and the stats themselves were more geared towards commanders in a military campaign. Some stats also weren't really innate abilities, and more the result of actions (e.g. popularity). And there's the question what to with the stats. It's always easy to use a die roll vs a stat, but I felt the numbers were not discriminating enough. After all, all stats are determined by a D6, while a non-uniform distribution might be somewhat better. Bath's system was invented before the advent of roleplaying games, and we now know a lot more about character generation. And I should have known this as well! I guess I was a bit too focused on using Bathian mechanics instead of thinking a bit more.

    So two things: numerical range, and what stats?

    As for the numerical range, let's settle on the true and tested D&D method of rolling 3D6 for each stat. This gives a 3-18 number with an emphasis on the middle range, and allows for a D20 vs stat as a simple stat check. (And don;t call 3D6 a "bell curve"! It's not. :-))

    Now, the stats themselves. I realized the stats for a character needed in a narrative campaign are a bit different from a roleplaying campaign. In an rpg, the stats might define the character and the direction in which a player develops that character. But in my game, I need something different. After all, I already know I'm generating a wizard, or a scholar, or a guard captain. So I rather need stats that can tell me something how a character and behaves in the setting of Lowenheim, and I don't need stats as a starting point to develop the character.

    So I decided on the following:

    • Social Aptitude (Soc): call it charisma, popularity, generosity, smooth talking, etc. 
    • Political Aptitude (Pol): How well does the character know how to reach certain objectives in the city? How cunning or Machiavellian is he or she?
    • Activity (Act): is the character on the lazy side, or on the entrepreneurial side? How likely is it the character will act when something is happening? Ambition (trying to become powerful, rich, ...) is also covered here.
    • Morals (Mor): What's the character integrity? How lawful is the character, and willing to not harm others in reaching his or her goals?
    • Physical Stamina (Phys): Is the character a hypochondriac, or rather a person in good health?

    I think these stats will do. If I need a stat check, I will simply roll a D20 vs the stat. All other traits follow from the initial presumptions. E.g. a scholar or wizard is intelligent; a guard captain is skilled in weapon use, etc. Thus, the "profession" of the character defines its skill set.

    As for age, I'll use either a 6D10, 8D10 or 10D10, depending on whether I want a younger, middle-aged, or older character. 

    So I will use this system from now on, and in time convert the others as well. I will roll a 3D6 for all stats, except I will pick one stat to roll 4D6 and select the 3 highest dice.

    So what about our new scholar, Pascal Stevin? Rolling the dice, and selecting Soc as the 4D6 stat (because it fits the figure I want to use):

    • Soc: 14
    • Pol: 9
    • Act: 6
    • Mor: 10
    • Phys: 12
    • Age (8D10): 48

    Since with a 3D6, the scores of 9, 10, 11 and 12 are the average bulk, we have a very social person,  on the lazy side,  but nothing exceptional in the other characteristics. Since we already have decided he's a scholar, he's of course intelligent and very knowledgeable about a lot of things.

      ==========

      Johannes Mercator and Pascal Stevin are good friends. They both live near each other in the same quarter f Lowenheim, and meet each other regularly to discuss their new findings. Pascal is a bit of a slow worker though, and it might take some time before he really sets his mind to things.

      Pascal Stevin in front of his house in Lowenheim.
       

      One evening, he invites Johannes to his house to discuss a new contraption he has worked on in secret for years: a mechanical calculator. "I will name this device after myself, the Pascaline! It will change the calculations for traders, merchants, and even the ships sailing the seas and oceans!"

      Pascal Stevin and Johannes Mercator discussing the Pascaline in Stevin's work room.

       

      The Pascaline

      Mercator is impressed! "But what took you so long?" "You know I'm a bit on the lazy side ... And I didn't really want to show it before it was finished." "We should show it to the Landvoogd." "You think so?" "Yes, we can finally show everyone that science is the tool for bringing prosperity, an that the days of magic are over!" "Ok, but how do we do that?" "Hmmm, let's think abouth this some more. But for now, keep your invention a secret. We don't want to irritate the Trigonometros. They're already angry enough because I predicted the planetary conjunction."

      ==========

      Up to the the event list for week 5. Obviously, event 6 needs to be replaced. Event 10 got superceded. I tuned the oldest events a little. The number in square brackets is the week in which the event was first listed (although it might have been updated a bit).

      1. The Landvoogd makes an important announcement as a result of the planetary conjuction seen in the sky and the subsequent riots. What is it? What is the result on the morale of the inhabitants of the city? [1]
      2. A trade caravan arrives. Who is the trader? What does he or she hope to sell or trade in Lowenheim? What news does the caravan bring? [1]
      3. Grombo SuykerByck feels he should be rewarded for his efforts in putting down a revolt in the city. What would be a proper reward? Will he become an influential friend of the Landvoogd? Will he get more money and/or influence? [4]
      4. The guards (along with the tax collector) go out collecting the new taxes, but a fight ensues. In what quarter of the city? Why is there a fight? (==> skirmish wargame) [1]
      5. The Magicians plan an attack on Mercator's tower. How will they do this? Night or day? Ground, air, tunnels, spells? Using their magical creatures, or do it more stealthily? Who will come to the help of Johannes Mercator? (==> skirmish wargame) [3]
      6. One of the other scholars (besides Johannes Mercator) living in the city makes a strange discovery that is of some importance. Who is he or she? What discovery? How will it affect the city? Good or bad? Physical discovery or new knowledge? What does it mean for the tension building up between the scholars and wizards? [3] Mercator and Stevin want to see the Landvoogd and tell him about the new dawning Age of Science. Will they have the Landvoogd's ear? How will he reacht, and what effect will it have on the developments in the city? [5]
      7. There are 4 statues at the crossroads (and a few more in the city). What is their meaning? What do they tell about the history of Lowenheim? [4]
      8. A murder takes place in Lowenheim. Who is the (important?) victim? Will there be a trial? What's the judicial system in Lowenheim? [1]
      9. The recent riots around De Groene Draak lead to heightened patrols by the city guards. What will they do to restore order? Impose a curfew? How will they do it? By force or not? (==> skirmish wargame?) [4]
      10. Johannes Mercator is now even more popular than he was before. What are his plans for the future? What does he want to gain from the current situation? [2] There's a coven of cultists hiding in the city somewhere. Who are they? What do they want? What is their secret temple? Is there an important figure part of the cult? [5]

       Let's roll the D10 .... a 1! So we have the following event: "The Landvoogd makes an important announcement as a result of the planetary conjuction seen in the sky and the subsequent riots. What is it? What is the result on the morale of the inhabitants of the city?"

      Finally we will have to introduce the Landvoogd, the so-far unnamed leader of the city.

      Tuesday, 5 January 2021

      Chronicles of Lowenheim (7)

      We ended with a mob getting ready for a raid on the inn De Groene Draak. I also decided to rename this series of blogposts "Chronicles of Lowenheim" rather than "Riots in Lowenheim". For an overview of all posts so far, see here.

      As I mentioned before, it was my intention to try out the One-Hour Skirmish Wargaming Rules, written by John Lambshead. These are supposed to be a fast-moving ruleset, ideal for skirmish games with perhaps upto 10 or even 20 figures per side.

       

      I will not run through the entire rules, but simply mention some of the core characteristics:

      • Each turn, a player draws an ordinary playing card. Each player has his own deck. The number on the card indicate the number of actions available for that that turn. This means - on average - players will have the same number of actions, and this also implies the rules work best with the same (or roughly the same) number of figures on each side.
      • Combat resolution (shooting or melee) is resolved by both players drawing cards, highest card wins. Cover simply means drawing 2 or 3 cards and keeping the highest number.
      • Figures have 1 hit and are downed. At the end of a full cycle (a cycle ends when a Joker is drawn), a card is drawn for each downed figure, with a Red Card (I think the original rules say Black, don't remember) indicating the figure is dead, otherwise the figure recovers and lives. 

       

      My 2 decks of cards, guarded by the Emperor himself.

      There you have it, a simple ruleset. As for distances, I shortened the distances somewhat (1 inch = 2cm) since my skirmish would be played an a rather smallish section of the table.

      I have 2 gangs: the mob under the leadership of Hans De Jonghe, and the inn staff under the leadership of Grombo SuykerBuyck. The plan (a pincer attack) was already rolled for, so let the game begin!

      I am not going to give a blow-by-blow account of the entire game, but simple a narrative of how the game unfolded.

      ==========

      As soon as Hans had laid out the plans, the thugs and rascals started yelling and shouting, excited by the prospect of getting some good food from De Groene Draak.

      One group started running over the bridge, took a right turn, and continued towards the crossroads with the 4 statues. The walled enclosure of De Groene Draak was in plain sight, and they could see the waving banner of Grombo SuykerBuyck.

      Arrows were shot back and forth, causing some casualties on both sides. The defenders of the inn were lousy bowmen, so the battle was a somewhat uneven, with a large number of casualties on the defenders' side.

      Encouraged by the shouts and cries, at the other side, the first rascal tried to cross the ford, but was quickly shot down from behind the barricades, manned by a single bowman.


      It appeared this hobbit, all dressed in green, had a keen eye and good shot. He managed to lay down several more raiders.

      ... while at the other side the situation was more or less also under control.

      The fight continuous. At the barricades, one thug manages to reach the barricade, but is quickly dealt with.

      An all-out attack at the crossroads is met with a fierce counterattack.


      A few more shots, and the raid has failed! Grombo SuykerBuyck and his stalwart defenders have prefailed! The thugs and rascals have been defeated! Hans De Jonghe has to back in shame!


      ==========

      The skirmish system definitely worked. It was quick and bloody, although I only used the basic rules. Adding some special abilities for some figures might spice up things a little bit. But let's keep that for the following skirmish in Lowenheim.

      So, what's next for week 4?

      • Event #3 has now played out, so I decided to do something with Grombo.
      • I choose to eliminate event #7, since an escape of one the animals could be folded into an attack launched by the wizards on Johannes Mercator (event #5).
      • Event #9 is changed as well, since we had a riot at one of the inns, and I feel the city guard would probably react to this.

      Overall, I want to keep the options fairly open, but still tie in to the developing story, and keep a reasonable chance for triggering a wargame (3 or 4 events out of 10 seems like a good number). 

      1. The Landvoogd makes an important announcement as a result of the planetary conjuction seen in the sky. What is it? What is the result on the morale of the inhabitants of the city? [1]
      2. A trade caravan arrives. Who is the trader? What does he or she hope to sell or trade in Lowenheim? What news does the caravan bring? [1]
      3. The people living in the slums are starving. They form a mob and will go looking for food. Why now? Where will they look for food? Who is the leader of the mob? (==> skirmish wargame) Grombo SuykerByck feels he should be rewarded for his efforts in putting down a revolt in the city. What would be a proper reward? Will he become an influential friend of the Landvoogd? Will he get more money and/or influence? [4]
      4. The guards (along with the tax collector) go out collecting the new taxes, but a fight ensues. In what quarter of the city? Why is there a fight? (==> skirmish wargame) [1]
      5. The Magicians plan an attack on Mercator's tower. How will they do this? Night or day? Ground, air, tunnels, spells? Using their magical creatures, or do it more stealthily? Who will come to the help of Johannes Mercator? (==> skirmish wargame) [3]
      6. One of the other scholars (besides Johannes Mercator) living in the city makes a strange discovery that is of some importance. Who is he or she? What discovery? How will it affect the city? Good or bad? Physical discovery or new knowledge? What does it mean for the tension building up between the scholars and wizards? [3]
      7. One of the animals escapes from the Magician's zoological garden. What is the animal? Where does it go to? Intelligent or stupid? Rampage or not? What are the consequences? (==> skirmish wargame) [1]
        There are 4 statues at the crossroads (and a few more in the city). What is their meaning? What do they tell about the history of Lowenheim? [4]
      8. A murder takes place in Lowenheim. Who is the (important?) victim? Will there be a trial? What's the judicial system in Lowenheim? [1]
      9. A drunken party assembles on the streets outside one of the inns (why?), starts shouting and destroying things. The city guard has to come in and restore the peace. (==> skirmish wargame) [1]
        The recent riots around De Groene Draak lead to heightened patrols by the city guards. What will they do to restore order? Impose a curfew? How will they do it? By force or not? (==> skirmish wargame?) [4]
      10. Johannes Mercator is now even more popular than he was before. What are his plans for the future? What does he want to gain from the current situation? [2]

      Let's roll the D10 ....... a 6! "One of the other scholars (besides Johannes Mercator) living in the city makes a strange discovery that is of some importance. Who is he or she? What discovery? How will it affect the city? Good or bad? Physical discovery or new knowledge? What does it mean for the tension building up between the scholars and wizards?"

      We might have to think about this. To be continued!

      Sunday, 3 January 2021

      Riots in Lowenheim (6)

      In our last post, we rolled for a new event: The people living in the slums are starving. They form a mob and will go looking for food. Why now? Where will they look for food? Who is the leader of the mob? (==> skirmish wargame)

      Finally, some action!

      So we need to flesh out some details before we can start the skirmish wargame.

      Who is the leader of the mob, and why do they revolt now? It's obvious this has all to do with the sighting of the planetary conjunction. The people in the slums were already not doing too well, and now they fear that the harvests (fields outside the city wall) will fail as well. A well known populist, Hans De Jonghe, smells an opportunity and stirs up the mob. In case you're wondering, I like using Flemish/Dutch names for my campaign, since I feel wargaming is already too full with English names with puns (some funny, some not so funny) to sound foreign. No Colonel Bratwurst of Monsieur Fruits-de-la-Mer in my games!

      When looking at my map of Lowenheim, there are two inns were it is known food is stored.

      The inn on the left is the farthest from the slums, and the route there would take the mob alongside the rich quarters and possibly the guard barracks. The other inn is much closer and looks like a juicier target. So I decided to roll a D10: 1,2,3 ==> raid the furthest inn; 4-10 ==> raid the closest inn. The roll is a 6, so the closest inn it is. We still need a name, let's settle on a classic, and call the building De Groene Draak (The Green Dragon).

      Next for a battle plan. A straight attack across the ford (green lines, 1-5), or a pincer attack across the ford and bridge (yellow lines, 6-10)? The D10 says 7, so a pincer attack it is.

      Two possible attack plans from the slums towards De Groene Draak.
       

      The inn  will be defended. The innkpeer, a hobbit (of course!) listening to the name of Grombo Suykerbuyck (Grombo Sugarbelly. You might think I made this up, but Suykerbuyck is an existing surname in Flanders) is prepared with his staff (1-5), or unprepared (6-10). The D10 gives a 2, so they are prepared.

      For Both Hans De Jonghe, and Gromvo SuykerBuyck, I rolled for a profile using Tony Bath's system.

      ==========

      After the sighting of the planetary conjunction, Hans De Jonghe, a well known trouble-maker in the slums, smells an opportunity for creating some more mayhem and chaos in the city. The people are already starving, and it doesn't take too much effort to call for action. He calls for action, by suggesting the mob will raid De Groene Draak, looking for food!

      Hans De Jonghe is stirring up the mob
      (all figures are old Citadel figures)

       

      "Let's split in 2 groups! One group with bows and crossbows will go over the bridge, and attack De Groene Draak from the crossroads. When they are in position, I will lead the attack across the ford, straight towards their front door!"

      However, the innkeeper of De Groene Draak, Grombo Suykerbuyck, has some friends in the slums, and it comes to his ears that a raid will be undertaken later that day. So he sets up a barricade across the entrance way, and gathers all his staff to man the walls and the barricade. He also unfurls his banner, a family heirloom from his grandfather who fought in the Great War!

       

      The defence of De Groene Draak. The barricade on the right is ready, and the crates full of food in the yard are closely guarded. (The image on the banner is Holle Bolle Gijs, an iconic figure known to most Dutch and Belgian kids from De Efteling amusement park. He eats everything, so a proper icon for a hobbit! Figures are Citadel and Grenadier.)

      ==========

      So, now I have to (solo) play the game. I will use the One Hour Skirmish rules, written by John Lambshead. Since it's a solo campaign, I can afford to experiment, so let's see how quick these rules really are.

      I also started a new page on this blog to collect all relevant Lowenheim information.

      To be continued ...

      Wednesday, 30 December 2020

      I cleaned up the garage

      Besides the wargaming room, I also have my paint corner in the garage. Today, when cleaning up most of the garage, I also cleaned and reorganized my paint corner. It's not really only a paint corner, it's also the holding pen for lots of the "gaming stuff" that doesn't go in the wargaming room.

      I was pretty satisfied, and then the mistress of the house came in. "I thought you were going to clean up? This still looks like the same heap of junk as before!" "You don't understand! I cleaned up and reorganized things, I didn't get rid of stuff. Big difference!" Some people will never understand the mind of a wargamer!




      Wednesday, 23 December 2020

      Riots in Lowenheim (5)

      We concluded our last post with this event: The Magicians' guild feel their old rights of living in the city are endangered. Why? Who is their leader? What's the connection between the magician's guild and the history of the city?

      Since Johannes Mercator predicted the omen of the planetary conjunction, and now has the ear of the Landvoogd, it seems that the magicians feel their influence on the affairs of Lowenheim is in danger. So let's work on that story arc a bit. A conflict between the old forms of knowledge (i.e. magic) and the new forms (i.e. science) seems like something that could give rise to some fights in Lowenheim (which is what we want!). 

      So how many wizards/magicians do we need in the guild? I already have a wizards' tower (see also my posts on painting and assembling the tower) in the city, surrounded by a magical garden. Three wizards seems like a good number to live in such a tower.

      So let's give them some names and personality characteristics, using the same system we had before and based on Tony Bath's Hyboria campaign, and adding some additional details. I keep all the numbers in a spreadhseet for now, but I won;t repeat them here. The names are inspired by "De Rode Ridder" adventures, a comic book series popular when I was a kid. Think about them as the Flemish Prince Valiant.

      Kerwyn Mandragora, Grandmaster of Colours.
      Verdal Balok, Keeper of the Secret Knowledge of Illis-Thran.
      Bahaal Trismegistus, Arch-Conjurer of the Fifth Circle.

      =========

      For centuries the Trigonometros, the triumvirate of wizards living in the Tower, have advised the rulers of Lowenheim. Three is their number, and three it always be, according to old lore and ancient tradition. They live in the Tower, which is surrounded by a garden full of weird and mysterious creatures and plant. Inhabitants of Lowenheim rarely wander there, although all know the wizards control the beasts and probably no harm would be done. But the living horrors are sometimes a bit too weird for ordinary humans to cope with.

      The road from Lowenheim up to the Wizard's tower.
      (Never mind the Christmas lights :-))


      The road through the magical garden is filled with strange plants and creatures ...

      ... perhaps the results of experiments gone wrong?

      After it became clear that Johannes Mercator had foreseen the planetary conjunction, and he interpreted it as a bad omen, the Landvoogd apparantly is inclined to listen to this newcomer in lieu of the respected and ancient Trigonometros.

      "If we are not careful, our influence will wain!" said Kerwyn Mandragora.
      "Indeed, we must act, and crush this dangerous new science. After all, we know what's best for Lowenheim!" answered Verdal Balok.
      "What can we do? Shall we risk open violence? Or rather stealth and deception?" pondered Bahaal Trismegistus.

      The Trigonometros assembled in the Wizards' Tower

      "Let's go the roof and wee what we can do!" shouted Kerwyn Mandragora. "Our position of power is in danger!"

      A view from the Tower, over the Guard Barracks, towards the tower of Johannes Mercator.

      A view towards Lowenheim

      =========

      Let's update our table of events for the week 3, with altered sections in colour. I still want to keep the events as "open" as possible, but of course tune them a bit towards the evolving story arc.

      1. The Landvoogd makes an important announcement as a result of the planetary conjuction seen in the sky. What is it? What is the result on the morale of the inhabitants of the city? [1]
      2. A trade caravan arrives. Who is the trader? What does he or she hope to sell or trade in Lowenheim? What news does the caravan bring? [1]
      3. The people living in the slums are starving. They form a mob and will go looking for food. Why now? Where will they look for food? Who is the leader of the mob? (==> skirmish wargame) [1]
      4. The guards (along with the tax collector) go out collecting the new taxes, but a fight ensues. In what quarter of the city? Why is there a fight? (==> skirmish wargame) [1]
      5. The Magician's guild feel their old rights of living in the city are endangered. Why? Who is their leader? What's the connection between the magician's guild and the history of the city? The Magicians plan an attack on Mercator's tower. How will they do this? Night or day? Ground, air, tunnels, spells? Using their magical creatures, or do it more stealthily? Who will come to the help of Johannes Mercator? (==> skirmish wargame) [3]
      6. One of the other scholars (besides Johannes Mercator) living in the city makes a strange discovery that is of some importance. Who is he or she? What discovery? How will it affect the city? Good or bad? Physical discovery or new knowledge? What does it mean for the tension building up between the scholars and wizards? [3]
      7. One of the animals escapes from the Magician's zoological garden. What is the animal? Where does it go to? Intelligent or stupid? Rampage or not? What are the consequences? (==> skirmish wargame) [1]
      8. A murder takes place in Lowenheim. Who is the (important?) victim? Will there be a trial? What's the judicial system in Lowenheim? [1]
      9. A drunken party assembles on the streets outside one of the inns (why?), starts shouting and destroying things. The city guard has to come in and restore the peace. (==> skirmish wargame) [1]
      10. Johannes Mercator is now even more popular than he was before. What are his plans for the future? What does he want to gain from the current situation? [2]

      So, let's roll a D10 ... a 3! The people living in the slums are starving. They form a mob and will go looking for food. Why now? Where will they look for food? Who is the leader of the mob? (==> skirmish wargame)

      Interesting ... so now we have a game on our hands!

      Saturday, 19 December 2020

      Riots in Lowenheim (4)

      In our last post, we rolled for an event, and the result was "An omen is seen in the sky. Good or bad? What is it?".

      I was first thinking about the archetypical comet, but then of course we have the Great Conjunction between Saturn and Jupiter a few days (December 21) from now. Apparantly, Johannes Kepler himself also predicted conjunctions and linked them to certain events in history, e.g. the star of Bethlehem. So it seemed only fitting the omen in the sky as seen from Lowenheim is the great conjunction!

      Now to decide whether it's a good or bad omen. Since we want to stage a wargaming campaign, with potential sources for conflict, the omen probably should be bad. But let's roll a D10. 1-7 is bad, 8-10 is good ... the result is a 5. A bad omen! Let's say the omen will foretell that strive and unrest will arrive in the city as the result of raising the taxes by the Landvoogd ...

      Let's also introduce a character who saw this omen and interpreted it. Inspired by the planetary conjunction and Kepler, I want to use my Gerardus Mercator figure. But it's going to be Johannes Mercator, a combination of Gerardus Mercator and Johannes Kepler.

      Now, how I generate some personality statistics? Ever since roleplaying games, we have zillions of ways to generate characters and give them abilities and traits, and there have been plenty of suggestions in wargaming rules as well, albeit focused on military commanders and generals. But let's use the system from the venerable Tony Bath, as described in Setting up a Wargames Campaign:


      So rolling a few D6's, we get:

      • General Disposition: 3 - Average
      • Morals: 3 - Drink & Women
      • Generosity: 5 - Open-handed
      • Loyalty: 6 - Totally Loyal
      • Appearance: 5 - Handsome
      • Popularity (this is computed as the average of all of the above): 4 - Popular
      • Intelligence: Outstanding Intelligence (I rolled this as the maximim of 2D6, since our charcater is a scholar)
      • Activity: 3 - Average
      • Martial Aptitude: 2
      • Political Aptitude: 2
      • (Martial and Political Experience also were handled seperately by Tony Bath based on games played).

      We still need an age, so let's roll 8D10, which can give a range from 8 to 80. Total rolled 35.

      So we have Johannes Mercator, a fairly young scholar, popular with the ladies, rather generous, loyal to the city council and the Landvoogd, but not so politically smart. Sounds like a real professor! :-)

      ==========

      It was a few months after the Landvoogd raised the city taxes. Johannes Mercator was in his study, when he predicted there would be a grand conjunction of the planets Saturn and Jupiter. He redid his calculations, and he was certain - the conjunction should take place a few days from now. Surely this was a bad sign, and he knew when it happened he would be summoned to explain the sighting.
       
      Johannes when he predicted the Saturn-Jupiter conjunction.

      Finally the did come. Johannes went outside and make a careful drawing of what he saw in the nighttime sky. Lots of people on Lowenheim witnessed it as well, and there was amusement, mingled with a light panic.

      Johannes Mercator outside his tower and house, looking at the sky.

      The conjunction as drawn by Johannes Mercator
      (source: actual drawing by Johannes Kepler of a Saturn0Jupiter conjunction)

      The Landvoogd summoned Johannes and demanded an explanation of what the omen signified. Johannes told him that raising the taxes would lead to unrest, and that there would be conflict in Lowenheim!

      ==========

      Now we can update the table of events for week 2. Obviously, event #10 is removed, and we go over the others whether they all still make sense, but we add some details here and there based on the developing story. New = coloured.

      1. The Landvoogd makes an important announcement as a result of the planetary conjuction seen in the sky. What is it? What is the result on the morale of the inhabitants of the city? [1]
      2. A trade caravan arrives. Who is the trader? What does he or she hope to sell or trade in Lowenheim? What news does the caravan bring? [1]
      3. The people living in the slums are starving. They form a mob and will go looking for food. Why now? Where will they look for food? Who is the leader of the mob? (==> skirmish wargame) [1]
      4. The guards (along with the tax collector) go out collecting the new taxes, but a fight ensues. In what quarter of the city? Why is there a fight? (==> skirmish wargame) [1]
      5. The Magician's guild feel their old rights of living in the city are endangered. Why? Who is their leader? What's the connection between the magician's guild and the history of the city? [1]
      6. One of the scholars living in the city makes a strange discovery that is of some importance. Who is he or she? What discovery? How will it affect the city? Good or bad? Physical discovery or new knowledge? [1]
      7. One of the animals escapes from the Magician's zoological garden. What is the animal? Where does it go to? Intelligent or stupid? Rampage or not? What are the consequences? (==> skirmish wargame) [1]
      8. A murder takes place in Lowenheim. Who is the (important?) victim? Will there be a trial? What's the judicial system in Lowenheim? [1]
      9. A drunken party assembles on the streets outside one of the inns (why?), starts shouting and destroying things. The city guard has to come in and restore the peace. (==> skirmish wargame) [1]
      10. Johannes Mercator is now even more popular than he was before. What are his plans for the future? Wjat does he want to gain from the current situation? [2]

       So, let's roll a D10 to see what will happen in week 2. We roll a 5: The Magician's guild feel their old rights of living in the city are endangered. Why? Who is their leader? What's the connection between the magician's guild and the history of the city?

      Lots to think about during the coming days ... but something immediately comes up. The magicians are angry and worried because Johannes Mercator gets the credits for predicting the omen ...

      Wednesday, 16 December 2020

      Riots in Lowenheim (3)

      Having a large collection of magazines AND an index to look up relevant wargaming articles published over the last 30 years or so, is a great advantage, W.r.t. my planned story about Lowenheim, I did a quick search and came up with the following:

      • Wargamers' Annual 2015 has an article "Rioting in New Alexandria", which references the original "Rioting in Alexandria" scenario from 1970 which I also mentioned in my last post on Lowenheim. This time, the riots are set in 19th century Britain, and some ideas are given on how to generate and control mobs, how to use barricades in a wargaming scenario, etc.
      • Secrets of Wargame Design #1 (2012) , a collection of articles written by Wally Simon and edited by Russ Lockwood, outlines an ancient city fight.The city map is divided in gridcells, and one unit (and buildings) occupies one grid cell. Attacking units fight their way across the city.
      • Miniature Wargames 201 (Feb 2000) has an article "Pompey in Alexandria". Two armies (Romans under Ceasar/Pompey, Egyptians under Achillas) are fighting each other in Alexandria, and resupplies are brought in depending on certain areas conquered. Random events are included as well.
      • Miniature Wargames 212 (Jan 2001) features "Escape from Constantinople", set right after the siege in 1453. The idea is that you try to escape (with a single figure) through the ruins of the city. The city is generated on the fly, and the whole scenario is more akin a dungeon exploration that a wargame between 2 massed armies.

      There are probably a more relevant articles, but the selection above already gave me some additional ideas on how to run the games in Lowenheim.

      ==========

      But anyway, let's start the story ...

      Lowenheim is governed by the local Landvoogd. He has raised the taxes a few months ago, for "expenditures that will benefit the great city of Lowenheim". However, not everyone agrees, and something is brewing ... 

      As I outlined earlier, I drew up a list of events that could happen and that evolve the story in interesting directions ... once an event is determined, the details will be fleshed out. Along with each event, I also listed some who/why/where/... questions as a reminder to further develop the event. One event will take place every week (game time, not real time). After all, the people in Lowenheim still have their daily lives to worry about as well ...
      (The number after each event indicates in what week it was first included in the list, naturally, this is a 1 for all events).

      1. The Landvoogd makes an important announcement. What is it? Why now? What is the result on the morale of the inhabitants of the city? [1]
      2. A trade caravan arrives. Who is the trader? What does he or she hope to sell or trade in Lowenheim? What news does the caravan bring? [1]
      3. The people living in the slums are starving. They form a mob and will go looking for food. Why now? Where will they look for food? Who is the leader of the mob? (==> skirmish wargame) [1]
      4. The guards (along with the tax collector) go out collecting the new taxes, but a fight ensues. In what quarter of the city? Why is there a fight? (==> skirmish wargame) [1]
      5. The Magician's guild feel their old rights of living in the city are endangered. Why? Who is their leader? What's the connection between the magician's guild and the history of the city? [1]
      6. One of the scholars living in the city makes a strange discovery that is of some importance. Who is he or she? What discovery? How will it affect the city? Good or bad? Physical discovery or new knowledge? [1]
      7. One of the animals escapes from the Magician's zoological garden. What is the animal? Where does it go to? Intelligent or stupid? Rampage or not? What are the consequences? (==> skirmish wargame) [1]
      8. A murder takes place in Lowenheim. Who is the (important?) victim? Will there be a trial? What's the judicial system in Lowenheim? [1]
      9. A drunken party assembles on the streets outside one of the inns (why?), starts shouting and destroying things. The city guard has to come in and restore the peace. (==> skirmish wargame) [1]
      10. An omen is seen in the sky. Good or bad? What is it? [1]

      Rolling a D10 ... a "10"! So let's start fleshing out this event ... (to be continued).

      Post-edit: it just occurred to me that we have a great conjunction of Jupiter and Saturn later this month, and that conjunctions were seen as omens ... let’s use that instead of the classic comet!

      Reading material for the Christmas days ...

      Yesterday a small package arrived by mail, containing the following:

      I like both series of publications very much. The Wargamers' Annual provides nice articles, lots of images. I started buying the first issue when it was first published, and of course all of them are also included in the magazine index.

      The "Refighting History" series is a bit outside of my immediate historical period of interest (never say never though), but it's hugely inspirational for how to organize and run your own games.

      Tuesday, 15 December 2020

      Le Nouveau Napoleon est arrivée!

      After the Napoleonic Christmas disaster, a new Napoleon arrived today. Once more, he will be up in our Christmas tree!

      Vive l'Empereur!!!