Saturday, July 9, 2016

Chasing Muskrats!


Three quarters of the heroes in our Achtung! Cthulhu Assault on the Mountains of Madness campaign were available this week. Three players being our A!C quorum, we resumed the adventure where we had last left off: early in Chapter 2, "The Floating Kingdom". It had been about a month since our last session, which had featured a major infodump. If you run this campaign as written, there is a fair amount of exposition required in the first couple chapters.

So things began with some abbreviated re-exposition-with-roleplaying during our briefing session with all the big brass on the bergship Jerimiah. Eric's character, a Canadian soldier, decided he wasn't going to salute any of the big brass, because all he saw immediately were British and American officers. However, he soon realized that one of the officers here, Brigadier Frederick T. Roberts, was leader of the 1st Special Service Force, an American-Canadian combined force specializing in winter warfare. They were known as "The Black Devils" and "The Devil's Brigade".

The Wikipedia entry on this unit has some details that are immediately relevant to one of the other NPCs in the briefing room, just saying...

One of the neat things about gaming at the home of a military historian and gamer is that our host Alan left the table for a minute and came back with two counters from the wargame Anzio.  These were the two game pieces representing the 1st Special Service Force!

At any rate, the mission briefing continued for the assault on Fort Ritscher, the Nazi Antarctic base. Our heroes critiqued the assault plans as unsubtle and unsuitable for an effective "muskrat hunt" (Eric's PC termed it) for aliens. Our heroes recommended that their party be deployed with the initial commando recon force. They suggested that the initial the air assault on the installation be limited to incendiaries, since these would do little harm to the Nazi installation, while creating a fiery distraction.  Infiltration should be the initial focus of the assault.

The brass agreed to this, and then all hell broke loose with emergency klaxons sounding. Two of the PCs headed back to the starboard generator area to help the damage control crews deal with a massive fire. Alan's merchant marine character discovered evidence of sabotage. Meanwhile Eric's character followed the commander of the 1st Special Service Force for a bit, and then headed above decks to check things out.

Eric's character had a very good notice roll, and spotted suspicious activity. He gave chase, which allowed us to test out the Chase rules in Savage Worlds. They are a bit abstract, but work fairly well. I re-read the rules twice after the game session, and am confident I can use them smoothly in future sessions. We also felt that in spite of there being about a month since our last Savage Worlds session, the combat during the chase went very smoothly.

Savage Worlds has a bit of a learning curve, but once you learn the basics the game becomes pretty easy to run!

Thursday, June 9, 2016

El Libro del Lamang-Lupa

"Fat Jack", the alcoholic DC-2 pilot played by Bob in our Achtung! Cthulhu campaign, was given a strange little loose leaf notebook by a Catholic priest in the Philippines. 

El Libro del Lamang-Lupa is a folio of handwritten notes and illustrations believed to have been compiled by a late 16th/early 17th Century Jesuit priest in Luzon.  The core narrative was clearly written down by the priest in archaic Tagalog, with many explanations, textual commentaries, and jottings in Spanish in the marginalia.

The text purports to be the "confession" of an earth-dwelling dwarf-like creature caught while trying to escape the clutches of the priest. With all but its head and neck buried in the damp earth, the dwarf's discourse describes several indigenous monsters found in the archipelago, including the manananggal, the mambabarang, kapre, and duwende. There are illustrations of these creatures as well. This is followed by a detailed description of numerous native plants and their virtues.

The final narrative section is in Spanish, and describes "El Otro ArchipiƩlago", a chain of islands that certain Dreamers reach using charms, prayers, and medicinal plants. This other island chain includes several large and wondrous cities, rustic marvels, and novel means of transportation including skyships, wasp-like flying creatures, and sea-cows. Perhaps the priest, who refers to himself in Spanish as "The Confessor", was a himself a Dreamer...

The book also has spells or charms; these are in Tagalog.

Understanding the Spanish text requires a success with a raise. Understanding the Tagalog test requires one additional success with a raise.

Friday, June 3, 2016

Sgt. Rock

As a kid, I was a regular reader of Sgt. Rock. This image is very much how I remember him.  I'm sure I had this issue!

The Wikipedia entry gives his full name as Sgt. Franklin "Frank" John Rock. The FDR reference in his name marks him simultaneously as an Everyman, as well as the greatest man among us.

At least one version of Sgt. Rock was killed by the last enemy bullet fired on the last day of the war. In Unknown Armies terms, I suppose that makes him a Godwalker.

I wonder if anyone has statted up Sgt. Rock for Savage Worlds?

Thursday, June 2, 2016

Paris Catacomb Crawl

We didn't have our entire player group tonight, so rather than progress with the Assault on the Mountains of Madness, Jay, Alan, and I had another test drive of the Savage Worlds combat rules.  Diverging from the main campaign narrative, British (and maybe some American) commandos entered the Paris catacombs to rescue civilians from their Nazi captors.

Jay's Wild Card was Agent Corporal Carter, and while Alan recycled Sgt. Dawson-Frost from Assault as Sgt. Davenport. Each Wild Card had a team of three Extras with them.

Saturday night Jay and I ran a part one of the Paris Catacomb Crawl. His commandos faced some stiff opposition from Werhmacht soldiers and Lovecraftian ghouls. In part two, the opposition was Brandenbergers, a Nazi sorcerer (who really didn't get to do too much), several francisca axe-chucking, umm, Frankish zombie warriors in rusty chainmail, and a female zombie who had been empowered by the Sword of Liberty with special ranged weapon with a bite: her own head.

This is my fourth combat session, and the action is getting easier to adjudicate. Jay also sketched out a combat flow chart, so I am going to start researching how to put together a GM screen for Savage Worlds. This is a game that really needs a screen.

Tuesday, May 31, 2016

Handbook on German Military Forces

Published during the Allies' campaign in Europe, the Handbook of German Military Forces (1945) is a huge War Department publication prepared for use by US forces in Europe. I saw an edition recently at Half Price Books that has a much better cover. But the bottom line is that if you are running Assault on the Mountains of Madness, it is an appropriate period resource with all sorts of practical details, from the organization of the German army (including lots of details on special departments) to where the safety is on a Luger. You can order it online, but you can also download a free PDF. You'll need to be patient with the PDF download, which is slow.

Sunday, May 29, 2016

Assault on the Mountains of Madness

My gaming group began an Achtung! Cthulhu campaign in May. I presented three possible campaign ideas:

Madness won out.

The question was which core books should I use for the campaign? I own, and have run the Fate edition of Achtung! Cthulhu. I like the Fate rules, but the group opted for me to run the campaign using the Savage Worlds rules for Achtung! Cthulhu. Quite frankly, I was excited at the prospect of doing that because I have never had the chance to play or run the Savage Worlds system.

Like a good gamer, I first ordered the core books at my FLGS. And then I waited and waited and waited.  I waited for at least six months, even though the core books were out in distribution thoughout the United States. My game store even had supplements for Achtung! Cthulhu - but no core books. Finally, when I visited Calgary last Fall, I purchased the combined core books at the well-stocked Sentry Box game store. 


We've had two sessions so far, and I'll do brief posts on those games in the near future. I plan to document the campaign here, as well as provide other posts on World War II and adjacent topics.