Wednesday, March 31, 2010

Growing grains ...

Given the recent splurge in interest in 18th cent colonial conflict, I'm guessing that Frankszonia will need to hassle with the Dutch in the East Indies .... we have to protect our spice supply!

Meanwhile, a couple of non-descript coaches and Croat outriders toil through the heights and rain and mud of western Austria ...

Tuesday, March 23, 2010

Dispatch from Sonnenhauf near Klein Umstadt

From: General L'Marquie d'Hottatrot
To: His Grace, the Hurtshog Stanken Fharts v. Frankfurter


I have met and foiled an attempt to penetrate the defiles of the OdenWald by the Colon Coalition.
Our scouts and sources report a concentration near Radheim.
It is possible that the foe will attempt to maneuver further north to near Schafheim to strike at us via Schlierbach. As this would expose them to an assault on their flank launched from good cover, I believe that they will first attempt to force a somewhat more constricted passage directly from Radheim to this place.
Our forces have deployed for a rear slope defense, but a curve in a watercourse east of here provides us with the opportunity to contest two bridge crossings. The first is actually in the defile, but the second is below the ridge which we are holding. Furthermore, the enemy would be constricted by the bend in the stream and have only bridge to his rear for his guns.

I have the honor to be your servant,
L'Marquis Hottatrot

Sunday, March 21, 2010

Mud on the Carpets!

Early morning and drizzly rain, the perfect time for a contingent of exhausted, mud splattered riders to crash through the various carts and stalls, splash across the square, and blunder into the palace grounds. As the guards snap to attention (trying to ignore the horrible splatters on their dress whites), the party squelches to a stop at the steps. They help each other dismount, demonstrating a degree of stiffness one would expect from courtiers and overweight nobles who had just endured a grueling, multi hour dash through increasingly foul weather.
As they clatter and clump (and I do mean clump) through the doors onto the marble floors and priceless carpets (much to the dismay of the maids who had just finished their morning cleaning). loud roars (commands distorted by fatigue) bring a few staff officers hurriedly into the hall.
"Your Grace!" one of the men exclaimed, "You almost beat your courier here, we're still gathering."
"Gathering? This late in the day? When we've troops in the field?" the Hurtshog was NOT pleased.
Another over large uniform came through the door. The soldier wearing it was obviously not as fussed about appearances as the first rush of staff officers. He also seemed to have slept, or perhaps not slept, in his uniform. "Your Grace," he mumbled with a polite reverence.
"Okay, what happened, Oscar?"
"Well, we were on that zombie hunt on the border with Maurice when there was a local mutiny."
"Yes, Sire, mutiny. We suspect Stagonian agents of course, but before we could prove anything, our flanking brigade ran into a war in Saxe-Bearstein."
"Saxe-Bearstein? Saxe-Bearstein!! Gut Got, Meine Herr, ve haff to haff SOME friends left in the world!" The Hurtshog's facial color was definitely getting florid.
"Nichts! Nichts!" Gen. Meyer reassured his old friend. "We were able to get in on our old friend's side. Already been some fighting down there. We've got Generals Schwann and Rosenschnauz in command of a good expiditionary force."
"By now," the one rider who somehow managed to still look daper intervened, "Gen. Hottatrot will be in command."
Gen. Meyer gave an inaudible sniff of disdain, but continued, "we have a slightly more serious situation though ..."
"I know, little Rausen Marie," the Hurtshog interjected. "I'm hoping we got here before anything happens."
"Well, we're not sure, ...." the old general seemed at lost for a moment how to continue ...
"The depot supplies may have been sabotaged again," one of the staff officers hesitatingly offered.

Meanwhile, Baron Bastille was angrilly shedding clothes in his quarters while staff gathered around. This being a family friendly forum, his comments on Frankszonian politics will not be shared. As his comments about Generals with Royal Favor being even less discrete and potentially harmful to his health, they will also be quickly smothered under a pillow.

Col. Mirage, however, was even more incensed than everybody else!
"Why .... I mean WHY haven't they been shot for mutiny?" he icily demanded.
"Well, Sir," the worried Major responded, "It's just happened, and honestly they do have a solid point. Besides, the powder is worthless ... it hardly ignites, let alone explodes."
"Okay," Mirage's expression seethed with not okay, "what happened."
"Well, the sergeants refused to make the cartridges because they thought the powder had been poisoned."
"To paraphrase, Sir, they said it smelled like a thousand cats had pissed in it."
"That would be some strong saltpeter," Mirage acknowledged. "Go on."
"Well, we tested a bit, and it just smoked and stank, .... And stank, .... and realy gagged us all, Sir."
"Has a chemist examined it yet?"
"That's in progress, Sir." Mirage interpreted this as a more urgent version of "we'll got on it right away, Sir." The major continued, "but I'd guess somebody took some charcoal kitty litter, ground it up, and mixed up the gunpowder in some of the barrels."
"Just how many is 'some,' Major?"
"About a hundred and thirty five, Sir," the happless officer answered. "We're still checking."
"Out of how many barrels checked, Major?"
"A little over a hundred and fifty, Sir."
*Good God! Merci or Merde, Generals Cheveret and Broglie need to know about this right away!* Col Mirage thought. Then he had an idea as how to spare himself the immediate fireworks. "Major," he ordered, "have your personel report to me. You must go instantly and report this to the generals!"
"Oui, M'sr," the Major managed a disciplined salute and withdrawel.

*Now,* Mirage wondered, *which Frankszonian noble has tons and tons of cats around ....?"

Wednesday, March 17, 2010

Flank Stakes

Flank Stakes

In one discussion group, folks were speculating on the classic, off-board Flanking Maneuver. The new idea was a strategic, rather than a tactical penetration. In other words, the flanking force would actually never appear on the table, as its target was deeper behind the lines in an effort to drive its foe (I’ll call them the target to keep things simple for my addled pate) completely from the position and to obtain a better battle ground for the decisive engagement.
Since this was the aim of the Colon Coalition in my last game, the question intrigued me a lot. I really wanted to see how Koenig Krieg handled off table movement, but my whole bag containing the rules, dice, and notes is missing (aftermath of the turmoil and turbulence of evicting a “houseguest”).

Now the key to understanding the conundrum here is the simple fact that both such a flanking force and whatever counterforce goes against them WILL NOT BE ON THIS TABLE AT ALL. Indeed, the outcome of the maneuver cannot be effectively known in the scope of a game which recreates the tactical or grand tactical encounter of forces in a specific place to be ideally resolved in one “game day” (or about 4 hours or less of play). While the flanking force and whatever it runs into provides a nice game scenario all in itself, the leading commanders today must fight without knowing how the flanking maneuver turns out. Their primary influence thus will fall into the objectives of the battle commander on that field and in the size and kinds of forces that commander would bring to the battle.

For the flanking player, the obvious choices would be as follows, I think:
a): the size and composition of the flanking force (for gaming purposes, I personally limit the options from 25% to 66 % of the O.B. available to the player);
b): the actual purpose of the strategic flanking maneuver (Is it a raid to say blow up a key bridge or depot? Is it to sieze a key node in the target’s supply line and hold it? Is it to seize a vital objective site to draw the target’s forces onto some sort of kill zone? Etc.): and
c): What is the actual objective now of the force left on the table (make a lot of noise, but run from any real counter offense; attack some point to prevent the target from quickly pulling forces out to meet the flankers; hold the position so that the flanker has to fall back to find another route or be trapped; etc. etc.)?

For the target, however, the situation is much more complex.
First, is the flanking maneuver detected? The determination of this can be a simple die roll modified by commander ratings; or it can be a complex matrix including the quality of scouting and screening forces deployed by each side, the nature of the terrain, who is “at home,” etc. etc. etc. For myself, I prefer very simple solutions.
BUT: if the flanking maneuver IS NOT detected, how to adjudicate “winner” and “loser” of the game, will the target player be allowed to make what sort of provision against the suspected strategic penetration?
IF the target suspects a flanking maneuver, but fails to roll a detection, what can he do? Should he crush the force in front of him and then race back to try to meet the force in his rear? Perhaps the flanking move is purely tactical? Should he hold back a force to deploy to either flank when the off board forces appear? This would obviously weaken the impact of any move made against the enemy on his immediate front. Perhaps, it might even freeze him in place.
On occasion, I’ve deliberately held units off the table on the first move or three simply in order to bring them on in my own rear to strike the target line where it had been weakened to defend against the suspected flanking maneuver (btw, I have consistently misspelled “maneuver” ... thank God for spill chick, eh?). With a “detect flanking force” roll, such a stratagem would be compromised ... as the foe will know they made their roll, yet no flanking force was revealed.

Here’s how I’m thinking of handling the problem.
First of all, both players bring “objectives” to the table, written down before deployment on the table, based on their intelligence of the opponent and what terrain they observe.
Second, tactical flanking forces can not be brought on the table for the first turn or two (there’s a number of systems for deciding when and how tactical flanking forces arrive ... I like simple ones based on the quality of the leadership).
Third, BEFORE DEPLOYMENT, any “detect flanking maneuver” roll should be made ... and this would require some basis ... scouting forces cut from the OB to scout: being on home ground: leadership quality. If the roll is successful, then the other player would need to declare that such a force exists. But this roll would ONLY apply to a strategic flanking maneuver ... in effect saying to the successful caster that some of my forces will not be on today’s table. This would retain the normal value of also including a tactical maneuver!
Fourth, at Turn Three, both players may write down revised objectives for their on board forces ... from “get away alive” to “crush these bozos to let me get at the rest undisturbed”. Then victory points or whatever can be considered in light of the last set of objectives ... and in the difficulty of switching one mode to another in media res ...

Obviously, this needs a whole lot more thought ... and remember I like simple but plausible mechanisms!

Wednesday, March 10, 2010

just a quick note ....

before the bit about posting ethics ... there was some more byplay with the Gallians ...
I haven't had time to flesh out another scene do to some legal hassles down here (had to evict somebody).
Anyway, obviously, the gang comes thundering back into town to find everything in an uproar ... and relations with Raubenstadt will hit a new low when the dark beauty, Stuftliana, loses her temper over allegations of negligence from the Kerns .... V. Mack and various others will be running around trying to smooth things over ... while a suspected Stagonian noble is spotted near the waterfront across the Main visiting some house of low repute ...

Friday, March 5, 2010

Staggering Stagonians

I've been giving some thought, at Jeff's invitation, to some characters for Stagonia ... both those in the employ of the DeVilles and those who are under the illusion that they're free agents ...
One thing which was bothering me was the perversions and disgusting habits which I'd need to ascribe to them.
Obviously, there will need to be some degree of homosexuality ... it was a feature of the period for those who were determined to rebel against the mores of their class. Equally obviously, it needs to be handled with care. After all, I've already hinted at pedophila in the case of one expired character (whose son and protege are major characters in Frankszonia). In these times, such issues are very, very sensitive. So I need to watch my step.
There was some substance abuse in the period as well, but it was no where near as pervasive as it became later in the century ... and the selection was not nearly as diverse as it is today. So drug smuggling (with a side line in aphrodisiacs, knock out drops, etc.) seems like a likely industry for the Stagonian agent.
I've decided to not have ANY cases of abduction for sex (though abduction for hostage or for political marriage slides close to this) including no "date rape" scenarios (unless it involves a hint of bestiality, after all, those goats have a fiery personality).
So, at the moment, I'm looking at smuggling, drugs, seduction (either for sex or for treason) and debauchery, poison, scams, Ponzi schemes, extortion, protection rackets, crooked gambling, and writing filthy graffitti as the main lines for Stagonian agents ... any other ideas? And what would you guys suggest I NEVER really spell out (besides abuse and beastiality) ... ?
I've got a group of Stagonians on their way to perdition in Frankfurter to write up!

Traveling At Night

Traveling At Night

Some rock or pothole had jolted him awake. Frankly, he was surprised that he’d fallen asleep in the first place. These frontier goat paths through the mountains didn’t really qualify as roads in broad daylight, and sending a coach rumbling through these mountains at night time was insane. Typical of little Stinky though.
He wondered if the driver and escorts were Frankfurter or Wiener agents. The two outriders had Wiener accents and old sergeant manners, but Adolf who sat across from was clearly part of Kunegunde’s agency. He wondered if that fixed smile would become alive if Adolf was watching some poor wretch being tortured. The way Adolf always knew where he’d planted his small backup pistol was unnerving.
At least Adolf did seem very solicitous of Hans, the poor Stagonian servant. That man looked like someone who had tried one of the bad dream powders from Asia. Clumsy, retarded, obedient to the letter of every instruction, the poor fellow had to be dressed and cleaned by Adolf Badmann.

He wished he could look out, even though it was nighttime. Moonlight on the high snowfield was always lovely. He would love to share that with his s ... aide. The lad slept the innocent and cheerful sleep of youth, while his secretary slept the experienced sleep of the old campaigner. The last time he had come this way, he smiled to remember it, he’d been amused by the fantasies of sweet, little Stuftliana. She’d more than half expected to be introduced into some rude fastness where men with horned helmets growled about the battlements or roistered drunkenly in the courtyard.

So she was a mother now. He shook his head. Time passes. Things change, but she’d been a vastly better companion than Badmann’s mannequin like fixed, blue smile. In the dark coach, Adolf’s face looked varnished.

He thought of the note from Dilbers he’d found in yesterday’s brats and wondered how many monasteries they were trying to slip past

There was a quick rapping on the blinds. Adolf pulled one back slightly. “Ja?”
“Hussars, Meine Herr.”
“Hussars?” There was an incongruous note of surprise.
“Hussars,” was confirmed by the rider outside.
Badmann frowned a moment. “Ask them for fresh horses, and show them the documents from the blue case.”
“Now which case was that?”
“Blau, meine Herr.”
“Ja. Gut. And make sure that Hans has his blunderbuss ready.”
“Ja, meine Herr.”

There was stirring in the coach as everybody checked their frizzens and made sure that their other tools were accessible as the clatter of the wheels slowed.