Tuesday, November 29, 2011


From The Memoirs of The Reverend Kurt von Schilling, Bishop of Holstein

We come now to the end of that strangest of all the adventures my companions and I experienced in our youth. I, who was called Nestor, my friends Hector, Agamemnon and Phoenix, and doctor Plummer were gathered in the monster’s lair awaiting his return. Earlier in the day we had stormed the house and killed his human slave and two of his gypsy retainers, but two gypsies had escaped. We knew not where the vampire lurked or if they had gone to warn him. The time passed very slowly and our nerves were stretched to the limit.

 There were but two hours until dawn when, at last, we heard the front door open slowly. We had dragged the bodies out of sight but the smell of death and gunpowder hung in the air, alerting the monster to the danger. He saw us moving toward the entrance to the foyer and what we saw next defies description. It was Lang, but his face was a mask of horror and his very presence radiated menace. Phoenix and Agamemnon, who had proven themselves fearless on many occasions, were momentarily stunned into inaction by the sight. The doctor, Hector and I fired our pistols at the same instant at point blank range. For a moment, time stood still. The smoke stung my eyes and my head was ringing from the discharge of three pistols in that confined space. My eyes focused on a bit of smoldering wadding that was embedded in Lang’s waistcoat and then the desperate engagement began in earnest.

All three pistol balls had struck the monster and had done fearful damage to his body, and yet he fell on us as if he had felt nothing. He seemed more beast than man as he snarled and snapped at us with his teeth and slashed with his claw-like hands. I was struck down and bloodied by his claws. As I tried to fight back the dizziness and nausea and regain my feet I saw Phoenix and Agamemnon, who must have left the sitting room by the back hallway, come around behind the monster slashing and stabbing furiously with their swords. The wounds I saw them inflict would have killed a normal man instantly, and indeed the monster seemed to be flagging from the accumulated damage to his physical form.
                            The monster was trapped and the battle raged
Taking advantage of the brief respite thus gained, the doctor and Hector drew the wooden crosses from their coats and thrust them forward toward Lang. With a savage backhand stroke the monster knocked both men to the floor, sending their crosses skidding away. He advanced on them hoping to finish them and break through our circle. I pulled myself up on one knee and imposed my own cross between Lang and his intended victims. He stopped, uncertain at first, and then recoiled in fear and confusion. At this Phoenix and Agamemnon renewed their assault. I can’t explain what happened next, except to say that we all saw it. The monster, trapped and assailed on all sides, changed before our eyes into a column of grey mist and slipped through a broken window like water down a drain.

Our party was in no condition to pursue and we wouldn’t have known how to do so in any case. We stayed in the house until dawn binding our wounds and keeping watch in case Lang came back. Thanks to the doctor’s vigilance we were sure we had accounted for all of the monster’s sanctuaries in our town and rendered them useless to him. We did not know if he had established similar places of refuge in Ardoberg or elsewhere, but as the weeks passed and no more attacks occurred we came to understand that we had at least driven him out of this region. The doctor, who was becoming something of an expert on such matters through the knowledge gained from Artorius’ book, believes the vampire made it’s way back to the remote regions of Holstein much weakened and unable to sustain a physical form for years to come.

The doctor returned to the practice of medicine in his little country town. He decided not to make his story public. After all, who would believe it. The town magistrate had disappeared during the troubles, and no one knows to this day what happened to him. Another magistrate was appointed by the authorities in Ardoberg, and he was directed to attribute the battle at Artorius house to a robbery attempt by the gypsies.

My friends and I had many adventures in the years to come, but nothing so bizarre as this affair. Agamemnon eventually returned home to manage the great estate he had inherited. He is a generous, if indiscriminate, patron of the Arts, funding the musical style galant and other innovations that have no future. I think he does it just to irritate me. Phoenix rose through the ranks of the Ardoberg-Holstein army and is now Inhaber of the Ardozollern Kuriasser regiment. Hector could never settle down. Last year an English Colonel told me he had met him while fighting red Indians in a place called Ohio. I eventually joined the priesthood. It had been my faith that had given power to the cross I held to drive the vampire back on that terrible night. My friends, brave hearts all, had never been men of faith, and the cross in their hands was useless against the monster.

As for the vampire, I wish I could say he was never heard from again but it was not to be. It took him years to regain his power but in time his shadow grew in the Holstein border country. But that is a tale for another day.

Note: This was an actual wargame ‘mini campaign’ that Mike and I played using the Chaos in Carpathia rules supplemented by simple campaign rules that we made up between us. The Chaos rules are good at depicting combat between assorted monsters and humans, but we felt something was missing. We wanted the game to ‘feel’ like a Gothic horror movie. The campaign rules simply laid out a set of objectives for the monster and a ‘bar of disbelief’ that had to be crossed before the humans could gather their forces and fight back. The monster’s greatest weapon is the fact that nobody believes in monsters. His goal was to achieve as many objectives as possible while “staying below the radar”. His objectives included establishing alternate sanctuaries, collecting ‘brides’ and routine non lethal feeding. He was also required to rest periodically. Support for the idea that a vampire was afoot waxed and waned according to how aggressively the monster pursued his goals. There were two phases per day, daylight and darkness, and multiple locations where elements of the two factions might be deployed in a given phase. If opposing elements found themselves in the same location we went to the tabletop to fight the encounter with miniatures. The final battle occurred when the vampire returned to his lair from an unsuccessful attempt to collect a second bride. There are opportunities to refine the campaign system but overall it did give us the monster movie feel we were after.  

Saturday, November 26, 2011

Battle is joined

The Diary of Dr. Plummer, October 13th, 1748
I write these few lines now against the chance that I may not see the sun rise tomorrow. My young comrades and I now have no choice but to wait here in the monster’s lair until he returns sometime this night. Our campaign began well enough this morning. Following the plan agreed on last night we approached the first of the two cottages recently purchased by Krebs on behalf of his master. We entered openly as if we belonged there and, as Hector predicted, no one questioned our entry. Indeed, there were no townspeople on the streets at all. Over the last few days a sense of foreboding seems to have slowly come over our town. People seem to have caught the fear gripping nearby Ardoberg, but there is something else, too. I believe that they feel, without knowing why, that something evil, something unnatural, is afoot in our town.

Once inside the cottage we started looking for the coffin and for anything that might work to our advantage in the coming battle. Artorius’ tome suggested these satellite locations were simply bolt holes the vampire might avail himself of if something went wrong, but we didn’t know if the place might be occupied by his gypsy retainers or even poor Hannah who was now one of the undead. As it happened, we found a coffin in the basement, but nothing else. We set about rendering the coffin unusable by the vampire, according to the prescription in the book, by planting a portion of the sacred bread in the soil inside. We then went on to the second cottage and repeated the process without incident.

So far the campaign was proceeding according to plan, but now the atmosphere that had so oppressed the town seemed to take hold of Hector. His demeanor had grown more withdrawn as the day progressed. Our plan had called for us to return to my apartment and wait. By now the monster was aware that I knew what he was. He could not know of my young friends. My hope was he would come himself to dispose of me and we would be ready and waiting. We had rejected the plan of storming his house while it was defended by the gypsies but as we approached the intersection that led to my apartment and away from the monster’s lair Hector strode off the wrong way. We caught him up but he looked at me with barely suppressed rage and snarled “It dies today!”. I appealed to his friends but Agamemnon smiled, shrugged and said “Apparently, It dies today” and then they rushed off to join him.  I had no choice but to follow.

Hector, followed closely by the rest of the party, strode directly up to the front door of Lang’s house, drew his pistol and pounded on the door. Whatever Krebs was, he was no soldier. Without looking to see who was on the other side, he simply opened the door and Hector, without hesitation, shot him in the forehead.  The unprepared gypsies came tumbling out of a side room and were met with the ready blades of Hectors friends as they pressed into the foyer behind him. In less than a minute two of the gypsies lay dead on the floor and the other two ran out the back door. Whatever madness had seized Hector was offset by the arrogance or sloth of Krebs, who failed to keep a proper watch.
                      In a moment the defenders were overwhelmed
When I had recovered my composure I prepared my friends for the work before us. As it was now late afternoon there was an excellent chance that the vampire was resting in the house. His coffin, and perhaps another for Hannah, was most likely in the basement. At this time of day he was at his most vulnerable. Taking a pair of lanterns from the kitchen we quickly made our way into the basement. There we found two coffins, one a grand affair and the other a rough built box such as a common man might be buried in. We surrounded the fine coffin, myself with stake and mallet at the ready and the others with weapons drawn. Nestor opened the lid and I made to strike but the coffin was empty! We quickly searched the dark corners of the basement but found nothing. We then denied the monster sanctuary in the great coffin by placing a goodly portion of the sacred bread into the soil therein.

There remained the second coffin. This must be the resting place of the unfortunate Hannah. We surrounded it as we had the other and carefully opened the lid. I was sure she would be in the coffin, and I thought I was prepared. She opened her eyes and I froze. She was a beautiful young lady, unnaturally so now that I reflect on it, and she spoke with a voice like tinkling glass. “Oh, Hector, don’t let them hurt me!” Poor Hector was shaken to his core and turned to appeal to his friends. Agamemnon grasped him by his shoulders and looked into his eyes while Nestor shouted at me “Now, Doctor! Strike!”. In a moment the deed was done. While Agamemnon and Phoenix walked Hector toward the stairs Phoenix stayed behind and helped me to take off the head and place the sacred bread in the coffin.

Agamemnon found brandy for Hector and stayed with him to steady his nerves while the rest of us searched every corner of the house. The monster was certainly away working evil somewhere. The sun is going down and we are resolved to remain here and await his return.  

Thursday, November 24, 2011

What have we gotten ourselves into?

Journal of Phoenix, October 12th 1748
Well, that’s it then. We are in league with a madman. Agamemnon agrees with me but Nestor, the would be Papist priest, accepts the doctor’s wild story and poor Hector, shaken by Hannah’s death, continues to insist her murderer transformed himself into a large wolf before his eyes when he pursued him on the road that night.

After dinner the doctor (an excellent cook, by the way) gathered us in the sitting room and placed a musty old book on the table. He told us that the man Lang is, without a doubt, a vampire! Nestor is a brave man and my sworn comrade but he is from Holstein, and a Catholic to boot so, of course, he had no trouble accepting the doctor’s fairytale. When Agamemnon suggested that vampires were created by mothers to frighten naughty children Nestor was offended and assured him that such creatures had been known to plague certain districts in Holstein within living memory. The doctor, referring to the book, then proceeded to educate us on the ways of a vampire, his strengths and weaknesses, and how we might go about destroying him.

According to our host the vampire possesses great physical strength. It can transform itself into many forms; a large wolf, or bat, or even a cloud of mist. The monster has these powers only between the hours of dusk and dawn. In the light of day the vampire is much like any other man, and so can be killed more easily. For that reason a vampire will often rest during daylight hours and hunt at night. If it rests in it’s native soil the monster’s powers are renewed that much more efficiently. Apparently,  to destroy the thing, one must drive a wooden stake through it’s heart and cut off it’s head. The vampire, quoth our good doctor, feeds on human blood. If he takes blood from a victim without killing then the victim will recover. Sometimes a vampire will take a mate by draining so much blood that the victim dies. That victim will then rise as a vampire bound to the one who inflicted the fatal wound.

The doctor believes that poor Hannah has become a vampire, and the bride of Lang. At this, Hector was furious and swore a terrible vengeance on the monster. As Agamemnon, Nestor, Hector and I took an oath when first we met to share everything, we now stood and swore together to kill Lang, be he monster or man.  Hector was for storming Lang’s house this very night but the doctor persuaded us that only a careful plan would ensure success against such an evil power.
The four young men swear an oath to destroy the monster
Furnishings by Mike
The doctor proceeded to lay out his plan. The man Krebs is, the doctor believes, not a vampire but rather his human slave. According to the book it is common for a vampire to keep a human in thrall to guard him during daylight hours and carry out any necessary interactions with humans. The doctor says the vampires greatest guarantee of security is that civilized people in the modern world don’t believe vampires exist. Then there is the matter of the gypsies. They live outside the pale of law and society and have been known, according to Nestor, to serve creatures like Lang for gold. Krebs has four of them living in Lang’s house.

Rather than strike directly at the vampire’s lair, Doctor Plummer proposes to first raid two other houses in the town. One was purchased by Krebs several days ago and a second this very day. In both cases the gypsies were seen moving a coffin into the house. The doctor believes these are alternate resting places for the monster and he believes we need to deprive it of those sanctuaries. We discussed waiting until dark to break into those properties by stealth but Hector suggested the safest way to break into an empty house is to enter by the front door in broad daylight as if one belonged there. He assures us he can disable a door lock as quickly as if he had a key. I wonder how he knows such things?
                                              Krebs and the gypsies hide another coffin
Finally, the doctor opened a chest and laid out the arsenal he had been amassing for the coming battle. Of course, we all had our own swords. In addition to these he issued each of us a pistol, a blossom of garlic, two wooden stakes and a wooden cross. He also showed us a small silver box that contained a quantity of the sacred bread used by Catholics in their services. This last was provided by Captain Boehm, who obtained it from the pastor of the only Catholic church in Ardoberg.  

So! Tonight we sleep and take it in turns to watch and tomorrow let this strange business begin.   

Wednesday, November 23, 2011

The plot thickens

Ardoberg Enquirer broadsheet
October 11th, 1748
Hannah Ruedel, A young woman of good family was murdered in her father’s home last night. A gentleman who had been courting the young lady came to Herr Ruedel’s home to call on her, and was being given the right about by her father due to the lateness of the hour when they heard a faint cry coming from her bedroom. They rushed to her aid only to find her lying on the floor. The window was open and they saw a black cloaked figure moving rapidly away down the road to Heckel. The young man went off in pursuit of the assailant leaving the father to care for his stricken daughter. Alas, the young woman was dead. The cause of death appears to be blood loss, but there was no blood to be found anywhere near the body. The assassin escaped capture in the darkness.

From : Captain Boehm, Commander of the Ardoberg City Watch       October 12th , 1748
To: Herr Von Strutz, Burgermeister of Ardoberg
Regarding: The recent murder
The initial investigation report and the Certificate of Death you have already seen. I am writing now to make you aware of information perhaps best left out of the official report.

 First, the family of the murdered girl laid her out in their home in the customary way in preparation for the funeral. Sometime during the night her body was taken from the home. We don’t know who did it or why. The family has asked that this new outrage not be made public.

That same day an old friend of mine, Doctor Plummer from the town of Heckel, visited me and asked for my help and advice on a death that he claims was a murder in his town. Plummer has always been a sensible man, but he was beside himself claiming that his friend was murdered by a relative, and that there is something uncanny about the killer.

If not for the recent events in Ardoberg I might think the good doctor was losing his mind. As things stand, I think the situation in Heckel bears looking into. The magistrate of that town would never tolerate me sending any of my people to investigate. You know of the ill will he bears me. I do, however, have another option. There are four young men sitting in my jail right now for disturbing the peace. This is not their first taste of my hospitality. They are typical of the young pups that come to our fair city seeking fame and fortune, but I must say I have grown fond of this particular group. They remind me of you and I and our circle of ruffians when we were their age. One of them was courting the young lady who was murdered and, in fact, pursued the assassin that evening. Last night they were going from tavern to tavern trying to turn up information on the killer when a brawl broke out. Not much different from last weekend when they were in the taverns for no particular reason and a brawl broke out.

I shall release these young men on the condition that they place themselves at the disposal of Doctor Plummer. They can assist him in his investigation and protect him, for I fear he is in great danger. If nothing else, it will at least get them out of Ardoberg for a week or two, which will afford us a little peace.
The recently deceased Hannan Ruedel leaves her home to join her master
 - Really cool house by Mike Covell
Diary of Dr. Plummer, October 12th, 1748
This morning four young men presented themselves to me with a letter of introduction from my friend, Captain Boehm. It seems they are to assist me in the matter of Herr Lang, but to do so without revealing any connection with the authorities in Ardoberg. Boehm has charged them with keeping me safe so they will be staying here in my apartment. Close quarters indeed, and they have already eaten every speck of food in the place, but I confess their presence makes me feel hopeful for the first time since this tragic affair began. This afternoon we will lay in supplies for a long campaign and this evening I will acquaint my young comrades with the terrible secrets revealed to me by Artorius’ book. If they are still here in the morning, we will begin our work.   

Tuesday, November 22, 2011

Dark Shadows

The Diary of Dr. Plummer, October 3rd, 1748
How is it that a child might be born into the most adverse circumstances and grow to be a virtuous man while another, given every advantage becomes a wastrel? So it was with the man Krebs. Son of a respectable family, he wasted every opportunity through drink and low company. When, in time, he inherited his father’s estate, he soon squandered it all and found himself without a home or any means of support.

 Today I attended the inquest on the death of my friend Artorius, and was surprised to see Krebs there in the role of factor representing the man Lang. I expected the Magistrate to charge Lang with the murder of Artorius and clap him in irons, but no such thing! The death was ruled an accident and the Magistrate certified a will, presented by Krebs, declaring Lang his sole heir. The Magistrate has always been an honest and fair man, but this decision makes no sense. He seemed not himself during the hearing, but somehow distracted.

Ardoberg Enquirer broadsheet
October 4th, 1748
Last night a young woman of undistinguished family was attacked on Burgstrasse in the Oldtown district outside a boardinghouse for unskilled laborers. Before the assailant could harm her a group of men returning to the house from their work chased him off. The woman described the man as tall and thin and very strong. She said she was rendered helpless by his gaze and could not move or cry out.

Ardoberg Enquirer broadsheet
October 5th, 1748
Last night an attack on a young woman in the Oldtown district took place, the second in two days. The woman was discovered at dawn, faint and pale, on her doorstep. Her description of the assailant matches that of the man in the previous night’s incident. She remembered little else about the attack except that she seemed unable to run or call for help. The victim seems unharmed, save for two small puncture wounds on her neck, which might have been caused by one of the rats that infest the Oldtown district. 

The Diary of Dr. Plummer, October 5th, 1748

From my rooms on the second floor of the Kramerhaus I have a clear view of the front of the home of poor Artorius, now occupied by Lang. Recent events have made sleep difficult for me. I was sitting at the window about an hour before dawn, gazing at the play of the moonlight on the streets of our little town when I saw a dark shape moving toward the front door of Artorius’ house. As the shape moved from shadow to a moonlit patch I saw it was the man Lang, dressed and cloaked in black. There was no mistaking him, but somehow he had grown younger! The gray hair and stooped frame of an old man gone! What sorcery is this! I am no coward, I think, but my heart froze when he turned his head, looked directly at me, and a malevolent smile spread across his face.   

Diary of Dr. Plummer, October 8th, 1748

I am obsessed with the strange goings on at Artorius’ house. I spend whatever time I can steal from my practice watching the comings and goings there. Krebs is living in the house now and, I am told, has recently purchased a small cottage on the edge of town on behalf of his master, Lang. There is a gypsy camp in the forest between Heckel and Ardoberg and today four of the men from that camp entered Artorius’ house with Krebs. Later, Krebs and the gypsies loaded what looked like a coffin onto a hired wagon and brought it to the cottage. Something very wrong is happening here, I can feel it! I am a man of science, and not given to superstitious fancy, but I feel the man Lang is somehow outside the realm of science. Tonight I return to the book Artorius gave me before he died. Perhaps I shall find a clue there.

Sunday, November 20, 2011

A tragic death

Diary entry of Dr Plummer, October 1st, 1748
Artorius was a fool, an eccentric. Artorius was my friend, and I will miss him. The authorities say his death was accidental, a fall down the stairs in his home, but I doubt it. His troubles began when he met his cousin, Lang. Artorius had always believed he was the last of his line, an ancient and noble house that had its roots in the remote hills of the Holstein border country. An amateur antiqitarian, he showed me a geneological chart that he had painstakingly constructed that traced his family back to Attila. I remember the day he showed me the letter from his long lost relative that contained proof that they were indeed of the same blood. I curse the day that Lang came to our town of Heckel for an extended visit that he and Artorius might get to know one another.
The country town of Heckel, two miles south of Ardoberg

At first my friend was delighted with this discovery of a living link to his family's past. I met the man once and was very uncomfortable in his presence. Lang is tall and thin, with dark, piercing eyes and a cruel face. His hair is gray and he seems to be quite old. He and the amiable Artorius made a strange pair indeed. When the weather was fair it was my custom to meet Artorius in the old churchyard, where we would sit on the benches and talk the afternoon away. Having not seen him at our meeting place for a week after the arrival of Lang, I was beginning to feel concerned and, I confess, a little offended. Finally, yesterday in the late afternoon I saw my friend sitting on the bench at our accustomed time. I walked over and greeted him, but when he looked up I was shocked at his appearance. He looked as if he had aged ten years in a week, his shoulders were stooped and his eyes were haunted. I tried to engage him, to understand what had happened to put him in such a state, but he seemed unwilling to discuss the matter. His responses to my attempts at conversation were vague and disjointed. As the sun sunk low he looked up at me with tears in his eyes. He handed me a bundle wrapped up in cloth and tied with a string, and then he shuffled away.

This morning they told me Artorius was dead. The bundle he gave me yesterday was a most curious book. I was up reading it most of the night. It is quite old, written in archaic German, and appears to be a sort of manual describing how to combat the evil creatures that populate the fairytales that we tell to our children. Just the sort of arcane lore my friend delighted in, but what did he mean by giving it to me?  

Saturday, November 5, 2011

The Elector has completed his rebuilding of the Ardoberg-Holstein cavalry. The original Spencer Smith regiments, sadly out of scale with the rest of the army, have taken service with another prince and have been replaced with new plastic regiments from Perry Miniatures and Wargames Factory.
Here are the three most recent regiments, one British and two Ardoberg-Holstein, Wargames Factory dragoons all.

This is the parade on the Marchfeld celebrating the addition of five new regiments of horse to the Elector's service. To the left the new regiments pass in review, two Perry Curriasser regiments followed by two Wargames Factory Dragoon regiments and one Perry Hussar regiment bringing up the rear. The four metal regiments of the Elector's cavalry look on from the right.

 Meanwhile, in the Scottish Highlands, the new Wargames Factory British Dragoon regiment joins the King's forces trying to pacify those clans who are loyal to Red Dougie MacArdo. And good luck with that.

Saturday, September 24, 2011

Cavalry rebuilding project

When I set up my 18th Century Imaginations collection many years ago the vast majority of the figures were the newer Spencer Smith American War of Independence range for the infantry and the older Spencer Smith cavalry. The cavalry served me well for decades but they were somewhat smaller and of a different sculpting style than the rest of my figures and those of my opponent. Last year I decided to rebuild my cavalry with the new plastic figures offered by Perry and Wargames Factory. Perry was first out of the gate and their Napoleonic Curraissers with the heads traded out for Wargames factory tricornes provided two new curraisser regiments. Here is a picture of the new Hussar Regiment Covell that I finished painting last night.
The regiment was raised for the Elector's service by the Comte De Covell, the insanely jealous younger brother of he who styles himself the King of San Maurice. The Comte has been in exile in Ardoberg since a scandalous outburst at the family Joan of Arc Day dinner last year. The regiment is not yet quite ready for service since M. De Covell insists on giving all commands in Hungarian for the sake of authenticity, even though neither he nor his troopers understand that language.

A few days ago Wargames Factory released their much anticipated War of the Spanish Succession cavalry. I ordered enough to provide two regiments of dragoons for Ardoberg and one for our Anglo-Hanoverian allies. This will complete my cavalry rebuild. The Ardoberg-Holstein army will now have:
3 Curraisser regiments
3 Dragoon regiments
3 Hussar regiments
14 single battalion Infantry regiments
Our San Maurician nemisis has a somewhat larger army. Fortunately, our Hanoverian neighbors distrust the Francophone San Mauricians so an Anglo-Hanoverian corps of observation is always near at hand when war breaks out. Whether King George is the Electors employer or just a generous friend is debatable.

Saturday, September 10, 2011

Some days you eat the bear and some days the bear eats you

The long, beautiful summer was drawing to a close and autumn slowly enclosed the forest in her gentle embrace. Bees buzzed in the glades, storing their bounty for us all to enjoy while fawns and their bucks gamboled in the pines. Life was good in the Great Jellystone Forest until 'they' came. Grim two legged hairless bears with their guns. Damn them, damn them to hell! We had heard of these creatures from animals that had fled to our part of the forest from beyond. They had lived near the fringes of Jellystone adjoining the Barren Land where trees scarcely grow. They had been driven from their homes by the hairless bears, and now those monsters had followed them to our home.
Yogi in happier times
  My friend Yogi and I had lived here all of our lives in harmony with nature and at peace with the other animals. We had a comfortable den, good friends and a plentiful supply of nuts, berries, honey and salmon, supplemented by the occasional picnic basket that Yogi would pinch from the Barren Land. I would never have the nerve to do something like that but Yogi was never afraid of anything. I guess that's what did him in.

One morning we awoke to the frantic sounds of our neighbors fleeing the area. The Hairless Bears had come to a clearing near Yummy Salmon Stream and had set up a kind of flimsy den. There were too many of them to count and they had murder in their eyes. I begged Yogi to lay low until the strange creatures went away, but he wouldn't listen. He left the den intending to drive the intruders away or die trying.
The Hairless Bears
  He didn't have far to look because the Hairless Two Legged Bears were looking for him. Until they came Yogi's fangs and claws were the most awesome weapons in Jellystone, but these creatures brought weapons such as had never been seen in our paradise. I heard the battle but I was too afraid to leave the den. Later the squirrels told me Yogi had fought the invading hordes like a...well, like a bear but they were too many. As fast as he struck one down two would take his place. Finally the great bear fell to the invaders. I've been told these monsters make rugs for their dens out of their victims. I don't like to think about it. After their great crime the Hairless Bears left as quickly as they had come. The rest of us will go on the best we can but I don't think the Great Jellystone Forest will ever be the same. 

Tuesday, August 2, 2011

Dispatches from the field

From Brigadier Emelio Pinnochio, commander of the Electoral forces North of Coberg to the Elector Frederich Wilhelm.

Sir, it is my pleasure to report a victory, err, no, a great victory. Yes, that’s it! A great victory in the vicinity of Coberg this July 31st. Your forces, which I have the honor to command, surprised a much larger San Maurician Army commanded by the noted shoplifter and card cheat General Bonnechance and, after a sharp engagement, tricked them into following me north where I have deployed additional forces in a carefully laid trap. My wife, Morgan Fairchild, assures me she has never seen men handled so cleverly, and she knows a thing or two about handling men, believe me. It is but a matter of time until the invading Snail-Eaters are at my mercy.
                              Our brave men take up their positions in and around the village
It is customary for a commander to mention in dispatches those of his subordinates who distinguished themselves. It pains me to say that the only Electoral soldier who distinguished himself in the recent battle was me. The young man who bears these dispatches to you is a troublesome little gossip, and if he tries to provide you with an account of the recent action that is in any way inconsistent with mine he should, in my opinion, be shot.

I remain your Humble, Obedient, etc.

                                              The enemy advances in overwhelming force

Sunday, June 19, 2011

Over the river and through the woods

The next morning at dawn the group reassembled at the church. Trask and Magda arrived first, soon followed by Brother Michael, Bottoni and two townsmen, Blanke and Gruber. Trask shared the information he had learned the previous day in the marketplace. Blanke and Gruber wanted to delay the expedition for a few days. They felt sure they could persuade more of the townsmen to join them, but Brother Michael pointed out that the moon was waxing and would be full in a few days. At that time the werewolves would be at their most powerful. It was imperative, he said that the monsters be found and destroyed soon. Bottoni and Trask agreed, and so it was the group departed Eppstein for the forest that morning. Each man had a musket and a long hunting knife except Brother Michael whose religious vows would not allow weapons. He carried a stout club which he cheerfully insisted was a walking stick. He had also provided Trask and Bottoni with silver bullets and a clump wolfsbane each. Given the short distance they had to travel it seemed reasonable that they would be able to take care of the business and return to town by nightfall.

The stream leading into the forest was located without difficulty, but the forest itself gave even a hardened campaigner like Trask pause. It was dark and brooding and very old. He had a strong feeling that, somehow, the land itself didn't want him here. Bottoni had already started walking toward the forest so Trask shook off such foolish notions and fell in with him. Within ten minutes of entering the woods it was almost as if the sunlit meadow they had stood in so recently didn't exist. They were in an alien world lit only by what little sunlight filtered through the trees. They followed the stream that would lead them to the mayors lair until it branched into two. Knowing not what to do they chose to follow the right hand branch and pressed on. After an hour of of following the twists and turns of the stream over very rough ground the group was feeling lost. Blanke, standing apart from the others and smoking his pipe called back to the group "There is a cabin over there!".

The group prepared their weapons and then advanced cautiously on the cabin. It was small and neat with a well thatched roof, and looked completely out of place in this grim landscape. To one side stood what looked like a small beekeeping and honey processing operation. "Careful lads, anything goes" said Trask. He advanced and pounded on the door while the others covered him. The door opened and the captain was completely taken aback. There stood a young lady with a most striking mane of golden curls. Trask could think of nothing to say but "What are you doing here?"
"Why, I live here." She replied.
Recovering somewhat from his suprise, Trask asked "Where are your parents".
"Oh, they're back in town. I live here with a family of three bears."
Trask wasn't sure if the girl was mocking him or if she was mad. Anything could happen in a place like this. Uncertainly he asked "What would bears want with a young girl like you?"
She smiled sweetly and said "I help them to gather and process the honey."
"Can't they do that for themselves?" he said, not believing he was still talking to her.
She held up her hands, shrugged and said "Bears have no thumbs".
Sensing it was time to move on, Trask ventured a last question "Have you heard of any brigands living in this forest?" "Or werewolves?" said Brother Michael.
"There are no such thing as werewolves, silly" said the young girl as Trask bid her a hasty good day and backed away from the door.

It was too late in the day to return to the fork in the stream so the group pressed on deeper into the forest. As they walked into a glade they noted the sun was going down. Gruber started whistling "Anything Goes", a popular tune of the day. Trask turned on him and hissed "Stop that!" between clenched teeth. Just then Brother Michael scanning a dense grove of trees ahead said "There! There 's the beast!" Blanke leveled his musket, fired and missed. The werewolf, for such it was, sprang from cover and ran straight at Brother Michael. Gruber fired his musket and struck the beast full in the chest. It stumbled and rolled on the ground but sprang up as quickly as it had fallen and lunged at Gruber.

Brother Michael was blocking Bottoni's line of fire so the little Italian drew his long knife and waded into the melee. An unearthly howl was heard from the woods beyond the glade answered by another from the woods behind them. There was no time to lose, so Trask and Blank drew their knives and attacked while Brother Michael looked for an opportunity to strike with his club. The men struck the monster repeatedly to no effect while Gruber died under it's fangs and claws.

Finally a lucky strike by Trask found a vital spot in the werewolf, and it shuttered and fell to the ground dead. Almost at the same moment, another just like it appeared from behind a low hill just behind them and two more, larger and standing upright came out of the wood in front of them. In a moment, all three were among the hunters in a storm of fangs and claws. Trask died first, and then Blanke.

 Bottoni fighting heroically and with great skill lasted but a few moments longer. Brother Michael, a saintly man but no warrior, gasped for breath as he flailed away at the monsters to no effect. They cornered him and as he prepared to meet his end yet another werewolf bounded out of the woods and finished him.

Having heard nothing from Trask for months, the Elector sent a man to the district to check on his progress. During his search the man rode through the countryside near the great forest. The farms in that area were abandoned and there was no commerce on the roads. He stayed a night in the town of Eppstein at an inn called the Slaughtered Ox. It was a dismal place, and noone there had heard of the man Trask.

Note: Mike and I played this game using a new (to us) set of rules for Gothic Horror called Chaos in Carpathia. Mike was the werewolves and I was .....lunch. Fifty odd years of watching monster movies should have helped me understand that attacking a werewolf with a hunting knife was not a recipe for success. Still, lots of fun and I suspect there will be similar adventures from time to time in this troubled corner of Holstein.   

Thursday, June 16, 2011

Information, the hard way

Trask, Brother Michael and the others worked out their plan of campaign in the church that afternoon. The pastor would not participate because he was terrified of the mayor's wife, but Brother Michael persuaded him to contribute the silver candleholders from the altar. He and Bottoni would spend the evening melting them down to fashion musket balls for the hunt. The landlord's daughter would not go with the hunters but she agreed to provide sufficient food and drink for the expedition. Bottoni proposed forming the men of the town into a militia but Brother Michael had already explored that possibility and had found only two reliable men willing to join them.  Trask was sure that the three of them and the two townsmen were more than sufficient to bring a rogue small town mayor and his overbearing wife to heel, but his companions were certain that the mayor and his wife were servants of the devil and more powerful than Trask knew. The captain resisted arguing the point because he was tired of hearing about it. He would find the mayor the next day and put a bullet in him, man or beast. Then he would return to civilization as quickly as possible. All this talk of devils and monsters was fraying his nerves.

 It remained only to determine where the mayor and his band were holed up. Brother Michael agreed to question the pastor and the two reliable men on that point while Magda would return to the Slaughtered Ox. The young admirers of the mayors wife tended to frequent the inn of an evening, drinking and posturing. She would listen to their conversations for clues. Trask decided to loiter in the market square to see what he could learn there. The group agreed to meet back at the church at dawn to share what they had learned.

Trask had not been in the market place very long when he saw the two young men who had been watching him at the inn that morning walk into the square in the company of a third man. The two seemed to defer to this third individual. The captain was in a foul mood with all the talk of bogeymen, the lousy food and the surly bumpkins. On an impulse he decided the third young 'gentleman' was the ringleader who would surely have the information on where the mayor was hiding.
"You, sir!" the captain called out to the bumpkin in his best parade ground voice "Stand fast. I wish to speak to you." The young man stiffened as if he had been slapped, and his hand went to his sword hilt.
"You're a long way from home, stranger. Be glad I have business elsewhere or I would remind you of your manners."
The sneering tone of his voice and the smirking faces of his companions was the wrong side of enough for Trask. His blade was in his hand as if of it's own will. "Draw your steel, sir" he snarled "Defend yourself!"
The ringleader and his two companions all drew, but as the leader moved forward to meet Trask the others hesitated. Trask's instinct told him this young thug would have to die to bring the rest of his gang to heel. He noted the other two trying to gather the courage to join the fight, so he made it quick. His opponent made a ham handed overhead cut, which the captain parried easily. A quick back and forth slash set the ringleader stumbling back and a straight thrust to the chest put him on the ground. With one eye on the other two men Trask pointed his sword at the throat of the dying ringleader. "Where is the mayor hiding?" he said. The wounded man glared back, his face distorted with rage and pain and something else. Something unnatural. "She will avenge me!" he snarled,  and then he died.
Trask looked up at the other two thugs, who hadn't moved to help their leader. "Drop your blades, or defend yourselves!" he said. Both men dropped their swords and stood still, thoroughly cowed. The captain questioned them about where the mayor and his wife had gone and they gave up their location immediately. There was a stream that entered the forest about two miles south of the town. Follow that stream for a mile into the forest and one would come to the mayor's lair. Trask's instinct had been right. The loss of their leader had taken the fight out of them. "See to your friend" he said and walked away toward the inn.

Wednesday, June 15, 2011

The plot thickens

Trask woke late again the next morning. He had been awake late into the night trying to organize the meager facts at his disposal into a coherant whole. Finally, he had drifted off into a fitful sleep haunted by strange dreams. He came down to the common room, ordered his breakfast and considered the strange sense of forboding that had weighed on him since he came to Eppstein. The note had said he was in danger but he was used to that. This was something else. There was something uncanny about this whole district. The sooner he wrapped this business up and returned to Ardoberg, the happier he would be. While eating his breakfast, Trask casually observed the others in the room. The landlord and his daughter were trying too hard to act as if nothing was amiss but the other two men were more interesting. They appeared to be lingering over their coffee at the other end of the room but they were clearly here to keep an eye on him, and were doing it badly.  The pair were young, wore swords and were dressed in a shabby rural imitation of gentlemen of fashion. he had noticed others like them the previous day swaggering around the village market square in ones and twos. He considered amusing himself by confronting the men but decided it would serve his purpose better if he seemed not to notice their observation mission.

At midday Trask made his way through the market square to the back of the church. There he found the landlord's daughter, a burly monk and a small dark man. Before Trask could speak the monk usered the group through the back door into the church. The monk bolted the front door and then strode back to the group beaming a cheery welcome. It occurred to Trask that this was the first smile he had seen since entering Eppstein.

"My name is Brother Michael, and I am most pleased to welcome you to our town, Captain. (My God, thought Trask, what kind of accent is that?) We are faced with a dire situation and we can use all the help we can get.  My order, The Irish Christian Brothers, has a unique mission. The Devil's servants are many and he seduces them to his service by tempting them to embrace occult practices. These soldiers of Satan take many forms. My Order is dedicated to hunting them down and destroying them. This benighted corner of Europe seems to be a center of such activity, and so, well, here I am. Magda, (nodding toward the landlord's daughter) you have met. This gentleman is Bottoni. He comes to us from the Vatican. He has slain more of the Devil's disciples than any other man I know. Mother Church sends him to help resolve particularly difficult situations, and I fear our situation is particularly difficult."
Trask looked at Bottoni. The man was slightly built. His clothing was plain and practical, but of a high quality, and his manner was formal. The most striking thing about the man was his eyes. They were dead, like those of a soldier who had seen too much. Such men killed easy and died easy. He would be useful in a fight but would bear watching lest his recklessness put them all at risk.
Brother Michael spoke again, breaking the reverie Bottoni's apearance had sent Trask into.
"The troubles of this unfortunate town began when the Mayor married an impoverished noblewoman from back in the hills. We know now that this woman was one of the Devil's servants and she lost no time in seducing her new husband into the occult. This woman is a werewolf, a human who can change into a wolf. A werewolf is no ordinary beast. They are much larger and more powerful, and they thirst for human blood. The murders in this area were certainly done by this daughter of the devil, and now she and her husband have vanished into the forest along with several of the young men of the town who were drawn into her wicked practices. We must hunt down and slay this woman and her followers before her cult spreads."

Trask was bemused by this eccentric Irish monk and his tale of monsters and devils. He didn't doubt this woman was a bad one who had drawn her husband and a few of the local bravos into a life of brigandage, but he seriously doubted that she could turn herself into some sort of monsterous wolf. He had heard such tales when he was in short pants and he even had heard foolish adults repeating such nonsense, but he had never in all his travels seen such a thing. Still, the disorder had to be suppressed. The group spent the afternoon discussing ways and means. With the Mayor gone, there was noone in a position of authority in the town. The mayor's wife, when she had been in residence, had exercised quite a lot of influence on the young men of the town. The swaggering young buffoons with swords at their hips were her admirers. Life had been increasingly difficult in the town since the mayor left and these young bullies had filled the vacuum left by his departure. Trask wondered if the pair watching him at the inn were in contact with the Mayor and his wife.    


Saturday, June 11, 2011

Holstein hospitality

It was well after midnight when Captain Trask arrived at the Slaughtered Ox, Eppsteins only inn. Like the rest of the town, the inn was dark and the doors were locked. Trask was bone weary after a long day in the saddle and in no mood to be inconvenienced further by these yokels. He hammered on the inn door until the landlord appeared at the second floor window. "I'm here on the Elector's business. Open up!" snarled the captain, and one look at the stranger told the landlord that the topic wasn't up for discussion.
Once inside, Trask's demand for food was met with a bowl of warmed over porridge and the worst beer he had ever tasted. "Won't be recommending this place to the folks back home" he mused as he finished up his meal. A good nights sleep and he'd be ready for business.

It was almost noon when the Captain awoke. "Getting too old for this" he muttered to himself as he stretched to loosen up his stiff muscles. Downstairs the inn already had a few of the locals loafing about. Trask ordered a breakfast of chops, which was served to him by the landlords daughter. He tried to open a friendly conversation with her, as gathering information was always the first step in settling these local disturbances. The girl barely acknowledged his gesture and hurried away when her father glared at her.

After his meal Trask relaxed a bit and observed the landlord and the few patrons hanging around. He noticed that no one was even looking in his direction and the volume of their various conversations had dropped off since he had entered the room. He strolled over to a pair of locals and ventured a friendly introduction, which was met with stony silence. Trask's patience, never his strong suit, was wearing thin, so he confronted the landlord at the bar. "As I told you last night, I'm here on the Elector's business. Now I will ask questions and you will answer them." The interrogation of the landlord was fairly unproductive. He was a frightened man. He knew nothing of the murders but several dangerous inmates had escaped from an asylum a few miles outside of town several months ago and were thought to be living in the forest. Perhaps they were responsible.

During the hour Trask spent with the landlord the other patrons had drifted away one at a time until the place was empty. He decided to spend the rest of the afternoon walking around the village to get a feel for the place. The rest of the villagers were no more helpful than the loafers at the inn. They barely responded to his inquiries and seemed quite frightened. He did manage to learn that the mayor had run off several weeks before and no one could say who was in authority in Eppstein. When the sun started to go down the streets of the village emptied quickly. Trask made his way back to the inn to the sound of doors and shutters being closed and barred. His evening meal was a repeat of the midday experience. The patrons kept their distance, spoke in low tones and pointedly ignored him. When the landlord's daughter appeared to clear off the table after his meal he was suprised when she discreetly slipped a note to him. Stepping outside as if to take the air, Trask read the note.
"Meet me tomorrow at midday behind the church. You are in great danger." 

Wednesday, June 8, 2011

Holstein by Moonlight

Captain Trask rode alone along the forest track. The moon cast a ghastly light through the trees that seemed to draw in on him like a malevolent living presence. Trask carried the Elector's commission to restore order in the most God forsaken corner of the principality. Southeastern Holstein was mountainous, heavily forested and remote; the people living there superstitious, ignorant and deeply suspicious of outsiders. The very end of the earth.

 Trask was the Elector's 'fixer'. When a district fell into disorder and the local authorities failed to address the issue, indeed were often at the center of the problem, Trask would be dispatched. Ruthless enforcement of the Elector's will by any means necessary was his specialty.  Still, the folk up in these hills were a strange, clannish lot. This would be a tough nut to crack.

A few weeks ago reports started reaching the Elector's court of an outbreak of killings in the region. Peasants in their fields and travellers on the roads had been savagely murdered. At first the nature of the killings had led people to believe the victims had been taken by wolves, which are common in the forests of the region, but several witnesses had caught glimpses of figures running upright back into the forest. So, it was brigands then, but why? Reports said that no property had been taken in any case. A feud, perhaps. Those were common enough among these barbarians, but the reports all described extraordinary savagery in the killings. Probably exaggerations. In their isolation from the civilized world these yokels developed vivid imaginations.

Trask decided to dismiss these morbid thoughts for the time being, as they seemed to be making the forest darker and the track narrower. Just a few more miles and he would arrive at the village of Eppstein, roughly in the center of the troubled area. A hot meal and a bed would settle his nerves and he could start his investigation in the morning.  

Monday, May 16, 2011

Charter meeting of the SPCC

               Schwanstuppers brigade presses the San Maurician left
Ladies! Gentlemen! Come to order! Please take your seats and come to order! Welcome to the charter meeting of the Society for the Prevention of Cruelty to Cavalry. As you know, our charter calls for an end to violence as it pertains to man's best friend, the noble horse. There has been no more egregious example of mindless brutality toward our four legged friends than the recent battle of Dettingen Bridge. On that occasion the hired thugs of the self styled 'king' of San Maurice brawled with our home grown gangsters under the command of our Elector Fredrich William.
I didn't vote for him! (this from the audience)
Settle down Hans. Now, Brothers and Sisters, if these costumed bullies want to shoot each other that's their business, but why must they force the noble horse to participate in their brutality?
                The Electoral Footguard pierce the enemy center
On this one occasion three entire regiments of the Electors horses suffered humiliation and physical harm. On the left flank the Lieb Curraisser regiment was entirely destroyed by the self loathing horses of the San Maurician Gensdarmes. Those same Gallic steeds then turned on the Lieb Dragoons with unrestrained fury born of false conciousness and chased them in terror from the field. Meanwhile, on the right flank the Ardozollern Curraissers managed to tangle their horses up in a farmer's hedge, doing serious damage to their equine self esteem.
               The San Mauricians withdraw, exhausted Ardobergers unable to pursue
When he was done abusing his innocent horses the Elector sent his infantry in to drive off the Cheese Eaters, leaving those of us who are more evolved to wonder why he didn't just do that to start with.  This concludes our agenda for this evening. Remember to get those petitions signed, and please feel free to join us for punch and cookies in the back.

Sunday, April 24, 2011

Ansbach Curriassers take the field

The Ansbach Curriasser regiment has recently been activated and is even now marching to the frontier to play its part in the current troubles. Ansbach is the second of the new Perry Miniature plastic cavalry regiments raised for the Elector's service. The figures are, in fact, French Napoleonic heavy cavalry with the heads replaced by Wargames Factory tricornes. Students of history will, no doubt, recall the glorious charge of her sister regiment Ardozollern Curriassers that rode over the enemy Marne Regiment in one of the recent fights that have flared up and down the frontier in recent months.

Tuesday, March 29, 2011

Reporter gets to the bottom of the battle of Auber

Exclusive! Ardoberg Enquirer interview with Colonel Waldemar Von Bunny, Inhaber of the Diefenbach Regiment AE – Thank you for making time for this interview, Colonel. You must be very busy given the drubbing your forces received at the battle of Auber. Von Bunny – I’m always glad to make time for my friends in the Fourth Estate. So, what can I do for you today? AE – Well, Sir, our readers want to know how you could have possibly lost that battle, given you had two regiments against a single newly raised San Maurician regiment. Von Bunny - Is that a new coat? It looks very well on you, I must say. You really must give me the name of your tailor. AE – My tailor be damned, Sir! You owe our readers an explanation! How came you to be defeated by a rabble of raw Gallic recruits? Some say you were in your tent recovering from a surfeit of drink. Were you even with your regiment when they met the enemy? Von Bunny – Neither was I. Must have been some other fellow. Say, do you remember the Willow Day ball at the Duchess of Wittenburg’s country house? That was quite a… AE – The People shall hear of your incompetence, Sir! The Truth will out! I shall…hey! Tell your goons to get their hands off me! Get off! I…I represent the OWW! Stop it! OWW! What are you doing with my note pad??? You can’t put it up there! OWWW!

Sunday, March 6, 2011

Well, that didn't last long

Ardoberg Enquirer Special Report: Gallic incursion thwarted

Students of History will recall the First War of the Kantian Interpretation, which began and ended a few short months ago. On that occasion a philosophical dispute was escalated into an international incident by the meddling of the King of San Maurice. The Elector of Ardoberg Holstein reacted in character with a quick, thoughtless thrust across the border to capture the town of Cezanne. After a hastily negotiated peace and some sharp practice by the merchants of Cezanne against their "guests", the Electoral Army was withdrawn.

All men of good will hoped for a lasting peace, but no sooner had the German troops returned homethan the King of San Maurice began gathering his forces and planning his revenge. It remained only to construct a plausible excuse to resume hostilities. So it was that the Elector received from the King of San Maurice a demand for payment for his food and lodgings while he occupied Cezanne. To add insult to injury the bill included charges for several evenings attendance at a bawdy restaging of the classic play "The Lady and the Leather Merchant", which the Elector had most certainly not attended.

There was only one thing for it, and the Elector sent his gallopers off to all garrisons directing the regiments to meet him on the road to Cezanne. Alas, the Gallic King was too quick for him and had his army across the border and marching north by the time the Electoral forces had concentrated. At length the Electoral army of three regiments of horse, six of foot and two batteries of guns confronted the Royal Army of two regiments of horse, four of foot and two batteries of guns near the village of Wagenberg.

The outnumbered San Mauricians marched to contest the enemy crossing of the Schwartzwasser river. A single newly raised battalion of the Marne regiment of foot was still on the wrong side of the river when the Electoral forces appeared. The hapless battalion moved toward the Schwartzwasser hoping to find a fordable place to cross. The rest of the King's infantry deployed along the river bank to cover them while the cavalry and guns raced to block access to the only bridge in the area. The Electoral cavalry bore down on Marne Regiment while the guns began a long range ineffectual bombardment of the enemy infantry across the river. Meanwhile, the Elector's infantry moved behind the cavalry intending to force a river crossing.

The Marne regiment's desperate attempt to find a crossing point failed, so they turned their backs to the riverbank and prepared to face the oncoming Electoral horse. Before the inexperienced fantassins could form line the Ardozolern Curriassers were among them. In a matter of moments the Marne regiment was no more, but their comrades on the far river bank got a measure of revenge by bringing a punishing fire to bear on the horsemen.

The Electoral cavalry withdrew to the rear while the infantry formed up to try to force the river line. The Elector's guns engaged forst one enemy battery and then the other as they tried to deploy to cover the bridge. Both San Maurician batteries took heavy casualties and were withdrawn. At this point the San Maurician commander chose to withdraw from the field rather than try to oppose the crossing without effective artillery support.

Saturday, February 5, 2011

San Maurician perfidy in the Scottish highlands

Ardoberg Enquirer Special Report on the recent disturbance in Caledonia

Mope sent a message from Dunbar

sayin' 'Dougie, meet me if you dare

I'll learn you the Art of War

if you meet me in the mornin'

Using money and supplies sent by the King of San Maurice, 'Red Dougie' MacArdo, Chief of Clan Haggis and unrepentant Jacobite once again raised the Standard of the King Across the Water. It was the intention of the San Maurician Monarch to make trouble for the British close to home to prevent them from intervening in his upcoming war with Ardoberg-Holstein. Of course, MacArdo goes off at the drop of a blue bonnet anyway, so King Louis Phillipe might have saved his money.

The Jacobite army descended on the lowlands and started rounding up other people's sheep and cows until the government troops garrisoned in the area to prevent such behavior marched forth to confront them. On the coastal plain near Herringtown the two armies met. The Government troops consisted of the Regiments of Guise (6th), Lee (44th), Murray (46th), Lascelle (47th) and a battery of 3 pounder guns under Sir John Mope. These regiments were among those left behind when the best British troops were sent to the wars on the Continent. The Jacobite army included the clan regiments of Appin, Corrie, Lochiel and Haggis. Mope deployed the regiments of Murray and Guise on his left flank north of Kipper Hill and those of Lee and Lascelle and the artillery south of that hill. MacArdo, never one to give a sucker an even break, sent Clans Appin, Corrie and Lochiel against the isolated Government left while holding back Clan Haggis in front of the Government right flank.

Murray's redcoats started marching to their right while Guise's regiment formed line to meet the fast moving highlanders that descended on their position. The highlanders raised a cheer and charged. Guise's raw troops dropped their muskets and ran. Some got away, while others were cut down by the fleet footed highlanders. Murray formed his regiment in line anchored on the western end of Kipper Hill and fired a damaging first volley into the flank of the pursuing Jacobites. The Appin and Corrie clans turned on Murray, causing his men to break and run. Meanwhile Lochiel's men moved back around the East end of Kipper Hill to support Clan Haggis against the advancing Government troops on that side.

Mope was getting nervous. He had two fresh regiments and the artillery still in hand. He sent Lascelle's Regiment to hold the area between the East end of Kipper Hill and Scrub Hill while he directed Lee's Regiment and the artillery against the rampant (but bloodied and tiring) Appin and Corrie clans. Murray's shattered Regiment rallied briefly and fired a weak volley into Appin before being overrun and dispersed. The artillery took a toll on the Corrie clansmen and were, in turn, overrun.

The Government line was now bent into an L shape. As Lochiel and Haggis advanced on Lascelle's line the redcoats poured a withering first volley into into them. They shouted their Highland warcry and charged with the claymore. This time the British stood and received the charge. They fought gallantly, but they were no match for the highlanders at close quarters and, finally, the survivors broke and ran. On the other side of the L Lee's Regiment had fired a heavy first volley into the Corrie clan at close range and broke them.

Lee's troops, while unscathed, were the only formation still intact on the British side. Three of the four clan regiments were still in the fight, although all of them were battered. Lochiel and Haggis advanced on Lee from the East and Appin came on from the West. Lee formed his men to face Appin and broke the brave but exhausted highlanders with musketry. As Lochiel and Haggis closed in Lee coolly faced his line about and fired. Lochiel's regiment could take no more and broke. The Haggis clan, sadly reduced, came on through the smoke and crashed into the Government line. The redcoats stood and traded bayonet thrusts with the swinging claymores of their foes. The highlanders fought like heroes but they were now too few and at last they broke. General Mope held the field, but his army and reputation were both in tatters. During the long march home the highlanders were already composing funny songs at his expense. Colonel Lee's future was assured by his skilful handling of his Regiment, and he is no longer invited to dine at Mope's table.

This battle was fought using Charles Grant rules, modified (because Grant would want us to) for the Jacobite Rebellions. The modified rules are named "It's a Kilt! If it was a dress I'd be wearing underpants!", or IKIIWDIBWU for short. The battle was staged mainly to give Mike of San Maurice, who took the part of Red Dougie, a chance to use his repetoire of funny Northwest European accents, puns and kilt jokes.

Sunday, January 30, 2011

Meanwhile, in the wilds of North America ...

A hunting expedition of frontier settlers has run afoul of a war party of hostile savages who outnumber them two to one. The settlers make a run for a nearby outpost of the 60th Foot. Half of the indians pursue the hunters while the other half loops around to cut them off from the fort. Hearing scattered musket shots and war whoops the Captain commanding the fort forms up part of the garrison and leads them to the rescue. When he comes in view of the hunters and their pursuers he can tell it is too late to effect a rescue, so he positions his men on a wooded hill to cover the escape of as many of the settlers as can elude the hostiles. In the end a few of the settlers are cut down, but most of them make it to the clearing below the redcoat position. The indians fade back into the forest rather than engage their reinforced opponent in such a stron position.

Sunday, January 23, 2011

Peace breaks out

Ardoberg Enquirer

Your source for news. No, really...

The King of San Maurice has set a new standard of swift and decisive Gallic military action by sueing for peace with Ardoberg-Holstein after a brief and almost bloodless battle at the town of Cezanne. The garrison of that town, consisting of the first battalion of the Navarre Regiment and a gang of banditti who style themselves the Arquebusiers de Bergerac, found themselves confronted by the main Electoral army in the third week of the war. The garrison commander was preparing to withdraw when a courier arrived from the King ordering him to drive out the invaders (who outnumbered him 5 to 1). Reports that the King owed the Colonel a substantial sum of money due to an unlucky evening of gaming remain unsubstantiated at this time.

The Colonel dutifully took up a position in the town and endured the preparatory bombardment of the Electoral army. When honor had been satisfied (and before the Electoral infantry were sent in with the bayonet) a drummer emerged from the town and beat the Parley. After a brief interview the Elector and the Colonel agreed to avoid the unnecessary effusion of blood that would certainly attend the storming of the town, and the garrison was allowed to withdraw with the honors of war. As soon as news of the loss of Cezanne reached the King he sued for peace, setting a new land speed record for surrender. Reached for comment, the King said "When we went to war I didn't think he was going to invade me!"

While a lasting peace is to be hoped for, long time observers of affairs in this region of Europe are pretty sure it won't be long before San Maurice and Ardoberg-Holstein are back at daggers drawn.

Saturday, January 22, 2011

The cult of the blade

The best little game I never played is a 1970s vintage role playing effort titled En Garde. It was originally a simple simulation of fencing in the time of the 3 Musketeers, but the rulesmiths at Game Designers Workshop recreated the world of the 3 Musketeers as background to the fencing. Basically, the players each represent a young man trying to make his fortune in the 17th Century world of social status and influence. A very clever design but, sadly, there were never enough people around here interested enough to follow through with a multi evening game like this. It occurs to me that the world of En Garde fits pretty well into 18th Century Europe and so, one thread in the historical tapestry of Ardoberg-Holstein will be the careers of four young men who arrive in the big city determined to make their fame and fortune or die trying. Here, then, are the four young men conjured up by rolling dice on multiple character generation tables.

"Hector". First born son of a very wealthy Markgraf. His initial social status is 9 out of a possible 16. He arrives in the capital city with 825 Thalers in his purse, a monthly allowance from dear old dad of 137 Thalers, and he can expect to inherit a further 5000 Thalers when his father dies. He begins his career by purchasing a Captaincy in the Leib Curraissers, the highest status regiment in the Electoral Army. He also joins the exclusive club Hunters. His deep pockets and high social status have allowed him to make these expensive investments in his future career.

"Nestor". First born son of a recently deceased wealthy gentleman, he arrives in the capital with 4550 Thalers (his inheritance), but will, of course, receive no allowance as he is now the head of his family. He has an initial social level of 5, which, together with his substantial fortune, allows him to purchase a commission in the Saarbrucken Regiment, a respectable unit, although not the height of fashion. He enrolls in a club, The Frog & Peach, which is also respectable if not the cutting edge.

"Phoenix". The second son of an impoverished gentleman, he arrives in the capital with a mere 40 Thalers in his pocket and no monthly allowance. His beginning social status is 3. Some day when his father goes to his reward Phoenix will inherit the family fortune, a paltry 100 Thalers. Upon arrival he enrolls as a Gentleman Ranker (AKA Private) in the Diefenbach Regiment which will, at least, provide him with three hots and a cot plus a modest sum on pay day. Oh why did father risk all on that San Maurician albino rooster farm investment? His path to better things will indeed be a rocky one.

"Hector". The bastard son of a peasant, he arrives in the capital with 9 Thalers in his pocket and no hope of an allowance or inheritance. His social status at the start of his career is a miserable 2. He joins the rather unstylish Isselbach regiment as a private soldier. His only hope of advancement under the circumstances is to win glory on the battlefield or the duelling field by taking risks shunned by most men.

These four young men were travelling companions on the road to the capital of Ardoberg, and formed a friendship which will lead them to assist each other in their careers and adventures in Europe's most contradictory capital. Stodgy and straight laced on the surface, Ardoberg is a seething cauldron of barely suppressed Lutheran naughtiness beneath. Their adventures will occasionally be recorded in these pages as a diversion from the great affairs of state that are the usual stuff of our record.

The reader may be curious about the un teutonic names of our young heroes. It is an inconvenient fact of life in Ardoberg-Holstein that all young men of gentle birth are named either Frederich Wilhelm or Wilhelm Frederich. In fact, several military setbacks in our history are directly attributable to this awkward custom as orders go astray in the heat of battle. Be that as it may, it is a common practice among our young men to adopt nicknames. Some, as with our young bravos described above, are drawn from classical literature. Others are based on perceived physical or social eccentricities and are inflicted on a lad by his fellows. Many a duel has been fought in an attempt to reverse such branding.

Sunday, January 16, 2011

King of San Maurice comments on the invasion

Ardoberg Enquirer

We report, you deride

Our crack reporting team in the San Maurician capital was able to reach the King of that unhappy land, Louis Phillipe, for a comment regarding the recent invasion by Ardoberg-Holstein. The invading army is reported to be three regiments of Horse, five regiments of Foot and two batteries of artillery. The King felt confident that the invaders are adequately contained by his forces in the area, a single battalion of the Navarre Regiment and the Aquibusiers de Bergerac (if they are sober).

Asked about his plan to drive out the invaders the King replied "Drive them out? No, no monsieur. My economic Minister advises me to make every effort to keep them within our borders at least until the end of the current campaign season. Their presence is benefiting the local economy and we expect our Gross Domestic Product to increase by approximately 2% this year as a result. "

Through sources who must remain anonymous we were also able to discover His Majesty's plan to neutralize Ardoberg-Holsteins British allies. Louis Phillipe recently sent a large sum of money, arms and military stores to the recalcitrant Scottish Jacobite Red Dougie MacArdo to stir up trouble for Britain close to home. According to those same sources, the King raised the money by posing for a series of drawings in various stages of undress, which were then sold to Elisabeth, Emperess of Russia. Our sources go on to report that the Elector of Ardoberg-Holstein offered to provide a similar service to Elisabeth for substantially less money, and was rejected out of hand.