We picked up the battle where we left off. Vauban, Picard, Fabrice, Strozzi and Pau in the courtyard of the old Roman castellum. Isaac lagged behind outside the walls, having just fired his harquebus at the sniper in the tower. Their band of miquelets stood huddled together further back, firing at the tower in a measured pace.
Two bandaleros stood under the portico, muskets discharged against the storm party. Their companion lay dead at their feet.
Leaping to the front, Vauban pressed against these defenders. Strozzi and Picard were with him step for step. Pau and Fabrice broke off and circled to their right, looking for a way into the tower. Isaac contemplated death as he watched the brigands in the tower roll out the falconet for another barrage. He scampered forward, closer to the tower, but safe in the shadow of the wall.
The falconet spat forth a second bag of shot at the miquelets. We used the revised artillery rules for this one. They call for an Artillery save before rolling for damage. Those militiamen didn’t fare so well this time. Two more fell and another ran off, leaving only one grimly clutching his musket in the field of death!
Garrow asked about the procedure for lighting the fuse of a grenade. It required a flame or match to light the fuse, right? He admitted that he had no slow match lit, as his primary weapon was his harquebus. However, he was carrying slow match (previously acquired from the fallen miquelets). I thought it was plausible that he had lit a match in preparation for the battle, so I called for a Soldiering test. He did not pass, so he spent this turn frantically sparking his flint to get his match going.
Picard, Vauban and Strozzi found themselves entangled with these tough mountain brigands. They couldn’t quite force them back. While Fabrice and Pau reached the door at the back of the base of the tower. They prepared to break it down and storm the defenders within.
The bandits in the tower shifted their attention to the battle in the courtyard and prepared to fire the cannon facing in that direction. The muzzle swiveled to face the assaulting party.
Folks were beginning to sweat.
Meanwhile, Picard, Vauban and Strozzi knocked down another bandit and sent the other running (of his own volition).
And then little Isaac, hiding the darkness below the wall, lit the fuse on his grenade and threw it in a gentle arc so that it passed through the gun loop on the front face of the tower. Garrow had to spend a year to get it in there, but that year resulted in (yet another) grenade crit for the young soldier. A muffled thump from within the small gun room told the fate of the crew.
There was a cheer. There was a pause. There were questions.
Was there powder in the gun room of the tower?
Yes. A barrel or more.
Would the powder in the gun room cook off?
Why yes it might.
How would we determine if it would cook off?
It seemed like a perfect use of the Die of Fate.
Acknowledging that the situation was more volatile than a typical DoF roll, I granted the cook off would happen on 1-2, not just a 1.
I picked up a white d6 with green pips that uses cartoonish frog as a 1. I cast it out in front of the group and it landed on Picard’s character sheet. Two green pips showed. A pause. A look of disbelief. A huge cheer.
Then Rich asked what the tower was made of. I told him the base was set stone but the upper portion was wood. He grimaced. He read my mind.
The tower went up in a column of fire, smoke and splinters. “All those wooden splinters,” groaned Rich.
“Pau and Fabrice are at the door!” shouted Garrow and Anthony.
I ruled that characters within a certain range of the tower would take damage from the blast. 1 square = 1d8, 2 squares = 1d6, 3 squares = 1d4 and 4 squares would be 1d2. Each would be allowed an artillery save which would step down the die type by one level (or to zero for 1d2).
Picard and Vauban each took four points of damage. The fleeing bandit saved and got away unscathed. Strozzi was out of range—the explosion only blew off his hat.
Picard checked to see if it was a fancy hat. It was.
Pau and Fabrice both failed their artillery saves and took 1d8 points of damage. Fortunately, I rolled 2 points for each of them. In a way, it made sense that they were under the blast and protected by the stone wall. They were only hit by the door bursting open. I did require S-F tests from them, though, to account for the very surprising turn of events.
In the field behind them, illuminated by the explosion, the lone miquelet cheered and shouted, “Hah, bastards! I got you!”
Losing no time, Vauban and company pressed under the portico to the entrance of the mansio. Within, they saw a wide frontroom used for storage and to stable a few horses. Beyond them, a line of slow matches smoldered in the darkness. The bandits within had set up a defensive line.
At the explosion, the horses reared and bolted. Once they cleared, Vauban and Strozzi stepped out, drew pistols and sighted them at the bandits. Picard rushed forward with his rapier. From the shadows within a familiar voice gave the order to fire! The stuttering lightning of the muzzle flashes illuminated the battered face of their enemy, Claris! He had survived his wounds and crawled back to the fortress in the days before the raid.
In the exchange, Vauban received a ball from a musket that likely would have killed him, but Anthony resolutely decided to spend a year to force a reroll, causing me to miss.
Picard and Strozzi knocked down their opponents each.
And in an extremely unlikely convergence of events, Isaac rounded the corner into the courtyard at a trot. After tossing that grenade, he’d drawn one of his pistols and chased after his lieutenant. No rest for the wicked. He heard Claris’s voice from within the mansio. In the flickering flare light of the burning tower, he could make out his enemy’s darkened form.
It was a trick of the map—of line-of-sight and range rules. Garrow wanted to take the shot. It was medium range for the pistol. I told him it would be a tough shot. Vauban and Picard were partially shielding Claris. He would need a 19. If he missed but rolled in the shot window, he’d hit one of them. Rich grew agitated at the thought. He warned Garrow, “My ghost will haunt you!”
Garrow was not to be dissuaded. He gleefully rolled for the shot.
- +2 for Accuracy. A fucking crit. We shook our heads in disbelief at his luck.
Poor Claris, alas we hardly knew thee. The old bandit went down in heap, struck firmly by the ball of lead.
Meanwhile, outside the house, Pau and Fabrice stalked down the alley between the house and wall, looking for a way to flank the defenders. Two bandaleros hiding by the well saw them silhouetted by the burning tower. One of them shot Pau, but only winged him. Seeing his prey, Pau hunched and jogged forward.
Inside, chaos broke out as the remaining bandits fled pell mell through the kitchen. Picard and Vauban pursued while Strozzi investigated another hallway. There was a flash and a shot from a rifle! Laying in ambush at the far end of the hallway, Junipero tried to end the old Italian, but only winged him.
Unphased, the tough Captain gave a cry, “Here he is!”
Outside at the well, Pau showed what nearly a decade of experience as an insurrectionist had earned him. He dashed forward and murdered the bandalero who shot him—a quadruple crit. 20 points of damage from his sickle.
In the house, Strozzi charged after Junipero’s fleeing form, but the wily bandit and his lady both slipped out of windows in the back of the house and made a dash for the compound’s wall.
Isaac had paused to reload his harquebus when he heard Strozzi’s shout. Dashing around the corner, he saw two shadowy forms moving toward the wall. He pulled up and shouldered his gun, taking aim. It was a tough shot. Pulling the trigger, the flint fell, pan ignited and ball flew…but it went wide of the mark.
In an uncharacteristic moment, Garrow decided not to spend a year and to let the failure stand (he’s carrying 6 exertion already!). The figures scampered up and over the wall. Isaac tried to follow, but failed his Traverse check. The battle was over.
Vauban’s little band had won. They had accomplished their mission to clear this path for the prince.
In the aftermath, they found a locked strongbox in Junipero’s room. Picard remarked, “It doesn’t feel worth it. There’s no one left to protest.”
Vauban offered to protest, but it just wasn’t the same as having the owners plead and shout.
Breaking open the box they found sacks of gold and silver coins, as well as a sheaf of papers written in a language none could recognize. The haul was 3d6 Wealth and Anthony rolled a 10 for it. He and Strozzi each took three points and Picard, Isaac and Fabrice took 2 (iirc).
Then Vauban ordered the surviving bandits to serve them all dinner which he hosted and toasted his companions.
After dinner, as Fabrice and the bandaleros were counting the dead and wounded, Strozzi went to the soldiers and pressed a few coins into each of their hands, thanking them warmly for their work on this lovely evening excursion.
The captain gave them each a point of wealth, but more important, his gratitude locked in their reputation boosts for this engagement. Garrow and Rich were delighted.
Picard repeatedly informed anyone near him, “Strozzi’s a good guy. He’s a good guy. Captain’s a good guy.”
Lt Vauban was a bit shamed. As a gentleman mired in unfortunate circumstances, he had no real wealth. But not to be outdone by the Italian, he also thanked his comrades with silver coins and praise. Picard appreciated it, but Isaac (who had made a small fortune during his transatlantic journey) thought the lieutenant a bit cheap.
We wrapped there. Super fun session and a great place to put the story on pause while we reassess the playtest. Rich noted that if they eat their Mortal Coil here at this juncture, they might recover in time for Lens. Whereas if they tally it up in Paris, they’re sure to miss the battle. So that is to be decided.
Also left unfinished: Hors de Combat for the three miquelets and 10 wounded bandaleros.
And Fabrice, Isaac and Picard all have flaws coming to them. My vote for Isaac would be Reckless and for Picard Dull. Carol, sadly, had to miss last session with the flu, so I’d hold off on Fabrice.
Hope this extended write up is helpful to y’all when thinking about the game. Let me know if you have any questions.