Tuesday, 21 October 2014

Running With Scissors

I painted a new gladiator today - so new that he doesn't even have a name yet.

Victor and I are always trying out new ideas for Munera Sine Missioner, and Victor recently came up with some ideas for the Arbelas gladiator type - he of the cone and blade in his left hand. My rules for the cone were pretty simplistic, and Victor wanted to try something more interesting. We also felt that the same mechanisms could be applied to the twin-bladed scissor sword which may or may not have existed. Victor had a couple of these weapons, converted one of his gladiators to wield it ad gave me his spare.

I added it to an old Black Tree figure I had which I'd never painted because (i) he's lost his sword and hand in a horrible accident and (ii) the pose was awkward and bizarre, and I didn't like it. But a spare figure is a spare figure, and a new Milliput hand covered up the small piece of wire I used to attack the scissor sword to the arm.

So here he is - the Scissor.

And here's the old Gladiator Miniatures 'Contra-Retiarius' who now gets called an Arbelas, because it sounds better.

Victor's rules for these weapons assume that they were used to parry, but only longer, slower weapons. Both the Cone and he Scissor have the Parry trait. This allows the gladiator to attempt to disarm their opponent. When they are attacked by an unwieldy weapon which is attacking at two or more hexes, and does not have the Ranged trait, a parry attempt may be declared. Roll a D6, and apply the Attacker's attack modifier to the roll.

A score of 3 or less means that the Attackers attack is blocked and that they drop their weapon into a random adjacent hex.

A score of 4 or 5 has no effect, and the attack is now resolved.

A score of 6 or more means that the attack is resolved, but that the Attacker now gets an additional +1 as the Defender's failed parry attempt has left their guard wide open.

(The Attacker's modifiers make a lot of difference to this roll. I am inclined to treat an unmodified 1 as a 1 and an unmodified 6 as a 6, and only apply modifiers to rolls of 2-5. In that way there's always a chance of parrying and always a chance for the Attacker to get a bonus.)

Reading the rules, you will see that the weapons this trait can counter are the long spear, the trident, the net and the lasso.

The Cone is also treated in all other respects as a small shield. The Scissor is treated as a sword, but always counts as disadvantaged.

The Arbelas and Scissor make interesting opponents for the Retiarius and/or Hoplomachus types.

Sunday, 19 October 2014

The Pons

I thought I'd try something a little different with my gladiators today. I say today, but I've been planning and executing it during the week, and just played it out today.

I made a Pons.

This is a wooden bridge structure, on which a Retiarus would stand, to be faced by two Secutor type gladiators. As well as his net and trident the Retiarius had a pile of stones he could use to fend off his opponents.

I staged this to see what the setup looked like. Nice, huh? It's made from card and matchsticks.

Then I played a game. I used Munera Sine Missione v2.3, of course.

The Pons consists of five hexes in a row. The three in the middle are the Pons proper, and on each end are the ramps. The Pons is two levels above the floor os the arena, whilst the ramps are one level. A gladiator can attack from or onto the Pons, but if they are on a lower level they subtract the difference in levels from their attack roll, and if on a higher level they add the difference. So a Secutor in the arena attacking the Retiarus on the Pons would suffer a -2, whilst the Retiarius fights back at a +2

The Retiarius must remain on the Pons, so cannot be pushed back. There's a small rule change which helps this, which I'll cover later.

The Pons can only be entered through the two hexsides at each ens of the ramps. It costs +1AP to move from the arena onto a ramp, or from a ramp onto the Pons.

The Retiarius has an unlimited supply of fist-sized rocks. These are a ranged attack (4 hexes), but count as disadvantaged (double disadvantaged at 3 or 4 hexes).

I pitted Cupido the Retiarius, against Hero (in the green loincloth) and Ostorius (in red).

Ostorius charged straight in, trying to hold Cupido in combat whilst Hero moved into position. He managed to wound Cupido, but the Retiarus's height advantage soon began to tell.

Hero reached the end of the Pons.

He charged up the ramp and attacked Cupido, who was still engaged by Ostorius.

A single trident thrust finished off Ostorius, and Cupido turned to face Hero.

Hero drove the Retiarius back, dodging the swinging net.

A single sword thrust, and Cupido went down.

I need to play this out again a few times to sort out the balance. I really started the Secutors too close to the Pons - Ostorius reached it on his first turn, and that pretty much held Cupido in place before he could really do anything to prevent it.

In terms of optional rules, I can't see the referee working with this setup (unless he's forbidden from being positioned on the Pons itself), but I did use Working The Crowd.

As for the rule change, it's something more general I'm looking at in order to fix a small bug in the game. Ordinarily, if you miss a gladiator, they jump back one hex. If they can't do so, because of another gladiator, the arena wall, or being on a Pons, they are knocked over. If they are knocked over whilst down, then they are beaten. So if you back a gladiator against the arena wall, your best strategy is to use weak attacks that won't hit, so the misses knock him down once, then twice.

Te fix is that a gladiator that can't jump back, doesn't. However if they are attacked from a position where a jump back isn't possible, then the attacker gets a +1. If you can't effectively dodge, then you are easier to hit. I will work this change into the next release of the rules.

Thursday, 16 October 2014

The Mystery Man Plays HOTT

Once again I found myself playing a HOTT Wars of the Roses game tonight, although smaller than last week's, at only 24AP

This was because I was teaching someone to play.  Someone who regards a HOTT army as roughly equivalent to a small unit in the games he normally likes to play.

I have agreed to protect this mystery player's anonymity, so have put one of those black bars across Ralph's eyes so you can't identify him.

We had tow nearly identical armies. The Mystery Player charged his Knights in early, and broke through my mercenary pikemen.

In the middle we had the obligatory hacking match between billmen and men at arms.

I drove the enemy general back towards his baseline, but his mounted archers came to the rescue, and it was my general who was cut down, giving the Mystery Player the victory.

On the other table Peter and Geoff tried out Impetus for the first time.

They used lots of dice to keep track of stuff.

There was also a game of Wings of War (or Glory) using 1/72nd scale planes.

Sunday, 12 October 2014

Gladiator Skills

Boobs are always a crowd-pleaser.
As is a big spear.
Since I wrote yesterday's post I have run a few more gladiators of different types through the semi-campaign structure and I think I have the basics sorted now. The only major change I have made is to change how skills are acquired, something that will certainly filter through to the rules as well. I felt that gladiators gained skills too quickly - I managed to get one through nine bouts, and she had five of the six possible skills by the end of it. So I have made the following change:

A gladiator who defeats an opponent with as many, or more, skills than they themselves have rolls a D6. If the score is greater than their own current number of skill, then they may select a new one. There is a +1 to the roll if their opponent has more skills than they do.

So, acquiring the first two or three skills isn't too hard, but to get the last few you really need to defeat the superstars of the arena or be very lucky.

In addition the 'Celebrity' skill, which gives you a +2 bonus when appealing to the crows, can only be purchased if you have at least one other skill. You need some reputation to be a Celebrity. Crowd-Pleaser is a skill any gladiator can have, as its effects represent something more ephemeral.

For a campaign style of game I now need some rolls between the bouts to see if there are any complications from wounds, and some kind of prestige or money system similar to that in the game Victus. But that's a project for another day.

Oh, and I've played out over 30 bouts this weekend - 'Munera Sine Missione' gives a quick game.

Saturday, 11 October 2014


I am playing around with the skill system (such as it is) for 'Munera Sine Missione', and decided that a mini-campaign was the best method for doing so, as it added a little bit of structure to my investigations.

I decided to take a single gladiator through a series of bouts, and see how they progressed in terms of skills.

Firstly I selected a gladiator - I went for one of my favourite Foundry poses, the female dimachaerus Herminia. I don't worry about mixing the gender of my gladiators in games, because that's how I roll. Purists are probably advised to stop reading now.

Herminia has a closed helmet, light armour and two swords, and starts with no skills

I then created a pool of opponents for her to fight, six each of light, medium and heavy gladiators, based on my own (in some cases arbitrary) criteria. In any bout I would roll to see what weight of gladiator she would face (1-2 Light, 3-4 Medium, 5-6 Heavy), then roll to see which gladiator in the pool she faced. I won't insult your intelligence by saying how I did that - there are six in each pool ...

The next stage was to see how skilled her opponent was. I rolled a D6, added Herminia's number of skills and subtracted 3, treating scores of 0 or less as 0. This meant that her opponent could have up to three more skills than she did. I then rolled a D6 for each skill the opponent had, discarded any duplicates, and then assigned skills based on the following table:

1 - Attack (+1 on Attack rolls)
2 - Defend (-1 to opponent's Attack rolls)
3 - Agile (Reroll an AP score of '1')
4 - Strong (Roll 2D6 for Stamina and select the best score)
5 - Celebrity (+2 when appealing to the crowd)
6 - Crowd-Pleaser (+1 to Favour Points when working the crowd)

The discarding of duplicates meant that a gladiator may end up with fewer skills than initially rolled, but that works out OK and stops them from being too good. If the gladiator was one that Herminia had faced before, then I assumed that if they rolled fewer skills than they had in the earlier encounter they would just have those. If they rolled more, then I'd roll the dice, discard duplicates and any scores relating to skills that they already had, and only add in any new skills. But that situation hasn't arisen yet ...

So, onto the bouts.

Herminia's first opponent was a helmetless thraex, Rufina, who had the Agile skill.

It didn't do her any good - Herminia slowly sliced her to pieces, and when she sought mercy she got none from the crowd. Which is odd, as they did a good job of cheering her on through the fight. This seems to be a regular result for Rufina, and it's obvious she's one of those cursed figures you get from time to time.

Anyway, this victory against a gladiator of equal or greater skill gave Herminia a skill, so I chose Attack. With two swords I reasoned that, with two swords. this would make her suitably deadly.

Her second opponent was Hippolytus. I ran him as something I'd read about on Wikipedia (I know, I know) - a retiarius who had chosen to discard his net. This gave him both hands free to use his trident, which gave it the armour-piercing ability. Hippolytus had no skills.

This was a short fight. They closed and Hippolytus got in the first strike, badly wounding Herminia, who immediately appealed to the crowd for mercy. The crowd granted it.

After recovering from her nasty wound Herminia found herself back in the arena, this time facing the barbarian gladiator Apollo, armed with a long spear and a large shield. Apollo was more skilled than Herminia - as well as having Defend, he was a crowd-favourite, with Celebrity and Crowd-Pleaser as well.

None of his skills did him any good. Despite the audience being behind him all the way, Herminia dispatched him without suffering any injury herself. her final blow mortally wounded Apollo, denying him even a chance to appeal to his adoring public.

Having defeated another more highly-skilled foe Herminia was due another skill, so I added Agile to her repertoire.

Her next bout saw her facing the very experienced dimachaerus, Spiculus, who fought without a helmet, giving him extra mobility. He had Defend, Agility, Strength and was a Crowd-Pleaser. He also proved a tough opponent, wounding Herminia with his first strike.

This was an epic fight, ranging from one end of the arena to the other. Both gladiators ended up seriously wounded, but it was Spiculus who eventually sidestepped the exhausted Herminia, and downed her, forcing her to appeal to the crowd. After such a good show they were more than happy to grant her mercy.

Another period of recovery passed, then Herminia was back in action. She now faced Danaos, who fought in the Greek-style (I suppose), with a helmet, large shield and long spear. As seemed to be the theme with her opponents, Danaos was a crowd-favourite, with Celebrity and Crowd-Pleaser, as well as having Strength.

Herminia charged straight in, hoping to deny Danaos the space to use his spear effectively. She should have learned from her earlier fight with Hippolytus - he badly wounded her with his first thrust. She pressed the attack, but despite having no room to fight, Danaos fought her off, and wounded her again and again. She lost her helmet to one thrust, and one of her swords to another. Finally he smashed her to the ground with his shield, and she was forced to appeal for mercy.

This time the crowd were behind Danaos, and Herminia's career, and life, was over.

The games gave me a chance to see some of the skills in combination with each other, and I'm fairly please with how they are working out. But I'll have to do this all again with another gladiator. I might also add in some kind of prestige points as well, just because keeping score is fun. My aim was to see if I could get a gladiator to survive ten bouts. Obviously that's not so easy.

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