Sunday 17 May 2015

The Albion Adventures II, the scenario explained.

This is a nuts and bolts post about the scenario I ran for a bunch of my Oldhammer gaming buddies yesterday.

My intention with most of the Albion scenarios I construct is to take advantage of the player's knowledge of current affairs, politics, religion or some similarly explosive topic and give them every opportunity make jokes about it. The only thing the average British casual gamer loves more than satire is a bit of pun-fu! To that end the obvious choice going into a big game in May so close to the general election was to riff off the silly circus we know and love.

The general background revolved around the election day kerfuffle in a hotly contested constituency. The player's warbands had traveled there to make a bit of coin working as mercenaries ensuring things went 'smoothly' and the electorate voted 'wisely'. The electorate consisted of only one family, the local lighthouse keeper and his kin. This made Beacon Island something of a Rotten Borough, unfortunately all the candidates were thoroughly rotten too and weren't inclined to leave things to chance!

I set up the terrain to take advantage of one of the excellent tables on offer at our venue, the Wargames Foundry. As the Isle of Thanet (particularly the constituency of South Thanet) was such a focal point for the media coverage I set our game on Albion's 'Beacon Island'. The name Thanet likely comes from a Celtic origin meaning bright or fire island, indicating beacons were placed there to help ships.

In real life Thanet, and Essex in general, is at the centre of a new debate about cultural identity. If you know anything about British culture at all you will understand this makes it the perfect target for our irreverent sense of humour!

I met a girl called Janet, she was from the Isle of Thanet, when I mentioned social justice she said why can't we just ban it?

The rivers formed a natural island with a road and a bridge so I set up a polling station and a Slann-gate I had been working on. I made sure the warbands started a good three feet (as the crow flies) from their objective and besides the river I set up a wood, a secret patch of quicksand and a secret patch of magical mist to act as further barriers, so much so that the swift Elves ended up with at least four foot of table to negotiate.

The river was monster-haunted and one of the players nominated a character to be obsessed with slaying large beasties. Setting up possible opportunities like this is a great way of engaging players in other ways that needn't depend on the main objective. Slaying the river monster would be a personal victory. Each of the warbands was deployed close to each other to encourage interference with each other's plans.

I had had the players choose small warbands of 4-6 models in advance using a Facebook event to guide things along, and I made them all characters or at least 'personalities' with names, good wargear and a bit of background. It's much easier to marshall 10 players or more when each of them has only a small unit each and the greater survivability of minis in Warhammer 3e means they can easily last a day of wargaming.

I lined up the candidates...

Lord McCameron the Bastard
Sir Edward Hatband the Betrayer
Nicholas Haystacks the Disappointer
Lord Far Age the Mad Usurper
Lady Pike the Kingmaker

... and dealt out 'election promises' from a deck of treasure cards I borrowed from a board game. I interpreted rules for the items that suited W3e on the fly and the players had to pick a candidate to back, or risk holding out for more and losing the offer altogether. I would've rolled a 50/50 test for each offer whether to withdraw or deal another card but there were no gamblers on the day!

Once the treasure cards were all handed out and allocated each warband got a voter to look after, one of the unfortunate lighthouse keeper's family. Even young Timmy decided to vote and had used ashes from the hearth to simulate stubble!

I calculated that to occupy the players from 11am to 4pm (with a break for lunch and mini shopping) I would hit them with three enemies or obstacles each. How they negotiated the river with its fords, bridge, currents and monster would also play a part in how they progressed. I drew three imaginary lines around the polling booth objective which would trigger encounters when crossed. As each monster popped out it immediately got a topical pun name, I had a few prepared but pretty soon the players were doing it themselves of course!

We had Hatbands unfortunate brother, locked away after a betrayal. There was the Spectre of Northern Independence, the Ghost of True Socialism and the Shy Tory Zombies roused from their slumber. We had the Serpent of Temptation to Vote with your Wallet. There was even the Social Network Troll with its venomous bile! And many, many more...

Eventually, most of the voters made it in time to cast their vote. The halflings voter was sadly killed but one stood on the shoulders of the other and put on the voters clothes... you can guess the rest! That's GMing on the fly for the benefit of the game!

In case you were curious, the Slann-gate was just a cool piece of scenery I wanted to bring along and use and it offered an excuse to have the final round of monsters pop out close to the polling booth.

And the result? A bizarre Albion Independence Party/Democratic Liberals coalition.... it''ll never last, if only because all that yellow and purple is so harsh on the eye!

TL:DR summary. Set up your 'campaigners' about three feet from the polling booth objective and give them a vulnerable civilian voter to protect. Have the candidates offer some tempting wargear to win the campaigners loyalty. Start them close enough to each other to cause friction from the first turn. Hit them with an enemy every foot or so and offer them opportunities to win personal victories along the way. Let them vote and announce the result!

Thanks for stopping by!