Friday, 30 December 2016

IGRADIC

  Pulp, Superhero, and Dark Fantasy Gaming: Set in the Days of Noir

Rules For Solo Role Playing & Wargaming
 
I wanted something like this for a very long time, and all through my teens, early adulthood, and into my first graying hairs, I wracked my brains (giving myself even more white wool in my rapidly thinning locks) and tried to come up with a simple, yet workable system for playing solo rpg and wargames. I never imagined back then that proper solo role playing was even possible - until one day I  discovered Mythic.

But this amazingly unique Mythic games engine thing didn't quite work for me in the way I wanted – too many rules. But Oh golly yes... without having read this wonderfully imaginative innovation to the hobby, I still probably wouldn't have had a clue where to start my own solo system. I guess all pioneers get copied endlessly, and this is no exception. But what I have done is totally change the way the 'original' idea worked, altered the concept, made it my own; made the whole thing short and easy to learn - and came up with the In-Game Random Action Decision Indicative Calculator: IGRADIC for short.

Once I got started, I found my direction quickly; the rules fell into place and were written pretty much over night. Then by play testing I found the system works, and the rest was simply formatting everything into easy reading. Since that fateful day I set about working right through the night to create this system, I have been playing IGRADIC (successfully) for many years.

   I have no idea whether anyone else will get along with my solo system. In truth, I often think I owe my somewhat warped, jaded, and free spirited thinking to the guys over at the Yahoo group “The Society of Daisy” for their lateral thinking and alternative approach to almost everything game related. Indeed, I only really wrote the game for myself to help me with my own table top games and semi-rpg`s; but somewhere along the way, I decided to let others share in the fun I was having (because, believe it or not, this simplistic little game as actually very user friendly, and highly enjoyable to play).


Plot Aid Campaign Card Deck (Normal Playing Cards)

Once every so often (perhaps an in-game week or so), shuffle a normal playing card deck and pull three cards. Or if you simply want scenario ideas, use the cards in the same way to generate a set of random event ideas to spice up your one off scenarios.

The first card drawn is called "Self" and is always drawn for the good guys... the solo gamers’ personal favourite 'side'.

The second card drawn is "Influence" goes to the left of the "Self" Card already drawn, and represents recent events (leading up to the present), plus indicates the growing schemes and machinations of the enemy.

The third card "Manoeuvres" also represents the enemy (or enemies); goes to the right of the central "Self" card and indicates current or very near future events. Combined with "Influence" and "Self" the three cards should suggest a current viable plot for the solo gamer to play out, either in his ongoing campaign journals, or on the games table. 
         

  HEARTS  
  • Ace: An important card, whose in game meaning is often affected by the environment of the previous or following (enemy) card. With another hearts card it implies new or rekindled love, friendship, and affection (maybe even the return of an absent character); with diamonds, money and news of distant friends; with festivities, and social or domestic rejoicing; with, spades or clubs it stands for disagreements, misunderstandings, contention, or misfortune. Individually, it stands for the home, appointed office, safe place, etc.
  • King: The game is currently dominated by a well meaning man, with strong affections, possibly an emotional man, and given to rash judgments, possessing more zeal than discretion.
  • Queen: The game sees a woman take centre stage: fair, loving and lovable, domesticated, prudent, and faithful; possibly overbearing and persuasive.
  • Jack: Not endowed with any sex. Sometimes taken as the Cupid card. Represents information and good/bad judgement from a best friend, or as a fair person's thoughts. The enemy cards placed previously and directly after this card are indicative of the good or bad nature of the Ace card interpretation.
  • Ten: A sign of good fortune. It implies a good heart, happiness, and the prospect of temporary security. It counteracts bad cards and confirms things in the vicinity.
  • Nine: The wish card. It is the sign of riches, and of high social position accompanied by influence and esteem. It may be affected by the enemy bad cards.
  • Eight: The pleasures of the table, convivial society. An important gathering. Another meaning implies love and the prospect of relationship or marriage between game characters.
  • Seven: A faithless, inconstant friend who may prove an enemy.
  • Six: A friend or contact with a confiding nature, liberal, open-handed, and quite possibly easy prey for swindlers; courtship, and being approached by devious enemies.
  • Five: Causeless jealousy in a person of weak, unsettled character.
  • Four: Lack of trust.
  • Three: A dire warning card (perhaps a warning from a mysterious stranger, a scrawled manuscript thrust under a door, or a second hand witness to an overheard conversation).
  • Two: Unlooked for (short term) prosperity... maybe a new benefactor, a lucrative payment, a newly appointed (and favourably looked upon) officer.


DIAMONDS
  
  • Ace: Treasure. Missing item. A clue.
  • King: Fresh reliable news.
  • Queen: Flirtatious woman... one used to having admirers. A loved one may wander in this direction.
  • Jack: A near friend or contact will put his/her own interests first.
  • Ten: The potential threat of kidnap, innocent victims known to the card drawer.
  • Nine: Lack of strength, loss of faith, loss of belief in self. Low ebb. Disappointment.
  • Eight: Chequered Past surfacing. The past surfacing to cause potential harm.
  • Seven: Bad Gossip and slander. A Set up.
  • Six: Former Lover or partner suddenly surfacing, making things uncomfortable.
  • Five: Unexpected news. Business success, a lucky break.
  • Four: Breach of confidence. Troubles caused by inconstant friends, vexations and disagreements.
  • Three: Legal and domestic quarrels. Temper or fight.
  • Two: An unsatisfactory love affair, awakening opposition from relatives or friends.


CLUBS
  
  • Ace: Wealth, a peaceful home, industry, and general prosperity.
  • King: A dark, shadowy, mysterious man enters play.
  • Queen: A dark, exotic, beautiful and mysterious woman enters play.
  • Jack: A New friend or ally.
  • Ten: Stolen Riches.
  • Nine: Friction through opposition to the wishes of friends, colleagues, or associates.
  • Eight: Love of money, and a weak passion for speculating or gambling.
  • Seven: Great happiness and momentary good fortune (short term goal achieved) - but with a price to pay.
  • Six: Loss of income, blackmail, unpaid gambling debts, swindlers.
  • Five: An advantageous proposition.
  • Four: Falsehood and double-dealing.
  • Three: Real trust. Leap of faith.
  • Two: Care is needed to avert disappointment, and to avoid opposition.

SPADES
  
  • Ace: Ill-chosen friend(s).
  • King: An attack against a friend, friends, or self.
  • Queen: Bribery.
  • Jack: Weak, and unwillingness of others to help do the right thing.
  • Ten: An evil omen; grief or imprisonment. Has power to detract from the good signified by the "Self" card.
  • Nine: An ill-fated card, meaning sickness, losses, troubles, and dissensions.
  • Eight: A warning with regard to any enterprise in hand, this card means evil; also opposition from friends. Bad choices; walking into a trap.
  • Seven: Sorrow caused by the loss of a dear friend.
  • Six: Rest after toil. Respite. Going into hiding.
  • Five: Temporary happiness, and a choice between personal desire and doing what's right.
  • Four: Illness, recovering from a wound. Temporarily out of action.
  • Three: A journey. New adventure.
  • Two: A removal, or possibly death.
 
Ranged Weapons

Uses the same normal pack of playing cards: every 5 figures from the same unit draw 2 cards. Fractions below five also draw 2 cards (except Multi-Shot figures, which draw 4 cards as normal). Heroes, leaders, etc draw 3 cards: example, a single figure would still draw 2 cards; so would 2, or 3, or 4 men. A 6 man unit plus a hero would thus draw 7 cards: 2 for the first five figures and another 2 for the additional sixth figure, and 3 more for the hero.

  • Musket/Rifle: Range: 16 inches.
  • Bow/Sling: Range: 12 inches.
  • Pistol/Revolver: Range 8 inches.
  • Multi-shot Weapon (Machine Gun etc): 14 inches; Draw the top 4 cards from the deck for each Multi-Shot armed figure firing.
  • Artillery: Range: 40 inches; Draw the top 3 cards from the deck per gun firing. The target and all adjacent miniatures take the same hits as the 3 card initial draw. If a picture card is drawn, the gun is out of ammunition (any remaining cards for the weapon still to be drawn are lost this turn). The weapon is resupplied on the subsequent turn.
  • Thrown Explosives (per unit): Draw 1 card (ignore picture cards and draw again), the number drawn must be between 1 and 6 to land on target: anything over this represents shot deviation or a failure to explode (1d6, 1,2 left: 3,4 right: 5,6 overshoot). Pull a card from the deck and divide by 2 (round down) for the distance of deviation; a picture card drawn means the shot fails to go off at all. Anyone within 3 inches of the explosion must draw 2 cards (unless behind substantial cover) to see whether they take any hits.                                                               
"Self " side (the good guys) hit in ranged combat when Hearts and Diamonds are drawn.
Bad Guys and Monsters hit when Clubs are drawn from the pack but picture cards are discarded.




Save Cards

Every time a hit card is drawn (numbered and picture cards apply), the target unit may attempt to negate the hit by drawing a card and placing it half over the hit card. If the save card (any suit) equals or exceeds the hit card, the attack for that hit card is ignored.

Targets that are in cover against ranged weapons draw 2 save cards at a time against each attack. Targets over half range also draw 1 additional save card.

Movement

At the beginning of each turn, the sides involved each draw 1 card (the side representing "self" may draw 2 cards and use the highest one shown). Highest number goes first that turn. Draw fresh cards if the numbers are tied.

Next: both sides draw 1 card for every 5 figures (or/and fractions) in play. If only picture cards are drawn; no actions may be made by that side on this turn. The cards represent the number of actions (card points) that side may use during the turn Actions include movement: making ranged attacks: moving and making ranged attacks: melee: or Other Actions.

Beyond this, accurate sequence of play is left pretty open.

Human movement is usually 4 inches per turn (3 inches if slow). Very fast humans may move 5 inches per turn. Mounted figures, large animals move 10 inches per turn. Vehicles can move up to 20 inches a turn, and can accelerate/ decelerate 5 inches a turn. If a vehicle wants to make an immediate stop, it will skid 1 inch for every 4 inches of its current speed that turn. Passengers in a vehicle may place an additional save card against ranged attacks (counts as cover). A vehicle has 1 to 10 hit points (car 3: lorry 5: armoured car 10 etc). Ranged attacks against a vehicle must be nominated at the passengers or the vehicle - and declared before taking the shoot.

A side may move one of his/her own figures at a cost of 1 card point. A side may move and make ranged attacks with a figure for 2 card points. A side may make a melee attack with a figure by adding 1 card point. Moving a figure over difficult terrain (opening a door and entering a room, moving over a wall or debris, swimming or wading through water, moving through trees, moving uphill, etc) costs 2 card points. To move over difficult terrain and make a ranged attack costs 3 card points.... and so on: from this you can work out the card cost of any action.

Other ACTIONS: represents a figure attempting something outside the rules. Attempting to pick a lock on a door, disabling a trap, climbing a ladder, tying up a prisoner, starting an engine, saddling a horse, getting dressed, writing a letter, jumping safely across a wide gap, etc etc etc. For sake of argument, assume all Other Actions cost 1 card point. Some Other Actions may need to be resolved (to determine success) using the IGRADIC table as well.

Units of men must try to stay within 5 inches of at least one other member of the same unit at all times. The Games Host must keep an eye open to ensure this discipline is always maintained where humanly possible. Single (or very small) figure units also exist: e.g. a single gangster armed with a multi shot tommy gun. A henchman guard patrolling alone at night, etc. These small or single man units do not need to obey the 5 inch rule mentioned above.

  Melee

This is similar to drawing cards for ranged attacks. The exact weapon type used is not important... the number of cards a figure or group of figures represents is what counts. When large close combat fights take place (with multiple base to base combatants), pool all the attack cards together... and lay them out in a line.


  • Every 5 Cavalry draw 3 cards in melee.
  • Every 5 Infantry or Artillery Crew draw 1 card in melee.
  • Every 5 Veteran Infantry draw 2 cards in melee.
  • Every 5 Weak Monsters draws 1 card in Melee
  • Every 5 Monsters draw 2 cards in Melee
  • Every 1 Tough Monster draws 3 cards in Melee
  • Every 1 Elite Monster draws 4 cards in Melee               
  • Every 1 Huge Monsters draws 5 cards in Melee





Combat Classing Your Collection


Weak Monsters might include: Goblins/Native Tribesmen/Gangsters/Zombies.                                                                                                                                                                                                           Monsters might include Hobgoblins/Chaotic Fanatics/Gorillas/ Hungry Wolves/ Horrifying Living Skeletons/Lost Dwarf Nation/Mythical Atlantis Elves.                                                              Tough Monsters might include Ogres/Living Trees/Raptors/Cthulhu Monstrosities.                                                                                                                                                                                                                 Elite Monsters might include Trolls/Elephants/Giants    <-- Clubs & Spades to hit      

Huge monsters might include T-Rex/King Kong/Demons   <-- clubs & spades to hit                                                    

"Self " side hit when Hearts and Diamonds are drawn. Bad guys & Monsters hit when Clubs (Clubs & Spades if elite or huge) are drawn from the pack but picture cards are discarded.

In Melee, every 5 men get the number of cards indicated above. Fractions below five draw card like 5 men units do. In addition, Heroes draw 3 cards in melee. Side Kicks, Generals, Leaders (NCO`s), and Bad Guy Bosses draw 2 cards in melee.

Every time a hit card is drawn (numbered or picture cards apply), the target unit may attempt to negate the melee hit by drawing a card and placing it half over the hit card. If the save card (any suit) equals or exceeds the hit card, the attack for that hit card is ignored. Hits always remove 1 figure or one artillery crew... when all artillery crew are removed as casualties, the gun is inoperable. Should you need to give an artillery piece a hit rating during a scenario: give a gun 3 hit points.

Once hits and saves have been calculated, the good guys ("Self") always get to choose which enemy or enemies receive hits. When it is a bad guy dealing out the hits (i.e. the enemy the solo player is trying to win against) then the good guys ("Self") always chooses which own figures receive hits... in any combination he/she likes. Shuffle the pack of cards often.

Get into the habit of doing this, to keep the game interesting. Every 5 men and of course fractions (or 1 artillery and crew) in cover get 1 extra card in melee.

In Addition: targets of melee attacks that are in cover occupying a building, or who are uphill of the enemy; and on the first turn of a melee if they are defending a wall, hedge, or in trees, etc. draw an additional save card each melee.


                 Five of Diamonds & Jokers

A Five of Diamonds always represents a fumble. It represents an automatic failure. A Joker always represents a glorious success. Only good guys get to use the joker card.


  Hit Points for Leaders & Monsters

I suggest "Self " main characters start a game with 4 hits: officers and side-kicks 2 each.

Bad Guy main characters 3.

I suggest the following for Monsters:

Weak Monsters  1 hit point each                                                                                                              Monsters  2 hit points each                                                                                                                    
Tough Monsters 3 hit points each 

                                                                                                                                                                  Elite Monsters  5 hit points each                                                                                                            
Huge monsters 6 hit points each

When an individual figure is hit due to ranged attacks or melee the owning player should mark the figure in some way to show it has been damaged. When hits take a figure to `0` the piece is removed from play.



In-Game Random Action Decision Indicative Calculator (IGRADIC - for short)

The IGRADIC table is your friend, and will (if treated right) make all those awkward decisions for you without disrupting the flow of the game in any way. Once you decide an action you need to resolve: quickly determine the difficulty level you wish to apply, throw a couple of dice, and read off the result (there are only ever four outcomes so it's not confusing). Determining what happens using the result of the IGRADIC table - well that's up to you to decide using your imagination and how you think the game should go.

The following table is a catch all to cover any situation the solo player wishes to resolve quickly and smoothly. Use it wisely, use it often... but also know when not to use it and simply apply common sense instead.

Select Difficulty, Roll 2D6               Perfect     Okay     Fail           Massive Fail

Impossible - but you just never know    N/A         2-3        4-5                   6-12

Very Unlikely - but this is Pulp                 2           3-4       5-7                   8-12

Below Average - go for it                        2-3          4-5       6-8                   9-12

Average - fifty-fifty                                  2-4         5-7        8-10                 11-12

Above Average – easy                             2-5          6-8       9-11                    12

A Dead Certainty - in your sleep           2-6          7-9       10-11                    12

Impossible To Fail - no contest             2-7         8-10      11-12                    N/A


  • Perfect: The action has succeeded so well the game character gets a positive bonus to the result. If the action being rolled is to entangle a dangerous animal in a net, a "Perfect" result not only achieve this but would also bring the beast crashing to the ground in stunned confusion. Maybe the action was to listen in secretly to a conversation. A "Perfect" roll not only means the conversation was successfully overheard, but the listener also hears something unexpected and highly valuable the scenario... perhaps a vital clue to the main campaign plot itself.
  • Okay: The action succeeds - no more, no less.
  • Fail: There are no adverse effects to a fail result other than the failed action itself.
  • Massive Fail: The opposite of a "Perfect" roll. The failure is so catastrophic that an additional penalty is incurred by the character's attempted action. Catching his whip onto a tree branch above the deep pit, "Inuit Jones" attempts to swing safely across to the other side of the fiery chasm... but he gets unlucky and fumbles the attempt. With a loud *snap* the branch breaks off the tree, and suddenly the character finds himself plummeting - falling right towards the lava filled pit of destruction!



The IGRADIC table can also be used to `ask the game` simple questions. Maybe the solo gamer needs to know a straight yes or no question you can`t simply decide arbitrarily. Or maybe you need to know the answer to a question for which you have no easy ready-made decision. If in doubt, use the table below by simply asking a “yes” or “no” question and then letting the table decide for you.

Select Difficulty, Roll 2D6                          Yes                   No  

Impossible - but you just never know              2                      3+     

Very Unlikely - but this is Fantasy                2-3                    4+

Below Average - go for it                               2-5                   6+     

Average - fifty-fifty                                         2-7                    8+    

Above Average – easy                                    2-8                   9+    

A Dead Certainty - in your sleep                   2-10                  11+   

Impossible To Fail - no contest                     2-11                  12   

                                                                                                             


                                                                      Magic

As I have grown older and perhaps wiser I don`t use much magic in my games anymore. I prefer games with little or no hocus pocus in them. I have seen the use of magic unbalance too many games and turn its usage into mere “Get Out of Jail Free” cards; reducing its inevitable inclusion as an excuse not to play well… simply allowing the players to achieve the impossible to give themselves a winning edge. However, you can easily work a bit of tastefully done `low magic` into IGRADIC if you so choose. If so, I advise you to do so subtly and carefully.

I will write some additional pages for optional Hero Character development and Monster Special Abilities (Vampires, Werewolves, Ghouls, Ghosts, Mummies, Doppelgangers  Cthulhu,  etc...and of course super powers) at some later date. Probably when I come to needing more precise rules for these myself... for my own campaign games.

    

                  © 2017, Stephen A Gilbert



The Undiscovered Wilderness:



Additional Plot Aid Card Deck
For Pulp or Victorian Gothic Style Gaming
 
Once every in-game week (or every couple of days if you prefer a faster pace of campaign
with rapidly unfolding events) shuffle and pull three cards. Or if you simply want scenario ideas, use the cards in the same way to generate a set of random event ideas to spice up your one off scenarios.

The first card drawn is called “Self”, and is always drawn for the good guys... the solo gamer`s personal favourite `side`.

The second card drawn is “Influence” goes to the left of the “Self” Card already Drawn, and represents recent events (leading up to the present), and indicates the activities of
relevant enemies and creatures.

The third card “Manoeuvres” represents the growing threats; goes to the right of the central “Self” card and indicates current or very near future events. Combined with “Influence” and “Self”, the three cards should suggest a current viable plot for the solo gamer to play out, either in his/her ongoing campaign or on the games table.

HEARTS.

Ace.—An important card, whose in game meaning is often greatly affected by the environment of the previous or following Influence and Manoeuvres card. With another hearts card it implies new or rekindled love, friendship, and affection (maybe even the return of an absent character); with diamonds, money and news of distant friends; with clubs, festivities, and social or domestic rejoicing; with, spades, disagreements, misunderstandings, contention, or misfortune; individually, the card stands for the home, safe camp, sojourn at a peaceful settlement, etc.
King.—The game is currently dominated by a (intrinsically) good-hearted man, with strong
affections, possibly an emotional man, and given to rash judgments, great bravery, occasional
cruelty due to lack of understanding or stubborn denial to face the truth, possessing more zeal
than discretion.
Queen.— The game sees a woman take center stage: fair, loving and lovable, domesticated, prudent, and faithful.
Jack.— Represents information and good judgement from a best friend, or as a fair person's
thoughts. The enemy cards placed previously and directly after this card are indicative of the good or bad nature of the Jack`s interpretation.
Ten.—A sign of good fortune. It implies a good heart, happiness, and the prospect of temporary security. It counteracts bad cards and confirms things in the vicinity.
Nine.—Earth-quake, volcano eruption, flash flood, land slide, animal stampede, or some
other natural disaster.
Eight.—The pleasures of the table, a pleasant social encounter. An important gathering.
Another meaning implies love and the prospect of relationship or marriage between game characters.
Seven.—A faithless, inconstant friend who may one day prove to be an enemy.
Six.—A friend with a confiding nature, liberal, open-handed, and quite possibly easy prey for stronger minded people to exploit; courtship, and being approached by devious enemies.
Five.—Causeless jealousy in a person of weak, unsettled character, possible dangerous twist.
Four.— Lack of trust. due to being in the wrong place and the wrong time. Possibly a set up.
Three.—A dire warning card (perhaps a warning in a mysterious message), or a second hand
witness to an overheard conversation. Dangerous beast rumoured to be roaming close by.
Two.—Unlooked for (short term) success... maybe a new venture, a lucrative pay packet, the
discovery of an ancient and previously unknown site.

DIAMONDS.

Ace.—Treasure. Missing item. A clue.
King.—Fresh reliable news. Possibly a sigh of being on the right path.
Queen.—Flirtatious woman... one used to having admirers. A loved one may wander in this direction.
Jack.—A near friend or associate will put his/her own interests first.
Ten.—The potential threat of kidnap, possibly innocent victims known to the card drawer.
Nine.—Lack of strength, loss of faith, loss of belief in self. Low ebb. Disappointment.
Eight.—Chequered Past surfacing. The past surfacing, potentially able to cause harm.
Seven.—Bad Gossip and slander. Ambush. Fierce encounter in the wilds.
Six.— Former Lover or partner suddenly surfacing, making things uncomfortable.
Five.— Unexpected news, a lucky break.
Four.—Breach of confidence. Troubles caused by inconstant friends. Vexations and disagreements.
Three.—Legal and domestic quarrels. Temper, fight, or unexpected wilderness skirmish.
Two.—An unsatisfactory love affair, awakening opposition from relatives, friends, or jealous
loved ones.


CLUBS.

Ace.—Ignorant and with wealth and power and enters the game, causing disharmony and
needless suffering.
King.—A dark, shadowy, mysterious new enemy of enters play. Possible archaeological dig
involved, or search for something ancient and lost.
Queen.—A dark minded, exotically beautiful and mysterious woman enters play. A sadistic
beauty who is utterly ruthless; possibly with a soft spot (weakness) for one of the good guys or girls.
Jack.—A New friend or ally.
Ten.—Stolen Riches. Beaten to the post by an enemy. Dangerous lurking beasts.
Nine.—Friction through opposition to the wishes of friends, colleagues, or associates. Dire warning and threat of curse.
Eight.—Love of money, weakness surfacing. Cowardice in the face of adversity.
Seven.—Encounter with vengeful beast.... enraged mother or carnivorous bull.
Six.—Snake in the grass. Blackmail. Betrayal with devastating consequences.
Five.—A secret path or trail, possibly guarded by ancient evil or wild beasts/creatures; often
accompanied by native superstition and vague rumour.
Four.— Falsehood and double-dealing. Deception and deliberate false lead.
Three.— Real trust. Leap of faith. Or surprising animal friendship.
Two.—Care is needed to avert opposition and disappointment from close friend or loved one.


SPADES.

Ace.— Ill-chosen friend(s). Smiling fair, but foul intent barely concealed. Often the target of such a person`s dangerous desires is blind to the true extent of their danger or the masked intent of the bad person influence.
King.—A dangerous motive driven attack against a friend, friends, or self.
Queen.— Ancient Evil surfacing unexpectedly, having been disturbed, summoned, or ritually
risen from the grave/tomb.
Jack.—Weak from Military allies, and general unwillingness to help do the right thing.
Ten.— Cursed Tomb or Burial Site.
Nine.—An ill-fated card, meaning sickness, losses, troubles, dissension, plague, famine, etc
Eight.—A warning with regard to any enterprise in hand; this card implies evil: also opposition from friends. Bad choices; walking into a trap.
Seven.—Sorrow caused by the loss of a dear friend.
Six.—Rest after toil. Safe House. Going into hiding. Maybe accompanied by monsoon
weather, sand/dust storm, or flooding.
Five.—Temporary happiness, and a choice between personal desire and doing what`s right.
Four.—Illness, recovering from a wound. Temporarily out of action.
Three.—A journey. New adventure.
Two.—A removal, or possibly even death, accidental or otherwise.

GOTHAM REDUX

 
Season One
 
 "Carlotta Wynn"
 
Act 4
 
Let's see, the last episode of the campaign saw Carlotta Wynn struggling with self doubt and confusion over the secrecy of her recently deceased lover and partner.

In fact, at the end of the last gripping episode, our intrepid bad girl turned heroine discovers that her now dead client is carrying valuable papers which apparently prove the ownership rights to a large territory of land in the Jiangsu Legation of  Blüdhaven: Gotham`s sister city.. lying fifty miles up coast. Reading further, Carlotta is shocked to discover the signature of her long dead lover on the documents. The notorious street mobster known as 'Mort' was obviously once tied up with the plot in some way, and Carlotta is determined to get to the bottom of it all.

Reading long in to the night, Carlotta manages to ascertain three valuable clues:
  1. Mort was a close associate and confidant of Professor Winslow... the late husband of the now deceased Mrs Winslow - Carlotta's murdered client.
  1. Carlotta's lover Mort, who was gunned down in the streets like a dog just over a year ago, according to the deeds had a 10% land share claim on the Winslow estate in the Jiangsu Legation. The page legalising this part of the deal remains unsigned by a lawyer, so Carlotta concludes this unfinished legal claim was obviously meant to be Mort's payment from Professor Winslow upon completion of... some unknown service?
  1. The papers speak of one remaining living relative of the Winslow family living in the Jiangsu Legation in East Blüdhaven ... an estranged archaeologist cousin by the name of Dr. Justin Fabien Johannes.
Why hadn't Mort spoken of this to Carlotta?

Mort shared everything with his woman... or so she thought.

This is all too much, and Carlotta finds herself weeping openly with grief, frustration and bitter disappointment that the man she had loved so dearly would have kept such a devastating secret from her - even taking the mystery to the grave with him.

But Carlotta is no sap. Quickly pulling herself together, she formulates a bold and daring plan.
 
 
She will purchase the ticket to Blüdhaven, originally intended for her client Mrs Winslow - using the initial half payment originally given Carlotta only hours earlier. But she will not take the next boat to the city. Oh no. Her ticket will be pre-purchased for a passage one month from now. First she will go to ground in Angel District (the docklands)... something she is good at doing... and then she will dig up as much dirt as she can uncover on the mysterious upper crust mob working the fine boulevards of Cash Side; the same white gloved rods Mort had been so heavily embroiled with.

Once Carlotta manages to fit the pieces together, she will tear this city slicker gang apart and smile as she sets the match herself and watches everything burn up. One month from now, the fireworks will light the sky, the crud will hit the proverbial fan, and heads will roll.... just one
month for Carlotta to scheme, and plan, and insinuate her way into position, so that when she is ready, she will uncoil like an elegant spider... and her bite will be very poisonous.

Then she will vanish into the smoke, and arise like a mythical phoenix rising from the ashes of her own destruction. Carlotta will BECOME Mrs Darlina Winslow in name... for a while at least, using the alias as a cover while she seeks further truth about this strange and dangerous mystery - in Blüdhaven.

A part of Carlotta... deep inside... rejoices at the opportunity she will soon have, to get away from Gotham and to start again some place new; just as it seems the real Mrs Darlina Winslow had originally intended to do.


Meanwhile...



In the Jiangsu Jungles surrounding Blüdhaven and the wastelands of Chult (all that remains of Pennsylvania, New York, and Massachusetts.. after the depression blights of the previous decade and its ensuing saturation of hydrogen bombing): intrepid adventurer Dr. Justin Fabien Johannes... unaware of events transpiring back in Gotham City... oblivious to the fact he is now the last remaining living member of the Winslow estate... has an entirely different set of problems of his own to deal with.

Trans-Legation (formerly known as South Africa) born Dr Johannes is a remarkable man. With a doctorate in Palaeontology; post graduate degrees in Ancient Languages and Lost Civilisations, World Religions, Tropical Botany, and another in Exotic Zoology, he is a man totally in tune with his chosen surroundings, and  'a man of the times'  in his professional endeavours. Though he shuns the glamour, the bright lights, and his well deserved celebrity status, he is never-the-less, very much aware of his expertise in his field, and is not one to suffer fools gladly... though it has been remarked by some (mostly jealous of his success), that his weakness for the ladies will one day be his downfall.

Presently, Dr Johannes is engrossed on finding the legendary ancient tomb of Qui Chi Men, rumoured, but never substantiated by fact, to exist somewhere deep within the Yangzi Chult Jungle...somewhere amidst the vast masses of wilderness between Wu`khan and Zian.*

 

*Since the saturation bombing which mutated the geno pollination and created the depression blight {the common name for the virus which stimulated the dead to rise from their graves and seek to devour the flesh of the living}, much of the Polar Icecaps had started to melt, revealing the ruined remains of whole cultures long lost to the normal ravages of time.



Dr. Johannes is fortunate, and the scraps of old maps, and clues buried elusively in ancient Chinese manuscripts have led him faithfully, and he feels sure the culmination of his quest lies nearby. But the closer the doctor comes to attaining confirmation of the tomb's existence, the more certain he is that he is not alone in his search. Recently used camp fires, discarded stubs of cigarette, and the occasional muddy footprint in the soft soil of the jungle floor, all indicate he has been 'beaten to it' by some other mysterious interloper.




                                ***



 So, having set the scene for our story, we come to the game itself.


As a change of pace, I decided to play this solo affair using my very simple IGRADIC (In Game Random Action Decision Indicative Calculator) card driven rules engine; which in turn is slightly influenced by Tom Pigeons Mythic RPG and Wargames system.


The IGRADIC 
rules plus the Undiscovered Wilderness Plot Aid Card Deck are available for free, to anyone wishing to enjoy these for themselves... with my compliments. You will find them on Pete Jones Free Wargames Rules wiki site.


First of all, I decided to use the Uncovered Wilderness Plot Deck to determine a few factors surrounding the story line... to flesh out the imminent encounter I was about to play, and to add an additional layer of depth to the whole episode. So I drew three times from a pack of ordinary playing cards, and read the descriptions carefully to help me formulate a few sub-plots to the weave.

First card I drew was Queen of Hearts. This card represents SELF. The game sees a woman take centre stage: fair, loving and lovable, domesticated, prudent, and faithful. The second card was a Two of Hearts. It represents INFLUENCE and recent events leading up to the present. Unlooked for (short term) success... maybe a new venture, a lucrative pay packet, the discovery of an ancient and previously unknown site.

Third card pulled from the pack was a Jack of Clubs, which represents MANOUVRES and current events. A New friend or ally.

So, putting on my thinking cap for a moment, I quickly determined our hero Dr. Justin Johannes was soon to meet an attractive woman who would win his trust and possibly even capture his heart.

Obviously, the SELF card was telling me the intrepid doctor was on the verge of finding his ancient lost tomb... good, this fitted my plans nicely.


The Jack of Clubs was the cherry on top of the cake. Our hero was about to make a new friend and ally. Again, this fitted nicely with my plot line, and so perusing my shelves for female miniatures.

I soon found the perfect model to use; the blonde haired beauty Lady Jane Emileen (the entrusted ward of the famous Big Game Hunter Sir Milo Piecrust).


Good! The stage was set. Now I could concentrate on the 'film set' (playing area) and my 'actors' (the miniatures themselves).

I decided the playing area didn't need to be very big at all, and so a 26'' by 24'' table would suffice nicely. Mid way, along the far (north) edge of the board I would place my simple  homemade Chult Pyramid/Tomb model, and the rest of the battle board would see my home made Jungle trees make their debut appearance in a game. I've been waiting to use these for a long time.

Along the bottom... of the table from one of the southern edge corners... our brave hero plus a couple of hired Chinese baggage carriers and a native rifleman scout would enter play crossing an old stone bridge (a fish aquarium ornament bought from my local pet store).

The objective of the game is quite simple: Dr. Johannes and his small team feel they are close to discovering a lost tomb somewhere deep in the jungles of Chult, and must push onto the game board and through the trees to see what they might discover. However, unbeknownst to them they are (potentially) about to walk straight into another group of explorers, whose interest in the ancient tomb, and nefarious intents are quite different from our heroes; and utterly unfriendly. The 'bad guys' placement on the table will be guided by the following:

At the beginning of each turn before the hero & his Chinese natives take any actions throw a six sided die and read from the following table:
  • If it is the start of the game, the good guys will be entering play from the old stone bridge. Before they get to move, if a 1, 2, 3 or 4 is rolled, 1D3 enemies are placed in the jungle exactly 8 inches away from them.
  • If the good guys are moving through the Jungle and a 1, 2 or 3 is thrown: 1D3 enemies are placed anywhere within the jungle terrain exactly 8 inches away from them.
  • If any of the good guys make it through the jungle to the tomb clearing, 2D6 worth of remaining bad guys will be placed nonchalantly around the tomb... two of these enemies must be flanking a female prisoner thrown roughly to the ground between them.
How to roll 1D3 on a six sided die: if the roll is 1 or 2 the actual result will be a 1. If the roll is a 3 or 4 the actual result will be a 2. If the roll is a 5 or 6 the actual result will be a 3.

Like Dr Justin Johannes, Baron Luger Von Kiel is a renowned archaeologist adventurer. But unlike our intrepid hero, Von Kiel has an evil dark master who funds his explorations and supplies him with the 'muscle' he needs to protect his (often nefarious) dealings. Quite what Von Kiel's interest is in the lost tomb of Qui Chi Men, as of yet - is totally unknown.

German Seebataillon - 1st Strafkolinie (Penal Colony Battalion): In total, the bad guys can muster 16 German (henchman) soldiers and the big boss himself Das Baron Luger Von Kiel. Incidentally, this arch villain will only enter play when/if our hero moves within 4 inches of the prisoner; at which point place the Von Kiel miniature anywhere on the board within 4 inches of Dr. Johannes.



The Game

Justin stands in the middle of the ancient stone bridge, and then for the first time, he spots a large pyramid shaped stone... smooth, gray, and obviously very large, jutting out above the tree line like a shark's fin rising up out of the water. Has he finally found the lost tomb of Qui Chi Men? Over the bridge, an old and overgrown trail winds its way towards his goal, and the conclusion of months of hard work.

But then, suddenly! From along the path on the far side of the bridge, several shots ring out and bullets ping off the stones all around the doctor like jumping jacks striking the ground.

Peering through the gloomy canopy of trees, Justin can vaguely make out the figure of a pale green uniform clad rifleman standing in the middle of the path ahead of them.

Drawing his trusty pistol from his side holster, the brave doctor fires a rapid succession of shots towards the unknown enemy. The range is extreme, yet his aim is good, and he is rewarded by seeing the distant figure spin and drop to the forest floor. The figure lies unmoving where he falls.


Rule Mechanics:
Our Hero's team pulled two cards from the pack, using the highest number (which is a 7) to determine both move initiative and action points for the turn. The enemy only draws a 5, so goes second during this game segment.


However, the enemy throws a 3 at the beginning of the turn before our hero even has a chance to do anything... followed by a 2, which means he can place a single German Seebataillon soldier eight inches away. The figure is placed on the path ahead of the hero party; and immediately un-slings his rifle and takes a few snap shots at the intruders approaching over the bridge.


He draws three cards from the deck for firing a rifle, but the cards are hearts and diamonds, and he needs a clubs card to achieve a hit. He would have been better to have run back through the trees to sound "alarm" at the top of his lungs. As it is, the thick trees swallow the sound of gunfire entirely; and when the lead most figure on the bridge (Dr. Johannes) returns fire.... the German soldier is hit and drops to the ground like a stone.


Using 2 action points (7 total this move, due to drawing a seven at the start of the turn), Dr. Johannes fires then darts over the bridge and takes cover amongst the trees on the far side. The rest of his team move up and onto the bridge, bravely following their intrepid leader. I make no morale roll this turn as they have just seen their 'boss' dispatch the lone enemy with relative ease.
Draws a King and a Queen (save cards), but the 1 of Diamonds is lower than the 'to hit' card, so the German takes a wound. As he is only a secondary (minion) character, this is enough to remove him from play.
 
Our heroes move over the bridge and into the jungle on the far side.

As Justin slips quietly into the undergrowth, he sees three more uniformed soldiers creeping forward along the path. Over his shoulder he spots his own team moving up over the bridge and realizes they will be sitting ducks the second the enemy notices them. Doing what any true hero would do under the circumstances, he charges towards the enemy with pistol blazing as he goes.... and misses with all three shots!

As the distance between them closes, Justin notices the enemy he is bearing down upon are wearing colours which bear a striking resemblance to the legendary German Sea Battalions, but the watery hue is that of Penal colours, and suddenly our hero knows he is facing the feared and detested Colonial Expeditionary force rumoured to have been lurking mysteriously in the Jiangsu Province for a while now. One of Dr.Johannes's most trusted contacts back at Wu Port, British Police Chief Inspector Mr. Hercule Jon Perry strongly believes the Germans are gun-running in the area, yet to date, is utterly unable to bear further light on his suspicions.

The German soldiers see the stranger advancing towards them, hearing the shots buzz harmlessly over their heads... look at one another, silently raise their own rifles, and blast the trees all around their charging assailant. One bullet rips through the shoulder of their target (1 of his 6 wounds used up), but the rest fly into the jungle, skimming and ricocheting off tree trunks with dull whines of protest.

The Chinese rifleman in the employ of Dr. Johannes raises his own primitive rifle... shoots over the charging Justin's head... and drops one of the Germans where he stands.

Rule Mechanics:
I decide it's about time for the last standing German to take a morale check. He has just seen one of his friends shot to the ground by enemy gun fire, and another lies a little further up the path; but these German lads are a tough lot, so I assign the soldier a fifty/fifty chance of failing his IGRADIC morale check.

He rolls a 5, and checking along the Average column: a number which falls between a Perfect and Okay result represents a non result... or in other words this is a turn delay which is neither a success nor a failure. So for this turn (and I decree the next as well) he will be rooted to the spot, unsure what to do.

Failing to roll the required number on the die for fresh reinforcements on the next turn, the lone German can do nothing except wait inert for the charging wild man to make contact with him.

The action cards drawn for the hero and team are a 3 and a 3. So their choices of actions will be somewhat limited this turn.
More Germans are alerted
Our hero moves (1 card point) and makes a melee attack (another card point), and draws two hits with his four attack cards. The German soldier successfully wards off one of the hits, but fails to block the other, and falls senseless to the ground beside his companion.


The Chinese rifle bearer on the bridge moves forward into the jungle, which completes the heroes' available actions for this turn.



Dr. Justin Fabien Johannes moves through the jungle overgrowth, parting the exotic leaves of various trees and multi hued bushes, intent on reaching his goal, the lost tomb of Qui Chi Men. He can feel he is close, and a nervous excitement courses through his veins and his heart pumps loudly in his ears like a wild and erratic drum beat. Behind him, crashing through the new trail he is blazing through the foliage, his small native contingent follows closely in his footsteps...


...and suddenly, he is standing on the tree line at the edge of a clearing in the jungle. Justin allows a silent whistle to escape his lips as his eyes hungrily take in the sight before him.


Standing tall and proud in the middle of the clearing is an amazing sight to behold. An obelisk of stone jutting straight out of the ground; and even though just the tip is showing... a three-sided, tapering monument, ending in a pyramidal like top... the smooth chiselled stone still dominates the landscape, and would have been a marvel for all eyes to see if it hadn't been buried, lost to time in the deepest jungle terrain of the Jiangsu.


But the temple tomb is not the only thing Justin has spotted. All around the base of the pyramid structure are rifle armed men in pale green uniforms, all standing sentry in a porcupine line of defence.

But more noticeable to Justin is the fact that two of the men stand flanking a semi clothed blonde haired woman who has been thrown carelessly to the ground, half lying and half sitting in a cowered pose as though she fears for her very life. Through her tears even across the distance, Justin can make out her pleas for mercy, but the response is cruel laughter from the two assigned captors closest to her.
 
The woman does not look indigenous to the area, and her uncombed blonde hair lying straggled and wild about her face gives her the defiant air of a mythical Amazon, for although she looks beaten and dejected, the defiant slant of her head and the intelligence burning through her fiery blue eyes betrays anything other than humble defeat.

Hearing his team approaching quietly through the undergrowth behind him, Justin knows he needs to think and act fast. He counts six armed men in the clearing around the triangular stone.

Rule Mechanics:
The second our hero stepped to the edge of the clearing, I threw 2 six sided dice to determine how many enemies I would place to guard the tomb... and prisoner.

Making a snap decision, Justin looks over his shoulder, sees his trusty rifle armed team member (I think we'll call him 'Woo' from now on), and nods once towards him, a slight flicker of doubt showing on his face. But comprehending of his master's thoughts, brave resolve shines clearly in the young native boy's eyes. Justin is suddenly more confident his plan might work. Justin quickly reloads his weapon, and when he is ready, he raises a hand to the boy, signalling his intent. The native, now with a clear bead on the nearest target, merely nods, but he gives his master a pearly white smile of acknowledgement.
 
Then our hero makes a dash into the open and rushes towards his foes, raising his pistol as he goes. Initiative and fate are both on his side, and he covers several seconds of ground before the German soldiers ever realize they are being attacked.

But Justin fires a few rounds from his pistol... dropping one of the guards standing near the captive woman before the man even knows what hit him.

The second is preparing to raise a rifle towards the charging intruder, but the loud crack of a rifle shot from the edge of the clearing fells the soldier like a tree trunk.... Woo's aim as ever, proves to be good.

Justin charges headlong into another soldier, and after a quick interchange of blows the German is overpowered and dispatched with skilful efficiency.

"Aaah, doctor Johannes, so ve meet again!"


A high pitched and heavily accented voice appears from nowhere... and suddenly, standing in the clearing is a huge, muscular man in a white jacket, blue shirt, and mismatching purple striped trousers. Justin immediately recognizes the rogue as none other than the notorious Baron Luger Von Kiel.

Undaunted by the sudden appearance of this new foe, or the way time seems to slow to a standstill by his dominant presence, Justin decides to buy for time, allowing him to think of a plan to save them all. The remaining German guards around the pyramid grin with evil dire intent, and start to move in closer.

Our hero is aware the sudden standoff might explode into new action any second.

Rule Mechanics:
I decide now is the perfect time to use the Secondary Traits Table from my Pulp Fiction rules. I already know (having pre-rolled the stats for Justin Johannes, using these rules) that our hero has at his disposal Automatic Success: and Conversation Taunt; so I decide over the next few moves to put these into operation.... hopefully at level 5 Justin can pull it off smoothly.

"I see your dress sense hasn't improved, Herr Kiel. You were wearing that suit at the World Peace Conference in Praag last year weren't you?" Justin taunts... successfully, he notices. The sudden flash of anger makes the nefarious villain's face flush red for a second, but he quickly
recovers his composure, laughing off the insult with a chuckle.

"Aaah Mr Johannes, surely you jest; everyone knows your indomitable reputation for trivial banter. It might work with the ladies you so delight in making your nocturnal conquests... but not with me."

But Justin knows he has his hook into the worm, and starts expand upon his taunts; all the time aware that Von Luger and his men have advanced just far enough away from the girl to have left her unobserved and unguarded.... completely forgotten for the time being. From the corner of his eye, Justin spots Woo creeping closer round the side of the pyramid, and ever closer to the rope tied woman.

"Well at least I possess the charm and wit to entertain in that way.

Must be hard for you to comprehend, dear Baron... however, you might try taking a bath every once in a while I suppose, but I can't guarantee even that would remove your notorious rank aroma."
 
Woo reaches the woman... puts a hand to his lips, cautioning her to stay quiet,  and starts cutting the bonds around her feet.


"Mr. Johannes, I know you like to hear the sound of your own voice, but I'm afraid I don't have time to listen to this pathetic banter. I have you where I want you, and if I were you I'd be choosing my next words a little more cautiously, because they will be your last."


Woo cuts the rope binding the blonde haired woman's hands... and they begin to   move away, silently melting into the jungle.


Justin knows his moment to make his own escape has come.


"I believe it's customary for a condemned man to be granted a final wish. I thought you Hydra types were big on all that honour and pride stuff ?" Justin toys with the pistol magazine clip carefully concealed in his hand.


"Quite right. Watching you cling to life for a few more seconds will be most delightful. So, what is it you van't Mr. Johannes?"


"One of those Cuban Cigars you're puffing on now, if you please."


"Really...? I didn't know you smoked." The Baron chuckles.


"Well, I try not to make it common knowledge I have any vices, but under the circumstances...." Justin lies.


Handing a cigar from his top pocket to one of his men, the soldier comes forward and hands it to the prisoner, barely suppressing the sneer of contempt from his hair stubbled face. Lighting the cigar for the doctor, the soldier moves away to allow him to smoke in peace for a few seconds.


"You know, Mr Johannes, I will miss you, you know." The Baron toys.


"Oh, why's that?" Justin plays for just a little more time.


"Oh because with you gone, things will be quiet in the academic field. I've dreamed of this day for so long you see... finally dispatching the infamous doctor Johannes, without even a final epitaph or a grave to mark his passing. Best of all, you failed to find the tomb of Qui Chi Men before me, indeed you failed to recognize its importance at all. Yes, I shall miss you when you are gone, because I will have to set myself a new dream."


Justin desperately wants to taunt the Baron longer, to find out what his enemy has discovered about the tomb, but he knows he must move now, or lose everything. Luck has been with him so far, but it wouldn't last forever.


Moving in a sudden whirl of motion, Justin stubs the lighted cigar down onto the bullet filled cylinder in his hand. The heat of the burning tobacco ignites some of the powder, but before it can spread and explode, our hero throws the whole thing into the middle of the enemy... turns tail and runs as fast as he can back towards edge of the jungle where he first entered the clearing.


Behind him, there is a small explosion of flame and smoke... shards of metal fly in all directions; and there are a few screams of pain, but Justin does not have time to look around to witness his handiwork.


Diving into the trees, Justin moves as fast as he can away from the threat behind him.

The voice of the enraged Baron calls after him.

"We will meet again Mr. Johannes, that I promise you!"


                     
  ***


Article by Steve