Sunday 12 May 2024

Devilry Afoot - Redcaps and wolves

I've recently been concentrating on page-setting the manuscript for Devilry Afoot, but the last of my miniatures for the game are also slowly getting finished up. Here are three redcaps, and a pack of three wolves.

Redcaps are a particularly vicious and resentful breed of fairy folk – wicked goblins that either serve wicked masters or stalk lonely ruins looking for wayward travellers whose blood they use to dye their caps. Despite their iron-shod feet, redcaps are surprisingly fleet of foot and almost impossible to outrun.

These redcaps are some of the most fun miniatures I've painted in ages. They are actually 3D printed goblins from Highlands Miniatures, but almost certainly inspired by the redcaps of Scottish folklore with their pointed caps, pole-arms and steel boots. 

As the primordial hunter of man, wolves have long been feared for their cunning and aggression. With haunting howls and sharp, predatory eyes, the nocturnal predators stalk the fringes of farmland waiting for the opportunity to strike, carrying of livestock and unwary humans alike.

These wolves are from Crooked Dice. They are deceptively simple sculpts that really come to life with a touch of paint.

Monday 6 May 2024

28mm Seleukid royal command

Here is another command stand for ProjectSeleukid - this time a royal party consisting of a king and shield-bearer from Aventine Miniatures, and a queen carried on a litter by Checkpoint Miniatures (CP Models). I went with a purple a colour scheme as I dared to indicate just how very royal the royal couple are.

This base will not be used for the planned Magnesia scenario, a) because I am running the left flank commanded by Seleukos (future Seleukos IV, but in 190 BC still just the heir apparent), and b) because radiate crowns are not a feature of Seleukid iconography until c.170/169 BC, midway through the reign of Antiochos IV Epiphanes (Seleukos IV's younger brother). 

Technically speaking, only a small number of Seleukid king's used the divinising feature: Antiochos IV,  Alexander I, Antiochos VI, Alexander II, Antiochos VIII, and Demetrios III. Here's something I wrote a while ago on the matter LINK

I intentionally set the king figure slightly back on the base to make it a bit ambiguous as to whether he was the most important or powerful figure present. From the middle of the 2nd century BC, Kleopatra Thea and her nieces Kleopatra IV, Kleopatra Tryphaneia, and Kleopatra Selene were to take leading rolls in propping up respective husbands, sons, and step-sons who became husbands. On balance, this is most likely to be Alexander I Balas and Kleopatra Thea (150-145 BC), or Antiochos VIII Grypos and Kleopatra Thea (125-121 BC), but I'm happy to be a little flexible on that! ­čśü

Sunday 5 May 2024

Devilry Afoot - 13 game campaign (session 1)

With the completion of Devilry Afoot fast approaching, we set out to run through all 13 scenarios included in the rules as a single campaign, following the same party of hunters as they struggle against the forces of darkness.

The starting hunting party consisted of four characters:
  • Fr. Hans, a devout but lustful religious;
  • Goodman Gruber, a gallant goodman who's slovenly nature is tempered by his penitence;
  • Dr Midnite, a lustful physician and astrologer;
  • Colonel Clijsters, a retired soldier and skilled duellist, who's experiences on the Continent have left him doubting his faith.
Scenario 1) A discovery of witches
A coven of witches has been discovered, gathering just beyond the edge of a small hamlet for their witches’ sabbatt. As ominous storm clouds gather, a small party of witch hunters has been recruited to  root them out.

Our hunters had a rough time of their first supernatural encounter. Fr Hans managed to wake some sleeping innocents and herd them to safety; Dr Midnite, despite taking a wound, shot and killed one of the witches. However, Col Clijsters lost his nerve and fled from the field, and Goodman Gruber was taken out of action in a savage attack despite first killing several imps. By the time the storm broke, the witches were gaining the upper hand, and the hunting party withdrew in defeat.

The skilled hand of the physician ensured that Gruber recovered without any permanent impact. Clijsters may not have suffered any physical scarring, but he would need to do something dramatic in the next outing to recover his wounded pride.

Scenario 2) The dance macabre
When the dead walk again upon the earth it is a sign of great evil. For the local villagers, the shambling terrors that now haunt the night revive memories of ancestral wickedness, of curses laid, and of the perpetration of the most devilish deeds. Summoning a party of pious men of standing, they hope that the Word of God will settle the unquiet dead and leave their past firmly buried.

This scenario sounds simple on paper, but in the wrong circumstances, things can get quickly out of hand. In this case, things rapidly went from simple to chaotic. The religious, Hans, ran forward to start blessing the monument at the centre of the burial ground, but while Dr Midnite moved forwards to distract the single revenant, a roaming spectre kept Clijsters away from the fight. Gruber pushed on alone to defend Fr Hans from the other side, but everywhere, the restless dead were rising from their graves (I ran out of revenant models and had to substitute ghouls). 

Both Hans and Gruber were overcome by revenants while Midnite fell back. The monument was just one blessing away from being sanctified, and everything now hinged on the doubting (and up until now timid) Col Clijsters. He pulled himself together and, despite all the odds against him, leapt the cemetery wall, ducked under a tree and managed to quote scripture with enough sincerity to save the day. 

The good doctor again managed to keep all of his comrades from suffering any permanent injuries and, as a result of his growing renown, gained a devoted follower - young Betty. 

Scenario 3) Lost in the woods
They knew that they should not have been awake at such an hour, let alone out of doors, but neither child could sleep. It was as if something called to them through the woods. Woods which seemed, at this hour, so alive, so irresistible. When the children’s absence was noticed, the alarm was raised and a search party set out in their wake.

For the party's third adventure, they set off to save the children from their worst nightmares. The two boogeymen started in different parts of the table so, while Midnite and Betty set off after the furthest, Clijsters, Hans and Gruber turned their attention to the nearest. Before the doctor and his follower could reach the children, the far boogeyman was almost upon them. However, rather than attack, at the critical moment it squatted down and hid in the rough terrain, providing the children with the chance to escape. 

Both Gruber and Cljisters were wounded by their opponent, but between them, Midnite and Betty managed to kill their monster. The boogeymen are tough and unpredictable, and their ability to manifest the fear of the nearest hunter caused much distress, but in the end, the children survived and the party earned their reward.

As they sit counting their shillings in the public house the next afternoon they hear rumours of savage attacks on livestock and shepherds in the next parish. Sighing, they quaff their ale and prepare to move on ...

Sunday 28 April 2024

Battle of the Belitung Islands: a G&G affairs of galleys, mostly

The Sultan of Songkhka is fed up with the piratical activities of the Knights of St Michael of Singapore in the waters around Sumatra and Kalimantan. He sends a strong squadron to suppress them, commanded by his current court Favourite, Lala Mustafa. Clued in by reports from irate merchant shipowners, they catch up with the Christians near the Belitung islands off the SE coast of Sumatra. The Knights are commanded by Don Oliver Starkey, who, it will be remembered, was commander (in the Portuguese service) of Kupang fortress when it fell and subsequently turned up in the service of the Knights of St Michael (go back and check out the SIEGE OF KUPANG here).

Vessels marked * are flagships. Lala Mustafa is a Swaggering commander. Oliver Starkey is a Dashing commander.

The Songkhka squadron (323 points) comprises -
2 x Galeasses (Hat Yai* & Banda Aceh) 72* & 59
Q4 C5: Drilled soldiers, Bow guns, High castles, Square rigged, Sluggish, Sweeps, Veteran NCOs

4 x Galleys (Ayutthaya, Borobudur, Songkhla, Srivijaya) 48 each
Q3 C3: Drilled soldiers, Galley, Swashbucklers, Yare

The Knights squadron (325 points) comprises - 
1 x Galeass (San Miguel*) 89
Q4 C5: Chaser guns, Drilled soldiers, High castles, Master gunner, Square rigged, Sweeps, Veteran NCOs

3 x Galleys (Cervesa, Corona, Stella Artois) 48 each
Q3 C3: Drilled soldiers, Galley, Swashbucklers, Yare

2 x allied wako War junks (Conch Shell, Green Eyebrows) 46 each
Q3 C3: Derring-do, Intimidating, Lateen rigged, Reinforced hull 


The two squadrons met near a chain of smaller islands, each side approaching in rough line abreast. The wind is from the NW, and the view is looking NE, so the wind is blowing across the photo, from R to L.

After 3 turns and a wind shift to N>S (now blowing across the table from far side to near side) the battle seems imminent. With the wind favouring the Songkhka squadron, Lala Mustafa has been able to keep his formation intact by restricting the galleys to only 1M per bound. Starkey has the San Miguel under sweeps, so his galley captains are restricted to only 1S to keep the line.

The war junks are out on the Knights starboard flank, and the recent wind change will make it easier for them to join the fight. Last turn they tacked to starboard and are in course to go for the Songkhka port wing.

The two main battle lines are just over 2L apart, on average.

On turn 4 the Knights line advanced 1S as before, Starkey ordering all vessels to hold their fire until the enemy are closer. Then the Songkhka line also continued its advance, still moving 1M, then all vessels opened fire. In the centre the galeasses each targeted an enemy galley. Two galleys targeted the San Miguel, and two the Corona on the starboard end of the Knights line. 

Much gunnery table consulting, and dice rolling, ensued. When the dust had cleared the results had been devastating. The galeass San Miguel had taken 1 damage and suffered rigging damage. On its starboard side the galley Cervesa had been blown to pieces by shooting from Banda Aceh. Stella Artois had escaped damage, but Corona had taken 2 damage + was taking on water. 

Turn 5. The Knights line staggered, but they’re made of stern stuff and kept coming. San Miguel led by example: giving the galley Srivijaya 1 damage from shooting  (chaser guns) then closing and grappling. Stella Artois focussed on the galley Songkhla. Its shot missed, then it closed , grappled and boarded. The first round of boarding action went the Stella’s way. The heavily damaged Corona, too far off to get a morale boost from the Flagship, stayed where it was, but shot at the Ayutthaya, though causing no damage. The war junks are on the way but still around 1L from the nearest enemy.

In the Songkhka bound the boarding action between San Miguel and Srivijaya got under way as Srivijaya rolled 3 activation successes, and was fully up for it, at first. However, the help she was hoping for, from neighbouring vessels  Borobudur and Banda Aceh was not forthcoming, both ships having enough activations to contact, but not to grapple or board. This seemed to demoralise the crew of Srivijaya, and the San Miguel captured her in two boarding rounds (+ damage inflicted from shooting).

The tokens indicate: Red = damage, Blue = captured, Yellow = Critical damage, Green = grappled.

The other boarding fight, Songkhka v Stella Artois, continued as the Songkhka used 2 activations for this. One was a draw, the other saw the Stella Artois win another round. But, the Hat Yai changed course and came into contact and grappled the Stella Artois on her port side. 

Then the last galley to activate, Ayutthaya, shot at the heavily damaged Corona, but missed, then also closed and grappled.

Turn 6. The Knights war junks are in position to attack next time. But back to the galley & galeass action …

The prize crew that had captured the Srivijaya knocked scuttling holes in the hull, scrambled back on the San Miguel, and cut the grapples. Then the San Miguel fired a full broadside from her starboard guns into the enemy galeass Banda Aceh, which was in contact but had not grappled last turn. The Banda Aceh took 2 damage + Rigging damage. Then the port battery shot at the Borobudur, also in contact but not grappled. Somehow the shots missed, all the best gun captains must have been on the other side. 

The Stella Artois continued her fight against the Songkhka, capturing it on the first boarding round. The other two activation points were used to scuttle the prize and return to the Stella, cutting the grapples. That still leaves the huge Hat Yai, grappled to the port side and ready to board.

And lastly the new boarding fight between the Ayutthaya and Corona. The Corona may be down (2 damage + taking on water) but it’s not out. It rolled 3 activation successes despite the coloured dice. Ayutthaya has thoughtfully done the grappling work, so Corona “seized the initiative” and boarded, winning the first boarding round. 

Here’s the position at the end of the Knights bound of turn 6. In the whole game we haven’t had any early turnovers at all, yet. The two smoke markers show the Songkhka galleys that were captured then scuttled and abandoned by the Knights. The gunnery smoke markers from San Miguel are also still in place.

Lala Mustafa isn’t happy with how his vessels are performing at close quarters. After an excellent opening salvo from the guns, he’s now lost 2 galleys, against 1 for the Knights. 

His flagship, Hat Yai, gets 2 successes and boards the Stella Artois. Each side wins one round. Then Borobudur gets 2 activations, and grapples and boards the San Miguel, winning a foothold on her deck. The Banda Aceh gets only 1 activation, so also grapples the San Miguel, which frankly looks overmatched now. Ayutthaya gets 3 activations, so ought to be able to capture the Corona easily enough. And does, tho not before taking a second boarding damage.

So at the end of turn 6 …

Turn 7 and the Knights get a lucky break as the wind turns two more points, now blowing from the NE, so obliquely from upper R across the table. This helps the war junks, which turn, move, and contact the Ayutthaya and Hat Yai, but don’t have the activations to grapple or board. 

The galley Stella Artois initiated boarding against the Hat Yai, where Lala Mustafa is personally swashing his buckle at the head of his own close quarters crew.  The first two rounds are one win per side, so both vessels are now on 2 damage. The third round is a draw. Nail-biting stuff. 

The San Miguel continues its increasingly one-sided fight against the Banda Aceh and Borobudur. It gets only 1 activation, and uses it to carry on with the boarding fight against the enemy galeass, but loses, takes a third damage, and is captured. The fate of Oliver Starkey is currently unknown (contingent roll). He may be under the pile of bodies on San Miguel’s quarterdeck.

Now it’s the Songkhla bound. Lala Mustafa and his exhausted crews can see the enemy flagship has been captured, and are inspired to a final heroic effort.

Ayutthaya cuts grapples with the captured Corona, which backs away, and prepares for a boarding attack from Green Eyebrows. Hat Yai (2 activations) tries to finish off the Stella Artois before a fresh wave of boarders from the Conch Shell intervene. This succeeds, Stella Artois is captured, and then the Hat Yai gunners fire a broadside (not a full broadside) into the Conch Shell, but cause no damage.

The Banda Aceh and Borobudur don’t get to activate because the former failed 3/3 activation dice. Our first early turnover.

Turn 8. The crew of the war junk Green Eyebrows grapple Ayutthaya, swarm on board, and capture the already-damaged galley though not without taking 1 damage point themselves.  The Conch Shell crew also swing aboard the Hat Yai. This is a tougher nut to crack, but they manage to gain the deck, and this takes Hat Yai to 3 damage. 

In the Songkhka bound, the crippled Hat Yai still gets 3 activations thanks to Lala Mustafa’s swaggering leadership, and it continues the boarding fight. The first round is drawn, but the Conch Shell wins the second and captures the Hat Yai. Both flagships are now crippled captures. Mustafa was killed fighting at the head of his men (contingent roll). The Borobudur backs away from San Miguel and turns. The Banda Aceh fails to activate.

So. At the end of turn 8 the Knights  squadron has lost: 1 galeass flagship captured, 1 galley sunk, 2 others captured. Only the allied wako war junks are in good condition (1 unharmed, 1 with 1 damage). The Songkhka squadron has lost 1 x galeass flagship captured, and the other heavily damaged (2 hits + critical), 2 galleys sunk, 1 captured. The only intact vessel is the galley Borobudur.

I’ve run out of Red damage markers and am using Brown as well.

Removing all crippled captures simplifies the picture. None of them are seaworthy enough to get to port. Knights losses are parked to the R, Songkhka losses at the back.

The four surviving vessels represent 92 points (Knights) and 107 points (Songkhka), not discounting for damage. I believe I’ll call it a very bloody draw, advantage Songkhka all things considered.

Cheers from Pattaya (ca2,000km N of the battle site),