Sunday 4 February 2024

Palaeo Diet Eat of Be Eaten - The Trout Clan Rebuilds

February is Mark's traditional month for playing Palaeo Diet (Eat or Be Eaten). This will be the seventh annual visit to the Grey Wolf and Trout clans, following the ups and downs of their struggle for survival. A couple of seasons ago both clans were stricken by a mysterious sickness, most likely an attack by malevolent spirits. The Grey Wolfs lost their old chief, among many others, but have recovered well under the new chief Great Lion. The Trouts however were nearly wiped out, and fled from their traditional territory into the hill country. Since then the hunting and gathering conditions have been hard, and life has been precarious for the Trout survivors.

This season we’ll follow the Trouts as they try to re-establish their clan in a new territory.

1. A New Hope
At last the Trout Clan has found a potential new home. It’s a well situated and good sized cave, sheltered from the weather, and surrounded by fair country for hunting and gathering. And no other humans have laid claim to it, there are no signs of recent or old occupation. Perfect. Except for the grumpy old cave bear who lives there.

The strongest hunting party the clan can muster will travel to the cave, offer the necessary propitiation rites to the bear spirit, and kill the bear (persuade it to allow the Trout Clan to move in).

Here’s a shot of the hunting party as it surveys the valley that’ll be their new home if all goes well.

The group includes Fire (who is also a clan Shaman), Club (who is the leader), and in the front row Axe and Spear.

And here’s a view of the tabletop, with the Trouts coming in on the S edge. The cliff face, containing the cave - and grumpy bear - is at top R, across the stream. Some delicious deer are also in sight.

The hunters must kill the bear or drive it off the table with at least 1 wound, and also kill at least 2 Bulk of other food, to succeed in their quest. No more than 1 hunter can be killed, or 2 be wounded. 

Each time a hunter fails 2+ activation dice, more wildlife will appear, potentially including herd grazers or pack hunters. 

The hunters moved off, skirting carefully around the deer at first. Then Fire moved within 1M of the closest animal, starting a stampede that saw the animals flee across the stream. Which is where the hunters plan to catch up with them later.

The hunters crossed the stream and moved cautiously towards the bear which seemed to be relaxing in front of the cave. But then Club tripped on a rock and swore loudly. He’s the hunt leader so the others tactfully ignored this breach of discipline.  The bear was startled and moved away (Alarmed), though its full move was blocked by the line of cliffs. 

Axe skulked forward and attacked the bear first, but his blow failed. The bear roared, causing Axe and Fire to skulk away from the fearsome spectacle. Spear attacked next, and caused a wound. The enraged beat attacked him, but Spear somehow dodged the attack. The bear’s move had brought it within skulk+attack range of Club, who caused a well-placed wound, which luckily turned out to be 2 wounds. So the bear fell, with total 3W.

Here’s a view of the fallen bear, with Spear and Club who brought it down. The red tokens show which hunter caused the wounds. 

As Club was the hunter who struck the fatal blow, he must stay with the bear to sing the songs apologising to the bear spirit and thanking it for allowing the Trout Clan to occupy the cave. Fire will also stay as the ritual requires smoke. The other hunters, Axe and Spear, will hunt for food.

As part of the reorganisation, Axe double-fails an activation, and a pair of warthogs appear some distance away across the stream.

The hunters can see the warthogs, but ignore them and concentrate on the deer. They skulk carefully towards their prey. Axe goes first, wounding a hind, which flees. Then Slear throws, and misses. His target stampedes, taking the rest of the herd with it. 

Club takes a risk and tries activating on 3 dice, but fails 1, and the nearest deer - the wounded one - moves away, Alarmed. Club follows, Amble + Skulk, keeping in touch with the spooked animals. Spear also fails 1/3 activations, but the nearest animal ignores this. Spear also Ambles + Skulks after the herd. 

Axe fails 1/2 activations this time. The nearest animal Flees but luckily dies not Stampede. Axe keeps skulking. Axe and Slear are exchanging hand signals - Spear activates successfully on only 1 dice, but stays still. So next turn, with Axe actually in contact with a deer - the one he already wounded - he’ll be able attack it again on 1 success. 

It all goes according to plan, and the hind is killed by another wound from Axe. The rest of the herd stampedes, but the hunters don’t care. They have enough meat to last them all the way back to where the rest of the Clan is waiting anxiously for news.


🦣 Trek to new upland location. Evicting current tenant (cave bear)

🦬 Hunting & gathering

🦅 Newcomers: fight or merge? ❌

🦏 Exploring: encounter with pack predators (take Shaman along) + hunt/gather food


The Trout clan have taken possession of their new home. Enough time has passed for them to become familiar with the immediate surroundings. The major fauna living there has been killed and eaten, or driven away. 

And so it’s time to explore and hunt further afield. Here we see a neighbouring valley, presently occupied by various Giant Grazers, and a few Herd Grazers. A large party from the Trout Clan is about to enter the valley, following the stream. 

The party is in two groups. The lead group comprises 5 hunters, and is again led by Club. It has the task of killing at least 8 Bulk of meat for the Clan. The rear group comprises four women and children, protected by two hunters including Fire. It has the task of Gathering sessile edibles such as fungi, berries, and snails. The scrub patches and cliff faces look likely sites. The women and children must gather at least 25 actions of edibles, no more than 8 from any one site.

Last night, in their camp, the party heard the sounds of Cave Hyaenas (pack predators) in the valley, so it is likely they have a den around here somewhere. The scrub patches or cliff faces for example. The appearance of these predators (location, numbers) is a contingent event.
The Trouts came on (free 2 x Amble move) following the N (cliff) side of the river. The nearest cliff contains no Gatherables, nor any Predators, because it’s easier that way. Thereafter they crossed the stream, with the aims of taking on the Mammoths and antelopes over there, and checking the scrub-topped hill for Gatherables.

During the crossing one of the women or children startled a Mammoth, which Attacked the nearest hunter, causing 1W. Not a good start. Fire ambled along the far stream bank to within M of that Mammoth, provoking it to Flee. 

A couple of turns later and all the Trouts are across the stream. The gathering party is closing in on the hill, which has shown no signs of Predator occupation. The hunting party hasn’t been so lucky. A bungled Spear throw at the second Mammoth saw it Attack the nearest hunter, who was the one already wounded, and he was killed. The Mammoth then Moved Away.

The gathering group is in position to start stripping the scrub patches of edibles. But in the process of moving up, a couple of fails saw the Antelopes flee from having Fire uncomfortably close, and the second Mammoth turned back to attack another hunter, luckily without success. Now the hunters have a Mammoth right on their doorstep: how will they go? Spear 1 activated first and caused the beast 1W. It Roared, and all hunters but Spear 2 backed away. Spear 2 went next, but his throw missed. The Mammoth isn’t standing any more nonsense, it attacked Spear 2 (who was closest) wounding him. Club went next, striking a well placed blow but still only another 1W. The beast Roared again, more backing away ensued. Lastly hunter Axe moved in, but missed, and the beast turned and Moved Away.

I’ll leave the dead hunter in place for now. He may be needed as a Predation point if those Hyaenas show up.

Next turn I started by activating the women and children to begin Gathering. There was one fail. The nearest beast was a second Mammoth, and the proximate activation was Fire within L. The Mammoth fled, leaving some startled antelopes in its wake. The W & C gather 4/25 Edibles this turn.

The hunters were luckier this time. The Mammoths ignored them. And Spear 2, though wounded, was able to get within Pelt range and bring down an Antelope with a 2W well placed shot.  So that’s 2/8 Bulk in the bag.

The Hunters followed up the retreating wounded Mammoth and the remaining antelopes. They had a bad start though, as the antelopes kept out of reach, and the wounded Mammoth turned and attacked Club, wounding him. But then it got an Alarmed reaction when Spear 1 unsuccessfully pelted it, and moved into the stream. Where Axe caught it, and finished it with a 2W well-placed blow. So that’s 6/8 Bulk accounted for. Though at a grievous cost, 1/5 hunters dead and 2/5 wounded, in this group.

The Gatherers cleared the scrub patch of all edibles (8/25) and are ready to move to the next spot. The remaining Mammoth reacted to the death of the other by Moving Away.

It appears the other scrub patch is also Predator free. Good to know. The Gatherers and their escorts head in that direction. There are a couple of activation failures, but the beast activations are Rest. The Hunters need 2 more Bulk to achieve their group objective. But they’re not keen on tackling any more Giant Grazers and will try for another antelope. Spear 2 throws and misses, the antelope Flees. Spear 1 fails 1/3 activation dice, and the Big Mammoth reacts by Fleeing as the proximate cause is Fire within M. Spear 1 gets close to the antelope but cannot throw this time. 

Then a stroke of luck: a fail by Axe leads the closest antelope to Attack Spear 1, though failing to wound him. But Axe skulks right up to the hapless antelope.

Next turn Axe lands 1W on the antelope, which must be stunned because it omly Moves Away. Enabling Spear 1 to try his luck, but he fails 1 dice and the antelope moves further away, now Alarmed. Spear 1 follows it but cannot throw this turn. Club, who gets a successful triple activation, sneaks up on the remaining antelope - which had thought it was safe - and causes 1W, the antelope Flees off table.

So  the escort Spear from the Gatherers group tries to nail the wounded antelope that has evaded the Hunters. And he does, bringing it down with a successful throw. So that’s all the required 8 bulk in hand, and bragging rights to the escort Spear. 

The Trouts need another 17 Edibles to be collected by the Gatherers. They move across the field, edging away from the Mammoth and Elephants, towards the next scrub patch. I sped up this part of the game, pushing Fire forward to prevent any aggressive beast reactions while the Trouts reorganised. 

So the Gatherers move to 16/25 Edibles from the new scrub patch. The Mammoth & Elephants seem disinclined to interfere, and anyway the Rhino across the stream is now the closest beast to many of the Trouts. 

The Gatherers moved along the steam bank looking for a good place to cross, while the Hunters distracted the Rhino. The Rhino received 1W, but also killed Club, the Trout leader, who was already wounded.

The cliff face the Gatherers are heading for is also Predator free. Maybe those hyaena howls last night came from a pack that doesn’t actually live around here? 

The hunters keep attacking the Rhino. Spear 1 lands a 2W well placed shot, and the Rhino roars. Most of the hunters back off, except Spear 2, who finishes the Rhino with an extraordinary run of sixes on his pelting dice. 

One last uneventful turn, as the Gatherers start denuding their next patch of all edibles, and the hunters, who have now taken 12 Bulk, start to cross the stream. In doing so they trigger the contingent Predator roll for the last potential spawning place: there are no cave Hyaenas around here. Luckily. 

So there’s nothing to stop the Trouts from achieving their objectives now. It’s only a matter of weighing the benefits against the costs: 2/7 Hunters are dead (counting the hunting group + gatherer group escorts). Another is wounded (contingency rolls indicated a serious wound, but a full recovery). I’d say a draw. Club the hunt leader is dead, otherwise the Elders might have had words with him about risking an attack on the Giant grazers while the Clan is still weak. But at least they’ll eat well for the next moon or two. 


For this final visit to the Trout Clan for the current season, I started by working through a contingent-based paper scenario, in which another group of H Pattayaensis (the species to which the Trouts belong) enters the Trouts’ new territory. Here is how it played out.

A group of refugees, roughly the same size as the Trouts, calling themselves the Mud Crab Clan, entered the Trout territory. Like the Trouts they are survivors of the Great Sickness trying to find a safe refuge from the trauma.

At first relations between the two groups was wary, even antagonistic, as each suspected the other of wanting to attack. There were even some small skirmishes over hunting fish and critters, in which both sides took casualties. A potentially more serious incident cooled down when the perpetrators (Mud Crab extremists) and their few followers were exiled.

In the end the Elders of both clans agreed the best solution was to merge, and become a single stronger Trout Clan. They chose a rather outré option whereby all Mud Crab women were given to Trout Men, and all Trout Women to Mud Crab men.

Which means the Clan has grown a lot in numbers, indeed back to its original size, more or less. Also genetic diversity. 

As the colder season approached, successful hunts and gathers ensured the new larger Clan would be able to survive the winter. But there was a piece of unfinished business to attend to.

The Cave Hyaenas who failed to appear in the last episode have been located by the Clan, and marked for extermination. So long as these predators are allowed to live in Clan territory, gathering parties and small hunting parties will be at risk of attack. And the Clan also doesn’t want to share the Bulk with any competitors, human or otherwise.

So a hunting party is sent to raid the Hyaena den, to kill all the adults they can find, and the cubs.

The hunting sent to do the job comprises six men: 3 spears, 2 clubs, 1 fire. Here they are entering the Hyaenas’ honeymoon range, from the SW. The den is in the rocky area, but the starting positions of the beasts can be anywhere on the table. There are five Hyaenas, and one will be placed each time a Trout fails any activation dice. A dead hyaena can regenerate and reappear if it rolls a 5,6. It only gets one chance. This simulates the Trouts having imperfect information about beast numbers.

A lookout hyaena spots the hunters and gives the alarm. 

The hunting party leader is Club, who is wearing a prestigious (and warm) animal skin coat. His strategy is to keep the group together as much as possible, using Fire to mute beast aggression, and draw the beasts out into the open. They are bound to defend their cubs in the den, and don’t have the option to run away.

On turn 2 Fire fails an activation. A hyaena appears 1.5L from the hunters, between the den and the scrub-covered hill. 

The hunters can see the beast, and Club leads them towards it, each hunter attempting activation on 2 dice, and moving at Skulk pace. Axe fails 1 dice, and a second beast appears on the scrubby hill. But the first hyaena counts as nearest beast for reaction purposes, and it moves away 1M Alarmed, because Fire is within M. Axe then Ambles to keep up.

Club orders two of the Spears to sneak forwards and attack the retreating hyaena. Stone-tipped Spear obeys orders to the letter: skulk, skulk, throw, well-placed hit, 2W, hyaena killed. All the hunters whoop with appreciation, which counts as howling, but the hyaena in the hill, out of LOS of its late cousin, doesn’t react to this noise (Rests).

The dead hyaena fails its resurrection test. As the rest of the hunters activate, Club fails 1 dice. A new hyaena appears, 1.5L to the L of Stone-tipped Spear. The closer beast, on the hill, Rests again. It must be tired. 

Next turn the hunters focus on the newly-arrived beast. Once again they skulk closer to it. Stone tipped Spear fails 1 dice. The new beast reacts by attacking but cannot reach him. Waving Spear also failed a roll. This time the beast on the hill got a Flee reaction (Fire within M) and ran off towards the table edge - but stayed in play. Waving Spear ambled after the other hunters to catch up with them. Fire activated last, failing 1/3 dice. A new beast appeared in the den terrain. It was closer to Fire, and reacted by Predating, moving M towards the dead hyaena.

Underarm Spear started with 2 activation successes and used them to attack the hyaena in contact with it. The first attack caused 1W, and the beast reacted by attacking back, wounding the hunter. The second attack failed, and the beast reacted by attacking again, and failing too. Then Axe moved in, his attack failed and the beast attacked and wounded Axe too. And another beast appeared, in the large scrub patch not too far away! Stone-tipped Spear went next, moving into close contact (can’t risk throwing, might wound a hunter), but failed too, and the beast didn’t attack back.

Meanwhile, Waving Spear hurled a missile at the hyaena emerging from the den area  on a Predate mission. The first Spear missed, and the beast attacked and wounded Waving Spear. Who tried again, failed again, but luckily the beast Moved Away because Fire was nearby. Club chased the retreating hyaena, and killed it with a well-placed blow that resulted in 2W. Fire activated last and moved towards the big ongoing fight.

The second dead hyaena also failed its resurrection test.

Underarm Spear activated first, on 1 dice only, and killed the hyaena fighting 3 hunters, with a second wound. The beast in the scrub patch stayed where it was (Rest). Then Waving Spear also failed a dice, and the beast Roared, affecting two hunters, who both hastily retired. The hunting party is now ready to take on the next hyaena, in fact the only living one they can see.

The third dead hyaena succeeded in resurrecting. It appeared behind the hunters as they focussed on the beast to their front. I also intervened (after taking advice in hyaena behaviour from YouTube) to bring back the beast that fled yonks ago, which has been stranded out of LOS on the baseline behind the hill. It has headed back towards its den, joining up with it’s revenant brother.

The hunting party warily approached the hyaena in the scrub. Unluckily, Stone-tipped Spear attracted its attention, and it charged him but failed to wound. StS then used its successful activation to attack the beast, wounding it. Then Club failed activation, on 2 dice. He’s the Hunt Leader, so … embarrassing. There are no more Hyaenas to deploy. The beast attacking StS moved away, Alarmed (Fire within M). The other beast to react was one of the pair behind the hunters. It Attacked Fire. Never seen this before! And wounded him.

I should have a photo of this moment, but got too excited and forgot. 

The hunters Underarm Spear & Waving Spear, both wounded, moved towards the scrub patch to guard against the return of the hyaena, also wounded, last seen disappearing into the prickly foliage. It’s out of LOS but it’s in there somewhere.

Club activates next, two successes this time. He stepped in to help Fire, but failed. The hyaena reacted by attacking wounding him. Then Stone-tipped Spear failed on 2/3 activations. The hyaena attacking Fire and Club moved away Alarmed (Fire nearby, again), and the hyaena in the scrub, which can see out, Roared. This caused both the Spears near it to retire x2 each. 

All the hunters except Stone-tipped Spear are now wounded. Three Hyaenas have been killed, but three are still in play (including 1 wounded). 

The hunters agree that extirpation of the Hyaenas can wait until Spring. They limp off towards home, leaving the beasts, and their cubs, in possession of the field. 

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