Collecting the goods

A simple scenario to act as an introduction to Caldoom.

On Caldoom, the term ‘Scum and Smugglers’ has been adopted almost as an ethnic identity buy the inhabitants of the Shanties. Thus even perfectly respectable people, diligent clerks in the administration, industrious filers of memos and assiduous retrievers of lost documents, will class themselves as smugglers. Thus genuine smugglers, those actively engaged in smuggling, will seek another name. Thus and so, Yahoo is a Contrabandist.

It is unlikely his doting parents christened him Yahoo, but that is the only name he answers to. He, with his ship ‘Special Delivery,’ will meet incoming ships out in the asteroid belt, and there cargoes will be swapped. Sometimes he will venture further afield, he is known at Dreghorn Junction, but as a legitimate businessman. Yahoo will then bring his ship in to rendezvous with his customers and business associates. Again cargoes will be exchanged and the authorities, busy people all of them, will not be troubled with the keeping of even more records. A popular landing place is on the coast not far from Liberty, to the west of the Western Suburbs. There, you will find the shanty of Booco, or as he is known to the criminal classes of Liberty, Booco the perfectly legitimate fisherman. Whenever there is a ‘delivery’, Booco is always at sea and never sees anything.

On his expeditions, Yahoo is always accompanied by his loyal engineer and sidekick, Stoffen. Yahoo will have an energy carbine plus an energy pistol. Stoffen will have a steel bar he uses for moving the stackers, plus a shotgun.

In this trip, Yahoo has undertaken to deliver three passengers and a number of stackers. Passengers are unusual, Yahoo’s normal response to people wishing to travel with him is to point out that Special Delivery is not a yacht. But he has made an exception for these three. They are three preaching monks of the Itinerant Order of the Poor Brethren. Most reasonable people are willing to make an exception for monks of this order. Not only are the genuinely concerned about the plight of the poor, they aren’t too proud to help, and because their message is always an embarrassment for the smug and comfortable, the amount of trouble they can stir up is frankly impressive. Thus when they arrive the only sensible response is to find a comfortable chair, open the popcorn and settle down to enjoy the fireworks.

The current party of preaching monks consists of, firstly, Brother Roberto, an inspiring preacher and evangelist. He has already been driven out of six systems as a trouble maker, suggesting that theocratic republics should give up little luxuries and support the poor.

Secondly there is Brother Virgil. He is supposed to chronical the sayings of Brother Malthus, ensuring his sermons are spread more widely than just those who hear them in person. More usefully he is also a doctor of medicine rather than theology.

Finally there is Brother Theodore. He is a kindly soul, always ready to help anybody, and has several times laid out those attacking the party, using his heavy staff as a weapon. A Veteran Warrior before he took his vows of poverty, he counts as supremely skilled in melee combat with it.

Yahoo has everything arranged. When he lands, he will be met by one of the gangs who will come with a Traktor and trailer. They will unload their stackers, which will be loaded into the Special Delivery. They will, with the help of Brother Theodore, load the stackers that made up the Special Delivery’s cargo in their trailer. Then accompanied by the three monks, the scum will drive back to Liberty.

The Order of Malthus in his Aspect as the Personification of Self-Restraint

Senior members of the order have heard that Brother Malthus is on his way to Caldoom. This they intend to stop if at all possible. A hand of five of their cultists is flying along the various traktor trails in an air raft hoping to intercept them.

Another hand of cultists is sailing along the coast in a barge, hoping to find them from that direction. In theory they could arrive at the same time but it’s probable that one will arrive first and the other will act as reinforcements.

Fighting the game

On turn 1 Yahoo lands. The Scum are waiting for him with their traktor. Their trailer is already unloaded. Booco is, as always, out at sea and plays no part in this episode.

Move 2 Yahoo is on his phone looking for more trade. Stoffen will start unloading with help from the monks and Scum.

Move 3,4,5 Unloading and loading continues

Move 6 toss a coin in this and subsequent moves, on a heads, the unloading and loading is completed.

The arrival of the cultists.

For each of the two groups of cultists roll 2d6 per move to see if they arrive. Tot up the scores separately for each group, they will arrive when their group has a total of 35. Statistically this means that both groups, rolling perfectly, will arrive on move 5, but dice being what they are, it’s probably the only move they won’t arrive in. But baring amazing dice, nobody will arrive before move 3.

Troop Quality

The forces of The Order of Malthus in his Aspect as the Personification of Self-Restraint

Barge Squad, Second class regulars, 19 reaction points.

The commander, Veteran, flak jacket under robes. Energy carbine, hard wired. 

First Lay Brother. Normal, flak jacket under robes. Energy carbine, hard wired. 

Second Lay Brother. Green, flak jacket under robes. Energy carbine, hard wired. 

Third Lay Brother. Green, flak jacket under robes. Energy carbine, hard wired. 

Fourth Lay Brother. Green, flak jacket under robes. Energy carbine, hard wired. 

Air raft Squad. Second class regulars, 18 reaction points.

Brother Almoner, Veteran, flak jacket under robes. Power mace, hard wired. 

Fifth Lay Brother, Green, flak jacket under robes. Energy carbine, hard wired. 

Sixth Lay Brother. Green, flak jacket under robes. Energy carbine, hard wired.

Seventh Lay Brother. Green, flak jacket under robes. Energy carbine, hard wired.

Eighth Lay Brother, Normal, flak jacket under robes. Energy carbine, hard wired. 

All your brethren get one dice shift in their favour because whilst they are not superbly training in close combat, (which would give them two dice shifts) they have some martial arts training meaning they get one shift. Brother Almoner has a power mace which gives one dice shift because it’s a specialist close combat weapon.

Smugglers and Scum

They use a composite alien reaction table.

Composite Alien reaction table.

Factors to add or subtract to Default Table:

 -1     Under fire.

 -1     Suffered casualties.

+1     Commander in line of command within one move.

We used half a dozen figures.

Composite aliens. Reaction point total 17

Because the figures came from the CP Miniatures Scum and Smugglers range, all are different and figures tend to have a wide variety of weapons.

Looking at an individual figure I would give it either flak or ablative armour. If it has a hand to hand weapon this will give them two dice shifts in close combat. I would allow them the weapon they are equipped with, as well as an energy carbine for ‘general’ use.

As to how competent they are roll a d6 for each figure.

  1. They are Green
  2. They are Green but hardwired for the weapon they are holding
  3. They are normal
  4. They are normal but hardwired for the weapon they are holding
  5. They are normal and hardwired both for the weapon they’re holding and their energy carbine.
  6. They are veteran and hardwired both for the weapon they’re holding and their energy carbine.

Yahoo and Stoffen. Militia, 19 reaction points.

Yahoo Normal, flak jacket under robes. Energy carbine, and hard wired energy pistol.

Stoffen. Veteran with shotgun, plus a steel bar he uses for moving the stackers, he gets two dice shifts for this as a close combat weapon.

Winning and Losing

The Cult isn’t trying to close down a smuggling operation, they just want the three monks. And they want them alive, not dead.
Yahoo and the Scum are ‘contractually obliged’ to look after the three monks, (The problem with running a protection racket is that you have, from time to time, to provide protection, otherwise people stop paying) but they don’t really want to start a feud with the cult.

So the winning side is the one with the three monks, alive, at the end of the game.

Note that everybody is nervous and are likely to be easily surprised. Air rafts appearing out of nowhere, somebody opening fire, are all going to have people making reaction tests and whatever you want, the guys might just open fire anyway.

Solo Play

Because the Cult arrival is determined at random, they make a reasonable adversary if the player takes on the part of Yahoo and the Scum.

Whilst you might wonder whether it is possible for you to decide when the other side ought to open fire, I suspect that the figures will take the issue out of your hands. Nervous people with weaponry can often fire first and rationalise it later.


So Caldoom is ‘launched’. A real scenario! Firstly the figures. When Ali ( ) and I started with the idea of creating our own world, we decided that for Caldoom we would use CP Models figures.

I confess that this is for no better reason than they’re nice figures and Ali and I both liked them. CP Models is, as it were, an innocent bystander. For them, Caldoom is something of a surprise. Hopefully people will like their figures and make it a pleasant surprise. As we continue our way through the sector, leaving a litter of bad prose and shattered mdf behind us, on other worlds, we could well use other figures.

The other thing that makes Caldoom is that Ali makes such cool stuff. Obviously some of it is there in the photos, but there’s a lot more. It’s worth taking a minute just to look at it!

This has led to an interesting creative partnership. I will write something, Ali will produce something which is way nicer than I had in mind, I will rewrite something! So, for example, there weren’t going to be many APCs on Caldoom. Until of course Ali casually produces an APC. So I wander back and rewrite the canon and we have APCs on Caldoom. Admittedly they’re battered and second hand, but still.

Given we’re 2192 miles apart and he’s two hours ahead of me it means he is largely unsupervised. This is probably a good think because rewriting the canon for some nice new toys is always worth the effort.

Rules and stuff? Well I geared it to Hell by Starlight. But I’ve tried to ensure that you can use your own rules with your own figures. Also I’ve tried to ensure that as much as possible is geared to solo play as well as against an opponent. So hopefully for the solo player Caldoom is a setting you can immerse yourself in. There is a Caldoom by Starlight book and other stuff on the way. Ideally it’s a world of imagination, and with all the stuff Ali is turning out, there’s plenty for your imagination to work with.

Hopefully it’s going to be an interesting journey and a lot of fun


Should you want to know more about Caldoom, I’ve written a short novella. Think of it as putting the ‘flavour text’ in a separate volume so it doesn’t get in the way when you’re frantically flicking through trying to remember a rule. Also because it’s a separate volume it has to have characters and plot and stuff. Oh the ignominy. Anyway, it’s available as a pdf from Iliada Game Studio as a pdf for £2

From Wargame Vault, as a £2 pdf

And from Amazon as a paperback for £4.50 or for £2 on Kindle

A last stand?

I have several times played the ‘Peter Gilder’ Sudan game. This is where the forces of the British Empire march (ideally) in perfect formation to drive off a randomly deployed enemy. As a player, keep the lads in formation, be careful about your scouting and keep one flank firmly on the river where the gunboat can provide support.

But just has Terry Pratchett came up with the ‘Dark Morris’ which is the mirror to the normal Morris dance, it struck me that we needed a ‘Dark’ version of the classic Peter Gilder game.

So with this, rather than a carefully built up expeditionary force, you have the remnants of a once fine army, desperately trying to reach safety. To be fair, the scenario is almost embarrassingly generic. It could cover Publius Quinctilius Varus with his men in the Teutoburg Wald. But it fits beautifully with any horse and musket, modern, or even Science Fiction background.

The Wargames table.

This should be cluttered with terrain. A lot of individual pieces of terrain with gaps between them. These gaps represent the routes the retreating forces must follow. The gaps or lanes should be between six inches and nine inches wide. So if you pass more than six inches from one piece of terrain, almost by definition you are within six inches of the other piece.

At the far table edge (play the long way across the table to get the maximum number of moves) there is a bridge, a pass, or something which marks the road to safety. There could even be a small force in a fort, guarding it. Your aim is to get your force through that gap to safety.

Your force?

The retreating ‘column’ can have come from a number of different parts of the now abandoned province. The various parts need show no allegiance to the other parts. If you want this can be ‘every man for himself’.

When I played it we had three retreating players and one player controlled the ambushers. As Umpire I could have controlled the ambushers, but I felt that I would never have been as vindictive as a player would be. But the game can be played solo.

Size of force.

Because this is for Hell and Uncivil Disorder, I gave each player three ‘bunches’. The player had to roll for each bunch, to see whether they were riflemen or gunmen (or just toss a coin). Then of course the player rolled to determine whether they were sullen, truculent or psychotic, as per the rules. Each bunch had between six and ten figures.
Also each player had a vehicle. This represented the wives, mistresses, families, and loot of the retreating force. Losing this vehicle would be a disaster for the player and would signify defeat.

Obviously you can play this in any period with any scale of figures.

If you’re playing this solo, I’d have a maximum of 10 bunches and three or four vehicles as your dependents.

With our game, I made each player a magician so they could inspire their men and if necessary call down artillery. The solo player might want to have more than one magician, perhaps subsidiary commanders, to help hold together the somewhat demoralised force.

Note that whilst the bunches can go through terrain, the vehicles with dependents and loot cannot.

The Ambushers

These represent the vengeful indigenous inhabitants who are taking their last chance to take a crack at their oppressors, (and obviously the loot.) To represent the fact that they were less well armed, equipped and drilled, these all count as ‘thugs’ under the rules. They have a nominal firepower and a real enthusiasm to wade in and hit people.

Each time the retreating force comes within six inches of a piece of terrain there is a chance of an ambush. I used a system which proved interesting. The ambushing player decided on how many bunches he wanted to attack out of that terrain, and then had to roll higher than that number on a d10. So if he wanted six bunches, he had to roll 7+ on a d10 to get them. This meant he could pretty well guarantee a small number but might struggle to get a larger force.

For a solo player just roll a d10. This is how many bunches ‘might’ be there. Then roll the d10 again. If your second roll is higher than the first, the bunches are indeed there.

The ambushers are placed on the table, as the last part of the ambushing player’s turn. So the victims, sorry, I mean the retreating forces, do get time to react. (In a futile and doomed manner.)

Note that there is only ever one chance of getting ambushers from a piece of terrain. If the ambusher fails, then there are none. If the ambusher succeeds in their roll then the bunches they get are all they will get from that particular wood or whatever. So it is important to have lots of pieces of terrain.

If you are playing solo you don’t need to give the ambushers a magician. But if you give the role to a player, I decided that this magician wasn’t a person, but the personification of the spirit of rebellion. Thus he could go into a piece of terrain and next move reappear in any other piece of terrain. Whilst you roll to see if there are ambushers whether the ‘personification’ is present or not, if he is, you roll the d10 twice. So you’ve more chance of getting that big number.

Playing the game

This was comparatively straight forward and the wise player choses their route. One player ended up following a path which took his force into a small open area that was over a foot wide and was surrounded by three pieces of terrain. By definition he had to come within six inches of one of them. The ambush duly appeared, so he redeployed his force so that he could bring maximum fire on it. This brought him within six inches of the second piece of terrain. The second ambushing force appeared. Then when one of his bunches was driven back, this brought his men within six inches of the third piece of terrain. A third force hit his column in the rear.

He desperately tried to salvage things by calling down artillery. Being a shaman rather than a technomage he had the chutzpah which meant he had no difficulty in getting the support. Unfortunately this also meant he didn’t have the skill to direct it properly. Hence he called it down on his own position on the grounds that the one thing he wouldn’t hit would be his target. A not unreasonable assumption, but unfortunately the artillery did promiscuous damage to his force, his ambushers, and wiped out his fleeing dependents. His last stand was brief but not entirely inglorious.

The second player was unlucky having lost some men to the artillery. So when he was finally ambushed he didn’t really have the manpower to hold the ambushers off, but he did punish them, and thanks to a media team, he tied them up for a long time. Thus his vehicle loaded with dependents managed to get off the table to safety.

The third player, having avoided friendly artillery managed to advance by skirting the terrain pieces other players had emptied of their ambushers. When he finally provoked his own ambushes he was able to form up and break up the attacks with firepower. 


If you don’t know ‘Hell and Uncivil Disorder’ rules, they’re available from Wargame Vault for £4 as a pdf.

They are also available from Amazon, as a paperback for £9.50 or for £4 on Kindle

Caldoom, the Launch.

Yes, at last, the big moment. We’re launching Caldoom. Now I was brought up in a shipbuilding town and know what launches are really like. Complex, with care taken to get everything right. You have to make sure that the tide is caught at exactly the right point. Then a lot of people slap each other on the back and drink ale purchased by others. At the same time, the few token grown-ups huddle together hoping desperately that she goes down the slip smoothly, behaves herself, and they don’t have to explain to the authorities why exactly the borough has acquired a new, expensive, and considerably over-engineered breakwater.

On the other hand, we haven’t achieved anything like that level of professionalism for our launch. This isn’t entirely due to incompetence, but because of the business model. Still, I’m running ahead of myself. The Caldoom Project is something that I’m working on with Ali Doğan Sayıner who is the creative genius behind ILIADA GAME STUDIO.

You can find him at

We’re building a world! Well actually, provided the imagination and mdf holds out, we’re building a galactic sector. Admittedly it’s going to be a very ‘downmarket’ galactic sector, but still, it looks as if it’s going to be a lot of fun.

Now if we’d done this properly Ali would have had a huge number of buildings and vehicles in 28mm scale ready for your delectation and delight. (Actually he has, just go to the website.  ) Also I planned to write a novella, ‘Caldoom and the Ship of Dreams’ which will be a painless introduction to the world. This I have done. Currently you can buy the pdf from Iliada Game Studio, it’ll soon be on Wargame Vault and Amazon.

There’s also ‘Caldoom by Starlight’ which is the campaign book. OK it’s half written because there’s a lot of scenarios in there. A lot of them will be suitable for solo play. Finally we have four Caldoom scenarios written and ready to go onto the blog. The fact they are not yet there is because of the business model. The figures we’re using are from the CP Models 28mm range. (He’s just a poor innocent bystander who happens to produce lovely 28mm figures. Check him out at )

My role is to slouch on the divan, taking puffs from my hookah pipe and eating freshly peeled grapes. I spin off ideas and create dreams. Ali then has to turn them into mdf and other materials. Obviously there are times when I have to step in and point out that air rafts only have three rails, rather than five. This was laid down specifically in the Third Concordat of Liberty. So he retools and we avoid heresy.

Also not only has Ali got to exercise his creative genius, he has to fulfil orders and generally run his business. Apparently his family expect to eat occasionally. So whilst we’ve got all the figures and suchlike for Caldoom, due to aforementioned issues, not all of them are painted yet. This means we haven’t got the photos for all the scenarios. We have the photos for one, but ironically it’s the fourth in the series but still, the other three are in the pipeline.

Then there are figures we’re producing as well. At the moment we’re more looking at useful civilian types who can stand in bus queues, give orders to their squad of goons, or suddenly produce a hidden weapon/explosive device.

So not so much a launch, but more a steady shamble into the light, probably blinking at the brightness of it all.

Firstest with the Mostest

This game was provoked by seeing the Brigade Models Deep Ocean Research Centre

So I wanted it as the centre of a game. Obviously two sides would fight over it, but it struck me that the first people in there would have an advantage, as they were the ones in cover and if the research centre is so important, nobody is going to want to shell the opposition out of it. So getting there first is important.

The Grippen Corporation

A multisector finance company which has made major investments on many worlds, it has limited itself on Mysan to mere exploration. Given the backward nature of the inhabitants it never brought them into its plans, merely acquiring a few large offshore islands as a base for its ocean mining venture.

The Mysan Co-Prosperity Sphere.

The world of Mysan has been settled for some time. They’ve had time to regress, advance and regress again. But whilst they may not be up with the latest in Galactic fashions, they have managed to cling to a lot of good, reliable technologies ranging from 19th to 22nd Century. What they’ve got, they can both build and maintain. They were somewhat put out when the Grippen Corporation arbitrarily acquired two large islands. It seems they didn’t even bother paying the natives in beads but merely shipped them to the mainland. Now they’ve build a research station and the feeling is that if the Mysan Co-Prosperity Sphere can put troops on the station, Grippen might feel constrained to negotiate rather than see it damaged as they retake it.

The forces.

The Grippen Corporation.

It has never seen the need for major forces on this world. There is a squadron of six combat aircraft which patrol the parts of the planet Grippen feel a need to watch.

Six Hanset Interceptors. (Just use your favourite figures) These have a portable ECM suite and in full combat mode have a crew served projectile weapon and they can fire four manportable guided missiles. In combat situations they can travel up to forty inches per move and turn as part of the move.

Reaction total 5,5,5,5,1,1,1,1 24

At the start of the game roll a d6. That is how many are available for combat immediately. One of these is already in the air on a patrol. It only has the projectile weapon, it doesn’t carry missiles when on these patrols. Each move roll a d6, on a 6 it arrives on a random table edge.

Those that aren’t combat ready will be frantically got ready. Roll a d6 for each one, on a 6 it is ready.

The Infantry Component.

There are four infantry companies (groups) on the island. One is left behind to garrison the base and the other three groups pile into their hover craft APCs and head for the island. These hovercraft, with medium armour and a crew served projectile weapon travel at 8 inches per move and carry two bases of infantry. So each company has three hovercraft.

A Grippen Infantry Group. The three groups are identical.

6 bases with personal energy weapons and flak armour.

Reaction Points 3,2,2,2,1,2,2,2  16

3 Hovercraft with medium armour and crew served projectile weapon.

Brigade have some nice vehicles that could be hovercraft in their Mercs range

The Mysan Co-Prosperity Sphere.

Here I wanted something different. What’s the point of science fiction if everybody has the same kit? Mind you, as well as home grown equipment, before venturing on this expedition they were gifted some technology by Grippen’s competitors who have no objection to seeing The Grippen Corporation getting a bloody nose. They have acquired modern ECM

Ten Priaeus Interceptors. I spotted these on the Iliada Website at

It does smack of a mixture of lost and rediscovered technology. As well as the pilot who’s obvious tucked away out of sight it mounts a crew served projectile weapon which fires straight ahead, and there is another crewman who has unguided manportable missiles. There is no limit to how many times he can reload and fire, but I wouldn’t have thought the life expectancy would be that long. They can travel up to thirty inches per move and turn as part of the move. They have improvised ECM fitted.

Reaction points 3,3,3,3,2,3,2,2  21pts

3 troop ships.

They are technically 3mm but I think they’re a nice size for 6mm as well.

These count as very large vehicles with medium armour. Each carries two broadside batteries and a forward gun. The forward gun is a standard crew served projectile weapon. The broadside batteries are obsolete in that they fire with the same effect as the normal weapon, but only every other turn. Also because they fire as a broadside, they fire at right angles to the ship, so extend the front and rear edges of the ship’s base up to extreme range and anything in that ‘zone’ that isn’t shielded by something more substantial is a target and is fired upon. Treat it that each target is only fired upon by one gun. The forward gun can traverse but cannot shoot backwards across the front of the broadsides for fear of blast damage.

All these weapons can elevate enough to fire at flying vehicles that are more than five inches away.

They’re big ships with plenty of power, each has an emplaced ECM

They travel at eight inches per move.

The Mysan infantry

These are armed with personal projectile weapon. OK so it is a long magazine rifle with a bayonet but it still works just fine and the bayonet gives them an advantageous dice shift in close combat.

Each group has ten bases, no armour.

Reaction Points 3,2,2,2,1,2,2,2  16

The Table.

Flat, blue and with the Brigade Models Deep Ocean Research Centre smack bang in the middle of it. The forces of the Mysan Co-Prosperity Sphere start half of one move in and move first.

The forces of the Grippen Corporation start on the table edge.

If left alone, the Mysan forces should get to the research centre first, so the Grippen forces should give serious thought to slowing them down and making sure they don’t pour their infantry onto the platforms. Even if only one ship docks and discharges its infantry, they are going to take a lot of moving by infantry combat alone, and whilst you could just blast them off, each shot is rapidly degrading your financial investment.

Note I’ve not suggested infantry figures, really just use what you fancy



If you don’t know Hellfire Rules, they’re available from Wargame Vault, for £4 as a pdf

And from Amazon, on Kindle for £4 or in paperback for £9.50

Chandler’s Law

For those who don’t know it, this law (for writers) is based on writer Raymond Chandler’s advice: “When in doubt, have a man come through the door with a gun in his hand.”

Actually it isn’t a bad guide for those people putting together a wargame scenario. Except in our case, figures entering the scenario carrying weapons is the norm. But I suggest, if you’re stuck, you make sure that there is an inordinate number of them.

If you’ve decided that one play has a squad defending a river crossing, give the other side a full company with armoured support. Trust me, you cannot be too over the top here. (I suppose you can. If it takes you all evening to deploy the figures, you’ve probably overdone it.)
But the balance (or what passes for balance) comes in the setting up of the table and various other tweaks. Note that this is a very generic game. It’ll work for pretty much any period and any scale.

The Table

Plenty of terrain. Fill it with terrain and then add bits. But make sure there are fields of fire for the defenders. Also it the defenders are defending an obstacle, make sure it is an obstacle. A river (impassable to vehicles) is always a good one, with the defenders guarding the one bridge.

Similarly a village in a gap between dense wooded hills also works. Vehicles will have to go through the village.

Do not put defender figures on the table, note their positions, they’re all hiding, dug in.

Either way, make sure that whilst the defenders only have a squad of ten or a dozen men, (perhaps with a heavy machine gun and some light anti-tank weapons they’re not really entitled to under normal Tables of Organisation and Equipment) the attackers cannot just sweep by and ignore them.

The Tweaks


Both armies have passed through this area, repeatedly, over recent months. Both have had time to lay mines, but neither has had the time to do much about the enemy minefields.

  • The road IS mined, but if you’re using Hell by Daylight, troops do have a chance of seeing them. Roll a d6 for the lead vehicle. It finds mines on a 1 on a d6.
  • Off road, the area might be mined. Each time troops move, roll 2d6 for those who are walking where nobody else has walked. On a roll of 2 or 12 they find mines. Again they could well see them and avoid them.

Note that these aren’t really coherent minefields, they’re the remnants of minefields that have been laid, shelled, partially cleared, relaid, shelled, partially cleared again, etc.

The artillery.

The attackers should have plenty of artillery but no obvious targets as there should be no figures on the table. With Hell by Daylight the rules allow you to fire at areas where you suspect an enemy presence. After all, our gallant predecessors did. So the attackers can shell areas even if they cannot see anybody.

The defenders can also have artillery. Every move they should roll percentage dice, note the result and curse. This is pure theatre to keep your opponent off balance. You actually have three pre-registered targets. When you ask, a battery will pound that target until you ask them to stop or the gunners think it’s getting silly. All you do is fire a coloured flare into the air, different colour for each target. The battery hits that target next move.

The Partisans

There are supposed to be partisans or other irregulars who are coming in to harass the enemy from the flank near their baseline. You just want half a dozen figures with rifles, hand grenades, and perhaps an anti-tank rifle or equivalent. These should be Green but will be reasonably well motivated.

But they are there to harass. They’re not there to make death or glory charges into the midst of enemy columns. Their aim is to find a nice patch of cover with a good view of the enemy and a covered retreat to enable them to sneak off the table if somebody takes exception to their presence.

The Clock

This is the biggest problem for the attacker. They only have so much time to break through.

Measure the distance the attacker’s vehicles have to travel to get off the far end of the board assuming a tactically sensible road move. Let us assume that it is, for the purposes of example, 10 moves.

Each move the attacker will roll 2d6. The average roll should be seven. So in 10 moves they should have a total of about 70.

But obviously there will be problems, so they have to get their units off the far edge of the board before the total is 90. Hence they have a little leeway.
If they get a big score early, rolling a lot of 10s and 11s, this means that their High Command is on the blower, driving them forward because they’re desperately needed at the far end. Alternatively a lot of low scores at the start show a more laissez faire attitude from above.

It would probably be a good idea to explain the workings of the clock to both sides, as it will concentrate minds.

The Engineer on the Bridge.

If there is an engineer working to mine the bridge (assuming you have a bridge) he can fit in with the clock. Measure the distance to the bridge, and assume that it is (again for example) six moves, then on a total of 50 the bridge can be blown at any time. To blow it, roll 2d6 and don’t get snake eyes!

Have fun


In case you don’t know them, Hell by Daylight rules are available from Wargame Vault as a pdf for £4

And from Amazon on kindle for £4 or in paperback for £9.50

The Glamour of Exotic Travel

I’m a great believer in variety in science fiction wargaming. Given the ability of incompetents to get themselves into trouble, I think they also deserve their day in the limelight. I have been working on a campaign where, to get both the variety of incidents, produce a coherent backstory, and give you a way of running away at speed, the player(s) are captain and crew of a small merchant ship.

Here is a nice simple scenario, solo or working through it with an opponent. Just a couple of incidents.

The contact

As you look for freight on the orbital space port, you are approached by an alien called Hazzurt. Working on the principle that a ship as battered as yours needs money, Hazzurt makes you a business proposition. He and some friends have captured a consignment of spiced dried jellyfish. This is an expensive planetary speciality, and export off planet is tightly controlled. Frankly, on the planet, the entire half ton stacker is barely worth a hundred Valon Thalers. (About a credit.)
But when sold off world, it would be difficult not to get twenty credits for it, and if you could sell it in the right market, you could get a hundred.

He isn’t being greedy. You meet him and his mates, give him 1000 Valon Thalers, and he’ll give you the stacker of spiced dried jellyfish. He and his mates have done well, and you stand to make a mint!

It’s too good to turn down.

How Big Is Your Crew?

Given that you have to run a spaceship 24/7 when it’s in space, you really need three watch keeping officers, plus three engineers and then there’s the supercargo, steward and cook etc etc etc. But none of them are hired to be combat monkeys. Still there’s no reason why you shouldn’t have weapons and appropriate training. So I think you can assume you can muster half a dozen competent people. This will still leave crew to look after your ship and load cargo and suchlike.

Of your competent people, I’d assume that one or perhaps two might be veterans, having served in the military with the rest being ‘normal’. This bunch will count as first class regulars. Your other crew are, from a combat point of view going to be predominantly green, but some might be ‘normal’. They count as second class regulars.

The First Little Problem

As you and your half dozen cross the concourse of the orbital spaceport, you notice one of your crewmen is in the queue at a fast food outlet. Not a problem. Your people get time off when you’re docked.

Except that suddenly a bunch of a dozen thugs single him out and start to attack him. They’re led by somebody you recognise as a local officer of the Spiced Dried Jellyfish Authority. Word has obviously got out that you’re talking to rogues who are trying to break the monopoly.

In reality they’re not professional brawlers, they’re rough lads who happen to work for the Authority, probably in the warehouses, and they’re earning overtime by being exuberant. They count as Green, and warriors.


The concourse is a circular area with an island in the middle which has all sorts of commercial outlets, and scattered around the outside, passages leading to docking bays. There are also fast food concessions and crowds of people going about their business.

Well on the station, it is accepted you might carry knives, because they’re as much tools as weapons. Concealed pistols are accepted but under sufferance. Wearing powered armour means people ask questions, normally when holding anti-tank weapons. But light flak armour isn’t unusual if it’s fashionably cut.

The mob’s reaction.

When they see you, the thugs leave two men to beat up your crewman and the rest attack you. They are armed with clubs and similar.  If you fight them with similar weapons they will not draw firearms. If you produce a firearm, d6 of them will also have pistols.

The passers-by reaction

If it’s just a brawl, people keep out of the way but largely carry on. If somebody opens fire, then everybody runs and you’re fighting in a deserted concourse.

The authority’s reaction.
A brawl is just one of the things that happens. The use of firearms or similar provokes more of a reaction. D10 turns after the first shot is fired the first, five strong squad of ‘normal’ security guards in composite armour arrive. They have what look like heavy shotguns but fire bean-bag rounds, Treat the weapon as a shotgun firing slug. It’ll be good up to 50 yards but pretty poor beyond. It doesn’t even attempt to penetrate armour, a successful hit knocks the target over and the target is stunned for d6 rounds.

Anybody who has been hit by one of these rounds will be taken to the sickbay and examined by a medic just to make sure there are no cracked ribs, signs of concussion, whiplash injuries, internal bleeding etc.

This squad will open fire on anybody brandishing a firearm. Once they have been taken down, it’s anybody else who doesn’t surrender. If they are fired at, a second squad arrives armed with laser rifles.

Provided nobody has been killed, the authorities will just tell you all to behave. If somebody has been killed, it was all on camera anyway so the trial should be brisk.

The Second Little Problem

Assuming you’ve survived the first problem you get a shuttle down to the planet surface. Here you can hire some sort of ground vehicle and follow the directions to the isolated rendezvous.

Here you find yourself separated from Hazzurt and his band by a canal. They are on the other side of it with a barge between you. Hazzurt suggests he crosses with the barge, brings one of you with the money back to his side, and Big Pongo places the stacker on the barge. Hazzurt counts your money. You check Hazzurt’s Spiced Dried Jellyfish. If you both agree then Hazzurt will get out on his bank and Big Pongo will come across with you to lift the half ton stacker into your vehicle. Then you all go on your way rejoicing.

Hazzurt is Veteran, his three men are normal. Two of them have energy carbines, one has an intermediate round assault rifle and Big Pongo has a club and a pistol. They count as warriors.

Roll a d10 at the start of every move once your man with the money is in the barge. On a 1, Hazzurt is out to double cross you. At this point everybody starts firing and reacting.

But if there’s a 2 on the dice, Hazzurt has been betrayed by one of his contacts, and a force from the Spiced Dried Jellyfish Authority arrive on the scene. Now the gloves are off, they consist of 10 normal militia with flak jackets and submachineguns.

Roll a d6

1,2 They appear on your side of the canal

3,4 They sail down the middle of the canal in a barge

5,6 They appear on Hazzurt’s side of the canal.

Assuming you and Hazzurt haven’t started betraying each other, you’re both on the same side against the Authority. If you have started fighting each other, then it’s every being for themselves.
Once the Authority arrive, Hazzurt will no longer even think of betraying you.

Your aim is to get your stacker to your vehicle and leave.


I wanted to produce a scenario/campaign book to go with Hell by Starlight. But with a campaign you want continuity so that things build on what went before. Yet with skirmish rules you’re not really ready to conquer the galaxy. Also I wanted a campaign that could keep you on your toes and trying to guess what is going to hit you next. Now I’ve seen excellent campaigns where you’re a group of special forces or something similar, generating missions. They’re great, but I wanted something different. Something less high powered.

So it occurred to me that the life of the trader with one small ship and a loyal crew might be the way to go. So Hell by Starlight Campaigns consists of just that. What you need to set yourself up with your ship, how to acquire cargo, freight rates, and all the rest of it. You can end up with all sorts of problems, some of which you bring upon yourself. Some of which hit you because the universe is having a bad day and doesn’t see why you shouldn’t suffer.

It’s written to be usable for the solo player or to be an asset for a group of friends who want to get some interesting games.

So, Hell by Starlight Campaigns.
Available from Iliada Game Studio in pdf for £4.

Or Wargame Vault, also in pdf, also for £4

And from Amazon, on Kindle for £4, or in paperback for £9.50

But then when you look at the barge, or notice comments about Caldoom, that’s a whole new project that is about to happen

The droids you’re looking for?

Have you considered running a checkpoint for the discerning solo wargame? I mean, standing on a checkpoint, how difficult can it be? It’s not as if people are going to start shooting at you. Just in case they do, I’ve suggested Hell by Daylight rules because they are what I use for modern, but checkpoints exist in all periods.

What I wanted was a scenario that would also drop into other games. After all, sometimes you try to control people, and making them pass through check points is one way of doing it.

There is a joke about a dictator who wondered how secure his hold was over the people he ruled. So he set up checkpoints, in the rush hour, to stop people, look inside the car, and then let them proceed.

Obviously there were traffic snarl-ups but nobody complained.

Then he decided to push things further. Not only had they to check inside the car, they had to check the papers of everybody in the car, in detail. As you can imagine the traffic congestion got worse, but still nobody complained.

Finally, losing patience he told the officers on the checkpoints to check the papers, then to slap the motorist.

The chaos got worse, but one of his citizens went ballistic, shouting and raving at the officer who slapped him. So he was brought in front of the dictator who asked him what the problem was.

The chap said, “It’s madness, why on earth not have two officers on a checkpoint, one can check the papers, one can do the slapping, and it’ll all be so much more efficient and we can get to work on time.”

Welcome, citizen, to the checkpoint.

Who have you got manning it?

We have four levels.

  1. It isn’t supposed to be a combat mission, you’re aiding the civil power. So you might have a couple of civilian police officers as part of the team. They can ask the questions, your troops just stand around providing ‘support.’
  2. Alternatively you might just have troops. Obviously things are more highly charged, but still, the soldier who asks to see your papers doesn’t actually point his gun at you.

3 There again, things could be getting tense. The checkpoint has sandbags and there’s a machinegun set up ready, with a belt already loaded and the barrel is pointed at the people in the queue.

4 Finally the gloves are off. The checkpoint is overseen by a proper armoured vehicle. The message is plain. ‘Don’t even think of coming through if you haven’t got the right papers.

 Then you have the people in the queue. These are your fellow citizens. If you’re stationed in the wrong city, your Mum might be among them. Each move a constant stream of people move through the checkpoint. Every turn, Toss a coin and on tails you get one of the individuals below. Roll a d6.

1) An elderly couple.

Roll a d6   

  1. He was in the army back when it was a real army, he points out the rifle is dirty, the men are a mess, and it’s a disgrace. –d6 morale, +d6 time wasted.
  2. She opens a cake tin and offers it round because your men remind her of her grandson who is also a conscript. Is she a terrorist, is it poisoned? It is on a roll of 1 on a d10. If you stop your men taking the cake –d6 morale, +d6 wasted time, if the cake is poisoned, your men have to be rushed to hospital and you’re busted down to road sweeper.
  3. They are either deaf, daft, or enemies of the people. They cannot apparently understand what it’s all about, take a ridiculous amount of time to find their papers, producing instead prescriptions, library tickets, and newspaper cuttings of their golden wedding anniversary. –d6 morale, +d6 time wasted.
  4. 4+. Everything goes smoothly, no problems.

2) Young man.

Roll a d6

  1. He is nervous. If you have police present they spot this (soldiers are used to people being nervous) and spend +2d6 questioning him. He gets more and more nervous and finally admits he’s parked on a parking meter and the money will be running out.
  2. He is obviously under the influence of drink or drugs. Toss a coin, heads he’s effusively friendly, takes +2d6 time wasted. Tails, takes a swing at a soldier. Check below for potentially violent incidents.
  3. He has a large backpack with wires hanging out of it. Roll a d6, 1 to 5 he’s an electrician going to work. +D6 time wasted. 6, when you want to search it, he takes it off, puts it down and starts running. Potentially violent incident.
  4. 4+ Everything goes smoothly, no problems.   

3) Woman with small children

Roll a d6

  1. It’s chaos, she cannot find her papers in a bag full of nappies and other child paraphernalia, the children start crying, one needs changing. Roll a d6, 1 to 5 -1d6 morale, +2d6 time wasted. 6. Who knew Sarge would be such a dab hand at changing babies?
  2. Things go well until the toddler has a meltdown.  -1d6 morale as mother stalks off with screaming hell child under one arm.
  3. 3+ Other than getting chocolatey fingerprints over everything, that went better than it might have.

4) Attractive young woman

Roll a d6

1 to 5 Your men actually try and look a bit professional.

6 One gets his face slapped. Potentially violent incident.

5) Too-clever-half student

Roll a d6

1 to 5 Makes a lot of smart Alec comments that wind everybody up. -1d6 morale/

6 Makes unexpected sudden movement. Potentially violent incident.

6) Tourist who doesn’t speak the language.

1-5 +2d6 time wasted as you try to communicate.

6 You always knew those extra classes you did in (insert unusual language here) would come in useful.

Time Wasted

You’ll have noticed that you can accumulate a lot of wasted time. In reality, it’s not your waited time, you’ll be here until you’re told to go somewhere else. But each amount of wasted time means the queue grows longer and gets more and grumpier.

Once the total of time wasted is 10 or more, each time you waste more time, people in the queue will get more exasperated. This produces a potentially violent incident.

Potentially Violent Incidents.

There are situations where somebody in the queue loses their temper at the length of time they’re waiting and gets abusive, or perhaps a rucksack is dumped at your feet by somebody who flees. At this point there is a chance that somebody might overreact.

Now in Hell by Daylight rules, there is a chance that troops might or might not fire, (whether you want them to or not.) Don’t worry if you don’t have the rules, there is a quick reference sheet at

When you get a potentially violent incident, tot up your total of morale points lost. Roll d100 and if you get less than or equal to the total, one of your men has potentially snapped.

In Hell by Daylight terms, treat those on your checkpoint as being ‘under fire’ and ‘halted’.
So a Green 2 (average motivation) has a 40% chance of firing but only a 7% chance of aiming. So it shouldn’t happen often.

If somebody does open fire then there is shouting, screaming, and people fleeing in different directions.

The purpose of the checkpoint

Ideally the checkpoint isn’t there purely to irritate people. You’re looking for something. I would suggest that the checkpoint be integrated into a bigger game, have several separating one half of a cluttered urban table from the other half. Or have some sort of sweep going on with foot patrols or what-have-you.

I would take a pack of cards. Let us assume that you are looking for something that might be reasonably common, perhaps terrorists (resistance fighters) smuggling weaponry.

So deal your cards face down to each checkpoint. Split the entire pack between all the checkpoints. Each move, every checkpoint draws the top card from their pack and looks at it. This is after they’ve rolled any dice. If the card drawn is a Jack, then it’s a suspect. What the suspect does depends on the Jack.

Jack of hearts and the Jack of spades are one eyed Jacks. If these cards are played, the suspect tries to flee and not only that, they have d6 accomplices armed with pistols or other, concealable weaponry, who will give them covering fire. Set the figures up and fight it out. The suspect will attempt to flee carrying the bag of weaponry they were attempting to smuggle. The other accomplices are there to cover the withdrawal, not to fight it out with increasing numbers of security force personnel.

The other Jacks, the person explains that they were just carrying it for a friend. You can arrest them without trouble.

But what if you have a less routine quarry? Put one joker in the pack before you deal the pack out to the checkpoints. If the joker turns up, your quarry has arrived at the checkpoint. It’s up to you exactly who or what the quarry is. A leading drug lord with his heavily armed bodyguards? The ex-wife of the current president for life who knows too much about him? An old man with a boy and two battered droids? The choice is yours.


Ideally you would have enough personnel to do your job. Assuming four on a checkpoint, you have just enough for the checkpoints and an officer and another four who are held back in reserve. If there is shooting then there is chaos with people fleeing, but it may be that you need to pull in more men to help win the firefight. Obviously these can come from the reserve or from another checkpoint.

If you have men abandon a checkpoint for any reason, the cards dealt for them are removed from play. The terrorists or other targets took advantage and just made their way through when nobody was checking.

You may have police on your checkpoints. If you do, you can reroll three dice for checkpoints during the course of the game. The police may defuse things.

If you go to the third and fourth level of manning your checkpoint with machineguns and/or tanks, then the men will obviously be more nervous. Given the precautions you’re taking, they assume the worst. So with if you go to third level, double the number of morale points lost. If you go up to fourth level, triple the number lost.


If you don’t know Hell by Daylight rules, they’re available as a pdf from Wargame Vault for £4

They’re available from Amazon on Kindle for £4 or as a paperback for £9.50


Not every martial career is a steady if unspectacular advance through the ranks which leads to high position and the adoration of the masses. Some are cut short through incompetence, government cuts, or the unfortunate incident with the Colonel’s lady.

Thus it is not entirely impossible that an otherwise promising young officer could find themselves posted somewhere unfashionable, forgotten, or even unquestionably dangerous.

This scenario starts from the premise that you have upset your superiors remarkably badly but not so badly they can just kick you out. Thus they are forced to deal with you in a more imaginative manner.

Thus you are exiled to command a small fort somewhere on some distant colonial frontier.
With regard to the period, any will do. Young officers have been getting into trouble for millennia. Doubtless there were Roman forts in the North of England and into Scotland who got more than their fair share of martial ne’er-do-wells who had outstayed their welcome in more respectable garrisons.

Similarly in the far distant future, somewhere on the frontiers of the Third Salanid Hegemony, the young office who parked a hundred ton mecha in the General’s wife’s rose garden at the end of a particularly drunken night out would be posted to a distant and unfashionable world before he’d even got over the hangover.

Obviously you have survived in the army because somebody is looking after you, effectively you or your family called in a favour. This is the first of three favours you can call in.

So pick your period and plunge into the game.

Your military force

Assuming Hell and Uncivil Disorder, you have taken over a force of a nominal 50 men in five bunches of ten. They are a couple of heavy weapons (which count as stationary MGIAT) from which to defend their fort.

The arrival

On surveying your new home and the villainous, ill-equipped and unlettered rogues who make up your new command you turn to drink and/or women.

Each week roll a d6

Let’s start with a drink to help recover from the journey

1,2,3,4,5 The time passes in a drunken haze

6. A veteran sergeant who has lost patience with you drops you in a horse trough to sober up. Thanks to his withering sarcasm you stop drinking.

Roll a d6

1,2 You turn to women.

3,4 You turn to literary pursuits.

5,6 It occurs to you that you ought to try being a good officer.

Turn to women.

1,2,3,4,5 time passes.

6 Your current mistress loses patience with you, slaps you about and forces you to take up your military career. You try to become a good officer.

Literary pursuits.

1,2,3,4,5 You are fascinated by the area, the tales your men have to tell, and the wiles of the locals. There is a great novel here and you are sure you are the man to write it.

6 As you read through the opening chapters of your book it occurs to you that your men are in poor shape, whilst the natives are hostile and are plotting to destroy you. You take up your military career.

Keep a careful track of exactly how many dice rolls there were. Each represents one week of elapsed time.

Taking up your military career and being a good officer.

When you look around, there are several things you need to do.

  • Turn the men into soldiers. You would hope that this shouldn’t be too difficult, after all, a lot of them have been soldiers in the past. At the moment, in Hell and Uncivil Disorder terms, they’re Thugs.
  • Get them proper equipment, new uniforms, decent rifles, ammunition, and all those little luxuries of military life.
  • Get the fort tidied up, rebuild the gaps in the walls and that sort of thing.

To an extent, some of these can be done simultaneously. You can order the new equipment whilst you’re trying to turn your men back into soldiers.

As part of turning them into soldiers, you might get them on work fatigues cleaning and mending.

Turning them into soldiers.

This takes six weeks. Each week roll a d6. On a 1 you get a mutiny. You can play these out on the wargames table if you fancy.

D6 mutineers try and burst into your quarters to kill you. There is only one mutiny. Either they kill you or they learn their lesson.


Fight it as a skirmish game, so in Hell by Daylight or for Hell by Starlight, they count as Green. Their leader could be Normal and would act as their NCO. They’d be armed with obsolete weapons, old rifles, or even clubs and knives because weapons are kept locked in the armoury when not in use.

You would have your service pistol, even a sword if you want one. You might even have your rifle handy. Sleeping with it seems a bit eccentric but there’s nothing wrong with a little eccentricity. If your mistress is present you could let her have the pistol and you keep the rifle. Not being acquainted with the lady in question I cannot guess as to the standard of her marksmanship.

The mutineers have to get through a narrow door which will make them easier to hit. We’ll count you as veteran for the purposes of this game, on the grounds you have doubtless seen combat on other fronts in the past. If you’re wounded, normally that is you out of action. Because of the nature of the scenario, roll a d6 for each wound. On a 1 it takes you out, otherwise it reduces your movement by half. At the end of the scenario roll a d6 and try to roll over the number of wounds. If you do this you’re capable of light duties. If you roll four less than the number of wounds, the campaign is over, you have to be invalided out to hospital and get a comparatively honourable discharge.

Each move after the first roll, a d6. On a 6 the sergeant arrives with 2d6 men loyal to you. They will attack the mutineers from behind and fight their way through to rescue you.

At the end of six weeks you and your sergeant have turned them from (in Hell and Uncivil Disorder terms) Thugs to Gunmen. In other rule sets, perhaps lift them from Green to Normal.

Getting them proper equipment

You can put in a requisition, roll a d6 and wait. On a 6 you get what you ordered. It’s always a roll of 6 unless you have called in a favour at which point it’s 5,6. There are things you can do. You can try one a week.

  • If you can call in favours, do so now. This will give you a another chance of rolling but at 5,6. It will also add +1 to other chances below if you need them.
  • If you had a drinking problem, you can send another requisition with a case of drink you had left. This gets you another chance of rolling.
  • If you have a mistress, she will write to friends who know people who know people. This gives you another chance of rolling.

  • If you pursued literary excellent, with a requisition form you send a chapter from your book about base efficiency. You send two versions of the chapter, one is an excoriating and brutally honest account of base corruption and names names. The other version is somewhat blander, painting the base staff as hard worked and honest servants of the state. They have a choice as to which gets published.

Note that if you get them proper equipment, once it’s arrived you don’t have to roll for mutiny when you’re making soldiers of them. They realise you can deliver and are worth keeping alive.

Getting the Fort tidied up.

Let us assume that it costs 10 points to get the fort into a state where it’s both secure, the walls and defences in decent order, and it’ll also pass inspection.

When you’re turning them into soldiers, roll a d6 every week. On a 4,5,6 you also get 1 point of work done on the fort.
Once they are soldiers, you can get 1 point of work a week done, without stopping doing other stuff.

Or alternatively you can decide to crack on and do a quick job. Each day you’re doing this, roll a d6 and that’s how many points you’ve got.

If you do ‘crack on’ then there is an element of improvisation. So areas where the wall has fallen down are covered by a sandbagged trench and bunker rather than properly building the wall up. It won’t look as good but it will be as good.

If there is an attack on the fort before it’s finished, roll a d10. If the attacker rolls over the number of points of work you’ve done, they’ve spotted the weakness and will attack there. (This will demand an element of both roleplaying and honesty on your part. It might be that the gate is rotten so an infantry attack could literally burst through. If could be that one section of wall is still only waist high and you’ve not managed to either rebuild it, or build a bunker outside to cover it.)


How many men do you actually have? Roll a d10 for each bunch, but they will not have fewer than five men in a bunch so any roll of less than five is a five.

You can ask for reinforcements. Roll a d6

  1. You hear nothing back, at all.
  2. You get a d6 trouble makers, any bunch you add them to drops immediately to Thug and takes d6 weeks to get right again. These arrive next week.
  3. Knowing the reputation of your station, the other commanders make sure you get the right number of reinforcements but they’re the men they don’t want. If you mix them in with your men, you’ll be back to square one and it will take 6 weeks to get things sorted. Alternatively you could form your reinforcements into separate bunches and they’ll take d6 weeks for each new bunch to be got into shape. So keen are the other commanders to get rid of them, these men arrive next week.
  4. You’ve got half the replacements you wanted, but they’re decent men and can be added to any bunch without problems. These arrive in d6 weeks.
  5. You get the replacements you wanted, they’re decent men, and they’ll fit in nicely. They arrive in d6 weeks.
  6. You get the number of replacements you want and they arrive next week.
  7. You get the men you want, next week, and they’ve fetched a couple of light armoured vehicles/technicals as well so you also have two MGIAT.

Add +2 if you call in a favour.

Hostile elements

It has to be assumed that the reason the fort was built here and remains garrisoned is that there are hostile elements in the area who would cause trouble if you weren’t on the scene to deter them. Thus, enter the Friendly Association of Bandits, Brigands, Scum and Allied Trades. (From now on FABBSAT) 

Currently, even as you work, “intellects vast and cool and unsympathetic, regarded this area with envious eyes, and slowly and surely drew their plans against you.” (Obviously I paraphrase.)

FABBSAT is obviously plotting to take control of the area. Whilst you’re weak it’s obviously a good time. So they too will be making plans. Work through the bullet points in order.

  • Each week, starting from when you take over, roll a d6. On a 1 somebody has noticed that things are going from bad to worse.
  • Once they’ve noticed this roll another d6 every week for them to have a meeting to decided what to do about it. On a 1 they have the meeting.
  • At the meeting they decided how big a force they will gather to attack. Assume each member of FABBSAT has one bunch of ten men. Roll a dice, odd and you have a bunch of gunmen who are the proper bandits. Even and you have a bunch of thugs who will do some fighting but are more there for the looting and carrying.
  • Roll a d6, that’s how many FABBSAT members are available and want to take part. These are now the ‘core force’.
  • If it looks as if the assault would work now, then they’ll attack. Otherwise they’ll spend time watching you and contacting other FABBSAT members. Each week roll a d6. This brings in even more members who may want to join the core force. Roll a d6 to see how many want to join. (Call them the auxiliary force, it doesn’t matter here, but it makes things easier later). Check the quality of their following. At this point they have enough and will plan an attack. They will roll d6 each week from this point on. They will attack on a 6 on a d6, and add +1 to the dice every week.

At this point you can move to the wargames table, the size of the rabble of bandits and whether they attack a rejuvenated fort is up to you and pure chance.

When it comes to fighting on the table, it really depends on the number of figures that you have. I’ve already suggested how the weakness might play out.

Because there might still be a weak point in the defences it might be worth concentrating on that section of the perimeter. You have, nominally at least, five bunches. So that is one per side (assuming a roughly square fort) and one in reserve. Nobody is going to think it unreasonable if your strongest bunch is on the weakest wall and the reserve is held close by.

Similarly the attackers can divide between the various sectors, but the strongest and best trained will obviously be saved for the weakest sector. So you can, if you want restrict the fight to that sector.

During the fighting.
Remember that you are defending the entire position, not just one side. So each move roll a d6. On a roll of 1, the enemy have made unexpected advances against one of the other sides, and your reserve has to be rushed there to shore up the defences.

If you cannot spare a reserve, when you roll your d6, on a 1,2, the enemy are over the wall in that sector. At any point until then, if you send the reserve, they deal with the problem and you start again, rolling a d6 and waiting for a roll of 1 to have problems.


Once you have your force in some sort of order, and if you haven’t been attacked, you obviously have to show the flag and convince everybody that you’re in charge.

Decide on the size of patrol that you’re going to send out.

Decide how far it will range from the base. There are three zones.

  • If you range d6 moves from the base, you restore 1 point of order in that zone.
  • If you range 2d6 moves from the base you restore 3 points of order in that zone.
  • If you range 3d6 moves from the base, you restore 5 points of order in that zone.

You have to restore 6 points in the inner zone, 12 points in the middle zone, and 18 points in the outer zone. Once you’ve done that the area is pacified and you are lauded to the skies as the man who brought civilisation to the area.

The ranges (1d6,2d6,3d6) are the number of moves that it takes to get a rescue party to them, or the number of moves it takes them to get back to rescue the base.

The FABBSAT Response.

At some point you created their ‘core force.’ If not, go back and do it now and also create an ‘auxiliary force’.

When you send out a patrol roll a d6

1,2, The core force attacks the patrol.

3,4, The core force attacks the fort

5,6, The core force attacks the patrol, the auxiliary force attacks the fort.

-1 for each defeat you inflict on FABBSAT

Rushing to the rescue.

It is entirely possible that when the fort is attacked you might want the patrol to dash back to help. Similarly when the patrol is ambushed you might want the garrison to sally out to help.

Roll d6

1,2,3 The auxiliary force ambushes the potential rescuers.

4, 5, The rescuers get there without difficulty.

6 If the rescuers leave the fort to help the patrol, the auxiliary force attacks the fort.

So there you have it, might fill a wet evening?
Period? Use what you’ve got,

After all, all sorts of people have had to defend convoys.

And all sorts of people have sacked forts and cities.


If you’ve not come across Hell and Uncivil Disorder, these rules are available from wargame vault at £4 for a pdf.

They’re also available from Amazon, on Kindle for £4 or as a paperback for £9.50

Pre-Game Game. Lucratori te salutant

The aim with this was to put together something which might add ‘depth’ to a perfectly ordinary game. It would fit in with most rules and quite a few periods.

A perfect pre-game game isn’t going to take long, it shouldn’t eat into valuable playing time. But there’s always time for institutionalised corruption.

The scenario.

Let us assume a third world military dictatorship supported by one major power is trying to crush insurgents supported by another major power. Both major powers are pouring supplies in. Bitter experience has taught the powers that just giving money merely pushes up the price of villas in Switzerland and yachts in the western Mediterranean. So instead both sides get supplies. To be done properly the supplies will be placed in stockpiles and your troops will be supplied out of the stockpile. They’ll get the old stuff first, so we have proper stock rotation and stuff doesn’t go off.

The problem with this system is that if stuff doesn’t go into the stockpile, and you’re passing out the old stuff, nobody but a few (generously remunerated) storekeepers notice, until either the auditors arrive or somebody backs up the lorry and discovers the cupboard is now bare.

The mechanism

I suggest a simple pack of cards. These represent the value of the supplies being sent by your backers. Each player will draw a card. If the card is a court card then it represents something you cannot merely cash in, but you can launder the money and get it abroad where it remains comfortably anonymous.

Obviously there is an element of waste in this transaction as a lot of people’s palms need to be greased. So whilst a court card is worth 11, 12, or 13 points to your armed forces, it’s only worth 1 in your secure bank account. Still one has to make sacrifices.

If you draw a card that isn’t a court card, you play it face up in front of you.
The other player then draws their card. If they cannot use the card they too discard it face-up in front of them.

But if, when you come to discard the card, you can add the value to the value of one of the two cards discarded face up, and get a total of 11, 12, or 13, you can pick up that other card and put the two of them to one side as money added to your secure offshore bank account. Note that you only get 1 point in your account, even though there are two cards.

Also if you made up the point by using a card from the other player’s discard pile, keep that to one side.

After you’ve run through a pack of cards, then the game is over. Both sides tot up how much money they’ve squirreled away. The first winner is the one with the most money out of the country.

The effects of the pre-game

This is comparatively simple. Tot up the number of points lost to the army.

Also tot up the number of points each player got using cards from the other player’s discard. The player who has got most ‘won the discards’.

There are 364 points in a pack of cards. So work out what proportion of points you have both syphoned off. Then you have to apply this to the armies on the table.

The first thing to ask is whether both sides are basically as corrupt as each other. Remember that what cannot be achieved by corruption can easily be achieved by institutional inefficiency combined with the overcharging by defence contractors who have good friends in all political parties.

In simple terms, if the two players absconded with 50% of the points, then their armies are 50% as effective as you’d hope they would be.
But the player who ‘won the discards’ gets give one side a bonus.

If your rules produce points based armies, whittling them down is comparatively easy but it can be done for any rule system.

An Example

Ruritania is slipping into chaos and perhaps civil war. Government forces are on the streets and you as the commander of the Government forces in Braziville have the following to deploy the following. I’ll use Hell and Uncivil Disorder rules, to show how you can tweak things for a rule system that doesn’t use points for building armies.

Government forces

A regular infantry company. This consists of four bunches of riflemen riding in APCs.

A paramilitary police company. This consists of four bunches of gunmen riding in lorries.

A ‘company’ of ‘Popular Militia.’ Four bunches of thugs. These ride in a mixture of private cars.


One battery emplaced artillery in a firebase who can cover the entire area.


You have main-force formation. This consists of six bunches of gunmen riding in lorries.

A local Militia company. Four bunches of thugs. These ride in a mixture of private cars.


The insurgent divides the forces allocated into three commands, which he or she write down.

So 1st combat command, one bunch of local militia

2nd combat command, 1 bunch of local militia. One bunch of main force.

3rd combat command, 2 bunch of militia, five bunches of main force.  

Then they mount three attacks, allocating troops to them. He can hit three places in the city. The government forces have to react.

So the Insurgent might say. “First attack, 1st combat command attack the railway station.”

Government player will say, “Deploy the Paramilitary police from the fire base to the Railway Station.”

Insurgent player. “Second attack, Second combat command, will ambush the Paramilitary police on their way to the fire station.”

Government player, “Deploy regular infantry company and MGIAT to rescue the paramilitaries.”

Insurgent player, “Third combat command will storm the fire base.”

Government player, “Popular Militia are in the fire base.”

Combats will be fought out in the order they are announced. Troops in vehicles can react to events more quickly. So if in they’re not needed they can move on to somewhere else. They will arrive at the next fight on move 4. If not needed in that fight they can arrive in the final fight on move 8. If they’re walking they arrive on move 8 and move 12.

The Handicapping

Now comes the tricky bit. It’s all very approximate.

The Government player states that he has no fuel so the tanks and APCs cannot move so his men have to walk.

The Insurgent player nods judiciously and suggests that for 50%, rather more is called for. So the government player downgrades the Riflemen to Gunmen. The artillery remain untouched.

Then it’s the insurgent player’s turn

He halves the number of thugs. Instead of four bunches, he only has two. Which seems fair. He also has no fuel so his main force have no trucks and his thugs no cars.

The government player intimates that this seems a bit underwhelming so suggests that the main force troops start as sullen. This will slow the attack. The insurgent player agrees to this.

Finally the insurgent player won the discards. He can give one side a bonus. He does so. He gives the Government player enough fuel for his two MGIAT. This means that they deploy with the regular infantry company and do not sit around in the firebase acting as heavily armed pillboxes.

Thus battle(s) can commence.


In case you don’t know Hell and Uncivil Disorder rules they’re available as a pdf from Wargame Vault for £4

Or from Amazon in paperback for £9.50 or £4 on Kindle.

The Warlord

This solo Science Fiction campaign is based around Shem, an old city, perhaps fallen from the high status to which it once aspired but it is still no mean city. It ornaments the distant world of Torogath III. Humanity has passed through this world several times, but gradually it has slipped slowly into being a quiet backwater.

You are determined to make your home city of Shem a great city again. Borrowing money from family (and anybody else who will lend it to you) you hire a band of reckless adventurers who are now your followers and bodyguard. You and your band beat off some desert raiders and the city proclaims you to be King of Shem.

So for your campaign, what rules? Well I think you want to lead city sized forces so you want to think modestly big. You’ll be leading hundreds of men, not thirty of forty. So I’ve geared this to Hellfire rules. I’ve tried to keep costs and similar comparable with Hellfire Campaigns, although I’ve used a slightly different way of doing the map.

The Figures

What have you got? Anything scruffy and disreputable. Because Hellfire can work with 15mm have you thought about these from Alternative Armies to be your reckless adventurers?

In 6mm I’d be tempted to look at colonial ranges rather than just science fiction. How about looking at these from Baccus for those city dwellers with firearms. You could use their sword and spearmen for the rest.

Or alternatively how about Brigade’s Desert Raiders for your 6mm reckless adventurers.

I always feel that you should never be afraid to mix fantasy figures in with SF. How about one of these to mount a team of reckless adventurers.

The Map

This is quite simple. Take a pack of playing cards. First remove court cards and jokers, aces and twos. Then shuffle well and place one card face up on the table in front of you. This represents the city of Shem. Because the higher the value, the better, if the card you’ve placed is less than a seven, you can discard and draw again, until you’ve at least got a seven.

Then around this card place eight others, also face up, so they form a square, three cards by three cards, with Shem in the middle. These represent the neighbouring towns, villages and cities.

Finally shuffle in half the court cards and place the cards, face up, until Shem is in the centre of a five by five square of cards. You can move from one card to another by crossing an edge, not by moving diagonally. The terrain is assumed to get in the way.

You can assume that any cities down one edge are ports and the other cities aren’t. You can then link up port cities with cities and towns in their hinterland. This gives the roads a purpose. Also cities tend to be on rivers, even if only small ones because you need a decent water supply. So have a river mouth by each port city and extend them back inland. Obviously they’ll have tributaries and suchlike but they needn’t be major obstacles. The area is too small and parochial.

At this point you can if you want transfer your grid of twenty five settlements to a more aesthetically pleasing map, with hills and roads and all the fripperies of geography. You can even give them names. Just make sure the roads connect the settlements so that your movement follows the rules about not moving along diagonals.

The cards

Each card is a settlement. The value of the card gives you the strength and wealth of the settlement. All settlements are walled after a fashion. Those that are represented by court cards consider themselves cities and these have a notional strength of twelve. With other cards the strength is the number on the card.

The nature of the settlements

You want to know how loyal or otherwise your cities and generals will be. Here I’m going to suggest you look at the book “Tony Bath’s Ancient Wargaming.” It includes Tony Bath’s ‘Setting up a Wargames Campaign,’ a must-read for the discerning ancient wargamer.

He has an excellent system for dicing up the characteristics of your various governors and similar. I’d recommend you buy the book, but here is a simplified method of discovering the character of these people and places. .

  • We will assume that the loyalty of the city is the popularity of the governor you appoint.
  • Each city comes with a governor whom you can just accept, or you can replace them with your man. If you replace them, the city loyalty is the popularity of the new governor, minus one.
  • If your governor leaves the city (perhaps because he leads troops to join your army), then the city loyalty defaults to the popularity of the local man.  (The one you replaced.) Obviously you can have the local man executed, but then the city loyalty is at -3 to your governor’s popularity.
  • If you garrison a city with a unit/base of your Reckless Adventurers, it adds +3 to the governor’s loyalty.

So roll a d6 for each characteristic for each city’s governor/local strongman.

Remember to roll up a character for you as well. Pick the one you prefer out of the heap, and then you’ll have to live with the advantages and disadvantages. So you might pick one with a high martial aptitude but is not popular due to his savagery and depravity.

Trade links

If you have a Port on one edge of the map, and a city on the other edge of the map, there will be a trade route between them. Mark the shortest road that connects them on your map. If you control every settlement on that trade route, you get a tax of 500 credits per settlement per month on the route per turn.

Raising money

•        Each city pays you tribute; five hundred credits for every point of value of the card drawn for the city. So if the city was represented by a 6 of diamonds, then that is three thousand credits a turn it pays you.

•        There is also the income from trade (see above.)

Raising troops

Because Hellfire deploys troops in units composed of a number of bases I’ll probably confuse everybody by using both terms promiscuously in this scenario.

Each settlement can field a force with three times as many bases as it has points, so a settlement with a six of diamonds can raise 18 bases.

These troops are formed into units. Half are more poorly armed and motivated and tend to remain as home defence. The other half is better armed and equipped and can join an ‘expeditionary’ force.

You ‘fill up’ from the bottom, so the settlement first produces a home defence force of at least six bases and then starts to offer men for an expeditionary force. Because you’ve discarded aces and twos, the smallest settlement will be a three. So that will produce 9 bases. This will be six bases for the home defence and three bases well enough equipped to be summoned to join an expedition.

If we look at a settlement that’s a ten, then it’ll raise 30 bases. So fifteen bases are home defence and fifteen worth taking on an expedition. As for organisation, you might decide they are units of five bases, so the expeditionary force is composed of three units of five, or you could have one unit seven strong and one unit eight strong.

Home Defence Force Troops.

For the home defence troops a unit, no matter how many bases it has, will have no armour and obsolete projectile weapons. These fire at half effect over 10” but at normal effect under 10”. When you move Home Defence Troops out of their home area, roll a 2d6 at the end of each month. That’s how many bases have deserted. It drops to 1d6 bases a month if you pay them.

Reaction 1,2,3,2,1,2,1,1 13pts

Heavy weapons. You could give the settlements heavy weapons to support their troops. I’d go for something obsolete. Have one for every ten bases the settlement can produce (rounding down so you always have one.)

These crew served projectile weapon fire every other turn. They fire as far as any other crew served weapon, but again with half effect over 10” but with double effect at 10” and under.  They are towed by animal teams, which can keep up with infantry marching.

Reaction 1,2,3,2,1,2,1,1 13pts

Expeditionary Force Troops

These have flak armour, perhaps hidden under robes, and have modern projectile weapons.

At the end of a month when they’ve been on half pay and were expected to forage, roll a d6. That’s how many bases have deserted from that unit.

Reaction 2,3,2,1,2,2,2,1 15pts

Reckless Adventurers

Whilst we’re looking at troop types this is perhaps the best place to include your Reckless Adventurers.

A unit will be eight bases strong. They will have flak armour, perhaps hidden by robes, and modern projectile weapons. One base will have a crew served projectile weapon, which you might want to mount on a beast drawn cart or on the back of some monstrous creature.

Reaction 3,3,3,3,3,2,2,2 21pts

Spending money

All spending is on a monthly basis, but then as all tribute is paid monthly you budget monthly. After all, you might not actually live through a complete financial year.

  • The first call on your income is your own standard of living. There’s no point being Tyrant if it means you live in a ditch and drink dirty water and eat stale bread. So the first thousand credits of your income are spent on your personal standard of living. There is no penny pinching here. Your wives and concubines demand that certain standards be maintained.
  • The second call on your income is the honoraria paid to any governors or generals you appoint. If you allow the city to keep its original strongman/governor, then he has his own sources of income and you don’t need to worry about him. But if you appoint one of your men as governor, you have to pay a five hundred credits a turn to support him. (As well as rolling dice to give him characteristics.)
  • Then you have your Reckless Adventurers. They aren’t doing this for the good of their health. It costs 1,000 credits to support one unit of Reckless Adventurers.
  • You start off with one unit of Reckless Adventurers already raised, but it costs 6,000 credits to raise a second. You’re not just buying the kit they wear, you’re buying loyalty and also selecting for a very special type of person. They may not be the type of person you would normally invite to dinner, but these are people you can rely upon, absolutely. The extra units also cost 1,000 credits to support. You see why I suggested you ensure that Shem is at least a 7 strong settlement.
  • You can also pay for an army. When you summon troops owed to you from the settlements that owe you loyalty, you have to pay them. It costs at least 500credits per unit of Expeditionary Force troops, ten bases strong, per month. (You can reduce this pro-rata.) Home Defence Force troops are paid at half this rate.  Whilst your army is on the march it feeds itself, (which means you can pay Expeditionary Force troops only 250 credits a month, and Home Defence force troops don’t need paying at all. They forage (loot) as you travel. Note that units on half or less pay because they’re expected to forage for themselves are prone to fade away as men return home with their ‘forage.’ When an army sits down to besiege a settlement, the besieging army has to be paid in full. Sieges are resolved at the end of the turn, even if the army has been encamped around it for the entire turn.

Movement and fighting


A one month turn has six movement phases. In a movement phase you may move from one settlement to the next. A movement phase includes any battles. A siege lasts an entire turn.

You cannot move through a hostile territory unless you are willing to offer battle.


When you turn up outside a settlement that isn’t part of your petty empire, there is a chance it will join you. If the strength of the army you are fielding is twice that of the settlement they will automatically join you if your popularity is higher than that of their local strongman/governor. If they do not join you automatically they have to be besieged, or they can be deceived into fighting a battle outside the walls.

If the defenders are not outnumbered, they will offer battle. Here you can attempt to deceive them by splitting your force, and placing part of your army under a general. (Dice for that individual’s characteristics, what you get is what you get. He’s probably a brother in law or something.) You will commence the battle with you leading your force which is no stronger than the enemy, and the enemy attacking you. Your general will lead the outflanking force to the attack provided he makes certain die rolls.

  • He must roll less than or equal to his Martial aptitude or experience (your choice) to attack in the correct place. Otherwise he arrives behind you, as the battle starts.
  • He must roll less than or equal to his activity or he turns up 2d6 moves after you want him to.
  • He must roll less than or equal to his loyalty or he doesn’t turn up at all. If his loyalty is a 1, on a roll of 6 he joins the other side.


At the end of each turn roll less than or equal to your Martial aptitude or Military experience (your choice) to take the city. Each turn deduct an extra -1 from the dice, it gets easier as time goes on.

Winning and losing battles.

  • If you defeat the forces of a settlement that fights you outside the walls, then the settlement surrenders to you and pays tribute.
  • If you lose a battle this will call into question the loyalty of all your other settlements and generals who must immediately take a loyalty test. Each governor or general must roll less than or equal to their loyalty to stay loyal to you.
  • Each city, or army being led by a general, must then roll less than or equal to the governor or general’s popularity to remain loyal to him.

This means that you could get a situation where a governor is loyal to you, but the city rebels against both you and him. In this case he can hold the gate with his bodyguard for 1d6 turns, meaning you can rush there with an army and force the citizens to fight you in the field however strong you are.

If a governor or general rebels but his city or army doesn’t, he flees and you have to roll up a new governor or general.

Replacing losses

  • Units lost will be replaced by the city next time you ask them to. However for every three bases lost, the city will have a -1 to its loyalty for the next four turns. Remember most losses aren’t dead, they’re wounded, fled or whatever.
  • If you lose a unit of ‘Reckless Adventurers’ you have to raise a new one at full cost. This is because everyone (including probably your own army) takes delight in sticking the knife into your trained thugs when they get the chance.

Troop Types and More Figures

Seriously you can use pretty well anything that appeals. What have you got, what do you fancy buying? You could make your ‘Reckless Adventurers’ cavalry or mounted infantry. You could give them technicals and transport the Expeditionary Force Troops in civilian vehicles. (Whilst the home defence forces trudged along on foot.) Indeed the reckless adventurers can charge in mounted on improbable dinosaurs or ox drawn chariots. In the latter two cases just treat them as if they were APCs with improvised armour. Let your imagination run wild on this one.

Winning and Losing.

Technically you could keep going until you conquer every settlement. What tends to happen is that you lose a battle in which case everyone tests for loyalty and half your empire collapses meaning you have to re-conquer it; or you are killed in battle.

If the latter happens there are two options. The first is that it is game over; you’ve died before conquering the entire map. The other option is to say that the reason you cannot just dispose of your more irritating generals is that they are family and potential heirs. So on your death; you immediately become your most popular general. This might mean you have with you the remnants of the defeated army, or if your loyalty was previously suspect, then you might be stuck in an out of the way settlement and have to raise an army and defeat some other general first.


In case you don’t know Hellfire rules, they’re available from Wargame Vault in pdf for £4.

Or from Amazon, £9.50 in paperback or £4 on Kindle

Hellfire Campaigns is also available from Wargame Vault in pdf for £4.

And from Amazon, £9.50 in paperback or £4 on Kindle

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