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The God Machine

A science fiction scenario for Hellfire rules.

There are worlds where people forget, history passes them by and each generation fail to recall a little more of what their parents once knew. Machines that their grandmother used, no longer work because her grandmother was the last person who could service it. When the space lanes dwindle and the ships no longer call, the need to retrench becomes a downward spiral.

On Halfield III the retrenchment has gone on for generations. The process has been so inexorable that the vast majority of people no longer realise it has happened. They continue to till the fields, their rude ploughs dragged by the descendants of asses imported as a frivolous luxury thousands of years ago. They moan about the price of iron, and instead use copper, more easily worked, and regard blacksmiths with suspicion.

Sortan the Scheming has slowly put together a nascent empire by reclaiming technologies that had been thought lost. Now his small army, equipped with the latest in rifled muskets, is the leader in military technology. Still, he has greater ambitions, the nearby territory of Amman is held in the name of the God Machine. The vast and slumbering war machine is worshiped by the population and its will is interpreted to her people by the High Priestess, Sitamum. The machine itself is a temple. What could Sortan’s savants learn if they had control of the machine?

Sortan the Scheming

Sortan moves quickly, summoning the three regiments of his army who are stationed nearest to Amman. He also has with him his person guard who are a regiment of mounted infantry, and his Yarg mercenaries (alien warriors mounted on their genetically modified mounts).

Sortan’s forces.

For figures use what you’ve got, American Civil War, Napoleonic, or if you don’t look too hard whilst you’re using them even WW1 or WW2.

Baccus ACW are nice. https://baccus6mm.com/catalogue/AmericanCivilWarACW/

For Yarg mercenaries, wolf mounted Orcs could well serve. I have no intention of being prescriptive.

https://irregularminiatures.co.uk/6mmRanges/6mmFantasy.htm

His Personal Guard.

These infantry are mounted but will not expect to fight on horseback. They have obsolete projectile weapons, these fire at half effect over 10” but at normal effect under 10”. They wear no armour but each is accompanied by a page who will look after the horse when his master is fighting.

Reaction 3,2,3,2,2,2,2,2 18pts

Second Regiment.

10 bases of infantry armed with obsolete projectile weapons, these fire at half effect over 10” but at normal effect under 10”. They wear no armour.

Reaction 3,2,2,2,1,2,2,2 16pts

Third Regiment.

10 bases of infantry armed with obsolete projectile weapons, these fire at half effect over 10” but at normal effect under 10”. They wear no armour.

Reaction 2,2,2,2,1,2,1,2 14pts

Fifth Regiment.

10 bases of infantry armed with obsolete projectile weapons, these fire at half effect over 10” but at normal effect under 10”. They wear no armour.

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

Yarg mercenaries

First Condotta

7 bases of mounted Yarg warriors with flak armour and close combat weapons. They use the Alien Type Two reaction tables in the Hellfire rules.

Reaction 2,2,2,2,1,2,1,2 14pts

Second Condotta

8 bases of mounted Yarg warriors with flak armour and close combat weapons. They use the Alien Type Two reaction tables in the Hellfire rules.

Reaction 2,2,2,2,2,2,2,2 16pts

Deployment

This force arrives on one board edge. If the player wants, the mounted troops can set up two full moves onto the table with the remaining troops on the table edge behind them.

The forces of the High Priestess, Sitamum.

She has hastily gathered together what she can find. She has two bunches of temple lay brethren. The people of the village have raised a bunch of men, half of whom are armed with obsolete projectile weapons. There is also a collection youths from the farm lands armed with bows.

Finally she has the forces of the loyal gentry in their clumsy chariots drawn by the local ‘domesticated’ ass.

Loyal Gentry in their chariots.

There are ten chariots, each counting as a base. They move as cavalry, and in combat count as cavalry, their asses being regarded as particularly cantankerous little beggars. When stationary each base can open fire with a long barrelled jezail carried in the chariot. It fires as a normal projectile weapon but only every other move. The men wear flak armour.

Reaction 3,2,3,2,2,2,2,2 18pts

As an aside, for these I used Irregular Miniatures 6mm Sumerian War carts. The Jezail isn’t clearly modelled but I know it’s there.

(At this point you’ll realise that my skill with the brush is such that whenever possible I borrow photos of other people’s figures.)

First Phalanx of Temple Lay brethren.

These form up six ranks deep. Each rank has a spear and no armour, but the front rank carry a large Refrac shield. This protects them from missile fire from the front, and also in the first round of close combat. In subsequent rounds it depends whether the phalanx was defeated. If so it’s assumed their assailants have broken through the shield wall. The phalanx counts as having 10 bases.

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

Second Phalanx of Temple Lay brethren.

These are armed and equipped identically to the first phalanx. It too counts as having 10 bases.

Reaction 2,2,2,2,2,2,1,1 14pts

These were my Sumerian infantry with the front rank holding a big rectangular shield.

Men of the village

9 bases strong, these are armed with obsolete projectile weapons. These fire at half effect over 10” but at normal effect under 10”.

Reaction 2,2,2,2,2,2,1,1 14pts

These are just miscellaneous 6mm infantry who serve all sorts of purposes in my ancient armies.

Youths with Bow

8 bases strong, these are armed with a ridiculously obsolete projectile weapon. These fire at half effect up to 10” and not beyond.

Reaction 2,2,2,1,2,2,1,2 14pts

Again, these stalwarts normally serve in my 6mm Sumerian forces.

I got my figures from Irregular Miniatures. When painted by competent people they look so much better

https://irregularminiatures.co.uk/

High Priestess Sitamum and her God Machine.

When I picked the vehicle I used for the God Machine I did think carefully about it. I wanted 15mm because I wanted it to look big! Significantly big. Taller than buildings big. But I didn’t want it to be a T34 or something anybody would recognise.

At the same time, I could obviously have used an Ogre, in 6mm. There are some nice models out there. But here again, an Ogre would have come with associated mental baggage. Players will expect certain abilities, and I didn’t want that. So I chose this. If you like the model I used, it’s available from

https://www.iliadagamestudio.com/product-page/tosuncuk

The God Machine is to some ill-defined extent sentient. It can communicate with the High Priestess when she is in the control room wearing her jewellery. The jewellery itself is part of the machine control system. As the control room is the most sacred part of the temple the only person to enter is the High Priestess and of course she wears her full regalia.

When aware of the attack Sitamum will go into her temple, and once in the control room/holy of holies, she will be instructed to sit in the command chair. When she does this, the God Machine will attempt to integrate with her. Each move roll two d6. Once she has rolled a double, she and the machine are integrated. But each double has a different level of effect.

  • Double 1. Due to her personality, it is impossible to integrate properly, she can only increase the functionality by one item per move and that randomly.
  • Double 2. Due to her personality, it is impossible to integrate properly, she can only increase the functionality by one item per move. But when she rolls randomly she can either chose the one she has rolled, or the one on either side of it on the table.
  • Double 3. Integration is proceeding well. She is beginning to see the bigger picture. Whilst she can only increase the functionality by one item per move, she knows enough to switch on all the sensors and boost the power without rolling at random. From then on she has to roll at random.
  • Double 4. Integration is proceeding well. She is beginning to see the bigger picture. Whilst she can only increase the functionality by one item per move, she knows enough to switch on all the sensors and boost the power without rolling at random. From then on she has to roll at random. But when she rolls randomly she can either chose the one she has rolled, or the one on either side of it on the table.
  • Double 5. Integration is complete. She can increase the functionality by two items per move, but one of them has to be rolled randomly.
  • Double 6. Integration is complete. She can increase the functionality by two items per move, neither has to be rolled randomly.
  • When you roll the dice, if you get a double, you have to accept it. But you can at any time keep one of the dice you’ve rolled and try to roll the other randomly to make up the double.

So if in the first move you rolled a 1 and a 6, you could keep the 6. Then in subsequent moves you only roll one dice, and need a 6 to make the double.

God Machine Functions

The machine has been powered down to a large extent. The reason for this is probably due to conserve power. If so, the policy was a success. It is ready to be powered up again.

Currently the power is adequate for the following

  • The God Machine can communicate with the Priestess, even if she’s not integrated, but only when she’s in the control room, wearing the appropriate equipment.
  • The Refrac shields will work within 12” of the God Machine.
  • Internal emergency lighting is adequate.
  • The doors will open or close automatically when somebody approaches, but they’ve been using the manual override for so nobody has realised this

There are the following options. Just roll a dice

  1. Increase power to standard
  2. Increase power to full combat (only possible when you’re at standard.)
  3. Activate full sensors
  4. Active power to turret traverse
  5. Bring on line all targeting systems. (Must have full sensors activated and power to turret traverse)
  6. Charge capacitors so you can fire the turrets.
  7. Fire the turrets.
  8. Bring locomotive systems on line.
  9. Use power to move.
  10. Electrify outer surface to repel boarders.
  11. Initiate anti-boarder defences which flood everywhere but the control room with an anaesthetic gas.
  12. Broadcast the High Priestess’s voice to everybody on the battlefield. The first time this is done all the attackers test as ‘surprised with casualties.’ The defenders just test as ‘surprised.’

If you get a result that you cannot use, (say you increase power to full combat but haven’t yet worked out how to increase power to standard) you still know how to do it, you just cannot do it. But in this case, when you finally work out how to increase power to standard, you already know how to go beyond and increase it to full combat.

If you have power at standard you can support three of the functions at the same time. If you increase power to full combat you can do all of them in the same move.

The God Machine

This has a crew served energy weapon in each of the turrets. It has armour but you needn’t worry about how thick it is because nobody on this battlefield can penetrate it.

To get into the God Machine the attackers will have to go in the main door. I suggest you assume the large hatch on the side is the entry point. The door will normally be open but orders can be given to close it. If it’s closed any prisoner from among the temple lay brethren know how to work the manual override.

When it comes to movement, roll a d6. On a roll of 1 the tracks are spinning and nothing happens. On any other roll, that is the distance it covers. Steering is by slowing one track and not the other, so it can effectively turn on the spot.

The terrain

Ideally a lot of clutter. The temple will be surrounded by a couple of villages, farms, orchards, woodland, the duck ponds and even a stream if not actually a river.

There should be so much terrain that the two phalanxes can stand shoulder to shoulder and block a gap. But obviously there’s enough room for the cavalry and chariots to move in.

Playing the Game

This will work with two players, with Sortan the Scheming desperately driving his men forward before the High Priestess works out how to drive the God Machine.

On the other hand it might work even better solo. First, deploy the defenders. Then putting on the pointlessly elaborate hat of Sortan the Scheming, work out three different plans of attack. Finally roll a dice and that’s the plan you’re sticking to.

Then you as the player with retire into the control room of the God Machine whilst your sturdy peasantry battle to win you time.

Once the God Machine can move and fire, Sortan the Scheming will have to beat a hasty and possibly undignified retreat. Mind you given that it hasn’t moved for many centuries its locomotion is bound to be a bit erratic.

If Sortan gets his men into the God Machine, it will take them two turns to reach the High Priestess and take control. If he does this he wins. If at the end of the game he hasn’t taken the God Machine, he’s lost.

♥♥♥♥

If you don’t know Hellfire rules, they can be found on Wargame Vault as a pdf for £4

https://www.wargamevault.com/product/361114/Hellfire

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

20 thoughts on “The God Machine

    1. I might just be me, but personally I’ve already fallen in love with a converted steam tank and you haven’t even shown any pictures 🙂
      when you do the game, please can we have pictures, it sounds just so intriguing

      Like

  1. So I am trying to get my head around this. Some of Sortan’s men has rifled muskets. I was unsure if they are counted as the ‘obsolete projectile weapons’ (presumably when compared to energy weapons)?
    The priestess’ men, in some cases, also have ‘obsolete projectile weapons’. So are all these weapons the same or are the priestesses ones more primitive?
    I have the impression that the priestess’s men are like ancient warriors but some have firearms whereas Sortan’s men all have firearms and probably more advanced?
    As for the tank. How high does a human figure reach next to it?
    The activation of the tank/temple sounds very complex so I would possibly simplify the activation.
    I love the repel borders and the gas results.
    I am seeing a desperate game where the priestesses men try to ambush or delay the superior force until the tank is activated. or they would need a lot more men to fight pitched battles and even there not much chop for them when you think of Omdurman.
    Another option would be for Sortan’s men to have some heavy duty catapults or cannons or a sorceress/wizard who could use magic against the tank.
    If I was to do this game I would use various ancients or maybe Aztecs and some Chinese Boxers with an assortment of firearms for the priestess and maybe ACW or British late 19th century colonials for Sortan’s force. I’d probably invent a few uniforms to go with the game and other fantasy/SF.

    Liked by 1 person

    1. The tank is as long as 22 6mm figures lying down 🙂
      Both sides have different obsolete projectile weapons. The one with the chariots is ‘heavier’ with a longer range but slower to reload

      I make the activation complex and slow because, once the tank is properly activate, the game is effectively over
      The suspense of the game lies in one side frantically trying to take the damned thing before it fires up.
      It would certainly work for colonial. Similarly I’ve seen something similar done with the paranoia roleplaying game 🙂

      Liked by 1 person

  2. I have decided to use a big boxy Ninja Turtles (?) van which has four large wheels. I am going to add a turret and cannon as well as other weapons such as missiles. There will also be Greek columns added to the entrance that would be broken away if the vehicle moves.
    The orks will get a free move at the start to show they arrived from horseback/pig back etc and dismounted.
    I have some converted WW2 Airfix Germans that will serve as part of the warlord’s forces. Others will be from my Gerolstwin and Ruritanian armies.
    The sorceress’s forces will include Napoleonic, Chinese Boxers and ancient Greeks and Romans.
    It will be a while before I actually play the game but I am always planning in advance for future games.

    Liked by 1 person

      1. I have a lot of work still to do on it but I’ll see what I can do. By the way, did you join my FB group, ‘Fantasy and SF Conversions and Wargames’? I think you have seen my blog, Quantrill’s Toy Soldiers. I shared your blog entry about the God machine on my fantasy FB page. I hope that was okay.

        Liked by 1 person

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