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Making a run for it

Every so often a plan comes together, and this is generally agreed to be a good thing. So you would have thought that if several plans came together simultaneously, this would be an even better thing, but sometimes you can have too much of a good thing.

This scenario was dreamed up in haste to play as a game at the club. You know what it’s like, it was my turn to do something. I had far too many things in mind so pulled out some figures and ran this. I set it on Caldoom because it allowed me to provide a modestly convincing backstory to the scenario. I also used Hell and Uncivil Disorder rules rather than Hell by Starlight. More people at our club know them and they’re more suitable for a quick and dirty game. It also has the advantage that you can just play this game out in 6mm as well, with no real changes.

The Scenario

Next to the space port on Caldoom there is an extensive area of wilderness. This is largely unused, because, at the moment, nobody needs it. The mining company, Bretag, own it. They bought it many years ago as a spoiling operation. It stops their competitors gaining an advantage by building near the space port. They maintain a small force there in a caretaker capacity and to ensure nobody somehow acquires it by accident. In simple terms, Bretag will keep it for as long as it embarrasses their rivals, Grelfarl. To the north and east this wilderness shares a common border with Grelfarl territory.

Bretag force.

A ten man patrol, gunmen.

The wilderness is used by two other groups almost legitimately. One group is the smugglers who are travelling through the area when they buy and sell contraband into the area controlled by Grelfarl. The smugglers are technically operating illegally, but Bretag doesn’t have a problem with anybody who undermines Grelfarl and also the smugglers pay the caretakers off to keep them sweet. Your men are dressed in Bretag uniforms and are obviously Bretag troops.


A ten man band, gunmen.

They are liaising with a corrupt, or alternatively a commercially aware, Grelfarl supply sergeant and his men. They are going to meet at a previously agreed rendezvous point and pay cash to the smugglers who are assisting a technician with some of his wares to desert from Grelfarl. Your men don’t wear uniforms so you’re either a somewhat unlikely young person’s light music combo sneaking off to practice, or you’re smugglers.

Corrupt Supply sergeant.

A member of the conscript armies of Grelfarl, you are taking a newly designed grav motor and a technician (who is deserting the mining company) to the smugglers who will give you cash for them.

You have ten men. Gunmen. Obviously you wear Grelfarl uniforms.


You are a party of Grelfarl conscripts, ten strong, who are deserting. If you cross the board, you can escape into the city of Liberty where you’ll be free. You count as gunmen and are still armed and wearing your Grelfarl uniforms. You might even be mistaken for a Grelfarl army patrol

Grelfarl Military police.

You patrol the area looking for deserters, smugglers and similar. You are obviously Grelfarl troops.

Your ten men count as gunmen.
You can also call for supports, another ten man patrol, and you can call down artillery. This will be difficult because you aren’t officially supposed to be here, it is undisputed Bretag territory, and they are not going to be happy, so there might be an ‘incident.’

Grelfarl Patrol

You don’t often patrol this far south, but apparently you do now. You don’t know the area. You are hostile to deserters, smugglers and Bretag. You are ten strong and count as gunmen. You’re main purpose within the game context is to ensure that the Military police cannot assume anybody in a Grelfarl uniform, other than them, is up to no good.

The wargames table

As big as you want, the more room the better. We used a big table which could have been over seven feet by seven.

With regard to terrain, the area may have been settled early in the history of Caldoom but was abandoned. So we had one small ruin, a few hedges and the rest was covered by wood and scrub. There were some hills but it was decided that they were as high as they physically were, so they were more rolling ground which blocked visibility.

The smugglers and corrupt sergeant come on from opposite table ends and meet at the ruin to do the trade.

The Military Police, and the Grelfarl patrol come on at a random table edge at the start of the game.

The deserters come on at one table edge and have to cross to the opposite table edge.

The Bretag Patrol will arrive at random once there has been firing.

Hidden movement

Here I used a simple system. Each player had three figures that were markers. Two were dummies. I decided that unless in the open, figures had to be within six inches to spot each other.

If two figures could spot each other the two players went off and discussed whether they were real or dummy. If both were real they could decide whether to insist that the figures be put out on the table or not. Once figures were on the table, they stayed on the table.

Playing the Game solo.

This is easier and more difficult. In simple terms each party has to cross the table.

  • The smugglers and the corrupt sergeant have to cross half way across the table and get back. Their route is north-south.
  • The deserters have to cross from north to south.
  • The military police and the Grelfarl patrol will sweep east-west (or perhaps west-east).
  • Bretag forces will appear on the southern table edge.

With solo play you don’t need hidden movement. You can actually put the figures on the board. With plenty of cover, the contingents should find it relatively easy to stay out of sight.

Now plan out a route for each party. In theory this is a straight line from where they come on the table, to their destination.

Some, like Bretag, the military police and the Grelfarl patrol are there to investigate, so they may well change direction to check up on something.

They can divert and move closer to noise or visual sightings. Visual sightings are self-explanatory. But noise needs more unpacking.

Noise is

  • Weapons fire
  • Shouts of panic (troops who break and run make noise)
  • Incoming artillery (obviously)
  • Random noise generated by poorly trained infantry

For the random noise, each move, roll a d6 for your troops. If they’re moving, on a 1 they make some sort of noise that can be heard a foot away. If they’re sitting still and hiding, they still make the noise but only on 2 on 2d6.

Roll at random to see which figure made the noise, and then measure to see which figures can hear it. That figure will tell his leader about it next move if the leader doesn’t hear it.

Obviously your parties can move toward noise to investigate, or divert to avoid the noise.

How the game played.
We never had enough players for the Grelfarl Patrol. But everybody else set off. As they started moving it was obvious that even with a much cluttered terrain there were some places where you could stop to admire the view, and be seen by others. So this did tend to create areas which quite a lot of players wanted to pass through, if only with their dummy figures. So there was quite a lot of muttered conversation as players worked out who each other was. The military police (shunning dummies) made their sweep and the various contingents huddled toward the edge furthest from them.
Finally the military police saw the smuggler’s party and the corrupt sergeant’s men in the distance and opened fire. They also called for backup. There was a brisk exchange of fire. Then the military police called for artillery. This is Hell and Uncivil Disorder, so the police lieutenant had to decide whether as a leader he was a shaman or a technomage. (The shaman is very much a ‘smoke me a kipper, I’ll be back for breakfast’ leader, the technomage is a geek. So shamans have no problem calling down artillery, but cannot direct it with any accuracy.)
As a technomage he was having to roll 4 or less on a d10 to get the artillery. It took several moves, first to get them to take him seriously, and then for him to convince them to open fire on what was shown on their maps to be forbidden territory.
Finally he did it. The artillery came in. Again with Hell and Uncivil Disorder, what you get may not be what you asked for. He’d been expecting mortars, with a possibility of 155mm howitzers. Instead he rolled a 10 on a d10 and got rocket batteries. Now technically nobody on Caldoom has MLRS batteries, but the dice were very specific on this point. Obviously somebody was trying something cobbled together and experimental. With a geek providing targeting data, they hit the exact spot. But because it my haste, I misremembered and the 36” diameter became a 36” radius. In my defence they were obviously very experimental.

After the salvo hit, there was a brief moment of silence then the survivors started to move for better cover, and Bretag arrived.

It now got bloody, quickly. The original military police unit was taken down in a firefight with the deserters and Bretag. But not before it had called in a howitzer battery on the Bretag position. The smugglers were gunned down and the survivors were arrested by the backup military police unit. The corrupt sergeant, who had been wondering if desertion was going to be a useful career move, saw a safe route back to his depot and remains a loyal if light fingered Grelfarl employee.

So really Bretag won because they drove off the intruders.

The Corrupt Sergeant won because he’d passed over the goods and has been paid.

The deserters won because they had successfully deserted.

The Military police had at least a winning draw as they could chalk up a successful patrol, and the survivors could in all innocence claim to know nothing about where the artillery had come from.

The smugglers had the worst of it, but even they are not without hope. It is entirely possible that if they claimed to be a somewhat unlikely young person’s light music combo, whose practice was brutally interrupted by Bretag artillery, Grelfarl executives might consider their claims entirely reasonable. After all, everybody knows that Grelfarl does not have MLRS. At the very least it would be an excuse to approach their own off world management team for more funding for their own artillery to match what Bretag is obviously working on.


In case you want to know more about Caldoom, there are two routes. A quick glance at

might give you inspiration, but there is also a supplement, ‘Caldoom by Starlight’ is now available. It is a supplement to Hell by Starlight Campaigns, and whilst written for Hell by Starlight rules, as you can see, use any rule set you want.

These rules are available as a pdf for £4 from Iliada Game Studio

So from Wargame Vault, also in pdf for £4

And from Amazon, either as a paperback for £9.50 or on kindle for £4.


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