Hell Comes to FrogTown: A VSF Scenario using The Rules with No Name


TRWNN modified for some VSF squad level action

As part of the Fantasy Gaming camp I ran last week, I decided to introduce the kids to a little Victorian Science Fiction action using The Rules With No Name. Normally, I would have used G.A.S.L.I.G.H.T. rules for this, as it is more tailor made for the subject, but I think TRWNN is a lot easier to teach youngsters than GASLIGHT. This game is set in the fictional Texas-Prussian War Campaign developed by myself, Bruce and David Markley.

This is another “faction” scenario, the kind of game where many little factions have their own agendas. I love this kind of game!

Setting and Background:

The Invasion of SouthEast Texas is on in force. A large Prussian force, perhpas brigade sized, has landed at Corpus Christi and swept North to capture the Coal Gas fields. The railhead at Turnip Gap was succesfully seized by two companies under the leadership of Hauptmann Eric Schmidt. In order to guard the NorthEastern approaches to Turnip Gap, Schmidt has taken personal control of “Kampfgruppe Schmidt”, a reinforced platoon, and has moved to take control of the small hamlet of FrogTown, a transhipment point on the Coal Gas pipeline. Resistance should be nothing to speak of.

Backing up Schmidt’s platoon is the hulking Steam Robot HERMANN 1, the creation of Doktor Deth, evil Prussian genius. He is entering town from the South near the cow pens. HERMANN 1 is hard to program (it uses levers and punch cards) so the Prussian troops have requested that the HERMANN 1 enter the town far away from them. The good Doktor is used to this request.

Meanwhile the Heck Razors, a group of somewhat incompetent bandits, have heard that the Great Texas Coal Gas company has shipped its weekly payroll to the end of the rail spur, and it is temporarily housed in the Bank at FrogTown.

Captain Ferguson of the Southwest SteamRocket Free Mercenary corps, has gotten word that there might soon be an honest to gosh shooting war South of the border, one more time. The big question is who will pay more, the Juaristas or the French? In the meantime, he will put in to FrogTown to power up their steam packs.

Lieutenant Ringo of the Texas Rangers has been contacted by Great Texas CG company to provide extra aecurity at the bank so his men are scattered about the bank protecting the vault.

Captain Briarson of the United States Sharpshooters, one of the most elite infiltration units in the United States Army, has been dispatched to Turnip Gap to investigate wild reports of invading “Frenchmen from Mexico”. His squad has arrived about two days too late. He is now in the process of trying to find a telegraph, ANY telegraph, to the outside world. The Turnip Gap Coal Gas fields are filled with Prussians (not French) and the government needs to be notified. Texas may be a republic again, but they will soon be asking for help from the United States and Briarson is determined that the word gets out. In the meantime his squad is holed up in the town hall of FrogTown, a two story adobe structure in the center of town.

Oblivious to all of this, the terrible trio of Doctor Pretorious, Mobutu the Witch Doctor and Ah Pook the Destroyer (evil Cultist) are hard at work reanimating the dead in Boot Hill…

Rules Changes

1) To give this a “squad feel” like GASLIGHT, I basically made each faction a leader, with 4-5 “schnooks”. The Leader is a Shootist, the Schnooks usually but not always Gunmen. In the case of the USS, Rangers, and Rocketmen, there were a couple more Shootists sprinkled in here and there to demonstrate the elite nature of the groups.

A Leader is much like a “Bossman” in TRWNN terms. He moves on his activation. The Schnooks get moved after the leader and are placed within 3″ of the Leaders’ final location. A Leader measures the firing distance and shoots normally. A Schnook uses the same measurement but doesn’t get a Shootist bonus and rolls individually to keep track of blazing away effects and broken guns and such.

If a Leader is killed, a Gunman is promoted to Shootist and bcomes the new leader.

Specials

2) Some of the factions have a special ability or a special restriction.

— Rocketboys can move 30″ in a turn, 3 times a game. They are regular infantry after that, their rocketpacks are expended.

— USS can fire a “snapshot” this is a quickly aimed shot that is less than a fully aimed shot but can be executed in one turn. Add 4D6 to the dice.
— The USS can also be in stealth mood which take 2 HD off of the firing rolls for people firing on a Sharpshooter.

— Hermann I is a rudimentary giant robot that is programmed with punch cards and levers. Make a deck of index cards that say — “Left 9′ ” “Right 4′ ” “KILL KILL KILL” etc. The players pull three programming cards and execute them in the order they are pulled. Herman I is a large item with heavy mass, and can knock over most wooden buildings and some smaller adobes.

— Ah Pook the Destroyer, Doctor Pretorius, and Mobutu each are rated to control 3-5 zombies each. Many zombies are armed and can be ordered to fire via blazing away at a -2HD penalty for their crappy zombie eyesight. They have a bite attack that incapacitates within a certain amount of turns (See: Scary Monsters of the Golden West). Every THREE TURNS, a zombie controller must roll 3D6 to see if he is still telling the zombies what to do. if he gets more 1s than 6s, he has lost control and the zombies will attempt to eat the first source of protein they come across (usually the controller).
— when an Evil type is controlling zombies, he can only move 6″. Once the zombies are dead the restriction is lifted. Biff the Hunchback Henchman isn’t controlling anything and can move freely.

— Blaster O’Dell, the leader of the Heck Razors, is an unusual bandit. He is armed with a broadsword taken from an old Spanish conquistador, and several sticks of dynamite (See: Rules addendum to TRWNN for explosions).

Dramatis Personae

Heck Razor Bandits:
(holed up in any building north of boot hill)
Blaster O’Dell, Shootist (3 dyamite sticks, one broadsword)
5 Gunmen Bandits


Kampfgruppe Schmidt:
Approaching from the North edge of the map.
Hauptmann Schmidt, Shootist, Green Squad
Green Squad: 5 Schnooks (one a shootist corporal, the rest private gunmen)
Lieutenant Bergmann: Shootist, Blue Squad
Blue Squad: 5 Schnooks (one a shootist corporal, the rest private gunmen)
Lieutenant Goethe: Shootist, White Squad
White Squad: 5 Schnooks (one a shootist corporal, the rest private gunmen)
(all Prussian Infantry use a Mauser rifle with bayonet)

Backing up Kampfgruppe Schmidt is:
Doktor Deth, Prussian Inventor, Shootist
HERMANN I, programmable Prussian kill-droid
Approaching from the South edge of the map

The Texas Rangers (in bank)
LT. Ringo, Leader, Shootist, two pistols
5 Schnooks, Gunmen all, mixed rifles and pistols.

The United States Sharpshooters unit
(in large double storied adobe)
Captain Briarson, Leader and Shootist, armed with pistol
5 Schnooks, two of them Shootists, the rest Gunmen, armed with scoped Sharps rifles.
USS is in stealth mode.

The Steam Rocketmen
enter on turn one on the North edge of town near the Livery. They have 3 bounces left for the rest of the game.
Captain Ferguson, Leader, Shootist, armed with pistol
5 Schnooks, 2 of the Shootists, 3 Gunmen, armed with pistols.

The Trilogy of Terror
(South of Boot Hill)
Doctor Pretorious, Leader, Shootist, pistol
(controlling four zombies– movement restrictions while controlling)
Mobutu the Mad Witch Doctor, Leader Shootist, armed with club
(controlling three zombies– movement restrictions while controlling)
Ah Pook the Destroyer, mad cultist– LeaderShootists, armed with pistol and dagger
(controlling three zombies– movement restrictions while controlling)
Biff the Hunchback, Shootist, Leader. Armed with pistol.

For balance, you may want to throw in a small dismounted US or Texas Cavalry force, starting in the general store, 1 Leader/Shootist, 5 schnooks/Gunmen. Armed with pistol and saber (leader) and rifles (schnooks).

Figures I used for this game

Sadly, no pictures of the game in progress, like I am wont to do. I left my camera at home. Curses.

The Castaway Arts Prussians and the toy that made HERMANN I are shown in the inset pictures, though. I sprinkled a few of the Old Glory World War I reservists (pickelhaube helmets) painted as blue uniformed Prussians in with the Castaway Arts stuff, just to give it some flair.

The USS were Conniesseur/Bicorne Figures of Civil War era Berdans sharpshooters , with a hemp netting on them made to look like “Gilly suits”.

AC59 Berden’s Sharpshooter crouched cocking rifle
AC60 Berden’s Sharpshooter kneeling firing
AC61 Berden’s Sharpshooter lying reloading from cartridge pouch

Doktor Deth was a conversion. A Ral Partha Vampire (very Nosferatu looking) with a Games Workshop Buzz Saw arm and holding a Winchester repeater.

The Southwest SteamRocket Free Mercenary Corps were another conversion: Foundry’s World War One Downed Pilot range (plus one “Aviator” figure from Ral Partha’s old 20s and 30s adventurer range), with Chaos Rocket packs (painted bronze) from Games Workshop’s 40K line attached to their backs.

The Texas Rangers were an eclectic mix of Dixon and Foundry Wild West (older ranges). MOSTLY Dixon. They have a group of outlaws in dusters that I bought every one of, and I supplemented this with a couple of notable Foundry Wild West figures, such as the ZZ Top outlaw with the shotgun. All had light tan dusters, except for a couple of trackers and an Indian scout.

The Zombies were Foundry’s old Zombie Cowboy range, with a few Ral Partha non-cowboy zombies thrown in for flavor. Ah Pook the Destroyer was an old Reaper “Cultist” figure that looks disturbingly like a Ku Klux Klansmen, so I painted him black. Doctor Pretorious was an Old Grenadier “mad scientist” figure. Mobutu was a “Witch Doctor” from the Foundry’s older Darkest Africa range.

Cavalry (optional reinforcement) was a mix of Dixon and Foundry. The Leader, Captain “Whiskers” was the old Captain Clark figure from Dixon’s Little Big Horn range. Foundry’s “Cavalry Sergeant” and “Greenhorns” made the rest of the squad.

The Texas HellRazors were of notable figures from the Fondry’s oldest Wild West Line– Many of whom can be seen here in this collection. “Ugly Bertrand” was converted into “Blaster O’Dell” after I discovered his shotgun was miscast– so I turned the stump into a dynamite stick and swapped out a broadsword for his bowie knife to give him some visual flair.

Results

The kids got a great kick out of playing this one and the modifications to make it more “squad like” worked really well. One boy took command of the prussian infantry force and did a fairly good job of staying on course. He moved across the Texas Rangers which valiantly tried to hold the bank but they eventually broke in the face of hideous casualties. The USS tried to lay down a withering long range fire but were foiled by the Prussians using the cover of the buildings.

The Banditos got mixed up with the zombies, which was a mistake for the fate of Texas. There was general death and dismemberment, and a lot of the bandits got turned into zombieburgers.

Nearby the steam robot tried to move into town but the gunfire was so severe that Doktor Deth had to abandon the robot and dive for cover. The robot rules state that the robot will do THE LAST THING IT WAS PROGRAMMED TO DO, which was turn left and go 9″. It moved around in a big square, turning left and going 9″, squashing through the cattle fence, starting a nifty stampede and making a mixed zombie/hamburger goo. It was fun to watch but generally ineffectual.

The rocketboys were very effective, jumping behind the Prussians and firing at them in the flank, then jumping again to get ahead of them on the roof of the bank, then again to get to the head of the large government building. They kept taking acaualties, however, and gradually got whittled down to nothing.

The Prussians, however, had the advantage of coordination and numbers. They moved on the government building and took the house by storm, going hand to hand with the bayonet against the USS on the top floor, making a valiant last stand of it. Captain Briarson leapt out of the upper story and got away, presumably to spread the word on the invasion.

Otherwise I’d call it a Prussian MAJOR victory, and an Evil minor victory. The kids loved it.

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