Sunday, May 12, 2019

D&D Adventures 11 May Recount

D&D Adventures
Journey to Saltmarsh

This is a work of fiction. Names, characters, businesses, places, events, locales, and incidents are either the products of the author’s imagination or used in a fictitious manner. Any resemblance to actual persons, living or dead, or actual events is purely coincidental.

The Cast: 
Hudson Millblood (Barbarian/Druid)
Grak (Druid)
Mikas Blakfag (Ranger) & Dimebagheera (the panther)
Glug (Fighter
and Aria (Spellcaster)
Returning Guest Star - The Absent Minded Game Master

It has been a while since I have written a report of what my group for D&D have been up to.  This will mean that it will in all likelihood be a rambling affair which may not make much sense except to those who’ve played in the adventure – however for those how haven’t I hope you enjoy the read nevertheless.

There has been a gap since the last recorded entry.  The band of adventurers of whom the primary cast is Grak the half-orc Druid, Mikas Blakflag the human ranger, and Hudson Millblood (not to be confused with Millhouse from some alternate reality) the human barbarian had just finished battling their way through a pernicious multilevel dungeon seeking a wayward disciple of Grak’s druidic order who has gone rogue.  The group was accompanied by an off and on again warlock who found all the traps that everyone else knew were traps and left alone.

GMs NOTE: This is one of those problems when you have a player who is unable to attend sessions.  What do you do with the character?  In this case I simply had the character become a non-entity for the duration of the time they were absent.  I find this easier than role playing their character, making decisions that may cause conflict later when or if they reappear.  By this I mean, they wink out of existence and reappear when they return to the group.  This is for say dungeons, for outdoors I could have a band of farmers look after the person as they fall mysteriously ill, say applies in urban adventures.

Getting back on track the group had a number of delightful encounters deep in the underground environment.  It also made me re-examine the way I design my environments based on the spell choices players were taking.  Either that of the choice of adversaries they will meet in these environments.  For example Thunderwave used with underground cliff edges that lead to seemingly endless depths would end many a poor adversaries’ day should they fail their required test.  

I think that the mix of tests and adversaries for this underground adventure proved balanced.  Certainly it was sufficient for the players to advance their character to the coveted 5th level with one character electing to multiclass to druid.  Deciding to join the noble class of his fellow adventurer Grak, what could go wrong!

Grak in the depths of the dungeon found his peer, but certainly not his equal and retrieved the two central sacred henge stones of the druid circles he had desecrated.  Mind you it was not much of a fight Ibys was petrified at the sight of Grak, literally – he had been turned to stone, whether by the Medusa or the Basilisks none could determine as the Medusa was gone – presumed dead and the Basilisks were dead and thus certainly unable to communicate.  For good measure Grak pushed the petrified remains of Ibys into a deep pit, waited for an inordinate amount of time for a satisfying shattering crash that signalled the final end... or is it?  No Grak did what any good protagonist did, he made sure that his nemesis was truly dead, no more coming back to plague him as a returning villain – well one hope not in the least.

The return to Choldis Grove (yes I gave it a name now, not very original) was greeted with pleasure that the old druid did not have to send someone else to do the job.  He was entertaining two new visitors to his squalid little Grove, I’d call it a village but that would be giving villages more value than hovels.  Choldis praises the work of his primary adept Grak who he wacks enthusiastically with his staff as he extols his many virtues – namely his clumsiness.  Though he clearly belittles the young half-orc it is obvious that he has great love and pride in his achievements – after all a fatal beating never hurt anyone.  Choldis is even more pleased when he is advised that Hudson not Millhouse is wanting to follow in the grand tradition of the druids, though he’s a tad bit worried about his fetish for bears.  All the signs are pointing for the peaceful transition to the swan, of well what was he to stand in the way of prophecy.  So Choldis decided that Grak would be a fine teacher, after all he survived his teaching regime.  After taking Hudson to the henge and pledging him to the rites the newly consecrated druid stepped out of the grove bearing a number of wonderful black and blue markings across his body.  Grak was rather pleased he was not the one who was black and blue this time.

Of that’s right there were two new members to the party, yes I do wander and as always I get caught up in my story telling.  Not all of it true, but sometimes it is, you just don’t know what is?

Another half-orc has joined the party his name is Glug!  Choldis spent a bit of time looking at Glug and wondering just how far afield his seeds had been sown.  He looked at Grak, looked at Glug and wondered?  No, could it be?  Oh dear, just where was he that day back in... what year was it?  Yet this lad was handsome, must have taken after his mother... hahahahaha.  Yes this Glug chap will fit into the party quite well, look he even bought a bucket!

The other person Choldis couldn’t make out – spoke some new age lingo, almost like speaking in foreign tongues.  Aria the wild magic Spellcaster, he thought wild is the right moniker for this one.  The gleam of conflagration and tempestuousness seems to lie just under the surface waiting to be set free.  Aria will fit just nicely into fire support for this lot or – well time will tell.

GMs NOTE: It’s always fun when you have new players join an established group.  I’m hoping that the two players both settled into the group and felt welcome.  First time is always strange, and as a GM I try to keep an eye the mood of players and keep them involved.  I’m hoping that both will return for the next session and continue with Saltmarsh.

11th May Game Day 
The actual adventure for the day was to test the new druid Hudson Millblood.  He was to go into the surrounding hills and seek Tarmond Blackburn who has been enchanted into the form of a bear.  He will be easily spotted by the heavy silver chain that is bound around his neck.  All that Hudson has to do is remove the collar and bring Hudson back to the Grove.  Simple yes?

The journey was uneventful.  I taunted Mikas Blakflag about his skill as a ranger (sorry it’s a long standing joke – a very poor one at that) that he relies on his animal companion.  Glug needs some new dice I think, that d20 was rolling dangerously roll for encounters, to the point that he was almost at Mikas’ level of ability!  Well Mikas’ kitty (the panther – named Dimebagheera) smelt bear, lots of bear during the night and as they finally found the destination.

Choldis has slipped Grak a final note before leaving.  Do not kill any of the bears.  Yes he knew there would be more than one bear.  The situation revealed itself to be more than a simple take the collar of a possibly irate bear.

Cautious, what party is not. They examined the scene.  There were 10 bears in the cave, five adults, three juveniles and two cubs.  Hudson decided to try out his talk with animals ability and discovered that he was unable to communicate with the animals.  At the same time, he was accompanied by Grak who noted that something was not right.  Aria caught a glimpse of the silver collar on one bear, a juvenile which was tussling with another, revealing it too had one. Ultimately it came to light that all the bears had collars, but which bear was Tarmond?  

Hudson and Grak’s attempt to “talk” to the bears had provoked a territorial act of aggression from the juveniles which then triggered the rest of the group.  Note that this is an abnormal association for bears as they are solitary and asocial creatures.  It is only due to Tarmonds influence that they are able to cohabitate with open bloodshed and death.  At the time of the party’s arrival the males are sparing which allows aggression levels to dissipate.  The juveniles rush forward as do the adult males, the female protect the cubs which remain still and curious with their mothers.

The silver collars proved difficult to cut and hit, were enchanted and with the bears proving to be a less than agreeable opponent the simple task was not so simple.  Entangle, Thunderwave, and Fire Bolt spells were off in all directions, well mostly at bear.  Glug proved to be especially gifted at using the nonlethal end of his axe and subdued one of the adult bears to point of running away.  I’m afraid I can’t remember who subdued it in the end, it may even have been Glug. 

The party deduced (only through not having lots of identical models) which was Tarmond, and picked on this poor individual.  Aria hit the poor sod with the flat of a shovel, apart from making it angry this did nothing (oh for some cartoon style humour of a bear faced feature in the shovel).  Weapons did apparently no damage to Tarmond, though whether this was the affect of the collar of Keogan or Tarmond none know to this date.  Eventually the apprentice druid Hudson grabbed the bull on in the case bear by the horns or er... collar and yanked it off.  Hooray!  Mission succeeded.  

Tarmond though did not want to return to the Grove.  He was quite happy living here with the bears, Choldis he said was quite welcome to his wife.  Tarmond was a good looking well built man in his 40’s.  After some persuasion that came just short of intimidation Tarmond agreed to return to the Grove to prove Hudson had completed his task, and then run away very quickly.

 Upon returning to the Grove the people were excited to see Tarmond, especially his wife who had been beautiful 20 years but now in her 60’s having a handsome and virile husband was most welcome.  Tarmond looked at his aged wife and took to the hills with his wife in hot pursuits, the sound of the villagers laughter filling the heavens.  Choldis looked especially pleased at the outcome, he took back the collar and indicated he’d keep it for the next time he had to chastise Tormand.  Not bad for a man over 100 years old he said, makes me look spry at 200 doesn’t it he chortled, as his bones cracked as he took his seat to impart further instructions.

The next journey for Grak was to deliver warning messages to the three Groves in Dreadwood, each of the masters is to be given a message stick.  These sticks look much like branches from a tree about the length of a person’s arm.  To a druid or a person attuned to magic the branch will resonate power and glow with druidic glyphs of warding that will only allow the recipient to read the message.  The messages are to Agrom Sutton, Thoin Belet and Agar Bigham with a final warning to be delivered to Saltmarsh.

Choldis imparts that he is worried that the machinations of the entity Vecna are in motion as is evidenced by the mask which the party uncovered in an earlier adventure.  While Choldis thinks that his chosen apprentice could achieve much in the wilds he believes that more pressing matters are unfolding in the wider world than those that are afflicting this small portion of his world.  Choldis believes that Saltmarsh would be a good staging area to source information and discover what “evils” may be at the heart of the unsettling disturbance in the delicate balance in the cycle of life.

With this dramatic information the Band of Five (dramatic indeed) head off to the first Grove.  No sooner do the leave the safety of the Choldis Grove than they discover thanks to the pernicious luck of Glug a band of giants frolicking in the wild.  No amount of enticement would elicit the party to investigate the frolicking humanoids, so the chance of a bit of mayhem and loot was passed up. (Problems with giants not being quite on the subtle side at present...)

The Grove of Agrom Sutton was a breath of fresh air – it really was, compared to the dark age living environment of Choldis Grove.  The fact that Agrom was once Choldis’ apprentice makes this difference markedly more remarkable.  The beauty and structural significance clearly shows than Agrom went on to learn more from another teacher.  Agrom is a human in his late 60’s (by appearance) and he remembers Grak when he was a lad.  When he sees Hudson he remarks off hand about getting that bit seen to, and applies a salve as he winks at Grak.  A few remarks are made about Choldis’ preferred method of reinforced teaching methods and then matters turn to why the visit.  Agrom asks if anything was amiss while they travelled and is concerned about the giants, but now that he is warned will take precautions.  He makes a message of his own and adds it to the message sticks.  The party take their leave and head on to the next Grove.

The Grove of Thoin Belet was destroyed by fire at least two to three days prior to their arrival.  As the party came closer to the Grove they could smell the burnt vegetation and eventually the devastation itself.  Little remained standing.  No bodies could be found, or remains of them.  The Groves henge had been pushed outwards and toppled as if by some great force.  In an attempt to locate the sacred stone, it was found that it had been taken.  Was this the repeat of what was happening with the rogue apprentice Ibys?  Grak used his ability to detect magic to see if some source to this calamity might me found.  At the point where the sacred stone was placed the magic source was located.  Aria supplied a shovel and Hudson (GM: I believe it was) discovered that the soil was extremely loose, as if already been dug. Hudson dug down and hit pay dirt, or in the case the object which emitted a violent hiss and scream of steam.  Hudson quickly vacated the area, as did the party as they saw the device shoot into the air and detonate and engulf the henge area in an orgy of fire.

What is it that mattered the most from this encounter!  The shovel tip was broken as it struck the object, but wait folks that’s not all. The object was eventually unearthed and found that when in the light heated up, this lead to another precipitous dash for safety.  The object fell into the hole and the shade, but did not detonate.  Aria “donated” their cloak to wrap the object where it was discovered that it still generated warmth, let’s call it energy shall we! So a mad dash for the creek and an immersion in water seemed to quell the issue, though it did ruin Aria’s cloak.  Aria is now keeping a tab on what the party owe for damaged goods (1 x shovel, 1 x cloak, “x” amount of ...).  The object had now been reduced to numerous shards of crystal which still collected energy and could be dangerous, though the party did not decide to waste time on playing with this concept, they wanted to get on to the next Grove.  Luckily Glug had a bucket (sorry I’m off on a tangent now and thinking of the marvelous British TV series called Keeping Up Appearances and Hyacinth Bucket or as she liked to be called Bouquet, right back on topic) and not a bouquet and so the deadly cargo of shards was safely transported for the moment.

GM NOTE: It is with interest I should point out that each Grove was 3 days apart.

The final Grove to visit in Dreadwood (perhaps an apt name at this point) was that of Agar Bigham.  As the party approached the Grove it was evident that something was amiss.  As the breeze changed in the direction towards their approach the smell of rot and decay was overpowering.  At first the signs were small insects, birds but at the approach to the Grove was in sight the loss in life of animals and people was clearly evident.  Everything appeared to have dropped dead where they stood or had been going about their daily activity.  No evidence of violence could be discerned upon the bodies from a casual examination, the bodies had been in the open two to three days and had swelled accordingly.

Grak went in search of the sacred henge stone and found that it had been taken. Fearing that something similar to the last Grove had been perpetrated Grak tested for foul magic, but was relieved to find that none was evident this time.  Aria and Mikas decided to loot the Grove buildings of anything of value and came away with substantial loot for their trouble.  Glug stood guard while this was happening and upon his cry that he saw the bodies twitching and appearing to move (there being a whole village of people) the party fled the vicinity. Plague was bandied about, but no one seemed to honestly think they had it. (Silent rolling from behind the GMs screen, bahahahahaha.)

After two uneventful days of travel Saltmarsh appears and the city gates loom before them.  The city guard are the same everywhere, demand the usual tax, in this case 5cp per person.  However on seeing the dangerous and unusual panther there is the need of the party to assure the guard that the animal can be allowed in the town without being a threat to those within.  Aria spent some time showing the guards that Dimebagheera was truly a harmless overgrown kitten. Aria almost got the “kitten” in at peasant entry but for an unfortunate poke which elicited Dimebagheera to screem her howl of protest, scaring the guards.  Still the panther was allowed entry, though Mikas grumbled about the 1gp entry tax as a rip off.

Then it was off to Oak Island where the party met Lira Tolivar a halfing druid who was master of the Grove.  There they imparted all that they had discovered along the way.  

GMs NOTE: This more or less ends the adventure at this point, there was a little shopping and item identification.  I’m waiting for Ghosts of Saltmarsh to arrive (21 May), our next session is slotted for June so I’m sure to be all prepared for lots of skulduggery by then. Thanks to my regulars as usual, but they know that.  To the new blood thank you very much for coming along, I hope to see you for the next adventure session.

Thursday, May 2, 2019

Blind Pig Games Club Introduction Video

Well I finally got around to updating the club video. Till a work in progress, but better than the last I think.

Monday, April 22, 2019

Battletech Adventures - Rolepay Story Act 2

This is a work of fiction. Names, characters, businesses, places, events, locales, and incidents are either the products of the author’s imagination or used in a fictitious manner. Any resemblance to actual persons, living or dead, or actual events is purely coincidental.

Authors Note: During the many years I have roleplayed in campaigns I can think of very few occasions where I've had a situation when I've had a one shot appearance.  Well my Battletech Adventure has sadly lasted one.  Rather than leave it up in the air I have ended it in a spectacular way.  This event never happened in game play, I have written this to satisfy my characters departure from the game. That though is the part of roleplay and the aspect of story writing and narrative creation.  As a writer I create a piece of fiction based on events that occur (or in this case didn't) during a session.  Of course as a writer I can always choose to ignore or embellish what does or does not occur during these sessions.  I write these stories primarily for my own entertainment, whether anyone else enjoys (or dislikes) them is their own prerogative.

The Dashing Adventures of an Interstellar Gentleman of Leisure

“Alpha-Two in position.”
“Alpha-One in position.”
The words came in on the secure channel at a location some kilometres from the space-field.  A number of suitably shadowy individuals, all of them masked and intimidating manned the array of communication and sensor equipment that had been temporarily set up in a disused office overlooking the fields.
“All clear. Guards have been redirected for 30 seconds. GO.”
The two shadows sprinted along the engine discharge fire channels of the landing field towards their goal – a battered Union class dropship - Alpha-Two coming from the north, Alpha-One the south.  
“Alpha One and Two. Target just requested clearance to leave.  Accelerate mission.”
Both figures watched as the ground crew completed detaching the fuel cabling and ground clamps.  The mercenary company’s own security surveyed the departure of the ground crews and checked that there were no stowaways.  Sensor sweeps were conducted, but failed to detect the masked intruders hidden in the landing pads.  Satisfied with the sweep the security withdrew to the boarding ramps but did not enter, clearly awaiting the ignition sequence.
In the darkness of the huge landing feet, the intruders went to work.
The retreat of the security detail and retraction of the boarding ramps signaled that time was up.  The two operatives had completed their task 13 seconds prior and had exited the target and slipped away from the danger zone.  The mighty vessels engines ignited and it climbed into the night’s sky where it suddenly suffered catastrophic vessel integrity which resulted in it plummeting to earth in a fiery comet.

“This is Nannette Roux NABCC reporting live at the crash site of last night’s dreadful dropship crash outside Breon.  Reports so far have confirmed that there have been no survivors.  Damage to the industrial area and the fires started as a result of this tragedy have been contained.  It would appear that good fortune have been with the citizens of this area with a scheduled security clearance saving what may have resulted in the loss of thousands of Breon citizens.  20 Million in property damage has been estimated by the Council of Estates and Insurers.  A spokesman for Prince Hanse quoted the Prince as saying  it is deemed a small price to pay compared to the actual loss of those citizens who would have been causalities as a result of this incident.  Investigators are expecting to provide a report on their findings within the week.  Unofficial sources seem to favour negligence on the mercenary company who owned and maintained the vessel.”
Bunter applied medical salve to the sunburnt locations of his lordships back.
“I say, careful there Bunter! I’m a bit tender in that location.”
A cynical laugh came from the other occupant of the smoky room.
“I’m surprised you didn’t get roasted in that blazing sun you silly fool.  Just as well Bunter was there to ensure you didn’t get roasted to a crisp.”
Bunter applied some more salve with perhaps some more gusto than was needed.  His own reddened skin glistened with lotion, and his expression while bland showed some unhappiness at both their situations.
“Yes, Mother always said I had two left feet and a tendency to fall asleep on the job.  Wasn’t it a stroke of luck Monty old man that Bunter and I quit that crowd?  It’d be worse than sunburnt skins I fear, I fancy crispy in hell would be in order right about now.”
All three men shared a knowing look and an almost slight smile touched their lips.
“I argued with your mother about her publicly announcing you.  That little stunt of hers opened up a whole can of worms.  The fact your employer was behind the failed kidnap attempt two days later clearly showed his interest in coin and self promotion.  We’ve since linked his activities back to certain elements that are of particular concern.  Your abrupt termination of employment was not unexpected.”
Ackerley Talbot Barrington Davion gingerly extracted himself from the massage table and donned an elegant silk dressing robe, wincing despite the salve.  Picking up his pipe, he filled the bowl with his choice tobacco and lit it, taking several draws to ensure the tobacco was packed right.  Satisfied he hummed happily and surveyed the company.
“Well I guess my days with that lot are over its back to work now.”

Story (c) John A McDonnell 23 April 2019

Sunday, April 21, 2019

Battletech Adventures - Roleplay Story Act 1

The Dashing Adventures of an Interstellar Gentleman of Leisure

Panther (1)

This is a work of fiction. Names, characters, businesses, places, events, locales, and incidents are either the products of the author’s imagination or used in a fictitious manner. Any resemblance to actual persons, living or dead, or actual events is purely coincidental.

New Avalon, Federated Suns

“Is Barrington in?”
Bunter raked the questioner with a stern and appraising glance which took in everything from his lotion lacquer hair to unfashionable last season’s boots.  Then he said, inclining an indifferent if respectful head.
“If you will be good enough to take a seat, I will ascertain if his Lordship is at leisure. What name shall I say, sir?”
“Oh Bunter you old bastard, you know quite well who it is.  Just bloody announce me and be quick about it.  Honestly, you’ve become too big for your britches since you’ve taken up with this crowd.”
A mischievous grin spread across Bunter’s lips as he prepared to announce the visitor.
“Who is it Bunter old man? said Barrington as he entered the waiting area.  “Oh it’s you Monty, what brings you here.  Short a few C’s are you?  Really, so am I. Bunter cleaned me out again, though I’m sure it will all be back the next time I go look.”
Bunter coughed theatrically.
“He looks, my Lord, if I may so express myself, as though your Mother has kicked him out again.”
Lord Montagew Fisbourne looked harried and bedraggled.  He looked like he had travelled rough or in some haste.  His behaviour was nervous and paranoid, he startled easily to the smallest of noises, such as Bunter rattling the door knob.
“She’s out to get me Ackerley.  I’ll be number four now you know.  She’s already got her eyes for number five.  She’s after me right now old man, you have to protect me.  She’ll listen to you.  You do like me don’t you?” pleaded Fisbourne with tears welling in his puffy red eyes.
“You are probably right Bunter. Mother did kick him out if he’s been carrying on like this. They all do after a while. Remember Cranky Caldwell?  Check to see if the usual security detachment is outside and let them know he’s okay at the moment.  Oh and see if they had any special instructions from Mother? You know what she’s like at times like this, she may want things handled quietly and discretely.”
Bunter left the entrance hallway and made his way onto the street shutting the door behind him.  Fisbourne carried on with his grovelling performance and crying ever so loudly denouncing the vile behaviour of Duchess Victoria all the while using a handheld device to scan the area.  At length finally satisfied with the results he palmed the object and embraced the younger man.
“God Ackerley I wish we could find a more plausible way to meet.  Though I confess your mother does make the perfect front.  The fleeing henpecked husband goes to friends or even enemies where alas all sorts of things occur - in this case a debriefing.”
Bunter returned from the bustling street to the entrance hallway with a satisfied grin and rifling a wad of cash in his hand.
“New security personnel my lords - clearly they must not have been popular with the bosses or they’d have been warned about me” he grinned expansively, “what fine and expensive restaurant shall we dine at tonight care of MIIO.”
All three men shared a hearty laugh at the thought of some accountant having to justify the expense on some ledger somewhere in the vast bureaucracy that was the Federated Suns.  They entered the sumptuous living quarters and took seats, all except Bunter who did his assigned duties.  Fisbourne placed his device on the coffee table and activated it.
“Right then Ackers.  We have been getting yours, as well as Bunters regular encrypted messages which are as insightful as always.  Of course the commander of this mercenary group is more than aware you pair must be a spies of some sort, but he clearly has no idea for who or just what you are reporting on.  From what you have let slip it would appear to him it is routine intelligence data of planets and military assets.  Your primary intelligence gathering mission continues as discussed, and that is proving exceptional.”
Both men looked please with the praise from their superior.  Bunter passed round the drinks, the local TAB guide was left on the silver serving tray with circled suggestions in red.  Both men looked enquiringly at Bunter who didn’t look abashed at all for his brazen attempt at some additional remuneration.
“Bunter” sighed, Barrington “I have given you all I intend to. Don’t get greedy. Damn it you already own two blocks of the lower north side of the NAIS university campus precinct.  What do you need the money for?”
Bunter looked hurt at the comments from the man he clearly idolised.
“My lord, it’s a game of plus and minuses - of keeping scores.  You know the old adage, he who dies with the most toys wins.  Well I need to do something to keep myself occupied while you play soldier, tinker, tailor, and spy for the crown.  I invest well for us my lord or me, which means you ultimately.”
Things looked like they were going to get awkward when Fisbourne interjected.
“I see Plucky Percy is going for his record 30th straight win Bunter.  Put me down for 1000C-Bills.”
Bunter smiled voraciously, “and the Duchess will bet?”
“Stop it, let’s get on to the debriefing” cried Barrington.

As you are aware Bunter and I were taken on with a group of new recruits for a mercenary company called “Death Jesters” commanded by Kommandant Karl Volkov.  The other recruits were Perry Cole, Margo Belsha, James Boar, and two individuals who's files you have flagged Tomoyuki and Jin Kariyn.  
Volkov true to his nature logged simulation training for us new recruits.  Bunter was off doing what he does best and his intelligence report corroborates much of what I have provided.  I’d suggest that the next time the Prince “bumps” into the Coordinator he let slip some minor details of no consequence.  The simulation true to all tests was not so much about who won or lost but about command decisions and when it was prudent for those who business it was to keep their limited resources beat a strategic withdrawal.  The four recruits who were dispossessed (myself among them) handled ourselves well considering that two of our opponents were of greater calibre than us.  My call to retreat ended the simulation, and I was justly acknowledged for making the right call.  Throwing away assets for no potential gain is not what being a mercenary command is.  Unlike the regular military of the state, there is no steady supply chain, logistical support and manpower available.  Things will be difficult in constant combat as attrition eats away at supplies and units available.  What the simulation did highlight was the lack of training still evident.
Our destination and mission was discussed.  Volkov’s previous contract had been breached by his employer and the Mercenary Review Board had found the planetary guilty.  Limited resources had been provided to allow Volkov to reclaim his lost resources including ‘Mechs, personnel and equipment.  The travel time allowed the new recruits time to practice with and acquire skills with demolitions.  At length the destination was achieved and the stealth insertion made.
The questionable pair with ‘mechs dropped onto the radar site while the team I was allocated to was given multiple goals to achieve.  Clearly we had identified ourselves are the more gifted and trustworthy of the new recruits.  I would have to agree so far with the assessment.  Our primary goal was to destroy the fusion generators that powered the defense batteries at the base.  Next was to neutralise the barracks, hopefully taking out, neutralising or containing the troops in them.  Then came the reason why we were there, obtain the ‘mechs belonging to the Death Jesters.  It was essential that Volkov’s target ‘mech be returned as a priority for mission success.  Of course the freeing of Death Jester personnel and securing of company resources and materials would be a bonus if time was on our side.
Insertion was a success and we were not detected.  The ‘mech managed to land with minimal problems though Tomoyuki showed his lack of discipline by face-planting his ‘mech on touchdown.  The VTOL carry the team I was allocated to landed and after almost drowning in a very shallow creek arrived at a small secluded lake where two hostile military personnel were enjoying some downtime in the water.  Sparrow (Cole) and Viper (Belsha) concluded that these must be personnel from the base and a visual search of the shoreline found their clothing and personal effects heaped in a pile.  The enemy personnel were swiftly dealt with in an efficient and clinical manner. A further search of the area found a two seat buggy which caused some attempt to change the plan of attack.  In the end though, this was discarded in favour of sneak approach.
The other infiltration team has also discovered a band of fishermen on the shore near the facility they had been tasked with destroying.  These individuals were executed from a distance, there still upright corpses clutching the cast fishing lines into the inky darkness of the lake the last image left as the two assassins went about their task of demolition.
At the main base the band of four had found the guards to be very distracted and inattentive.  One in particular was asleep at his post, the search light immobile.  Some of the tower lights were active, clearly showing an alert guard, others immobile indicating otherwise. Entry was made into the tower of the lack guard and an entry to a subterranean tunnel system was found.  We left the guard sleeping at his post – for now.  It was soon found out as to why the base personnel were so distracted and inattentive. There was some major football match on – I’ll call it football as that’s it name though heathens call it soccer.  This distraction was a significant boon, thanks to the pin point accuracy of my team members what base personnel we met was neutralised before they had any notion of what was occurring.  The security office was fortuitously placed under one of the barrack buildings and Viper went about her business with exceptional skill.  James Boar earned his call sign that day Der Reiniger or The Cleaner though he will argue it was not for his actual cleaning skills and hiding evidence of our presence. It was while cleaning up the evidence we found the maintenance uniforms and were able to use these to hide our presence further as we made our way through the tunnels and towards the fusion generator.
The two assassins had successfully planted their demolitions and returned to their inactive ‘mechs.  All they had to do now was wait for the allotted time – and not do anything stupid.
The fusion generator was free of personnel.  Clearly this was some football match, or this planet had no better entertainment to name.  Viper placed the explosives, though I was concerned about whether the application would be too much and rather than just disable the generators it would cause a cascade and wipe out the entire base in some fiery inferno. Time would tell when zero hour arrived.
With the main goals of neutralising turrets and personnel achieved we now looked at the ‘mech situation.  The first bay we looked in contained our primary prize.  Excellent.  The second bay contained the ‘mechs we had used in simulation.  Our time was starting to count down.  Decisions had to be made.  Der Reiniger chose to pilot Volkov’s precious ‘Mech, I chose the next highest tonnage and deemed most salvageable ‘mech, Sparrow stuck with his Jenner and Viper her Firestarter.  Finally the countdown ended.  The demolitions went off, the ‘mech bay doors opened.  
Things appeared to have gone according to plan.  The generator was destroyed.  The Barracks were destroyed, or more precisely the main building detonated and collapsed taking the second building with it.  Most if not all base personnel were in the main building which was where the primary detonation occurred.  Very few base personnel survived, the few that did were badly injured or immediately surrendered.  Volkov was appraised of the mission success and the team was told of the ETA and of the dropship extraction.  During this time the team released the remaining company personnel, the few technicians remaining were sufficient to pilot the ‘mechs into the dropship upon its arrival. 
The two diversionary members of the insertion plan joined the main party and awaited extraction.  It was then that we discovered that opposing forces were making their way to the based.  The VTOL appraised us of the disposition and based on the firepower of a Union Class Dropship we hoped it would be sufficient to scare them off from coming closer.  It did not, or they bluffed in the hope that things might go either way.
The team were able to extract all the ‘mechs and personnel that were at the base.  The supplies for the company were unable to be retrieved.  As the Dropship was leaving Volkov ordered it to  fire upon the base and surrounding area, clearing leaving as scorched earth as possible behind for the enemy.  Our mission was over.
The team was justifiably pleased with the outcome.  Payments were made, bonuses were achieved until a hitch occurred.  Yet again the venerable Volkov proved to have a faulty capacity of memory recall and written contract, certainly from as what was on my contract.  My contract clearly stated that the dispossessed pilot could keep as bonus the ‘mech they left the planet with – with the exception of Volkov prize.  I then discovered that the jumped up team “negotiator” had decided to lay claim to my prize and that the bully Tomoyuki is siding with him.  Cat calls of “fight, fight” from certain quarters did not impress me and I held my ground.  I knew quite well I would not win any contest that revolved around a stacked combat, not when either of my opponents had been tooled up prior to being recruited.  Thankfully Volkov came to his senses, but then I noticed he was listening to his communication link, I glanced towards Bunter and saw him smiling and talking away over his own link.  Tempers cooled, however I have little love for either of these two now, they have earned my enmity.  If they will quibble over such matters as this then I fear they will not be people a mercenary company can trust within their midst.
Volkov awarded me sufficient capital to secure a replacement ‘mech of my choosing when we reach our new destination – New Avalon and NAIS.  I was over the moon at news of our destination, home away from home and the chance to renew some contacts.  Travel time was onerous but profitable and I have been at least able to improve many of my skills and traits.
End Debriefing

“It seems you almost came to an untimely end there old man,” gasped Fisbourne as he threw open a window to let in some fresh air. “Honestly it’s a wonder you can breathe oxygen at all with all the tobacco you inhale.”
Bunter entered with an industrial strength garden leaf blower and aimed it at the open window, forcing considerable amounts of pipe smoke to leave.  Thankfully the locals were well aware of Barrington’s peculiar behaviours, heaven help him if his residence ever does catch fire. With the majority of the smoke cleared and just the lingering smell of tobacco the window was closed and security maintained.
“Well I wasn’t exactly prepared to be slugging it out fisticuff style with lowlifes Monty certainly not over the perfectly legal interpretation of my share of a contract.  I am going to ensure that this sod gives me everything in writing from now on.  He can sign in his own blood now; clearly he has questionable ethics so his company will need to be placed on the watch list.”
Bunter interrupted the pair as he turned the vidviewer on and turned up the volume.
“This is Nannette Roux, NABCC reporting from the New Avalon Institute of Science where we are seeing the handover of an important piece of lostech to Dr Banzai.”
The view pans to a drone view of the ceremony.  An impressive ‘mech bearing the emblem of the SDLF can be clearly seen on the vehicle.  A number of dignitaries can be seen on the raised platform, among them Prince Hanse Davion, numerous court and military functionaries, members of Team Banzai and Kommondant Volkov.
Barrington groaned.
“Shut it off Bunter I don’t want to see this.”
Bunter ignored his employer’s request.
The presenter droned on and on about the who’s who of notaries until they got to someone they couldn’t immediately identify.  
“Hello Gunther, I’m afraid I have no idea who that young man is there next to the Duchess of Victoria.  Could that be the heir apparent Ackerley Davion himself making a public appearance?”
“Yes Nannette, I’ve just had it confirmed from palace sources that that is indeed young Lord Ackerley.  He certainly does cut a fine figure in that Team Banzai ‘mech dress uniform.  That shaggy unkempt hair and beard is sure to set the trend this season I’m sure, either that or he’s making a poor attempt at a disguise.”
Much studio laughter is heard.
Barrington leaned forward from his seat and buried his head in his hands.
“Mother did a bloody horrible job didn’t she?”
Fisbourne and Bunter could not contain their mirth.
“Oh stop it the pair of you.  It was dreadful.  I got only a moment’s notice. Honestly I thought I had been kidnapped the way I had been dragged off the street and into that limousine. If Bunter had not been inside I would have had some perplexing notions if not motions in motion.”
“My lord,” gasped Bunter between guffaws “the startled look on your face was priceless.  Though the time to wash your soiled clothing is not something we’ll discuss outside family.”
“Hush said Fisbourne here comes the good bit.”
The footage zoomed in on Prince Hanse and Duchess Victoria standing either side on what was clearly an uncomfortable young man.
“Hello Nannette, we seem to be having some audio difficulties here at the studio.  Are you able to hear what is being said at the ceremony?”
“Gunther – no – the whole audio system seems to have failed and security has stepped in blocking much of what appears to be happening. None of the studios cameras can get a view of what’s being said so we can’t even get our lip readers to interpret the proceedings.  Oh wait, the audio has returned.”
“I present to you people of the realms, Lord Ackerley Davion appointed heir to the Duchy of Victoria,” shouted a smiling Prince Hanse.
Bunter turned off the vidviewer.
“Its official now, Ackerley Davion will succeed as Duke Victoria, nothing bar his death will cheat him of that now.”

Story (c) John A McDonnell 21 April 2019

(1) Panther sourced from:

Wednesday, April 17, 2019

Inner Sphere Adventures - 'Mechwarrior RPG

Image obtained from source material at:
This is a work of fiction. Names, characters, businesses, places, events, locales, and incidents are either the products of the author’s imagination or used in a fictitious manner. Any resemblance to actual persons, living or dead, or actual events is purely coincidental.

The Dark Heresy campaign has taken a break and a new game has started - this time in the Battltech Universe.  Can't say I'm enarmoured with the actual game system or more precisely the character creation process.  It took me three days to decipher the process and come to a character I was happy with.  In the end I'm sure I made mistakes, but I think our GM is happy enough that I haven't milked the system to any advantage.  Not that I do, I write narrative campaigns and stories, unlike those who accompany me who seek loot, loot and carnage.  Sigh to be surrounded by barbarians!

Name: Ackerly Talbot Barrington Davion
Affiliation: Federated Suns
Age: 27                 Height: 1.85m                   Weight: 95kg


Addiction – pipe smoker

Allergy (2) – Anaesthetic

Contact – Batman/Gentlemans Gentleman

Contact – Team Banzai – ‘Mech Technician

Contact (2) – Commandant NAIS College of MS

Contact (2) – Team Banzai – Senior Officer

Combat Sense

Commission/Rank (1) - Leftenant

Enemy – brother of ex-fiancĂ© (Marston Hasek)
Social Standing
Enemy – ex-fiancĂ© (Beatrice Hasek)

Promotion (5) – Squad 2nd – Corporal

Stigma - Davion
Wealth (5)
Academic/Federated Suns History
Well Connected – Victoria (New Avalon DZ)
Academic/Lyran Commonwealth History
Well Connected – New Avalon
Well Equipped (6)
Bureaucracy/Federated Suns



First Aid










Martial Arts/Military





Protocol/Federated Suns

Protocol/Lyran Commonwealth


Sensor Operations





Ackerley Talbot Barrington Davion was born on Victoria in 3012 during the dying days of the reign of Ian Davion.  He is the eldest child of the ambitious and some might say ruthless Duchess Brionna Davion, also coincidently related to Yvonne Davion the Prince’s Champion.

Early life was typical for a Davion, pampered spoilt and idyllic.  While his body wasted away his mind honed itself on the pursuits necessary on moving up the greasy pole of society.  His dutiful mother (widowed yet again) married her fourth (nervous) husband and secured her position as planetary ruler of Victoria.  This did however lead to a few promises to be broken, namely the alliance in marriage between young Ackerley and Beatrice Hasek which had been announced when the pair was only 10.  The children along with Beatrice’s brother Marston grew up firm friends, an actual relationship blossomed between Beatrice and Ackerley until that fateful day when Brionna Davion knifed (alliteratively) Halsey Hasek in the back to climb to the position of planetary Duchess.  The political fallout was monumental, the marriage arrangement was cancelled leaving Beatrice in tears and Marston swearing to avenge the wrong done to his sister’s honour by the ambitious Duchess of Victoria – this meant Ackerley was in the firing line.

Ackerley at this time was rather pleased with the outcome as Beatrice had become too much of a bore and was taking her assumed rise in social status far too much for granted.  Ackerley like most Davion’s despised toadies, and the Haseks were perhaps well known for being such creatures.  Duchess Brionna sensing that matters could end in the death of her only male heir packed him off to New Avalon and the joys of higher education.  There Ackerley was enrolled in the New Avalon Military Academy or as it is now called the NAIS College of Military Sciences.  Here he learned that being in the wrong place at the right time could be profitable and earn him as much knowledge for later life as hitting the books.  Making friends with the Commandant of the Academy when he was caught with proscribed goods (which just happened to be her fancy) was just a matter of good fortune.  It was indeed good fortune that dogged his remaining years at NAIS.

Ackerley had the support throughout his early career from his mother and the every present Davion name.  The wealth, equipment and connections he made on New Avalon secured his survival against the numerous if infrequent accidents that would occur from time to time.  Nothing could be proved but generally one of the Hasek siblings was on New Avalon when these events occurred.  Ackerley wasn’t born yesterday and he took precautions to ensure that his health remained safe and secure – certainly the family did.

Finally the time came for Ackerley to take to the field as every Davion who wishes to take command must do.  Ackerley completed his graduate programme at NAIS in military science, this favoured his placement (with family influence) in Team Banzai.  The CO assigned Ackerley a newly acquired Panther from a Draconis Combine raid which he named “Happy”. (Don’t ask why, no one knows to this day?) His first tour was brutal and he discovered in all honesty that the holovids lied about the glory of war.  It was here that he distinguished himself and earned a battlefield commission to the rank of Leftenant.  During a battle at some unnamed village on the Draconis Combine border Ackerley and a squad of infantry fought off a squadron of light tanks and a company of infantry until relief forces arrived twelve hours later.  Why did Ackerley and the Squad fight so heroically? A field hospital with wounded who could not be moved was the answer.  Later one of those wounded in that hospital sought out Ackerley once he was commissioned and (once vetted by MIIO) granted permission to be his batman.  Thus did Sergeant Reginald Bunter enter the service and life of Ackerley, for good or ill?

The second tour of duty proved to be more difficult than the first.  While still stationed on the DC border Ackerleys ‘mech was brought down by enemy fire in a chemical dumping ground (which happened to be a swamp).  Trapped in his ‘mechs cockpit with contaminated swamp fluids permeating his injuries and lacerations he entered delirium and did not recover consciousness till he awoke in the NAIS medical wing on New Avalon.  To his delight he found out that Sergeant, no it was Mr Bunter now, had mounted a rescue party to retrieve him from his downed ‘Mech.  Bunters’ service in the AFFS had been completed and the Davion family had contracted him to continue to serve the family.  Bunter was to butler for Ackerley while he was in residence and wherever humanly possible for him to attend.  The time at the NAIS medical facility was long and difficult; the complications from the infections and the suspected foul play (yes the Haseks were again on New Avalon) that hampered Ackerley’s recovered made his final discharge a three year journey.  This painful and lengthy process lead to his system rejecting most anaesthetic drugs; making it difficult and expensive to treat Ackerley from here on out.  To offset his boredom at NAIS he developed an addiction to pipe smoking and he is never without his pipe and a stash of good tobacco.  Everyone knows where he is and more importantly where he’s been.

Ackerleys stay on New Avalon and at NAIS has made him well connected and well placed.  His contacts with Team Banzai are useful if limited, however the access to technological information or resources is where the greater benefit lies.  Armed with his family’s wealth, name and social standing Ackerley wonders where his path now lies...

+++The palatial private quarters of Duchess Brionna.+++

“Mother I simply refuse to go, you can’t send me off!  I’m not a child of 10 anymore.”

Bunter intruded with a tray of refreshment and the hostilities ended while the more civilised niceties of high tea were observed.  After the happened, and before Ackerley could get another broadside off the Duchess gave her orbital strike.

“Ackerley dear boy! I will cut you off without a penny if you don’t do as I say.  I know you haven’t a C-Bill to your name at present.  What cockamamie scheme did Bunter have you invest your allowance in this time? No wait, I don’t want to know.”

Bunter, who was clearing the service away, did not even blink or show a sign that he had been mentioned in the conversation.  Unless he had been spoken to directly, he’d wait and see what came of it.  With luck they’d forget, and Plucky Percy will win at race 7 today.

“The Haseks damn near killed you on New Avalon while you were recovering.  I think a stint away from Federated space is what’s best for you for the moment.  You’ll be joining a band of mercenaries for a while, I suggest you use the name Talbot Barrington, well actually I demand it.  I’ve drawn up the papers; your identity has been created.  As at this moment you will cease being a Davion except by blood, try not to let slip who you are to the rabble dear.  I’ll try to arrange for Bunter to accompany you, but you know what it’s like with these infernal agencies and their rules.”

Ackerley looked at his mother closely.  He could actually see through all the banter that there was real concern there.  The political infighting with the Haseks was starting to become a problem, not just for our branch but more so for our Prince Hanse.  It was best to ensure that the bloodline continues in the event something happens to his mother.  Not that it would, Vyonne would not let it happen – yet times were changing. 

“Very well mother, I will do as you ask.  I take it you will at least provide me some seed money?  Yes, yes I’ll make sure Bunter doesn’t go near the race track with it.”

This time Bunter did miss a step as he went about his duties.

+++End of story.+++