Monday, July 10, 2017

New Dawn Session 22: July is not a Quiet Month

Precis: The PCs plan to spend July retraining their army, but the Orcs have other plans.

The 22nd session of my GURPS Fantasy Mass Combat game New Dawn was all about the difference between the plans you make and the events that occur. The PCs had decided to have a relatively quiet July, during which their troops could retrain and their army could expand. Sure, they intended to knock off a few Orc regiments in a neighboring countries, but their big focus was going to be retraining. Unfortunately, the orcs in a different set of neighboring countries had different plans, and the PCs were forced to respond to potential and actual orc incursions.

Cast of Characters

New Dawn is a troupe style game, with each player having two characters. One team primarily does military stuff; the other team has been doing delving and diplomacy but is branching out into military raids as the PCs become Mass Combat units in their own right.

The PCs involved in the army were:

The Direct Action consisted of:

+Kevin Smyth's Aisling Mhic Muiris - a Fae conwoman or possible ambassador - had a brief sequence.

All Over the Map

At the end of June and the last session, the direct action team had used their flying boat to zip around the country, annihilating orc garrison companies in their fortresses and creating a local power vacuum. Some orcs in the neighboring country of Zerniless responded by advancing into Hanist and reconquering the fortress of Lubasser. Fleeing peasants arrived at the Liberation controlled fortress of Frederikvud on the 28th and a courier got the word to the PCs on the 30th. On July 1st, the tired and battered direct action team immediately flew to Frederickvud to reinforce the garrison there, and a contingent of light infantry and artillery that had just finished training moved out of the capitol to provide additional firepower. The Pegasii cavalry also moved out of Trahaern's army to provide aerial scouting. 

Liberation armies in dark blue. Liberation air forces in
light blue. Liberation reinforcements in pastel blue.
Orc forces in red. Orc reinforcements in orange.
Nominally allied orc forces are green.

Meanwhile, on the northwest border with Menkgu and Venrike, Trahaern's army was facing off against half a regiment of orcs. Trahaern's old army could have smashed such a force without worry, but most of the field force had returned their depots for retraining and no one was sure how well the reduced force would do.

In the south, Aisling was overseeing the retraining and re-equipping of a large group of surrendered orcs. She was also suffering from the effects of the new variable mana system I had just introduced: mana levels were now changing randomly on a weekly basis across the continent, and local levels of high mana made Fae like Aisling suffer from Euphoria. At any rate, the leader of the orc forces, Colonel Rigar Gloomfang, approached her and pointed out that two of the garrisons that had been destroyed in the previous week were companies from his regiment, as were the last two orc garrisons in Hanist, and it would make more sense for him to order them to join the orc army than have them destroyed. Although this would add a significant number of dubiously loyal orcs to a force that was already dubiously loyal and more powerful than the local militia, Aisling agreed and couriers were sent out to recruit the orcs.

A Contemplative Interlude

In the northeast, the PCs waited at Frederikvud. A pair of soldiers approached Nayla, and basically asked if the rumors that she was a demi-god were true, and if so, how did that happen and most importantly, how could the soldiers become demi-gods too? Nayla mostly demurred to answering the questions, because she didn't know the answers anyway, but the rest of the PCs weighed in with their opinions. At some point, the topic branched to magic items, with the various PCs offering a bunch of confusing and mostly wrong answers as to why they were getting magic items. It was a good little role-playing scene that exposed a bunch of the PCs' various personality quirks.

The Lubasser Front

On the 2nd, an orc company with a preponderance of cavalry - including centaurs! - marched south at a leisurely pace, and eventually assaulted Frederikvud after dark on the 3rd. By that point, the PCs had nearly seven companies in place, commanded by Sven. The orc commander was quite skilled and had a bonus for fighting at night, but he was also heavily overnumbered and lacked air support. He took massive casualties in the first round of combat and retreated in the second round, but even so, only 10% of his force survived.

The PCs managed to capture a centaur sergeant and interrogate him, but he was less than helpful. The centaurs were vicious and cruel; they enjoyed hunting minotaurs and lizardmen and didn't want to be part of a future when they wouldn't be allowed to do that. Nesta eventually killed him out of annoyance but it did mean the PCs were going to have a problem with centaur prisoners in the future.

Sven was immediately going to follow up, but I pointed out it was close to 2 am and most of his troops had just spent four days on the road. They were willing to pursue the enemy, but they wanted to wait until morning. Sven relented and marched out the next morning, arriving at Lubasser in mid-afternoon on the 5th. The orcs had reinforced the Lubasser garrison with a second company. This one also had a very non-standard formation, with almost no cavalry but flying demonic imp scouts and a batch of kobold miners. Still, the garrison was outnumbered 3:1 and didn't have the advantage of darkness; Sven quickly breached the walls and conquered the place. A number of centaurs were captured, and there was a discussion about the difficulty of keeping superhumanly strong, smart, man-horse hybrids prisoner with the resources that the Liberation had available.

The Menkgu Front

On the other side of the PC's territory, Trahaern was facing several companies of orcs. He decided to hold up and wait for more reinforcements. The orcs attempted a reconnaissance in force, but since Greex had a magic map that showed all enemy troop movements, Trahaern and Greex had plenty of time to prepare for the orcs' arrival. They ambushed the orcs outside of the Liberation controlled fortress of Gicunoocoo and sent them reeling. Less than 100 of the orcs survived to retreat to their fortress of Catonodo, and Trahaern followed up and overran the castle on July 5th.

On Trahaern's left flank, another regiment of orcs was beginning to assemble. Fortunately, he would have a few days to prepare, and more allied reinforcements were coming.

We had covered a lot at this point, so I ended the game here.

Review of Play

This was a pleasantly simple session to plan for: I simply figured out what the orcs would do with their available information and had them do that, while the PCs made their own plans. Gameplay resulted from the clash of plans. It might not have been as tactically fraught as dealing with huge orc armies during the liberation of Hanist in June, but it was amusing and a bit of a breather.

Map with weather and mana level icons.
I did introduce two new subsystems in this session: changing mana levels and explicitly changing weather. Both worked out pretty well. Mana levels require that I roll on some tables every week or so of game time, which isn't too much of a hassle. Weather required a daily roll on a table and some tedious update work so that there were icons for the PCs to see, but I wrote a macro after the game to automate all that.

The role-playing scene with Nayla and the question of demi-godhood had been something I wanted to do for a while, but it kept getting put off in favor of other things. It had a little less impact than I would have liked, but it was still a good little scene.

What Next?

Next week, Aisling will deal with the consequences of inviting 700 orcs of dubious loyalty into her castle. We'll also introduce Ben's and Chris' second PCs, who are currently another nymph and an ogre priest, respectively. It should be interesting.

I have an idea for a micro-dungeon in Venrike that will take up a session or two and may result in the deaths of a few PCs. We'll see. That's in the future, though.

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