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Druid’s Gold!

(Part the first)

A Battle Report from the world of ‘Chainmail Bikini’

The barbarian leader knew that the druids gathered at dawn each solstice, circling their altar under the great skull rock to perform their baffling ceremonies to their inexplicable gods. Gunther had decided he would lead the raid to steal the golden objects – candles, goblets, perhaps a nice tea-tray for his granny – from the strange worshippers. After all, they were mostly old men and women in white frocks, and wouldn’t stand long before swords and axes.

In this, (spoiler alert!) he would be proved wrong. Then again, his initial plan had been to steal the skull rock, entire. He’d been badly misinformed about how big it was.

The first move was to sneak in close, Gunther and Gar halting in woods to watch the ceremony while Olga and Will sneaked (snuck? Gunther was weak on verb forms) around a great rock outcrop to their left. Ahead, the druids had two bodyguards – great, hulking beasts, one in heavy armour, the other clad like the barbarians, but grotesque and giantesque. Or gianty – one or the other.

Gunther’s plan was cunning. He would shout and run forward and kill the first bodyguard. All his friends would run forward and kill something. Then they’d take the gold. It was Brilliant!

Those who care about the rules will note that, on a scale of 1-6, Gunther was rated ‘2’ on WITS.

The first bit worked well. Gunther and his companion rushed forward, surprising the bodyguard -Thundaghhhh by name, although clearly it doesn’t matter since he didn’t survive the first strike of Gunther’s double-handed sword, what with wearing full plate armour but no helmet - a poor equipment decision. Olga and Will did not rush forward immediately (the first card drawn being a ‘one hero’, which only allowed Gunther and those close at hand to act) but on the second card (‘all move’) they ran from cover to outflank the druids.

The druids did nothing except take a Reaction test, which they passed – meaning, mostly, that they did not run screaming into the distance, but turned to face their attackers.

Oh, wait – they did something. The chief druid pointed his Staff of Terror™ and uttered some word of what Gunther knew to be Foreign Nonsense. Even so, Gunther halted for a moment as Icy Fear coursed through his veins, like that time he’d bet his best dagger on a slow racehorse. His friend Gar, being too stupid to notice, ran past him and smashed into the chief druid, knocking him back against the altar.

The next card was for the druids. The chief druid, who had flowing yellow hair (looking a lot like a member of a ‘70s prog-rock band in his robes) used the Staff of Terror™ like the Really Big Club (no ™) it was, and broke the barbarian’s kneecaps in a Mighty Blow. That’s the best kind of blow to give, and the worst to receive. If it had been an axe, Gar would have been reduced to 4’7” height and no future need for shoes.

At the same time Grokh, the huge, sub-human bodyguard moved from his post (not, it should be said, very quickly) and faced Gunther. The barbarian obligingly charged, thus avoiding that tiresome bit where the attacker fails to reach his target on the same day he began his – well - attack. Gunther, the Icy Fear™ having dissipated by a successful die roll, gleefully sliced a chunk off Grokh by a cunning counter-blow as Grokh tee’d up his attempt at bashing the barbarian’s head in. As one does.

The barbarians drew the next card, and both Olga and Will closed with elderly men in robes. Gar tried to crawl away from the Wakemanesque chief druid, and Gunther hacked at Grokh once again, reducing his hit points in two blows from 8 (which is a lot) to 0 (which is not enough to be worth taking to the village healer).

This was a bad move, as it turned out, because Grokh then fell backwards onto Gar, ruining any chance he had of crawling off through the grass.

Olga and her partner seemed mostly unable to defeat their druid opponents, which was frankly embarrassing.

It was then that the druids got a run of cards. The chief druid, wielding the Staff of Terror™. like a huge club, began whaling away on Gunther. Other druids joined in, stabbing at his pimply white northern thighs and tripping him up with their staffs. Olga and Will knocked down a couple of druids, but were faced with new opponents. One of them got lucky and toppled Will when he failed some die rolls at a time it would have been much easier to pass them. It was all a bit sad, really.

And Gunther went down, weakened by low blows and dirty tricks (and possibly bad die rolls? Really, you blame the dice, Gunther?)

The chief druid called out to Olga that he would let her live, because his gods were magnanimous and he knew that he’d had a great run of cards and die rolls, which might not last.

Olga withdrew from the field (or ran away, depending), leaving her three comrades to the tender mercies of the druids. Because she’d be back, with help.

Oh yes she would.

Game Design Stuff:

‘Chainmail Bikini’ works on a card draw, and in my remarkable way (having initially very deliberately placed the cards alternately through the deck) I had managed to shuffle the cards into a ‘three of one, four of the other’ sequence. So the barbarians got the run of cards first, and then the druids.

The barbarians were a Hero (Gunther) with stats of 5s and some 6s (very good but not Conan) and three Companions with 4s and 5s. Not much armour, but Barbarian Skin™ counts as leather. Sure it does.

I’d decided the druids were not merely doddery old folks, but more in the aggressive cultist mode. After all, except for the leader, (Rick Wakeman lookalike, a Companion) they were graded as Minions (who are out of the game after receiving any sort of wound, however minor). They have no armour and fight with sticks, right? I didn’t want them all sliced and diced in one turn. But this turned out to be a mistake, as I over-rated them (MUSCLES and FEATS both 4) and then counted their staffs as ‘Really Big clubs’ This made them tougher than was really a good idea, and some decent die rolls and a policy of ganging up on to their opponents with 3-1 odds didn’t hurt, either.

So, a win for the druids. We decided that the fallen barbarians would all be taken prisoner for nefarious purposes, leading to Part 2, to occur a week later. Cunning, huh?