[SGAM 2016] Let’s Play Chainmail! Part 1 – The Siege of Bodenberg

Alright, so we’re gonna commence this year’s SGAM Campaign. The RPG we’re playing is another war game. This one is yet another precursor to D&D: Chainmail.

Chainmail was made by Gary Gygax and was pretty much a medieval wargame that, with some tweaking, led to the creation of Dungeons and Dragons. Whereas Braunstein gave D&D its fluff, Chainmail is crunchier. Sadly, in the path of the voyager, even the crunchiest of games will become fluffy.

I’ve already thought of a starting scenario for this campaign. It’ll be the Siege of Bodenberg, the game that started the entire RPG genre in the first place. Long story short, Gygax was inspired to do Medieval wargames thanks in part to the game Siege of Bodenberg. So what better way to pay homage by playing out a scenario loosely based on it?

And I say loosely in the loosest of terms, as redundant as that sounds. My character will be the leader of a small peasant uprising. And by small peasant uprising, I of course mean in the two dozens. The scenario’s simple: peasants are pissed that they’re treated unfairly, and they turned to me to kick start the revolution/reign of terror.

And thus, we begin our battle with a random event:

  • Event Focus: 17 = NPC Action
  • NPC: 5 = ???
  • Event Meaning: 80 + 59 = Trust Blade

Those who are keen eyed might recognize that 59 does not actually correlate to Blade. That’s because, as part of this year’s gimmick, I was to replace the Event Meaning list with things I could find from a book. This book, if you’re wondering, is the first in the ongoing series of A Song of Ice and Fire, better known to TV junkies as Game of Thrones.

So yeah, it might get dark later on. So yeah. Let’s begin this random revolution then.

My character, henceforth Robert S. Pierre, the man from the future, had woken up in medieval times and has been asked to lead a rebellion against the tyrannical dictator known as King Maximillian. This begins the siege. Robert has just been taught how to lead the army of peasants thanks to his lengthy time playing strategy games and is ready to charge into battle, but suddenly hears a jostle in the woods.

Robert tells one of his second in command to go ahead of him as he walks to the woods. His army of peasants march towards the gates, torches and pitchforks at the ready. I’ll roll up attacks first. Now, I’m tried to make heads and tails out of the rules, but I couldn’t make sense of it. Thus, I decided to go for a simpler route and just roll it out.

A volley of arrows manages to impale and kill about five of the peasants. The game works on a 20:1 scale, meaning that one unit = twenty men. So I still have the dozen or so peasant units, which in game translates to well over 700 peasants.

Then I realize that the forces have a cannon and fired at the peasants, wiping out a chunk of them. Not enough to faze them though. One of the militia tried to get Robert, but he managed to cut them down. End of round 1.

[Chaos Factor: Increased to 6]

[Scene Roll: 9]

[Scene Interrupt for TSS? 5, nope]

So another round ensues and more of my peasants are shredded by a combination of archers, cannonballs, and the main fielders. My own character is also attacked by the cannonball, ending the round. Chaos goes up.

[Scene Roll: 2 for Mythic, 5 for TSS]

So scene interrupt.

  • Event Focus: 97 = NPC Positive
  • NPC: 5 = ???
  • Event Meaning: 3 and 6 = Neglect Lord

So the round begins with more peasants dying. At least 25% have been wiped out, and thus I roll morale. They make their Morale check, a high number of eight, and we close out the round with Robert finally finding out what was making the rattle in the forest: they were Hobbits.

Yes, Chainmail, the medieval wargame has fantasy elements in it. This is the other thing that led to the birth of D&D. At some point, you guys might understand what the theme for this campaign will be about. Especially with Rob looking at the hobbits weirdly. The hobbits interact with Robert for a bit about how they didn’t like the King as much as the villagers do so they want to join in the war.

Robert accepts and points out that they need to take out the cannon. With that, the Hobbits move out and the round ends with the Chaos Factor going down. Next round.

[Scene Roll: 8 for Mythic, 5 for TSS]

[Q: Do the Bodenberg guards set their sights on the hobbits? A: 5!]

Yes. And now we have an event.

[Event: 5, Negative Thing happens]

The good news! The guards won’t use their cannons on the villagers. The bad news! They’ll use it on the hobbits instead! Good news is that, because they’re small, the Hobbits were able to survive more than the Peasants.

[Q: Do the Peasants notice something? A: 5]

On the other end, the Peasants notice two pixies.

[Q: Do the pixies want to help too? A: 4]

Yes, but only on one condition.

[Condition: Ambiguous event, Befriend Gnome]

The pixies work for a gnome. Befriend the gnome and they will help. The Pixies also help, noticing that several peasants are dead, and revive the peasants. The round ends with some more peasant dying and Chaos goes down.

[Scene Roll: 8 for Mythic & 2 for TSS]

Everyone moves onwards. Even more peasants die as the hobbits break into the base, but are opposed by a man in heavy armor. Meanwhile, our Gnome begins his conversation with the peasants.

  • Mood: 78 = sociable
  • Bearing: 3 & 5, happiness
  • Focus: 15 = history

The Gnome is delighted to hear that the peasants are actually going to make history by rebelling against the king and is more than willing to let his pixies assist. He even has one revive the dead. With a risen army, Chaos goes down as the round ends.

[Scene Roll: 3 and 5]

So more villagers get killed. The cannonball is pretty OP as hell. So OP in fact, that the peasants actually ran away. It increases the Chaos Factor. I finally scored my first kill in the game. The rest of the battle is mainly grindy battles, but the one thing to note here is that I now have an army of zombies.

And thankfully, they managed to overwhelm the horseman, though thanks in part to a random event. Another random event is that the peasants realize just now that their friends are now zombified and eventually they too got zombified.

In time, the zombie hoard raid the castle and destroy the cannon. Thus, we have successfully taken Bodenberg. This was a great first battle, though I may have fallen victim to setting up high stakes for myself only to break the game to make sure that it’s fair and I tweaked the rules so hard that I’m probably just playing an entirely new game with Chainmail fluff added to it, but it’s sorta fun.

Well, let’s see where our adventure will take us next time.

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