Wednesday, May 18, 2016

Mythic and Miniature Gaming

Back in September of 2006 I wrote a couple of posts on a Yahoo forum about using Mythic Role-Playing as a means of creating scenarios and fighting miniatures battles solo. The idea was to use Mythic to create a narrative and help the player make decisions for the opposition and to represent the fog of war. Although Mythic contains a combat system, I still wanted to use my traditional miniatures rules. With that in mind I wrote up and posted two gaming sessions using Mythic and Two Hour Wargames' Black Powder Battles. Rather than linking to the original forum thread – which requires you to join that Yahoo forum, even to read posts – I have reproduced them here.
On the Wallachian Frontier, 1750's
(A Solo Skirmish using the Black Powder Battles and Mythic rules)

This skirmish occurs roughly 75 km NW of Bucharest in what would be the XVI Grenzer Regimental area (1st Wallach). The forces available are, on the Slavic (Austro-Hungarian) side: four mounted Pandurs (irregular frontier troops) and four frontier Hussars; on the Wallachian (Ottoman Turk) side: eight Boyars on foot and four mounted.

The initial idea for this scenario was to have two Pandur scouts detect a Boyar raiding party encamped. The mounted Boyars would be foraging (and thus the scouts would not know of their presence), while the foot were busy making camp. The scouts would then retreat and give the alarm. Four Pandurs would then return and make a surprise attack on the camp. Once the shooting started, it would be a race between both sides remaining mounted troops to see which side
reinforced the skirmish first.

Because I decided to use Mythic as a way of randomizing events, I decided to try and use the rules they way they were intended. As Mythic is mainly geared towards adding a cinematic storyline to solo (or GM-less) role-playing games, it breaks the story down into segments, called "scenes". So, looking at the rules and the storyline I was attempting to recreate, I can see that I jumped the gun a
little. The scenes defined are:

1. The Pandurs are patrolling the frontier where the Boyars are camped.
2. Assuming the Pandurs are successful in spotting the Boyars, they ride off to raise the alarm.
3. The Pandurs meet with other patrolling Pandurs. One continues on to the fort in order to raise the alarm while the remainder head for the Boyar camp.
4. Something compells the Pandurs to attack the Boyar camp before reinforcements arrive.
5. Once the shooting starts, both sides mounted reinforcements head towards the sound of the guns. Which one will make it first?

Good storyline, but Mythic wants to throw in some random elements here and there to throw a surprise your way every so often. So, you start by coming up with an "adventure setup", or an interesting concept. My setup is that the Pandurs are patrolling the area, looking for Turkish raiders and bandits, while the Boyars, as the raiders, are looking to loot a village. They have made a march across the frontier and are starting to encamp, with the intention of starting off the next morning, making an early raid, then force-marching back across the border.

The next step is to make a list of all of the characters who may become involved in the adventure.

Pandur Scout Patrol 1
Pandur Scout Patrol 2
Hussars from Fort

Foot Boyars encamped
Mounted Boyars foraging

Next, the Chaos Factor is recorded (it starts at '5'). This may rise or fall as the various scenes are played out.

Next, the threads of the storyline are listed out:

1. The Slavs scout the frontier to detect and stop any enemy raiders or bandits.
2. The Wallachians are raiding a Slav frontier village.

Okay! Now it is time to setup the first scene.

[Scene 1]

The Slavs are approaching the Wallachian camp... Before playing the scene, however, you check to see if the scene has been modified (surprise, surprise). Roll 1D10 and if you roll the Chaos factor (5)
or less, the scene is modified.

Rolls => 8

The scene has now been determined; both sides are in the vicinity of one another, so its time to start playing by asking questions and rolling on the Fate Chart.

Do the Slavs spot the Wallachians first? I would rate this as High versus Below Average (i.e. the Slavs have a high chance because this is why they are out there -- to find and investigate suspicious
activity -- and the Wallachians have a lower chance of spotting first as they are setting up camp and thus are distracted and have fewer sentries), so the base chance is 85% for 'Yes' and 16% for an 'Exceptional Yes'.

Rolls => 13

The Slavs have spotted the Wallachians and not been spotted themselves.

Black Powder Battles uses dice to handle how the troops react to certain situations; spotting the enemy for the first time is one of those situations. Rather than automatically assuming that the scouts
will do the right thing (holding their fire, observing the enemy, then returning unseen to report), you have to check to see what they do. First, however, we need to start setting up for a potential battle.

Do the Pandurs see all eight Boyars? Here I think that the chance would be about average, as the Boyars are moving about and their might be a sentry out of sight that they don't notice, but given their previous exceptional success, I give them a 65% chance.

Rolls => 55

Whenever you roll on the Fate Chart and the number is a doubles AND the digit is equal to or lower than the current Chaos rating a Random Event occurs. First roll on the Event Focus table to see what aspect of the adventure the event is applied to.

Rolls => 31

This is a thread-related event. As we have two open threads, roll to see which (even: Slav; odd: Wallachian).

Rolls => 6

Now you roll on the Event Meaning table.

Rolls => 167: "A wise counselor"

I am interpreting this event as the Pandurs automatically passing the "In Sight" check and remaining hidden without firing.

So, the scouts note that there are eight raiders on foot and, realizing that they don't have enough force to handle these raiders (and that they need to raise the alarm, as there may be other raiding parties about), they slip away and ride off.

[End of Scene 1]

No characters or threads are added or removed from the lists, but the Chaos Factor is lowered to '4' as the scene was "controlled and calm."

The last task is to dole out Favor Points for exceptional accomplishments. Nothing here, as it was all pretty cut and dried.

[Scene 2]

The Slavs have successfully spotted the enemy, counted their numbers, then slipped away. On the way back to the fort the first Slav scout patrol meets up with a second, larger Slav scout patrol.

Check to see if the scene is modified.

Rolls => 1: yes

As the roll is in the lower half (1 or 2 versus a 3 or 4), it is an altered scene as opposed to an interrupt scene.

Altering a scene requires that you decide the most logical alteration, then ask a question and access the Fate Chart to determine if that is indeed the correct alteration. If not, keep asking the next most logical questions until the answer comes up 'yes'.

In this scene, the most logical alteration is that the scouts fail to meet up with the other scouting party.

Rolls => 89: no

Is it that the scouting party is not as large as expected?

Rolls => 82: no

Did we actually meet up with the enemy mounted Boyars?

Rolls => 33: yes

Note also that this is again doubles, and that the digit ('3') is less than the current Chaos Factor, so a random event has occurred. Looking at the Event Focus and Event Meanings tables:

Rolls => 80: neutral event
Rolls => 12: Physical and emotional violation

The first thing that springs to mind is that the scouts come upon the other scouts, who are dead from the hands of the Boyars, but this would not be a neutral event. So, who are the neutrals? The local,
non-combatant villagers are. So, the Boyars came upon some local villagers and are now in the process of terrorizing them when the Slavs burst onto the scene.

Do the Pandurs surprise the Boyars?

Rolls => 71: no

Do the Pandurs stumble onto the scene without noticing the Boyars?

Rolls => 98: exceptional no

Are all four of the Boyars present? (The previous 'exceptional no' weights the question in favor of a 'no'.)

Rolls => 3: exceptional yes

So, the Pandurs burst in on the scene of two Boyars terrorizing a woman and two children. A man is dead, on the ground. Unbeknownst to the Pandurs, there are two more Boyars out of sight, but who can see them (they are not considered "hidden"). The Pandurs have an idea that there are more, however.

Time to start a battle!

The two Boyars out of sight are dismounted and in the family's hut (their horses are outside near the door and can be seen by the Pandurs). The woman and children are in the yard, on their knees, crying. The two mounted Boyars are in front of the hut and in sight of the Pandurs. (This is all dictated by the terrain board I am using, the location of the hut, and the random roll I made to determine which direction the Pandurs came from.)

Turn 0
The Pandurs are considered to have moved into sight, thus the Boyars take the 'In Sight' checks.

Rolls => 2 and 5

As all of the Boyars are REP 4, this is 1 pass, resulting in stationary figures firing. However, the Pandurs are greater than 12" away (the range of a carbine), so they do not fire.

Turn 1
Each side rolls 1D6.

Pandurs Roll => 5: fail activation
Boyars Roll => 2: activate

Before the Boyars activate the Pandurs must continue movement (they were going the base 8").

Boyar 1 exits the hut and mounts his horse. This causes an 'In Sight' check for the Pandurs.

Rolls => 3 and 6: 1 pass, moving figures may not fire

Boyar 2 also exits the hut and mounts his horse, again causing an 'In Sight' check.

Rolls => 3 and 4: 2 passes, moving figures may fire

Both Pandurs fire at the Boyar attempting to mount his horse.

Rolls => 2 and 6: one miss and one hit; both Pandurs' carbines are unloaded (they each have a pistol, however)
Rolls => 6: target knocked down and must roll for recovery next turn

Boyar 3 decides to charge the closest Pandur, requiring a 'Wanting to Charge' check.

Rolls => 2 and 5: 1 pass; will charge

The Pandur makes a 'Being Charged' check.

Rolls => 4 and 6; prepares for melee

The Pandur draws his sabre. Rolling for melee:

Pandur Rolls => 2, 4, and 6 (cavalry receives an extra die): 2 passes
Boyar Rolls => 1, 1, and 2: 3 passes
Roll for Damage => 6: knocked off of horse
Roll again for Damage => 6: knocked to ground, roll for Recovery next Active turn

The Pandur's horse continues on without his rider (it will stop a short distance away) and the Boyar continues to ride past.

The last Boyar activates and he also charges (the remaining mounted Pandur).

Boyar Rolls => 4 and 5: 1 pass; charges
Pandur Rolls => 1 and 2: 2 passes; those that can will fire and prepare for melee

The Slav pulls his pistol...

Rolls => 5: hits
Rolls => 4: Boyar knocked off of horse
Rolls => 6: Boyar knocked to the ground, roll for Recovery next Active turn

The turn ends with two Boyars knocked to the ground, one Pandur knocked to the ground, and one Boyar and one Pandur still mounted (although both have ridden past one another and are facing opposite directions).


It has suddenly occurred to me that I have been "cheating" to a certain extent. The goal was not to figure out how to use Mythic to create an interesting scenario, but how to use Mythic to help figure
out how the troops should react. Black Powder Battles does an excellent job of that for certain situations, but at some point you, the player, have to make a decision for both sides.

For example, when the Boyars were activated, in all cases I chose their actions, not the dice. I chose what I felt was the most logical course of action, given that they outnumbered the Pandurs. But, that
was a major assumption on my part. I knew that the Boyars outnumbered them, but did they?

It is time to integrating Mythic more into the game.

The last turn ended with two Boyars knocked to the ground, one Pandur knocked to the ground, and one Boyar and one Pandur still mounted (although both have ridden past one another and are facing opposite directions).

Turn 2
To start, we need to roll initiative. Both sides activate, but the Pandurs activate first.

So, the Boyar that charged last turn must move while inactive. He goes 4" forward and wheels his horse back around to face the Pandurs.

Now, on to using Mythic to help determine each side's actions (I am going to try and use it for playing out both sides).

The main goal of the Pandurs, at this point, is to raise the alarm. The first question is: how close is the horse of the dismounted Pandur? Is it close? Yes. Does the Pandur recover from being knocked to the ground? (This used Black Powder Battles for resolution.) Yes. The dismounted Pandur gets up and mounts his horse.

That leaves the second Pandur free to leave the scene of battle and go get help (if that makes sense). First off, is this battle occuring close to the Boyar camp (within earshot)? No. Is the battle occurring
close to the Pandur camp (unlikely)? No. Will the Pandur (who still has to act – #2) leave his companion behind? No. Will the Pandur (#2) attack the Boyar to their rear in order to clear a path to the rear? Yes.

The Pandur charges the Boyar, passing on the left. I am giving the Pandur +1D6 in melee for momentum (the Boyar had stopped and wheeled around). Both score 0 passes. The Pandur passes and continues on (but still barely on the board).

Now it is the Boyars turn to activate. First, all moving Pandurs continue on. Will Pandur #2 stop and wheel? Yes.

Is the Boyar that was attempting to mount his horse still near his
horse? No, The shot which knocked him down must have scared it off.
He is able to get up successfully, so he looks for the horse. Rolling
for the horse's direction, the horse ran left around the house. Is
the horse still in sight? No. Did the Boyar see where the horse went
while he was down? No. The Boyar's turn is over.

The next Boyar on the ground gets up and recovers (everyone's powder must have been wet, because no one is getting hurt!). As he was shot off of his horse, he also has a chance of his horse running away. Is his horse still close by? Exceptional yes. He gets up and quickly mounts his horse.

The Boyar near the hut acts. Should he charge the Pandur whose back is to him? Yes. He passes his Attempting to Charge check. As he is charging the rear of an opponent, the Pandur gets a Surprise Check, which he passes twice, so the Pandur turns to face the Boyar and takes a Being Charged Check at -1, which he passes once (so he prepares for melee). The Pandur suddenly whips around and the Boyar falls to the ground, out of the fight, with a sabre cut to the head (the Boyar had three dice in melee with the Pandur only having two and he still lost).

The final Boyar is facing the Pandur that just cut down the other Boyar. To his back is the Pandur farthest from the hut that just attacked (and missed) him. Does he retreat? Exceptional yes. The Boyar rides to the left of the hut accelerating to a fast speed (16").

[End of turn]

Hmmm. Interesting. Whoever activates first have the first opportunity to retreat. Who will it be? What will happen next?

[Recording of Game Ends]
These two posts generated a little discussion. The forum was mostly dedicated to using Mythic for role-playing, so there was some interest in using it for traditional wargames, but not much.
Q: First off, I was enjoying the story (err...log). It got me into one of those reading moods where you see the scenes playing out in your head like you were watching a TV screen.

You, the player, were the Slavs right? I take that from your almost last big paragraph. I enjoyed how you incorporated RPG aspect to get to the point of actually starting a skirmish. 

I have no experience in playing skirmish or war games with Mythic so I can not be much help. You said you chose actions for the Boyars based on the most logical. You probably could have asked Mythic a question about that logical choice to see if the Boyars actually "did the most 
logical". Also, when setting up a scene you probably should have a goal stated so you know when the scene ends (whether you meet that goal may or may not happen though). 

How much more time, using Mythic, did it take compared to just using the Black Powder Battles rules alone? Was this way more or less fun?

A: Yes, "log" is accurate. It was intended to show my thought processes and how I interpreted the rolls.

I was playing the Slavs, but sometimes it might be interesting to not "play" either side; to try and eliminate bias and simply let the narrative go where it might.

Using Mythic to get to the start of the skirmish – to set the scene – was the most surprising aspect of the game so far. As you can see, I sort of had the scenario that I was to play all set in my mind, then I decided to develop a back-story that got me to the starting point of the scenario. But instead, I decided to play out the back-story and see if Mythic could throw me a curve ball in my
nice and tidy little scenario. As it turned out, the curve ball wasn't to the scenario, but that I
ended up playing a completely different scenario.

I can already see some of the ramifications of this scene. For example:

* If the Slavs win and no Boyars are alive, the Boyars at the camp might be on alert if the others don't come back within a certain amount of time.

* If the Slavs win and some Boyars do escape, the camp will definitely be on alert when the main Slav attack comes.

* If the Slavs lose and none escape, the scenario will definitely shift towards the Boyars making a raid on a village and seeing if Slav can rescue the villagers in time.

And who knows how many other possibilities.

We'll see how much longer using Mythic takes. As I was not using Mythic with Black Powder Battles [in the first part], but rather before it, it only took as much time as any Mythic adventure. I changed that in the second part.

Of course, noting every last little detail and explaining the rationale in my head took far more time than simply playing would. I was only able to setup the game and run a single turn in two hours. One-half of that time was simply getting to the point where I had a skirmish to fight.

I should be able to fight and document a turn or so per night.

Changing from a mindset of "let's envision a scenario" to "let envision a general concept and see where Mythic takes us" was very exciting. This changes the session from a wargame to a narrative
storyline in which combat is a central part. You are changing what you are doing by wrapping a context around the battle, which has always been my goal in wargaming.

For example, the Slavs really must play more cautiously. Their goal should not so much be to wipe out the Boyards at the hut (although this would be great); they have a larger mission here: to raise the

In a normal skirmish, the loss of the two scouts is sort of an "oh well", but losing this fight means the next one will put that side at a disadvantage.

In wargaming, this is playing a series of connected scenarios. The effects of one game affect what will be played in the next game. I have played a few and usually they connections between scenarios are tenuous at best, with the effects carried over very abstract (i.e. "you have 10% fewer points to buy your forces with this game").

Q: When you're asking these tactical questions what difficulty and acting ranks are you using? Average? I purchased Mythic, online the other day and have yet to understand how the Fate Chart works. I think I'm getting there but... It does seem to me that you can greatly influence the yes/no answer, if you want to.

Ok here goes my little test: My squad is moving along through a field toward a bombed out village. As acting squad leader I ask the question; Do I see any enemy activity near the first village house? Acting Rank is REP 5 which I equate to High. Difficulty Rank is Average. roll = 58% YES! I roll a 1d6 to see how many enemy soldiers are present, roll = 2. Is it a machinegun team? AR = Above Average; DR = High (because of the open area which would have a high 
likelihood of a MMG covering the approach). Roll = 93 exceptional NO! So with that result I am logically going to say they only have pistols and grenades. Commence combat rounds using NUTS roll for IN SIGHT. During the ensuing combat I take 1 enemy soldier Out of Fight and lose none of mine. The enemy having suffered 50% (1 of 2) casualties I ask; Does the remaining enemy soldier stay and continue the fight against my squad? AR=Low DR=Above Average; Roll = 16 NO! The enemy soldier is seen running away! End of scene 1. Does this 
sound correct?

A: The difficulty and acting ranks varied, but most are average versus the current Chaos Factor (4). In part two I shortened the write-up for this forum by taking out all of the rolls and the odds.

For example, The odds for being within earshot of the Pandur camp was very low as that would have required the Boyars to stray very far afield of their encampment. Sometimes I only ask the question just to see if I'll get a random event (doubles with numbers lower than or equal to the Chaos Factor), which can throw me a curve ball.

You can ask questions that seem pretty obvious as to the answer (high %age of success) or outrageously oddball questions (low %age of success). Some questions should simply not be asked and logic should prevail. But, especially where it is an "odds question" or you are dealing with a person's emotions or choice of actions, you should go to the Fate Chart.

Is your first question (do I see enemy activity near the first village house) an odds question or a skills question? For example, if you have already determined that there are enemy in the village and that
it is simply a matter of spotting them, then it is a skills question (although I question using the squad leader's ability as opposed to the scout/point man's ability). Also, if the enemy are "hidden" (per
THW's definition), you would not have a chance of spotting at all.

If, however, you are asking if there are enemy, that is an odds question and the squad leaders rank would not come into play. It is simply logic which dictates the odds, then the dice are used to
determine success.

Why 1D6 for the number of enemies? Why not ask a question about whether only one squad is
present in the village? See, now you have to ask further questions about where the rest of the squad/platoon/company is (after all, the odds that only two enemy are present in the whole village would be pretty low, unless they are deserters or just happen to be in the village and the village is undefended). IMO, of course. That's what makes it your story versus mine.

I like rolling in Mythic to determine the enemy's actions, especially in a morale situation.

I think you can use Mythic as little or as much as you like. The more you use it, the more unexpected the game will be. The game will still be dictated by logic (after all, you are supposed to ask the most
logical questions first), but sometimes those answers keep coming up "no" until you start asking the improbable. Also, interpreting the Random Events [which are oriented towards a fantasy role-playing theme] is a bit of a hoot.
I realize that some of this is not so useful if you are not familiar with Mythic or Black Powder Battles, but hopefully you can see the development of a narrative story for your battles and campaigns ad thus you might explore purchasing and utilizing Mythic with your favorite miniatures rules.