Friday, July 21, 2017

Worst Case Scenario #14 - 'All Along the Watchtower' - A Scenario for 'Top Billing' A Game for The Golden Age of Cinema


Several years ago I created a set of simple skirmish rules to reflect the madcap stunts and off-the-cuff storytelling experienced behind the scenes of a movie set during the Golden Age of Cinema.

The first edition of the rules were titled 'Leading Man', but over time I've settled on a somewhat more gender neutral title of 'Top Billing'.

I dusted the rules off a few weeks ago, tarted them up a bit, and put on a game for The Friday Night Raconteurs.


Here is the scenario which I read to the players at the start of the game:


All Along the Watchtower

June 15th, 60 A.D. Watchtower XII, Camulodunum, Britannia

Messengers arrived last week, informing you that Gaius Suetonius Paulinus was extending his time away, campaigning on the island on Anglesey. You along with other elements of Legio IX Hispania would remain around Camulodunum, watching over the growing settlement of discharged Legionnaires located there.

Two Roman citizens, a pair of beautiful of sisters, have emerged from the forest several hours ago, road weary and terrified. They say they are family acquaintances of Paulinus himself, and frantically describe a Barbarian ambush of their villa. During the melee they were cut off from their house slaves and managed to slip away.

While they are clearly distraught, you believe it was a small localized attack, and not worthy of mobilizing the Legion reserve, near Londinium. Wanting to make your guests as safe and comfortable as possible, you have provided quarters for them in the local watchtower.

This small excitement aside, you and your fellow centurions from Legio IX are enjoying the tradition of the monthly dice game by the campfire.  You all gamble and drink until the early morning hours when you and your comrades hear the whinnying of horses, the stifled shouts of alarm, and the braying of warhorns…

___________________________________________________________

This is the story, BUT it is not reality.

The reality is that it’s 1968 and you are all on a film set. It is the last scene of an epic Swords & Sandals movie, directed by the notorious and tempestuous impresario David Mean and his genius cinematographer Fredrico Fellacio .

‘The British are Revolting’ (working title) is to be one of the last studio blockbusters to be jam-packed with top-tier actors. Each one of you is a YUUGE Hollywood star, and as such you are unaccustomed to sharing the spotlight. To add a fly into the ointment, the film has gone way over budget and the studio executives are arriving later today to shut down production. With this being the case, the David Mean is shooting as much film as he can manage and is allowing the actors to improvise and impress him with their skills. 

So, the stage is set, the Director is mad, the budget is through the roof, egos are raging, the script is unfinished and each of you is determined to have Top Billing!

David Mean on set capturing the ignominious retreat of one of the actors from the barbarians, er, extras.

The game focuses on the players attaining ‘Top Billing’ status by either having the most Fame Points by the end of shooting or being the last character to 'survive' on-set. The stars with the top three scores will have Top Billing on the movie playbill and be able to bask in the cinematic glory. 

But here's the rub, in the effort to gain as much Fame by the end of the movie, the actors will be forced to use their Fame to gain the Director's attention and foil the plans of any competing actors. 

An actor single-handedly attacking a group of barbarians with the camera capturing the action for maximum Fame Points. 

With this, the actors have to strike a balance between protecting their Fame while also seizing the moment to burnish their reputations. For example, any actor can interrupt the action of another by suggesting (read: demanding) a screen re-write. These re-writes can range from choreographing a complex stunt, making another actor look the fool or seizing the camera unit to get a closeup as they give a plithy line of dialogue. These 're-writes' are entirely up to the imaginations of the players and always create a huge amount of good-natured fun. In addition each screen re-write can be challenged by another star sparking an 'Ego Trip' where the conflicting stars try to convince the Director (GM) why their approach to the scene should be favoured.

One of the actors, striding by and taking a pose for the camera. 

Boudicca made her entry, ran over a few actors and later became a love interest(!)
At the start of the game I provided the players a wide selection of 1960s movie stars to select as their character. I played around with the actors' names and provided each with a special ability, unique to their cinema personality. Most of the actors' names and abilities I can't repeat here due to the joyous, puerile and prurient fun I had creating them. But as a tame example, Marlin Brando became Snarlin' Mango whose special ability was being able to confuse all actors and extras within 12" with his improvised lines and impenetrable speech (which the owning player had to exhibit during the game). Suffice it to say, some of the special abilities were pretty rude...
Boudicca's daughters causing a bit of mayhem in the watchtower.

I won't go into any detail on the game itself, but to say that the guys seemed to have a lot of fun with the madcap chaos set out by the scenario. Many ego-trips were had and the story-line was in complete tatters by time the studio executives arrived on-set to shut down production.


As the guys were such good sports, I awarded each with an Academy Award for their work on the film. 

The 3D printer comes through once again.

'I'd like to thank all the little people who made this all possible...'

I'll tweak the rules a bit and perhaps roll out with another blockbuster this winter.

Next Up: More tall and pointy things for the Italian Wars


Monday, June 12, 2017

For Fathers Day: 'I betcha my dad can beat up your dad...'


Just a small update this week. This time we have a VERY large Deep One who has come ashore to remind his Innsmouth brethren of the eldritch power of Father Dagon (and pick up a few groceries for the missus).

This big fella is from Uncle Mike's 'Strange Aeons' range of figures. A very nice lump of resin that went together without a hitch and was a pleasure to work with. 

The other Deep One hybrids are from Brigade Games which I did a post a few years ago which you can see here if you like.

Thanks for dropping by folks! I hope you have a great week - enjoy Father's Day next weekend.

Next Up: Some Bad Boys from Bern.


Monday, June 5, 2017

Fernando d'Avalos - Pavia, 1525



Here is another commander for my slowly expanding Italian Wars collection. This time we have a fierce Spaniard, Fernando d'Avalos, the victorious Imperial commander who defeated the French and captured Francis I at the Battle of Pavia, 1525.

The mounted figure is from Warlord Games, and while the casting itself is listed as being from their 'Wars of Religion' range, I thought he serves quite nicely as a early 16th century Spanish commander (I quite like his elegant soft cap, with its jaunty feather).

The dismounted knight at D'Avalos' side is from Steel Fist Miniatures. He is in full harness (probably shedding more than a few pounds, trying to keep up), wearing the distinctive conical 'kettle' helm frequently favoured by Spanish noblemen at the time.



The standard bearer is a venerable Wargames Foundy casting, holding a banner from Pete's Flags.



The two Alaunt pups dashing past D'Avalos's steed (and last seen listening at Francis' command post) were sourced from a private commission, sculpted by the very talented Steve May.

Now, I just need some more Spanish troops for Fernando to command. Yes, yes, I'm on it!  :)

In the meantime: Something Lovecraftian

Thursday, June 1, 2017

Some Royalty and Retainers from Barsoom


For a bit of a diversion, I've gone back to my John Carter of Mars project to add a few more models to my modest collection.

Here is a regal princess of the Martian city-state of Zodanga, along with her retinue of bodyguards.


These 28mm figures are from TinMan Miniatures. Really beautiful models, very elegant and quite slight in their design, with very little preparation required to get them ready for painting. A real joy to work on.





Thankfully, I have a few more figures from this range waiting in the wings. Who knows, maybe I'll treat myself to another batch before summer is out.

Next: Something Spanish!


Monday, May 15, 2017

Landsknecht Pike Additions - Unit Done (phew!)


The first elements of this unit made their debut a little over a year ago, but its only recently that I've managed to finally complete it.

I could go on and on, whining about how painting Landsknechts can a complete rash in the codpiece, how their puff-and-slash uniforms are absolutely hell to paint, that they actually have no uniform so you can't paint-in-groups, but rather have to brush each one as an individual model, that you need a load of them to make a convincing unit... BUT I'd be lying like Conway because for all their fiddliness, and expense in time and energy, I still love working on the little blighters.

A few work-in-progress shots...

Standard bearer carrying the Fugger Family banner.



von Frundsburg banner bearer


Anyway, here they are on the last few bases that I needed to complete the unit, around 20 or so figures to add to the previous 32.


This base I completed during the final days of the Painting Challenge.

The hauptman leading the boys in...


These fellows below I just wrapped up a week or so ago for the Lead Painters League.


As you can see, I have a thing about flags...
And the completed unit of pike.


I had my good friend Byron from SG2 Creations make up some custom clear acrylic movement platters to save both fingers and figures when moving them around the tabletop.



Finally, a shot of my rather modest Landsknecht contingent as it stands now with pike, shotte, commander and handbusche heavy musket team.


Thanks for visiting folks and have a great week!

Next up: Something from Mars