Mars is dying...

Mars is dying...

Not through fault or neglect or wicked reason, not even because of the Gods; though some would say this is so. Mars is dying because it is old.

For time beyond count, our world has floated with the orb of the sun god, basking in the everwarmth that it provides, the Martian brothers sailing around giving constant company.

The Ancients warned the death of Mars might be so. Long, long ago; before the Storm. It is said the Storm lasted for an age or more: I for one, do not believe this to be true even though the clan elders warn me against foolish words.

There are still some Ancient writings in the deep deserts for those who wish to learn and are willing to brave sandstorms and the creatures that live there. Most of our knowledge from before the Storm comes from stories told around the clan fires, told again and again, embellished ever so lightly with each clan teller so who knows what is true and what is not.

With each storm season, the Ancient houses and temples disappear and reappear so fast that is easy to loose them completely, Gods know how large their cites were or what final secrets they contain. Three whole clans have been lost searching for the chief city with no sign or call from them these long years past.

But now we have new troubles and concerns. The Earthers have come to Mars: to steal and pillage what they can and to take it away to their blue world. Curse them to the Gods! They have no right, no honour and no need to be here. Like parasites they come here destroying whatever they touch and leaving mayhem in their wake.

They must be sent back across the sky ocean to their blue world.

They must be stopped.

It must happen now!

Thursday, 26 June 2014

Softlove’s Survey: The Maligned Influence of Colonel Richard Fitzherwel

“What the hell was Softlove doing there in the first place?” roared Fitzwell. “I’ll have his bloody commission for this”. Colonel Richard Fitzwell, commander of the Prince’s Own, was on the verge of apoplexy; and the young subaltern who had just delivered the news was considering bolting for the door before the Colonel drew his revolver.  The Colonel was furious that Captain Sebastian Softlove had dared to returned from the Martian wastes ahead of his men. "It's a bloody outrage I tell you! Bad enough being rescued by the Japanese Navy in the first place, but leaving men behind! Unthinkable! What will they think of the Prince's Own at Horse Guards now".  

Colonel Richard 'Dick' Fitzherwel was an old school soldier, duty before all and be damned of the consequences. One of his uncles had died at Gandamak with the 44th and another had been blown to pieces charging the guns at Balaclava; his older brother had perished with Gordon at Khartoum. He came from an ever dwindling family of military martyrs and Softlove's conduct was an anathema to him. He was determined to remove the Captain to somewhere where he couldn't discredit the regiment further and two days later an ideal opportunity presented itself, courtesy of the Japanese Ambassador.

Softlove and Ruffbrute pushed through the thronging midday crowds of New Victoria, wending their way through the packed streets towards the Victoria Barracks.  Earlier that morning Softlove had been requested to present himself at the Regimental HQ to receive new orders.  Jackson, the ADC who delivered the message, didn't give any details but explained that "it was best the Captain wasn't late on account of the Colonel looking for any excuse to flog him".  Softlove wasn't looking forward to the meeting, he'd managed to avoid the Colonel since he'd got back and he had hoped the whole affair would blow over.  He'd fallen foul of his commanding officer once before and it was a very disquieting experience; fortunately the Padre's daughter was a shrewd young lady and without any solid evidence the Colonel had to let the matter drop, but this time he'd doubted he'd be so lucky.

"Ah, Captain, 'bout time" grumbled Fitzherwel as Softlove and Ruffbrute wheeled into the Colonels office and presented at attention. "I'll not beat about the bush Softlove, I don't like you. I'd have you shot myself for dereliction of duty but Horse Guards won't let me, apparently we've a shortage of officers on Mars. So I'm going to do the next best thing." He half smiled, half grimaced as he imagined the possible horrors that could befall the unfortunate Captain. "Those damn fool Japanese have a mind to go digging around in the sand looking for some Martian Atlantis or other such nonsense and their embassy think it politic that it's a joint endeavour".  He paused and looked Softlove and Ruffbrute up and down, then continued.  "I don't hold with it myself 'cause it aint real soldiering, but we need to show willing for the politicals." He paused again for effect. "Pack your kit Captain, you're off into the desert where you can't do the Regiment any more harm; and if God is willing you'll not come back. Dismissed."

Softlove and his sergeant stepped out of the Barracks into the bright Martian sunlight, and as Ruffbrute paused to adjust his pith helmet he thought to himself, "'ere we go again.”

Friday, 20 June 2014

Softlove's Drift AAR:

A Dr Death production, starring Malamute as Captain Sebastian Softlove and Jimbibbly as Sergeant Rawley Ruffbrute

The game was played on a 4 x 4 board with the abandoned farm in the centre.  All three players played earthers, with the martians following a simple 'arrive and attack the nearest earthers' rule.

Martian arrivals: There were 8 entry points, two on each edge. At the start of each turn 4 cards were drawn from a standard deck of playing cards, with a heart indicating Martians 2-10 + 8 figures, A,J,Q,K = 16 figures. More of which later . . .  

Forces involved: 2 units of The Prince's Own (10 figures each), 1 unit of The Camel Corp (10 figures) A detachment of Imperial Japanese (5 figs), the medicals and commissariat (5 figures) and some civilians (5 figures)
There was no limit to the number of martians available, cards drawn from the deck were discarded to be reshuffled once the deck had been exhausted

Game length: A d10 was rolled at the end of each turn and a cumulative total kept.  When the total reached 35 or more the aeroneff arrived to rescue the survivors. Once in place over the farm 2d10 were rolled each turn and a total kept, a total of 30+ indicating all survivors were aboard and the game complete.

And now to the pictures:

Table layout from above with numbers showing the 8 entry points:

William Tickel tends to Private Partts

The troops stand to

Improvised defences: the medical wagon is used to block one of the openings

The Camel Corps troopers prepare to defend the animal pens

While Softlove commands the troops overlooking the crop field

The first of the Martian units attack, probing Softlove's defensive ring but are easily repulsed by the withering fire of the Prince's Own

A second unit attempts a similar attack but us also repulsed

A third Martian unit attacks from the South

However it transpires that these initial attacks are only to test for a weakness in the defence. Which they find and then launch a massed attack (or in real terms, the start of turn cards include the 5, 8 and Q of Hearts for a total of 32 Martians, and Bibbly manages to roll 4 sixes so they all arrive in the same place!!)

The assault begins

The main force charges the wagon barricade which is now defended by the Camel Corp troopers

While a smaller group attacks Ruffbrute's position

The fighting is bloody and desperate 

But help is in sight. As the assaulting wave of Martians hits the barricades the rescue party comes into view

The Martians start to break through

But the neff is now over the farm and loading passengers

With the ship full to capacity, the captain gives the order to return to New Victoria, leaving those unable to be carried to continue the fight with the Martians

The game finished at this point, with all the civilians and notable individuals aboard it was deemed a success for the Earthers.  Not sure the unfortunate souls left behind to continue the fight would agree though...

Will Softlove's return be hailed or renounced, stay tured to find out.