ZP Sample Character Sheet

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SAMPLE CHARACTER SHEET FOR ZONE FIREFIGHTS

 

CHARACTER NAME: Leytenánt Timur Bok

CORE PROFILE

MOVEMENT COMBAT ABILITY ARMOR WILL
6″/Action 5 Mil-Body Armor (4) 6

WEAPONS

WEAPON TYPE RANGE FIREPOWER DAMAGE
MP443 GRACH Pistol Melee -12″ 1 0
AK74 Assault Rifle 1″- 36″ 3 1

OPERATIONAL SPECIALTY/ABILITY

SCROUNGER: May SEARCH Terrain item twice.

HUSTLE: +2″ Movement Bonus for two consecutive Move Actions in the same turn.

 

GEAR

Military Body Armor: Armor 4 PLUS counts as Obscured Target from Ranged Attacks when in Cover. Med-Kit: (2) Self-administer. No Action Cost. Automatically replace Wound Result with two Pin counters. Hand Grenade: (2) Range: 1″ -18″  FP: 1   Dam: 2/model. Small Blast Template

Another Zona Perestrelki crew

The 4th of July weekend is upon us so this is a short post.

Another squad for ZP. I painted up five more Eureka Soviets with Pig Iron heads. A simple modification that’s easy and works well to provide loads of appropriate looking Zone denizens is no time. This squad can be unaffiliated STALKERS, a rival crew, perhaps even successful Bandits out to rob players of their hard-earned salvage and artifacts.

The old VOR Union Power Armor Commander makes for a good random event for those missions deep in the Zone. He could be an enemy or an ally – it all depends on how the players react once he appears on the board.

Speaking of which… Each ZP mission can be played at one of three Threat Levels: Blue, Yellow, or Red. (TL 1, 2 and 3 respectively) Lower level areas are more secure with fewer hostiles but offer less salvage. Sure, you can scrape out a living pecking around the relative safety of the perimeter areas, but it’s only when you risk a Red/TL 3 well inside the Cordon that you come across truly valuable gear and artifacts. But beware! Mercenaries, Bandits, and Mutants guard those areas and would gladly kill any who trespass on their territories. A player will want solid experience under their belt, a fair-sized crew with decent gear before venturing too far in.

But as they say in Russia – кто не рискует, тот не пьет шампанское.

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Breech and Clear an abandoned building
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RPK Support
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Cheeki Breeki, baby
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Military Power Armor. Very rare, expensive to maintain, but absolute top-of-the-line for scavenging the Zone

Zona Perestrelki – Zone Firefights

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Fast-play war game rules for skirmishing, salvaging, and surviving in the Exclusion Zone.   

 

Sorry no Bat Reps this time. I’m slammed with real life obligations and our Tues night games have been solid but not very dramatic. This past session for example, 4 out of 5 Heroes could NOT roll to get off the starting line for the first half dozen turns. Meanwhile the Baddies surged forward and killed the one character model who managed to tiptoe a few feet forward, slaughtering him while his hapless comrades watched.

Finally Derek’s Skald stumbled forward into a copse of trees behind a stone wall. He then spent his next three successes to sound his magic horn. (It requires all enemy models within appropriate range to roll for Morale) The forces of Darkness – crowding at the Heroes’ side of the table by now – promptly failed their Q checks and panicked. They actually passed the three other characters still standing on the starting line on their way off the nearest board edge. Game over, man. Game over.

DESIGNER NOTES?

So this post is me thinking out loud about Zona Perestrelki.  ZP is going to be the next iteration of our “Cleared to Engage” House Rules and once we finish up our ASOBH Summoning campaign, our game group is going back to the post-apocalypse.
So as I’m hammering out the new rules, I’m thinking about the minimum required complexity of table top war game rules.

Now my experience with wargames started 40+ years ago with Avalon Hill’s “Gettysburg,” “Panzer Blitz,” and “Panzer Leader”.  I transitioned from counters to miniatures when I discovered Airfix 1/72 plastics. I’d glue them on cardboard rectangles to form units of Chargers, Shooters, and Commanders. Informed by the Avalon Hill games, these units had 4 stats: Attack, Range, Defense, Movement. Sure, there were different troop types, specialist weapons, simple modifiers for cover or terrain, but those four basic stats defined not just the units but the game. They streamlined the play. They simplified the mechanics so rather than flipping pages for multiple charts or special rules, or grabbing the calculator every round of combat, you could get stuck in right away and fight. It was smooth. It flowed. You could play the game, not the rules.

It was my recent purchase of GW’s new Shadow War: Armageddon that pushed my mind toward this topic. I love the idea of a skirmish game. I own a fair amount of GW figs. However, on the first read-through I was reminded why I don’t play 40K; not because I’m a hater who loathes soulless, money-grabbing, devious, price-gouging, new-edition-releasing, corporate bastards. (which GW is not. They’re a business like any other business that needs to market and turn a profit.) It’s that I was struck by the notion most table top miniature wargames are built on old pen-and-paper RPG engines and IMO they bring unnecessary levels of detail and complexity with them.

Some folks like and want a lot of detail in their games. Fine. Horses for courses. Personally, I find the nuances and intricate mechanics so useful in highly personalized, intimate-level RPG combat actually slows a table top war game down. Things like hit locations, variable strength melee weapons, minute differentiation between types of assault rifles or handguns render combat and game play boggy, particularly as the size of the battle/number of combatants increases.  Not to mention they’re fertile ground for Rules Lawyers and Power Gamers. It’s like stagnant water for mosquitoes.

I think it was SW:A’s three-stage Combat Resolution that bumped me: Roll To Hit, Roll to Wound, Roll for Armor Save. Why?

Seems to me if an exploding, self-propelled bolter round hits you, you’re wounded – unless your Armor stops/deflects it. Bullets are not your friend. Neither are swords or grenades or chainsaws or industrial level hydraulic claws. You got hit with a nasty thing. Either your armor worked or it didn’t  so why the extra, in-between step? There’s a battle raging, objectives to reach, other units to move. Why add the additional time for an additional roll at all? Lose the To Wound roll, you can drop the Toughness stat and that’s one less number to memorize and quibble over.  Simplifying doesn’t mean simplistic.

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Go back a step further: Combat. Seems to me Ranged vs Melee is a matter of distance, not ability. Why two stats? I would think a military unit would be trained to a certain level of proficiency in general. Want a dedicated Melee unit? Give them melee weapons. Want a bad-ass brawler? Give him a melee-only weapon with good damage and high Combat Ability. A Ranged unit not so hot in close assault? Negative modifier to any melee then. Strength can be reflected in the unit’s Combat Ability and voila, you drop another number on the stat line.

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In my experience, players want a smooth, fast game that flows. No clunk, minimal bookkeeping, intuitive mechanisms, reduced chance for quibbling and loopholes. That’s the main reason Cleared to Engage/ZP is going to stick with the Four Number Stat line: Movement, Combat Ability, Armor, and Will.  Weapons have a Three Number Stat: Range, Firepower, and Damage. In our experience, the simplifications don’t rob a model’s individuality or homogenize units. The Mix and Match of Stat values and Weapon load-out lets us reflect all manner of troop experience, abilities, and fighting styles. The Troop Creation has to be varied and solid, not perfect or infinitely nuanced. That allows players to enjoy the mission story  and the experience of the hobby without worrying whether a game will dissolve into bickering, math equations, or sneaky special rule/exceptions.

Even though this is ‘War’, it’s also a ‘Game’. The hobby is supposed to be fun, cool, and engaging.  At least that’s what I’m here for. And I’m hoping ZP can provide that not just for us, but anyone else who wants to give it a go.

Thanks for listening. Next time I’ll talk about the STALKER-style setting. (which is so cheeki breeki awesome, it staggers the mind.)

Til then.

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The Summoning – Chapter 3

  1. Black Smoke, Red Sky.

Safely across the bridge, the Adventurers head to the border town of Jarl’s Knot to purchase supplies and confront the man named in the letter found on the Ork warchief. Following the river path, they exit the forest in the late afternoon and find themselves on a well-traveled road passing through cultivated farmlands and orchards.

As they near the town, they spy black smoke billowing into the sky. The sound of battle rings from over the next rise. Back at the homestead, the Duke’s men had mentioned a surge in raids. Jarl’s Knot is under attack.

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The Road to Jarl’s Knot
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Plot Point 1 – the Abandoned Wagon
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Not abandoned after all! A Gnoll raider surprises Brekr.

The party advanced down the first stretch of road to find an abandoned wagon, signs of a struggle and traces of blood. Whoever was driving it is long gone or dead nearby.

The Barbarian mercenary was the first to reach it. He was no more than five paces away when a Gnoll raider leaped out and attacked. The Skald immediately charged forward, Gnolls being his mortal enemy, but Brekr swiftly dispatched the beast.

Alert, the party moved to the first turn. There they found a fighter beset by two vicious raiders. He is holding his own but yips and barks in the underbrush mean more enemies are fast approaching. Iobus the Mage – now Leader of the party –  decided they would come to his assistance.

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Putting the hurt on the rabid puppies.

Figuring the Barbarian and Skald could help the fighter with a few Gnolls, Iobus and the Ranger head to the third Plot Point further down the road near the split. Bad move: more Gnolls emerge from the trees, accompanied by an Ogre.

Iobus calls back to his comrades. “If you’re done cleaning up that dog mess, I could use a hand here.”

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The Ranger fires at the Gnolls with deadly accuracy as the fighters advance.

A nasty brawl see-sawed back and forth between the Ogre and the Mage, with the Mage taking two brutal hits. Only his Healing Amulet saved him. Shoved back a third time and about to be hit by that massive club again, the Barbarian rushed to Iobus’ rescue. It was a tough fight but Brekr finally takes the Ogre down.

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The Mage did better than expected but some enemies are better left to the brawlers.

Finally, all enemies were either dead or fleeing. The Skald put his Horn to good use this game. (Deamir’s Horn: Character may spend 1, 2, or 3 Actions to blow the Horn. All enemy models in applicable range must test for Morale, 1 die per Action Spent. Failure = Retreat S/M/L depending on Actions Spent. Enemies currently in Melee may be subject to Free Hack.)

The party agreed to hire the Fighter for 10 GP. He now joins their quest to rescue the Duke’s  niece.

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The Adventurers

Another good game: supplies replenished. the party reinforced, Advances gained for enemies killed, but what awaits them in Jarl’s Knot?

***

Two new fighters from Bronze Age Miniatures, shown here with Reaper Barbarian for scale. The dynamic and detail is great. I’ve got a couple dogs in the painting queue and I’ll put them with the guy on the left and make a Tracker. I’m thinking they’ll make an appearance in the near future.

Thanks for looking.

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The Summoning – Chapter 2

  1. WATERS DEEP AND RED WITH BLOOD.

Joined by a Ranger, one of the Duke’s trusted men, the party pursues the raiders into the Westholm Wilds. The trail is clear and soon it brings the Adventurers to a swift, unnamed river, deep in the forest. Nearby stands one of the province’s many Border Towers, usually manned by a small company of the Duke’s troops. Some distance away, a rugged stone bridge spans the river’s dark waters, while on the far bank the party spies a Waystone, one of the ancient, rune-etched markers said to protect the kingdom from the Dark Gods Cronach and Cruenor. Legend also holds the Stones will bestow treasure, knowledge, even special powers to those deemed worthy.

The path ahead seems easy, but an unnatural tension thickens the woodland air.

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The reinforced party trying to rescue the Duke’s niece.

The game opened with no visible enemies and two visible Plot Points, the Guard Tower and the Waystone. The party advanced.

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A walk in the woods.
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Knock, knock?
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A bridge over troubled waters?
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Which way, stone?

The Mage and the Ranger went to check on the guard tower while the Skald and the Barbarian trudged through the trees toward the old stone bridge. At the tower, the Mage reached for the doorknob only to have a werewolf burst out, spitting and snapping. (Strange creatures are said to haunt these border lands)  The fight is on.

The Ranger lends some timely assistance and the noise draws the Skald and the Barbarian hurriedly back to help. (Better late than never?) A Search of the Tower reveals four dead guards, a healing scroll, and a map of the area with a notation for a ford a stones throw from the tower.  A quick debate and the party elects to try the ford rather than cross over to the bridge.

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Heel, damn you!

The party follows a path to the river, disturbing a lone Ork warrior guarding the ford. The Skald moves to engage (not a fan of greenskins) but Brekr the barbarian hacks the brute down first. With no further enemies around, the party crosses the river.

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First across the river, Brekr searches the area around the Waystone and finds a piece of jewelry, a broach with the Duke’s emblem, something a young girl would wear. A fresh trail nearby leads north.

However, their splashing and talking alerts a warband of Orks who were waiting near the bridge in ambush. Enraged, the Orks charge along both sides of the riverbank, bellowing war cries and swinging massive weapons. So much for this being a quiet walk in the woods.

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Combat swirls on the riverbanks and even in the water, but having lost the element of surprise and forced to come at the Adventurers in a line rather than from all sides all at once, the Orks are disadvantaged.

An ugly brawl erupts between Brekr and the Ork Warchief, and Brekr is drien, stunned, back in the river. The Ork is about to deliver a killing blow when the Ranger looses and arrow into his neck. The greenskin falls like a sack of rocks, much to the dismay of the rest of the attackers. Panicked, the remaining Orks flee into the woods.

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Come back, you cowards!

Turns out the Ork Warchief was a third plot point. A Search yields an Amulet of Courage (+1 to Morale rolls) and a letter from an unknown person that describes the Adventurers, and gives the name of a man in a nearby border town who will pay the Orks a hefty sum once they deliver proof of death. (a head or other important body part will suffice)

Enemies dispatched, loot scavenged, the Adventurers now face a choice: Follow the fresh trail in pursuit of the kidnappers, or Confront the man named in the letter in the nearby border town, and gain better information on this mysterious situation.

Which will they choose?

The Summoning – Chapter One

  1. A STILLNESS TO THE TREES

The Duke of Lorica has requested that you and your companions investigate a simple family matter.

His niece, Aolynn, summers at the farmstead of a retired member of the Royal Guard near the frontier town of Dunnhaven. The dispatch rider bearing the weekly correspondence from her is two days overdue and the Duke is concerned. He has ordered a troop of Border Guards to the area but your party is nearby and he wants assurances sooner rather than later.

The Duke is offering a respectable sum of Gold Crowns, but only after the party secures evidence of the niece’s safety. To sweeten the deal, he has sent additional supplies with the messenger bearing this offer.

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The Frontier Homestead.
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Plot Point: The Barn
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Plot Point: The Outbuilding
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Plot Point: The Field
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Plot Point: The Main House

Time constraints require we continue with a familiar rule set for our weekly sessions, so Matt, John, and Derek elected to continue with ASOBH. They are beginning this campaign with a single character each. Matt elected to play as the Journeyman Mage, Iobus Graymorn. John went with Barbarian Mercenary Brekr of Icehelm, while Derek decided to play the Skald, Alrick Tenloch.

The Party arrived at the farm early in the morning to find it seemingly deserted. There are no signs of life, human or livestock. The area is eerily silent and a strange fog is lingering over the place that seems unaffected by the rising Sun.

GAME EFFECT: ALL LOS is Limited to LONG. You detect Noise/Movement but Identity of enemies is not revealed until models are within LONG range.

Each PLOT POINT location contains a Risk and a Reward, i.e. an enemy that is triggered when a model elects to check the area, and an item reward and critical game information once that enemy is defeated.

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Our Heroes

Of course they ignored the first Plot Point location (The Barn) just outside their deployment area and headed straight to the Outbuilding instead. Brekr triggered a swarm of Giant Locusts and he and the Mage were forced to fight them off while the Skald took his sweet time getting down the road. (New boots?)

Eventually they killed the last  locust, searched the area for salvage and information, then headed straight to the Main House.

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The Mage, still queasy about the bugs, peeled off to the Field Plot Point, shouting words of encouragement to the Barbarian and the Skald. He was confident the two of them would make quick work of any threat that appeared.

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Ghouls lope in from a nearby copse of trees while a Raider busts out of the Main House shouting a blood-curdling war cry.
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This is my Angry Face!
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May the Gods grant you a good death.

Meanwhile, the third Ghoul hopped the hedge and sprinted toward Graymorn, who was mixing it up with a Giant Spider.

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Combat was short and fierce, but our Heroes prevailed. All the Plot points were Searched, the meager loot gathered, and the crucial information discovered.

***

Inside the house you find the body of an Older Man surrounded by the bodies of three dead Raiders. In the back pantry you find the body of an Older Woman and one dead Raider. A SEARCH yields

1 Healing Scroll, 1 Weapon Boost, 1Fire Bomb. AND a hastily scrawled note that reads:

“They have taken her. Warn the Duke the Black Hand has returned.”

***

Duke’s niece kidnapped, her guardian and his family brutally slain, all carried out by a mysterious enemy called the ‘Black Hand’. Who is this shadowy foe from the Duke’s past come to haunt him anew? Tragic as it is, could it be that more than the life of one young girl is at stake?

Tune in next week.

Demise of the Liche King

From the first confrontation with Gnoll raiders at the Seer’s Farmstead, to Orc warbands on deep forest trails, swarms of mutated vermin, a Giant’s lair, vampires, werewolves, ruthless mercenaries, waves of hideous rotting minions spawned by the evil magics of Necromancers, our heroes have waded through carnage, sorrow, and trials to finally confront Dal’Kosh the Undying.

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Skeletons, Barrow Knights, Undead Lords, a reanimated Giant, the Liche King’s force stood ready to destroy any who opposed him.

The two original parties were reinforced in the final portion of the quest by a third band of valiant warriors led by Thaumaturge, Malik ‘D’Orr.

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The party prepares for battle.
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Latecomers but vital to the campaigns’s triumph.
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Tried, tested, battle-scarred, yet resolute, these clerics carried the day against the Undying Triumvirate.
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This warband hacked and hewed a way through the relentless tide of skeleton warriors, carving the path to victory.

Though  every one of the adventurers persevered against great odds and prevailed over the most dreadful, unholy creatures, standing when any other mortal would fall, let it be known that one name will echo in the halls of royal power for decades. One name will be on the lips of kings, priests, lords, and ladies for generations. It shall ring in the streets, hailed by grateful crowds. This man –  a first among equals –  will be woven as the golden thread in the epic tales of seers and hallowed throughout history, immortalized in statue, the historian’s tome, and in the songs of bards for generations to come. That man is…

NORBERT THE NOVICE! 

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Norbert brings the pain down on the Liche King

Occasionally a plan does survive contact with the enemy.

Our intrepid heroes squared off against the Liche King, advancing cautiously in the face of a rushing tide of death. Skirmishes broke out on the left and right as clerics and fighters battled skeleton warriors, Barrow Knights, and the Skeleton Giant. The Liche King’s lieutenants advanced their army across a broad front, supremely confident they would soon hoist the corpses of the meddlers as trophies before their liege lord. But alas…

Steeled by a holy fury, aflame with righteous indignation, guided by the hand of his God, Norbert sprinted across the battlefield on the path cleared by his fellow warriors. He shrugged off multiple attacks from the left and right, and climbed onto the Dias of the Black Moon.

Seeing this impudent mortal approach, the Liche King’s cruel, mocking laughter sounded over the din of battle. He stood and loosed a powerful blast of foul magic. But to his astonishment, Norbert stood steadfast.

Battle swirled all around. Friends fell under the wicked blades of the undead horde. Resolute in the face of ancient and arcane terror, Norbert raised his blessed mace, charged the Corpse Throne, and swung with every fiber of his being.

Ever hear a 300-year old skull shatter?

Sounds like a clay beer jug hitting the floor; an oddly homey noise to signal the end of a centuries-long reign of evil.

And thus did the Liche King fall.

***

Turns out Derek had been saving up every ward, holy anointing oil, potion, amulet, and talisman he looted in treasure caches for the past three sessions and  put them all on Norbert. All his eggs were in the Norbert Basket. 

+ 11 against Undead. WHACK! Gruesome Kill. Game over.