Friday 22 October 2010

Hoist up sail while gale doth last

The Commander was exultant. “We have him, sir. A slight turn to starboard and we’ll get the full broadside on him, we can’t miss at this range!”
The Admiral considered the smoke-billowing monstrosity. “Hard a port, number one.”
“Hoist the mainsail. Ramming speed.”

It had been a mighty game of Uncharted Seas; the Imperial Battlefleet of Killed in a Smiling Armoured Beard against the dark magics and steam power of the Van Hemlockian Shroud Mages. Patches of rigging and oil marked the watery graves of frigates, tattered hulks of cruisers were slipping under the waves, the only combatants lefts afloat were the flagships of the two fleets and a single Imperial frigate, blasting away impotently on the off chance it got an incredibly lucky shot in.

The two battleships had suffered similar light structural damage, but earlier in the engagement the Shroud Mage ship had rammed an Imperial cruiser, belching steam into its innards to boil the crew alive before the dark dwarf boarding party slaughtered any survivors. The Imperial Marines had put up a terrific fight, though, rolling a few sixes and killing more of the boarders than could have been hoped, so their comrades on the Imperial Battleship now had a significant edge in numbers.

The prow of the Imperial ship crunched into the iron flank of the Shroud Mage vessel ripping out a few cannon, but nothing that would seriously hinder it. The human marines poured over, and dice were rolled; the dwarves fought hard, and despite the weight of numbers on the human side they weren’t finished off in a single turn. It was merely prolonging the inevitable, though, for at the start of the next turn they had a single crew point left against the seven of the humans.

Each crew point allows an attack dice to be rolled; a 4 or 5 results in one point of crew damage to the enemy, 6 results in two points of damage plus you get to roll another attack dice. All we had to do was roll a 4, 5 or 6 on any of seven dice, and the dwarves were done. With a rattle and thud, the fate of the Shroud Mages was sealed.

Still, though, with combat being simultaneous, they got their single dice to wreak what vengeance they could. It came up… 6. That gave them another roll, which came up… 6. Four points of crew damage plus another roll, nasty, but still not enough unless they rolled another 6. Which they did. Six points of crew damage, and a final roll, coming up…. 4. One last hit, taking the seventh and final point of crew from the Imperial battleship. We decided the last few surviving Shroud Mages had been beaten back to their engine room, and as the whole Imperial crew followed in a haze of bloodlust the dwarf captain hammered off the safety valve from the immense boiler, wiping out every living thing on the vessel.

If it had been a computer game against an AI opponent, that 1 in 432 chance would have resulted in an exclamation of “piss off!”, and either loading a saved game from before the event or quitting in disgust. With a human rolling the dice, it was a Crowning Moment of Awesome for the game.

“It’s gone awfully quiet over there, sir.”
The captain of the Imperial frigate lowered his telescope. “Yes. I don’t think anyone’s going to be coming out of there. Prepare the ropes to tow our prizes, it’s going to be a bumper pay day for the men!”

No comments: