Dreadloque Season Four
Prelude: 'A Softer Fire, Part 1'
A THW 'And a Bottle of Rum' After Action Report and Flintloque Short Story by Craig Andrews
We return to the Windy Isles in the first part of the prelude to this years 'season' of Dreadloque, the piratical version of Flintloque.
This is the first of a new series on Orcs in the Webbe following the adventures of a new hero as he makes his name in the world of Dreadloque, Danny O’Hara’s hugely popular piratical take on Flintloque (you can read a short history of Dreadloque at the bottom of this article). Below you’ll find an After Action Report of my first proper session with Two Hour Wargames' And a Bottle of Rum and its supplement, Free Ports as well as a small piece of prose telling the first part of Dreadloque's Season Four prelude.
Creating the Investigation – An ‘And a Bottle of Rum’ AAR
THW’s pirate ruleset, And a Bottle of Rum (AaBoR) includes a version of their brilliant narrative investigation system in the form of an expanded encounter called 'The Quest'. It offers something a little different than the normal skirmish battles found in most wargame rulesets. In this first AAR in a new series I take you through my experiences with it and after each one produce a piece of prose telling the story of Dreadloque's new season...
The narrative investigation system, including the version found in AaBoR works by first generating a type of case to investigate, a difficulty factor, a total number of clues that require solving, a victim and an employer. This takes minutes and you are encouraged to add as much detail and flavour as you wish, you can also choose to ignore anything you roll, as Ed says in all his rulebooks it's your game. Whilst I know the overall direction Dreadloque IV is heading in I plan on letting the tables take me there. Free Ports include two very different towns, each with its own tables – Puerto Libre, an established colony of a European power; and New Market, a rougher smaller town run by a council of pirate captains. I decided to use New Market, both its generation tables and maps to represent Toberlona, the main pirate town from the previous Dreadloque adventures.
This first quest was the investigation of a Theft, with a Difficulty Factor of 4 - the highest possible for a Theft - which meant I have to find 8 clues to solve the mystery.
The Victim can be randomly generated using the tables or even based on a particular miniature or character you want to use.
Free Ports brings with it the THW Social Circles system which streamlines AaBoR's slower to use Class system with no loss of flavour or depth. It uses a small selection of Social Circles into which are grouped all the roles you could think of. For my victim I rolled someone from the Exotic social circle, a second roll determined he was a Sailor.
As Dreadloque is set on Valon, the world of Alternative Armies’ Flintloque, whenever I generate an NPC I roll a digital 1D23 to choose its race from Bob Minadeo’s original Orcs in the Webbe article Flintloques and Muskets.
The Sailor turned out to be a Joccian Rat – who a cracking Celtic name generator called Torcall MacCullach. He had no spouse and no relatives.
Similarly I generated the employer, I rolled for a Mover. In New Market this turned out to be one of the pirate captains so I randomly determined which of the three heroes from Dreadloque it would be and got Gloriette Glorfindelle.
With all this done, ten mintues had gone by so I wrote the introductory story you see below. Like I said it’s up to you how much flavour you want to add as you go, for me I wanted to create the prelude to this years Dreadloque tale so after each section I plan to write a small piece of prose. The more you add in the more things tie together later on.
Dreadloque IV, Prelude: A Softer Fire, Part One
Gadrin sighed. He’d been in Toblerona a week and still hadn’t achieved anything. Other than the run in with that rebel-in-exile Moragsnev the day he arrived things had been pretty dull for his first week in the Windy Isles. He cracked a small smile as he sipped his drink, a sugar based spirit the locals called rum. Rebel-in-exile, technically he was that now too, if only things had worked out differently, well too late to worry about that. He looked up from his drink and surveyed the bustling docks through the window of the inn. Toblerona, the heart of the Windy Isles, where adventure lay round every corner and one could step on board your trusty vessel and sail the crystal clear waters looking for pirates to subdue and fortune to acquire. Turns out it was just a town like any other. He thought it’d be easy to drum up a crew, Gods, he had enough money to buy a ship tucked away in his rooms but without some people to help him sail it there wasn’t much point buying one. People seemed more at ease than he expected that air of danger and excitement was gone. Scuttlebutt said that the main pirate captains had forged an alliance after some Goblin Shaman had tried to destroy the town last year. Improbable as it sounded more than one source said the same. Source, pah, nothing more than drunks passing through the inn where Gadrin was staying. Still, it had been a good tale, he wished he could get involved in something like that. He looked at the bottle of dark liquor on the table and recognised that ennui had set in, but what could he do, he’d gone carousing in a bid to make friends and gain some followers but his voice was but one small one in a large town of many.
His thoughts went back, the look on his father’s face when he’d left the castle, the sheer anger in his eyes tinged with, what else had it been, disappointment perhaps. Foolish old man, didn’t he see allying with one of the major forces in Urop was a mistake. There was no guarantee that either Mordred or Wheeeling-Turn would be victorious in the conflict any time soon and with the Dark Czar on the rise in the North again things would just get worse. The Elves rebellion, so long ago now, had given cause to many throughout the Dwarven lands. Civil war was spreading. If that young upstart Mordred could overthrow his mother and the ancient Peacock Throne then surely some of the larger Dwarf towns could do the same, or so they thought. Many of them now raised the flag of their local ale as a banner over that of Artur, the true king of the Dwarves. Each town forming independent companies and throwing lives away as they butted each other for the sake of a particular hop or cask style. No, it had been time to leave, Gadrin knew his decision had been the correct one.
Right, he decided, time to step things up, he stood and straightened his jacket. Fortune did not favour those who sat on their rump drinking sweet strong liquor, it favoured those who stood up and strode forward. He turned to leave the inn but paused, glanced at his table, and picked up the bottle of rum, stoppering it and slipping it into his inside pocket, waste not want not. It was after all damned fine rum.
After a few enquiries with the innkeeper he located the South Docks work board, an ancient piece of wood clearly salvaged from some ship that’s sailing days had long since past. Nailed to it were hundreds of pieces of paper, and in some cases, skin it seemed. All bearing various scrawl offering jobs and tasks which one could take on. He read as many as he could, looking for inspiration, constantly having to jostle against the legs of the myriad taller races also looking for something to do, it seemed there was plenty of need for simple crew but Gadrin was determined if he was to sail on a ship it would damned well be his own vessel. No he needed something a little different, then he saw it, a small note, unread by most as unlike the others, was written in elegant Ferach Elvish, ‘THEFT! - Investigator Required – Enquire at the Council of Captains, High Row’. That sounded interesting. So, his course decided, Gadrin set off up the hill towards High Row unaware his future and that of the entire Windy Isles was about to threatened by a force thousands of years old…
Back in 2013 Two Hour Wargames released a ruleset called And a Bottle of Rum. Using their exceptional reaction System it gave rules for skirmishes, large land battles, sea battles and much more. Like most of THW’s books it also included a campaign and encounter format that effectively writes itself using a series of tables. It was designed to take you step by step through the stages of a piratical adventure from your first step on shore. This tied in wonderfully with what I’d been planning to do with Danny O’Hara’s Dreadloque setting, creating a new bunch of characters and just adventuring in the Windy Isles setting. I had a look at what fantasy pirate miniatures Black Scorpion had brought out since my last Dreadloque tale and, given that they’d been a bit scarce in Dreadloque thus far, decided on a Dwarf for the new hero of the piece. And so Gadrin Stormblade, a Dwarven Prince who’s fled Urop in disgrace with the intent of becoming an adventurer on the high seas, was born. I didn’t get round to ordering any miniatures but played an inaugural game using virtual tabletop software creating his first steps off the boat trying to generate a crew with a Carousing encounter. Back then THW’s PDFs weren’t bookmarked and hyperlinked like they are now so jumping through them on a digital screen was a bit cumbersome (I prefer digital rulebooks, enough trees get sent through the wringer in the world) but I managed a game, and bloody good it was too. Gadrin met locals, mixed with drunks and ran into an old Dwarven exile from his homeland and ended up fighting him along the docks. A rollicking good time was had. Well, as often happens, other projects came and went, months ticked by, and I didn’t return to Dreadloque: The New Adventures.
In the intervening year Ed went and released a supplement for AaBoR called Free Ports, in it he took some of the well-received extra rules from other rulesets and eased them into the pirate setting. Both THW’s Social Circle rules and their brilliant narrative investigation system from 5150: New Hope PI made it into Free Ports. What you have now, with the two rulebooks, is a smooth pirate adventure generation system with two complete pre-generated towns for you to adventure in, along with pre-generated lists of people to meet and interact with.
Now, on International Talk Like a Pirate Day 2014 I decided it was time to get back into Dreadloque. Gadrin’s turned investigator and may turn uncover something threatening the entire Windy Isles.
Come back next week for the first day of Gadrin’s investigation…
An Orcs in the Webbe Original! 'A Softer Fire, Part 1' was written exclusively for Orcs in the Webbe and was first published on International Talk Like a Pirate Day, the 19th September 2014.
Dreadloque and its sequels are set in Danny O'Hara's Nineties piratical take on Flintloque - Alternative Armies skirmish wargame set in an alternate Napoleonic war featuring fantasy races - but take place in their own part of that world called The Windy Isles. A place of pirates and treasure, far removed from the smoke hazed battlefields of the Mordredian Wars in Urop.
Danny's first pirate tale, simply called 'Dreadloque', was originally published back in the mid-nineties on his website, Filbanto Stew, and it introduced the location of Windy Isles as a group of Halfling rebels kidnapped an Elven Governor's daughter only to be pursued by the Royule Orc Navie and Elven marines.
It was a firm favourite among Flintloque players and in 2008, exclusively for Orcs in the Webbe, Danny returned to the Windy Isles with the follow up tale, 'Dreadloque II - Dead Dwarf's Chest' which like its predecessor was a huge hit with Flintloque players.
In 2009 Danny let me play in his sandbox and I began work on the third Dreadloque campaign, its third season if you will. I played around with a lot of ideas and eventually 'The Goblin in the Smoke' was born. The prelude, 'Rise of the Baron', moved events on a year and, followed by Act I: 'The Beautiful Daughter', saw fighting on the docks of the pirate toen of Toblerona. Then… nothing happened for quite some time.
In 2012 I finally sat down and penned the next instalment, 'Something Strange in Them There Tydes', a nautical interlude using Wessex Games' Strange Tydes rules featuring a giant Kraken. Shortly after that, encouraged by the excellent feedback, I published the most unusual adventure yet, Act II: 'The Baron's Mansion' which combined Flintloque with the boardgame Cluedo, I kid thee not.
In 2013 I pondered how I could end the somewhat longer than expected Season Three of Dreadloque. Loads of my original ideas from back in 2009 were good but most weren't end of season epic material, all except one. That idea was beaten into shape and the third and final act, 'The Hand of Fate', was published on Orcs in the Webbe as part of its 2013 Advent Calendar.
Now it’s 2014 and Dreadloque continues with the introduction of a new hero, a focus on a new ruleset and who knows perhaps even some painted miniatures…