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"Road to Xiangliu"

A Voyages Extraordinaire Scenario by James Chapman

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Background

England, 1827.

London is in a state of flux; new industries and developments are springing up and sprawling out, forcing the poor from their homes into ever more overcrowded slums. Sanitation is almost non-existent (and would remain so until “The Great Stink” of 1858 prompted Sir Joseph William Bazalgette to create a proper sewer network) and diseases such as cholera are rife. London is thick with the stench of heavy coal-fired industry and sewage.

Robert Peel was not to establish the Metropolitan Police Force for 2 years, and besides the River Thames Marine Police Force which concerns itself mainly with the looting of ships, other “law enforcement” is provided by soldiers or merchant sponsored thugs. Disenfranchised soldiers from the Napoleonic War (1803-1815) prowl the streets or sit, legless with begging bowls.

The fat drunk George IV sits unsteadily on the throne following the death of The Mad King George III seven years earlier. Universally derided his taste for excess has created a hatred of the nobility and a rise of the merchant class.

Within this filthy, lawless environment crime is rife and gangs regularly conducted running battles for territory under cover of night and smog. Two such gangs warring in the areas between Regent Street and the Charing Cross Road (what would later be known as Soho and Chinatown) are the Artful Dodgers and the Hongs.

You can see a free map of London in 1827 here: http://users.bathspa.ac.uk/greenwood/imagemap.html

This scenario takes place in and around Golden Square, Soho.

road-to-xianglu-map

Setup your table using any scenery you have to hand. The more Chinese Gates and alleyways coming off the square the better.

Since the Hongs moved into the area 5 years the two gangs have lived in wary co-existence; the Hongs being richer and more interested in opium dealing and smuggling with the Dodgers being more numerous and more concerned with muggings and theft. Recently however the Hongs have pushed for more territory and plan to use ancient rituals to summon up a demon to destroy their adversaries.

Bait and Switch, the leaders of the Artful Dodgers have heard about this plan and whilst they are not sure if they believe in “Ancient Chinese Secrets” they have seen enough strange things in their day to feel that it is worth raiding their headquarters. But will they be too late?

Game Overview

The players will be controlling either the Hongs or the Dodgers. The Hongs have fewer men and the player must decide how to set up their resources: men can either be guarding/fighting or performing the ritual. The more performing the ritual the faster they can complete it but with fewer guards they are more vulnerable to attack. The player must position their men at the start of the game. Their objective is to complete the ritual.

The Dodgers player must decide how they will have their gang split: Coshers are big and strong, Nippers are fast but weaker. They have a choice of entry points onto the play area. Their objective is to disrupt the ritual and ensure that it cannot be performed again. If they achieve this they win the game.

Both players also control their “named characters”.

It is recommended that players decide who they will be before the game and not read the opposition’s skill descriptions. The Dodgers player should therefore read only the “Artful Dodgers Section”. The Dodgers do not know how to disrupt the ritual (only that one is taking place) and will need to work it out.

The Hong player should read both “Hongs” and “Ritual” sections.

The Artful Dodgers

A long running street gang, it was from them that Dickens got the name of his beloved character (the book first appeared in 1837). A large, loose-knit gang of mainly children and teens: surviving older members would generally leave to try their fortunes as guards, whores or servants. The gang recruits from workhouses, orphanages and poorhouses but boasts some surprisingly influential older ex-members who are still sympathetic. The Dodgers have a secret language of signs, clicks and whistles and even members who don’t know each other can gain swift recognition through this method.

Specialising mainly in pickpocketing, robbery and theft members are either small and quick (Nippers) or larger and stronger (Coshers). Often a few Coshers will wait in an alley in case their pickpocketing brethren are spotted and being chased; whereupon the pursuers are led to said alley....

Type: Nipper
Archtype: Rabble
Movement Rate: 20
Wound Level: 1
Character Modifiers:
Nippy Bugger: Nippers may roll to dodge attacks (both ranged and melee) automatically. Make a free out of sequence Special Action using the target sequence vs the Archetype attacking them.

Type: Cosher
Archtype: Warrior
Movement Rate: 10
Wound Level: 2
Character Modifiers:
Killin’ rage: if a Cosher succeeds at a Combat Action (including Suppression) they may immediately make a second Combat Action.

The Artful Dodger player must pick a gang of 13 (so; 6 Coshers and 7 Nippers or 4 Coshers and 9 Nippers etc). They also control the two leaders below.

Bait & Switch

Julie “Bait” Bathgate and Henry “Switch” Bathgate are the co-leaders of the Dodgers. Brother and sister they ran away from an orphanage when it became Julie started getting old enough to attract attention. Surviving on the streets they developed a modus operandi- Julie would pose as a prostitute and lure a client into an alley whereupon Henry would rob them. This worked until they tried it on the former leader of the Dodgers, Cudgel Sam… However despite having the pair at his meaty handed mercy he decided to take them on in his gang. Since then the pair have thrived, taking over from Sam after he was stabbed over a card game.

Type: Bait
Archtype: Hero
Movement Rate: 15
Wound Level: 2
Character Modifiers:
So Sexy: Bait may target one opponent in line of sight and make a Special Action vs their Archetype. If she succeeds at 'Wound' level they must move towards her up to half their Movement Rate, or their full Movement Rate if 'Killed'. They receive a Suppression marker. Bait may use the mesmerised opponent for cover if appropriate.

Knees up: If in base-to-base contact with a mesmerised opponent Bait may use Knees up. Make a Combat Action as normal, for each level of success place a. Supression marker on the victim.

Nippy Bugger: Nippers may roll to dodge attacks (both ranged and melee) automatically. Make a free out of sequence Special Action using the target sequence vs the Archetype attacking them.

Type: Switch
Archetype: Hero
Movement Rate: 15
Wound Level: 2
Character Modifiers:
Gotcha: Switch may grab an adjacent opponent on a 3,4,5 or 6 of a D6 and EITHER switch places with them OR make a Combat Action and if successful (including Suppression) may throw them D6 cm. Make a normal Combat Action against anyone hit by the thrown person.

Commanding Presence: (as per p.12 of Voyages Extraordinaire rules) - accompanied by a cry of "Come On You Slags!”). He may not use this on himself and can only do it 1D3 times per game.

Killin’ rage: if a Cosher succeeds at a Combat Action (including Suppression) they may immediately make a second Combat Action.

If BOTH Bait and Switch are killed AND there are less than 5 remaining Dodgers the gang is considered broken and the survivors leave the table.

The Hongs

“The Staff of Mr Hongs Special Delight Restaurant” or simply The Hongs use their jolly name and smiling frontman, Mr Hong, to conceal links to an ancient and dangerous Chinese Organisation. Actually called the Yānwù Long (“Smog Dragons”), the Hongs are part of the Lung Kong Tin Yee Association. Alongside the legitimate silk and spice trade the Hongs deal in narcotics (primarily opium), prostitution, gambling and blackmail.

As they have become established the Hongs wish to create an area of London (Chinatown) where their, preferably rich, clientèle can come to enjoy their opium dens, whore-houses and underground casinos. They are not going to come if they are being harassed and pickpocketed by dirty street-rats. As such Mr Hong has decided to make an example of the Artful Dodgers; not just driving them out but creating a terrifying legend to ensure that no one encroaches on Hong territory for a long, long time.

Type: Hong Guard
Archetype: Stalwart
Movement Rate: 15
Wound Level: 2
Character Modifiers:
Dragon Amour: If hit by an attack the Hong Guard rolls a D6. On a 5 or 6 he takes no damage from a Wounded Result, on a 6 he takes no damage from a Killed result. Suppression works as normal.

Ritual Skill 1: Each guard can add 1 to the ritual strength.

There are 8 Hong Guards.

Mr Hong

Wo Hong is the fat, drooping moustachioed owner of “Mr Hongs Special Delight Restaurant”. He is cheerful, slightly bumbling and always bowing. (“Velly solly! Velly solly”) He is also 130 years old, speaks 8 languages fluently, is a powerful mage and is incredibly dangerous. He came to Britain to mastermind the Chinese incursion and will not let anyone stand in his way.

Type: Mr Hong
Archetype: Hero
Movement Rate: 10
Wound Level: 2
Character Modifiers:
Magic - Mind Control (1): Mr Hong can command any opponent in line of sight to do that does not directly harm them (“So “kill yourself” would not work). He can command them to attack others however. There is no roll for this it is automatic. However, if commanded to attack a friend they may resist by passing a Special Action vs Hero level difficulty. If they pass Suppression level they receive a Suppression token but do not move, if they pass Wound or Kill level they are unaffected by the gaze of Mr Hong.
Magic - Lightning Bolt (1): Mr Hong can throw Lightning Bolts (as per Patented Electricity Gun p.8)
Magic - Healing (2): Mr Hong can heal any living creature back to full health, even from a Killed status (so do not remove Killed models as normal, leave them on the table on their side or with a marker next to them). This takes two consecutive actions to complete (normal consecutive action rules apply). He cannot use it on Xiangliu.

Mr Hong's magic is limited he can use has 2D6 Magic 'uses' in the game. The cost of each spell is shown in parenthesis above. All Magic use requires line of sight.

Ritual Skill 3: Mr Hong adds 3 to the ritual strength

Jin Feng (Gold Phoenix)

Wo Hongs bodyguard. The small slim Jin Feng has never been heard to speak. He is lightning fast and kills without mercy. HOWEVER Jin Feng will not attack a woman or child (so Bait and the Nippers) unless they attempt to attack him or Mr Hong first.

Type: Jin Feng
Archetype: Hero
Movement Rate: 20
Wound Level: 2
Character Modifiers:
Fly: Jin Feng can silently move over all terrain (including up walls and over roofs) with no penalty. He cannot hover in air however.

Snake Speed Dodge: Jin Feng may roll to dodge attacks. Make a free out of sequence Special Action using the target sequence vs the Archetype attacking them.

Snake Speed Attack: The “Nippy Bugger” skill does not work against Jin Feng’s melee attacks.

Ritual Skill 2: Jin Feng adds 2 to ritual strength

The Ritual

The ritual will summon Xiangliu, a nine headed snake monster which the Hongs player will control. An urn sits within a wide chalk and salt circle - the ritual takes place in the centre of the Golden Square. The ritual requires at least 2 people to perform. If the urn is destroyed or less than 2 people are performing the ritual the ritual is disrupted. Destroying the circle does nothing.

The ritual starts with a strength of all members partaking. So: Mr Hong (RS:3) and 3 Guards (RS:1) start the ritual and that gives a starting strength of 6. Every 2 turns the strength increases by 1. At any point the player may attempt to activate the ritual by rolling a D6 and adding the ritual strength.

Whilst participating in the ritual characters can do nothing. Characters CAN leave the ritual (either voluntarily or by death) and the ritual strength will decrease accordingly. This does not “reset” the ritual.

1-13: Nothing happens. The ritual must be restarted.
14: Xiangliu is summoned! However he is angry and uncontrolled and will attack one random ritualist a turn. Once per turn any ritualist may attempt to regain control by rolling a 5+ on a D6. Mr Hong may add Magic Uses to this roll. If uncontrolled Xiangliu will chase and kill all who participated in the ritual before disappearing.
15+: Xiangliu is summoned! The Hongs objective then becomes to kill as many Dodgers as they can but particularly Bait and Switch, the leaders. The Dodgers now have the (much harder) objective of killing/banishing Xiangliu. Simple escape is not an option as it can find anyone it is hunting.

Xiangliu, A Nine Headed Snake Monster

Xiangliu is an ancient Chinese monster with the body of a green anaconda with 9 heads- the heads appear as human baby heads (though oversized) and will laugh, cry and gurgle independently of each other. If the monster is down to ¼ wounds the heads will all show rage and truly focus on their attackers.

Type: Xiangliu
Archetype: Hero
Movement Rate: 45
Wound Level: 10
Character Modifiers:
Nigh Invulnerable: If hit Xiangliu rolls a D6. On a 3, 4, 5 and 6 it takes no damage.

Aura of Fear: All characters who have a line of sight to Xiangliu must pass a free Special Action vs Hero level difficulty to move. If they fail they are rooted to the spot, place a Special 'Fear' Suppression token which remains until they break free of the fear. They must continue to roll each turn or remain where they are, line of sight is not needed after the first turn. If a character accrues three Fear Suppression tokens it dies of fright. Note: Hong Guards ARE affected by this but Jin Fen and Mr Hong are not.

Breath of Death: Xiangliu can release a poisonous cloud (+5) from its mouth which hits 1D6 adjacent targets. Xiangliu can do this twice during the game.

True Flight: Xiangliu can move over all terrain with no penalty. It can also hover in air.

Lightning Breath: Xiangliu can breathe Lightning Bolts (as Ganymedean Repeating Gun p.7)

Fearless: As Allosaurus p.25

Banishing Xiangliu

Xiangliu is returned to his home dimension if:

a) It gets killed.

b) It destroys the Artful Dodgers, having completed it's mission.

c) All people involved in the ritual are killed AND the urn is destroyed

d) A ritualist banishes it. On a 5 up on a D6, Mr Hong can use his Magic points to add to this roll.

If the monster is banished the Hongs scatter and the Dodgers win.

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An Introduction to Voyages Extraordinaire (by Steve Blease himself, taken from the rulebook)

The worlds of Victorian adventure literature, whether in novel form or cinematic adaptation, are steeped in archetypes - The Hero, The Arch-Villain, The Femme Fatale, The Bluff Friend, The Odious Foreigner - and each acts true to type, fighting, fainting, or dying as their role requires. It is this entertaining spectacle that Voyages Extraordinaires tries to capture and replicate.

The main mechanisms in this game are the Archetype system, and the "I go, You go" Action sequence. The Archetype system was used because we were looking for a simple mechanism which would capture the essential elements of the archetypes of Victorian literature whilst allowing for individual characterisation. It would also provide enough variety to cover the many hundreds of different characters whom players may wish to see in their games. The Archetype conflict matrix also ensured that it was highly unlikely that heroes would be done to death by a mere rabble, and, conversely, that the rabble would die in their hundreds before the hero.

The "I go, You go" alternative action sequence is designed to replicate cinematic action, with the camera (action turn) focusing alternately on the principal actors on either side, and only occasionally playing upon the "extras". This is, of course, not "realistic" but then neither is the form of literature which inspired it.

Getting Hold of Voyages Extraordinaire

You can buy Voyages Extraordinaire right now over on Wargame Vault.

voyages-extraordinaire

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Webmaster's Notes

An Orcs in the Webbe Original! "The Road to Xiangliu" was written exclusively for Orcs in the Webbe and published on Friday 14th December 2012 as part of the 2012 Advent Calendar.