HAWKs annual New Years Eve game. This year the second game of the night was a Combat Patrol game with American glider-borne troops are trying to take a German-defended bridge.
Mrs Claus was very generous in the gaming department this year! I got the new Reaper Holiday Edition Paint Set, the Limited Edition Pack Reindeer, Garrick the Bold (aka Sir Forscale), a Charnal Grub, and the 12-Days of Reaper “Santa’s Helpers” figures. Also got a bottle of Citadel “Vahallan Blizzard” texture paint to try on my Frostgrave bases, one of the Walmart cheap 28mm train sets, and a Dollar Tree make-up rack to hold my growing collection of Reaper Paints.
Chris Palmer As readers of this blog will know, we recently finished up an 11-month Frostgrave Campaign that we began earlier this year. We will be starting a new campaign in January, and I have decided to run a Sigilist warband this time. I thought I would write a short tale to introduce my new wizard and her Apprentice.
The main library of the Percensua University of Wizardly Studies, located in the capitol of Valindhoa, was an old and cavernous stone building near the center of the ancient school’s campus. One of the first built on the land donated by the king some 800 years ago, it had developed it’s share of drafts, groaning hinges, and uneven floors. The young students hated the place, calling it “The Tomb” for it’s dark, damp and ancient nature. To Maga Librarian Quailelyn, it was home.
Short, with greying pale brown hair and sea green eyes, Quailelyn had come to the campus as a young student some 30 years ago. Unlike her classmates though, she had fallen in love with “The Tomb”; its shelf upon shelf of endless books, manuscripts and scrolls…the small of the parchment and lamp oil…and its’ many little nooks and hidden spots. For Quail loved all things written. Words to her, no matter printed or scribed by hand, ancient rune or modern text, they held everything she could want or hope for. The keys to distant lands, the sparks of new ideas, adventure, and knowledge. But she had also found they contained power. The use of words, both written and spoken, to produce magical spells, had become her forte and her passion. She excelled in her Sigilisim classes, and her professors saw her for the shining star she was. A shy girl by nature, she threw herself at her studies, and secluded herself into the Tomb.
The years passed; she graduated with honors, and before she had the opportunity to step out into the world, Quail was hired by the librarians who had become both her only friends, and her surrogate family. As a Junior Librarian she got to stay at the university to work and live amongst the books she loved.
Now, 30 years since she fist set foot on the campus, Quailelyn, Maga Librarian, sat at her large cluttered desk, and stared out the grungy window to her left. It was snowing outside. Winter had come early to Valindhoa that year and the Tomb was cold throughout, despite the magical fires torches, and lamps that burned here and there throughout the cavernous building. But Quail had lived there long enough that the cold didn’t bother her much.
What bothered her at that moment was a sadness and a longing which had become more noticeable in recent weeks. It now had an intensity that she could no longer dismiss. She felt a loss, a hole within her, and she wasn’t sure why. More and more she found herself staring out the large windows of the Tomb at the world outside. Then, as the days passed, she realized she was missing the world; she puzzled at the new longing she felt to walk among trees, and see new sights. To hear birds sing, and to feel the wind on her face. It was if something was calling her from afar. Quail stood from her desk suddenly, and, as fast as her dignity would take her, she made her way towards the large oaken doors of the Tomb. She leaned into one of them, and pushed. As it was late in the Winter now, an icy blast hit her squarely in the face. Quail smiled at the long-forgotten sensation. She slowly made her way down the steps, taking it all in and walked into the campus yard. The Maga Librarian turned her face to the sky and felt the sting of the flakes falling. She began to turn in place where she stood, taking it all in. Faster she turned, her senses overloading, until the dizziness over took her an she collapsed into the snow, smiling. Yes, words held great power, but they escaped her now. Reality had a magnificent power all its own.
“Um, Ma’am?” a squeaky voice said.
The Maga Librarian, tilted her head down and propped herself up on her elbows to look toward her feet, wet strands of greying hair sticking to her face; and there she saw the young Apprentice Librarian, Bailisette, standing, shivering, a short distance away, arms folded and clutched close to her body looking through her small round glasses at Quail with concern on her face.
"Oh, Bailisette,“ Quailelyn said as she quickly got up and dusted the snow from her clothes. "I am all right.” Quail laughed to herself thinking about what kind of sight she must be presenting to the young girl, and what Bailisette must think.
"I was just suddenly overcome with the need for some..uh…, fresh air.“ the Maga Librbarian said haltingly, her cheeks turning a bit red, and not just from the cold. "Here, let us go back in.”
Later that evening as Quail sat working on book invoices, and Bailisette sat across from her transcribing scrolls, the Maga Librarian looked up at the girl and said, “Bailey, do you ever feel alone and isolated working here in the Tomb? Do you ever long for a life outside these walls?”
Bailisette, looked up a bit confused. “No, Ma’am. I love my job here at the Library. It’s like a second home to me.”
Quailelyn smiled at the girl. She could see her younger self in the girl’s eagerness and devotion to the Library. Bailey had been an excellent student just like she had, Quail knew. And she had developed a bit of a rapport with the girl in the year since she had come to work at the Library. Quailelyn found the girl was easier to talk to than most of the other Apprentice Librarians. But, she now realized what a solitary trap the Tomb could become for a young life, and wanted to save the girl from it if she could. “I’ve been thinking about taking a leave from the Library for a year and doing some traveling.” Quailelyn said off handedly with one eye on the girl.
Bailisette looked up shocked. “Ma’am!”
The Maga Librarian continued. "It would do me good to get out and see a bit of the world and the people in it. But…“ She now looked squarely at the young Apprentice, "I could use an assistant and traveling companion to help me on my trip. ” She paused. "Would you be interested?“
The young Apprentice’s jaw opened reflexively and hung there. She was momentarily speechless; capable only of taking the index finger of her left hand and pushing her glasses more snugly up her nose.
Bailey closed her mouth and thought for a moment. "I…I would be honored, Ma’am?” she said, more as question than a statement of fact.
Quailelyn came back with a large ancient map, and Bailey carefully pushed aside the work they had been doing, as the Maga Librarian spread the map across the desk’s surface.
"Now, where should we go?“ Quail said, a bit giddy already at the prospect of her journey.
The two women studied the map.
The Maga Librarian slid her finger across the old parchment as the Apprentice stared wide-eyed. She was still a bit confused and bewildered at the events that had happened all so suddenly; finding herself in a blink of the eye to be the invited traveling companion of the Maga Librarian.
"Insurikar?” Quailelyn mused to her self. “No, too hot and dusty, ” she said in answer to her own question.
Her finger continued to trace lines across the old map. “Lornne? Perhaps too far. Krakeden? Too barbaric. Felstad…” Her finger paused. A little quiver went up her finger, her hand, her arm.
Were the stories true, she wondered to herself. The legends? The once great magical capital of the world? Think of the lost libraries that might be there…
Quail looked up at the young Apprentice, “Have you heard the stories of Felstad?”
"Why, yes, Ma’am. In our history studies. Those who have travelled there in recent years have come to call it ‘Frostgrave’ I believe.“
Quailelyn’s figure tapped on the map over the large black dot with the carefully scribed,
FELSTAD, next to it. At some point in later years, a long forgotten hand had attempted to update the map, after Felstad had been lost in an icy cataclysm, by crossing out the city’s name with a thick black line Quail’s mind began to calculate, tabulate. A trip to the frozen city of legend could not be undertaken on a whim. They would need to plan.
This meme hit my Inbox this morning. It is a soldier in Iraq growing grass in front of his tent. I cannot verify the accuracy of the rest of the Email that accompanied this image, but scenes like this were not uncommon. When I left for Iraq in 2010, the folks who worked for me gave me a cookie sheet, a pair of scissors, a bag of US topsoil, and a bag of grass seed to take with me. I was living in a shipping container that had been converted to quarters. It was not uncommon for soldiers to grow a cookie sheet of American grass under their hooch to remind themselves of home. It takes a tremendous amount of water for grass to survive through sand storms and blistering heat. I don’t have any personal pictures of this, but the picture above struck a chord for me. Pause a moment between glasses of egg nog to think of our Soldiers, Marines, Sailors, Airmen, and Coast Guardsmen far away from home this holiday season for whom a bag of American dirt is a special gift.
US Military personnel are deployed in over 120 countries. Regardless of your feelings about the politics or wisdom of a particular war, action, or mission, Soldiers, Marines, Sailors, Airmen, and Coast Guardsmen server their nation’s call all over the world. We might complain about traffic or crowds at the mall. These Americans face much worse every day until they return to their families and friends.
Twas the night before Christmas, he lived all alone,
In a one bedroom house made of plaster & stone.
I had come down the chimney, with presents to give
and to see just who in this home did live
As I looked all about, a strange sight I did see,
no tinsel, no presents, not even a tree.
No stocking by the fire, just boots filled with sand.
On the wall hung pictures of a far distant land.
With medals and badges, awards of all kind,
a sobering thought soon came to my mind.
For this house was different, unlike any I’d seen.
This was the home of a U.S. Marine.
I’d heard stories about them, I had to see more,
so I walked down the hall and pushed open the door.
And there he lay sleeping, silent, alone,
Curled up on the floor in his one-bedroom home.
He seemed so gentle, his face so serene,
Not how I pictured a U.S. Marine.
Was this the hero, of whom I’d just read?
Curled up in his poncho, a floor for his bed?
His head was clean-shaven, his weathered face tan.
I soon understood, this was more than a man.
For I realized the families that I saw that night,
owed their lives to these men, who were willing to fight.
Soon around the Nation, the children would play,
And grown-ups would celebrate on a bright Christmas day.
They all enjoyed freedom, each month and all year,
because of Marines like this one lying here.
I couldn’t help wonder how many lay alone,
on a cold Christmas Eve, in a land far from home.
Just the very thought brought a tear to my eye.
I dropped to my knees and I started to cry.
He must have awoken, for I heard a rough voice,
“Santa, don’t cry, this life is my choice
I fight for freedom, I don’t ask for more.
My life is my God, my country, my Corps.”
With that he rolled over, drifted off into sleep,
I couldn’t control it, I continued to weep.
I watched him for hours, so silent and still.
I noticed he shivered from the cold night’s chill.
So I took off my jacket, the one made of red,
and covered this Marine from his toes to his head.
Then I put on his T-shirt of scarlet and gold,
with an eagle, globe and anchor emblazoned so bold.
And although it barely fit me, I began to swell with pride,
and for one shining moment, I was Marine Corps deep inside.
I didn’t want to leave him so quiet in the night,
this guardian of honor so willing to fight.
But half asleep he rolled over, and in a voice clean and pure,
said “Carry on, Santa, it’s Christmas Day, all secure.”
One look at my watch and I knew he was right,
Merry Christmas my friend, Semper Fi and goodnight.
Lance Corporal James M. Schmidt, 1986
Most of us are braving traffic and crowds to do that last-minute shopping. Many of us think fondly of white Christmases and snow, of logs on the fire and roasting chestnuts. These Soldiers braved bullets and bombs. They spent Christmas in steamy climates. Pause a moment to think of the Soldiers serving overseas and away from home this Christmas.
A great disappointment of my 30+ years in the military is that I never had the opportunity to see Bob Hope in concert. Bob Hope is a real hero. He never concerned himself with the politics of the war. Wherever Soldiers served, Hope was there (pun intended). Bob Hope spent many, many years having Christmas dinner with the troops and bringing a little joy to break up the monotony of the war.
Soldiers often find themselves in faraway places rather than at home with their family and friends. Pause a moment this Christmas to think of those serving in 120+ nations around the world this Christmas.
from Buck’s Blog http://ift.tt/2ijFfRx
from Tumblr http://ift.tt/2i94brB
As we get ready to celebrate Christmas with our families and friends, let’s not forget how Soldiers have celebrated Christmas in years past in lands far away from their families and friends. Freedom is not free.
This selection of photos is from World War II. The images were gathered from various Internet sites and are not attributed.
This year, get the gamer in your life something that will make him (or her) very happy: a copy of Combat Patrol™: WWII.
Information about the rules, including where to get them, a bunch of free downloads, and how-to videos are located here: http://ift.tt/1ScfES1
The rules are available with professionally printed cards on War-games Vault: http://ift.tt/1NP0wq8 or http://ift.tt/1OTrmCs
They are also available in the UK and Europe from Sally 4th: http://ift.tt/23DAem5
Finally, get them from On Military Matters in the US: http://ift.tt/1mvyMiN
On Sunday my buddy JJ was in town for business, and so I took the opportunity to schedule a Combat Patrol™ game with some of the HAWKs. The Mexican American War is largely overlooked by gamers, but it provides excellent gaming opportunities. We used the soon-to-be-released Napoleonic supplement for Combat Patrol™, written by Duncan Adams. While written for WWII, with a few adaptations, the rules work well for black powder era games.
The scenario was inspired by some readings of naval “cutting out” parties sent to capture and sail away with Mexican ships. In this scenario there was a ground assault by the Army along with a naval cutting out party in small boats.
The ships were moored at docks in a small Mexican village upstream from the Gulf of Mexico. The Mexicans thought that their mission was to protect the supplies in the town against US attempts to steal or burn them. They were allowed to place themselves anywhere on the map, but no two units could be within 18 inches of each other.
The American plan was to launch a feint from one edge of the table on land. This was designed to pull the Mexican from the town. Then they would launch the rest of the land forces and the naval landing party from the other end of the table. The American objective was less about the supplies and more about seizing a Mexican ship.
During the war, the Mexicans had very poor quality control in the manufacture of gun powder and used inferior bullets. As a result, their fire accuracy was very poor. To represent this, I gave most of the Mexican units an Accuracy rating of Green (possible ratings are elite, regular, or green). Also, as these forces were not main line Mexican soldiers, most of them had a Guts rating of Green as well (possible ratings are elite, regular, or green). Most of the Americans had an Accuracy of Regular and a Guts of Regular; although, there were a few that were rated as Elite.
The American plan was partially successful. Many of the Mexican units redeployed toward the advancing American feint. The Mexicans, however, were suspicious that there were more Americans coming from somewhere, so the left a couple of units on the ships and a couple more facing the other table edges.
Some of the Mexican cavalry had been deployed facing the board edge where the American feint entered. Duncan quickly found himself outnumbered three to one and tried to disengage. He forgot that cavalry gets to draw two movement cards, not one, and so spent a long time trying to get his lancers out of the woods. Eventually, the three US infantry units were able to gun them down with surprisingly accurate musket fire.
With the Mexican cavalry destroyed, the US infantry faced little opposition advancing toward the town. It was about at this time that the naval cutting out party arrived. Sadly I didn’t get any pictures of the sailors climbing aboard the first Mexican ship and engaging in hand-to-hand combat. In typical fashion for our club, the folks with the best odds failed and the folks with the worst odds succeeded. (Many of us are notorious in several states for bad dice — or in the case of Combat Patrol™, cards). The sailors climbed aboard the ship and did well clearing the decks.
Additional US infantry advanced into the town and managed to set fire to one pile of supplies. At this point, JJ had to head to the airport, so we called the game a draw. The Mexicans had retained the majority of their supplies, but it was likely the Americans were going to get away with one boat.
The Napoleonic supplement worked quite well for this game, and I am anxious to put the Mexican American figures on the table again soon. Watch for the FREE supplement to be released in late December or early January. We are just doing the final edits and formatting.