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Author Topic: The Tale of Marcus Templeton and Shane - (A Mountain man story)  (Read 4585 times)

Offline Oberstleutnant Koenig

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The Tale of Marcus Templeton and Shane - (A Mountain man story)
« on: January 17, 2020, 09:18:33 PM »
In early 2015, I ran a Mountain man game for two of my friends. The terrain was splendid and the game worked well enough, but to me it lacked depth.

I thought about that game for years, how does one create depth in a mountain man game?

In early 2019, I sat down with my wife and watched “The Revenant” with Leonardo De Carpio and Tom Hardy. An excellent movie and I highly recommend it.
 
As I watched, my mind began to whirl.

The movie had depth, a story and believable characters. They had a mission, to get back to the fort and avoid the Indians who were hunting them. They had to survive their environment across countless miles of wilderness.

No table top game board could capture the need for endless miles of forest and mountains. Only a map and using map movement could do that. The Players had to manage their small parties across a fictional wilderness back to safety.

The use of a map would allow the Players to utilize email to submit their moves, I would act as Umpire for the game. Email would provide some sense of order in the management of the game. When there was an encounter, it could be played out with figures and terrain which I had already. I could even make elaborate scenery pieces to meet the need of the game if it was called for by the map.

Players were not to share their movement with other players offline as this would ruin the atmosphere of being all alone in the wilderness. To the best of my knowledge all of the player followed this rule to the letter.

By throwing in random events the players also had challenges to overcome or to help them. This I hoped would breathe life into the game, further adding the right atmosphere.

The mountain men were to traverse a fictional wilderness to the safety of a trading fort which was located in the southeast corner of the map. All the players knew roughly where the fort was, but no-one had any knowledge of the intervening terrain.

Background for the story was that a fur trapping expedition had travelled up the Green River (fictional name) on keel boats and canoes.  Arriving at the Peaquin village, a previously friendly Indian village. Then things would spin out of hand and a massacre occurs. The player are survivors of that massacre and are now on their own.

I didn’t provide much information to the players on the river that they had used in their journey to the Peaquin village. I wanted this to be a memory more or less. All they knew was if they followed the river, they would arrive back at the fort. Not the most direct route, but it was an option.

The information that I provided the mountain men about the river was very vague – basically, the river flows as an inverted capital “L” The fort is at one end of the “L” and the Peaquin village at the other. The angle of the “L” is in the northeast. The fort located in the southeast, the village is in the northwest.  I hope that gives you the picture?

Once the mountain men came within five hexes (about 12 miles) of the fort, they would be presented with a small map. The map would show them all the hexes surrounding the fort, representing their familiarity with that area.

Over the next few days, I typed up some basic rules to cover movement, tracking, hunting, sighting, fishing, an alike. I also creating a hexagon wilderness map which looked the part of the American Rockies of the 1820’s of thereabouts.

I enlisted two mountain men (the same two players from my earlier game from 2015) and a third who would take on the role as the Peaquin War Chief – Black Eagle. I took on the role as umpire as I have said before. A huge responsibility with a massive workload, but I was not to find out how massive until I had done at least 50 odd turns first.

Now before I go any further, I understand most of you are here on Lead Adventure Forum to see nicely painted figures and magnificent terrain boards – I can’t offer you that. At least not at first. I can offer you a gaming story, a campaign if you like about a mountain man game. A story of brave men who are being hunted by a determine enemy. The decisions they make and the outcomes of those decisions. Some are good, some were bad, but they all added to the adventure.

If you want to know more please read on.

Before the game started, I set the scene for the two mountain men by sending them separate briefs. I have included those briefs for your enjoyment.

Marcus Templeton Setup Brief

No-one really knows how the massacre started.

The brigade had arrived at the Peaquin village by mid-morning. Arriving in two keel boats and half a dozen canoes, the Indians had greeted us friendly enough. Smoke Wolf, their chief greeted Captain Morrow with a warm embrace, inviting the Captain to the centre of the village where the Indians had laid out hundreds of beaver pelts for trade.

Mitchell and I had been tasked with carrying wooden chest full of trade goods from the keel boats to the centre of the village. We had delivered one of the chests and were heading back with a second chest when we heard excited Indian hoops and howls. I looked back to see a hunting party emerge from the forest on the other side of the lodges.

Collecting the second chest of trade goods from Breckett, the boat master, Mitchell and I began the trip back to the captain. As we struggled with the chest, Jack Bennett and Charles Bulfinch, joined us with bolts of red trade cloth on their shoulders.

As we struggled with the chest and across the meadow, I could see Shane, Jim Moore, and Phillip Gibbons along with an Indian walking slowly towards a small herd of 12 Indian ponies. The Captain had mentioned earlier that he wanted to buy four of the ponies to allow our hunters a wider field to hunt in. The ponies would allow this. Shane and the others must have been sent to trade for the best ponies.

Our party had just reached the edge of the tepees when we saw Black Eagle, Smoke Wolf’s brother and Bloody Bear, Black Eagle’s son push through the other Indians who had gathered around the Captain and Chief to watch the trade talks. 

There was a furious exchange of words between Black Eagle and Captain Morrow. Smoke Wolf attempted to rise and put himself between Morrow and Black Eagle, but Black Eagle pushed his brother down and continued his verbal attack on Morrow.

Suddenly, Bloody Bear jumped forward and grabbing the collar of the captain’s tunic with his left hand and drove his flint knife directly into Morrow’s stomach.

That’s when all hell broke out!

In the blink of an eye, armed warriors from Black Eagle’s hunting party had overpowered Collins, Armstrong and Whittaker, all three stood in close proximity to Captain Morrow. Nicolet, the Frenchman had just managed to clear his pistol from his belt when a hatchet bit deeply into his shoulder. His pistol discharged, sending the bullet harmlessly into the ground at Bloody Bear’s feet before he fell.

I was shocked at what had just occurred, these were supposed to be friendly Indians.

I was spurred into action when Mitchell dropped his side of the chest we were carrying. I still held the handle on my side, up ending the chest so that it spilled it’s contents out onto the muddy ground.  Both Bennett and Bulfinch dropped the bolts of cloth and started to unsling their muskets. Mitchell, Bennett, Bulfinch and I hesitated on where our salvation was to be.
 
It was already too late; a strong band of warriors had crept around the village gathering and were already half way to the boats, cutting us off from our comrades.
 
Breckett, La Roche, Mason and Finnegan were already franticly poling one of the keel boats away from the shore. It was slow work and the warriors reached the water’s edge before they could put enough distance between them and their adversaries. Firing arrows, the Peaquin braves managed to put an arrow through Mason’s fore arm, making him loose his grip on the pole he was using.
 
Seeing we had a clear path between us and the tree line, I called to Mitchell and the others, and we all ran for our lives!

Shane’s Setup Brief

No-one really knows how the massacre started.

The brigade had arrived at the Peaquin village by mid-morning. Arriving in two keel boats and half a dozen canoes, the Indians had greeted us friendly enough. Smoke Wolf, their chief greeted Captain Morrow with a warm embrace, inviting the Captain to the centre of the village where the Indians had laid out hundreds of beaver pelts for trade.

The Captain Morrow had tasked Jim Moore, Phillip Gibbons and myself (Shane) to check out some of the Peaquin horses. We saw a small herd close to the village as we came up the river that morning. The Captain had wanted to purchase the best of the horses for use as pack animals. He also hoped to issue them to our hunters to allow them to range deeper into the mountains in their search for game.

As the rest of the brigade unloaded trade goods from the boats and canoes, I took my small group along with an Indian who had greeted us at the river’s edge, down towards the horses. The Indian was happy to chaperone us to the horses and perhaps hoodwink us into selecting the sick and oldest horses the herd had to offer.

We all carried out firearms, it was standard practise when away from the fort. The pistols, knives and hatchets almost grow out of our bodies after so many months in the wilderness. I knew the Peaquin would strike a hard bargain for their horses, but I was determine to get the best deal I could. We needed good horses if our expedition was to be a success.
 
We had just reached the herd when the party heard a pistol shot. Turning towards the village, I could see a scuffle had broken out and the Indians were letting out war whoops.

I could see other Peaquin warriors running down towards the beached boats. On the boats I could see Breckett and a few others pushing on barge poles, frantically trying to dislodge the keel boats away from the shore and back into the flow of the river. The Peaquin warriors began to pepper the boatmen with arrows and I saw one of our comrades go down with an arrow through his forearm.

Thinking quickly, I could see that the way back to the keel boats was now swarming with hostiles. The Indian guide who had been with us was already in flight, running across the meadow back towards the village.

Moore and Gibbons were frozen in place, both in disbelieve at what was occurring. Then in a split second, they started running for the distance forest. Scattering the horse herd as they went. Without thinking, I turned and followed my companions, purposely scattering the horses as I went.


At this point I’ll stop and wait for your feedback.

If there is a general desire for me to continue with telling you how the game played out, I shall continue to post. Remember I can only offer screenshots of the maps and the narration of the events that occurred related to those screenshots. That is the only visual stimulus I can offer.

As I progress I share with you some of the game mechanics and the player's thoughts on the game.
« Last Edit: May 19, 2021, 08:14:57 PM by Oberstleutnant Koenig »

Offline FifteensAway

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Re: The Tale of Marcus Templeton and Shane - (A Mountain man story)
« Reply #1 on: January 18, 2020, 02:16:23 AM »
My experience is that without pictures not many people will read through, some, not many.  This is a visual hobby, after all.

Offline von Lucky

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Re: The Tale of Marcus Templeton and Shane - (A Mountain man story)
« Reply #2 on: January 18, 2020, 03:31:20 AM »
Ah, I'm half way through the post - it sounds like a lot of fun (and the work was worth it).

The 2015 game is here:
http://leadadventureforum.com/index.php?topic=75759.0

Reading on now.
- Karsten

"Imagination is the only weapon in the war against reality."
- Lewis Carroll, Alice in Wonderland

Blog: Donner und Blitzen

Offline von Lucky

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Re: The Tale of Marcus Templeton and Shane - (A Mountain man story)
« Reply #3 on: January 18, 2020, 04:08:47 AM »
Happy for you to continue.

I think the action seems a little confusing (as is appropriate). Screen shots are more than fine, along with any feedback from the players as this progressed.

Offline Vagabond

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Re: The Tale of Marcus Templeton and Shane - (A Mountain man story)
« Reply #4 on: January 19, 2020, 08:05:31 AM »
Sounds very promising, I would be interested in the mechanics of the campaign.

Offline Sunjester

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Re: The Tale of Marcus Templeton and Shane - (A Mountain man story)
« Reply #5 on: January 19, 2020, 08:48:04 AM »
Well, I've read so far! ;)

Please go ahead, I'm interested to see how the campaign progressed.

Offline Oberstleutnant Koenig

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Re: The Tale of Marcus Templeton and Shane - (A Mountain man story)
« Reply #6 on: April 14, 2020, 06:39:39 AM »
Hello All,

I have been thinking about what I has proposing a few weeks ago, when I first posted this thread.

Every campaign has paperwork and map movement. They create the need of purpose and drama for any tabletop game.

I decided I would post the first day of the campaign and judge from the feedback whether it is valued or not. Besides, I have quite a lot of time to kill, seeing most of the World is in lockdown.

The map below shows the start position for the Mountain men and Indians. All the Indians were still in the village, celebrating their quick victory over the trappers.

The two mountain men parties consist of Marcus Templeton (leader), Tom Mitchell, Jack Bennett and Charles Bulfinch. Shane’s party consisted of Shane (leader), Jim Moore and Phillip Gibbons.

All of the characters have randomly generated Stamina. This reflects their individual endurance, run out of Stamina and you could no longer move and had to rest.
Think of the character sitting on a rock, grasping for breath and saying, “That’s it, Boss. I’m can’t run anymore. I need a rest!”

Within the two parties, Jack Bennett and Phillip Gibbons had the lowest Stamina reflecting their age or previous mishaps in their lives that would reduce their fitness. The older you are, the slower you become.  Both of these men would control the overall pace of their parties. Of course, the leader of the party could cut them away and leave them behind, but what kind of man would do that? Well, we shall see how things unfolds.

Marcus headed south from the village in his mad dash for freedom, moving two hexes.
 
Each hex being 2.4 miles.
 
The red foot prints indicates he has left trail by running. A party moving Fast/Running always leaves trail. Trail is a method that the Indian Player can use to track the Mountain men. It will tell him the direction and the number of men in the party.

The Indian Player doesn’t get to see the trail, unless he tracks them. Tracking restricts the Indian to a Walk, but walking doesn’t use up as much Stamina as running does.

After the massacre at the village, Shane and his party ran two hexes to the south east.

None of the players knew where the other players were. All map movement being controlled by email and by me as the Umpire. I would monitor  the health and stamina of all the characters in the game and provide feedback to the Players on how that turn/hour went.
« Last Edit: April 14, 2020, 06:57:51 AM by Oberstleutnant Koenig »

Offline bulldogger2000

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Re: The Tale of Marcus Templeton and Shane - (A Mountain man story)
« Reply #7 on: April 14, 2020, 12:55:22 PM »
I have wanted to do a mountain man game/campaign for years and struggled with developing a concept of movement, objectives, etc.  You just answered a lot of those questions for me.  Thank you.

May I ask what you used for map creation?

Offline Flinty

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Re: The Tale of Marcus Templeton and Shane - (A Mountain man story)
« Reply #8 on: April 14, 2020, 01:51:37 PM »
Scenario and gaming ideas don't need pictures - try your imagination.

Your thought in developing a narrative game shows through to me; the confusion at the village and the uncertaintiy and fear the massacre produces is palpable in your writing. I really like the fog produced by the 'memory' of the journey - open country isn't full of hugely memorable features, and stands of pine are, just like the other stands of pine.

The differing stamina help to develop interst in the characters and I can see lots of dcision points, this way/that way, stop, rest, run, give up... I admit this would be difficult as a pure tabletop/minatures set up, but I can see that gaming the points of potential contact (where they spotted, did running down that creek throw off the Braves?) turns this into a pretty standard campaign game.

Excellent - lets hear more please.

 

Offline Keith

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Re: The Tale of Marcus Templeton and Shane - (A Mountain man story)
« Reply #9 on: April 14, 2020, 02:26:29 PM »
Really like this (and your narrative is very cool).
Looking forward to see how it progresses.
An infrequent Blog http://small-wars.com

Offline Oberstleutnant Koenig

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Re: The Tale of Marcus Templeton and Shane - (A Mountain man story)
« Reply #10 on: April 15, 2020, 12:40:18 AM »
I totally agree with you, a game can be more that just pictures. Don't get me wrong, I love pictures of nice terrain and miniatures, but I need depth to a games purpose. Stand alone tabletop games have never really done it for me, that is why I focus on campaign development. Most of my games stem from a campaign.

To answer your question bulldogger2000 - I use HEXDRAW as my map making tool.

Here is the link:  https://www.hexdraw.com/Word/

Hexdraw is a program developed to support such board games as Advanced Squad Leader (ASL) and BattleTech.

There is a free trial version you can download, but I would recommend the paid version to have a better experience. Textures and alike can be downloaded from numerous sites on the web. I use GIMP to modify the image where needed. Its a very simple program and the learning curve is very, very easy. You would be a Master within 30 mins of downloading the program.

Thank you all again for your interest and kind words. I'll post the first game turn sometime today, I hope.
« Last Edit: April 15, 2020, 12:52:51 AM by Oberstleutnant Koenig »

Offline Belisarius

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Re: The Tale of Marcus Templeton and Shane - (A Mountain man story)
« Reply #11 on: April 15, 2020, 07:07:56 AM »
Fabulous storytelling, I’m hooked . I’ll follow this thread with great interest.👍

Offline tin shed gamer

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Re: The Tale of Marcus Templeton and Shane - (A Mountain man story)
« Reply #12 on: April 15, 2020, 09:22:54 AM »
An Interesting Idea .
I do think your background depth gives a good feel for the mood of the game.
There's a few ways you can spice things up.
As it reads at the moment.Your hunter force doesn't need to slow to a walking pace to cast for spore. As you've given both direction of travel for 2 1/2 miles through forest, as a group running leaves a pretty clear trail even to the inexperienced.
Tracking isn't simply a case of long distance 'tig' . You don't need to chase them down if you know the destination and direction of travel. In fact that's half the battle trying to figure out where they're trying to get too.
Once you have that information you plan to get a force a head and plan for a capture at a choke point.Whilst Appling preasure and direction in pursuit.
You've already supplied direction and destination. There's no reason for your hunter force to doing anything but get a head and ambush.
I'd recommend you give multiple possible destinations.As information for the hunter force and a  single destination too the men running.
I'd recommend you also look at how the terrain impacts on movement .As this will force decisions on direction and pace.creating natural bottlenecks and choke points.
You could also give the home field advantage to the indians by giving them more knowledge of the terrain ahead.
and acknowledge your mountain men's skills by allowing each party a one off false trail option. Also an option for counter ambush and traps to slow pursuit.

It'll impact on the hunter forces confidence and counter balance their superior knowledge of the location.

I think you'll find by upping the 'cat and mouse ' aspects of your paper campaign with a. Near 'battleships' element. It'll be a much more rewarding game for you as an umpire.As you can add to the narrative as force close or fooled by false trails , weather ,and the hunter becoming thehunted.As





Offline Blackwolf

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Re: The Tale of Marcus Templeton and Shane - (A Mountain man story)
« Reply #13 on: April 15, 2020, 09:45:05 AM »
Great stuff herr Koenig :)
Where are you in Oz? I’m in Goulburn,NSW.
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Offline Oberstleutnant Koenig

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Re: The Tale of Marcus Templeton and Shane - (A Mountain man story)
« Reply #14 on: April 15, 2020, 04:48:08 PM »
Hello all again,

Blackwolf - I live in the Mount Macedon area, which is close enough to Melbourne to spit.

Thanks tin shed gamer for your thoughts, I'll explain some more concepts of the campaign.

The Indian Player had a huge advantage over the mountain men as he did have access to a full map of the area. The map he was given showed every bit of terrain from the Peaquin village all the way to the trade fort. He could easily see the choke points and the lay of the land.

I guess the big thing for the Indian Player was that he was behind the trappers, they had a head start on him and everyone was on foot - at least until he could regroup his scattered horse herd. They could run in the attempt to over take the mountain men, but constant running will exhaust your force much faster than walking does. You travel further by walking in a day, than if you try to run it - we aren't talking about Zulus here.

The mountain men didn't have a map, they had to feel their way through the forest. Any big terrain features were simply explained to them.

For example: "You can see a mountain to your west and south west. Its crest is about 18-20 miles away (8 hexes). The mountain runs from north to south. Any movement in  westly direction you will have to climb it."

This information was also only provided to them only if they asked for it. I wasn't going to offer them any information unless they asked. Having no situational awareness can be a very bad thing at anytime!

They weren't provided with the intervening hexes between their location and the mountain, you can't see much in a forest except for trees and then more trees.

All they received was a small map showing the, the hex they had started in, the hexes they had travelled over during the previous turn and their end hex. The surrounding hexes along their path were shown as also given, but only as partial hexes - not a full hex.

Nothing was pre planned in the game. The progress of the mountain men and the Indians was fully of their own making. I was fully aware that there was a chance that there may not be an encounter between the mountain men and Indians. The focus of the game was actually about the mountain men surviving. The Indians were there as clear and present danger, but not the sole antagonist. They were simply the cream on top. 

I'll post this as its 2.40 AM here at present.



« Last Edit: April 15, 2020, 10:49:42 PM by Oberstleutnant Koenig »

 

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