May 12, 2020

The Peninsula Adventures of a French Dragoon Leo Sole: 1808 winter - part one

"Haven't we used to talk with people instead of shooting them? It's hard to remember." - Leo Sole
The last battle took a significant toll on the company. Half of the faces around Leo were hardly familiar or totally new. New but not fresh. Men from other companies, from other wars, from all over the Empire. Most of them touched by the war. They were coming to fill the gaps left by the dead and maimed. Only a few young faces with very distinctive spark in their eyes. Spark of lust for adventure and glory. Talebot Dupont had those. An Ocetanian kid, build for grenadiers, but somehow landed in a company of Dragoons.

"That one is not fit to ride a horse, but surely he could eat one", joked the old mustaches: Jordan, Omer and now Leo, while finishing the meal and knowing that the next one could be weeks away.
First I roll new recruits, and that's five in total, to replace those killed and missing. The last battle was brutal for the company. But at least I get some nice rep5 veterans. The company gets stronger, as soldiers with low rep tend not to live long.

Here's how my company looks now:
Leo Sole
Felix Baron
Gregory Hennequin

Talebot Dupont
Gilbert Landry

Guion Figuier
Judoinus Devereux
Alardin Pilipon

Jordan Hachette
Omer Azema

I check for supplies, and of course there are none, except the two left from the last season. And I check what encounter awaits us: Advance. So I guess Leo is marching to a battle. I will take a Foraging encounter before that, it's a bad idea to go to a battle on an empty stomach. 
A village in front of the group seemed to be peaceful and miraculously untouched by retreating Blake's army. Although still quite a distance away, Leo could feel an intoxicating smell of fresh food, or was that his imagination? Private swallowed saliva and walked after the sergeant towards the village while loading his musket.
I roll only 1 PEF. Using my new components I draw a terrain counter to check where the encounter will take place: a town! I will give it +1 to the loot rate: I roll and it's 5. So I assume it's a prosperous farming village untouched by the war.
Frenchmen entered the village and walked straight to the central plaza in front of a small church, greeted only by shut doors and windows. The smell of food was not imaginary, others felt it too. Omer glanced at Leo, is it time to talk? But sergeant did not had time to say anything before a group of men, armed with forks and scythes, entered the plaza from the opposite side. Leo managed to notice at least few of them carrying hunting muskets and pistols.

"Form the line!", the locals seemed to hesitate as dragoons took firing position. Maybe they will be smart enough to run? Then one of the men raised his musket...

"Fire!" Omer did not hesitate, and so did Leo's trigger finger.

When smoke cleared, seven villagers were lying in the dust, some of them writing and shouting in pain, all of them covered in blood. The rest were running for their lives.

"Quick! You and you, check those doors! Felix, take two men to check this basement over there! You three, that door! Dupont, go up the belltower and take wach!" Omer just did not waste any time to dwell on what happened. Leo almost envied him.

I resolved the first and only (hopefully) PEF and got a contact, one more than my group. To see what I will be facing I rolled 1d6: 1 - it will be Spanish/British; 2-3 Guerillas; 4-6 Civilians. I get civilians. I roll and get four of them armed with pistols (I assume that they are more likely to have hunting muskets instead, but I will just treat those the same), 6 of them with Brute attribute! 

The combat turned into a massacre. I got the advantage and the first round. And then just slaughter the enemy with one musket salvo: 2 Obviously Dead, 5 Out of Action. The rest four run away as result of Man Down and Will to Fight tests. I roll doubles on my W2F test so it's a random event: +1 to the next shooting test. There is no one to shoot at, but I decided that there is a lookout point - a church's belltower, that will give a tactical advantage if things will turn violent again. 
It's funny how quick one could forget the dread of war when faced with prospect of a good meal after being hungry for so long. The dragoons were cheering as soldiers were bringing more and more food from the surrounding houses, and dropping it in the center of the plaza, trying to avoid pools of blood and ignoring the lamentations of the dying.

They even managed to find a cart with a sad looking donkey to bring all the supplies they found back to the camp, when private Talebot started waving hands, then decided just to descend down from the tower.

"There is a group, approaching from that direction", he was pointing in a general direction, while trying to catch his breath. 

What kind of group, he could not explain, but the sergeant was not in a mood to take an unnecessary risks, and commanded the group to take everything already gathered and to hastily return to the camp. 

I pass 2d6 for a loot check and get 12 supply points in total, but I roll snake eyes, so it's time to check for another PEF: pass 1d6, nothing but the tension is raising. I interpret this as my watch seeing an approaching potentially hostile group. Luckily there is nothing left to do, so I end the Encounter. 

Although obviously successful, I don't think this encounter counts for increasing reputation or promotion, it's just soldiers doing what it takes to keep themselves alive. But at least the company is well feed now.

Apr 28, 2020

The Peninsula Adventures of a French Dragoon Leo Sole: 1808 autumn - part three

"It's like a cavalry charge! except on foot." - Private Leo Sole
Although even lieutenant commended him for his performance in the last battle for the ham, Leo was not so excited when he found out that those two prisoners he brought back, told some things that sent the company on a chase. So the reward for performing above your duty is more forced marching, probably with more bullets flying at the end. A lesson learned. And as a good soldier Leo marched.

The gaps in ranks left by those lost became filled again: privates Felix Baron and Gregory Hennequin were two experienced veterans, shifted from other companies of the battalion. Now the ranks Leo was a part of looked nothing like when he joined Dragoons less than a year ago: only a few young faces: private Marius, a new recruit who took Oliver's place, one of the few, not scared by war. Yet. And private Leo was wondering if his face also became like ones the old mustaches were wearing. It was hard to tell, he haven't looked in a mirror for a very long time.

There was a new sergeant, to replace Pinchon. Leo's comrades were a bit surprised when Omer got promotion instead of Severin. But maybe that's for the better, Omer seemed to be the most levelheaded out of the tree veterans, and Severind did not seem to mind. They also got a new  corporal: Felix Baron, Leo only knew him by sight until now, but in the last few days he got to know him much more than he cared to. As someone responsible for men keeping their equipment in good order Felix, a man rivaled by his size only by Jordan, was there to do his duty thoroughly.
I decided that after the first successful mission in the autumn I can have a follow up encounter. But first I have to replace the tree casualties. I roll two rep5 soldiers, one of them Brute, and one rep3. Now my group consists of 6 soldiers with rep5. It makes sense, after more than half year in war those who sill fights are not green recruits anymore.

I also need to replace sergeant who went MIA so I just roll against the Reputation of all the soldiers and ended with Omer getting the promotion. I also realized that there should be a corporal under sergeant, so I just decided that one of the replacements - Felix already held the rank, he was just shifted around from another position in the company.

After about two weeks of intensive marching the French army caught up with the enemy close to a town of Pancorbo. There were rumors of the British General Blake, the same whom french have bloodied at Medina de Rioseco, leading the enemy troops. And amongst many others Leo was guilty of bravado, boasting of how he will kick the british ass again. Although deep down his memories about the battle were far from glorious.
Roll for encounter: Attack, 5 PEFs. Sounds tough... In any case I decided that the chase for General Blake continues and Leo will have a second battle in his career. I also roll for terrain: Orchard, Wheat Field, Wheat Field with a House, Orchard, Village with a Road. 
I roll to check if there are any specialists involved with my group, and get a rep4 drummer, he will provide me with a bonus on Man Down and Will to Fight rolls.
Early in the morning general's orders reached the company and with a sound of the trumpets and drums a half-company of 2nd dragoons moved forward across farmlands towards a white-walled hamlet. As they entered orchards and the formation became dispersed Leo had a bad case of deja vu, but  all was quiet, and instead of yellow uniforms the soldiers were pleasantly surprised by red fruits - ripe apples! Sergeants just barked their disapprovement halfheartedly as soldiers were plucking the fruits and showing them in their mouths and pockets as they went, they knew the hunger as well as their fellow soldiers, and only Lieutenant's commands finally made company to resume the pace.
First PEF check comes with two sixes. Nothing, but because it's a double, I decided that something good had happened: there are some fruits. After the encounter the survivors can roll their rep and on a success they will get 1 supply each.
The orchard opened into a wheat field, no enemy movement here, but further down, between was a lonely farmhouse with a white-red Spanish standart sticking out of a window.
Pass 1d6, so nothing for now, but the enemy is near.
"Form the line! Two ranks deep! Load your muskets! Forward march!" commands sounded, drumms thundered, the farmhouse with the sticking flag was getting closer, all quiet still.

They took a position a shoot away from the house, sending skirmishers forward, when everyone heard windows being shattered and trumpet sounding as soldiers clad in blue uniforms emerged from their hiding inside the house. Ambush was not a strongest point of Spanish military doctrine, and French, who already took a shooting posture opened fire.

Pass 2d6, check Who They Are: light infantry. I check for attached units: a standard bearer (automatic extra one die to W2F and Man down) and a officer, so the commanding officer is here! The enemy has advantage (makes sense, they are in a fortified position), but I get the first round.

A hail of bullets hit the white wall kicking a cloud of dust. Leo also saw a red mist in a window where he just sent his load of led. Did he saw a sergeant's epaulet there? And then there were series of flashes and bullets whistled, cutting down the new recruit Marius closeby and then hitting private Dylan right in the throat, his soul left before his body hit the ground. The thunder of enemy voley silenced the french drumms. A few soldiers already were losing their will to fight, Leo saw drummer running away. Who can blame the him, the battlefield is not a place for a kid.

This is the first time Leo hist something! And it's sergeant who goes Out of Action. But the whole salvo is pretty lousy: 2 OoA and 3 Ducked Back, 5 others shoot back, resulting in Marius going down and Dylan Obviously Dead, Stanislas Ducking Back. I check Man down and Will to Fight. With the standard and a commander present spanish are unlikely to break, but on the French side the drummer and Stanislas escape. 

Enemy spends it's time recovering Ducked Back soldiers and reloading.
"Charge!" private Leo hears a command and the company crosses a wall of smoke created by their muskets. Sword in his hands Leo ran, he almost closed his eyes when a second wave of shots hit the company. Screams of injured and dying. There was no pain, he is still alive! Private quickly checked left and right, Severin and Jordan were missing from the charging lines. The sinking feeling made Leos legs heavy, but it was too late - he almost crashed into the deceptive safety of the farmhouse wall. Corporal Felix who carried sapper's hatched instead of a sword made a short work of a door and was first to charge inside. Leo climbed a window, almost felt inside. He was terrified to face the enemy, but he was even more afraid to show his cowardice. Blinded by sudden twilight, he saw a faint shimmer of blue and charger, stumbling on a lifeless body. He felt Spanish blade biting his flesh, stood up again cutting down his enemy. Frenchman now realized that he has no idea where his comrades are, there were sounds of battle everywhere but inside the room he was standing in there were just dead bodies, and then a spaniard bursted through a door. The fight was quick, Leo who already was bleeding profoundly from the first wound gave his best, but that was not enough.
So I had a hard decision to make, I could spend a round reloading and being shot by the enemy, or I could charge. With six rep5 soldiers present I decided to take a risk. I charge and enemy reacts by shooting. Severing goes Obviously Dead and Jordan is forced to duck back: here goes two of my best soldiers :( Melee insues, and Leo just barely manages to overcome his opponent by using Extraordinary Effort, but he goes -3 rep in the process. The rules state that rep is restored after each melee, but I use a houserule that if soldier gets more than -1 he is injured, and has -1 rep until the end of the encounter.

Besides Leo, corporal Felix and sergeant Omer manage to win the melee, but Pierre-Louis gets killed. Check if someone escapes: one enemy is out, and Jordan escapes on our side, because we now are at half strength, so we are losing at least one soldier each round.

Now I roll enemy reputation to see if they will be brave enough to charge ar they will rather shoot. I pass 2d6, they charge! Corporal and Sergeant gets two enemies each, and leo gets down. Only star power saves him from obviously dead result. Barely. The corporal goes out of action, but Omer chops down two. The fierce attribute is a huge advantage. Check for retreats: Gregory escapes and on the spanish side the standard bearer escapes. 

Later, while recovering from his wounds Leo learned that sergeant Omer took down at least four enemies inside the house, including a spanish lieutenant, before sounding retreat and realising that he was the only one left fighting. But spanish light infantry was so intimidated by the fierceness of the frenchman that it was surprising they remembered to grab the standard before running away. From that day, no one questioned if Omer Azema was worth of being promoted to the rank of sergeant.
Omer charges again, gets injured but wins another melee. And there is only one soldier left on each side. The last spanish Ducks Back after Man Down test, but then both sides retreat because of Will to Fight.
The day was won by French forces, but enemy escaped with relatively light casualties. It was 2nd Dragoons who were tasked at cutting down enemy escape route, Leo's company newer reached the goal. At least part of the fault was lying on the general staff, apparently they expected Dragoon company to be mounted, because in the end they were a cavalry unit.
In the end I think it is fair to say that Leos company had failed the encounter. They fought an enemy at a disadvantage, and ended in a draw, but war is unfair and they did not reach the final destination. But this was a humbling experience for Leo, so I decided to remove his Poser attribute. In any case he ends with 7 decreasing reputation (I only gave -1 for the lost encounter, because it was not a total defeat) and two increasing (for two casualties inflicted): roll 5d and luckily no ones, but that resets Leo's Career Rep back to zero.

Battle of Pancorbo happened 23 November 1808 and was a second time General Blake fought French in the Peninsula campaign. Despite French managing to caught him by surprise, outnumbering Spanish almost 2:1 and winning the battlefield, Blake managed to retreat with relatively small loses (300 dead and 300 captured) and continued his movement towards the port city of Bilbao. Capturing him was becoming a matter of vendetta.

Apr 20, 2020

The Peninsula Adventures of a French Dragoon Leo Sole: 1808 autumn - part two

The raiders galloped away, leaving their fellow men on foot behind, and those had no other option but to take a first cover they came by - a wooden fence, and fire their muskets. That took Leo's sergeant totally unprepared. Luckily company's veterans knew better.

I decided to use the next PEF location for that, and upon entering I checked PEF resolution, there was a very real chance there will be more deserters or what not, there. Luckily I passed only 1d6, so luckily no more enemies. I check enemy cavalry separately, and pass 0d6, so they run away leaving their comrades behind.

"Hug the wall!" shouted Severin.

Leo shut his eyes and cowered as pieces of mortar and stone filled the air when lead bullets hit the wall, mortgaging* Olivier and Stanislas, sending several others hiding behind a house corner, The young soldier Jean-Luc splashed with the blood of his fellow soldiers, screamed and rushed back towards the wheat field. Only Dylan managed to keep his cool and respond with a shot in a general direction of the enemy, allas missing. 

"Retreat! Retreat!" sergeant Pinchon's bravado evaporated instantly, he dashed back without even checking if his men follow. Leo was about to run after him.

I get advantage from a successful chase. Our sergeant loses his roll again! The enemy gest first turn. At least we have some cover.  Enemy shoots: Oliver and Stanislas  - end out of action, Jean-Luc and Pierre-Louis  and V duck back, VII shoots back but misses. Man Down check: Jean-Lukescapes, Dylan ducks back. Roll Will to Fight: the enemy pass 1d6, one escapes, our sergeant passes 0d6 and commands a retreat! 

"Stand your ground men!" thundered Severin's voice over sergeant's scream "Don't cast away our victory! There are just five of them!"

Pinchon, who has no business to lead men, or Severin who more than once helped Leo with his timely advice? It's not a hard choice. He raised the musket and inhaled deeply trying to calm his racing heart.

At that point I decided that one of the veterans had enough. Not that it was tactically best idea to stay and fight, but letting Pinchon escape alone was a good way to get rid of him. I roll against the rep of all three veterans, Severin gets the best roll, so he attempts to wrestle away the command. I roll a contest between the sergeant and the private and not surprisingly Severin wins. I roll Will to Fight again, now using his rep5 and everyone stays, but I decide that Pinchon escapes anyway. I count all of this as an action for my side. A new Will to Fight roll, both sides pass 2d6 but because enemy is at half strength one man escapes.

With their muskets empty, the deserters were not so determined to stand and fight the French Dragoons, two of them already running away, three, used the moment of confusion to charged through a closest door into a farmhouse. There were sound of pottery shattering and women screams to be heard. Leo glimpsed  inside through a window: the deserters were pushing a few local women, with the barrels of their guns, so they had a live shield between them and Frenchmen.

"Fire!", Severin was determined to kill the bastards.

I also roll doubles on the last WtF check, and I use a house-rule that any WtF pass on a double roll is an event. I roll what kind of event it is and I roll: bystanders. Must be local farmers. I use civilian reaction table from FNG and get 'frozen' rezult. OK so I guess they are used as a cover by the enemy. I roll against Severins rep to see what he will command the party to do. pass 2d6 will mean that he will find a way to deal with the problem, 1d6 - he will command to shoot, 0d6 he will back down. I roll and pass 1d6, he is an old soldier and sheding some civilian blood is not new to him.

With a hard heart Leo pushed the trigger. And as he did that he was sure he made a mistake.

But he Fortune was really with the frenchmen today. As smoke dispersed, the private saw that despite his shaking hands the bullet had found its target. All three women, as incredible as it was, were standing intact although covered in blood and paralyzed with terror. Three enemies were lying on the floor in a pool of their own blood, one of them with a gaping hole where his face just had been a seconds ago. Leo just managed to see the fourth one disappearing out of sight as he jumped out of a window at the opposite side of the room.

Leo had to use his star power: Extraordinary effort to make the shot. I decided that it's a miss on 1d6 and the shoot would hit a civilian on 0d6. Surprisingly no one rolled 0d6 ending in two enemies out of action, one obviously dead and one ducking down. Man down test and the last enemy escapes.

Not wasting any time Severin ordered men to rush the farmhouse, tie up the two wounded deserters, and to check for anything useful inside. Nothing! Those peasants were getting smarter in hiding anything french could use. Leo tried to talk to the women, to calm them down, and maybe to get a hint if just maybe there was some food they could spare to the hungry soldiers that just saved them. But as he tried to get closer the women started screaming.

"That's no time for flirting, Casanova," rumbled Jordan dragging Leo away, there was no chance of resisting the grip of the giant.

The two out of action enemies are taken prisoners. I check for the potential loot and pass 0d6 - nothing! Leo tries to talk to the women, to get an extra attempt at finding some loot but passes 0d6 on 3d6 :(

They went back to the first farm. The wagon was still there, Omer stuck his head inside and came out smiling.

"Boys, it's heaven inside!".

And it was. The wagon was full of meat: salchichón, serrano, jamón, Leo was literally drooling. If only there was a horse for the wagon. But as there were none, the soldiers started unloading the loot.

They were almost finished when they heard a sound of hooves. The six horsemen had changed their minds about leaving the supply wagon. Luckily they could be heard and seen approaching from far away, so frenchmen not only had time to load muskets and take position behind a low stone wall, but also to stow as much meat from the wagon inside their vests and pockets as they could. Leo could not hold his smile when he saw Dylan kneeling, ready for a battle, cross wrapped in a chain of sausage., taking a big bite from it. They should make that an official uniform for dragoons!

This time I get lucky! 9 loot in total, but I also roll doubles! Check for enemies and I get the same amount as my party, so 6. There were 6 mounted deserters that escaped so I decided that they come back for the vagon.

Riders bursted inside the courtyard through the open gate, and they were greeted with a musket salvo. Although only one bullet found it's target the other five decided not to push their luck today. But so did Severin too, he had no wish to test how long the fortune will keep smiling. Being harassed by a group of riders all the way to the camp was not a tempting prospect, and so after unloading the musket he commanded a retreat.

My side gets advantage, so the dragoons have enough time to take cover and load the muskets. I check who goes first, both sides pass 2d6 so I get the first action as I had the advantage. Everyone shoots, but only one hit. Another houserule I use is that when you hit a mounted target 1-3 you hit a horse 4-6 you hit the rider. I check and the rider is hit and obviously dead. Three other duck back.

 Check Man Down - one enemy escapes. Will to Fight time: Severin passess 2d6, enemy pass 1d6, two escape, leaving one enemy ready and one ucking down.

Enemy turn, the one rider could charge, but it's 1 against 6, so that would be a suicide, i rule that he escapes. I don't even need to roll the will to Fight for the enemy, the last one automatically escapes.

"Leave the prisoners and the wounded", the words were callous, but those were words of a soldier who seen too much death in his life.

Leo hesitated. Stanislas could walk despite his wound, but Olivier was in a bad shape. If left here, if not the deserters then the locals would get to him. And then the dragoon saw a chestnut horse. He was helping himself with a stack of hay, just outside the gate, while his dead rider was still hanging with his foot stuck in a stirrup.

"I will call you Rouge!"

I still have to roll will to Fight for my side and i roll a double 6 against rep5 of Severin! He does not want to stay here anymore, and commands a retreat leaving two prisoners and two wounded comrades behind. Here I decided to use the Free Will star advantage, so Leo did not retreat with everybody. I decided that he uses a horse of the killed enemy and that means he can take one wounded with him and both POW. Because both wounded were wounded quite some time ago by now it should be clear if they were walking wounded or if the injury was more serious, so I just rolled on the After the Encounter table right now, resulting in 2d6 passed for Stanislas, so he could walk and 0d6 passed for Oliver, so he was bleeding profoundly and died soon after.

Alas Olivier was dead before Leo reached the company's camp. But he was still greeted with cheers when he rode inside with two prisoners tied behind his horse, his jacket bursting from the looted food.

In the evening they all ate a soup made of poor Rouge. Leo was finding it a bit hard to swallow. But at least he and his companions could tell story about their military deed today. Somehow everyone forgot to mention the fact that Severin defied sergeant's orders, and sergeant Pinchon never returned to tell about this. And Leo was wondering if having someone who seen so much war as Severin in command was better than having someone who had not seen enough of it. In any case he felt more confident about being in a fight, despite the fact he had still not killed anyone, maybe that's for the best.

I brought back 9 supplies in total, so that was one short. Well there wasn't any chance anyway for Leo to keep the horse, so that's extra 3 supplies. At last the company got a decent meal!

I also check what happened to sergeant Pinchon and Jean-Luc. None had returned.

Finally I count the increasing and decreasing rep: 3 for the successful mission, 2 for 2 POWs. -3 for using star powers, I used those twice, but I am not sure if that means -3 for each use, so I go gentle with myself this time. Roll 2d6 and what do you now, one die comes out with a 6. Leo is now rep5!


Apr 19, 2020

The Peninsula Adventures of a French Dragoon Leo Sole: 1808 autumn - part one

"Why the hell everyone has a horse except me, a dragoon?!" - private Leo Sole
Next few months were spent marching and starving. Leo and everyone around went so thin that the column they were marching in became visibly shorter and a bit narrower despite having the same number of people.

Private Leo was spared from the most of the news about what is happening in the big picture, he was just a private after all. But There were rumors, rumors that could put one on a bloody flogging tripod, but they were spreading anyway. Soldiers were talking about a big French defeat just a few days after the Battle of Medina de Rioseco. The local population got more and more angry and often outright hostile, which made provisions even harder to get. Soldiers were speaking about partisan groups attacking supply caravans. Whatever was the truth, Leo knew that he had no propper meal for a very long time.

One could get used to hunger, Leo was surprised to discover, it numbs you, like being just a bit drunk, all the time. You even stop feeling exhaustion, you just march, sleep, march again. There only pain in a shoulder, from the weight of a musket.

And then, one morning: "Good news, cavaliers, we are going gonna feast tonight!"

But nothing comes easy, the feast they are promised is in a spanish supply wagon, about six miles north. Division's scouts stumbled upon it yesterday late in the night near a local farm. The problem there are also some armed men, because of course there is. So now Leo and his fellow soldiers had to go there and liberate the supplies.

I start the session by checking supplies again. Of course the company is not supplied, so obviously no horses. But before going for a foraging scenario I roll for a seasonal mission: Pillage. I decide that it's a lucky break for Leo, his company just stumbles onto a Spanish supply wagon. And then depending on how it goes maybe I can squeeze another mission in the same season.

A group of ten, lead by sergeant Pinchon, arrived at the destination after a few hours of walk along an empty dusty road. From a far they could see a farmested, and then another one. So which one was the one scouts were telling about?

"Must be this one", Pinchon pointed with his finger, his guess was good as anyone's. And his intuition was correct!

"The wagon is in a courtyard," private Dylan Gaumont returned with good news, he was assigned to the company after the last battle to replace the casualties, a seasoned dragoon who seen some action in Austria, "no civilians in sight, but there are maybe ten armed men, six horses. No colors, but they are wearing army boots."

"Probably deserters", guessed Jordan.

"Even deserters have horses, of course..." muttered Leo.

I roll for the number of PEFs: 2, roll what kind of terrain it is: both are farms with road and surrounding wheat field. Check the first PEF, enemy is present and so is our target! Roll for the type of enemy: Deserters. Number: one more than my party. Deserters can have horses, and I check individually for each man: 6 horses in total.

The group moved forward along a low stone fence, keeping silent, muskets loaded. Severin pointed at a stairway leading to a roof of a flat-roofed building, a perfect position for an ambush, and then rolled his eyes as sergeant jumped out of the cover shouting:


The sudden command caught the frenchmen by a surprise and alerted the deserters. A great job! Six deserters instantly jumped on the horses, others scrambled for cover loading their rifles. But then the whole group, uncertain of what enemy they are facing, decided rather to retreat leaving the wagon behind.

"After them!" commanded sergeant, encouraged by this turn of events.

My side gets an advantage, so I decide that the group managed to sneak close to the enemy without being noticed, but then I lose leadership roll, giving away the first action to the enemy. Not surprising considering the sergeant's rep3.

Enemy use their turn to mouth the six horses, the rest six deserters load the rifles. But then pass 0d6 on Will to Fight roll, so the whole band retreats. Sergeant pass 2d6! So he his eager to fight and commands to follow the enemy.

"Sergeant! We could be running into a trap!" Severin caught up with Pinchon, running through a wheat field, but his advice felt onto deaf ears.

The riders were quickly galloping away, the five deserters left behind seemed to be an easy prey.  "Pity the horses got away." - thought Leo, running and trying to hold his scabbard with the but of the musket to his leg to prevent it from painfully hitting his shin with each second step.

Here I used the chase rules someone posted in the THW forum, resulting in a successful chase, which have me an automatic advantage for the next firefight. 

History: the summer was tough on the Imperial Army in the Peninsula. After a crushing defeat at the Battle of Bailén just two days after the Battle of Medina de Rioseco the French side loses close to 20 000 soldiers and two generals, mostly taken a prisoners of war. The spanish send the prisoners to an uninhabited island where half of them die from starvation. A fate that Leo luckily escapes. 

The defeat not only sent French army on a general retreat behind the Ebro river, even Joseph Bonaparte - Napoleon's brother and newly installed King of Spain had to flee now hostile Madrid. The french defeat proved to the Spanish elite and commoners alike that the invaders french can be defeated, sparking resistance movements everywhere. 

"You may well, General, be proud of this day; it is remarkable because I have never lost a pitched battle until now—I who have been in more than twenty." - french general Dupont
 "It is the more remarkable because I was never in one before in my life." - spanish general Castaños

Apr 14, 2020

The Peninsula Adventures of a French Dragoon Leo Sole: 1808 summer - part two

Are those lemons? -Leo Sole

Sun was still below hills when Leo was woken up and rushed to join a column ready to march.

"See that forest over there, soldiers?" addressed soldiers a lieutenant and Leo squinted trying to see something through the early morning twilight, he could not, "our general Bessières orders us to march there, take our position and hold it until further orders. Now get moving, dragoons, like a cavalry that you are! Tout de suite!"

And the column moved forward down a hill towards orchards surrounding a small town. Are they going to a battle? Leo's stomach was growling and convulsing, it's only hunger, must be hunger.

Orderly files started dissolving as soon as company entered orchards, soldiers maneuvering around trees. And despite drummers and trumpeteers ordered to keep quiet, the shouts of sergeants pierced morning silence.

Leo was looking up the threes as he walked, hoping in vain to find any kind of fruit. when he noticed a flash of yellow. A lemon?

"Spaniards!" his question instantly got answered by several screams. Then everything happened quickly. There was no order to form up or to load muskets, and even if there was one it was drowned in the chaos that erupted when yellow clad cavalrymen crushed into the mass of foot dragoons.

Luckily the trees did not allowed the cavalry to charge at full gallop. And most of the soldiers at least had enough time to draw swords. Leo was completely lost and then he saw a horse, his coat gleaming gold in first rays of morning. Spanish cavalry sergeant mounting palomino horse saw the french soldier gaming at him, pipe in his teeth, Spaniard pointed his straight sword forward and charged in a fast trot. Despite the best Leo's effort the sword bit through the young dragoon's shako, spilling blood, thankfully just a shallow cut. Leo yet managed to catch a glimpse of sergeant Pinchon lying on a ground face covered in blood, and a private Olivier running by, his musket and sword absent. He turned back to face the spaniard preparing for a second attack, and then another horse slammed the frenchman from a flank, kicking him in a head.


"Where em I?" it was hard to focus gaze, everything was spinning.

"That one is good to go!" Denis Dubuisson's - company surgeon's voice ringed.

Half hour later, head still spinning, Leo was standing in a line facing a hastily constructed flogging tripod to which private Olivier was tied. A whip whistled in the ear and Jordan Hachette managed to grab Leo just in time as he was about to pass out.

So that's what war is about. And as Omer, who saw more than one battle, explained the company got lucky. Despite the attack there were surprisingly few casualties, partially thanks to the fact that soft ground and orchard trees did not allowed cavalry to properly charge. It was also lucky that Spanish Line Cavalry decided against chasing the retreating dragoons, and most of the fallen soldiers were recovered soon after. Omer himself dragged Leo to safety. Despite Leo's company's early defeat the day was won by the Imperial army. 

And so went the firs Leo's battle, the Battle of Medina de Rioseco, name of which he only learned later.

History and Rules: the Battle of Medina de Rioseco happened 14th of July 1808. Around 12,550–800 infantry, 950–1,200 cavalry and 32 guns fought on the French side lead by Marshal Jean-Baptiste Bessières. And 21,300–22,000 regulars and militia, 600 cavalry, 20 guns fought on the Spanish side under joint command of a Spanish general Gregorio García de la Cuesta and a general Joaquín Blake. 

Battle of Medina de Rioseco
I did not try to integrate my scenario into the historical battle too much, I just decided that Leo's company got into some kind of failed early maneuver, that did not really affected the outcome of the battle too much. Judging by the map it happened somewhere on the left flank in hopes to outflank the enemy. French had won the battle with relatively low casualties (400–500 dead or wounded vs over 2000 plus most of the guns), but General Blake managed to retreat in good order triggering a chase that lasted almost until the end of the year. I think this has a good potential to become a story arch for the young Leo for the next few seasons. 

The game was a continuation of a horrible rolls streak that started in the Part One with failed supplies. Then I rolled for a scenario and got Seize. Night. 6 PEFs! And then instantly play a Defend scenario! Just terrific! The very first PEF resolved itself as Cavalry, one more than us. Sadly in my rulebook it is not specified what equipment Spanish cavalry has, but with a bit of research I made my own table which got me a result of Line Cavalry, which in case of Spanish seem to be armed with swords only. I also used a small table I stole from another game to generate a type of terrain a battle will take place in: orchards. Not the best place to deploy an infantry line, but not a good place for a cavalry charge either, so I decided that Spanish won't get a cavalry bonus for the Advantage roll.

Regardless, my dice hates me, and the enemy gets advantage, and they get first action. It seems like Leo's company got caught by a surprise, so I decide there aren't enough time to load muskets. Melee commences, cavalry rolls 3d6 against infantry's 2d6. Leo gets charged by REP5 sergeant, and I check whom the extra cavalryman will attack. Off course it's Leo! Roll attacks: 5 frenchmen and 4 spaniards are out of action, not too terrible considering the circumstances. Leo himself uses all his star abilities, that still results him ending Out of Action.

I also use Unit Casualty Test table from other THW games to check if soldiers run away after seeing their comrades next to them fall in battle, after all death is scary even for a soldier. Two soldiers on the French side and one on the Spanish breaks away. So there are 6 spaniards and 3 frenchmen left, not surprisingly two of those are REP5 veterans Jordan Hatchette and Omer Azena, and surprisingly REP3 soldier Jean-Luc Messier. I roll Will to Fight: spanish are just fine, but French side lost more than half soldiers so even with 2d6 passed Jean-Luc Messier retreats. 

My turn, and there is just one smart thing to do, to grab a few wounded and retreat. Jordan grabs his fallen veteran friend and I decide that Omer for some reason took liking to Leo and so he dragged his senseless body out of the battlefield. 

Finally I check if those escaped and left OOA on a battlefield will return, and surprisingly only one escaped soldier does not return, everyone else recovers! End of the scenario. 

I guess this was a good reality check for my character, so from now on he is REP4 but still keeps his Poser attribute, he needs another lesson to get rid of that one. I don't count increasing and decreasing REP for now, but I will start doing this beginning the next session. 

Apr 12, 2020

The Peninsula Adventures of a French Dragoon Leo Sole: 1808 summer - part one

"Marching and foraging, that's all the war is about." - private Leo Sole
Leo he did not even knew where they were, still Spain, sure, because locals were speaking Spanish, but where exactly, the names of towns and villages meant nothing to the frenchman. More than once he was sure that they are just going in circles. 

"That's called maneuvering, soldat! It's up to Riz-Pain-Sel* to decide and up to you to shut your mouth and march!" explained sergeant Pinchon. 

Marching, and eating dust, Leo cast an envious glance at a Caporal-Fourrier** lazily strolling on his pale horse, head high above the cloud of dust. And then his bowels growled loudly.

"Hungry, boy?" the sergeant turned his head.

"Oui, sergent." the company had no proper meal for a good part of a month by now, not counting a cow private Renou shot five days ago. The bouillon even had a few bites of meat in it...

"Then you are the right man for today's task, private", the Caporal-Fourrier interrupted Leos daydreaming, "To find your company something to eat!"

Yes, marching and foraging, that's all the war is about. 

The days catch was a carriage dragged by two women. Carriage full of fresh undyed cloth. Leo knew about cloth, his family traded in those, you could make many useful things out of it, but food was not one of those things. At least a few soldiers could forget their hunger for a moment when sergeant allowed them to frisk the women, the pleasures of soldiers life...

"Wait, I can talk to them!" Leo hears his own voice, "there must be some food where they are going to."

No, there wasn't, or maybe the women lied, but still that was a chivalrous act, chivalrous like the thing a cavalryman does. Leo's belly growled in disagreement. 

"No matter, tomorrow many of you will march off to dine with the devil anyway, would be a waste of food", grimaced the Caporal-Fourrier after sergeant Pichon finished repporing. 

The retort clearly caught attention of the tree veterans.

"You better get some good sleep tonight", one of them - Severin told while inspecting his rifle in the evening. There was something is nis tone. Leo could not sleep the whole night. Must be hunger.

Rules and History: A new season, a new roll to check if company has supplies. And no it does not. So definitely no horse for Leo. And before rolling for scenario I go Foraging. I roll 1 PEF and 0 supplies gained. Which I translate into a scene with the women and the carriage. To keep it from being totally eventless I decided that Leo can try talking to women and with success to generate some extra PEFs, but I pass 0d6 with 3D6, terrific! According the rules I can go foraging as much as I want, but I decide that that can happen behind the scenes, and meanwhile company will go into a next battle poorly fed, which should translate to passing max 1d6 on Will to Fight table. I roll for next scenario, and this time the result is much more interesting!

* Rice, Bread, Salt - officers.
**Supply officer of a company.

Apr 9, 2020

The Peninsula Adventures of a French Dragoon Leo Sole: 1808 spring

"I think they are not too enthusiastic about being liberated from the tyranny of kings". - Leo Sole, 1808 spring

The spring is spent in and around Madrid. Army of 40 000 needs to eat... a lot. So Leo's company spends most of the time obtaining food and other supplies from the local population. Not exactly how Leo imagined war. Still it's better than gallows. Some soldiers seem to be enjoying that though. The locals are told that French are here to bring the end of the tyranny, but many locals don't seem to be grateful, on the contrary, there are more and more reports coming about civilians attacking soldiers. But the army needs to be fed, and orders have to be obeyed, the problem is that those people don't have much left to be confiscated. "Maybe I could slip away, loose my uniform and blend in as local?" Leo catches himself wondering, "And then I would starve...", and he kicks in another door leading into a dimly lit room where dirty peasant woman is is hugging two young girls. 

"Food! Where is it?!" shouts he in Spanish pointing his musket at the woman, "We mean no harm, we have orders..." 

On the first of May Leo's company marches out of Madrid's gates. As soon as city fades out of sight, there is a feeling of relief. "Hopefully we finally are going to face some music*, wherever that might be" thinks Leo. 

"March you footsloggers!" shouts sergeant Baptiste. 

Yeah, no horses still...

Rules and history: First I check if my company is supplied. It is! Then I roll to know what mission I will get: foraging. Not too exciting, but kinda makes sense. I decide that Leo's company is ordered with requisitioning supplies for the huge army stationed within Madrid's walls. The mission itself comes out uneventful: three PEFs, 3 supplies gathered.

"His Majesty may judge from this fact the comparison between their means and our's -we have not 4 day's food in any of our magazines, we have no transport, we cannot draw requisitions from the most wretched village without sending thither a foraging party of 200 strong." - Marshal Marmont

Historically the Dos de Mayo Uprising happened in spring of 1808, but I decide to go with what dice dictate - no battle event rolled, and so Leo leaves Madrid just a day before the events begin. 

 * I've found this site of Napoleonic French army slang, this is why I used the term "to face the music": (

The Peninsula Adventures of a French Dragoon Leo Sole: Intro

And so I decided to start a solo campaign of 95th: Adventuring in the Napoleonic Wars by Two Hour Wargames, (for those unfamiliar with the game you can find free sampler of the rules here). Here you'll find the adventures of Leo Sole - a cavalryman of the French 2nd Dragoons.

So first of all my character!

Name: Leo Sole
Rep: 3
DV: 2
Attributes: Poser, Fluent

Background: Leo was born and grew in Bayonne in a moderately rich burgenous family. Family business seemed to be his future but his temper disrupted those plans suddenly when a random bar argument turned into a knife fight and young Leo had to run or face prison or maybe even gallows. At that time army seemed like a good idea - a place to start a life anew. A pouch of coins, his father gave him, bought Leo a place in a Dragoon regiment. Not a hussar but at the time it seemed like much better prospect than cannon fodder - infantry. Was it a good decision? Only time will show.

Fast forward one year. Joachim Murat leading 40 thousand troops enter Madrid. One of the french soldiers entering the city, exhausted from a long march, clad in a dust covered green dragoon uniform, heavy musket on his shoulder, is our star - Leo Sole.
"So where is my horse?"

-private Leo Sole, 1808, outskirts of Madrid
History and rules: French dragoons struggled with the supply of horses, so I decided that company my character is serving have none, maybe later they get lucky, we will see, the lack of supplies seems to be as real of an enemy as Brits. In any case dragoons are supposed to fight on foot, especially considering that 2nds were equipped with proper muskets that were hard to use from a horseback.

Regarding the rules I decided to start with the lowest possible rep of 3, Leo is not only inexperienced, he is very naive about what war is. but after a first propper battle I plan to increase his rep to 4 regardless of what happens. I also took attributes from FNG books, because 95th has a very short list of those and I wanted to get the game more of a RPG feel. So I rolled one randomly: Poseur - I think this fits my character quite well, he is full of bravado and has no idea what a real battle is. Second one I pick from the list: Fluent. Bayonne is not far from the border of Spain and his family was involved in trade so it only makes sense that Leo was exposed to Spanish language from a young age.

The Company: as per rules I created 10 soldiers to represent Leo's company. There are obviously much more soldiers, but those are the ones who will get spotlight in our story. There are just a few worth mentioning right now: sergeant Baptiste Pinchon as inexperienced as Leo himself (rep 3). I guess the company is freshly formed from new recruits (4 out of 10 are rep 3), but there are three veterans: Severin Baume, Jordan Hachette - a beer of a man, who looks more like a grenadier than a dragoon, and Omer Azena (all rep 5). I think those are what was left of the old company in some messy battle somewhere in Austria. Those three keep to themselves, they know that the kids have a slim chance to survive for long, especially when their life depends on the competence of the sergeant Baptiste.