Wednesday, April 8, 2015

Sturmgeshutz and Sorcery


HOW EFFECTIVE IS A PANZERFAUST AGAINST A TROLL, HEINZ?  by Gary Gygax
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D&D is a game of many facets, and occasionally we cook up a few little surprises for the boys planning to play a "straight" battle. In this case one team was carefully primed for an upcoming WWII miniatures game, while the other team was instructed regarding a fantasy battle to be fought on the tabletop. How could we mix moderns with swords & sorcery? The structure of D&D is such that it easily lends itself to such adaptation, and brief rules will be given at the end of the article. The orders of battle, situation analyses, and objectives given to the opponents were:
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GERMAN SS PATROL
AC w. 20 mm cannon
Hftk w 2 Lt. MG
Hftk w 1 Lt. MG
V W Kubelwagen
1 Hauptmann (SS equivalent), MP
3 Feldwebels (SS equivalent), SMG
3 drivers, MP
1 driver, SMG
3 crew MP
20 men
40 hand grenades
14 Rifles
2 SMG
2 Assault Rifles
2 Pistols
3 Pzfsts.
1 60 mm. mtr. w 20 rounds HE
I Flamethrower
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SITUATION
There has been unusual resistance activity in this area, and in the last few days a squad of Security troops were wiped out in a battle with them. Only one old man, bearded, and with no weapons, was found at the scene of the battle. Front his dress and general appearance it would seem that he was a Russian clergyman - probably there to incite the troops to greater bravery as the Communist commissars hate failed in this respect.
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OBJECTIVE
The hiding place of the guerrillas is probably in a remote and wild area which is accessible only by means of a very old and rough cart track. You must proceed to this area, surround their camp, and wipe them out to a than. The suspected camp site is undoubtedly well-camouflaged, for aerial recon has found only very occasional signs of movement there.
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THE SERVANTS OF THE GATHERER
12th Level EHP with +2 Armor & Shield. Snake Staff
1 Hero (4th Lvl), + 1 A & Sh. + 3 Swd
1 Hero (4th Lvl), + 1 A & Sh. + 1 Spear
1 Magician (6th lvl)
2 Mummies
3 Ogres
3 Ghouls
4 Trolls
19 Orcs
4 with axes
6 with swords
6 with spears
3 with bows (51 regular 9 magic arrows)
1 Insectoid pet of the EH P (equal to Giant Scorpion)
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SITUATION
Your able lieutenants Grustiven the Warlock and the Lama Goocz have failed to return from an exploration of an area of unusual nature ? just west of your castle a thick fog sprang up and has been obscuring vision since then. Dispell Magic failed to affect the area, and your henchmen were ordered to investigate, for it is possible that some Lawful enemy is at work, using the mist to screen gathering troops. Unfortunately, your strongest fighters and 200 orcs are elsewhere warring with a Neutral Lord who insulted you, so you will have to make do with the forces on hand. An orc detailed to patrol the edge of the fog area has just reported that unusual sounds have been issuing from the area - he described them as: "low growls, the clanking of chains, and a deep humming," but who can trust a stupid orc?
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OBJECTIVE
Considering the state your forces are currently in, it is up to you what the best course to follow is. You can attempt to ambush the enemy before they reach your stronghold, or you can hole up in your castle and prepare to withstand a siege, but if the attackers are strong and not molested until they reach the castle walls, your forces might not be able to prevent an escalade, and you cannot lose your castle!
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Light played an important part in setting up this action. The first turn of movement was done on paper by both sides, for the referee stated it was still dark. Two ten minute moves during false dawn were likewise conducted. During this phase the Germans penetrated the screen of mist, and orc scouts were sent out by the Servants’. There were three maps used for preparation and preliminary moves, the players having incomplete ones, the referee having the correct one. The maps are shown below:
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The SS patrol had moved westwards parallel to the woods (and misty area) at the south end of the area. There was one 'track and a few men near the road to radio information to the advancing body in case "partisans" should appear from the trees. As the main group passed through the mist radio communications were suddenly lost. Then they were through the fog, the stream was crossed, and careful observations were made on the two astounding features which shouldn't be there! The boulders weren't shown on the headquarters map of the area, nor was an in tact castle! HALTE! came the command from the Hauptmann. The armored car 'track, and VW formed a lager. Time to reassess plans? 'The glasses revealed yellowish faces of unusual ugliness peering at the patrol from the nearby patch of rocks, and in the other too! And what was that tall shape in the far distance striding into the mists. At this moment the orcs broke cover, hoping to continue their luck; after all they had not yet been fired upon. Six automatic weapons opened up and cut the lot to bits.
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This was intolerable to the EHP, and he visited a swarm of insects upon the offending Germans. The insects nearly drove the soldiers mad, and in haste they tried their best to drive them away using smoke. That and the wind relieved the situation, but only momentarily. Before the patrol could move their vehicles a man in a pointed hat and long gown appeared amongst the boulders farthest from the Germans, pointed his finger, and a great explosion ripped the VW to shreds, also destroying several of the tires on the AC. Stunned, the troopers returned fire too late to do other than wound this new enemy. Men piled into the halftrack and made haste to go somewhere - anywhere. Al this point an even closer approach to the castle seemed advisable. As the vehicle drew near the walls a rain of arrows seemed to pour upon the 'track, but the men plying the bows upon the walls were meat on the table for MG 34's, and both fell dead with a few bursts. The Germans made a complete circuit of the fortress, lobbing a few mortar shells into the place once they attained the dirt road to the east of it. More insects swarmed upon them from skies which had but moments before been clear. Time to move on again quickly, for the distraction had allowed their fellows with the AC to replace the damaged tires. They could be seen climbing back into the car and it was time to withdraw before taking worse losses.
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As the halftrack roared down the road away from the castle the AC began to cross the intervening terrain to join them. Suddenly a bright flash of light (a phantasmal fireball) burst before the carrier, and the driver thought himself blinded. Luckily his co-driver slowed the vehicle sufficiently, so that it simply rolled off the road and came up against the clump of trees to the northeast of the bridge with a slight jar. The passengers were not dazed - they could see the great troll and three ghastly greenish ghouls rush forth upon them from the monsters' brushy lurking place. Near panic, the SS men blazed away with their weapons. Bullets smacked into the ghouls, and one dropped, but the other two clambered into the halftrack. The troll was also nearly into the vehicle when a desperate soldier fired point blank with his Panzerfaust; the projectile took the creature full in the chest, exploded, and sent burning chunks of troll in all directions. While this was hap pening still another monster attacked - a giant insect-like creature which somewhat resembled an impossibly large scorpion. It clambered up the front of the 'track, and from this position began attacking the men in the rear of the vehicle.
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All was chaos there. The SS troopers were fighting a melee with the two ghouls, and had not one of them been particularly alert the scorpion?like monster would have wiped them out. A burst of fire from a machine pistol ? the driver had finally recovered his vision ? finished the thing. Only four Germans remained in the rear of the vehicle when the driver backed out of the trees and sent the halftrack back towards the safety of the everyday world of the Eastern Front. The armored car was awaiting them, its weapon trained down the path to cover their companions from any further attack of the nature just undergone. Nobody would believe it, had not the halftrack carried the remains of a ghoul as well as the insectoid creature draped over its hood!
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Above flew an invisible magic-user, and he quickly put an end to the escape attempt of the halftrack. A sleep spell caused the driver to lose control of the vehicle, and it crashed. The occupants of the armored car knew something was wrong, but they did not know what ? nor where to look. The magician was in clear view overhead, but no soldier looked up and his next sleep spell told for the AC as well. The remaining 'track waited a short time and then hastened back to headquarters. What had happened? They could not say for certain, but what little they had observed was too fantastic for belief. The survivors of the foray were sent to rest camps, adjudged as suffering from battle fatigue.
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Game Analysis:  
The transition from dunking in terms of WWII tactics to fantasy is difficult, while the modern enemies of the fantasy force were not all that different from any other opponents as far as tactics were concerned - that is to say they were not in the battle reported. However, if the SS were given a rematch it could be a far different story, for the long range potential and the rapid fire ability of the small arms would surely take a terrible toll. Magic and melee would generally weigh heavily against the Germans (or any similar soldiers from the modern period), but the match would be a near thing. While it would take something like radar to spot invisible opponents, the large caliber weapons would be irresistible most of the time. In this case there was no doubt that the Servants of the Gatherer won handily.

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