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Wednesday, February 27, 2019

IHMN: The War of the Witches Season Three

The War of the Witches is a series of adventures that take place in the fictional Victorian Universe of the the late 19th Century using the versatile rules In Her Majesty's Name. In Season Three, Sherlock Holmes starts to contact heroes and legends as the evil forces seemed to have paused in their plans.

Season 3. Episode 301: The Lord of the Apes.

John Clayton, Viscount Greystoke, better known as Tarzan of the Apes, raised in the African jungle by the Mangani great apes is greatly feared and admired throughout the world in the late 19th century. As a young adult, Tarzan meets a young American woman, Jane Porter. When Jane returns to the United States, Tarzan leaves the jungle in search of her, his one true love. After many adventures Tarzan and Jane marry and move back and forth between England and Africa. Tarzan becomes contemptuous of what he sees as the hypocrisy of civilization, and he and Jane return to Africa, making their home on an extensive estate that becomes a base for Tarzan's adventures.

  Chief Busuli of the Waziri, Jane Porter and Lieutenant D'Arnot.

Tarzan has become increasingly concerned of the rumors that have reached his home, particularly regarding the lost City of Opar. Various countries have increased the forces in and around his estate and he has ordered that all forces of the Witch King of Sokar to be attacked without warning. If the Witch King is spotted, Lord Greystoke will deal with him personally.

 Season 3. Episode 302: Going for the Gold in Opar!

One entrance into the Lost City of Opar

Chinese mystics have led General Ranglan and his Imperial Chinese Army to the lost City of Opar in deepest, darkest Africa. Ranglan, ever the practical man, is simply in search of gold to finance his operations to support the Empress Dowager and to line his own pocket - not to mention to help in his quest to destroy Mr. Sherlock Holmes. Engineer Yang Wei, inventor of the portable Chinese arc generator and rifle navigates the force successfully to the city, unaware that there are booby traps every where in the ancient ruins.

 General Raglan's Imperial Chinese Army that just happened to be in deepest, darkest Africa.

Unbeknownst to Raglan, the Gordan Highlanders were camped nearby and an epic encounter played out in Opar . . . and it did not end until the Lord of the Apes arrived.

The Gordons were to much for Raglans's forces, as was a huge, seemingly invincible snake that attacked who always attacked the nearest figure, and with the arrival of Tarzan, he beat a hasty retreat with only some of the gold he needed.

The Lord of the Jungle easily dispatches the Chinese soldier.

One complication that puzzled Tarzan . . . a snake of a variety he had never seen before. And when the snake was killed by his beloved Jane, it simply disappeared.

Jane nails the snake with a well placed shot

 Season 3. Episode 304: Astragard.

Since the discovery of the uncharted island name Astragard by the French dirigible Hyperion, the lost Viking civilization that has been cut off from the rest of the world for centuries is now making an impact at the end of the 19th Century.

 Don't let their use of "primitive" weapons fool you

Erik Niallson is one of the most imposing and ferocious of Viking leaders - he towers over ordinary men and has an intimidating stare that many in Astragard will swear are the "Eyes of Odin."  His constant companion is his wolf Fenrir who is officially classified as a War Poodle.  He believes he is destined to fight Surtr, the bringer of Ragnarök. Could this be the Witch King of Sokar?

Erik Niallson and Fenrir

 Season 3. Episode 305: The Hidden Kingdom of Natagala.

In a flashback it is told how in 1890 the famous Professor George Nightengale accidentally discovered the Hidden Kingdom of Natagala.  Our hero journeyed up to the big curve in the Merowe river that flowed out of Batal Colony and then west into the Great Desert, where he eventually found a rich, primitive culture in a hidden valley on the other side of the Great Desert; the Kingdom of Natagala. Professor Nightengale theorizes that the Natagala are related ethnically to the Matabele and Zulus.

 The meeting of Professor Nightengale and King Mehluli.

With war having broken out in Chaimbelastan and unrest in neighboring Batal Colony, it is unknown what impact the Natagala Kingdom may have on current events. Though long isolated, they are a vibrant and rich kingdom that is starting to adopt and use modern technology.  The backbone of the kingdom are it's fierce and formidable warriors - and the occasional witch doctor doesn't hurt either. And the Natagala have a legend of the creeping horror brought about by a diabolical other wordly creature.

Natagala warband on the move.

Season 3. Episode 306: Inspector Stanley Hopkins.

Inspector Stanley Hopkins is a Scotland Yard detective and a student of Holmes's deductive methods, who attempts to apply them in his own investigations. A promising detective, in whose career Holmes had several times shown a very practical interest. He is the youngest inspector in the Yard and often is assigned what appear to be mundane and investigations that may be the figment of other's imagination.

"Not what I was expecting on a routine robbery investigation."

Nothing could be further from the truth.  Though inexperienced as an inspector, his mentoring by Sherlock Holmes and his unmatched bravery for Queen and Country have made him a rising star; however, others would like to see him fail.  After the killing of the saw call the Mummy of North Piddle (The files disappeared) he has recently be reassigned on "extended" service in the small parish of North Piddle in the Wychavon district of Worcestershire, England.

Season 3. Episode 307: Allan Quatermain.

 Quatermain and Umslopogaas.

Allan Quatermain is an English-born professional big game hunter and occasional trader in southern Africa, who supports colonial efforts to spread civilization in the Dark Continent, though he also favours native Africans having a say in their affairs. An outdoorsman who finds English cities and climate unbearable, he prefers to spend most of his life in Africa, where he grew up under the care of his widower father, a Christian missionary.

 Quartermain's good friend Captain John Good

Physically, he is small, wiry, and unattractive, with a beard and short hair that sticks up. His one skill is his marksmanship, where he has no equal. Quatermain is aware that as a professional hunter, he has helped to destroy his beloved wild free places of Africa.

"If you can't do it with one bullet, don't do it at all."

Quatermain has recently been disturbed by dreams that hint at"The-thing-that-should-never-have-been-born" and the "Opener-of-Roads." Quatermain has also encountered Ayesha, "She Who Must be Obeyed" and is wondering if she is still alive and if there is some connection. Quartermain is contacted by Mycroft Holmes about a "vague" threat to the empire but Quartermain refuses to leave Africa.

Next: Season 4 - Open War

Monday, February 25, 2019

IHMN: The War of the Witches Season Two

The War of the Witches is a series of adventures that take place in the fictional Victorian Universe of the the late 19th Century using the versatile rules In Her Majesty's Name. In Season Two, Sherlock Holmes starts to deduce that there may be more than meets the normal realm of human speculation. Other nations and factions start to move; or are they being manipulated by unseen forces both human and alien?

Season 2. Episode 201: The Long Arm of the Law.
Rumors start to abound at the upper reaches of the government and with "those" in the know during troubled times among the major powers. Mysterious happenings and sightings of strange creatures disturb the good folk of the countryside. Mr. Sherlock Holmes is convinced based of nefarious powers and villains seeking to disrupt the very foundations of the Empire. His brother Mycroft is not revealing information under the Official Secrets act to Sherlock. Holmes is frustrated with the "go it alone and act before thinking" of Teddy Roosevelt. The world's greatest consulting detective and his able companion the doctor have their hand's full but are able to convince the Metropolitan Police commissioner of the most famous police force in the world, Scotland Yard that something is amiss.  Holmes and Watson travel to North Piddle and consult with the Caretaker of the British Museum Annex located in North Piddle.

 Sherlock Holmes and Doctor Watson visit North Piddle.

Gulwalgiya Ronglu is a Manchu statesman and general of the Chinese Imperial Army. Born into the powerful Gulwalgiya clan of the Plain White Banner in the Eight Banners, he is also a cousin to the the Empress Dowager Cixi. He has served in a number of important positions in the Imperial Court and was most recently the commander in charge of military security of the Forbidden City.

 General Raglan (Westernized name) and Yeti

He is particulary concerned about the increase of unexplained phenomenon and holds the Western powers in upmost suspicion.  General Ronglu has begun to build the first modern infantry military force of the Manchu Empire. As a favorite of the Dowager Empress, he has access to modern technology and other "exotic" resources. Ronglu is not sympathetic toward the Boxers as he feels it is not time to move against the Western Powers. He is not on good relations with the leader of the Black Dragon Tong, the Dragon Lady, but cooperates with her so as not to antagonize the Dowager Empress. Though appearing to be "hefty" Ronglu is a master of armed and unarmed combat and is dedicated to free China from the influences of the foreign devils.

Season 2. Episode 203: Wee Willie Winkie and the "Lake Roopkund Incident".

Coira Armstrong is the daughter of Colonel Dugald Armstrong, VC, DSO, and she accompanied her father to a remote military outpost on the northern frontier of India where she was instrumental in putting down the rebellion of the notorious Khoda Khan.

Smuggled photo supposedly showing an incident near Lake Roopkund.

She was a member of an expedition to the Himalaya's toward Lake Roopkund when something happened.  The Official Secret Acts has redacted all information on the so-called Lake Roopkund Incident and government officials deny any knowledge of an expedition.

Season 2. Episode 204: North Piddle.

The village of North Piddle is a small civil parish in the Wychavon district of Worcestershire, England.  North Piddle was named after Piddle Brook, on which it stands, and has approximately 200 inhabitants. On December 17, 1890 there was an earthquake in the region that "exceeded in violence any previous instance of seismic energy there within the present century".  The earthquake was preceded by a loud roar "as of thunder" or "a rushing mighty wind", and residents whose windows were facing north saw a "great light", which some attributed to a large meteor. The meteorite was carefully analyzed by both British and French authorities and they concluded that an extraterrestrial origin was likely.

The ruins of the the ancestral home of the Nightengale Family near North Piddle

The outskirts of North Piddle

Season 2. Episode 204:  . . . Meanwhile in North Piddle

"What the . . . ?"  Yi Niu, greatest swords woman of China, discovers a strange structure as she races ahead as the vanguard of General Raglan's company.

The secret war has come to North Piddle. The Witch King is looking for the lost shield of Perseus while General Raglan is seeking a high efficiency electro-magnetic coil - both of which are located within the ruined Nightengale manor near the village of North Piddle. 

Yi Niu, greatest swords woman of China, successfully recovers the electro-magnetic coil while the Witch King is stopped in his attempts by a mysterious mummy protecting the manner and chooses neither side.

The Mummy

General Raglan and The Witch King have one of the famous sword fights of the century.  Raglan was surrounded, slew many of the Witch King's troglodytes but was felled by a sword  most foul and cursed and was rushed from the battlefield to heal.

Season 2. Episode 205: The British Museum Annex in North Piddle

The British Museum Annex near North Piddle

Having recovered from his encounter with the Witch King, General Ranglu has decided to kidnap the mysterious Caretaker of the British Museum Annex since he is a Doctor and nobody knows Who he is.  In addition the ancient scroll of Tie Sung is in the annex stolen by the British Imperialists.  Mr. Sherlock Holmes, aware of the plot, contacts Teddy Roosevelt to gather a force while Holmes gathers the forces of Scotland Yard.

Roosevelt and Friends

 Halt in the name of Queen and Country!

As the battle raged in the Annex, the Chinese capture the Caretaker and two new elements, a young woman fleeing to a mysterious blue box and the mummy from the Nightengale manor.  The loyal constables (red shirts) give their lives in protecting the young woman from the mummy and Holmes and Watson prevent the theft of the scroll of Tie Sung. Roosevelt and friends are unable to prevent the kidnapping of the Caretaker.

All fall under the wrath of the mysterious mummy as a young woman rushes toward the big blue box with a light on top. 

Holmes becomes frustrated with Roosevelt and they have a falling out and the great consulting detective starts to experiment with drugs again much to the alarm of his friend Dr. Watson.

Season 2. Episode 206: Colonel Dugald Armstrong, VC, DSO.

 Colonel Armstrong and his daughter Coira.

Mycroft Holmes puts Colonel Dugald Armstrong in charge of coordinating Imperial Forces for as a yet undisclosed campaign. olonel Dugald Armstrong, VC, DSO is the father of Coira Armstrong, adventuress and all around good gal who seems to always be in the wrong place at the right time.  Colonel Armstrong has served long and loyally in India and the surrounding area always at the tip of the spear where the British Empire needs him most.  An infantry soldier by profession he has served in numerous British and Indian regiments including the Gordon Highlanders, the Seaforth Highlanders, The Iron Duke's Own Rifles,  the 14th Sikhs and the 15th Sikhs.  Mycroft has put him  currently on "shooting" leave after putting down the rebellion of the notorious Khoda Khan but has been spotted in the area of the Punjab.  Russian and Chinese sources believe that he is preparing for an expedition to Chitral.

  Colonel Armstrong, Coira and Ranjit Singh on the left accompanied by men of the 14th Sikhs.

Season 2. Episode 207: Bydand!

Under orders from Colonel Armstrong, the 1st Battalion, Gordan Highlanders are transferred to Africa for an unknown operation.  Rumor has it the Gordan's faced an unique, terrifying horror during the redacted so called "Lake Roopkund incident" are the men needed for a mission for Queen and Country.

 Next: Season Three as pieces start to be put together

Friday, February 22, 2019

IHMN: The War of the Witches Season One

The War of the Witches is a series of adventures that take place in the fictional Victorian Universe of the the late 19th Century using the versatile rules In Her Majesty's Name. Heroes like Sherlock Holmes, Teddy Roosevelt, Allen Quartermain and Lord Greystoke battle the evil that is rising from the appearance of the Witch King of Sokar, The Wicked Witch of the West and Omar the Magnificent. 

Season 1. Episode 101 (Pilot): Teddy Roosevelt Embarks on a Safari
Theodore Roosevelt, some friends, some guides, and a handful of men-at-arms, began a hunting safari deep into central Africa on March 6, 1885, traveling by land for many days until they reached uncharted savannas and little-known jungles. Unbeknownst to them, however, they were walking right into the den of an otherworldly monstrosity. Loosely translated from local tongues, it was called the Crawling Chaos, but Roosevelt’s later research would uncover the elder being’s true name - Nyarlathotep.

Finally deciding to leave Africa, Roosevelt and the remains of his party headed back the way they came, only to encounter the Nyarlathotep themselves. Blasting it several times with his Winchester had little effect, but a quick shot from his elephant gun knocked Roosevelt’s adversary backwards. It then morphed into a tentacled terror, taking out the rest of the party, and psychically assaulting our lone hero. It was only after Roosevelt had expended his final round that an unknown man, seemingly from nowhere, arrived to his aid. Introducing himself as Randolph Carter, the man formed an arcane symbol on the ground with a foul-smelling powder. Using Roosevelt’s lighter to ignite the powder, Carter successfully dispatched Nyarlathotep - at least temporarily.

 Randolph Carter

Carter explained that he was of the Eternal Order of Perseus, the custodians and ultimate guardians of the world’s oldest secrets and mysteries, who have guarded Earth against the powers of Evil since the days of ancient Greece. Carter invited Roosevelt to join the Order, a call to action Roosevelt could not refuse.

Season 1. Episode 102: Teddy Roosevelt and the Witch King of Sokar.

  The Jewel of Chance lies lost amongst the ancient Roman ruins.

 From the personal journal of T.R.: 

"Bully. Far better it is to dare mighty things, to win glorious triumphs, even though checkered by failure, than to take rank with those poor spirits who neither enjoy much nor suffer much, because they live in the gray twilight that knows neither victory nor defeat. When I was approached by young Sawyer for help and told of the nefarious designs Dr. Theodore Nemor (I am ashamed that the cad has the same name as myself) had upon the Jewel of Chance I remarked,“Whenever you are asked if you can do a job, tell 'em, 'Certainly I can!' Then get busy and find out how to do it.” After many trials, and with the assistance of Lord Greystoke, we stumbled upon the lost Roman army outpost of Castellum Dimmidi in deepest Africa.  Since I put myself in the way of things happening it was no surprise that there were other evil forces intent on stopping us . . . "

 The Witch King of Sokar

Roosevelt, fearing no man or task, is not a fool either and enlists the help of his old friend Lord Greystoke. Accompanying the small company is Lady Rachel Hughes (the famous adventuress and socialite), Professor Arthur Nightingale (inventor of the world famous Diplograph), ex-legionnaire officer Pierre Jean Alban and two of his Baluchi companions from his service in India.

Though unsuccessful in stopping the Witch King from acquiring the Jewel of Chance, the heroes did stop him (it?) from getting an ancient Roman shield and Dragon banner.  Roosevelt realizes that the Witch King is too powerful to take on alone (and with his encounter with Carter still fresh in his mind) contacts a Consulting Detective in London, England.

Season 1. Episode 103: The Disintegration Machine.

When Roosevelt and Sawyer visit London, Special Agent Tom Sawyer requests Mr. Sherlock Holmes accompany him to inspect the discovery of Dr. Theodore Nemor, who claims to have invented a machine capable of disintegrating objects. Skeptical of the invention, Holmes accepts Sawyer's proposal and accompanies him to the house of Nemor.

 The Napoleon of Crime

Upon arrival, it is discovered that the Napoleon of Crime, Professor James Moriarty is secretly meeting with Nemor about his invention. Nemor boasts to Moriarty that in the hands of the Russians, who are currently the highest bidder for the rights to the invention, London and its millions of inhabitants could be destroyed.

 The Nefarious Plot is stopped just in time!

Next: Season Two

Tuesday, February 19, 2019

IHMN: How The War of the Witches Came About, Part 2

On the 20th of May, 2013, In Her Majesty's Name was published by Osprey Games.  I had previously picked up a copy of Osprey's Dux Bellorum, and being a fan of the Osprey format, I purchased an electronic version of In Her Majesty's Name since I was traveling on business and it would give me a chance to read the rules.

I was hooked and it did not take me long to by the print version, find the website, etc.  The question for me, as a low cost wargamer, where to get the figures.  The figure box sets by North Star are beautiful, but at the time, I did not want to spend the money on established companies yet as I had some ideas of my own.  Hanging around the hobby room was a menagerie of figures I had collected mainly because I liked them - they were not for any particular game.

 Some of the figures I had left lying around, 2 from Space: 1889 and the Mad Hatter from Wargames Foundry.

I still had some leftover Ral Partha figures from Space:1889 and some African Explorers (loved the figure that looked like Teddy Roosevelt), Sherlock Holmes and Dr. Watson from Wargames Foundry and the odd colonial figure hanging out.

Holmes and Watson from The Hound of the Baskervilles.

So we had some figures that we could use as "good guys" without any expense, but what about the badguys?  Honorable Son #5 (The Skirmisher) suggested, "why don't you fight a sub-human species in Africa?  We could use the Lord of the Ring figures."  And thus the Witch King of Sokur was born on June 10th, 2015.  We did a test game "The Adventure of the Jewel of Chance" to work out the company lists and then we were all ready to go at it.
Picture from play test and the original caption: The creature is faster than at first thought and knocks a tree down injury Professor Nightingale!  And what is that new sound coming from behind the obelisk . . .  

Our first official game was Teddy Roosevelt and the Witch King of Sokur Part 1 and Part 2. Though technically a loss for the Witch King by points, the good guys were pretty beat up and the Witch King did get the jewel of chance which allowed him to re-roll a pluck roll once per game.

Go ahead, make my day.

It was from this first game that the personalities of the figures and a possible narrative for our games started.  Don't even get me started how evil Honorable Son #5 (The Skirmisher) made the Witch King. But it was fun watching the "personality of the figures" come out - the brilliant but inept Professor Nightengale (who accidentally killed two enemy Troglodytes), the brave Special Agent Thomas Sawyer, Teddy Roosevelt who had a TR quote ready every turn (never, never underestimate the use of a good quote!) and of course Tarzan, Lord of the Jungle.
Lord Greystoke's Company.

Over the years other bad guys and good guys were added - but the Witch King was always the big bad meanie on the block.  Soon there was General Ronglu and his Imperial Chinese Army, Professor Moriarty and blood thirsty cannibals.  

  "Eating people is wrong!" exclaimed Theodore Roosevelt as he takes aim at the dangerous cannibals of Niam-Niam.

Most of the adventures take place either in deepest, darkest Africa, the lost city of Opar or near the town of North Piddle England.  

 The British Museum Annex in North Piddle.

The Lost City of Opar

Many of my friends have joined in on the fun: Tom (The best Tie Fighter pilot in the Galaxy) always plays General Ronglu and his Imperial Chinese; Damon (The best fisherman in the State of Alabama) loves to play the British Army - especially Highlanders; Michael (Game Designer Extraordinaire) will play anyone and anything - and laugh about it.  In fact this trio is keeping track of who has the most blunders in a game and so far Tom has had more bayonets fall off, guns jam, explosions fail to go off than is humanly possible.  Or is it the Witch King?

Michael (Game Designer Extraordinaire) and Damon (The best fisherman in the State of Alabama)

The Gordon Highlanders fight the Imperial Chinese in the Lost City of Opar.

Slowly a gaming narrative took place and always in the background was the Witch King, manipulating events for his own nefarious plans.  And then Sherlock Holmes figured it out - a war was coming and no one was ready for the evil that was to be unleashed.  And with the appearance of the Tesla Gates, Professor James Moriarty, The Wicked Witch of the West (WWW), Disintegration Rays, and indescribable creatures, Holmes knew that time was running out - and it was now 1895.

 Take special care of those ruby slippers - I want those most of all. Now fly! Fly!" 

Next: The Season Guide to what has happened so far in "The War of the Witches"