Thursday, July 26, 2012

76 Patrons contest at Zhodani Base

BeRKA over at the Zhodani Base site is holding a contest for the best "76 Patrons" style adventure outline. The rules are here http://zho.berka.com/2012/07/01/the-zhodani-base-76-patrons-writing-contest-2012/: and this is my first entry.

76 Patrons Writing contest

Sparkly Hoozits

Patron: Businessperson

Location: any
Skills required: Liaison, Streetwise, Thief skills

Job: The patron recently bought a rare Sparkly Hoozit. It cost a lot, and the patron barely out-bid a local underworld boss and fellow collector of Hoozits. The Hoozit was even more recently stolen, and the patron has reason to believe that the gangster was responsible. The Hoozit requires special care, so there’s only a few places the gangster could have hidden it. The problem is that the patron bought it at an illegal hot property auction, so he can't file charges with the police, and wants to keep this quiet. The patron wants the PC's to act as go-betweens, to negotiate the return of the Hoozit. The PCs should have no trouble in locating the gangster, and little trouble in determining where the Hoozit is being kept.

Complication: After the first meeting with the gangster, but before a deal is made, the Hoozit vanishes. The gangster accuses the patron of a double-cross, the patron accuses the gangster of a further swindle to drive up the price, and by all accounts, there may be a criminal war erupting any day. The patron turns out to have access to armed enforcers. On the chance that the gangster is telling the truth, the patron wants the PC's to find out what really happened and where the Hoozit is now, and get it back.
     The six options are listed below, but in white text to hide them. Click and drag to highlight the possible ways this scenario could play out.

Options:
1 The gangster is faking, and will offer to sell it back at a greatly inflated price.
2 One of the gangster's people stole it so he can sell it himself.
3 One of the gangster's people stole it, to goad the patron into 'removing' his superior.
4 The previous owner of the Hoozit has stolen it back, and plans to leave the planet with it.
5 Unrelated thieves have stolen the Hoozit, and are unaware of the trouble they have started.
6 The patron is trying a double-cross and instigated the war to eliminate the gangster (reason left to the referee)

Monday, July 2, 2012

Memory Eternal Fr. Peter Gillquist

     I learned when I arrived at work this morning that Fr. Peter E. Gillquist, Sr. fell asleep in the Lord last night after a long battle with melanoma. He was until his retirement the priest of
All Saints Orthodox Church in Bloomington, Indiana. Fr. Peter was part of Campus Crusade for Christ back in the '70s and '80s until he and a group of ministers began a serious search for authentic first century Christianity, and discovered that it still existed to this day, in the Orthodox Church. In 1987 he and several thousand people in the United States all came home to Orthodoxy together, and ever since, Fr Peter was  a tireless evangelist for the Faith.  I met Fr. Peter personally several times since my own journey to Orthodoxy. He spoke several times at the Saint Stephens Course in Orthodox Theology, held at the Antiochian Village Camp & Conference Center. He also came to our parish and spoke to a gathering of Orthodox Christians from around the area about evangelism. Some friends of mine in our parish first visited because of Fr. Peter.  One time when we were speaking, I asked him what kind of music he enjoyed listening to, and he introduced me to the 1950's vocal jazz group The Four Freshmen. I've enjoyed the 4F ever since.
     Fr. Peter was attended by family and friends, and went to be with the Lord he loved in peace. May his memory be eternal!

A video of Fr. Peter talking about Finding the New Testament Church

Sunday, July 1, 2012

Gaming Report - Antietam

     My older son and I have once again taken the plunge into a tabletop wargame. This time the subject is the Battle of Antietam, (Sept 14, 1862). The game is part of SPI's Blue & Gray set (1975); SPI was James Dunnigan's game company. This was the battle where Union General George McClellan squandered an opportunity to deal a decisive blow to General Robert E. Lee's Army of Northern Virginia. Some have argued that if Lee had been crushed here, the War Between the States might have come to an end in 1862. I don't know about that, but I've been interested in this battle for several years, after visiting the battlefield in Sharpsburg, MD, and discovering that my side of the family has an ancestor who fought in this battle, Benjamin F. Jamison, of the 125th PA Regiment (1Bde, 1Div, 12th Corps).  When I covered this battle in my military history class last year, I used this book from the Army Center of Military History: Antietam Staff Ride.
    My son elected to play the Confederacy, which is the less complicated side to play. All the Confederates have to do is survive and be able to exit the map via ferry over the Potomac by the last turn. The Union's task is to capture/eliminate as many Confederates as possible and secondarily to capture Sharpsburg. The Union has one big limitation, though. To model McClellan's indecisiveness, the Union side can move only 10 units per turn, while the Confederates have no restriction. 
     Five turns into the game, and very little of significance has happened. The Confederates have retreated and massed around Sharpsburg, they have units protecting the ferry and are maintaining a decent perimeter. The Union forces, such as I can get to move, are across Antietam creek, but so far have had no luck in getting past the Confederates to cut off their retreat. I am in position to get troops into Sharpsburg; possession of the town is a major victory point consideration. The Confederates managed to isolate, surround and destroy two Union brigades, pinning them against the Potomac upstream from the ferry. 
     The last half of the game proved to be much more exciting.  The Union forces momentarily broke the South's hold on Sharpsburg but lost it on the next turn; the Confederate counterattack was costly to them, but effective. Then on the following turn, a small Union force cut off the bulk of Lee's army from the ferry with a picket line of units. On the last turn of the game Confederate forces launched a costly assault on the western end of the picket, which succeeded in turning the Union flank, and were able to break through to re-open the line of retreat to the ferry. With the setting of the sun, the Union forces were ordered to hold in place, and watched in frustration as nearly all of Lee's force marched away to safety on the far side of the Potomac. 
     I haven't studied the battle sufficiently to really venture an opinion in print as to whether another Union commander would have been more successful, say Meade for example. In the game, though, the movement restriction on the Union forces meant that over half of my forces spent the battle sitting on their setup hex, never getting orders to advance. There were maybe 20 brigades out of the over 40 on the field that did all the fighting. Simply infuriating to see opportunities open up that I couldn't exploit simply because I didn't have enough units to move into the area. 
     In the final analysis, while I picked off over a dozen Confederate units while losing only four myself, the accomplishment of his two objectives meant that my son won a substantive victory. Next we're going to try Chicamauga, and see how that plays out. A good game, over all.