Quill – Shadow and Ink (finale)

[This post contains spoilers. Please read after you have played Quill: Shadow and Ink]

The painter Alexander Rinaldi lives at the outskirts of the Sycamore Wood. He has found in the wood the body of his friend the detective Charlie Robertson: his friend had been troubled since finding an ancient book on the scene of a double suicide. Alexander investigates the area and observes a disturbing ritual performed by a number of fanatics whose skin is covered with horrible scars. He decides to inform t the New England Journal.

[Artist – Penmanship: Good, Language: Poor, Heart: Average – Inspiration: Language +1 die once]

Dear Sirs,
I am sure you have already been informed of the tragic death of my friend the DETECTIVE Charlie Robertson. [+ 2 Language, Penmanship: passed]
On the basis of the things he told me a few days ago, I decided to SNOOP around to understand more of his death. [+1 Penmanship: passed, Language: failed even using the Inspiration die]
I now know the death of my friend is related to a cult led by a LANKY GIANT. [+2 Language, Penmanship: passed]
His followers can be easily recognized by the FLESH CARVINGS that disfigure them. [+2 Language, Penmanship]
I have seen them WRITHING in the Sycamore Woods. It is necessary to inform all citizens of what is happening. [+1 Language: passed, Penmanship: failed]

Totatl: 8. +1 Story Point – Total Story Points: 4

Oswald Wenn is a biologist, a good friend of Alexander Rinaldi.
He goes visiting Alexander but finds the house empty and a trail of blood leading to the woods. He follows the trail and finds about twenty people writhing on the ground, heavily wounded while some monstrous beings feed on their flesh.
Oswald goes back to his hotel room and starts writing, hoping to convince himself that he hasn’t seen what he thinks he has seen.

[Scientist – Penmanship: Poor, Language: Average, Heart: Good – Inspiration: Language +1 die once]

I am a scientist and a PRAGMATIC man. [+1 Heart, Language: failed, Penmanship: passed]
If I recover my usual rational state, I will EASILY DISSIPATE the hallucinations I think I have seen. [+2 Heart, Language: passed, Penmanship: failed]
It is obvious that such MONSTERS cannot really exist. [+1 Heart, Language: failed, Penmanship: passed]
I am being tricked by the IMAGINATION of tired man. [+1 Language:passed, Heart, Penmanship: failed]

Total.5 +1 Story Point. Final Story Point total: 5

I have concluded the game with the absolute minimum of the possible Story Points. This means that the next day poor Oswald will be himself a victim of the creatures he hoped he had only imagined!



Quill – Shadow and Ink (2 and 3)

[This post contains spoilers. Please read after you have played Quill: Shadow and Ink

France, 1903. Virgil Dubois, a Historian, has recently inherited the mysterious Vir Stellas manuscript. When going to Arkham, New England, to visit a friend, he takes the manuscript with him. He manages to decrypt part of the book and understand that it describes incantations that could grant access to a different world. He writes to his friend Jemima Carter, versed in the occult arts, asking her to join him and help him perform the rituals described in the book.
[Penmanship: Good, Language: Average, Heart: Poor – Inspiration: +1 Language. Virgil sets out to use his most persuasive language: first Language roll automatically succeeds].

Dear Jemima,
I have been studying a manuscript that could grant us the OPPORTUNITY to achieve something unique: the access to another world. [+2 – Hearth: fail – Lang. Penmanship: pass]
I attach a FRAGMENT that, with much effort, I have been finally able to understand. [+2 – Language, Penmanship: pass]
I believe it describes an UNUSUAL RITUAL that I want to perform, with your help. [0 – Heart and Language: fail, even if using Inspiration; Penmanship: pass]
The HIEROGLYPHS you see here describe the opening of a doorway to somewhere else. [+2 – Heart: fail, Language and Penmanship: pass]
Please let me know that I can count on your experience with INVOCATIONS to attempt this experiment. [+2 – Heart: fail, Language and Penmanship: pass]

Your friend



Total: 8 points; +1 Story Point – Total Story Points: 2
Jemima accepts to visit, in order to examine the manuscript herself.
[this looked like a great chance to score 2 Story Points….. too bad]



Arkham, 1904. Arthur Grant, a student from New Orleans, has traveled to Arkham to inquire on the health of his friend Jemima Carter. Arthur finds the horribly wounded bodies of Jemima and Virgil. The police archive the case as “suicide”, but Arthur hears voices of strange rituals being performed in a nearby wood. He writes to his university friend Paul Washington asking him to help him investigate.

[Penmanship: Average, Language: Poor, Heart: Good – Inspiration: language +1. Paul is fact-oriented and does not enjoy exaggeration: -1 to Heart rolls]
[This looked difficult, and it was. The Poor language skill makes it impossible to take advantage of the high Heart dice. I failed the first attempt and had to write a “reply” to Paul’s letter]

Dear Paul,
I’M SORRY for having to insist in asking your help. [0 Language, Penmanship: fail]
But the SINISTER episode whose consequences I have directly observed must be further investigated: other lives might be in danger. [+2 Heart: fail, Language and Penmanship: pass]
I have seen the DISFIGURED CORPSES of Jamima and her friend Virigil, something I will never forget. [+3 Heart, Language, Penmanship: passed, using Inspiration]
I am sure the cause of this tragedy must be some SPELL. [0, Language and Penmanship: fail]
I hope you will join me in Arkham with the greatest SPEED: together we can solve this mystery. [+1 Language: failed, Penmanship: passed]



Total:6, +1 Story Point – Total Story Points: 3
Paul, however perplexed by the mention of magic, accepts to join Arthur.



Quill – Shadow and Ink (1)

[This post contains spoilers. Please read after you have played Quill: Shadow and Ink]

The Linguist Orace Dubois (Penmanship: Average, Language: Good, Heart: Poor) is in London. He has bought a manuscript with unreadable text and disturbing illustrations. He writes to his friend Pierre Durand, an expert in the history of occultism, putting forward his disturbance at the text ( +1 to Heart rolls).

Dear Pierre,
I have come in possession of a BOOK I find extremely bizarre. [+1, Heart and Language failed, Penmanship passed]
I believe the obscene FIGURES it contains deserve the attention of an historian like yourself. [0 Language passed, Heart failed – Penmanship passed]
I attach my sketch of the IMAGE that appears on the very first page, with the date 1534. [+1, Heart and Language failed, Penmanship passed]
I feel so DISTURBED by this work, that my only hope is that your opinion will help me put the object in a more rational perspective. [+2 Heart failed, Language and Penmanship passed]
Please believe that the volume is strangely OPPRESSIVE to me. I am looking forward to hear from you. [+2 Heart ad Language passed, Penmanship failed]

Your friend



Pierre replies after several days. He believes the book might be a recent fake, but it could also be an authentic and interesting document.
1 Story Point gained


Ybeena Chain Reaction – The giant “snail” alien (4)

Previous events: Sgt.Claude has been assigned to the robotized platoon lead by Lt.Bassma. They are fighting aliens and collaborationists in the town of Ybeena. Claude’s first missions don’t impress Bassma: she judges him too arrogant and careless. But Bassma soon finds out she has bigger problems. The alien expert of the Company (Dr.Jodie Skarus) is insinuating that Bassma could be a collaborationist traitor. Skarus is currently held in great esteem: she successfully decrypted alien inscription in a collaborationist site just reconquered by the Earthlings.

Two Hour Wargames – Chain Reaction 2015 Skirmish rules.
Sophia Brandt‘s Minimal Solo RPG MiSo.
The Gamemaster Apprentice’s Cards (GMA) for random insipration.
For a summary of the main characters, see this post.
Here you can find some details about my Chain Reaction house-rules.]

Do Claude and the GN-5 Robot get a REP4 grunt for the squad?
D6:4 D5:4 – they only get a REP3 soldier.

The Green team enters the area from the North-East corner. To accomplish their mission, they must come into contact with two of the three pink markers.


The aliens activate first. The Potential Enemy Force (PEF) behind the beige cubes is resolved as six (!) aliens. The three on the right come in sight of the Green team, that wins the In Sight test. Two of the aliens are forced to Duck Back, but the third activates his eye-ray and puts the Green grunt Out of the Fight.

The PEF on the left resolves as a giant alien! Is eye-ray is aimed at GN-5, but thankfully it misses.

Not so on the text turn. The Robot is hit and Explodes! Claude is lucky not to get wounded. He boldly advances, still hoping to be able to accomplish his mission.
The aliens advance and their eye-rays force Claude to Duck Back.
He finally manages to kill one of the aliens and the others partially fail their Alien-Down test and stop to feast on the corpse of their comrade. Abominable creatures!
Unluckily, one of them was too far to take part in the feasting. He charges Claude who is taking cover behind the arch. Claude fights bravely but is finally wounded.


Claude leaves the battlefield, recovering the wounded Grunt.

Do the Green conquer sector (D) – unlikely:
D6: NO
D6:6 D4:4 NO – The next mission will be Patrol again, this time in the Green-controlled central area of Ybeena (E).

I turn to MiSo to see the effects of the appearance of the Giant “snail” alien.
GMA: Convince Unclear Skill
D6 A Lt.Bassma is impressed by Claude’s cold blood in such a difficult situation. Now she knows he can trust him under the worst possible circumstances.
D4 B Jodie Skarus had announced that giants aliens were to be expected in the area. It’s one of the informations she got from the inscriptions she recently decrypted. The high spheres are even more impressed by her competence.

D6:1 D4:4 – Option B
Colonel Rakat summons Lt.Bassma to the regiment HQ for questioning.
Let’s learn some more about Col.Rakat [GMA: Meet stealthy illness]

The Colonel is a fervent supporter of biological warfare. He is sure that H.G.Wells’ The War of the Worlds is a prophetic book and that the aliens can only be defeated by viruses.

Aliens and Robots – Chain Reaction house rules

Ed of Two Hour Wargames wrote that the Chain Reaction rule-set actually is like a toolbox. I must say, I enjoy the system very much and the variants I introduced in my solo games mostly are just simplifications.

  • During each turn, I just activate all the figures of both sides. I only roll two dice at the very start, to see who goes first. I then alternate. The Reaction system guarantees that things don’t get boring and rigid.
  • I don’t use the “fast movement” option. My playing space is so small, that I don’t want figures to move too much in a single activation.
  • I don’t use the “Outgunned” ruled. Most of my figures are armed with rifles, and those with pistols are stars. Even when I tried more variety, I really don’t mind rolling several exchanges of fire / received fire.
  • When the rules require to roll REP dice, I roll D6+REP instead. These are opposed rolls, to see who scores the highest result. Since I roll both sides at the same time (with different colored dice) to me it’s much more convenient to roll tow dice than (say) eight or ten.
  • I only place three PEFs on the board (which, I repeat, is very small). I don’t used additional PEFs for buildings. I use my custom PEF resolution tables that are tuned to generate an opposition whose average equals my squad but that is highly variable (I can easily get half, or double, the strength of my squad).
    Planet Stories Vol. 1, No. 10 (Spring 1942).  Cover by Alexander  Leydenfrost

After this first pass of simplification (during the Zurqana campaign) I started a second campaign (Ybeena) with two new types of figures: Aliens and Robots. For this, I heavily stole from Illegal Aliens, a supplement that Ed graciously made freely available.

This PDF provides the details. The first page lists the different types of figures and my custom Potential Enemy Force (PEF) resolution table; the second page provides details for Robots and Aliens. It’s something I have made as a playing-aid for myself: nothing fancy.

The Robots are simple. Being machines, they don’t roll Received Fire or Man Down reactions. The model that can shoot (rockets) only does so once per turn: to reduce book-keeping, I decided it can only shoot during its activation (not as a result of an In Sight test during enemy activation).
They have a custom Damage table (from Illegal Aliens, “Robotic Troopers”) with the fun feature of the Robot occasionally exploding (causing damage similar to a grenade to nearby figures).

Coming up with something playable for the Aliens has been harder. At the end, they turned out to be quite low tech. In my imagination, this is due to their deliberate decision to go hunting for humans without the full power of their superior technology. They mostly fight with “blades” in melee. Once per turn (when they are active, as for the Robots) they can fire their “built-in” eye-ray, which is not very effective anyway (a single Target die).
They have their own reaction tables, basically making them more cold-blooded than humans. Additionally, they must take a test when an enemy or another alien goes down: if they fail the test, they will start feasting on the body and will be distracted for a variable number of turns (this is also derived from “Illegal Aliens”: Lycaon).

Ybeena Chain Reaction – Claude and GN-5 meet Dagrad (3)

Two Hour Wargames – Chain Reaction 2015 Skirmish rules
Sophia Brandt‘s Minimal Solo RPG MiSo.
The Gamemaster Apprentice’s Cards for random insipration
BOLD (Universal PC Stories and Deeds Generator) Waylay – to define conflict

For a summary of the main characters, see this post.]

Claude and a GN-5 robot will be patrolling area (D).

[MiSo] Do they get an additional REP4 Soldier (likely):
D6: 3 D4:4 NO

Claude and the Robot enter from the North. They must come in contact with at least two of the three objective (the pink cubes). Three Potential Enemy Force markers await inside the ruined building (the white pawns).


Two of the PEFs are False Alarms, but the closest one reveals the Collaborationist leader Dagrad together with a REP4 grunt.


The Robot charges and puts the grunt Out of the Fight. Dagrad and Claude exchange fire. Dagrad is wounded [now REP4, orange marker], Claude ducks back.


The Bot follows Dagrad and attempts another charge, but Dagrad fires and temporarily disables it.


Claude pop-out from the door on the right, wins the In Sight test and fires. Claude misses, but Dagrad fails the Received Fire test and leaves the battlefield.


Dagrad leaves the battlefield

An excellent Green victory. It’s a pity that Dagrad made it to safety.
Do the Greens conquer sector D (likely)?

D6:1 D4:2 NO

The next mission will again be Patrolling Sector (D).

After the success of Claude’s squad, is Lt.Bassma getting credit, or Dr.Jodie Skarus?
A D6 Bassma
B D4 Jodie

D6:1 D4:3 Jodie

GMA: Pacify Broken Temple
Jodie has successfully decrypted the inscription in a recently reconquered collaborationist site in Ybeena sector (E). This remarkable success make her insinuations about Bassma more credible.

What Claude’s next mission be?
BOLD: the honorable strange
Dr.Solmerer, the famous collborationist scientist, has been reported to be in sector (D). Patrolling the area will have the objective of assessing his presence.

Ybeena Chain Reaction – Claude and GN-5 on a Raid mission (2)

Two Hour Wargames – Chain Reaction 2015 Skirmish rules
Sophia Brandt‘s Minimal Solo RPG MiSo.
The Gamemaster Apprentice’s Cards for random insipration
BOLD (Universal PC Stories and Deeds Generator) Waylay – to define conflict]

Claude will be attacking an area of Sector (D), with the objective to destroy a targeting device deployed by the enemy. He will be accompanied by a GN-5 Robot, much more advanced than the BK-5: this model is armed with rockets (causing damage in a 3” radius blast area).

Claude and the Robot enter the area from the West.


The first Potential Enemy Force (PEF) marker resolves as three REP5 aliens. The blue vehicle is where the objective of the mission is.


One of the two PEFs near the building at the North is a false alarm. but the second PEF resolves as five more aliens (a mix of REP4 and 5). They charge the Robot, who puts two of them out of the fight. Green fire sends the other aliens Ducking Back behind buildings.


The aliens pop out to try a second charge, but they are put down by Claude and GN-5. The last survivor Ducks Back inside the building. The Greens move forward towards the objective.


They reach the car. The robot puts down two of the aliens. The other is sent ducking back behind the vehicle. Claude disables the targeting device: mission accomplished. The two surviving aliens are forced to Duck Back while Greens return to the base.


Do the Green conquer sector (D)?

D6: Yes
D4: No

D6:3 D4:4 NO

The next mission will be a Patrol in sector (D). [GMA: Weaken Wreckage] The area to Patrol includes a semi-destroyed building.
How does the relationship between Claude and his superior Lt.Bassma evolve?
[GMA: Impending Prophecy]

A D6 Dr. Jodie Skarus, the alien expert attached to the company, is the source of Bassma’s discredit. Rumors say that Jodie expects Bassma to switch sides and join the collaborationists. Bassma now believes she doesn’t need to make enemies among her own men.

B D4: Sgt. Otis from another squad under Bassma accuses Claude of being unworthy of being a Sergeant. He says he expects Claude to be killed in the next mission.

D6:2 D4: 1 (option A)

Let’s find out something more about Jodie.


Sgt. Jodie Skarus [GMA: Remember Stealthy Trial] Her knowledge about the aliens doesn’t derive from academic studies and raised suspicion in the army. She was processed and spent several months in jail, but finally managed to convince the court that her knowledge has the only aim of helping the Earthlings fight the aliens. She still beliefs her rank is considerably below what she deserves.

Ybeena Chain Reaction – Claude encounters the Aliens (1)

Two Hour Wargames – Chain Reaction 2015 Skirmish rules
Sophia Brandt‘s Minimal Solo RPG MiSo.
The Gamemaster Apprentice’s Cards for random insipration
BOLD (Universal PC Stories and Deeds Generator) Waylay – to define conflict]

Lt.Bassma has accepted Claude’s proposal to scout a specific area in the center of Ybeena, looking for a way to easy the conquer of sector E.

Claude’s squad includes two REP4 soldiers (one of whom is “fast” and moves 4” more) and a BK-5 Robot (no ranged combat).

They enter from the North-East the area they intend to explore. Three Potential Enemy Force markers (PEFs) await them at the center of the board.


The PEF on the right resolves as four aliens.


More aliens emerge from behind the two cars. The Earthlings have taken position near and on the red pick-up. They open fire and the first alien goes down. The Robot moves forward to engage the aliens in melee.


The Robot and the aliens come into contact. The fastest of the Green soldiers runs behind the building on the left, reaching the target area.


The Robot and the soldiers are being very effective, but there simply are too many aliens. Two of them are now dangerously close to the Green soldiers.


The Robot is finally overcome. The soldier that was taking cover in a building is also put out of the fight.


The scouting soldier has accomplished the mission and starts to move back to reach Claude, but an alien is ready to cross his way.


The alien avoids the soldier’s fire, charges into melee and brings the man out of combat. Claude is left alone and has no choice but to leave the field.


[MiSo roll] Who conquered sector E:
D4 A – The Earthlings [since Claude lost the encounter, I use a lower die here]
D6 B – The Aliens

D4:3 D6:1 (option A)
Claude’s failure doesn’t stop the Greens from conquering the center of Ybeena. The next mission will be a Raid.

[BOLD waylay: apparent traitor]

[D4] A – Bassma was very deluded by Claude. She thinks his arrogance has caused the useless loss of two men. Was he trying to make her situation harder? What are his ambitions? He will be sent on the next mission with the only support of a Robot.

[D6] B – Major Stavros, Bassma’s direct superior, finds it difficult to protect Bassma from the insinuations that she is a traitor and a collaborationist. He is forced to accept that Lt.O’Gawell joins the next attack as a supervisor. O’Gawell will be attached to Claude’s squad.

D4:4 D6:2 (option A)


Ybeena campaign set-up

[Following the advice I received on the Lone Wolf Roleplaying G+ group, here is the set up for my next THW Chain Reaction games]

After his success in the Zurqana campaign, Sgt. Claude is moved to a robotized Green platoon fighting against the alien occupation of the town of Ybeena. In this area, the Blue collaborationists actually fight side by side with the invading “snails from space”.

[I will try Sophia Brandt‘s Minimal Solo RPG MiSo. I used the Gamemaster Apprentice’s Cards to define a few characters for both sides.]

GREENS / Earthlings 

Sgt.Claude.jpgRESSgt. Claude [GMA: bestow feral poverty] A young guy from a poor family, he enrolled to make some money. He is serious and reliable about his job, occasionally overconfident.

Lt.Bassma.jpgRESLt.Bassma is Claude’s immediate superior [GMA: wish hopeful merchant] Bassma sees war as a mean to get a better bargain with the other side. She is convinced that the final solution will be diplomatic: open conflict only is an accessory of politics. She is an enthusiast of war robots: they help limit human losses to a minimum. In the near future, wars will not imply blood spill.

Dr.Jodie_Skarus.jpgRESSgt. Jodie Skarus [GMA: Remember Stealthy Trial] Her knowledge about the aliens doesn’t derive from academic studies and raised suspicion in the army. She was processed and spent several months in jail, but finally managed to convince the court that her knowledge has the only aim of helping the Earthlings fight the aliens. She still beliefs her rank is considerably below what she deserves.


Col.Rakat is a fervent supporter of biological warfare. He is sure that H.G.Wells’ The War of the Worlds is a prophetic book and that the aliens can only be defeated by viruses.

BLUES / Collaborationists

Dagrad.jpgRESDagrad [GMA: inflict ghostly pain] A collaborationist fanatic fighting in Ybeena. He is believed to be a sadistic torturer. Rumors aside, not much is known about him: not many of those who met him survived to tell their story.

Prof.Solmerer.jpgRESProf.Solmerer [GMA: meet arcane relative] One of the leading experts in the field of alien life-forms. The “snails” kidnapped his son and somehow managed to blackmail him into joining the collaborationst side. Green Intelligence has reported his possible presence in the Ybeena area.

Setting up the first Mission

Ybeena is currently split into two halves under Human (Green) and Alien (Blue) control. The town center (E) is still disputed.


[Scene Inspiration – BOLD (Universal PC Stories and Deeds Generator) Waylay:
Unforeseen accusations overcome by personal resources]

Bassma and Claude discuss the next mission. Bassma informs Claude that, in the high spheres, she is being accused to be inefficient in contrasting the Blues.

Option A [D6]: Bassma believes that her record grants her quite enough trust to continue with the current schedule of Patrol missions in the center of Ybeena.

Option B [D4]: Claude feels sure he can find a way to easy the Green capture of the center of Ybeena. Bassma accepts his suggestion and sends his team scouting the area.

ROLL: D6:1 D4:3 Option B wins. We will soon see if Claude starts his service in Bassma’s platoon on the right foot.

Zurqana Chain Reaction mini-campaign final (8)

I have new projects with Two Hour Wargames (THW) Chain Reaction 2015. Since the greens were only one step away from winning the mini-campaign, I devised a final scenario and kept playing it until the Green won: OK, I cheated 🙂

It’s a Raid scenario and they have to capture the Blue leader Yrbiz, who will appear in the first PEF (Potential Enemy Force) revealed. During the first two runs, the Greens were defeated. Here is the report of the third run.

The Greens enter from the North-East corner. I rolled all the PEFs in the central section of the board. I guess this gave the Greens a considerable advantage: in order to capture one of the enemies, they must get close to them.


The PEF at the center of the board reveals Yrbiz together with two soldiers (REP 5 and 4). The Greens have split into two teams: the grunt you can see here is with Claude, while Rayan and the other grunt are on the opposite side of the building.


The first firefight goes well for the Greens: Yrbiz and the REP 4 soldier are down. The REP 5 Blue ducks back.


The other two Greens advance on the right, revealing a single REP 5 soldier.


The newly appeared Blue puts down a Green grunt, but Rayan has taken a good position and hits him. The pink cube marks the unconscious Yrbiz as the mission objective.


Claude picks up Yrbiz, while the surviving Grunt and Rayan cover him, forcing the Blue soldier to Duck Back again.


The Greens leave the field with their prisoner.


Chain Reaction works well. The PEF system adds unpredictability to the scenario, and the different reaction rolls have a similar effect during play. I would like to add some more “story” linking scenarios to each other, but the properly “skirmishing” seems to me well covered by THW.