The Mask of Amenakken IV (SW – Pulp)
A Savage Worlds Pulp Adventure Birthday Bash set in deepest darkest Africa.
Darrin Morris as Oscar Carson, the Diggers and the Cameraman from the National Geographic Society.
Jeff Corney as Konrad Richter, Mabruki, and their two units of Askaris.
Jeff Peterson as Loman O’Brian, Judith Cannon, and their two units of Askaris.
Gary Chappell as Baroness Nadia Smirnov, Captain Alexi Smirnov (brother –in-law to the Baroness), and two units of Russian Infantrymen
..And myself, Tim Brown, as Professor Henry Daventhorpe, Charlie Davis, Sefu, and their hired Askaris. (and the natives of Suakala)
After recovering the Sword of Solomon, Professor Henry Daventhorpe decided to follow up on his first successful foray into Forensic Cartographic Archaeology – that is comparing ancient writings and maps to modern maps and the writings of recent explorers of the Dark Continent (such as Stanley or Quatermain) to determine the location of lost artifacts of the ancient world. (See The Sword of Solomon ).
Daventhorpe cabled his personal secretary in London and had him send along the notes he had made about the location of the Mask of Amenakken IV. The burial mask of the Pharaoh Amenakken IV was robbed from his tomb near Karnak in the early 1700’s. It traveled back and forth across the desert from one group of brigands to another. It finally ended up in Khartoum and was found there by “China” Gordon in June of 1884. It was in Gordon’s possession when the city fell on 26 January 1885. Thereafter it is thought to have fallen in to the possession of a Mahdist soldier named Bilal. He took it back to his village, Suakala, near what is now the border with Timbogo. Bilal later fought and died at Omdurman but was rumoured to have dropped the mask into the village well before leaving to fight the British again. Daventhorpe had spent years compiling this information from dozens of sources in seven different languages!
Unfortunately when the mail arrived from his secretary it contained only a letter Daventhorpe had drafted to the editor of the Times. That bungling idiot of a secretary had sent the wrong papers! Then to his utter horror he realized if he had gotten the letter could it be that his secretary had sent his notes to the editor of the Times?!
Daventhorpe scoured Cairo for recent copies of the Times. When at last he found one he discovered his worst fears had been realized. The 4 May 1922 issue of The Times contained an article that explained in explicit detail the presumed location of the Mask as Professor Daventhorpe had surmised…
He immediately contacted his friend Charlie Davis, who was still in Nairobi, an explorer of uncanny ability. He asked that Davis proceed to Kampala with the utmost urgency and arrange for an expedition that must leave at once. Daventhorpe would meet him there in 10 days. Davis, in turn, tracked down Sefu, a native guide and most trusted friend. Together the two headed for Kampala and made the necessary arrangements. All was ready on 10 June when Daventhorpe arrived by a chartered airplane. The expedition set out immediately.
Unfortunately other parties were also making preparations for their own expeditions. The two fisted adventurers, Montana Black and Oscar Carson, Who were still in Cairo after rescuing Emily Smythe-Wagner, the beautiful daughter of the renowned British aristocrat and Egyptologist, Sir Walter Smythe-Wagner. (see Rescue in the Desert Part One and Part Two ). They were contacted by the American Smithsonian Institute and the National Geographic society and were convinced to form their own expedition to Suakala
Of course it could be assumed that Konrad Richter, the famous German explorer and hunter, would also be organizing an expedition of his own. Surely other would be heading there too.... but who else might be heading there, and who would get there FIRST?!
(remember, you can click on these pictures to see a slightly bigger version)
This is the layout of the table taken from the North end. In the center was the village of Suakala. In the middle of town (and dead center of the table is the well – though not visible in this picture) was the well. To the North and west of the village is the ever-encroaching desert. To the East of the village is thorny brush country. South of the village
After an arduous trek across the savannah of sub-Saharan Africa, mile after bloody mile of thorny brush and baking sun, a village came into view. It was a small village of plastered mud-brick houses and it was right where Daventhorpe had expected it would be!
“I think this is it, lads!” Daventhorpe excitedly called to his comrades in a tired, hoarse whisper. “Remember, we don’t want any trouble with the locals. Be on your best behavior, but keep your guard…”
Their pace picked up and they tore headlong through the scrub, no longer even noticing the thorny bushes tearing at their clothes and flesh like tiny daggers. This was it and it looked like they were the first to arrive!
Their jubilation was quickly quashed when they noticed a group of men in khaki also traveling through the brush, parallel to them, not fifty yards off. Then as the brush opened up they spied yet another group approaching out of the desert to the north. Before this could all be taken in and the groups identified the afternoon erupted with the cracking report of rifle fire from beyond the village and the cries of wounded or dying men.
The group north of the village went to ground out in the dunes. They were evidently taking cover and exchanging fire with yet another group, as yet unseen, on the other side of the village. Then bullets started zinging by Daventhorpe as the group next to them started exchanging fire with the riflemen in the desert.
Daventhorpe’s hired Askaris and guide, Sefu. Davis can just be made out behind the bush near Sefu.
Davis and Daventhorpe took cover in some brush to survey the situation. The thunderous report from north of the village of an expertly custom-crafted rifle announced the presence of none other than the infamous German hunter Konrad Richter!
Konrad Richter and his party.
“Richter again, blast it!” spat Daventhorpe. “But who are these other chappies?!”
“From their uniforms, I’d guess they were exiled White Russians” said Davis.
More of the Russians
Still more of the Russians – all packed into cove making everyone wish they had grenades!
They looked at one another a moment and a chill ran down the professor’s spine. When last he had encountered Russians it was in the desolate Gobi desert of Sinkaing in Northwest China nearly a decade ago. He quietly hoped these were no relatives of the ruthless Baron Smirnov! He had buried Smirnov himself after his head had been removed before Daventhorpe’s very eyes, in single combat, with an old archaeologist partner; Arnold Smith! His bones likely still lay in that lonely, unmarked, shallow grave near the
Lost City of Chin’lin. .
Unknown to our heroes the exiled Feinian, Loman O’Brian, and his Belgian mistress, Judith Cannon, were on the other side of the village with their Congolese Askaris.
Suddenly Sefu shouted; “Look, Bwana, mo’ mans!” Casting their gaze in the direction of his pointing Davis and Daventhorpe did indeed spy yet ANOTHER group of men approaching the village from the southwest!
Oscar Carson leading his team of diggers.
The din of the fighting intensified as the heroes approached the village. Shots could be heard echoing through the streets.
Jeff P’s Askaris were the first to make it to the town, but they didn’t get far. Native villagers charged out and slowed him up enough for Darrin’s diggers to catch up with them and they remained in combat on the western outskirts of the village for the rest of the game.
Daventhorpe at the edge of the brush.
“Well we can’t let anyone beat us to it!” Cried Professor Daventhorpe. “Not NOW!” and with that he made a dash across the open to the cover of one of the building in the village. He dodged riffle bullets now coming from the Russians who had finally become aware of their presence.
Daventhorpe makes it to the village.
“Come on lads!” he shouted back.
Davis was next to make the dash. With some covering fire from the Askaris, he hurled himself across the open ground. He spotted the Russians hiding behind a bush and gave them a blast from his shotgun as he dove into the cover of the mud-brick building. Out of the corner of his eye he saw one collapse into a heap. (Joker helped with that one…!)
No sooner than he arrived in the relative safety of cover he heard a shout. It was followed immediately by the sound of bare feet on the trampling on the hard packed earth of the dusty street entering the village behind him. He wheeled about to see two villagers armed with machetes charging him with a look of menace in their eyes – there would be no negotiating with this lot now, he thought, and “best behavior” was chucked out the proverbial window. The two had the drop on him (no, not in the Savage Worlds rules sense, just in the narrative sense...) and he was unsettled and forced onto the defensive parrying and ducking their wild slashes (he was shaken).
The Askaris then followed across firing at the Russians as they went. A couple charged into help Davis but more natives poured from the buildings.
Askaris making their way across to the village.
Sefu saw his friend was in trouble. He took careful aim and shot down one of the natives attacking Davis, as he was about to chop Davis with his machete. The shot tore through the native’s chest spraying his internal organs about the dusty road. He was spun about and thrown back down the street from whence he had come, sloshing the walls with his blood (five raises on a damage roll will do that to a guy…).
Davis and the remaining native were so shocked by the explosive removal of the other native involved in the melee they stopped fighting for a moment. Davis glanced back to see where the shot had come from and saw the big white toothy grin of his friend standing in the open, reloading his smoking rifle.
Sefu blasts one of the Natives fighting Davis.
Sefu then noticed some movement in the brush to his right. Some of the Russians were trying to outflank them. They came into view and opened fire. Sefu turned slowly and took careful aim. He stood like a rock, bullets buzzing about him like blowflies. Sefu put a bullet right through the eye of his target. The Soldier pitched back showered his comrades with brains and blood.
Another Russian collapsed into the bushes from a blast in the neck from Daventhorpe's shotgun.
The intense hail of returning fire slackened slightly but continued. Sefu stood there as though he had ice in his veins (lets hear it for bennies and soak rolls!), aimed and took down another Russian with a bullet through his shoulder. His next shot grazed another; the Russian grabbed his wounded side and along with his remaining comrade fled back into the bushes.
Sefu stalked in after then. He shot the wounded Russian in the middle of the back. The Russian stumbled and fell to the earth. The remaining soldier, who had been running along beside his wounded comrade, realized he had nowhere to run. He spun about and leveled his rifle but before he could get a wild shot off Sefu shot him down as well.
Sefu Shooting up the Russians
Sefu chambered another round and turned about to see six more Russians. They had finished dealing with the German Askaris and were lined up like a firing squad aiming at Sefu. They fired. Sefu dove to the ground taking a bullet through the thigh. The Russians pursued him into the brush firing as they moved. Sefu scrambled from bush to bush on all fours, clutching at his leg, and dodging the Russians bullets.
Trouble brewing for Sefu.
For whatever reason, they gave up their pursuit nearly as quickly and abruptly as they had stacked. Perhaps the Russians had given him up for dead. Or possibly their leaders just figured they had better things to do. Either way they turned about and headed back into the village.
Davis and Daventhorpe had moved on into the village. With Sefu almost single-handedly taking down the Russians, Davis and the Askaris had finished off the villagers that had initially rushed them.
Daventhorpe’s heart leapt when he saw he well at the center of the village square.
“That’s it, Lads,” he called back. “The well!”
Davis pressed past him and strode into the village square. From buildings around the square more natives charged out and assaulted Davis. He shot one down with his pistol but one of the others was able to land a telling blow, slashing him diagonally across the chest. Davis reeled back into the doorway of one of the buildings where he could gather his wits and fight them one at a time.
The Askaris pressed past Daventhorpe and rushed to the aide of Davis. They fought for their lives with the frenzied natives in the streets of the village.
Davis and the Askaris fighting the villagers in the square by the well.
Daventhorpe turned about to see what had become of Sefu and just about leapt out of his skin for rounding the corner of the building was what appeared to be the ghost of Baron Smirnov!
The furious–looking apparition spoke to him in broken English with a thick Russian accent; “you keel my broathair…!” Without a pause he slashed at Daventhorpe with his superbly crafted, razor-sharp Shaska, Daventhorpe ducked and his cap was whisked from his head and fell to the ground in two neat pieces (hit, two wounds, soaked. WHEW!).
Daventhorpe didn’t think it prudent to stick around and argue the technicalities of the Barons demise with his vengeful brother. He turned on his heels and dashed down the street. The Russian slashed open the back of his jacket as he fled (hit with his free swing, another wound, again soaked…).
At the corner Daventhorpe turned about and fired his shotgun back down the street. The wild shot grazed the Captain and tore away his sword belt (hit, two wounds, soaked… somebody’s luck has to run out sometime…). Then Daventhorpe then ducked inside one of the dark, mud-brick houses of he village.
Quickly assessing the situation Daventhorpe decided things looked bad. Sefu was nowhere to be seen, Davis and the Askaris were busy fighting villagers and an angry Russian was chasing him into the town followed by, Daventhorpe now noticed out a side window, a fresh Russian squad of riflemen!
The Russians opened fired indiscriminately into the melee in the streets. An Askari went down, another was injured as well as some of the villagers they were fighting. Smirnov charged forward and cut down the wounded Askari and glanced about trying to see where Daventhorpe had gotten. Indeed things were going from bad to WORSE!
Just then Daventhorpe heard more firing. He sprang to the small window at the back of the one room house. In the bush was the other squad of Askaris they had brought with them. They had stayed to guard the baggage, but must have headed for the village when they heard the firing.
The reinforcements arrive.
The Askaris first volley took down one Russian and injured two others. Their bothers in the streets of the village redoubled their efforts; they took down the last of the villagers fighting them and returned the Russians fire. They dropped three more Russian soldiers, and sent the remaining two, one of which was wounded, scurrying for cover. Sefu fired as well wounding the other one.
Davis summoned up all that was left in him and took one last wild swing at the native he was fighting in the doorway nearly cleaving him in two. Davis then collapsed to the floor in exhaustion.
Daventhorpe, seizing the initiative strode back out into the street.
“OVER HERE!” he called out to the reeling Russian Captain.
The Russian spun about and raised his shaska to strike. Daventhorpe gave him a point blank blast from his shotgun and Captain Smirnov was send sprawling prostrate to the packed earthen street. He quickly rolled over and tried to stand up, but found it a little harder to do than he expected. He reached for the pistol in his holster…
The command came from the alley behind. Daventhorpe and the Captain wheeled about to see a ravishingly beautiful woman standing there. It was none other than the Baroness herself: Nadia Smirnov. Despite the intense African heat she was clad from head to toe in the finest furs of the purest white.
“It ees useless to continue, Alexi” said the Baroness in the sultriest voice Daventhorpe ever heard. “Surrender your arms”, she commanded the Captain, then turning her penetrating eyes to Daventhorpe, she continued: “Zee merderer uf my husband vould not kill US too in cold blood, vould he…?”
Captain Alexi Smirnov dropped his pistol to the ground.
“Madame I did not kill your husband, the Baron,” said Daventhorpe. “It was my partner Mr. Arnold Smith, and he killed him in what could certainly not be considered an unfair fight for your dearly departed husband. It was he that attacked Smith, and not alone I might add. Two or three of his soldiers were there to aid him.”
With that he lead them over to the house where Davis had been. He was up and Sefu was already there patching up his friend. The Askaris busied themselves gathering up the Russians arms and helped the injured into an empty building that became their temporary prison/hospital.
Daventhorpe, the Captain and the Baroness. Davis can be seen in the doorway by Daventhorpe. At the top of the picture the last two Russian soldiers can be seen cowering in the bushes, the red fez of the reinforcements can just be made out in the bush beyond.
Some pictures of the action on the other sides of the town…, which I didn’t really pay much attention to…
Russians shooting at the German Askaris
The American expedition approached the Belgians.
Oscar Carson in close combat with Judith Cannon while the Askaris and the Diggers mix it up.
Belgian Askaris firing at the German Askaris
Some of the German Askaris made it to the north end of town and fought a few villagers, but then were shot up by the Russians and Belgians while they fought in the melee.
The German expedition had suffered greatly in the crossfire between the Belgians and the Russians. Richter soon found himself alone with his trusted lieutenant Mabruki and there was still firing coming at him from both sides. The bodies of his dead Askaris littered the dunes and rocky fields north of the village. It was time to retire. Let these other fools fight it out, he thought; he would track the victor, ambush them in the wilderness and steal away with the mask himself!
Once all but the cameraman from the American expedition, whom they curiously continued to ignore, were down the Congolese Askaris, without stopping to finish off their foes, quickly gathered up Judith and their other wounded and carried them back to the dunes where O’Brian and the other Askaris were still exchanging occasional shots with the retiring German. With their number down to only five, his lover seriously wounded, and the sound of a battle still furiously raging on the other side of town, O’Brian decided discretion was the better part of valour and faded with his Askaris back into the wilderness. There would be another day.
There he is, the lone cameraman. He kept right on filming through the whole thing. Filmed the Belgian askaris retire into the distance before he realized; “oh wait, all the guys they were fighting were part of my expedition…!” He dragged the wounded Carson off to cover lest anyone come back to finish him off. Then went back to help out the expeditions diggers.
After Davis was back up and on his feet, the area patrolled, weapons and prisoners gathered up, and other wounded attended to, it was time to see if the well really was the resting spot of one of Africa’s richest treasures. Daventhorpe went down himself. Lowered by rope held by the Askaris he reached the level of the water to find it was a very deep well indeed. Taking breaths he dove under and swam down groping blindly in the darkness. He did this over a dozen times and was very near the point of utter exhaustion when his hand lighted on something smooth covered in a slick film. Groping it briefly he knew this was it, he gave two sharp tugs on the rope and the Askaris hauled him and the mask up. Daventhorpe was very glad of the rope, as he was not sure he would have made it up to the surface again this time on his own without the mask.
The heavy golden mask was cleaned up and held up for all so see. It’s beautiful golden form with spectacular inlaid jewels was nearly blinding in the bright African sun. Another magnificent treasure to add to the collection of the British Museum…. If only they could get it there!
What were they to do with all these prisoners? What of the other two expeditions that had temporarily retired from the scene?
Daventhorpe, Davis and Sefu held a conference. After much deliberation and going over their options it was decided that they should head out immediately after sun down. They, their Askaris and baggage carriers, and the wounded members of the American expedition (who seemed the lunlikely to try double-cross them and steal the mask) waited for the sun to go down in a hut on one end of town. The prisoners had all been bound up and left with the wounded in a hut at the other end of town under a minimal guard.
As soon as the sun plunged below the horizon and the world turned dark the group set out back the way they came; to the east. After two hours of traveling in that direction, however, Sefu lead them across some bare rock and they doubled back and Southwest. They then made for the border with Timbogo to throw off anyone that might track them! They continued through the night and stopped just before dawn as the scrub and rock and grass was starting to give way to more and more trees and jungle. The set up camp and rested until noon when they set off again. By nightfall they hoped to find their way to a pass through the rain-forested mountains on the northern border of Timbogo.
Had they made it or were they being tracked? Find out in the next episode of my Savage Worlds Pulp Adventure Serial!
Some Game/Scenario Notes
This was the Third Annual Tim’s Wargaming Birthday Bash! The first one was Operation Biting – a Daring raid by paratroopers on the coast of occupied France. Last year was a slightly less inspired WW2 game set in France 1940. Next year…? Who knows?
Anyway as it was a birthday party there had to be cake.
I made it myself… can you tell?
The sides were a little unbalanced. I gave Gary two units of six Russian soldiers in addition to his two wildcards, by far the most powerful force on the table The Jeffs, by comparison, brought their own forces and each had two wild cards and two units of four or five Askaris.
I did have three wild cards (though Professor Daventhorpe isn’t much of a fighter – d4s in fighting and shooting – he uses the shotgun to even things out, in melee and at long range, he’s kind of screwed…). Sefu and Charlie Davis aren’t too bad – on the level of the other wildcards out there. They were backed up by a single unit of 6 Askaris (d6s across the board).
Poor Darrin all he had was his regular character Oscar Carson (who has a pistol – and isn’t very good with it), a group of five diggers (armed only with shovels), and I also gave him a cameraman from the National Geographic Society to further his troubles.
The Cameraman had special rules: he would move his full pace (not run, just full pace) toward the nearest “action”. Once within 12” he will set up hid camera and start filming. He has no weapons, other than his camera tripod (improvised weapon; Str+1, -1 to hit), which he would only use it if surrounded. If he physically could he was to leave any melee and run away. If he was killed all characters on his side (I was assuming Curtis might show up with Montana Black…) would lose half their bennies, rounded UP!
Bless his socks Darrin plays by the spirit of the rules and charged him in, set up his camera and started filming. A clever player that plays to the letter of the rules (like a few I’ve played with…) would have deployed him in such a way as that he would have been slowed by a maximum amount of bad-going terrain to keep him as far from any “action” as possible.
As it was he ran up, set up and started filming and was entirely left alone for the remainder of game (even though the players fighting in the immediate area were completely aware of the special rule and could have shot him just to screw Darrin out of some bennies… bless you ALL…).
Indeed the gaming gods were happy and played well with Darrin – never have I seen a player get so many – yet so USELESS jokers in a game. The Cameraman, who could take no active part in the combat, in ten turns, got no less than TWO jokers! On one of those turns the Diggers got the other joker, unfortunately they were just far enough away that they couldn’t get into melee with anybody … and of course they have no ranged weapons… Carson got one himself…all it did was help him to recover from being shaken… The diggers also got a second one but I think it also only help one recover from being shaken…
We played 10 turns. At the end of turn 9 Amanda came home with the kids and the rest my family all started showing up for a birthday supper and chaos ensued upstairs. We quickly played one more turn to see if that could bring some sort of satisfactory conclusion. It did for the Jeffs and Darrin, more or less. Not so for my own heroes and Gary’s troop.
Turn 10 ends in the narrative above at “Indeed things were going from bad to WORSE!”. Not a place where one can just leave it…. So I left things as they were and played an 11th turn later on in the evening after I got back from the movie Amanda and I went out to (Pan’s Labyrinth, it was very good, go see it!).
Turn 11 saw a very big turn around. I looked over the table and wondered how would I get those heroes out of there…?! As it turned out the cards did it all for me. The Askaris drew a joker… yeah I can hear you all thinking “sure, sure!” but really; if I had been fudging things I would have given jokers to Sefu and/or Davis and Daventhorpe… well I guess I couldn’t give out three, so Sefu and Davis. What hero would want to be “rescued” by a bunch of “extras?!” As it turned out the Askaris were the best place for that joker to have gone. They may have sucked but they had numbers, the joker bonus, and their targets were all standing in the open at close range.
Then I rolled on the Fortune and Glory table. A freak event. Again if I had been fudging things I would have “rolled” a “Close Call” (-1 to all trait rolls for one enemy unit – the Russian infantry!) or “Teamwork” (hey, Daventhorpe can act on the Joker too!). Feak events are just too unpredictable some times they work out, some times they suck a LOT! Of course I guess if you’re fudging/picking you could select one that rocks….
I would have selected one of the wild animals. I’ve had an elephant, rhino, gorilla and two cheetahs painted up and ready for a freak event for ages! AGES! I’ve been dying to see the elephant tranple a unit of tightly packed troops (like those Russians were)… Instead I rolled and it probably turned out waaaaaaaaay better than any rampaging elephant could have. I rolled, as you’ve probably guessed from the narrative, “reinforcements”. Another unit of Askaris acting on the joker. Nice.
So here’s how that last turn went down in game terms. The newly arrived Askaris fired on the Russians. Six Askaris, Six Russians, close range, in the open, +2 to hit from the Joker, 6d shooting. I hit on anything but ones. Five Russians should get hit. Three ones means only three Russians get hit… oh well… that’s kind of how it’s been going all game – Daventhorpe had shot someone with a shotgun earlier in the game – I think I may have just left it out of the narrative, close range so 3d6 damage, five toughness; three ones, bastard wasn’t even shaken… anyway one Russian dies, two are shaken.
The remaining four in the original unit (only two had been taken out of action so far, both in the last turn by Russians). There is still two villagers they are fighting, one is also in base contact with Davis, however, and both are shaken. One I leave for Davis, the other I take out with a wild swing from one Askari (just to be sure! +2 to hit and damage from the wild swing, same thing for the joker…), the remaining three fire on Russians. They had a bit more success.
three shots, three dead Russians (one of which had already been shaken by the others).
The remaining two Russians do manage to pass their morale test?! They go next. The shaken one recovers but can take no action, the other fires at the closest Askari, missing. The two then head for cover in the bushes.
Daventhorpe went next stepping out of the building and blasting Captain Smirnov for (only) one wound which he no longer had bennies to soak it.
Davis then finished off the last villager with a wild swing (just to be sure…).
Sefu fired on the Russians, hit with a raise, but he was only shaken.
Captain Smirnov recovered from being shaken but was unable to act… What could I do with the Baroness that wouldn't end up with her being very dead the next turn?
Well that turned things around and brought it all to a pretty satisfying conclusion…. And here I started the turn wondering how I might be able to just extract my heroes in one piece!
Thanks to everyone that made another Wargaming Birthday Bash a resounding success!
Hey if you made it this far…. why not leave a comment below…