06 April 2022
A scenario bathed in Hellfire
Words by Jim Webster. Photos, models & map by John Treadaway
This scenario was written in an attempt to show the flexibility of Hellfire as a rules system and to show them in action. So here is a simple game: a community policing operation in the town of Old Alisa on the otherwise quiet world of Barbicum. You can read it as a ‘how Hellfire rules work’ but you can also play out the scenario.
Old Alisa is governed by a Baile who rules the city from a central compound with a small gate to the north and a somewhat grander and more formal entrance to the south which overlooks a public square. This is marked with an X on the map. The city itself is walled, a legacy of the Succession Struggle which raged across this continent less than four hundred years previously. The town has not grown beyond its walls in all this time and indeed is considered by many not to have advanced since the walls were built. It has been suggested that the walls constrained both physical and cultural growth.
When the town was built, there were a number of large blocks, and these largely still stand. The only change was where, as a result of damage suffered during the Succession Struggle, two or three blocks were severely damaged and indeed had to be demolished. These were cleared and on the site, often using the rubble, were built a lot of smaller buildings known as The Stews. This area is notorious as the home for what nightlife, crime and similar that the town aspires to.
Those who take part in the running of the town tend to live in apartments in Block E, the Municipal Halls.
Block C, the Sardan Building, was assigned to provide accommodation to those who had given long service to the municipality. Over the years it has tended to become a dumping ground of the inept and incompetent who nevertheless managed to avoid being caught doing anything they could be arrested or fired for.
Block B, the Battock Apartments, is the abode of choice of those who have risen high in society. Wise children buy an apartment for their parents, so that the old people can enjoy the thrilling social life. More importantly it gets the old fools’ hands off the business and gives the next generation a chance to rescue it.
But alas all is not sweetness and light in the town. The current Baile appears to have an agenda. She wishes to drag the area into the forty-third century. Admittedly the rest of the planet is in the forty-fourth but there is a feeling that it would be wise to walk before they run.
An opposition has formed led by three paladins. These men, persons of immense significance in their own sad imaginations, need not be depicted as figures, because with Hellfire there are no command figures, they are merely subsumed within one of the bases of the unit they are with.
The first is known as ‘The Admiral’. The rank is somewhat exaggerated as he rose to quartermaster sergeant in the provincial forces.
The second is known as ‘The Cardinal.’ This comes from his time working for the administration where he claimed he was ‘the hinge on which the whole operation turns.’ He was given early retirement and somehow, to nobody’s surprise but his own, the administration stubbornly refused to collapse in his absence.
The third, and leader of the enterprise, has the code name of ‘The General.’ Actually he was a modestly successful purveyor of bedding. His most efficacious idea was to buy sheets from house clearances, cut them into two halves, lengthways. He would then sew the outside edges together so that the thick bit was now in the middle. Obviously there was the problem with the seam but this was explained away as acting as a dividing line to prevent arguments over who was encroaching into whose half of the bed.
These conspirators have a cunning plan.
The Admiral will start off with a small force which he will augment as he passes through The Stews (represented in the shots by the ‘Nissen hut’ type structure. Ed.). This will be done using rhetoric and free drink. They will move south around the municipal leisure centre and then storm the South Gate of the Baile’s compound.
At about the same time, the Cardinal will leave the Sardan building (Block C). He will have with him a strong force of other bureaucrats and similar who have, for obvious reasons, found themselves surplus to requirements. They will sweep into the compound close behind the Admiral’s strike force and will fan out to take control of the administration.
Finally the real blow will be struck by the General who will lead a small group of hired guns who will hit the north gate when all attention is on the south gate. They will then storm into the compound and will take the Baile prisoner and set up a new administration with The General at its head.
The defenders consist of the uniformed police. There are normally six squads of officers on duty at any time. Because there are rumours of trouble, the usual six squads have been detailed to patrol the area around the compound and two more squads of police have been graciously granted overtime and can eat doughnuts and drink coffee in the town.
The Baile’s grandly named, Dignity Battalion, has also been put on alert. It consists of three squads of regular soldiers who are normally used to ‘assist the civil power.’
Because I normally use these rules with 6mm (even though the photographs show bases of 15mm figures) figures a ‘squad’ is a base of figures. The same rules could apply for multibased 15mm.
A group of six squads. These have side arms, batons, riot shields, NBC kit. Each squad will have somebody capable of firing tear gas rounds.
Reaction code 2,3,2,2,3,2,1,1 16pts
The two extra squads (groups composed of a single base each) on overtime don’t have the tear gas rounds. They are scattered over patrol areas so it will take at least three command points to concentrate one of them.
BAILE’S DIGNITY BATTALION
3 squads, personal projectile weapons, flak armour, NBC kit.
Reaction code 3,2,3,2,3,2,2,2 19pts
The Police will launch drones which enable them to see everything moving on the table. Because people keep their windows closed, they cannot see inside buildings. Also as the Stews are bustling and people tend to throw bottles at them, the drones gain less useful information. Still, they have a wargamer’s eye view of the situation. Had the opposition any ECM that might have been used to block them but they haven’t. Thus the drones can observe unopposed.
These are comprised of:
THE ADMIRAL’S FORCE
This starts off with 4 squads but intends to collect more as it passes through The Stews. These have bottles, bricks and improvised NBC. (Improvised NBC can be a wet towel worn fetchingly about the head and face.)
Reaction code 2,2,2,1,1,2,1,1 12pts
THE CARDINAL’S FORCE
Six squads with improvised NBC.
Reaction code 2,1,2,1,1,1,1,1 10pts
THE GENERAL'S FORCE
4 squads with improvised NBC, personal projectile weapons.
Reaction code 2,2,2,1,2,1,2,2 14pts
They also have a heavy maintenance droid to take down the north gate of the compound.
Its reaction code is
Give it a nominal reaction total of 14.
PLAYING THE GAME
First get your table set up and the figures ready. The Police have their group of six bases lingering in the open area near the Baile’s compound. The two single bases are spread over the map as individual men who will concentrate when you ask them and pay command points. The Baile’s Dignity Battalion is in the compound.
For the other side, the Admiral and his force emerge from the Battock Apartments (Block B). Note that they are doing nothing illegal and cannot be challenged until they try and enter the square at the head of a mob or otherwise mount an attack on the forces of law and order.
The Cardinal and his force emerge from the Sardan Building. Again, until they enter the square they are not doing anything illegal. But it would be legitimate for the police to form a screen to stop them entering the square, (for their own safety obviously.)
The General and his force also start in the Battock Apartments. They are illegal from the very start of the game, but will only be spotted when they leave the apartments and it should only take three moves for them to get to the North Door of the compound. (Remember that by spending command points the three moves can happen in one move). The maintenance droid on its own is not illegal and cannot be opened fire on or attacked.
HOW THE GAME WENT
This section is where we played the scenario through: it will illustrate how Hellfire works. We start off with the police in the area of the Baile’s compound. The Dignity Battalion is inside. But nobody knows when the attack is to come so they are busy doing their day jobs. The three paladins are waiting in their buildings...
Both sides roll d8 for order points: The conspirators score 4, Police score 6.
The conspirators decide to move the Admiral’s force three moves (Infantry can move multiple moves if you have the order points) which takes him to the edge of The Stews. This takes three points. They use the one remaining point to deploy the Cardinal’s force out of the building and into the street.
The police, realising something is happening, spend one point for each squad and deploy them in the open square in front of the grand southern entrance to the compound.
Rolls: Conspirators 8; Police 6.
The Admiral’s force moves 1 move (for the cost of 1 point,) but instead of further movement spends 6 points attempting to ‘whip up a mob’. There isn’t actually a rule in the rule book for this because it never occurred to me when I was writing it. On that basis, we fitted it in with the Command section on page 7 of the rules, and – for this scenario – added:
It takes one point to whip up a mob. Roll a d6 for each point you spend that turn. On the first point you succeed on a 6, on the second you succeed on of 5,6 on a third point you succeed on a 4,5,6. You cannot spend more than 6 points a turn.
The Admiral rolls 4,1,5,1,4,5. So that is three successes. Roll a d6 plus the number of successes and that’s how many squads of intoxicated reprobates join your company. The Admiral rolls a four, so gains an extra seven squads. The Cardinal also moves his force one move. There is no point hurrying as he does not want to arrive before the Admiral.
For the police, the Dignity Battalion – fully armed and armoured and ready for anything – deploy to defend the compound. They have far more points than they need so decide to spend them having unarmed office staff build an inner citadel of filing cabinets, office furniture and parked vehicles. These form two short walls joining the two buildings together. This allows them somewhere to fall back on if either gate is taken.
Rolls: Conspirators 2; Police 4.
The Admiral takes one point and moves one move. The Cardinal also moves his force. At this point the Cardinal is definitely going to loiter or he will pass the end of the Municipal Halls and find himself in the square before the Admiral. The Police wait: the Dignity Battalion continue to build their defences.
Rolls: Conspirators 1; Police 6.
The Admiral curses the dice rolling and moves one. The Police spend three points to gather together one of the squads eating doughnuts and drinking coffee. They then spend two points to move it towards where the Cardinal loiters. (Effectively the men are told to concentrate on a point two moves away. They don’t concentrate and then move.) The Cardinal is doing nothing illegal, it’s just a peaceful protest.
Rolls: Conspirators 5; Police 1.
The Admiral moves one more and spends four points on whipping up the mob. He rolls, 5,6,3,5. That is two successes so he rolls d6+2 and gets another four squads of intoxicated reprobates. He now has a force of 15 squads. The Cardinal is prodding him to get a move on. The police spend one point moving their spare squad towards the Cardinal’s force.
Rolls: Conspirators 8; Police 4.
This is the die roll that the Admiral wanted. He can move up to three moves, so will spend five more on trying to whip up more support as he moves. He rolls 1,2,5,5,5. So with three more successes he rolls d6+3 and adds another seven squads to his drink fuelled mob, now 22 squads strong. They move around the back of the Municipal Leisure Centre and are now visible to the thin police line blocking their path to the gate.
The police manage to move their one spare squad into position in front of the Cardinal’s force, blocking its route into the square. To go any further the Cardinal will have to go over the police squad.
The main police force now lay down ‘covering fire’ on a line of bricks which mark the edge of the square. They do not fire, they just prepare to fire if anybody crosses that line.
Rolls: Conspirators 7; Police 6.
For the cost of one command point, a maintenance droid rumbles quietly down the road towards the north gate of the compound. For three points the Admiral has his group move three moves which would take them into contact with the police. Effectively he hurls his force at the police line. At the same time the Cardinal moves his force three moves forward which would take them into combat with the single police squad. The only reason they can do this is that they have no missile weapons. Troops with missile weapons do not charge across a large expanse of open ground in the face of enemy fire. However at the moment nobody has fired.
The police interrupt the Admiral’s move with their covering fire. The officer commanding aims his pistol carefully and fires a warning shot over the heads of the mob. Immediately the Admiral’s force must take a reaction test for being surprised. (The first time you are under fire, you’re surprised.)
Their reaction code is 2,2,2,1,1,2,1,1 12pts
So the first time they test use the first number of the code. So they test on Table Two, under the surprised column. (And If you haven’t got the rules, go to my website where the quick reference sheet is available as a free download).
The Admiral rolls a d6 and somewhat to his disappointment he rolls a 1. This gives him a ‘g’ result: “Group falls back to nearest cover in as direct a line as possible, avoiding impassable terrain. Once there they take one move without moving or firing to regroup.”
The Admiral’s wild charge becomes an equally wild scuttle back behind the Municipal Leisure Centre.
He also crosses the first ‘2’ off his reaction code. That number has been used.
Now we look at the Cardinal’s attack. The police squad facing him haven’t had time to set up covering fire. The Cardinal’s force bears down on them. When they get within a move distance, the Cardinal’s force as the moving force must test to see if they’ll get closer.
His force have a reaction code of 2,1,2,1,1,1,1,1 10pts.
They are attempting to go into melee but haven’t suffered casualties so roll on the Melee column of Table 2. The Cardinal rolls better dice and gets a ‘3’. This gives a ‘p’ result: “Group packs up ready to go. If contacted it fights at less effect. However when called upon to move away from the enemy it gets a 50% bonus.”
They refuse to go in and start the fight. They come to a juddering halt a move from the solitary police squad and stand there glaring unconvincing at them. They’re probably already edging back. The Cardinal crosses out the first ‘2’ from his reaction code.
The solitary squad spends one point, draws its batons and decides to charge the Cardinal’s force.
The police had a reaction code of 2,3,2,2,3,2,1,1 16pts.
They test on the Melee column of Table 2 and roll a 6. This is a ‘q’ result: “Group will endeavour to close with the enemy with the aim of engaging them in close combat.”
They surge forwards into the Cardinal’s mob. Let us do the close combat:
The police are charging in on a ‘q’ result so roll a d12. They are outnumbered so roll instead a d10. Because they have a wall of riot shields they roll up one die so roll a d12. (This is a fudge to allow for their better equipment and training.)
The Cardinal’s force has a ‘p’ for their reaction result so roll a d6. There are no other factors.
The Police roll 7, the Cardinal’s force, obviously through sheer inertia roll 6. The difference of 1 means that the police must roll a 1 or 2 to take a base off. They roll a ‘4’. So obviously they were being gentle with their batons. But still the Cardinal’s force must test reaction, this time as melee with casualties. (Not enough to lose a base but still nominal casualties because they lost a round of close combat.)
The next number on the Cardinal’s reaction code is a 1, so he rolls a d6 on the Melee and Casualties column on Table 2 and gets a 2. This is a ‘k’ result: “Group fires to absolutely no effect and goes back to next cover. Counts as having disintegrated.”
So the result of the close combat is that the Cardinal’s force has legged it for the cover provided by the Municipal Halls and will have to be rallied. The police main force put down covering fire on the corner of the Municipal Leisure Centre. Should the Admiral’s group attempt to come back round the corner, the police have the option to shoot first.
Rolls: Conspirators 2; Police 8.
Now the General enters the stage, already cursing his dice. For one point his heavy maintenance droid reaches the north door and smashes through it. Unfortunately with only one more point to spend, his group barely leaves the building where they’d been hiding. It will take them another two moves to cross the road and reach the now demolished north gate. The Admiral and Cardinal can huddle ineffectively in cover. There are no command points left to allow them to move or rally their forces. The police out in the square hold their line. In the compound the Dignity Battalion put down covering fire on the door.
Rolls: Conspirators 2; Police 2.
The General’s group gets to the North door and waits in cover. The Admiral and Cardinal, still with no points, continue to huddle ineffectively unable to move or rally. The Police and Dignity Battalion maintain their covering fire.
Rolls: Conspirators 2; Police 8.
Whilst he would have liked more points to play with, the General knows he has to strike now before the police come back to reinforce the compound. With one point he moves the heavy maintenance droid forward towards the barricade to provide cover for his assault. With his other point he pushes his gunmen through the shattered gate.
The Dignity Battalion are laying down covering fire so fire first. They roll a d12, but only get a three. The attackers aren’t wearing armour so the difference between armour and weapon is 3.
So there has been some sort of hit. Three squads firing at 3 is 9, but they’re firing at four squads, which divides the total by 4, and drops nine to just over 2. Because of the cover this final difference is halved to just over 1.
The General’s force has a reaction code of 2, 2,2,1,2,1,2,2 14pts.
At the moment the 14pts is important. On the casualty table they have fewer than 15 points so with a final difference of 1, the Dignity Battalion must roll a 1 or 2 to take out a base. They roll a 1. The attackers are down to three bases.
The attackers have to react, surprised with casualties on the ‘2’ table. The General’s dice rolling is as bad as that of his colleagues, he gets a 1 which is a ‘g’ result: “Group falls back to nearest cover in as direct a line as possible, avoiding impassable terrain. Once there they take one move without moving or firing to regroup.” The attackers fall back through the door and then across the street for cover.
In the police turn, a sergeant from the Dignity Battalion switches the maintenance droid off. The others take up firing positions along the North Wall.
The Admiral’s roistering rioters fade back into The Stews where tales of their adventures, exaggerated for dramatic effect, are told repeatedly throughout the night. The Cardinal’s force quietly fades into respectable anonymity. The General has a more serious problem: there are dead and wounded sprawled across the tiles of the Baile’s compound. At some point somebody is going to ask the survivors questions and the General has no doubt that they’ll get answers. Before order can be restored, the General and a convoy of battered vehicles drive carefully over the ford to the north of town and disappear into the distance.
COULD THE GENERAL HAVE WON?
It was unlikely that the Admiral’s forces would break the police lines, but the General could have hoped for them to put up a better show. Had the police experienced genuine problems the Dignity Battalion might have been forced to split its attention between North and South doors.
Failing that, whilst the use of a maintenance droid was a good way to break down a door (nobody is going to stop a maintenance droid just going about its business) it didn’t provide much cover and didn’t have any impact on the defenders.
Crashing through the door in an armoured truck, all guns blazing, has a lot to recommend it, but for the fact that with the drones in the air, the truck would have been spotted before it got anywhere close to the door.
An improvised mortar, a drone loaded with explosives, or a blasting charge attached to the droid, might have been able to keep the defender's heads down and give the attackers time to get in through the door. There again, you get what you get, not what you want.
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