Duty & Honour

By on 11 October 2008

Farewell and adieu to you Spanish ladies
Farewell and adieu to you ladies of Spain
For we have received orders to sail home to England
But we hope very soon we shall see you again

Redcoat shanty, Peninsular wars 1813

Duty and Honour, a game of adventure and romance in Wellington’s army by Neil Gow www.omnihedron.co.uk

Whilst serving at sea in the Royal Navy I became accustomed to the ‘Sharpe’ series of books and Videos (in the old days) and I loved it!! Then two Conceptions ago i played ‘Sharpe’s Revenge’ an excellent scenario run by Nathon Barron using Chaosium’s BRP system. Now we have a game set specificity in this historic period so i duly ordered a copy of the £12 book. From sending the author the money the book was in my hands 24 hours later – Excellent!!!!

To the book itself, its available from Lulu or the author direct, its a perfect bound 128 page book, with a glossed cover depicting a traditional British redcoat and an officer type set against a sepia picture depicting some Spanish castle, very nice. The book is a strange size as far as RPG books go and I think that this was probably in keeping with the ‘Osprey’ range of historical military books. The internal pages have a bleed picture throughout of a skirmish painting of the period, done in grey scale with clean well laid out texts and illustrations of varying quality (not poor though, the artist Peter Frain has done a very good job IMO)

The character creation could be deemed quite in-depth for an ‘indie’ game system, but it provides the players with a sound basing for game play.
Characters are created by spending experiences on either before or after enlistment skills (or split between both). The experiences are generated by drawing playing cards (this game uses no dice) and referencing the relevant table and transferring the result to your character’s skills, traits and reputations, you also gain points for your choice of social class and job within the infantry, and any campaigns fought in thus far. The party need to work together here so that there is really only one officer, one NCO and a few privates (all players contribute to game regardless of rank so no beef there). IMO this method creates a character than the player can mould to his only play style and and instant player/character bond is formed.

Tests and conflict resolution – This is nice and simple first the player and GM will build a pool of cards (for example lets say private Murphy of the 62nd regiment of foot has found himself guarding the daughter of the Portuguese ambassador and wishes to speak with her, the player will use his skills, traits and reputations to build his pool, so lets say young Murphy has the following he can use He has 2 cards in charm (this is called a measure and is one of 4 main categories Guts. Discipline, Influence and Charm) he also has a score of 3 cards in courtesy and has one card in reputation ‘The Lady Roshine’ (the ambassadors daughter), this gives private Murphy a pool of 6 cards for this test. The GM will create a pool for Lady Roshine maybe she doesnt want the smelly guard to talk to her. Once both sides have created their pools and the stakes of the conflict have been set the GM will turn the top card of his deck over for all to see, this is the card all tests will be resolved against and is called the card of fate pool cards are then tested against the CoF. If any of your cards is the same suit as the CoF that’s a ‘success’, if any cards are the same number as the CoF that’s a ‘critical success’, if a card is the same card as the CoF that’s a ‘perfect success’ remaining cards are all deemed failures except the joker which can be any card you wish it to be. Once all cards are tested start with ‘perfect successes’ then move to ‘critical successes’ then to ‘successes’ so if private Murphy has a ‘critical success and the GM has only got a ‘success’ private Murphy’s player narrates the outcome within the stakes set out at the start, simple yet effective it works really well and its fast.

There are a slightly different set of rules for skirmishes (battles of up to 50 men) with player successes each adding a card to the commanders final test, which makes even the most lowly private an important part of any military mission.
Missions (the scenario) – The single military mission will be the same for all players and will be made up of a number of challenges set by the players (normally 4-6) on top of that each player will have a personal mission to complete aswell. this allows the players to frame the kind of game they want for example the military mission may be something as simple as Re-enforce the seiged village of Guimares, however the players may decide this is a 5 challenge mission and state that challenge number one is Visit the monks at Sentano Abbey to procure a map of the local area, however they must complete the mission within the set challenges else fail the mission.

Further rules apply for extended skirmishes and also bring cavalry and artillery into the fold, all cool things to throw at your players, the final section is all about designing missions and running the game, once again very useful.

External support for the game is very good with a lot of stuff to help the GM on the website, and the author is amazing at answering any questions (which he has many for me lol)

This is a great little game from a company that really seems to care and for that alone he deserves to succeed

Overall Score 9/10 Recommended 😀

Reviewed by Mick Red

About Dave McAlister

Dave has been roleplaying for over 30 years, having played and/or run most mainstream systems with the espionage genre being an early favourite. So much so that, in 1999, he started Modus Operandi. That same year he joined the Sarbreenar "Living" campaign team as their plotline controller before moving across to the Living Spycraft campaign team (as UK Regional Branch Director) in 2003. 2003 also saw the birth of UK Role Players as well as Dave's first freelance writing appointment (co-writing World Militaries and consulting on both US Militaries and Battlegrounds, all for Spycraft). Since then, Dave has concentrated on supporting the UK gaming scene. He has organised and run several small, one-day, events and was the RPG Area Manager for Gen Con UK in 2004. His current favourite systems are Dungeons & Dragons (specifically 5th Edition), Savage Worlds and Cinematic Unisystem. He has a (currently neglected) blog at dave.mcalister.org.uk and runs a D&D 5e SRD website at DnD5e.info.

One Comment

  1. Shane Ivey

    12 January 2009 at 10:13 pm

    I picked up this game at Dragonmeet and spoke pretty extensively with the author there, and I’m quite taken with it. The system hangs together very well, with each aspect of a character both giving means to success in the story and providing an immediate path to a storyline, and each part of a storyline putting an aspect of the character at risk.

    My only real wish is for more “meat and potatoes” details that I could insert into the game to bring the setting and the “stakes setting” to life for players who aren’t familiar with the source material already; I would love to see that kind of material in the “Almanac” downloads that Omnihedron puts out.

    I hope to coerce my players into trying it out soon. If they balk, there’s the lash!

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