[Only a few days left to back Tales of the Mongoose and Meerkat Volume 3: The Redemption of Alness!]
When we first started doing the Mongoose and Meerkat books, one of the things I wanted to do for fun on the side as bonus content was do write-ups of parts of the stories that could be used at the gaming table.
This hearkened back to my days of reviewing short pulp fiction and talking about ways in which one could easily adapt short adventure fiction into adventures at the game table. One of the first examples of this was where I showed how you could run Fritz Leiber’s Jewels in the Forest with as little as a single stat block. Later, as something of a tour de force, I not only came up with some stats for Basil Wells’ Raiders of the Second Moon, I eventually ran it as a mini hex crawl for my gaming group.
So, it only seemed natural to provide some examples of how you could adapt elements of Mongoose & Meerkat into your game. I’m still very proud of the writeup I did in volume one for Battlefield of Keres, which can be dropped as an adventuring location into your hexcrawl. I’ve heard at least one person has tried it out and had fun with it.
My own tastes in gaming have changed, largely thanks to my experience with the BROSR. One thing we discovered was the greater wargame at work in AD&D. We went from some impressive skirmishes in the United Caveman Federation in the Trollopulous game to some insanely large-scale battles, such as the Battle for Castle Brovenloft, in the Halloween Braunstein Kes ran last October.
This coincides nicely with the climax of Tales of the Mongoose and Meerkat: while Kat and Mangos have been adventuring together, Mangos has been spending his money on wine, women, and antique weapons, but Kat has been saving her money to raise an army. Following the turning point in Death and Renewal and Thunder in the North, M&M’s scale shifts towards domain level play. The scale is smaller than what we’ve played in our Braunsteins and the factions fewer, but it’s there: Kat and the Alnessi remnants on one side, Rhygir and his free company on another, and Bardor’s Fedai as something of a wildcard.
The second to last Mongoose and Meerkat story features a set piece battle between the Alnessi and the Rhygirians. Mangos, a fighting man, has his first opportunity to command troops and fight on the line.
Flight of the Mongoose is a cool story, but there’s plenty of fodder for dragon hunting to incorporate into your game. I decided to focus instead on Trapped in the Loop, which will first appear in Volume 3 but will later be serialized in the Fall issue this year.
One challenge is that I’ve been primarily writing from a B/X viewpoint, while my gaming and interests have shifted to AD&D. Both B/X and AD&D have the tactical wargame embedded in them, though B/X merely hints at it and ultimately eschews it completely in favor of the “War Machine” rules. You can still use it, though, it’s merely a matter of scaling [1 figure = 20 men, multiply damage done by a unit by the number of figures on the front line, subtract the number of figures killed from the opposing unit].
I ultimately gave the unit stats in AD&D terms with a few notes for if you’re using a system with AC 9 as its baseline [eg. treat units with Scale armor as having Plate -1].
I think the characters themselves ought to convert easily enough, though I do not intent to rework all of their stats’ effect tables.
One conundrum was Kat’s Dragon Steel plate armor. I didn’t feel like rewriting her as a Fighter/Thief dual-class. She’d always been a high-dex fighter, which is more consistent in B/X with the Thief class than the Fighter class [Thief is the big damage-dealer in B/X when used correctly]. The Dragon Steel plate she gets is explicitly ultralight [lighter than Silvecite (think Elven/Mithril equivalent)], flexible, and custom fit to her, so I decided that it would be easier to treat it as an artifact-level item that has properties of magic plate AND leather, so she can get around the class restriction and still keep her dex bonus. She can’t use Thief skills in it, but it’s something of an equalizer against Rhygir, who is a very strong fighting man with Silvecite full plate.
Anyway, I hope you’ll enjoy what I’ve cooked up for the bonus content this time around and might consider either trying it out or trying out large-scale battles in your D&D game. They’re a lot of fun and that’s where you really discover the soul of D&D.