Sunday, December 25, 2022

An Encounter Table for a Weird Napoleonic War Zone

    This is for a certain someone on a certain server, as a Secret Santa type dealio.

Source: Old Guard by Den4oStojanov

    The Emperor fights a war on four fronts! From the Portuguese Remnants, in their once-colony of Brasil, the Peninsular Army assaults His western shores, and on His eastern borders each nation of the Coalition masses 150,000 men. To punish Albion He has bade no continental power deal with them; to punish the defecting Russians He has sent a half-million of the finest soldiers of Europe to ravage all the Russias. In the cold Atlantic His navy steadily loses ground (or water, mayhaps) to the proud Briton and the perfidious Dutchman.

    If it were down to strength of arm only, the Emperor might still prevail, even against three-quarters of the world. But the Hermetic and Shamanic traditions of His enemies bedevil His soldiers, influence His commanders, intercept His communications, and slowly turn the tide.

    Only one thing can save the Forever-Emperor; the New Medicine and the tireless soldiers it promises him. Uniting the science of Galvani, Volta, Dippel, Paracelsus and Hippocrates, New Medicine is a vital practice for making armies of dead out of dead armies, for sewing the good bits together to make 5 new soldiers out of 10 old worn-out ones. What's more, these New Medics have begun experimenting in the rebalancing of humors — a little too much blood makes one tired and feverish, but what does much too much blood do? When your heart beats black bile and your brain stews in the cold, dry element, what then?

    But I don't need to tell you all of this. It's ancient history now in our terrifyingly modern 20th Century; how the Emperor's undead marines swarmed from their sinking ships up the sides of Nelson's and tore the British sailors limb from limb; how Prince Kutuzov was hanged by the neck from his own artillery by grinning corpses who needed no food, no water, no shelter, no light, no rest; the fate of Lisbon and Porto and Braga and Coimbra. Napoleon's star rose, and would shine until the Great War ended all war...

    Enough for the moment. Let's talk about the sort of thing you might find in a Weird Napoleonic War Zone:

All Russias

    The Tsar trusted General Winter to halt the French advance, but the dead don't mind mud, and the killing-cold can't kill them. Moscow is burned and the Russian Army routed, and still the French hunt for deserters and merchants' hidden treasure-troves in the snow and black dirt.
2. Zmei Gorinich, a proud young Russian nobleman from over Siberia way, is occupying a nearby castle to watch the next battle from its tower. He seems totally unconcerned with what might happen to him if the French win — or the starving Russian conscripts, for that matter. His three wives (in Eastern style) are glad to invite you in, and watch you over their silk fans at dinner, giggling. Won't you stay the night?
3. A small crowd of Domovoi trample in circles in the dust of the road, discussing the terms of their surrender. Their primary concern is protecting the local peasantry, and the fact that if they approach the French camp they will be eaten.
4. A small inn on the edge of the forest serves both sides. A sign declares this to be the "Sky-blue Rodent". Inside, a tremendously fat Turkish barkeep maintains peace between Russian officers and French technicians as they play game after game of grueling, high-stakes billiards.
5. A farm and its granary burn down as the farmer watches. His family, dead already of foreign disease, are all buried behind the house. He waits with a gun for the first Frenchman he sees, living or dead.
6. Battle lines drawn up. The swirling mass of mostly-Frenchmen, with their eyes and mouths sewn wide open, wait at the bottom of a hill for some unknown signal. The Russians ready their heavy cannons and a wall of Congreves loaded with a chemical that will reduce the French soldiers to slavering and disobedient ghūls.
7. Recurring Character
8. A brutal melee between undead and Russians, in the wreck of their artillery and the stink of dead horses. The ground has been churned into mud hip-deep, and even the tireless undead are slowing on this Hellish battlefield.
9. A long line of bodies with bullet-holes through their skulls. Half a mile off, a sniper is watching you, and will fire if she sees you investigate or try and cross the line described by their corpses. Just a little beyond that line a spilled horsecart reveals the glint of twenty kilos of gold ecu.
10. A military camp of insane undead, who have killed all but the barely necessary technicians. They have declared themselves independent, and what's more: they have declared themselves to be French citizens who possess all rights due to them.
11. A treasure-trove of war-materiel on the banks of an ice-spanned river. There's a large suspicious hole in the middle and no sign of whoever left all these guns.
12. Koncek, some barbarian Khan from the south, is hiring any and all adventurers and mercenaries to recover a treasure for him. Far away from here is a lake, and in the center of that lake is an island, and on the center of that island is a dungeon, and in the heart of that dungeon is a chest, and you don't need to know what all's in the chest, you just need to know Koncek will pay you for it with its weight in rubies, ivory, silk and incense.


    From the Black Sea to the Atlantic, from the Mediterranean to the Baltic, in the mountains of Switzerland and on the floodplains of the Netherlands, through the frozen fields of Scandinavia and over the sun-bathed hills of Iberia, all the fighting-men and materiel and wealth of Europe, North Africa, India and America fight for or against Napoleon, who some call the Antichrist and others the Emperor of the World. New technology meets old magic and finds it wanting.
2: Scholomance, a great dragon, lazily flies above a battlefield sending down bolts of lightning and tonnes of hail. He's interested in selling his services (swift flight, control over weather), but so far no one has been brave enough to take him up on it. Maybe Scholomance is frustrated enough to offer a deal to an intrepid entrepreneur?
3: A group of local peasants have had enough of these stitched-together nightmares, and have dug a pit across the highway. They'll be killed to the last man when the Emperor's Afflicted roll through. Most of them will be cut up and stitched together themselves. You can try to convince them otherwise, but they're fairly worked up with their torches and pitchforks and aren't in a talking mood.
4: Portuguese guerillas wait in the trees for the Spanish to march by. Their skin flickers and shifts like a dream of a chameleon. Their flesh is beginning to melt, and their poison blood is beginning to kill them. None of them will see home again.
5: Battalion of Life Guard, eviscerated by grapeshot, lying in slithery heaps in pools of their own blood, moaning for death. They're so full of elixir it's dribbling from their opened guts; there's another few cases in their tents three miles back, if you're interested in looking the Reaper in the eyesocket and spitting in his bony face.
6: A dozen French sharpshooters stand in a small huddle, smoking, waiting for the command to move out. A necromancer and his team of surgeons are quietly measuring their spines, skulls and limbs with calipers and tailor's tapes.
7: Recurring Character
8: A detachment of Prussian soldiers, mostly clockwork. Humboldt's Kosmogeist means they no longer depend on the large, vulnerable meat-brains they were born with; the only fleshy part left of them is their eyes.
9: Austrian cuirassiers ride by, so heavily armored they can't rise or be separated from their horses. Their swords are three yards long, their lances ten, and the steel plates on their body are a yard thick. If there are living men and horses underneath all of that, they aren't making any sound.
10: An Austrian war-eagle, with two heads and feathers of gold bullion, flies overhead with a mocking scream. Take cover quickly; that whistling sound is coming from the fire-bombs.
11: Out in the field are three shallow graves containing three coffins containing maybe 40 of the Emperor's best, all in pieces. Their sabers, rifles and cannons have been pitched into a nearby ravine.
12: Talleyrand, with a young man's heart and eyes and skin but still his old man's brain, is riding out to survey the damage with a small troop of bodyguards. He'd be grateful to hear what the PCs have to think about all of this. "Who seeks peace should prepare for war", he quotes.


    Napoleon was master of the Channel, not for six hours, but for years and years and years. With every tide another five-thousand French soldiers beach themselves and march towards London, Birmingham, Exeter, Sheffield. The Scots are agitating for an understanding with Napoleon; the Irish are agitating for an understanding with Napoleon; the Welsh and the Cornish and the Manx want an understanding with Napoleon. These days it seems King George's only friends are the Seelie and Unseelie Courts. These days it seems those are the only friends he needs.
2: A clanking money-elemental, vast and scintillating and serpentine and gore-spattered, crawls blindly through the woods seeking a debtor. The Crown sees no reason to risk His armies when He can risk His funds instead; so much gold and silver in one place has had predictable consequences.
3: In this deserted bay, the some of the flotsam of the Battle of Trafalgar has washed ashore. The British ships are plain wood, but the Franco-Spanish frigates were sewn from living flesh and bone, and have quickly rotted to poisonous skeletons.
4: A many-legged mitrailleuse scuttles along, apparently piloted by a bridge of leprechauns. As you come into view, the bald captain orders a mate to "divert power to forward shields".
5: Two zouaves (whose faces are tanned leathery except for the pale patch where they recently shaved their beard) lead a score of Norwegian mercenaries in looting a cathedral. The Anglican minister stands outside, red-faced and indignant. "We stole this from the Papists fair and square", he insists.
6: A blood-choked swamp of crocodiles and sandstone ruins. The air is strange, as if the sun is brighter here than in the rest of England. Human pieces stick from the stinking water, and in the distance one can hear the shrieks of shells and dying men.
7: Recurring Character
8: Press-ganged New Englanders with smoothbore muskets stumble along to the whip-crack of a "British" officer wearing two top hats.
9: A legion, in a surprisingly accurate sense of the word, marches towards a distant besieged town in ranks forty men wide and files a hundred men deep. Some wear bronze maille, others ride chargers in painted armor, others are dressed like Merry Men or Norman men-at-arms or bearded vikings. Each soldier is pale and wan and blinking in the sun, and each officer has leaves woven into their hair and plays panpipes.
10: Just off the coast, a British ship of the line fends off the tentacles of a terrible Kraken. When its great limbs wash ashore, they will be revealed to be sewn from the arms and legs of a hundred African laborers.
11: Treacherous red-headed Fenians wait in ambush for G_d-fearing, King-loving Britons. Their lances are sharp as thorns, their deer are shod in fairy-silver, and their tiny Irish brains are sodden with cheap liquor.
12: Arthur Wellesley, 1st Duke of Wellington, was slain by Danes and Norwegians shortly after his arrival in Scandinavia. No one is sure what, exactly, is animating his headless corpse. He doesn't appear to be stuffed with Prussian clockwork, or Imperial modified-organ-meat. He isn't soaked in Fairy elixir or glamour. He doesn't even even seem to be a ghost. Perhaps, his soldiers suggest, he wanders the highways cutting down his foes because that's just how much he hates the French.


  1. Damn, I need a whole setting like this now, and it is all your fault.

    1. Well you're in luck, because I'll be writing a couple more posts about this setting Thank you for your comment.

  2. seems relevant here.