From the archives, Prince Michael's first battle.
The main drive is partly to play a different sort of tabletop miniature game and partly to do an homage to the Prince Valiant comic strips. (As an aside, comic strip seems like an inappropriate term since the stories were not comic in nature but to re-label them as something else now smacks of revisionism and of confusing labels with substance.) This game will bring three things to the table which are not usually seen there; skirmish gaming, magic and non-human figures, centaurs actually.
I did play a little D&D back around 1976 and did once have a few conventional wargame units (sic) of elves, dwarves, orcs and so on but its probably been more than 30 years since such a thing has appeared on my table. Skirmish games have not been as rare, I doubt if I've ever gone more than 5 years in between playing or staging one, but they aren't a main stay of my gaming despite trying to talk myself into it several times as the best way to do multiple periods.
The skirmish game is a natural for a Prince Valiant setting being at least if not more common than battles but I admit that the centaurs are just out of place. There were episodes with monsters such as giant reptiles but I don't recall ever seeing mythical creatures. Still, since I now have them, (they came bundled with other figures) I figure I may as well use them and I won't promise not to field goblins or dwarves or dragons at some future date, after all, these are Prince Michael's adventures. Magic is a little different. There was magic in Prince Valiant but it tends to leave you unsure as to whether it was real or smoke, potions and wisdom with perhaps a bit of "the second sight". I'll try to keep this in mind when drawing up rules.
Characters in waiting, all by Merten. left to right, front to back: mother and son, name unknown as yet, unknown lady, servant perhaps?, enchantress, Lady Lila with hawk, Princess Inara mounted and on foot (when priming the mounted princess could not be found until just after I'd finished which is a good guide to her character.) Back row, centaurs with one of the Dukes knights for comparison, the human half of these centaurs is big!!
A quest or task is often central to traditional adventures so the game will be based on such a task with the adventures being just things that happen along the way. The premise so far is Prince Michael and his companions have been tasked by Duke Stephen to proceed to Belmont Castle and then escort Princess Inara to the hunting lodge at Poplar Grove. Rather than take the long road around, he decides to take a short cut through the Perilous Forest.This is where we will begin.
One of the reasons the forest is called Perilous is that it is criss crossed with paths that seem to change every time you go in. My idea at this point is to start with a table top forest with no paths. Each turn I will dice to see if there is 1,2,3 or 0 paths ahead and will then select one to follow for that turn. Once laid out, I will leave them on the table but I won't map them so they will be gone by the next day/game so when the Princess insists that Michael take her back through the forest to the hunting lodge rather than going around, it will be just as dangerous.
While travelling through the forest there will of course be encounters. Some dangerous, some benign, possibly even some helpful. I'm currently working on whether I want to roll for an encounter and then pick one of say a dozen pre-prepared ones or if I want to randomly place markers on the table and have Michael stumble on one if the path comes close. I'm not much on roll playing but luckily Prince Valiant was more about 3rd party narrative so I won't subject myself to role playing encounters and dicing for reactions, I'll just dice to see if the encounter is friendly, neutral or hostile and then resolve it, for example, an encounter with a witch might put the party to sleep with consequent loss of time and you sure don't want to be in the forest at night!
So far the following encounters are envisaged.
1) A party of Centaurs who may be hostile to trespassers
2) A witch/A beautiful enchantress
3) A large bear
4) A giant crocodile
5) A marauding band of Saxon raiders
6) A marauding band of Picts lying in ambush
7) A woman in distress and needing to be escorted to safety
8) A knight errant seeking fame and adventure
Any other suggestions?