Sunday, 14 July 2019

'Carry On up the Nile!: Player Briefings

One aspect of any Matrix Game that a designer has to get right is the Personal Briefing given to each player. These set down their personal goals (for want of a better description, their 'Victory Conditions') as well as some idea of their character's motivations and attitudes.

For 'Carry On up the Nile!' I wrote the following Personal Briefings.

General Charles Gordon
  • Be devout at all opportunities
  • Always exhibit your single-mindedness; after all, it got you where you are today … stuck in a stinking city in the Sudan, surrounded by people who want to kill you
  • Act courageously whenever possible
  • Be as difficult as possible in your dealings with Sir Garnet (For example, remind him as often as possible that you command the garrison of Khartoum); after all, he is a ‘Johnny-come-lately’ who knows little of the Sudan and its people

General Sir Garnet Wolseley
  • Always act heroically
  • Try to enforce the fact that you are now in charge of the defenders of Khartoum (For example, remind General Gordon as often as possible that you command the force sent to relieve him, and was told by the Prime Minster and the Commander-in-Chief to take charge of the situation); after all, you consider yourself the best man for the job
  • Always act imperiously ... especially with subordinates who are not your acolytes

General Sir Sydney Ruff-Diamond
  • Act venially most of the time
  • Be self-serving whenever the opportunity arises
  • Be unflappable in a crisis
  • Stop for tiffin if the opportunity arises
  • If the opportunity arises, get even with the Khasi of Kalabar for dropping you right in it when he led the revolt on the North West Frontier that lost you the plumb job of Governor

The (slightly Mad) Mahdi
  • Always act in a slightly demented but saintly manner
  • Be single-minded regarding the ridding of the Sudan of all ferengi
  • Express your belief that Allah will ensure your victory
  • Lead by contemplating serious and religious matters in your tent

The Khafi
  • Always act heroically
  • Lead from the front
  • Regularly express your belief that you will lead the army to victory over the ferengi
  • Give unswerving loyalty of the army and the Mahdi

The Khasi of Kalabar
  • Act venially most of the time
  • Frequently express your resentment of the British in general and Sir Sydney Ruff-Diamond in particular
  • Lead your loyal Bhurpas from the front; after all, they have followed you into exile and deserve to be treated as elite troops
  • If the opportunity arises, get even with Sir Sydney Ruff-Diamond for forcing you and your followers into exile; after all, spending the rest of your life in exile on an estate in East Anglia was going to be your punishment

As you will notice, the briefings are not always mutually exclusive in their objectives, and may well result in players co-operating even if they are on opposite sides, or being at each other's throats even though they are nominally on the same side. There is obviously going to be tension between Generals Gordon and Wolseley, and there is every likelihood that should the situation arise, there might well be a 'war within a war' if the paths followed by the Khazi and Sir Sydney cross at any point.


  1. This is the first time I saw this. I detect a slight tongue in cheekiness. Are there special rules for the Devils in Skirts and repurposed musical Gatling guns?

    1. Sbriddon8,

      It was supposed to be a fun session that would enable players to try out a tactical-level Matrix Game.

      The joy of PBOM is that the players can argue that there should be special rules for the 'Devils in skirts' and re-purposed musical Gatling guns!

      All the best,


  2. Love the briefings. Especially Gordon and the (Slightly) Mad Mahdi.

    1. Nundanket,

      If you loved the briefings, I think that you'll love the battle report even more!

      All the best,