Where Pterodactyls Dare by Marcus L. Rowland

Issue: 17
System: Tusk
Publisher: Irregular Miniatures

Where Pterodactyls Dare
by Marcus L. Rowland


Early in the 20th century, Professor Challenger and his associates discovered Maple White Land, popularly known as the 'Lost World'. Its inhabitants included primitive ape-men, an Indian tribe and dinosaurs. At the end of their adventure they escaped with a caged pterodactyl, some other specimens, a few photographs and diamonds worth 200,000.

World War One. Britain desperately needs industrial diamonds and cash. Official thoughts turn to the still-untapped resources of an isolated Brazilian plateau, and to the man who knows it best. Professor Challenger will lead a secret Naval expedition to the plateau, find as many diamonds as possible, then return to the Amazon, where a gunboat will pick them up for the return journey.

Germany also needs cash and diamonds, and has some very good spies in Whitehall. They have learned the true location of Maple White Land, and a Zeppelin has been sent to seize the diamonds for the Fatherland; due to the difficulties of an Atlantic crossing by Zeppelin, the force it carries is relatively small.

As the scenario begins, both groups are on the plateau; due to delays climbing the plateau, and some time spent reestablishing peaceful relationships with the Indians, the British force is ready to move towards the diamonds at about the same time as the Zeppelin arrives and moors to land troops. It will take several hours to dig up all the readily accessible diamonds, so the opposition must be defeated first.


Irregular Miniatures packs "Sir Harry and Party" and "Cavemen" for Tusk, or equivalents. Purists may want to add some WWI German sailors and officers. Some dead dinosaur figures or markers are also useful. A complete Zeppelin model is probably more trouble that it's worth

Set Up:

The play area is 60cm square; on all sides there's a gentle slope towards a circular crater, about 20cm wide, at the centre of the area, which is a pterodactyl-infested swamp. There are rocks around the rim of the crater, and the rest of the terrain is grassland or lightly wooded. Exact details are unimportant.

There are three carnivorous megalosaurs loose in the area; all use the Tyrannosaurus Rex reaction table and movement rate. After players have picked ends, place them on the edges of the swamp, using D6 to find positions eg. 1 = 12 o'clock, 2 = 2 o'clock, etc. Re-roll any positions that are duplicated.

Special Rules:

Both forces are large, and get 1D6+6 Action Points (AP) each turn. Human units use the same rolls to attack each other as to attack dinosaurs; dinosaurs are bigger and tougher, but humans are much better at dodging.

Any unit forced to retreat out of the area (eg. chased by a dinosaur, fleeing a fire, etc.) is routed and cannot return.

Any human unit within 5cm of the edge of the swamp will be attacked by pterodactyls; they have nuisance value only, subtracting 1 from all rolls to hit. It isn't easy to shoot straight when a pterodactyl is trying to peck your eyes out! There are too many to make attacking them practical; shoot one, and another instantly takes its place. Pterodactyls don't attack dinosaurs. Any unit actually entering the swamp is reduced to half speed; humans can't fight at all since they must devote all their energy to evading pterodactyls.

If any megalosaur is killed, another enters the area from the nearest point on the edge at the start of the next turn; if left alone it will move to the nearest corpse (dinosaur or human) and start to eat it. If any megalosaur is driven out of the area, another enters the area from the nearest point on the opposite edge at the start of the next turn.

Herbivorous iguanodons also play a part in this scenario; they are partially controlled by Indians, otherwise reactions and movement are as a brontosaurus. If a megalosaur comes within 10cm of an iguanodon it will move in to attack and the iguanadon will try to flee. If iguanadons are killed or driven out of the area they will not return and should not be replaced.

Dinosaur versus dinosaur combat is an uncontrolled thrashing melee, moving randomly (roll as for wind movement). Both dinosaurs will break off in panic flight if they encounter fire, otherwise combat continues to the death. Megalosaurs kill iguanodons on a roll of 9 - 12, and will then start to dine if undisturbed. Iguanadons kill megalosaurs on a roll of 11 - 23, and will then panic flee. On a 2D6 roll of 8 - 12, a randomly-selected base within 2cm of the melee is stomped each round the combat continues.

All cover (such as the rocks around the swamp, the corpse of a dinosaur, etc.) reduces incoming missile fire attacking rolls by 1.


The Germans have 20 points to spend on forces, but only the "Victorian Science Fiction" types are available. One dog, the Zeppelin's mascot. may optionally be taken.

Additional to these units, the Zeppelin has two machine guns which are treated as artillery, but are immobile while the Zeppelin is moored. The mooring ropes are long enough to make immune from dinosaur and melee attacks, but projectile weapons (guns, bows, etc.) can be used to attack the machine guns.

Cutting the moorings takes one turn and costs 1 AP; thereafter the Zeppelin drifts with the breeze, 5cm per turn, (roll 1D8 as for fire movement), nut there is no guarantee that it won't drift towards a fire or the swamp, or off the field.

If any fire comes within 2.5cm of the Zeppelin, it catches fire and explodes, setting fire to all areas within 2.5cm of its base.

If it drifts over the swamp, it is swarmed by pterodactyls, and will be critically damaged on a 2D6 roll of 11 - 12, crashing at the end of the following round and destroying both guns.

If it drifts or is flown out of the area it can't manoeuvre back in time to play any further part in the battle.

Starting the engines is possible (cost 1AP), but the Zeppelin then speeds forward at 20cm/turn, without course changes, rapidly leaving the field, and can't manoeuvre back until the battle is over. If the other German units are defeated, the Zeppelin crew can't complete the mission.

Set Up: the Zeppelin is moored at the German end of the field; pterodactyls are attacking it. ripping the fabric and the Captain fears that the damage will be irreparable if it comes any closer to the swamp. He has been forced to stop the engines, since pterodactyls were flying into the airscrews and could damage them. Represent its mooring position by two artillery pieces at the ends of a 10cm base; one end of the base (the aft gun) must be no more than 5cm from the edge of the field. It can't move, except by cutting its moorings as above. All other German forces are within 5cm of the Zeppelin.

Objective: seize the swamp and drive off or eliminate the British. The British are driven off if all British bases are killed or driven out of the area; Indians left behind by a British retreat will rout.

Problems: if the Zeppelin is destroyed the German forces are cut off. They don't know the terrain and have no idea of the ground route off the plateau. This means that they must surrender. The British aren't known to have any guns capable of harming it, but fire could be a problem.


The British have 30 points to spend on forces, but artillery isn't available (they've just scaled a 500 ft cliff), and at least 10 points must be spent on natives (cavemen). Dogs are not available; there are none on the plateau. Professor Challenger (stalwart) must be present; Lord John Roxton (adventurer), Edward Malone (stalwart) and Professor Summerlee (rabble) may optionally be present.

The natives have three 'tame' iguanadons with them. An Indian base must be within 1cm of each iguanadon to control it; an Indian base can control one iguanadon (controlled on a 1D6 roll of 3 - 6: roll before dinosaur reactions), two iguanadons (each controlled on 5 - 6), or three (each controlled on a 6). Iguanadons move with the controlling Indians; 1AP must be spent to move the Indians, none to move the the iguanadons. If the control roll is failed, roll on the brontosaurus reaction table, re-rolling any result (apart from panic flight) which will result in injury to an Indian.

Set Up: units may be placed anywhere within 5cm of your edge of the field. There must be an Indian unit within 1cm of each iguanadon.

Objective: seize the swamp and drive off or eliminate the Germans. The Germans are driven off if all bases are killed or forced off the area, and will surrender if the Zeppelin is destroyed.

Problems: if neither Challenger nor Roxton is present, the Indians will desert; the presence or absence of Summerlee or Malone has no effect. If all British units are destroyed or forced out of the area, the Indians will rout.


This scenario was originally written as a three paragraph outline for Forgotten Futures III: George E. Challenger's Mysterious World, an RPG on disc. Some time after writing it, I happened to ask Alex Stewart about ape-man figures, and he mentioned the Irregular Miniatures collections; in turn, Irregular Miniatures told me about Tusk. Forgotten Futures isn't a wargame, but when I saw the Tusk rules, I realised that I had the makings of a reasonable scenario. Obviously fate was trying to tell me something...

I'm not an experienced wargames writer; while I've done my best to make this reasonably balanced, and add the extra rules needed for Zeppelins, human versus human and dinosaur versus dinosaur combat, there are undoubtedly things that I've missed. Please let me know what they are.

See also:

Ed Note: Tusk is a light hearted set of Mammoth and Dinosaur hunting rules produced by Irregular Miniatures Ltd and was reviewed in Ragnarok 17 (its first supplement Tusk II - The Wrath of Kong was reviewed in Ragnarok 23). For further details regarding price and availability send an SSAE to Irregular Minaitures Ltd, 3 Apollo Street, Heslington Road, York, Y01 5AP.