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Author Topic: Tilea's Troubles, IC2401  (Read 79309 times)

Offline GamesPoet

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Re: Tilean Campaign, IC2401
« Reply #550 on: May 03, 2020, 05:48:02 PM »
A Wallenstein in charge of cuirassiers ... intersting.

I'm going to make believe that he is descended from Captain Von Wallenstein of Crisis in Marienburg, 2201 era.
"Not all who wander are lost ... " Tolkien

"The beauty of curiosity and creativity is so much more useful than the passion of fear." me

"... my old suggestion is forget it, take two aspirins and go paint" steveb

"No them, only us."  U2

Online Padre

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Re: Tilean Campaign, IC2401
« Reply #551 on: May 18, 2020, 02:32:50 PM »
Keep Going!
Somewhere in the mountains of north Tilea, Winter 2403-4

Fricknar had never in all his cruelty-filled life undertaken a journey as difficult as this. They were in such a hurry that they were not allowed to stop for more than a few moments at a time. So far, six nights and five days of almost perpetual motion, a relentless succession of step, step, step; eating, even excreting, on the move. Every now and again he would have to run ahead to shovel something quickly - filling a hole or flattening a lump. Invariably, just as he completed the labour, the trundling engine caught up he was required to move on again.



In his bones he knew that should he continue at this pace another day then it would also become the most painful time of his life, not just the hardest journey. He had been badly beaten three times as a pup, and on the last occasion, as he lay battered and dazed, another pup from his own litter had eaten one of his fingers! He had been wracked with a burning pain in his lungs for countless days when he took a mouthful of warpstone vapour after an manufactory accident. He had been imprisoned in a near airless cage for more than a week as punishment for an infraction he never understood, starved of food and nauseously dizzied by the swinging motion of the cage every time someone pushed it (which many did and often). Right now, his pain and anguish were building up to rival all those past experiences, and by tomorrow, would surely overtake them.

His last task had been to assess the quality of a warpstone batch being offered by a small clan who had acquired it by (the usual) nefarious means. It had been flawed, but still useful, and a price was offered. Before he learned whether the purchase was successful, however, he been ordered to return with all haste to the workshops. Immediately upon doing so, he was assigned this new task - no time for explanations, no rest nor repast, but straight to work.

By the end of the first day he realised he knew none of the engine’s other attendants. Since then there had been little chance to get to know them, what with the incessant motion. Escorting the engine was an all-encompassing task, leaving little time anything else. The tunnels they had travelled through, despite being large, had been irregularly proportioned, in both width and height, and the ground uneven, scattered with tumbled rocks from crumbling walls. Here and there, roots had penetrated the ceiling, and stalagmites and stalactites had been allowed to form along the dampest stretches. Sometimes there was a way around such obstacles, but often they had to be cleared – lifted, hacked or chipped away – and his shovel was a necessary part of nearly all these tasks.



Their orders were clear, and in no uncertain terms: the engine must not collide or scrape against anything, nor should it jolt more than a little, and it should certainly never be allowed to list or careen. Most importantly, it must never stop.

It was possibly the most demanding assignment ever given to anyone, anywhere, at any time.

For a little while he had occupied his mind with attempting to work out whether the attendant who invariably walked in front of the engine, clutching a staff tipped with what appeared to be a fine shard of warpstone …



… or the engine’s driver were responsible for setting the pace, whilst also taking on board the possibility the engine itself might be most to blame. Before he had come to a decision, however, distraction and exhaustion had shattered such trivial considerations.



Now, here in a mountain valley between two tunnel-stretches, on the widest path yet traversed, with no walls or ceiling to concern him, only the ground itself, Fricknar was able to loosen and lift his mask just a little to allow in a breath or two of fresh air, and at long last, he had the chance to talk.



He had questions to ask.

Turning to the attendant closest to him, a red-hooded fellow carrying a tubular locking tool which could loosen any of several bolts on the engine and in the other hand what appeared to be a small gear wheel (presumably ready to replace some potentially defective part) he said,

“I heard we have gift-given much and more to the lord of Foul Peak. Why give this also? Why more and more?”



“Not gifts, no,” said his companion in a whining voice muffled by his mask. “All and everything will be paid for.”

“That matters not,” said Fricknar.

“It matters a lot,” countered the other.

“Yes, yes, to our masters, to the clan. I know-understand,” said Fricknar. “I mean it matters not to what I ask-enquire. Why give him more? Why this most novel, expensive engine? I heard his army has yet to fight one-single battle. His warriors have neither proved themselves capable nor wanting. Yet we fetch-bring such a reinforcement. Why?”

“You do not know-understand what this can do. You did not slave-work on its construction.”

“No, not I,” Fricknar admitted. “I know the quality-worth of warpstone, and I can keep an engine on the move.” He waved his shovel as if to prove the point.

“You have never moved such a one as this.”

Despite having studied the engine on several occasions over the last days, for want of much else to look at during the few moments he had not needed to watch the road, Fricknar looked again.



“I see only a doomwheel, like many others, with a murdering piece fix-attached,” he said.

“Yes, yes, you see that,” scoffed the other. “But what murder this can do. This kills many and much more than anything we have yet made. This might perhaps kill more than any single weapon has ever-ever killed!”

Fricknar looked at the engine again.



“It throws a bomb, yes?” he asked.

“Oh yes,” said the other. “A bomb. One bomb.”

“A poisoned-wind grenado?”

“It throws poison-death, yes, but not wind-vapours. The bomb inside is a thick shell of perfect-pure warpstone, two half-pieces fastened tight-together, and inside that inside is the finest ground-powdered warpstone, the making of which killed many hundred slaves, admixed with black powder in exact and most potent proportion-measure; precise and finely fused to explode the merest moment before touching the ground, which it must-must do, to release flesh-burning death to wash for a hundred and more chebels in each and every direction.”

“Warp-fire?”

“Yes, at first, but then much farther, a pure and poisonous etheric heat, burn-scalding all and only living flesh to a blistered crisp.”

Fricknar fell silent for a while. He had to think this through, for what he had heard did not sit well with his past experiences. Not well at all.

“Precise and finely fused, you spoke-said?” he asked.

“Yes, yes,” said the other. “Most and definitely very necessary.”

“And if, despite your careful care, it explodes too too soon?”

“Think, fool!” said the other, with a snarling hiss Fricknar could sense despite the mask and hood hiding his companion’s face.

He did not need to think. “Too too soon,” said Fricknar, “and we die too.”

“Yes!” said the other, loudly. “If even only a little too soon, then it will not be where we need-want it to be. It must be at the heart of the city. A moment too late and too much heat will pierce the ground - wasteful, for you cannot kill what is already dead.”

“This kills a city?”

“A city. An army,” said the other, a note of arrogant, easy pride in his voice. “Perhaps more?”

Fricknar’s fearful apprehension was now transforming into admiration. Then something occurred to him.

“Where are the bombs?” he asked.

“Are you deaf? Do you not listen-hear?” mocked the other. “You mean where is the bomb?”

Fricknar did not understand. Was that not what he had asked? There was just the engine, no carriage, wagon or slaves to bear a limber of any kind. He had absently assumed that the ammunition must already be at their destination, but hearing his companion’s description suggested such a cargo would be too rare and precious to be merely stockpiled elsewhere.

The bomb,” said the other, emphasising the singularity, “is inside. It broil-brews, always and now, growing more and more potent by the hour. To haul-carry it separately would mean by the time we tried to load it into the engine all who came near-close would die immediate-quickly.”

This made no sense to Fricknar. “But we are nearby, and for days?”

“Yes, yes. The iron barrel enclosing it is thick-strong and inscribed inside with most potent-effectual sigillic wards, perfectly carved.”



Fricknar could imagine the carver squirming inside the barrel to carve such sigils - a suffocating, claustrophobic trial undoubtably far worse than his time in the cage.

“Could not a container-chest be made with such thickness or more?” he asked. “Such sigils? And better sealed tight-secure?”

“Yes, yes it could. No doubt. More easily made. More safely carried. But think, to load the murdering piece we would have to remove the bomb from the chest after it had broil-brewed for the whole journey. Impossibly intolerable.”

“Could slaves not be ordered to do so? Or some monstrous creation of Clan Moulder?”

“No, no, never. They would die the very instant the chest was breached.”

Fricknar glanced back at the engine.

“And dead slaves and ogres cannot load anything,” he said almost to himself. Then, louder, he asked, “So the sigil-wards prevent all harm leak-spilling out?”

“Not all, no,” said the other, as if it were obvious.

Of course, Fricknar should have known this. He pulled his loosened mask tight again, immediately regretting every breath of ‘fresh’ air he had taken. No skaven workshop ever made anything completely safe. The ever-present fear of punishment meant there was always haste as corners were cut, mistakes were inevitably concealed, and tests were deemed a pointless exercise when something was already completed. If it is built, use it! Worse still, most engines were made before the principles were even fully understood, so that the very design had flaws before even the first component part was assembled. None of those who invented or fashioned such engines cared a jot for the fate of those who would be ordered to use them; besides, once one engine was taken, they were immediately busy with the next, then the next.

“It is impossible to prevent it all, for it is far too potent, and grows ever more so,” the other continued. “Why do you think the engine never stops? It cannot be allowed to. If it did then too, too much of its etheric heat would concentrate-congeal in one single place. Then there would be none left to move it.”

Fricknar was confused again. “We have our masks, our waxed robes, our cylinder-filters, yes. But look here, these clanrats, they have guard-escorted us so, so far, even through the long tunnels. Why are they not dead or dying?”

There were two bands of guards, one marching before the engine, which included a weapons team armed with a rattling gun …



… and another lot behind.



“You did not witness-see the changing?” asked the other.

“What changing?”

“Yes, the changing. You must have been labour-working, up ahead clearing away the tangle-mass or the shattered shards of dripping rocks. These are not the guards we began the journey with.”

Fricknar knew he was exhausted and distracted, but he had not realised just how much he had failed to notice. Yet, he thought, his point still stood.

“Then I ask, these-here new guards, why are they not dead?”

“Hush! They will be soon enough. If there are no more changings, some perhaps will die before we arrive at Foul Peak. They have only lasted this long because we have not stopped.”

“No, wait,” demanded Fricknar, having spotted a flaw in the other’s arguments. “I know there is little truth-sense in your words. Those two, there, with the rattler, they have been here with us from the start. They have no robes or masks.”



“But they always scuttle-run ahead, as ordered, never behind, never in the engine’s wake-trail. This buys them time. Remember how they were on the first day? Yes? Look close now and you will see how they flag, how they stumble-stall. Look closer and you will see how their skin peels and their fur falls in lumps. Look into their eyes and you will see that death already tugs at their tails.”

Fricknar was getting frustrated by the frantic insanity of his companion’s words. Whatever answers they contained, there were always more questions. Even now, something bugged him.

“You say before we arrive at Foul Peak?” he asked. “How can we arrive if we cannot stop? How can our journey end? Are we to use this weapon against Foul Peak?”

“No, not there. Against the lord of Foul Peak’s enemies. Do you never listen-hear?”

“I will hear your answer,” said Fricknar, his anger momentarily mastering his fear. “How can we arrive at Foul Peak?”

“We shall arrive soon enough, but this does not mean we shall stop-stay, only pass through, there to be joined by more and others, to learn where we must go next, and so continue, on and on.”

This was impossible, thought Fricknar. He had a day left in him, perhaps another if his fear could dominate his pain to keep him on his feet.

“How can we continue?” he complained. “It is impossible! Our legs will be worn to nothing-nubs if we try.”

“All is prepared and arranged by our masters and the lord of Foul Peak,” said the other. “New attendants await the engine at the mountain. We will be allowed to rest-lie upon litters, to be carried on at some remove.”

“And then?”

“Then we will be command-ordered back to the engine. If we are fortunate-lucky we will be attending when it fires.”

“Lucky?” spat Fricknar. “How is there any good fortune in taking such a risk?”

“To watch it work. To see-witness a whole city killed or an entire army obliterated!”




Photobucket has now re-destroyed my pictures, so the first half of my collected works thread is no longer working again. To see my website version of the campaign thread, with fully functioning pictures, please go to https://bigsmallworlds.com/

Offline GamesPoet

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Re: Tilean Campaign, IC2401
« Reply #552 on: May 18, 2020, 04:02:25 PM »
Great stuff! :icon_biggrin: :eusa_clap: :::cheers:::
"Not all who wander are lost ... " Tolkien

"The beauty of curiosity and creativity is so much more useful than the passion of fear." me

"... my old suggestion is forget it, take two aspirins and go paint" steveb

"No them, only us."  U2

Offline Artobans Ghost

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Re: Tilean Campaign, IC2401
« Reply #553 on: May 29, 2020, 10:07:46 PM »
Intrigue, glorious intrigue 😺. Re: 2posts back between the General and the arch lector. I seem to have gotten behind by 2
Mathi Alfblut Feb 4,2017
Simple, You gut the bastard with your sword, the viking way.
Questions?

Mathi Alfblut Dec 9,2017
Get a binge of Yule ale, roasted boar and some proper axes and we will ALL be happy again!

GP Aug 8, 2019
Can we just take a hammer to it, smash it into little bits.

Offline Artobans Ghost

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Re: Tilean Campaign, IC2401
« Reply #554 on: May 29, 2020, 11:39:55 PM »
Quote Padre: “I know there is little truth-sense in your words.

There is a quote worthy of this time.
Hurry Padre, hurry with the next instalment. I promise I will not wait to read it!
Mathi Alfblut Feb 4,2017
Simple, You gut the bastard with your sword, the viking way.
Questions?

Mathi Alfblut Dec 9,2017
Get a binge of Yule ale, roasted boar and some proper axes and we will ALL be happy again!

GP Aug 8, 2019
Can we just take a hammer to it, smash it into little bits.

Online Padre

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Re: Tilean Campaign, IC2401
« Reply #555 on: May 30, 2020, 11:20:46 AM »
I have two installments in my head already, but there's the matter of 6 highly detailed individual player reports to write first!!!! I'm doing what I can (painting and modelling on hold to force me to write, write, write.)

BTW, Thank you GP and Artoban for your words of encouragement!

Padre
Photobucket has now re-destroyed my pictures, so the first half of my collected works thread is no longer working again. To see my website version of the campaign thread, with fully functioning pictures, please go to https://bigsmallworlds.com/

Online Padre

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Re: Tilean Campaign, IC2401
« Reply #556 on: June 12, 2020, 05:35:17 PM »
A Letter from Antonio Mugello to the most noble Barone Iacopo Brunetti, Regent of Verezzo

As I wrote unto my beloved Lord Lucca (may he sit beside Morr in the garden of eternal summer) to impart what little I had learned of events throughout Tilea, so humbly I send this missive to you. My love for Lord Lucca and my loyalty to Verezzo are now offered to you, noble lord, for you have been a faithful servant of the first and have become the guardian of the latter.

I have been lodged in Remas throughout the winter, a place most conducive to the garnering of knowledge concerning the whole of Tilea. Sometimes I witness the events themselves. A month ago, I myself witnessed the arrival of the army of the VMC, led by General Valckenburgh, who had given up the siege of Pavona. I know not what you have heard concerning the VMC but presume that Duke Guidobaldo’s accusation that they were behind Lord Lucca’s murder and the looting of Spomanti must be painfully well known to you. From what I have learned, my lord, it seems to be generally accepted, at least here in Remas, that Duke Guidobaldo lied, and was himself responsible for the unforgiveable deed. My Lord Lucca warned me on several separate occasions concerning Duke Guidobaldo’s duplicitousness, and it gives me nothing but great sadness to know that his words are - post mortem - further proof of his great wisdom.  Furthermore, in the last missive I received from my Lord Lucca he informed me that he had met with General Valckenburgh and found him to be a most honourable officer, who had marched north out of an earnest desire to assist in the defeat of the terrible foe. Lord Lucca was rarely, if ever, mistaken in his judgement of another, and I can see no reason to suppose he was mistaken regarding the general.

This, of course, explains recent events, most obviously General Valckenburgh’s siege of Pavona. He must have been furious to be slandered in such a way – angry enough to lure him from his march north to face the vampires threatening every living soul in Tilea. I have heard some in Remas voice their confusion as to why Valckenburgh did not complete what he had begun at Pavona, for Guidobaldo’s actions and subsequent lies were no less than a declaration of war, but (if you will allow me to offer mine own humble opinion) the answer seems clear to me. While we, who have suffered the loss of our dear lord at the Pavonan duke’s hands can feel only an enduring, righteous anger, General Valckenburgh personally suffered slander alone, and as his fury had time to subside (as ours can never do) he must have decided that the pursuit of satisfaction regarding what in another time would be a serious matter, seemed relatively petty in light of the great threat offered by the vampire duchess.

And so it is that Valckenburgh’s army is now camped here in the realm of Remas, apparently intending to rest a while. Perhaps they are waiting for Spring before recommencing their march? Or their halt might well be part of some grand strategy jointly agreed by the arch-lector of Morr, Lord Alessio Falconi and General Valckenburgh? I cannot know. It does strike me, and others too, as odd that Valckenburgh has now allowed himself to be delayed yet again, having only just overcome the anger that previously delayed him. Some say he is too easily distracted, but I believe, considering that which I am yet to relate to you, that he has more material concerns to factor in to his strategies, such as the reports of ratto-uomo forces and tunnel mouths north of the Trantine Hills, as well as the razing of Luccini and kidnapping of King Ferronso by the pirates of Sartosa.

By your leave, noble Barone, I will attempt to address these concerns, and more, in turn.

It is now commonly known in Remas that the ratto uomo are once again stirring in Tilea, what with Lord Alessio’s army discovering several entrances to huge tunnels north of the Trantine Hills, and even sighting verminous forces marching above ground. I cannot know what was said in the official missives, nor even if much more detail was contained therein, but enough Reman soldiers marching with Lord Alessio have sent word to their families and friends for the news to have spread. Perhaps unsurprisingly, knowing the cowardly nature of the ratto uomo (unless amassed in great strength) those forces fled back into the tunnels to avoid giving battle. Yet, the fact that they are openly active has begun to cause considerable consternation in a city with a somewhat chequered history of dealing with the verminkind. It has long been presumed in Tilea that ratto uomo always lurk in the shadows, whispering manipulative lies, stealing valuables, sewing discord and disease. Some say that all those who dwell within a city’s walls are never more than two dozen yards from a rat-man! But it has been many a decade since verminkind have marched in strength within sight of men rather than concealed underground or in barren places while embroiled in their interminable civil wars.

Continued after the following story

………………………………………………………………

Such a Shame-Waste!
Somewhere in Tilea, End of Winter, IC 2403-4



In the night’s quietest hour, in the city’s loneliest corner, several assassins, sharp of tooth and claw, were inspecting their work.

“A job very well done, master, yes?” said one, still clutching the heavy blade he had pommelled one of their victims with before strangling the man.



“They are dead,” said the master. “Which was our aim-desire, so yes, if it pleases you, heap congratulations where and how you like. But this here is nothing but a beginning-start. Here lie the foundations of that which we shall make-forge. No, not that … the first cracks in that which we will destroy. Yes, that’s better.”

The first looked at the sword now prominently lodged in the other corpse, his eyes then flicking to scrutinise the ragged edge of his own blade.

“Master,” he said, “forgive, but that blade is good and sharp - such a shame-waste to leave it here.”



“The sword stays. We must-need ensure the menthings think-believe their own kind did this.”

“Yes, not us, never us,” hissed the first. He prodded his own victim with his taloned foot. “Yet master, a mere-nothing thought, but this one here has a knife. Would that not suit-satisfy?”

The master seemed to have a mind to be generous.

“It might just do,” he agreed. “But no, I like the sword. It draws the eye. A knife is but a small thing and gives but small ideas - the tool of petty-squabbling thieves, too easily dismissed as bloody vengeance between the basest of men-things. This sword tells another story, for it is the kind the men-thing guards carry. Let their captains think-believe their own guards bear the blame for this naughtiness.”

“So very clever master, yes. Yet could not a soldier dispatch-kill such as these and be proud, boasting of his most satisfactory work?”

“A soldier might boast, had any one of them done this,” said the master.



“But none of them did, and so none will make such a claim. Then the captains will think-believe their command-control is weak, and that they know not what their own soldiers do.”

“Yes, Master,” said the first, finally giving up on his petty quest to obtain the sword.

“Now,” ordered the master, “look and look again. Make certain-sure there is no sign of our presence here.”

The first looked at the corpses and then around them.

“There was only your throwing star where now instead the sword is stuck-pierced,” he said. “This man-thing I squeeze-strangled, and he but scrape-scratched at me, pathetic-weak.”

“Look again, make certain-sure,” commanded the master. “Nothing dropped. No fur under his nails. No paw print marking the ground.”

The first hunched down and looked closer. He was getting nervous, as could be seen from the raised fur on the back of his neck.

“Master, forgive, but do we not linger-stay here too long?” he asked. “If the men-things come they will see us ourselves, not just that we leave-drop behind, and they will know all.”

“Hush-quiet,” snapped the master. “I am no half-wit fool. I chose this spot. I chose this time. No-one will come. Four nights this place was quiet-empty. Besides, look, look,” he gestured at the guards stationed all around them, “we have eyes to see and ears to hear all around.”



“If anyone approaches,” the master continued, “we shall know in plenty-enough time to make our escape. Now, make haste, and be sure there no sign-clue of our presence.”

………………………………………………………………

Antonio Mugello’s letter continued

On more than one occasion I have heard it voiced that this resurgence of the ratto uomo could spell the end of all civilisation in Tilea, for if this is a new offensive, then it has begun just as the whole peninsula lies exhausted and weakened by the ongoing war against the vampires, having only recently emerged from several conflicts – the War of the Princes, the scattering of Khurnag’s Waagh and a veritable battering at the hands of Boulderguts’ brutes. There simply might not be sufficient strength remaining in Tilea to resist the ratto uomo hordes. Fearful rumours are rife concerning what diseases they might already be spreading, who they are about to assassinate, and which foolish rulers they have lured into a false alliance? In Remas, the memory of arch-lector Ordini’s ignominious deal remains a scab upon the city’s reputation. Is it any surprise the Remans are openly asking which madman has called upon the verminkind’s aid, perhaps hoping to attain the upper hand in some petty squabble, to gain vengeance or to retrieve some lost power? Since time immemorial there have always been fools who believe they can benefit from such a foul alliance.

I myself have heard a myriad of theories and list the following not merely to repeat malicious gossip nor to revel in rumour, but to give the mind of the people, as it may contain more than one kernel of truth. I will address some of the most likely first, in that they concern wicked powers who would feel no compunction at allying with the likes of the ratto oumo.

Have the Sartosans made an agreement of some sort? Would such sea dogs baulk at the idea of sharing the spoils with sewer rats, if not to do so could mean no spoils at all? The very fact that both appeared at one and the same time seems in itself to link them. Just as the Sartosans ravaged Luccini, the ratto uomo appeared skulking at new tunnel mouths, so that those in between could not know which way to look! If divided, we may well be more easily conquered or robbed.

Has the vampire duchess, now hard-pressed by the gathering armies of Tilea, offered the ratto uomo some portion of the peninsula in return for luring away the armies currently threatening her? I do not pretend to know the mind of a vampire, and despite the noble trappings and haughty demeanour many adopt, I cannot dismiss the possibility that they might stoop so low as to bargain with verminkind. There seems to be no wickedness that vampires are not capable of, and thus only their evil pride might dissuade them. Much is known of Duchess Maria in life, but all we can know now is that in undeath she is surely not at all the same. Anyone who surrounds themselves with a putrid court of rotting corpses cannot be so particular as to refuse to meet with flea-ridden vermin.

Several noblemen (of which there are not that many in Remas since the uprisings) have suggested that the VMC, ruled by greed alone, has signed a secret contract in which they carve up Tilea between themselves and the verminkind - the VMC to rule the south while the ratto-uomo ruin the north. I heard one signore say this would explain why the army of the VMC has marched north so leisurely, allowing itself to be easily distracted. It may well be to their advantage that Lord Alessio’s Portomaggioran and Reman army bears the brunt of the fight against the vampire duchess, for then both Portomaggiore and the Remas can be all the more easily subdued afterwards. Furthermore, claimed the nobleman, the real reason General Valckenburgh lifted the siege or Pavona was because he saw such a ruined realm as a waste of effort, and wanted to keep his army strong to defeat the weakened Portomaggioran and Reman armies, then to seize much richer realms instead. I can say that I saw real fear in the eyes of those who listened to this signore’s words, for all must have suddenly suspected the army of the VMC’s prolonged encampment at Remas was nothing more than an opportunity to rest and reconnoitre before seizing the city for themselves. Those fearful people had not Lord Lucca’s wise counsel to guide them, but of course, had I spoken my mind, then as a Verezzan rebutting a Reman gentleman, they would not have heard me.

I even heard one fellow, Pavonan by his accent, say that the dwarfen king in the mountains has made a pact with the verminkind, to bring about an end to their meddling in the dwarfs’ mines. I voiced my doubt, telling the man that the dwarfs of Karak Borgo have always craved trade, and the sort of destruction the ratto uomo cause would not be at all conducive to such. He just laughed, saying that would be presuming the king of the dwarfs is in command of his wits, whilst his companion spat and declared no dwarf could be trusted.

Mention of these Pavonans brings me to a matter I must address, but I would first have you know that I have attempted to consider this dispassionately, as would an entirely uninterested observer, despite the fact that it concerns the murderer of our beloved master.

I have no doubt that the following intelligence is known to you, what with your closer proximity to Pavona, but it is clear that Duke Guidobaldo’s realm has suffered dreadfully during the winter, both due to its precarious state after being ravaged by the ogres and then as a consequence of the army of the VMC’s siege. Duke Guidobaldo’s own army is said to be fragmenting – indeed only yesterday I saw with mine own eyes some of Reman bravi who marched away with the Pavonans (to become notorious for the raid on Spomanti), back here upon the streets of Remas. Such mercenary bravi could hardly be expected to honour their contract with Pavona when there is nothing but misery and hunger for them there. The Pavonan people are now sadly starving, for the duke took food from them to feed his soldiers. Furthermore, he has defaulted on so many loans over the last years that not one banking family is prepared to do business with him, and traders demand payments of gold in advance. What will come of all of this, I know not. Possibly his own subjects will revolt, turning against him, or perhaps he will resort again to acts of piracy and murder? Maybe his realm will simply diminish and fade into obscurity?

Or, and this is what plagues my nightmares, perhaps he thinks to regain his power and wealth by means of a verminous pact? Could it be that Duke Guidobaldo of Pavona - desperate as he is, humiliated, his pride in shatters, his realm suffering, known to be capable of such lies and treachery as would put the ratto uomo to shame - could it be that it was he who summoned the verminkind?

Of course, as yet it is unknown whether the ratto uomo will indeed amass in any strength; nor whether they intend a minor interference or a major incursion; nor whether they have in mind the destruction of the whole of Tilea of just some part thereof.

What is known for certain, however, is that the Vampire Duchess has yet to be defeated. Twice before she has sent armies south of Ebino, and it has taken battle after battle to prevent her further advance. Her aggressiveness is proven – if she is not destroyed then she will almost certainly send forth her armies again and again until she has the whole peninsula beneath her foul feet.

All the reports coming from the Reman soldiers under Lord Alessio’s command agree that Duchess Maria once again resides in Ebino. The walled and moated city teems with her undead servants. Every tower parapet is guarded by unblinking eyes. Every tomb, grave and burial pit in Ebino and Miragliano lies empty, the occupants now busied in the duchess’s service.

Continued after the following story, which is in the next post!
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Re: Tilean Campaign, IC2401
« Reply #557 on: June 12, 2020, 05:37:50 PM »
Glee!
Near the city of Ebino, at the end of Winter, IC 2403-4

This day, this very moment, felt like a culmination of Biagino’s life and undeath, as if everything that had happened to him, good and bad, joyful and sad and everything he had ever done, decent and dire, kind and cruel, led to this moment. Not the culmination, for it was not the end of his undeath, but it was a destination he had, until now, howsoever unwittingly, always been heading towards.

Once more he was directly serving his beloved mistress, and he knew her satisfaction. He strove ecstatically to do whatsoever she wished, and better still, he knew exactly what that was. When leading the army at Trantio he had only the memory of her commands to guide him, which meant agonising over the details, night to night, by himself, to fathom how they could be obeyed in ever-changing circumstances. Now her orders were fresh in his mind, and she remained close enough that he could feel her powerful will and her sharp love in every moment. Her omnipresent guidance meant his decisions came easily, his actions were swift, his delight was magnified. He was like a cherished son receiving praise from his doting mother; a beloved hound petted fondly by its mistress; a favourite blade admired in the moonlight by its wielder.



He rode atop the carroccio that once belonged the arch-lector Calictus II, captured in the same battle in which Biagino was kissed by the duchess and became hers forevermore. In life, Calictus had been his master; he himself was but one of the arch-lector’s many servants; and this great wagon had been the nearest thing to a church of Morr on the field of battle. Now Calictus was dead and he himself had become a High Priest; much of Calictus’ army was his to command, raised from death to march again; and the carroccio was heaped with corpses and made into a formidable focus of necromantic magics in the service of his own Church of Nagash.



As the wagon trundled on, pulled by four pairs of entirely osseous horses, he allowed the magical winds of dark enchantment to flow through him. He could feed on the power the unholy carroccio funnelled, delight as his mistress’s managing will honed and shaped that power, and revel as it poured from him to animate the vast throng of witless worshippers (the Disciplinati di Nagash) all around him.



His senses were not just sharpened far beyond those of mortal men but magnified almost exponentially so that each of the cavorting corpses became an extension of him, limbs with which to strike at the enemy. Even the horses were directed by the power of his own mind. No lash or crop was required, for his mere intention could turn, speed or slow the beasts as easily as a man might walk.



Behind him stood two of his priests, members of La Fraternita di Morti Irrequieti. Their minds were bound to his as his was to Duchess Maria’s, providing a very satisfactory feeling of balance. He could slavishly love and obey the duchess whilst receiving just the same from his priests. His own subjection, which otherwise might seem almost pathetic and demeaning, was given freely, for he himself was the object of exactly equal worship. They were not his puppets, like his hundreds of Disciplinati, for they had minds just as he. They obeyed because they yearned to do so, not because he controlled their very movements. This is why he had created them – having only the Disciplinati to guard him would make him vulnerable. If he were to be distracted, even for a moment, then his Disciplinati would be also. These two priests, however, could react quickly and upon their own initiative. If Biagino were wounded, even dying, these priests would retain all the strength of body and will they ever had, while the Disciplinati would stumble and stagger in bewilderment, or even succumb to death.



Nevertheless, despite his gleeful joy at all these things combined, right this very moment the satisfaction which far surpassed all others, was the gloriously intense pleasure he felt at wielding the Disciplinati horde. Although only a tiny part of each of their minds remained, they were all his to rule, and the sheer size of the throng made him feel mightier than ever before.



Some had been gifted to him by his mistress, resurrected after the Battle of the Isean Hills, close by the city of Ebino. Once dedicants of the Disciplinati di Morr, they had marched north to die. Although rotting, the winter cold had combined with necromantic magics to keep them quite whole, so that a good number, from a distance, might be mistaken for living men. Close up, however, their pallid-grey flesh, staring eyes and perhaps most of all, their stench, revealed the truth.



It amused Biagino to remember just how ugly such flagellating cultists had been when alive –he had seen a fair few – and to see now that death had made them even uglier, which one might well have presumed was not possible!



Most were still clad in the layers of robes they had worn in life, clutching whatever they had been carrying as the died. Many of their faces were obscured by hoods.



The others had been with him much longer, for they had died several seasons earlier at the Battle for Ebino – indeed upon the same day Biagino had fallen. In life they had been part of Arch-Lector Calictus’s Holy Army of Morr. In undeath, they had marched south with him to Trantio, then fled the Valley of Norochia to escort him all the way back to Ebino. It was becoming hard to mistake these for living men, so much of their flesh having rotted away. In parts they were reduced almost to the bone, and their robes were torn, worn and rotted away to a much greater degree, to reveal their now jagged chines.



Some amongst the horde displayed the wounds that were most likely responsible for their deaths - great incisions, shattered bones or crumpled skulls. Others had gaping tears in their flesh made by the teeth and nails of their undead comrades during momentary lapses of guidance from their new master.



They felt pain – excruciating pain – but of a kind that no longer arose from the physical wounding of their bodies. It was an agony came from every part of them at one and the same time, both physical and spiritual. They were driven by a furious, hungry hatred, the last emotion left in the fragment of mind they now possessed. They seemed to leer, scowl and glower as they ran, although in truth what remained of their decaying faces could appear no other way.



There was a cruel irony to their condition, for in life they had strived to scourge themselves with chains and knotted cords into an ecstatic pain and so induce a fighting frenzy that meant they felt no fear. Now, their every moment was a painful frenzy and they had forgotten fear entirely. Their craving had been satisfied, to the extreme, even beyond the extremity of their lives.

Biagino loved them all. To him, they were like tin soldiers are to a boy fanatically keen on his games of war; a precious collection to set out this way and that, to admire from one angle and another, while the excitement of the forthcoming battle grows ever stronger.

They were his playthings, his poppets, his bambinos. They were the weapon with which he could slaughter Tilea.


………………………………………………………………

Antonio Mugello’s letter continued

Duchess Maria’s forces, combined with Ebino’s impressive defences, must be sufficiently strong to cause even a general of Lord Alessio’s proven ability, commanding a truly mighty army, to hesitate. He has built a fortified camp south of the Bridge of Pontremola, said to incorporate the bridge into its boundary. Now, apparently, he waits for the army of the VMC. Does he know, I wonder, that they are instead lingering here in Remas?

Having spoken to several seamen of various origins, I have learned that the Sartosans, having already razed Luccini and its villages, defeating its small army in battle and taking the young king Ferronso hostage, then attempted to travel south along the coast. Upon their first attempt they had been driven back by the storms, which is when they took the young king, but then upon their second attempt the storm’s sister, with its easterly winds, apparently drove their fleet towards the island of Sartosa. Considering they attempted the same southerly course twice it seems plain to me that they were intending to raid the rich realm of Alcente. I cannot know for certain but were it not for the storms they would at least have passed that realm. Considering their success at Luccini, where they had only to fight a small army, perhaps they believe Alcente will prove just as easy a target what with its main strength, the army of the VMC, camped many leagues away here in Remas. As I suggested before, perhaps this is the real reason the army of the VMC has halted? General Valckenburgh might be torn between marching north as promised or returning south to protect his realm.

It is reported that Duke Ercole, once regent of Luccini and uncle to the captured king, and the condottiere General Marsilio da Fermo (Luccini’s military commander who once served with you, I believe, in the grand alliance army) have arrived together in Portomaggiore, seeking refuge after their defeat at the hands of the Sartosans. There they are apparently pressing for Lord Alessio’s assistance in the matter of their kidnapped king. They know Lord Alessio well, and perhaps believe him to be fond of the young king, for after all he did attend Ferronso’s crowning. Of course, with no army of their own, with Lord Alessio’s army busy in the north and the rest of his forces no doubt ordered to guard Portomaggiore against Sartosan raids, they are asking for a loan in gold to pay the ransom. Oddly, it seems to be the case that they do not know the actual amount of the ransom demand as their previous negotiations were disrupted by the battle. I suppose the Sartosans will let them know soon enough, for pirates are hardly known for their patience, nor can I imagine such ruffians enjoy having to keep the young king alive.

The mountain dwarfs of Karak Borgo, having driven the last of Boulderguts’ ogres from Campogrotta and Ravola, establishing the Bretonnian nobleman Baron Garoy in the latter and General Mazallini and his Compagnia del Sole in the former, have apparently withdrawn back up the Carraia del Ferro to their mountain fastness. It is a widely held opinion among Reman merchants who have had dealings with the dwarfs, that having defeated the ogres and re-seeded civilisation in the neighbouring realms, King Jaldeog expects trade to flourish and goods to flow once more, however the ongoing vampire threat and the appearance of ratto uomo forces in the north make this unlikely, at least for now. Perhaps King Jaldeog wanted to give both realms sufficient time to re-establish themselves, so that when the wars finally end, both will be ripe for rich trading opportunities? As finishing off the ogres appears to have been the dwarfs’ only intended contribution to the wars, King Jaldeog may now expect the Tilean realms to defeat the vampires. Perhaps the resurgence of the ratto uomo, the dwarf’s particularly hated enemy, might prompt him, even force him, to contribute more to the struggle ahead?

Last of all, I can report that here it is said that you have raised the militia of Verezzo, bolstered their numbers substantially and are currently busied with drilling and exercises, all the better the defend Verezzo from the likes of the duke of Pavona. Of course, you know the truth concerning this, and so my words are intended only to make you aware of what is believed in Remas concerning Verezzan affairs. If there is anything I can do in your service, as your agent in Remas, then you only have to say and it shall become my foremost endeavour to obey.

Your most humble servant
Antonio Mugello
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Re: Tilea's Troubles, IC2401
« Reply #558 on: August 21, 2020, 12:37:04 PM »
The Defence of Ravola

Prequel: Mathilde
The City of Ravola, Early Spring 2304

Perette had yet to see the newly constructed engine, what with myriad responsibilities distracting her (however self-imposed). Now she had been asked to come quickly - the gunners apparently wanted her blessing, for themselves and their ward.

When Osmont delivered the request, Perette had laughed, saying, “Surely the gunners would prefer a wielder of magical fire to keep a distance from their black powder? If they are averse to anyone so much as smoking a pipe nearby, or just carrying a candle too close, how much more should they be afraid of someone who can conjure sheets of fire from her fingertips?”

Osmont pondered a moment, then asked, “I have been wanting to ask. How do you do that?”

Perette smiled. “I shape my anger in an arcane manner and then let the etheric wind flow through me.” 

“Oh,” said Osmont. “Well, that explains it, my lady!  As for the engine, the gunners seem to consider it your sibling, for it was born in battle and is more like you than anyone or anything else in Ravola.”

“Why do they not think of me as its mother?”

Osmont laughed. “If Gruddic Greyfury was the gun’s father, of which there is no doubt, and you were its mother, then that means …”

Perette feigned disgust, then, as if she were warming to the idea, she said, “Well, he is very distinguished looking, for a dwarf!”

As the two of them left the chamber, Perette asked, “Why did they not ask me until now?”

“They want your blessing her before she is used in anger.”

The ratmen were indeed approaching but would not arrive until the morrow. By the time the Bretonnians had learned of their presence across the river in Codropio, they had already secured the bridge, thus ensuring it could not be held against them. This gave them time to muster their force, emerging from the ground like streams from springs to gather in strength like a river. Albeit a filthy river!

“Oh,” continued Osmont. “And they want you to name her too.”

“I thought they’d already named it,” said Perette. “Bloody Barrels, wasn’t it?”

The engine was made of several many barrels fixed together, which the previous owners had occasionally used as clubs, as evinced by the dried blood upon them.

“They want her to have a real name, and a lucky one. Who better to choose than her famous sister?”

It was possible the engine would play a vital part in the city’s defence, so Perette did not want the gunners feeling dispirited, or unlucky. The ratmen would swarm like their smaller cousins - the defenders of Ravola needed weapons that could pour destruction upon them.

Upon arriving, the first thing the engine’s attendants asked was what she thought of it.

“It’s an ugly child,” she said, looking it up and down. “But war is rarely pretty. It might seem obvious, but tell me anyway - what can she do?”

 “We can fire the barrels three at a time,” said the fellow standing closest to it. “And if that doesn’t prove as thoroughly discouragin’ as we want, we can fire the other three straight after.”

 

The dwarf Greyfury and his gunners had cobbled the engine together hastily, which explained its complete lack of decoration. The engineer commanded the brigade of dwarfs sent from Camprogotta to assist Baron Garoy’s knights and Perette’s Brabanzon in the taking of Ravola, which had proved to be a not at all troublesome task. The brutes remaining to garrison the city had not fancied their chances and so, after agreeing terms - which included leaving their leadbelchers behind - they surrendered and marched away. Greyfury had inspected the discarded barrels, discovering that some were of dwarf or Tilean make and still in good condition. He declared it would be a shame to waste them, and so, before marching back to Campogotta, he tarried just long enough to build a double wheeled carriage from what he could find in the city, upon which he mounted the barrels craftily and, it was to be hoped, securely. He claimed that although the brutes had gone, his engine would work just as effectively as they themselves in battle, blasting the foe with an exactly similar amount of hot lead, if not being quite as mobile.

Perette could see the part about mobility was an under exaggeration. The engine looked as easy to move as a boulder on a sled! She had no doubt it would happily descend a slope, but that getting it up the steps to the battlements was going to take some doing.



“Is there still sufficient time to mount it?” she asked, suddenly concerned.

“Yes, my lady,” said the engine’s attendant. “We have everything prepared. Greyfury showed us how to dismantle and replace the barrels – even had us practice. That way there’s only the carriage to haul with ropes and pulleys.”

“I’m impressed,” said Perette as she walked over to the engine to inspect it more closely. She had seen such barrels used in anger - indeed she had tasted the fear they could induce. The ogres at Campogrotta had had many of them. Indeed, the first assault (Note *1) had faltered because of them. She herself had witnessed a veritable regiment of their gaping, black muzzles.


 
No-one, thankfully, chose to approach any closer. Had the mighty bombard Granite Breaker not grown too hot from her work, then no doubt she could have toppled walls and towers onto the leadbelchers, and the assault would have continued. But without the venerable bombard’s aid the attackers had chosen to withdraw. They would just have to try again another day, having let the night’s air cool Granite Breaker. This they did, four days later, although not without further costly losses, and regrettably giving a relief force of ogres time to arrive (Note *2).

“I take it, then,” said Osmont, in a cheerful tone, “all of you will be putting your money on this engine and not the trebuchet?”

Perette had heard there was to be a competition between the two, concerning which would cause the foe the most harm. The trebuchet had been found intact upon the main tower of the southern wall, having been used three years earlier by Lord Giacomo’s defenders when the ogres had first captured the city (Note *3). It had fallen into some disrepair, having only been used since by the ogres to launch prisoners from the city in a form of entertaining punishment for whatever crimes the brutes sought fit to accuse them of. No dwarf was needed, however, either to guide or assist in its repair, as several of the Brabanzon had plenty of experience of such machines, and they had got it back to full working order two days before Greyfury’s engine was completed.



“The trebuchet will no doubt flatten a good few from afar,” said the attendant, “if it’s aim proves true enough. But this thing will do its work closer up, when the trebuchet cannot work at all. And this thing can’t miss, as long as we point it at them! My money’s on this.”

“I cannot decide,” said Osmont. “Besides, surely our lady Perette ought to be included in the competition?” He turned to look at her, “If so, then my money is on you, my lady.”

“Is that how you see me?” laughed Perette. “Nothing more than an engine of war?”

“And truly glorious with it!” said Osmont.

“Hush now,” ordered Perette. “We ought not talk in such a manner before the child. I would not want to upset her.”

She walked around the engine, caressed one of the barrels and giving a wink to the attendant. “I think she should be named Mathilde, for she will be our strength in battle.”

*1 http://forum.oldhammer.org.uk/viewtopic.php?p=94153#p94153

*2 http://forum.oldhammer.org.uk/viewtopic.php?p=96008#p96008

*3 http://forum.oldhammer.org.uk/viewtopic.php?p=35230#p35230
« Last Edit: August 21, 2020, 10:23:10 PM by Padre »
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Re: Tilea's Troubles, IC2401
« Reply #559 on: August 21, 2020, 04:49:19 PM »
Pre-story Wargame Notes

The Forces

Here is the NPC force defending Ravola. Any walls without these soldiers are to be manned by peasants, servants and the city’s meagre inhabitants, which are not shown here.

The NPC characters and forces in the campaign feature prominently in the stories, perhaps because as GM I can publish what I like about them? The players, however, are often (understandably) cagey about what is revealed concerning their plans, resources and difficulties in such stories! This is a competitive campaign, after all, in that the players want their character's to do well.



Perette, the ‘fallen damsel' will command the force as a whole, with Baron Garoy commanding his little company of knights. The reasons for this will probably come out in the battle report story.



As well as the knights, there is a second mounted company of 'Brabanzon' light horsemen, who can act both as archers and spearmen. The player was given the option of dismounted one or both of these companies and putting them on the walls, but he chose not to. “Stick some peasants on any empty walls” is what he ordered. He was intending to use these either to attack any skaven who breached the defences (one way or another) or, if the opportunity arose and it seemed beneficial, perhaps to sally out?

Perette is shown here, and the Brabanzon foot. She is a level 2 wizard now, so will have two fire spells. It is rare I make such unrolled for decisions or alterations for NPCs, but I will do so when events strongly suggest it. In a cause and effect sort of way. She did very well with her magic during the two assaults of Campogrotta, and had gained a new authority since then, as well as much respect. So I upped her to level 2 rather in the manner of roleplaying game experience points!



The two companies of Brabanzon foot are archers. We are not using the old Warhammer Bretonnian list for the Brabanzon mercenaries, but instead, as appropriate for mercenaries operating more like Tileans than the norms of their own land, we used our non-official  campaign Tilean army list. It is an old internet campaign list which was not made by me but, with various tweaks to suit my own version of Tilea (such as priests of Morr as well as Myrmidia), has proved very useful for representing many an army in this campaign, both player and NPC. These are longbowmen and ‘brigands’ with short bows.

The artillery


The two engines featuring in the prequel story are seen here - an old Citadel Miniatures’ trebuchet and crew and a kit-bashed monstrosity I cobbled together years ago in lieu of a Helblaster. The latter just so happened to look like exactly what would result if a dwarfen engineer fixed six leadbelcher barrels together. That, and the fact that the ogres had indeed only been allowed to march away if they laid down their arms, as well as that the dwarfs sent to assist Garoy and the Brabanzon had been commanded by an engineer (they though, after all, they would be besieging the city) meant I just had to use it.  I crafted rules for it almost identical to ogre leadbelcher rules, but with the chance to misfire and a suitable table to roll on.

The light gun is a Perry Miniatures model, I think. I used the campaign list’s horse artillery stats and rules but ditched the dashing around behind a horse aspect!



The Skaven force is a player-army, although they are my figures. The actual campaign player would command this force, while another player volunteered to command the defending NPC force. More action for everyone!

This is only a fragment of the player’s full force. For a start, only part of their realm’s full strength was near Ravola, and even then, the machines were left behind in the tunnels. I warned the player (well, not me, his NPC advisers) that to get his several war engines out  would take several days, and thus give the defenders more time to prepare. Perhaps they would send for relief? Dig traps? Prepare some ruse? This suitably ruffled the player, and he decided to leave the machines and take the city quickly with his warriors alone!



The commander is a Grey Seer called Lord Urlak. (His second name is a mess of letters meant to be confusing. The trick worked, even I can’t recall it! ‘Ushocrochoshor’ or some such monstrosity!)



He has his bodyguard with him, in the form of his army banner bearer, the 40 strong yellow regiment of clanrats and three rat ogres.



Warlord Gurthrak commands Clan Skravell, one of the clans under Lord Urlak’s rule. Gurthrak himself rides a Bonebreaker



There are three other rat ogres in his clan’s little army. The clan's main unit is the 'red regiment' (they have a red banner), being 50 clanrats strong, plus a ratling gun.



The clan also boasts two companies of 5 jezzails and some rat swarms, as well as two engineers to tend their war machines. One was back with the machines at the tunnels, supervising their extraction, but the other was here with his warpmusket.



The last element in Lord Urlak’s force is a large regiment of 40 Plague Monks - Clan Pestilens is one of the investors in his joint-stock war! They don’t have their plagueclaw catapult with them (see the comments above regarding exiting the tunnels). These are a mixture of plastic GW figures, and metal Black Tree Designs' Pestilential Priests.



The Field of Battle

This was easy to set up as I had pictures from the last wargame played at Ravola, when Razger Boulderguts' ogres had seized the city three game-world years earlier (in the real world, back in 2014!) I just perused the pics, found the same scenery and slapped it down.



The Rules

Our campaign has rules for fighting an assault such as this, based on the old Warhammer rules, some going back as far as sixth edition or earlier. These have been modified throughout the campaign as we incorporate new ideas that come up during play, and deal with problems and the like. Basically, it is a 7 turn game (sometimes 8 when the GM thinks it appropriate, and a die roll allows) in which the victor must try to control the greatest number of the defences' ‘sections’ by the end of the game. Each tower and stretch of the wall is a section (see the picture above), and there are two further sections inside – left and right. To control a section you need an unengaged and non-fleeing unit (or character) in a section, and no non-fleeing enemy models. By the way, the two inner towers (E and F) on the picture above were not official sections, although they were in the internal sections. In this game there were 11 sections to play for, which included the side wall not labelled above. (That wall could only be reached from inside the city, due to the steep stone footings beneath its outside!)

We have our own rules for assaults by ladders (not easy at all) or siege towers, although once on the defences, the fighting between sections is basically the standard fighting in buildings rules from the 8th ed' rulebook.

Oh, and due to the pandemic we used ‘Play by e-mail’ for this game, thus, for example, all the pictures above are just some of the many, many pics I sent to the players before and during the game, often with notes, arrows and measurements edited on to them. I hope to do a separate ‘Game Notes’ essay all about our play by e-mail odyssey.
« Last Edit: August 21, 2020, 05:42:37 PM by Padre »
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Re: Tilea's Troubles, IC2401
« Reply #560 on: August 22, 2020, 03:37:04 PM »
The Defence of Ravola: The Battle

Deployment


It was an hour after dawn when the enemy first appeared. Perette had been on the tower long before light, suspecting that such an enemy might prefer to attack when it was still dark. Then, as the sun rose, she had wondered whether they intended to attack that day at all. Perhaps they were waiting for something? Reinforcements? Mighty but slow-moving machines? Or perhaps they had some scheme afoot and there would be more to the day than a straightforward assault? Just as she was beginning to suspect that this must be the case, they suddenly marched into view.

There were a lot of them, as she had expected. Not only the reports from the scouts, but also every story she had ever heard of ratmen in battle, described them as having great numbers. Yet one of Garoy’s knightly companions, who had witnessed an army of their kind in his youth, had told her that if the scouts were right then this was a small army for their kind. Perhaps not what the ratmen themselves would even call an army?

The enemy force looked big enough to her! Directly ahead there was a large body of robed ratmen, hefting a broad ladder half as wide as the regiment itself – more like scaffolding than any ordinary ladder.



By their side were two smaller companies, whose own burdens were similarly oversized - handguns, but so long and heavy that two ratmen were need to heft them. She had heard of these. They were called jezzails, and they shot bullets of warpstone. Deadly, without a doubt, but surely not strong enough to penetrate the stone of the walls?



Turning she looked along the line. The majority of the enemy were gathered before the gate tower, not the tower she herself occupied, which showed a certain obvious clarity to their purpose. Yet … she could spy no engines of war among them with which to shatter the gate. How exactly did they think they would break through?



The robed rats were not the biggest body the foe possessed. Before the gate were two much larger regiments, carrying exactly similar ladders, as well as a swarm of almost natural rats and at least two companies of brutes the same height as ogres. The biggest regiment had one such brute in its front ranks, with a platform strapped to its shoulders upon which rode a warlord, general or some such, sporting a red and yellow banner affixed to his back. This surprised Perette, for she had always thought such creatures found their strength in numbers, and not through individual prowess. But of course, someone had to command: to cow the rest and make them obey. Doubtless whichever rat argued with that particular warlord would find themselves torn to pieces by his draft beast, while said warlord sniggered or scowled above!

And yet she sensed that the colourfully rigged ratman was not the commander of this force. She could not yet put her finger on it, but there was great power, magical power, elsewhere in the enemy lines. Whoever possessed it would no doubt reveal themselves the moment they brought it openly to bear, but for now, she just knew that the real leader was someone else.

Nearby there was a shout of ‘Have a care!’, which broke her dark reverie. She saw below that the humble townsfolk were leaving the wall there to make way for the Brabanzon longbowmen. This made her think of the wall to her right. What with the enemy so solidly massed before the gate tower, she now realised the brigand archers on that wall must have little to nothing they could shoot at, and so she strode over to the wall to shout down, “Care to join us up here boys?”

As the archers gathered their quivers of arrows and began moving along the wall, she strode back to where she had been before. They’re not slow, she thought. Even from this distance she could see they had drawn considerably closer in just the time it took for her to issue her command.



Seer-Lord Urlak Ashoscrochor peered at the city’s walls. He could see that the enemy had had little time to prepare their defences, for the ground between him and the walls was undisturbed – no pits, earthworks, stakes, nothing at all. But still, what with an oak and iron gate, portcullis and stone walls and towers, perhaps he should have tarried until his engines of war had been extracted from the tunnel? If the walls had to be taken by ladders, his warriors would die in droves. Not that he cared one jot for their lives, but to lose them carelessly when he had future plans for their use was not a prospect which pleased him. He recalled how once he had watched a warlord fill a moat with his fighting slave and even clanrats, simply to fashion a bridge to allow the rest of his force over. At least there is no ditch-moat here, he thought.

He moved his eyes along the battlements, squinting to make out what was upon them. The morning sky was bright, grating enough to blur his vision, but the enemy’s motion helped.



To his left he could see a fluttering banner or two, soldiers’ heads here and there, and a large machine upon the biggest of the towers. Then something caught his eye - a pitchfork! The kind of tool men-slaves used to gather hay from their weed-fields. Why would a soldier have a farming tool?

He looked instead at the walls before him, much closer. There was another machine of war, a cannon of sorts with many a muzzle. And, beside it, men armed with scythes.



Ha! he laughed. They are but peasant-men! Where are the soldiers? These walls are manned by wretches. His scouts had reported soldiers in the garrison, armoured from head to foot. Either his scouts were wrong, the soldiers had fled, or they were elsewhere.

Then he saw motion on the wall to the right. There they are! he thought, as men armed with bows took the place of the previous, pathetic occupants.



It seemed a strange trick to play. It made little sense. What had the enemy to gain from such footling footwork, shifting hither and thither? Unless, the enemy had so few soldiers that they had had to hold them back until his army came into view, then deploy them on whichever walls were most threatened?

If that were so, then he could expect a similar exchange upon the wall ahead. He watched, waited. He squinted against the sharp light. But no, the wretched peasants there remained in place, their scythes held aloft



They do not have enough soldiers to defend every wall! No armour, no shields; no handguns nor crossbows. Just rusty digging tools and the like. He licked his lips with glee. This would be easy after all.

Before he gave the order to advance, he glanced about him, to check if his army was in order. To his left he saw Clan Skravell’s red regiment, with Gurthrak atop his Bonebreaker at the fore. Just beyond he could make out Skravell’s ogres, and the dangerous end of their ratling team’s weapon.



Seer Lord Urlak hissed, which drew the attention of all around him, even Gurthrak. He bared his teeth at the warlord, narrowed his eyes. Gurthrak gestured forwards with the blade of his fauchard. It was a question. Urlak gave the tiniest of nods, and Gurthrak turned to look back at the city.



As he did so, he summoned up a screeching howl of a command: “Advance!”

The whole army began to move.

- - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - -

Game Notes:

Skaven Deployment




Brabanzon Deployment


You may have noticed the swap-over of two units which I allowed to the defenders. That’s because both sides set up ‘blind’: the players giving me instructions for deployment without any knowledge concerning the enemy’s deployment. The only had a picture of the tabletop to go on. I had, however, told the defender he could swap whichever two units (or just move one) he liked, to represent the fact that his commander and troops would have a slightly better idea regarding the enemy’s deployment (having spied upon their approach) and so could adjust their own disposition on the walls a little to reflect that knowledge, within the present safety of their own walls.

BTW, I know the order to advance has been given by the Skaven in the story, and Perette has ordered the brigands to come up onto the tower, but in game terms this was simply deployment. Next part of the story will begin with Turn 1, Perette’s phase (the Bretonnians won first round).

Photobucket has now re-destroyed my pictures, so the first half of my collected works thread is no longer working again. To see my website version of the campaign thread, with fully functioning pictures, please go to https://bigsmallworlds.com/

Offline Artobans Ghost

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Re: Tilea's Troubles, IC2401
« Reply #561 on: August 23, 2020, 08:00:47 PM »
Last 2 instalments are great! This has seemed to become a Sunday afternoon tradition when they come out.
Looking forward to the next when the rats get to the walls! Love the lower grade of defenders in this as well. I want to know what happens to the guy with the pitch fork 😺
Mathi Alfblut Feb 4,2017
Simple, You gut the bastard with your sword, the viking way.
Questions?

Mathi Alfblut Dec 9,2017
Get a binge of Yule ale, roasted boar and some proper axes and we will ALL be happy again!

GP Aug 8, 2019
Can we just take a hammer to it, smash it into little bits.

Online Padre

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Re: Tilea's Troubles, IC2401
« Reply #562 on: August 23, 2020, 08:02:09 PM »
Thanks Artobahn. Here's the next part ...
--------------------------------------------------------------------------------

The Fight Begins



Perette was ready for their advance. She had been absent mindedly stroking the red jewel of her enchanted ring since the moment they had appeared, and now she channelled the etheric breeze through it to conjure magical fire. As she did so the ring itself grew too hot to bear and she was forced to tear it from her finger, dropping her favourite fan in the process. The ring clattered off out of sight, lost somewhere on the crowded battlements. Despite her unexpected pain, the magic coalesced into flaming globes which rushed all the way to the brute-like rats moving a little ahead of the rest of the enemy army. One of the creatures staggered back, alight from the legs up, then crumpled to the ground in a shower of sparks. Satisfied with this, despite her lost ring, she decided she would finish them off completely with more infernal magic, but she could not control the etheric eddies caused by the misbehaving ring and her efforts came to nought.

(Game Note: Miscast using magical item, then straightforward fail on the next spell.)

The men around her, both the crew of the trebuchet and the brigands rushing onto the tower’s battlements, did not notice her fumbling failure, for they had other matters on their mind.



There was an almighty crack as the trebuchet’s arm was released to hurl a huge load of rocks. This sudden sound the brigands could not fail to notice - several flinched in surprise, one dropping the arrows from his quiver. The stones arced gracefully through the air to land squarely upon the robed ratmen to Perette’s fore, causing a large, messy lacuna to appear in their midst as night upon a score were crushed. (Game Note: 17 dead!) Three more at the front also fell, stuck with longbow arrows, so that altogether half their number had been slain. Yet, despite being the sort of carnage which would doubtless discourage even the most foolhardy of men, the survivors simply stepped over the battered corpses and calmly continued their advance.



(Game note: It occurs to me now that their ladder would surely have been destroyed by such a blow. Still, I suppose they could have been dragging it behind?)

Perette was surprised. In every story about them the ratmen invariably proved to be cowards, yet here was evidence to the contrary. Perhaps, she thought, they fear whatever dark god they have dedicated themselves to more than the rocks, more so than even death? 

Seer Lord Urlak scowled. That was but one engine, and the enemy had more, including the many-barreled monstrosity awaiting atop the gate tower towards which most of the army was advancing.



He knew he could not yet do anything to harm the engines, but he could make the enemy’s arrows fly less true, so he conjured a warp-gale to engulf the city.



As he did so he felt no resistance from the enemy. Strange-odd? he thought. Perhaps their wizard fears what I will do next? The fireballs had revealed her presence upon the largest tower, beside the stone throwing engine. A red-haired woman, who was either holding back or was currently struggling to manipulate the winds of magic.



Deciding play things cautiously, he summoned a state of magically induced frenzy upon his bodyguard, to make them careless of any harm they themselves might receive. If such rocks were to strike them, he did not want his own guards fleeing in panic. When the warriors around him became more animated and louder in their snarling, he knew his spell had taken hold. Yet still nothing from the red-haired woman. She must have sensed his presence by now? Well, if she was so stupid, he would try something else that would have a much more immediate effect on the enemy. Spotting the clan Skravell engineer not too far away, he decided to skitterleap him onto the walls, there to sow confusion amongst the enemy. This time though, he felt the resistance – not from the engineer, who remained ignorant throughout - but from the tower. From the woman. Yes, yes, you see me now, he thought, as his magic was foiled.



As his army drew closer to the walls …



… the jezzails (out on the far-left flank) gave fire upon the stone throwing engine, despite its distance and almost complete concealment behind the stone battlements.



Chips of stone burst explosively from the crenulations before the engine, and, just visible through the osseous cloud the dust they formed, so too did large shivers of timber from the upper parts of the machine. (Game Note: Two wounds!) The jezzail gunners sniggered gleefully.



What with the sudden, clattering fragmentation of the stone nearby, Perette barely noticed a gang of city dwellers had occupied the wall vacated by the brigands. Angered by the potential loss of her ring, and unable to start scrabbling around to find it now, especially now that shards of stone littered the area, she looked back out at the enemy. The etheric winds began began to wind themselves harmonically into her anger (an old, familiar feeling) and she manipulated them to manifest as spheres of magical fire to fly out towards the largest enemy regiment. Nine of the ratmen succumbed to the flames – if not dead, then too burned to continue. This was not all, however, for the unseen winds were strong, and so with the heat of the last spell still in her mind, she conjured a veritable storm of fire to wash over the same enemy regiment. Eight more ratmen fell, their fur smoking as their innards were cooked!

(Game Note: Fireball followed by Piercing Bolts, which was successful despite forgetting to add the D3 bonus for a previously successful fire spell!)

Urlak saw Gurthrak’s regiment was faltering, what with the awful stench of burned flesh and the terrible sound of the wounded. He allowed himself to give vent to a screech filled with malice, loud enough that the red regiment’s leader heard him. Order was regained, and their march was continued. But only a moment after they resumed their advance, a pile of tumbling rocks crashed into the very heart of them killing seventeen more!

The enemy’s stone thrower had struck again. It was quick, accurate and it was threatening to ruin Lord Urlak’s plans! His screech transformed into something more furious and from somewhere the red regiment found the will to step over more bodies and march on.

No, no! thought Urlak. This is not going to be easy at all. Indeed, in the last few moments his entire enterprise seemed doubtful.



Yet, even as three more red regiment Skaven fell to arrows, still they stumbled onwards. Seeing how much his servants seemed willing to endure for him, he resolved not to succumb to despair. Whatever it took, he would possess this city by nightfall, even if every one of his pathetic underlings had to die in the attempt. Here, today, he had chosen to show his hand. Defeat was not an option. He would die himself before informing the Council he had failed in his first open fight.

( Game note: Both the brigands and the longbowmen were responsible for the three extra deaths. Believe it or not the organ gun was lined up ready to shoot as well, but it misfired! You can imagine how the Skaven player was feeling - a certain degree of doubt about his campaign strategy was beginning to set in! This NPC force had been very lucky in their first two turns. Considering we were, due to the pandemic lock down, ‘playing-by-email’, with me making all the actual rolls, I myself was becoming worried that the players would think I was fudging the results.)



With his despair now transformed into pure fury, Lord Urlak ordered his army to charge. The already battered rat ogres were closest to the walls …



… and their proximity combined with their speed meant that for now they only ones to reach the city wall, slamming up their ladder to ascend the wall against the Brabanzon longbowmen.



As the brutes began their climb, Urlak decided he would not have Gurthrak wasted beneath a pile of rocks, nor did he want to see what the multi-barreled gun peeking over the battlements could do when it fired, and so he summoned every scrap of magical power he could to conjure Skitterleap. The red-haired woman could not stop him this time, and in the next moment Warlord Gurthrak vanished from atop his bonebreaker to reappear upon the gate tower, right beside the war-engine!



By now the jezzailers had also noticed the red-haired woman near the trebuchet, for they could see she was the one spewing magical fire from the battlements. Deciding they could always return to shooting the war machine later, then now fired as one at her. Coincidentally, the ratling team had settled upon exactly the same target, so that now the crenulated stones before Perette began to burst, sending out a huge shower of fragments. She had to throw herself down, shielding her eyes as shards of stone bounced all over and around her.

Not one bullet, however, found its mark, something shooters did not know for some time, what with the obscuring cloud of dust and smoke now engulfing the tower top. The other skaven ratling team, hearing that the first had now opened up, chose an easier target - the peasants on the wall in front of them. It was the last choice they ever made, however, as their weapon broke apart in the firing, mortally wounding them instead of the foe.

The rat ogres, the only skaven to have reached the walls ...



... now ascended the ladders as best they could. Of course, the longbowmen had the advantage, killing the packmasters driving the brutes in a hail of arrows before they even set foot on a ladder, and wounding an ogre before it reached the top of the wall. Four longbowmen were cut down or thrown off the wall, while one of the ogres was finished off by the archers’ swords. As that ogre fell, the surviving one struggled to hold on and slid back down the ladder. Winded, it staggered back, and although its previous fury had been beaten out of it, it’s only intent was to climb the ladder again, come what may!

(Game Note: we have campaign rules regarding ladder assaults. Stomp can’t be used, nor can two hand or two handed weapons. Attackers are at -1 Init and -1 to hit, whilst the defenders are at +1 to hit. Up to 12 defenders can fight, compared to up to only 9 attackers (or 3 monstrous infantry). Combat results based on wounds caused alone. It really should not be easy to take a castle wall with ladders, and it is not!)

End of Turn 2!

----------------------------------------------------------------

Game Notes

Play by email is time consuming! This battle took several days, with me running it late into the night on three separate occasions, I think. (My memories are hazy of the experience!)  There were benefits, such as me being able to take better pictures than usual as we went along (there are some good pictures coming up in the report, I promise). I also had to send out a ton of orientation pictures, like the following examples …

Perette’s fire magic ranges


Perette’s knowledge of enemy movement


Perette’s orientation re: the enemy’s movements next turn


Skaven rangings for missile …


… and magic


That is just a small selection of what went out!

I hope to convince the rest of the players that in future play-by-e-mail games it would be just as fun, if not moreso, and just as fair, if the players really try to direct the battle from the perspective of what their PC can see or know. General orders would be given at the start (deployment, objectives, cooperation etc) then alterations (as and when) based on what the PC actually knows. A character’s eye view of things. Because both commanders were magic users in this game that really slowed us down at times, as I communicated back and forth re: spells, dice available, dice used, so that the players had full control over the casting and dispelling details.
« Last Edit: August 25, 2020, 01:55:40 PM by Padre »
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Offline GamesPoet

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Re: Tilea's Troubles, IC2401
« Reply #563 on: August 23, 2020, 08:42:44 PM »
Great stuff! :icon_biggrin: :icon_cool: :eusa_clap: :::cheers:::

As usual. :icon_lol:
"Not all who wander are lost ... " Tolkien

"The beauty of curiosity and creativity is so much more useful than the passion of fear." me

"... my old suggestion is forget it, take two aspirins and go paint" steveb

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Offline Artobans Ghost

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Re: Tilea's Troubles, IC2401
« Reply #564 on: August 23, 2020, 08:58:58 PM »
Still Sunday, still reading. This is giving me some insight into an upcoming fortress battle. Loved the skitterleep to the gun. That should be fun
Mathi Alfblut Feb 4,2017
Simple, You gut the bastard with your sword, the viking way.
Questions?

Mathi Alfblut Dec 9,2017
Get a binge of Yule ale, roasted boar and some proper axes and we will ALL be happy again!

GP Aug 8, 2019
Can we just take a hammer to it, smash it into little bits.

Online Padre

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Re: Tilea's Troubles, IC2401
« Reply #565 on: August 23, 2020, 09:00:54 PM »
I like the way in the pic the Brabanzon gunner closest to Warlord Gurthrak seems to have taken a step back whilst saying "What the ...?"

BTW, Artobahn, what actually happens after the skitterleap is not at all what anyone would expect!
« Last Edit: August 24, 2020, 12:31:49 PM by Padre »
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Online Padre

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Re: Tilea's Troubles, IC2401
« Reply #566 on: August 25, 2020, 10:53:43 PM »
The Battle Continued

Having scrambled, quite unladylike, beneath the clattering, shattering shower of bullets-striking-stone, Perette joined the brigands at the side wall, from where she could still see much of the enemy army, concentrated as it was before the gate tower. She could smell the taint of warpstone: a metallic tang in the corporeal air and the stinging sharpness of the etheric breeze.



The enemy were drawing near - the walls might soon be bristling with their ladders. Of course, she could not help but also notice the sudden appearance of the ratman on the tower-top along from hers, what with his array of brightly coloured banners almost doubling his height!



The new engine’s Brabanzon crewmen, surprised as they definitely were, did not want to lose the chance to shoot successfully at least once, not after all their efforts to master the art, and especially as everything was already prepared. So, despite their understandable discomfort at such a close and dangerous magical manifestation, they continued the process of firing!

As the ratman was obscured by the engine, Perette realised she dare not employ her magical fire against him, for fear of blowing up the gun, which seemed a more than likely outcome, if not guaranteed! It also occurred to her that if he was to descend the stairs instead of attacking the gunners, the ratman could open the gate, allowing the enemy to pour into the city. Looking down into the yard below she saw Baron Garoy and his knights waiting, as planned, mounted and ready to challenge whoever made it over the wall.



The young baron had changed considerably since being wounded at Campogrotta. Not only had he been left somewhat slower and more deliberate in his actions, but his past arrogant aloofness had apparently been knocked right out of him! This much became painfully clear when Perette realised that Garoy had developed a romantic fondness for her, something surely impossible before his wounding? Before Campogrotta, she offended him so much that he could not even bear her presence. Now he was genuinely fond of her, grateful for her help and indeed held her in respect – so much so he had agreed it was best that she commanded all the defences while he commanded solely his band of knights.

Well, thought Perette, he was in the right place at the right time. She waved at him, gestured for him to enter the tower, and drew her hand across her neck to indicate some killing was needed inside. Garoy nodded once, then dismounted along with the rest of the knights to lead them into the gate tower.



(Game Note: We could not allow Garoy and his knights simply to charge the tower and thus join in combat with the skaven warlord, as per the WFB 8th ed. building rules, because of the need to dismount first. Considering troops are not allowed to change formation during a charge it seemed right and proper for me as GM to rule that dismounting from horses was similarly disallowed!)

Now that the baron and his knights had gone from the yard, the Brabanzon horsemen would have to do his intended job instead, so they moved along to best position themselves for the task in hand.



Assured that Garoy was on his way to take on the ratman in the gate tower, Perette spun up a fireball and sent it scorching into the badly mauled red regiment, killing two. Not satisfied, she decided to conjure bolts of fire onto the same, but this time the winds tore through her too strongly and spilled out uncontrollably. Another pair of ratmen died, but much of spell’s strength burst from her own body to wash across the rooftop, killing four of the men standing beside her! She was left reeling, confused and ashamed by her error  – this fight was proving very hard upon her despite being atop a stone tower!

(Game Note: Both the Skaven and the brigands passed their Panic tests, the former through luck alone, the latter helped by the fact that they could re-roll their fail. This is another campaign rule for defenders on city or castle walls and towers: they re-roll all failed Ld tests as if the army standard was always within 12”.)

The harmful magic did not badly harm any of the trebuchet crew, but its stinging caress must have at least distracted them, for this time their engine’s hurled rocks landed far wide of the intended mark, damaging only the ground! Meanwhile, the brave gunners on the neighbouring tower, despite the warlord’s presence close by, fired their gun. Its deafening report and impressively large belch of smoke assured them that it must have done well. If they had still been there when the smoke cleared, however, they may have seen that only one of the ratmen in the yellow regiment was killed by their shot!

The brigand archers, despite the horror of the mysterious deaths caused by their beloved lady, finished off the last of the rat ogres staggering in front of the longbowmen’s wall, allowing the latter to loose a volley instead at the severely mauled red regiment, killing three more. Much to everyone’s surprise, friend and foe, this was still not enough to send them running!

(Game Note: They passed their Panic test again!)

Upon the high, thin tower to the right of Perrete’s tower there was a second gun, much lighter than the new contraption, and with only one barrel. The gunner had been waiting until the robed ratmen were in range and now let his linstock down to caress the priming powder with his match. A (loud) moment later he gave a cheer, for he could see four of the enemy had lost their heads! The survivors, now less than half the number who had started the march towards the walls, were untroubled, however, for as Perette had pondered earlier, they were indeed so intent upon killing the enemy in the service of their god that that they cared not a jot for the deaths of their comrades, only that they could get their hands on the foe.



And so it was, now they were close enough to the walls …



… the plague monks began their charge, hefting their huge ladder as they came within a few steps.

Urlak now summoned Crack’s Call, causing a crevice to appear in the ground running from his own foot towards the gate tower. Perette, momentarily distracted by the rush of events, the swirl of considerations and not least the deaths she had caused, did not attempt to prevent this flow of magic. Urlak’s grin grew wider and wider as the crack sped towards the tower, for he knew its power would take it right to the building. Upon touching the wall, a veritable craze of cracks appeared in the stone, coursing like the branches of a tree, upwards and outwards. Inside, Garoy and his knights realised very quickly the building was about to crumble and turned to leave the same way they had come, although much quicker than when they entered. All but one knight got out! On the tower-top, Warlord Urlak also saw the cracks, and without stopping to wonder why (certainly without time to realise the damage had been caused by his master) he escaped by leaping nimbly over the wall to land outside.

There was nothing the crew of the engine could do, however, for they were too high up for men to jump and a flight of stairs away from the walls. Down went the tower, and so too them and their gun!



The new gun had fired but once, and in so doing had killed merely one enemy warrior, while the trebuchet had slaughtered many tens of warriors. Of those not currently far too distracted to notice the event, several ‘lucky’ wagerers now wondered if they would live to collect their winnings.

Urlak grinned.



No-one would ever know whether he had always intended to topple the tower, and thus potentially his warlord. Perhaps Gurthrak had disappointed him? Offended him? Perhaps he was happy to sacrifice Gurthrak just to draw some more of the foe into the tower before it fell? Perhaps he decided Gurthrak might become stuck with a multitude of arrows from the brigands before he could strike himself? Maybe he did not care? Or did he just forget?

Besides, whatever the truth, it did not matter now. Gurthrak lived, and was left standing, somewhat winded, beyond the rubble.



On the other side, Baron Garoy and his knights were forming into a little company, all the better to face whatever came over the rubble.



The red and yellow regiments had yet failed to reach the walls, but the rat ogres of Urlak’s bodyguard …



… did reach, much to the disconsolation of the poorly armed militia defending its rampart. The three massively monstrous rats hurtled up the wide ladder, and at the top they tore so viciously into the militia that seven perished before they could even lunge their improvised weapons. The rest threw themselves off the wall and scrambled off into the city, whilst behind them the brutes and their whip-wielding packmasters took possession of the battlements and released roaring snarls in bloodthirsy glee.



(Game Note: Even with +1 Init’ the peasants did not go first! And despite their re-rolled break test they failed. But who would ever expect ten WS2, Init 2, Ld6 peasants to hold a wall against three frenzied rat ogres?)

Further along the walls, the plague monks, however, found the fight to gain the wall much harder. Forced to use one arm to hold the ladder, and with the wall between them and the elevated foe, they only managed to kill one of the peasant militia, whilst losing three of their own. Their banner, being a cursed shroud of dripping death, fatally infected two more of the defenders, thus evening out the fight somewhat, but it was not enough to take the wall, and the fight continued.

(Game Note: Apparently twelve WS2, Init 2, Ld6 peasants CAN hold a wall against 16 frenzied plague monks! The siege rules say that in a draw the wall is not taken and the attackers are positioned 1” away from it to attack again in their next turn, but as it was a draw, however, the plague monks did not lose their frenzy. Unless the monks died in the intervening Brabanzon phase, we would see if the peasants could repeat the trick later?)

It was now the longbowmen’s turn to experience the explosive peppering of their battlement -  two died to the ratling gun’s bullets and another to the jezzails' shots. As the dust cleared, they set about knocking arrows to their bows. The enemy might be assaulting the wall to their right, had already taken the wall to their left, and their dwarf-gifted gun might be lost, but the trebuchet’s arm was being hauled back into place, Perette was still alive and the enemy had been very badly mauled indeed. There was still a chance, surely? And they were not yet ready to flee!

(End of Turn 3!)

.......

(BTW, I know the story doesn't always stick to the strict order of phases in the game, but it doesn't really change anything, and it really does help the tale unfold better, I think!)
« Last Edit: August 25, 2020, 10:55:59 PM by Padre »
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Online Padre

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Re: Tilea's Troubles, IC2401
« Reply #567 on: August 26, 2020, 09:24:07 PM »
The Battle Concluded

Perette squinted as she scoured the cloud of dust caused by the tower’s collapse, looking for a sign that Baron Garoy was alive. Relief suffused her when she caught a glimpse of him. It would be such a shame for a young man so recently reformed to perish. A moment later, he was gone, having moved towards the wall the brutish rats had taken, perhaps intending to prevent their further progress into the city?



Her attention was drawn to a sudden flurry of movement in amongst the ruins – a large swarm of rats was beginning to flow almost like gushing water over the stone rubble. Realising it might cause considerable trouble for the knights nearby, she conjured up a fireball to hurl at the vermin, but before she could fully hone its corporeal manifestation its ethereal form was dissipated by the enemy wizard’s counter magic. She could sense he was still with the large yellow regiment, and so, hoping he was momentarily exhausted by his efforts, she immediately conjured up a flurry of burning bolts which she sent raining down onto that very same regiment, killing eight of them.

While another load of rocks from the Trebuchet missed its mark, the light gun in the tall tower did not, sending a burst of grapeshot into the robed ratmen as they readied themselves for their next attempt to scale the wall. Six of them perished. Only one of the Brabanzon riders’ arrow stuck the brutes on the wall, but the longbowmen did manage to kill the ratling gun team who had been shooting at them!

These deaths were insufficient to prevent the skaven advance. Both the yellow regiment and the pitiful remnant of the red regiment at last reached the walls, placed their ladders and began ascending.



The yellow regiment climbed easily, for the wall was unoccupied. As soon as the rat ogres had spotted the armoured men approaching below them …



… their bloodthirsty battle lust caused them to leap down to attack. That frantic, claustrophobic combat was the sight that greeted the yellow regiment as they topped the wall behind.



More and more of the regiment’s clan rats, still numerous despite their mauling by magical fire, were climbing the ladders. Further outside the jezzailers agreed amongst themselves that it would be a terrible shame for them to miss out on the richest pickings in the city, so both companies began lugging their long guns towards the walls.

Seer Lord Urlak decided again to cast skitterleap, as it had worked so well before (despite his subsequent collapsing of the tower) but this time the magic was unraveled by the red-haired enchantress’s interference. 

The few Plague Monks left unblasted, burned or flattened, now re-ascended the ladder to kill five of the peasants and send the rest running from the wall. They lost three more of their own in so doing, but what few remained were momentarily satisfied. Warlord Gurthrak has also charged the wall occupied by the longbowmen, and so rejoined his bonebreaker and the red regiment in their fight. Four longbowmen perished in the struggle, while the skaven were barely scratched. Thus it was that they too took a wall, as the Brabanzon archers ran pell-mell into the street behind. Baron Garoy’s petty-noble companions lost four of their number to the rat ogres’ fury, their armour failing to prevent the brutes’ brute strength snapping their bones. Despite the direness of his situation, the young baron refused to look to his own safety, and the last of his brave companions chose to stand with him.

Someone on the tower top shouted, “They’re coming! Please, my lady, get out!” and Perette realised that either the red regiment or the monkish ratmen (or both) must be moving along the walls upon either side of the tower. If she did not go now, they could trap her at the top. Leaping across to the stairs she almost threw herself down them, perilously taking the steep, stone steps two or three at a time, bouncing and sliding along the wall in equal measure. When she burst out into the street behind she saw that the Barabanzon longbowmen had rallied in the street and were forming themselves into a line, and that the company's riders had moved over near to the tower, as if they had known she was coming.



She could see the situation was growing desperate, especially as the walls elsewhere had been taken too. For now, she decided she could only deal with the most immediate threat, which was without a doubt the ratmen on the wall above her!



The winds of magic were weak, but she wound enough etheric essence into her conjuring to send a fireball of some size blazing at the foe. The bonebreaker’s platform, upon which Gurthrak had ridden before he was skitterleaped away, burst into flames, as did several patches of its fur, while two clanrats tumbled, writhing and screeching from the wall. The survivors, Gurthrak included, scrabbled over the wall and down the ladders, having entirely lost the will to take any more of the cruel punishment they had thus far endured.

They would not stop running for some time!

As the last few red regiment warriors frantically stumbled, smoking, from the base of the wall, picking up their pace as they found their breath, a shadow moved past them. Another load of rocks barreled through the air and smashed right into the yellow regiment, killing thirteen! Perhaps because they were divided by the wall, the survivors did not flee; but the ones outside did redouble their efforts to get up the ladder and onto what they hoped was the safety of the wall!



Lord Urlak took a brief moment to look from the wall …



… from where he could see the riders, Baron Garoy’s final struggle against the rat ogres, Gurthrak’s departure, the enemy horse and foot soldiers made ready for the fight in the street below and the red haired wizardess. On sight of her, fierce anger threatened to overwhelm him, but at that very moment he noticed the trebuchet was being dragged about to face him and the yellow regiment, even now they were on the walls! Hissing in frustration, he snarled a command, and he and the warriors with him made their way in to the corner tower which they hoped would protect them.

The brutes fighting the knights suddenly realised there was no-one left for them to kill. Baring their teeth and growling, they looked around them hungrily for someone or something else to pull apart. Below them, beneath their drooling blood and spit, with a taloned foot pressing down hard on its crumpled breastplate, lay the mangled corpse of Baron Garoy.

Lord Urlak, busy squeezing into what he hoped was the safety of the tower, did not know it, but the trebuchet would not have the chance to shoot again. The last of the frenzied Plague Monks had rushed out onto the main tower top, furiously tearing into the brigands and the crewmen, killing some with their blades, while two more fell to the curse of their magical banner. They then easily cut down the last of the Brabanzon attempting to flee by way of the stairs Perette had used.

Down in the street, Perette could hear the screams and commotion. When she looked up she saw the crazed ratmen and their ugly banner peering over the crenulations.



Rats were swarming across the rubble of the gate tower, while ratmen and brutes had already gained access to one of the city’s quarters. The jezzailers were about to begin their ascent over the walls, and somewhere lurked a skaven wizard powerful enough to collapse fortified towers with his magic. The city was lost, surely, and the veteran soldiers of the Brabanzon knew it.

Perette was bruised, battered and bewildered, and suddenly found herself in a moment of calm. Just as she entertained, in her confusion, the mad notion that she could sit and rest a while, there came a commanding voice.

“My lady, mount, if you please. Make haste, I beg of you, for we must leave immediately!”



Game over.

...

Game Notes:
5 turns played out of 7 or 8 possible in an assault scenario. The skaven had definitely won in terms of victory conditions (i.e. controlling wall, tower and internal sections). Of course, Perette and the last of the Brabanzon could have stayed to fight to the end. But, she is an NPC in the campaign, so I talked with the player running her in the battle, discussing what she and her company might do, then I diced on the final decision. She would escape to fight another day! This I think is a good story, and even the Skaven player was happy because he enjoys the campaign story too and likes Perette's character very much! I am now working on new figures for the band she will become a part of, and have even acquired a figure for a mounted version of her. She might just become an heroic 'outlaw' type, and have a few adventures left in her yet. Then again, considering the fate of young Baron Garoy in this game, she might just die in her next encounter! The campaign is driven by events in the form of choices, actions, cause and effect, and chance. I am not an 'author' with god-like control of the NPCs. I just dice for their decisions and responses, based on what options they might consider, then write what happens to them, as I did above!

If you have any questions about the game, please do ask. If I can answer without revealing something the players in the campaign should not know, I will!
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Re: Tilea's Troubles, IC2401
« Reply #568 on: September 13, 2020, 07:57:06 PM »
Once More at Pontremola
A Battle Report




As the Duchess Maria’s army progressed to the Bridge of Pontremola, Biagino rode upon his magnificent corpse-carroccio with plenty of time to think. When he was alive, he had fought at the very same bridge, during the somewhat unexpected victory of the Holy Army of Viadaza (known also as the ‘Peasant Army’), where he witnessed the vampire duke’s death at the hands of the hero, General Urbano D’Alessio.

Back then, Biagino had been fighting for the living, and while he waited nervously at the river, his future sire’s sire, the vampire Duke of Miragliano had presumably made this exact same journey, doubtlessly expecting victory in battle.

Here and now, Biagino was not so sure.

He remembered dreaming of that first battle, even before it, for the feeble god Morr had woven many a wretched vision into his slumbers. Those intangible, half-remembered riddles were all that Morr had gifted him, messages so nebulous he only ever seemed to recognise their prophetic nature in retrospect, and even then, without conviction. Now, however, he saw (felt, smelt, tasted and heard) the world much more clearly, and wielded real powers of consequence, even commanding an entire army of walking corpses – his unholy Church of Nagash. No more mumbling of prayers in the Classical tongue, hoping for some luck to come his way, or for the enemy to feel the slight rebuke of a somnolescent half-god. Now he could make his bambinos dance most sprightfully and spitefully, several hundreds at a time. And should they fall to the foe’s blades, he could command them to rise again and fight on. He himself had become nimble, strong and resilient – quite the opposite of the sluggardly creature he had been in life, who ached in every march and winced at every scratch and scrape. Once prey, he was now predator. And most importantly, he had a purpose stronger than he had ever known before: to serve his mistress in every way possible.

Yet, despite all this, he was anxious. Pontremola was not at all an auspicious place for vampires. Worse still, he himself had already faced the enemy they were about to engage, in the Trantine necropolis valley of Norochia, when he had so swiftly recognised the certain defeat awaiting him that he was forced to abandon nearly his entire army and run for miles.

The enemy was commanded again by the Portomaggioran Lord Alessio D’Urbano, an experienced general capable of mustering grand alliances and renowned for his tactical prowess. They were upon the far side of a river in the full flow of spring, ensconced in a fortified camp from which they could spew cannon shot, bolts and bullets at their leisure …

(The fortified camp at Pontremola)


Their cannons had proved so numerous and powerful in Norochia that they had torn both his Mortis Engine and Terrorgheist to pieces with their balls of iron before they could even cross the valley floor. Here also they had a monstrous, magical construct, the same titan that had melted an entire company of hexwraiths at Norochia.

On approaching the duchess to reveal his trepidation, she laughed as soon as she saw the expression on his face, ordering him to put any and all concerns from his mind. Today, she said, they would break the back of the most powerful army in Tilea; and then tomorrow, so sated that they would surely cry sanguine tears of joy, they would raise that same army up into their own service and conquer the rest of the realm with it.

When his frown had lingered a moment longer, she caressed his cheek and said, “They sent an army of cultists to stop me, each and every one dedicated to Morr and entirely careless of their lives. I slaughtered all of them and made them into your toys. Now we can play together. Won’t that be so very nice?”

There was no arguing with his mistress.

And so, surrounded by his flock of followers, he now rode at the far right of the army’s line.



Maria was with her horse guard, flanked by the varghiests.



Her military lieutenant, the vampire Captain Bernhardt, commanded the second regiment of skeletal horse, out on the far left of the line.



At the heart of her army the Mortis Engine glided unnaturally forwards, the great weight of its ornate metal and bone carcass born aloft by a writhing mass of glowing, green ethereal spirits.



Beside the magical engine loped a large mob of dire wolves, then a body of brute-zombies.



And upon its other side, between it and the duchess, leapt the varghiests, their leathery wings flapping furiously.



Thus was the vanguard deployed. Behind this front line marched two further regiments, in the form of zombies and skeletons, between which a corpse cart, simple in comparison to Biagino’s majestic transport, trundled along.



This was the force that the Duchess Maria brought with her from Ebino.





The army of Portomaggiore and its Reman allies had marched many leagues to be here. Most felt relief that the enemy had chosen to attack them in their fortified and naturally moated camp rather than force them to attempt an assault of the formidable walls of Ebino. Some were just relieved that they would at last get to fight the enemy they had travelled so far to reach. Indeed, because so many had watched the ignominious defeat of the undead army at Norochia, they had less fear than mortals would usually feel upon facing such a foe.

Of course, when the enemy hove into view, a surge of doubt washed through them, for such a grisly sight forces the living to think of death, and at the very moment when the prospect of battle meant the subject already weighed heavily in their thoughts. To die at the hands of the undead, knowing that might then be doomed to share their horrible fate, is never something that inspires confidence!

Lord Alessio Falconi commanded them, as well as personally leading his armoured foot regiment of men at arms known as the ‘Sea Wolves’. Presuming that the enemy must surely concentrate their attack at the bridge itself, rather that throw everything they had into the rushing waters, he and his guard defended the barricade erected at its southern end – perhaps the most important spot in the line.



He had a Reman priest of Morr with him, Father Dado Bendali, as well as his battle standard bearer. The rest of his field officers were far to his right in the line. Lord Ned Black, his second in command, rode a demigryph with fearsome ‘The Hunting Pack’…



… while out on the farthest right flank the Tilean nobleman Marcus Portelli commanded the Black Guard, a large company of mounted men at arms.



The Knights of the Lady, led by Brother Libero Grossi, a priest of Myrmidiea, were beside the Hunting Pack. Next to them at the heart of the battle line, stood the Colossus ...



… which had once guarded the landward gate of the city of Portomaggiore. His guns, a brace of brass barrelled cannon, where mounted upon his earthwork bastion, supported by his two companies of handgunners.



The Reman brigade, commanded to man the rest of the defences, consisted of two large bodies of crossbowmen (one mercenary dwarfs) as well as a small company of skirmishing bravi and the remnant of a regiment of dwarfs. Alessio’s own crossbow were placed at the wall behind his mounted men at arms.

This was the army that awaited Maria.



Deployment done. Battle to follow

Note: Thank you to DamoB for lending me his army for this our second play-by-email game. Nearly all the Living army is his, apart from the Remans.
« Last Edit: September 13, 2020, 07:59:46 PM by Padre »
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Re: Tilea's Troubles, IC2401
« Reply #569 on: September 15, 2020, 11:21:56 PM »
The Fight, Part One



From the front rank of his regiment of Sea Wolves, Lord Alessio surveyed the enemy before him, and realised they obviously intended to swarm the bridge and overcome it with weight of numbers. Two huge mobs of zombies, wearing the ragged remains of Disciplinati di Morr robes (revealing what they once were in life) advanced either side of a huge carroccio, directly towards the bridge.



From Lord Black’s position, the enemy looked considerably different, taking the form of bony riders, demonic beasts and the Mortis Engine. He could just make out a woman amongst them, mounted upon a red-barded horse, and realised that she must be the duchess Maria herself.



“Good,” he thought. “Come to me my lady and I will help you complete your interrupted journey to death.”

Not a soldier moved from his allotted place amongst the living. The wizard Hakim, yet to worry about commanding his magnificent contrivance the Colossus, attempted to conjure a protective spell and was unsurprised to find the enemy had enough users of magic to sap the winds and prevent his success. Magical manipulations rarely stopped bolts and bullets, however, and just as Hakim accepted his spell was broken, the artillery began to boom.

The foremost cannon, at the very tip of the bastion, sent an enchanted roundshot deep into the Mortis Engine, but to no apparent effect! (Game Note: Miscast, re-roll, hits, but scores 1 to wound!) The second cannon, its gunner seeing the disappointing effect of the other’s efforts, chose instead to target the skeletal riders out upon the foe’s very far left flank. His shot also hit, but this time with some consequence, for one of the riders shattered into pieces. The gunnr did not know it, but the ball had also severely grazed the vampire captain Bernhardt on its passage.



Berhardt was caught entirely by surprise by this, only hearing the cannon’s report a moment later!

The mortar’s grenade landed very wide of its mark, but the Dwarfen and Reman crossbow regiments did manage to fell a handful of zombies.

This frail assault by the living, albeit only missile and magic, might have been a welcome surprise, perhaps even an encouragement, to many armies. Most of Maria’s soldiers, however, were not burdened with such awareness, nor very much in the way of thoughts at all! As one,and entirely regardless of their fortune so far, her army (and the army of the Church of Nagash) moved on, with the mounted and monstrous companies nearest to Maria quickly outstripping the rest, so much so that the vargheists almost reached the river!



The massed skeletons and zombies in the rear moved as best they could, while hidden amongst them the Necromancer Saffiro now speculated that the battle might well be over before he and the foot soldiers even reached the enemy!

The Army of the Church of Nagash  …



… was led by Biagino and drew its magical nourishment from his vampiric will, so it they came on much quicker than Maria’s own footsoldiers, although the largest regiment was slowed by the need to reform its ranks and files all the better to cross the bridge.



(Game Note: The need to reform was entirely my own fault, for I was supposed to be in command of this NPC army, while David had volunteered to command Maria’s army, and I just plonked two hordes down in deployment without thinking through what they had to do next!)

The vampire duchess threw a magical missile at the demigryphs, but such was their armour that it had no effect upon them. Exasperated at her failure, she turned instead to heal her captain of his wound (and glad he was of it too). Biagino employed what few wisps of the etheric wind were left to conjure Vanhel’s Dance Macabre on his shambling bambinos, hoping to move them all much closer to the foe than any natural motion could achieve, but the spell collapsed as the enemy’s powerful wizard raised up contrary eddies to dissipate its power.

Now the crossbows were re-spanned, the handguns reloaded, the cannons re-shotted, and all just as  the undead came within range of every weapon the living could bring to bear.



The Colossus had not moved for over an an hour, standing so still that the necromancer Saffiro had (for a moment at least) entertained the thought that it was indeed merely a statue. Until, that is, he sensed the immense power animating it. Now, however, it did move – turning its head to look directly at Maria.



It loomed over her, and yet she felt no fear.



She knew that compared to the demigryph hunting pack, such a thing would be easy to kill. She had the harder undertaking on her mind.

The wizard Hakim made his way to the other flank of the huge regiment of spearmen, all the better to see the most dangerous foes.



What drew his eyes most was the spectral forms of the Hexwraiths, riding beside Maria’s knights.



And so he conjured Shem’s Burning Gaze to throw at them. Maria must have been distracted, for her countermagics tumbled chaotically to nought, and four of the ghostly riders where removed from the mortal world entirely. This event was not missed by the marksman Lupo ‘the Wolf’ Lorenzo’s keen eyes, who, having kissed his magical arbalest for good luck, sent not less than three blessed bolts to finish off the last of the wraiths.

When the necromancer Saffiro felt his mistress’s momentary distress, he unrolled his dispel scroll and made sure to stop whatever magic the enemy’s powerful wizard would surely conjure on the back of Maria’s discomfort. (Game Note: Banishment on the vargheists, at 2D6 S4 hits, stopped with a scroll!) Hakim cursed as he felt the spell’s power die, while the Colossus turned its had again to look down upon his master’s intended target.



Saffiro had sensed that Hakim intended harm on the vargheists, but then both he and Hakim were surprised (although in somewhat different senses) to see that despite the spell’s failure, two of the winged creatures were felled by the storm of bolts and bullets issued from the handgunners and crossbowmen on the wall behind. Despite the much more massive mob of wolves loping towards them …



… they too had known where the real danger lay, and thus their shooting.

Out on the far right of the undead lines Biagino’s army of the Church of Nagash had been targeted too.



The gunners with the Portomaggorian mortar had high hopes their piece would tear great holes in the enemy’s lines, but these hopes were dashed - as indeed where they - when their engine shivered killing them all! The Reman crossbowmen upon the wall right beside the mortar, however, did not let its explosion distract them, and sent a flurry of bolts sufficiently accurately to slay four of the corpse carroccio’s draught horses. Then moments later the dwarfen crossbowmen took down another three.



(Note: The picture shows two, but that’s because I am the fool who based the models in pairs for ‘convenience’!

(Game Note: The carroccio’s move was now reduced to 1” due to the special rules we agreed on before the game. Because the model is so big – being 13” long – it’s four pairs of horses were to be classed as one unit and the carroccio itself as another. Any loss of the horses would result in a proportionate loss of its already small movement!)

Meanwhile the cannoneers knew exactly what they wanted to hurt – the monstrously large Mortis Engine gliding at the very centre of the enemy force, as if it were its vile, beating heart.



This time the shots were both deep and damaging, plummeting  through the entire length of the Mortis Engine with such power that the whole construct collapse in on its wake to be utterly destroyed.

(Game Note: Direct hit by magical, flaming and ignore all wards blessed cannonball, then a roll of 6 for the number of wounds!)

For the briefest moment there was silence, then a radiating wave of lighted energy burst out from the collapsing engine’s core, damaging the Colossus, killing a Myrmidian Knight of the Lady, and amongst Maria’s force, bringing down three dire wolves, one black knight, one skeleton and three zombies. The last of the Vargheists was entirely obliterated by the shockwave!

Perhaps the scale of the first cannon’s success distracted the second cannon’s crew, because they now fumbled their powder and shot, and found themselves having to worm out and reload the piece, which would take considerable time, cursing at their bad luck whilst at the same time, elated to know the Mortis Engine was gone.

As they prepared to deliver their charges, Maria’s army looked a lot less threatening than it had only moments before!

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Re: Tilea's Troubles, IC2401
« Reply #570 on: September 15, 2020, 11:23:27 PM »
The battle has begun! :smile2: :::cheers:::
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Re: Tilea's Troubles, IC2401
« Reply #571 on: September 24, 2020, 09:49:12 AM »
And it now continues!

The Fight, Part Two

While Maria’s foot soldiers shuffled forwards in the rear, becoming increasingly bereft of her driving will by the growing distance between them and her …



… she herself led the armoured horsemen in a charge across the river into the Demigryphs commanded by Ned Black. Two of her bone and ancient steel companions succumbed to the fast-flowing waters, but neither she nor the other riders noticed.


(Picture taken before the removal of the dangerous terrain casualties.)

Perhaps Captain Bernhardt was not quite as filled with fury as the duchess, possibly as a consequence of his recent close shave with an iron shot? Whatever the reason, his own company of riders failed to charge against the foe, instead milling somewhat confusedly upon the far side of the rushing river.



Biagino, atop his now slow-moving carroccio, commanded his bambinos to advance as best and fast they can, and of course they obliged, drawing very close to the river and the still-intact bridge of Pontremola itself.



Despite the blood-fury that gripped her, Maria realised that if the demigryphs managed to keep her busy for more than a few moments, then the knights to her right could charge into her flank, most likely overwhelming her guards and bringing about her final demise, and so she summoned up a little company of zombies - resurrected from the corpses still lying in the mud of the river from the last battle – and willed them to place themselves in such a way as to distract the knights (at least for a little while).


(Game Note: The old trick of getting in the way, while angled in such a manner to make an overrunning enemy unable to charge Maria)

Nevertheless, the vampire duchess wanted to defeat the monstrous foe as soon as possible, and so chose to use magic to make her attacks even more deadly, conjuring Dance Macabre. As the spell flowed through her she knew its success was certain, but then, half a moment later, she also knew that she had brought far too much power to bear upon its conjuration. Several strands of the winds of magic now crashed like waves against each other, then burst outwards calamitously. One of the enemy demigryphs was caught fully by the etheric surge and perished immediately, as did four of Maria’s own riders. Maria scowled, for even she felt its burn and was weakened considerably by her mistake.

What few wisps of etheric wind remained were gathered by Biagino, hoping to drive his servants dancing en-masse over the bridge and river, but the enemy Wizard Hakim found it easy to unwind the spell, having little else to distract him.

And so it was, just as Maria’s blade was able to begin it’s work proper, she found herself with only a handful of companions. Still, her lust for battle remained so strong that she made straight for Lord Black, knowing he was a commander and intending to make him pay dearly for the damage already done to her servants (and her pride).



(Game Note: Here began the most complicated combat I have ever attempted to run. Normally I GM whilst the player’s play, and so they recall, mention and apply all the relevant rules. As this was play by email, the players were indeed commanding and deciding on all movement, magic, shooting etc, but when it came to combat it was me on my lonesome armed with the army lists, rules and dice and trying to apply everything. The Vampiress Maria alone had +1 to hit (Sword of Striking), Red Fury (unsaved wounds generate extra attacks), Beguile (base to base models need to pass an Ld-3 test or be forced to re-roll successful to hits), Nightshroud (+1 AS, those in base contact lose Str bonuses and gain Always Strike Last), re-roll failed to hits (Dance Macabre), and she was on a nightmare. That’s just her – not Ned, or the Black Knights, or the demigryphs! I am certain I must, no matter how hard I tried, have forgotten something.)

Catching Lord Black’s eye, Maria knew she had befuddled him momentarily with her mesmeric glare, and in the first flush of the struggle her sword twice bit deep into his ferocious mount. As she drew the blade back in satisfaction, and made ready for another bout of sword play, she realised that she herself had been cut by Lord Black. Around her, two more of her riders fell, whilst the demigryphs were only grazed in return!

As Lord Black shouted, “Deos imperate omnes”, and the demigryphs reared and roared, Maria felt uncertainty for the first time in a long time. It was a foul but familiar feeling, for she remembered it from life. Until this moment it had had no place in her undeath!

(Game note, the Undead had won the combat by a measly 1, but Lord Black’s unit is stubborn and passed their Ld test.)

Her progeny, Biagino and Captain Berhnardt, sensed her discomfort. What with Biagino stranded upon his almost wrecked carroccio whilst failing in his conjurations, and Berhnardt floundering with his warriors at the river bank having failed to join his mistress’s charge, they both, in their own particular ways, shared Maria’s feeling of doubt.     

Along the defences near the bridge it was becoming clear that whatever missiles were thrown at the shambling hordes, and however many of the lesser mob the river carried away, many zombies would remain to assault the defences. Yet, at the same time, ever man and dwarf there reckoned his chances against such clumsy and awkward foes.



Lord Alessio’s Myrmidian warrior-priest, Libero Grossi, led the Knights of the Lady in the short charge against the newly summoned zombies …



… while nearby the wizard Lord Hakim cast Shem’s Burning Gaze between his Colossus’s legs, felling five of Captain Bernhardt’s bony riders, then, with not a moment’s rest, he cast Banishment too (before the Colossus moved and perhaps blocked his view) bringing down yet another rider. Moment’s later another two riders were killed by crossbow quarrels, leaving vampire Captain Bernhardt with only two companions. His confused frustration was now transforming into burning fury at the course the battle was taking.



The cannon at the very tip of the bastion sent an enchanted round-shot to wound one of the horrors, and consequently, now afflicted by a weakening magic, the horrors lost one of their number to the handgun bullets and crossbow bolts hurled subsequently.

The vampire duchess had become blind to all other considerations but the killing of Lord Black …



… and despite her diminutive size compared to the demigryph and rider, she did indeed cut him down.

Lord Black was dead.

Overcome with the gleeful thrill of her successful slaughter she let loose a blood-curdling scream. But then, as the last of her companions was fatally cut and crumpled into the mud of the river bank, her scream transformed to become a most dreadful and desperate cry. The necromantic magic that coursed through her, feeding her every thought and action, sustaining her continued existence in the mortal realm, was ebbing away. Her cry faltered, then suddenly ceased as she fell entirely lifeless from her collapsing mount.

The vampire duchess was dead! 

(Game Note: End of First Player’s turn 3.)
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Re: Tilea's Troubles, IC2401
« Reply #572 on: September 24, 2020, 11:06:58 AM »
Seems like a brutal battle!  The undead crashing into the demi-gryphs is quite the shot! :icon_biggrin: :icon_cool: :eusa_clap: :::cheers:::
"Not all who wander are lost ... " Tolkien

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Re: Tilea's Troubles, IC2401
« Reply #573 on: Today at 03:31:36 PM »
Thanking you, GP. Here's the finale ...

-----------------------------

The Fight, Part Three

The death of his beloved duchess hit Biagino like a crashing wave, so much so that he staggered back from the shock of it.



His cause of being, his purpose, his every goal was taken from him in that moment. There was nothing now but himself and no point in continuing. After allowing himself to let loose a shrill shriek of despair, he commanded his bambini to turn away from the enemy, which they did to a one.



The surviving draft horses did what they could to haul the great carroccio around, but Biagino knew that to stay upon the wagon now would only draw the enemy’s attention and so he leapt down to the ground and strode over towards the great mob of once-cultists now approaching. His only wish was to get away from this place where his mistress had perished.



The death of his beloved duchess hit Captain Berhardt like a crashing wave, so much so that he was almost unhorsed by the shock of it.

His cause of being, his purpose, his every goal was taken from him in that moment. There was nothing now but himself and no point in continuing. After allowing himself to let loose a shrill shriek of fury, he commanded his last two companions to charge the foe.

Splashing through the river he made directly for the Demigryphs.



His only wish was to slay those who had killed his mistress.

...

The necromancer Saffiro had not obeyed the duchess out of anything akin to fierce love, but rather a fearful respect, and saw no reason to avenge her death as did the vampire captain. Besides, he could see Biagino’s Church of Nagash was departing the field of battle. Apart from the dire wolves, who were commanded by Bernhardt to join him in the charge, Saffiro was able to command every other body of undead to turn about and begin moving away from the river. As they did so, several skeletons and zombies collapsed, for Saffiro’s will, being to the duchess’s will as a dusty law book would be to a long and barbed whip, was insufficient to hold all of them in this world, and much less commanding in its magical tone.



Even some of the dire wolves fell to the sudden diminishment of magic, and another was washed away by the river.

Game Note: The following pic gives an idea of the scale of the flight – although this was taken just before Biagino was moved over to the red and grey robed zombie cultists.



As he drew near to his bambini, Biagino’s grief lifted just enough for him to notice that they were moving away in a manner not one iota different to that which they had entered the field. The duchess’s death, victory, defeat, advance or retreat - all was the same to them. There was a clarity to this, and for the briefest moment Biagino realised that he had, in his terrible loss, been released. His bambini were his, as they were before, but now he belonged to himself too!



He now joined his flock eagerly, glad to have the great bulk of them between himself and whatever else the enemy would throw.



As he arrived amongst the cavorting corpse-cultists he attempted once again to cast Dance Macabre and this time, much to his surprise, his spell was successful. Was this how things would be, he thought, now that he was his own master? As both his flocks of bambini began their magically induced dash, he found himself carried along with them, and with every step he took his sense of liberation grew, marred only by a new and growing resentment of his past enthrallment to the duchess.



As Bernhardt and the demigryphs fought, at first evenly matched, the colossus strode across the river, unaccompanied by any of those nearby, for to a man they did not fancy their chances in crossing the river. The Wizard Hakim was keen to do what harm he could to the retreating enemy and decided that his servile construct might better his chances of doing do.



Lord Alessio, as yet unaware that the duchess was dead, was astonished by the enemy’s sudden reversal. He watched from behind the bridge defences and thought back to the necropolis valley of Norochia. It dawned on him that they must have received a deadly blow, for that was what had sent them running that last time.

“They run!” he cried, throwing his hand up in surprise. “Yet again, they run!”



When he caught sight of the colossus stomping out to the right he knew that most of the rest of them must also be retreating. How many times would he have to fight them? How much further north would he be forced to march? Whatever the truth, he intended to see them off today, and if any thought to make a stand or try some last counter-attack, then good - he would finish them.

“Sea Wolves! March on!” he boomed, and those in the front rank began to push over the barricade.



The Wizard Lord Hakim, seeing that several of the enemy’s monstrous warriors were attempting to escape, angrily summoned up Shem’s Burning Gaze to fell one of the blue-skinned brutes and badly burn another. As he grinned in satisfaction he realised that his anger had got the better of him, for there were still etheric energies coiled around him, uncontrolled and uncontrollable. These now dissipated, and as they drew away across the seam between the mortal realm and the etheric, they took a part of Hakim with them too. His anger vanished, as did his knowledge of the spell, and for a moment he stood, stunned, wide eyed and strangely empty. (Game Note: Miscast, reduced to magic level 3. As GM I will have to come up with a recovery chart of some kind for him to roll on later!)

An iron round-shot now shattered the last of the carroccio’s draft horses, ensuring it would not leave the field. Several of the more devout amongst that flank of the army, especially those who prayed especially to Morr, were pleased by this, for now the wagon could be recaptured and either purified or burned - it mattered not which, only that it would no longer be defiled.

Several skeletons fell to the hail of shot from over the river, as indeed did another of the brutes.

When the mounted men at arms of the Black Guard and the Knights of the Lady both turned to face enemy engaged with the demigryphs they discovered that their assistance was not needed!



The last of the skeletal riders, all but one of the wolves and the vampire Captain Bernhardt had all fallen to the monstrous talons and sharp blades of the hunting pack. The undead Bernhardt was undone. Now he was merely dead.

The skeletal regiment had reformed to face the Colossus, while Saffiro made his own way off the field. Smelling a trap, the Colossus lurched off to one, remaining close enough to cast magic but not so close as to allow the warriors to swarm him. Then it saw its chance and strode between the two mobs, the better to see the fleeing necromancer. Both cannons fired at the undead brutes but their gunners over-compensated for the range and sent their shots overhead.

As the Church of Nagash and its master, the arch-priest Biagino left the field, Saffiro suddenly stopped, thinking to resurrect some of the fallen brutes.



His spell however was not strong enough and was easily dispelled by Hakim, despite the living wizard’s addled state of mind. When the ground shook, Saffiro suddenly realised how close he was to the colossus …



.. and turned to run after the Church of Nagash. Moments later he sensed magic being directed at him by the giant construct, and despite his growing panic, managed to dispel it. His relief was cut short however, when the colossus followed by casting its own burning gaze. The etheric heat that now engulfed Saffiro was so strong that for a moment his very bones could be seen as his threadbare robes disintegrated and his blotched flesh burned away. And then even the bones were gone.

As the now lordless skeletons floundered, their ranks starting to splinter and scatter, and as the zombies staggered and stumbled over each other in their confusion, the corpse cart and the last of crypt horrors (having lost another of their number to a cannon shot) fled from the field, to join in the wake of the Church of Nagash.

A cheer rippled through the ranks of the living. Having crossed the bridge, Lord Alessio took a moment to give thanks to all the lawful gods for their great victory, then calmly gave the order for the army to assemble upon the northern side of the river with him. He intended to give chase immediately. He was tired of pursuing this enemy and if they could be caught and killed today it would be worth all the effort required, howsoever exhausted his army would be by the end of the day, and even if it meant the loss of a few more brave souls.
Photobucket has now re-destroyed my pictures, so the first half of my collected works thread is no longer working again. To see my website version of the campaign thread, with fully functioning pictures, please go to https://bigsmallworlds.com/