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Author Topic: Tilean Campaign, IC2401  (Read 72758 times)

Offline Padre

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Re: Tilean Campaign, IC2401
« Reply #425 on: February 21, 2019, 08:20:50 PM »
Unholy of Unholies
Second Prequel to 'The Battle of the Valley of Death'

Trantio City, Early Autumn 2403

Moved by the malice coursing through his every vein, Biagino mounted the sanctuary and strode to the altar. Although the congregation’s whimpering could be heard throughout the building, he failed to perceive it – for him, the sound was buried beneath the much more powerful sensation of their fear and the delicious stench of so much warm blood. As he greedily guzzled great gulps of the despair emanating from every living soul gathered within the church, their pathetic sobbing was akin to being merely one of several subtle notes possessed by a fine wine. He had other things on his mind to distract him, not least the fact that an enormous army was camped to the west of the city, obviously intent upon doing battle.

Since late afternoon he had been mulling over what to do about the enemy. Should he meet them upon the walls of Trantio, forcing them to assault the city, or out in the field where he could bring his whole force to bear? Should he even be attempting to take on such a massive foe at all? Perhaps his mistress would prefer he retreat than risk losing the army he now commanded? He had left Viadaza with his own Church of Nagash, including his vampire thralls and the huge mob of resurrected cultists he named the Disciplinati di Nagash but referred to as his children, and a small but substantial army gifted to him by the Duchess Maria, containing powerful, arcane constructs and even a monstrous, undead dragon. Once he arrived at Trantio, this army had grown even stronger, as he, his step-get Captain Tusco and the necromancer Pascal della Cava, raised several regiments of ancient warriors, both foot soldiers and horse, from the ancient graves and burial pits of the necropolis valley of Norochia.

Yet the enemy army, no doubt a grand alliance of several states, made all this seem paltry in comparison. This was not to be an easy decision.

Once behind the altar he gave vent to an involuntary hiss and slammed his gold-topped crozier upon the stone floor, the sharp sound of which elicited a temporary silence.



His red-robed acolytes, the vampire thralls known as La Fraternita di Morti Irrequieti, stood nearby on the sanctuary, while his newly raised, fleshless soldiers lined every wall of the church, but he paid them no attention. They gave him nothing, only took from him. It was his will that lent them purpose - without him they would neither be nor do. It was the wretched huddle of people in the nave that fascinated him, for he could feed on them, play with them, delight in their dread.

Tonight, however, he wanted something different. He wanted their worship. Raising his hands to command general attention, he began.

“Let us pray!”

There was some confusion amongst the gathered, and even that gave him joy. The living were a veritable cornucopia of feelings, every one improved by a seasoning of terror and despair. He leered at them, then raised his eyes to the great church’s ceiling, and began intoning.

“Nagashi, exaudi nos.
Domine, majestatis infinitae.
Domine, fornax ardens.
Domine, virtutum omnium abysse.
Domine, omni laude dignissime.”



He fell silent and lowered his head to glare at the cowering flock before him.

“Well?” he demanded.

Someone began to sob – a woman by the sound of it.

“No,” he hissed angrily. “Say the words.”

The nearest acolyte, his face obscured by a hood, now sang in a voice as beautiful as it was terrible,

“Sanctificetur nomen tuum.”

This was followed by a stumbled attempt at repetition by the cowed congregation. Apart from the children, all the reluctant worshippers knew the words, being the same as those chanted by all Tileans during the most common service to Morr. The entire unholy mass was to be an inversion of the familiar; a profane mockery twisted to serve Nagash.



“Better,” muttered Biagino. His satisfied smile revealed the crooked fangs sitting uncomfortably large in his mouth. Then he addressed the congregation with a short homily.

“It gives me great satisfaction to see you all gathered here today. You are the last of the living in the city, and in what days remain of that life, your prayers will serve as the perfect prelude to your imminent sacrifice. Let your every thought be fearful, and all your pain and suffering be a gift unto glorious Nagash, for soon you will be his entirely, for ever more, and then all your suffering will end.”

He crooked his finger at his acolyte, who now sang another prayer, pausing between each line to allow the congregation to give their faltering repetition. 

“Libera nos, Domine …
A peste et fame…
A morte perpetua ...”

“Indeed, you shall never fall sick again,” declared Biagino, recommencing his homily. “Nor feel the pang of hunger. You will be delivered from all these things. Death itself shall not come to thee, and you will forget all that you knew, even the name of the false god Morr, for you will walk this earth as a servant of great Nagash, wholly beholden to his will through the medium of myself, his true servant.”

His own words reminded him that there were still creatures in Norochia that he had yet to bend to his will – a mob of ghouls and a large pack of dire wolves. And there were without a doubt still many more ancient warriors lying there he had yet to summon to swell the ranks of his army.

This train of thought was suddenly disturbed by a commotion at the back of the nave. Peering with a power of sight his old, living body was pathetically incapable of, he spied a desperate fool clambering over a pew in an pathetic attempt to flee, only to come face to face with the rank of skeletal guards. Two thrusts of a rusty-tipped spear sent the potential escapee scrambling back to the other prisoners.



Biagino tutted to show his disapproval, his subsequent sneering glare no more or less ugly than his face at rest.

“I will brook no such nonsense,” he warned. “Any foolishness will be punished most severely. There are worse ways to suffer than your present misery. Now, shall we continue with our prayers?”

Biagino himself took up the prayers once more.

“Nagash, domine et magister
Adveniat regnum tuum, Domine
Fiat voluntas tua”

Once again, the response was ingrained in the forced-worshippers’ minds, despite the unholy insertion of foul Nagash’s name in the preceding prayer.

“Nunc, et semper, et in saecula saeculorum,” they sang with a tunelessness occasioned by fear.

Now, where was I? he asked himself. Ah yes, the valley

Suddenly, he knew exactly what to do. He would array his forces in the valley and meet the foe there, where the ground itself would provide him with reinforcements. He could wrest magical mastery of the wild inhabitants to make them his to command also.

The enemy would find themselves facing a foe from their nightmares in a place of their nightmares.

Where better?

. . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . .
Notes

Nagashi, exaudi nos (Nagash, graciously hear us.)

Domine, majestatis infinitae  (Lord, of infinite majesty)
Domine, fornax ardens  (lord, burning furnace)
Domine, virtutum omnium abysse, (Lord, bottomless pit for all virtues)
Domine, omni laude dignissime, (Lord, most worthy of all praise)

Sanctificetur nomen tuum (Hallowed be thy name)

Libera nos, Domine (Lord deliver us)
A peste et fame (From pestilence and famine)
A morte perpetua (From everlasting death)

Nagash, domine et magister (Nagash, lord and master)
Adveniat regnum tuum, Domine (Thy kingdom come.)
Fiat voluntas tua (Thy will be done)
Nunc, et semper, et in saecula saeculorum (Now, always and forever)
« Last Edit: March 25, 2019, 07:15:50 PM by Padre »
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Offline Artobans Ghost

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Re: Tilean Campaign, IC2401
« Reply #426 on: March 09, 2019, 02:40:09 PM »
Excellent preparation.  RL has been a pisser lately so I only had this chance to catch up on the last three instalments. I love how your miniatures suit their narrative perfectly. Looking forward to the next. May I say that I hope the foul Biagino has a horrible, painful end.
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 Fidelis von Sigmaringen

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Re: Tilean Campaign, IC2401
« Reply #427 on: March 09, 2019, 05:42:22 PM »
Great work.

If I am allowed to point out some errors:

Domine, virtutum omnium abysse, (Lord, bottomless pit of all virtues)
Domine, omni laude dignissime


Nagash, domine et magister
It is not enough to have no ideas of your own; you must also be incapable of expressing them.
Sex, lies and manuscripts: The History of the Empire as Depicted in the Art of the Time (10/07/16)

Offline Padre

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Re: Tilean Campaign, IC2401
« Reply #428 on: March 09, 2019, 05:52:53 PM »
Thank you ever so much you two. When no-one comments a horrible doubt creeps in that I have 'lost my way' somehow with the writing.

@ Artobahn's Ghost: I too would love a messy end, but hopefully not too soon. He's fun to write for, and an 'easy' character to portray.

@ Fidelis: I just cut and pasted from a catholic website - their Latin, their translations! I will correct because not to do so is madness when I have already gone to such effort! (I haven't any skill in Latin at all, I just have the www!)
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Offline Fidelis von Sigmaringen

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Re: Tilean Campaign, IC2401
« Reply #429 on: March 09, 2019, 10:53:57 PM »
I think I know now where you went astray. I suspect the texts you refer to start with Cor Iesu (heart of Jesus).  Cor is neutrum, and thus the vocative (used to address someone) is cor and dignissimum. However, Dominus is masculine, leading to the vocatives Domine, and dignissime. One can use the nominative instead of the vocative (abyssus instead of abysse), but if you start  with the vocative, it is customary to continue in the same declension. Cor has the same nominative and vocative.

Feel free to consult me on any issues regarding Latin.

To add: abyssus means "abyss"(duh). In the case of Jesus, it means a bottomless pit of virtues, i.e. bringing them forth from the abyss. In the case of Nagash, I should think it means a bottomless pit for virtues (i.e. sucking them into the abyss.
« Last Edit: March 09, 2019, 11:23:53 PM by Fidelis von Sigmaringen »
It is not enough to have no ideas of your own; you must also be incapable of expressing them.
Sex, lies and manuscripts: The History of the Empire as Depicted in the Art of the Time (10/07/16)

Offline Padre

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Re: Tilean Campaign, IC2401
« Reply #430 on: March 10, 2019, 03:36:33 PM »
Corrections made (as usual, I was distracted a while by RL, and family, and painting!!)

Thanks again Fidelis. My partner is a linguist, but French and Italian not Latin. I will indeed consult with you before 'publishing' next time. Or I will publish, then check with you, then correct!

BTW, your explanations are very clear!
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Offline Padre

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Re: Tilean Campaign, IC2401
« Reply #431 on: March 29, 2019, 04:23:09 PM »
The Battle of the Valley of Death
The Necropolis Valley of Norochia, west of Trantio, Early Autumn, IC 2403

Captain General Lord Alessio Falconi, despite everyone else’s surprise that the enemy had left the protection of the city walls to assemble in the nearby valley of Norochia, did not hesitate in issuing new battle orders. He knew that with a force as huge and unwieldy as this great alliance army, containing battalions from five different realms, any indecision on his behalf could escalate into a hazardous delay upon the field.

It was generally agreed the enemy must be expecting to gain some advantage from choosing to fight outside the city walls, and although some believed a relief force must be on its way to join the enemy host, most thought it was glaringly obvious why the undead would choose Trantio’s ancient necropolis as their battleground - the reinforcements were, in effect, already there. They just had to claw their way out of their graves to muster with the already animated corpses serving their vampire masters!



Lord Alessio had incorporated both possibilities into his thinking. If there was a force on its way, then it would surely be intercepted by the mounted force he had ordered to skirt north of the city. The horse-soldiers’ manoeuvre had been intended to prevent any enemies escaping Trantio, thus (un)living to fight another day, but they were also very well placed to serve in this new, if unexpected, role. And if the vampires did intend to bolster their strength with warriors newly raised from the ancient graveyards and tombs, then speed was of the essence. Lord Alessio’s army must engage the enemy as soon as possible, to limit the time available for any necromantic machinations.

And so the allied army, consisting almost solely of foot soldiers and artillery (having been selected to besiege the city), marched boldly to array themselves upon the western ridge of the valley, despite the horrific sight of the enemy silently forming up on the eastern slopes. They performed the manoeuvre well, thanks to the drills Lord Alessio had required of them during their march. Three times he had ordered them to form from marching column into line of battle, their performance improving on each occasion, despite the fact that he specified a different disposition every time. Lord Alessio needed the allied contingents to act as a cohesive force in the field, and to know that they could and would follow his orders promptly. He had them march in a specific order each day, all the better to facilitate his orders for deployment. Unlike their practices, however, this time budge barrels were unloaded and powder distributed, their handguns made ready, matches lit, and the giant colossus-construct was conjured from its slumber (upon a covered pallet carried by three massive wains) to take its place on the far left of the line.

The captain general’s own army was mainly concentrated on the right of the line. He intended these, being the soldiers he most trusted, to secure that flank from any enemy attempt to outmanoeuvre the army. He also concentrated the army’s artillery on this flank, no less than six great cannons and four master engineers (four of the component contingents having brought their own engineers to tend their own pieces).  There were a brace of Pavonan pieces, another two Portomaggioran, as well as Reman and Luccinan guns, all of which were also shielded by his own troops. He expected the guns to deliver several crucial and crippling blasts against the foe and was therefore keen to ensure they could not be interfered with by the enemy – another reason to have his most trusted soldiers upon that flank.



On the furthest flank was Lord Ned’s hunting pack of demigryphs, the fastest troops Lord Alessio had with this army, commanded by his most ferocious commander. This was the only mounted company he had not sent away with the interceptor force heading to the north of the city. If anyone was to prove a match for whatever might attempt to break through, or ride around, the flank to attack the guns, then it was Lord Ned and his monstrous cavalry. Nevertheless, to assist them in this task was a company of handgunners, who might at least slow the enemy sufficiently to allow Lord Ned to bring his own company to bear upon them.

Next in line towards the army centre, was his large regiment of spears and his crossbow, and beyond these Portomaggiorans, upon the lower ground, were massed troops of the allied forces.  The Cathayan mercenaries of the arch-lector’s Reman army stood centre-front, crossbowmen and halberdiers with banners showing the keys to Morr’s Garden, while the Verezzan’s large pike regiment and crossbowmen were to their right. Behind them was the smaller Luccinan pike regiment, bearing a royal banner of three fleur de lis (after all, they served a king) and to their left was the second company of Portomaggioran handgunners.



Further left were young Lord Silvano’s Pavonans - archers, halberdiers, handgunners. Their original strength had been reduced by constant war, yet they were still a significant force. The two huge blocks of baggage were clustered behind them, with an unusual halfling war machine nestled in between.



Similarly (suspiciously) close to the baggage, Barone Iacopo and his Verezzan halfling archers had formed up further to the left, and out on the far-left flank – again because Lord Alessio trusted them – marched the plate-clad Portomaggioran veterans known as the Sea Wolves. Finally, upon the army’s extreme flank, strode the Portomaggioran Colossus, as tall as the tallest of giants (if not taller) and fashioned of enchanted bronze and silvered steel, containing massively intricate iron gears and clockwork mechanisms.



(Game Note: The colossus has the stats, abilities and points-cost of the Tomb Kings’ Heirotitan, but he assists the Portomaggioran army’s spellcasters. This is an example of a player’s own inventive ideas in the campaign. Damo wanted a ‘colossus of Rhodes’ type statue to defend his city, so as a GM I told him the points cost and the time it would take to construct. Later he wanted it to move with his army, which I allowed, but warned him as a consequence of hauling such a massive thing upon wagons his army would march somewhat slower than otherwise it would have done. I try to keep everything balanced. As the undead player had such monstrosities as the terrorgheist and the mortis engine, it seemed fair that with effort, spending and consequences, a 'standard' Tilean army might have a suitable monstrous element.)



Upon the eastern side of the valley, the vampire high-priest Biagino watched as the living army assembled. Standing with his Disciplinati di Nagash (the resurrected corpses of the same Morrite dedicants he had marched with when he too had been alive) it crossed his mind that perhaps he should have begun the advance against the enemy earlier, despite the fact his own force had yet to fully assemble. This thought, however, was a fleeting notion, and was soon lost as he scrutinised the enemy army, assessing where the dangers lay, and the weaknesses.



Worryingly, it seemed to him very clear that there were plenty of the former and very few, if any, of the latter. Never before had he seen an army so large. The Viadazan and Reman armies he had marched with when alive had been considerably smaller, and they had nowhere near as many guns. It also occurred to him that he could see not see any horse soldiers, which probably meant that what he could now see was only a portion of the enemy’s true strength. Their army must have been truly massive on the march!

Where are the horsemen? he wondered. Are they out on the flanks, concealed by the lie of the land? If so, then the situation was worse than he had previously thought. What chance did his army have if surrounded entirely? Or are the horse elsewhere? Whatever the truth, he had played his hand and now had to see it through. If he routed the foe before him, he could deal with any mounted soldiers later. And if his enemies were attempting to outflank him, then delay would only give them more time to do so. This was his moment – his chance to prove himself to his mistress and defeat the greatest army sent against her yet.

Biagino, his three thralls and his mob of rotting cultists stood on the right of the army’s centre. Further right was a large regiment of skeletons, the corpse cart, his skeleton riders and a slavering pack of dire wolves.



To his immediate left were two more large regiments of skeletons, one of which obscured from the enemy’s sight by the large church occupying the middle of this stretch of the valley.



Out on the right flank proper, his vargheists lurked behind a large mob of zombies created from those  poor souls who had foolishly returned to scratch a living in the ruins of the city of Trantio after the Pavonans abandoned it and the ogres then ransacked it. Beyond them slunk the huge terrogheist, and beside that the mortis engine drifted ethereally. This had a body of undead ogres before it, and a regiment of grave guard beside it. Outermost on the right rode a company of wraiths.



With the merest flick of his wrists, his army beholden to his necromantic will, Biagino commanded his dire wolves and hexwraiths to advance, all the better to get a feel for how the enemy intended to proceed, and how they might respond to the sight of such creatures of the night moving towards them. While the wolves loped between the ancient tombs towards the Portomaggiorans  massed on the opposite slope …



… the wraiths moved boldly on the far right towards the colossal construct.



Due to the nature of the deployment, nearly every living soldier could see these two bodies advancing, but instead presenting a threatening countenance, the act of moving ahead of their own lines merely made them seem weak and lonely. The crossbowmen before the wolves calmly hefted their now spanned weapons to fit their bolts, while the gunners upon the higher slope blew upon their coals and prepared for their first volley.



(Deployment and vanguard moves completed.)
« Last Edit: October 16, 2019, 11:57:36 AM by Padre »
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Offline Zygmund

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Re: Tilean Campaign, IC2401
« Reply #432 on: March 29, 2019, 04:36:38 PM »
Grand!

Biting my fingers now that the Halflings enter their first battle. And against the undead of all possible enemies! (You sure you haven't bought any Halfling Zombies lately?)

-Z
Forget the 6'x4' game, focus on the story beyond that. Because fantasy matters.

Offline GamesPoet

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Re: Tilean Campaign, IC2401
« Reply #433 on: March 29, 2019, 05:22:07 PM »
I like that each unit has been designated as whose in the allied army. :icon_cool:
"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

Offline Padre

  • Posts: 3384
Re: Tilean Campaign, IC2401
« Reply #434 on: March 29, 2019, 06:33:53 PM »
Every single faction, even the NPCs, are fully detailed. I keep a track of everything as GM. The different units you see here are what was left with the allied force when many of the other NPC forces left due to other threats in other places. I also make sure I can represent everything in all of the NPC forces and that no toy soldiers are assigned to more than one force in case they the up fighting each other or beside each other! It's up to the players to ensure that they can field their own army, painted in full ... Although they can use my collection too and some players wholly use my collection because they have no figures.
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Offline Padre

  • Posts: 3384
Re: Tilean Campaign, IC2401
« Reply #435 on: April 01, 2019, 03:15:31 PM »
The Battle of the Valley of Death, Part 2: The Battle

There was activity in largest of the valley’s walled graveyards, for a pack of ghouls were busy pulling up the more recently buried bones, sucking out the putrid marrow and chewing on the foul, foetid flesh still clinging to them. There was a plentiful supply, for many of the dead from the recent War of the Princes had been interred in that yard, including several many more who had been executed as undesirables by the Pavonans after their conquest. The ghouls’ feasting was now disturbed, however, for despite their ever-ravenous hunger, they could not fail to notice the gathering armies upon the valley sides.



(Game Note: There were scenario rules for the necropolis valley – the graveyard had a pack of 4D6 ghouls, which would attack any who drew too close, although the undead could use their necromantic magic to make them part of their army. Also, one of the two mausoleums, to be randomly determined by the GM, contained 2D2 swarms of bats, and they too could attack anyone who disturbed them with their proximity, although again the vampires could attempt to gain mastery over them by using their magic dice.)

As soon as Captain-General Lord Alessio spotted the approach of undead vanguard, he ordered the army entire to advance. Lord Ned led his hunting pack forwards, cautiously at first to allow the spearmen beside him to match his move.



In the centre of the line the pikemen began their own advance, forming a column to move between the crossbowmen and handgunners flanking them, thus allowing for volleys of bullet and bolt even as they manoeuvred.



The allied army’s wizards and priests, although barely noticeable as they conjured and prayed, were busy. The priests blessed the Verezzan pikemen with holy Morr’s protection, while Lord Alessio’s court magician, the arabyan Hakim, felled four of the zombie cultists accompanying Biagino with a banishment spell. But it was the Colossus that achieved the most astonishing magic, inflicting Shem’s Burning Gaze on the hexwraiths with such power that all five of the ghostly (yet dangerous) riders were dissipated entirely from the mortal realm. A cheer went up from the nearby Portomaggioran Sea Wolves and the halflings, the only allied regiments close enough to witness the event. Their cheer died away, however, when they saw the terrorgheist and the mortis engine still moving up towards them.



While every cannon on the hill was turned to target those same monstrous entities, the hand-gunners and crossbowmen let loose such a volley that not one dire wolf remained to continue its probing advance. This elicited a cheer from the other flank of the allied army.

Biagino frowned, as he was now becoming fully aware of just what the enemy might do before his forces even managed to engage them in combat.



He peered up at the massive artillery battery upon the hill, and from the absence of smoke knew they had yet to be fired. Squinting to make out details despite the painful light behind the guns, he was very dismayed to see where they were aiming.

There was a moment of quiet after the sharp rolling crackle of the handgun volley had dissipated …



… then suddenly the valley was filled with the roaring blast of the entire battery. Not one gun failed to fire, perhaps due to the attendance of no less than four different city-realm’s master engineers. The Pavonan cannons sent magically flaming round-shots at the terrorgheist, one missing but the other tearing right through. A split second later the Reman gun sent its own iron bullet into the beast, and it slumped to the ground bereft of undeath.

Before the Sea Wolves could begin to cheer a second time, the two Portomaggioran cannons and the furthermost Verezzan piece sent no less than three balls into the Mortis Engine, breaking off several large shards of whatever foulness it was made of. For a moment it seemed that it might continue its advance, but it broke into two, as if unfolding, then collapsed in pieces to the ground.

For a moment, there was a stunned silence, perhaps encouraged by the wave of foul magic that washed out, howsoever weakly, from both monstrosities to caress the living soldiers and unnerve them, but it was brief, and as it passed, they knew full well what had been done. A mighty cheer erupted.

Biagino felt the loss. It was not so much painful, more like being winded, as if a considerable portion of his own strength had been sapped away. The only parts of his army already to advance had been immediately obliterated, and while the remainder had yet to take even one step towards the enemy, two of its mightiest components had been blown apart like nothing more than dry leaves.

For the briefest moment, a burning rage threatened to overcome him – a bestial fury which made him want to throw himself and his whole army at the foe, wild and reckless with anger, regardless of the consequences. He yearned to rend their flesh, snap their bones and drink deep of their misery, to sate his ravenous hatred and punish them for daring to oppose him. But the desire quickly passed, and a clarity born of his cunning now suffused him. He knew that to advance in the face of such a foe would mean certain destruction. If there had been more vampires in his army than merely himself and Arnaldo, more necromancers than solely his new servant Severino, then perhaps sufficient aetheric winds could be woven, enough necromantic magic conjured, to repair and sustain the army in the face of the enemy’s thunderous volleys? But he knew it were not so. He had lost so much already, before the fight had even begun, and to continue this battle would surely mean defeat.

His mistress did not send him here to perish, or at least not to do so while barely scratching the enemy. He himself revelled in his new condition, bringing with it the promise of everlasting undeath. He refused to allow pride and anger make him sacrifice all he had, and so he gestured this way and that, as if he were doing nothing more than moving imaginary chess pieces but in truth subtly signalling his lieutenants, and within a moment his will was done.

The necromancer Severino bowed almost imperceptibly and led his regiment of skeletons forwards into what had already proved to be a killing zone …



… while the vampire Arnaldo snarled a command to send the mob of zombies shambling towards the foe.



When the ghouls in the graveyard began pouring out, yearning to feast upon the zombies’ decaying flesh, Arnaldo summoned enough magic to bind them to his service, and thus turn them towards the enemy too.



For a moment, Severino hesitated, having noticed the massive body of spearmen advancing to his left …



… but before he could decide whether to wheel his troops to face them or to continue his march directly on, a lashing hail of missiles was loosed from the soldiers and guns on the hill opposite. All around him his bony warriors were breaking into pieces, the clitter-clatter of their shattered bones clunking from one fleshless anatomy to another to rattle off the vacant skulls and between the empty ribcages of their comrades. Severino was himself pierced several times over by the sharp shower of shards and fell to the ground clutching at his face in a vain attempt to protect himself, whilst muttering the words of a spell he thought could keep at least a part of his regiment on their feet.

Upon the far side of the field a storm of arrows, bolts, bullets, round-shots and even the colossus’s enchanted flames, tore bloodily into the ghouls and zombies, but could not find their mark on the vampire Arnaldo, for he was skulking behind the stone ruins to conjure every scrap of magic he could to keep his zombies intact a little longer.

All this was as Biagino intended, for his only purpose was to escape. The walking corpses he had ordered his lieutenants to lead forwards were to be his rear-guard. He had left them upon the field of battle merely to buy himself time, knowing full well they could never reach the enemy lines. The living soldiers were to be distracted by the task of blasting away at the regiments before them, their vision obscured by clouds of black-powder smoke.  By the time they had begun picking their way through the ruins of the valley and over the shattered remains of Biagino’s soldiers, he was already running, surrounded by a crazy mob of flagellant zombies, through the ancient, ruinous village to the valley’s east.



Games notes explaining (in detail) the weird shortness of the game will follow!
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Offline Padre

  • Posts: 3384
Re: Tilean Campaign, IC2401
« Reply #436 on: April 02, 2019, 01:11:09 PM »
Not sure about posting the explanation regarding why the battle was so short. It's 2400 words of non-game world discussion. Perhaps I ought to put it in another thread and just link here?
« Last Edit: April 02, 2019, 05:46:17 PM by Padre »
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Offline Artobans Ghost

  • Posts: 3375
Re: Tilean Campaign, IC2401
« Reply #437 on: April 03, 2019, 03:14:50 PM »
Riveting as usual. The comments about the halflings have me worrying about them now.
Yes! Post the explanation here. It would be most welcome.
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 Padre

  • Posts: 3384
Re: Tilean Campaign, IC2401
« Reply #438 on: April 03, 2019, 04:57:53 PM »
For you, Ghostly Artoban, if no-one else!

Game Notes for the Battle of the Valley of Death:

Be warned, this post is long. If I am to properly explain things it will take some time! So if you are reading the campaign reports as a game-world story of Tilea, like a strange novel, then please skip this. As some of you are possibly interested in the complicated workings of this campaign, then I have included. It provides a very substantial 'glimpse behind the curtain'.

This was, in my 36 years of Warhammer Fantasy, the shortest game I have ever played. It was conceded after only one side’s round in turn one. We never even finished a full turn! The undead player did nothing but move his two vanguard units. We did, however, out of campaign story necessity - there are 5 other players - subsequently roll a few dice to get an idea concerning what would have happened during the undead round to perform their rear-guard action.

The story behind this is complicated and involved an unexpected real-world player decision, modifying the campaign rules, and (luckily) Biagino’s urge to (un)live to fight another day.

I will start with the real world. The undead player decided, having seen the destruction dealt to his force in round one, that Warhammer was no longer ‘for him’. He had played for 20+ years, having (beautifully) painted several armies over the years and played in a few of my campaigns, but he said that since the ‘official’ death of the Warhammer world his interest had waned. Also, I suppose, as the campaign is such a long, drawn out affair, what with six players’ busy lives getting in the way, and a GM who turns nearly every event into a reason to model, paint, photograph and write, it might seem a tedious experience to some. He thus announced his retirement from the hobby and the campaign, there and then, in the venue (a local shop who had agreed to host the game).

For this battle alone, I had made the two large corner hills - driving to a huge B&Q to get the necessaries, and made other new scenery - the big church, the two leafless woods, painted several large sheets for the table parts that weren’t painted (there were two table pushed together) and made several other scenic bits using what I  found in my bits boxes. I had previously visited the shop to sort a date for the game, then visited again the evening before the battle to set all the scenery out so I could check it and do whatever extra work was required that evening (the painted sheets to go on the unpainted table). I had produced pages and pages of information to go out to the players, including character information plus lots of army lists (some being campaign lists so no army builder program to help me, just word-processing), made banners for the NPC forces and worked on prequel stories for the battle. All this on top of all my ‘normal’ GM duties. I also bought food and drink for a picnic lunch for everyone. The game involved more than 124 painted figures that had never been on the table-top before, painted with the next game in mind, whatever and wherever it was going to be!

All this for a game of half a turn that lasted about 30 minutes, but took more than an hour and a half that morning to set up! If I had known in advance of the decision, I would have happily done all the same preparation, but would have arranged for a stand-in player to command the undead forces. In fairness, however, the player had tried to stick with the campaign for a long while, while becoming more frustrated with warhammer's direction, and this was just the final nail in the coffin!

The undead player also said he was annoyed at how the living army’s first turn had gone. He voiced concerns about unfair developments. Specifically, he was not happy at the large number of cannons being employed against him, and the unprecedently large number of attendant engineers. He was also suspicious of the unexpected appearance of the 'Colossus of Portomaggiore'. In terms of his viewpoint, I can fully understand these concerns. But there was a history behind these elements he didn't (and couldn't) have known about.

Here I will explain these elements.

The colossus was paid for by the Portomaggioran player many seasons ago, as a monstrous, magical construct to help in the defence of his city. He and I agreed it would be a 'counts as' Tomb King' army list Hierotitan, being a fantasy Mediterranean 'Colossus of Rhodes' type of giant, an animated (part magical, part mechanical) bronze and iron statue of an ancient warrior. Knowing that the ogres and the vampires were using the 8th edition army lists with their several monstrous options, I allowed it. Later the player asked to take the colossus with his marching army, which I also allowed, but warned him that as a consequence his army would march slower than normal. This was part of the reason the Portomaggiorans failed to catch the ogre tyrant Boulderguts.

(NB: The colossus has been hinted at in several previous campaign stories and player reports, but never properly described.)

The colossus was thus a GM-ruled allowance. Several players have bartered for such things, and this has always been a feature of our campaigns. If a thing fits the feel of the game world, and the player has built and painted the model, and pays the campaign-rules' costs, and sorted the rules with the GM, then they can have it. The colossus was paid for with season-end supply points, at an army list points-cost slightly greater than the Tomb Kings’ equivalent, and it took time to build. Its rules were agreed between GM and player. Biagino’s undead army itself also had some unique units, including three vampire thralls (non-magic using vampire fighter using modified rules!) and the Cult of Nagash’s flagellant zombies (50 zombies with a weaker version of the flagellant ‘The End is Nigh’ rule). These also were GM devised modifications of the normal rules, and so non-GW-official inclusions in the undead army.

I have, in the past, even allowed NPC armies to have such oddities and rarities – like the massive dwarf siege cannon, ‘Granite Breaker’, from Karak Borgo. Although in truth that actually had stats exactly as detailed in the tried and tested campaign Tilean army list we borrowed from several internet forum campaigns (Warhammer Empire forum campaigns).

Regarding the large battery of artillery, it was indeed odd to have six artillery pieces with five (yes 5) engineers. I think the vampire player thought we were being silly buggers. There is a campaign Tilean army list rule regarding the 'artillerist' mercenary skill stating that it costs twice as much as normal for a second one (which the Portomaggioran player, who did have two engineers, had paid for), but still 5 engineers is a lot.

But there was no conspiracy or cheating behind so profusion of guns and engineers, just a sequence of events which started long before anyone knew they were going to fight the undead, or even that they would ever be allied together. In a way it almost happened by accident!

Five armies were allied together on the living side: two player factions, being Lord Alessio's Portomaggiorans and Duke Guidobaldo’s Pavonans, and three non-player factions being the Morrite arch-lector's Remans, Lord Lucca's Verezzans and the army of Luccini. The best way to explain the force as it was on the day and its odd composition, is to work through events chronologically ....

- The undead were apparently winning the war. They had lost some battles, but each time they recovered, re-formed and returned, and they had now pushed further south than ever before, reaching the realm of Trantio.

- The ogres had won victory after victory during their 'grand raid', razing many settlements to steal a vast amount of loot, and thus badly damaging the central Tilean city realms.

- The living armies of central Tilea were most likely to lose against the vampires, even if they allied together, as they had been severely battered first by in-fighting, and then by Razger Boulderguts grand raid.

- The southern rulers (PCs and NPCs) were worried that the ogres and the undead would grow very strong if they robbed and/or ruled both the north and the central areas of Tilea, and that if allowed to continue then when they came south they would be truly mighty in strength. They were also worried that the two were in alliance, or at least had some sort of non-aggression pact.

- And so, several rulers, including Lord Alessio (PC), King Ferronso (NPC) and even the VMC (PC), in response to the pleading of both Lord Lucca of Verezzo and the Arch-Lector of Morr in Remas, decided to march north as a joint force and take the enemy on as soon as possible.

- Lord Alessio of Portomaggiore's player had built a large army (painting in RL and spending ‘supply points’ in the game world). He knew he would eventually have to face ogres and undead, probably in that order, so he decided to have two cannons and two engineers to ensure they worked well. (The player had commanded NPC forces in several games against both these foes.)

- Remas had what was left of its battered army, including one surviving gun and the city's engineer. Pavona (PC) had two guns remaining to its force, including the army's engineer.

- Meanwhile the smaller NPC states (Verezzo and Luccini) were fielding the small armies that they had kept even during peacetime (approx 1000 pts). As GM I had decided (long before, when first detailing the NPC forces of the campaign) that they would both employ the same thinking to create the best and most versatile little standing army - as if they were both following the same military manuals! Therefore both their armies consisted of some horse, some foot, including melee and missile, being pike and crossbow, and one or two cannons with a ‘household’  engineer to maintain them during peacetime and command them in war. The logic they employed was that if a war began their little standing armies would form the nucleus of bigger armies – with bulk militia and expensive, specialised mercenaries being added to make a larger, battlefield viable army. All this was done very early in the campaign. Now the war had come, however, they didn't have the time or the funds to add the extra forces. Some of their money was going to the larger factions they were begging to help them as part of the deals they had struck.

- While he was visiting Luccini for the young king's crowning, Lord Alessio (PC) agreed to march with the Luccinan army to Verezzo to fight the ogres.

- Duke Guidobaldo of Pavona (PC) had been attempting to get the Reman army to help him catch the ogres and regain the loot stolen from his realm.

- The Portomaggiorans, Luccinans and Verezzans rendezvoused and marched north, while Lord Alessio of Portomaggiore (PC) requested the VMC send an army north to assist in the defence of Living Tilea. General Valckenbugh (PC) of the VMC agreed, but it would be a long time before they reached the conflict zone.

- The massive 'triple' army failed to catch the ogres, but their scouts reported a substantial undead army occupying ruinous Trantio, raising legions of dead from the ancient realm. Messengers sent from Remas confirmed this.

- Meanwhile Lord Lucca was growing concerned about the army of the VMC marching north via his realm. He wasn't sure he could trust such foreign mercenaries in the employ of a Marienburg trading company. He was also worried about the mysterious force of goblins who had ransomed a Pavonan town, and suspected the ogres might be looping around to attack to the south. He requested to return home.

- King Ferronso also wanted to go home because it was reported that Sartosan pirates, rumoured to be gathering in strength, were eyeing his undefended city greedily.

- The Reman and Pavonan armies now rendezvoused with the Triple Army (you can see the story of their army council discussing plans in a large tent above!) They believed they were about to besiege a walled city containing a large army of undead.

- Duke Guidobaldo had already gone home, leaving his son Lord Silvano with a small force in the allied army. Lord Alessio (PC) had requested Guidobaldo leave what would be useful for a siege. Why would the Pavonans take their engineer but leave their guns?

- Lord Alessio told the Luccinans and Verezzans that for honour's sake they should leave a portion of their force to aid his assault on Trantio. They left their guns and some foot troops (which would have slowed them down on their way home). Of course, they also left their engineers, as if they had taken them the engineers would have had nothing to look after anyway!

- As the GM I thought "Bugger, this game is going to be so unfair - 4000 pts versus 8500" so ...

- I wracked my brains for a valid game world reason why the army might be smaller and came up with the idea that the Reman arch-lector (NPC) did not want - as he had done twice before at Pontremola and the Via Diocleta - to win a battle to no subsequent gain. On both those previous occasions the enemy got away to do more harm elsewhere. So he suggested his Remans and the Pavonans should form an interceptor force and head north of Trantio, to catch and destroy whatever undead forces attempted to retreat from the city.

- Lord Alessio (PC) said that was fine, but that it was a better plan to send an amalgamated force of all five armies’ horse soldiers, as well as light troops and scouts, with a galloper gun and the dwarves (who can't move fast, but who can run for a much longer time and thus could catch up each evening). Such a force would be much more likely to catch anyone trying to skip away, and would be almost useless in a siege/assault.

- This was agreed. Now the army marching on Trantio had approx. 6000 pts of foot soldiers, artillery, and the five engineers from four different armies.

Thus there had been no cheating or rigging, apart from the GM trying to even things in a little for the Undead player, to make the game worthwhile, but doing so through an NPC's logical response to game-world events. Instead there was just the long history of the campaign, involving PCs and NPCs, going back to decisions and listing made several seasons ago when myself and the players had no idea who was going to fight who, when they would fight, or who would join who, followed by events, politics, wrangling, debates, suggestions and plans.

This undead army, commanded by Biagino (an NPC lieutenant) was not the player's only army. His actual PC (the vampire Duchess Maria) was not even on the field of battle but leagues and leagues north with another army. As a GM I had no idea the player would feel so annoyed by the turn of events. If I was the player I would have been fascinated to see what damage (if any) I could inflict on the enemy before my army was wiped out. In truth, I would have really enjoyed the game, not least because the pressure to win would have been off and I could just enjoy trying to do anything I could to hurt the foe. It would have been an exciting challenge - for me. Yet at the same time, I fully understand the undead player's position and concerns. In all honesty, I have myself expressed surprise on several occasions that my players have stuck with an 'officially dead' game so long, because of the campaign. A part of me wondered when this sort of thing would happen.

Our campaign rules allow for a ‘rear-guard’ action for a force to successfully (if partially) withdraw from the field before turn 6. At least one unit has to fight at least one round of combat without losing, and then any other units can attempt to leave the field of battle by moving to touch their own game edge. The circumstance on the day didn’t allow this to happen, as the player did not want to play and was packing stuff up, so as GM I allowed a fudge and ruled that as the two sides were still quite far apart, and the undead were still close to their table edge, then as long as they sent a substantial force forwards to receive shot and magic and keep the enemy busy for a little while, then the rest of the force could attempt to flee. This is shown in the battle's final photos, quickly set up before the player left.

The outgoing player said that he reckoned Biagino would withdraw rather than face certain defeat, which we all agreed was a very likely decision for the NPC to make, and so the rear guard was agreed on as his last command in the campaign.

So, that’s the real world and the gaming side of the matter covered. Now for the game world.

To explain the withdrawal in game-world terms is much easier. As it says in the story, Biagino really did not want to die. So he did whatever it took, sacrificing whatever was necessary, to escape! Whether or not he succeeds, avoiding the interceptor force to the north, remains to be seen! This turn of events seemed a very satisfying story development to me, and at least allowed me to feel some excitement again!

I apologise for inflicting this long and sorry tale on those of you who read it! If you did do so, however, I would love to hear your opinions, as then I might be better able to avoid such a situation arising in future.
« Last Edit: April 04, 2019, 05:40:58 PM by Padre »
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Offline Artobans Ghost

  • Posts: 3375
Re: Tilean Campaign, IC2401
« Reply #439 on: April 04, 2019, 03:17:10 PM »
I am really glad you added this. If not for a good explanation, then it also shows the scope of work you put into your game. It’s a shame the player has given up especially after the amount of set up involved. Things usually end badly otherwise they wouldn’t end and I have to say I’ve come very close to giving up completely lately. Lack of space, justification of a ‘game’ (though with me it’s more of an obsession) with family who don’t see it as other than wasting time, but it is sad to get a glimpse of those final moments of gaming as it’s been a sedative of sorts to me personally. It’s narratives like this and the enthusiasm of gaming (new style for me) that keep the spark going. Keep up the good work Padre
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 Zygmund

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  • Posts: 1920
  • Europe, Finland
Re: Tilean Campaign, IC2401
« Reply #440 on: April 05, 2019, 07:37:47 AM »
It's hard enough to find players in a thematic campaign of such grandeur.

It's harder still to get them stay for years. People can be trhilled at the start, but their interests will change over time.

It's understandably that some players mainly come in for enjoyable games and sort of leave the campaigning to others and the GM. And it's understandably that such players migh feel disappointed when the backstory results in very asymmetric and even unfair setups.

But he should have let you know about his feelings before agreeing to the game. Or you should have talked to him about the odds beforehand. Communication.

You don't have any Warhammer players attending these battles? Anybody that could step in at a short notice?

Yet I'm really really glad the halflings made their first battle without a scratch!

-Z
Forget the 6'x4' game, focus on the story beyond that. Because fantasy matters.

Offline Padre

  • Posts: 3384
Re: Tilean Campaign, IC2401
« Reply #441 on: April 05, 2019, 09:11:13 AM »
Thanks Art and Zyg.

Zygmund, you raise some interesting points, which I should explain.

You mentioned the 'back-story'. This is something that might work very differently in different campaigns. This IS a 'story campaign', but a fully role-played one. I operate more like an RP games-master. I populate the world, and come up with options, but I don't actually make much of the story up. In fact, I go even further than I would as an RP GM.

The player characters' and NPCs' decisions and actions make the story, as well as the results of battles and other circumstances, including the campaign rules. In an ordinary RP game the GM would decide what the NPCs do, so that the world unfolds around the players, but in this campaign I don't quite fully to that - I let the dice decide between various options. The NPCs aren't fully controlled by me. I research history for ideas (like the Morrite cultists being 'inspired' and informed by both the historical character Savonarola and the Jesuit movement), I map the world, come up with the NPCs, etc, etc. But I am not fully in charge of the NPCs' decisions. This way I get to see the story unfold too - I don't know what will happen next. When I write the story up, I am recording, explaining or demonstrating the events that occurred, and at the most I invent various characters' responses to those events or particular actions during them.

An example: An NPC ruler must make a decision regarding a threatening force. What will he do (if anything) to counter it? I might decide that how 'bold' he feels is the most important factor in such a decision. On other occasions I might decide how clever, or desperate, or angry he feels is the most important element. I roll a D6 - the higher result, the bolder he is. I might decide, before rolling, to add a modifier to the result. If it is the young King of Ferronso, an impetuous youth, I might add 1 to the result. (In fact, it can be even more finely balanced than this. Before he was officially crowned (and his uncle was acting as regent) I added nothing, but once he was crowned I did - still young, but now able to ignore his advisers.)

Once I know how bold he feels, I scribble a chart of options to dice between. If bold I might say 1-2 march out to attack, 3-5 stand firm and await the enemy's attack, 6 do something else. If 6 comes up I have to come up with a chart of wackier options and 'cunning plans'. Maybe they have a wizard they can call upon to help them, or an ancient war machine they can attempt to employ? If he is not feeling bold I might write options like offering to surrender, bribing the enemy, or simply fleeing. If their 'boldness' result was in the middle I might scribble options like hesitate, parley, or send for help.

I do this sort of thing for all sorts of decisions. Very often the dice dictate something I am not excited about, or don't think is a good story, but I stick to the result so that the whole process seems more genuine. I think it adds a 'reality' to the world.

Regarding your other points, Zygmund:

... he should have let you know about his feelings before agreeing to the game. Or you should have talked to him about the odds beforehand. Communication.

I had told him all about the points imbalance before the game, but he didn't care because he has, on several occasions, smashed armies much bigger in points value than his. Often the circumstances meant those armies were not particularly 'competitive', being built according to the world's fluff requirements, etc, and not at all like tournament armies. This player always tries to field very competitive armies. What he was most annoyed about was the enemy army's composition - the vast number of cannons and their attendant engineer, and the colossus. Those things I couldn't tell him about in advance as his character, the Duchess, didn't know about them, mainly because she wasn't there. The Duchess was way up in the north, with another army. This army was commanded by her lieutenant, Biagino. I had gone through all the usual dice rolls to determine his actions. The one thing I had allowed the player to influence was whether or not he wanted to fight another siege game. He had done a few recently, and I thought it might be boring for him (and the other players) to fight another. So, when Biagino rolled 'cunning plan' I asked the player if it would be cool to fight the battle in the necropolis valley. He said yes.

The player was also annoyed at Biagino's army composition. He had sent some of his own army (using his own figures) south with Biagino, but the new army, the army of the Church of Nagash raised by Biaginon from the graveyards of Trantio, and the Church itself, was built using my figures. I build fluff armies, thus the legions of recently raised soldier-corpses, the zombie cultists, and little in the way of monsters. I wasn't worried, however, as his own contingent had plenty in the way of monsters!

You don't have any Warhammer players attending these battles? Anybody that could step in at a short notice?

The players on both sides here were very experienced warhammer players. The undead player has played way more than me - for years and years he played weekly, several games. He has had undead and lizardmen armies, and in fact this is his second undead army (he sold the first when switching to lizardmen, then sold that when switching back!) The player on the other side, 'Lord Alessio' is even more veteran, and he has on many, many occasions commanded NPC armies in this campaign (he's my 'go to' guy). This means I can concentrate on being a GM, photographing and note-taking, while he plays the army better than I could have done anyway, so that it is appropriately challenging.
« Last Edit: April 05, 2019, 09:54:07 AM by Padre »
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Offline Zygmund

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  • Posts: 1920
  • Europe, Finland
Re: Tilean Campaign, IC2401
« Reply #442 on: April 05, 2019, 09:49:50 AM »
Padre, we seem to run campaigns very similarly. The one difference by me is that I tend to explain things to the players also from the meta-perspective. Thus, if there's something bad coming, they know to mentally brace themselves for it. I've found there's always enough surprise left, however precisely I explain the approaching challenge.

It sounds like your retiring friend is primarily a gamer. He may have never truly undersigned the contract to play in the type of campaign you create, accepting and appreciating the potential unbalance. On the other hand, since he had played a long time already, he probably was aware of how the things are run and what the odds are. It sounds very weird to finish the whole thing without wanting to play one losing battle. Everyone loses at times. Gamers need to be sportsmen too, and play even a losing game to the end.

I'm not worried about people quitting and moving on with their hobbies. I'm worried about the cognitive dissonance that obviously lies behind this decision. Otherwise it wouldn't have been so sudden.

-Z
Forget the 6'x4' game, focus on the story beyond that. Because fantasy matters.

Offline Padre

  • Posts: 3384
Re: Tilean Campaign, IC2401
« Reply #443 on: April 05, 2019, 09:59:26 AM »
I like your cognitive dissonance point. He is a competitive player. I think a football league-style of campaign, that lasted weeks not years, would have suited him better.

I think there may have been other elements behind the suddenness of the player's decision to quit. For a start the shop was cold (the heating was broken), and he was feeling, by his own admission, 'down' that day. Also, I think he had been fed up with Warhammer for a long time, but didn't want to let the rest of us down by pulling out of the campaign. He knew some of the effort I had invested in it. These elements combined with the events of turn one to stun him and send him reeling away!
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Francis

  • Guest
Re: Tilean Campaign, IC2401
« Reply #444 on: April 10, 2019, 09:04:28 AM »
Hi, I have been following this thread for several years now (and the forum from at least 2012 when I first started a DOW/Empire army), but these last few posts prompted me to actually create an account.

The storytelling is wonderful and this is the sort of campaign that I would think most wargamers would love to participate in. I can not help but admire the work you put in for your players Padre.

However, I have noticed that the campaign might struggle a bit with the main problem of WFB, namely the balance between armies. Warhammer is not a balanced game, not even close. 8th was better than 7th and maybe 6th, but even then there is still a massive difference between armies, and this is exacerbated if one player is a fluff player and the other is competitive/tournament player. In almost any situation, the fluff player will stand no chance.

I would therefore like to suggest that you and your players consider switching to another system. One with better balance.

I would suggest Kings of War, partly because it supports pretty much all the armies that existed in WFB (and pikes are pretty good in KoW for that Tilean feel), but mostly a because the balance is much better.

I play Kingdoms of Men which is a catch all human army (there are WoC, Bret, and empire equivalents too), and while KoM is considered among the weaker armies and I am an average player at best, I never feel "outgunned" by other armies at tournaments, and always feel I stand a chance. Back when I played warhammer I could often tell which way the battle would go from the moment the other player placed his army on the table, I have never felt that way with KoW.

KoW also plays faster and is less cluttered and random than WFB is (although the character options are much more limited).

Anyway, I just wanted to give some friendly advice, and hope I don't come across as trying to push something on you guys. I know that getting a group to switch systems can be hard.

Keep up the great work, I am sure there are many more lurkers than me following this thread.   

 

Offline Padre

  • Posts: 3384
Re: Tilean Campaign, IC2401
« Reply #445 on: April 10, 2019, 09:26:09 AM »
Thanks for the comments Francis, but "we're in way too deep" to change, and, perhaps bizarrely, the exact phenomenon you are concerned about is one of the things I like about the campaign.

Being a historian I know that nations, powers and armies have never in any way been balanced. if a player in this campaign thinks they do not have a chance against a particular enemy then they need to employ strategy, alliances or other tricks and methods to succeed. This is exactly what has happened in the war against the undead. And now the otherwise underpowered realms, using mostly fluff Tilean armies, have finally attained enough strength to be a match for the very tournament style competitive armies fielded by the undead player. Admittedly this description is an oversimplification, because the Portomaggioran army is commanded by a strongly competitive player, and the undead army in the last battle contained a large component of fluff elements that the story of the campaign had created. In general terms however I very much enjoy the world and story that unfolds within it, despite, or partly because of, the imbalances and the players various struggles to come to grips with them.

Also, the technical difficulties of converting the armies and the rules, the points systems and supply point rules, and many other things, would be a nightmare.

Perhaps the next campaign? (If I live that long!)
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Offline GamesPoet

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Re: Tilean Campaign, IC2401
« Reply #446 on: April 10, 2019, 11:06:59 AM »
Padre ... appreciate the explanation, and it is unfortunate the player has "retired".  Perhaps there was a way to establish some sort of conversation with the player in advance, letting him in on the idea of the story in some way with out him needing to know everything in the background, and having the player realize that this was not intended to be a win for the undead?  Although at the same time, if this player is more interested in winning than story telling, it might not have mattered, and because it seems he was commanding a NPC army, and he still decide to take his ball and bat and go home, there may not have been a way to mitigate the situation.

I am really glad you added this. If not for a good explanation, then it also shows the scope of work you put into your game. It’s a shame the player has given up especially after the amount of set up involved. Things usually end badly otherwise they wouldn’t end and I have to say I’ve come very close to giving up completely lately. Lack of space, justification of a ‘game’ (though with me it’s more of an obsession) with family who don’t see it as other than wasting time, but it is sad to get a glimpse of those final moments of gaming as it’s been a sedative of sorts to me personally. It’s narratives like this and the enthusiasm of gaming (new style for me) that keep the spark going. Keep up the good work Padre
Artoban ... don't give up this hobby.  It can bring far and away much joy and even peace.  It is an escape from the real world stuff, a fantasy where play and story, creating and discovery, are constantly available to those who take such a path.
"Not all who wander are lost ... " Tolkien

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Offline GamesPoet

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Re: Tilean Campaign, IC2401
« Reply #447 on: April 10, 2019, 11:24:00 AM »
Regarding your other points, Zygmund:

... he should have let you know about his feelings before agreeing to the game. Or you should have talked to him about the odds beforehand. Communication.
I had told him all about the points imbalance before the game, but he didn't care because he has, on several occasions, smashed armies much bigger in points value than his. Often the circumstances meant those armies were not particularly 'competitive', being built according to the world's fluff requirements, etc, and not at all like tournament armies. This player always tries to field very competitive armies. What he was most annoyed about was the enemy army's composition - the vast number of cannons and their attendant engineer, and the colossus. Those things I couldn't tell him about in advance as his character, the Duchess, didn't know about them, mainly because she wasn't there. The Duchess was way up in the north, with another army. This army was commanded by her lieutenant, Biagino. I had gone through all the usual dice rolls to determine his actions. The one thing I had allowed the player to influence was whether or not he wanted to fight another siege game. He had done a few recently, and I thought it might be boring for him (and the other players) to fight another. So, when Biagino rolled 'cunning plan' I asked the player if it would be cool to fight the battle in the necropolis valley. He said yes.

The player was also annoyed at Biagino's army composition. He had sent some of his own army (using his own figures) south with Biagino, but the new army, the army of the Church of Nagash raised by Biaginon from the graveyards of Trantio, and the Church itself, was built using my figures. I build fluff armies, thus the legions of recently raised soldier-corpses, the zombie cultists, and little in the way of monsters. I wasn't worried, however, as his own contingent had plenty in the way of monsters
There it is .. he is a competitive player.  So he has less than what he perceives to be a competitive army, and he isn't interested in playing, even though he was warned, and has an ego that evidently thinks he can also surpass the odds, and has previously.  In a way this seems like a no win situation, and there would be little mitigating that might be effective, when the person is more interested in winning than story telling, or having a balance of both.

Quote
You don't have any Warhammer players attending these battles? Anybody that could step in at a short notice?
The players on both sides here were very experienced warhammer players. The undead player has played way more than me - for years and years he played weekly, several games. He has had undead and lizardmen armies, and in fact this is his second undead army (he sold the first when switching to lizardmen, then sold that when switching back!) The player on the other side, 'Lord Alessio' is even more veteran, and he has on many, many occasions commanded NPC armies in this campaign (he's my 'go to' guy). This means I can concentrate on being a GM, photographing and note-taking, while he plays the army better than I could have done anyway, so that it is appropriately challenging.
So is there someone who can take on the undead faction in the campaign, now that the player has "retired"?  Or does the undead force become an NPC?
« Last Edit: April 10, 2019, 04:44:49 PM by GamesPoet »
"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

Offline Padre

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Re: Tilean Campaign, IC2401
« Reply #448 on: April 10, 2019, 01:11:01 PM »
The Portomaggioran player has only ever played NPC armies who are either allied to him, share his concerns, or who are enemies of his enemies. It wouldn't seem right for him to command his enemies' armies. The undead will either become NPC, or we might find a full-on player, or a player (or players) who will just command on the field, or (like the case with the Disciplinati di Morr) a player who is happy to remotely command (taking political & strategic control) while stand-ins command in wargames.
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Re: Tilean Campaign, IC2401
« Reply #449 on: April 14, 2019, 04:32:43 PM »
The Hunter Hunted
North of Viadaza, Autumn 2403

Two weeks out from the city of Viadaza, the army of the Disciplinati di Morr ground to a halt. The Praepositus Generalis, Father Carradalio, had decided enough was enough. Every night more men had died, despite the army’s precautions: the guards and watches set, the prayers spoken, hymns sung and devotions chanted. Every day they would march on, tired from their sparse and fitful sleep, exhausting themselves further, only to suffer once more at the hands of the deadly, nocturnal hunter the next night. If this was allowed to continue, their holy war would be lost before they even reached the vampire duchess and what remained of her army.

So, when morning came, the army did not recommence its march, but instead slept through the daylight hours. Their camp was to the east of the ridge of rocky hills running north from Rapallo to the bridge at Pontremola, separating the ancient road from the sea. On the road’s other side was a wide stretch of flat, open land, all the way to the River Tarano. While almost everyone slept, a handful of dedicants, chosen by lot, guarded, using every trick they could think of to keep themselves awake. What with their penchant for self-flagellation and whipping themselves into a religious frenzy, many employed methods both painful and bloody!

When darkness fell, however, and the bruised and battered guards crawled into their tents and huts, the rest of the army awoke and organised for the night ahead. Father Carradalio had ordered a hunt to be mounted for the slippery fiend, involving every part of the army (bar those few who were dead on their legs from their daylight watch). Carradalio himself, his Admonitor Vincenzo and his bodyguard of blessed torch-bearing dedicants, would stand ready near the camp’s centre, while the larger bodies of dedicants formed a surrounding ring of companies at a distance of about a hundred yards. The lighter troops, including the dedicant crossbowmen, the Urbiman horse and mercenary crossbowmen, would circumnavigate the entire camp even further out. All were to keep their eyes peeled for signs of the fiend, and if they spotted him, were to raise a loud alarm (by various means) to call everyone else to their proximity. Having the general and his elite bodyguard centrally placed ensured they would be among the first to reinforce whichever company had discovered the enemy.

This proved more difficult than Father Carradalio had hoped, for the foe was either slippery, cautious, or both. A trail was discovered, along with two corpses and three dead mules (apparently from fright!). The dedicants moved promptly, exactly as planned, but the fiend escaped. There was great frustration and disappointment, but Carradalio felt in his gut that the fiend could not elude him much longer, and both Admonitor Vincenzo and his dreams the next day confirmed his belief. As it grew dark on the evening of the army’s second day of camping, he knew the enemy would be found that night. He did not know whether the monster could be defeated, for his dreams had been cut short by his awakening just as the fiend came close, only that it would certainly be discovered.

In the second hour after midnight, with both white and green moons high in the sky, Carradalio’s prophecy proved true. He himself spotted the vampire, Lord Adolfo, lurking by a hut only two dozen yards away.



Adolfo’s once-living body had been bent and bloated into a horribly bestial form, and a ridge of horny protuberances had burst through the flesh of his back. His skin seemed blue in the moons’ light; his eyes, made small by the bony excesses of his face, were wholly bloodshot; his teeth and nails had become fangs and talons. He had long since given up wearing clothes, for there were none made that would fit such a frame as his, and he had given no thought to having any made. Such niceties were forgotten, to be replaced by a passionate rage, a vicious hunger and a loyalty to his mistress that had long since strayed far from the wrong side of madness.



Carradalio sensed the vampire had not yet noticed him, and so before raising the ‘all-arm’, before even signalling to his bodyguards, he whispered a prayer to channel Morr’s will and send harm upon the foe. He could feel his words made real. For a moment his own eyes became those of holy Morr himself and power flowed through them to lash out. But the vampire merely flinched, as if the curse were nothing more than a nip to gain his attention. He turned to look upon the priest, slowly lifting a huge scimitar aloft as if about to hurl it.



“He is here!” cried Carradalio, his voice revealing only angry determination.

The vampire took no more than three leaping strides before his way to Carradalio was blocked by the priest-general’s dedicant bodyguards, with many more arriving behind. Each was robed in the grey and red favoured by Morrite clergy, their flowing garments concealing the scabs and scars of many months of flagellation. They wielded either axes or blades, with most carrying a burning torch in their other hand.



These were not ordinary torches - the flames not merely fire. Each one had been blessed by holy ritual, making them both mundane and magical, to burn with a heat both real and ethereal. The flickering tongues were otherworldly, as if holes had been torn in the air itself to allow the light and heat of another realm to curl through. Were they to singe Adolfo’s flesh, his enchantments would not have healed him, for these torches burnt away the stuff of magic as well as that of the material world.

But so swift was his stab and slash that not one flame did touch him, and the dedicants began to fall, lifeless, all around him. Leaping over their corpses came Vincenzo, bearing his staff with its amulet of holy water, shouting his own prayers to join with Carradalio’s chanting. Yet nothing that Morr had to offer could pierce the evil magics shielding the vampire, and before Vincenzo had even swung his own blade, Adolfo cut him in two at the belly, spattering gobbets of blood to fizzle in the flames born by the few dedicants still on their feet.

In barely a blink there was only one bodyguard remaining …



… and in half a breath he too was dispatched with ease. Father Carradalio had time to say only Morr’s name, before the vampire’s huge blade plunged through his chest. Adolfo grunted with glee, then hefted the blade upwards, so hurling the lifeless priest-general nearly a dozen yards to smash into a wagon.

The vampire froze, his giant blade clutched in both hands and dripping with blood. For the briefest moment he allowed himself to revel in his slaughterous butchery, to inhale the delicious, sanguine stench surrounding him. Then he caught sight of the mob. Swinging his head quickly about he discovered they were all around, and in some deep recess of what was left of his mind he knew that his end had come. It was a mere fragment of consciousness, buried in a mire of brutal cunning, bestial anger and ravenous hunger, and was quickly forgotten.



Even as his blade recommenced its bloody work, the mob closed in on him, relentless. They were driven by a shared frenzy, cultivated through cruel exercises, perfected by hard practice, which despite being a temporary phenomenon, was in that moment not one jot less furious than Adolfo’s own.

From all sides came spear, axe, flail and blade.



Each and every one was thrust or swung with no care for the wielders’ own safety, nor that of their comrades, so that umpteen of their own succumbed to the torrent of blows. And at the epicentre of the swirling rage, his foul blood gushing from umpteen wounds, Adolfo was hewn to pieces. 

When the crazed combat finally subsided, the dedicants reeled away. Some sobbed into their hands, others cried out with faces raised to the sky, and yet more stumbled silently in shock, weapons held slack in their hands.

Father Carradalio was dead. Brother Vincenzo too. They were leaderless, the best of them butchered, with their work still yet to be done. They had not even crossed the bridge into the Vampire Duchess’s realm, and already they suffered a potentially fatal wound.

Was Morr testing them? Or did he already consider them unworthy of his blessing? Either way, the self-scourging was soon to begin, more bloody than ever.

………………………………….

‘Game’ Notes:

In order to resolve this encounter, as part of an ongoing wargames campaign, I had to play it out. Considering how short-lived a conflict it could prove to be, with one side having only one model, I did not think it worthy of inviting players to a table-top battle, so I played it out myself. No fudging or ignoring rolls which appeared to lessen the story – instead I accepted whatever results came up.

It may interest the wargamers amongst you to read the gaming notes of the fight described in the above story, and so here they are:

Having created charts to roll on concerning whether Adolpho or the cultists had surprise, who exactly saw who first, and whether or not the cultists involved in the initial encounter were alone, it was Caradallio who first spotted Lord Adolfo the vampire. Attempting to capitalise on the surprise, he conjured the prayer ‘Morr's Glare’ to curse the vampire. This was cast successfully, but Carradalio only rolled 1 wound, which the vampire then regenerated!

Adolfo now charged Carradalio but the general’s bodyguard (10 strong, with blessed torches that do away with regeneration saves and can harm ethereal creatures) got in the way. Adolfo could not challenge Carradalio as the bodyguard’s sole goal was to protect their ‘praepositus generalis’, and so I decided they were firmly in the way.

The 415 pts vampire was a killing machine - he had ‘beguile’ to ensure the enemy struggled to hit him; a ‘Sword of Bloodshed’ giving +3 attacks (8 in total); he was very strong, very tough, and regenerated his wounds. On top of all of this he had ‘red fury’ which meant all his successful wounds become an extra attack - e.g. 8 attacks, 6 kills, 6 wounds, then he gets 6 more attacks (but no more after that!) So I knew this was going to get messy.

Adolfo killed 7 of the 10 bodyguard. The surviving three failed to scratch him, even with 2 re-rollable attacks each.

Vincenzo now appeared and charged into combat. He attempted the prayer ‘Morr's touch’ to reduce Adolfo's Ld stat (aiding later spells). Dispelled. Carradalio tried to cast Morr's Curse to wound the vampire. Dispelled. Carradalio successfully cast Morr's Glare, but the vampire and him equalled their Ld +D6 scores, and so there was no effect. Carradalio attempted the prayer ‘Holiest Protection’ to give the dedicants a ward save. Dispelled.

The dice rolling for the Disciplinati di Morr has so far been truly AWFUL. I was so tempted to cheat, but I stuck to my guns and went with whatever, according to the rules and the dice, was actually unfolding. I have always done this with the campaign, that way even I don’t know what the future holds. I am thus a participant and a recorder of events, rather than the author of them.

Adolfo slaughtered Vincenzo, overkilling him. (Vincenzo had 'challenged' the vampire, now that there weren’t too many dedicant bodyguards to get in the way and they weren’t frenzied anymore, to buy Carradalio  and the surviving bodyguard some time.)

In Adolfo's round, I didn't allow Adolfo to issue vs Carradalio as the 3 crazed bodyguards were still fighting to keep him from their commander. (Although they had lost their frenzy now.)  Adolfo killed all three of them, then killed Carradalio, his ‘red fury’ allowing him to ‘overkill’ several times. (I know it wasn’t technically a challenge, but extra successful attacks informed the story I was to write – thus Carradalio’s dramatic demise).

The Disciplinati had lost their Praepositus Generalis, holy Fr. Carradalio, and their Admonitor brave Vincenzo, and their most blessed cultists, the general's bodyguard.

Now one of the two big surviving flagellant units showed up, being the smaller of the two, with 32 cultists, armed with nasty flails, (+2 str in the first round) and frenzied.

Adolfo issues a challenge, but I reckoned that they all just piled in furious – how would such crazed loons stop to watch a challenge fought? Two cultists died whipping themselves into a fury (The End is Nigh!), so that they were now frenzied (extra attacks), and re-rolled failed to hits and to wounds! The vampire effectively had a horde against him, fighting three deep - that's an extra 3 attacks for a total of 13 attacks at 5 Str in the 1st round.

Adolfo beguiled the unit leader (making it harder for him to attack) then killed 6 cultists. (His rolls were on the wrong side of average this time) The cultists then laid into him, flailing him so bloodily that he became a (dead) lump of battered flesh. (With re-rolls to hit and wound, 5 got through, of which not one was regenerated.)
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/