Tilea IC2401 (Campaign#8)


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Post Mon Aug 06, 2018 12:08 am

Re: Tilea IC2401 (Campaign#8)

@ Lands Annex - I hope you are satisfied with the big gun in this installment!
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(Start of Turn 2)

Watching from his high vantage point, Lord Wurgrut saw the dwarfen thunderers were preparing to fire a salvo at the walls, and so summoned an ice shard blizzard to assail them. His second-in-command, following Wurgrut’s lead, also attempted to inflict them with a curse called braingobbler, but he failed to contort the winds of magic sufficiently. Meanwhile, having spied the damsel Perrette, her red dress and hair marking her out very clearly amongst the dirty yellow and green liveried Brabanzon spearmen, the Maneaters in the tower near the gate decided to snipe at her. At first both she and the men around her wondered what the zipping sound was, until one bullet pinged very loudly off the rounded helm of the soldiers and then another cut a gash through her arm. She stumbled, but the man next to her caught her before she fell. Thanking him, she laughed. When he looked at her in puzzlement, she pointed to his surcoat and apologised for the spotted stain of her own blood. He then grinned, and said, “Do not worry yourself, madame, for my clothes are used to being bloodied and the stain on your own dress can barely be seen.”

Moments later a roaring wave of thunderous flashes ran along the wall top as the leadbelchers gave fire. Seven dwarfen thunderers fell, as well as a Brabanzon spearman. The dwarfs barely flinched, however, instead gritting their teeth and continuing to prepare their pieces.

The rest of the assaulting army continued their advance, with the flying machine zipping over their heads, its pilot considering where exactly he could drop his grenade.

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After saying ‘Excuse me’ to the fellow who had helped her to remain on her feet, Perrette held forth her hand to present her ruby ring to the walls, and with a brief word of command conjured a ball of fire to burst against the parapet holding her attackers. Not satisfied with merely singing them, she immediately summoned another fireball to follow and this time one of the leadbelchers fell screaming from the tower, his large flask of powder exploding even before he hit the ground. The men with her gave a cheer, to which she, despite the pain from her wound, replied with a curtsy!

As the sound of the cheer died, it was replaced by another, and although the choir behind the sound was rather smaller, they were no less elated. The Brabanzon’s trebuchet had landed a stone on the damaged wall, and in so doing pierced the first hole to go right through it. Its crew whooped their delight, then shouted across to the dwarfs to get a move on and ‘finish the job off’. Granite Breaker was not quite ready to fire, and so one of the smaller pieces obliged. The ball hit just below where the stone had pierced and for a moment it looked like all it had achieved was to create a second hole, but then a bulge appeared in the stone between the holes, and, moments later – and without need of further ironshot – the wall came tumbling down.

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The collapsing masonry poured out fore and aft of the wall, burying two of the bulls behind. There was no time to dig them out. If they weren’t already dead they would soon be. (Game Note: The reason the player had moved the ogres off the wall as it had showed signs of becoming weakened was that according to the modified 6th Ed WFB siege rules higher strength wounds are inflicted received by a unit on a collapsing wall than by a unit standing next[ to the collapse. Nevertheless, we did not expect 2 ogres to perish from the 2D6 str 3 hits they now received.)

Unsurprisingly a great cheer went up along the line at the sight of the breached defences. Granite Breakers’ chief gunner gave these events a little thought and came to the conclusion that the wall had fallen so quickly due mostly to his own gun’s contribution, but that his shot had been aimed slightly out and failed to deliver maximum force, which is why the other machines’ efforts had been required for completion of the task. This did not satisfy him at all. The cannon imperial had already been shifted to aim at another wall – thus the delay in its second firing – so now, using a two-handed mallet, he knocked out one of the four large iron wedges at the breech to lift its muzzle a little and thus alter the flight of the next path. He had measured everything previously with his sight and level, involving much effort in the placing of the instruments on top of the behemoth and the application of considerable mathematical expertise. Now, however, having gained the practical experience of witnessing a shot in action, he had a better feel for the work. Besides, his dissatisfaction had turned into impatience, and he wanted to prove the cannon imperial’s true worth.

Clambering up the steps he grabbed the pike-length linstock and reached it forwards …

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… then with considerable trepidation, lowered the burning end of the match-cord towards the line of crushed powder leading to the touch-hole. Just like the previous time, there was a delay as the powder flashed and the burn thrust its way down through the deep hole to the massive charge packed in the belly of the beast. This gave the engineer just time enough to spin about and descend two of the steps before the mighty boom. He hit the ground almost exactly as before, but did not attempt to climb to his feet immediately, instead turned his head to get a quick look at the walls before the smoke of the blast obscured the view.

A second wall as down …

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… felled with one blast.

Now he was satisfied.

(Game Note: The siege cannon rules were lifted from our standard Tilean campaign army list, being itself a version of the Treachery and Greed Mercenary Companies army list with added elements from the later Empire of Wolves list. Neither myself nor my players had written these lists, although I had added some extra elements, like Morrite Priests and such like, to adapt it to our game world. The siege cannon is listed as 160 pts, 72” range 2D6 Str 10 wounds, 5 crew which cannot be moved – other than turned 90 degrees or less – after initial placement. It all seemed neatly to fit the model I had obtained and painted for the dwarfs.)

The cheering renewed before even having died away, now growing even louder than before. The third cannon chipped at the tower, and although the bolt throwers could not perfect their aim against such a concealed foe, the crossbow dwarfs killed one of the Maneaters.

What had seemed an almost impossible challenge to the attackers was now beginning to look like a distinct possibility - they could win this battle.

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The assaulting army was drawing near, and the defences were breached in not one but two places.

End of Turn 2.
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Post Mon Aug 06, 2018 10:40 pm

Re: Tilea IC2401 (Campaign#8)

Third part of the Assault on Campogrotta – Turns 3 and 4

The Ironguts now raced up towards the breaches while a second body of ogres reformed behind the ruins of the wall they had once occupied. The two Slaughtermasters, despite knowing they needed their magic to bite, failed to conjure anything that could harm, or even simply slow down, the foe.

(Game Note: Cast:Dispel dice = 6:6. The Brabanzon spearmen passed their panic text due to a successful casting of Braingobbler)

The Maneaters, having spotted who was responsible for their mate’s demise, blasted everything they had at the maiden Perrette, but such was their fury that it ruined their aim! The three companies of leadbelchers spread their efforts more widely, killing three Brabanzon spearmen, two dwarven thunderers and damaging the flying machine.

None of this was sufficient to dishearten the assaulting army, and so on it came.

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Damaged, but still able to fly, the dwarven flying machine now crossed over the walls, dropping its bomb as it passed to bloody the bulls below. Turning abruptly, it came to a halt atop one of the city’s inner towers, where the pilot leaned and twisted all ways to assess the damage received.

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Perrette had just as little luck as the Slaughtermasters with her own attempts to summon up magical harm, her concentration being jarred both by her wound and the cacophony of noise, what with cannons booming and walls collapsing close by.

While Baron Garoy took the chance to break away from the line and make better speed towards the breaches …

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… the attacking army shot everything it had at the walls. Granite Breaker caused the tower by the gate to collapse partially, while one of the smaller cannons wounded the slaughtermaster upon it, as well as one of the Maneaters with him, bringing down the parapet to boot. This sudden removal of the stone hiding the maneaters gave several others an unexpected opportunity, and although the bolt throwers both missed, the dwarven crossbows killed another of the veteran brutes. The third cannon could only shake the tower once more, while the trebuchet landed a stone upon the bulls nearby, bloodying one of them. The crew of the Brabanzon’s little piece joined their fellows’ efforts, yet only managed to bury their shot into the ground before the walls.

The largest of the bull regiments now argued whether they should sally out or not, in the end simply standing their ground out of an inability to decide. Behind them Wurgrut was not so hesitant and tore down the towers stairs to run out onto the street.

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The enemy were getting so close to the walls that he had decided he needed to be where he could get to grips with them. While he ran he conjured chain lightning, killing a trollslayer but failing to reach any other units. From the street he threw a magical blizzard of ice shards up at the flying machine, once again damaging it.

While one company of leadbelchers now brought down two of the knights riding with the young baron, the other two companies both aimed at the dwarven thunderers, killing nine of them. The remaining pair made a sorry sight indeed, but they did not run.

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Perhaps because there was so much in front to distract them, the ogres entirely failed to notice they had left the northern wall open to the enemy’s possession, and so it was that the Brabanzon brigands, a company of skirmishing archers, threw up some ladders and occupied it.

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(Game Note: Embarrassingly the ogre player, Jamie, had failed to take account of the wall to the side, and until now had not thought it was accessible to attack!)

While they did so Baron Garoy led a charge across the rubble into the leadbelchers …

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… and the trollslayers charged into the bulls.

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The mounted knights struck hard at the brutes, killing one and wounding another seriously, which disheartened to foe so much that they turned to flee away. They did not get far before lance points thrust deep into their backs to kill the rest of them. Such was their urge to have at the foe, however, that two knights fell in the act of simply crossing the rubble, their steeds’ legs broken.

The trollslayers fought not one jot less bravely than the Bretonnian chivalry and took down two of the ogres as well as wounding a third. Moments later, however, they were all dead, beaten to a pulp or crushed under foot by foes standing more than thrice their height!

While these vicious struggles were fought, Perrette poured out every fire spell she could muster, burning the bulls at the gate but failing to kill any of them. Between them the dwarven Quarrellers and one of the bolt throwers killed the last of the Maneaters, leaving the Slaughtermaster alone. For a moment he glared at the foe with hatred, then realised he had to decide quickly what to do now. He was not quick enough, however, for the Brabanzon’s two wrs machines hit the already badly damaged tower, shaking it visibly, then, as one of the smaller dwarfen cannons misfired, the other punched so hard that at last the tower fell.

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The Slaughtermaster came tumbling down with it, somehow staying above the rubble to avoid any real injury, while one of the trollslayers fightingnearby was killed, just before a bull could do it! Close by, Granite breaker punched a visible hole in the wall by the gate, but as yet nothing big enough to assault through.

Campogrotta’s defences were being torn to pieces!

End of turn 4

Game note: Siege games are 7 turns long, and as mentioned in the previous campaign battle report, victory conditions are all about how many sections of the defences are held by each side at the end of turn 7. As GM I had, at the start of the game, agreed with the players that as well as the wall, tower and gate sections I had identified and numbered at the start of the game, I would count one or more units roaming freely inside of the city as one controlled section, and in the event of a draw, if an assaulting unit had passed over a section which remained unoccupied by any defenders I would also count that as a controlled section. All this meant, despite appearances, that victory was still ‘very much up for grabs’.
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Post Wed Aug 08, 2018 9:04 pm

Re: Tilea IC2401 (Campaign#8)

I've finally managed to find time to sit down and read the last couple of instalments on my computer; it really is terrific what you're doing here Padre.

That shot of Wurgrut on the tower really set the tone for me, great model and very atmospheric paint job. The story telling is great as always and the time you must put in is inspirational in itself!

Keep 'em coming!
Better to keep your mouth shut and appear an idiot than to open it and remove all doubt.
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Post Wed Aug 08, 2018 11:14 pm

Re: Tilea IC2401 (Campaign#8)

Will do, Lands Annex. As fast as I can. (So, not that fast then!!!)
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Fourth and Final Part of the Assault on Campogrotta – Turns 5 - 7

While the Ironguts moved down the street in pursuit of the Bretonnian knights and Wurgrut’s lieutenant moved to occupy one of the city’s inner towers …

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… Wurgrut himself went to join the bulls defending the breach nearest to the gate.

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Neither slaughtermaster could conjure anything from the winds of magic to trouble the enemy, but a hail of lead-belcher shot finally destroyed the dwarven flying machine, which tumbled down into the street with a crunch.

The brigand archers hurried from the northern wall to occupy the corner tower, thus allowing the Brabanzon’s veteran men at arms to clamber onto the wall using the same ladders …

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… while Baron Garoy ordered his knights to turn about and prepare to receive the inevitable charge from the Ironguts hurtling along the street behind.

The damsel Perrette summoned another burning orb to throw at the enemy, slaying two of the bulls massed behind the fallen stones, just as the small Brabanzon gun felled a third. Moments later a huge round-shot from Granite Breaker caused the wall by the gate to collapse, killing another pair of ogres in the fall. The brutes’ dying cries, the foul stench of burning flesh and the sight of bent limbs reaching from the rubble only made the rest of the bulls angrier, more determined to stand their ground.

From the tower’s vantage point, Wurgrut’s lieutenant looked down on the battered bulls below.

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He sensed their frustration at simply standing to receive shot after shot, both magical and mundane, being ingloriously whittled away. So he shouted: “Go on then, go!”

This was all it took for the bulls to yield to their inbred desire for a fight, and they scrambled over the rubble to charge into the Brabanzon spearmen.

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The fight was quick and nasty. Lodar somehow avoided facing the bulls’ champion, and instead cut deep into the flesh of two other bulls while the spearmen’s sergeant dodged the champion’s powerful blows. Despite her injury, Perrette spun with an elegance learned from a dancing master in her youth to avoid another huge club. Had it hit, it would have crushed her entire body to a pulp. Six spearmen died, half of them perishing from the mere impact of the hulking foes, while only two ogres were slain. The Brabanzon had the weight of numbers, however, and pressed on aggressively, presenting a wall of sharp, jabbing spear tips before them. When the remaining two bulls realised their mistake, they foolishly attempted to return to the defences. They never reached them, and the Brabanzon stepped over their corpses to come right up to the rubble.

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Wurgrut summoned magical lightning to fry three of the brigand archers in the northern corner tower, then the arching lines of burning light shifted their fury to the men at arms approaching below, killing another four. Up on the still-standing walls and tower the leadbelchers were re-loading and firing as fast as they could, killing several of the Dwarven Longbeards and Warriors drawing ever closer to the breaches.

Just as the knights had managed to re-order themselves, the Ironguts came smashing into them …

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… to begin a bout of hacking and slashing from both sides. Thick skin, metal armour and the protective blessing the knights had prayed for before the battle, all conjoined together to prolong the fight. Here and now Baron Garoy was learning what a real fight was like, and it was a lesson he embraced with open (mailed) arms!

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The men at arms upon the nearby wall now attacked the Ironguts’ flank, some striking down from the wall itself, and although they lost two of their number in so doing, their intervention shifted the odds significantly. When one Irongut was cut down, his blood spattering all around, the remaining pair staggered backwards, looking for a way to escape. Baron Garoy laughed as he and his knights spurred their horses on to follow fast, thrusting their lance tips through the enemies’ grey flesh and riding right over the ruins back outside the city!

The most northerly quarter of the city was now overrun, but the ogre garrison was not yet beat. Wurgrut moved into the ruined tower by the similarly ruined gate while the leadbelchers above moved to re-position themselves all the better for the fight yet to come. Wurgrut conjured a powerful blast of wind to blow the men at arms from the wall in the north, but so agitated had he become he lost his hold on the winds of magic and allowed them to dissipate before he could spin them into a new spell. Somewhat dazed, he now watched the dwarven warriors approaching hesitantly (Game Note: Failed charge), while the Longbeards began climbing, in a similarly cautious manner, over the rubble to his left.

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Behind him, the Brabanzon spearmen had already entered the city and were making their way along the street running parallel to the wall.

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A stone from the trebuchet landed amidst the remains of the last regiment of bulls, killing another of their number, while the rest of the allies’ artillery merely chipped grey stone and bloodied grey flesh here and there. Granite Breaker’s huge ball ploughed deep into the earth, whilst the score of quarrels that clattered all around Wurgrut merely nicked and pricked at his grizzled flesh.

……………………………………………………….

Game Note: This was the end of turn 7, thus the end of the game. According to the siege game rules, based on the relative numbers of wall and tower sections controlled by each side, the result was a draw! Neither a minor victory or victory. This meant that the next campaign turn – which will be turn 1 of the next season, Autumn IC 2403 - the besiegers would still be attacking, and the defenders would still be defending.

Of course, if I just stopped the story at this point it would be a VERY odd ending, as the attackers look very much to have the upper hand. If they simply carried on as they were already doing victory would almost certainly be theirs. But ‘rules is rules’, and my players are playing competitively, which in turn drives the campaign’s story. Both sides knew the victory conditions and had been playing to achieve them. And so I was now left with the need to write an at least vaguely convincing story ending which explained the fact that the attackers had failed to take the city, thus prolonging the siege.

Here is that story ending.


……………………………………………………….

The brigand archers peered over the parapet of the tower they had captured …

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… watching as their Brabanzon comrades made their way down the street below. They could see also that the dwarven Longbeards were clambering across the tumbled-ruins of the wall.

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Immediately below them the young baron led his knights back over the ruins a third time to re-enter the city, their mounts bucking and rearing at being forced yet again to traverse such precariously difficult ground.

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One by one, however, the brigands realised something had changed – the artillery had fallen silent. They turned to look across the field before the walls and could see the guns were still were they had been, with full complements of crewmen. They were not being troubled by attackers. They had ceased firing for some other reason. Perhaps, suggested one of the brigands, they don’t want to harm the soldiers now entering the city? Or, said another, maybe they have run out of powder?

The truth was that the cannon imperial’s chief gunner had commanded a cessation in firing. There had been something about the sound of the last shot and the gun’s bucking, shaking movement in so doing, that concerned him. Something was not quite right, which foreboded ill.

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The ancient gun had done good service, and no doubt if she were to continue in like manner, she could take down the last of the city’s eastern defences. But he had not liked what he had seen and heard, and a torrent of thoughts were now tumbling through his mind. He was not at all a superstitious fellow, so his concerns all had a very practical bent: Had the tarnishing of the barrel over the years somehow weakened it - either its bronze fabric or the runic wards protecting it? Was the powder they were using too potent compared to the ancient powder Granite Breaker's barrel was forged to withstand? Had the journey down the road weakened the carriage dangerously so that the next shot would bring ruin to both the great gun and those who tended her?

He would not risk it, and so had signalled a stop with a crossed sweep of his arms.

Inside the city Perrette and the men she was with suddenly came to a halt.

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Before them was a sight that sapped every ounce of will they had to advance any further, and they could clearly see the dwarven Longbeards who had been climbing over the rubble ahead were of a like mind. The last few of the ogre bulls up ahead had fallen back from the wall, moving a little way down a street leading away from the wall. In so doing they had revealed the brutes further on, each and every one clutching a cannon barrel, standing ready to fire.

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To approach any closer, down such a narrow, stone street, would surely mean certain death. Men and dwarves halted, while the enemy watched and waited. One Longbeard scrabbled back to see why the artillery had ceased its efforts, while the Brabanzon spearmen shouted up to the brigands behind to ask what had happened. Within moments, both men and dwarves realised that there would be no further barrage to blast the walls and towers beside this monstrous battery of barrels.

Perrette studied the enemy through narrowed eyes, knowing she had no more magic in her. Her rage had been transformed into fear, and the loss of blood from her wound was beginning to make her feel faint. The soldier by her side dropped his spear to take a hold of her instead. Up ahead one of the brutes was smiling cruelly. With one hand raised he crooked a finger to beckon them on, while in his mouth he held a smouldering match dangling over his piece’s pan.

“In the morrow,” came a cry from the dwarfs, who began to back away. This was all the Brabanzon needed to make up their mind, and they too left, scrambling as fast as they could over the fallen masonry and between the ragged edges of the torn walls. Before long all the other attackers had left the walls, towers and streets also, to return to the siege lines.

There was to be a lull in the assault, at least until the guns were ready to recommence their brutal barrage. Not one man nor dwarf thought they had lost the battle, for soon, victory would surely be theirs. The city could not escape and its garrison was without a doubt mortally wounded. But it would be a victory without needless slaughter amongst their own. They needed their strength if they were to take the other Campogrottan settlements, to recapture the realm of Ravola for Baron Garoy, and if needs be, to face whatever army Boulderguts brought back with him from his plundering of Tilea. Besides, as the Brabanzon declared by their fires that night, “What use is plunder to a dead man?”

They knew had the right tools for the job. They simply had to wait until the time was right too.

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Post Thu Oct 18, 2018 8:27 am

Re: Tilea IC2401 (Campaign#8)

Kudos Padre, keep up the good work! (Shaun returned - forgot password)
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Post Thu Oct 25, 2018 9:15 pm

Re: Tilea IC2401 (Campaign#8)

Thanks Shaun. Can't wait for the next battle, but for now a big report regarding just about everything!
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Antonio Mugello’s letter to Lord Lucca Vescussi of Verezzo at the end of Summer 2403

My purpose, my lord, as ever, is to inform you of everything of import I have learned concerning the great affairs of Tilea. Removed as I am from your person I know you will have a much better grasp than I of the events unfolding in your own realm and your own camp, as well as of the forces in your vicinity, whether allied or foe. But it seems to me that even the knowledge I have concerning what is believed here in Remas of these things (howsoever familiar to you), what information has been passed, what rumours circulate and what assumptions are made, could prove to be of great use to you. Once my offerings are combined with what you yourself know and what other trusted agents have reported to you, then you can all the better judge not only the truth concerning the situation across Tilea, but also what various parties believe to be the truth. Thus you might discover where all the pieces lie, what advantages or disadvantages the players in this great and terrible game believe they possess, as well as what they actually possess.

Having returned from Urbimo to Remas, I have been welcomed into the court of the arch-lector Bernado Ugolini, who, having expressed his love and respect for you, has allowed me to attend upon him regularly, and even to join his counsellors, both religious and secular, in their consultations with his holiness. Much in Remas, at least what is left of Remas, has returned to the way it was before the rising of the Disciplinati di Morr. Those amongst the nobility who survived the frenzied mob, whether by hiding or fleeing, have returned to their houses, albeit bereft of many servants and beloved family, and with the departure of the cultist army, the streets are no longer ruled by the clubs and whips of intolerant (if most holy) faith. The Reman overlord, Domenico Matuzzi, has nominated the arch-lector as his deputy, while he lies ill abed after his rough handling as hostage of the Disciplinati. Apparently, the dedicants subjected him to the torture of strappado, and when they discovered his toes could reach the ground, they dug the earth from beneath him that he might suffer all the more.

Yet while there is thankfulness at the Disciplinati’s departure, I perceive little in the way of hatred. It seems to me that most Remans believe Father Carradalio and his flagellating dedicants are still Tilea’s best hope against the armies of the vampire duchess; a necessary, lesser evil through which a far greater evil can be defeated. One cannot beat a foe in battle without drawing blood, they say, although here the blood drawn belonged to the self-scourging dedicants and those Remans they killed in their efforts to cleanse the city in the eyes of holy Morr. Like so many gods, Morr has many faces, many moods. He might visit gentle dreams upon the innocent, and welcome the departed into his blissful garden, yet is also capable of furious anger against those who transgress against him and think to rebel against his authority, and is manifestly able to inflict great suffering and punishments far and wide through his most loyal servants.

Such is the lesson the orthodox Morrite priests preach in their Reman sermons. Once again, the ancient city realm is embraced by gentle Morr, his funerary lullabies gifting peaceful slumber, of both the great and petty kind, to all, as and when is right, even while his righteous anger is vented through his faithful and fanatic servants in the north.

The army of the Disciplinati di Morr marched solemnly from the city and traveled the road to Urbimo. There many more flocked to join its ranks, urged to do so by their newly tyrannical ruler Barone Pietro Cybo. Some say he so encouraged them simply to remove them from his realm and so prevent their further murderous tumults. Yet others report it was he himself who ordered the cruel purging and that he has personally joined the army. Whatever the truth, the Disciplinati wasted no time in marching upon Viadaza, where they threw themselves at the defences until (it is said) their dead piled so high before the vampires’ swirling blades they could climb their comrades’ corpses to the parapets. Whether this claim be true, they nevertheless suffered very great casualties, harming themselves almost as violently as the enemy to maintain the furious pitch of their frenzy in the face of such horrors. They did not falter, as so many have done before, and the enemy was driven back even unto the wharves, thence to decrepit boats and into the sea, and the Disciplinati re-took the city for the living once again.

The arch-lector has received a letter from an agent he has amongst the Disciplinati’s ranks, which has revealed much concerning events after the city’s re-conquest. The army stayed a while, hoping, at the least, to begin the second cleansing of the streets, to make the city fit once again for the living. Viadaza had suffered greatly, yet again, at the hands of the undead, and as ever their curse lingered. Those who attempted to sleep within the walls found their nightmares escaping their slumbers, the sound of screams crossing from the oneiric to the material realm, from man to man, house to house, street to street. There were false alarms almost every hour, until the third night when the nightmare became real. The army awoke to discover half a dozen of their number had been slain. In the light of day, opinions regarding the killings differed widely – some thought it was a ritual self-flagellation gone insanely wrong, with the city’s feral dogs attacking to finish off the pain-sated cultists. Others declared the enemy’s apparent departure had been a trick, and this was the work of no less than a vampire - perhaps Adolfo, who knew the city so well, its every nook and cranny, having ruled it in both life and undeath, or even the duchess herself?

The next night more perished, and all now accepted that their bloody fight for Viadaza was not yet ended. The vampire duchess had assuredly left something behind, skulking in the alleyway shadows and the depths of the sewers. While the arch-lector prayed for holy guidance, and others cried the city had become so stubbornly tainted with repeated possession by the undead that it should be burnt to the very ground, the Disciplinati’s admonitor, Brother Vincenzo, took it upon himself to lead a hunt through the nocturnal streets.

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They found and slew a large pack of ghouls, raining crossbow darts upon them, but they could discover no sign of a vampire.

Two days later, having taken what little Viadaza had left to offer for the army’s supply (which was diminishing fast even after Urbimo had given all that it could) the Disciplinati marched out take the road leading north to the famous bridge at Palomtrina. But something left the city in the Morrite warriors' wake, creeping after them to make the nights upon the road as bloody as those within the walls. One morning, a week or so into the march, a dozen of Captain Vogel’s veteran guards were found in a heap, their throats torn open, their ribs wrenched from their bodies, their chests bereft of sanguine organs.

Thus is the grim nature of a march into the realm of vampires. The last report received mentioned how at night only half the army sleeps, while the rest remain waking and watchful. The Praepositus Generalis’s tent is surrounded by a ring of bodyguards, holding a blessed-flamed torch to light the whole night and ensure Father Carradalio is never, even for a moment, left unguarded.

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And yet, for all this suffering and torment, and the victory achieved by it, it seems the Disciplinati di Morr were too late in attacking Viadaza. The duchess had already dispatched an army from there to Trantio, to strike much further south than ever before. There the graveyards were ripe for robbing, as the realm had lay abandoned ever since Boulderguts’ brutes had chased the populace and their new Pavonan masters away. It was Duke Guidobaldo who brought the report of this undead army, returning unexpectedly from a last, desperate attempt to bring Razger Boulderguts to account. Before he could catch the ogres and so recover the vast store of plunder torn from his own realm and others, his found his way blocked by a large force of undead. As he commanded only a remnant of his once mighty Pavonan army, bolstered by only a handful of small companies of Reman soldiers loaned by the arch-lector, the enemy was far too strong to take on. And so he came back to Remas demanding more soldiers from the arch-lector.

I was not invited to attend the councils of war, presumably because Duke Guidobaldo knows me to be a loyal Verezzan, and that I am fully aware of his several many past insults and threats against you, and so I cannot say whether he wanted these in order to attack the undead or merely to obtain sufficient strength to sidestep them and continue his vengeful pursuit of the brutes. Yet while the secret councils were held, the loose-tongued Pavonan soldiery drank hard in the taverns and inns, as is a soldier's wont, and began telling tales of what their scouts had seen.

Trantio, perhaps the geographical heart of the peninsula, is now in the possession of vampires. They arrived with an army of robe-clad zombies, the same Morrite dedicants who had in life served Calictus II, now reanimated to serve their former enemies, their very existence a mockery to all that the Church of Morr and its cults stand for. Immediately upon arrival its soldiers set about tearing open the necropolises of Trantio, the tombs of Scorccio and the graveyards of the villages of Preto lying between.

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Large when it arrived, the vampires’ army can only have grown greater in strength since, garnering a vast harvest of corpses to swell its ranks, so that now the bony remains of long-dead, noble men-at-arms once more gallop through the streets …

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… and ancient legions muster beneath the filthy, rotten remnants of banners untouched by sunlight for centuries. The streets swarm with walking corpses, a busy, hellish crowd moving hither and thither at the behest of their vampire masters.

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None here, even the divinely inspired arch-lector of Morr, knows exactly what the vampire duchess is attempting to achieve, for she has never seen fit to advertise her intentions, but until now, apart from (and despite) the set-backs she has faced along the way, she has pushed her foul armies ever further into the living realms. If her actions alone are taken into account, then it seems she intends to conquer the entire peninsula until she becomes the dark reflection of an ancient empresses of old, perhaps rivaling in power the mighty Kings of Khemri beyond the deserts of the Southlands?

When I learned that you yourself, my lord, were at Astiano, less than 30 leagues south of Trantio, a great fear assailed me. But I was reassured when it was also reported that you not only had a stout force of Verezzans, but that both Lord Alessio Falconi and the young King Ferronso and their armies were also with you. The arch-lector told me that even if he were to order every soldier in Remas to join with the Pavonan army and march as allies against the foul conquerors of Trantio, they could not hope to prevail, for not only was the Pavonan army a mere shadow of its former self, but the wars against ogres and vampires, and the bloody unrest in the city, had much reduced the Reman army too. Yet he was not downhearted, and indeed smiled when he told me of his joy that you, my noble lord, had marched north with a mighty allied army, far greater in strength than that any he could field, and without a doubt greater than the force possessed by the enemy. Furthermore, if it is true that the army of the VMC is also marching north from Alcente, something you my lord will know with more certainty than I, and is committed to assisting in this great struggle, then the vampire duchess cannot possibly endure the force of the onslaught. The soldiers of the VMC are veterans of the war against Khurnag’s Waagh, and as the trading company is prospering General Valckenburgh’s is likely to command a substantial force.

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(A regiment of militia pikemen march before Lord Lucca Vesucci of Verezzo, upon the road before the gates of Astiano.)
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His holiness happily confessed that even if you had marched north intending solely to destroy the ogres, Morr’s will was surely behind that intention, drawing you northwards in this hour of need, just as the undead began to strike so far south.

I know that to write of these things might be considered foolish, for should this missive fall into enemy hands they would have intelligence of your whereabouts and the nature of your joint forces, but I write only what I have heard, which is what enemy spies will also have heard. You yourself know your true situation, my lord, here I simply present to you what reports are already commonly circulating, that you might know what is believed or suspected by friend and foe alike.

News has come also of a new war in the north-east. The mountain King Jaldeog has mustered an army of dwarfs (a thing previously believed by many in Tilea, including the well-informed, to be long since impossible), bolstered by a Bretonnian mercenary company known as the Brabanzon and a petty-noble claimant to the realm of Ravola, Baron Garoy. This force he has sent down the Iron Road to Campogrotta, there to besiege the city.

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The dwarfen king sent out a declaration that he was not only tired of waiting for the wizard Lord Niccolo and his brute servants to satisfy Karak Borgo concerning its ancient trading rights, but insulted by their disrespect. Nicolo and his cruel lieutenants have shown careless indifference to the dwarfs’ need to pass to and fro through Campogrotta in order to reach every other Tilean state, and so have made all trade impossible. Thus it is that King Jaldeog has seen fit to invest a considerable portion of his treasure hoard in a war to rectify the situation, as well as to punish the slight.

King Jaldeog’s army contains an ancient engine of war of such a massive size that the like has not been seen in Tilea for centuries. If it were not for the dwarf-built road, it is unlikely such an engine could possibly have traversed from the mountain fastness to the great walled city. The iron shots hurled from this behemoth are said to be nigh upon one hundred pounds in weight …

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… and capable of punching through a stone wall twenty feet thick. I cannot profess to know the dimensions of Campogrotta’s defences, but whatever they be, considering dwarfs are said to be the very founders of the art of gunnery, masters of brimstone and saltpetre, and able to inscribe potent magical runes to improve their cannons beyond their merely natural potential and so make them better than any forged by man, the walls surely cannot stand for long against such a battering.

Furthermore, the surviving half of the Compagnia del Sole (those previously serving in Estalia, equal at least in strength to the Tilean force destroyed in the War of the Princes) are reportedly marching eastwards to reinforce King Jaldego’s army. This famous mercenary company is an army in itself, and so as it circumnavigates the vampire duchess it has every chance of fending off anything she might dispatch to impede its progress. And if they do rendezvous with the dwarfs and Brettonians at Campogroatta, then the ogre tyrant Razger Boulderguts is sure to receive a very harsh welcome indeed upon returning with his plunder.

This is presuming Razger Boulderguts does return. He has moved northwards once again, that much is certain, but no-one can claim to know his exact whereabouts, and certainly not his next move. It seems to me that there are several possibilities, including rendezvousing with another force from the east, like he did with Mangler’s Band. He surely has sufficient plunder to hire another such force. Or perhaps he himself will return to the Border Princes whence both he and Mangler came, now that he is enriched with a vast train of plunder? That may well have been his intention from the moment he marched into Tilea. Then again, he might turn yet again to strike at another Tilean town not yet razed, perhaps Scozzese or Pavona, or a combination of the two, or even push further southwards. He might join with the vampire duchess, if the rumours of their secret alliance are true, all the better to continue his raids, and so provide more ruinous places for the undead to possess. He has proved to be the sort of commander who can withdraw from the field of battle when it becomes clear that neither he nor the foe can win, only mutually batter each other into oblivion, as happened upon the Via Diocleta, then it seems to me that he is not the sort to take proud umbrage at the dwarfs laying siege to a city he once captured and, for a time, simply used as a base for his raids. I think it entirely possible that he never intended to remain in Campogrotta, but only lingered there to gain sufficient strength for his grand chevauchee.

Sailors have continued to voice their concern about the reported sightings of ratto uomo in the Tilean sea, even upon the western coast, suggesting the vermin could be probing for weaknesses now that Tilea’s armies are distracted by the wars against the duchess and Boulderguts. Such have been their fears for many seasons now, perhaps suggesting there is in truth nothing new occurring, but rather a fear-induced exaggeration of little more than the usual, occasional encounters. More recently, however, and more feasible by far, are the reports of a sudden increase of Sartosan pirate vessels in the Current, bearing towards Sartosa. Both a Portomaggioran captain and a VMC ship’s master whom I questioned were of the opinion that the Pirate Council is gathering a fleet in order to launch a substantial raid upon the Tilean coast now that its defenses were vitally weakened. Such would certainly explain the noticeable reduction of small-scale piracy along the western coast, as any vessels normally engaged in such would be returning to attend the fitting of the fleet.

It cannot be known here in Remas who currently holds sway over the pirate council, for even if a name is reported, the ruling captain can change from day to day, from vote to vote, so that any person mentioned might already have been supplanted. Nevertheless, the name Captain Leopold Volker has been circulating the wharves and warehouses for some time now.

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From what I have gleaned, Volker appears to have obtained a firm grip on the council, which in itself could be the very reason that the Sartosans are now apparently cooperating in a much more unified manner, and possibly embarking upon an enterprise which would require a whole fleet and an entire army of bucanieri. Whether or not he still commands, I cannot say.

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Admittedly, some others claim that the lack of petty pirateering is due instead to the Sartosans’ fear of the ratto uomo, or perhaps even because they have suffered attacks themselves, but this seems (for the aforementioned reasons) unlikely.

Here, if you will oblige me my lord, I must pass on to you a plea made only yesterday by the arch-lector. He is most concerned that the rumours of a Sartosan raid might cause either King Ferronso or Lord Alessio, or both, to turn away from the vital task in hand and lead their armies home, the better to ensure their cities’ safety. Luccini lies closest to the Isle of Sartosa, and as such is likely either to be the target of the pirates’ raid, or perhaps a stepping stone for them as they make their way along the coast towards a richer prize. Portomaggiore is, if the wind and currents are conducive, only a little further away.

More gravely, his holiness spoke to me regarding his concern about your intentions, for it seems to him that the proximity of the VMC’s army to Verezzo, after their cruel raiding of the Camponeffro region of Raverno two years ago, when that realm was riven with rebellion and already suffering, might mean that you too turn away from the war against the vampires due to concern for Verezzo’s safety. I myself admitted to the arch-lector that as Razger Bouldergut’s whereabouts is currently unknown, it must also occur to both you, Lord Alessio and the young king that the ogre tyrant - known to be a slippery foe full of tricks when it comes to taking places by surprise - might have looped about, circumnavigating your forces in order to strike at any or all of the more southern realms now that their defending armies have been lured away.

He thus asked me to reassure you that General Jan Valckenburgh of the VMC has solemnly promised that he wishes only to assist in the fight to defeat the vampire duchess and her minions, and that he himself witnessed the mauling of Razger Boulderguts' army at the Via Diocleta, and so cannot believe the ogre currently has sufficient force remaining to pose a threat to the southern realms. And so, his holiness instructed me to pass on his humble plea urging you to remain just long enough to drive away the vampires from Trantio, or at the least that you leave sufficient forces for this task. He suggests that whatever force you allow to remain might rendezvous with the Reman and Pavonan armies in order to form an allied army large enough to ensure success. He is keen to impress upon you that the consequences of turning back now would most likely mean ruin for the whole of Tilea.

Having delivered the plea as I promised, being the arch-lector’s desire and not mine, for I would never presume to suggest to you any particular course of action, I end.

Your loyal and humble servant, Antonio Mugello.

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Post Fri Oct 26, 2018 11:53 pm

Re: Tilea IC2401 (Campaign#8)

Another fantastic chapter; love these in universe accounts and the miniature photography only gets better.

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Post Sat Oct 27, 2018 1:29 am

Re: Tilea IC2401 (Campaign#8)

Excellent stuff, this is the gold standard to which I hold narrative campaigns.

Also, have you read the novel Q by Luther Blissett? A lot of these passages give me vibes of that book.
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Post Sun Nov 11, 2018 12:13 am

Re: Tilea IC2401 (Campaign#8)

Thanks Outsider and GhostClown.

@ GhostClown: I do have the book and a long time ago started reading it. But I stopped, and I can't remember the reason. I will try to find it on my bookshelves. Was it originally not in English and translated? Or am I thinking of another book?

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Joined: Sat Oct 27, 2018 1:28 am

Post Tue Nov 13, 2018 11:46 pm

Re: Tilea IC2401 (Campaign#8)

It was written by a group of Italian authors, so yes I think it did have to be translated to English.
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