An Old Campaign #2


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Post Sun Nov 17, 2013 6:41 pm

An Old Campaign #2

Here's the next. First two installments, more, including battles, to follow.
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Before

Rembrandt van Haagen was never meant to become master of the House van Haagen. He was the youngest of three boys, you see, and as primogeniture had always been the way in the van Haagen line, everyone expected the oldest boy Gunther to succeed to the rule of the house.

But Gunther fell into the Goudberg canal during a game of ‘chase the snotling’, so that all eyes now looked upon Dominic, the middle child. Studious and serious - not the sort to go chasing snotlings with his younger brother and a gang of street lads - Dominic might even prove to be a better ruler for the house.

But Dominic wouldn’t reach maturity either. Just a week after he began his third year of studies in the small university next door to the great Verenan library in Tempelwick, he was convinced by his younger brother to join a gang of youths in celebrating the feast of Manaan’s Dance with drink and rumbullious frolics. Too frolicsome, however, for the delicate Dominic: who succumbed to the drink rather earlier than all the others, and was crushed by rolling cask of wine let loose by a mischievous youth. Everyone else jumped out of its way (that, indeed, was the game) but Dominic seemed too addled by hot liquors to work out which way to jump and jumped towards it. No one who was there would ever forget the strange sound he made as the huge cask rolled inexorably over him, from feet to head. The noise stopped when the barrel reached his chest, but even so, it was unforgettable. By then, luckily for those who would have to live with the memory of that awful sound, all present had turned away, unable to watch as poor Dominic’s head finally went under the rolling weight.

Thus Rembrandt became the heir elect of the fortune that was House van Haagen. He adapted to his responsibility with a novel sobriety. He put away childish things (part of him glad at this, for he was developing a phobia about boyish games) and set about his task.

Gunther had been groomed for the role of master by watching his father work, standing by his father’s side during ceremonial affairs and such like. Dominic had been given the scholarly education that would prepare him for the role of either a ‘religious’ or a secretary or an accountant (or all three). Whereas Rembrandt had been spoiled as the baby and allowed to play and do as he wished. Yet he knew his strengths, and having been allowed to do what he wanted had nevertheless gifted him with some qualities he considered useful.

Unusually for a citizen of Marienburg, he had become a good horseman because he wanted to hunt and hawk and race. He was knowledgeable about war, having been fascinated from infancy by tales of old wars. He’d been allowed to handle weapons, watch the militia drill whenever he liked, and even wear a suit of armour fashioned for his tiny frame and modified as he grew until now one piece of the suit was the same as that in the first suit made. Most importantly he had learned how to lead, for he enjoyed ruling his playmates, inventing the games and settling their disputes. Thus the spoiled child gained some skills, unlike those many rich youths who might simply eat, play and sleep their way through youth to ‘forge’ fat, idle and pampered lives for their adulthood.

Now here he was, a soldier (of sorts) at heart, with one of the richest merchant houses in the city to run. This vexed him at first, until he learned of a resurgence of war brewing in the lands of Araby to the far south. He knew his father had talked of the riches of that land, indeed had made great sums of money trading the luxurious goods it had to offer. So he inquired of his secretaries and clerks and learned that the house had - until a few years ago - several factors in the coastal cities of Araby, and had vied to rule the trade with those parts. But the war had put a stop to this enterprise. Not that the house suffered, as his father simply invested his efforts elsewhere and just as profitably, perhaps even more so. But that was not what was important.

Here was Rembrandt’s opportunity to prove himself a true master of the house, and to utilise the very skills he had. He would re-attain his houses’ trading links with Araby by raising a private army, embarking with them as their leader upon the houses’ fleet, and sailing to Araby. Once there he would fight for the glory of the Empire, for the reputation of Marienburg, for prosperity of House van Haagen (in order of ascending priority) until victory gave his house the trading bases he required, and gave him the reputation that would stand him in good stead for the rest of his days.

He intended to as well as his father had ever done, and better than his brothers might have done. Though he was the baby for so long, playing his boys’ games, now he was the man. Under his rule, House van Haagen would grow even more prosperous and powerful.

Thus, aged 20, Rembrandt van Haagen began to prepare for his venture to the shores of Araby.

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Arrival

House van Haagen’s war fleet had finally arrived at the shores of Araby. Even though there were many old salty sea dogs and wily captains amongst the fleet, none aboard any of the ships, neither grand navigators or lowly pilots, knew the particular stretch of coast that lay before them. This was because their master, Captain Rembrandt, had ordered that they make for the unknown coast immediately south of Kharkoun Isle, not for the ports that were familiar to the veteran sailors amongst the fleet.

He had his reasons, the chief of which was that he expected to meet with several other Empire captains and admirals in the vicinity of Al Hadock. This was a lesser known settlement upon this stretch of the desert realm’s coast, rumoured to be the most welcoming port to men of the Empire. Thus Rembrandt would join a grand alliance of brothers from the north, whose aim was to once again secure trading rights in the rich ports of Araby, as well as to fend off the evil powers preying upon these desert lands.

Not that his own force wasn’t something to be reckoned with by itself. He was rich, proved by the fact that this large fleet of ships were only those already owned by his house. Being rich meant he could hire numerous mercenaries to serve in his army. There were two regiments of battle hardened pikemen, professional soldiers who brought their own armour and balked not at the thought of sailing several thousand miles to fight in a distant land - at least not for the pay he could give them. He had also recruited handgunners and crossbowmen, artillerymen and spearmen, as well as several companies of fearless ogres. Each and every ship was provisioned generously with all that his officers and quartermasters thought necessary for the execution of such a war, from spades and pick axes to cannons and budge barrels of powder.

Not least were the seamen of his fleet. His old father had always said these were the best of men, for they were three trades rolled into one: traders, navigators and soldiers. (This was an old theory in Marienburg, dating from the time of the Crisis.) It was the latter trade Rembrandt was now most interested in. Surely they would prove their worth? Certainly they looked fearsome enough, armed with every kind of gunpowder weapon the Old World could manufacture. And from the swaggering songs they had been singing on the journey, they intended to burn and thunder their way through Araby.

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The mid-day sun beat down inexorably upon the anchored wooden vessels making their timbers creak audibly, so that every master in the fleet ordered those on watch to swab everything they could. Those not busy with that task, including most of the soldiers, strained to make out the shore, obscured as it was by heat haze, and watched the lone ship’s boat being rowed towards it.

Aboard sat five men, four labouring to row in pairs, the fifth getting an ever better view of the approaching shore. Sergeant Theodorus rubbed his chin.

”I wonder lads”, he asked, ”what might lay hidden there for us” What terrors lurk in that foreboding land. What awful fate awaits those foolish enough to step ashore? ”

”Don’t scare the younkers, Theo, ” laughed Norbert. ”And you lads, don’t you go listening to old Theo - he’ll have you thinkin’ you’re gonna get swallowed by a giant lizard. The only truth is he wants to scare you - there’s not one iota of truth elsewhere in what he says? ”

”Oh but there is, Norbert, and you know it, ” interrupted Theodorus. ”There are horrors beyond even my imaginings in these scorched lands, and you’d better believe it. If you don’t believe it, you soon will!”

Theodorus hefted his handgun and checked the smouldering match-cord once more. He couldn’t help himself, even in the dry heat of this coast, for he was a man of the north and there you had to keep an eye to make sure the wet hadn’t got to the match. After testing the fall of the match for the third time, he lifted his eyes back to the shoreline.

“You young ‘uns, tell me,” he commanded, “what do you see direct ahead?”

All four other crew stopped rowing for a moment to scrutinize where Theo was pointing. There was something there, something which broke up the otherwise featureless tree-lined roll of sand dunes. It was a clearing, and not a natural one, for it was too regular in shape. In fact, a building of sorts could now be seen, low roofed and built of sand coloured clay blocks.

“I don’t see anyone there, Theo,” said Norbert.

“Nor I, sergeant,” added one of the lads. “But there could be someone in that hut.”

“Aye, there could be,” muttered Theo. He didn’t think the place looked to be in any way fortified. It was probably just some local fisherman’s dwelling. Except something was wrong, though Theo couldn’t quite put his finger on it.

“Get to rowing again, lads,” he ordered. Then to encourage them he gave them the beat: “Yo ho - yo ho - yo ho”

As the boat drew closer to the sand, the sound of the surf grew louder, and all aboard busied themselves for the landing. They rowed her right in, steadying with the oars and letting the force of the surge do the final bit of work. First out, his handgun raised above his head to keep it dry, was Theo. He splashed knee deep through the water to make the dry sand as quickly as he could.

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To be continued
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Post Mon Nov 18, 2013 9:48 pm

Re: An Old Campaign #2

There is mention in the official campaign history about a recent event in Lasheik ...

"After more than a year away from his land, Sheikh Abbas returns with his new wife, Evette. As the Sheikh lands, Lord Governor Baluin boards the same vessel and heads for Bretonnia at the request of the King himself."

By your leave, here is an image of Abbas and Evette being greeted at tne ancient and massive stone gates of Lashiek by the Lord Governor.

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Once again, to quote the official campaign background: "2528 - Bretonnian forces call for aid as the Cult of Haseem declares the Sheikh a traitor and an outlaw. Mass attacks occur upon isolated outposts and caravans."

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But now for the first actual Bat Rep.

Rembrandt's First Battle

The scouts came rushing back, frantic, and begged an audience with Rembrandt. What they had to say would not please him, but they had to report it immediately as otherwise the whole enterprise could be ruined before it had even begun.

“I beg your leave, captain sir, but you must hear us, and now” shouted the foremost man. “There’s enemies approaching - monstrous, unholy creatures.”

Rembrandt burst out of the pavilion (so recently erected it was still incomplete). “What say you?” he demanded.

“Demons, sir captain, demons of chaos all bloodied and foul,” the man answered, pointing over his shoulder at the dunes. “Just beyond that ridge, and coming this way. An army of them, moving deathly quiet and terrifying to behold. If I hadn’t seen ‘em with me own eyes then I wouldn’t have believed …”

Rembrandt had stopped listening and begun shouting for his officers. Blood and thunder, he thought, but here is a test indeed! He had only half of his force disembarked, and here the war was coming to him immediately. There were no horses either, for the fluyts carrying them had been separated and were yet to rejoin the fleet.

“To arms,” he cried, “all you you. And make haste. Ready every man upon the shore, and send signals for the rest to disembark as soon as the boats get back to the ships.”

He turned to the famous Tilean officer by his side, “Master Ricco, let us see how fast your men can earn their gold. Muster them immediately, array them for war. And the rest of you,” he now addressed the other officers rushing up to him, “all of you, put your companies into order with all haste.”

As the officers turned to leave, his old friend Roderick, the ancient soldier who had served his father and his grandfather, finally came. As field marshall, it was his job to array the army into a battle line. Rembrandt looked at him stoically, and spoke more quietly, “Roderick, make a line of them as quick as you can. Nothing fancy, mind, there’s no time for that. I shall go see where and what we are to fight.”

With that Rembrandt, silently cursing the masters of the lost ships with the war horses, ran through the sand. Adding to his list of complaints he now cursed the weight of his armour and the softness of the ground underfoot. Upon cresting the nearest dune, he saw open ground between him and the enemy. Sand and more sand, as if the beach had refused to yield to firmer ground, broken only by a copse of greenery around a pool of water and what looked like some ruins.

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Beyond this he espied the foe – they were so close he needed no perspective glass. The scouting seamen were right, it was an army of monsters plucked from a nightmare and thrown into the mortal world. The bright sun and clear blue sky lit them up with terrible clarity. In their midst was a monstrous giant demon, a huge bloated mass of rotting flesh. Upon his right there were two huge regiments of ferocious, blood coloured devils, and to his left two further companies of hideously pink succubi. Lurking behind were some other foul creatures that Rembrandt could not bring himself to scrutinise.

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Besides, he hadn’t time. He turned to see his bodyguards rushing up from behind, every one of their faces angry at his dash forward. But he knew they would not mention it.

“Right then, fellows, it’s back we go!” he commanded them, sounding almost cheerful. Let them think I am not afraid, he thought. Let them see me as keen, busy, brave – but not scared.

As he ran on they spun and chased after him once more.

Already old Roderick had begun to ready a line for battle. Luckily, the artillery had been dragged forward to the dunes over an hour ago, so that it only had to be rolled down a little way on the other side, allowing the regiments marching from the beach to join them as one line in time to present a unified front to the enemy.

Two cannons made up the far left wing, with a company of marine sharp shooters utilising swivel guns between them (‘murderers’ the sailors liked to call them). The two wizards, but apprentices truthfully, stood near the guns, each clutching several rolls of scrolls. In the centre were the four main regiments – 30 swordsmen, 25 of Ricco’s pikemen, the halberdiers and the free company of seamen. Two detachments of handgunners stood ahead of this mass of foot soldiers. No doubt Roderick thought that a hail or two of lead might soften even demons up!

To the right of the centre was the helblaster. Rembrandt almost laughed at the thought this provoked: Let it blast them back to whatever hell they came from.

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The far right, where Roderick would surely have preferred to put several bodies of horse soldiers, stood only two companies of marines. First the ‘Blades’, then finally the Rangers. It wasn’t much, but if anyone could hold their own against a monstrous foe, Rembrandt believed the leather skinned hard-men in the company of Rangers could do it.

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Rembrandt ran to join the halberdiers, who cheered him heartily as he arrived. They were in good spirits, and well they might be, pondered the young captain, for they had yet to see clearly what they were about to fight.

The two wizards, sensing that the enemy's magic was not utterly overwhelming, decided as one that they would not merely nurse their scrolls and try to deflect the power of the demons’ spells, but that they would employ some offensive magic of their own. They were nimble eyed enough to see also that then enemy had no missile weapons. Thus they moved ahead of the line in order that their fire spells might reach the foe.

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Suddenly, as if to announce that the battle had truly begun, the two cannons opened up at the mighty, green demon in the midst of the horde. Both balls hit, but one seemed to pass right through the demon. (Note: 5 wounds from the unsaved one!)

Visibly and audibly shocked by the sight of the enemy, the whole rear line moved backwards a few paces – all four regiments. Rembrandt thought it best not to chide them, but instead to encourage them with the pretence that he had ordered it.

“Aye,” he cried. “That’s better – like one body. Watch your dressings, stand straight in your ranks and files. Steady … steady.”

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Magical force began to emanate from the hellish legion, as every creature amongst them advanced as fast as they could. All moved quicker than men could do, and all the men in the front lines noticed that fact. Throats tightened, and nervous hands clutched tighter at the hafts of their weapons.

When the artillery fired a second time their easy skill from years of experience was clear. Once again the huge demon’s flesh swallowed two more cannon balls. But this time, as the monster had adjusted to their nature, both passed through him – the damage they did only visible for a brief moment before the beast’s flesh knitted itself back together and left nought but another scar to add to the thousands already there. Even the Helblaster, adding a further dozen 1 lb shots to the ‘damage’, seemed to do no extra harm. Every artillery man in the line shuddered, and they glanced as if to say: 'Can this enemy even be killed?'

On the far right wing, the Rangers fired bravely at the two fiends of Slaanesh, slaying one. But the survivor, a twisted beast bearing horns, claws, talons and a stinging tail, came on and smashed into them. Rembrandt’s confidence in the Rangers proved well founded. They would fight on for some time, holding this beast in place. They would wound it, but the beast refused to yield it’s grip on the mortal realm. Two by two it slayed them, slowly grinding them down.

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In the centre, unobscured by a small dune as were the foul daemonettes of Slaanesh advancing to their left, the two regiments of Khornate demons (Bloodletters to give them the name a scholarly demonologist would accord them) advanced straight at the Empire’s centre.

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More magic came from the demons, and once more the two wizards used their prepared scrolls to disperse the arcane winds that carried it. One force the wizards could not hope to stop, however, was the sheer terror the sight of such monstrosities caused in men. As the great Demon of Nurgle approached ever closer, the free-company of seamen lost their nerve. Once one broke and ran, the others tumbled after him. Roderick’s line now had a hole in it, towards which shambled the giant demon, cackling and gurgling horrendously as it moved.

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Suddenly some demonic magic broke through – a strange lilting melody was heard, otherworldly, alluring, fascinating. One of the handgunner detachments, unable to get the sound out of their heads, suddenly gave up re-loading their pieces and charged insanely at the source of the sound. Rembrandt could not believe what he saw! They were surely doomed, and they would have contributed much more effectively had they had the sense to fire instead of running at the foe. Hoping to put things right, he led his Halberdiers into the gap, ready to tackle the demons as they surely broke through the thin line of handgunners.

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On the left flank the artillerymen and sharpshooters were re-loading as fast as they could, for all of them knew that if they did not fire soon – before the melee began in the centre – then their effective contribution to this battle would be over.

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Amongst the sharpshooters, an unusual event had occurred. It would have elicited laughs had it happened at any other time, but just now no one found it funny. The gunner in command of the company, Leo, who had never let his servant orc (Gublin) fire the swivel, suddenly decided to give Gublin a chance.

“Go on then, if you must,” he said with a sigh, “you go to the front and have a go.”

As he stepped back to the rear, Leo wondered if having to cut through Gublin first might slow the enemy down long enough for him to get away.

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The marine blades took advantage of their loose formation to begin firing a series of pistol shots into the pink daemonettes near them. Although one cannon misfired, the other thundered yet again, hurling iron shot into the giant demon. But, it seemed, nothing would harm it. The Helblaster put another cloud of iron shot into the same creature, and though this time the damage could clearly be seen, the creature again barely flinched.

Rembrandt gritted his teeth, for he knew what was about to come. He could sense the fear of the men around him, it was tangible, and growing. The mighty demon before them, that could shrug off cannon balls as if they were nothing more than snowballs, whose stinking flesh crawled with maggots the size of leeches, and whose wounds seeped pus in bubbling torrents, turned it’s attention upon them. And with a speed that seemed impossible in a creature so bloated, it charged at them.

None could stand against him, and even Rembrandt wasn’t sure he wanted to. The entire regiment turned and fled – not just running, but leaping away. And as they hurled themselves desperately towards the sea, the demon tore through them, hacking and slashing, tearing and ripping, until they were scattered and utterly routed. Rembrandt lay a moment or two amongst them, winded by the blow his had taken, then he crawled (though he would never admit this to anyone) off the field. He could not find the strength to stand – and knew not whether it was some magic being used against him or if it was his own shortcomings as a soldier. He was, however, sobbing.

By their side, Ricco’s men shuddered, but their leader looked upon them with his steely eyes, and (believe it or not) his men thought they might well be more afraid of his anger than the beasts. The pike regiment stood its ground. The daemonettes meanwhile had overrun the Helblaster and crashed into the fleeing free company, destroying any hope of cohesion amongst the sailors. They too, what few survived, ran, stumbled or crawled towards the shoreline.

In a desperate attempt to counter attack before all was lost, the pike and the swordsmen both simultaneously charged into the central regiment of Bloodletters. Surely sheer weight of numbers would prevail, especially as they had the magical power of the Griffon standard to lend weight to their assault. But would they win the combat quick enough – for if they took too long about it they would certainly be flanked by the victorious enemies to their rear.

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The fight was hard, and sure enough the red-skinned demons were felled – even the Herald of Khorne would succumb to the instability caused by the Empire men’s numbers. But it was not quick enough. The great demon of Nurgle and the almost wholly intact regiment of Daemonettes hurled themselves into the side and rear of the swordsmen and the pikemen.

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Neither regiment had time to turn and face this fresh onslaught. Ricco’s now leaderless men (for he had fallen in their first fight) could not bring their pikes to bear properly as the enemy smashed into them, and the swordsmen saw their army standard bearer flee to the rear rank a second time to avoid a challenge! Both regiments broke and ran.

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The battle was all but ended. The sharpshooters had left the field in fear for their lives. A brave cannon pointlessly hurled more cannons balls through the demon, until they had to accept that their mortal weapons, even the mighty cannon, were insufficient to harm the creature. The Blades had cut down umpteen Daemonettes on the right flank, but it did not save them, for the succubi eventually reached them and tore them apart. Even the brave Rangers had finally succumbed to the Fiend of Slaanesh, which subsequently spent its time lurching around the field looking for an opportunity. It found just such a thing in the lone surviving wizard, attacking and killing the young woman with barely any effort.

The swordsmen and pike did actually rally as darkness fell. Ricco’s warriors, however, broke completely and permanently, however, when another assault came at them. The swordsmen beat a fighting retreat to the boats upon the shore, there to meet with their bruised and dazed commander.

Rembrandt said nothing as his soldiers rowed him back to the safety of the ships.

From the beach came a raucous racket, an eerie choir of siren voices combined with the guttural war-cries of Khorne’s sons. To drown out the sound (and keep the men aboard the ships sane) the gunners fired salvo after salvo, half at the shore, half towards the sea. For once, the men crowded aboard the vessels took solace from the ringing in their ears – it masked the sounds of hell drifting from the shore.
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Post Tue Nov 19, 2013 6:24 am

Re: An Old Campaign #2

Glad you posted, I was going through withdrawal.

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Post Tue Nov 19, 2013 5:30 pm

Re: An Old Campaign #2

Hi Padre... can you tell us a little about the logistics of these campaigns? i.e. the mechanics of how they work, what the online workings are vs what the tabletop workings are? If you've already done this in a post I've missed, or could just give me a link to some information, then please just point me in the right direction!

These stories and pictures are so amazing, and I don't want to unweave the rainbow, but I am interested to see under the bonnet of how such a campaign works and gets to such a wonderful and rich level of immersion. Which may inspire us to get involved in/ set up similar things ourselves!
My oldhammer blog: Where the sea pours out

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Post Tue Nov 19, 2013 5:38 pm

Re: An Old Campaign #2

lenihan wrote:Hi Padre... can you tell us a little about the logistics of these campaigns? i.e. the mechanics of how they work, what the online workings are vs what the tabletop workings are? If you've already done this in a post I've missed, or could just give me a link to some information, then please just point me in the right direction!

These stories and pictures are so amazing, and I don't want to unweave the rainbow, but I am interested to see under the bonnet of how such a campaign works and gets to such a wonderful and rich level of immersion. Which may inspire us to get involved in/ set up similar things ourselves!


What he said

This thread an dthe previous post are some of the most evocative ones on this forum an definitely ones which make it worthy to come for. I'm twisted between just staring and reading on one hand and wanting to know how you do this to reproduce a prcel of it in my humble way on another.

You just prove models and rules come second (and it's the leadfreak in me talking here).
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Post Tue Nov 19, 2013 10:40 pm

Re: An Old Campaign #2

Thanks for the comments, guys.

@ Lenihan and Orjetax:
I was merely player in these campaigns, although I am running my own with 6 local friends now, which is like old times for me. The campaign in this particular thread was run by the 'Animosity' team. It was their third campaign (my first with them) and was called Animosity 3.

The Animosity campaigns, which is linked to the Da Warpath Warhammer Greenskins Forum and the later Warhammer Empire forum one ('Treachery and Greed') were GMd by teams. Turn lengths differ - sometimes with two or three days in between to let the GM team catch up. It is a MASSIVE commitment by the GMs, and can be for the players. As you can see I definitely gave them a lot of time and effort.

Players are formed into factions and can enter one battle result a turn, moving their own little force around to post their reports in different places. Factions win, lose or retain map regions according to the relative strength of reports there.

Of course, loads of diplomacy between factions, and debating amongst allies goes on. In these early campaigns doing 'fluff' (that's what they call stories and backgrounds and such) was optional. Also using the army lists, converting and painting dedicated models, were all optional too - just something to add to the fun. I did all these things (In for a penny, in for a pound).

Later campaigns incorporated players' fluff by allowing players who had not got a tabletop game result to report to put up a piece of writing instead and get a win/draw/loss result based on the quality of the fluff. When reporting battles it is merely a matter of 'gentleman's honour' - players simply play their own games and then bank results and then use their results for the campaign, filling in the report form accordingly. Any reported result gets points, even a loss, but a draw and a win count for more. Factions then get turn by turn results according the the number of points they receive in each area of the map. Report enough results from enough players in a certain region and your faction can conquer it.

Of course this description is a massive simplication. There was gold/supplies to be gained and spent, players came up with projects (faction and personal), there were faction and other figureheads (NPCs) to interact with, and official GM 'end of turn' reports. Plus basically loads of other stuff going on.

The Animosity forum still exists. I was briefly on their GM team after their Animosity 6 campaign. BUT then there was a long lull where nothing much seemed to be happening and so I went off to start my own projects, which I am still now involved with, so I dropped off the team before I could take part in GMing.

Animosity 7 is still in the future, but a lot of world building is currently going on to fill the historical gap between campaigns. Animosity campaigns are at animositycampaigns.com/joomla/ their forum is at http://animositycampaigns.com/forum/ .

I won a lot of awards for these campaigns, because of my fluff. It makes me proud! Of course the best part, as Lenihan has spotted, was simply immersing oneself in the process, and being involved in something that was a mix up of RP, WG, modelling, computer game, story writing, and more. Proper grown up 'Let's Pretend'!

Above edited for clarity.

And now to resume normal transmission on my one post a day service....

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Rembrandt's Next Battle

Rembrandt van Haagen had spent an entire week upon his flagship, the Swiftsure, conducting the business of war from his great cabin below the steerage deck. He had received his officers there, both Empire men and mercenaries, and entertained them with fine suppers while they gave their reports and made their suggestions. He spent hours at a time perusing his rutters and charts, as well as the most recent map of Araby he could obtain in Marienburg before he set out upon this venture.

He kept himself busy.

Then at night the terrors came, the sweats and the nightmares. He would wake screaming, or sobbing, from a dream in which he was crawling through the dead and the dying, their weak hands clutching at him for aid, slowing him down, while awful and mighty deamons danced giddily and relentlessly on, getting closer and closer. None of the officers talked about his troubles with him – they knew he was young, that he was proud, most importantly that he was their employer and master. It was not for them to question their young commander’s methods. Nor were they particularly keen to share his nightmares with him.

Of course it could not go on indefinitely. He needed to land his men again, or forever lose his nerve. He needed to taste victory in battle, and by leading his soldiers regain their respect and their full obedience. There were rumours that upon many ships the soldiers and seamen alike had taken to gambling, drinking and singing away the days. They practised their postures ever less, and the trim of the ships was left to look after itself. The powder in the budge barrels would separate soon and become useless, and worse, ship’s fever or the scurvy could set in and maim his force. Several soldiers had succumbed to the bloody flux – more would surely follow if they were kept confined to the anchored ships.

And so, reluctantly (but hiding that fact), Rembrandt gave the order to weigh anchors and set sail – they were to attack a place carefully chosen by him, and thought to be in the possession of the Arabyan Reclamation Pact. Bretonnians and arabs would be the foe this time, and not the horrifying legion of hell who had chased Rembrandt’s force back to the sea a little over a week ago.

Three days later, Rembrandt marched at the head of his Swordsmen, cheerful enough to even join in their battle songs:

“Men of the Empire, march to war
For great Sigmar and the rule of Law.
Bring shield and sword, bring gun and spear,
Bring stout hearts and abandon all fear …”

These last words made Rembrandt think. Here he was, leading his men, but why did he choose this particular regiment: the largest, most experienced, most loyal of his soldiers? Fear was the answer, for with these men he felt safer than he would with any other company. He would love to abandon fear, but it would not let go of him. And although even he was not conscious of this intent, he would ensure that he and this company stayed well out of any fight.

The enemy’s drums and horns could be heard, though the heat haze concealed them from Rembrandt’s eyes. The field of battle would be beside a small desert village, for it was there that the enemy had arrayed themselves.

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Rembrandt’s scouts, the Rangers, moved forward of his force and occupied some ruins to the right. When they fired three muskets as a prearranged signal, Rembrandt knew to array his men ready for battle. He wished Roderick were here to see to this business, but the old officer never made it off the beach a week ago, and so his officers would have to organise themselves according to Rembrandt’s earlier instructions.

The main mass of foot regiments once again took to the centre of the field, though this time spaced a little further apart. The wizard moved with the Blades to protect the right flank, while two detachments of handgunners prepared their pieces for the hot work ahead.

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The Marienburger’s artillery set up upon a dune to the far left, with the Sharpshooters by their side and a company of skirmishing bowmen to act as an artillery guard of sorts.

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The enemy was a mixed force of Bretonnians and Arabs, with two bodies of knights (one being Questing Knights), two companies of archers (Bretonnian and Arabyan slaves), a regiment of local conscript spears, another of northern men at arms, and a war elephant of mighty proportions.

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Rembrandt almost froze in fear when he first glimpsed the giant beast, as in that moment he thought it to be the Lord of Nurgle who had so broken his spirit and sapped his courage a week before. Yet even when he realised this was no unworldly monster he did not feel particularly reassured. He sent a runner immediately to his gunners – they must, and as soon as possible, fell that beast.

Upon the dune behind the enemy’s massed archers stood a primitive war machine the Bretonnians called a trebuchet, it’s crew having already lugged great pieces of stone from the ruins the previous night to provide ammunition.

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Out on the far right of the Bretonnian lines, trying to conceal their bulk between the houses of the little village, were Arabyan camel riders – an enemy none in the Empire ranks had faced before.

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The Empire men’s bombardment opened the battle once more and two direct hits upon the elephant felled the beast before it had even taken a step towards them. A great cheer erupted from Rembrandt’s men, as all were relieved that the beast would not act the part of the giant demon the week before. But one man was not cheering – rather he was screaming. The wizard Kerrkegrad had fumbled his first incantation and miscast the mighty spell. His body was wracked with pain as his mind fragmented just enough for him to lose all knowledge of the spell he had just attempted to wield. Now no magical lightning would play upon the foe in this battle.

Unnoticed by most men in the army, another early blow was delivered to the foe, as the four sharpshooters felled the enemy’s army standard bearer, a paladin riding with the Knights of the Realm. This was a good start to the fight, yet the enemy still came on, even while the army standard lay in the sand and the war elephant’s crew fled their mount’s bloodied corpse.

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The Questing Knights advanced obliquely, angling towards the centre of Rembrandt’s lines, while upon the far side of the field a huge piece of masonry crushed one of the cannons, destroying it even while the crew ere still celebrating their hit upon the elephant!

The Rangers made a little move forwards in the ruins sop that they could better aim at the enemy knights, expertly loading their pieces even as they moved. To their left the blades ran up to bring their pistols to bear upon the same knights, while the wizard hid himself away in the house by the ruins to nurse his wounds.

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The bowmen killed two camel riders, while the Sharpshooters blew a Knight of the Realm off his mount. But other than that, there was little effect upon the enemy – even the Rangers failed to harm the Questing Knights. The pikemen moved forwards a little to better place themselves for the fight, while Rembrandt shifted his own regiment a little to one side, perhaps merely to give them something to do.

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When the next withering volley of gunfire and arrows assailed the camel riders it was too much for them and they panicked and fled back towards the safety of the buildings.

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Finally, in the centre of the field, the knights reached the Empire lines, charging into the Free Company (with its Merchant Marine captain urging his men to stand) and the Marine Blades, who bravely counter-fired to kill one of the knights as they neared.

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Only the Bretonnian Lord, a sun-addled Baron who loathed this open oven of a realm, the Paladin and two of the Questing knights remained to deliver their charge. The Blades, not realising just how adept at combat these seasoned warriors would prove, nor how tough their armour made them, were at first keen to enter the melee. This enthusiasm mean that even though five of them died almost immediately, including the First Blade, they fought on.

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In the other knightly combat, seven sailors of the free Company would fall, half trampled underfoot by the Bretonnian destriers. This was too much to bear and they broke and ran right off the field of battle, the knights racing them off the field. The pikes used the opportunity to advance, hoping to charge the Questing knights without revealing their own flank to the enemy foot soldiers, while the swordsmen turned to ready themselves for the certain return of the knights.

Upon the dune to the left the last of the two cannons exploded as the gunners made some fatal error in loading her. This almost put the archers off their aim, but they still managed to kill two more of the now rallied camel riders. The desert riders were beginning to wonder if they would ever reach the foe. But now it was the Bretonnian Lord’s turn to succeed as he and his last remaining pair of companions slew enough of the Blades to send them flying away. Crucially, and very dangerously for the pikemen, the old Baron ordered his little body to stand and not to pursue – they would instead ready to hurl themselves into the flank of the huge body of pike advancing to their right.

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This was what Ricco, who commanded the pike even though he was still showing visible signs of the wounds he received the previous week, was trying to avoid. He had presumed that Questing knights would pursue a defeated foe, and thus put themselves where they could not harm his men. This was to prove a costly mistake indeed. His soldiers could not possibly reform in time to bring their deadly forest of steel tipped pikes to bear.

As his position became clear to him, Ricco cursed audibly, “Must this happen to us time and time again. Curse these sands, curse these hellish lands.” Then, in earnest, he whispered, “Myrmidia, grant me victory.”

When the charge came, the polearm wielding peasants nearby, though close enough to join their masters in charging the pikemen, held back. They knew that should they hit the pikes then the combat might indeed be lost, for the pike would be able to bring more of their weapons to bear. Wisely, they chose to stand and watch the bloody fight as the noble knights thrust their lances deep into the ranks and files of the Tilean mercenaries, breaking their formation utterly and routing them immediately. The peasants cheered to see the pikemen scattered and ridden down. They didn't know it, but they had just witnessed the very end of the world famous Ricco’s regiment.

Far to the right of the Bretonnian Lord the last of the Camel Riders halted in the village once more – having run there merely to keep the standard safe and not to let the enemy have the satisfaction of killing every last one of his band!

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Then came a strange coincidence, as magic users serving both sides were killed within moments of each other. The Arabyan Mystic stumbled over the words of a powerful spell and unleashed its full fury upon himself instead of the enemy. Magically sapped of all strength, he collapsed lifeless onto the sand. Moments later the Bretonnian peasant bowmen saw the Empire wizard fleeing from the house he had been hiding in, having been panicked by the flight of the Blades from the Baron and his Paladin. Grinning, the peasants unleashed a rain of arrows and skewered him from head to toe, killing him even more quickly than the miscast spell had killed their own allied wizard.

The Bretonnian Lord and his two companions now found themselves in front of sixteen Handgunners in two detatchments, with the Sharpshooters and Rangers moving just enough to target them two. The torrent of missile tore the last remaining Questing Knight out of his saddle, but the Lord and Paladin’s blessing, gifted by their goddess, protected the others. Not that they appreciated it, for fear now momentarily gripped them and they turned to run – at least far enough (they thought) to save themselves from another such attack.

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In doing so, however, the Lady’s Blessing turned sour. She loathes the timorous and cowardly, and loves only those who are steadfast in their proud bravery. The two Bretonnians rallied and turned to face the foe once more, only to find that they were still in range of nearly all the missile troops who had enjoyed the first shot upon them. This time both would receive a wound, as their magical shield had been taken from them, and they would end this battle nursing grievous wounds but still in their saddles.

As the Knights of the Realm wasted their time chasing the Sharpshooters from the field on the far up and over the dune where the cannons had once stood, the two foot regiments of the Arabyan Reclamation Pact’s centre finally launched their charge. Maimed first by the counter-fire of the handgunners, they then discovered the true mettle of their foe, as both small detachments stood their ground and held them back.

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As the battle drew to a stalemated close, the harsh desert light fading fast, Rembrandt looked on from behind the handgunners, still surrounded by his guard of swordsmen. He hadn’t drawn his sword, nor fired his pistol, but he cared not. He hadn’t even won the battle, but he was not downhearted. After the terrors of his previous encounter, and the disappointment of his second detached landing party’s efforts, it felt good simply not to lose.

The tide was turning. Manaan be praised. Rembrandt was ready now to embrace this war and lead his men to victory.

Result: ‘Winning’ Draw to the Brets (231 to the Bretonnians in a 2000 point game).
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Rembrandt’s Drums

It is late afternoon upon the outskirts of the town of Al Hadock. It is a busy time of the day – what with market stalls being closed up, the masters and mistresses out to take the air while it is neither too hot or too cold and myriad servants rushing to complete their last errands. Then, suddenly, a rattle of drums is heard – umpteen drums by the sound of it, and advancing.

The crowd’s attention is drawn to the approaching sound, and even more people rush to the roofs and to the doors of the cluster of dwellings. Is it an army approaching – more Empire men, or mercenaries, or knights and squires from far off Bretonnia? When the drummers turn into the street, however, all can see that this army is nothing more than musicians. A thunderous ratatat, skilled and rhythmical, sounding out a war-like beat to rouse the people of the town.

At the front come a company of Empire drummers attired in the livery of Middenheim, though they serve a House of the great city of Marienburg. Their commander is one Rembrandt Van Haagen, whose trading interests include vast wealth in Middenheim. This was enough to gain him the support of several regiments from the Fauschlag.

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These men have done plenty of recruiting in their time, beating ahead of regimental colours and encouraging any brave young lads to join them, but now they march ahead of something rather different from usual.

First behind them is a ship’s cabin boy, drummer to the regimented seamen of the captain’s flagship the Swiftsure. Little Matthias is a cheeky, impertinent young chap to be sure, for he certainly was not ordered to join this recruiting party. But he is tolerated because he is doing no harm, and such is his self-taught skill upon the drum that he is keeping up the beat marvellously.

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Behind Matthias comes a band of local men, all recently recruited to Rembrandt’s force, and all selected for their musical skill, and all well paid. A camel rider provides a depth to the harmonious racket, playing upon huge copper drums slung either side of his saddle. Beside him is a horseman blasting out clear, sharp notes upon his horn.

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Behind these two mounted men march another hornblower and a fellow crashing two cymbals together to create a sound quite alien to the men of the Empire marching up ahead. At the rear walk three more drummers, adding rifts somewhat different to the style of the northern drummers, but which nevertheless fall perfectly into place rhythmically.

So here they are, Rembrandt’s recruiting party. When they reach the central square in the town, quite a crowd of young men has thronged about them, and still more pour in. There, they men are addressed by a warrior sheikh of repute who has chosen to serve Rembrandt in the hope that the Empire men can drive the arabs’ enemies from their realm as they promised in earnest to do.

His words:

“Brave men of Al Hadock and the places hereabout. Hear these horns and drums and known that the time has come to serve in war. The time has come to test your mettle against the scourge of greenskins and desert demons, against crusading infidels and worse. We shall make three strong regiments of bold men, who shall be fed well, trained well and paid well. And they shall serve by the side of the proud men of the Empire who have come to liberate our land so that they might once again freely trade with us for the riches we have to sell. To arms, I cry! For your own honour, for your families, for the great sheikh of Lasheik who has been cruelly betrayed by the Bretonnian invaders. To arms!”

A great cheer erupts, with wailing and hooting and strange whistles and warbling cries thrown in for good measure.

From a nearby window Bertrand smiles. If this worked he might well double the size of his forces. He will secure this town so that his trading will never be denied again, and when victory is gained he will buy the great sheikh’s favour with the gift of these regiments he has raised in his name.
Last edited by Padre on Sat Nov 23, 2013 9:56 am, edited 1 time in total.

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Post Thu Nov 21, 2013 2:19 am

Re: An Old Campaign #2

Just brilliant! I don't know what you do outside of making these batreps but stop doing it immediately and keep posting more of these! :D
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Post Thu Nov 21, 2013 9:38 pm

Re: An Old Campaign #2

Fortification

“How goes the work?” asked the young commander.

The engineer, Bram, tried not to wince at the inevitable question, for although he had had the most troublesome day, he did not want his captain to know it. Besides, it was the engineer that had suffered a hard time – the work in truth was proceeding apace.

“Well and good, Master,” he replied. “The walls are all but completed and we already have three bastions for the guns.”

Young Rembrandt smiled, then frowned, for he had yet to ask about what really concerned him. “What of the slaves? How do they fare? Do their Arabyan master treat them fair or foul?”

“Fair, Master, I am sure of it,” said Bram. He knew how his master had fretted over the employment of slaves – an act illegal in his own home city. “I have seen no whips employed upon them, nor even a harsh word spoken. I believe, master, that the slaves themselves fear what might come from the desert.

“I shall look for myself, Bram,” said Rembrandt, “and you shall accompany me.”

The Master of House van Haagen turned and strolled out of the engineer’s pavilion, Bram stumbling after him, still clutching a quill pen. Rembrandt set the pace – fast – and Bram kept up with him as best he could. The deep sand soon gave way to firmer ground. Of course nothing could be built upon the ‘sand sea’, but here the bedrock was only inches below the sand. Further towards the sea there was even soil, and greenery: fig trees, vines, olive trees. But here, just where the plant life yielded to the rolling dunes, there was ground solid enough for a fort.

This was but one of the forts that Rembrandt had ordered built on the approaches to the town, and it was the biggest. The two northerners began to walk along the length of the wall. First they passed some piles of stone that had been brought in long lines of wagons and upon camels to create a foundation for the wooden walls. An Arabyan overseer waved his stubby scimitar in the air as if to proclaim his status as a warrior, clutching in his other hand a blunderbuss that no doubt had been brought upon one of Rembrandt’s ships. The slave labourer next to the overseer did not even break his stride, but worked on, hacking at the rock to shape it as the grinning overseer desired.

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Nearing one of the squat towers Rembrandt could make out three more labourers engaged in a heated debate, though what petty matter troubled them he could not tell, for the young captain had as yet failed to master more than two words of their strange tongue.

Two southland slaves came jogging by, carrying faggots and billets of wood.

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Rembrandt looked puzzled, so Bram explained helpfully, “For the signal pyres, Master. I thought it best that we had them prepared now rather than wait until the tower was finished. That way, should we be attacked, while unready …”

“Yes, yes. But we will be ready, by Manaan. You must have this fort completed by the end of the week. It is not as if you are building a stone fortress, Bram. It is little more than a fancy stockade – I know this – but it will make a world of a difference when the enemy comes.”

Now they came most recently constructed section, the scaffolding still in place. Here Rembrandt discovered one of his newly raised Arabyan regiments drilling – swordsmen, garbed in black and mustered under a banner decorated with writing the captain could only guess at.

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“They march like men of the north!” cried Bram in mild surprise.

“Aye, and they must, for how else will they keep in step with my line of battle? They must learn to fight how we fight, for I will have one unified force, coordinated, able to receive and obey orders without hesitation. What say you, Bram?”

“It is not my place to say, master, for I am but an engineer. I have confidence in you, good master, and in our martial exercises. Have not men of the Empire fought every beast that hell can throw up, from greenskins to beastmen to ratmen and even the living dead? Here we shall have made these men of the desert into proper Empire soldiers.”

Rembrandt wondered if he had done that. Could he trust these new recruits? Would they hold the line as needed? Looking at their leathery faces it seemed they might, but he was not willing to put all his hope in them. He had already begun plans to further bolster his growing garrison.

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A Real Fight

Baron Yanton had only recently arrived in the desert realm of Araby, sworn to serve his cousin the Bretonnian Lady Evette. He himself was a Bretonnian lord of sorts, at least by right of inheritance, although he had been born and lived all his life in the Border Princes. There he had been unable (and uninterested) in keeping with his predecessors’ traditions when it came to tactics and battle. In such a war-torn land one soon learned that the only way to survive was to be willing to use whatever was available. This meant the baron, although of noble Bretonnian descent, had arrived in Araby with nothing like a Bretonnian army.

He landed his force upon the western coast near the Great Lighthouse, a place that most ships avoided – thus the lighthouse. His most experienced pilot (an arab) had assured him it could be done, that there was one small bay able to take boats. The use of boats did not make the landing easy, however, for Yanton had brought with him what was basically an artillery train! As such the guns had to be dismantled and rebuilt on the beach, a task that took several days (and lost him one of his guns). Yet his force of Border Princites, Empire outcasts, Tilean and Estalian renegades and (much to Yanton’s relatives’ disgust) mercenaries knew full well how to work with war engines.

Almost half their number were hand-gunners, and Yanton even had an expert engineer to command the mortar, two heavy and one light cannon. Having made a ‘surf-passage’, his handgunners cleared the tallow fat and beeswax from their arquebuses and flashed the pans to ensure they were ready for service. Glancing at the sky and the sandy hills, they knew that they need not worry about moisture for some time yet. Soon a camp sprang up just beyond the dunes, and Yanton sent scouts to advertise his presence to the Bretonnian masters of this land.

His force was ‘welcomed’ with scorn by the messengers from the Knightly commanders of the Arabian Reclamation Pact who eventually came to him, and he was ordered to march offensively towards Al Haddok. Let his guns be turned on the enemys’ guns, thought the military commanders in Araby. Let him fight without honour against those without honour, for how could his hands get any dirtier? To welcome Yanton and his force into one of their settlements and treat him as an equal would surely offend the Lady, and certainly threaten their martial reputation, their very honour?

Thus it was that four artillery pieces, two regiments of household Halberdiers, a band of Free Company (sailors), Braganza’s mercenary Besiegers, two regiments of handgunners, a bodyguard of Great Swords and a body of Duellists marched into the realm now dominated by the forces of the Imperial Merchants’ Council.

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Rembrandt’s dreams were just that – dreams, not nightmares. His confidence was returning. The busy work of fortifying and recruiting and training and patrolling had swept aside his fears, or (more accurately) allowed them to settle as merely a memory and not an ever-present fear. His army was swelling in size. This was necessary as he was forced to disperse more and more troops into the ever-growing number of garrisons. Not only were towns and villages being fortified, but forts were springing up hither and thither across the land. He was certain that there was no route into the region that was not at least overlooked by a watchtower. So when news came of a slowly approaching enemy force, his youthful courage welled up and he set about mustering his forces. This time he vowed he would lead from the front – he must prove his bravery and suitability to command not only to his men and the gods, but to himself.

Surveying the field of battle he was not sure which side it favoured. Yes, he could employ the fortified gatehouse as a strongly defended post, but the enemy could occupy several hills to give their artillery clear fields of fire, and make retaliatory fire from Rembrandt’s lines much more difficult.

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Nevertheless, it would have to do, for the enemy were already arraying themselves. Rembrandt studied them through his expensive perspective glass and wondered whether the foe had believed they were to attack a great fortress, for they had brought with them the kind of force a siege engineer would be proud of. Perhaps they too had lost their horses in the passage (he was still cursing the apparent loss of his own horse-soldiers’ transport vessels)? They certainly had no mounted warriors amongst them.

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At least Rembrandt now had mounted men. Not horsemen, but camel riders, and from what the young captain had witnessed of their training they were in some ways more ferocious than horses. Certainly they seemed sufficient for the task of fighting in this hot realm, and were entirely unperturbed by missing as much as two day’s water!

Once again Rembrandt took his position at the front of his Middenheim Swordsmen, this time out on the far right flank of his line. Some skirmishing archers moved ahead of his regiment as a screen of sorts, and the detachment of handgunners marched loyally by its side. Next in line was a regiment of newly raised Arabyan spearmen, encouraged by the presence of Rembrandt’s Battle Standard Bearer in their front line and surprised by the wizard lurking in their rear ranks. Further towards the centre marched a free company of sailors, and in the centre itself the elite black-clad swordsmen that had been brought into his service by a local sheik. They were now Empire troops when it came to drill, for by their side marched a line of crossbowmen, trained to act as a detachment. The artillery sat out to the right, flanked only by the Camel Riders led by the Arabyan captain (the local sheik’s son). Unknown to the enemy, the fortified gatehouse out beyond the front of Rembrandt’s battle-line was occupied by merchant marine rangers, nursing their long barrelled muskets ready to fell the foe with withering fire.

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Baron Yanton was quicker off the mark than the young Rembrandt, and it was his force that seized the initiative and began the advance first. Most of his regiments moved as fast as they could towards the foe, though Great Swords and the central body of Halberdiers crept forwards cautiously. His artillery opened with a thunderous roar and in one bombardment the mortar killed Arabyan swordsmen, the cannon slew four local Spearmen and the other cannon clipped one of Rembrandt’s cannons but failed to wound it. Braganza’s crossbowmen added to the slaughter by felling three more spearmen. The Arab spearmen were shaken, but showed a steady resolve not to yield their settlement to the enemy and marched on. Not so the blood-spattered swordsmen, who turned tail and routed.

Rembrandt failed to notice this, for he was giving the signal that would bring his secret weapon into play. The rangers popped up over the walls of the gatehouse and began their expert work, killing four Handgunners while the crossbowmen showed what they could do and killed four more. The enemy, however, showed their own resolve and stood firm in the face of this.

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The Swordsmen had rallied - thanks to their musician - and began to re-order themselves in the rear, while the rest of Rembrandt’s force began a general advance. The Camels played it cautiously at first and moved slowly on the flank. Their young Arabyan captain knew he had to time his charge carefully in the face of skirmishers armed with pistols. His intent was to rid the hill ahead of him of guns, but to achieve that he had to see off the duellists at the base of that hill. Galloping past them was not a viable option.

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The two cannons now attempted to show their worth and played upon the central regiment of enemy halberdiers. The result was impressive with two direct hits slaying five in total. Even with their general behind them, the halberdiers were horrified by this turn of events and fled, crashing through the smaller of the two handgun regiments behind them and causing this second regiment to break too! Yanton cursed to see his centre broken like this, and yelled furiously to make them rally. This they would indeed do at the base of the central hill.

Meanwhile the two regiments on the far left of Yanton’s line advanced onwards. Perhaps having witnessed the damage caused to their right they yearned to close as soon as possible before those same guns were turned upon them?

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As Yanton’s central regiments rallied beneath the hill, the Great Swords fatefully moved up to take their place in the centre of the line. Inside the fortified gatehouse some of the marines, reloading their pieces cheered – they knew the enemy’s Lord General was likely to be present with such an elite unit. They also knew armour fades into insignificance against bullets.

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Baron Yanton’s artillery now opened up for a second time, but this time they overshot, undershot or failed to fire. Only the light cannon managed a hit, though even they missed the skirmishing boy they were after and ploughed into Rembrandt’s Swordsmen behind, killing three. The handgun detachment, who had occupied the building to the left of the Swordsmen, suddenly felt glad they had chosen to do so!

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Bullets and crossbow bolts flew in storms to kill 2 crossbow and 4 Free Company. But none of this was enough to severely test the allies’ morale.

On the far left the Camel riders decided to delay no longer and charged headlong into the Duellists. The inevitable happened, and four brave desert warriors tumbled onto the sand having been slain by bullets. But the charge did not falter and they crashed into the Duellists to break them, pursue and slay them to a man. Only five Riders now survived (including their young captain) but they were where they wanted to be. The only problem was that the cannon on the hill swung round to point its muzzle right at them.

Rembrandt’s Sword Regiment and Free Company continued their advance and their commander began to realise that this time he really was going to end up in the thick of it. He whispered a prayer to Sigmar and Manaan and fixed his face into a steely grin.

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While he did so his artillery, crossbow and rangers all fired simultaneously into the Greatswords. Even though one cannon misfired, the effect was as impressive as it was awful – 8 of the veteran warriors where torn to pieces by the volley. Nevertheless they stood their ground – it would take their stunned commander a few moments to come to his senses and order a retreat away from certain death. The Rangers on the gatehouse’s battlements were amazed at the courage of the foe, but did not let this surprise slow down their efforts to reload their muskets!

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As the centre of Yanton’s line retreated, the Baron’s Free Company charged desperately into the Arabyan Spearmen …

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… while the Halberdiers in the centre and left both moved up once more. The cannon on the hill grapeshot into the camelry and slew one more. The mortar on the same hill landed a murderous grenado onto Rembrandt’s lines to bring down two Free Company soldiers and one spearman.

The combat between the Free Company and Arabyan Spear was hard, what with a Priest in the ranks of the Free Company, and men fell dead on both sides. The struggle went on, though the proximity of Rembrandt’s own Free Company hinted at what would happen next – they charged into the enemy’s flank. This was too much for Yanton’s men, who received a bloody mauling and so broke and fled. The pursuing Arabyan Spearmen hurled into the enemy Halberd regiment that had just been charged by Rembrandt’s bodyguard of Swordsmen, an action which ensured victory in that fight too. Within moments Yanton’s Halberdiers broke and fled also, to be cut down in their flight.

On the far left of Rembrandt’s lines the camels split to approach the artillery on the hill: their captain leaving them to come from the flank while the three troopers faced right at the mouth of the cannon that had just slain their comrade. It seemed these arabyan warriors were made of stern stuff indeed!

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While all these combats were being fought, the two cannons and the fortified Rangers played against the central halberdiers, but only managed to kill three! It seemed Baron Yanton had done well to flee in the previous turn, otherwise he could have been dead now!

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Yanton, however, was not yet broken, merely reluctant to die pointlessly. He left the two surviving Great Swords and while they went to the right to attempt to scupper the Camel Riders plans against the artillery on the hill, he went the other direction to see if he could take down Rembrandt. He had decided that he had not come all this way to waste his life, but would make sure he struck a blow before he died.

On the hill the Border Princes Engineer aimed and fired his repeating pistol at the advancing Camel Rider Captain. The blast wounded the lone Arab. He swirled his magical sword about his head expertly and came on. The cannon’s grapeshot took down another camel rider. Only yards away the mortar crew tried to get some good shots in before they were distracted by the approaching camels. They lobbed a grenado at the Empire Swordsmen, just as the cannon on the other hill attempted to fire at directly on Rembrandt himself. The mortar’s bomb fell a little short, but in doing so took down four Free Company as well as five Swordsmen. The gods seemed to be favouring Rembrandt, however, because the cannon aimed at him misfired.

A more murderous blow came when Braganza’s Beseigers felled another seven Free Company. Rembrandt shouted, ‘Steady Lads’ as if he himself were not at all unnerved, and both regiments somehow found the courage not to run.

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In the centre, the Black Guard Swordsmen were wondering if it might be safe to leave the cover of the gatehouse at last.

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When Braganza’s charged the repositioned Free Company the boys fled, but not in fear – this was a trick of tactics to draw the enemy mercenaries into a failed charge. It worked, for moments later Bertand’s Swordsmen smashed into the Beseigers, breaking and routing them instantly. Without pausing, Bertrand’s bodyguard raced on, ran the mercenaries down and hit the Handgunners in their flank.

The Camel Riders began a bloody squabble with the crews upon the hill, a fight which the last two remaining Great Swords threw themselves into. While they fought, Rembrandt’s own gunners thought it was time to silence the mortar – they couldn’t risk it firing even one more deadly shot. Two balls flew at it, and one hit it directly – luckily the wizard’s Second Sign of Amul gave the luck the ball needed and it destroyed the mortar. As for the combat by the now ruined mortar, it took some time, but eventually the hill was taken, the engines quietened, and the riders could pat their mounts in gratitude for their service.

As the last regiments of missile troops launched bullets, bolts and arrows across the field, killing men here, there and everywhere, somehow Baron Yanton got through and charged straight at Rembrandt.

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Here was Rembrandt’s last chance to shine, and he did not waste it. The challenge was fought and Rembrandt’s magical armour proved it was worth its weight in gold (which it actually was). Yanton and his handgunners could not withstand the Swordsmen’s blows. When they ran, Rembrandt made sure he cut the enemy general down personally. His men cheered.

Elsewhere, Yanton’s army knew they were beat. The last regiment of Handgunners were already making a fighting retreat; the last great cannon crew abandoned their machine. The remaining handful of battered Halberdiers in the centre of the field simply lay down their arms, fell to their knees and begged for mercy.

Having killed their fill of brave men that day, none of Bertand’s men fired at them.

Victory to Rembrandt van Haagen. Praise be to Manaan! All hail Sigmar!
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Post Fri Nov 22, 2013 11:37 pm

Re: An Old Campaign #2

And now several posts at once, which is my Friday treat so that I can skip the weekend.

Rembrandt’s Patrol

Rembrandt finally had what he wanted. Well, he had what he’d been trying to find since he arrived – warhorses. Yet this did not mean he was in exactly the position he intended, for he had been forced to put most of his foot soldiers into garrisons throughout the region, and so was left only with his marines and his previously inactive horse soldiers. Having made such demands, and gained what he wanted through promise of action, he was now required to act. He did not intend to disappoint the Graf.

Three days it took to muster his force, the time flying by compared to the weeks before. He was surprised to hear his own knights singing his praise when he procured horses for them, and cheer when they saw that the animals were fine specimens - he had thought them too proud to voice praise for a ‘sapling’ such as himself. Perhaps they were beginning to see him in a new light after they had heard of his recent exploits in battle? Perhaps they would soon consider him a true knight such as themselves? Of course the horses would be fine animals, for they were gifted (temporarily) by the Graf himself*, being the mounts of his Crimson Templars. Rembrandt did not know whether the horses’ true owners were pleased by this particular arrangement, nor did he have time to wonder about it.

(* I believe I wrote a begging letter in a roleplayed interaction with another player to 'get' these horses.)

When the patrol finally set forth, Rembrandt and his House Standard Bearer would ride at the head of his noble knights, the whole company in the vanguard of the column. Their blue and white livery revealed their origins as men of Middenheim, but they were now sworn soldiers of House van Haagen, and Rembrandt expected them to serve him well.

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Rembrandt’s column was to have more than one regiment of knights, however, for the Graf had seen fit to order captain Nikos Sarannadus’ mercenary knights to accept the young house master’s command. These men were not of such noble birth as Rembrandt’s own knights, or if they were they had forgotten it, but they were veterans of many a war and knew their business well. Their battle gear was no worse than that of the Middenhiem knights either – and they certainly made for a more colourful sight what with silks and satins over their barding and their own rather colourful shield devices.

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Nikkos himself, garbed rather ostentatiously for a mere mercenary in his scarlet cloak and purple plumed helm, had been rather quiet about this new assignment. His men at first wondered if he had taken offence at having such a youth commanding him, but they soon dismissed that notion for it simply did not suit what they knew of their captain. No, it was something else that troubled their leader, some dark foreboding thought. Nicco’s knights rode in a sombre mood.

Next in line came Rembrandt’s friends, the young men who had played in his games as children. Marienburger’s all, they had adopted the livery of Middenhiem as a gesture of good will for the company of knights at the heart of House van Haagen’s army, as if they were in status the squires to those knights. In truth the world of the Empire and Marienburg had moved on somewhat from such primitive Bretonnian practises, and they were in fact Pistoliers not servants. If they survived their rather dangerous ‘apprenticeship’ then yes, they could apply to become knights of an order, but while they fought in this modern way they were not required to tend the knights horses of burnish their armour. The knights had much more menial servants for that work. No, these young men were fighters, meant to ride ahead of the force and discharge their weapons at the enemy, not hold the reins of knights’ steeds.

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Amongst them rode a wizard, clutching not a brace of pistols but a brace of scrolls. Rembrandt wanted him there in case the enemy was to wield battle magics. His instructions were simply to deflect the power of the enemy spells as best he could: to buy time so that lead and steel could do their bloody work elsewhere on the field.

Two more regiments of cavalry followed next, both composed of men of the desert. The petty sheikh Al-Abdal Ibn Muktar had given these men to Rembrandt, in the hope of helping these men of the Imperial Merchant Council rid his land of the hateful Bretonnians. Al-Abdal’s son, Al-Irnak Ibn Abdal, had personal command of these warriors, but he took his orders from Bertrand, and had proven his honest loyalty in battle already, when he charged his camelry into the mouth of a cannon to help Rembrandt to victory.

The first regiment, immediately behind the Pistoliers, were light horse archers. It occurred to Rembrandt that these might be the desert equivalent of his pistoliers, and if that were so, then Al-Irnak’s camel riders must be the Arabyan version of his knights.

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At the rear came the light foot, including he marines who were originally intended to scout the rivers in boats but who at the last moment had been ordered to join the column instead. Three companies in all followed the horse: merchant rangers, empire archers and merchant marines.

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Skilled with handguns, the marines were able to fell whatever the desert could throw at the column – piercing armour and the toughest flesh – while the archers could pepper a foe with a rain of arrows to harry them into confused action.

This was Rembrandt’s patrol, here seen as they enter the desert regions south of Al Hadok.

2000 points, with A3 Merchant Marine allies and arabyan camels and horse-archers as DoW light cavalry and heavy cavalry.

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Rembrandt’s Fall

At the head of his column Rembrandt felt good. The desert wind was even blowing cool air for the first time since his visit to this realm. His knights were singing their battle songs with glee, whilst the mariners at the rear of the column sang more bawdy songs. The two regiments were trying to outdo each other in volume. Pity the poor Arabyans in the middle, thought Rembrandt. Though he noticed that Nicco’s mercenaries had no complaints, nor ditties of their own to offer up. They rode silently, unconcerned by the singing. They had something else on their mind.

On the third day, just as Rembrandt was starting to worry about whether they really could find sufficient water regularly enough, the Arabyan light horse scouts came galloping with news of the sighting of an enemy ahead. A warband of ogres, they said, and not the mercenary kind that Arabyans and northerners hire, but the brute savage kind who serve their own gods and darker powers. Rembrandt ordered the line be drawn up, while he rode with the scouts to peruse the ground that lay ahead. One really ought to know the lay of a battlefield, he remembered old Roderick saying more than once, before committing one’s forces to battle. Inwardly Rembrandt laughed – he used to find the old man so boring at times, but there was little he had said that was not true, and had not been proved so time and time again.

Unsurprisingly the battle would be fought in the desert – it did stretch from horizon to horizon – but there were some dunes and rocks upon the right that might have a bearing upon the fight. Rembrandt wondered if the enemy might have some warriors concealed there, but then dismissed the thought when he considered how hard it would be for a brute ogre to hide amongst such rocks. Behind them, yes, but not within them, and if they were behind then they could not attack without revealing themselves first.

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Suddenly something appeared up ahead, emerging through the heat haze (ever present even with a breeze). The enemy! Rembrandt asked himself how could they be so close, then realised they were not. It was a trick of perspective. Ogres were twice or even three times the size of men. They looked laughably few in number, but Rembrandt couldn’t summon a laugh. He knew them to be vicious, brave, fearsome, thick-skinned and murderous fighters, who revelled in bloodshed and could stop to feast upon a fallen foe just as wolves might do.

Three main bands made up the enemy line – Ogre Bulls, led by two Butchers and a Tyrant. Beyond this, on the enemy’s far left, was a hunter with a brace of monstrously tusked predators.

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What Rembrandt did not know was that the hills and rocks were concealing enemies: three Yettees were loping along behind them.

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And worse, the heat haze effectively hid the two Gorgers who were right at that moment completely out flanking Rembrandt’s line of battle.

Ignorant of these threats, Rembrandt felt very confident about the battle – surely his army could easily overpower what was before him. He actually felt keen for the fight, he was itching to get at them. How much more would his men respect him once he led a charge of knights, and had felled such foes as this?

His own battle line started on the far right with the Arabyan Camel Riders, led by Al-Irnak the Sheik’s son. These men had already proved themselves willing warriors, and Rembrandt was entirely happy to have them guarding his flank. Then came Rembrandt and his household knights, the Army Standard carried by his lieutenant commander Aluishus. Upon Rembrandt’s left was Nicco and his band of battle hardened veterans, flanked themselves by the Merchant Rangers whose presence had made such a vital difference in the previous battle.

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In the centre of his line were the Arabyan Light Horse, though they were there more to protect the left flank of the massed regiments of knights than serve as a point of strength. Further to the left were the Marines in a firing rank, then the archers, then the Pistoliers. Old Roderick would certainly have agreed to this last placement: “Good men to have on a flank - agile, brave and able to deliver a bloody volley at the foe.”

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The ogres were the ones advancing, more keen than the men for battle, though that was not true in Rembrandt’s mind. Their line began to angle to the left, as if they desired most to engage the knights, being unwilling to waste their muscle on the skirmishing missile troops. Or perhaps they knew full well what bloody damage the enemy’s arquebuses could do to them? A horrible, gurgling war cry came from one of the butchers as he and his fellow butcher successfully wielded magic to bolster the ogres’ toughness beyond its natural measure. Then, going with the flow of magical power, the same butcher summoned up a protective force to guard his unit from enemy magics.

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Off to the Ogres’ right the Yettees moved secretly through a gap in the rocks hoping to spring upon the enemy so close that there would be no time to bring their guns to bear.

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Rembrandt’s men responded with an angled move of their own. To do so the knights were forced to reign in their war-horses’ natural urge to charge upon the foe, maintaining their line so that when the blow was delivered it would be as one, terrible, thunderous strike. Rembrandt felt a thrill rush through him when he saw the precision of his soldiers’ manoeuvre – this was surely to be a glorious moment, the stuff of legends. He thanked Sigmar for the opportunity to be on this field of battle.

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Little did Rembrandt van Haagen know, however, that his surely inevitable victory was a mere fancy in his mind, and the truth would prove quite contrary to his hopes. Yet right now, every man in Rembrandt’s army felt confident of victory. The first volley of missiles was unleashed, felling two ogre bulls, and all present on the field heard their death screams. The marines set about calmly reloading their pieces, the archers took a moment extra to choose just the right arrow for the next volley. The knights’ horses snorted their frustration at being held in check, while Rembrandt judged that the time to order the charge was only a moment away.

Then, just as his confidence surged beyond anything he had felt before, Rembrandt’s expectations were shattered. From behind the Camel Riders came an awful sound, a squeeling, tortured gargle born of hungry rage. The first Gorger had emerged from the glimmering haze and bore down dangerously on the arabs.

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If it had come only moments later, the creature would have found itself too far behind the galloping line of cavalry to save it’s cousins, but Rembrandt was not to be so lucky. It was close enough to tear into the rear of his knights before their charge. Yet if they turned to face it then the ogres behind them would do the same.

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Al-Irnak was quick to act, knowing his camels could get away and still do what they had come to do. He signalled that the target was to be the Hunter and his Sabretusks and ordered the charge. Two of his noble Arabyan warriors fell to the Hunter’s massive harpoon, but the rest hit and hit hard.

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The Arabyans found the courage to fight even fiercer than the Ogre Hunter and his beasts could do, plunging their lances deep into the enemies’ flesh, mortally piercing one Sabretusk. With their numbers and magical standard, the Ogre had little chance of withstanding their charge, and he fled only to be run down by the shrieking arabs.

Upon Rembrandt’s left flank none of his soldiers knew what danger their knights were in, for they had their own dangers to face. The Yhettees emerged from the rocky dunes and every man with a bow, handgun or pistol made ready to unleash everything upon the monsters before they could get any closer.

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The Pistoliers, needing to get within range, moved up on the Yhettees’ flank, but everyone else just steadied themselves for the shot. Almost as one, the four regiments shot, and the rain of missiles tore the horrible creatures apart. All three Yhettees succumbed. Now the rightmost Ogre Bulls unit suddenly felt somewhat exposed, and began to wish their heavy legs had carried them a little quicker towards the enemy knights.

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On the other side of the field, just as the thunderous blast of nigh upon thirty pieces echoed through the rocky hills, Rembrandt had made a difficult decision. He ordered his knights to continue their advance on the Ogres’ main battle line, but ordered his battle standard bearer to accompany him in an effort to dispatch the ravenous Gorger lolloping up behind them. The two of them could not charge the monster, having had to turn about to face him, but they began to move towards him with steely resolve.

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Now another Gorger appeared to the right of the first, and Rembrandt realised with horror that his brave gesture could well be his doom. One of the beasts was challenge enough, but two of them! Nor were his own knights and those of the mercenary captain Nicco feeling very lucky either, for in the confusion caused by the appearance of the Gorger they had misjudged their advance and it was them who were charged by the Ogres rather than the other way around. All both regiments of knights could do was trust to their armour and brace themselves to receive the Ogres’ bull charge.

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While the Ogre Butchers unleashed magics upon the Rangers, causing several to collapse in agony as their very bones broke inside them, Nicco’s men fought as hard as they had ever done. The mercenaries faced the Ogre Tyrant himself, and their sombre mood of the last few days was proved to be truly prescient, for Nicco was torn in two by the Tyrant’s huge curved sword, his fine armour no defence against such a sharp sword wielded by such overwhelming strength. Another knight was felled by the Bulls, but none of the mercenaries could harm their enemy. Perhaps resigned to their fate, perhaps driven by an urge for revenge, the knights refused to break and fought on.

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Rembrandt’s own knights, however, proved luckier in their fight, for not only did they withstand the Ogres’ powerful charge but they broke their foe and pursued them down, their lances coloured almost to the grips with the Ogres’ lifeblood. As they cheered exultantly their young captain-general found himself locked in combat against the Gorger. Facing just one such creature, he and his companion found they could just about hold their own – they gave as much as they received and blood from both sides mixed as it spattered through the air. They exchanged another round of blows, and yet still could not fell their stubborn opponent, so that when the other Gorger came crashing in from the flank Rembrandt knew that had let youthful impetuousness allow him to bite off far more than he could chew. Not so the Gorgers – one of them now battered Rembrandt’s Standard Bearer to the ground, pulping man and horse as one, while the other one wrenched at Rembrandt's shield, then bit his arm right off (killing blow). Rembrandt tumbled unconsciously backwards from his horse for he had no hand to clutch his reins.

Rembrandt now lay in the sand, blood bubbling from the mangled stump of his arm. The Gorgers, not truly comprehending that they had laid the enemy commander low, leaped over the two fallen knights and squealed in delight as they thought of the much better feasting they could have when they reached the Arabyan camels. Rembrandt’s household knights and the young Sheik’s camel riders both now turned to face the enemy as best they could. On the Empire left the Pistoliers moved right around the Ogre Bulls, while the Arabyan Light Horse bravely moved up in an attempt to protect Nicco’s flank. Both these two units plus the handgunners all now fired upon the surrounded foe. Three Bulls fell, another clutched at a hole in his shoulder, and yet such was their rage that they refused to run.

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In the centre Nicco’s men tried with all their might to fend off the huge warriors afore them, but they could do little to harm them. When more of them toppled to the ground, some in more than one piece, the fearsome nature of their foes finally overwhelmed them, and they turned to flee. The Tyrant roared with laughter as he and his 'boys’ ran after the knights to bash them into the sandy earth.

This was all too much for the Arabyan Light Horse and they too fled, their flight taking them through the body of Marines so that they also turned and ran! The wizard, sitting upon his horse behind the marines, joined them to flee off the table. The Arabyan horsemen would rally to reform and ride forwards once more, but their part in the battle was pretty much ended.

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Nor were these the only ones to flee at that moment, for the surviving Ogre Butcher unleashed powerful magic at the Empire Knights, once again snapping their very bones so that three rolled in noisy agony from their steeds, and the remainder galloped away to distance themselves from such horror. They too would rally a little while later, but they would find the courage to deliver one last blow at the enemy, for they now realised that their master must be lying somewhere on the field.

While the Pistoliers, Rangers and Bowmen slaughtered a Butcher and another Bull with their next volley, so that only one lone Bull remained, the two Gorgers were advancing towards the now rallied handful, of Knights and the Camel Riders.

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The Camel Riders were suddenly hesitant and began to back off, unwilling to commit to more fighting that day. They failed to move far enough however, and when one of the Gorgers charged them he did indeed reach. Emboldened by their captain, they fought bravely, wounding their foe. Rembrandt’s last surviving knights were not so lucky, however, for the other Gorger hurled into them, tore two apart and sent the last galloping away in abject terror into the desert never to be seen again.

The Pistoliers brought down the last of the Bulls on the Ogre right, while the other missile troopers shot as best they could at the Tyrants’ unit, wounding him and one of his boys. The Tyrant was no fool, and knew that if he lingered here much longer, he and his men would die before they ever reached the foe again. He ordered a withdrawal from the field and the battle was over.

(Minor Victory to the Empire: 301 VP in a 2,000 pt game!)

As the Ogres disappeared into the gloom of the evening, the young Arabyan captain scoured the field to find his fallen commander. When he did he almost turned away from the bloody, mangled ruins of Rembrandt’s body, but something made him stoop down to speak a word of farewell. To his surprise Rembrandt answered him.

He whispered quietly, so weak he had to repeat his pained words, “Not dead yet. Take me back to Al Hadok.”

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The attack on Lashiek

The drums beat out a slow and steady pace, mournful but necessary. Marching through the sands of this desert land was not easy, certainly not so when a man was lumbered with arms and armour as these men were, and a slow pace was the only pace that the column could manage.

Arab warriors and northerner soldiers marched together in this line, but at the centre of the column, where a coach and four rolled along, there were only northerners. They were the commander’s guard, and where they marched the drums seemed an even more solemn sound. It occurred to more than one of them, though none voiced their concern, that the procession felt like the progress to a great statesman’s funeral. Some frowned at the thought, wondering if it meant they themselves might die, but all knew that their ward would surely die. Yet all felt a steely resolve – their brave young Lord might indeed die, but he would die in victory, and be buried at the site of his greatest feat.

Rembrandt Van Haagen’s own brothers in arms, the youthful pistoliers, rode either side of his carriage, while the traditional number of four halberdiers strode in pairs fore and aft of their commander.

[img]http://i69.photobucket.com/albums/i49/padrissimus/A3LastFight2.jpg

The Outrider, captain of the Pistoliers, rode front and right, whilst front and left the lads had a standard, retrieved from the field of the army’s last battle, the colours of the Household Knights. Although Pistoliers were not traditionally supposed to carry a banner in battle, no-one argued against this potential breach of military etiquette. The banner was the House van Haagen banner, and so was Rembrandt’s own banner. It seemed only fitting that his mounted guard would carry it for him.

Not that there was any shortage of banners around Rembrandt’s coach. Immediately ahead of it marched the two foot regiments’ ensigns, their flags unfurled and fluttering gallantly in the breeze. In front of them marched another ensign, though his burden looked somewhat less impressive than the banners behind. Six strips of cloth were fastened to his shaft – torn from the bloodied cloak worn by Rembrandt when he fell to the Gorger’s terrible blow. The soldiers cared not what might be said at home, what complaints priests might make of their presumption. As far as they were concerned they were escorting a hero, a saint in the making; an honest, courageous youth who had proved himself a martyr in the service of this land. Why not let the Arabyans be reminded of his sacrifice, that they might prove themselves worthy of Rembrandt’s suffering? Why not fly his cloak as if it were a relic, so that the Bretonnian foe would understand also their devotion to such a man of courage?

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Marshal von Koschumberg's army marched ahead, so that no scouts were needed. Macrinius von Amselberg’s force marched upon a parallel course, and as gaps opened in the dunes, the occasional sounds of battle songs could be heard. None in Rembrandt’s army joined in. All this column need do was follow in the footsteps of Koschumberg's men, and in doing so, they could word silent prayers and think soberly of their fate. Besides, none wanted to disturb their young commander. Let him sleep and rest and so prepare himself for his last days in this world.

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… a great maw opened before him, it’s teeth above and below jagged and cruel, like wildly carved tusks. A long, serpent like tongue licked over the fangs’ razor edges, slobbering blood and saliva, while a noisome vapour, the thick, foul stench of rotting fish and rancid fleshmeat, was exhaled into his face. Rembrandt stumbled backwards, his hand clutching feebly at his sword haft, his fingers suddenly unable to grip.

Why? he wondered, his anger flaring up. Why would his resolve fail now when his sword was most certainly needed?

He glanced down, thinking only to look away from the monstrous maw momentarily, and what he saw sapped all his anger away and flooded him with revulsion and fear. His arm was gone! There was no sword there, nor fingers, not even an arm. When he threw his head back to look again at the foe, however, he discovered his arm. It was there, before him, dismembered and jammed between two of the giant yellow teeth, as if it were no more than a morsel of meat to be picked out after a meal with a splinter of wood.

The mouth was spinning now; the whole world was spinning. Blood spattered in all directions, and he knew it to be his blood, squirting horribly from his pulped shoulder. The spinning mouth began screaming, flecks of flesh spattering Rembrandt as he fell and fell and fell …

“Please, sir, wake yourself,” said a soothing voice, “It’s your nightmares again.”

… and fell right out of the dream. A damp, cool cloth brushed across Rembrandt’s forehead. For the fourth time that day he opened his eyes to see canvas above him, brightly lit by sunlight outside. He could hear the creaking a carriage wheels and drums sounding a beat fit for a dirge.

“Is this a funeral?” he asked, unable to take his fevered eyes off the mouth of the servant tending him. A mouth too large for a mortal man, with sharp, ragged teeth …

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Rembrandt’s lieutenants knew their position in the grand line of battle, as did all the IMC’s commanders, for each of them had been carefully and precisely drawn up by the Field Marshall. Officially it fell to Rembrandt’s second in command, Al-Irnak the Arabyan, to see to the deployment, but in truth Rembrandt’s sergeant-major Gustaaf Emerick did the actual work.

General Feindschaeger's battalion lay immediately ahead as the vanguard to this portion of the line, but Emerick did not allow complacency to set in. He knew full well that once the advance began, the army of House van Haagen would find itself in the thick of it.

Five regiments of foot, several companies of handgunners and umpteen light and heavy artillery pieces had to be deployed. The heaviest guns were sited on the rocky hill behind the line, the lighter pieces were sent forward to sit between the rank and file blocks, just in case the enemy attempted a sally forth from the city. Pistoliers guarded the right flank, while Al-Irnak’s cavalry moved up on the left.

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Arabyan and Marienburg standards fluttered from the dunes behind as the army jostled into position. Four drummers, well versed in the signals they might have to send, stood by Rembrandt’s coach, as did a knot of officers and messengers. Emerick held his bastard sword aloft, throwing it hither and thither to help direct the military dance unfolding about him.

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Inside the coach lay Rembrandt, his skin never more pale than now, his eyes open but fixedly staring upwards, looking not at this world but elsewhere. Suddenly came the rolling thunder sound of the artillery opening to the right of House van Haagen’s position. The sound seemed to snap Rembrandt out of his trance. As his eyes cleared a little and he lifted his head, Emerick appeared at the coach’s open door.

“Your command, my Lord?” the sergeant major asked.

“Would you have us save powder, Emerick,” said Rembrandt, attempting a faint smile. “This ain’t the time. Let’s spend the money and let our guns join in. You have to speculate to accumulate.”

“My Lord,” nodded Emerick, please to hear his master in good humour, then turned to shout the command to the drummers nearby. In perfect unison the four drummers beat out the appropriate signal. The answer from the heavy guns came so quick that the end of the signal was never heard. All fired, sending their (expensive) iron missiles over the heads of both the Army of House van Haagen and General Feindschaeger's battalion. The mighty boom, made louder by the rocky slopes beneath the guns, flooded the space below with sound.

Rembrandt jumped at the sudden sound, his head jerking backwards, and began to scream. The quick thinking servant sat by his master’s side thought that sound was not something the army should hear once the echoing blast of the guns died down, and so thrust the damp cloth in his hand not upon Rembrandt’s head but in his mouth. Rembrandt slumped into the makeshift cot, his now muffled cry dying away.

“There, there now master,” whispered the servant, “Let’s not go upsetting the men, eh?”
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In the very centre of Rembrandt’s line stood his regiment of Swordsmen – the soldiers he had personally led into two battles, and who were at his side when he fought Baron Yanton in hand to hand combat. To their right were the Arabyan Spearmen who had proved themselves to be loyal to their young captain, and had become as full a part of his army as any of the northerners. These men of the desert had added a red banner beneath their own blue flag to signify their fealty to the great sheik of Araby.

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Marching through the line was a column of handgunners, their pieces cleaned over and over in preparation for this day’s service. The army of House van Haagen intended to inflict bloody murder on any armoured knights and men at arms the enemy hurled at them. Each soldier carried a full bandolier of powder, as well as horns to refill the boxes three or four times over. They were ready to launch a very firestorm at the walls of Lashiek.

On the far right a huge body of mercenary pikemen kept pace with the centre, knowing the handgunners intended to fall back behind them if enemy horse threatened the line.

On the left of the line were more handgunners, as well as skirmishing bowmen. The army’s huge baggage train was positioned behind, concealed between the dunes, while Arabyan camel riders and light horse positioned themselves as a guard ready for whatever service they could offer: to defend the baggage, perhaps? Or fend off a surprise rear or flank attack, the memory of the gorgers on all their minds. Or perhaps they would make themselves useful by harrying any enemies who thought to sally out from the walls?

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Inside the commander’s coach, Rembrandt’s manservant leaned forwards to allow his master to sip the brew the healers had provided. Rembrandt drank obediently, but did so so weakly that fluid dribbled down his chin as if he were a mewling infant, and the servant had to dab at his face.

Rembrandt was only vaguely aware of the drink, for he had been drifting in and out of sleep the whole morning (never quite reaching true sleep nor full wakefulness). In fact, it seemed to him that he had spent much of the morning with his brothers.

Yes, Gunther had been running along the edge of the Goudberg canal, outpacing all the other boys to get closest to the snotling. But then something happened that Rembrandt had not previously remembered. Gunther still plunged into the canal - that horrible fact remained - but this time Rembrandt could see that it was the snotling, the foul, little, boil-encrusted creature that caused his brother to tumble. The little beast stopped, turned and placed its leg in such a way to trip Gunther. Then, and Rembrandt struggled to believe what he saw, the snotling winked at him. In the time it took Gunther to fall from the wharf and hit the black water below, in that brief moment, the snotling turned to look Rembrandt knowingly in the face. And winked.

Rembrandt screamed his fury, and before he grabbed a pole to attempt (unsuccessfully) to fish his sinking brother out, he kicked the tiny goblinoid so hard as to hurl it bodily into the very centre of the canal.

As he woke, fitfully, from this dream, a voice spoke: “There, you see how I helped you before? I made you what you are, boy, I gave you your power over House van Haagen, and I am not finished with you yet. Yield to my will and I shall heal you.”

“What did you say?” asked Rembrandt.

“Nothing, my lord. I spoke not a word,” answered the servant.

“But I thought …I thought …” Rembrandt’s words trailed off.

“Perhaps it was Emerick you heard, my lord? He wishes to speak with you and stands outside.”

At this the servant pulled the drape away from the coach’s window so that Emerick face could be seen.

“My lord van Haagen, we are ordered to advance. Vekram de Crux’s force is already approaching the walls on the right flank, and von Koschumberg’s force is moving right now ahead of us. The walls, it seems, are breached. A messenger from von Govinhof orders that we advance in line with von Amselberg.

Rembrandt’s head was swimming, the commander’ names swirling with his brother’s names. “We must do as we are commanded, Emerick. We must obey the voice. Give the order.”

Emerick looked confused for a moment, as if he had not at first understood his commander’s words. “Aye, lord commander, I shall issue the order.”

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Stepping away from the coach, Emerick raised his sword aloft once more, and this time brought it slowly down to point at the walls. The four drummers began a new peel, the command to advance and then the rolling beat of the march.

As one the massed blocks of foot soldiers stepped forwards, moving through the gaps between the guns and angling their advance so that all came closer together. Ahead of them was a screen of skirmishing missile troops – marines and Arabyan handgunners, archers and rangers. Within minutes the army of House van Haagen had formed into a solid mass, almost one body, of marching infantry. A great cheer went up, northern and Arabyan battle cries joined together in one raucous cry.

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On the far right of the IMC line Vekram de Crux’s force was fighting it’s bloody way through the breach, whilst in the centre von Koschumberg’s men were engaged in a massive struggle over another great pile of rubble. When a third breach opened up to the left, von Amselberg’s battalion began to wheel in that direction. As they had been commanded to march as one, Van Haagen’s men now wheeled sharply to stay in line with the adjacent force. This brought them closest to the walls, and for two hundred yards they marched under a withering hail of arrows launched from the hundreds of peasant archers on the wall.

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Van Haagen’s men did not falter (certainly none felt like slackening their pace), nor did their own archers waste time to return shots of their own. They simply marched on as umpteen men fell amongst them. Their goal was in sight – the great breach. The drums of every regiment, be they Empire men, mercenaries or Arabyans, all now joined in one unified, simple beat: the thump, thump, thump of the advance.

Rembrandt was not among them. He still lay in his carriage, having not even the strength to stand, certainly not to march or ride. He gritted his teeth and grimaced as new waves of pain wracked his feverish body. His hands clutched furiously at the sides of the cot as he dreamed his dream …

… a huge barrel was rolling across him, it’s iron bound oaken hoops weight enough to crush a man even without being filled with wine. The pain was reaching a peak, a zenith of agony beyond which no mortal frame could surely climb.

“Don’t you worry, lad,” came a voice, close to Rembrandt’s ear. “This one’s not meant for you.”

The barrels roll had ceased, and instead it was forced back. As it went, it took Rembrandt’s pain with it. It was as if the pain were being sucked away by the barrel’s motion, as if time were winding backwards to diminish the pain accordingly.

“There you are lad, all gone!” came the familiar voice again, reassuring and threatening at one and the same time.

With the roaring pain gone, Bertrand’s eyes opened. He was in Marienburg, a typpling house close to the great Library. He hadn’t been there since … since his brother’s death!

With that thought came an awful sound, a groaning wail of utter despair accompanied by a sickening crunching, cracking and squelching. Rembrandt lifted his head to look at the barrel’s continued progress. It was rolling further and further away from him, and slowly crushing his brother Dominic as it did so. Much more slowly than it had done all those years ago, as if this time Rembrandt was meant to see every horrible detail of the event.

“Sigmar save him,” Rembrandt croaked.

“Let Sigmar do as he wishes. But you should say a prayer of thanks to me, not make such a request of a mere dead mortal. How about thanking me for taking the pain away?”

Reluctantly, for the sight of his brother being slowly pulped held a sickly fascination, Rembrandt turned to see just who it was speaking to him. Who, or perhaps what, would be a better question. For it was no man. For a start it’s skin was purple, its eyes liquid pools of blackness, and from it’s head curled a pair of perfectly white ribbed horns, like those of some dieified goat! The monster looked right at, right into Rembrandt and spoke again:

“See how I made you, boy? Two brothers to stall your progress, but both removed. And now, I offer you your own life. I can take away the pain, that much is easy, but much more than that - I can make you well once more.”

“Who are you?” whispered Rembrandt.

“Names and titles shall come later, once you are my trusted servant. For now know only what I am – I am your saviour, your patron, your healer, your guide. Serve me and live. Serve me and prosper.”

The room was beginning to fade, the candle-light being replaced by the light of the desert sun, filtered through canvas. The demon was still there, it’s head cocked to one side as awaiting an answer, though it had now taken the form of Rembrandt’s servant.

Outside Rembrandt’s brave men were beginning to climb the rubble of the third breach in Lashiek’s walls. A mighty battle was being fought, thousands of men venturing their lives to kill thousands of others. Inside the wagon, Rembrandt revelled in the absence of pain. It had nearly a week (he thought) since he was half eaten by the Ogres’ monstrous ally, a week of pain such as he never would have believed was possible. But a week also of whispered promises, of memories such as that he had just witnessed.

“I brought you to this land, boy,” said the servant, in the demon’s voice. “I gave you your name and honour, your position in life, and then brought you here to thank me in person. Now I can take away the pain and give you your life. This land is to be mine, and you shall be a courtier to me, a warrior for me. You shall be blessed and favoured by me as long as you serve me well. Even unwittingly you have helped topple my enemies, these Bretonnian lords and their menials. Now it is time to serve me more actively – if not openly. It is time you grew up and knew who it was you must obey. You will remain in this land and garner wealth and power to yourself. You will sit on the councils of the north-men merchants and they will heed your words. Command will be gifted you, and great profit will be made by you. And when I command you to act in my name, you shall.”

Rembrandt was quite surprised by the fact, but could see the sense in this. His brothers’ deaths, his childhood dreams, his urge to come to this far land, his time here in the desert. This voice had been there throughout. There was truth here. He also knew that he could not go back to that pain, and that he cared not for death at all.

When he answered it was with a newfound clarity. “Yes, I see,” he said. “You are my lord, I am your obedient servant.”

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And so ended this particular campaign. Not a long one, but fun. I very much wanted, somehow (and for obvious reasons) to return to Rembrandt at some point. And one day I would.

Next week I'll begin 'An Old Campaign #3'
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Joined: Sun Oct 14, 2012 10:28 am

Post Sun Nov 24, 2013 10:27 am

Re: An Old Campaign #2

In addition to my answer to Lenihan and Asslessman above (although I may have muddled up some names):

Of course what you see here is a product not of the campaign itself, but of my way of playing the campaign. If they were to play intn he most minimal way they could a player could simply use the form post a battle result per week. They might write nothing, and could conceivably read nothing. At the other end of the spectrum, if players wish, they can dive in head first like me, and go deep. I am always careful that what I write fits events, and I never claim effects or influence my characters do not have. I am sometimes very careful and I post fluff in my faction forum first, and then wait until it is in the past before I post them publicly (that way they do not give the other factions clues about our current plans).

These two are where I found my feet. I really go for it in later campaigns, and start to become more involved with faction leadership.

Any comments at all are very welcome.

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