An Old Campaign #5


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Post Sun Jan 26, 2014 10:18 am

Re: An Old Campaign #5

Scabscar has a Go!

Ban Jarr, mercenary Ogre Tyrant, had thought long and hard (all morning in fact, apart from the hour he spent chewing an old sheep) and he had come to a conclusion. He must show his employers just what he and his brutes could do, then not only would they would have to cease their whining and moaning about his mistake, but they would also recognise the power he had at his disposal and so think twice about ever again suggesting his pay might be withheld as punishment.

You see, his Murosian masters had send Ban Jarr southwards against an army of desert men who could not be found, then immediately ordered him to retreat as soon as the enemy finally made their tardy appearance. This in itself was frustrating enough, and his warriors had taken to looting and mayhem to relieve their frustration at the lack of fighting. But the foe turned out not to be desert men, at least most of them were not, and Ban Jarr and his brutes had much difficulty distinguishing friend from foe. A simple mistake for drunken ogres to make, except it led to a bit of naughtiness in which a few Murosians were killed by mistake. One of the commanders called it a massacre - a rather far-fetched account to Ban Jarr’s mind - and it was this same man who suggested the ogres be punished.

Now Ban Jarr was leading his army to face the real enemy, a force of strength, and one that could not possibly be Murosians. They were Skaven, and even his brutes could see the difference between rat-men and men-men. He was not entirely sure who the skaven served, whether they were from the mountain Clan Skarr or if they marched for some other power, but did not care. He intended to teach his Murosian masters what the word ‘massacre’ really meant, and let them mull over whether they really ought to be bandying words like punishment in his presence.

(Writer’s Note: I hoped our Murosian players did not mind me adding some character background for this mercenary ogre force. I had grown tired of writing bat reps where the enemy were an anonymous bunch of faceless fighters.)

Funnily enough the Skaven commander, Warlord Scabscar, had come to a remarkably similar conclusion to the Tyrant: he too needed to show his masters what he was capable of. His motives, however differed considerably. He yearned to have the generals of the AIF heed his advice, bow to his wisdom, and so better serve his purposes. If he proved himself on the field of battle, in the bright light of day, then perhaps his fellow generals would in turn prove more malleable to his wishes.

Until now his forces had done little more than drive off a weak force or two, capture a few brigands and scouts, and prevent enemy foragers from returning with more than empty bellies. For over a week now his scouts had returned time and time again with no news of the foe, until Scabscar was starting to believe that the Murosian ‘threat’ was nothing but a clever war-ruse, an illusory force that in truth was little more than a band or two of huntsmen and raiders. This morning, however, the scouts returned with news of a substantial army of grey-skinned Ogres, arrayed for war and close by.

His time had come.

The Field of Battle

The battle would be fought over a flat stretch of land, dotted with farmsteads and copses of trees.

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Scabscar immediately decided to anchor his left flank with the largest farm in the vicinity, sending his Doomwheel to trundle around it on the far left of his position, whilst his huge mob of slaves were led by an engineer to occupy the farm as if they were a garrison.

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With these dispatched about their business, Scabscar gave his orders for the battle array.

Warlord Scabscar’s Force (2500 Pts)

Warlord (General Scabscar)
Halberd, Hvy Armour, Bonebreaker, Trickster's Helm, Talisman Preservation
Warlock Engineer
Level 2 Wizard, Warp Lightning, Warp Energy Condenser
Warlock Engineer
Level 1 Wizard, Warp Lightning, Dispel Scroll
Warlock Engineer
Level 1 Wizard, Opal Amulet, Warp Lightning
Chieftain
Heavy Armour, Weeping Blade, Charmed Shield, Luckstone
Chieftain
Battle Standard, Armour of Fortune

40 Clanrats - Full command, Spear, Light, Shield plus Ratling Gun team
40 Clanrats - Full command, Spear, Light, Shield plus Warpfire Thrower team
46 Skavenslaves - musician & Pawleader
40 Plague Monks - Full command, Banner of Under-Empire
24 Giant Rats & 4 Packmasters
9 Poisoned Wind Globadiers - Bombardier plus Poisoned Wind Mortar team

Doomwheel
2 Warp-Lightning Cannons
9 Warplock Jezzails

His two regiments of Clanrats would advance upon either side of a little wood, whilst their attached weapon teams would creep along through it. Scabscar himself led one of these regiments (upon the side of the wood nearest to the farmstead) while his chieftain would command the other. His horde of Plague Monks were sent to form the right of his central block of fighting regiments ….

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… while his jezzails, cannons, globadiers and giant rats were ordered to make as much difficulty as possible for any foe who attempted to make headway upon the right.

Ban-Jarr also put his fighting rank and filers together, with three regiments of Bulls making up the centre-right of his line. Upon the far right his sent his massive Bull Rhinoxes, their sickly yellow rag-banner hardly required to advertise to all their presence on the field.

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To his left, facing Clan Scabscar’s machines, bullets and bombs, Ban-Jarr sent his Scraplauncher, a small band of gnoblars and his yhetees.

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Ogre Force (2500)

Tyrant (Sword of Bloodshed, Talisman of Endurance, Enchanted shield)
Slaughtermaster (Fencer’s Blades, Talisman of Preservation, Skull Mantle)
Bruiser (Battle Standard, Armour of Destiny)

Three units of 6 Bulls
8 Gnoblar Trappers
ScrapLauncher
3 Yhetees
3 Bull Rhinox Riders (incl. Thunderlord)
Gorger
......................................................................................................................................

The Skaven Jezzails now lowered their long barrelled pieces to take aim on the foe. Battle was about to be joined!

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Deployment described, battle to follow. I have to ask, what say you? Who’ll win this one? Lay yer bets before tomorrow evening. This is your chance to show off and prove your WFB savvy. I’ll give you a clue - one side will absolutely massacre the other. But which one?
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Post Sun Jan 26, 2014 11:56 am

Re: An Old Campaign #5

My money is on Padre and his rats. I predict one round of decent shooting, a bad ogre miscast swallowing their mage early on, an upset in close combat that leads to a key ogre unit breaking and being run down leading to a cascade fail that sees the game conceeded at the bottom of turn 3. BRING IT! :D
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Post Mon Jan 27, 2014 5:25 pm

Re: An Old Campaign #5

To give a sense of balance I will go for the skaven. Also as Padre gave the Ogres a bit of background it seems like he'd have some fluff for the end, which makes me believe it will be more woe for Ban Jarr.
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Post Mon Jan 27, 2014 9:10 pm

Re: An Old Campaign #5

The gnoblars, skilled at the art of annoyance in more ways than one, moved up boldly towards the Jezzails …

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… while Yhetees’ employed their incredible agility to bound over the buildings and rush right up to the edge of the little woods on the Skaven’s right flank.

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At the same time Ban-Jarr signalled the general advance of his main battle units and his three Bull Regiments and Rhinox Riders came on fast towards the foe.

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Scabscar felt the fur on the back of his neck stiffen and his tail flick nervously. He had not expected such a bold advance in the face of his massive force, nor had it occurred to him just how large these brutish foes were. This close, there was no denying their might. It was at times like these that he was glad of the howdah he rode in, for his warriors were very unlikely to have spotted his fearful reaction. He steeled himself, holding his viciously barbed halberd aloft with as steady a hand as he could manage, and readied himself to give the necessary command.

Ban-Jarr’s Slaughtermaster, Splutterhorn, eyed the enemy as he gauged what magical power the gods might grant him. (Magic = 3:3) Suddenly the warp fire thrower caught his attention, is flared, smoking muzzle pointing his way. With a grunt he summoned Bonecruncher and killed the little fire-machine’s crew, but his grunt turned accidentally into a burp and the potent magic he had summoned (6,6,3) surged dangerously, sparking into reality around him. Luckily for him and his companions, the accidentally manifesting energy proved too weak to harm them.

The Scraplauncher hurled its tangled clump of specially sharpened metal fragments through the air towards Scabscar’s unit (I suddenly realised that arraying said unit in a 6 x 7 formation could well prove a big mistake. I watched the dice very closely here.) But the greenskin crew’s aim proved shoddy and all they managed to do was shatter tiles on the building nearby. At least their little cousins fared a little better, killing a jezzail team with their hand held equivalents.

Scabscar now swept his halberd around and to the side with his left arm, signalling the regiment he personally commanded to fall back a little way.

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He had fully expected his war machines to fatally bloody the foe before he had to face them in melee, but the Ogre’s speedy advance threatened to disappoint his plans. Well, he refused to let them approach unharmed, and now hoped his retreat would buy his diabolical engines the time they needed to deal out death. (I was praying that the Ogres’ charge would now fail. My 2.5 inch retreat took them from being - statistically - more, to less, likely to reach).

No such caution was being exercised by the Plague Monks. When they saw the enemy before them, they saw only red. Before their frenzy for battle might drive them against more foes than they could handle, their red-capped leader screamed his order to charge the Bulls before them and in they went, their blades a-stabbing and staffs a-spinning. The Ogres were caught off guard and reeled at the weight of numbers now suddenly amassed against them.

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Courage of a less dramatic kind was being shown by Scabscar’s Globadiers out on the far right flank. As the engineer who had been with them ran off on his own, hoping to unleash warp-lightning at the icy monsters, they moved right up before them, cloas enough to throw their bombs.

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Their keen senses somehow sensing the general’s caution, the second regiment of Clanrats in the centre of the line now also fell back a little, while the Pawleader led his massive regiment of slaves a little way forwards, hoping the enemy might foolishly show them his flank.

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The engineer who had been leading the slaves now scuttled into the building close by, thinking he would be very safe in there, yet able to throw magical bolts from the windows. What he didn’t realise (i.e. I didn’t realise) was that the Doomwheel was curving around the outside of the building, it’s fizzing Zzap energy now attuned to his presence rather than the enemy’s. Luckily the engineer in charge of the wheel managed somehow to restrain it, and stored the broiling energy ready for a blast later on.

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(Magic = 6:3) Now came the lightning storm as the engineers let loose their spells simultaneously. Four gnoblars fell to the green tinged lightning, yet the remaining four (typically contrary in nature) chose to laugh at their comrades’ misfortune rather than flee, and continued their bold actions in the face of the enemy. Another green bolt struck a Yhetee and tore deep into its flesh (2 wounds), and a third hit an Ogre Bull in the shoulder, scalding his skin.

This, prayed Scabscar, was merely the start. His engines were about to fire. The eight Jezzails fired first, aiming their long barrels at the Scraplauncher. Yet none hit, and one team fell screaming as their piece blew up in their hands! Nearby nine poisoned wind globes were tossed at the Yhetees (at 7’s to hit - move, long range, soft cover!). One hit the already scalded monster and the poison released from its glassy sphere was gulped deep into the creature’s lungs as it panted in pain from the lightning. With a hideous gargle, the creature fell to the ground dead.

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The Ratling Gun team in the woods began their frantic winding, and sent a flurry of bullets sufficient to kill one of the Bulls in the Slaughtermaster’s Guard. But Scabscar’s pride and joy, his warp lightning cannons, proved insufficient for the task in hand. Both took aim on the Bull Rhinox’s but neither could harm the foe, their energy dissipating harmlessly.

As several skaven looked with disbelief at the cannon, and cursed the crew for their lack of skill (and luck), the Plague Monks got down to some real fighting. (Horde, 41 attacks in at the Bulls!) Three Bulls were hacked down by the crazed Pestilens’ warriors, while the Banner of the Under Empire stung another so badly he reeled in pain and could barely keep on his feet. Dazed, the Ogres only managed to kill two Plague Monks in return. This was too much, too soon and too quick. The Bulls turned and fled in desperation, and when the monks followed, every last Bull was slain.

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Scabscar smiled. One entire enemy regiment had been removed. Maybe, just maybe, his Clanrats could finish off the rest?

Ban-Jarr was expecting his pet gorger to arrive in the enemy’s flank or rear at any moment, but the creature did not come. Shame, he thought, then ordered the charge anyway. He led his Bulls towards Warlord Scabscar and his clanrats, while his Bull Rhinoxes made for the same enemy and his other Bulls (with the Slaughtermaster) ran at the Ratling Gun team. Somewhat perturbed by the prospect facing of the seven Ogres tearing them apart, the ratling team fumbled and bumbled and in their haste ended up sending a spray of bullets into Scabscar’s regiment, killing three of them.

It turned out that they need not even have tried to shoot, for not one of the Ogres reached the Skaven line. All had begun their charge too soon, and each unit lost its momentum and faltered even as the Skaven made ready to deliver their own charges.

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While the four surviving gnoblars ran to hide behind the stone wall nearby …

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… the two yhetees smashed into the globadiers. One was mildly hurt by the poisonous vapours released by the Pestilens’ warriors countershot, but unlike the main regiments, these icy monsters did at least meet with the foe in combat.

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The Slaughtermaster’s first spell was broken by the skaven engineers’ countermagic, and then his second failed (on a natural 12) and in the process whipped what magical energies he had been conjuring away from his grasp bringing his spell-casting to a close.

Throwing as many sharp objects as they could …

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… the gnoblars proved once more to be more than merely annoying by killing another jezzail team. This success paled into insignificance compared to the Scraplauncher’s next shot, for the rhinox-pulled engine of war now killed sixteen warriors in Scabscar’s bodyguard. (Direct hit on a 6x7 regiment, 39 possible hits, 16 successful kills. I stupidly put these guys on the field in this formation instead of a column of 8x5, a mistake that would cost me later in the game re: steadfast rule.)

Of course the yhetees met little resistance from skirmishing globadiers in combat, killing enough to scare them off and then the rest as they ran. Now the shaggy furred creatures faced a mass of giant rats being herded towards them.

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Of course they could hardly help themselves - even without their packmasters’ whips’ applications, the giant rats swarmed at the yhetees before them…

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… while an engineer used the distraction to creep around the back of the yhetees.

If the clanrats in the centre of the field had known what was going on upon their flank - their little cousins attacking monsters - perhaps it would have given them another motive to charge? But they had reasons enough, mainly the fact that this was their chance to hit the Ogres while the brutes had lost their momentum, robbing them of some of the advantage of their size. So it was that Scabscar and his two chieftains led their regiments into the foe. Both hit home. Now the real battle had begun.

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The Doomwheel trundled up behind the Bull Rhinoxes, hoping to unleash its zzapp bolts into their rears! The slaves’ Pawleader, unwilling to throw him and his wards into the massively monstrous foe (not while warplightning of several kinds could do their work for them) chose to move closer but not to attempt to engage. Perhaps the slaves could protect their Warlord’s flank, simply by being in the Rhinoxes’ way?

Now the three engineers began their real work of the day. One unleashed an irresistible blast of warp lightning at the Scraplauncher, severely wounding it (3 wounds) but wounded himself in the process and accidentally drained away some of the etheric energies his comrades were hoping to utilise. Only one could muster enough magic to unleash another lightning blast, but this time the foe managed to prevent the spell gaining sufficient potency to add to the harm already done. The beast’s fur now smouldered, releasing the stench of burnt hair to mingle with its already copiously noisome odours.


The Doomwheel engineer yanked hard at the release lever and sent three trickles of zzapp energy at the nearest Bull Rhinox. Although the weakly flickering bolts seemed entirely insufficient to harm such a behemoth, they must have wormed deep enough to strike at some vital inner organ, for the beast keeled over and died! (3 x Str managed 1 wound, magnified to 6. One more than needed to slay the beast!)

The ratling gun team tried their own weapon against the bull rhinoxes but to no effect. Then came the Warp Lightning cannons’ chance.

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Both hit their targets, one killing the Bull Rhinox ridden by the unit champion, the other severely wounding the last. (Last Bull Rhinox had 1 wound left! And now had a way through to Scabscar - his base was small enough to squeeze through!)

The Jezzails managed to sink several bullets into the Scraplauncher, adding sufficient injury to the harm the engineer had done to kill it.

In the centre of the field the fight was bloody indeed. The ogres were little more than scratched by the chieftain and his clanrats in the rightmost regiment, while eight clanrats died in the melee. Yet even though this was butchery done right before them, their weight of numbers (Steadfast) kept them fighting. To the left Scabscar and his skaven fought hard, with Scabscar and his Bonebreaker more than holding their own against the mighty Ban-Jarr. But here too eight clanrats died to the Ogres’ attacks, while only one ogre succumbed to the jabbing spears. (Lose combat by 6). Reduced to only one rank behind the first, no more than the Ogres, Scabscar’s regiment could not take such punishment. They did what so many skaven have done before them - they turned tail and fled.

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Although Ban-Jarr and his ogres failed to reachm, the regimental standard and army battle standard bearers were both left behind to by torn to shreds. Scabscar screamed at his men, his voice turning into a frantic squeal. This time he was not ordering them to fight, but to run.

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The sight of the army’s general and his bodyguard breaking and fleeing so close to them sent a chill into the slaves’ weak hearts. Within less than a second they too turned tail and fled, outdoing the battle tired clanrats for speed and pushing in front of them.

A lot of ratmen were now streaming away from the battle!

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End of turn two.
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Post Mon Jan 27, 2014 10:23 pm

Re: An Old Campaign #5

So let's see, we got:
-enemy miscast: check!
-a good round of shooting: check!
-one ogre unit routed in a combat upset: check!
-a chain fail leading to... all your skaven fleeing? ?? No no this isn't supposed to happen! Darn you cowardly ratmen for messing up my predictions! !
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Post Tue Jan 28, 2014 8:53 am

Re: An Old Campaign #5

To the Bitter End!
(Turns 3 - 6)

Although the giant rats pursued the last surviving Yhetee, there was little else happening on the field that might encourage the Skaven.

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The Bull Rhinox Rider charged the exposed flank of the last clanrat regiment left fighting.

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The result was brutal as ogre clubs, stomping feet and the Rhinox’s huge tusks crushed and tore into the Skaven. What few remained fled , just as their general had done. As the Ogres pursued and slaughtered them, the Tyrant Ban Jarr was similarly tearing apart the last of Scabscar’s regiment too.

The Skaven had lost both their main regiments, as well as their commander.

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The Gorger still failed to find his way to the field, while the gnoblars continued to harass the jezzails, killing another.

The Giant Rats now chased the Yhetee right off the field of battle, while everything else that Clan Scabscar had at its disposal turned to aim at the Ogres in the centre of the field.

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Magically conjured warp lightning came from three sides to kill one ogre, while the Doomwheel sent its own warp energy into the arse of the last Bull Rhinox, killing it.

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The trouble was it also killed the ratling gun team and a Plague Monk! But that’s Skaven technology for you. One warp lightning cannon joined the fun to kill another ogre and wound a third, but the other engine simply exploded - almost vaporising itself in the process!

The sight of this destruction caused so much dismay in the other skaven that the jezzails and mortar team now all turned tail and ran.

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As Ban Jarr’s Gorger finally loped onto the field near to the Tyrant himself, the Bruiser and Slaughtermaster turned their attentions to the last Warp Lightning Cannon and of course as a consequence it did not survive very long! Ban Jarr turned his regiment around and headed off towards the Domwheel, as if simply to prove he was not afraid of it.

Perhaps a little impetuously the Plague Monks attempted to charge Ban Jarr, but they were too far away and failed to reach him. The Doomwheel did better and hit him abn his unit in the flank (Game Note: we entirely misunderstood the random movement rule and did the Doomwheel the old way, thinking it could manoeuvre freely and then count as charging. At least I know now!)

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As engineers skitter-leaped around and sent more flashed of warp lightning to sting the foe severely, the Doomwheel zapped merrily away to fry two of the ogres attacking it. In the ensuing combat somehow the wheel survived and stood its ground, but Ban Jarr re-ordered his regiment to fight somewhat better from then on.

The gnoblars came running from their hiding place to hurl insults and sharp things at an engineer…

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… but then the Giant Rats surprised the little greenskins from behind and killed them (at last!). As the jezzails rallied the Plague Monks once more failed to reach Ban Jarr and his boys. Inevitably the Tyrant and his personal guard now tipped the Doomwheel onto its side and smashed it to pieces. Then they turned to face the Plague Monks, happy to see the gorger at their side.

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Both regiments of Ogre Bulls and the Gorger all now hurled themselves into the Clan Pestilens’ warriors …

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… inflicting bloody mayhem in the process. Sixteen monks died, yet they steadfastly stood their ground and fought on. Of course, theirs was a hopeless cause, for even with a desperate charge by the Giant Rats to join the fray …

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… it was never going to be enough. Before long the last of the fighting skaven were running as fast as their legs could carry them.

The day was Ban Jarr’s. The Ogres had won.

(Campaign Note: Scabscar crawled off the field and made his way back to his main force. Now he intended to forge a new regiment of bodyguards, for never again did he want to be that close to death!)

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Post Tue Jan 28, 2014 1:37 pm

Re: An Old Campaign #5

Yea, that's what I meant to say, an Ogre win!
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Post Tue Jan 28, 2014 2:59 pm

Re: An Old Campaign #5

Ahaha, there was no way a character named after Jean Bart could lose to some rats !
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Post Wed Jan 29, 2014 9:16 pm

Re: An Old Campaign #5

Mine, All Mine (part one)

Underground

The new regiment had been assembled. Each warrior was a veteran, proven in battle, and fanatically loyal to Warlord Scabscar. At least, that’s how they felt when they mustered in such numbers - once on their own, they felt much the same as any other skaven, concerned most with their own self-preservation. But here, in massed rank and file, armed and armoured, one regiment among many, they believed that they could take on whatever foe came before them.

Warlord Scabscar had gathered them together in this large underground cave-chamber so that he might address them, and as soon as they had fallen into place, that is what he did.

“You, all of you,” he bellowed, sitting atop his Bonebreaker mount. “Proud warriors and most obedient soldiers, yes. You are the best. You fight, you kill; you beat down the foe. I know these things. You know these things.”

Pausing, he let this stream of praise sink in, nodding as if agreeing with himself, as if he had spoken wise words indeed. Then he went on.

“You are my elite, my guard in battle. You will stand fast and steady, you will hold firm, you will smash-cut through any foe. You will bathe in glory and feed on our enemies. Once you wore the red of my many clanrat regiment-hosts. Yes? You wore the colour of blood. Well, this is no longer fitting for such as you, for blood is the colour of injury and death. You are better than this. No foe shall think you are besmeared in blood, nor will they squint to make you out in the shadows. Oh no. You are now garbed in the terrifying colour of the sky-sun, a burning, blazeful colour that shall strike fear in the hearts of all those who look upon you. You wear the shining hue of fearful daylight, the burning glow that stings eyes, dries throats and burns flesh.”

The warriors had been wondering why the change of clothes, though none had worked out this particular reason. Scabscar raised his halberd, took a deep breath, then declared much more loudly than his previous words: “You are now my yellow regiment!”

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Apparently, and to some of the warriors’ dismay, Scabscar had only just started his speech, and was no warming to his theme …

“You will scorch our enemies, burn their homes, burst their skin, addle their wits …,” etc etc.

The yellow regiment stood quietly listening. In the third rank, Manglegrub leaned ever so slightly towards his old comrade Furrbit, and whispered. “You know what this means?”

Furrbit sniffed as if smelling the words to judge whether or not he should reply. “We look pretty?”

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“No,” Manglegrub said, spitting out his whispered answer to show his annoyance. “Well, yes, pretty. But we will be seen. We will be seen by every enemy on the field. While all the rest charge about in red, we will be the one regiment that stands out.”

Smiling, Furrbit hissed. “Yess. We are the best, see? Ain’t you listening to what the big rat is saying?”

Manglegrub exhaled between clenched teeth. “Listen. We are the bulls-eye. We are the mark at which the enemy will shoot. We gets picked on because we looks different. There’ll be no hiding for us now. No sneaking.”

Furrbit’s smile vanished. He tugged at the bright yellow cloth at his chest, scrutinising it. Finally, he sneaked a glance at his friend and inquired: “Reckon we can get to back next time we march? No need for us to be up here near the front, eh?”

(Note: This regiment , for some reason, seemed to take me forever to paint. Here in the pic they were not yet based, but while they were on their black bases I thought it would be all the better for the pictures in a black-rock cavern.)
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Post Thu Jan 30, 2014 7:01 pm

Re: An Old Campaign #5

Mine, All Mine (Part 2)

The Descent

Juanito could not believe his eyes. He had already descended what seemed to him like a league, though as his journey was in a direction he had never really travelled far in previously, and by a means - ladders - he had never yet employed in his short life, it was hard for him to gauge exactly the distance. And yet, here before him the shaft fell away even further, opening ever wider below. Perhaps this was the stomach of the world, and he was little more than a bolus being swallowed down its rocky gullet?

He squatted once more (how many times had he already done so?) to attempt the uncomfortable twisting manoeuvres required to safely access the ladder.

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Behind him was a pale man who had apparently been making his way upwards. The boy had been forced to wait while the man struggled to pull himself onto the platform. It had been a worrying time, what with the rat-man slaver switching his hateful gaze back and forth from Juanito to the man. Now another rat-man was squealing at the man, for the poor fellow had stumbled to one side of the next ladder, so weakened by his long labours in the depths followed by the eternal climb, that his hands faltered when he reached for the rungs, then his legs weakened with the fear of the lash that would surely be applied as a consequence.

Did Juanito recognise the man? His weather worn face the look of one of the Murosian army’s outriders. It was hard to be certain, however, for the man he remembered had not been bald, nor half naked, but had been possessed of flowing locks, and always garbed in heavy boots and a heavy leather jerkin. Yet here he was a mere shadow, rising from the darkness below as if he had been born of it, a white-skinned, hollow eyed creature of the depths.

Was this to be Juanito’s fate? Would he too become a gaunt and haunted troglodyte? If only he had not been captured. More accurately, if only he had not held a blade in his hand, nor foolishly thought to defend himself with it. The other boys in the camp had been set free, to their surprise, while everyone else had been bound in fetters. The rat-men only took those who bore arms prisoners, and let all the rest simply stagger, tumble and run away. It was a riddle Juanito had yet to solve, but he feared now that even if he had the answer it was too late for him. The deed was done.

Looking down he could see the next platform was empty, but below that there were more slaves, two going down, a third hefting a bundle of some kind upon his shoulders whilst attempting to haul himself upwards.

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Upon a rickety frame of timbers which leaned precariously to one side a labourer wielded a hammer while the long lash of a rat-man’s whip violently stroked at the wood by his side, as if in mockery of his beating of nails.

Suddenly Juanito’s eyes adjusted and he realised that the dim lights he could see were not sconces upon the shaft walls, but braziers upon the floor. He could see the bottom. Yes, there were still more cruel rat-men wielding whips; slaves burdened with buckets, picks and timbers. But it was an end to the descent, and there was a species of relief in that.

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He must be at the very bottom of the earth. To dig any lower would be surely to enter into the upper layers of some hellish realm populated by demons.

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Or was he already in such a hell? With demonic guardians in the shape of giant rats? Where torture took the form of eternal, back breaking labour?

(Scabscar's clan was busy, making use of captured prisoners of war. Waste not, want not. And don't tell anyone.)
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