An Old Campaign #5


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Post Sat Jan 18, 2014 1:48 pm

Re: An Old Campaign #5

The Fight

Almost as soon as they began to advance, however, they stopped. Scabscar was confused - almost looking behind him to see what had made them suddenly hesitate. Clan Gobdoth had done nothing more than take a few steps to straighten their line, while a lone engineer scuttled from one regiment into the one accompanying the Bell. Little else seemed to happen. Being well versed in the art of Skaven warfare, Scabscar now realised what this meant - a storm of magic and missiles was surely about to be unleashed against him.

Luckily for Scabscar the winds of magic were little more than a wisp of a breeze (4:2) and the only harm done by Gobdoth’s wielders of magic was to kill four jezzail teams with warp lightning. The last team fled the field of battle never to be heard of again. When the barrage of war machine missiles came, however, the effect was much more dramatic. An engineer released his Doom Rocket to land on Scabscar’s own regiment killing a dozen of the warriors at the front (around Scabscar and his now wounded Bonebreaker). The two Plague Catapult crews wanted to join the fun and lobbed their missiles at the same unit. One landed a little off killing only two more Clanrats (but also seven slaves in the adjacent mob) but the other hit full on and ended the (rather squalid) lives of sixteen more Clanrat warriors! Having closed his eyes just before the impact of the noisome missiles, Scabscar now opened them to see what few warriors remained could hardly be called a regiment any more.

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Gobdoth’s jezzails aimed at the Doomwheel and the Warp Lightning cannon, wounding the latter. In the process two of their own weapons misfired killing their own crews. Both Warp Lightning Cannons together could only fell one Plague Monk, which the rest of the loudly chanting Clan Pestilen’s warriors failed to notice at all.

Scabscar now realised he had to engage the foe quickly, or risk massive further damage from the enemy’s powerfully destructive machines of war, and so he ordered a general advance. On the left the Globadiers and Giant Rats advanced to the river, where they began to slow their pace a little, while the second (still whole) Clanrat Legion marched boldly over the bridge.

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On the other flank, the Plague Monk horde began picking its way through the ruined temple while the Doomwheel rolled along by their side (it’s sudden burst of warp lightning striking out to kill three of them!).

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In the centre the Slaves were led boldly forwards by Chieftain Uddleclaw and one of the apprentice engineers, with Scabscar’s badly mauled regiment moving less confidently behind. Scabscar was already wondering how he might reach the intact legion emerging from the bridge.

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A sudden strong gust stirred the winds of magic (10:7), yet try as they might, Scabscar’s magic users could not tame it. Pustulgar’s Scorch spell was batted aside by Gobdoth’s Grey Seer, whilst both apprentice engineers failed abysmally to cast Warp Lightning. (Game note: Get this, I rolled two triple ones. Two triple ones! That’s a 1:46656 chance! I apologise for the stupidity of this, but I just had to take a photo of the second triple one …)

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A weak eruption from the muzzle of the Warp Lightning Cannon slew two Stormvermin, while a stray shot from the poisoned wind mortar hit the Clanrats with the Bell and killed six. All very nice, thought Scabscar, but nothing compared to what their missiles did to us. He shuddered as he saw that the catapult arms had been hauled back into position and the warpstone of the Lightning Cannons was fizzling with accumulated energy. And now they are about to fire again. His teeth clamped hard together, drawing blood from his gums, as he involuntarily braced himself for the blast.

Once again Clan Gobdoth barely moved, making only the slightest adjustment to their line. They obviously believed their machines would do the necessary and bloody work for them. The Grey Seer smelled the trace of brimstone that always revealed to him that there was magic about (7:5). Feeding off some of this, his engineers released warp lightning. One was foiled by Scabscar’s own engineers but the other blast got through irresistibly and brought down four more of Scabscar’s dwindling regiment. The engineer responsible, however, had let some of the energy spill away from him and by the time it’s coiling tendrils had finished whipping viciously through his own unit seven of Gobdoth’s clanrats were dead too. The disruption threw the Grey Seer off his balance and his subsequently weakly powered attempt at casting Vermintide failed.

The Bell now chimed and sent a disruptive peel through the stones of the ruins. (House Rule: The ruined temple would count as a building for this spell on a 4+ roll, even though it was not put down as a building in terms of terrain. 3 rolled, so the Monks were unaffected.) The Jezzails sent the Doomwheel out of control by damaging some of its components, but such was it’s loss of control that it now rolled even quicker towards them! The other Jezzails killed the Poisoned Wind Mortar team before they could launch another vile globe. Warp Lightning Cannons, Ratling Guns and Plague Catapults all contributed their own particular deadly missiles to bring down four Slaves, four Monks and thirteen more of the Clanrats with Scabscar. Only the regimental champion was left.

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Scabscar looked at the bloody mess of writhing and twitching ratmen around him and did not know whether to feel annoyed or angered. In the end more sensible motives, the urge to survive flavoured with tactical considerations, won the battle for his attention, and he knew he would have to reach the other legion - and quick!

As he set off to join them, his army standard bearer following as best he could (and the lone survivor of the first regiment left in a daze behind), the slaves attempted to charge before the enemy’s machines could turn their full attention on them. But there was too much ground to cover and their desperate dash petered out long before they reached the enemy line. The Doomwheel did reach the red-clad Clanrat regiment on the left of the Bell.

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Scabscar reached the advancing legion at the moment his magic users tried once more to summon something harmful from the all-pervading ethereal realm of magical currents and tides (11:5). Pustulgar’s Scorch spell was again batted aside, but two warp-lightning blasts knocked five Clanrats with the Bell to the ground (never to get up).

The Globadiers moved from the water to the edge of the trees …

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… while Scabscar’s various machines of war let loose as best they could. One of Gobdoth’s Ratling Teams was torn apart by Scabscar’s own similar team, while lightning from the Doomwheel fatally frazzled two Clanrats. But the Doomwheel's momentum was not as powerful as it could and should have been, so that not one enemy warrior fell to it’s impact. The driver decided he no longer fancied the odds and turned the huge machine around to flee from the foe as fast as he had attacked them moments before. Hurtling through the Plague Monks, one of the robed Pestilen’s rats failed to jump out of the wheel's way quick enough and was crushed to a pulp beneath its mighty iron and wood mass; it then smashed through the ruined temple. (Game Note: Passed Terrain test.)

Looking at the enemy before him, Scabscar found a moment’s time to ponder: Would Clan Gobdoth finally charge and so come to blows with his warriors, or would they once more hurl missiles and hope in doing so to break his force’s spirit?

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End of Turn 2.
.................

Still clan Gobdoth refused to charge and the only movement across their line (apart from the frantic activity of warmachine crews) was a handful of commanders running between regiments to find what they considered were better positions. Once again the huge Bell rang to no real effect, while the Grey Seer riding atop it cast the spell ‘Wither’ on the Plague Monks. Scabscar’s magic users, fearing still greater spells to come, let this one slip by and prepared to fend off whatever followed. They subsequently dissipated the strength of a ‘Plague’ spell (26 dispel versus 18 casting) and thanked their gods that they had not wasted precious energies on the first spell.

One pack of Jezzails killed a packmaster and three of the giant rats emerging from the river, while the other bunch damaged the fleeing Doomwheel. A ratling team also brought down a packmaster, and then although one Warp Lightning Cannon failed to generate enough of a sting to do more than tickle the Giant Rats, a stinking glob from the Plague Claw Catapult landed squarely upon them to kill another eleven vermin as well the penultimate Packmaster. A stern look from Scabscar, who was now nearby, chased away any thoughts of flight and the rats continued to move forwards. Secretly, however, the warlord was simply happy that they had drawn much of the fire that might have been directed at him instead.

Two Plague Monks fell to the second Warp Lightning Cannon, while the second Plague Claw Catapult fatally misfired in its attempt to harm the same.

This is it, thought Scabscar, it is now or never. Behind him the crew of his own Warp Lightning Cannon suddenly worried that they might soon become a target and so decided they would turn their attention to one of the enemy’s cannons …

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… and just as they carefully turned the steam engine to aim their barrel, Scabscar gave the shrieking command to charge!

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All three regiments at the front now rushed forwards. All three met the foe: Scabscar and his Clanrats smashed into the Stormvermin; the Slaves hit the regiment with the Screaming Bell while the Plague Monks made sure they hit both that unit and the other Clanrat unit. (Even weakened by the ‘Wither’ spell they reckoned they were a match for both.)

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Now the real fight was to take place, the struggle that would determine who won the day. Scabscar had lost an entire regiment to Goboth’s war machines, and now he intended to return the favour using scimitar and spear, claw and tooth. His Bonebreaker was frothing at the mouth from all the exertion of carrying Scabscar so far, yet nevertheless it now found its second wind and set about tearing at the foe with abandon, while the warlord lowered his warp-powered stinger to begin it's work. (Game note: Don’t worry, this isn’t a hitherto unknown Skaven invention, just a fluffy way of explaining how he does some of his many attacks from ‘way up there’.)

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Behind this mighty melee, the lone survivor from the other Clanrat unit suddenly wondered why he was running around in the open when warp-stone bullets and bombs were a-flying, and so ran to hide behind the ruins. When he got there he could not press himself close enough to the stone!

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The surviving Giant Rats (much reduced in strength) gleefully charged the Plague Claw Catapult before them …

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… while the globadiers emerged from the trees on the journey towards Warp Lightning Cannon out on the enemy’s far right flank.

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One of the engineers sent fatal warp lightning into a Ratling team, but hurt himself in the process and drained so much magic from the etheric winds that none other of Clan Gobdoth's spells proved effective. The globadiers and the Warp Lightning Cannon now both attempted to harm the enemy cannon but could not do so. The Giant Rats could not overcome the monkish crew of the Plague Claw Catapult and that fight settled down to a messy brawl as rats leapt and monks stamped, then rats stamped and monks leapt and still no harm was done.

In the main melee the Bonebreaker killed three Stormvermin, while Scabscar killed but one. Five of Scabscar’s Clanrats perished, while the engineer another rats stepped over the corpses to kill two more Stormvermin. Scabscar and his boys knew things were going their way, but with Gobdoth’s Battle Standard Bearer nearby the Stormvermin found the courage to fight on.

The Rat Ogre on the Bell roared mightily but failed to hurt anyone (1, 1 & 2 to hit!). Slaves, Clanrats, Monks and more Clanrats fell (though 41 attacks from the Plague Monks on the two Clanrat regiments resulted in only 2 deaths!). Gobdoth’s warriors were just perceptibly on the back foot, but they would not run and the battle went on.

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Clan Gobdoth’s left-wing Warp Lightning Cannon now came rushing around to find better targets. As it careened along, the Screaming Bell now finally rang out an ominous sound (rolling 13) - a noise so ear-piercingly deadly that it killed a Plague Monk, an Engineer, the Ratling Gun team, the Warpfire Thrower, a Giant rat, a Globadier and even wounded the Grey Seer skulking in a ruin near the bridge (where he had been hiding for some time.) The death cries of all these disparate Skaven came from all sides, a short-lived wail of a chorus that halted abruptly as every open mouth clamped shut at exactly the same moment.

The Doomwheel was finally stopped by Gobdoth’s jezzails - it would need major repairs before it would ever move again. The Giant Rats and Plague Monk crewmen continued their violent dance without either side yielding, but Scabscar showed them what a true warrior could do as he and his Bonebreaker hacked an engineer into pieces. The Stormvermin killed five Clanrats but the red-clad warriors could not return the favour, unable to penetrate the foe’s armour. Gobdoth’s Stormvermin refused to run, even against such numbers.

To Scabscar’s right the Plague Monks laid into the Clanrats so viciously that one regiment (the one without the Bell) scarpered away as fast as their legs could carry them. The regiment left with the Bell was reduced to only one ragged rank. Scabscar and his warriors pushed on, their gleeful war-cries drowning out the multitude of groanings and moanings arising from the bloodily injured skaven lying underfoot.

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Then, as the Globadiers raised their arms to lob another round of stink-balls …

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… and the Plague Monks surged to finish off the weakened foe before them …

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… Clan Goboth’s resolve finally snapped. At first it was just one or two warriors who turned to join those already fleeing, but with half a moment everyone else joined in.

Scabscar was victorious. The enemy streamed away from his army. Taking a moment to catch their breaths, Scabscar's warriors then leapt forwards, eager to kill, kill, kill the panicked foe before them.

Game Notes: This was the end of turn 4, and the Gobdoth player conceded defeat - a combination of lack of time and belief that he really could not recover the game. His two Plague Monk crew were unlikely to continue their luck, and the Grey Seer, Bell and three companions were about to be really hammered. Scabscar’s boys had won every combat against the Stormvermin so far, despite really (I mean really) bad rolls and so even there things should have gone my way. Probably. ‘J’ provided a great game, and not because I won, but because it was fun and I learned a lot about using Skaven in 8th ed. When you play Skaven vs Skaven you just have to learn a thing or two. I now really wanted a doom rocket, and I had to get more warp-globe mortars.
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Post Sat Jan 18, 2014 2:07 pm

Re: An Old Campaign #5

Watching skaven vs skaven fills me with an evil sort of glee... I can't stand those nasty vermin! But I love seeing your armies in action Padre, great report! :D
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Post Sat Jan 18, 2014 2:15 pm

Re: An Old Campaign #5

Captain Crooks wrote:Watching skaven vs skaven fills me with an evil sort of glee..


I felt wickedly naughty all through the campaign, but that was because I was Skaven. It was fun, and the modelling projects made me feel like an evil genius planning to take over the world - just as they should do when you're modeling skaven machinery.
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Post Sun Jan 19, 2014 10:22 am

Re: An Old Campaign #5

Here's a propaganda piece I did for my faction early in the campaign - we wanted the Murosians to look bad. Everyone agreed this piece made them look bad, whether it was true or not!

Terror in the Miramar Hills!

Armies of raiding troops have descended southwards from the realm of Muros to begin pillaging and plundering the lands that the Arabian Intervention Force had earlier successfully and peacefully occupied. In a vicious, surprise attack Murosian dog-soldiers by the thousand came sword-in-hand to strike terror into the hearts of the civilian population. Those native Estalians who thought that the brewing war would pass them by now that the AIF had offered its protection, promising free trade and life without the Tyranny of Bretonnian Lords, now discovered that the neighbouring realm of Muros had become the real danger to their hearth and homes. Muros was not for peace, oh no. Muros wanted bloody war!

In one village, merely one of many, Murosian ‘soldados’ ordered everyone onto the streets so that they might have free reign to loot all portable possessions they could lay their hands on. Any honest Estalians who put up even verbal resistance were at best beaten, at worst mercilessly butchered. One band of soldados hacked down a farmer even as his family - his wife, children, an old, sick servant and his grey-haired father - watched in horror. The family, like so many others, were left pleading for their own lives as the soldados bragged at their cruelty and vied to outdo one another in all manner of wickedness.

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Some brave souls were willing to stand their ground, though most such would later count themselves lucky if they were still alive, even if made prisoner or suffering broken bones and bruises. One stubborn wench berated the greedy and cruel soldados who intended to rob her of all she had, until a black bearded XXXXard lurched at at her to threaten her with a naked blade (an act which amongst his base kind is perhaps counted as bravery?).

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I cannot bring myself to describe what followed, but those amongst the readers who have seen war as conducted by beastly orcs and the crazed warriors of chaos will know to what level war can make base creatures stoop. The men of Muros revelled in their works of butchery and debasement, as if they wholeheartedly wished to show even the vilest of races that Murosians could sink even lower than the worst amongst greenskins and the chaos-corrupted.

As the sun fell, the terror continued. One young man’s only crime was to attempt to dress before he came out onto the street as ordered by the shouting soldiers, thus delaying his response. It seems to Murosian soldados such an action is considered a felony, for he was pushed up against a barn door and summarily shot by soldados who were already drunk on looted wine and hot liquors.

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Is this what the folk of Miramar expected from the servants of Muros? Only they know. Did they deserve such barbarous cruelty? No! Here, writ plain, is the truth of Muros’ attack on the south. Weep, Estalia, that such men as these Murosian wretches, should besmirch your reputation as a noble and honourable people.
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Post Mon Jan 20, 2014 5:57 pm

Re: An Old Campaign #5

Note: I was part of the Arabyan Intervention Force (AIF) faction in this campaign. It dawned on me that we had no-one actually playing an arabyan army so I thought I really ought to get my own arabyans out and do a photo report, just so the other players will believe we really are that faction. Thus was born the following game. Two friends brought their own forces to join in, and the whole 'Wood Elves' silliness was born out of a comment we made during the game - "How the hell would a desert dwelling arab know what a Wood Elf looked like?"

The Arabyan Intervention Force Face the Wood Elves in Battle

At long last, thought Captain Traugotts, we are going to war. Having spent several months guarding convoys, gates, constructions and fortifications, patrolling, foraging and ‘keeping the peace’, he had finally received unequivocal battle orders. He and his men (part of the Vereenigde Marienberg Compagnie forces in Estalia) were to march north with an Arabyan force, there to seek out the foe. Who exactly the foe was the orders were somewhat hazy about, but there was definitely an aggressive force or two moving southwards. Refugees from tiny villages in the area had described raids by monstrous denizens of the dark forest, which could mean many things, but very probably meant the almost mythical Wood Elves. This was certainly the belief of the Arabyan Caliph commanding the allied contingent, as he had expounded that morning at breakfast.

“I have made efforts to study,” Caliph Nur-al Rhadi had said, “these creatures of the green trees. You might think it an unexpected area of expertise for a man of the desert such as I, but I have always considered it my duty as a commander to know as much as possible about any and every enemy I might face in battle. There are no forests, of course, in our sandy realm, only the tended trees of fine orchards, watered by ingenious channels and pipes, but a true servant of the Sheik must ensure he is ready to fight in any land, even those far removed from his home and quite, quite different in …”

“The elves?” interrupted Captain Traugotts, knowing that if he did not then the Caliph may never actually return to the matter in hand. “You said you knew of the forest elves. What do you know of them?”

The Caliph smiled. “Ahh yes, my friend. You must surely have heard the faerie tales? I know you must, for they come from the north, from your own realm and that of the Breton. Well, in parts they are correct, in others they fail to describe satisfactorily the full and horrible truth concerning the debased and corrupted denizens of the forest. Everyone knows how the elves jealously guard their realm, and will lure all who stray within to certain doom. How they steal human children for their wicked purposes, and how they thus conjure strange spirits to serve them. All these things are true. But there is much, much more to them. They have been seduced by unspeakable gods and demons who taint the realm in which they dwell to make it a twisted and chaotic place. Monsters abound, hideous creatures that swing from branch to branch yelping and howling; brutish giants that can tear a full grown tree from the ground, roots and all, so that it might be planted in a place more suited to the Wood Elves’ will; warriors sporting horns, thorns and calluses of bark instead of skin. In that shadowy realm walk wiry fiends with limbs as hairy as a spider’s, and eyes so heavily lidded that they creak every time they blink; there are creatures who appear to be beautiful young women when seen from one angle, and yet in truth are nought but hollowed out husks puppeteered by gnarled and crusty imps …”

On and on the Caliph droned. The captain drank deep of his morning ale, watching the caliph’s fleshy lips slapping up and down, the occasional glint from his several golden teeth, and instead of listening began to wonder whether any of the arabyan’s fantastical words could be true.



Then, at noon that day, any doubts the captain may have harboured concerning the Caliph’s strange tales were washed away. All that the caliph had said was true. If anything, the rotund arab noble had failed to capture the full horror of the elves of the wood and their monstrous servants.

Ahead of the allied force lay the edge of a forest, a scattering of trees growing thicker and more impenetrable as they extended upwards into the hills. The only dwelling place in the vicinity, no doubt abandoned, was a forester’s hovel, though there had once been a building of substance here. Perhaps an Estalian Don’s manor house, if the ruined pile of moss-ridden stones was anything to go by? But all of these details impinged only on the periphery of the captain’s mind, for spilling out of the trees was a monstrous horde of foul creatures.

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Realising that to watch them would be to become fascinated in them, to become caught up in a nightmarish daze, the captain instead shook his head and began shouting commands. He had an army to lead, and a battle to fight for his life.

The allied forces:

Vereenigde Marienberg Compagnie detatchment (Empire of Wolves’ campaign list) 1250 pts

Captain Traugotts (on foot)
Warrior Priest
30 Pike
2 x 10 handgunners
Level 4 wizard
12 heavy cavalry (cuirassiers)
Cannon
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AIF Contingent 1248 pts

Caliph Nur-al Rhadi 263 Pts - Light armour, shield; War Elephant
Emir 94 Pts - Light armour, enchanted shield, Battle Standard
Emir 101 Pts - Light armour, Arabian Stallion, Sword of Striking, Charmed Shield

25 Arab Conscripts 170 Pts - Spear, shield, light, full command, Insurgence upgrade
5 Jinete Mounted Tribesmen 127 Pts - full command
6 Arabyan Camel Corps 146 Pts - full command

25 Red (Black) Guard 349 Pts - full command, Insurgence upgrade
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The Arabyans deployed on the left, as had been agreed the previous day when the order of march had been decided. Captain Traugotts had been impressed with the speed with which the men of the desert moved - horse and camel as well as foot soldiers - and had thus suggested that if they deployed together then at least they could all keep up with each other. To have the arabyans intermingled with his troops would surely lead to a ragged line as the arabyans ran on ahead leaving his own handgunners and pikemen behind.

The caliph rode upon his war elephant just behind the two large regiments of foot in his force. They were clad in black and white, contrasting colours reflecting the very contrasting quality of the two bodies of men. Garbed in black were his elite, professional guardsmen, while his raw conscripts wore unbleached linen. The former moved with confidence and discipline, the latter were barely kept together in ranks and files by their sergeants and officers. Out on the Arabyan flanks rode his horse and camelry, the former divided from the rest of the line by the ruins.

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The men of the Vereenigde Marienberg Compagnie adopted a fairly traditional posture on the field, with a cannon emplaced on a hill to the rear while their handgunners moved alongside the heavy horse, the pikemen ready to take the knights’ place as they moved off to gain some advantage in the field.

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The little wizard jogged along the heights to the far right, surprising Traugotts with his courage.

The enemy army of Sylvan monsters had also apparently divided itself in two, as if in mockery of the allied forces’ positions. On their right their had two pair of chariots, flanking a stone wielding giant that seemed to be made of nought but bone, flesh and thin sinews, without one muscle to power his loping stride. On the far right came a large body of almost naked elves, their ugly heads sporting sharp horns, their legs ending not in feet but hooves. A hideous, slithering mound accompanied them, of a form that was so misshapen that it was hard to describe.

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To their left another regimented horde of elves jogged through the woods, flying a blood red banner at their head, while just beside the trees came the largest and most terrifying beast in their army - a huge creature with a bull’s head and too many arms - each hand wielding a massive rusting blade longer than a man is tall.

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Wood Elves' Roster 2500 pts

Beastlord
The Brass Cleaver, Ramhorn Helm, Dawnstone, Gnarled Hide
Great Bray Shaman
Level 4 Upgrade, Sword of Bloodshed, Hagtree Fetish
Wargor (Battle Standard Bearer)
Heavy Armour, Chalice of Dark Rain
Bray-Shaman
Level 2 Upgrade, Dispel Scroll, Ruby Ring of Ruin

4 Tuskgor Chariots
20 Gor Herd with full command, extra hand
20 Gor Herd with full command, extra hand
20 Bestigor Herd with full command, Gouge-Horn, Ranger's Standard

Cygor
Ghorgon
Chaos Spawn

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As the arabs moved quickly forwards, the Caliph Nur-al Rhadi watched them with satisfaction.

“Another, if you please, my lord?” came his servant’s voice.

“What?” asked the Caliph quietly.

“Another sugared delight, my Lord, or should I put the plate away?”

Nur-al Rhadi’s fat fingered hand, every finger encircled by a bejewelled golden ring, grabbed at a handful of the squashy confections as he spoke. “No, no. Keep the plate there, I shall have more in a moment.”

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It had long been his custom to nibble on sweetmeats as his army practised their manoeuvres. Perhaps it was superstition, perhaps simply habit, but he could not see why today should be any different. Besides, the elephant stank and the perfumed delights masked the full power of its odour.

“Nice,” he said in a muffled voice, his mouth stuffed full, as he turned his gaze towards the wood elves in the distance. “Very nice.”

Battle Report to follow tomorrow
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Post Tue Jan 21, 2014 8:48 pm

Re: An Old Campaign #5

As the handgunners on the far right of the allied line loaded their pieces and prepared to give fire, and the halfling wizard began to wonder ‘What kind of elves are these?’ …

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… the arabyan warriors made their vanguard move. The Jinette horsemen came between the ruins as the Black Guard (experienced at insurgency) moved up on their flank to form a line with them.

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The camelry and conscripts, beating their war drums as best they could to hide their nervousness, made a much more cautious advance towards the centre of the field where a pair of monstrous giants were stamping about .

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Perhaps recognising that his white-garbed soldiers stood little chance of standing against such an enemy if unsupported, the caliph commanded his elephant to move it’s reassuringly monstrous mass up to their flank.

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The Empire troops performed some well-drilled manoeuvres to bring the pikemen in line with the handgunners, while the heavy horsemen made their way towards the Empire left flank and thus the centre of the field. Every man carried a brace of pistols, and all were now praying that Myrmidia would guide their bullets and lend weight to their impact. None were particularly keen to find out what hand to hand combat with such twisted monstrosities was like!

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Having decided he would make enquiries after the battle concerning the foe, the halfling wizard now prepared unleash what magic he could (Magic = 7:7), but only his Banishment spell proved forceful enough to bend the winds of magic to its purpose and managed to wound the biggest of the two enemy giants. The cannon crew were thinking along exactly the same lines as the halfling and fired a cannon ball at the same monster. This proved well-aimed enough to clip the creature, but (roll of 1 to wound) apparently failed even to distract it, never mind harm it!

Suddenly the allied forces learned that the foe was even more numerous than they had previously supposed, as a large regiment of bestial warriors came running from the right flank to appear downhill from the cannon - almost in the rear of the allied lines.

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The monstrous spawn of the twisted forest shambled as best it could towards the arabyans …

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… while the regimented warriors came up behind. (Game note: Although I did not know it at the time, and so could not advise regarding the issue, the beastmen player was labouring under the assumption that wizards cannot use magic if they march. I thought he was simply playing cautiously, but later - when we asked him in similar circumstance why he didn’t march - he admitted his mistaken assumption and said had he known he would have moved the warriors to the spawn’s flank so as not leaving it so isolated.)

The giants now moved to face the advancing arabyans, ignoring the mercenary soldiers of the Empire for a while. The chariots also shifted slightly in hope of delivering a charge just as the monsters tore in.

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Amongst the camel riders, two old friends were holding a shouted conversation (loud enough to be heard over the beating of the kettle drums).

“Not at all like the fairy stories, eh?” cried Dargo.

“You mean the monsters?” his friend Benganna asked.

“I mean all of them, even the little ones. Not what I remember at all.”

“Remember?” said Benganna, looking confused. “You’ve seen them before?”

“No, not with my own eyes, but I remember the stories my uncle told me. He had a book from the northern lands filled with tales of elves and orcs, goblins and trolls. And the elves, well, they weren’t like that!” He pointed towards the enemy lines. “Not at all. They were cruelly beautiful, tall and lithe, much more like the elven traders in the sea ports. More fey, yes, and garbed somewhat more rustically.”

Benganna laughed. “You wanted them to be rustic? Ha! I think you got your wish. Look at them - they’re so rustic they look more like goats than goatherds.”

Dargo went quiet. He remembered his uncle’s stories of almond-eyed princesses and porcelain skinned warriors who could juggle sharp blades and sing whilst fighting forest trolls. What approached now looked more like he had imagined the trolls to look than the elves. He turned once more to Benganna and shouted, “Don’t believe what you read in books.”

His friend laughed again. “You mean don’t believe what your uncle said he read in books!”


The largest of the Wood Elf warriors (Bestigors) were moving up behind the trees, heading towards the Empire soldiers, with a shaman nearby.

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The Wood Elves’ mages now summoned what magic they could (magic = 6:5), cursing the Arabyan Black Guards with the Hag Tree Fetish, then cast Traitors’ Kin on the Jinette horsemen, turning two of the steeds against their riders to kill them! The giant Gohorgon was blessed with Wild Form, though the mage in question hurt himself summoning such powerful magic. The other giant now attempted to hurl a massive rock but it slipped (misfire) and cracked his own skull. He rubbed his head whilst wondering what had gone wrong!

As the outflanking warrior elves moved closer to the cannon on the hill …

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… the surviving Jinette horsemen and the Black Guard charged into the spawn of chaos.

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Such an act might be considered bravery, but in the centre of the field the camel riders found even greater courage as they charged into the thinner of the two giants (Saigor). Perhaps unsurprisingly, the conscripts failed to reach the same foe, leaving the camelry to fight alone!

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The Empire Cuirassiers moved to the flank of their line whilst hefting their pistols ready to shoot, while the handgunners also prepared to loose a hail; of lead shot.

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The halfling Wizard (magic 6:5) found his first two spells dispelled by the foe, but managed to cast the Net of Amontok on the warriors behind him, hoping thus to slow their advance on the cannon. The cannon felled only one of the foe with its grapeshot, while the massive volley of pistol bullets proved entirely ‘unblessed’ and failed to harm the giant at all! The hangunners drew some blood from the enemy monster now turning to look at the knights, but not enough to slow it.

The emir leading the horsemen, backed by the rank and file might of the Black Guard, made short work of the span, then both pushed onwards to smash into the regiment of brutish elves following the now extinct beast.

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The skinny giant was pierced here and there by the camel riders (2 wounds) but it return he punched two riders from their mounts and ground two more into the ground with a mighty stomp. Yet the men of the desert were not yet beaten (a draw due to fact in 8th we get +1 for charging) and the last pair elected to fight on!

Now came the moment for four chariots to charge - and they did not hesitate. All four crashed hard into the quaking desert conscripts …

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… it should come as no surprise that the caliph’s least warrior-like troops could not hope to stand against such brute strength. Eighteen men all told died spears, tusks, hooves and rolling wheels. The last few attempted to flee, and were mercilessly cut down. But they did one more service in their death - their battered corpses slowed the chariots down so that only one reached the caliph’s elephant!

The huge Gohorgon also thundered forwards to hit the gentlemen of the Empire. These proved somewhat more stubborn than the conscripts, and although three died whilst the rest failed to harm the monster, they did stand their ground.

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Out on the far flank of the field, near the ruins, the fight between the sylvan warriors and the Caliph’s best soldiers went on. Five wood elves perished, as well as the champion leading them, and although the defenders of the forest were filled with hatred for the foe, they could only kill three foot-soldiers and two riders in return. This was not enough to satisfy either side, and the fight went on.

In the centre of the field the Siagor finished off the camel riders and for a moment he stood in a daze thinking what to do next. He need not have bothered, however for (spoiler alert) he was not going to be long in the world.

(End of Turn 2)
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Post Wed Jan 22, 2014 7:31 pm

Re: An Old Campaign #5

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(Turn 3)

The VMC’s grey-uniformed pikemen reformed to face the right flank, readying themselves for the inevitable charge that must surely soon come from the brutish wood elves advancing towards them (the poor hand-gunners frantically reloaded in the middle ground).

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The halfling wizard could find no etheric wind to suck and twist to his service (magic 2:2) and so his magical efforts came to nought. The more mundane method of attack, lead bullets, did not need magical winds to make it effective. A volley from the centre of the field felled the Cygor and a cheer went up from behind the rolling smoke. There was no such cheer on the right, however, for the handgunners there now failed to harm even one of the large body of beasts afore them.

Bravely the gunners manning the cannon on the hill, knowing that their end was surely nigh (what with the enemy so close) chose not to try a desperate defence with grapeshot and instead hurled a cannon ball at the chariots now threatening the Caliph’s elephant in the middle of the field. Their aim was good and the ball hit the middle chariot, but their powder must have been corrupted, or soft ground slowed the ball’s flight, for the shot failed to pass through the chariot - it did not even knock it out of action. The caliph and his monstrous mount would have to do the work of dispatching them.

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The chariot’s crew were afraid of the mighty, grey beast, and it was perhaps this fear that led them to steer badly enough that they failed to hit the elephant squarely (one unsuccessful impact hit). Even though one of the tuskers pulling the chariot managed to draw blood from the elephant’s foreleg, the elephant reared, stamped and crushed the chariot into the ground, scattering shivers of wood in all directions. At the sight of this, the crew of one of other three chariots panicked and fled.

Meanwhile, the bloody melee on the allied left between the Black Guard, the mounted emir and the foul denizens of the wood went on, and although the arabyans gave better than they received, the wild warriors of the forest would yet accept defeat and fought on.

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Now came the wood elf charioteers’ chance, and while the one that had fled in panic now rallied, first one …

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… then the other …

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…hurtled into the elephant. As the tuskers’ gored at the elephant’s legs, Caliph Nur-al Rhabi spat out the mess of sugary confection in his mouth and hurled two of his razor sharp spears to dispatch the crew of the chariot in front. The elephant swung its massive tusks into the surviving chariots’ side, then kicked its leg to jolt the chariot back. Its crew were now (rightfully) afraid for their lives, and swung the chariot around to flee away.

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Considering for a moment, the caliph bent over to whisper into his beloved elephant’s ear, persuading it to withhold and not to pursue as it would otherwise certainly have done. (Game Note: I would have chased, but my ally (Van Riekert) advised me that chasing a chariot off in the wrong direction was a stupid idea when his own men were being assailed by a Gohorgon, Gors and Bestigors! I bowed to his wisdom and privately wished I had someone offering such advice in my other games too!)

Now the Gors charged the cannon on the hill …

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… and tore the crew to pieces without even slowing their pace. To their right the larger warriors tore the hapless handgunners apart almost as easily, but then chose not to overrun for they were not yet ready to face the pikemen. On the far side of the field the last Jinette horseman died as did one Black Guardsman, but the sylvan beasts perished in even greater numbers and finally their fighting spirit was shattered - they fled and were pursued by the lone Emir, whose blood was up.

The Priest leading the VMC pikeman was reluctant to lead his men into rough ground and thus seriously disrupt their ability to fight (They would lose the campaign rule: ‘Phalanx’, which is bad!) No such caution was shown by the lone emir, however, who chased the beastmen (and the level 4 shaman) from the field of battle, whooping and cursing as he did so. The Caliph turned the elephant about to threaten the giant off to the right, while the halfling wizard on the hill desperately summoned what magic he could, killing two of the largest enemy warriors with Shem’s Burning Gaze and casting the Net of Apontoth on the other regiment.

The fleeing chariot now halted and turned to face the Black Guard as they made their way back towards the fight, being joined by the other chariot in threatening the elite arab soldiers.

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The Gohorgon turned to face the Caliph’s elephant, drool pouring from its snarling maw. The huge beast knew full well the elephant would lunge at it any moment…

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The Gors could not help themselves, their frenzied state making them charge the handgunners, while the Bestigors (the player thinking ‘fluff it!’) charged the pikemen.

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The surviving shaman did what he could with magic and managed to cast Pan’s Impenetrable Pelt on the Beastlord leading the Bestigor herd. The pikemen managed only to kill three of the foe, while the forest beasts killed fifteen of the VMC’s finest gentlemen of the pike, including the regimental champion. The rest turned to flee past the back of the handgunners, who, very unexpectedly, found the courage to stand even though there were only three left alive from their original ten - and thus stopped the Bestigors from pursuing the pike.

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As the Caliph atop his elephant commanded it to charge the Gohorgon …

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… the Black Guard charged the chariot. The elite warriors lost three of their number battling the chariot, but they broke it through weight of numbers and sent it fleeing. They did not pursue, however, but rather reformed to ready themselves for the charge of the other chariot!

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The VMC’s pikemen rallied and reformed, while their little wizard cast Shem’s Burning Gaze on the last fighting chariot, wounding it. The handgunners bravely killed three Gors as they themselves died, and the Bestigors in their flank ran towards the pikemen (on a 4” overrun they failed to reach). The Caliph and his elephant now bloodily cut down the monstrous Gohorgon and overran into the newly reformed Gors who had known what was likely to happen.

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The Bray Shaman now threw himself at the little VMC wizard, rearing to his full height in an attempt to discourage the tiny fellow, and casting Wildform on himself too to better his fighting chances.

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Yet the halfling proved a doughty opponent and although both hurt each other, he stood his ground and fought on. The largest of the forest warriors (Bestigors) crashed into the pikemen (who had, due to their reduced numbers, lost their pike 'phalanx' rule), and the chariot smashed into the exhausted Black Guard, killing four of the arabyans all told. Still the battered guard refused to flee.

The pikemen were butchered to a man by the wild warriors, who overran some way in their anger, but the lesser warriors to their side could not fell the mighty elephant.

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Four Gors perished yet they refused to flee (pass second LD roll). Over near the ruins (where stood a bottle of one of the finest brewed ales in the land) the Emir charged the chariot in the flank hoping to drive it from the last of the Black Guard …

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… while the elephant and the Caliph killed all but one of the now frenzied beastmen, with the mighty mount suffering only another scratch.

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The Bray-shaman now hacked the halfling’s head right off, sending the little noggin bouncing down the slope. As he howled his gory delight, on the other side of the field the Black Guard and the emir finished the chariot off only to find themselves now charged (again!) by the last surviving chariot.

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This time the chariot hit hard, killing six warriors with its impact alone. The army battle standard bearer (an emir) yielded neither to grief nor fear and killed the crewmen to end the chariot’s bloody work that day.

As Caliph Nur-al Rhabi speared the last of the Gors through his skull, and his elephant roared its frustration at having no more enemies before it to satisfy its blood lust, darkness brought the fight to an end. The tattered remnants of both army’s now withdrew, both unsure as to what enemy forces survived or even where they were.

End of Turn 6. Result: Draw (less than 100 VP difference) Only the Caliph, elephant, 2 emirs &a fragment of Black Guard survived of the allies, while the Bestigors, Beastlord, Wargor and Shaman survived from the enemy.

Thank you Van Reikert (my ally in the AIF) and DamoB (of the enemy Reavers' faction) for coming over to play this game. I think I am right in saying that we all agreed it was a very fun day and a very satisfying game. And thank you ever so much for making me realise that the allies were likely to presume such forest dwelling creatures could well be Wood Elves.
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Post Thu Jan 23, 2014 7:57 pm

Re: An Old Campaign #5

'Mine's Better than Yours'

Clottfurg was pondering, rubbing his forefinger beneath his chin as he always did when in deep thought.

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With his protective leather hood on, of course, he could not much feel his finger against his chin-flesh, just a vague sensation of pressure. Although the hood’s design had flaws, this was not really one of them, as few other skaven felt the need to scratch at their face in such a manner. No, the most evident flaw, and one which had Clottfurg cursing on many an occasion, was the positioning of the goggles. They were placed just a little too far to the side which meant the wearer’s vision was restricted, necessitating the constant flicking of his head from side to side to get a good look at almost anything. Looking forwards, a direction one might well suppose was of the greatest interest and use to the master operator of a warp lightning cannon, was practically impossible. Instead the engineer was forced to turn his head to one side whilst painfully swivelling his eyeballs in their sockets until one of them (not both, of course) could see in the direction required.

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None of this, however, was what currently occupied Clottfurg’s mind. Instead he was wondering what the great warlord Scabscar would make of him and his engine. Gibner’s words, spoken only that morning, went round and around in his head. They were not exactly eloquent, for Gibner was hardly one for rhetoric nor fancy speeches, but they had stuck nevertheless. “Don’t show him it. It won’t do. Heed me, friend. Heed my words and don’t you go.”

When Clottfurg pressed his so called friend for an explanation for his discouragement, Gibner had simply laughed hoarsely as if the query was a joke, then scuttled away upon some other business. This left Clottfurg mightily confused. He was proud of his cannon, and had spent many a month perfecting it, fiddling with its every component part until it sat perfectly in place, tightening every joint and screw, re-forging faulty pieces again and again, and finally polishing it with three rags and his own spit. Now it was completed, and all traces of the damage done when it was last used had gone. How could Warlord Scabscar do anything but thank him for his efforts? He would surely be praised for all the time it took to prepare it. He had devoted himself single-mindedly to the task in hand, refusing all company and conversation. He worked incessantly on the engine, and slept with it at night. He ate only he scraps brought to him by slaves while he laboured, drank only the water that dripped from the stalactites above, and his droppings became like a carpet around the cannon.

Yet now he was here something was niggling him. He had been picking rust from the barrel with his nails, thinking perhaps it was this that disturbed him, but his worries refused to leave. Then one of the slaves who he had ordered to push him to the inspection chamber-cave suddenly spoke, and his reverie was finally broken.

“That’s big, big. Happy-glad we ain’t lugging that one!” was all the slave said.

What is the creature talking about? thought Clottfurg, and strained to move his head and the ill-fitting hood to take a look at what else lay in the chamber. Catching a glimpse of a wheel, he used his hands to lift the hood up and so draw the glass of the goggle nearer to his eye. An engine came into view, and yes, it was big.

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“Blood and fangs!” Clottfurg cursed. It too was a warp lightning cannon, but it was easily twice the size of his. This was most unexpected, and most unwelcome. How would his cannon look to Scabscar beside a monstrosity such as that? Pathetic, that’s how. No matter what love he had for his own engine, a warlord would without a doubt be much more impressed by the larger engine. Oh, why had he not asked about what the other engineers were working on? Why had he obsessively closeted himself away in monomaniacal labours upon his own engine, without thinking to see what other engines were being made?

Then the second slave’s voice interrupted his miserable train of thoughts. “That’s nothing,” the creature said. “Look at that one over there.

Clottfurg now struggled to shift his perspective, forced to used both hands to shift his heavy leather hood with its tubes of iron hoops and dried gut. What had they seen? Where was ‘over there’?

Then the third engine came into view, and even though his goggles were somewhat grimy and steamed, there was no doubting this one was even bigger!

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“Blood, fangs! Burning fur!” he snarled. “How … what … Why me?”

The inspection chamber was a lot bigger than he had realised. And it needed to be ...

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... as there were some mighty engines indeed in there.

Now came the sound of approaching footsteps: metal armoured feet clacking against the rocky ground in one of the tunnels leading to the chamber. A greenish light shone weakly from the tunnel entrance, no doubt being emitted by warpstone-lanterns. Only Scabscar would have such rarities to light his way!

He must not see it! thought Clottfurg. “Quick, quick!” he squealed at the slaves. “Push, push! Get this out of here! Now, now! We must hide."
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Post Fri Jan 24, 2014 8:03 pm

Re: An Old Campaign #5

I was temporarily given command of the faction while our usual leader took an RL holiday. So it was, unable to command the AIF as a skaven, I commanded it (appropriately) as an Arabyan. Here I did a fluff piece to explain the handover of command in game-world story terms ...
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Circumstances

Caliph Nur-al Rhadi had asked not to be disturbed until noon. No, not asked, he had ordered it - given a strict and clear command. He had intended to sleep all morning, for he had managed to find little time to do so for the last two days and a familiar heaviness was coming over him, as if his thoughts were buried in sand and struggling to surface. And yet now there came a call at his door.

“Worshipful Caliph! I beg your forgiveness for my disobedience, but there is a messenger who desires to speak with you most urgently.”

Through gritted teeth, his head aching and his barely opened eyes stung by the bright light of day coming through a hole on the shutters, the caliph cursed. Then, even louder, he said, “There is always a messenger, you fool. Why do you think I gave the order?”

The voice upon the other side of the bedchamber door faltered, “I most humbly … You see, my lord … well …”

“Are you still there?” bawled the Caliph.

Surely there would be silence now? Instead the servant coughed, then raised his voice in what must have been an attempt to sound bold and confident but which came out as the strained cry of a man terrified by his own choice of action.

“He has been sent by King Ladislao.”

Silence. Then Nur-al Rhadim, still half submerged in Morpheus's realm, found himself speaking. “Who? Who has been sent?”

“My Lord, it is Fatin Indalecio. He awaits your pleasure outside.”

This time the caliph’s curses were heard only inside his head. Fatin was a servant of the Sheik himself, and here he had kept the man waiting. Perhaps Fatin had even heard the shouts from his chamber? Then quite suddenly the last of his sleep-confusion lifted from his mind, and he was fully awake. In that moment all his concerns lightened, then vanished. It had been only the child-like state to which all men, even great warriors such as himself, descended when the yielded to sleep. He was not truly the sort of man to worry over such things as whether someone had heard him shouting - that sort of fear belonged in his almost forgotten infancy.

He picked up the carefully folded bundle of white linen lying on the table by his bed and began to wind upon his head. He never let a servant help him with his turban, for he found the act almost meditative and it had become his custom to do it himself.

“Go tell Fatin to wait. I shall be there in a little while.”

As his hand circled his head again and again, he allowed his thoughts of the night before to re-emerge in his consciousness, like oasis flowers opening their petals as the sun warmed them. Not that the cast of characters that now strode through his mind were anything like little flowers: Zoon van Riekert and his talk of profit and peppercorns, tobacco and trade; Hamad Al Harbi and his dhows and barques; Hugo de Payns and his painful honour. Such a cosmopolitan force - and they were just the men. Nur-al Rhadi knew full well of the other forces marching with the AIF, forces one might not expect in the Sheikh’s army, yet nevertheless useful, and sometimes necessary.

In truth, of all the Sheikh’s generals it was he who had been most instrumental in obtaining the services of the more unusual (and less human) forces, warriors of the kind with fur or green-tinged flesh, and others still. General Maximillio Sforza had played his part, and still did with certain forces, but as far as the sheikh was concerned this remained the caliph's particular duty, on top of the command of his own troops in the campaign. Perhaps the other commanders (with the exception of Sforza) would find such a duty distasteful? The caliph cared not - if it was necessary for victory, and served the sheikh’s purposes, then he was happy to do it, even if it was patently dangerous and meant he must ever be watchful. Certain allies did have a tendency of ‘creeping up’ on him.

At last the turban was complete. Caliph Nur-al Rhadi now signalled to the bodyguard by the door (who had, of course, been present throughout, even when the caliph slept) and left the room to descend the stairs. Soon he was out on the street. He wondered why his men had not invited Fatin inside, but then dismissed the concern. Had he wanted to, a man such as Fatin would certainly have taken his ease inside.

As his guardsmen from around the building converged to flank him, he came to a halt with his arms folded. There was Fatin, as well as a captain of the Sheikh’s own guard.

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“Lord Fatin, good day to you! I hope my tardiness in no way offends, but you caught me taking my ease after more than two days’ hard campaigning.”

Fatin bowed, then spoke. “General-caliph Nur-al Rhadi, be assured there is no offence taken. You were not expecting me. I was not expecting to come. But circumstances require it.”

“Circumstances,” repeated Nur-al Rhadi. “What are these circumstances?”

“You must take the reigns of the AIF forces for a short time. King Ladislao is indisposed and must rest. There is no concern for his health, he simply needs purging with a clyster then several days rest as his surgeons advise. In the meantime you are to command. I am happy to assist you if you so wish.”

The caliph's expression changed as he silently mouthed a short prayer to the gods of war. It seemed he was unlikely to catch up on his sleep for some time yet.

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And here I did a cheeky fluff piece to reflect (mildly) how difficult it was to lead a faction with so many players each with their own opinions, bringing in a character or two played by other players ...

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Visitation

Speaking with the last messenger had left the Caliph Nur-al Rahdi a little uncomfortable. Simply to witness the bodily gestures of such a creature, the twitching, the wriggling, the clicking nails, set Nur-al Rahdi’s teeth on edge. The creature, a bent and wiry thing with a name that sounded like a curse, had matted fur and thin, overstretched lips. He had come looking for General Sforza with some intelligence about captured Murosians. Having little interest in the fate of such treacherous men allowed the Caliph to dismiss the emissary and send him scuttling off to find the Tilean general instead. Let Sforza deal with this particular issue, listen to the strangely convoluted requests and queries. It was the last thing he wanted to do. He had enough on dealing with the others (who although of the same breed, were at least a little less foul, certainly less irritating), as well as his new duties.

With the creature gone, Nur-al Rhadi could turn his attention to the latest news from his own scouts and spies, as well as the reports that had come in from the military commanders of the AIF. Apparently, and several sources agreed on this, something had happened north east of the Ironwood Forest. All the accounts were vague, as well as usually conflicting about the exact nature of what had happened, but put together they were a sure sign that something had happened. But what? And, more pressingly, what was he to do in response?

Why had such an event occurred almost immediately the king had fallen ill? Almost the very hour the caliph had reluctantly (but undoubtedly) accepted command responsibility? Were the gods mocking him, he wondered? The thought of the gods made him shudder, for some of the reports had claimed that the disturbance was indeed the manifestation of a deity, the brandished sword of an almighty manifestation from the heavenly realms which had smote an entire town and rent the ground open to reveal broiling rivers of fire.

Then again, it occurred to him now, it all did seem a little far-fetched. He decided to put such unquantifiable fears from his mind and concentrate on the here and now: on brigades, supplies, fleets and armies. He cast his eyes around the room looking for his compass, for he intended to dance around his maps imagining strategies and counterstrategies, moving thousands of soldiers with every flick of his wrist. It amused him to think that as far as his imagination was concerned, and this microcosmus of the world drawn upon parchment, he was as mighty as the gods. Then again, to think that would be blasphemy. So best not!

Suddenly he heard shouting from the courtyard outside. His meandering, moody thoughts now coalesced into irritation. Could his guards not force visitors and passers by act with the respect due to his (admittedly temporary) status? Must every foul mouthed and beggarly wretch in the realm of Estalia be brought to his presence and foisted upon him, hour after hour, so that not a moment’s peace could be had?

The words being shouted were easily discernible, such was the strength of the shouter’s voice. “I will see him. And I will see him now. I am Doktor Jakob von Hohenheim and am permitted to speak with him by King Ladislau himself.”

Nur-al Rhadi came to a halt, giving up his search for the compasses. The Doctor! The mad doctor who rose from galley slave to secretary in the AIF, became involved in powerful magics to awaken things that should have been left well alone (it was rumoured), then disappeared. The Caliph had heard this man had reappeared but he had that that idle gossip with no true basis. It seemed not - here he was and demanding an audience.

What could the man want? The King had some sort of hold over the fellow, though what that could be Nur-al Rahdi had no idea, but surely he could do nothing for the man. The voice came again, if anything even louder, though this time with a sing-song lilt as if the alchemist was performing a nursery ryhme.

“Come out, come out, wherever you are. Dear, dear Caliph, the Doktor is here. I have cures and remedies for all our ills. What ails thee? And ails this land? Is it a flux, like that which afflicts our poor, poor king? To be struck down when I had only just returned. How unfortunate. And I had only just begun to talk with him.”

The Caliph could not help himself, but moved to the window and looked out.

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Doctor Jacob did not notice him at first - there were too many windows and the fellow obviously did not know which one he might appear at - which gave the Caliph the chance to survey the scene.

Several of his soldiers had surrounded the raving alchemist, while a bare-chested ship’s master pointed at him in an attempt to berate him and shame him into proper silence. Workmen and some townsfolk also looked on, apparently fascinated by the doctor as if he were some street preacher giving vent to with divine inspiration or an irate agitator advertising the masses’ grievances.

The Doctor held a staff in one hand, and a clutch of papers in the other. His hair was unkempt, wild, and his face bearded, as if he had only just stepped from the galley ship upon which he had been enslaved; as if he had not washed or combed in weeks. The ship’s master, a little fellow, now addressed the doctor.

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“You, you wretch, hold your tongue. Show respect for our most noble caliph or we shall have every right to tear the offending organ from your mouth!”

Doctor Jacob turned his attention on the man, as if curiously studying him. Then, calmly and quietly he said, “Hush, silly fellow, for it is you who speaks out of turn.”

Then his eyes flicked up to look straight at Nur-al Rahdi, and his voice became loud once more. “There you are, worshipful Caliph and momentary captain-general! You heard me, yes? As your ears are in good working order, I ought to ask, my lord, is the rest of you well? Apart from fully functional listening lumps, do you feel quite yourself?”

The caliph was confused, and simply said, “What?”

“Nothing,” came the quick reply. “More importantly, have you considered the planetary motions and how they bear upon both you and the whole world about you? I have.”

The Caliph coughed, involuntarily, then answered, hoping the doctor and the rest in the courtyard would hear authority in his voice, and confidence. “Wait there. Do not move." Then, in an attempt to play the doctor's own game with fancy words, he went on, "If you wish to address ailments and the balancing of humours, then I recommend you consider the quality of patience.”

The doctor smiled, a little too wide.

“Yes, that’s it,” said the Caliph quickly, simply to prevent the Doctor beginning another confusing speech. He had been quite taken aback by the man’s expression, seeing in his look the promise of more embarrassing words yet to come. “I said wait. I shall speak with you anon.”

He turned back into the room where the doctor could not see him. Would he ever have peace to consider orders and tactics and the many necessaries of war! Yet the king entertained this man, and would have him serve the AIF, and so should his servant.

He now began to consider how long he dared keep the man waiting.
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Post Sat Jan 25, 2014 10:24 am

Re: An Old Campaign #5

Now back to the murky realm of the skaven. I was busy dealing 'unofficially' with prisoners, looking to make use of them ...

Underground (somewhere)

The spluttering torches, almost extinguished through want of tallow fat and faggots, gifted only a ghostly light to the tunnel, seeming to human eyes more to emphasize the shadows rather than drive them away. And there were indeed human eyes straining in the almost-dark, as well as several sets of much more accustomed Skaven eyes. Senor Abelardo lifted his head and strained to see what he could. They had stopped moments before for some unknown reason (how could anything be known down here in this world of darkness?) and his first response had been to sit upon the rocky ground, hunch over and try to catch his breath. There was a tang of brimstone (or so it seemed to him) in the air that stung his throat as he gulped it down, but in comparison to the throbbing of his over-worked limbs and the burning pain of his lashed and bloody back, the taste only registered at the back of his mind. Now he tried to put all bodily distractions from his mind and instead concentrate on where he was, who was with him and where he might be going.

As he peered around he could make out that there were still other men there, some on their hands and knees as if retching, others lying, perhaps even across each other. Counting them was impossible and he had no way of knowing how many had fallen by the wayside too weak to go on, nor what horrible fate might then have been dealt them. Beyond the silhouetted wretches were their captors’ crimson eyes, (almost) always in pairs. The rat men were on their feet and from the steadiness of their glare, interspersed with an occasional jerking motion as they shifted their attention, they were obviously not exhausted like their prisoners. The blades of their halberds and scimitars gleamed red in the weak light, as if they were awash with blood, and their odour battled for dominance with the sulphurous stench of the tunnels and the stinking sweat of the exhausted prisoners.

Suddenly Abelardo felt a hand clutch at his arm. He had to stop himself crying out lest the verminous guards turn their attention on him. A voice followed quickly, little more than a hoarse whisper. “Senor Abelardo. Senor, is that you.”

Abelardo did not recognise the speaker, but that was not what was on his mind. He lifted his hand and swept it through the air, guessing as best he could where the speaker’s mouth might be and clamping over it when his guessed proved correct. “Hush,” he whispered much more quietly than the other man had done. “Friend, you must speak quietly.” Then he removed his hand.

“It is you,” said the stranger in the dark, this time so quietly as to be hardly heard. “I am Candelario, your brother’s servant.”

Abelardo knew the man, of course, though he had rarely heard him speak. He was a native Murosian huntsman who his brother Cayo employed for his boar and deer hunts. The mention of his brother’s name instantly re-awoke a concern Abelardo harboured for the first hours of their journey but which had been subsequently lost in the pain and exhaustion. He leaned much closer to the man until his head was right up against the fellow’s ear. Through clenched teeth he asked, “Where is Cayo? Is he alive? Is he with us?”

At first there was silence, then Candelario exhaled - a defeated sound that revealed his brother’s fate to Abelardo before the man could utter the words. “Senor … I saw… he fell during the fight … and two of them, they …”

His explanation was cut short by the appearance of four brightly burning torches, followed immediately by the chattering of the ratmen. Then a commanding voice demanded, “What, what have you brought me? How many, how many?” One of the ratmen's leaders had entered the cave.

“My Lord Rottenfang, here is a score less one. All manthings, no little childers, no womens. Strong, healthy.”

“Yesss,” the leader said with relish. “They must be, must be strong indeed to have made it here-safe. You brought them quick, yes? Ran them.”

“Of course my Lord, ran them fast and faster. The weaklings fell, died. These left here will be good workers all - all of them ready-able for pumps and treadmills.”

“I shall look at them.”

One of the torch-bearers now stepped forwards and Abelardo caught sight of the ratman Lord Rottenfang. He was a warrior, without doubt, for he hefted a very heavy shield bedecked with one of ratmen’s hateful runes, wore an iron breastplate and espaldars and clutched in his hand a heavy cleaver of a blade, still spattered with the blood of some recent butchery. The chieftain now raised his head and let out an odd chittering sound, part clearing of his throat and part laugh. Abelardo had no idea what it signified, but the ratmen guards did not seem to find it unusual.

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When the Skaven Lord had completed this eerie growl, he set about examining the prisoners. “Good. Very good. yes, yes. This one too,” he said as he stepped nimbly around the edge of the cowering men, the claws on his feet scraping and tapping at the stony ground. “Better and better.” Then he stopped, just as he was looking at Abelardo.

‘Just my luck,’ thought the Murosian senor. ‘Why me?’

The ratman chieftain let his blade fall so that it’s tip scratched the ground. A hiss issued from between his snarling lips, then he shouted angrily, “This here - what is this here?” None of the guards answered, but Rottenfang did not really give them time to. “You had orders, orders most carefully given. No noblemen, no capitanos. Take only their scum, their slaves, their underlings. Those who would not be missed.”

Still no answer from the other ratmen. Lord Rottenfang began jabbing his viciously sharp finger-nail at Abelardo. “This here - look, look. Velvet, silver, here - gold rings. See, fools? See what you have taken? This here is a capitano. This here is trouble-caused.”

The guards remembered the order, but they had no idea why they might be in trouble. Rottenfang understood that berating them would achieve nothing of use, and besides, he suddenly thought maybe this was not so bad. Maybe there was ransom to be had? Maybe Warlord Scabscar’s manthing allies would be pleased to have one of the Murosian officers? He could tell them things, surely. And if they insisted, he could be given back to his kind. It was a shame to waste him, for he looked like he would work some months as a slave before succumbing to sickness or exhaustion, but Scabscar had been very clear. Only Murosian scum would be made slaves. Not men such as these.

“Bring him,” he commanded, this pointing his crooked finger at Abelardo's face. “He comes with me. Take the rest to the workings, give them water and man-bread, then when the next watch begins, make them work. Work hard-fast.”
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