Thursday, 28 March 2013

Dragon Warriors - Adventure 2 Session 1

Things are looking up for our little gaming group.

Since starting on the Pathfinder game last year, we have lost two DMs and one player due to work and family commitments - I wish them all well. However, we did manage to finish the first adventure arc of The Carrion Crown, so thanks to all involved. Dean, one of our fellow players took up the mantle of DM but decided to run a game that he had been planning since back in the 80s rather than continuing with the Pathfinder story. The last three of the Pathfinders now began a new campaign using the Dragon Warriors system and, after a little advertising at the club, we were joined by two new players. Unfortunately time took its toll, and we lost one of those players to another system (he was only filling in for a few weeks until his next game started - thanks for your time Michael), but not before completing the first part of the adventure arc. We thought all might have been lost as numbers had dwindled again, but the club introduced a new player to our ranks this week, with the possibility of another starting next week. We were also approached by a player from another game that was due to end this week, so we may very well be up to the full table strength of one DM and six players next week!

Ambush on the Road to Glissom (27th March 2013)

The Dragon Warriors
Aethelfrith – Thane
Sir Erich of Barton – Knight
Solaran – Elementalist (absent)
Thormann - Sorcerer

A New Adventure and a New Friend (Day 1 (81 from their arrival in Worsted))

Over the previous few days, caravans had arrived in Worsted to trade their everyday and exotic items from around the world for pelts, wool, cloth and agricultural produce with the traders of Worsted. The first caravan that was to pull out had completed their trading quickly and arranged to leave the following day for their trip back to Glissom. Sir Erich and Aethelfrith (Solaran had been taken ill) negotiated with the other merchants to allow them to join their caravan for mutual protection. This was heartily agreed to, the forest and hills were crawling with orcs and bandits.

After concluding the business of booking their passage with the rest of the caravan that was heading out the next day, the adventurers paid a visit on the mayor. They called at his house and found that he was packing to leave Worsted for good. He explained that he had completed whatever tasks he had set himself and, because the bandit threat was no longer a reason to keep him there, was now no longer required.

A little later that day, the party were approached by Mary, the girl who wished for a life of travel and adventure. This time, because the villagers had downplayed the role the adventures took in removing the threat of the bandits from them, they agreed to her coming with them and told her to hide herself in their wagon at first light.

The wagon train pulled out just after first light and made good progress along the main road towards Glissom. There were five wagons in addition to the one owned by the adventurers and a goodly amount of armed warriors to protect the ten or so merchants and their trade goods.

The day passed uneventfully and, except for stopping to watch a wild boar cross its path, the caravan made good time. They camped in a small clearing on the edge of the forest beside a small stream. Guards were posted to stand watch, and the merchants were then free to enjoy a friendly chat amongst themselves. The adventurers ate sparingly of their meagre rations, but offered a few morsels to the one fellow who did not seem to be a merchant. They asked about his role in this venture and he introduced himself as Thormann; interpreter to one of the merchants who often traded in his homeland. Seeing that they had encountered another free-spirit, they allowed him to share their camp fire for the evening and swap tales of their adventures to date.

Orc Attack (Day 2)

The night passed uneventfully and so it came to the adventurers’ turn to take point on the caravan; each wagon owner would take point for one day of the journey. The forest had thinned by now and the hills began to recede, so the going was slowly becoming better. However, there were still a few more small woods to pass through before they reached the main thoroughfare that crossed the grass plains towards the city of Glissom, so there was no room for copmplacency.

Towards mid-morning, the caravan had entered one of the last woodlands of that part of their journey when dark clouds began to roll in from the west. The guards and drivers could barely see a hundred yards through the gloom of the forest canopy and the failing light beneath the leaden sky.

Suddenly a shout went up from Thormann in the third wagon; he had spotted the movement of a body of people descending upon the caravan through the trees. A loud whooping war cry erupted from the mouths of many assailants and several arrows sped towards the guards of the caravan. Most of the shots were targeted on one guard in particular and although hit more than half-a-dozen times he failed to give ground. The orc raiders, in three groups, burst from the trees on both sides of the trail and fell upon the last wagon of the line with glee; their task looked easy.

Sir Erich and Aethelfrith in the lead position heard the commotion and bade Mary to keep driving the wagon with the sick Solaran asleep inside away from the ambush. The two warriors jumped off their wagon and called for Thormann to join them in repelling the raiders. The other wagons that had not been attacked rapidly passed through the woods in line behind Mary in a bid for safety; each merchant urging his guards into the fray to protect their goods.

The guards quickly formed a shield wall to stop the orcs from pursuing the rest of the caravan and a small force peeled off to their right to circle behind one group of the attackers. The main body of attackers bore down on the shield wall, but two groups of about half-a-dozen orcs continued to fire arrows at the guards. For a short while, the guards’ armour protected them but the sheer volume of arrows began to take its toll. The two merchants on the last wagon struggled in vain to protect their goods from the marauders, but were swiftly cut down by the third band of orcs. Aethelfrith and Sir Erich rushed towards the combat to help where they could. In the meantime, Thormann had cast a spell, but it did not seem to have any effect on the marauding orcs.

The volleys of arrows that the orcs had been pouring onto the guards began to take their toll, and many of the guards in the defensive line began to pick up wounds. Once the arrows had run out, the orcs charged into combat against the weakened shield wall. One of the orcs suddenly felt his strength ebb away from him (Thormann’s spell casting was now proving successful), which may have helped to save the integrity of the defensive line if several of the guards were not cut down at the same time. Sir Erich ran towards the melee to the right of the line where the second band of orcs was met by the second unit of guards. Aethlfrith charged through the action to join the shield wall, killing an orc as he went, thus freeing up three more guards to join their comrades on the right flank with Sir Erich.

Aethelfrith joined on the end of the shield wall and pulled the guards back into shape, just as one of the marauders became engulfed in flame; his screams of agony tore into the air but he did not die. Sir Erich joined the fray on the right flank and ordered the guards into another shield wall to protect the flank. The third band of orcs threw the bodies of the dead merchants to the floor and then pulled that cart out of the way to join their brethren in the fight, which was fully going their way.

As the two shield walls were being beaten backwards, Aethelfrith called upon the last few men in his squad to redouble their efforts. He slew the orc that was on fire, and saw a magic bolt from behind him kill another raider opposing his part of the shield wall. He smiled grimly to himself, “That Thormann is proving to be very handy in a tight spot.” Meanwhile, Sir Erich’s great axe had hewn another orc in twain just as the guards had formed a formidable defence, but it was in vain as the third wave of orcs burst upon the guards with Sir Erich and slew them to a man. Sir Erich realised his situation had become rather grim, so he turned on his heels, calling for Aethelfrith as he went, and ran towards the safety of Thormann’s cart, in the hope of regrouping there.

Aethelfrith heard the shout from his comrade, slew another orc with his trusty spear and followed the last three guards with him away from the combat towards the rallying point around Thormann. Another magical blast from the sorcerer killed another orc, stunning them just enough to allow the three companions and the last remaining guards to escape the ambush.

The orcs decided that their prize had been hard won; nine of their comrades lay upon the dust of the road, so they decided not to pursue the vanquished humans. It was a shame for them that the wagon only contained woollen fleeces and turnips.

Arrival in Glissom (Day 6)

Once the party and the three remaining guards had made the safety of the caravan a few miles up the road, Thormann set about healing as many of the combatants as possible just in case there was a repeat attack. The remainder of the wagon train though made good progress throughout the rest of that and the next three days, with no sign of pursuit.

On the sixth day of travel, just after noon, the weary caravan arrived on the outskirts of Glissom. The town walls towered over the sprawling shanty town and merchant camp that always springs up outside of every city’s bounds. The smell of greasy meat and stale sweat pervaded the air around the makeshift settlement. Merchants and traders called their wares in the hope of attracting an agent to help them sell within the city. The city revenue collectors plied their taxes on every wagon entering through the gates below the watchful merlons upon the walls, and city guards kept a careful eye out that no trading was taking place in the shanty town without the city getting its share of the revenue. Mary’s eyes widened as she saw the great city before her. Her life of adventure and travel was about to begin in earnest.

Saturday, 23 March 2013

15mm: A base of Spears for HotT

I finished basing a unit of 15mm Spears for one of my Doggerland HotT armies. These will be something I will slowly put together to form each of the four major armies in an upcoming Doggerland revisited epbm game. If I get more players, then I will need to paint up a few more bases of another range to represent those too.

Anyway, onto the miniatures - they are Two Dragons Productions' Anglo-Saxons, I have quite a few packs of these, so will be creating a large army of them. These will represent what became of the core of the Divine Bergen Hegemony around 200 years after the events that unfolded in the last Doggerland game.

These will form a division known as the Black Shields of Bergen; an elite unit that puts the mourning of Elrich the Alwise uppermost in their religious rites. The Black represents that they are mourning their lost deity...

The Yellow represents the Divine Elrich himself, and the Blue represents the sky that knows no bounds but the love of their divine master.

I also have miniatures to represent later incarnations of the troops of The Cantwaran Confederacy, The League of Borre and the Thuringian Empire.

In the next game, the lines of the various empires will have faded and new empires will have begun to rise from the ashes of the past. It will be gamed at a smaller scale, representing just a small part of one of the old territories - possibly Cantwara. It will be a game of diplomacy, economics and warfare between rising warlords and their immediate retinue, or comitatus.

Sunday, 17 March 2013

Dark Judges - 2000AD

I put a bit of paint onto some figures this weekend. The rain meant things were a bit dark in my painting area, even with the lights on, but I decided to just complete a few figures that were almost there and do some easy stuff that didn't rely on fine focusing.

I managed to complete the four Dark Judges from 2000AD (Citadel minis from the 80s - I like the new Mongoose ones too, but they are scaled differently and will not be compatible with these minis, so I may buy them and use them for the new Judge Dredd game, but leave these on the shelf as reminders of good times past)...

Judge Fire

Judge Fear

Judge Mortis

and finally, the meanest of them all ... Judge Death

I have actually just been reading some old 2000ADs and Megazines and what prompted me to get onto these figures was the story about Young Death in the Megazine.

All went well with the painting of the figures but I had a bit of a mishap on Saturday. I managed to get my paint tray a bit wonky when I moved it and a whole slew of figures slid off and hit the floor. Judge Mortis got broken off at the ankles but I was able to manage a minor repair - not brilliant but at least it is not as bad as a couple of my Norman Knights - the horses' legs got snapped off at the fetlocks, but are unfortunately completely beyond repair. A few other minis got away with just minor damage (spears snapped off etc., but they have all been repaired OK). In all my years of gaming and painting these are the first three that I have ever broken by dropping them. When I hear some of the horror stories on the net of people losing entire armies to mishap I feel I have had it pretty good so far.

I managed to get the rest of the Norman knights I have been talking about recently fully undercoated this weekend, so I will start painting them proper soon. I was thinking of trying to do a knight a day, but the original title of the venture now has to fall by the wayside - I can no longer call it "40 Days 'n 40 Knights" as I now only have 38 of them left! :-( I may try to put an order in for a few more to make up the numbers, but then again might wait until I get my infantry side of the army sorted. This would mean a bit of a delay in getting them painted. I am going to use these Normans for skirmish gaming, so all are based on round washers. I have yet to find them an enemy to fight. I have a couple of boxes each of Gripping Beast Vikings and Anglo-Saxons. The Vikings would work well, but unless I called the Normans something else they are not early enough to go with the Saxons as they seem to be Alfredian.

Thursday, 14 March 2013

Dragon Warriors - Session 7

In which the Bandits are Defeated (13th March 2013)

The Dragon Warriors
Aethelfrith – Thane
Sir Erich of Barton – Knight
Solaran – Elementalist

Reiver Patrols (Day 65 – Early morning)

The following two days allowed Aethelfrith to fully recover from his wounds and for the adventurers to get their things in order to set out once more to destroy the bandit’s nest. After they had stowed away their loot and said their “Farewells” to the mayor, the adventurers set out on the road again. This time they would head directly to the dilapidated manor house via the route they now knew through the forest, rather than skirt the hills.

The first day’s travel passed uneventfully, but just after dawn of the following day, when Solaran was just about to finish his watch duties, there was a rustling in the bushes nearby. He noticed a few shapes stealthily moving towards their small glade encampment.

After scanning them surreptitiously for a few moments, he realised that there were at least three of the Reivers approaching them from three different directions.  He nudged Sir Erich and Aethelfrith awake, and they grabbed their weapons, but did not have time to don any armour. They each took aim at one of the approaching shadows and let loose. Solaran’s and Sir Erich’s shafts struck home leaving the third bandit no choice but to turn on his heels and flee the glade.

The following day passed uneventfully except for the party climbing a tree to avoid an encounter with a roaming wild boar.

The companions arrived within the vicinity of the manor house during the morning of the third day of their travels from Worsted. They carefully surveyed the perimeter and then settled in front of the main gates to observe the comings and goings of the bandits within. Nothing happened except for a changing of the guard every few hours, so the party decided to cover their tracks and make camp a short distance away from the bandit lair to pass the night.

Attack! (Day 68)

The adventurers returned to their observation place the following morning to try to work out what was going on within the confines of the bandit lair. They observed that there were now only two guards on the main gate as opposed to the three they saw the first time they visited the ruins. The guards changed over every couple of hours and the rota finished within three changes, meaning there could only be a handful of bandits left in their lair.

The party decided that they would attack, so advanced upon the gate, bows at the ready. When they got into range, the party let loose their shafts but missed their targets at the gate. The bandits yelled an alarm and shot back at Solaran and Sir Erich; they had failed to spot where Aethelfrith was hidden. Solaran and Aethelfrith got another shot off at the same guard and he crumpled to the floor. His colleague returned a shot but missed his target. A few seconds later, several more guards turned up and started to shoot at the party who started to slowly back away, shooting as they went. A few barbs found their mark on either side.

The leader of the bandits spotted the party had begun to retreat and urged his men forward at a charge. That was the signal for the adventurers to turn tail. They fled for about fifty yards until they found a defendable position and turned with their bows drawn. As soon as the bandits came into view Sir Erich loosed his shaft and one of the pursuers dropped to the floor.

The rest of the bandits closed in now that their quarry had turned to fight, but shots from Solaran and Sir Erich carried on finding their marks. By the time the bandits were able to close into melee there were only three of them left; a sergeant and two minions. The battle broke up into pairs, and each of the party sustained a hit before they dispatched their foe.

The battle over, the party collected their thoughts and tried to work out what to do next, now that it looked like they had killed what they thought must have been the majority of the Reivers. They stripped the bandits’ bodies of all of their valuables and weapons and cautiously returned to the manor house again.

The adventurers remained watchful for an hour or two until they were sure they could see no guards at the manor house gates, then they advanced cautiously upon the opening with their weapons drawn, expecting to be attacked at any moment, but all was eerily silent.

They entered the tumble-down house but found no sign of the bandits. They had either all been killed or had fled. They ransacked the building for treasure but found nothing other than an ornate breast plate for all of their troubles. When they had finished searching the manor, they settled down for their evening meal. Sir Erich collected his thoughts on the first day he had arrived in Worsted, when he was dressed as a monk – he remembered that he had not seen the bandit leader in all of these subsequent combats and skirmishes. There was nothing to show for the bandits’ highway robbery efforts within the ruins, so he assumed that the missing leader had run away with all the portable items of value when the going had got hot.

The party camped the night in the ruins but nothing untoward happened except for the passing of a large creature during the middle of the night that Aethelfrith heard but did not see. They broke camp and left for Worsted the next day.

The Journey Back (Days 69-71)

The party broke camp early in the morning and headed back to Worsted on the path that had brought them to the manor house. As they were making their way through the forest, a sudden crash of undergrowth and a snarl brought them face-to-face with a large white cat. The sabre-toothed cat lunged at Sir Erich to bite him but he managed to step away from the cat just in time. Aethelfrith was a little more alert and was able to stab the feline with his spear causing it to yowl in pain. The cat lunged for the attack again and caught Sir Erich a glancing blow whilst Aethelfrith again stabbed it with his spear. This enraged the wild cat and it changed its attack to the one who had caused it pain, causing a wound upon Aethelfrith’s upper thigh. Aethelfrith backed away whilst Sir Erich advanced. Solaran shot at the cat with his bow but this only seemed to enrage the creature further. Sir Erich caused a grievous wound with his great axe and a solid blow from Aethelfrith’s spear caused the cat to become even more enraged, and rather than flee it redoubled its attacks upon the party. Solaran thought that magic may do the trick where steel could not, but the cat dodged the flaming ball that was thrown at it. However, this caused enough of a diversion for Sir Erich to dispatch the creature. Whilst Aethelfrith bandaged up his wounds, Sir Erich got to work skinning the cat; the pelt was sure to fetch a good price at any market.

The following day, the party were able to avoid an orc patrol that was headed towards the ruined manor house.

The rest of their journey to Worsted was uneventful.

The End of the Adventure (Days 72-80)

When the adventurers turned up in town they announced that they had rid the village of its nemesis. Although this was good news to the ears of the local residents, they seemed totally non-plussed and carried on with their everyday lives as if it meant nothing to them. This annoyed the party as they did not even get to have a proper celebration at the expense of the villagers. They returned to the chapel where they put their newfound loot onto their cart and prepared to leave when the next caravan made its way to Glissom.

The following day they paid a visit on the mayor, who congratulated them on a job well done. He also enquired after the white cat pelt on their cart. The party negotiated with him and managed to barter it for an item of jewellery that consisted of a white polished stone with a red glyph inscribed upon it; an Amulet of Abraxus (a magical item that allowed its wearer to heal more quickly than by nature alone).

Aethelfrith found that the days between their arrival back in town and when the next caravan pulled in was enough to cure him of the wounds he had accrued in their last few battles. He certainly had a lot of scars to boast about when they arrived at their next port of call.

The caravan arrived about a week later and the party negotiated their place upon it for the return journey to Glissom.

Thursday, 7 March 2013

Dragon Warriors - Session 6

In which the Bandits are Fought (6th March 2013)

The Dragon Warriors
Aethelfrith – Thane
Sir Erich of Barton – Knight
Solaran – Elementalist
The Silent Man – Assassin (absent)

The Reivers’ Lair (Day 50 – Late morning)

After the adventurers had gained directions to the bandit lair from their prisoner, the Silent Man led him off into the forest. Neither of them was seen again.

Not long after the Silent Man had left, but Solaran showed up again. He had finished whatever it was he had set out to achieve and had tailed the party just after they left Worsted.

The group laid their plans for how they would approach the bandit lair and arrived within its environs later that afternoon. The once grand manor house was covered in bracken and ivy, its outer walls crumbling in places, and one of its towers had completely collapsed. The roof was a skeletal frame not unlike the rib cage of a beached whale whose bones had been picked clean by the gulls.

Whilst the three adventurers formulated their strategy for attack, they noticed that there were three guards posted on the wall closest to them. The party thought they were safe and had not been seen. An arrow shot by the bandit guards sailed over their heads harmlessly without being noticed. The bandits had spotted them but the party were unaware of it. The party decided that the best course of action would be to whittle their numbers down before facing them in a full out frontal assault.

Sir Erich and Solaran quietly backed away to a prearranged place fifty yards back in the forest and prepared for an ambush. Aethelfrith, meanwhile, carried on watching and noticed that as soon as his companions made to move away, one of the guards left his position on the wall and entered the main building which Aethelfrith could see through a gap in the crumbling walls. A few moments later the guard returned to his post. Aethelfrith waited nervously to see what would happen and feared that he may be surrounded by bandits that left the compound from another exit. The adventurers’ ruse hinged on him being able to draw a few of the guards away from the walls, and chase him to the ambush.

After another short period, several guards ran out of the manor building to join their comrades at the wall. A lot of gesturing, pointing and shouting went on until Aethelfrith got sick of waiting and decided to launch an arrow at the one who looked like a leader. His arrow found its mark and the bandit leader shouted abuse at his attacker. Aethelfrith followed his first arrow up with another direct hit. This had the desired affect. The bandit leader and two of his cohorts sprinted out of the fortification to sort out the upstart warrior. Aethelfrith realised it was now time to leave but as he stood up, two arrows found their mark on him. He sprinted towards his companions; the trap was set in motion.

The bandits were in hot pursuit of their quarry, but the thane managed to keep ahead of them enough that they would still chase him. After about fifty yards, Aethelfrith sprinted past his hidden companions and carried on as if they were not there. The bandits ran towards the trap but spotted Sir Erich just before they got to him. Sir Erich was unperturbed and stepped out from behind his tree and struck the bandit leader a glancing blow with his axe. An arrow from Solaran found its mark on another of the bandits just as they joined the fray. Aethelfrith, realising from the sounds of combat that the trap had been sprung quickly turned around and rejoined the melee.

Sir Erich got bogged down in a hefty melee with the leader of the bandit party and one of the Reivers whilst Aethelfrith fought the third warrior. Aethelfrith picked up another minor wound before felling the bandit facing him with his trusty spear. Solaran tried shooting at the second bandit fighting Sir Erich but didn’t have much luck, so drew his mace and got in closer to support his companion. Aethelfrith was now also free to join the main melee, and almost straight away he felled the second bandit. The bandit leader was now desperately fighting off three assailants but chose to concentrate more on Sir Erich. This was a mistake as Aethelfrith stepped straight in and skewered him on his spear.

After the furious combat, the adventurers looted the bodies of their weapons and valuables, stripped them of their clothes and then rested up until dusk. Once the sun had started to fall below the horizon, the party dragged the bodies closer to the bandit lair and hacked off the head of the leader. Keeping to the shadows, Aethelfrith crept closer to the gates and threw the severed head to land with a ‘plop’ right in front of the gates. He rapidly fled back to his companions and they escaped into the night.

Pursuit by Reivers (Day 51)

The adventurers kept up their pace most of the night, stopping only briefly a few times through the night to rest and eat. However, the following morning, Solaran noticed that they were still being pursued. He could only see one bandit, but assumed that there would have been more of them following along unseen.

The party decided that they would most likely be overtaken so decided that it might be best to make a stand. They stopped at a likely place for an ambush and looked back up the trail they were following. Not long after, they spotted three bandits approaching stealthily. They nocked arrows to their bowstrings and drew them ready to shoot but just as they were about to loose, another three Reivers appeared. Not liking the odds, the party decided to sprint away from potential danger. The chase was on but the party managed to outpace their pursuers, who gave up after a few minutes with a flurry of bow shot which pinged harmlessly off the adventurers’ armour.

As night began to fall, the companions became very weary, so decided to stop for a rest. Solaran cast a spell that erased their tracks all around for a twenty yard radius and they holed up in a safe overhang, away from the main path. They were so tired that they slept the night through. Luckily the bandits had stopped in their pursuit and no other creatures of the forest decided to accost them.

Return to Worsted (Day 54)

After a couple more uneventful days travel, the party found themselves back in Worsted. They made their way to the tavern to tell of their adventures and bring news of all that had transpired but the mood in the village had changed towards them. The village demanded money for looking after their horses and cart to the tune of ten silver florins. At first the party refused to pay this but decided that in the interests of peace they would do so, but they vowed that this would effect how they now saw the village.

Beckett approached them a little after they arrived back in town and passed them some money for some more of the goods he had managed to sell on their behalf. The party thanked him for the services he had rendered for them but said that they would now take the rest of their goods to Glissom to sell. They packed the rest of their belongings into the back of the cart along with the weapons they had purloined from the last batch of bandits and camped in the chapel. However, they were warned that they would need to start paying for their keep from now on and that staying in the chapel would no longer be free. This disgruntled them even further and they vowed to no longer have anything to do with Worsted but would carry on with the mission to eradicate the bandit problem for selfish reasons – the bandit lair was bound to be full of treasure stolen from many caravans over the past few months.

They asked around to find out when the next caravan of merchants would be leaving for Glissom but to their despair, this would not be for nine days. They also found out that the mayor was again out of town. They decided that as they had all picked up wounds they would take it easy and heal up until the caravan set out.

Rest and Recuperation (Days 55-61)

Whilst awaiting the caravan and the possible return of the mayor, they just kept themselves to themselves but on the third day of waiting, a large swarm of bees arrived in town. Nothing much happened except the bees found somewhere to build a hive and set to building it. Honey would be on the menu in a few months time; just after the newly arrived queen started laying eggs.

Aethelfrith found he was almost fully fit after a week (just a few minor niggles needed sorting out) but the other two were fully rested by then. They started to prepare for their departure in two days time, just as the mayor returned to the village.