Monday, 20 July 2009

Summer 987 - A Postcard from the Edge

Brother Cedric had ridden for days across the Border Kingdoms and had now reached the borders Ekra. He had heard that the Treyine army had advanced into Ekran territory and were bent on the conquest of their traditional rivals. He must catch up with the Treyine army if he were to accomplish his mission. The army could not be far ahead.

It seemed that the traditionally rainy Treyine summer weather was following the Treyine army. Brother Cedric and his retinue were all soaked to the skin and miserable. It looked like they would have to spend another rainy night in the open when, as night fell, Cedric espied a tumble-down farm ahead. A light glowed welcomingly from the window. It was just a hovel, but it was a roof and four walls. He decided that a night spent in the warmth would be better than another night in the open, even if they had to share their beds with half a dozen goats and a cow or two. Cedric hammered on the door, which shuddered fit to splinter under his gauntleted fist.
"Open in the name of the Brethren."

The farmer that opened the door was a scrawny specimen, more wrinkle than skin, if truth be told. With the door open Cedric strode in. The farmer durst not deny Cedric entry, and Cedric was able to stretch out his legs before a rather poor but no less welcome fire. The retinue made the most of their opportunity for a dry night and huddled together around the fire, while the farmer and his wife and children huddled in a corner, fearing to say anything in case they upset their noble guests. The night passed and dawn came all too quickly. With the dawn came the thunder of hooves and the clatter of armour.

"Ho farmer," roared a voice, "'Tis time to pay your taxes. I'll have whatever you own and no less."
The farmer moaned in fear, "It's raiders from the Border. Sir Knight, please save us."
Brother Cedric looked up from the postcard he was about to write and leapt into action immediately.

(Click the pictures for larger versions)

Dear Griselda,

Hope you are well and the bakery is running fine. Say hello to the lads for me. I couldn’t have been more honoured when the Grand Master himself picked me for a special mission. I have just crossed over into Ekra, but don’t tell anyone, as this is a secret. So what has happened since I last wrote. Brother Klaus has been complaining, as usual, saying this foreign food doesn’t agree with him. Hermann the spearman has been particularly quiet, he seems to think if we travel much further we will fall off the edge of the world. Brother Siegfried, who’s quite clever at this kind of thing, has told him that he will not fall off the edge of the world, as we will reach the lake of fire which the world floats on long before. This didn’t seem to calm Hermann at all. Some people just don’t undestand learning.

We travelled to see Nettle on the Slyde, the Friendliest Hamlet in the Border Kingdoms, as I had said we might in the last letter. Well it wasn’t overly friendly and the River Slyde was at least 6 miles away, but we decided to stay the night. It was almost as if someone was expecting us at the village as in the middle of the night cries came from outside. We quickly rushed out to see what was happening, luckily we remembered to take our weapons with us this time, we’re not getting caught out that way again. Ralf, one of our new crossbowmen, thought he saw something in the fields, but it turned out to be nothing.

Brother Konrad ran out onto the main road and spotted a veritable army heading towards the village.

He rushed at them swiftly killing one and causing others to retreat before him. Their archers and slingers came into action, killing Ralf and his brother Fritz. Henning, our other crossbowman fought on bravely.

We rushed to the aid of Brother Konrad, as the enemy began to encircle him. Again his axe sang and another foe fell to the ground never to ride, this again caused several of the enemy to flee. I reached the battle as Brother Konrad fell, soon to be followed by Brother Leelove. I met their leader who soon fell before my flashing blade.

This seemed to be it for the attack with Brother Seigfried chasing most of the others off. Henning was knocked to the ground in the end by an arrow, before I despatched the last of their archers. By the time we had gathered ourselves together and bound the wounded, the cowardly enemy leader had slunk away into the night. Sadly we lost Fritz and Ralf in the fight, but everyone else made a full recovery.

Hope you like the card.

Best Regards,
Brother Cedric

This was a raid scenario with Brother Cedric being the defender. The enemy arrived in full force on turn 1 but failed to leave their start line and performed particularly poorly in the fight, with the exception of one Rep3 Archer, who passed all his reaction tests with flying colours and was the last on his side to fall.

Tuesday, 14 July 2009

Summer 987 - Into the bowels of the earth

Following a quiet few months as they established themselves in the Border Kingdoms town of Alwinton, Ragnar and his team set out for Zog-Rot. They had travelled some distance into the country before they found their first sign of goblin life. They quickly checked their gear before descending into the dungeon in search of glory (and treasure). As they entered the dungeon, they found themselves in a narrow corridor with two doors in it; one at the end and one on the right wall. Hildigunn moved up to the door on the right wall. She checked it out and was satisfied that there was nothing wrong with it. However, upon opening the door she was showered with rotten wood and faced with a blank wall. This door had clearly been trapped at one time but the trap had rotted and now it did not work.

The group advanced to the other door. It was locked too. Hildigunn failed to pick this lock and so Ragnar broke the door down. As he rebounded back through the door, the group realised that they were in a false entrance. There was nothing beyond either door. It looked like this was a trap for those that would raid the dungeon, and not a dungeon itself. Unhappily they returned to the surface. Their search for glory would continue later, but first they were going to get something to eat.

This scenario was an encounter with goblins in a dungeon. I was looking forward to a good dungeon bash. Unfortunately, this one went nowhere. The dice I rolled generated doors with nothing behind them and no goblins were encountered. Ho hum!

House Rules 1 - The Campaign

Marrying up the Warrior Heroes and Warrior Heroes: Armies and Adventures campaigns has highlighted one issue that is giving me a headache. WHAA uses a system where you specify that you are in one area of a kingdom (Border, Inside or Heart). WH uses a system where you move from province to province. So, what happens when a province changes hands during a season as happened in the Summer 987 campaign turn? Brother Cedric was travelling to Ekra to intercept the Treyine army. He had reached the border of Ekra. This should put him in the province that the Treyine army had invaded. The Treyine army captures the province, so we need to decide where Brother Cedric is on the map. Is he on the border of Treyine suddenly, or does he shift to the border of Ekra still? Common sense says that he should now be in Treyine but we still do not know exactly when the province changes hands, which would affect which encounter charts he uses. We have decided to change the campaign movement system slightly for WHAA so that it matches up exactly with the WH system.

WHAA Character Movement
Each campaign turn is now one season. During one season a character may move up to one province. When moving, the player states where in the province the character will finish moving. The character may move to any location within the province. The character will test for an encounter at this location.

Capturing Provinces
A province counts as owned by the nation that began the turn in control of it until the end of that season. Any captured provinces transfer ownership at the end of the season and will begin the next season controlled by their new owner.

This new system will reduce the number of potential encounters for each character. On the other hand, it should keep the campaign progressing more smoothly. At the moment we have potentially three encounters for each character per season compared to one battle per nation., which means that one part of the campaign is usually lagging far behind the other. I hope that these changes solve that. I also think I prefer the map movement for characters, rather than the more abstract WHAA system.

Tuesday, 7 July 2009

Autumn 987 - Campaign Progress

The Treyine invasion of Ekra was successful. They drove the Ekrans from the field and secured more territory for themselves. Treyine expansion is understandably making everyone else rather nervous, but there seems to be little that anyone can do about it yet. Both nations' governments are on shaky ground (both only passed 1 die following the summer battle) but the war continues.

The rules do not actually include anything on continuing wars. Treyine is the aggressor in this war and so would normally choose a province to attack. However, it strikes me that the defender might well counter-attack to retake land they have lost. I devised a test to determine who will attack whom in this case. Roll 2 dice versus the War Rating of each nation. Whichever nation scores the most successes will be the attacker. In the case of a draw, I re-rolled until there was a clear winner. I am half-tempted to include an option for not attacking, to allow for the consolidation of forces and a period of phony war, but where is the fun in that?

The Treyine juggernaut continued to advance, trampling their enemies under foot. The Ekrans chose to try to consolidate their forces and hold out for winter, in the hope that they can regroup and retake their lost lands next year.

The other nations are all busily setting their smiths to work, just in case they are next!

The Situation at the Start of Autumn 987 (click for a larger image)

Armies at war:
4 Knights
1 Infantry
1 Crossbows
The Black Company

1 Foot Knight
2 Retinue Foot
6 Longbowmen
The White Company
The Spear of Saint Lindorf
Callifraxia Glories-in-the-Sun (Level 3 Wizard)

The Border Kingdoms Reborn

For the past two years, the Border Kingdoms have been governed by the Brethren (see HERE for details) . That rule has now come to an end because the scions of the noble houses are now of age to take charge. The armies of the Border Kingdom will no longer march in the black and white of the Brethren, but will ride to battle in their young lords' colours instead.

The leading family of the Border Kingdoms is the van der Walk family. Gunther van der Walk was the third son of a minor Altengardian family, with little chance of inheriting his father's estates. He sought adventure in the east and carved out a kingdom for himself by force of arms. Now it is his son's turn to prove that he has what it takes to keep hold of that kingdom. Luther van der Walk is a real fire-eater. He set out to prove himself from an early age and is renowned for his strength and courage. Were it not for the law of the land, he might well have seized the reigns of power before now.

Gilbert de Beauvriere is the son of Drogo de Beauvriere, a young knight of Ekra when he joined the crusade into what became the Border Kingdoms. Gilbert is a more contemplative sort than Luther, but is known to be competent with arms and willing to fight. His father carved out his province like Gunther van der Walk did but his reign was characterised by more of an emphasis on administration than on beating up Goblins.

Childebert de Valons is the youngest of the three rulers. He relies much on the advice of his uncles to rule his province and is clearly perceived to be the weakest of the three. He is a spindly bookish man with little zest for warfare, but his theories on agriculture are likely to ensure that any province he rules will prosper and become wealthy. Unfortunately, in the recent unpleasantness he was forced to cede his territory to Treyine; ploughshares are not particularly useful against swords. He harbours a grudge against the Brethren, who were supposed to maintain the security of this area until he came of age.

The army of the Border Kingdoms consists of a mix of cavalry and infantry troops. The lords' personal retinues march to battle in their colours and are supported by a citizen militia with more taste for battle than many. The Borderers' primary weapon is the spear, but many are also familiar with the use of the crossbow.

The Borders Army Arrayed (click for a larger version)

The Lords of the Border Kingdoms are:
Lord Luther van der Walk (WR 4)
Lord Gilbert de Beauvriere (WR 3)
Lord Childebert de Valons (WR 2) (currently in exile)

It will be interesting to see if the Brethren willingly relinquish their hold on the Border Kingdoms next year.

I had originally intended to use a Norman army for the Border Kingdoms, although it is given an historical equivalent of Fuedal French in the rule book. However, I had a bunch of Wars of the Roses figures that needed painting, so I have used them as an interim force for this army. The liveried figures are painted in the livery of Sir Henry Grey, Lord Grey of Codnor, who fought on the side of the Yorkists at Tewkesbury in 1471. I made the banners and standards on my computer. I am not sure that the leader figure's standard is exactly correct, but it works well enough to suit me and I very much doubt that many people will know any better either! I do plan to replace this force with a Norman army when Baccus finally produce one, but these will suffice until that day.

Summer 987 - The Battle Between Two Woods

The men of Treyine were confident after their battle with the Brethren. They had a powerful sorceress on their side and their mercenaries had shown conspicuous gallantry in the face of the enemy. In fact, it seemed that Sir Geoffrey Chambers was a real fire-eater, charging off into the fray heedless of the dangers that he exposed himself to. So, when they were ordered to march on Ekra, they marched like men with nothing to fear.

Once onto Ekran soil they soon found themselves facing the enemy. They deployed between two woods and stood ready to face the famous Ekran charge. The sun rose in the sky and sweat dripped from many a brow as they emplaced stakes along their frontage. The Treyine army placed its faith in its longbowmen above all else. These stout yeomen could loose thousands of arrows in seconds on any enemy foolish enough to try to close with them. Sir Geoffrey's mercenaries were deployed on the left flank this time.

The Ekran army had its knights deployed facing Sir Geoffrey Chambers, on their right flank. Their infantry were deployed across the frontage of the Treyine army, but it was clear that these troops were intended solely to occupy the attentions of the archers while the knights tried to collapse the Treyine left flank. The Ekrans sounded the advance and their troops moved forwards. The knights quickly demonstrated their impetuousness by outpacing all but the Ekran skirmishers. This was too much for Sir Geoffrey, who ordered his own knights forward. The Ekrans, seeing this lone advance immediately sounded the charge and Sir Geoffrey countercharged. The melee was short but furious. Although Sir Geoffrey's knights took more casualties in the first onslaught, they drove a wedge through the leading knights, broke their morale and routed them. Buoyed up by this victory, he and his men trampled a unit of Ekran crossbowmen in their eagerness to break their lances on the next unit of knights. Unfortunately, this was just too much. The new knights drove Sir Geoffrey's men from the field.

However, in that first charge, Sir Geoffrey had laid the Ekran general low and now the Ekrans were leaderless. Their troops were shaken and many fled the field. Barely half the Ekran army still stood and the Treyine main assault had yet to fall on the Ekrans. The Ekran general's replacement called for a parlay and surrendered. His troops were permitted to retreat with colours flying and this province became another part of Treyine.

This battle was lost by the Ekrans thanks to particularly poor reaction tests in the first melee of the battle, which saw their general rout from the field. The sorceress did little but summon a unit of minor demons to aid the Ekran cause. She tried to destroy the Ekran army with an Abyss spell but exhausted herself instead.

The Treyine army had no permanent losses.
The Ekran army lost:
1 unit of Knights
1 unit of Infantry
1 unit of Crossbowmen
1 unit of Peasant Foot

Monday, 6 July 2009

March 987 - Brother Cedric Takes Orders

The letter had arrived early in Spring summoning Brother Cedric to Acromerinth, the capital of the Border Kingdoms. It came directly from Grand Master Valdemar von Vinkelhof, a big man in the Brethren hierarchy of the Border Kingdoms. He was not a man to mess around if you wanted your arms and legs to remain attached to your body, so Brother Cedric set out at once. The journey to the capital was long and wet, but uneventful. The spring rains made travelling difficult so Brother Cedric was relieved when he finally reached the city and was able to get properly dry in the Brethren preceptory there. However, he was not permitted long to rest. The Grand Master was made aware of Brother Cedric's presence immediately he arrived and Brother Cedric was summoned to the main hall shortly thereafter. Worse yet, when he arrived all the junior Brethren present were immediately dismissed. Only the most senior members of the hierarchy and Brother Miles Gloriosus, celebrated victor against the Goblins of Zog-Rot. It would be fair to say that Brother Miles looked less than happy to be there. If anything his face betrayed greater unwillingness to be there than was in Brother Cedric's heart. The atmosphere in the hall was tense. Brother Cedric was really worried now. What had he done wrong this time? Whom had he offended? He knelt before the Grand Master as etiquette demanded and kissed the proferred ring of office.

"Stand up, Brother Cedric." The Grand Master's voice was deep and strong, unlike his aging body, which betrayed all the signs of a hard life lived fighting the Black Moon. The Grand Master had lived seventy winters now and most of those had been spent in the front line, which made his longevity and even greater miracle.

"Brother Cedric," he continued, "Do you know why you are here now?"
"No, Grand Master."
"You have been summoned here, Brother Cedric," announced the Grand Master portentously, "to undertake a special mission on behalf of our order. It has come to my attention that you have upset a number of important nobles near your home preceptory. While we recognise that you acted in accord with your oath of fealty to the order, we feel that it would be better for you to take a leave of absence from the preceptory. Recent events have led to an unhappy situation that we hope you can sort out."

Brother Miles flinched at this comment. Clearly the barb was aimed at him.

The Grand Master continued as Brother Miles looked less and less happy, if that were possible. "Recent events have caused us much discomfort in our ward of the Border Kingdoms. You will have heard of the recent battle against Treyine, no doubt. The Western Marches are now in Treyine hands and we must do something about this. Brother Miles led the defending force against the Treyine invaders and failed us. He will do penance. You will succeed and you will be rewarded."

There was no doubt in Cedric's mind that failure would not be good for his career prospects in this regard.

"Brother Cedric, the Treyine army won by using foul magicks, reinforced by their command of the Spear of Saint Lindorf. You will recover the Spear from them and demoralise their troops. This is your task and you will not return here until you have done so. We have been forced to sue for peace following Brother Miles' failure and we dare not break that treaty yet. However, there is nothing to stop us preparing for the day when we have marshalled our forces and are ready to wipe this stain from our records. You will hasten that day. DO NOT FAIL ME!"

Brother Cedric hastily agreed with the Grand Master and hastily left the hall. He would rather face a whole horde of Goblins than just this one aging Grand Master. He had his task and he knew where the Spear was last seen. Time to gather his retinue and leave as quickly as possible for the west.

The first two months of Spring were uneventful as Brother Cedric travelled through the Border Kingdoms. When he reached the heart of the Border Kingdoms he also rolled a Talk the Talk encounter, which he lost by one roll. Normally this would have led to him lending a figure to another group. However, we interpreted the rules liberally and decided that Brother Cedric should go on a quest to steal the Spear of Saint Lindorf from the Treyine army. This will link our WHAA and WH campaigns a little more closely. It might even see Brother Cedric making an appearance as a hero on the WH battlefield.