Monday, 30 May 2016

The Shadows Return: Game 8

Norbert shifted his weight from foot to foot as he waited impatiently in the cave. Well, it was not really a cave. It was a tomb. But it was really quite cavernous inside, most likely a legacy of it having been built with the assistance of Giants in ages past. The rocks used in its construction were enormous boulders – far too large to have been handled by men. It had probably been an impressive building when it was created, but over the ages the soil had shifted and built up around it until most of its bulk lay hidden underground.

Nearby, the Wight Lord Korgorax sat brooding upon a throne assembled from pieces of stone. Norbert could not fathom why the tomb’s creators would have so honoured their fallen enemy; he suspected the Wight Lord had ordered his own minions to construct it using the materials they had on-hand. And now it seemed to be where he spent most of his time, whilst his minions went about some unknown tasks, or stood perfectly still and silent, waiting.

Norbert had been in this tomb since he had awoken after his confrontation with Korgorax on the battlefield. He had been placed here, near the Wight Lord’s throne, and he hadn’t dared move since then. He didn’t know how long he had been waiting, but it felt like forever.

Patience, snapped a commanding voice in his head. He glanced at Korgorax and found the Wight Lord’s glowing eyes staring straight at him. He found himself recoiling involuntarily in the face of that withering gaze, as well as the fact that his new master could speak straight into his mind.

Nevertheless, he suppressed a snort at the Wight’s order. “For what do we wait, my lord?” he asked. “I cannot wait forever – I am not yet as imperishable as you.”

We await a means to get off this accursed island, came the response. I have waited a long time, and now that you have arrived, my moment has finally come.

Norbert shook his head disbelievingly. “But I brought nothing with me, my lord. No means by which we might escape this prison.”

The previous thoughts had come in an emotionless manner, yet the next one seemed amused – mocking, even: Didn’t you?

Before Norbert could ask what he meant, Korgorax suddenly stiffened on his throne of shattered stone, and looked away, staring at nothing that the Necromancer could make out in the darkness.

They are here.


Commander Mikel von Markenburg cursed as he stomped about on the stony shore of the island. He glared about him into the darkness, but of course he could make out nothing beyond a few dozen feet because of the thick fog that had been their constant companion for the last few days. After the initial disastrous attempted landing, the fleet had set off south along the coast of Albion in search of a new harbor. Unfortunately that was when Albion’s legendary fog had returned, and travel from that point on had been painfully slow.

When at last they had reached a safe place to land, they had discovered that the fleet had become separated. Von Markenburg’s vessel and a few others had landed here, but the rest of the expedition under General Stefan was lost somewhere in the mists. The situation only improved when the scouts he sent out returned much sooner than expected, reporting that they appeared to be on a small island – they were no longer on the mainland of Albion at all. The place was some sort of ancient graveyard, with weathered burial mounds, fallen standing stones and the odd stand of trees. 

On the bright side, it appeared to be deserted. Von Markenburg decided the best course of action was to get all the men off the ships, allow them to stretch their legs a bit, and make camp to wait of this impossible weather.

He and his men had no idea what was waiting out there in the darkness.

So by this point I had written up special rules for Korgorax, and he was now looking for a way back onto the Albion mainland. What better way than to use the ships of Norbert's former allies? This battle was fought with mists giving a variable limit to Line of Sight. James and Steve then managed to roll in such a manner that I don't think it affected the game at all. More power to them. I'll find other ways to make their lives difficult...

Game 8: Nice boat. I’ll take it.

It was in the grey light before dawn that the undead attacked. Panicked shouts came from the men on picket duty, and the camp was soon a hive of activity as soldiers grabbed their weapons and formed ranks to meet the approaching enemy. 

A slight breeze was moving off the water, causing the mists to swirl and shift although they were far too persistent to blown away entirely. In the moments when the fog lifted slightly and visibility improved, von Markenburg could see the approaching ranks of the living dead. They had approached alarmingly close before they had been detected. Shouting at those sluggards who had not yet made it into their regiments, he strode to the front of his personal guard of Swordsmen with his enchanted blade already in his hand.
Commander von Markenburg takes up his position alongside his banner bearer and a Warrior Priest.
The Empire lines form up.
The left of the Vampire Count lines.
The right of their lines.
The important people. Korgorax and Norbert in command of the undead army. Which included no Grave Guard because James painted them up specially, then forgot to bring them. Pro skills.
As the Empire battle line neared readiness, the undead were already on the move. Hexwraiths and Black Knights glided up the flanks whilst the infantry in the centre marched and shambled steadily forward. Overhead the swirling mists were further disturbed by the beating wings of Fell Bats and the dark, monstrous shadow of a Terrorgheist. 
The undead move up.
Braaaains! Necromantic magic hard at work making new friends out of nowhere.
The ground in front of the Reiksguard Knights erupted as Zombies clawed their way from the earth, blocking their advance. The Knights wasted no time and charged, crushing the Zombies back into the ground under the hooves of their warhorses. 
The Reiksguard decide the undead have enough friends already and get rid of the new ones.
The other regiment of Knights also charged, surging past their comrades and into the advancing Skeletons – the ones that were led by a terrifying scythe-wielding Wraith, and a hulking Wight Lord with a huge, darkly glowing battleaxe. The Warrior Priest led the charge with zealous bellows, and the Knights followed his lead with great sweeps of the double-handed weapons. Skeletons splintered under their mighty blows, but the enemy champions were a different matter. Slowly they pressed back into the Empire cavalry, their wicked weapons making a mockery of the heavy armour of the Knights.
Only one unit of Knights was blocked by Zombies. The Inner Circle Knights with great weapons charge in alone against Korgorax.
The general advance of the Empire
All along the line the Empire infantry advancing in formation, fighting back their trepidation at the unnatural nature of their opponents. Commander von Markenburg shouted encouragement as he led from the fore, with his personal standard flying overhead. The Cannon fired at the advancing mass of Skeletons and Zombies, trusting in their sheer number of targets to compensate for the poor visibility in the moving mists.
Oh dear. Knights don't like things that ignore armour saves.
Having dealt with the threat of the Zombies rising from the ground, the Reiksguard Knights were less prepared for their next challenge. A handful of Hexwraiths burst suddenly through the trees in front of them, passing straight through the trunks and branches that were no impediment to the ethereal forms. They hissed hideously as they attacked, their scythes leaving spectral trails of flame as they swept about.  The Reiksguard crowded together to try to fend them off, but there was nothing they could do against their ghastly assailants and before long several Knights had fallen and the remainder were fleeing for their lives with the Hexwraiths chasing close behind, howling and cackling hideously.
It was always a question of "when" rather than "if" they would break. The whole army was really bereft of magical attacks.
Batties! In-the-way batties, of course.
Vampire Bats swept in to harass and delay the main Empire lines. Their movements brought them within sword’s reach however, and the regiments of Free Company and Greatswords leapt forward and cut them from the sky.  To their right, von Markenburg’s Swordsman regiment found their path to the enemy unhindered and they charged forward into a large mob of Zombies, hacking and thrusting in their efforts to whittle down the enemy’s numbers. The Zombies pawed at them in return, but did little real damage.
Swatting the batties.
The Empire general's regiment picks on some Zombies. Seems like a fight they can win. Actually, they won through pretty quickly.
The struggle between the Skeletons and the Knights continued, however the Empire regiment was finding itself in a decidedly unfavourable situation as the Terrorgheist dropped to the ground nearby and shrieked deafeningly. Men cried out and instinctively tried to cover their ears, making it harder still to defend against the assault by the Wight Lord and his Wraith companion. The Warrior Priest and Wizard fell, and as the toll continued to mount on the Knights themselves, they eventually lost their nerve and fled. The Wight Lord and his entourage allowed the feeble Knights to escape and instead wheeled about and charged into the exposed flank of the Free Company who had just cut down the delaying pack of Vampire Bats. 
The surviving Knights flee, and are not pursued.
Oh, that's not good. The Free Company would probably have lost this fight even if they were fighting to their front...
Surrounded, but not without hope. The Halberdiers have the ability to do some damage and look after themselves here.
On the other flank, a regiment of Halberdiers braced to receive the charge of the Black Knights, only to find themselves also being attacked in the flank by Dire Wolves. They fought with good discipline and brought down several of the Wolves, but they struggled to penetrate the heavy armour of the  enemy Knights. Eventually fighting on two fronts with no hope of rescue took its toll on them and their line began to collapse. They turned to flee but were quickly run down by the pursuing Wolves.

In the end they simply didn't have much support and didn't roll well enough to go it alone. They held on a long while, though.
Meanwhile the Empire centre had pressed forward aggressively under the command of von Markenburg. The Greatswords were holding their ground against a seemingly endless tide of Zombies as they poured down the hill, their huge swords lopping off limbs and even cutting Zombies in two as they swirled about. The Commander and his Swordsmen charged a ghostly Spirit Host, which moaned and clawed at the Empire troops as they swung their weapons ineffectually through their incorporeal forms. Only von Markenburg’s enchanted blade had any effect on them, and he fought hard to help his soldiers break free. Unfortunately he was moments too slow. As the last of the ghosts faded under his onslaught, the Swordsmen on the end of the unit cried out warnings as Zombies staggered into the regiment’s flank. 
The Free Company folds under the pressure from the flank...
...And now Korgorax is attacking the Swordsmen in the rear. Oh dear.
Things are looking a little grim for the Empire.
Matters grew worse as the Free Company flanked by the Wight Lord folded. They were cut down before they could flee, and the Skeletons surged on and crashed into the rear of von Markenburg’s men. Panicked cries from multiple directions told the Commander all he needed to know about their plight. They were surrounded. He fought his way through the press to back of the unit and found himself staring into the glowing eyes of the massive Wight Lord himself. Refusing to be cowed by that unnatural stare, he roared a challenge at the villain and stepped forth with his blade held at the ready.
Von Markenburg steps forth and challenges Korgorax in single combat.
Von Markenburg fought bravely, his magical sword shining as he struck and parried with the skill of the seasoned veteran he was. Twice he struck the Wight Lord with savage blows that would have felled a lesser opponent. His enemy was made of stern stuff, however. Each time he hissed in apparent pain and agitation, and then redoubled the fury of his own blows with his wicked double-handed axe. For a time von Markenburg managed to avoid the lethal strikes, but he was tiring and his luck could not hold out forever. Eventually his weary arm missed the parry a particularly brutal blow, and his headless body toppled to the ground.
Korgorax outlasts his opponent and seals the Empire army's fate.
The fleeing Knights eventually rallied behind their lines, but then got picked on by the Hexwraiths and fled again.
Beset on all sides by the enemy, with their leader gone and no hope in sight, the surviving Swordsmen lost their nerve and fled into the mists before they could be completely overwhelmed. The battle was over.
The Swordsmen just failed their break test and escaped pursuit. It is over.


A short while later, in the deeper water a short way out to sea, the lookouts of the Empire ships cried out upon sighting the row boats returning through the mists from the shore. State troops rather than sailors manned the oars, but they rowed with impressive precision. It was only much too late that the crew of the ships discovered that the soldiers in the boats were already dead…

1 comment: