Tuesday, 20 December 2011

The Battle for Menglad - Narrative

The brave heroes having survived the trials of the Redwake Valley make it to Menglad, home of the wizard Heinrich Kemmler, where they hope to enlist his help in stopping the goblins and recovering the Gem of Mahallaplenti. As they crest the ridge and skirt the woods in front of the wizards home a surprise awaits them. All along the walls surrounding the Tower, goblins stood and derisively shrieked at the approaching heroes.
Quickly taking stock of the situation the Border Kingdoms and Treyine forces broke right heading behind a rise in the ground to approach the walls from the flank. The Mirish and their Hykar mercenaries, along with the Black Elf sorceror and his cabal, broke left to cover the woods that screened the facing walls of Menglad. The Elves stayed in the centre taking aim through the still open gateway at the forces marshalling in the bailey before the Tower itself. It seemed obvious that Kemmler had either been killed or captured by the marauding Goblin hordes.
As the heroes approached the walls however it became apparent that all was not as it appeared. On the Tower rooftop a cabal of necromantic sorcerors were attempting to use black magic to thwart the heroes' advance and behind the goblins in the bailey were creatures of undeath!
As the heroes broke into the bailey the Cabal on the Tower rooftop unleashed a powerful spell, blasting many of the attacking forces unconscious and forcing most of the rest to run in fear for their lives.
The heroes, with their few remaining retainers supported by the Mirish resisted home their attack on the remaining forces of evil arrayed in the courtyard before the Tower. While they fought bravely, the vile sorceress cabal descended the Tower steps and brought the might of their magic to bear. Realising that they could not easily kill the Lich that had taken Kemmler's place as master of Menglad the heroes redoubled their efforts to destroy his minions and the few remaining archers in the greatly diminished heroic forces picked of the members of the Cabal one by one.
Still this proved not to be enough. The Lich, calling himself Psammon, cast another terrible spell forcing all but the heroes and a handful of the Mirish horsemen to flee in terror. Making a last ditch attempt the heroes threw themselves at Psammon hoping to destroy his evil once and for all. The diabolical laughter of the Lich rang across the charnel house of the Tower courtyard as he destroyed the remaining mercenaries and cut down two of the brave heroes. Realising that their end could be near the closest heroes grabbed their fallen comrades and locked themselves in the Tower, hoping to gain some respite, while the Black Elf wizard fled to rally the tattered remnants of the heroes' retainers.
As dawn broke over the walls of Menglad, the trapped heroes could hear the tramping of a large force approach the gates. Looking out from the highest windows of the Tower they realised that time was running out. Psammon's dark followers had arrived bringing a force of animated dead and vile cultists. It was painfully obvious that unless they could escape quickly, the Tower would offer little protection and may ultimately become their tomb.
As Psammon gathered his new Cabal about him and readied his degenerate minions for an assault on the heroes hiding place, the heroes seized their chance and made a dash for the wall, dragging their injured comrades behind them. Escaping, ironically, by the same route by which they had entered Menglad less than a day before the heroes tried to make their way to the camp they had made just north of the wooded hills before the Tower walls. As they desperately made their way northward, with baying cultists and the shambling dead on their heels they used as much cover as possible to hide from the questing spells of Psammon's foul magic. All seemed lost when suddenly horns sounded and the remnants of the heroes' warbands came over the horizon. Healers rushed forward and archers took position and started to pick off targets in Psammon's Cabal, while infantry formed defensive formations around the heroes and their injured charges. It was obvious to all that Psammon could not be defeated this day but that escape was possible to bring news to the beleaguered valley and the rest of Altengard, and yes perhaps to return one day to visit revenge upon the Lich and his Necromantic Cabal.

Thursday, 10 November 2011

Circle of Power - Narrative

The current was strong and the trip downriver was short. As the heroes grounded the boats and disembarked within sight of the Stone Circle, the bellow of ogres could be heard all around. Knowing that the Stone Circle contained great power, the heroes spread out along the river bank and moved towards the circle from a number of directions. Stout hearted Yeomen worked their way down the left flank, while the elves and Mirish moved down the middle. The Black Moon Elves in the party opted for the far right flank and prepared to cast magic. The ogre-led goblin war parties swiftly moved towards the nearest threat and a large group of goblins led by a large, mean, and above all ugly, looking black moon goblin emerged from the ruins to the south west of the circle. The war party to the north faced with knights and yeomen was quickly broken with a volley of bow fire and a swift charge, and while it took a little longer the Mirish mercenaries also broke the group in the centre who were being supported by wolf riders. The Black Moon Elves fared less well. Summoning magic allowed some respite from the war parties to the south of the Circle, but the pin prick shots of repeater crossbows and summoned daemons simply enraged the ogre leader and with a roar that seemed to shake the ground itself he and his war party quickly dispatched the summoned warriors and they rushed the Black Moon positions. The Mirish warriors continued through to the Stone Circle while the Silver Elves held back to finish off minor resistance and to cover the distant goblin war band being led by Fowlmugg himself. The Borderers and Treyine continued their moves across the north of the field but the Borderer knights quickly outstripped their infantry support. With wolf riders and goblin warriors in front of them there was some jostling and hullooing and suddenly the Borderer's prince and his liegeman found themselves separated from the rest of the band. The Border prince and his lieutenant were rushed by Fowlmugg's band and in the ensuing melee, the Borderers were briefly bested. A long distance shot from one of the Elven archers took out Fowlmugg with a single shot, and just as suddenly the goblin victory became a rout. As the goblins fled the field the last ogre led band defeated the Black Moon brethren and killed one their crossbowmen. The Black Moon elves led the ogre and his remaining goblins through the woods directly into a hail of missiles from the Mirish cavalry and the Silver Moon elves. The Mirish noble searched the Circle, hoping to find magic, but instead only found some treasure.

Sunday, 16 October 2011

Escape from Cinder Island - Commentary

A good game. Still loads of stuff on the table and the heroes seem to be averse to losing men to help even up the games and make them playable. I didn't make the best use of my caster and tried to use him as a Star caster when I should have probably used the NPC/Battle magic option. I'll need to study the magic options, as there are at least two more caster NPC's out there in the valley.
I'd checked out the definition of a group on the THW Yahoo Group and a NUTS! example defined the issues beautifully. We also played the rules as written that says that a Star chooses his reaction but a Grunt lives or dies by the roll of the dice. It may not be right but it leads to more HTH and still gives the Star his autonomy although the rest of his group may charge (or be charged) without him.
Rule wise, I think we're playing the game more like it's supposed to be played. I think I may have over-egged the effect of the loss of leader test (in fact I didn't even use the test as written I kind of assumed something along the lines of a crisis test for everyone). I'll give it a look. There were some issues about rules, as a couple of players confused some reaction tests and effects with Rally Round the King. That may be a problem if or when we get around to playing Chain Reaction or 5150.

Escape from Cinder Island - Narrative

The sun broke over the distant mountains as the heroes splashed across both the western fords onto the island. It was immediately obvious that something was wrong as none of the fishermen were working the boats and several buildings on the far side of the island appeared to be burnt out. There was a hush on the island that hinted at evil afoot. Knowing this the heroes approached the village on the eastern side of the island with a little more care.
The boats were still at the waterside, but the stillness and silence just got more and more unsettling. The heroes were about to make a dash for the boats when wolf howls and the yells of goblins were heard from the south. Spiders, wolf riders, archers and goblin warriors burst from the trees and ruins and from the empty village. The sorcerer prepared to cast his first spell only to have the spell stopped by a caster on the enemy side, a goblin shaman cackled and spoke the words of the dark tongue that both beguiled and terrified all who could hear it. The successful dispel was quickly followed by a failure that caused a dreadful backlash which damaged he shaman and weakened his magic.
While the ensorcelments and incantations flew back and forth the heroes worked their way around the island trying to outflank the goblins but a well timed word of power from the shaman drove all those around him into a fanatical frenzy and they surged forward to meet the closest hero and his entourage head on. It seemed briefly as though the goblins may gain the upper hand but a well timed, long distance shot from an elven archer took the shaman in the throat and he fell choking on his own blood. The loss of the shaman sent a wave of panic through the goblin warband and most of those left on the island fled for the southernmost ford and the plain.
The heroes grabbed the boats and headed south along the Redwake to the Stone Circle, an ancient ring of power.

Friday, 9 September 2011

Redwake River Valley

This is the area where the current adventure is taking place. I've condensed strategic time so that the various encounters can take place in a single strategic turn. The valley is in the far south of the border of Altengard, where Altengard meets Capalan League territory and the Sea of Stryfe.
Ath Cliath - Altengard settlement. No news from the south in weeks. Caravans going south have failed to return. Civic leaders are seeking intrepid adventurers to investigate.
Forsetta - Altengard settlement. There is a significant Capalan community here. Fenmen from Forsetta know the Fens like the backs of their hands.
Black Mountains - Forbidding and uninhabited by civilised peoples. Almost totally impassable except at Ordin Pass or by following the headwaters of the Buri River.
Forsetta Fens - A desolate and unpleasant place reputedly occupied by trolls and worse, although the Fenmen have never encountered such creatures.
Silberry Ferry - A tiny Altengard settlement. The ferry can carry both passengers and livestock.
Mael Duin - A tall, isolated hill that affords excellent views of the Redwake and the Southern plain.
Stone Circle - An ancient and powerful ruin. Allegedly it predates the tribes that roamed Altengard before it became a Tropilium province.
Menglad - Tower of the wizard Heinrich Kemmler. Kemmler was a master of the Order of Magic in Altengard Proper but gave up the world of magic and politics to return to his home to help the peoples of the Southern plain.
Dumezil Hold - Ancestral seat of the Redwake Dumezils, a small Dwarf house. The Hold is accessible only by following following the stream up through the Black Mountains.
Fortrenn - A Silver Elf settlement. There are significant communities of both Altengard and Capalan humans. The town is renowned for trading fine Elvish wines and silks.
Ailech - Altengard settlement. There is a large community of Silver Elves here with a separate harbour. The port of Ailech trades with the nations all around the Sea of Stryfe. Rumours abound that the port has been recently attacked by Seniiran sea raiders.
Mount Borgann - Legend tells of a cave deep in the mountain that is the lair of an ancient red dragon.

Out of the Fens - Commentary

Fewer rule problems. Same trouble with amount of stuff on table.
Still, had some discussion about the melee rules, and the test of wills.
For combat, I'll need to remember to print of the adapted Chain Reaction Swordplay melee resolution for the next game and we can give that a try.
For test of wills may need to give the rules on stars a re-read. Because a star gets to choose the result on a test of wills (and a charge test for that matter) and I've been allowing the stars groups to go with the Star reaction then it's possible for the heroes to hold up a bad guy for two or three activations. I'll double check and it may be that bad guys will just need to make sure that they get within half move in sufficient numbers to carry a combat.
As for the lots of stuff on table, I'm thinking I should only have allowed Social Standing worth of CV each at the start, and then I can control opportunities to recruit. But they've all caught lung fever now so maybe I'll be able to pockle some CV away from the good guys.

Out of the Fens - Narrative

Having been slowed down by the swamp troll attacks the intrepid warriors and their retinues are forced to camp in the wetlands overnight. In the dank, dreary light of day as the mere-mists rise in the distance a village is spotted. There is however no sign of habitation. No people or animals go about their business, no smoke rises from the fireplaces of homes and cottages. This close to the Fen, perhaps it is difficult to work the land or swamp troll attacks have driven off the small folk.
All is not well. A movement is spotted by the group of to the right, but nothing is there. A fish or frog perhaps. Suddenly from behind some low hills, shapes are spotted... Goblin riders and their ever attendant foul spiders are moving at speed toward the Fen's edge and the group's safest exit. Swiftly the leading forces of the heroes' retinue prepare for the attack. Bows are readied and some of the riders even consider trying to mount up before the enemy meet them. Just as arrows begin to fly, again a movement is spotted, a splash in the water is heard, a shadow moves in the mists and suddenly as if from nowhere, ugly swamp-men erupt from the pools. The fighting is now desperate, and with arrows and javelins flying, the crack of gunfire, the flash of magic and the whinnying of scared and injured horses all around, two large bodies of goblins approach the heroes defensive position. Coming from the village and through the sparse copses of trees on the edge of the fen the greenskins get perilously close but as the heroes cut down the swamp-men and the goblin riders the goblin warband leader calls a halt to the assault.
The heroes have not escaped unscathed, some warriors lie wounded or dying and one of the horses has to be put down and it is now obvious that the Fens themselves have not allowed the heroes to escape unmolested. Many of the men show signs of lung fever and a stop in the village will be necessary...

Friday, 2 September 2011

Into the Forsetta Fen - Commentary

Another good game. Only one significant error. We've been doing combat a little wrong, using base to base combat and running multiple combats where figures are outnumbered. Apparently we should be adding all the dice together and then taking the result. Still a lot of CV on the table and I've now learnt that the bad guys need to work in efficient groups (with more shooty bad guys as well). The good guys are proving to be a little reticent in encounters so I think I may need to push them along a bit.

Into the Forsetta Fen - Narrative

The heroes have decided that the Forsetta Fen is the quickest way south. Hiring two guides at Forsetta, the heroes and their retinue head deep into the swamp. The fenmen advise the group to stay close together and not to wander near the deep meres, but in the water, below the surface, dark creatures hear the large group and move to feast. For a very long time swamp trolls had lived in the Fens, but the Fenmen had never travelled in large groups or near the deep meres (stupid Fenmen don't live long). The heroes were making noise, smelled of horse meat and straying close to the troll lairs. It was inevitable that the trolls would attack. Although the trolls attacked in small groups the heroes and their followers fell into a defensive formation and chose to let the trolls come to them. The troll attacks were broken up mainly with archery and sorcery, but even so the heroes' band would fall back rather than let the trolls close. In only one notable case did a troll make it to the distant heroes line and it was quickly surrounded and despatched by men-at-arms. Unfortunately for the warriors their hesitance and fear of the trollish menace meant that they were forced to camp in the cold, dank and fetid confines of the fen.

Monday, 22 August 2011

The Handover - Commentary

Another game, another load of fun, another pile of errors.
Didn't do Hardiness tests properly. We allowed the Rat Ogre to recover form its OOF using a Hardiness test 'cos I'd forgotten to take it and then the thing proved impossible to kill. The main reason was that I was using Rep dice counting successes rather than 2 dice against Rep...
There wasn't much melee, but I'm fairly certain that in what melee there was nobody used shield dice.
We've still got too much stuff on the table with 50-ish CV a side. It works but I don't think it's really what WHAA was designed for. We don't get games finished and the large numbers are actually hindering scenario/encounter completion.
We definitely didn't manage group activation properly (I didn't twig until more than half way through and the adventurers never did). We'll need to be stricter on Rep order and on finishing activations before moving on.
We're not managing multiple combats correctly (more in the next commentary).
Got a feel for magic, still missing minor points like targets, ranges and radius for different spell effects but with channelling, Kev's magic was more successful and had some impact.
Otherwise no other problems :-)

The Handover - Narrative

A light mist was rising from the damp grasslands in the southern borders of Altengard. Skeet Moontail sniffed the air briefly. The pinkskins were still following. The item he had stolen from the village didn't seem like much, a lump of orange coloured translucent rock, but the Warlock Council were getting paid a handsome amount of silver for the movement of the rock which would soon be out of his hands. The goblins were waiting in the hamlet ahead and he could smell orcs on the fresh morning air somewhere off to the left.
Suddenly, a group of horsemen crashed through the underbrush and Moontail recognised the spoor of the man-things from the ruined village days ago. Quickly ordering his rats into some semblance of a defensive formation he instructed is Ogre-rat to kill the horsemen while ordering his jezzail team onto a nearby rise to take a better shot at the interlopers. Moontail himself headed to the hamlet .
In the hamlet the goblins awaited the arrival of the wererat pack. Their leader worried that rats were untrustworthy even by goblin standards but had no choice. An incursion by his tribe further north would have encouraged the humans to investigate and that would not fit the master's purpose at all. The chieftain new that his orc allies were out on his flank watching for the rats and that reinforcements would be here soon. It was just a matter of waiting.
The human adventurers and their retinue moved quickly over the cold grasslands, the Mirish thief quickly picking up the tracks of the wererats. The pack came into view and after some long range shooting the rat-thing monstrosity, easily the size of an ogre, charged the Mirish mercenaries. A lucky sword thrust dealt the beast a cruel blow, but elation was short lived and the loud report of a massive handgun was heard briefly before one of the light horsemen was blown bodily from his saddle. Falling back with their wounded the Hykar and Mirish horsemen gave the rat-thing breathing space to pick itself off the ground and roar defiance at the humans.
Looking out from their vantage point in some light woods the bugbear leader spotted some human cavalry and some elves if his eyes did not deceive him. Of the rats there was no sign, but the opportunity to crush some skulls was too tempting. Unleashing the tethers of his war dogs and yelling his own guttural war-cry the bugbear war patrol burst from cover right into a hail of missiles from some human crossbowmen and their elven allies. The fight was over quickly with all the patrol dead or dying in the long grass before the human line. As the death mist clouded the bugbear leader's eyes he thought that perhaps after all this was not a good day to die.
The sound of fighting was troubling the goblin leader. It was obvious now that he and his warband faced some difficult choices, run in the face of an enemy to avoid losses and detection or wait on the cursed rats in the hopes of retrieving the gem the master needed so dearly. Just as he was about to order a retreat two things happened. The promised reinforcements, wolf riders and giant spiders, arrived and the rat warrior came over the nearby rise and rushed towards his position. Quickly giving orders to his Black Moon bodyguard and his archers to take up positions and provide cover he anxiously waited the delivery of the gem.
The reinforcements split in to two groups. The spiders scuttled off towards the bugbears position while the wolf riders rode straight at the human mercenaries. The spiders gave some account of themselves avoiding the withering fire that had destroyed the bugbear war patrol but were soon embroiled in a battle against Border Knights which they had no real chance of winning. Speared on lances and trampled under hoof the spider threat, while never underestimated, was quickly dealt with. The wolf riders were less fortunate, the Mirish cavalry and their Hykar mercenaries aided by Elven bow work shot every goblin out of his saddle.
Foul magic had dealt with the last of Moontail's rat pack. A suggestion whispered on the wind had sent the packrats running and endless befuddlements had left the ogre-rat insensible to the battle raging around him. It was too late though, sensing that the tide of battle was unstoppable the goblins and the remaining rats completed their dark deal and fled southward.

Friday, 19 August 2011

Beginnings - Commentary

A first game of Warrior Heroes: Armies and Adventures. I hadn't seen the rules until 6.30 and we started playing at 7!
Five brave souls have signed up and each generated a Star. We came up with a simple raid encounter, randomly generated wererats and I made up a scenario on the fly...
We did heaps of things wrong. Mainly reactions (I think we may have done one test of wills), but probably a little bit of shooting and melee as well.
That said we all enjoyed ourselves and the Stars randomly generated some retinues/warbands. That bit we did do right (although not until after the encounter). The downside (and we may have to do something about this) is that the heroes have a total CV of around 54 which will mean around 50 enemy per encounter (and potentially as many as 100 per PEF in an unlucky ambush/raid scenario).
We've gone on to play further games (see later posts) and I think it is a thematic problem. Games take too long to play and the bad guys are an unwieldy force.

Beginnings - Narrative

Five brave adventurers, five hardy retinues, one goal.
These are lean times on the borders of Altengard. Winter fast approaches and food and gold are increasingly scarce. Seeking a little of both, the heroes head south towards the coast of the Sea of Stryfe looking to take ship to a Capalan League city state or perhaps distant Seniira in the hopes of finding employ.
En route, with their retinues encamped someway back along the road, the heroes have come across a village which has recently been attacked. Barely a dozen villagers remain and as they start to tell their sorry tale, gongs and drums sound out from the nearby woods. The heroes quickly gather the woefully inadequate defense and move to the low walls surrounding the village in hopes of spotting the enemy. In the dim light of a fading dusk the enemy reveals itself as it skitters and leaps across burnt fields and ruined meadows... Wererats!
It quickly becomes apparent to the defenders that the enemy are approaching from both the south and the west and the village will be difficult to hold on two fronts. The western group led by a Wererat biggun quickly makes the wall and scurries over. As the biggun approaches the first hovel, places a skull sized fist on either side of the doorframe and sniffs the air for prey, one of our heroes dashes forward realising that there are children in the cottage. He steps into the doorway seeking to bar the massive monstrosity's passage. The fight is as brief as it is brutal and our hero is knocked aside. The children scream in fear and desperately drag the injured hero through the back of the cottage towards the village square. The other heroes mount a temporary defence and try to muster as many villagers as possible, but the odds are insurmountable. Packrats start to pour over the south wall and the heroes already tenuous position becomes impossible.
Realising that discretion is the better part of valour the heroes fall back taking as many of the villagers with them as they can. As they flee over the hills on the Northroad back towards their encampment the heroes look back and see that the rats have what they came for. Screeching into the night the Pack Leader holds aloft a fabled artifact which glows bright orange in the fast approaching darkness ... the Gem of Mahallaplenti.