Monday, October 14, 2013

The Final Map and Campaign Results

And so it ends. With the dust settling on the final siege, the dwarves eventually proved victorious and cast out the liche and his forces from the old ogre capital. With the undead denied clear victory, who emerges as the ruler of the Sundered Isles? The final results tell us the awful truth:

So, after a two year campaign, the vampire counts and the dwarves carve up the isles and establish a border between the two realms. Nestled in the new dwarven lands are the remnants of the Bretonnian kingdom, and far to the East the forces of chaos cling on. In the undead lands nothing remains but empty keeps and blasted lands, the people fled or enslaved.

We began the campaign with nine players, and generally things went pretty smoothly. A dedicated GM (thanks Tom) and regular map updates (thanks me) were a huge help. The ability to roll off battles when folks couldn't play was a big plus, and later on we used Universal Battle to play online if we couldn't meet face to face. Next time, and we already have six players signed up, we will probably put a cap on the amount of years the game lasts. Five would probably be enough. The Blood in the Badlands rules are quite good too, so we might give that a shot.

This blog is a pretty good record of our exploits, so if anyone out there finds it of use for their own campaigns then all is good. Campaignhammer 2 is already in discussion.

Finally, a parting shot from the old liche.

High in the towers of the old Elven capital which rose from the cliffs of the Northern coast of Kinsblood isle, Morbius stood  over a large table covered in maps of the isles. He had fled from the dwarven assault on the keep on Kanesdue, and the dwarves had wasted no time in re-fortifying it and anchoring their Southern borders around the new docks built there. Thomas had never returned, and Morbius surmised that he had met his final end on the walls of the ogre keep.

Over the following months the dwarves had established  a tenuous border, their ironclads patrolling the seas off Kinsblood and the isle of mists. They dared not venture too close, as the ghost hulks of his new fleets were always waiting for a stray ship to lag behind. 

Morbius looked up from his musings at the hammering above him. Human workers laboured to finish re-roofing the main hall of the elven fortress. Many had been taken from the villages to the North, as precious few elves still lived on the island. It was not the graceful and flowing wood work of the Asur, but it was sturdy and it would keep the rain off. Skeletal drudges toiled alongside the humans, neither tiring or complaining. They were less exacting in their trade, but they served. Soon enough the keep would be restored and the real work could begin. There were tens of thousands of corpses mouldering in the earth or rotting at the bottom of the ocean the length and breath of the isles after the war, and Morbius hated to waste a good corpse.

With a cheery chuckle, he returned to his maps.

Wednesday, October 9, 2013

The Final Battle - Campaign's End

The Ogre's surprise attack had worked, and Admiral Storinson's fleet had been decimated. His own flagship had been one of the earliest casualties. He smiled as he remembered swimming towards the Ogre ship in an attempt to ram his pegleg through their hull.

His steel pegleg had been just sharp enough, and it had penetrated the ogre hull. Unfortunately not with enough force to hole it. Instead, it had wedged itself soundly in the large wooden planks. He had spent the next week flopping about attached to the side of the ogre vessel, alternating between keeping his head above water and trying to extricate his steel leg from the hull. So deep was the slayer rage that it had not occurred to him to unscrew the leg.

Eventually he had worked it loose of it’s wooden prison, and his hook hand had pierced a large chunk of driftwood while he sank into cold unconsciousness.

But he did not die.

It had taken days of swimming, if you could call splashing with an iron prosthetic leg and one hook for a hand ‘swimming’. For a while he had almost convinced himself that the sea would be a worthy doom. After all, who could beat the Sea in battle? But he had persevered, his powerful shoulders and arms pulling him through the water and he had found land.

The simultaneous shock and pleasure when he realised that he had crawled onto an unknown beach of Kanesdue, the Ogre homeland, was an odd feeling

 After months of hard travel, filled with empty stomachs and doom-seeking-adventures, he arrived at the Ogre capital ‘The Great Hall’. Looking over at it from nearby hills, he squinted. He squinted some more. Depth perception is hard when you’ve got one eye. Yep. It was a Dwarf army mustering outside the walls.

“All righ’ LADS!”, Storrisson roared as he strolled up to the group of slayers.
“Who are you? Havne seen yoo before”, said one suspiciously.
“Suspicious eh? I like that. Yoo can be mah secoority officer”.
“security what now?”
“emm, Garil...sir?”
“good lad, good lad.”
“ah here, he must be a bit touched”, muttered another slayer.
Storrisson’s head whipped around.
“Touched eh? Seein’ as yoo like touchin so much, you can be ships cabin boy.”
“Cabin what? now look ere-”
“touch me again and I’ll make you wish you were-”
“SECURITY OFFICER GARIL! If this ‘ere fellow even looks at me funny, clamp ‘im in irons!”
“AYE AYE SIR”, grinned Garil.
Some laughed, some shifted uneasily on their feet, unsure of this new figure.
“I can”, said a young slayer confidently.
“I can sir!”.
“Excellent. Continue!”

Storrisson listened as the young slayer outlined the attack plan. He pointed out three key points which had been identified in the fortress, two towers and a section of wall. The slayer unit had volunteered for the worst job, or the best job based on your point of view. They were to guard one of the battering rams, then make a suicide charge on their target tower. Another young slayer told him of the Crypt Horrors within, and how they had beaten the slayers back with heavy losses on both sides during their last attempt at taking the city. 

“Have any of ye actually killed onythin’ since ye took up doomseekin?”
“Ah’ didnae think so, not enough scars among ye to cover mah left buttock. That’s allri’ lads, ye’ll get yer chances today. Each and every one o ye.” 

Storrisson gazed at the enemy walls, watching as the ranks of undead and ghouls jostled against each other. He could feel his dwarfhood growing in anticipation of the battle. He pulled an axe from it’s sheath on his back and held both it and his hook straight out.
“Yes sir?”, said came a downtrodden voice, “aww jeez, is that what I think it is?” as he turned to face Storrisson. “Seriously?”
“Axe for hook, swiftly now!”
Cabin boy unscrewed the hook, and screwed the axe back in, in it’s place..
“Mark my words, I’m going to have one of their skulls over my fireplace aboard my new vessel when I return home”, said Storrisson as he pointed with his newly attached axehand at the Crypt Horrors.

Morbius gazed down at the dwarf lines. He was untroubled. Most of the dwarves from the previous assault now manned the ramparts beside their former enemies. Only the orange-haired dwarven berserkers could not be cajoled to stand up and serve. Stubborn even in death, it seemed. Perhaps it was something in the axes they had chained to their wrists that vexed the spell of awakening. Something for later study.

Although, even with the newly undead dwarves to bolster the defence, the numbers under his command were dwindling. It had been a hard march to slip his force past the dwarven blockade and then outwit the armies that attempted to stop him reaching the ogres keep. Only the sheer tenacity of the dwarven pursuit allowed them to reach him and lay siege. That assault had been thrown from the walls, but on the eve of victory a second dwarven army had arrived to oust him. 
Blast the dwarves and their halls for all time would have been a polite translation of the Nehekharan curses that issued from Morbius’ cracked lips.

As the liche pondered the dwarven assault began.

The familiar sound of the dwarf hold horn blared, echoing across the valley. Dwarf troops on all sides of the fortress roared and charged forwards. Storrisson could see the other band of slayers in the west climb over the walls, which were empty of defenders. The unit of warriors with them did not fare as well. During their charge rocks pelted them, but the dwarves could see no one on the battlements to throw the rocks! Their ladders hooked over the crenellations of the south west tower, and as the dwarves were clambering up the ladders they were swarmed by ghostly apparitions. Some dwarves immediately died of shock and fell from their perches, while others moved their booted feet to the sides of the ladder and slid down as fast as possible. They knew there was nothing they could do against a foe such a this.

 To the east the battering rams lumbered forwards, Storrisson knew it would take time for them to reach the walls. 

“RIGHT LADS!”, yelled Storrisson, “LAST ONE IN’S A RUDDY RATLING!”.
They didn’t need cajoling, they had worked themselves into a frenzy over the last hour. Headbutting each other, drawing their blood with blade edges. They charged at the tower he pointed at, screaming incoherently. Some of them started to climb the walls using the piercing hooks on the back of their axe heads, others used ladders. Storrisson flung his grapple over the battlements and started climbing towards the slavering Crypt Horrors.

With a howl of despair the spirit host guarding the South West tower was finally despatched by a dour looking dwarf carrying a glowing hammer. With the banishment of the host the dwarves began to clamber over the ramparts with nothing now to stop them. They leapt down the inner walls and thundered down staircases as they sought to follow their lord as he charged across the corpse strewn courtyard. Sensing the danger the liche climbed to the top of the walls and with a curse he unleashed searing bolts of black fire at the figure. The oily blackness was, for a moment, blasted away by the light from the dwarf’s hammer, but it spilled over and beyond it and where it met flesh it sizzled and spat. The dwarf roared and sank to his knees, and a gasp went up from the throng as they saw their leader fall. The attack began to falter.

 Morbius grinned widely and prepared to pour more black death into the screaming dwarf. As he began to recite the spell, a second attack demanded his most immediate attention. The dwarf ram had finally found a weak spot and the entire East wall shook and cracked, with the Southern section giving way entirely carrying away it’s defenders with it. It was at that moment the dwarf slayers burst through the doors from the North East tower and into the ghouls beyond. The carnage was horrendous, with slayers beheading slavering ghouls even as they were disembowelled by the stinking claws of the grave feeders. Several combats sent both ghoul and slayer over the sides to mutual doom on the rocks below. Among the spraying blood and viscera a single dwarf poked his pudgy finger at the vampire, Thomas, who had barely had time to draw his sword before charging the impudent dwarf.

It was not Thomas’ finest hour. In his haste to kill the dwarf he managed to slip on a pool of gore as he swung to decapitate the slayer. (Morbius later thought a little less showmanship and a little more looking where one was putting one’s feet might have been in order.) He landed hard on his rump, but thankfully did not have to endure the humiliation for long as the dwarf’s axe neatly sent his head spinning over the side to land with a wet thump on the packed earth before bouncing off into a pile of decimated skeleton warriors.

The combat raged on, both sides ruining the other. Eventually only the peg-legged dwarf
remained on the rampart, his arms red up the shoulders, but the ghouls, now leaderless, hissed and grew wary of the flashing axes. As one they turned and scuttled down the walls and into the sandy dune grass as the light began to fade.

Incredibly, unbelievably, this one dwarf had undone all of Morbius’ grand scheming with nothing more than a pair of axes and a refusal to simply die. The liche snarled, seeing the rest of the dwarf forces making their way across the courtyard now their lord had regained his feet, waving away those trying to help him up. Incensed, he met the slayers gaze, and the two took the measure of the other. Morbius called down to the dwarf.   

“I have decided, my good dwarf, that you are going to live forever.” 

With that, he faded away into the gathered twilight.