Sunday, August 26, 2018

Bear'ly There

In Klyph, the baron Nhyrblas, holed up in the citadel, still resists Fulkh Marshal, who controls the town itself. But with the advent of the Brothers War, the townspeople are divided. The bulk of them side with Fulkh, who declares for Ebrohs and Gerath. The remainder are openly for the dominant town party, but secretly side with the baron, who favors the twins.

Antania's troops begin to be seen outside the walls of Klyph, securing the approaches to the town ahead of an army led by Ghorkil and Rahkard, which is coming to take Klyph by main force. The garrison of the town citadel is reinforced as well by Antania's troops. This is accomplished because the outer wall of the citadel cannot be covered by the marshal's forces while the open countryside is controlled by the more numerous enemy. Thus, Fulkh Marshal's faction is steadily failing. Yet he holds onto his siege of the citadel, stubbornly insisting that its reduction is the only choice they have if Klyph is to be saved.

Into this worsening situation, our heroes return from their battle with Ghrusoq at Melinarth, out of resources, wounded and exhausted. As they near the town, a band of refugees is seen moving toward the mountains, away from the beleaguered city. Among them, Sehlinah recognizes faces from her village. The band includes very few able-bodied men and is virtually defenseless. Feeling a great concern for their welfare, the girl openly declares her desire to see them safely into the north. Auhxalys is torn in her feelings, but Xoniuqé wants his village woman out of the dangers that are certain to follow and tells her to keep company with her young friend. The wizard, Mehlkohr, intent to resume unfinished business of his own, now that he is free of the prison at Melinarth, bids his rescuers farewell at this point too and also joins himself, for the time being, to the company fleeing Klyph.

The reduced party of Xoniuqé and Myrdagyn continues toward the city, skirting the edge of woodlands and keeping out of sight as much as possible.

As they come within sight of the city they see that the north side is the least covered by besieging troops. Only a postern gate is on this wall. Myrdagyn had arranged a signal by which they will be recognized by Fulkh Marshal's garrison, in the event of their party's return. So they bend their way toward that postern gate.

A hamlet is between them and the postern. It is garrisoned. On a hill between the woods and the hamlet is a forward outpost, where four men surround a small fire, throwing dice more than keeping watch (that is a watch fire, not a die being "thrown", despite all appearances). As the returning heroes move carefully along the edge of the trees, they spy, and are spied by, a patrol of cavalry. The horses splash across the stream.

As the cavalry approach to investigate these unknown people, they are witness to a sudden dramatic confrontation which could not be better timed to impress the scouts with the formidable quality of Myrdagyn's band. A bear had been scratching its back against a tree, when the sudden arrival of the party surprised it. The dogs set up a din and strained on the leashes in Bruno's fists. Nouvzé's horse bolted away from the ursine menace which advanced roaring across the open ground. Wheeling his horse, Lorinkh whipped up his crossbow and loosed a bolt which missed. His sword was out instantly, the crossbow cast aside. The bear rose up on its hind legs and swayed over horse and Drulath. But with a lightning quick backhand stroke "Lich Bane" struck off its head.

Xoniuqé told the others to form a fighting line and wait. The horses were skittish after the encounter with the bear, to say the least. Everyone dismounted except the wizard, who stayed slightly to the rear, observing the approaching patrol over the heads of the lined up warriors. He quietly told Bruno to be ready to loose the hounds on his command (but in the event this proved unnecessary).

With his dripping sword Lorinkh took his place beside Myrdagyn. The Drulathim legionaries formed on the left end with Khrohm, and the two surviving axmen took the right with Horgand and Nouvzé. Weapons were held at the ready. Lorinkh casually cleaned the bear's gore off his blade as the patrol walked toward them.

The officer leading the cavalry patrol pulled his men up and the two lines faced each other. The officer wanted to know who they were.

Xoniuqé spoke for the party:

"We are returning travelers. Our business is our own. But all you need to know is that we are going into that besieged town yonder. You can have all your eggs in one basket. Just let us pass."

The officer had no intention of confronting these formidable and more numerous people. But he was also not going to let their presence go unannounced. The wizard deduced these intentions. Weaving a web of casual good will around the minds of the scouts, he said: "We are of no importance. What can a dozen men do in Klyph? We mean no one any harm. Continue your patrol and we will go our way."

The officer led his men back across the stream and they pursued their interrupted patrol down the road.

Meanwhile, Ahnxst caught up with the rest of the party, having fallen behind to attend to his horse or some such delay.

Myrdagyn directed everyone along the base of the hill. As they came even with the edge of the woods they were spied by the lookouts on the hilltop, who called out to them but did not move to make contact. Rather they abandoned their post and hastened down off the hill to the hamlet, alerting its garrison of spearmen and archers.

The heroes watched over their left shoulders as they slowly passed the hamlet, observing how the troops there formed up in a long line of spearmen and bowmen intermixed. Suddenly this formation ran at them! It was obvious that they intended to bring themselves within range of their arrows and javelins. Rather than allow this, Myrdagyn and Lorinkh turned the whole party to the left and charged.

Lorinkh had the bear's head fastened to the breast strap of his horse. The blood had scarcely dried, the eyes still blazed insanely and the mouth with its fangs gaped open. He loosed a bloodcurdling scream as he closed with Nouvzé and Horgand on either hand. Ahnxst, who had dismounted and was bringing up the rear, saw the infantry in front of his uncle, and those nearby, turn at once and rout away. The Drulath hero made short work of them.

Horgand faced two enemies, his son likewise. Both were successful in the slaying.

The commander of the hamlet garrison with a spearman turned about to meet the youthful Drulath. Ahnxst was pressed back for a moment, until Lorinkh engaged the spearman. In the next instant both uncle and nephew each took down his man.

Along the little battle line the spearmen and bowmen hurled a largely feckless shot. Myrdagyn was wounded by a javelin but pressed his man back and finally slew him. The Drulathim legionaries utterly destroyed in an instant those facing them. In almost no time at all the enemy band was broken, slain and run off.

The way to the postern gate was open and they finished the distance quickly. Myrdagyn's signal rewarded them with a way inside and before any other enemy troops could prevent them, they were admitted.

From the battlements, Myrdagyn gazed upon an encircling arc of tents, pavilions and siege lines. He looked at the wizard.

"From the frying pan into the fire."

"We did that already," said Xoniuqé. "From the fire into the belly of the beast."

Saturday, June 16, 2018

The Lizard Knights

This game has nothing at all to do with any of the many blog pages I have made. It is a once-off, a "historical" scenario. These true 25 mm figures don't get used much anymore. So I pulled them out and the owner of the Teutonic Knights army had a reunion with his miniatures that he had literally not touched in decades.

The story I created was this: A vassal of the Teutonic Order has been intriguing with Poles, Prussians, Russians, just about anybody who will resist the encroaching presence of the German monks and their subjects. Before said-vassal (a bannerette) can accomplish his alliance, the preceptor of the Order moves to quash the treachery. Time is crucial and the preceptor can only gather less than half of his potential strength. The most formidable of his troops are his recently acquired allies, the Lizard Knights of Kulmerland. The opposing armies are roughly equal in size.

Learning that the preceptor is on the move, the bannerette musters his army of c. 4,000 men behind a swift stream. In a tiny village that is reached by a bridge, he places his best foot troops, a block of around a thousand professional heavy infantry spearmen. They completely clog the street and prevent any passage over the stream.

The preceptor of the Order approaches with his army in column of divisions. Seeing the defense, he strings his superior force of crossbows across the front of the bridge and on both sides of it, and commences shooting. The bannerette's own crossbows, outnumbered three-to-one and with no armor, are swiftly shot down and routed off. The enemy crossbowmen line the opposite stream bank and continue shooting until out of bolts. They move off to the left flank and a battalion of Lithuanian auxiliary horsearchers takes their place. Heavy casualties among the bannerette's professional spearmen finally break their formation and they rout away from the village. The Lizard Knights cross the bridge, wheel left and form a battle line out in the open. The bannerette's own cavalry line up opposite and a mutual charge takes place. The bannerette is alone with his single battalion of cavalry: for his three battles of foot have alternated between routing and rallying, well to the rear. (The troops of both armies facing each other on the other side of the village never engage before the battle is over and are thus of no consequence.)

Before the superior numbers of the preceptor can be brought to bear (Lithuanians were about to fall on the rear of the bannerette's cavalry; and the enemy crossbowmen had swum the stream as light swordsmen, their crossbows left on the opposite bank), the Lizard Knights abruptly change sides, thus ending the battle. (When the Lizard Knights fail morale - and in this battle their morale was very bad - they turn treacherously on their hapless, now former, allies.)

Sunday, May 20, 2018

Kanti Finale

Following his victory over the "Lieutenant", Librohn's scouts and spies brought news that the twin emperors were on the move with a very large muster. They had ordered the Lieutenant to cover their approach. Librohn, sensing that this was the time to cut before his string of victories turned into a total loss, told his people that the game was up: no more victims of the twins' depredations could expect any further help from the rebels, there was no more time.

Falling back toward the Kanti forest, Librohn placed a strong guard at the entry point, from which the Kantim would take his people through the forest to secret passes over the Esgroth mountains and into the safety of the north. This entry point was the Liberator's own destroyed holding of Kanti village.

As quickly as they could, the garrison had repaired the outer fences and even managed to erect a fairly substantial wall, the height of a man, on the exposed western end of the burned out village. This labor was covered by their Kantim allies, the body of archers sent to aid the Liberator at the beginning of his "rebellion".

By nightfall the bulk of the camp's women and children had moved through the ruined village and into the forest, led by Kantim who lined the tracks toward the mountains.

On the following day the last group of refugees quitted the rebel camp just ahead of the approaching imperial army. Librohn placed himself and the pick of his men between them as a rearguard to defend the escape. (This is off-table at the beginning of the game.)

But the emperors had no flies resting on them! They had dispatched a powerful "pincer" of cavalry and mounted infantry to cut off Librohn and the last of his people making a break for it. Four units of miles and serjants, and a battalion of feudal spearmen walked toward the village, screened by feudal crossbows on the left and Warrior crossbows on the right.

The defenders rushed to the perimeter. Their Kantim allies stiffened the raw troops, mixing their archers in with the defensive line facing the approach of their attackers.

Shtenchy and Serj positioned themselves behind the mantlet that served as a gate. Well down the line to their left, Kahvoht and his fellow migrants mingled with the armed villagers and peasants. Off to the right of the entrance, inside a ruined house, Mot'Hrah and Ah'kreemh stood waiting with arrows on bow strings.

As the imperial detachment drew closer, the crossbows spread out to form a skirmish line, covering the assault. The spearmen dismounted over on the right behind the Warrior marksmen and forded the low waters of the midwinter stream.


Scattered groups of over-eager refugees, or stragglers from the groups of the previous day, suddenly found themselves in the midst of the advancing "pincer", which tended to ignore these noncombatants unless they happened to get in the way. Running every direction to escape, the refugees managed to avoid destruction and, quivering with the dread of having just evaded impending death, fell back upon the approaching rebel column.


As they drew closer, the imperial skirmishers loosed bolts upon the defended fence. The raw villagers and peasants ducked for cover. Kantim archers stood alone and replied to the incoming missiles. They were overwhelmed, struck through in significant numbers and fell back into the roads and ruins of the village! The remaining defenders cowered behind the fence, except for Mot'Hrah and Ah'kreemh who single handedly shot down enough feudal crossbows that the western end of the skirmish line routed back over the stream. The approaching cavalry passed through them and began to splash over the stream, but met a similar fate as the prodigious shooting of the two heroes decimated the attackers and forced the rest to abandon their advance in favor of a rout.

The other unit of feudal miles continued on around to the extreme western end of the village (but not unscathed, as the two heroes turned their bows on them too, briefly, before they trotted out of range). Their intent was to cross over and break into the village through a secondary gate in the wall. This was weakly defended by a small group of armed villagers.

Meanwhile, the main imperial attack was wholly successful. Spearmen moved up to the fence and traded blows with the defending peasants and villagers. The Warrior crossbows and medium cavalry joined in the attack on their left. Light cavalry serjants moved onto the right flank of the spearmen and the forward ranks dismounted to tear apart the wooden fencing that stood defenseless. After a short melee, the defenders quitted their now outflanked position and withdrew toward the less exposed village square.

The dregs of the Kantim archers had already taken station in the upper floor of the ruined inn and began to shoot into the approaching spearmen.

The doughty Kahvoht was wounded in the retreat from the fence and fought to remain on his feet. He found himself packed into the lower part of the same house with some of his squad of fellow migrants.

Refugees who had been camping in tents within the ruins saw this running battle about to overtake them and departed with alacrity. Many of their tents were left behind. There was no time to pack up.

The light cavalry serjants finished removing the fencing in front of their horses, remounted and rode into the ruined village, circling around to the east.

Attacks multiplied as the Warriors, cavalry and feudal spearmen penetrated to where the defenders clustered amidst the ruins. Peasants and armed villagers went down beneath the weight of imperial numbers. The survivors pulled further back and took up defensive positions within the roofless houses.

Aiming from the upper floor of the destroyed inn, Mot'Hrah managed to break his excellent bow on some protruding wreckage in the gaping window from where he shot at their thronging enemies below. When asked, one of his Kanti Elf comrades gave up his weapon to the more experienced hero.

In and about the lower floor of the same building, Serj, Shtenchy and Kahvoht fought alongside their troops while the Kantim above picked off more infantry with well placed shots. The feudal spearmen routed! Their shields covered their backs as they ran to the fence and rallied.

The light cavalry serjants entered the square and attacked a small cluster of defenders, slaying and dropping them all, but not without shedding their own blood as the peasants and villagers fought back the best they could. In the doorway, Ah'kreemh traded blows with a mounted serjant.

Over on the extreme west end, the miles had forded the stream and slain the guard of the provisional gate, and began to penetrate the village.

Then all at once, the commander of the imperial "pincer" force sounded the "withdraw" trumpet call: he had seen the approaching refugees and their defenders drawing near the village, coming up the road in a broad column. The imperials pulled out of the village and formed up facing the larger body of rebels. Ah'kreemh had stepped out into the street and shot down a serjant as the unit trotted away from the ruins and crossed the ford.


The defenders of the village rallied, regrouped in the open and followed on the heels of their withdrawing enemies. There were very few defenders left! They had not taken as large a toll of their attackers as they had hoped for.

On their way through the ruins, Mot'Hrah took a fine bow off a dead Kanti Elf, and returned his borrowed weapon to its owner.

As the imperial force maneuvered to attack the column's exposed flanks with cavalry, suddenly Librohn appeared on the field with his rearguard of cavalry and longbowmen. The imperials changed direction to meet this newly arrived threat. For the moment at least, the column of refugees was spared.

Meanwhile, across the stream between, Warrior crossbows and Kantim archers, and our three bow-armed heroes, traded shots to mutual injury, but with the Warriors getting the worst of the exchange. The last of the Kantim archers went down and that left only the three heroes to exchange missiles with twice their number. Kahvoht took a bolt and nearly lost consciousness! With his earlier wounds he was now grievously injured.

Shtenchy and Serj and the last of the armed villagers and peasants moved to the ford, intent on crossing over to attack the Warrior crossbows. Only one of Kahvoht's fellow migrants yet survived the battle, though already wounded. His name was Ehkzehgyus, surnamed the Ugly. He splashed across the ford a "safe" distance to one side of the odious Shtenchy, but glad for the Drulath's formidable presence nonetheless.

The last of the feudal spearmen and their crossbows formed up to meet the column. There were very few imperial troops left to hold up such a mass. In their retreat from the attack on the ruined village of Kanti, the heroes and Elves had continued to decimate them from long range. But, the command of the emperors must be obeyed: hold up the rebels and trap them against the approaching main imperial army, which was not far behind Librohn's rearguard (though not, as yet, close enough to show on the table).


On the right of the approaching column, Sir Skoluh'r Dehpudzy and Crohsyus the Simple met the charge of the imperial cavalry with their own mounted troops.

On the opposite flank, scrappy peasants mounted on ponies, led by Balen, met the serjants bravely and took their pound of flesh as they died. Only Balen rode clear of that little, swift fight, after dispatching two of the enemy. The surviving serjants faded to the rear of the approaching feudal miles as they doubled their depth, shortened their front and prepared to charge the extended line of cavalry led by Librohn himself. Balen wheeled about and attached himself to the left end of the line.


The mutual cavalry charge on the rebel right did not begin well for them. Crohsyus nearly lost his seat and only barely managed to extricate himself by falling back, losing all charge impetus. Dehpudzy by contrast threw down the miles in front of him. Up and down the line, the rebels were generally driven back with losses in the initial onset.

The imperial cavalry penetrated the line, swung to their left and enveloped the extreme end of Dehpudzy's troops, and annihilated them. He and Crohsyus broke through and escaped, riding toward the battle in the center, where imperial feudal spearmen were battling with the refugee column's defenders.

The feudal crossbow and a shower of javelins from the spearmen decimated the defenders. And then they started to break through the defender line and attack the women and children behind. Crones wielded walking sticks, boys threw rocks, mothers fought for their lives and their children's like she cats. The casualties were slight and the imperial attackers did not molest the refugees without paying in blood.

On the defender left, their cavalry led by Librohn met the miles and serjants; Balen and those with him at the end of the longer rebel line swept past on the flanks and kept going. Librohn broke through and continued on, according to plan. The feudal imperial cavalry swarmed the remainder of defender cavalry that could not break through and finished them off, and then turned about, regrouped and prepared to attack the rear of the retreating refugee column and its infantry supports on the left.
These had meanwhile met the spearmen and crossbows blocking their way and worsted them, breaking the imperial attack up and delivering the refugees from the roadblock to their escape.

Ahntohnyus was knocked senseless in the melee; he regained his senses on the following turn and returned to the battle, dispatching several enemies (the die showed that he had four turns to regain consciousness before being rendered hors de combat).

The longbow rearguard and the imperial miles exchanged missiles to their mutual destruction. But the archers had better morale and stood in their reduced numbers and watched the miles turn in rout. The serjants on their right engaged the yeomen archers, backed by billmen and other two-handed weapon wielders, and Ahntohnyus. The serjants ceased to exist as a unit.

After Sir Skoluh'r Dehpudzy and Crohsyus the Simple made their escape, the imperial cavalry finished off the last of their less swift fellows, then turned on the yeomen forming the rearguard on the right of the refugee column. By the time these worthies were destroyed there were very few imperial horsemen left. These rode over and joined up with the miles, who had rallied, and the combined body pursed the now rapidly retreating rebel infantry. These mostly made their escape. But a few yeomen turned and sold their lives to purchase the escape of their people.
By the time the main imperial army began to arrive on the field, the running battle was over and Librohn and the bulk of his people had passed through the ruined village of Kanti, entered the forest and disappeared.

Almost a side note to the main fighting, the heroes of the defense of the empty village and their few surviving men had finished crossing the stream and engaged the Warrior Crossbows in melee.
A final exchange of missiles across the stream had resulted in Mot'Hrah taking a bolt, which caused him to fall and nearly bleed out. But he struggled successfully to regain enough presence of mind to staunch the bleeding swiftly and got to his feet (he had only a single turn in which to accomplish this, or else be rendered mortally wounded!).

The endmost warriors turned to face the onslaught of the Drulath, Shtenchy, and he felt a bolt penetrate his armor. But it did not even slow him down and he arrived and cut down the first pair of warriors that he reached.

The tyro from Kahvoht's village, Ehkzehgyus the Ugly, accounted for two warriors with his spear, showing himself more than willing, if not particularly able, to engage the enemy without fear. Shtenchy fought at his side and his odious, hideous presence accounted not a little for the success of the raw spearman, for the warriors blanched at the sight and smell of the Drulath pariah and would hardly stand to engage him. They died all the same.


Arriving imperial yeomen engaged Mot'Hrah, Ah'kreemh and Kahvoht at long range, wounding the nomad enough to make him pass out briefly, and this was in addition to several wounds that the elf and villager had already sustained in the earlier fighting just mentioned.

After finishing off the last of the Warrior Crossbows, the heroes and their men formed up to cover the withdrawing column of refugees from the approaching main imperial army.

The three heroes withdrew behind the low village wall and from there exchanged a few more missiles with the approaching mass of yeomen. Then they too withdrew into the forest, the last of Librohn's men to quit the battlefield.
The final battle of Librohn's victorious resistance in the south was over. In the course of his brief career, he had not lost a single battle and had saved many villagers from slavery or worse. His people added a much welcome reinforcement to the resistance in the north. And soon after arriving there, his troops formed the nucleus of a relief force sent to the desperate defenders of Klyph, now besieged by the army of the twin emperors ...