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8th Ed, Holy War


Black Knight
Nov 10, 2007
Unas, it is like you read my mind concerning what the next story would be about!

Some Too Late and One Too Early
Northern Tilea, Spring 2404


They made their way along the lesser-known paths in the woods, some of which were so well hidden that they had to push their way through the undergrowth to access them. Their new friends asked them not to cut the branches as they did so. Once they were on the secret sylvan byways, however, they were able to ride at a pace. Captain Gesualdi had informed Perrette that some of the paths, the wider and more level ones, were the remains of ancient roads from the time when Remas ruled the entire peninsula and many lands beyond. The stonework had long since sunk beneath the ground, but for considerable stretches there was a surprising lack of trees, even saplings, to hinder them. She began to suspect this was not by chance, and that their new companions had a hand in ensuring these passageways remained relatively clear, all the better to enable speedy, secretive forays.


Having met their new friends a week ago, Perette and the last of her Brabanzon had spent most of the intervening time searching for any other comrades who had escaped the assault on Ravola, with some success. She now had with her most of the company’s riders, a small band of archers and a handful of the camp followers. She was afraid that no-one else had escaped. They had failed to find even one of the young baron’s retinue of knights. It pained her to think of the poor souls she and the baron had led to the city, and all the others who came there when told it was safe to return now that the ogres were gone. A surprising number had come out of hiding, bedraggled and thin, like wilderness hermits on the edge of starvation. All these were now most likely suffering cruelties at the ratmen’s clawed hands. Horrifying as the thought was, it occurred to her that perhaps the best they could hope for was a quick death, being butchered for their flesh. During the fight she had seen several monstrous creatures amongst the enemy’s number that bore horrible scars and blemishes, with patches of iron somehow riveted onto their very skin, even piercings to allow intestine-like tubes to penetrate their bodies! If they could do that to their own kind, what might they do to prisoners? Better death than such mutilation.

Every night since the flight she had slept badly, even when her new friends had offered her relative safety. She would toss and turn for two hours or so as her mind raced, considering what she could and should have done different, and when she finally slipped into brief, fretful sleep she dreamt only of the battle. She had come to Tilea expecting to face ogres, ostensibly to assist in the reclamation of a realm for a less cruel master and to save what poor souls had been enslaved by the brutes. When that work had been done, however, she had first learned that vampires were also ravaging great swathes of Tilea, and had then, only weeks after ridding Ravola of ogres, been driven from the city by an army of ratmen. This land had been cursed thrice over!

Although it was less than a year ago, it felt like a decade since Perrette had departed Bretonnia. When she set off to cross the high pass into Tilea, she merely wanted to escape Bretonnia, to put her old life behind her and find a new, hopefully better one. Joyously carousing with the Brabanzon one raucous night she found them to be better company than either peasants or noblemen, and not at all as uncouth and callous as one might expect of such a mercenary band. Indeed, she had discovered that the Brabanzon, at least those there that night, possessed an unexpected yet welcome decency, however deeply concealed beneath their swaggering bravado, cruel jests and coarse language. When they told her they were employed to travel to Tilea she had not hesitated in choosing to go with them, despite having no contract herself. Leaving Bretonnia as little better than a camp follower, since the second assault on Campogrotta (and by the Brabanzon’s own choosing) she had come to command the whole company. At least, what was left of it now.

The Brabanzon’s new allies were a mysterious bunch, whose number she had yet to estimate, nor had she ascertained who truly commanded them. The particular band they travelled with had a leader, being the burly Captain Valfrido Gesualdi, but although he had said nothing concerning the matter, something told her that he served another. The name they called themselves – the Arrabbiati, or ‘Angry Ones’ – she had heard during her brief time in Campogrotta when one of the city’s inhabitants had asked her if the reason the Arrabbiati were not amongst the army was because the dwarfs refused to accept their help. During the short conversation that followed she had learned that during the Campogrottans’ time as slaves of Boulderguts’ ogres there had been several incidents of sabotage and assassination against the brutes and it had been generally believed that the Arrabbiati had been behind the deeds. For more than a decade, the brigand band had earned a reputation amongst the common, labouring folk for robbing the most arrogant and tyrannical of the nobility and the greediest of the merchant families – leaving nothing behind but bodies and whichever of their red-fletched arrows had snapped. What with Boulderguts being the very worst of tyrants, his man-eating brutes the most merciless of oppressors, then surely, said her informant, the Arrabbiati would target them? Although at the time she thought it sounded like wishful thinking, it seemed likely that for want of anyone else to rob a band of outlaws might be forced to rob instead from the ogres. Later she learned that they might indeed possess some truly noble motivations, for it was said they been decimated when they had ridden out of nothing but love for the Duchess Maria (regarded as an enlightened and fair ruler, before she became a vampire) to assist in the fight against the vampire Duke Alessandro’s army.

A broad-shouldered man, with a chin as wide as his cheeks, Captain Gesualdi was armed with a bow like the rest of his men but had a scarf about his head instead of a helmet. Like his entire company, he wore dark clothes - his tunic being a dull shade of purple, his scarf burgundy.


Back in Campogrotta Perrette heard one inhabitant refer to the Arrabiatti as the Brotherhood of the Shadows, and it seemed they were indeed suitably dressed to lurk unseen during their nocturnal and crepuscular activities. Some of their horses, however, were white, so either they only hid in shadows when creeping about on foot, or the habit was an affectation to suit their reputation, or, and this surely was most likely, they were loath to waste good horses when they got them.

Their standard was that of a wolfshead, argent upon a sanguine field.


Their modus operandi indicated that this was not a wolf like the white one of Middenland – the forever brawling, bloody, winter wolf of Ulric. Instead, this was a hungry wolf, carefully choosing which prey to stalk and howling at the moon when there were none for miles to hear. The Arrabiatti disparagingly called it the mutt. When the mutt was mounted, they all had to make ready to move. Twice now she had heard them say, ‘Meet at the mutt’, an action made all the easier by the fact that the company’s horn blower always travelled with their standard bearer. Of course, the horn had a sound like a wolf howling.

Now Perette had met them, they seemed so far to warrant their heroic reputation. ‘Goodfellows all,’ they had called themselves at their first encounter, and they did not hesitate to help her and the fleeing Brabanzon. They had offered victuals and shelter, then assisted in the finding of the other Brabanzon survivors. Now they were guiding them by way of these obscure paths away from the city to put them safely on the road back to Campogrotta. In return, they had asked for nothing - at least, not yet. Her own Brabanzon would also have found it in them to help strangers in need, but the matter of remuneration would definitely have been broached long before now! Captain Gesualdi had even gifted her a coat of scale armour which he said would not interfere with her magics for it had once been the property of a wizard. When she asked how it had come into his possession, he answered with a grin that she should not look a gift horse in the mouth.


Three days before, with surely little prospect of profit from a city that had nothing of value left in it when they arrived, and with even less now that the ratmen had infested and consumed it, the captain had dispatched several of his men to scout much closer to the city, out of concern that the ratmen might be preparing to march from the city. She offered some of her own soldiers to accompany the Arrabbiati scouts, for they had recent knowledge of the lay of the land, but Gesualdi had insisted that his men knew the area like the ‘back of their hands’ and that the Brabanzon would do better to scout ahead as they made their way south, searching for any last remaining escapees wandering the wilds.

Perette’s second in command, Osmont, rode much of the way beside her. The riders had previously been commanded by a Sergeant Huget, but he was missing in action, believed to have been shot from his horse by one of the enemy’s long-barrelled muskets before getting out of sight of Ravola’s walls. The man who reported this had died of his wounds only minutes after imparting the news, and so none could now ask him if he was certain! Even if Huget turned up, however, Perrette would keep Osmont as her second, which would put him in command of the riders.


Osmont had an easy relationship with her, often joking - doing so whenever he thought she needed such to lift her spirits but falling quiet when she had a need for sombre contemplation. He had been there in the typpling room of the inn when she first met the company and from the start he seemed to see something in her that she herself had not really been aware of. He was also quite protective. On two occasions, including that first night, he had, with the slightest shake of his head, subtly signalled that the man she was getting close to was not someone she should favour! A veteran of many a war, or at least, many a bloody squabble between this baron and that marquis, he had a calm confidence about him, and a watchfulness. During the fall of Ravola it was he who had understood it was time to leave – not in the sense of being panicked into fleeing, but rather in assessing the situation and recognising that they were beaten.

Early in the afternoon a cry was heard from the column of riders behind.

“Ho! Riders! To the left.”

At first, Perrette could see nothing but trees, but then she caught a flashing glimpse of something in motion through the foliage.


“It’s Iginio!” came the same voice again.

“That it is!” came an answering cry. A few moments later the three Arrabiatti scouts emerged from a smaller path which joined the main group’s own route like a tributary stream might merge with a river.

The chief scout, Iginio, wore a dark cloak like many of his comrades and rode a chestnut mount. He came right up to the front of the column to ride beside Perrette and Captain Gesualdi.


“Good captain, my lady, well met!” he said by way of greeting.

“Glad to see you back, Iginio,” said the captain. “Did you get close to the city? The enemy?”

“And the people? What about them?” added Perrette.

“We got close, captain,” said the scout. “Close enough for some of the ratmen to espy us, which is when we left. Apart from a few poor wretches, no more than a dozen, shifting stones under guard where a tower has collapsed, we saw no other people, my lady. There was acrid smoke coming from within, the stink of burning hair and flesh. They must have been burning either beasts or people.”

“Is their entire force still present?” asked the captain.

“Aye, I reckon it is,” said Iginio. Then he addressed Perrette directly. “My lady, you told us they had no war machines?”

“None,” said Perrette. “They took the walls by weight of numbers and had just enough to do so. We battered them badly, killing so many, yet still they came. I pray to all the gods it was their fur you smelled burning.”

“I wish I could affirm that. What I can report is that they do have machines now.”

“They must have lagged behind on their march,” suggested the captain. “Which means they attacked before their full force was mustered, before they had that which could shoot upon the walls.”

“Perhaps arrogance convinced them they would win?” said Perrette. “And that we would not prove a troublesome foe.”

“If so, they learned their lesson, my lady,” said the captain. “From all accounts you put them to far more trouble than an equal number of any other soldiers could have done. The ratmen are bullies, cruel and cunning. They do possess a species of arrogance, for they think they are the only creatures worthy of living in the world. But they are not brave. They rely on strength of numbers in battle, and on terrible machines that can conjure lightning itself. They first bombard their foes, then quickly swarm to overwhelm them before they can recover. There must have been a pressing reason for their haste. It’s likely they were worried you were soon to be reinforced.”

“We did send for help, from Campogrotta. But they attacked long before our messengers could possibly have arrived.”

“My lady, help was sent,” said the scout. “We met with a force from Campogrotta, both heavy and light horsemen, and even some dwarfs following them, catching up every night to sleep for half the time the men did.”

“Compagnia del Sole soldiers?” asked Perrette.

“Aye, my lady, they were. Dispatched from Campogrotta to relieve Ravola but arriving four days too late. They’d scouted the enemy too and were about to return.”

This made little sense to Perrette. Neither the messengers she sent to Campogrotta nor any force of mounted men at arms and dwarfs could possibly have travelled fast enough. The distance was too great. She knew because she had made the journey herself. Even on secret paths such as these for part of the way, it could not be done. Which meant the Compagnia soldiers must have set off long before her messengers arrived. Then it occurred to her – perhaps the soldiers were already on their way for some other reason, and they met her messengers part way?

“Master scout,” she asked. “When you spoke to them, did they say they were ordered from Campogrotta to ride to Ravola’s relief?”

“Yes, my lady. Someone from Ravola came to them and begged that the whole Compagnia go north to your aid. Their captain general sent the riders and dwarfs ahead to learn what they could. They claimed not to know if the commander was following with the rest of the army.”

Perrette held her tongue, but what the man was saying was impossible. Apparently Osmont had not considered the mathematics of the claim, for he asked,

“Master scout, the dwarfs – did you meet with them?”

“Not to speak to. Their commander, I think, was named Greyfury.”

Osmont laughed which made the others look. “He could not bear to be parted from his true love,” he said.

While the others wondered what he could mean, Perette just rolled her eyes and gave Osmont a look meant to silence him. She did not think these men were currently in the mood to entertain private jests. Almost as if she were precognitive, the scout Iginio’s tone changed.

“There was something else we saw. Strange indeed, if truth be told. When we drew close to the city we passed over a long patch of poisoned ground, where all the plants had withered as if baked by a hot sun for many days.”


“We could plainly see no animals had trespassed upon it. There were tracks passing along it, as if left by three large wagons. They had crushed some small trees while brushing past others, so that their blackened remnants still remained erect but sagging. Our mounts became fearful, acting most contrary and we ourselves felt a sudden imbalance in our humours …”


“We did not linger. I don’t think we could have done if we tried. Saladino’s stomach ain’t been right since. We went over it and on, thinking that some poisonous ratman taint must have been released there, a magical curse cast by something on the wagon or some spillage of aqua fortis or the like. Perhaps the ratmen spread corruption from the wagons, as if scattering the very opposite of seeds - sowing death instead of new life? After spying upon the city walls, we chose a different path back, all the better to learn as much as we could of the enemy’s disposition, but mostly to avoid the tainted ground. Yet we again encountered an exactly similar strip of corruption! Loathe to cross it, men and mounts alike, we thought to skirt around it this time. But there was no going around, for the poisoned land proved to be like unto a path, which stretched all the way at least to the first place we had crossed.”

Iginio fell momentarily silent, while the others just waited to hear what else he said.

“I cannot say for certain, but the dead path looked to follow a curved course around the city. We were unable to discover if this was true, for to linger so close to the enemy would surely have meant we were attacked, and to travel any length of time even just beside the corruption may have meant we became too ill to return. But, before we crossed back over, I reckon we got the measure of it. I’d lay all the gold I have that it goes around the entire city.”

“Some sort of magical barrier, perhaps, meant to prevent approach?” suggested Perrette.

“I think not, my lady, for we crossed it twice, there and back again, howsoever loath we were to do so the second time. I doubt anyone could travel along the length of it for more than an hour, yet crossing it takes only a few moments and so is bearable.”

Perrette now noticed the darkness around Iginio’s eyes. She saw too that his horse was sweating noticeably more than her own or the captain’s mount.


“You were exceeding brave to do so,” she said. “And all that you learned of the ratmen, the poor inhabitants and the poisoned band could prove vital to our plans.”

“Iginio,” asked the captain, “how long did you linger in that poisoned place?”

“When we first crossed, just enough time to dismount and look closely at the ground, to notice that the wagons that passed seemed to have differently sized wheels, and some very large, and that they apparently not hauled by draught animals, but of course we could have worked that out without noticing the lack of prints. When we crossed back, we wasted not a moment’s time in getting to the other side.”

“I don’t think it likely they were wagons, but rather some sort of war engines,” said Osmont. “Probably came up with the others you did see. Perhaps they were like giant censers, emitting a cloud of noxious, noisome vapour, which they intend to push at the enemy in battle? As to why they travelled round the city, I know not. Seems a great waste of effort to me just to kill a few trees and weeds.”

“We shall have to take a look at whatever made the dead path,” mused the Arrabiatti captain. “Perhaps then we will learn its true nature and purpose? In the meantime, if your friends the Compagnia soldiers are making their way back to Campogrotta, then we should take you to them.”


“They are not far away, captain,” said the chief scout. “Only two hour’s ride, I reckon.”

“But don’t they have a head start on us?” said Perrette.

“They do, my lady,” agreed the scout. “But they do not know the paths as well as us, and they travel with a long journey in mind, at a pace they can maintain, while we can make a dash to catch up with them.”


Two hour’s later the riders descended from a high path and rode out towards the even higher hills between them and Campogrotta. Ahead of them, where their present path met with another, they could see a company of horsemen.


Their banner bore the white baton and half-sun emblem of the Compagnia del Sole. They looked surprised at first …


… but Perrette urged her horse out beyond the body, knowing that the soldiers would recall her from Campogrotta. Indeed, the fellow at their fore had drunkenly tried to woo her the night before she left for Ravola!
Jan 1, 2017
Being an italian myself, i truly appreciate the use of my language, to enforce the wibe of reinnassaince european period. And you truly nail it, with some inspiring names:Campogrotta, Compagnia del Sole... and here it comes "the Arrabbiati" which is my new fav.


Black Knight
Nov 10, 2007
Thanks for saying. I modify the stuff in real world History books, use google to check, and usually double check with my partner Ruth who studied French and Italian at University and stayed in Florence for a while. Her real focus, however, was French and her Italian has gone rusty over the years! I struggle with the Latin too, but there was (is?) a guy on the Warhammer Empire forum who really knows his latin and would help me whenever I asked.


Black Knight
Nov 10, 2007
There was quite a lot to the campaign before I started posting it here, and the Arrabiatti appeared earlier, although using ancient 25mm figures I badly converted in the 1980s!!!!
Jan 1, 2017
Thanks for saying. I modify the stuff in real world History books, use google to check, and usually double check with my partner Ruth who studied French and Italian at University and stayed in Florence for a while. Her real focus, however, was French and her Italian has gone rusty over the years! I struggle with the Latin too, but there was (is?) a guy on the Warhammer Empire forum who really knows his latin and would help me whenever I asked.
If I can help, let me know. ;)


Black Knight
Nov 10, 2007
Thanks Unas. Will do!


Prequel to the Assault on Ebino, IC2404

Guccio had been pondering the audacity of his recent behaviour, and whether the consequences of his boldness might prove the ruin of his career prospects in Lord Alessio Falconi’s army, or indeed any army. Faced with the prospect of attacking the strongly walled and deeply moated city of Ebino, defended by an enemy that not only never slept but who had likely forgotten what sleep was, the general had turned to him, as siege master, for advice. He had immediately offered two solutions, both of which now laced his every waking moment with fearful doubt, somehow even surpassing the fear engendered by the prospect of once again facing the undead in battle.

The moat, he had said to Lord Alessio, required bridging, therefore they should fashion carriages to carry suitably long platforms up to the moat’s edge, there to drop into place. Once made busy by the necessarily hasty construction, he had become so caught up in the practicalities of wheels and axles sufficient at least to travel one, relatively short journey, as well as how to counterweight the carriage so that the large platform hanging at the fore would not cause it to topple over, that he had pushed all other concerns from his mind.

Now, however, that the former difficulties had been overcome, howsoever ingeniously, he had to face up to the several many other considerations. Would the sheer weight of both the primary load and necessary counterweight upon such a hastily built carriage simply cause it to shake itself apart as it negotiated the rough ground it would have to pass before reaching the moat? Could any number of men successfully push the thing that far, now that large boulders had been strapped to the rear to compensate for the force of the large, leaning bridge platform hanging precariously from the front? And when the timber platform was allowed to fall, would it stay in one piece as it crashed into the ground, as well as sufficiently strong to bear the weight of the many armoured men (carrying long ladders) who would then pour over the top of it in order to reach the foot of the wall?

While these were just some of his worries concerning the bridges, all paled into insignificance when compared to his worries regarding the petard.

The scouts had reported that the city’s southern gate had a stone bridge leading to it, which obviously could not be drawn up – a rather unexpected opportunity for access given the fact that the city’s builders had gone to the trouble of digging a moat. Knowing therefore that the gate could be reached relatively easily, Guccio immediately wondered how the gate itself might be broken through. Of course, there were artillery pieces that could do the job, and master gunners to tend them, but only two, and not the half a dozen they had fielded in the Valley of Death. If one or even both should shiver as had the mortar at Pontremola, then the gate might not be beaten. Furthermore, the scouts had reported that it was made of iron-bound oak, ancient and hard, reinforced by a huge iron portcullis, which of course made sense considering the lack of a drawbridge. It was clear that the army needed another string to its bow when it came to the gate. To Guccio’s mind there was no choice - breaking gate had to be attempted, if simply as an alternative mode of access should his doubts concerning his bridges prove warranted.

Thus it was, as if he were a boulder rolling downhill, entirely unable to stop, he found himself making a second proposal to the general, immediately following his first: they would need a petard, one of substantial size and great potency, and he knew where to obtain just such a thing. The mortar that had shivered at Pontremola had not blown itself entirely apart, but rather had merely cracked, rendering itself entirely unsafe for the purpose it was made to perform. Guccio said that if it were loaded with grenade and triple the weight of powder and mounted upon a carriage, then it could be rolled right up to the gate, placed against it, and exploded. It would surely blow itself apart, considering its visibly fractured state, but in so doing most likely tear the gate to pieces, dislodge the portcullis and provide a breach through which the army could pour.

That moment, as all those gathered in the army council nodded appreciatively, including the general himself, should have been a moment of great satisfaction – if he had not immediately realised how little certainty he had that any of what he had claimed was even vaguely likely to succeed.

Thus the knot in his stomach ever since!

Its carriage completed - utilising the wheels of one of the army’s better baggage wagons, much to the disgust of the proud carter who had coaxed the carriage all the way from Portomaggiore - the petard was now being rolled out of the camp, just as the rest of the army was readying itself for the challenge ahead.


Guccio watched, standing beside the sergeant of the handgunners who had been volunteered as petardiers, a fellow named Vasari. Until now the sergeant had said very little, although from his gruff attitude it was clear he was not thrilled at what he and his men had been ordered to do. A bearded veteran of several wars, which included serving with Lord Alessio in the northern Old World, he was tall and every bit the image of a soldier, albeit one dressed (as so many in the Portomaggioran marching army) in Empire style clothes.

“I was told it would be a simple task,” the sergeant suddenly declared. “Yet here we see how hard it is even just to move it. Tell me, siege master, why don’t we haul it with draft animals like the bridges?”


“We could, I suppose, at least until we drew close to the walls,” said Guccio. “If we were not using nearly every horse to haul the bridges instead. Besides, your men will learn how to push it along the way.”

“Ah, the fine and noble art of pushing,” said the sergeant, rolling his eyes.

This made Guccio smile. “Aye, well, not noble, but your men must familiarise themselves with the work, all the better to move speedily and without hindrance when they draw near.”

“Yet such an enemy will not shoot at us. Not once have I seen them so much as lob a stone, never mind span and shoot a crossbow nor load and fire a piece,” said the sergeant. “We could haul it up all leisurely, take a breather now and then, have a little repast as and when we like, and still it would be delivered.”

“The enemy might not shoot, but who knows what might sally forth from the city if we approach so slowly as to allow them to get the measure of us? Who knows what magical incantations their foul masters might conjure against us? And we needs must time our arrival as best we can with the arrival of the bridges and the ladder assault on the walls, so that the enemy cannot concentrate its strength against us.”

“I doubt the bridges will be moving fast at all”

“That’s as may be,” agreed Guccio. “But if we are to coordinate the arrival perfectly, we must light the fuse as we draw near, after which your men cannot afford to slip or stall, otherwise the fuse will have to be pulled out and replaced and re-lit, allowing the enemy even more time to thwart us.”

“My men,” mused the sergeant. “You mean my men and I.”

Guccio fell silent, for what could he say? Every veteran knew the dangerous reputation of petards.

“When the arch-lector was considering attacking Ebino,” said the sergeant, “they say the maestro Angelo da Leoni built him a huge ramp, hauled by his steam engine, up which the army could stroll right up and over the walls into the city.”

Except the maestro failed, thought Guccio. “Would that we could, sergeant” was what he said. “But we have no such engine.”

The construction of a ramp for Da Leoni’s steam engine had taken so long that the vampire Duchess had sallied forth from the city and defeated the living army in the field. The maestro’s engine, stripped bare of its armaments, had sputtered forwards and ground to a halt when swarmed by ghostly monsters. The thought made Guccio’s stomach knot the more. If a genius like Da Leoni had failed, with his unique marvel of an engine, how could his own ‘grenado in a hand cart’ hope to work? Or his clackety timber bridges?


Just now four men were pushing the petard, as indeed his design intended. But when it approached the city, Sergeant Vasari’s whole company would accompany it, to guard it should that prove necessary, and more importantly to assist if it were to get stuck, or one or more of the pushers should fall from whatever harm the enemy inflicted.


“You’ve tested the fuse, I take it?” asked Sergeant Vasari.

The fuse hung from the touchhole at the rear, a particularly potent, hempen matchcord boiled in a concentrated saltpetre solution, that would spit spluttering sparks when lit, the flame burning up at a speed much faster than that of any handgunner’s ‘slowmatch’.

“That I have. I made four, all exactly the same. Two I tested and timed, the third you see there, the fourth I will have with me should we need to replace that one.”

“You will be with us?” said the sergeant, with evident surprise.

It had not occurred to Guccio that the sergeant did not know he was to stay with the petard. “I will, although I might be of little use should it come to fighting, for my skills with a blade are somewhat rusty.”

“Well, siege-master,” said the sergeant, his tone lightening. “We’ll do any fighting that’s needed, you just make sure that thing goes off when it is supposed to go off, and not a moment before.”


That’s the trick, thought Guccio. And that is what every soldier in Vasari’s company had on his mind. Now that the sergeant knew the petard’s maker was to be with them, he seemed less anxious. Knowing the man responsible for building it was to risk his own life also had to make anyone feel a bit better about the prospect of success, for why would a man make a petard with which to hoist his very own self?

Except Guccio was the maker and knew full well what a man might do when he allows ambition and pride to take the reins of his own voice. It was a good thing that the sergeant could not feel how dry Guccio’s throat was or sense the ever-present knot inside his belly.

Behind them several companies of soldiers had already mustered and begun their march. An Estalian mercenary commanded one band of handgunners …


… while a swaggering youth with an oversized panache strode with bared blade ahead of another company.


Elsewhere in this part of the camp, soldiers rushed to arm themselves and collect whatever they might need for the short march and the battle ahead. A number were drawing fortified wine from a cart, for it was the custom for every soldier to drink a deep draft before an assault, not just to calm their nerves but to embolden them. It was a practice made all the more appropriate when the enemy consisted of those who had already died!


Behind the petard trundled Guccio’s three large bridges, made slow by the huge, counterweight rocks he had ordered lashed to the platforms.


These were to be pulled by beasts to within sight of the walls, and then distributed to three of the larger regiments to be pushed the remainder of the way. To ask soldiers to push them was impractical but entirely necessary, for if the draught animals were to be alarmed by the enemy, startled in such a way as to buck or rear, then the bridges could topple before they reached the moat.


Still, thought Guccio, I will be so busy with the petard I might not even notice such a disaster!

May blessed Myrmidia, he prayed, protect me in the battle to come. And should I die in the blast, then may the goddess take my life as a sacrificial offering in return for breaking the gate, so that my life may not be wasted and that our army, dedicated to her, may gain victory against this the foulest of foes.
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Jan 1, 2017
Ohhh, that was a great update!
A prelude as this really gives immersion into the story. I can feel Guccio's internal struggle, and now i'm rooting for him, i really hope things will go accordingly to his plans... or at least some of them.
Anyway, he learmed the trust of the soldiers, and that alone is a victory.

I suppose there are home-made rules to determine the success / failure of the bridges and the petard. Care to share?


Black Knight
Nov 10, 2007
Thanks Unas. I think you'll like the battle. The rules were put together after advice and with the players' agreement. This is the final version I sent out to the players.



Movement: With 8 men attending, with 4 of them pushing, it can march move. Once the attendants fall below 2, it cannot march. Once there are no attendants, it loses 1" movement per lost pusher. It must be pushed right up to the gate, then the fuse lit.

(The idea here is that the pushers are the muscle, the attendants help shift it, direct it, remove obstacles, and add a bit of extra muscle in the moments that's required.)

Explosion: I reckon we should modify the shooting at the gates rules from 6th ed, p.252 -253. Auto hit the gate (for obvious reasons - it will be placed right against it). Roll artillery dice twice for misfire chance (as per the packing an extra charge rule) but the worst misfire result actually counts as a success (except the success also includes potential casualties - D [whatever number of men are present] deaths)! Damage cause = Str 10 + D6 +2. That's a +2 to the standard rules. 15+ breaks the gate, 16 + destroys it utterly (so need a 3+ roll on the D6). If it's a miss a turn type misfire, it can be relit by one of the petardiers for another try!


These will start behind the 24" line, with the pushing unit behind. They should be dropped at the start of turn 3, and although technically the carriage has to be pulled aside, I will allow the unit behind to declare a charge over and against the walls (should be a 10" charge). A failed charge means that the rolling aside of the carriage prevented their progress! They can then attempt their charge in turn 4.

Movement: With 15 men pushing, and at least 5 attending, the bridge can march move normally. Once the attendants fall below 5, it can only march move in a straight line, if it turns it is a non-march move. Once it falls below 15 pushers, it cannot march move at all. At only 10 pushers it loses 1" movement, then 2" lost for 7, 3" lost for 4. At 3 or less, it cannot move at all.


I did not actually factor in Guccio's other fears re: the bridges, 'cos I had not yet written the story or thought of them!


Black Knight
Nov 10, 2007
The Assault on Ebino, Part One: Deployment

Biagino had grown more and more furious on the journey from the defeat at Pontremola to the city of Ebino. When the duchess Maria had died, his mind, twisted with all the proud hatred and dark cruelty of vampirism, had been released from his slavish, besotten enthrallment to her, so that now he was enraged almost to madness by the thought of the glamour she had cast over him. As he passed through the gates, anger had so suffused his being that he cared not a jot for the army that was pursuing him, and instead of fleeing further, as was surely the most sensible course of action considering the recent defeat and the enemy’s obvious strength, he decided he would rule her city, take all that was once hers, as partial recompense for her treatment of him.

He had been a pathetic creature in life, and even in undeath, until Maria’s demise, he had been the same. No more.

Now, however, more than two weeks later, with the enemy soon about to attack the city, and with only his paltry, remnant army to defend it, his fury had abated to be replaced with much more mixed emotions, flavoured throughout with a hearty dose of self-interest. Luckily for her, the witch who Maria had left in charge of the city had not met Biagino immediately upon his arrival, otherwise he would most assuredly have killed her on sight, out of sheer spite. When he finally met her, he had regained sufficient composure to realise he needed to hear her report concerning what forces she commanded within the city, and that he needed whatever help she could give to defend it.

The enemy had been preparing for their assault for days, fashioning up contraptions to allow them entry. He knew very well the strength of their artillery, big and small, having watched the volleys at Norochia tear his massive army to pieces, then witnessed the same yet again at Pontremola. Although the city was circumvallated with strong walls, parapeted throughout, he was unwilling to risk even a fraction of the battering they had delivered previously, not when his own forces were so meagre, and so he commanded that none of his soldiers should mount the walls, but rather slink unseen in the shadows below and await his command before marching up to reveal themselves.

So it was that the Disciplinati di Nagash, commanded by the two remaining thralls of La Fraternita di Morti Irrequieti, were now mustered in their full remaining strength in the yard below him, silently waiting for his order to climb the steps.


Upon the other side of the city gate the witch’s garrison of skeletons stood similarly …


… with a corpse cart close by to augment the magical current feeding their animation.


The witch had conjured a host of restless, accursed spirits from the most haunted corners of the city, and they too awaited command, swirling and swooshing around each other like the fronds of water plants might plait and unwind in the eddies of a stream.


The witch herself, an old crone who had mastered only the most basic rudiments of the necromantic art, yet to her credit had still managed over time to raise the force aforementioned, was hiding too. Like Biagino himself, she was tucked away in a corner of the battlements, under the shadow of a nearby tower, from where she could watch over her garrison force but also take an occasional peek at the enemy.


His chess pieces set, Biagino now waited impatiently for the enemy to make the opening move. Upon several recent occasions, one of his thralls had crept out in the darkest hours of the night to spy upon the foe and had reported the mustering of their force and their constructions. He knew they had bridges with which to cross the moat, but only a few. Surely, Biagino mused, there is sufficient strength here to prevent frightened men clambering up ladders at only a few places along the walls? But then, they also had their guns, and their magical colossus; their wizards and priests. At least their mounted men at arms, of which he had spied a good number at Pontremola, would be forced to wade through mud on foot, unable to bring their lances to bear. They would be little better than militia, if somewhat better armoured. With the walls of Ebino in his favour, he rated his chances.

The duchess, he could see now most clearly, had been a vainglorious fool when it came to war. Despite knowing her uncle (and vampiric sire) Duke Alessandro, had perished in battle at the bridge of Pontremola, she had forsaken the stone walls of the city which would hinder the foe tremendously, and had charged out to attack the enemy, entrenched at the very same place, there to die. He was glad of her folly, for her death had freed his mind. Now all he had to do was survive this assault and he would have time to enjoy his freedom, to revel in the power that could now be his.


Having glanced over the crenelations several times, Biagino saw that the enemy had indeed left all their horses behind, and that even their wooden constructions were being pushed by men not beasts. They were divided unevenly by the road to the city gate, with two of their bridges upon one side and the third on the other. Along the road itself they were pushing what at first appeared to be an ancient bombard, but which Biagino’s wickedly nimble eyes made out to be a huge petard, so heavy it had to be mounted on a carriage.


The largest enemy regiment, consisting of spearmen, obliquely flanked the petard, and if he were to guess, he would have said the enemy general intended them to storm the gate once (if) it was blown. The rest of the soldiers on that flank were heavily armoured, and in smaller companies. Biagino knew they must be the nobility, denuded of their steeds by the necessities of an assault. He could not help but smile as he imagined their steel-carapaced bodies sinking deep in the moat or plummeting from a ladder to crash hard into the rock footings. Also on that flank were two cannons, which perhaps explained why the soldiers on that side had only one bridge. They must have been expecting the artillery to breach one spot, while they then poured across the moat to access the gap thus made.


Upon the other side of the road were the Reman contingent as well as more Portomaggiorans. Biagino had seen, when his eyes were alive rather than just not dead, several of the regiments before, including the mercenary regiments of dwarves. The colossus drew his gaze first, as it would anyone’s, but there were also two bridges, a large regiment of armoured footsoldiers and three regiments of crossbowmen, one of which was pushing a bridge. And well they might, he thought, for they nothing to shoot at!


The whole army was on the move. Soon they would discover how much more difficult the fight against him would prove compared to the Duchess!


Game Notes

This was our third play-by-email battle. We are getting quite good at it!

The Tabletop

The Living Army Deployment, with labels

The Reman Brigade

This pic was sent, along with the army list, to the living army player, Damo (aka Lord Alessio Falconi) as orientation. He did not need a pic of his own forces, as they were his own figures which I had picked up several months ago from his house for the previous play-by-email!

The Undead Forces

This pic was sent, along with the army list, to the Undead army player, Matt, who is actually the villainous Duke Guidobaldo Gondi of Pavona in our campaign, but who had bravely volunteered to command this NPC force in battle.

The City Sections

This being a siege game, it would last for 8 turns, and victory was to be decided according to the number of sections held by an unengaged, unfleeing unit by the end of turn 8.

New Rules

Movement: With 8 men attending, with 4 of them pushing, it can march move. Once the attendants fall below 2, it cannot march. Once there are no attendants, it loses 1" movement per lost pusher. It must be pushed right up to the gate, then the fuse lit.

(The idea here is that the pushers are the muscle, while the attendants help shift it, direct it, remove obstacles, and add a bit of extra muscle in the moments such is required.)

Explosion: I reckon we should modify the shooting at the gates rules from 6th ed, p.252 -253. Auto hit the gate (for obvious reasons - it will be placed right against it). Roll artillery dice twice for misfire chance (as per the packing an extra charge rule) but the worst misfire result actually counts as a success (except the success also includes potential casualties - D [whatever number of men are present] deaths)! Damage cause = Str 10 + D6 +2. That's a +2 to the standard rules. 15+ breaks the gate, 16 + destroys it utterly (so need a 3+ roll on the D6). If it's a miss a turn type misfire, it can be relit by one of the petardiers for another try!

These will start behind the 24" line deployment, with the pushing unit behind. They should therefore be dropped at the start of turn 3, and although technically the carriage has to be pulled aside, I will allow the unit behind to declare a charge over and against the walls (should be a 10" charge). A failed charge means that the rolling aside of the carriage prevented their progress! They can then attempt their charge in turn 4.

Movement: With 15 men pushing, and at least 5 attending, the bridge can march move normally. Once the attendants fall below 5, it can only march move in a straight line, if it turns it is a non-march move. Once it falls below 15 pushers, it cannot march move at all. At only 10 pushers it loses 1" movement, then 2" lost for 7, 3" lost for 4. At 3 or less, it cannot move at all.

‘Other considerations’ (as passed on to the players) ...

In past battles, including the recent Ravola game, it occurs to me that not all non-missile defenders, were on the walls, thus minimising further the damage from the attacker's missiles. There are no missile troops in the undead army, and so they could perhaps (as Matt and I have already discussed briefly) deploy behind the walls, ready to mount the parapets as the enemy close in?

If the defenders are not on the walls (apart from tower window wizards (perhaps) then the first few turns will be about the cannons' battering and whatever magic is conjured. I can't really discuss anything else here and will shift to individual e-mail threads for that. BUT if there's an issue with any of the above, you can and should say here!

A last consideration ....
Taking a walled and moated city should be hard, although in this case the lack of defender missiles makes it easier, the fact that they are undead might make it much, much harder to take the walls! The Portomaggiorans might finally face a real challenge, after two great, if easy, victories!

This could be a great and hard fought battle, and as such a great 'finale' for Biagino (if it is his finale).
Jan 1, 2017
Well, there's a huge difference in the approach to the fight by the undead army, if we compare it to the previous battles.
Biagino is right in thinking that the "tactic" employed by the dukess was foolish.

Without shooting, sadly the undead cannot do much more than wait and hold the walls... this will make things easier for the attackers, at least in the first turns but later some of their units (dawi xbows) won't be able to add much weight to the fight.

I'm thinking that the undead have a strong unit, defensively speaking: if those 4 spirit hosts can wait near the gate, all they have to do is to come out and slaughter the crew that pushes the petard (and poor Guccio as well) to negate one of the ppssibilities for the living to break through.

I believe it will be a really interesting battle, we'll see if Biagino will be able to turn the tide.


Black Knight
Nov 10, 2007
I really hope you do find the battle interesting. There were certainly some 'rule challenges' for me to overcome. Here is the next part ...

The Assault Begins

Turns 1 – 3

Biagino chanced a better look at the enemy, to ascertain what, if anything, he might have missed before. The wheeled petard was making progress up the road, but at a pace that meant it would be some considerable time before it reached the gate – time he intended to make use of as best he could. His keen eyes could make out that the men pushing it were already tired - even from this distance he could see the throbbing arteries at their throats as their hearts pumped hard and fast to feed their muscles with sanguine sustenance. The thought caused a pang of hunger to suffuse his being – it had been some time since he drank!


Several handgunners escorted the petard and in its rear the large regiment of spearmen had angled their march to bring them onto the road behind. Biagino’s earlier guess was proving more likely to be correct – they obviously intended to swarm the gate once it was broken.


It occurred to him that all the enemy could presently see were stone walls, as if they were attacking an entirely undefended city.


He wondered now whether the sight would encourage or worry them. The living always feared his kind – he remembered feeling that fear himself before receiving the gift of his curse. He laid his hand upon the stone wall, his mighty ally in this fight, and allowed himself a moment to recall his mortal years. What could be learned from his murky memories of that life which might help him here and now? Suddenly, however, his nascent train of thought was lost completely, as pain surged through him, sapping the unholy vigour that sustained his corpse-body in the material world. Clutching tight at the stone to prevent himself falling, he turned to look across the front of the gate at the wall upon the other side.


There was the witch, visibly reeling from a similar shock, and he knew full well what must have happened. Her amateurish bungling of the winds of magic, no doubt intended to supplement the ranks of the osseous warriors below her, had whirled uncontrollably from her grasp and so surged savagely as to sting both her and he!

Hissing in anger, he knew he been weakened by the hurt, before the enemy had so much as fired a shot or loosed a bolt! Why, he asked himself, had he not killed the witch as soon as he found her?

Shaking his head in an effort to clear it, he snuck another peek at the enemy. More time had passed than he had thought – his pain had been quite a distraction – and they were considerably closer than the last time he looked. The colossus strode ahead of all the rest, directly towards the moat. This intrigued Biagino, for he had watched the monstrous artefact move on two previous occasions, and knew its gait was stiff if steady, imbued with a sturdy deliberateness. He would be very surprised if it were able to cross the moat, for such a feat would surely require a nimbleness it did not possess?


Beside the colossus were two of the moat bridges. Perhaps the enemy intended their metal giant to step over one of those? This too seemed an unlikely prospect, for its weight would surely splinter the timbers to send its foot into the water and so topple the whole?


Lurching to one side, still dizzied by the magical harm, Biagino glanced instead at the enemy’s other flank. There the third bridge had made similar progress, pushed by the dismounted noblemen and flanked by more handgunners.


Just then he felt the enemy’s magic – not any harm from it, but merely its use. The etheric winds flowed through the foe, and he realised the fellow he had spied earlier walking behind the colossus, red robed with a white turban, was their strongest wizard. Perhaps it was that man who gave the colossus its purpose, directing its mindless activities? Again, however, he sensed a burning sourness to the etheric flow, just enough to reveal that the enemy had also suffered harm in their attempts at conjuration. At first, he smiled in satisfaction, but that did not last long, for it now occurred to him that something might be tainting the winds of magic, as if to make them noxious, so that his own attempts to cast magic might prove further detrimental to his health.

(Game Note: In turn 1 alone, in the Undead magic phase a miscast roll of 9 had wounded both undead magic users, then in the Living magic phase a similar miscast result wounded Hakim the wizard and all three priests!)

Two loud thuds followed the sound of the enemy’s cannon blasts, announcing the first of their artillery shots, likely intended for the gate but hitting the wall it that bore it. Splinters of stone spattered out to splash in the waters of the moat below. They would have to do much better than that, thought Biagino, then turned to look at the courtyard behind him. There his bambinos, commanded by his thralls, stood waiting, satisfactorily unperturbed by the sound of shooting.


Both Biagino and the witch now thought to cure themselves magically of the injuries they had suffered, but Biagino attempt was quelled by the enemy’s countermagic, while the witch simply fumbled the words of her incantation. No matter, he thought, there is plenty of time yet. At least the winds were becoming more favourable, or at the least, less dangerous to the caster.

Outside the enemy pushed onwards. Unknown to Biagino, Lord Alessio himself commanded his regiment of Sea Wolves, armed with great-swords and clad in plate armour, urging them on as they shoved their burden towards the defences.


Again, Biagino sensed the workings of the enemy’s magic, and although not all seemed to be successful, he knew that at least one of their spells had come to fruition. If he had been looking over the parapet just then, he would have seen the dismounted knights momentarily move with unnatural swiftness to push their bridge that bit closer to the moat. He did, however, look just in time to see all three moat bridges come crashing down to span the moat. The first had mercenary crossbowmen pushing it …


… the second was moved by the plate armoured footsoldiers …


… and the third was accompanied by the dismounted nobility of Portomaggiore.


The men at the second, led by their general himself, were champing at the bit to get at the walls, and swiftly pulled aside the bridge’s carriage to allow themselves to begin pouring over it immediately.


The enemy’s cannons now shifted their aim and lobbed two iron roundshots at the wall to the east of the gate. Once again, the shots buried themselves into the stone, flaring cracks from their points of impact, but the wall stood.

Now, thought Biagino, was the time to mount the walls. His command was unspoken, and indeed little more than a thought, for his bambinos and thralls were like unto marionettes for him to make dance as he pleased. Up went the Disciplinati di Nagash, but not onto the wall targeted by the enemy artillery, which no doubt the enemy intended to breach rather than assault with ladders. There his horde of zombies stayed put, to face whatever attempted to climb through any breach caused. Now the men at the third bridge could see Ebino was not undefended!


The witch too ordered her city garrison up, so that the enemy commander would be required to do work very hard if he was to take possession of the wall before him.


Embarrassed by her earlier failure, perhaps, the witch now wound together as many magical eddies as she could muster to cast the Invocation of Nehek, if only to restore herself to full strength, and so be best prepared to face the fight ahead. But the curse Biagino had sensed earlier still lingered, so that she lost her hold again on the slippery swirl of arcane energies and they spun instead into an uncontrollable maelstrom which once again knocked the (foetid) wind out of her. So befuddled was she by what had happened, she failed entirely to notice that this time, just like the last, several skeletons had indeed been raised to join the ranks of the regiment now climbing onto the wall.

Biagino felt the blow too, and as the pain of his fresh injuries fuelled the fury of his anger, he staggered on the battlements, struggling merely to stay on his feet. Somewhere in his mind, little more than a flicker within the whirling rage engulfing the rest, real doubt had crept in. Perhaps, said a whispered voice, today is not your time after all?

(Game Note: Biagino down to one wound. The witch was a more complicated matter – which began a debate concerning the rules. See the note below this post, but if you do, brace yourself for a full and frantic foray deep into the 8th ed WFB rules!)

As both the undead commanders reeled, Lord General Alessio Falconi of Portomaggiore led his Sea Wolves in a ladder assault of the wall.


Yet this was the only bridge used for an assault. At the first bridge, the crossbowmen lugged the carriage away to allow a company of skirmishing bravi to cross, led by the Reman brigade’s commander Captain Soldatovya, while at the second the dismounted knights simply waited, watching as another roundshot shook the wall to the left of their bridge. Then they shuddered as a second, louder sound rolled over them, after which they turned to see that one of the guns had shivered apart, killing the crew and master gunner serving it.

(Game Note: Each gun had an ‘artillerist’ serving it, being the Tilean list equivalent of an Empire engineer, the second having bought their ‘mercenary skill’ at double the usual cost as per the rules. Both guns could thus re-roll misfires. Apparently, that does not always save a gun. Statistically I supposed it fails to save a gun 1 in 36 times, or fails to save an already misfired gun 1 in 6 times).

On the road the petard was gaining momentum, its pushers thankful that they had a road to traverse and not rough ground.


Behind it, the spearmen came on too, with the famous Reman Morrite priest ‘Fighting’ Father Antonello at their head, along with the Portomaggioran nobleman Marcus Portelli.


Biagino was vaguely aware of the flow of magic channelled by the enemy, but so dazed was he that he only managed to dispel one of their conjurations, and even then, he knew not what he had prevented. One spell that did get through was a Lore of Light blessing which enlivened the climbing Sea Wolves and perhaps was the reason the fully pate armoured Lord Alessio was the first to top the wall, great hammer in one hand, and commence the first close combat of the assault.


Despite all the advantages gained when defending a wall against ladder climbing attackers (Game Note: And there are a lot!) the attackers, filled with hatred for the foe (being divinely inspired by the presence of the Morrite priest, Father Dado Bendali), enspelled to move with unnatural speed and with their leader armed with an enchanted blade, rained down blow after blow. The fleshless defenders began tumbling from the wall in droves.[/I]


Turn 3 Completed. Turns 4-8 to follow!


Appendix to Turns 1 – 3 (for players who like detailed analysis of the rules)

Game Note

The miscasting witch (a level one necromancer) had been on her last wound, but just before I removed the figure as dead, I read the rules. There I was surprised by what I found and did not remove the figure! I began the inevitable debate with the players, which I fully expected as I too had initially believed the witch’s death was surely inevitable, but luckily I had just joined the ‘Eighth Edition For Life’ forum. So, looking for back up from a more knowledgeable and entirely disinterested source, I posted the following in the “Get the Rules Right” section of said forum …

Here is a ruling I have (as GM) just made in the play-by-email game we are running right now.
A Vampire Count's army level 1 necromancer had only 1 wound left after a previous turn's miscast had caused a S6 hit on him.

The necromancer now irresistibly casts 'Invocation of Nehek'. The Lore attribute 'Curse of Undeath' says that "When a spell from the Lore of the Vampires is successfully cast, the wizard (or another friendly model with 12 inches) instantly recovers a single wound lost earlier in the battle". The WFB core rulebook says (p.33) "A spell cast with irresistible force automatically succeeds..." so it is a 'success'. And (p.34) it says that one should "... first resolve the effects of the spell the wizard was attempting to cast ... [&] The casting player can enjoy the effects of his spell before something ... bad happens to the wizard ..." so the spell's effects are sorted before rolling on the miscast table.

Thus I ruled that in terms of ‘rules as written’ (RAW), exactly in the order stated in the rules, the necromancer casts the spell successfully, instantly recovers her wound (part of the effects of the spell which the rules say she must 'enjoy' first), then when she then rolled 9 on the Miscast table and received another S6 wound, wounding her on a roll of 2, she goes back to 1 wound.

I checked and rechecked, made sure of the actual wording, and this seemed right. The non-vampire player however, disagreed, saying "As it is a lore bonus that happens after the spell" BUT as there is a GM in the game he then graciously wrote "but that is an argument for over a cold beer so happy with [the GM's] view of the rules”.

I was very glad we could carry on. And [was] reminded how having a GM can really help (although we once lost a player from the campaign over his annoyance at army lists, etc)

I had tried to fully research the decision and felt I had gained a level of clarity that meant I didn't even think we should 'roll to decide'. However, I knew that my [own] initial perception before reading all the rules was that he surely must die and so I had dreaded the debate …
Fidelis Von Sigmaringen, self-styled “Attorney-at-RAW”, who has helped me several times on other forums, reassured me by posting the following …

Your judgment was correct. As specified in their respective rules, different Lore Attributes take effect at different times. It can be:
- when the spell is being cast by the Wizard (e.g. Wildheart, Kindleflame)
- when the spell has been cast succesfully (e.g. Lifebloom)
- when the spell is being resolved (e.g. Metalshifting, Exorcism, Roiling Skies)
- after the spell has been resolved (e.g. Smoke and Mirrors, Life Leeching).

It can even be later in the same Magic phase, when a spell is being cast by another Wizard. Indeed, it can even be in a later Magic phase (Roiling Skies in the case of Casandora’s Comet per FAQ – an error IMHO).

The relevant rules have already been quoted above:

Vampire AB p.60: "When a spell from the Lore of the Vampires is successfully cast, the Wizard (or another friendly model within 12 ") instantly recovers a single Wound lost earlier in the battle."

BRB p. 34: "When irresistible force occurs, first resolve the effect of the spell that the Wizard was attempting to cast. As the spell has been cast with irresistible force, the casting player can at least enjoy the effect of his spell before something almost indescribably bad happens to the Wizard and everyone nearby. Once the effect of the spell has been resolved, the Wizard now needs to roll 2D6 on the Miscast table to see what happens to him."

As far as I can tell, the BRB does not specifically state that the Lore Attribute as such is a spell effect, but it is indicated in the description of Roiling skies (BRB p. 497): "When a spell from the Lore of Heavens targets an enemy flying unit or a model with the Fly special rule, the target suffers , D6 Strength 4 hits, in addition to any other effects caused by the spell" (Italics mine).

In any case, the Curse of Undeath Lore Attribute takes instantly effect when the spell has been successfully cast, ergo before the spell resolution, ergo before rolling on the miscast table.
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Jan 1, 2017
Guccio's bridges worked perfectly! now, if also the petard will do its work, i fear that Biagino will meet his demise. (sucks to be him tough, reduced to one wound by "friendly fire").

interesting battle so far.


Black Knight
Nov 10, 2007
So glad you find it interesting, Unas. If the complicated events and repercussions of a campaign with 6 players and many an NPC power didn't make for 'interesting' battles, whether unbalanced or desperate, tricky or with 'baggage', I would be surprised. The one thing I never got my head around was football-league type campaigns, with equal points battles, tiers and stages. I want a world to emerge, complicated and strange but believable and consistent, with politics, disease, the fog of war, or just the fog of weather and intricate plans and schemes. Hopefully it has!

The last part of the battle ...

The Assault Continues

Turns 4 – 8

Still more angry about his predicament than afraid, Biagino attempted to conjure a curse upon the massive marching body of spearmen closing in on the gate. Distracted by his anger, however, he fumbled the spell and failed to bring the curse to fruition. Aware, however, that his efforts to spin the winds of magic must have been noticed by the enemy’s magic users, he moved along the wall in the hope that their own curses might not find him!

As the fight at the wall continued furiously, with more than half a dozen skeletons falling for every Portomaggioran who perished, the petard and spearmen moved ever closer to the city gate.


Captain Soldatovya led his bravi over the bridge to begin moving around the city’s corner tower, hoping to find an undefended spot where he might gain entry.


The wizard Hakim once again blessed the Sea Wolves, gifting magically enhanced swiftness to their blades, although the uncontrolled shards of magic released by his unintentionally overpowered spell spun away to visibly sting the colossus. Even Hakim was beginning to wonder if this place was cursed by much more than the presence of the undead.

At the third moat bridge the dismounted knights simply stood their ground, watching as several of the robed zombies on the wall were felled by the handgunners’ bullets. Before the second bridge, however, the fight raged on, and as a consequence of their magical blessing, spurred on by the furious efforts of their commander Lord Alessio, the Sea Wolves hacked and slashed so vigorously at the skeletons that they felled the last foe and took possession of the wall.


The living had once again set foot in city of Ebino. Whether they would stay there had yet to be ascertained.

Biagino could see the witch fleeing along the wall into the tower by the gate, which spurred him also to conceal himself, dismounting the wall and entering the courtyard below. As he emerged, he saw the two brutes who had made it back from Pontremola standing patiently behind the gate.


Presuming they survived the petard’s blast, Biagino knew the pair could not hope to prevent the horde of spearmen from accessing the city. Most likely all they could do was cut down a few before they themselves fell - unless, it occurred to him, he himself could bring magical harm on the spearmen and weaken them. He decided he would try his curse again, despite the risks, and so conjured the Curse of Years. Yet again the magical forces broiled so wildly as to be uncontrollable, and once more his body was wracked by the energies he had failed to properly channel, but this time he knew the spell had bitten because his keen ears could hear their dying screams!


(Game Note: 9 spearmen died, Marcus Portelli was wounded. Biagino’s irresistible miscast wound was compensated, as with the necromancer before, by the Lore Attribute wound gained ‘instantly’ by the successful casting of the spell!)

Before the western wall, Soldatovya and his bravi were suddenly horrified to see a writhing swarm of ghostly beings emerge from the very stones, surging forwards to block their path threateningly.


As they staggered back in surprise, the Sea Wolves above them had already begun pouring down into the courtyard to attack the corpse cart sitting therein. Known for his initiative in battle and a long military career forged by making the right decisions at just the right time, Captain Soldatovya shouted to his men and led them up the ladders (left behind by the Sea Wolves) onto the wall! Considering the alternative, the bravi were only too glad to obey. As they climbed, they glanced behind to see that the mercenary dwarfs were already crossing the first bridge, but not one of them delayed their climb to forewarn their comrades of the threat which lay just around the corner!

As the petard was pushed and placed against the gate, the regiment of spearmen came to a halt. Despite being distracted by his wounds, Portelli knew that to advance any further would leave the petardiers with only two options – to throw themselves into the moat waters or to die when the petard blew. Halting now meant they could run over the bridge to escape.

The wizard Hakim used much of the magical power he could summon to dispel the curse afflicting the spearmen, so that neither he nor the colossus could find sufficient remaining etheric energies to successfully conjure any other spells – although both did try. At the same time, a cannon ball struck the already shaken wall and brought down a fair strength of its crenelated top, but not the wall itself; while the famous captain Lupo ‘the wolf’ Lorenzo shot three blessed bolts from his magical arbalest at the spirits he now spied across the water, visibly diminishing their number.

All this was quickly forgotten a moment later, however, as the flame fizzling along the supposedly 25 second fuse (which the siege-master Guccio had lit exactly 17 seconds earlier) reached the petard’s touchhole to send a massive blast of flames and broiling smoke in all directions, shattering the gate into pieces and tearing off the bottom half of the portcullis.


Thanks to the noble Portelli, only half of the petardiers perished in the premature explosion, although those who did survive were so distracted, dazed and deafened that they could do little more than collapse to the ground, there to lie for the remainder of the battle. At the moat’s edge, near to the damaged but still (surprisingly) intact bridge, lay Guccio, with one leg torn and bloody, reddening the water. It would be some time before he woke, but he lived.

(Game Note: The petard, which by the rules had to roll two artillery dice, so doubling the chance of misfiring, did misfire, and the subsequent roll was a 1, a ‘catastrophic’ result. This meant it still blew up, causing the full damage that it would have done if it worked properly, but in the process it would also kill D(number of attendants). 5 out of the 10 died.)

In the courtyardi, Alessio and his elite guard dispatched the corpse cart easily, while above them the bravi were torn between watching them and looking behind to watch the dwarfs who had been assailed by the host of spirits. Several dwarfs died, but despite being entirely unable to harm the spirits with their mundane-steel blades, they fought on stubbornly.


Inside the courtyard the Sea Wolves now divided the better to clear out the city, with half going onto the nearby wall which overlooked the road, and the other half into the tower by the gate. Alessio led the latter company, and it was he who caught a glimpse of the witch fleeing across towards the other side.


(Game Notes: (1) Our siege/assault rules allow the division of large units, 20+ models, into two, in order to occupy and thus hold more ‘sections’) (2) The petard had blown the gate open, but not destroyed the stone wall into which it was set, thus the witch was still able to move across the top.

Meanwhile the bravi scrambled into the corner tower, if only to allow more of their comrades to climb the wall, and outside the Reman crossbowmen were indeed manoeuvring to cross the second bridge and do exactly that – praying that the dwarfs could hold back the ghostly foe. And indeed the dwarfs, despite their utter inability to harm the foe with their weapons, did so, bravely holding their ground against their spirits, a defiance which in itself began to unwind some of the necromantic magic holding them in this world.

The dismounted knights at the far bridge chose the same moment to cross, but not to attempt a ladder assault, but rather to ready themselves for the fall of the wall to their left, so that they could storm it immediately when it did.


As the smoke at the gate thinned a little, Father Antonello, at the front of the spearmen who marching towards the breach, could just make out the silhouette of the two brutes upon the other side. They had already been wounded by the blast, but both stood ready, for being zombies meant they felt no pain. He used his magical ring to hurl a fireball at them, but to little apparent effect beyond disturbing the smoke!

The cannon, firing again at the wall, had more luck, as this time the wall finally came tumbling down!


Several of the Disciplinati di Nagash were crushed by the collapsing masonry, the rest being entirely untroubled by the occurrence, just as they were untroubled by anything at all. Biagino watched the wall’s fall with fascination, his heightened senses magnifying the impressiveness of its collapse, an intricately clattering, part tumble, part slide of a hundred irregularly broken stones swathed in dust and smoke. With little more than a flick of his wrist, he commanded his bambinos in the courtyard to divide, sending half towards the gate while the other half remained to await whatever attempted to clamber over the rubble. His half-hearted attempt to resurrect those crushed by the masonry was to prove a failure.


The petard’s explosion had left the ears of every living soldier near the gate ringing, but not Biagino’s, and he now heard the cacophony of footfalls as spearmen advanced over the bridge. Scowling, he summoned every scrap of the winds of magic he could and once again cursed the spearmen, slaying another ten and again wounding the nobleman Portelli.

As his men pushed by, Portelli let them pass, winded as well as wounded, and would take no more part in the battle. (Game Note: This is my way of interpreting the fact that he was not included in the ten models subsequently selected to assault the gate – using the p.129 ‘Assaulting a Building’ rules. Both the player and the fictional character seemed to know he was too close to death!)

As three more of the dwarfs fell to the deathly chill of the spirits, panic finally got the better of them and they broke and fled away. The spirits, who tarried a while as if to revel in their success, failing to catch them!


The Reman crossbowmen, several of which had already crossed the bridge, now rushed to climb the ladders, spurred on by the sight of the spirits heading their way, while Hakim the wizard stepped back as if to shelter in the shadow of the colossus!

Fighting Father Antonello now led the surviving spearmen, of which there were still many, in a charge through the shattered gate …


… and into the brute horrors waiting on the far side of the threshold. Lord Alessio himself had also spied the brutes and, leaving his Sea Wolves to scour the tower for more enemies and to better guard that quarter of the city, he personally charged to join Antonello at the gate. While the priest and spearmen struggled to best the brute they faced, Lord Alessio’s cuts dug deep and he brought down the other with ease. Father Antonello’s blade was somewhat less effective, however, and although the grey cassocked, sandaled holy man fought with rare courage …


… the brute finished him easily with a blade longer than the priest was tall. Then, even as the magical forces animating its corpse-body dissipated, the brute stamped down to crush the priest’s head under its foot, before falling itself on top of the priest.

(Game note: I rolled to see whether its stomp attack might be used in this manner, resulting in a kind of ‘overkill’ wound. It was. The Remans, although here commanded by Damian (whose character of Lord Alessio of Portomaggiore) ate NPCs, as are the Undead, so as GM I like to roll on little hastily created tables sometimes just to decide between options! The significance is that Father Antonello, being ‘overkilled’, cannot now roll on the campaign rules recovery chart. He is most definitely and very dead.)/

Captain Hans Wiedmuller, the artillerist tending the last surviving cannon, was able to enchant the iron ammunition using his magical Matrix of Undoing, and so dissipated several more of the spirits with a very well-aimed shot. But the surviving spirits’ attention had been caught by the crossbowmen hurtling past them to rush up the ladders and so they swirled in a graceful arc up and over the wall, chasing Remans before them and right across the courtyard into the city.


(Game Note: The crossbowmen declared a flee action.)

Outside the fallen wall the dismounted knights were approaching the breach …


… but as they drew near the Disciplinati lurched up and onto the rubble. The lesser nobles thus realised that the next while would involve considerably more than struggling over rubble in full plate armour!


Biagino had willed the Disciplinati on, but at the same time he ordered the thrall upon the wall commanding the other company to come and join him. It was, he now acknowledged, time to leave. He was not willing to die attempting to hold onto Ebino. He had only really taken the place as a species of vengeance against Maria, but he cared nothing for it, nor had any real desire to stay.

He had hurt the enemy enough, he presumed, to make them think twice about venturing any further north. That was enough. Miragliano lay to the north, a much mightier realm, once ruled by the vampire Duke Alessandro. He would rather take his chances there, to see if he could wrest it from whoever currently ruled – if indeed anyone. And if the enemy chose to follow him, then he would fight again with whatever forces he could raise. Perhaps now that Lord Alessio’s army were further weakened, the next time would be easier, and he could finally, properly defeat them?

So it was that the vampire arch-priest Biagino, with his servant thrall loping behind to keep up, flew through the streets of Ebino and out through a hidden postern, leaving his bambinos to keep the enemy busy a while and so buy him time!

Which that they did.

While Father Bendali, the second Morrite priest with the army, summoned up the courage to attempt a prayer on the host of spirits pursuing the crossbowmen …


… the dismounted knights scrambled up the toppled masonry to become caught up in a frantic tangle of a fight with the frenzied, zombified dedicants of the Disciplinati di Morr, now having become what was once their own enemy!


And as the other company of men at arms struggled up ladders to face as exactly similar foe …


… Lord Alessio himself personally led the charge against the third such body of zombies, who defended the tower upon the other side of the shattered gate.


The living, armed and armoured well and with much greater fighting prowess than the walking corpses they were fighting, were almost certain to prevail. And so they did. But it took time, which Biagino, exactly as he had intended, used well. By the time they had wrested real control of the city, Biagino was long gone, and entirely out of their reach.

Game Over, end of turn 8.

Thank you, Matt, for running the Undead, and thank you Damian for commanding your army once again in a week long play by e-mail battle. That reminds me, when I am allowed, I must return your army to you!
Jan 1, 2017
So glad you find it interesting, Unas. If the complicated events and repercussions of a campaign with 6 players and many an NPC power didn't make for 'interesting' battles, whether unbalanced or desperate, tricky or with 'baggage', I would be surprised. The one thing I never got my head around was football-league type campaigns, with equal points battles, tiers and stages. I want a world to emerge, complicated and strange but believable and consistent, with politics, disease, the fog of war, or just the fog of weather and intricate plans and schemes. Hopefully it has!
Very true, that's one of the reason why I'm so into battles that have an almost foregone conclusion. The narrative in a campaign like this, is more important than the "balance" (a target which is anyway so hard to reach, with the points system), so you focus on all the many other aspects that give life to the story.

Very nice pics, i like very much the ghosts facing the bravi, and obviously the shattering of the gate by the petard.

I'm happy that Biagino survived, he's amongst my fav. villains, and I'm also happy for the full success of Guccio's ideas. He will certainly rise in the considerations of the nobles and troops alike.


Black Knight
Nov 10, 2007
Thanks again, Unas.

I know it is the far end of the peninsula, and no undead are involved in the story-line down there, but here is the next installment ...

For Love of Hearth and Home
Prequel to the Fight at Sersale

City of Alcente, Spring 2404

Most folk in the city considered Captain Hector Perdigon’s soldiers to be scum, the worst kind of mercenaries. They were presumably unwanted in whichever army they originally served, either because they had refused to obey, or to fight, or had simply run away. Nor had they formed a company of their own, with a condottiere to command them, gaining a renown for their service. Several spoke with a Pavonan accent, presumably having left to seek service that paid, but their accents revealed that they hailed from every corner of the Old World, not just Tilea, and some had accents of a kind entirely unknown to most Tileans. Some came from the darkest corners of the Border Princes, others had fled defeat in some Empire civil war, and a good number were Estalians who had flitted from contract to contract in Tilea. It was said, based on nothing more than rumour, that a good half or more had been exiled from their own lands.

Reluctantly, the citizens could not claim the mercenaries did not know their business, or that they were ill-equipped to go about it effectively. They had been employed by the VMC, whose clerks were experts at getting their money’s worth. Had they been in rags bearing rusty blades, then they would have been bought cheap, with particular economy in mind, but these men were clad in plate armour from head to heel with a healthy vigour about them. The company must surely have paid dearly for them, and to equip them. Nor would they go to the expense of the latter if the mercenaries were not worthy of such expense. This should have given the lie to the common opinion of these men. The VMC’s officers did not throw gold at a bad investment. The truth of their origins was known to the VMC’s clerks and to the men themselves, neither of whom felt any compulsion to explain it.

The citizens consoled themselves by thinking of the alternatives. General Valckenburgh could have left Ogbut and his brutes as a garrison force! Or no force at all. Either way would have been more dangerous for the people of Alcente.

The main army of ‘The VMC in Tilea’ was composed almost entirely of mercenaries, as even those recruited in Marienburg (the trading company’s home) were not pressed to serve a local lord, nor had they volunteered in their city’s militia. They had been hired to serve a mercantile company as part of a joint stock enterprise. They had been purchased, just like the ships and supplies. A good number of the soldiers had been recruited in Tilea, and as such they had every reason to serve willingly in an army fighting first against Lord Khurnag’s Waagh and now the vampires of the north, defending their homelands from such evil foes. Even they had to admit, however, that they were not serving nobles or even Tileans, but businessmen. Indeed, the Tilean lawyers who drew up the contracts under which they would serve had utilised a combination of Condottiere contracts and the bonds signed by caravan and warehouse guards. They might have hearth, home and a noble cause in mind, but they knew merchant adventurers who commanded them only really had profit in mind.

Perdigon’s garrison regiment was not part of the main army, having been raised to bolster the standing militia force of Alcente while General Valckenburgh marched to the far north of the peninsula. So far, Perdigon’s men had done their job well - if simply remaining at full strength and ready while nothing much happened counted for anything. The citizens had learned that as long as they stayed out of their way, the mercenaries kept themselves to themselves. Several inns had become theirs, whether or not they were officially lodged there, and in truth the citizens, even the city’s Tilean militia guard, were glad they were there, considering the proximity of an army of Sartosan pirates ravaging the realm’s smaller settlements to the west.

This morning, however, something had changed. Perdigon’s men were frantically busy preparing to march, while the captain himself was striding through the streets with several of his lads, as if on a mission. People watched from the windows or pressed themselves back in the doorways while he passed, and everyone knew that his activity did not bode well. The city’s bells were quiet, however, which made some think it could not be a real emergency. Captain Perdigon knew the truth, however. The bells were being kept deliberately quiet, to maintain a necessary surprise! The Sartosan pirate army was nearby, and alarm bells might encourage them to hurry!


The captain knew where he was going, and before long he found exactly who he had been looking for - the militia’s watch patrol, with their current commander. A mere handful of crossbowmen and halberdiers doing the rounds as the militia had done for many a year.

“Ho! Sergeant Ivo,” barked the captain. “Gather up your lads, you’re marching out with us at noon.”


“What?” answered the sergeant. “Look you, captain, maybe you’re marching out, but our job is to stay here and defend the city. So we ain’t going anywhere.”

“You’ll be defending the city when you march out. Now, make haste.”

Sergeant Ivo snorted as if he found what Perdigon had said very funny. He looked around at his men, rolling his eyes as if to say ‘Get this fellow’ then fixed his eyes on Perdigon.

“The problem that comes to my mind, captain, is that I can’t see any way in which we can defend the city if we are not in the city to defend it.”

Perdigon narrowed his eyes, which was all the sergeant could see what with the captain’s sallet and bevor covering the rest of his face. “You think that you and your militia can hold these walls against an army?”

“Not if we are not on the walls, no,” said the sergeant, with a mocking lilt.


Perdigon chose to ignore the tone. “You would not last an hour,” he said. “The stone is strong, but with only your petty militia to hold it is no defence, only an inconvenience.”

“Look you,” said the sergeant quickly, and in a more serious manner. “We live here. Our families are here. If we leave then there will be none but boys and old men to guard the walls. We serve the city. That’s what all of us agreed to, and that’s all we agreed to.”

From behind he heard Adelchi shout, “Aye!”


The sergeant glanced back at the lad, thankful, and warmed somewhat to his theme. “We’re not soldiers, to be marched off to war. We are citizens in arms, ready and willing to defend our homes. We will obey any order to that end, but we cannot leave the city. We will not leave the city.”

The sergeant glanced back again, but the lad was quiet this time. Perhaps Adelchi did not like the fact he had been the only one to shout before?

“You’ve sworn an oath to defend the city!” said the captain. “And now you must do so by marching out! The Sartosan filth have burned Mintopua and razed Motolla. Now they march on Sersale. If they burn that then your proud city will be surrounded by wasteland on all sides.”

“Ah, but … but our city will stand!” said the sergeant, thinking quick. “And … crops can be resown.”

Someone behind him muttered something about the vines won’t come back in a hurry.

“Think, fool,” said the captain. “The Sartosans will not stop there. You think they’ll complain at how heavy their loot has become and decide enough’s enough? Their greed only grows with the taking, and they know there’s much more to be had from the city itself. And now they think you Alcentians are weak. With good reason! They won’t fear assaulting the walls if they know you all to be cowards.”

“You … you take care what you say, Perdigon,” said the sergeant, his voice strained by equal measure of panic and hurt pride.

A dark cloud drifted over head as hands clutched a little tighter to hilts. The crossbowmen suddenly regretted not having spanned their crossbows.


From behind Adelchi spoke again, and the sergeant wondered if he was the only one present who felt any sort of confidence.

“Maybe it’s you who’s afraid?” declared the youngster. “You’ve been ordered from the city I bet, and you don’t want to go alone.”

“I’m not afraid of Sartosans,” laughed the captain. “I’ve faced far worse than them – enemies that would loose your bowels on sight, boy. The truth is I like drinking wine here in Alcente and sleeping on soft beds. In fact, I’d like to do that some more. If we do not take on the Sartosans right now then all that will be lost. Such a shame.” Then, like an afterthought, he added, “Oh, and o’course, your sisters will be raped, your homes burnt, and you will be chained in a galley for the rest o’your days.”


“Well,” said the sergeant, shaking his finger at the captain, “I say if you want to keep what you have, then you should stay and help us hold the walls.” He swung his arm to point toward the nearest city gate. “They outnumber us, yes? Well, see … I say the walls will even the odds. And General Valckenburgh could be back any day – just the sight of his army would send the Sartosans running. If we go out there now, we could end up fighting unnecessary.”

“Dying unnecessary,” someone muttered from behind.

“The general is hundreds of leagues away. Chances are he doesn’t even know what’s happening here. Look, we have orders and you have orders. This is my last offer of advice, and then there’ll be no more talking. The militiamen of Sersale have mustered and called for the city’s help. They intend to make a stand and will die to a man if we do not help them. Now, I don’t care much for them as I don’t know them. But they’re your cousins and countrymen. Do you want them to die?

“No … but see …” stuttered the sergeant uncertainly.

“And the road wardens are riding in force from Pavezzano, while we have Captain Hidink’s pistoliers here in the city. You think their skills in battle are best put to use on the walls?

“Well, no,” admitted Sergeant Ivo.

“This is your one and only chance to save the city. Do you understand? Wait any longer and that chance is gone. Right now we can muster us, you, the men of Sersale and all the horse left in the realm, and bring all to bear as one. The general isn’t coming in time, and if left to their own devices, the men of Sersale and the road wardens will all die. Altogether though, we can put on a show of force that should make the sea dogs think twice about fighting.”


“Well, when you put it like that … “



Black Knight
Nov 10, 2007
Good to hear from you. Sorry about the PM. After seeing you answer quite frequently, when there was a gap, what with this time of pandemic, I just had to send a PM to see if all was well!

BTW, I have begun the process of making a video of the campaign stories, which in fact started several years earlier than the first story on this thread. I aim to continue, and have nearly completed the second, longer, story. I am slowed by wanting to re-do the pictures, to improve the originals (where I did not hide bases, and did not take them with supporting a video in mind.)

If you want to see it, it is at ...
Jan 1, 2017
Good to hear from you. Sorry about the PM. After seeing you answer quite frequently, when there was a gap, what with this time of pandemic, I just had to send a PM to see if all was well!
Makes sense. And as said, without your PM i would have missed the update. xD

I will certainly take a look at the video, but ATM i'm far from home and i don't want to look at it on my cell.


Black Knight
Nov 10, 2007
My second video story is up!

The Greenskin Corsairs’ and ‘A Weakening of the Faith’.

I put two parts (2 and 3) together, so it is 25 minutes long. I probably won’t do that often, however – I was testing to see if I could work through a longer one. The battle reports might be longer as they should be easier to do, what with the pictures fixed as they are and so I can’t be tempted into redoing them!




Black Knight
Nov 10, 2007
Thanks Unas. the next video story (a bat rep of the first battle in the campagn 7 uears ago) will get done after I have put this next one together! Busy!

Here's the first part of the battle report ...
(2781 pts of Pirates are taking on about 1600 pts of militiamen and mercenaries)

We Know Our Business
The Assault on Sersale, A Battle Report


As the village of Sersale came into view, Admiral Volker could see that this time the Alcentians had chosen to mount a proper defence. There had been squabbles at Mintopua and Mottola, and some of his scallywags had died, but for whatever reason the defenders had not mustered any real strength to oppose them. His captains had become convinced it was because there was no strength to muster, which indeed had been the thinking behind their decision to target this particular realm. Everyone knew the Alcentian marching army, mainly composed the VMC’s foreign mercenaries, had marched to fight the vampires in the north. Even then, they had stopped to argue on the way with the duke of Pavona, so apparently, they were not in a hurry to get to the north.


“Maybe,” Captain Van Baas had joked recently, “they ain’t in a hurry to return either?”

Volker had pondered over this a while, to consider what possible reason the VMC might have for delaying their return. In the end, considering the wealth of this realm, all he could come with is that they were too far away to return quickly. But if the company had been prepared to dispatch their army so far, then it was likely it had left something behind to defend its precious new possession, its milch cow.

Adding weight to his internal argument, here at Sersale there were not just militia men and light horse, but regimented bodies of soldiers, one of which was well armoured. As far as he could ascertain, it still seemed too weak a force to have a hope of thwarting his own army, but there could be some trickery at play, or at least a relief force on its way. Had they decided to defend this place rather than their city walls to buy time? Or were they simply, desperately unwilling to watch any further destruction of their property?


The enemy possessed one piece of ordnance for his three, which meant his own guns would have a little work to do before they could send their shot at the main bodies of soldiers. Two regiments bore Alcente city standards, chequered red and white bands on a field of blue, with black crenelations presumably to represent the city walls. These were probably the city’s drilled militia, endowed with some skill in their halberds and crossbows. A large body of well-armoured soldiers bore the orange and blue colours of the VMC itself, most likely professional mercenary soldiers bought with the ample funds available to such a rich trading company. They could be trouble, as could the pistoliers carrying the same colours.

Then there was a large body of swordsmen, rivalling the men at arms in size, but with no standard. These were possibly the local militia, but that did not mean they could be discounted as a threat. Being so close to the Black Gulf, even the part time soldiers of this region were likely to know their way about a sword. And if this was indeed their home, then what need had they of a standard to inspire them to fight?

The village itself was flanked by a river, crossed by a stout stone bridge. Several large dwellings were surrounded by small, enclosed fields and orchards, making the place fairly defensible, even without any further work.


No bad thing, then, thought Volker, that this time had brought his entire strength to bear. Previously, at Mottola, he had dispatched Captain Van Baas and his crew to take and raze the village, while he and the rest of his army waited close by to lend support if required, but most importantly to counter-attack any relief force dispatched from the city. This last is exactly what had happened, and several many VMC horsemen had perished in their pathetic and abortive attempt to relieve the village.


He and his three surviving captains had brought their crews. Both his crew and Van Baas’s had been badly mauled in previous fights, so, as he approached the village, he had commanded them to amalgamate into one body, all the better to apply strength of numbers in any fight they took on. Van Baas did not complain, and indeed seemed relieved. Maybe his crew had been grumbling about their losses, becoming a tad mutinous, and this strengthening had reassured them?


Volker’s Sartosan army was heavily reliant on black powder, for as well as the three pieces of ordnance, he had two companies of handgunners, another of blunderbusses and two armed with swivels. The goblin Captain Farq’s lads also favoured powder, being verily festooned with pistols, but unlike the dwarfs (bereft of their captain, Brewaxe, since the battle near Luccini), their pieces were somewhat ill-kept and unreliable. Such was the way of goblins. Volker often wished it was not also the way of several of his own crewmen, but it was not the place of a pirate captain to apply the lash, rather to persuade with promises of wealth gained, and inspire by example. Although keeping their weapons free of rust, well-oiled and ready for battle was stipulated in the seventh clause of his own ship’s articles, there had been some pettifogging debate of late whether said articles applied on land.

His recently raised, but already reduced in strength, pike regiment was intended to add a better defence against enemy horse soldiers, and his two wizards, Arcabar and Vedus, were there not just to dish out magical harm but to counter whatever spells the enemy could muster. Right now, however, it looked like the only horse the enemy possessed was on the wrong side of the river, and Arcabar had commented that he could not sense the presence of any wizards at all in the village. Still, thought Volker, better to be safe than sorry. More horse could come, and any wizards might be hiding right now, biding their time before they struck.

The defenders had deployed mostly within the confines of the village boundary, except for the pistoliers upon the far side of the river. Volker had sent no-one that way, having failed to find a bridge to cross, but was not concerned, for he reckoned his lads would make short work of them, the river notwithstanding. The young horsemen would surely learn the folly of prancing about within range of his pieces!


A few archers were lurking among the trees of the stone-walled orchard, like brigands awaiting the passage of prey to rob, while the city-militia crossbows manned a hastily made barricade of ladders and planks between the orchard and the hedged field.


The enemy’s largest regiments waited behind, on the village’s street, obviously hoping to thwart his Sartosans’ advantage in numbers by fighting within a restricted space. What use was an hundred men if only those six at the front could bring their weapons to bear? Volker knew from ship to ship fighting that with such restricted access even ten men could hold back a hundred, if bold (or desperate) enough.


The enemy’s single gun was out on their far-right flank, concealed behind a hedge, and well sited so that it could aim its muzzle at almost any part of Volker’s army. It was heavier than his own pieces, but this was a fight for field pieces, not great guns, and so he was not too concerned.


Volker intended to bring the full strength of his own army to bear and in so doing present such a sight as to strike fear into the outnumbered enemy, which is why he commanded his army array in one long line of battle. Such a deployment would also help his guns big and small to play at the foe unhindered. So it was that he put his ordnance, swivels and handguns, on either flank, while his three largest bodies, being the pike, Farq’s goblins and his and Van Baas’s conjoined crews occupied the centre.


His dwarfs he put out to his left, to ensure that flank – and the baggage - was protected by something that could fight hand to hand, and hard. Out on his right, the river, in full flow due to the season, meant he did not need to worry so much. Only the foolish, or the desperate, would attempt to cross it. And they would fail.


Nevertheless, his right flank would present quite a challenge if the pistoleers thought they could harry his troops from the far side of the river, what with a body of swivel gunners ensconced in the trees and two companies of handgunners flanking them. It would be interesting to see how pistols fared against their larger cousins!


As well as the dwarfs on the left, he had placed two of his artillery pieces and his own blunderbuss-armed crewmen, including Draja the great orc and his mighty firearm ‘Mine’. Volker had seen what Mine could do - it was colourful if not exactly pretty.


Behind them was the baggage, and although the wagons, carts and mules carried much of the loot so far stolen (a considerable fortune) Volker was not too worried about the enemy attempting its capture, for they would surely be far too busy defending what they already had to bother with trying to take more. Still, it comforted him to know that the dwarfs were close by to keep an eye on it.


He himself personally commanded the joint regiment of his own and van Baas’s mariners. His yellow shirted navigator, Ubaida el-Noor stood to one side of him, and on the other was his standard bearer, carrying his colours of a death’s head above a cutlass.


Next stood Van Baas’ bosun, Moukib Brahimi, then the wizard Adus Arcabar, and on the far-left Van Baas and his own standard bearer. Crab, the young lad who carried the drum, had been relegated to the second rank for want of space amongst the officers and artists at the fore. Vedus, the other wizard, was marching with the pikes, whilst Captain Jamaar Garique was commanding his handgunners on the right. Volker was glad that Jamaar was out there to keep an eye on things – the fellow had proved himself competent many times over, a safe pair of hands.


Volker’s booming voice, a startling sound to issue from so slight a man, signalled the advance, and the Sartosans began to close upon the village, keeping in step for now, with the dwarfs, thus maintaining a straight line and ensuring plenty of unobscured targets for the artillery big and small!


The three central regiments fair bristled with steel, either sword blades, pistol barrels and pike heads, and made a sight to see as they moved as one. Volker was under no illusion and knew full well that Captain Farq’s horde of goblins on his right were pretty much all show and little substance, but to the enemy they would look frightening enough.


Quieter, so that only the men near him could hear, Volker said, “That’s good lads! Steady and neat. Let’s show ‘em we know our business.”

He wondered what it must be like to be in the village looking out, to see an entire army of renowned robbers closing in, an enemy that had already devoured the western reaches of the realm and was clearly intent on continuing its feast. Would the sight sow fear or resolve?


No matter, he thought. We’ll find out soon enough how they feel about fighting today.

He could hear Farq’s shrill shouting as he too ordered his mob onwards. The goblin captain had spent the previous night bragging how he and his lads would surely get to grips with the enemy before anyone else, leaving little work for the rest of the army, then trying to convince the other captains to offer him and his lads a reward in advance, which he said was only appropriate as some of his lads would be dead afterwards and so would not enjoy their rightful reward if not given immediately.


Volker had probably spent too long trying to work out if the goblin was joking, until he remembered that goblin humour invariably involved inflicting suffering on some poor unfortunate, even one of their own. If it was a joke, then he would have to keep an eye on Farq. Goblins were renowned for having more cunning than orcs, but too much cunning could make Farq dangerous to any who believed him to be their friend or follower.


Of more immediate concern to Volker was his chief wizard, Arcabar, for the man was on the wrong side of old for a battle, toothless and wizened, despite his obvious ability to weave formidable conjurations.


The previous night Arcabar had reassured him that if he was strong enough survive the flip they were drinking, a heady mixture of rum, beer and sugar, heated up with a red-hot poker, then he was strong enough for battle. When asked if he lived that morning, Arcabar had belched before opening his eyes, then asked, “Can the dead do that?” Now, as they advanced, Arcabar proved he was indeed strong enough to hurt the foe, for he conjured up a magical shower of lightning bolts to hurl towards the crossbowmen at the enemy’s front and centre, cowering behind their makeshift barricade.


Three of the crossbowmen fell, one screaming horribly, the other two deathly silent as their blackened bodies crumpled. Volker could also see several balls of fire arcing towards the archers concealed in the orchard, undoubtedly invoked by Vedus, but unlike Arcabar’s blue bolts, they dissipated before they reached the enemy. Arcabar himself did not seem to notice his fellow wizard’s failure, busy as he was with killing two more of the crossbowmen with yet another spell, this time causing a sheet of fire to burst from the very ground they stood upon.

Just as Volker wondered what the guns were up to …


… he heard the rippling sound of shots, loud and louder, from all along the line. Impressive, he thought, as the gun on his right sent chain-shot into the already mauled crossbowmen, killing three more. The militia, half their number already charred or torn to pieces, with hardly a moment having passed since the Sartosans began their advance, could take no more and fled from the barrier.


“Fare thee well,” said some wit from the ranks behind.

A moment later there came another boom, this time louder, followed by the sound of shouting from his own lines. One of the brace of pieces to his left had blown up! Volker didn’t know it, but the other had failed to fire altogether. Its crew were not bitter - not after what they had just witnessed. They were just thankful to be alive!


As the enemy’s mounted pistoliers had cantered forwards one of the swivels found its mark and tore one of them from his saddle. The rest, however, closed in on the handgunners on the far flank.


The volley of pistol fire proved surprisingly accurate as they killed five of the nine pirates. Luckily for the rest of the Sartosans, their success was not equalled by the Alcentian ordnance on the other far flank. The gunners lined their muzzle up on the surviving Sartosan gun facing them …


… but their shot merely clipped the piece as it passed harmlessly through the shaken crew.

Father Vettorio, the Morrite priest serving Sersale and several surrounding villages, seeing militia Sergeant Ivo bravely rallying his battered crossbowmen despite their recent mauling, thought to help them with a blessing of protection, but found his prayer thwarted by the enemy wizards.


It seemed his prayers were not going to be strong enough, not with such powerful magic users in opposition. Despite the doubt he suddenly felt concerning the defence of his parish, Vettorio’s courage was not diminished. Neither he nor the Sersalian militia swordsmen he led intended to depart the village.

Live or die, they would stay here either way.

(Turn 1 completed)


Black Knight
Nov 10, 2007
The Fight for Sersale Continued


Admiral Volker did not need to command his army to continue the advance as everyone knew to do so. The enemy stood their ground, obviously satisfied with their deployment. He would be too if he were one of them, thought Volker, for despite the basic and limited nature of their defences, they had used them well.


Volker did, however, shout across to Arcabar, then pointed towards the archers lurking in the orchard.


Arcabar nodded and lifted his staff to signal to Vedus further down the line, advancing with the pikemen.


Vedus did not really need the encouragement, for they had been the target of his last spell. Forcing himself to ignore the blaring horn being sounded beside him, he fixed his eyes on the archers and once again began his incantation.


This time twice as many flaming orbs coalesced from the ether, already in motion as they rent their way into the material realm to course at speed towards the trees, trailing blue sparks. Upon hitting the branches, they spewed sheets of fizzling flames which rained down on the men cowering behind the stone wall below, incapacitating half a dozen and causing the remaining handful to leap, smoking and screaming, over the rear wall and through the men at arms on the other side. They only stopped when they reached the building over the street.


[(Game Note: The men at arms, having no character to lead them, were in danger of fleeing too. But they rolled snake eyes for their Panic test!)

As he squinted to look through the smoke and ascertain how well he had done, Vedus suddenly noticed a coiling eddy of excess magical energy coalescing above him, at the very spot where the fireballs had crossed the seam dividing the realms. He had badly misjudged the etheric force drawn into his spell and clearly failed to control even half of it. His squint turned into a wince, less than a second before the broiling energy folded itself inside out then exploded with an exponentially magnified power (yet no sound at all). The blast sucked the very air from his lungs and he struggled to stay upon his feet. When he finally managed to draw a choking breath, his throat blazed with pain at the heat of it. Opening the one eye he could, he saw that many more than half the men he had been marching with had fallen to the ground, lifeless or senseless, while those few still on their feet, like himself, reeled and wheezed in shock.

(Game note, a miscast roll of 4, Dimensional Cascade, killed 15 pikemen! Remaining casting dice lost.)

The blast’s soundlessness meant that Volker noticed the horror on Arcabar’s face before he spotted the confusion amongst the pike. It appeared that the company had stumbled into a patch of potholes and so taken a tumble, and for a moment he entertained the thought that the enemy might have dug more pit-traps around the village, but then the look on his wizard’s face made it obvious that something much more serious had happened. When Arcabar spat the word ‘Fool’ out, Volker knew Vedus was to blame.

First the cannon, now Vedus. It seemed neither powder nor magic were to be relied on today! Yet the next few moments suggested that powder, with which his army was plentifully supplied, could still contribute to their success. First, an iron roundshot punched through the hedge before enemy’s gun to smash into the gun itself, disabling it and badly wounding its crew. Then the surviving four handgunners out by the river, their comrades lying dead or dying around them …


… fired their pieces to throw three more pistoliers from their saddles. The horsemen turned quickly around to gallop away somewhat quicker than they had come. Not quick enough to outrun the shots of the swivel gunner’s in the trees, though.


Not wanting to miss out on the sport, the swivels also fired and another three horsemen died. This only hastened the pistoliers’ frantic retreat!


The swivel gunners now found themselves somewhat at a loss, for with the only enemy they could see galloping away, it seemed there might be little else for them to do.

“Wait” shouted one of them in jest towards the last of pistoliers. “Come back! We’ve still got powder!”


The cannon on the Sartosans’ right fired chainshot into the halberdiers in the village, tearing three of them almost in half! Fearing the recently rallied crossbowmen might once again falter at the sight (and sound) of this, Father Vettorio now ran ahead to join them at the barricade.


There he prayed that Morr would curse the wizard in white, and indeed could sense his god’s will manifesting though him, but this momentary hope was dashed as the enemy’s countermagic proved too strong. Disheartened he found himself surprised by the sudden snaps of the crossbows as they brought down four of the goblins now charging at him. There were so many goblins, though, that it was doubtful the rest even noticed, and the next moment Vettorio found himself suddenly close to the greenskin mob!


Volker had begun to order his own regiment to charge the crossbows, but that had faltered as Farq’s mob hurtled by, blocking the way. When he spied the four trampled goblins left in their wake, quarrels piercing their corpses, he found it quite easy to console himself at the lost opportunity. Better them then my boys, he thought. Still, knowing the goblins, his boys might yet have to do the real work. Farq’s boast of the previous night, that he and his lads would get stuck in first, might well have proved true, but that did not mean they would stay ‘stuck in’!

Arcabar, having apparently spotted the damage done to the halberdiers by the chain shot, was obviously intent on seeing what he could do to further their misery. He conjured up a shower of burning blue bolts to equal the cannon’s tally. The halberdiers, however, were apparently made of strong stuff, for they took this as they had taken the chainshot and stood their ground.


Vedus and his shattered pikemen were now very close to the men at arms, but their will had been sapped and they came to a halt. For now, the thought of ditching their pikes to cross two stone walls and assail the armoured professionals massed on the other side, seemed like madness. Apparently, the men at arms understood the pike were no longer a threat, for not a one of them even glanced at Vedus and his comradees, intent instead on watching how the crossbow fight against the goblins up ahead.


One of the pikemen was shouting something about going around the orchard, but what with the resumption of the horn’s incessant blaring and the continued confusion of his thoughts since his dreadful miscasting, Vedus failed to respond either by word or deed!


(Game Note: I know, I know, Jamie, you chose not to charge the pike attack simply because you believed they would fail and so pointlessly endanger your wizard, which is no good thing in a campaign game. That wizard might be needed for moving on to capture the city, where the real loot lay. But when a picture comes out like that, and after what the wounded wizard had been through, this ‘spun’ version of events seems utterly undeniable! Look at the guy shouting and pointing!)

While the handgunners and swivels fired yet more bullets at the broken pistoliers, killing all but one, and the two remaining pieces of ordnance shot chain to fell a handful of halberdiers as well as some of the men at arms, Captain Farq and his horde fought the crossbowmen at the barricade.


Several goblins died as their shoddily maintained pistols blew apart, while Bagnam Farq himself malingered in the second rank trying to look busy without committing himself to any real fighting.

(Game Note: The campaign list rules re: ‘Robbed Pistols’ and Farq’s ‘goblin merchant boss’ rule ‘Not the Bravest of Sorts’ came into play here. These guys truly are nearly all bluff and bluster!)

It was a bitter fight, and despite the fact that the casualties were pretty much even on both sides, the sheer weight of numbers was on the goblins’ side.


Father Vettorio and the crossbowmen, no longer numerous to defend every part of the barricade, broke, to be cut down almost immediately by their whooping and baying foe. Sheer press of numbers meant the goblins burst right over the barricade and within moments had slammed into the men at arms, calmly awaiting their arrival.


(Game note: You can probably see from the penultimate picture above that the goblins pursuit carried them into the three leftmost men at arms. More than a mere clipping. As per the rules, or certainly as we have always played them, we then maximized the number fighting on both sides and thus the full-on clash of the last picture.)

Half way through Turn 3!