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8th Ed, Holy War

Joined
Nov 10, 2007
Messages
299
The Defence of Ravola: The Battle

Deployment


It was an hour after dawn when the enemy first appeared. Perette had been on the tower long before light, suspecting that such an enemy might prefer to attack when it was still dark. Then, as the sun rose, she had wondered whether they intended to attack that day at all. Perhaps they were waiting for something? Reinforcements? Mighty but slow-moving machines? Or perhaps they had some scheme afoot and there would be more to the day than a straightforward assault? Just as she was beginning to suspect that this must be the case, they suddenly marched into view.

There were a lot of them, as she had expected. Not only the reports from the scouts, but also every story she had ever heard of ratmen in battle, described them as having great numbers. Yet one of Garoy’s knightly companions, who had witnessed an army of their kind in his youth, had told her that if the scouts were right then this was a small army for their kind. Perhaps not what the ratmen themselves would even call an army?

The enemy force looked big enough to her! Directly ahead there was a large body of robed ratmen, hefting a broad ladder half as wide as the regiment itself – more like scaffolding than any ordinary ladder.

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By their side were two smaller companies, whose own burdens were similarly oversized - handguns, but so long and heavy that two ratmen were need to heft them. She had heard of these. They were called jezzails, and they shot bullets of warpstone. Deadly, without a doubt, but surely not strong enough to penetrate the stone of the walls?

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Turning she looked along the line. The majority of the enemy were gathered before the gate tower, not the tower she herself occupied, which showed a certain obvious clarity to their purpose. Yet … she could spy no engines of war among them with which to shatter the gate. How exactly did they think they would break through?

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The robed rats were not the biggest body the foe possessed. Before the gate were two much larger regiments, carrying exactly similar ladders, as well as a swarm of almost natural rats and at least two companies of brutes the same height as ogres. The biggest regiment had one such brute in its front ranks, with a platform strapped to its shoulders upon which rode a warlord, general or some such, sporting a red and yellow banner affixed to his back. This surprised Perette, for she had always thought such creatures found their strength in numbers, and not through individual prowess. But of course, someone had to command: to cow the rest and make them obey. Doubtless whichever rat argued with that particular warlord would find themselves torn to pieces by his draft beast, while said warlord sniggered or scowled above!

And yet she sensed that the colourfully rigged ratman was not the commander of this force. She could not yet put her finger on it, but there was great power, magical power, elsewhere in the enemy lines. Whoever possessed it would no doubt reveal themselves the moment they brought it openly to bear, but for now, she just knew that the real leader was someone else.

Nearby there was a shout of ‘Have a care!’, which broke her dark reverie. She saw below that the humble townsfolk were leaving the wall there to make way for the Brabanzon longbowmen. This made her think of the wall to her right. What with the enemy so solidly massed before the gate tower, she now realised the brigand archers on that wall must have little to nothing they could shoot at, and so she strode over to the wall to shout down, “Care to join us up here boys?”

As the archers gathered their quivers of arrows and began moving along the wall, she strode back to where she had been before. They’re not slow, she thought. Even from this distance she could see they had drawn considerably closer in just the time it took for her to issue her command.



Seer-Lord Urlak Ashoscrochor peered at the city’s walls. He could see that the enemy had had little time to prepare their defences, for the ground between him and the walls was undisturbed – no pits, earthworks, stakes, nothing at all. But still, what with an oak and iron gate, portcullis and stone walls and towers, perhaps he should have tarried until his engines of war had been extracted from the tunnel? If the walls had to be taken by ladders, his warriors would die in droves. Not that he cared one jot for their lives, but to lose them carelessly when he had future plans for their use was not a prospect which pleased him. He recalled how once he had watched a warlord fill a moat with his fighting slave and even clanrats, simply to fashion a bridge to allow the rest of his force over. At least there is no ditch-moat here, he thought.

He moved his eyes along the battlements, squinting to make out what was upon them. The morning sky was bright, grating enough to blur his vision, but the enemy’s motion helped.

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To his left he could see a fluttering banner or two, soldiers’ heads here and there, and a large machine upon the biggest of the towers. Then something caught his eye - a pitchfork! The kind of tool men-slaves used to gather hay from their weed-fields. Why would a soldier have a farming tool?

He looked instead at the walls before him, much closer. There was another machine of war, a cannon of sorts with many a muzzle. And, beside it, men armed with scythes.

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Ha! he laughed. They are but peasant-men! Where are the soldiers? These walls are manned by wretches. His scouts had reported soldiers in the garrison, armoured from head to foot. Either his scouts were wrong, the soldiers had fled, or they were elsewhere.

Then he saw motion on the wall to the right. There they are! he thought, as men armed with bows took the place of the previous, pathetic occupants.

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It seemed a strange trick to play. It made little sense. What had the enemy to gain from such footling footwork, shifting hither and thither? Unless, the enemy had so few soldiers that they had had to hold them back until his army came into view, then deploy them on whichever walls were most threatened?

If that were so, then he could expect a similar exchange upon the wall ahead. He watched, waited. He squinted against the sharp light. But no, the wretched peasants there remained in place, their scythes held aloft

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They do not have enough soldiers to defend every wall! No armour, no shields; no handguns nor crossbows. Just rusty digging tools and the like. He licked his lips with glee. This would be easy after all.

Before he gave the order to advance, he glanced about him, to check if his army was in order. To his left he saw Clan Skravell’s red regiment, with Gurthrak atop his Bonebreaker at the fore. Just beyond he could make out Skravell’s ogres, and the dangerous end of their ratling team’s weapon.

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Seer Lord Urlak hissed, which drew the attention of all around him, even Gurthrak. He bared his teeth at the warlord, narrowed his eyes. Gurthrak gestured forwards with the blade of his fauchard. It was a question. Urlak gave the tiniest of nods, and Gurthrak turned to look back at the city.

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As he did so, he summoned up a screeching howl of a command: “Advance!”

The whole army began to move.

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Game Notes:

Skaven Deployment
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Brabanzon Deployment
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You may have noticed the swap-over of two units which I allowed to the defenders. That’s because both sides set up ‘blind’: the players giving me instructions for deployment without any knowledge concerning the enemy’s deployment. The only had a picture of the tabletop to go on. I had, however, told the defender he could swap whichever two units (or just move one) he liked, to represent the fact that his commander and troops would have a slightly better idea regarding the enemy’s deployment (having spied upon their approach) and so could adjust their own disposition on the walls a little to reflect that knowledge, within the present safety of their own walls.

BTW, I know the order to advance has been given by the Skaven in the story, and Perette has ordered the brigands to come up onto the tower, but in game terms this was simply deployment. Next part of the story will begin with Turn 1, Perette’s phase (the Bretonnians won first round).
 
Joined
Jan 1, 2017
Messages
718
BTW, still my pc never shows me all the pictures here, instead there are many failed link images. This is not the case on other forums?!?
the only failed link is the third to last pic in the post that shows the armies. Which I presume it is the detail of jezzails and rat swarms


cannot wait for the battle report!
 
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Joined
Nov 10, 2007
Messages
299
And they're all showing now. It must be my PC (somehow) as they always (I think) show on my phone. Bat Rep being written now. Well, not this very moment for obvious reasons, but I am writing it!
 
Joined
Nov 10, 2007
Messages
299
The Fight Begins

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Perette was ready for their advance. She had been absent mindedly stroking the red jewel of her enchanted ring since the moment they had appeared, and now she channelled the etheric breeze through it to conjure magical fire. As she did so the ring itself grew too hot to bear and she was forced to tear it from her finger, dropping her favourite fan in the process. The ring clattered off out of sight, lost somewhere on the crowded battlements. Despite her unexpected pain, the magic coalesced into flaming globes which rushed all the way to the brute-like rats moving a little ahead of the rest of the enemy army. One of the creatures staggered back, alight from the legs up, then crumpled to the ground in a shower of sparks. Satisfied with this, despite her lost ring, she decided she would finish them off completely with more infernal magic, but she could not control the etheric eddies caused by the misbehaving ring and her efforts came to nought.

(Game Note: Miscast using magical item, then straightforward fail on the next spell.)

The men around her, both the crew of the trebuchet and the brigands rushing onto the tower’s battlements, did not notice her fumbling failure, for they had other matters on their mind.

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There was an almighty crack as the trebuchet’s arm was released to hurl a huge load of rocks. This sudden sound the brigands could not fail to notice - several flinched in surprise, one dropping the arrows from his quiver. The stones arced gracefully through the air to land squarely upon the robed ratmen to Perette’s fore, causing a large, messy lacuna to appear in their midst as night upon a score were crushed. (Game Note: 17 dead!) Three more at the front also fell, stuck with longbow arrows, so that altogether half their number had been slain. Yet, despite being the sort of carnage which would doubtless discourage even the most foolhardy of men, the survivors simply stepped over the battered corpses and calmly continued their advance.

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(Game note: It occurs to me now that their ladder would surely have been destroyed by such a blow. Still, I suppose they could have been dragging it behind?)

Perette was surprised. In every story about them the ratmen invariably proved to be cowards, yet here was evidence to the contrary. Perhaps, she thought, they fear whatever dark god they have dedicated themselves to more than the rocks, more so than even death?

Seer Lord Urlak scowled. That was but one engine, and the enemy had more, including the many-barreled monstrosity awaiting atop the gate tower towards which most of the army was advancing.

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He knew he could not yet do anything to harm the engines, but he could make the enemy’s arrows fly less true, so he conjured a warp-gale to engulf the city.

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As he did so he felt no resistance from the enemy. Strange-odd? he thought. Perhaps their wizard fears what I will do next? The fireballs had revealed her presence upon the largest tower, beside the stone throwing engine. A red-haired woman, who was either holding back or was currently struggling to manipulate the winds of magic.

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Deciding play things cautiously, he summoned a state of magically induced frenzy upon his bodyguard, to make them careless of any harm they themselves might receive. If such rocks were to strike them, he did not want his own guards fleeing in panic. When the warriors around him became more animated and louder in their snarling, he knew his spell had taken hold. Yet still nothing from the red-haired woman. She must have sensed his presence by now? Well, if she was so stupid, he would try something else that would have a much more immediate effect on the enemy. Spotting the clan Skravell engineer not too far away, he decided to skitterleap him onto the walls, there to sow confusion amongst the enemy. This time though, he felt the resistance – not from the engineer, who remained ignorant throughout - but from the tower. From the woman. Yes, yes, you see me now, he thought, as his magic was foiled.

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As his army drew closer to the walls …

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… the jezzails (out on the far-left flank) gave fire upon the stone throwing engine, despite its distance and almost complete concealment behind the stone battlements.

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Chips of stone burst explosively from the crenulations before the engine, and, just visible through the osseous cloud the dust they formed, so too did large shivers of timber from the upper parts of the machine. (Game Note: Two wounds!) The jezzail gunners sniggered gleefully.

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What with the sudden, clattering fragmentation of the stone nearby, Perette barely noticed a gang of city dwellers had occupied the wall vacated by the brigands. Angered by the potential loss of her ring, and unable to start scrabbling around to find it now, especially now that shards of stone littered the area, she looked back out at the enemy. The etheric winds began began to wind themselves harmonically into her anger (an old, familiar feeling) and she manipulated them to manifest as spheres of magical fire to fly out towards the largest enemy regiment. Nine of the ratmen succumbed to the flames – if not dead, then too burned to continue. This was not all, however, for the unseen winds were strong, and so with the heat of the last spell still in her mind, she conjured a veritable storm of fire to wash over the same enemy regiment. Eight more ratmen fell, their fur smoking as their innards were cooked!

(Game Note: Fireball followed by Piercing Bolts, which was successful despite forgetting to add the D3 bonus for a previously successful fire spell!)

Urlak saw Gurthrak’s regiment was faltering, what with the awful stench of burned flesh and the terrible sound of the wounded. He allowed himself to give vent to a screech filled with malice, loud enough that the red regiment’s leader heard him. Order was regained, and their march was continued. But only a moment after they resumed their advance, a pile of tumbling rocks crashed into the very heart of them killing seventeen more!

The enemy’s stone thrower had struck again. It was quick, accurate and it was threatening to ruin Lord Urlak’s plans! His screech transformed into something more furious and from somewhere the red regiment found the will to step over more bodies and march on.

No, no! thought Urlak. This is not going to be easy at all. Indeed, in the last few moments his entire enterprise seemed doubtful.

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Yet, even as three more red regiment Skaven fell to arrows, still they stumbled onwards. Seeing how much his servants seemed willing to endure for him, he resolved not to succumb to despair. Whatever it took, he would possess this city by nightfall, even if every one of his pathetic underlings had to die in the attempt. Here, today, he had chosen to show his hand. Defeat was not an option. He would die himself before informing the Council he had failed in his first open fight.

( Game note: Both the brigands and the longbowmen were responsible for the three extra deaths. Believe it or not the organ gun was lined up ready to shoot as well, but it misfired! You can imagine how the Skaven player was feeling - a certain degree of doubt about his campaign strategy was beginning to set in! This NPC force had been very lucky in their first two turns. Considering we were, due to the pandemic lock down, ‘playing-by-email’, with me making all the actual rolls, I myself was becoming worried that the players would think I was fudging the results.)

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With his despair now transformed into pure fury, Lord Urlak ordered his army to charge. The already battered rat ogres were closest to the walls …

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… and their proximity combined with their speed meant that for now they only ones to reach the city wall, slamming up their ladder to ascend the wall against the Brabanzon longbowmen.

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As the brutes began their climb, Urlak decided he would not have Gurthrak wasted beneath a pile of rocks, nor did he want to see what the multi-barreled gun peeking over the battlements could do when it fired, and so he summoned every scrap of magical power he could to conjure Skitterleap. The red-haired woman could not stop him this time, and in the next moment Warlord Gurthrak vanished from atop his bonebreaker to reappear upon the gate tower, right beside the war-engine!

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By now the jezzailers had also noticed the red-haired woman near the trebuchet, for they could see she was the one spewing magical fire from the battlements. Deciding they could always return to shooting the war machine later, then now fired as one at her. Coincidentally, the ratling team had settled upon exactly the same target, so that now the crenulated stones before Perette began to burst, sending out a huge shower of fragments. She had to throw herself down, shielding her eyes as shards of stone bounced all over and around her.

Not one bullet, however, found its mark, something shooters did not know for some time, what with the obscuring cloud of dust and smoke now engulfing the tower top. The other skaven ratling team, hearing that the first had now opened up, chose an easier target - the peasants on the wall in front of them. It was the last choice they ever made, however, as their weapon broke apart in the firing, mortally wounding them instead of the foe.

The rat ogres, the only skaven to have reached the walls ...

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... now ascended the ladders as best they could. Of course, the longbowmen had the advantage, killing the packmasters driving the brutes in a hail of arrows before they even set foot on a ladder, and wounding an ogre before it reached the top of the wall. Four longbowmen were cut down or thrown off the wall, while one of the ogres was finished off by the archers’ swords. As that ogre fell, the surviving one struggled to hold on and slid back down the ladder. Winded, it staggered back, and although its previous fury had been beaten out of it, it’s only intent was to climb the ladder again, come what may!

(Game Note: we have campaign rules regarding ladder assaults. Stomp can’t be used, nor can two hand or two handed weapons. Attackers are at -1 Init and -1 to hit, whilst the defenders are at +1 to hit. Up to 12 defenders can fight, compared to up to only 9 attackers (or 3 monstrous infantry). Combat results based on wounds caused alone. It really should not be easy to take a castle wall with ladders, and it is not!)

End of Turn 2!

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Game Notes

Play by email is time consuming! This battle took several days, with me running it late into the night on three separate occasions, I think. (My memories are hazy of the experience!) There were benefits, such as me being able to take better pictures than usual as we went along (there are some good pictures coming up in the report, I promise). I also had to send out a ton of orientation pictures, like the following examples …

Perette’s fire magic ranges
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Perette’s knowledge of enemy movement
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Perette’s orientation re: the enemy’s movements next turn
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Skaven rangings for missile …
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… and magic
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That is just a small selection of what went out!

I hope to convince the rest of the players that in future play-by-e-mail games it would be just as fun, if not moreso, and just as fair, if the players really try to direct the battle from the perspective of what their PC can see or know. General orders would be given at the start (deployment, objectives, cooperation etc) then alterations (as and when) based on what the PC actually knows. A character’s eye view of things. Because both commanders were magic users in this game that really slowed us down at times, as I communicated back and forth re: spells, dice available, dice used, so that the players had full control over the casting and dispelling details.
 
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Joined
Nov 10, 2007
Messages
299
The Battle Continued

Having scrambled, quite unladylike, beneath the clattering, shattering shower of bullets-striking-stone, Perette joined the brigands at the side wall, from where she could still see much of the enemy army, concentrated as it was before the gate tower. She could smell the taint of warpstone: a metallic tang in the corporeal air and the stinging sharpness of the etheric breeze.

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The enemy were drawing near - the walls might soon be bristling with their ladders. Of course, she could not help but also notice the sudden appearance of the ratman on the tower-top along from hers, what with his array of brightly coloured banners almost doubling his height!

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The new engine’s Brabanzon crewmen, surprised as they definitely were, did not want to lose the chance to shoot successfully at least once, not after all their efforts to master the art, and especially as everything was already prepared. So, despite their understandable discomfort at such a close and dangerous magical manifestation, they continued the process of firing!

As the ratman was obscured by the engine, Perette realised she dare not employ her magical fire against him, for fear of blowing up the gun, which seemed a more than likely outcome, if not guaranteed! It also occurred to her that if he was to descend the stairs instead of attacking the gunners, the ratman could open the gate, allowing the enemy to pour into the city. Looking down into the yard below she saw Baron Garoy and his knights waiting, as planned, mounted and ready to challenge whoever made it over the wall.

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The young baron had changed considerably since being wounded at Campogrotta. Not only had he been left somewhat slower and more deliberate in his actions, but his past arrogant aloofness had apparently been knocked right out of him! This much became painfully clear when Perette realised that Garoy had developed a romantic fondness for her, something surely impossible before his wounding? Before Campogrotta, she offended him so much that he could not even bear her presence. Now he was genuinely fond of her, grateful for her help and indeed held her in respect – so much so he had agreed it was best that she commanded all the defences while he commanded solely his band of knights.

Well, thought Perette, he was in the right place at the right time. She waved at him, gestured for him to enter the tower, and drew her hand across her neck to indicate some killing was needed inside. Garoy nodded once, then dismounted along with the rest of the knights to lead them into the gate tower.

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(Game Note: We could not allow Garoy and his knights simply to charge the tower and thus join in combat with the skaven warlord, as per the WFB 8th ed. building rules, because of the need to dismount first. Considering troops are not allowed to change formation during a charge it seemed right and proper for me as GM to rule that dismounting from horses was similarly disallowed!)

Now that the baron and his knights had gone from the yard, the Brabanzon horsemen would have to do his intended job instead, so they moved along to best position themselves for the task in hand.

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Assured that Garoy was on his way to take on the ratman in the gate tower, Perette spun up a fireball and sent it scorching into the badly mauled red regiment, killing two. Not satisfied, she decided to conjure bolts of fire onto the same, but this time the winds tore through her too strongly and spilled out uncontrollably. Another pair of ratmen died, but much of spell’s strength burst from her own body to wash across the rooftop, killing four of the men standing beside her! She was left reeling, confused and ashamed by her error – this fight was proving very hard upon her despite being atop a stone tower!

(Game Note: Both the Skaven and the brigands passed their Panic tests, the former through luck alone, the latter helped by the fact that they could re-roll their fail. This is another campaign rule for defenders on city or castle walls and towers: they re-roll all failed Ld tests as if the army standard was always within 12”.)

The harmful magic did not badly harm any of the trebuchet crew, but its stinging caress must have at least distracted them, for this time their engine’s hurled rocks landed far wide of the intended mark, damaging only the ground! Meanwhile, the brave gunners on the neighbouring tower, despite the warlord’s presence close by, fired their gun. Its deafening report and impressively large belch of smoke assured them that it must have done well. If they had still been there when the smoke cleared, however, they may have seen that only one of the ratmen in the yellow regiment was killed by their shot!

The brigand archers, despite the horror of the mysterious deaths caused by their beloved lady, finished off the last of the rat ogres staggering in front of the longbowmen’s wall, allowing the latter to loose a volley instead at the severely mauled red regiment, killing three more. Much to everyone’s surprise, friend and foe, this was still not enough to send them running!

(Game Note: They passed their Panic test again!)

Upon the high, thin tower to the right of Perrete’s tower there was a second gun, much lighter than the new contraption, and with only one barrel. The gunner had been waiting until the robed ratmen were in range and now let his linstock down to caress the priming powder with his match. A (loud) moment later he gave a cheer, for he could see four of the enemy had lost their heads! The survivors, now less than half the number who had started the march towards the walls, were untroubled, however, for as Perette had pondered earlier, they were indeed so intent upon killing the enemy in the service of their god that that they cared not a jot for the deaths of their comrades, only that they could get their hands on the foe.

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And so it was, now they were close enough to the walls …

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… the plague monks began their charge, hefting their huge ladder as they came within a few steps.

Urlak now summoned Crack’s Call, causing a crevice to appear in the ground running from his own foot towards the gate tower. Perette, momentarily distracted by the rush of events, the swirl of considerations and not least the deaths she had caused, did not attempt to prevent this flow of magic. Urlak’s grin grew wider and wider as the crack sped towards the tower, for he knew its power would take it right to the building. Upon touching the wall, a veritable craze of cracks appeared in the stone, coursing like the branches of a tree, upwards and outwards. Inside, Garoy and his knights realised very quickly the building was about to crumble and turned to leave the same way they had come, although much quicker than when they entered. All but one knight got out! On the tower-top, Warlord Urlak also saw the cracks, and without stopping to wonder why (certainly without time to realise the damage had been caused by his master) he escaped by leaping nimbly over the wall to land outside.

There was nothing the crew of the engine could do, however, for they were too high up for men to jump and a flight of stairs away from the walls. Down went the tower, and so too them and their gun!

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The new gun had fired but once, and in so doing had killed merely one enemy warrior, while the trebuchet had slaughtered many tens of warriors. Of those not currently far too distracted to notice the event, several ‘lucky’ wagerers now wondered if they would live to collect their winnings.

Urlak grinned.

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No-one would ever know whether he had always intended to topple the tower, and thus potentially his warlord. Perhaps Gurthrak had disappointed him? Offended him? Perhaps he was happy to sacrifice Gurthrak just to draw some more of the foe into the tower before it fell? Perhaps he decided Gurthrak might become stuck with a multitude of arrows from the brigands before he could strike himself? Maybe he did not care? Or did he just forget?

Besides, whatever the truth, it did not matter now. Gurthrak lived, and was left standing, somewhat winded, beyond the rubble.

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On the other side, Baron Garoy and his knights were forming into a little company, all the better to face whatever came over the rubble.

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The red and yellow regiments had yet failed to reach the walls, but the rat ogres of Urlak’s bodyguard …

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… did reach, much to the disconsolation of the poorly armed militia defending its rampart. The three massively monstrous rats hurtled up the wide ladder, and at the top they tore so viciously into the militia that seven perished before they could even lunge their improvised weapons. The rest threw themselves off the wall and scrambled off into the city, whilst behind them the brutes and their whip-wielding packmasters took possession of the battlements and released roaring snarls in bloodthirsy glee.

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(Game Note: Even with +1 Init’ the peasants did not go first! And despite their re-rolled break test they failed. But who would ever expect ten WS2, Init 2, Ld6 peasants to hold a wall against three frenzied rat ogres?)

Further along the walls, the plague monks, however, found the fight to gain the wall much harder. Forced to use one arm to hold the ladder, and with the wall between them and the elevated foe, they only managed to kill one of the peasant militia, whilst losing three of their own. Their banner, being a cursed shroud of dripping death, fatally infected two more of the defenders, thus evening out the fight somewhat, but it was not enough to take the wall, and the fight continued.

(Game Note: Apparently twelve WS2, Init 2, Ld6 peasants CAN hold a wall against 16 frenzied plague monks! The siege rules say that in a draw the wall is not taken and the attackers are positioned 1” away from it to attack again in their next turn, but as it was a draw, however, the plague monks did not lose their frenzy. Unless the monks died in the intervening Brabanzon phase, we would see if the peasants could repeat the trick later?)

It was now the longbowmen’s turn to experience the explosive peppering of their battlement - two died to the ratling gun’s bullets and another to the jezzails' shots. As the dust cleared, they set about knocking arrows to their bows. The enemy might be assaulting the wall to their right, had already taken the wall to their left, and their dwarf-gifted gun might be lost, but the trebuchet’s arm was being hauled back into place, Perette was still alive and the enemy had been very badly mauled indeed. There was still a chance, surely? And they were not yet ready to flee!

(End of Turn 3!)

.......

(BTW, I know the story doesn't always stick to the strict order of phases in the game, but it doesn't really change anything, and it really does help the tale unfold better, I think!)
 
Joined
Nov 10, 2007
Messages
299
Thanks Unas. Cheered me right up, you have! Here's the final installment of this battle.

...

The Battle Concluded

Perette squinted as she scoured the cloud of dust caused by the tower’s collapse, looking for a sign that Baron Garoy was alive. Relief suffused her when she caught a glimpse of him. It would be such a shame for a young man so recently reformed to perish. A moment later, he was gone, having moved towards the wall the brutish rats had taken, perhaps intending to prevent their further progress into the city?

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Her attention was drawn to a sudden flurry of movement in amongst the ruins – a large swarm of rats was beginning to flow almost like gushing water over the stone rubble. Realising it might cause considerable trouble for the knights nearby, she conjured up a fireball to hurl at the vermin, but before she could fully hone its corporeal manifestation its ethereal form was dissipated by the enemy wizard’s counter magic. She could sense he was still with the large yellow regiment, and so, hoping he was momentarily exhausted by his efforts, she immediately conjured up a flurry of burning bolts which she sent raining down onto that very same regiment, killing eight of them.

While another load of rocks from the Trebuchet missed its mark, the light gun in the tall tower did not, sending a burst of grapeshot into the robed ratmen as they readied themselves for their next attempt to scale the wall. Six of them perished. Only one of the Brabanzon riders’ arrow stuck the brutes on the wall, but the longbowmen did manage to kill the ratling gun team who had been shooting at them!

These deaths were insufficient to prevent the skaven advance. Both the yellow regiment and the pitiful remnant of the red regiment at last reached the walls, placed their ladders and began ascending.

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The yellow regiment climbed easily, for the wall was unoccupied. As soon as the rat ogres had spotted the armoured men approaching below them …

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… their bloodthirsty battle lust caused them to leap down to attack. That frantic, claustrophobic combat was the sight that greeted the yellow regiment as they topped the wall behind.

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More and more of the regiment’s clan rats, still numerous despite their mauling by magical fire, were climbing the ladders. Further outside the jezzailers agreed amongst themselves that it would be a terrible shame for them to miss out on the richest pickings in the city, so both companies began lugging their long guns towards the walls.

Seer Lord Urlak decided again to cast skitterleap, as it had worked so well before (despite his subsequent collapsing of the tower) but this time the magic was unraveled by the red-haired enchantress’s interference.

The few Plague Monks left unblasted, burned or flattened, now re-ascended the ladder to kill five of the peasants and send the rest running from the wall. They lost three more of their own in so doing, but what few remained were momentarily satisfied. Warlord Gurthrak has also charged the wall occupied by the longbowmen, and so rejoined his bonebreaker and the red regiment in their fight. Four longbowmen perished in the struggle, while the skaven were barely scratched. Thus it was that they too took a wall, as the Brabanzon archers ran pell-mell into the street behind. Baron Garoy’s petty-noble companions lost four of their number to the rat ogres’ fury, their armour failing to prevent the brutes’ brute strength snapping their bones. Despite the direness of his situation, the young baron refused to look to his own safety, and the last of his brave companions chose to stand with him.

Someone on the tower top shouted, “They’re coming! Please, my lady, get out!” and Perette realised that either the red regiment or the monkish ratmen (or both) must be moving along the walls upon either side of the tower. If she did not go now, they could trap her at the top. Leaping across to the stairs she almost threw herself down them, perilously taking the steep, stone steps two or three at a time, bouncing and sliding along the wall in equal measure. When she burst out into the street behind she saw that the Barabanzon longbowmen had rallied in the street and were forming themselves into a line, and that the company's riders had moved over near to the tower, as if they had known she was coming.

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She could see the situation was growing desperate, especially as the walls elsewhere had been taken too. For now, she decided she could only deal with the most immediate threat, which was without a doubt the ratmen on the wall above her!

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The winds of magic were weak, but she wound enough etheric essence into her conjuring to send a fireball of some size blazing at the foe. The bonebreaker’s platform, upon which Gurthrak had ridden before he was skitterleaped away, burst into flames, as did several patches of its fur, while two clanrats tumbled, writhing and screeching from the wall. The survivors, Gurthrak included, scrabbled over the wall and down the ladders, having entirely lost the will to take any more of the cruel punishment they had thus far endured.

They would not stop running for some time!

As the last few red regiment warriors frantically stumbled, smoking, from the base of the wall, picking up their pace as they found their breath, a shadow moved past them. Another load of rocks barreled through the air and smashed right into the yellow regiment, killing thirteen! Perhaps because they were divided by the wall, the survivors did not flee; but the ones outside did redouble their efforts to get up the ladder and onto what they hoped was the safety of the wall!

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Lord Urlak took a brief moment to look from the wall …

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… from where he could see the riders, Baron Garoy’s final struggle against the rat ogres, Gurthrak’s departure, the enemy horse and foot soldiers made ready for the fight in the street below and the red haired wizardess. On sight of her, fierce anger threatened to overwhelm him, but at that very moment he noticed the trebuchet was being dragged about to face him and the yellow regiment, even now they were on the walls! Hissing in frustration, he snarled a command, and he and the warriors with him made their way in to the corner tower which they hoped would protect them.

The brutes fighting the knights suddenly realised there was no-one left for them to kill. Baring their teeth and growling, they looked around them hungrily for someone or something else to pull apart. Below them, beneath their drooling blood and spit, with a taloned foot pressing down hard on its crumpled breastplate, lay the mangled corpse of Baron Garoy.

Lord Urlak, busy squeezing into what he hoped was the safety of the tower, did not know it, but the trebuchet would not have the chance to shoot again. The last of the frenzied Plague Monks had rushed out onto the main tower top, furiously tearing into the brigands and the crewmen, killing some with their blades, while two more fell to the curse of their magical banner. They then easily cut down the last of the Brabanzon attempting to flee by way of the stairs Perette had used.

Down in the street, Perette could hear the screams and commotion. When she looked up she saw the crazed ratmen and their ugly banner peering over the crenulations.

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Rats were swarming across the rubble of the gate tower, while ratmen and brutes had already gained access to one of the city’s quarters. The jezzailers were about to begin their ascent over the walls, and somewhere lurked a skaven wizard powerful enough to collapse fortified towers with his magic. The city was lost, surely, and the veteran soldiers of the Brabanzon knew it.

Perette was bruised, battered and bewildered, and suddenly found herself in a moment of calm. Just as she entertained, in her confusion, the mad notion that she could sit and rest a while, there came a commanding voice.

“My lady, mount, if you please. Make haste, I beg of you, for we must leave immediately!”

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Game over.

...

Game Notes:
5 turns played out of 7 or 8 possible in an assault scenario. The skaven had definitely won in terms of victory conditions (i.e. controlling wall, tower and internal sections). Of course, Perette and the last of the Brabanzon could have stayed to fight to the end. But, she is an NPC in the campaign, so I talked with the player running her in the battle, discussing what she and her company might do, then I diced on the final decision. She would escape to fight another day! This I think is a good story, and even the Skaven player was happy because he enjoys the campaign story too and likes Perette's character very much! I am now working on new figures for the band she will become a part of, and have even acquired a figure for a mounted version of her. She might just become an heroic 'outlaw' type, and have a few adventures left in her yet. Then again, considering the fate of young Baron Garoy in this game, she might just die in her next encounter! The campaign is driven by events in the form of choices, actions, cause and effect, and chance. I am not an 'author' with god-like control of the NPCs. I just dice for their decisions and responses, based on what options they might consider, then write what happens to them, as I did above!

If you have any questions about the game, please do ask. If I can answer without revealing something the players in the campaign should not know, I will!
 
Joined
Jan 1, 2017
Messages
718
Great battle!

to be fair, the odds were against the defenders so i'm not surprised by the outcome, but it was a fun reading anyway, and for some moments i thought the city could have been saved (that trebuchet was a killer!).
But apparently, Ravola is really unlucky.

I'm sad for the death of the young Baron... i wonder now what the Brabazon are going to do.

In the end, i think Perette did well. Despite a couple of unlucky spells, all in all she neutered some spell and killed her part of vermin, so i believe her reputation is still solid, as certainly she cannot be blamed for a defeat against such a vast horde.
 
Joined
Nov 10, 2007
Messages
299
I'm painting figures for Perette's continuing adventure now! Glad you liked it. Here is our next attempt at Play by Email, this time with the vampire Duchess Maria's army in battle. Let's hope it lasts longer than the farce at Norochia!

............................................................

Once More at Pontremola
A Battle Report


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As the Duchess Maria’s army progressed to the Bridge of Pontremola, Biagino rode upon his magnificent corpse-carroccio with plenty of time to think. When he was alive, he had fought at the very same bridge, during the somewhat unexpected victory of the Holy Army of Viadaza (known also as the ‘Peasant Army’), where he witnessed the vampire duke’s death at the hands of the hero, General Urbano D’Alessio.

Back then, Biagino had been fighting for the living, and while he waited nervously at the river, his future sire’s sire, the vampire Duke of Miragliano had presumably made this exact same journey, doubtlessly expecting victory in battle.

Here and now, Biagino was not so sure.

He remembered dreaming of that first battle, even before it, for the feeble god Morr had woven many a wretched vision into his slumbers. Those intangible, half-remembered riddles were all that Morr had gifted him, messages so nebulous he only ever seemed to recognise their prophetic nature in retrospect, and even then, without conviction. Now, however, he saw (felt, smelt, tasted and heard) the world much more clearly, and wielded real powers of consequence, even commanding an entire army of walking corpses – his unholy Church of Nagash. No more mumbling of prayers in the Classical tongue, hoping for some luck to come his way, or for the enemy to feel the slight rebuke of a somnolescent half-god. Now he could make his bambinos dance most sprightfully and spitefully, several hundreds at a time. And should they fall to the foe’s blades, he could command them to rise again and fight on. He himself had become nimble, strong and resilient – quite the opposite of the sluggardly creature he had been in life, who ached in every march and winced at every scratch and scrape. Once prey, he was now predator. And most importantly, he had a purpose stronger than he had ever known before: to serve his mistress in every way possible.

Yet, despite all this, he was anxious. Pontremola was not at all an auspicious place for vampires. Worse still, he himself had already faced the enemy they were about to engage, in the Trantine necropolis valley of Norochia, when he had so swiftly recognised the certain defeat awaiting him that he was forced to abandon nearly his entire army and run for miles.

The enemy was commanded again by the Portomaggioran Lord Alessio D’Urbano, an experienced general capable of mustering grand alliances and renowned for his tactical prowess. They were upon the far side of a river in the full flow of spring, ensconced in a fortified camp from which they could spew cannon shot, bolts and bullets at their leisure …

(The fortified camp at Pontremola)
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Their cannons had proved so numerous and powerful in Norochia that they had torn both his Mortis Engine and Terrorgheist to pieces with their balls of iron before they could even cross the valley floor. Here also they had a monstrous, magical construct, the same titan that had melted an entire company of hexwraiths at Norochia.

On approaching the duchess to reveal his trepidation, she laughed as soon as she saw the expression on his face, ordering him to put any and all concerns from his mind. Today, she said, they would break the back of the most powerful army in Tilea; and then tomorrow, so sated that they would surely cry sanguine tears of joy, they would raise that same army up into their own service and conquer the rest of the realm with it.

When his frown had lingered a moment longer, she caressed his cheek and said, “They sent an army of cultists to stop me, each and every one dedicated to Morr and entirely careless of their lives. I slaughtered all of them and made them into your toys. Now we can play together. Won’t that be so very nice?”

There was no arguing with his mistress.

And so, surrounded by his flock of followers, he now rode at the far right of the army’s line.

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Maria was with her horse guard, flanked by the varghiests.

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Her military lieutenant, the vampire Captain Bernhardt, commanded the second regiment of skeletal horse, out on the far left of the line.

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At the heart of her army the Mortis Engine glided unnaturally forwards, the great weight of its ornate metal and bone carcass born aloft by a writhing mass of glowing, green ethereal spirits.

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Beside the magical engine loped a large mob of dire wolves, then a body of brute-zombies.

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And upon its other side, between it and the duchess, leapt the varghiests, their leathery wings flapping furiously.

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Thus was the vanguard deployed. Behind this front line marched two further regiments, in the form of zombies and skeletons, between which a corpse cart, simple in comparison to Biagino’s majestic transport, trundled along.

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This was the force that the Duchess Maria brought with her from Ebino.

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The army of Portomaggiore and its Reman allies had marched many leagues to be here. Most felt relief that the enemy had chosen to attack them in their fortified and naturally moated camp rather than force them to attempt an assault of the formidable walls of Ebino. Some were just relieved that they would at last get to fight the enemy they had travelled so far to reach. Indeed, because so many had watched the ignominious defeat of the undead army at Norochia, they had less fear than mortals would usually feel upon facing such a foe.

Of course, when the enemy hove into view, a surge of doubt washed through them, for such a grisly sight forces the living to think of death, and at the very moment when the prospect of battle meant the subject already weighed heavily in their thoughts. To die at the hands of the undead, knowing that might then be doomed to share their horrible fate, is never something that inspires confidence!

Lord Alessio Falconi commanded them, as well as personally leading his armoured foot regiment of men at arms known as the ‘Sea Wolves’. Presuming that the enemy must surely concentrate their attack at the bridge itself, rather that throw everything they had into the rushing waters, he and his guard defended the barricade erected at its southern end – perhaps the most important spot in the line.

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He had a Reman priest of Morr with him, Father Dado Bendali, as well as his battle standard bearer. The rest of his field officers were far to his right in the line. Lord Ned Black, his second in command, rode a demigryph with fearsome ‘The Hunting Pack’…

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… while out on the farthest right flank the Tilean nobleman Marcus Portelli commanded the Black Guard, a large company of mounted men at arms.

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The Knights of the Lady, led by Brother Libero Grossi, a priest of Myrmidiea, were beside the Hunting Pack. Next to them at the heart of the battle line, stood the Colossus ...

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… which had once guarded the landward gate of the city of Portomaggiore. His guns, a brace of brass barrelled cannon, where mounted upon his earthwork bastion, supported by his two companies of handgunners.

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The Reman brigade, commanded to man the rest of the defences, consisted of two large bodies of crossbowmen (one mercenary dwarfs) as well as a small company of skirmishing bravi and the remnant of a regiment of dwarfs. Alessio’s own crossbow were placed at the wall behind his mounted men at arms.

This was the army that awaited Maria.

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Deployment done. Battle to follow

Note: Thank you to Damian for lending me his army for this our second play-by-email game. Nearly all the Living army is his, apart from the Remans.
 
Joined
Jan 1, 2017
Messages
718
ATM (at my cell) i am able only to see the pics of the undead army and the battlefirld.
The Portomaggiore ones don't upload.

Pretty excited by the incoming battle, the amount of bodies fielded by the duchess Maria is an impressive sight to behold!
 
Joined
Nov 10, 2007
Messages
299
Yeah, same problem with pics on my pc. In fact, always get that problem. The pics all show on other forums but CN always has difficulties.
 
Joined
Jan 1, 2017
Messages
718
now that i'm able to see also the pics of the living force, i must say that it's not a small army...

however, i am perplexed by a couple of things.
1) "only" 2 cannons and 1 mortar. Not a so big artillery, and they won't be able to thin out the undead, given that probably they will be busy in dealing with the big targets.
2) nice cavalry, but it would be nicer on an open field. As they stand, they are stuck behind the river, with no room. Will they be kept static, to charge approaching enemies? But will it be possible? how does work the crossing of the river?

and those wraiths can be a problem.
 
Joined
Nov 10, 2007
Messages
299
Thankfully, I can attempt to answer those questions.

Regarding the cannons - he had 6 at Norochia, and 4 engineers (maybe 5). He had his own two cannons (with two engineers, one costing double the engineer ability points according to the campaign army list rules) and because it was an alliance force he had cannons provided by the Remans, Luccinans and the Verezzans, all of which provided little standing armies of somewhere between 900 and 1500 pts. Diue to various political, strategic (etc) reasons, those allies have left, apart from a portion of the Reman force (without cannons). So from 6 cannons to 2!

Damian got a say in designing his camp. He chose to be on the far side of the river so that it would be like a moat. I had already ruled that as it was spring and the river was in full flow then everything, even foot troops, would take a dangerous terrain test to cross it. That, and the fact that if he waited on the far side the enemy would be fighting partially within the river and so would lose their rank bonuses, meant Damian decided to use the river tactically, and wanted his troops exactly where they were!

Here are some of the pics I sent as we discussed the design of his camp (his genera, his PC, Lord Alessio, has a 'mercenary' ability called 'strategist' that allows him to move two pieces of scenery 6" before set up. He couldn't do this at a defined place (we knew exactly what was at the bridge as we had fought a campaign battle there before) so I made sure he got loads of say in the design of his fortified camp to make up for it.

Various alternative camp layouts sent ...
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Some involved demolishing the stone towers, some not. I presumed the rubble thus created was used inside the 'earthworks'. I suggested he could use the rubble to create a ford which would allow his cavalry to cross without a test, but he said no.

During the discussion, in the spirit of play-by-email, I sent him an outline of ranges for better orientation ...

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He tweaked, and finally this was the finished design ...

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Still, total undead force = 3742 pts. Living = 5305 pts.

That's campaign games for you! This is a VERY desperate attempt by Maria, her hand forced by the fact that a 3000+ VMC army is currently marching north to reinforce Alessio even more!
 
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Joined
Nov 10, 2007
Messages
299
Regarding the wraiths, one of the master engineers can make the cannon shots magical. And the Colossus plus Hakim are Lore of Light magic users, which really stings the undead. (I had no idea until this game, but I'm only a GM, painter, scenery maker, story writer, photographer, etc - I'm not a good player!!!!!!)
 
Joined
Jan 1, 2017
Messages
718
Regarding the wraiths, one of the master engineers can make the cannon shots magical. And the Colossus plus Hakim are Lore of Light magic users, which really stings the undead. (I had no idea until this game, but I'm only a GM, painter, scenery maker, story writer, photographer, etc - I'm not a good player!!!!!!)
Ohhh!
Yes, i was aware of the danger represented by the Colossus… but a lone model can be undone by a unlucky roll, while a magical cannon adds more reliability to the chances of the defenders.

that said… wow, +1500 pts and field advantage? a uphill battle for the undead, indeed.
 
Joined
Nov 10, 2007
Messages
299
We have had a few such 'uphill' battles in the campaign, and yet there are occasional surprises. I the first battle of Pontremola if General d'Alessio had not rolled 6 every time he picked up the dice for ward saves, the battle would have been lost big time. But the vastly more expensive vampire duke just could not kill him, and when the duke died, his army collapsed. Or, at least, it backed away having become, in that instance, an NPC force!
 
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The Fight, Part One

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From the front rank of his regiment of Sea Wolves, Lord Alessio surveyed the enemy before him, and realised they obviously intended to swarm the bridge and overcome it with weight of numbers. Two huge mobs of zombies, wearing the ragged remains of Disciplinati di Morr robes (revealing what they once were in life) advanced either side of a huge carroccio, directly towards the bridge.

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From Lord Black’s position, the enemy looked considerably different, taking the form of bony riders, demonic beasts and the Mortis Engine. He could just make out a woman amongst them, mounted upon a red-barded horse, and realised that she must be the duchess Maria herself.

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“Good,” he thought. “Come to me my lady and I will help you complete your interrupted journey to death.”

Not a soldier moved from his allotted place amongst the living. The wizard Hakim, yet to worry about commanding his magnificent contrivance the Colossus, attempted to conjure a protective spell and was unsurprised to find the enemy had enough users of magic to sap the winds and prevent his success. Magical manipulations rarely stopped bolts and bullets, however, and just as Hakim accepted his spell was broken, the artillery began to boom.

The foremost cannon, at the very tip of the bastion, sent an enchanted roundshot deep into the Mortis Engine, but to no apparent effect! (Game Note: Miscast, re-roll, hits, but scores 1 to wound!) The second cannon, its gunner seeing the disappointing effect of the other’s efforts, chose instead to target the skeletal riders out upon the foe’s very far left flank. His shot also hit, but this time with some consequence, for one of the riders shattered into pieces. The gunnr did not know it, but the ball had also severely grazed the vampire captain Bernhardt on its passage.

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Berhardt was caught entirely by surprise by this, only hearing the cannon’s report a moment later!

The mortar’s grenade landed very wide of its mark, but the Dwarfen and Reman crossbow regiments did manage to fell a handful of zombies.

This frail assault by the living, albeit only missile and magic, might have been a welcome surprise, perhaps even an encouragement, to many armies. Most of Maria’s soldiers, however, were not burdened with such awareness, nor very much in the way of thoughts at all! As one,and entirely regardless of their fortune so far, her army (and the army of the Church of Nagash) moved on, with the mounted and monstrous companies nearest to Maria quickly outstripping the rest, so much so that the vargheists almost reached the river!

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The massed skeletons and zombies in the rear moved as best they could, while hidden amongst them the Necromancer Saffiro now speculated that the battle might well be over before he and the foot soldiers even reached the enemy!

The Army of the Church of Nagash …

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… was led by Biagino and drew its magical nourishment from his vampiric will, so it they came on much quicker than Maria’s own footsoldiers, although the largest regiment was slowed by the need to reform its ranks and files all the better to cross the bridge.

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(Game Note: The need to reform was entirely my own fault, for I was supposed to be in command of this NPC army, while David had volunteered to command Maria’s army, and I just plonked two hordes down in deployment without thinking through what they had to do next!)

The vampire duchess threw a magical missile at the demigryphs, but such was their armour that it had no effect upon them. Exasperated at her failure, she turned instead to heal her captain of his wound (and glad he was of it too). Biagino employed what few wisps of the etheric wind were left to conjure Vanhel’s Dance Macabre on his shambling bambinos, hoping to move them all much closer to the foe than any natural motion could achieve, but the spell collapsed as the enemy’s powerful wizard raised up contrary eddies to dissipate its power.

Now the crossbows were re-spanned, the handguns reloaded, the cannons re-shotted, and all just as the undead came within range of every weapon the living could bring to bear.

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The Colossus had not moved for over an an hour, standing so still that the necromancer Saffiro had (for a moment at least) entertained the thought that it was indeed merely a statue. Until, that is, he sensed the immense power animating it. Now, however, it did move – turning its head to look directly at Maria.

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It loomed over her, and yet she felt no fear.

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She knew that compared to the demigryph hunting pack, such a thing would be easy to kill. She had the harder undertaking on her mind.

The wizard Hakim made his way to the other flank of the huge regiment of spearmen, all the better to see the most dangerous foes.

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What drew his eyes most was the spectral forms of the Hexwraiths, riding beside Maria’s knights.

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And so he conjured Shem’s Burning Gaze to throw at them. Maria must have been distracted, for her countermagics tumbled chaotically to nought, and four of the ghostly riders where removed from the mortal world entirely. This event was not missed by the marksman Lupo ‘the Wolf’ Lorenzo’s keen eyes, who, having kissed his magical arbalest for good luck, sent not less than three blessed bolts to finish off the last of the wraiths.

When the necromancer Saffiro felt his mistress’s momentary distress, he unrolled his dispel scroll and made sure to stop whatever magic the enemy’s powerful wizard would surely conjure on the back of Maria’s discomfort. (Game Note: Banishment on the vargheists, at 2D6 S4 hits, stopped with a scroll!) Hakim cursed as he felt the spell’s power die, while the Colossus turned its had again to look down upon his master’s intended target.

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Saffiro had sensed that Hakim intended harm on the vargheists, but then both he and Hakim were surprised (although in somewhat different senses) to see that despite the spell’s failure, two of the winged creatures were felled by the storm of bolts and bullets issued from the handgunners and crossbowmen on the wall behind. Despite the much more massive mob of wolves loping towards them …

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… they too had known where the real danger lay, and thus their shooting.

Out on the far right of the undead lines Biagino’s army of the Church of Nagash had been targeted too.

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The gunners with the Portomaggorian mortar had high hopes their piece would tear great holes in the enemy’s lines, but these hopes were dashed - as indeed where they - when their engine shivered killing them all! The Reman crossbowmen upon the wall right beside the mortar, however, did not let its explosion distract them, and sent a flurry of bolts sufficiently accurately to slay four of the corpse carroccio’s draught horses. Then moments later the dwarfen crossbowmen took down another three.

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(Note: The picture shows two, but that’s because I am the fool who based the models in pairs for ‘convenience’!

(Game Note: The carroccio’s move was now reduced to 1” due to the special rules we agreed on before the game. Because the model is so big – being 13” long – it’s four pairs of horses were to be classed as one unit and the carroccio itself as another. Any loss of the horses would result in a proportionate loss of its already small movement!)

Meanwhile the cannoneers knew exactly what they wanted to hurt – the monstrously large Mortis Engine gliding at the very centre of the enemy force, as if it were its vile, beating heart.

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This time the shots were both deep and damaging, plummeting through the entire length of the Mortis Engine with such power that the whole construct collapse in on its wake to be utterly destroyed.

(Game Note: Direct hit by magical, flaming and ignore all wards blessed cannonball, then a roll of 6 for the number of wounds!)

For the briefest moment there was silence, then a radiating wave of lighted energy burst out from the collapsing engine’s core, damaging the Colossus, killing a Myrmidian Knight of the Lady, and amongst Maria’s force, bringing down three dire wolves, one black knight, one skeleton and three zombies. The last of the Vargheists was entirely obliterated by the shockwave!

Perhaps the scale of the first cannon’s success distracted the second cannon’s crew, because they now fumbled their powder and shot, and found themselves having to worm out and reload the piece, which would take considerable time, cursing at their bad luck whilst at the same time, elated to know the Mortis Engine was gone.

As they prepared to deliver their charges, Maria’s army looked a lot less threatening than it had only moments before!

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Messages
299
I know. Damian knows his stuff. He spent (real life and game world) years in preparation of an army capable of defeating Ogres and the Undead. A part of me thinks it kind-of makes sense, otherwise wouldn't the undead have conquered the entire world? There must be ways of stopping them!

...

The Fight, Part Two

While Maria’s foot soldiers shuffled forwards in the rear, becoming increasingly bereft of her driving will by the growing distance between them and her …

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… she herself led the armoured horsemen in a charge across the river into the Demigryphs commanded by Ned Black. Two of her bone and ancient steel companions succumbed to the fast-flowing waters, but neither she nor the other riders noticed.

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(Picture taken before the removal of the dangerous terrain casualties.)

Perhaps Captain Bernhardt was not quite as filled with fury as the duchess, possibly as a consequence of his recent close shave with an iron shot? Whatever the reason, his own company of riders failed to charge against the foe, instead milling somewhat confusedly upon the far side of the rushing river.

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Biagino, atop his now slow-moving carroccio, commanded his bambinos to advance as best and fast they can, and of course they obliged, drawing very close to the river and the still-intact bridge of Pontremola itself.

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Despite the blood-fury that gripped her, Maria realised that if the demigryphs managed to keep her busy for more than a few moments, then the knights to her right could charge into her flank, most likely overwhelming her guards and bringing about her final demise, and so she summoned up a little company of zombies - resurrected from the corpses still lying in the mud of the river from the last battle – and willed them to place themselves in such a way as to distract the knights (at least for a little while).

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(Game Note: The old trick of getting in the way, while angled in such a manner to make an overrunning enemy unable to charge Maria)

Nevertheless, the vampire duchess wanted to defeat the monstrous foe as soon as possible, and so chose to use magic to make her attacks even more deadly, conjuring Dance Macabre. As the spell flowed through her she knew its success was certain, but then, half a moment later, she also knew that she had brought far too much power to bear upon its conjuration. Several strands of the winds of magic now crashed like waves against each other, then burst outwards calamitously. One of the enemy demigryphs was caught fully by the etheric surge and perished immediately, as did four of Maria’s own riders. Maria scowled, for even she felt its burn and was weakened considerably by her mistake.

What few wisps of etheric wind remained were gathered by Biagino, hoping to drive his servants dancing en-masse over the bridge and river, but the enemy Wizard Hakim found it easy to unwind the spell, having little else to distract him.

And so it was, just as Maria’s blade was able to begin it’s work proper, she found herself with only a handful of companions. Still, her lust for battle remained so strong that she made straight for Lord Black, knowing he was a commander and intending to make him pay dearly for the damage already done to her servants (and her pride).

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(Game Note: Here began the most complicated combat I have ever attempted to run. Normally I GM whilst the player’s play, and so they recall, mention and apply all the relevant rules. As this was play by email, the players were indeed commanding and deciding on all movement, magic, shooting etc, but when it came to combat it was me on my lonesome armed with the army lists, rules and dice and trying to apply everything. The Vampiress Maria alone had +1 to hit (Sword of Striking), Red Fury (unsaved wounds generate extra attacks), Beguile (base to base models need to pass an Ld-3 test or be forced to re-roll successful to hits), Nightshroud (+1 AS, those in base contact lose Str bonuses and gain Always Strike Last), re-roll failed to hits (Dance Macabre), and she was on a nightmare. That’s just her – not Ned, or the Black Knights, or the demigryphs! I am certain I must, no matter how hard I tried, have forgotten something.)

Catching Lord Black’s eye, Maria knew she had befuddled him momentarily with her mesmeric glare, and in the first flush of the struggle her sword twice bit deep into his ferocious mount. As she drew the blade back in satisfaction, and made ready for another bout of sword play, she realised that she herself had been cut by Lord Black. Around her, two more of her riders fell, whilst the demigryphs were only grazed in return!

As Lord Black shouted, “Deos imperate omnes”, and the demigryphs reared and roared, Maria felt uncertainty for the first time in a long time. It was a foul but familiar feeling, for she remembered it from life. Until this moment it had had no place in her undeath!

(Game note, the Undead had won the combat by a measly 1, but Lord Black’s unit is stubborn and passed their Ld test.)

Her progeny, Biagino and Captain Berhnardt, sensed her discomfort. What with Biagino stranded upon his almost wrecked carroccio whilst failing in his conjurations, and Berhnardt floundering with his warriors at the river bank having failed to join his mistress’s charge, they both, in their own particular ways, shared Maria’s feeling of doubt.

Along the defences near the bridge it was becoming clear that whatever missiles were thrown at the shambling hordes, and however many of the lesser mob the river carried away, many zombies would remain to assault the defences. Yet, at the same time, ever man and dwarf there reckoned his chances against such clumsy and awkward foes.

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Lord Alessio’s Myrmidian warrior-priest, Libero Grossi, led the Knights of the Lady in the short charge against the newly summoned zombies …

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… while nearby the wizard Lord Hakim cast Shem’s Burning Gaze between his Colossus’s legs, felling five of Captain Bernhardt’s bony riders, then, with not a moment’s rest, he cast Banishment too (before the Colossus moved and perhaps blocked his view) bringing down yet another rider. Moment’s later another two riders were killed by crossbow quarrels, leaving vampire Captain Bernhardt with only two companions. His confused frustration was now transforming into burning fury at the course the battle was taking.

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The cannon at the very tip of the bastion sent an enchanted round-shot to wound one of the horrors, and consequently, now afflicted by a weakening magic, the horrors lost one of their number to the handgun bullets and crossbow bolts hurled subsequently.

The vampire duchess had become blind to all other considerations but the killing of Lord Black …

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… and despite her diminutive size compared to the demigryph and rider, she did indeed cut him down.

Lord Black was dead.

Overcome with the gleeful thrill of her successful slaughter she let loose a blood-curdling scream. But then, as the last of her companions was fatally cut and crumpled into the mud of the river bank, her scream transformed to become a most dreadful and desperate cry. The necromantic magic that coursed through her, feeding her every thought and action, sustaining her continued existence in the mortal realm, was ebbing away. Her cry faltered, then suddenly ceased as she fell entirely lifeless from her collapsing mount.

The vampire duchess was dead!

(Game Note: End of First Player’s turn 3.)
 
Joined
Jan 1, 2017
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718
This is the end, i fear... Biagino's horde is still intact, but i don't think they will be able to turn the tide. All the key units are gone.

I just wonder if Biagino will be able to escape again his final fate.
 
Joined
Nov 10, 2007
Messages
299
Defeat is kind of obvious ain't it? But yes, Biagino might not want to perish here. He's a survivor. He was in life too!

The final part ...


The Fight, Part Three

The death of his beloved duchess hit Biagino like a crashing wave, so much so that he staggered back from the shock of it.

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His cause of being, his purpose, his every goal was taken from him in that moment. There was nothing now but himself and no point in continuing. After allowing himself to let loose a shrill shriek of despair, he commanded his bambini to turn away from the enemy, which they did to a one.

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The surviving draft horses did what they could to haul the great carroccio around, but Biagino knew that to stay upon the wagon now would only draw the enemy’s attention and so he leapt down to the ground and strode over towards the great mob of once-cultists now approaching. His only wish was to get away from this place where his mistress had perished.



The death of his beloved duchess hit Captain Berhardt like a crashing wave, so much so that he was almost unhorsed by the shock of it.

His cause of being, his purpose, his every goal was taken from him in that moment. There was nothing now but himself and no point in continuing. After allowing himself to let loose a shrill shriek of fury, he commanded his last two companions to charge the foe.

Splashing through the river he made directly for the Demigryphs.

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His only wish was to slay those who had killed his mistress.

...

The necromancer Saffiro had not obeyed the duchess out of anything akin to fierce love, but rather a fearful respect, and saw no reason to avenge her death as did the vampire captain. Besides, he could see Biagino’s Church of Nagash was departing the field of battle. Apart from the dire wolves, who were commanded by Bernhardt to join him in the charge, Saffiro was able to command every other body of undead to turn about and begin moving away from the river. As they did so, several skeletons and zombies collapsed, for Saffiro’s will, being to the duchess’s will as a dusty law book would be to a long and barbed whip, was insufficient to hold all of them in this world, and much less commanding in its magical tone.

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Even some of the dire wolves fell to the sudden diminishment of magic, and another was washed away by the river.

Game Note: The following pic gives an idea of the scale of the flight – although this was taken just before Biagino was moved over to the red and grey robed zombie cultists.

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As he drew near to his bambini, Biagino’s grief lifted just enough for him to notice that they were moving away in a manner not one iota different to that which they had entered the field. The duchess’s death, victory, defeat, advance or retreat - all was the same to them. There was a clarity to this, and for the briefest moment Biagino realised that he had, in his terrible loss, been released. His bambini were his, as they were before, but now he belonged to himself too!

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He now joined his flock eagerly, glad to have the great bulk of them between himself and whatever else the enemy would throw.

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As he arrived amongst the cavorting corpse-cultists he attempted once again to cast Dance Macabre and this time, much to his surprise, his spell was successful. Was this how things would be, he thought, now that he was his own master? As both his flocks of bambini began their magically induced dash, he found himself carried along with them, and with every step he took his sense of liberation grew, marred only by a new and growing resentment of his past enthrallment to the duchess.

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As Bernhardt and the demigryphs fought, at first evenly matched, the colossus strode across the river, unaccompanied by any of those nearby, for to a man they did not fancy their chances in crossing the river. The Wizard Hakim was keen to do what harm he could to the retreating enemy and decided that his servile construct might better his chances of doing do.

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Lord Alessio, as yet unaware that the duchess was dead, was astonished by the enemy’s sudden reversal. He watched from behind the bridge defences and thought back to the necropolis valley of Norochia. It dawned on him that they must have received a deadly blow, for that was what had sent them running that last time.

“They run!” he cried, throwing his hand up in surprise. “Yet again, they run!”

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When he caught sight of the colossus stomping out to the right he knew that most of the rest of them must also be retreating. How many times would he have to fight them? How much further north would he be forced to march? Whatever the truth, he intended to see them off today, and if any thought to make a stand or try some last counter-attack, then good - he would finish them.

“Sea Wolves! March on!” he boomed, and those in the front rank began to push over the barricade.

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The Wizard Lord Hakim, seeing that several of the enemy’s monstrous warriors were attempting to escape, angrily summoned up Shem’s Burning Gaze to fell one of the blue-skinned brutes and badly burn another. As he grinned in satisfaction he realised that his anger had got the better of him, for there were still etheric energies coiled around him, uncontrolled and uncontrollable. These now dissipated, and as they drew away across the seam between the mortal realm and the etheric, they took a part of Hakim with them too. His anger vanished, as did his knowledge of the spell, and for a moment he stood, stunned, wide eyed and strangely empty. (Game Note: Miscast, reduced to magic level 3. As GM I will have to come up with a recovery chart of some kind for him to roll on later!)

An iron round-shot now shattered the last of the carroccio’s draft horses, ensuring it would not leave the field. Several of the more devout amongst that flank of the army, especially those who prayed especially to Morr, were pleased by this, for now the wagon could be recaptured and either purified or burned - it mattered not which, only that it would no longer be defiled.

Several skeletons fell to the hail of shot from over the river, as indeed did another of the brutes.

When the mounted men at arms of the Black Guard and the Knights of the Lady both turned to face enemy engaged with the demigryphs they discovered that their assistance was not needed!

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The last of the skeletal riders, all but one of the wolves and the vampire Captain Bernhardt had all fallen to the monstrous talons and sharp blades of the hunting pack. The undead Bernhardt was undone. Now he was merely dead.

The skeletal regiment had reformed to face the Colossus, while Saffiro made his own way off the field. Smelling a trap, the Colossus lurched off to one, remaining close enough to cast magic but not so close as to allow the warriors to swarm him. Then it saw its chance and strode between the two mobs, the better to see the fleeing necromancer. Both cannons fired at the undead brutes but their gunners over-compensated for the range and sent their shots overhead.

As the Church of Nagash and its master, the arch-priest Biagino left the field, Saffiro suddenly stopped, thinking to resurrect some of the fallen brutes.

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His spell however was not strong enough and was easily dispelled by Hakim, despite the living wizard’s addled state of mind. When the ground shook, Saffiro suddenly realised how close he was to the colossus …

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.. and turned to run after the Church of Nagash. Moments later he sensed magic being directed at him by the giant construct, and despite his growing panic, managed to dispel it. His relief was cut short however, when the colossus followed by casting its own burning gaze. The etheric heat that now engulfed Saffiro was so strong that for a moment his very bones could be seen as his threadbare robes disintegrated and his blotched flesh burned away. And then even the bones were gone.

As the now lordless skeletons floundered, their ranks starting to splinter and scatter, and as the zombies staggered and stumbled over each other in their confusion, the corpse cart and the last of crypt horrors (having lost another of their number to a cannon shot) fled from the field, to join in the wake of the Church of Nagash.

A cheer rippled through the ranks of the living. Having crossed the bridge, Lord Alessio took a moment to give thanks to all the lawful gods for their great victory, then calmly gave the order for the army to assemble upon the northern side of the river with him. He intended to give chase immediately. He was tired of pursuing this enemy and if they could be caught and killed today it would be worth all the effort required, howsoever exhausted his army would be by the end of the day, and even if it meant the loss of a few more brave souls.
 
Joined
Jan 1, 2017
Messages
718
So
.. Biagino has escaped, but can he be caught in the aftermath? I doubt it.
Zombies are slow, but once away from the battlefield, no one could stop dance macabre, so only the knights could take him... basically a unit which ATM is very far and would act without support.
They still can, but they should do it immediately, as zombies don't need to rest.
 
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