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Campaign Battle, incl. Photos & Background

Miserere Mei, Morr

The Morrite Lector of Viadaza, Bernado Ugolini, had finally yielded to the inevitable. Until the previous week he had scrupulously avoided giving any encouragement, open or private, to Biagino and the other lesser priests of Morr who were preaching the crusade. Now, however, the situation had gone beyond mere sermons and become a very real movement - an actual army was taking shape - and Lector Bernado had come to call upon Morr’s blessing on the enterprise, to hear the soldiers make their oath of obedience, even to offer himself as their spiritual general. Biagino and the other priests were very happy to have him. As the highest ranking Morrite clergyman in the city state they were already legally his servants, so his adoption of command seemed to put the world to right again.

Lector Bernado’s earlier reluctance to join the crusade had perplexed Biagino considerably. He could understand why Viadaza’s ruler, Lord Adolfo, the tyrannical son of an equally tyrannical father, might refuse to support the cause. It was in Adolfo’s nature to suspect all popular movements, born of his upbringing, his noble arrogance and his desire to be the only true power in his city. There were no such excuses for Lector Bernado. For months now the Church of Morr had been preaching just such a crusade, Arch-Lector Calictus II having issuing not one but two proclamations from Remas calling upon all Tileans to muster and fight the evil power growing in the north. Calictus even named Viadaza in the second proclamation. And still Lector Bernado, the highest ranking Morrite in the city, had kept his distance, preferring to attend upon Lord Adolfo, busying himself with petty affairs and courtly, ceremonial duties.

Still, Biagino was pleased to think, Morr has finally convinced him to join us, and at last we can expect to receive the monies and support necessary to march out upon campaign and commit a true force to the field of the battle.

Lector Bernado began by delivering a long sermon in which he praised the god Morr and those who served him in almost every conceivable way. He referred liberally to the two proclamations (the very same he had earlier been so quiet about), and argued convincingly as to why this Viadazan army was filled with exactly the sort of men who Morr would favour in battle. It was not as rousing a speech as those Father Gonzalvo had delivered in several city squares, but the soldiers cheered anyway, and in all the right places. Finally the Lector has reached the part where the soldiers were to swear their oath. A young lad stepped from the ranks and beat a peel on his drum to signal in a satisfactorily military manner that the moment had come, while one of the Lector’s acolytes stood before him with an open book in hand, holding it so that he could glance at the page to read the words.


First he read the oath in its entirety: “You shall swear by the blessed god Morr and all the lawful gods, and by all you hold dear in this world, that you will serve as soldiers in this righteous army upon this holy quest, obeying all civil command, respecting authority both military and priestly, fighting boldly, shirking no duties, and furthermore that you shall not desist from the execution thereof until the chief commanders shall give you leave.”

The acolyte then stepped away and another Morrite priest began to shout the oath in manageable chunks so that the gathered soldiers could repeat the words …

“I swear by the blessed god Morr …”

The assembled soldiers roared their repetition.

“And by all the gods …”


Biagino had studied the army as it assembled. This particular gathering consisted only of Viadazans. It did not include the regiment of Arrabiatti horsemen or the large company of condottieri crossbowmen, paid for by the voluntary contributions that had poured in from the vast throng unfit for service due to age, sex or infirmity, yet who wanted to show their commitment to Morr’s cause. Of course there was also the very valid fear concerning the possibility that their home might be city conquered and destroyed by the nightmarish legion under the vampire duke’s command.

The crusaders had regimented themselves into several bodies, each formed into ranks and files as best they could, some doing so much better than others. They were arrayed around an ancient, refurbished carroccio, which already carried holy, Morrite relics intended to imbue the crusading soldiers with religiously inspired courage, and indeed there seemed to be a tangible aura all about the wagon, like that which pervades the mystical environs of holy shrines at twilight – a crepuscular and magical sensation.

Officers of the city’s militia had discovered an old clause in the regulations which allowed them to serve in the defence of their city if the ruler was incapacitated and no deputy duly appointed. In a bold move, the priests declared that Lord Adolfo was indeed incapacitated by his immersion in other affairs, and so a good portion of the militia had dared to muster – mostly those bold enough to go along with such a dangerous political move. Biagino saw this as no bad thing, for it was the boldest men he wanted in the army. Luckily, Lord Adolfo had not responded to the audacious legal usurpation of his command over these part-time soldiers, perhaps because he himself did not think them fit for purpose, having his own professional guards aplenty, or perhaps because he did not want to push such a large and armed mob of citizens into outright civil unrest, even rebellion. Either way, when they left the city to face the foe, he would not longer be troubled by them.

The militia, armed with pikes, made a colourful sight. Some upon the front rank and the flanking files even sported a smattering of armour.

A large band of dockworkers and seafarers had also joined the cause. Bristling with a wide array of weapons, from curved blades to pistols, blunderbusses to axes, even throwing knives, they certainly looked like they could deliver a torrent of stinging blows. Biagino did not think they were much like soldiers, but he convinced himself this was of no importance, at least not if they proved to be brave, loyal and good scrappers.

The noblest volunteers were a small body of knights, each a son of one of the ever dwindling noble Tilean families of Viadaza. Encased in plate armour, they sported their own heraldic devices, with the Crusade’s Morrite emblem upon their banner.

There was a second body of militia – at least, militia of a sort. Insufficient pikes or halberds had yet been acquired to equip them, and the majority had very little in the way of experience, having drilled only for a short time, gaining a proficiency sufficient to march in relative order into the square and take their place, but to do little else. In an attempt to bolster their spirits, and make them feel as if they were just as much a part of the army as the rest, several of the lesser priests of Morr had taken to drilling and marching with them. One such priest, Father Antonello, had taken on his new military duties with gusto, and Biagino raised his eyebrows when he saw that even as the oath was being read the ‘fighting father’ (as he had become known) had raised his blade aloft as if the enemy were there before them at this very instant.

Bravo, thought Biagino, smiling. That’s the spirit. Then the smile left his face as he imagined Father Antonello, with his sandaled feet and his grey, woollen habit, facing the animated horror of the living dead. Perhaps, he worried silently, ‘spirit’ isn’t enough? Perhaps the wickedness of Vampires is too strong for an army of labourers and citizens to defeat?

He did not allow this sudden darkening of his thoughts to show upon his face, for he had been fighting such doubts for some time and was well practised in their concealment. The most obvious thing the crusaders lacked was Lord Adolfo’s professional soldiers: his numerous men-at-arms, his famed marines with their long barrelled muskets; his hulking ogres who spent peacetime guarding warehouses and palazzos; his train of artillery, commanded by some of the most experienced gunners in Tilea. Some elements of Lord Adolfo’s forces would not be missed, such as the foul half-orcs who crewed half a dozen of his fighting galleys, or the privateer greenskins he had hired on several occasions in the past to prey upon the shipping of rival city states. Notwithstanding these latter elements, the former would have vastly improved the punching power of the crusading army, not just through numbers alone, but because experienced soldiers and marines were much more likely to stand their ground against the horrors the Duke had under his command.

As Biagino and Gonzalvo had finally come to accept during their miserable audience with the Duchess Maria, Lord Adolfo really was entirely uninterested in supporting them. He had not formally protested against the crusaders’ cause, nor put overt legal or financial obstacles in their way, for to do so would place him in direct opposition to the Arch-Lector of Morr’s proclamations (if not, at the time, those of the Lector of Viadaza). But he had no made active effort at all to assist the mustering crusaders, indeed he had hindered at least some of the first gatherings as if they were nothing more than illegal assemblies by the dregs of the city. He had contributed not one spoonful of powder, not one pike head, not one horse’s shoe nor a single nail. The militia regiment of pikemen was paid for with the religiously inspired contributions of rich merchants and respectable citizens, who had also encouraged their sons, servants and neighbours to muster despite no order from Lord Adolfo. Even the silk for the flags was gifted by a Cathayan merchant based in the city. Lord Adolfo’s utter lack of support, along with his public comments and rumoured slanders at court, had made it clear that he, commander of the ‘true’ army of Viadaza in defence of the city, believed he had no use at all for a rabble of loutish labourers and citizen zealots.

Thoughts of the meeting with Lord Adolfo and the duchess stirred Biagino’s memory of a nightmare that had tormented him in the darkest hour of the previous night. In the dream he was once again petitioning the duchess, though this time her demeanour was somewhat disturbing. She scrutinised him with cold malice in her eyes, every trace of the gentle respect born of her nobility gone. When he spoke, she smirked cruelly. When he pleaded, she laughed mockingly. Lord Adolfo sat gazing at her all the while, quite ignoring Biagino. It was obvious he wanted her, perhaps as a wife, perhaps merely to satisfy his base lusts? The more Lord Adolfo stared, the more his face took on the semblance of an orc – his teeth becoming crooked and overlarge, his eyes reddening in the shadow of a bulging, misshapen brow. As Biagino’s faltering attempts at persuasion grew more feeble, Lord Adolfo, saliva dripping from his cracked and curled bottom lip, simply stared and stared some more. Then, when Biagino’s words finally dried up, just like they had in the waking world meeting, the duchess did not thank him for his concern and dismiss him politely – as she had done in the real meeting - instead she launched into a tirade of abuse, listing his sins (both old and recent), his many faults and frequent mistakes, even his most private failings, to show that he was unworthy, too sinful to serve a god, too weak to command men, to foolish to survive the onslaught of Miragliano. As her voice turned into a shriek, unpleasantly counter-pointed by Lord Adolfo’s grunts and groans, Biagino had fallen from the dream to arrive sweating and shivering in his bed.

He shook his head, breathed deep, then joined in the last words of the oath,

“… until the chief commanders shall give you leave.”

(Prologue to a Battle)

Biagino watched as the army marched across the bridge at Pontremola to the northern bank of the River Tarano. The crusaders’ military commander, the condottieri general Urbano D’Alessio, had declared the land on the far side of the bridge to be the better place to make a stand. He did not say why (and why should any general worth his salt have to?) but Biagino and several other priests secretly agreed that the decision was most likely based on the fact that with a river behind them, spanned by only one bridge, the crusade’s peasant and militia soldiers would have more difficulty fleeing the field of battle. Whether or not this would consequently make them more likely to stand their ground the priests could not decide upon. The enemy force would be terrible, the battle more like a feverish nightmare than the waking hours of the day. Then again, thought Biagino, what battle is not a nightmare?

With little else to do right now but wait and watch, he found himself once again angry that Lord Adolfo had refused to support the crusade in any way beyond merely allowing them to exist. The lord of Viadaza was now sick abed, admittedly, but this was not the reason none his troops were present. He had never intended to send any soldiers, and now his rather convenient illness meant he had not even had to watch the crusaders’ departure from his city, nor give them any sort of blessing or ‘fare thee well’. The crusaders had paraded through the streets nevertheless, their maroon flags emblazoned with the raven-winged hourglass emblem of Morr, the crowds cheering, the marching men sombre and sober. One might well have expected Lord Adolfo’s soldiers to line the streets and patrol the walls and gates to ensure an orderly parade and exit. Instead they were either confined to barracks or guarding Lord Adolfo’s palazzo. When the crusaders had passed the palazzo gate, Biagino did glimpse a great number of guards, including even some soldiers with orcen blood, pallid skinned, red-eyed wild men bearing viciously curved scimitars. They had put him in mind of the recent nightmare in which he had been humbled by the cruel duchess. Since that night, Biagino could not think of Lord Adolfo without seeing his dream face, drooling, hideous, bestial in its brazen lust.

It was as if Lord Adolfo was expecting to be besieged, which was odd, considering how he had so consistently mocked the crusaders as nothing more than a rabble, entirely worthless as a military force. Yet here he was behaving as if they posed a real threat, mustering his guard in a sudden fit of timidity. At the time, Biagino had momentarily feared it might be part of some cunning plan in which the crusaders were to be divided, disarmed and dispersed. But he dismissed the idea as ridiculous. The truth was simple: Lord Adolfo wanted the crusaders gone. The crusaders knew it, and Lord Adolfo knew they knew it. Surely he had mustered a strong guard just in case the bad feeling bubbled up into rebellion.

Right now the militia pike regiment were crossing the bridge – or at least they would be if an overloaded cart had not become stuck at the northern end of the bridge.


Biagino could not help but stare as two burly peasants pulled at the draught horses’ harnesses, while the great heap of sacks threatened to topple from the wagon to create an even more stubborn obstacle. The confusion was not helped by the fact that a handful of peasant militia had already begun constructing a short stretch of wooden fence to partially close off the bridge. While some of the labourers had indeed stopped working and joined Biagino in watching the struggle with the cart horses, two were still hauling stakes around – very likely what had spooked the horses in the first place.


The pikemen stood with apparent patience, well drilled in their postures from years of weekend practise, their brace of drummers now sensibly silent. Many had mocked them as ‘rude militia’, as part-time, amateur soldiers who were ever ready in arms apart from during times of war, more fit for drinking songs and wrestling over who got to wear their few pieces of communally stored armour than for battle. Biagino, however, saw that whatever they had once been, they were now inspired by Morr. More than their patriotic duty, more than loyalty to their long familiar officers, more than an urge to protect their family and neighbours. Morr.


The large regiment of crudely armed peasants, led by fierce Father Antonello, seemed truly to be keen for the fight. It was a resolve that would no doubt be tested when they stood before the foe. Presently proud of the fact that they wielded pitchforks and scythes, flails and axes, reckoning that their familiarity with such tools made them nimble in their use, their enthusiasm could well wane when the bony corpses of long dead warriors came at them without flesh to scythe or organs to pierce. To fight such monsters required an extra-ordinary sort of courage and discipline, not mere skill at farm labour. The pair of peasants now yanking with all their might to move the cart looked determined indeed, but what was a pair of stubborn, bucking horses compared to a shambling horde of horrors, stinking of the grave and driven by the mighty, death defying will of a vampire?

Just as this thought sent a now familiar chill through Biagino, the wagon lurched and the wheels began to turn. As it trundled slowly away, the pike regiment’s colonel was already issuing the command: “Prepare to march!”


Biagino was left with a lingering doubt. If dumb animals and a wagon filled with grain sacks could halt the best regiment of foot they had, then was it utter foolishness to think they could drive back the vampire duke?
Battle to follow ...
We Shall Stand

They were to make their stand upon the northern side of the bridge at Pontremola. The old bridge had seen better days, but the damage was superficial and it was still strong enough to transport the Viadazzan crusading army across without incident. The two toll-towers were abandoned, the keepers had fled in fear along three months ago along with the Ebinans crossing to escape the clutches of the Vampire Duke. To the north the road was fairly well delineated with hedgerows, more than a mere highway of hardened earth as it had ancient stone foundations. It coursed northwards through the gently sloping, eastern hills of Usola.

For six full hours the Morrite crusaders stood in battle array awaiting the foe. Not one man succumbed to weariness, for it was not a hot day and each and every one of them was sufficiently nervous concerning the imminent battle to ensure churning stomachs, not a condition in which one might sit down to rest easy. The mercenary crossbowmen made a show of looking nonchalant about the situation, yet everyone could see that it was exactly that – a show, effortful and deliberate, and attempt to hide their true state of mind.

The Carroccio stood behind the main battle line, its huge silken standard snapping as the breeze tugged at it. Since the army had left Viadazza every citizen had assembled morning and night to pray around it, as if it were the kind of holy shrine that would draw a crowd of pilgrims. And so it should, for it bore the most revered and holy artefacts the Church of Morr in Viadazza possessed, including the bones of three saints and the hilt of the sword an almost forgotten hero had used to slay the first vampire to set foot in Tilea. Well, it was either the first, second or third – it depended who exactly you asked and where they were from.

The Crusaders’ right flank consisted of two regiments of horse, one heavy and the other light. The former, positioned forwards, consisted of what few nobility had accompanied the crusades – being garbed in full plate armour and riding barded destriers. The lighter horse were what remained of the Arrabbiati Brotherhood, led by Lord Totto himself, recently recovered from the wounds he had received during the battle to save the Duchess Maria. Next stood an antique ribaudequin which had been restored to (what was hoped to be) working order. The peasant militia, captained by Father Antonello, who had spent all last six hours tirelessly maintaining their spiritual frenzy, stood next in line, flanked by the equally large militia pikemen. It was amongst these colourfully attired militia that Biagino stood, nominally their captain. In truth he only commanded in the way that the Lector commanded the army - a militia captain actually gave all the military orders, at Biagino’s request, just as the condottieri general Urbano D’Alessio listened to the Lector’s suggestions and turned them into military orders as he saw fit. Yet now that battle was about to be fought, D’Alessio had begun behaving more like a captain than a general, taking personal command of the mounted knights, leaving Lector Bernado Ugolini in the traditional position for a general (in the rear at the centre). The Lector was accompanied by his bodyguard, each man bearing the feathered wings revealing their origins as descendants of mercenary Kislevites.

The second militia regiment stood next in line, the swordsmen, led by Father Gonzalvo. They were not so large as the pike regiment, but they made up for this deficiency in swagger. Then stood the mercenary crossbowmen, calmly refusing to span their bows until the enemy was in sight. Upon the bridge was the army’s only cannon, a bombard of a long abandoned design which had been inspected for flaws and cracks by each and every one of the crew nearly every day. They had yet to find any such thing, though the real test would come when they began to fire in anger, over and over, heating the barrel in a way that had not been done in decades. The army’s baggage was placed upon the southern side of the river, with several wagons on the bridge itself. Biagino had wondered if this were also part of General D’Alessio’s scheme to keep the crusaders from fleeing too readily.

Out on the far left flank stood one company of skirmishing seamen, with the third and last artillery piece – a mortar – placed behind them on the far side of the river. Many a crusader had prayed that the grenadoes lobbed by this piece would tear the enemy’s rotten corpses to pieces in great swathes. Biagino was hoping that the undead, deficient as they were in muscle and sinew, might be more easily dismembered than living men and thus more likely to fall to the mortar’s explosive ammunition.

The only other company in the crusade were the scouting seamen, who were not present in the battle line as they had moved off ahead of the army to outflank the Duke’s shambling horde.

Viadazan Crusaders Total = 2670 points
Army list created from Campaign Tilean List, itself a modified version of the Treachery & Greed Campaign list

Morrite Lector of Viadaza, Bernado Ugolini
Warhorse, Horseman's mace, Light armour
Prophetic Book Bound spell Harmonic Convergence; Robe of Cathayan Silk Wearer generates one additional power dice; Sword of Might
Special rules: Righteous Fury; Grim Resolve.
Prayers of Morr (power level 4):
Holy Protection (augment): Lector of Morr and unit he is with have a 5+ ward against all wounds until start of next friendly magic phase. (Morr decides when it is their time to die.)
Morr’s Caress (hex): range 24”, target unit suffers –1 T and –1 Str until start of next friendly magic phase. (Morr moves them a little closer to death for a while).
Morr’s Stare (direct damage): range 12”. Target single individual model (even character in a unit). Caster and target roll D6 and add to Ld stat. If Lector wins, victim loses D2 wounds with no armour saves. (Morr passes judgement.)

Urbano D’Alessio, Condottiere General
Warhorse, barding full plate
Sword of anti-heroes; Charmed Shield;Talisman of Endurance
Mercenary skill: Hopelessly stubborn Character & his unit = stubborn

Three Priests of Morr: Biagino, Gonzalvo & Father Antonello
Special rules: Righteous Fury, Divine Power
Lesser Prayers of Morr (innate bound spells, power level 3)
Lesser Holy Protection (augment): Priest of Morr and unit he is with have a 6+ ward against all wounds until start of next friendly magic phase. (Morr decides when it is their time to die.)
Morr’s Touch (hex): range 24”, target unit suffers –1 T until start of next friendly magic phase. (Morr moves them a little closer to death, in undead weakening the necromantic magic holding them together, for a while).
Morr’s Glance (direct damage): range 12”. Target single individual model (even character in a unit). Caster and target roll D6 & add to Ld stat. If priest wins, victim takes a Str 4 wound, no armour saves. (Morr passes judgement.)

Biagino: Circlet of Burning Gold
Father Antonello: Ruby Ring of Ruin

Callistro Gallani, Condotta Captain

War Wagon & Army Battle Standard
Magic standard (Home-rules) = Standard of Morr All troops within range of its battle Standard effect are immune to Fear caused by the Undead(+85 pts)
Special rules: Stubborn, immune to psychology, large target. War Wagon: Chariot, with single profile. NO 'swiftstride' rule. Moves as monster, may not march or charge. May not pursue; flees only d6". May not enter difficult or very difficult terrain. May not cross obstacles. Immune to poison and killing blow.
Armed with 6 handguns, which may fire even if the war wagon moves. Usual penalty to hit for moving and firing applies. Handguns have a 360 degree line of sight. In combat, has no flanks or rear. Attacks are armour piercing - assume handgunners are shooting as the CC attacks. Cavalry, chariots or monsters (including ogre-sized models) charging a war wagon do not count as charging. They also suffer -1 to hit the war wagon in combat.

The Arrabiatti Brotherhood
Lord Totto Level 2 Wizard
Warhorse, Dispel Scroll, Seed of Rebirth
9 Border Horsemen
Full Command; Warhorse, short bow, Shields, light armour, Horseman's maces. +1 S, mounted models only Fast Cavalry

Lector’s Guard 5 Border Horsemen
Warhorse, bows, shields, light armour, spears ; Full Command. Fast cavalry

36 Militia Pikemen
Light armor, pikes; Full Command

20 Condotta Marksmen
Light armor, crossbows; Full Command

15 Buccaneer Skirmishers
2 hand weapons; Skirmishers.

15 Buccaneer Scouts
Pistols; Skirmishers/Scouts.

25 Bravi
Swords, shields; Full Command

7 Knights
Warhorse, shield, lances, barding, full plate; Full Command

35 Peasants
Full Command

(Archaic) Great Cannon

Range 48”, Str 8, Multiple Wnds D4
The Vampire Duke’s army was large, with four large bodies of foot soldiers moving over the hills, and plenty of even more monstrous horrors besides. Ahead of the army rode a little company of Hex Wraiths, their every motion unnatural and eerie as the gleaming bones of their mounts grated beneath fluttering robes that seemed not quite a part of this world.

Behind them, on the far right flank of the undead line of battle, crept a large body of ghouls, then next in line a mass of skeleton warriors strode, momentarily disordered by their descent from the hilly ridge. A huge horde of zombies spilled through the gap in the hills where the road coursed, and beside them came more skeletons, these being heavily armoured and carrying blades that gleamed in a hellish green.

Six brutish horrors came next, horrible to behold, yet somehow less nightmarish than the Vampire Duke himself and his guard of Black Knights. Finally, upon the foul horde’s far left, atop a hill which now looked like little more than a tiny mound compared to the bulk of the creature upon it, was a Terrogheist. The monster’s wings folded and unfolded in mockery of life, as its head stooped low upon its long and bony neck to espy the foe before it.

In even his worst nightmares, Biagino had not imagined the foe as terrible as this. Suddenly the might of the crusade seemed to diminish, and as he glanced left and right the soldiers seemed now to turn from warriors into mere farmers and merchants, from inspired agents of Morr’s will to very mortal men, alone and trembling.

They could not win. The foe was too mighty, too monstrous, too many.

Then he heard Father Antonello singing. It was a solemn hymn to Morr, yet the defiance in his voice was very clear. It was not the sound of a fearful man trying to fool those around him into believing he was brave, but rather the voice of a man governed wholly by obedience to the god of death. Voices joined his, then more and more, until all three regiments were singing. When the bell on the carroccio began to ring in time to the hymn, Biagino felt Morr’s presence like he had never done before.

They could win. They would win. Morr willed it.

The fighting to follow ...
Battle Part One

Behind the undead battle line the company of scouting seamen climbed a low ridge to see what there was to see. They could not help but stop, for the foe was arrayed so thick and numerous that the crusading army was barely visible beyond them. Still, the scouts had come here to do what could be done to slow down the enemy units on this flank, and so somewhat hesitantly they cocked their pistols quickly scrutinised the ground ahead to ascertain the best route forwards.

The enemy wasted no time, for there was not a creature amongst them who could recall what it was to feel hesitation. The hex wraiths charged at the company of skirmishing sea men, sending them hurtling away to splash in the waters at the rivers’ edge. (Game note: It occurs to me now as I type that we had both forgotten vanguarding units cannot charge in the first turn. Oops! Still, the buccaneers got away.)

On the far side of the field of battle the monstrously huge Terrorgheist flapped in a horribly graceful manner - for such a large and ragged beast - and came to land right before the mounted men at arms.

The beast then began a pained and painful squealing, like a bird caught bloodily in a trap. Thinking it ugly enough, the men at arms had no idea what more the beast could and would yet do with its scream. The rest of the undead horde shambled onwards, those closest to the Vampire Duke, the ones with the longest legs and those mounted on bony horses given impetus by their proximity to him who had raised them, thus moving much further than the rest.

An enormous body of zombies came on in the centre, their stench carrying for more than a mile downwind, their gait ungainly, their arms swinging loose as black nailed fingers clutched at the air in their ever present urge to tear flesh.

Biagino stood in the front rank of the Viadazan pikemen, happy to allow the beating of the two drummers to jolt the fearful thoughts from his mind. And there were a lot of such thoughts. Only moments before he had witnessed five corpses claw their way out of the ground in front of the crossbowmen, obviously summoned by the Vampire Duke to obscure the mercenaries’ line of fire. He could not help but wonder again that the crusaders had bitten off far more than they could chew, for the enemy was numerous enough to begin with, yet now even more were being raised to serve them.

Once again he glanced over at Father Antonello …

… and once again took solace from his reassuring presence. If anything, Father Antonello’s peasants were even more keen for the battle than the militiamen beside them – fair chomping at the bit to get at the foe. Then Biagino’s reverie was broken by the dying screams of two pikemen who had succumbed to some spell emanating from the Vampire Duke. He did not know it, but the Black Knights around the Duke suffered worse, as they lost three of their number to an uncontrolled spillage of magical energies from the Duke’s spell. As a few moments later the Black Riders returned, summoned back into the world by necromantic magic, no crusaders even noticed they had ever gone!

(Game Note: I didn’t notice at the time, but Daz’s two vampires both attempted to cast Invocation of Nehek, and the second one repaired the Black Knights. Of course, in normal rules the Duke could not cast another spell after his earlier miscast. Maybe there is some magical trait vampire’s can buy which allows them to do so? I have checked the VC book myself but I can’t find anything. I have a feeling we weren’t doing very well with the rules in this game!)

General D’Alessio now led his little company of armoured nobility in a charge against the Terrorgheist, their fear almost entirely washed away by the proximity of the carroccio and its inspiring collection of Morrite icons and relics. (Game Note: I write ‘almost’ because of course the monster’s terror was reduced to fear.) Only one knight managed to pierce the tip of his lance into the beast’s bony carapace, but it was enough both to visibly weaken the creature and bolster the other knights’ courage. With the crusader’s Morrite banner streaming above them, they fought on.

While they fought heroically, like mythical knights of old, against the monster, elsewhere bolts were loosed and ironshot fired. Two of the Ogre-like monsters fell to these missiles, and five Graveguard joined them in their second death.

Now, as the Hex Wraiths finished the job they had begun and chased the Buccaneers off the field of battle entirely, Duke Alessandro led his reformed Black Knights in a charge against the Viadazan noblemen with General D’Alessio.

Few amongst the crusaders could believe that the Vampire Duke was already engaged in combat, against their army general no less, and with a giant monster by his side. Yet they steeled themselves, and the light horsemen of the Arrabiatti Brotherhood moved up to the spot vacated by the noblemen, so that the Crusaders’ line could stay sound.

Just then the men of Viadaza were given an awful glimpse of what the enemy was capable of, for the Terrorgheist gave vent to another screeching wail, this time so overwhelmingly horrible as to take the life of five of the knights before it. As their metal-clad corpses slid from their saddles to clatter to the ground, the Vampire Duke laid about General D’Alessio furiously, raining blow after blow upon him, but the general’s full plate armour and the blessing of his holy talisman prevented each and every blow from wounding him. Obviously outmatched, and likely to die any moment, the general stubbornly refused to flee but fought on, accompanied by only one remaining guard, the standard bearer.

Aware that the Duke’s death was probably the only thing that could bring the Crusader’s victory, and knowing that General D’Alessio could not possibly hope to survive on his own, Father Antonello ordered his peasants to charge the flank of the Black Knights. Not wanting to be outdone by peasants, the Arrabiatti also charged into the Vampire Duke’s guard, so that now a huge fight was taking place on the far right of the Crusaders’ line.

No less than a dozen more Graveguard were felled (including some who had already been re-re-animated) by a deadly combination of crossbows, cannon and mortar. And while these very worldly weapons were being employed, the priests were also praying for spiritual aid. In this way they blessed the peasants with the lesser form of Morr’s Protection, while the Lector used his prophetic book to cast the enchantment commonly known as Harmonic Convergence on the Arrabiatti. The priests knew both these units would need every bit of help they could get, for although they outnumbered and surrounded the foe, the enemy was both fearless and frightening, as well as better armed and armoured.

As the fight began, Biagino found himself very close to the enemy’s brute horrors:

When the militia sergeant ordered the pikes levelled, the monstrous foe did not exactly recoil, but it was obvious that somewhere in the tattered remnants of their consciousness they knew that to charge headlong into the serried rows of sharp steel tips would be foolish. So it was they halted, their heads stooped as they leered horribly at the Viadazans.

Somehow General Urbano’s armour once again saved him from each and every one of the umpteen blows rained upon him by the Vampire Duke. (Game Note: For a second time, even at -3 to save, somehow I rolled all 5s & 6s!) Yet although the general’s armour saved him, he could not himself harm Duke Alessandro, for the vampire had beguiled him supernaturally, leaving him so befuddled that his own attempts to strike blows where easily parried by the wicked Duke. Nor could the Arrabiatti harm the foe, and - perhaps unsurprisingly - neither could the peasants (even though they had been filled with such confidence by the good priest leading them). Ignoring the peasants as if they were of no consequence at all, the foul creatures of the night mortally wounded six of the Arrabiatti, and their subsequent deaths were somewhat loud and disturbing. Lord Totto shouted most boldly to the last few that they should stand and “See this through”, and such was their high regard of their leader that they did indeed do so. But not so the peasants. Father Antonello was dumbfounded by his supposedly blessed warrior’s failure to even scratch the foe, and his momentary silence was enough to undo all the work he had done with his inspiring words. The peasants turned and fled, running right through Biagino’s pikemen and Gonzalvo’s swordsmen. Neither of the militia units broke, perhaps having always expected just such behaviour from the peasants, but the peasants burst out of the swordsmen’s left flank with the stunned Father Antonello still amongst them. For the first time in months he harboured doubts, his faith in Morr so shockingly tested.

(Turns 3 and 4)

The green-bladed Grave Guards now charged the Viadazan swordsmen, their onslaught also catching some of the peasants and forcing them to redouble their efforts to flee. In so doing, the peasants now took the mercenary crossbowmen with them – both broken bodies running pell-mell towards the river, the dangerous depth of the waters momentarily forgotten in their urge to escape.

Dark magics were summoned by both vampires, so that the Black Knights danced macabre, and the Grave Guard acquired a hellish vigour, but the joint efforts of the priests and Lord Totto ensured that none of the enemy dead were re-animated. The Terrorgheist unleashed another horrendous cry and the last of the Viadazan nobility tumbled from his saddle, his silken banner falling to be trodden into the mud by a taloned and bony claw. A moment later Lord Totto was brutally cut down by the Black Knight’s champion, and the very last of his shadowy brotherhood fell by his side, leaving General D’Alessio to fight on alone. Once again, although still magically befuddled by the vampire duke’s proximity, his armour and wards proved effective, saving the general from each and every blow. Even the Vampire Duke, his mind cold, cruel and not quite of this world, was beginning to feel frustration at this mere mortal who refused to die.

(Game Note: We both failed to realise at the time that if a lone character is fighting a challenge then the fact that his base is corner to corner with a separate unit does not mean that unit remains caught up in that combat. So the Terrorgheist could have left this combat in the next turn. I’ll discuss below whether this would have had much of an effect on the game.)

The long line of shambling, undead foot soldiers continued its advance …

… while the Grave Guard hewed down swordsman after swordsman, with the Duke’s vampiric captain (once a renowned mercenary from the Empire, now a monster with barely a trace of human thought remaining) gleefully hacked off the militia champion’s head, then joined his guard in their pursuit of the utterly broken Viadazans. The undead slaughtered every man who ran, and found themselves before the carroccio.

Their bestial commander, the tortured creature who now inhabited the twisted, living corpse of Captain Theobald, grinned with glee. Here was something he would enjoy tearing up as much as any mortal. He could feel the power emanating from it, the spirit of the god who hated the undead more than all others. He raised his black-clawed hand, gestured …

… and barked his command. As one the Grave Guard hefted their massive blades and prepared to charge.

Knowing only too well that to win this battle the vampire duke must be killed, and that the embattled General D’Alessio could not be expected to fight alone against such horrors, the Morrite Lector of Viadaza commanded his bodyguard of Kislevites to charge into the Black Knights’ flank. This they did without hesitation, for since their march from the city they had understood that in a war such as this their role could not remain merely ceremonial.

Glimpsing the Lector’s charge, Biagino finally decided the time had come, and ordered the pikemen to charge into the horrors standing before them. Some of the fleeing Viadazans noticed these charges, as well as the fact that the enemy was still some distance away, and faced with almost certain death in the cold river waters decided that flight was perhaps not the best option after all. So it was that they rallied, reforming their ranks and files with the river immediately to their rear.

The crew of the ribaudequin hefted their ancient war machine anti-clockwise so that it pointed at the Grave Guard, and after a brief moment’s hesitation during which one of the screamed at the Lector’s secretary to get out of the way ….

… they sent a hail of shot which felled three of the foe. Two more were shot down by the carroccio handgunners, while the cannon sent a ball through the rickety corpse cart and tore it to pieces, the damage so effective that it completely un-knitted the dark, magical forces holding the foul and stinking construction together.

Once again, now very obviously miraculous and surely certain proof that Morr was indeed present with the Crusaders, General D’Alessio’s armour withstood the torrent of blows rained down upon him by the vampire duke. (Game Note: all 5 wounds saved by armour or ward saves!) Urbano now managed to pierce his foe with his blade, so that corrupted blood bubbled from the wound, withering the grass wherever it spattered upon the ground. Three of the vampire dukes’ Black Knights were dispatched by the Kislevite riders, and such was the ferocity of the combat that all the remaining Black Knights now collapsed, as well as the Terrorgheist, leaving Duke Alessendro Sforta to fight alone.

(Game Note: If we had realised the Terrorgheist was no longer a part of the combat – see comment above – then it would not have perished, but there is every chance that the ribaudequin or a well placed spell would likely have removed its last few wounds. Perhaps one might say that the rules errors in favour of the undead earlier in the game balance this error in favour of the Viadazans. Neither me nor my opponent are bothered about this error, as we are aware it was a genuine mistake and there are always some such mistakes in our games.)

Biagino was caught up in a no less dangerous combat, and prayed that the Crusader’s hatred of the foe would spur them on to cause great harm. It was not to be, however, for despite the ferociousness of their efforts, all they could do was scratch the foe. (Game Note: 24+2 re-rollable attacks, results in 2 wounds!)

The enemy was not so unlucky, however, and tore into the pikemen so viciously that ten Viadazans fell to their attacks. Despite the awful damage dealt to them, the spirit of Morr was still with them and the Viadazans stood their ground. As they clutched tight at the pikes, leaning upon each other in an attempt to counteract the tremendous weight of the foe, behind them the surviving Grave Guard now smashed into the carroccio.

The vampire Theobald screeched with glee as he and his guard hacked at the wagon and its crew, ripping both apart.

Clambering up the side, tearing a terrified crewman right out of the upper platform and hurling him into the Grave Guards below, Theobald yanked the Crusaders’ army standard from its bracket and threw that down on top of the now dismembered crewman. (Game Note: Now no 18” Ld re-roll, and no 18” fear immunity for the Crusaders!)

The vampire duke’s right wing, a veritable sea of nightmarish foot soldiers shambled onwards, slowly but surely closing the gap between themselves and the enemy.

The gunner and matrosses manning the cannon on the bridge might have become worried about the massed regiments’ proximity, had they not been at that moment on the receiving end of a charge by the hellish Hex Wraiths.

Needless to say the gun crew stood no chance and all were butchered. The wraiths then burst out from the other side of the bridge, galloping over the river waters as if on solid ground; their ghostly, unnatural hooves barely splashing as they moved.

Clambering over the splintered wreckage of the carroccio, the vampire Captain Theobald led his Grave Guard in a charge against the recently rallied peasants. Considering how the peasants had so far behaved, and how bloodily effective the Grave Guard had been despite being greatly diminished by missile fire, and with the mobile Shrine to Morr (which had until now been the focus of any confidence the peasants possessed) having been completely desecrated, it was obvious that they could not possibly hope to stand. Yet for the briefest moment it looked like they had a chance, for they certainly had numbers on their side.

Biagino and the pikemen once again suffered horrendous casualties, beaten by bone clubs bigger than themselves …

… yet still they stood their ground. (Game Note: Passing their now non-re-rollable Break test at 5 or less!) Biagino himself could do little more than pray, the shafts of the pikes close around him so far protecting him from harm.

On the far right of the Crusaders’ line the desperate fight against the vampire duke himself continued …

… with General D’Alessandro’s battered and bent armour once again preventing the duke’s blade from penetrating his flesh. The general himself was now barely able to wield his own blade, as he had finally succumbed to fear – the fight had been impossibly long, the foe so nightmarish, that it was all he could do to stay mounted as the blows repeatedly rang against his steel armour. Lector Bernado could see what a state he was in, and so read from his prophetic book to cast the spell Harmonic Convergence on the general. The Lector also tried to inflict Morr’s Stare on the vampire duke, but Alessandro’s wicked magics brushed that spell aside. It was enough, however, to distract the vampire, and now suddenly General D’Alessio regained his courage and snapped out of the magical beguilement that had until now held him in its grip.

The fight between them seemed to blaze anew, as both thrust and parried, hacked and twisted. And still the General’s armour could not be pierced (Note: once again, unbelievably, he saved against 4 wounds!) Although neither could harm the other, all the while Duke Allessandro’s grip on undeath had been weakening – surrounded by foes, outnumbered, alone – so that now, to the utter amazement of those fighting him, he slumped forwards in his saddle, his head lolling to bash against his mount’s skull. Then, with an anguished cry, he fell to the ground as the beast carrying him collapsed into nothing more than a pile of bones. As General D’Alessio let his aching sword arm drop to his side, his tears hidden by his dented helm, the Kislevites thrust their long spears one after the other, over and over, into the vampire duke’s now still corpse.

Duke Alessandro Sforta was dead. Not merely unliving, but truly and completely dead.

In that moment the necromantic force holding the entire undead army in this realm was greatly weakened, and like a wave washing across a beach, the diminishment in its power spread across the field to affect body after body of undead soldiers. Two of the Crypt Horrors fighting Biagino and the militia pikemen collapsed, as did half a dozen zombies, even more skeletons, and four of the Grave Guard. All five Hex Wraith’s simply vanished.

(Game Note: End of Turn 4. End of game.)

No one cheered. The Lector, his guards and General D’Alessio were simply too exhausted, while all the rest were still embroiled in combat and could not yet know what had happened. But the vampire Theobald knew full well what had happened – he felt his sire’s death to the core of his being. Grimacing (as if his face was not ugly enough already) he refused to allow the anguished cry building inside him to be released. Instead he turned and ran. This was no frantic, scrambling flight, but a purposeful and controlled reaction. As he ran he commanded all those he could to fall back, using every bit of magic he could summon to hold them in this world.

Where he was going, what he intended to do, only he knew.

Over where the foul remains of the vampire duke lay corrupting the soil beneath them, the Lector and General D’Alessio were discussing their next move. After what they had done they had no fear of what was happening behind them – a crumbling (if still massive) force of zombies and ghouls seemed of little consequence compared to the foe they had faced and beaten.

Before long the orders were given and the surviving Crusaders were falling back southwards over the bridge. To some, pushing on against the defeated foe might seem the most desirable course, but the Lector and General D’Alessio knew their men were exhausted, and that a powerful vampire commanded what was still a sizeable enemy force. The enemy was not tired – it no longer suffered such mortal complaints. The enemy was not afraid, for no trace of emotion was left to them. Besides, the important work had been done. The vampire duke was dead, his army in retreat. Now there was surely time to regroup, recuperate, recruit and then return to complete what they had so effectively begun.

Game Note: If this had been a one off battle no doubt the undead would have fought on, probably with a chance of winning - but it was a campaign game, and the Vampire player's Player Character had just died. That has consequences in the campaign. For a start the player ain't in command anymore, until we can establish who he is going to play next. He eventually became the vampire duke's neice, who is also a vampire (thanks to the duke and a previous battle) and recently he (she) killed the surviving vampire in the above army to wrest control of the army for him (her) self.

Maybe I should post that other battle here too? It has some nice pics. In fact now that I think about it, chronologically I may have posted things the wrong way around!
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