Saturday, 21 May 2022

Animosity IV - The Bleeding Wilds, part 1 - Compass


Lost Uzzog, alone on the quarter-deck, fussed over the thaumaturgic compass. The wardokk navigator adjusted several of the small dials that lined the outer ring of the brass frame. The crystal sphere within the metal case swirled with cyan and white energies. Uzzog shifted one of the brass hoops around in its track, it clicked softly as it spun. The red-gold pointer inside the sphere spun hectically, Uzzog squinted at it and sighed.

~ ⦽ ~

The Cleavermaw swayed gently in the light breeze, her timbers creaked quietly. The crew of orruk sky-pirates busied themselves on deck, beneath the watchful eye of Mr Sludga who sat in the forecastle. There was a relaxed, holiday atmosphere on board and Sludga was happy to let the crew chatter while they worked.

They had finally left the corner of Haixiah, at the edge of Hysh, known as the Prime Dominion. Their time there had been profitable during the civil war that had raged for nearly a year, but it became progressively more difficult to ply their trade there when things had settled down. And of course, there was the issue of the Corsair as well, Sludga pondered; she was getting harder to keep out of the way of.

Then they had spent the last few months preying on shipping around the Dawngild Skydock, a Kharadron outpost in one of the Lands of Gold. That also became too risky when the Kharadron got really fed-up with the loss of trade and sent out a gunhauler fleet to look for the Cleavermaw.

So here they were in a backwater of Chamon; Silverside, someone called it.

~ ⦽ ~

Uzzog tried something different. He took the crystal core out of the brass frame completely and hit it a few times with his staff. Gently at first - he didn't want to smash it, just knock some sense into it. Then he gave it a proper whack and the red-gold pointer stopped spinning. Elated, he jammed the crystal sphere back into the brass cage and started adjusting the dials to re-calibrate it.

It started humming. Uzzog held it out at arm's-length, just in case...

~ ⦽ ~

The peaceful atmosphere was shattered then. Loud voices could be heard below decks. That new-comer who called himself Lord Krashhart was rowing with Kaptain Mogrum again.

Sludga thought about the time the big Warchanter first met up with them; some of the crew took to him immediately: he was an enthusiastic and loud sort, who liked to laugh and was always impatiently drumming out a rhythm with his hands or tapping his feet whenever there was nothing happening. But others were wary that he might be the type to challenge the Kaptain for leadership of the crew - he was a mighty big orruk after all. But it wasn’t so - it seemed like he didn’t really care to lead at all, he just wanted to join in with the fighting.

So he had just tagged along with them for a while. He was handy in a boarding-action and wasn’t even bothered about having a share of the loot. After a while the even wary ladz had come round to him well enough.

But the Kaptain was always a bit distant with Krashhart, even though the warchanter always did as he was told and didn’t try to take the lead. And he never disagreed with the Kaptain in front of the crew. But Sludga could see, and Sludga could hear: there had been plenty of times when Krashhart took the Kaptain aside “for a word”. Mogrum almost always came away from those “words” in a black mood, and the crew got the brunt of his temper.

This time there was no doubting what the disagreement was over. The volume of the argument was much greater than it had been before and their words carried through the open hatches between the cabin and the deck:

Krashhart wanted to keep going into the wilds of Silverside. He was sure there was something here, something huge he had heard about, something that a famous beast-hunting Fleetmaster was after. Mogrum wanted to stay clear of Black Arks and all the complications they brought with them. For some reason both of them felt VERY strongly about the ship’s next course of action.

Well, whoever won this argument, the holiday was over. Sludga stood up and glowered at the morboyz on deck, the crew almost all got the hint straight away and started working properly, the casual chatter dried-up. But there was something in the wind. Something weird was about to happen and the crew could all feel it. They exchanged significant glances as they hauled on ropes or shifted barrels.

~ ⦽ ~

When it stopped humming and went back to wildly spinning, Uzzog gave up on the thaumaturgic compass for a while - it must have been broken. He looked out at the horizon and jumped in shock. There was an incomprehensibly massive wall of amber magical energy a few miles ahead of them and it seemed to be growing very rapidly.






Wednesday, 18 May 2022

The Harrowmark Twisted Oak - part 12, game 10 - The Blood Moon

The Harrowmark's moon and her daughters hung low in the sky, a thin crescent and a scattering of shards following her - all of them glowing a soft and pale silver. 

But another moon encroached on their sky - an ominous red moon casting a ruddy light over the forests. An ill omen at the best of times, but especially portentous now that Kalyustar had almost achieved his goal.

The Rotmoons knew this was it - their last chance. The Cursed Company had found the Twisted Oak first and they were going to enact a ritual to extract the magical energies from it. Without that magic the tree was just mundane timber: useless for repairing the rent hull of their skyship. The pirates had to stop the Soulchemist from completing his foul rite or they would be back to square-one; searching for more magical raw materials and still marooned in Wortbad.

“Aethermatic-disruption inducing, thaumaturgically infused metal has always proven effective in altering the flows and counter-flows of realm-defining energies” said El Doctoro as he handed out large rusted ship's nails to each of the crew. 

Blank expressions met this explanation. Each crew member looked at the nail they had been given as if they were poisoned.

"If we can get as many of these into the Soulchemist's lodestone as possible, as quickly as possible, we may be able to save the Oak and harvest it for our own use!" he said, still rowing hard against the tide of understanding.

"We need to stop Kalyustar stealing the magical energies from the wood, or it is useless! We can make repairs to the Rotmoon with non-magical wood, you see?

"So... hammer-in the nails to break the rock, to get the wood?" said the Kapitan.

El Doctoro sighed and rubbed his temples. "Yes."

+++
The Twisted Oak has been found. The ritual to shackle its power is underway and Lunaghast turns an ominous red. Untold power and riches can be gained, if the interlopers are kept at bay.

Terrain: The Twisted Oak in the centre of the southern half of the board.
Deployment: Defiant Stand. The winner of ‘Pierce the Veil’ uses the blue deployment points.
Victory: The Ritual. The winner of the ‘Pierce the Veil’ is the defender.
Twist: The Goremoon Rises.
Reward: the winner of this battle wins the campaign and receives an Escalation Artefact of Power (Tome of Champions 2020, page 103).



+++


The Soulchemist had set up an altar near the Oak - his books and candles laid out upon it. The Rotmoons surrounded the position and closed in from three sides.


Kapitan da Leeva, Bortagno and El Doctoro from the north.


Dragante, Bold Rikk and Percy Percy from the east.


Kalyustar began his ritual.


He started to syphon off the magical energy from the Twisted Oak.


Kapitan da Leeva and El Doctoro did their best to get to the lodestone that had been driven into the roots of the Oak - they hoped to damage it enough to slow or halt the ritual.


The Deathrattle skeletons threw themselves at the orruk pirates to prevent them from interfering.


The orruks did their best to sidestep them and get to the lodestone.


The Rotmoons made their way through the trees.


The fallen Deathrattle reformed under the fell effects of Kalyustar's necromancy.


The rite was working - the Twisted Oak's power was coalescing into Kalyustar's control.


Percy Percy was brought down by a skeleton champion.


Bold Rikk roared with rage and tried to get his revenge.


The fighting intensified and the Rotmoons struggled to close-in on the lodestone.


El Doctoro and Kalyustar exchanged sorcerous blasts.


But the ritual continued, at a greater pace than before! El Doctoro could almost see the power slipping from the tree, through the lodestone and into Kalyustar's grasp.

+++

The Lunaghast climbed slow into the sky overhead, it's leering red glow foretelling the doom of one below...

+++


The Kapitan roared orders - the crew rushed to gather around the lodestone.


Dragante was attacked from behind and he span round to face his assailant - he and the skeleton hacked at each other. 


The Rotmoons crowded round the lodestone, each trying to hammer their rusted ships' nail in faster than their crewmates! El Doctoro used his weird-powers to heal the crew around him - fortifying them against the harder fight to come.


Bortagno, far away from the lodestone, concentrated on the job he knew best. Then, when he had space to breath he took a moment to gather his strength again. As soon as he recovered he charged forward toward the Oak.


Kalyustar was becoming increasingly enraged that his ritual was being disrupted. Awkwardo took the brunt of his fury.


The Cursed Company's skeleton champions started to pick-off the pirate orruk stragglers.


The ritual continued, but the rate of the magical flow out of the Oak slowed down significantly. The gathered orruks around the poisoned stone were enough to interfere with the connection.


The Cursed Company closed in on the orruks at the lodestone. The needed to drive off enough of them to allow the magic of the Oak to flow unimpeded.


Bortagno finally made it to the Twisted Oak.


Kalyustar struggled against the rising tide of orruk Waaagh! energy, disrupting the ritual.


But it was too late. The energies draining from the tree destabilised - the ritual was stopped just in time and the magic of the tree coalesced back into the ground.

The orruks drove-off the Cursed Company. When Kalyustar, stunned by the sorcerous backlash of the collapsing ritual, fled into the dark forests.

Kapitan da Leeva ordered the pirate crew to sharpen their axes.

+++

So, the Twisted Oak campaign draws to a close (and just in time! Animosity IV is right around the corner). We started this campaign way back in January 2020, but inn March 2020 it had to go on a two-year Corona Virus hiatus! We had no idea at that time how long it would be paused.

But then in March 2022 we were able to restart it (with a mechanical restructure based on all the great Warcry content that had been published during lockdown). And here we are, in May 2022, finally at the end of this particular tale.

There will be more action from both these warbands, and more Warcry campaigns set in the Harrowmark. But before that we look to travel to Chamon and Ghur for the summer, for the aforementioned Animosity Campaign.

Wednesday, 11 May 2022

The Harrowmark Twisted Oak - part 11, game 9 - Interlude


The anchor-watch of the Rotmoon were getting bored and there was a real risk that they would start killing each-other. So Bosun Red Bull picked a shore-party of the most bad-tempered bunch of Morboyz in the crew and made a run into Wortbad for supplies. He pitched it as a raid, but he expected it was going to be more like a shopping trip. He had assumed it would be an easy job; they would walk into town, take what they needed, and run away with it. Everyone would fill their bellies and get blind drunk that night and the ship would be ready to make repairs for when the Kapitan and the rest of the crew came back with the magic timber.

+++

Terrain: A graveyard at the edge of Wortbad.
Deployment: No Escape (I won priority and chose the blue deployment points).
Victory: Drawn and Quartered (I placed my to objectives between my deployment points).
Twist: Bitter Rivals.



+++


Bosun Red Bull knocked on the barrels to check they were full. He pulled out a stopper on the top one and gave it a sniff.

"It's booze ladz!" he announced happily and jammed the stopper back in. The orruk pirates all grinned and slapped each other on the back.

"Garfio, Dudoso, go and check out that stuff over there in the barn." he ordered. "Parche, Anzuelo and Bondon , you stay here and keep an eye on this lot. Walta and Pata come with me - I want to have a poke about on that desk over there."


As Garfio and Dudoso advanced they spotted a couple of figures ahead and Garfio called back to Red Bull.

"Boss! Looks we got company. Might be sylvaneth tree-gits? Or maybe aelfs? Oh, looks like they're kinda both!"


Red Bull looked up from the barrels, slightly annoyed at the interruption.

"Well? Don't just stand there a-talking about them. Go and get killing 'em!"


Keeping an eye on the big one, a Nomad Prince, as he had started shooting at them and Garfio had been hit twice already, the orruks raced forward into the barn - there was a smaller tree-aelf in there as well as a load of barrels.


Dudoso dodged behind the barrels as the tree-aelf tried to get him with the sharp-end of a spear.


Red Bull started yelling and at the crew and sent Walta and Pata forward to help Garfio and Dudoso.


Parche was left on his own to look after the barrels at the rear. He hid behind a mausoleum, "Which I was just biding my time..." he said later.


Dudoso went on an absolute Rampage as more Wanderers arrived. He killed the Eternal Guard, who had tried to impale him with a spear, and the Wildwood Ranger, who was hitting Garfio with his axe, in his fury! Garfio was much relieve as he was pretty badly wounded by that point.


Walta strode forward and planted his banner in the ground dramatically. Pata hobbled along on his wooden leg, toward the Nomad Prince, with murder in his eyes.


The Bosun went back to "check da grog wasn't leaking" or something, and cautiously eyed the Sisters of the Thorn that were pounding through the trees towards them.


But the Sisters of the Thorn headed for the Nomad Prince to protect him and rode-down Pata - that affront was met with an outburst of swearing and threats from the Rotmoons nearby.


Parche suddenly made a mad run toward the Sisters of the Thorn but they were long-gone before he got near. He later claimed he chased them off and they fled in terror of his grizzly visage.


Satisfied that the fight was done Red Bull re-joined Bondon at the desk and grabbed a handful of papers and log books that were left there. And the bottles of wine.

"Right, that'll do."" he said to the rest of the party, "Let's be getting back to the ship with this here loot."

+++


This game wasn't part of the campaign as such, but we tied it into the narrative anyway.

Viktor and I got half way through a 4 turn game last week and ran out of time, so our models were still set up in his gaming room. David came for a game and rather than make him watch me and Viktor play, Viktor suggested I used models from the Rotmoons that aren't on my campaign roster and we played a "side quest" on another board. So my warband were:

Bosun Red Bull - Morboy Boss
Walta Rally - Morboy with Totem
Pata - Morboy
Garfio - Morboy
Dudoso - Morboy
Anzuelo - Morboy
Parche - Morboy
Bondon - Morboy

The  Battleplan cards were very much in my favour and really against David! 

I won the priority roll and chose the blue deployment points. I placed my 2 objectives between my three deployment points, and I had everyone on the board in turn 1, so I rushed one of his objectives. 

David started with just 3 models of his Shield and only got his Dagger at the start of Turn 2 and Hammer at the start of Turn 3. By the end of Turn 1, I had 3vp to his 1vp. 

At the end of Turn 2 I held all 4 objectives (which took us to 7:1, to me) and at that point he couldn't win, even if he retook all 4 in turn 3. We played on to see if David could earn a pyrrhic victory and he reclaimed two objectives and killed an orruk (who actually died in the after-battle sequence as I rolled badly). The final Victory Points score was 9:3 to me.

It was a cracking game though - there were lots of very funny moments and I finally felt like I knew exactly what Abilities to use and when to use them! I like this game a lot.