Wednesday, 28 September 2022

Further Adventures in The Scarlands - part 8, A Disorganised Raid

"So. Everyone proper understands the plan, right?" said Krashhart in a conspiratorial tone. He sounded serious but there was a glint in his eye; he was enjoying this.

He could make out the gathered crew nodding in the darkness, the dim moonlight of Gnorl Half-Eaten that filtered through the leafy branches above was only just enough to silhouette them.

He went over the plan one more time, just in case...

Half an hour later Krashhart, Sinka and Flea approached the ruin. 

"See? Only Cargo and a couple of the little grubbers what runs about them all the while." said Krashhart in a hoarse whisper. "We'll shank them all if we have too, but make sure and set the place ablaze first!"

The first light of dawn broke through the clouds above the distant mountain range.

"Flea, cut along that way. Sinka, you head off to starboard. Light them up!" he ordered with a toothy grin.

But Cargo had seen them coming and he sent the Gnoblars scampering to get in the pirates' way.

The ogor Maneater sprang into action and thundered toward Sinka, just as the orruk pirate first sparked flint against steel. The fuse fizzed away into the barrels, unnoticed by Cargo.

Mr Flea busted open one of the barrels and set a long fuse burning to the black powder within. He chuckled to himself darkly. Then he spotted a Gnoblar lurking. 

"Where did that little git spring-up from? He will need sorting out." he said to himself. "The blighter probably saw me light the taper. He'll dowse it if I leave him be."

Cargo rounded on Sinka and gave him such a smack and the rest of the crew could hear the clang of the rusty anchor against the orruk's armour from half a mile away.

Krashhart squashed Watcha, after the troublesome Gnoblar stamped out the fire he had started in a stack of books and papers.

Flotsum and Battendown arrived but Drakmeff was not with them as planned. He would have to explain himself later. Battendown made a mental note to remind him of his job!

Cargo headed back to the ruined fane, an ancient stone circle covered in new-carved runes.

Mr Flea chased the Gnoblar and flattened him. The fuse burned down and exploded the black powder stores in a bright flash of light. The boom echoed through the trees: Both the Ironforged and the Swordfyshes heard it and came running toward the noise.

Cargo caught Krashhart with a nasty up-swing. The Warchanter reeled backward.

Mr Flea jumped into the fane as Battendown and Flotsum arrived at the smoking patch of burned undergrowth.

A Crusher called Hrothgur chased after Battendown and Flotsum, but Drakmeff was on his tail, eager to tell the other Swordfyshes where he'd been.

Krashhart leapt out of the stone circle as Flea entered.

Hook, Barnacle Nog and Mainstay arrived and Skargat was quick to intercept them. A fight erupted and both sides landed heavy blows. But Hook caught an axe in the gut and went down.

A Gnoblar left his post guarding a stack of powder barrels and ran to "help" Cargo.

Drakmeff crept up on Hrothgur.

Battendown and Flotsum surprised Cargo and together took the big lunk, and his helper, down. 

After Mainstay fell to a single blow, Barnacle Nog realised that Skargat was going to slaughter all of them single-handedly, so he legged it. On his fight he passed the unguarded powder keg. So he tossed a lighted taper in and a few moments later the barrels exploded spectacularly.

Hrothgur the Crusher got to the stone circle just as the Swordfyshes decided it was time they left and scattered.

Two Gnoblars arrived, exceedingly late.

~ ⦽ ~

On their way back to camp, helping their injured crewmates hobble along, the crew's mood was buoyant: The Swordfyshes had scored a victory.

As they walked they discussed the day's adventures: Blowing up half the Ironforged's stores was obviously the highlight, on that they could all agree. 

But Flotsum told a story of besting a carnosaur in single combat, and ripping a tooth from its maw - a tooth which he gladly showed off to anyone who would look - this tale was met with a little scepticism, but no one actually contradicted him. And Drakmeff then regaled them with his account of exploring an underground fastness with bass-relief carving covering the walls, depicting heroes of antiquity battling a massive vulpine serpent monster. He recounted details that no one could exactly say were wrong, but there might have been a little too many of them to be entirely "on the up-an-up". He probably just fell down a hole in the ground.

But the crew stayed in good spirits. 

They would tell a tale to the anchor watch, back at Brackenthorn Tower, a tale of a daring raid deep into enemy held regions. A mighty battle when they were discovered up to their mischief, and the huge detonations of the stores of black powder and sundry food stuffs. Some of the details might even have been true and accurate!

~ ⦽ ~

Deployment: Outflank
Victory: The Raid
Twist: Late Arrivals

This was a fantastic game - the story almost wrote itself! Viktor suggested (as we played) that Controlling an objective meant lighting a long fuse, but if one of his models was nearby they would extinguish it!

I won the priority roll and chose to be the Attacker again (as it gives me +2 Progress on my Quest!) Viktor placed the 6 objectives in a way that made it harder for me to keep him off them - since he only needed a single fighter within 3" of each one I controlled to stop me burning them he wanted to be able to keep his options open.

I used movement abilities as much as I could to keep my warband in unexpected places. At the end of the first Round I could not burn any of the stores, even though I controlled two of them - there were Gnoblars nearby to snuff out the fires.

Once my reinforcements started to arrive (only one of my fighters was late) I was able to swarm about and make his life very tricky. I took down the Gnoblars and burned one objective each, at the end of the second and third Rounds. 

He made a tiny mistake in the fourth round and left one unguarded. I used a Disengage to shift Barnacle Nog (a fighter who would have died to the Tyrant's rain of blows, but for bad dice) out of the way of Skargat and then a Double for a Rush, to give him just enough movement to get to the unguarded stores and torch them!

My first victory in a long time: In fact my first win of 2nd edition Warcry!

Viktor's version of this adventure is here.

Dramatis Personae

The Swordfyshes
  • Lord Krashhart - Ironjawz Warchanter Explorer
    Agile Warrior, 1 Renown
  • Kaptain Battendown - Ardboy with a cloak and a squig-parrot
    2 Renown
  • Sinka - Brute with red bandana
    1 Renown
  • Hook - Brute with a hook hand
    1 Renown
  • Flotsum - Brute with blue bandana
  • Mr Flea - Ardboy Drummer
  • Drakmeff - Ardboy with a barrel on his back
  • Barnacle Nog - Ardboy with a bag of bones
    1 Renown
  • Mainstay - Ardboy with red shoulder-plate and bandana
Quest Progress: 12/15

The burned supplies:

Tuesday, 27 September 2022

Dark Skies Over The Harrowmark - part 15, the Wyldwoods

Three more Awakened Wyldwood Trees finished!

They were mostly painted with Contrast but a rough recipe is:
  • Halfords Matt Grey spray primer all over.
  • Brush-on Wraithbone Base onto all the leaves, mushrooms, skulls and bones.
  • Painted all the leafy areas with a cocktail of Nazdreg Yellow, Snakebite Leather, Matt Medium and a little water.
  • Painted all the bark (trunks, branches and fallen bits) with Goregrunter Brown Contrast.
  • Painted all the skulls and bones with Skeletal Horde Contrast.
  • Painted the metal brackets on the wooden joist with Leadbelcher Base.
  • Washed the rocks and wooden joist with Nuln Oil Shade.
  • Painted all the earthy areas with Steel Legion Drab Base.
  • Dry-brushed everything with Ushabti Bone, especially the skulls, bones, rocks and earth texture.
Then it was just supergluing the grass flock and leaf litter in random-ish patches and a quick spray of Munitorum Varnish all over, with a second coat (once the first was completely dry) on the parts that will get handled most during play.

They are for the Harrowmark in Shyish, really but they will see "action" on the tabletop first as part of the Prowling Forest in Ghur, in the Warcry campaign that we recently started.

Thursday, 22 September 2022

Further Adventures in The Scarlands - part 7, the Ambush

The Swordfysh turned on its mooring slightly as the breeze shifted direction by a few points. The anchor watch stopped what they were doing and checked the ropes. They followed the moorings as they went down through the trapdoor on the top floor and made sure they were still securely tied around the wooden beams of Brackenthorn Tower's roof supports beneath. When they were satisfied there was no slippage and the ropes weren't rubbing badly they went back to drinking and dice games on deck.

After having spent a few days setting up camp (they had tied a sail as an awning, packed supplies away safely and made sure the hill the tower stood upon was easily defendable), the Swordfyshes set out on a foray from Brackenthorn Tower. They had left a few members of the crew to guard their gear and supplies, and to keep watch over the skyship.

As the expedition hacked their way through grasping vines and entangling roots, Krashhart was uncharacteristically withdrawn and quiet. The pounding beat of Gorkamorka was loud in his ears and thumping in his chest. This place was absolutely overflowing with wave after wave of roiling magical energies ebbing and flowing across the land. Something was awakening in the forest. Something old and powerful. The spirits of the Scarlands had been disturbed over the last few months; they were riled-up and fighty.

~ ⦽ ~

The Swordfyshes were spread out, searching the forests. They called out to each other to be sure of each-other's location and avoid getting too separated or lost. But this gave away their location to the Ironforged Ogors. Skargat apparently wanted to smash Krashhart again and when he and his big mates arrived Mr Flea started drumming rapidly and Sinka yelled for the crew to rally on them:

"On deck, ya dogs, all hands on deck! Smartly now, the fight is a-brewing!"

Skargat barreled forward in a fearsome onslaught - he surprised Krashhart with the ferocity and suddenness of the attack and the Warchanter didn't even have time to grab a weapon, let alone parry the blows.

Flotsum, Barnacle Nog and Drakmeff heard the shouting and ran to help.

A Gnoblar charged at Krashhart, still stunned from the ogor's attack, the orruk tried to squash the little git so he could back off from the Tyrant but it took two goes to get the nippy little blighter, and then another Gnoblar took his place!

Mr Flea smacked the second Gnoblar out cold with his heavy drumstick without missing a beat of his drumming!

Jade rains started falling and Krashhart felt his wounds closing in the healing waters. But Skargat swung his grand-axe again, just over the head of a terrified Gnoblar, and caught Krashhart with a mighty blow. The Warchanter was thrown onto his back and the battle ended as suddenly as it had begun!

~ ⦽ ~

As they carried the unconscious Krashhart back to the tower camp, Hook and Barnacle Nog boasted of their successes while scouting the forests around the encampment before the ogors had interrupted.

Nog hadn't found any treasures as such, but he had fought a massive Pale-Wailer and he'd brought its carcass with them on the trek back to camp for the crew to eat.

Hook showed off a fragment of stone slab carved with the image of a hulking, but somewhat saintly-looking warrior, wielding a massive glowing weapon - he claimed it was the first clue to the location of the Gristle Grinder. No one argued with the claim but as none of the crew really knew what the Gristle Grinder actually was they didn't want to pipe-up and let on their ignorance.

~ ⦽ ~

Deployment: Decimation
Victory: Cut Off The Head
Twist: Rainstorm of Ghyran

Dramatis Personae

The Swordfyshes
  • Lord Krashhart - Ironjawz Warchanter Explorer
    Agile Warrior, 1 Renown
  • Kaptain Battendown - Ardboy with a cloak and a squig-parrot
    1 Renown
  • Sinka - Brute with red bandana
    1 Renown
  • Hook - Brute with a hook hand
    1 Renown
  • Flotsum - Brute with blue bandana
  • Mr Flea - Ardboy Drummer
  • Drakmeff - Ardboy with a barrel on his back
  • Barnacle Nog - Ardboy with a bag of bones
    1 Renown
  • Mainstay - Ardboy with red shoulder-plate and bandana
Quest Progress: 4/15

Our first game of the Narrative campaign-proper (after 5 Open Play warm-up games) was very short and very brutal. Our leaders were deployed within 6" of each other and the Victory card for the game made killing the enemy leader the only thing needed for an instant win. Viktor won the Initiative in both the first and second round. He pinned my leader and badly wounded him in the first round and took him out in the first dice roll of the second round!

Krashhart survived the injury roll in the after-game sequence with just a flesh wound (no further effects), and the two fighters I sent forth both did okay - Hook got me an extra 2 points of progress on my Quest for the Gristle Grinder. Barnacle Nog explored the forests around their encampment and while he didn't find any treasures he fought a Ghurran beast and gained a point of Renown.

Viktor's side of the story is here.

Tuesday, 20 September 2022

Further Adventures in The Scarlands - part 6, The Prowling Forest

The Bleeding Wilds

In a time beyond memory - maybe even before the Age of Myth, the great dragon Maudra Rua was divided and imprisoned, Split between Ghur and Chamon, by a mismatched band of champions known only as The Six. Her soul was trapped in an ancient mountain range in The Badlands of Lahar, Ghur. Her physical body was encased in a substance that became known as Dragonmetal, and buried under a new mountain range in Silverside, Chamon. The new mountain range echoed the shape of the one in Lahar almost exactly and created a bond between two Realms.

Maudra Rua’s imprisonment was supposed to last all of eternity, and it might have done, if something catastrophic had not happened. As it is, she was freed after only a few thousand years.

Not that long ago the Ur-River was dammed by the actions of a powerful ritual down-stream, in another Realm. The Ur-River burst its banks and flooded Silverside where Maudra Rua’s body was imprisoned. The magical interactions between the river and the dragon, two powerful sources of energy, caused a phenomenon called The Bleed.

The Bleed flowed like a tidal wave over the areas and linked the Badlands of Lahar and Silverside in a violent and unpredictable way. For a while it was possible to walk from one Realm to the other, through a flowing wall of magic. Many were caught unaware as the tide of the Bleed washed over them and transported them to the other side without warning. Lahar and Silverside were called, collectively, the Bleeding Wilds.

While the tides of the Bleed ebbed and flowed, the Realms started to change each other. Chamon poisoned Ghur: Ghur made Chamon wilder and more predatory. The Realms went to war against one-another in a battle for survival.

For a time there was a mad scramble to explore this strange and shifting environment. A number of coalitions struggled for dominance. Each coalition was made up of a wide range of warriors, explorers, hunters and fanatics and each coalition was trying to control the Bleeding Wilds and the fate of Maudra Rua for their own ends.

But the Bleed eventually dried out and most of Silverside was lost forever. When the tide of the Bleed receded only a few areas of Silverside remained, and those that did were wholly transferred into the Badlands of Lahar.

At the height of the Realmwar the Mindstealer Sphiranx Nashwar and her followers performed a ritual of transference. They placed Nashwar’s mind and soul within Maudra Rua, as the great dragon broke free of her prison she shattered the mountain range in Lahar, split the land asunder and left a vast chasm where the mountains had been…

Nashwar Rua - a three-eyed dragon godbeast - was created, and in triumph she soared up through the Realmsphere and out into the Aetheric Void beyond.

The Scarlands

In the aftermath of the Bleeding Wilds the Badlands of Lahar became known as the Scarlands. At the same time a New Six formed, to try to recapture or kill the dragon and prevent her from unleashing her terrible power upon all the Mortal Realms. Their first act created a network of new geoglyphs and ley lines across the Scarlands that tapped into the power of Ghur and focused it to their own purpose. Each of the New Six were given demi-god-like powers with which to pursue and battle Nashwar Rua.

The Prowling Forest

In the east of the Scarlands there is a vast predatory and primordial jungle; wild and overgrown and teeming with huge reptilian monsters.

The forest itself ensnares passing wildlife (and explorers!) that linger beneath its leafy bowers. Fast-growing vines tangle the limbs of its victims and drag them to openings to be consumed in the wells of digestive fluids within the tree trunks. There is a convergence of geomantic ley lines in the Bleakwood Grove, on the southern edge of the Prowling Forest. The foreboding woodland is filled with all manner of strange and magical wildlife: animal and plants. At its heart is a crumbling stone ziggurat that is almost entirely lost to the trees and vines.

The Ruins of Qul'takteq

The remains of a city from the Age of Myth still persisted within the Prowling Forest. Most of the buildings had fallen, crumbled, overgrown; reclaimed by the earth and the trees over the centuries. Scattered shells of stone-built walls were all that stood, fragments of larger structures, obscured by the tangled trees and undergrowth. But there was still a chance that hidden within and beneath the ruins there were treasures beyond imagination: Relics from the time of The Six. Relics that have been dormant for centuries, but have been awakened by the apocalyptic events of the emergence of Nashwar Rua and the creation of the New Six.

~ ⦽ ~

So, our next Warcry campaign starts in earnest this week - although we have been playing Open Play warm-up games in this setting for the last few weeks, so the place and our warbands will be familiar:

What has gone before:

~ ⦽ ~

We have drawn up 1000 point Narrative Play rosters, picked the first Quests for our warbands and Heroic Traits for our leaders.

Krashhart's Heroic Trait is Agile Warrior (+1 Move) and my first Quest is Treasures of Gorkamorka - and the Swordfyshes will be searching for the Gristle Grinder (+3 Damage to hits and Crits!).

Viktor has chosen Resourceful (+1 Wild Dice in the first round of each battle) a Skargat's Heroic Trait and the Ironforged have Secure a Powerful Ally (Add one Ally, Thrall or Hero to the roster) for their first quest.

We will be playing the updated campaign system (almost!) straight out of the book, with just a slight change of location for our story. We will still be in Ghur but instead of the Gnarlwood in Thondia our games will continue our post-Animosity IV narrative in the Prowling Forest, in the eastern Scarlands.

Friday, 16 September 2022

Further Adventures in The Scarlands - part 5, Brackenthorn Tower

The noises of living creatures filled the shade beneath the trees. Narrow beams of sunlight slanted diagonally through the leafy canopy. Krashhart and Battendown stood at the tree-line and looked into the gloom between the trees.

"I've heard stories about this place." said Battendown.

"I know lad, me and all." said Krashhart, with a grin. "There's going to be a boatload of fighting in there over the next few weeks. You mark my words."

The other Swordfyshes heard this and chuckled among themselves. They started telling each other of the things they were going to find in there, the fights they were going to win. In the telling, each boast became more extreme than the last...

Dramatis Personae

The Swordfyshes
  • Lord Krashhart - Ironjawz Warchanter Explorer
  • Kaptain Battendown - Ironjawz Ardboy with a cloak and a squig-parrot
  • Sinka - Ironjawz Brute with red bandana
  • Hook - Ironjawz Brute with a hook hand
  • Flotsum - Ironjawz Brute with blue bandana
  • Mr Flea - Ironjawz Ardboy Drummer
  • Drakmeff - Ironjawz Ardboy with a barrel on his back
  • Barnacle Nog - Ironjawz Ardboy with a bag of bones
  • Mainstay - Ironjawz Ardboy with red shoulder-plate and bandana

~ ⦽ ~

Brackenthorn Tower. A moss-covered stone tower on the edge of the forest, overrun with small spined beasts. Horrible hungry things with more teeth and claws and spikes than anything really had a right to have. Someone said they were called Bearakeets, and for once, no one thought to argue with them.

When two bands of explorers appeared, on either side of the rocky hill the tower stood on, the bearakeets growled territorially at both groups..

Drakmeff, Barnacle Nog and Hook all got bitten by the vile beasts, when they came too near two piles of potential loot. The boxes were all empty though, save for the horrible biting creatures.

A Gnoblar from the Ironforged Ogors opened a third chest also only found an angry bearakeet.

But Cargo the Maneater surged up the hill and found a chest full of loot: glowing green stones. The last of the bearakeets fled from the tower, startled by the massive Manester's booming laughter.

So far, the Ironforged were getting the better of the Swordfyshes again!

Then the main force of both crews arrived - Mainstay, Battendown and Sinka from the south-west.

Krashhart, Flotsum and Mr Flee from the north.

Another Ogor Maneater from the north-east.

And Scargat the Tyrant from the south.

Mainstay cautiously opened a chest, he was relieved to find it full of loot! He wisely kept himself well clear of the fighting from then on.

Krashhart distracted Cargo with a "Look at that!" trick, that really should not have worked, and grabbed the glowing green rocks from under his nose!

After pushing a squealing Gnoblar to the ground, Mr Flea leapt up the rocks to try and make sure Cargo couldn't follow Krashhart.

But Cargo punched him out cold without even breaking a sweat, with a single meaty fist.

Drakmeff leapt into Flea's place, as the other maneater arrived and smashed into Krashhart.

Battendown and Sinka weighed-up their options. Two Gnoblars hurled insults at them - but it was clear the little gits were setting up traps. The orruks didn't take the bait.

Skargat scaled the tower and grabbed the loot out of the last chest: a bunch of scrolls tied to a skull. He wasn't going to muck about with carrying stuff though - that was Gnoblar work. To the Swordfyshes' shock and disbelief he just lobbed the scrolls behind him, over the wall!

Cargo dropped down behind Krashhart and smacked the Warchanter on the head. He went down like a sack of potatoes.

The rest of the Swordfyshes were furious and piled-onto Cargo. The hacked and stabbed and punched and headbutted. The flamboyant ogor fell eventually. But their focused rage allowed the other Manester to escape. Skargat jumped down from the tower, he landed with a bone-crunching crash but the only thing that broke were the paving slabs beneath his feet.

Skargat wasn't as careless as it looked from the pirate's point of view though: There was a Gnoblar waiting at the foot of the tower on the far side. The little tyke grabbed the scrolls and scarpered

Then the Maneater dropped the green rocks behind him too - another Gnoblar nabbed them and legged it!

Kaptain Battendown could see which way the wind was blowing. The Gnoblars were too fast, and too far away, for the pirates to be able to do anything about them. So he let the ogors have the two treasures in their clutches. The Swordfyshes had to console themselves that they got a pile of coins at least. He called back the others who were about to give chase and told them to pick up the unconscious Krashhart.

Maybe this tower would make a good camp site, ahead of Krashhart's planned expedition into the Prowling Forest?

~ ⦽ ~

Deployment: Fog of War (1st Edition Battleplan cards)
Victory: Savage Treasure (WD473, Thondia rules)
Twist: Planned to Perfection: Tribal Spirits (WD473, Thondia rules)

This was probably our last Open Play game before we start the new Narrative Play campaign properly. Viktor and I both have the new rulebook and Battleplan cards now, so we will each be picking our first Quests for our warbands and Heroic Traits for our leaders.

The updated campaign system looks really good, so we will be playing it (almost!) straight out of the book, with just a slight change of location for our story. Instead of the Gnarlwood in Thondia our games will continue our post-Animosity IV narrative in the Prowling Forest, in the eastern Scarlands.