Wednesday, December 16, 2009
The Blighted Lands
The vile necromancer Nekrotut has been kidnapping fresh bodies in the lands of Count Sevrain far too long. The good count and his loyal troops march to the necromancer’s lair in the blighted lands to destroy the sorcerer of undead and all his minions...
Last week we played another game of Clans and Companies with its author, Bob of Might of Arms. The last time we played Clans, it was the massive Viking raid with just a 'touch of saga', in other words we had a Hill Giant and a couple of seven foot Viking chiefs. This time around we used the same rules, but went full-on, frontal fantasy; I was the forces of the Undead (with some secret allies), and Bob headed up the stalwart humans.
The game was a blast, and with the second go of playing the rules, I'm really digging them, especially after seeing how adaptable they are. I lavished (with a lot of Bob's help!) plenty of narrative with the Viking raid, and this time around is no different. I feel this is one of my more entertaining battle reports to come along in a while, both with the narrative and the photographs themselves, so sit back and enjoy!
Count Sevrain has consulted with none other than Lady Talon of the Elven delegation. She has advised the count that the previous year’s terror in his land has all the markings of a powerful necromancer named Nekrotut. He has operated in this region before, in ages past, and only with great difficulty was he driven out. Lady Talon, a powerful mage in her own right, has consented to accompany the count on his mission to destroy the necromancer.
The count’s men and women have split up to search the valleys in the blighted land, looking for signs of the necromancer’s lair. The [game] begins with three bands of the count’s retainers in the midst of blighted trees facing a large barrow. They are puzzled by what looks like despicable activity, but no one besides the count’s men seems to be present.
The barrow located in the dead wood is long forgotten. This land was once a lush, green forest teeming with life, just scant years ago. The barrow lays within sight of a an older shrine venerating the warrior saint Marcus Gideon himself. Atop the barrow stands a ring of power, carved of black basalt and built by the hands of druids from long ago. The tranquil serenity the area has been known for in previous ages is all but gone.
Lich Rhomus has infested the lost barrow for nearly six decades, and until now has kept his machinations hidden from prying eyes. Rhomus is powerful in his own right, and always at the ready to conduct his master Neckrotut's bidding.
Three groups of skeletons approached through the blighted trees, the large barrow at their backs. They are apparently driven forth by wretched humans in the midst of each band. The central group is equipped with bows, ready to let loose their deadly volley of arrows.
Damien the Blackheart is the youngest of Neckrotut's necromancer acolytes, he makes up for his lack of experience with pure spite and malice. He carries the skull of his former mentor and uses it as his arcane focus. He is tasked with leading a unit of skeletal archers and keeping them animated with his necromantic energies.
Lady Hexus is human, but her pallid skin and cold gaze speak otherwise. She has given up her very soul in pursuit of the dark arts. It is said she prefers to keep the company of the dead opposed to those of the living. Her unit of skeletal warriors speaks to this, and is unique in that they do not originate from the barrow, or from hapless villagers abducted from the kingdom, but are the remnants of her past lovers.
The wily old necromancer, Edgar, was once a promising student at the University of Majics located in the scholarly city of Dornshire. He found a hidden nook filled with all manner of profane and dark tomes within the catacombs of the library while a student. At first he thought he could harness this dark magic and bend it to his will, but as the years wore on, his will could no longer hold out against the call to darkness.
On the longbowmen’s left stood the Count Sevrain’s stalwart halberdiers. They would advance on the flank and exchange blows with Edgar's skeletons.
Count Sevrain visited the venerable Shrine of Marcus at dawn, payinh homage to the patron saint of warfare. Accompanying Count Sevrain is a young apprentice wizard from Pigsmole, the academy of arcane arts for gifted youngsters in the capital city of Dunderholme. This promising young mage is destined for greatness and bears a peculiar scar on his brow. His dreams are haunted however by the image of Neckrotut.
Rising sun at their backs, the count's archers prepare to volley at daybreak.
The count's own household Men-at-Arms, heavily armed.
Damien the Blackheart forms his troops into a long line and with dark energy, commands the archers to return fire on the count's longbowmen. The skeletons' bows are strengthened and given increased range by a timely cast Far Flight spell from lich Rhomus on the nearby barrow. In the distance, on the far right flank, Edgar the Elder sends his skeletal troops into the Duke's halberdiers with wild abandon.
Lady Hexus sends forth her minions to clash with the Men-at-Arms. The count’s spearmen fared well, beating their assailants back. To their dismay, a baying could be heard as howls and barks filled the air over the din of battle. The spearmen pulled back to coordinate their stand with the arrival of the rest of the count’s men.
Cresting the large barrow came the warg pack. Diminuitive, green-skinned goblins armed with short cavalry bows came charging forth, spurring their wolflike mounts on faster and faster. The motivations of goblin-kind is wholly unknown to the other sentient races of the realm. They are completely alien in scope and understanding, but somehow a pact was fashioned between their tribe and Nekrotut's undead. The goblin's speed and tenacity complements that of the slower undead host all too well.
The shieldless halberdiers could not block the blows of Edgar's skeletons, and were forced to fall back demoralized. For the skeletons know no skill but simply power their weapons with mighty blows to their front urged on by animating necromantic energy. The halberdiers did weaken their foe with their murderous weapons, but suffered mightily for their efforts, whereas the skeletons, mindless automatons that they are, just kept coming, unmindful (literally) of the pile of bones left in their trail. The halberdiers had suffered so many fallen, that they lost all heart and continued to retreat to a place besides the shrine of Gideon, some ways from the barrow, where they felt relatively safe.
Edgar, imbued with ample necromantic energy, plowed his unit of skeletal warriors through the count's halberdiers. As they made short work of the humans, scattering them, Edgar whipped them into a frenzy pushing them forth.
Chief Greatswill's warg pack rushes forth, jaws slavering.
Count Sevrain wasn't without his own support as heavy cavalry burst from the rear of the ruined woods, riding hard for the oncoming warg pack. Entangling spells of Phagus Brush were cast on the oncoming warg, stymieing their progress.
The halberdiers, routing back to the shrine from their failed melee with the skeletons, found themselves assaulted by a massive treant! Until this point there had been no sighting of the undead having any such creature. The count prepared to charge the beast, then reeled back, recognizing the trick for what it was. Lich Rhomus had cast the illusion spell Phantasm on one of the mangled, dead trees, making it appear to come to life in the form of a hulking treant. Rhomus fooled the halberdiers, but not Count Sevrain.
Just how were the undead able to ally themselves with Chief Greatswill's tribe? A smaller figure emerged from behind the circle of power and came to stand next to Lich Rhomus. Shroud the Interred was as much a snake now in unlife than he ever was living. His twisted words and honeyed tongue can convince anyone to do his bidding, much of his success bolstered now by arcane means. Who knows what promises he made the goblins? Who knows what might happen if he doesn't keep them?
Greatswill's unit of goblin spearmen.
The long-lived Wood Elf and advisor to the count, Lady Talon.
Goblin archers screen what's left of Lady Hexus' unit.
The enigmatic boy wizard holds off the goblin spearmen with his wand.
The warg pack tore into the heavy cavalry and had initial success. But the heavy cavalry wasn't so easily dispatched. After the initial charge, they regrouped and charged full tilt into the warg, lances cutting a bloody swath through their mangy ranks. The warg pack would have seen more success, but time and time again their charge was plagued by the Phagus Brush spell. Had it not been for this spell hampering them, the thunderous duel with the heavy cavalry might have ended much sooner.
The Phagus Brush spell entangles the unit of goblin archers.
Near dusk, the architect of the undead stepped forth from the barrow. Necromancer, arch-lich, tactician, and more, Nekrotut is evil incarnate. He is said to have harangued even the Elves during their infancy before man or dwarf walked the lands.
As darkness fell, the hostile warriors stood apart some goodly space. It seemed to be a stalemate, but many good men of the count had fallen in battle. It was perilous to remain in these parts with the evil brewed by the night, so the count withdrew with his survivors. The necromancer’s force of evil was too strong and the count was ill-prepared. Another day will come, and soon, vowed Count Sevrain.