Tuesday 3 December 2013

Fayana and the Dance of Death.

I'm often accused of many things (selective hearing, flippancy and hiding in the shed whenever there is DIY to be done to name but a few) but these foul slanders are obviously from people too feeble-minded and feckless to recognise a great mind at work. Perhaps a fairer criticism would be that I tend to get my version of events in first. First and hard. This time however, I have been stoically holding back to allow somebody else the chance to tell their story through the medium of game, after all, preaching about the wonders of narrative gaming won't do me any good if I keep it all to myself!

So without further ado, I would like to usher you along to my good friend and gaming partner Robotforaday's (AKA Lenihan) blog so that you can read the tale of Nobridge and it's brave defenders. No doubt you will marvel incredulously as the tale unfolds!

Click here to travel through spacetime to 'Where the Sea Pours Out'.

Wednesday 13 November 2013

Mum-Ho-Thep's Revenge: AKA The Wrath of Khorne. Part Two.

Missed Part One?

As we left the action, Mum-Ho-Thep's innumerable horde was grinding down the Chaos invaders and depriving them of momentum. Ulther Deathfist has concentrated his best troops on the right however and if he can smash through the Lichemaster's force and achieve his secret mission to retrieve the 'Hatemaker', his victory will be assured.

Read on...

The Chaos chariot destroys it's Undead counterpart but is left badly damaged as a result. The Deathfist's tactic of meeting fire with fire and going like for like may work against mere mortals but it could prove his undoing here, against the forces of Undeath.

The second regiment of Dark Elf crossbows is overwhelmed by Kraust's Death Riders. Though they have caused extensive casualties to the Undead the Elven defence on the river bank is shattered and the position becomes untenable. The heavy cavalry has no choice but to ride out and meet it's fate. It does so magnificently and without hesitation!

The Chaos Warriors under Norse stand, fight and die without complaint. They are holding the line with a legendary display of warrior prowess, but their flank is weak due to the undisciplined Thugs struggling to form up effectively in the dense underbrush.

The Deathfist sends in his Undead auxiliaries to weaken the enemy, out of contempt he declines the chance to outflank his foe preferring instead to meet them head on. The Chaos Warlord roars his hatred at the Lichemaster's army from the crest of the hill but they care not.

As the Dark Elf position collapses, the heavy cavalry ride out over a carpet of scorpions while the mages try to desperately turn back the tide of Undead with their spells. One raises a zone of life which is particularly effective, sundering Kraust's second wave, can the Slaaneshites snatch victory from the very jaws of defeat?

Mum-Ho-Thep surveys the battlefield and is pleased though he is unaware of how close the forces of Chaos are to their objective, the Hatemaker weapon. His catapults and archers rain death on the foe though some skeletons crumble as the Ziggurat edges into the zone of life spell maintained by the Elven mage.

Just as hope flares in the breasts of the Chaos troops due to the efforts of the Dark Elves, the Chaos Warriors under Norse begin to crumble as their limits are reached. The terrible sight of what faces them is simply too much for men born of women to bear.

The army of Mum-Ho-Thep's confidence is at a peak, but all the while a small unit of Ulther Deathfist's Chaos Warriors has been stealthily creeping towards the storehouses of Locusti. Having captured an Alderman of the town council and interrogated him, Ulther now knows the exact location of the Hatemaker. If his men can just overcome the skeleton archers and the Monks victory will go to Chaos!

Girding their loins, the Chaos Warriors charge in knowing that victory or defeat hangs in the balance.

The Deathfist loses himself in the glory of slaughter, heedless of his numberless foes he is at the forefront of battle and laughs with joy.

Though they sell their lives dearly, the army of Ulther gradually shrinks into an ever smaller line and a dangerous gap begins to open up.

The Chaos infiltration unit easily slaughter the skeleton archers, though their foe simply will not break. Instability begins to overwhelm the Undead however as the magic knitting them together starts to unravel.

The fanatical guards are still defending the War Altar successfully but are dying one by one, the magic binding the Carrion remains strong. 

The Zombie Dragon and the living monsters pursue the routing Chaos Warriors, a great gap has opened up in the Chaos line but the Fimir are guarding against a Dark Elf victory over the scorpion swarm and are thus preventing Mum-Ho-Thep's centre from exploiting the weakness.

Kraust's Ethereals and Death Riders are defiantly trying to kill one Dark Elf mage while avoiding the life-zone spell of the other but the magic keeping them bound to this plane is weakening fast.

Spared the attentions of the Undead by the magical sanctuary the Dark Elf heavy cavalry are systematically destroying the carpet of scorpions and start looking to the next fight against the Fimir's worm-things already.

The arrogance of the Dark Elves is to prove their undoing however! They are identified as a serious threat and subjected to a barrage of missiles, magic and assaults. They are crushed under the attentions of all the Undead horde can throw at them, a handful of exhausted scorpions remain but decide to burrow under the ground rather than fight on.

The Fimir have worked themselves up into a frenzy but now there is virtually no enemy left for them to face! Still, their loyalty will be richly rewarded.

The river bank, clear of Elves at last. As the last falls he utters a sigh of bittersweet regret.

In the centre, the collapse of Norse's position seems inevitable. A strange lethargy overtakes the Zombie Dragon and the pursuit falters, perhaps because Mum-Ho-Thep wishes to recruit some of his former enemies as subjects?

Finally, the skeleton archers are destroyed, the Chaos infiltrators can move on the the storeroom defended by the Monks of Maisontaal. The defenders remain unaware of the importance of the coming struggle! Please note the position of the Undead Giant Cyclops approaching the town's storeroom walls....

Ulther's men have been streaming away from battle in one's and two's as their units are defeated by the fearsome Undead. Even the Deathfist himself gets swept up in the panic at one stage, a black day indeed. They rally though, for one last stand on the hill. Can they buy enough time to allow the infiltrators to be successful?

The Cyclops elects to clamber up the storeroom walls and assault the Chaos infiltration team, this could spell disaster for the Deathfist. The worthy and honourable GM declares that the Giant has retained a racial memory of falling over and must roll a 2+ to safely reach his target. Almost inevitably, a 1 appears on the dice and the giant tumbles back from the climb to be destroyed on the ground below. The above picture has been dramatised for effect.

The infiltrators smash into the Monks but cannot oust them from their defended position and are hurled back, they must try again.

Turning aside from it's fruitless job of smashing the Lichemaster's army, Ulther's Chaos Dwarf mortar hammers the War-Tortoise and kills most of it's Goblin crew. The beast runs amok and attacks it's own Marsh Goblin allies in the flank!

Once more into the breach, this time many Monks are slain for the loss of only one Warrior and the result is a draw. So close now! The Chaos troops can feel the swelling anger of the Hatemaker as it's awareness expands due to it's seemingly imminent retrieval.

The surviving troops under Norse are surrounded and cut off, whatever the outcome this day they have fought their last battle for Khorne.

It is as if Khorne withdraws his support for his failing troops, the last of the cultists fall and the Carrion take a giant poo in the blood cauldron of the War Altar. A moan of despair runs through the Khornate ranks and some turn their backs to the enemy as they flee.

The tragedy unfolds further as the Lichemaster and his servants run down the Deathfist himself, he is ignominiously trampled beneath the feet of the Undead infantry as they march on.

After a last, desperate attempt to overcome the Monks, the exhausted infiltrators are themselves beaten and die to a man in the service of their Lord. It is almost as if Khorne's own dejected hand descends from above and sweeps them from the field of battle in disgust.

Mum-Ho-Thep is well pleased with his loyal servants and lets out a victorious roar that echoes in the Realm of Chaos itself!

And lo! The invaders are hurled back from whence they came. The Empire of Mum-Ho-Thep remains strong and ready to meet any challenger...

In truth, a military victory was never really on the cards for Chaos, though they fought tenaciously and bravely. Their mission was their best hope but they did not find out the location of the Hatemaker until turn two was almost done and found it hard to redeploy. I was trying for a fine balance but ultimately the story that unfolded became a crushing defeat for Khorne, although everyone had lot's of fun I will definitely put some lessons to good use next time I run a big game. I have to remember that after 20 years there are few people who can crunch numbers, weigh up opponents and execute sound tactical manouevres in third edition. This led to one or two blunders on both sides that cost the numerically superior Undead nothing and the smaller, elite Chaos army everything. I think I will write a few 'Tactica' style posts soon to encourage discussion of (previously held in contempt) tactics that can help others (and myself) with running larger games of unequal points.

Mum-Ho-Thep had returned to his sarcophagus and left the rewarding of his loyal subjects to his Grand Vizier. The Fimir were gifted scrolls of Daemon-summoning spells and some knowledge from the future about a bridge being built on their ancestral lands leading to hardship for the tribe. Baron Kraust had his expulsion from the Cabal of Necromancers rescinded and his acolytes were given books of deathly lore. The Lichemaster was rewarded with slaves to drain, in order to satiate his thirst for ever-lasting life. The other Necromancers were allowed to drink of Mum-Ho-Thep's scrying pool and receive visions of their destiny. The little town of Locusti was made exempt from this cycle's tithe which was the cause of much celebration amongst the inhabitants.

In all the chaos, nobody noticed the twisted form detach from the shadows and enter the ruined storeroom.

The cloaked figure was a recluse, an exile. Banished from Locusti because of the gifts of the Gods he was forced to live apart in a cave on the promontory. Unnoticed, he slipped into the town and stole thorugh to the resting place of the weapon, Hatemaker! He could feel the presence in his mind as he drew close, when he reached out a malformed hand to take the wrapped package an agony exploded in his brain. It pushed him into a corner of his own head and ordered him to be still. The twisted shadow loped off through the night. First Khorne would punish his servant, Ulther, for failing him, then the Hatemaker would be presented to him as Khorne had always intended so that the Deathfist might fulfil his destiny at last!

Thanks for stopping by!

Tuesday 12 November 2013

Mum-Ho-Thep's Revenge: AKA The Wrath of Khorne. Part One.

Blog-Con 2013 was a huge success! It was great to take in the sights and meet some fellow bloggers for the first time, though to be honest most of my time was taken up running my big game! It may go a little against the pathetic aesthetic that I am so fond of but every now and then, it really is good to see a big old table heaving under the burden of regiment after regiment of classic lead. Many thanks go to Orlygg, Thantsants, Harry Norse, Lenihan/Robotforaday Golgfag and Nik, who brought their lovely painted miniatures collections along on the day.

Here then, is the tale of the battle that unfolded...

Read the introductory narratives herehere and here.

The simple town of Locusti, somewhere on the fringes of old Nehekara. The mighty alliance gathered by the Deathfist approaches just as the Floating Ziggurat of Mum-Ho-Thep glides into view with his army strung out on either side. The scene is set for an epic struggle.

Locusti is a hive of panicked activity as the Khorne army arrives, a small group of fanatical cultists pushes their War Altar up to the promontory so that all the enemy may gaze upon it and despair. Such is the potency of this symbol of Chaos, it bestows greatly enhanced courage on all Khorne worshipers that can see it.

The Floating Ziggurat of Doom, the source of Mum-Ho-Thep's power and the repository for many dangerous and arcane artifacts accumulated as tribute over the centuries.

Mum-Ho-Thep deploys his right flank, the legion of Baron Kraust (he has a new Phylactery of the Trick Back thankfully). A flock of carrion flow from a cavern in the side of the Ziggurat while Kraust's cavalry canter forward to engage Deathfist's Dark Elf allies.

Mum-Ho-Thep gave his left flank to the Lichemaster, who brought with him a truly terrifying horde of the Undead.

Mum-Ho-Thep's centre. Here he deployed his most faithful living subjects, the Fimir, the Marsh Goblins and their War-Tortoise and the host of Giant Snakes and Scorpions, as well as the awesome power of the Mummy regiment and the Zombie Dragon! Some skeleton infantry support these elite units.

From this angle of the centre you can see the Undead Dinosaurs, the Scorpion swarms, more Death Rider cavalry and more carrion. There are catapults and skeleton archers deployed on both the town walls and the Ziggurat.

Bizarrely, Slaanesh chose to send troops to support the Khornate Ulther Deathfist, probably just to annoy him. The horde of Dark Elves took the Chaos left flank and were later joined by a Giant.

Deathfist ordered a lieutenant to hold the centre and guard the War Altar. Will this huge formation of Chaos Warriors with all their raw combat power be a match for the horde of monstrosities that face them?

The War Altar, dedicated to Khorne with the blood of a thousand warriors. The Promontory overlooks the central pyramid of Locusti.

The host of Ulther Deathfist himself, he has saved the position of honour on the right for his own. He desires a mighty artifact that lies within Locusti's walls, a Daemon Weapon of fabled power. It is said that whomsoever bears the blade is the equal of twenty Chaos Warriors. The weapon, Hatemaker, has been gathered into a store room in Locusti as a future tribute to Mum-Ho-Thep. Neither side know the weapon's location, in fact Mum-Ho-Thep's army doesn't even know of it's existence or it's importance!

Ever one to fight fire with fire, the Deathfist has brought along some Undead auxiliaries of his own.

Battle is joined! Mum-Ho-Thep and his Grand Vizier concern themselves only with strategy, they place tactical command of the battle in the hands of the Baron Kraust. He pauses to consider his orders, sensing his troops overall superiority in weight of numbers he simply cries; "Advance!"

The Slaaneshi Elves take a perverse delight in supporting the Khorne faction, the pain it causes them is a form of pleasure to these degenerate hedonists. In the distance, the Ziggurat is an imposing sight.

The Lichemaster advances towards the town but the Deathfist moves to outflank him and forces him to rethink.

The Giant, Mick, is barely back (from taking a pee while the earlier scrying of the Dark Elves took place) when he has to face the devastating charge of a large company of Death Riders. He has heard the tales of his cousin's demise on the Isle of Albion at the hands of the Undead and has had a fear of tiny skeletons ever since. He turns tail and runs in a most ignominious fashion.

The first wave of Undead batter the defenses of the Dark Elves who find themselves facing the swiftest of the enemy units.

Out on Mum-Ho-Thep's left, the Lichemaster begins to realise the blunder he has made and the threat the Deathfist poses to his force. He redeploys in good time to confront the Khorne Champion.

The Deathfist's lieutenant, known simply as 'Norse', gets his elite troops across the river in good order. they will now form a thin, red line against the storm of monsters and magic that is heading that way.

Mick flees from the field of battle, shrieking like an Elf-maid on her Hen Night. Despite heavy casualties, Mum-Ho-Thep's chariots are able to penetrate the Dark Elf line and rout a unit of crossbows. When the Mummy leading this attack had his chariot destroyed the ancient used the cunning wisdom of his advanced years and occupied a chariot that had lost it's crew to Elven blades. The sight of this dismayed the Slaaneshi commander who had never before seen the like!

Summoned from the mountains, a ravening Manticore drops from the clouds onto the Dark Elven heavy cavalry. Raising a mighty paw the beast swats three of the Cold One riders, almost from the saddle. Lo! The mindless creature had not unsheathed it's claws and was only playing it seems! (Note; triple ones on the to wound rolls captured in shot for posterity.) The favour is not reciprocated and the winged horror suffers a wound in return, shocked and hurt the monster flees.

All the while, the Baron's second wave of ethereals and Death Riders is positioning to overwhelm the beleaguered Dark Elves.

So powerful and numerous is Mum-Ho-Thep's ponderous centre, it's main problem is manouevring into position to do harm.

The Dark Elves have held the river bank for the time being and the Manticore takes flight, leaving the battlefield far behind.

In a bold move, a flock of Carrion swoops down upon the War Altar. They desperately try to desecrate the Khorne icon (presumably by pooping in the bowl of blood) to sow dismay in the mortal ranks but the unholy shrine is defended by fanatical cultists who will defend their Master's war engine to the death.

The Lichemaster has fully redeployed to face the Deathfist, this titanic struggle will surely be the key to victory for the Chaos Lord.

On a whim, the Lichemaster sends a unit of raving mad monks into the town...

Mum-Ho-Thep awakens! He rejoices to see his army pushing forward on all fronts, the Baron Kraust must be rewarded if he succeeds, as surely he must.

The Ziggurat hovers inexorably on, the Temple Array can extend the control of Mum-Ho-Thep over his Undead or attack the enemy more directly.

The Dark Elves are surrounded by the second wave and face an even sterner test than before.

Norse's detachment holds steady, for now.

Creeping ever closer, the Undead horrors and the living monsters can almost feel the pulsing heartbeats of their enemy now. The loyal Fimir secure the flank of this host.

As Ulther Deathfist seizes the high ground the Lichemaster launches an assault against his position. The banner of the Deathfist flies high in the still, Nehekaran air.

Chariots clash in an almost ritual dance as battle is joined on the far side of the town.

The catapults finally have a target as the enemy lies just within range at last, a lone Necromancer weaves his spells of control over Mum-Ho-Thep's troops from the walls of Locusti.

Will the outnumbered Khorne army be able to defeat enough of the enemy to seal a victory? Will Ulther's secret mission bring about success? Can the Carrion overwhelm the Altar guard and desecrate Khorne's engine? Find out in Part Two of Mum-Ho-Thep's Revenge: AKA The Wrath of Khorne!

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