Monday 25 March 2013

The Battle of Plank Street. Part Two.

AKA 'Reports of my blogging demise have been greatly exaggerated'.

I won't kid anyone that first-time fatherhood is simple, I don't want to jinx this peaceful five minutes I appear to have finagled for myself.

Need to refresh yourself on Part One?

Back to the experience. We managed to meet up online once more and finish our game of WHFB3, this time with added Gaj and rules. From a player's perspective, I am very grateful to have been able to take part, so thanks guys. I managed to avoid any of the difficult, behind the scenes GM work I normally do and was able to just play, which was bliss. I must point out a few technical niggles, purely for honesty's sake so please don't think me ungrateful, but I must also say that playing this way, while not as good as the old fashioned way, has a lot to recommend it and is approximately one million times better than not playing at all.

So, Tokbox sucks. I bought a new microphone and so did Thantsants so all four of us could converse, though rarely at the same time as it turned out. Roll20 is still new and there are bound to be teething problems but it was with some venom that I filled out the Tokbox feedback form I found. By far the more fluid experience was the original game in which only the GM was able to talk to everyone while the players typed a mixture of banter, instructions and rules queries. Though we got into a real groove for much of the second game it was a real blow to lose Erny towards the end, as organiser and GM both he left a big hole as we played out the climactic final chapters. I too had trouble being heard for the first twenty minutes or so which started to really frustrate me, fortunately I got a grip of first myself then the technology.

Other than that it is just the minor tweaks I described in part one that need attention by those at Roll20 to open this up to all tabletop gamers.

I will certainly be pestering the gents to get involved in a sequel to the Battle of Plank Street, if only so I can get my claws on that pesky Cnut.

The story so far...

Grishnack cuffed the Orc to his left and thundered the order to open fire, a big phalanx of stunties was marching towards them as fast as their little legs would allow and that one in the front had mighty expensive looking gear. Could it be that dirty Cnut? He looked hopefully at the amulet for the third time, it was definitely out of 'Shazam' though. That treacherous bloody Witch had only cast half a bleeding spell on it. As the amulet's glow had faded and died the effect could be seen all along the battle line. First of all one of the Trolls had broken off from scoffing the little ginger dwarfs and started flicking through a leather book, Gork knows where that had come from, then the general lack of coordination his lads had all to often demonstrated in the past came flooding back. He was going to have to wade in and start hitting things, as usual. His reverie was shattered by a dwarvish battle-cry, "HATRED, HATRED AND CHARGE!". "Zoggin' 'eck", thought Grisnack "'ow did they creep up so quick, and why aren't youse lot shootin'?" Too late the Arrer boys shook off their torpor and raised their bows, only to get hurled back by the assaulting stunties.


Grisnack turned to see who dared taunt him, it WAS that filthy little Cnut after all!  Grishnack drew his mighty blade, Fingsplitta, and swung it with all the strength his corded Orc muscles had to give. He drew first blood on the Dwarf King but took a nasty cut in return. He hewed once more, again bleeding the Dwarf but again suffering a bite from Cnut's axe in return. He now had a vicious axe wound from Cnut that troubled him deeply. As Grishnack's vision began to blur he caught glimpses through the chaos of his forces being triumphant everywhere, everywhere except here that is. The lads had won, that plan he had nicked off Annibal the Cannibal had really worked, and he hadn't even needed them Oliphaunts. So why hadn't they come back like they was supposed to? They was off looting the baggage or the dead, anything other than circling round the back like they was supposed too in fact. Grisnack never even saw the blow that felled him, after though he could just about make out that he was alone. The arrer boys must have fled, he could see their bows chucked on the ground, and that horrible Cnut had made his escape thanks to the gap he had made in Grishnack's lines. Grishnack felt a shadow fall across his prone form, it was his right hand lieutenant returned from his victory on the right flank. "'Ello Ashnack!" he gasped through his ruined throat. "'Elp me up will ya!". Ashnack the Butcher looked grim, his swinish red eyes bored into Grishnack's skull.

"Sorry Grish', sorry the lads never come back to 'elp, only I told 'em not to see? An' sorry I gotta bash your 'ead in, but I is da boss now see?"

Grishnack blinked stupidly as Ashnack's sword came down hard and caved in his face.

"I is da boss now", Ashnack repeated to himself as he attached 'Fingsplitta' to his belt and looted Grishnack's corpse. "An' I is gonna hunt me down a bit o' Cnut I think, oh yes indeed"...

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Tuesday 19 March 2013

Rogue Trader farm, not that one, a different one.

Today was supposed to be the day my wife gave birth, it didn't happen so the wait goes on! Today was also supposed to be the day I had time to scan Rogue Trader and upload it to Scribd so anyone can get their mitts on it. That didn't happen either, I tried but somehow the file got corrupted and imploded so I wasted a lot of time. I will try again tomorrow. To cheer myself up, I painted an old school Rogue Trader farm building which will become part of a crystalgrass and grox agricultural complex for my Boone's Landing setting. I have been working on a battle mat and a double-sided board to represent Boone's Landing and I am nearly finished thank goodness, the long drying times between stages and appalling weather has slowed this project to a snail's pace so it is good to finally make some progress again. The battle mat is desert and will allow me to run games for members of the club I go to while the board is desert one side and equatorial wetland the other (lots of yacht varnish).

Farm 73, Boone's Landing.

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Saturday 16 March 2013

The Battle of Plank Street. Part One.

I was lucky enough (quick enough (skiving off work enough)) to be the first to thrust my hand in the air and squirm in my seat when Erny invited people to join him in a game of online WHFB3, which took place last night. Just follow the link if you want to see the field of battle we fought over.

We botched all the most basic of rules pretty badly in between sipping beer and typing banter (technical issues) but it was just incredible fun. I got into my role as the comic book villain Grishnack the Bloodaxe of Scabby Rump while Thantsants led the brave and doughty Dwarves of Axwoon'd in the defence of the realm of King Cnut. Thats KER. NOOT.

My own Orcs and Goblins were of an exceptionally single-minded variety, never once failing (taking) an animosity test. Don't even get me started on the performance of Chester and Julian the Trolls, they have started a marvellous charity which helps to euthanase ginger Dwarfs with low self esteem. Later on Chester hopes to gain his Masters degree while Julian is thinking of taking a gap year.

So, we played like kids. We got over-excited and forgot all the rules at every turn. It was flipping good fun though!

The set-up at Roll20 is amazing. It has been perfected for hosting RPG sessions for people who can't be in the same room and I would recommend you head over there ASAP to set up an account if that is something you would be interested in. War-gaming there is more complicated for sure, but it is possible and those who run the site will probably work with the community to improve the experience further. This said, I am not blind to how much effort and hard work Erny has had to put into this venture and not only should we congratulate him and be grateful for his pioneering but I suggest to you that gaming this way with him is the way forward for now unless you are pretty confident technically speaking and have bags of spare time to invest.

Who knows though, I can see a path to the day when Oldhammer takes place online as often as it does on tables. No joke. You have to see a table covered with Erny's lovely painted minis, all in cyberspace, before you turn your nose up at that! We only got half way into the game despite investing about four hours into it (noobs) but fantastically we just left it all set up and made a few typed notes for ourselves so we can pick up where we left off!

Truthfully though, a couple of tweaks need to be made before the flood gates open and this has mass appeal, so go into any game with an open mind and an easy-going attitude (just like always I am sure). For now, I am definitely going to need to buy a cutting edge earphone/mic setup. And some more Timothy Taylor's Pale Ale.

The story so far.

Grishnack thumped and walloped several of the remaining Scabby Rump arrer boys as he bullied his way to the front of the unit. The other lot had panicked at the first sign of trouble the cowards, he had almost tossed the Witch's amulet away at that point. The Witch. He was not afraid of anything, obviously, but she had given him the willies. He couldn't even tell quite what she was, Half-Orc maybe? She had pressed the amulet into his hand and cackled something fierce. "Take this o Lord", the witch said in a shrill voice, "hold it tight when the bearded ones come to Lonely Wood. Your soldiers will act as one, with purpose and determination!" Now Grishnack didn't know what 'deeterminayshun' was but if it helped the lads knacker a few stunties he was all for it, and besides, no-one wants to say no to a Witch.

At first, after the initial disappointment of seeing the arrer boys turn tail had worn off, the amulet seemed to be working well. He pressed it into his meaty fist and it began to glow with an eerie inner light. He had ordered the Trolls off to kill the ginger stunties and they just said "yer boss" and strode off like, like, well, not Trolls. The same with the big unit of lads on the right and the gobbos too. The wolf boys had been shredded by crossbow bolts and just sat there waiting for orders like they didn't care. Unnatural that was. Even the ruddy Shaman was pumping out spells like a Goblin possessed. Maybe he is possessed? Grishnack briefly considered the possibility and decided he didn't care. Now though, as the green line crashed against the stubborn Dwarfs with a precision he had never imagined possible, the glowing amulet began to pulse, then flicker. It was running out of shazam, Grishnack concluded.

Time to get stuck in then.

Click for Part Two.

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Wednesday 13 March 2013

WHFB3 Battle Report #2. The Well of Madness. Part Five.

We return to the Well of Madness for the final time, Saul Feyblade has just charged a mob of brutal Orcs in a desperate attempt to buy time for his friend, Fingers Wilde, to lead the last men of Cleggs Ham to victory.

As Saul lays about him with punches and kicks the melee close in around him, he is unable to swing his sword properly and distressingly one of the rabid Orcs bites down hard on Saul's leg, wounding him. Fortunately Saul is forged in battle and his resolve never wavers for a second.

Toin plants his feet firmly and offers up a prayer to his ancestors as the Red Hand, a herd of cacophonous Beastmen, charge at him bloodthirstily.

The Minotaurs' long, ground-eating strides enable them to crash into the flank of the 2nd Militia, extinguishing hope just as it seemed to be flaring anew.

Having let his minions do all the fighting, and dying, so far Ragnir positions himself for a climactic duel with the wounded Saul.

Though casualties start to mount the 2nd Militia are still in the fight! Perhaps the Minotaurs have sated their hunger on the unfortunate men of the 1st Militia and are beginning to tire. Fingers bags himself another Orc.

Luck is not with Saul however, he finally kills one of his Orc foes only to take a second wound in return from a wild, flailing attack. With the gloating Ragnir about to join the fight surely Saul will be the first adventurer to perish in the Blackwold?

Ragnir the Fated pushes through his minions to face Saul. "I come for thee, mortal" rasps the Champion of Chaos.

The 2nd Militia are being slaughtered now, yet still they refuse to turn tail and run as their comrades did.

"I will not die at your hand, monster. Nor this day!" Saul finds a second wind and butchers three Orcs in a mighty sweep of his sword and parries every blow Ragnir rains on him.

Ragnir is hurled back by Saul's ferocity and the Hunters quail before his wrath, fleeing toward their camp.

This panics the Red Hand who are overcome with doubt and flee from Toin, who gratefully hacks down several in the process.

Saul and Toin are finally able to corner the depraved Ragnir, though badly wounded Saul hesitates not as he pursues his foe. Ragnir halves his attacks between the two hoping to slay them both quickly...

...though in his arrogance he only scores a single wound against Toin and is instead slain in return! The cry goes up amongst his troops, "Ragnir is dead, the master is no more!".

This panics the Blackshields who were supposed to guard Ragnir. They rout from the field along with the Red Hand and Grunk's Hunters. Only the Minotaurs remain, too far gone in their battle-lust to notice what is happening elsewhere.

The battle is over!

We decided to call our epic struggle a draw. No doubt Ragnir's Raiders could have rallied and carried the day, even without Ragnir himself, but the narrative of Saul's awe-inspiring heroics and the glorious stand of the 2nd Militia alongside Fingers deserved a little GM intervention, and lo, night fell upon the Well of Madness. Before turning their backs on the field of battle the people of Cleggs Ham gathered with their shovels and picks, not to bury the dead for they were too many, but to fill in the accursed well so that they might be safe from Chaos forever. The story of our heroes will continue.

As night fell and the sounds of the retreating armies faded, leaving only the screams and moans of the dying, the Ihmissusi loped forward from the treeline and surveyed the field of battle in the moonlight. He would feast well tonight, no need to hunt, but he would never be satisfied until the four strangers he had seen head toward the village were in his belly. For his hunger was not for meat alone, the Ihmissusi was no mere beast, he hungered for revenge!

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WHFB3 Battle Report #2. The Well of Madness. Part Four.

After losing heavy casualties the last thing the men of Cleggs Ham needed was an ineffectual turn, but that's what they got. We rejoin the action as Ragnir the Fated is about to strike at the survivors, and our heroes Saul, Toin, Lazarus and Fingers.

The Blackshields charge the last of the Cleggs Ham units, with the defeat of the Darksouls Lazarus Longshanks can use his Dispirit spell on the Orcs this turn.

Covered in blood and gore, bellies distended from gorging on human flesh, Life-Hater and Corpse-Eater wheel towards the unfortunate 2nd Militia.

Grunk gets his lads moving around the well with a string of sharp, clipped drill orders. With the loss of the Darksouls the Hunters now constitute Ragnir's right flank.

Flushed with victory the Red Hand wheel away from the 2nd Militia at the last moment and position themselves to take on the adventurers.

The men of the 2nd Militia fight bravely and only lose one of their number, but they are unable to kill any of Bork's Orcs in reply.

The 2nd Militia are holding the Orcs but their flank is threatened by the roaring Minotaurs. Help from the beleaguered heroes cannot be expected as they face two regiments of Ragnir's bullies.

Though help does arrive! Huzzah! Fingers Wilde leaps at the Orc's with blades flying and Lazarus has cast Dispirit on the beasts.

This means Toin and Saul will have to hold off two enemy units on their own, this is desperate but stirring stuff. First Toin blocks the path of the rampaging Beastmen...

...then Saul throws himself at Grunk's Hunters, heedless of his own safety.

With Fingers' help combat swings in favour of the menfolk, but Bork keeps his men in the fight. Fingers glances accusingly at Lazarus who pretends to concentrate on his Dispirit spell.

Join us in Part Five for the unmissable climax to the Well of Madness!

WHFB3 Battle Report #2. The Well of Madness. Part Three.

It's time for the thrilling third chapter of the Well of Madness. The battle-lines clash and neither side wants to give ground.

The Red Hand bray, bellow and stamp their hooves. Infuriated at the jibes of the Bretonnians they charge at them, smashing headlong into the mercenaries ranks cutting and butting as they go.

On the other flank the treacherous Darksouls manage to charge Saul Feyblade without contacting Toin or Fingers.

Corpse-Eater and Life-Hater get within range of the 1st Militia, they bellow their bloodlust at the doomed menfolk as their tongues loll and foam flecks their lips and chins.

Ragnir and Bork's Blackshields continue to advance up the road, straight at the 2nd Militia.

At first it seems as though casualties are going to be light on both sides despite all the noise and effort...

...but the cowardly mercenaries prove to be all talk as they make a panicked dash for safety! Several of the Bretonnians are hacked down during the rout, though the Beastmen uncharacteristically restrain from pursuit and maintain their formation with iron discipline.

The Darksouls threaten to swamp Saul but he manages to turn aside their blows and bring down one of the apostates with a backhand swing.

Disaster! Though able to withstand the deaths of their comrades under the arrows of Grunk's Hunters Mayor Cleggson and his bodyguard get swept along with the routing Bretonnians and both units leave the field of battle. Things look grim for Cleggs Ham.

Fingers and Toin charge to Saul's aid as Lazurus maintains a Dispirit spell on the Darksouls.

With the shooting of the 2nd Militia hopelessly ineffectual it's up to the adventurers to turn the tide, and they begin by slaughtering four of the traitors for no reply!

Though unfortunately the two remaining Darksouls stand firm! They obviously fear Ragnir a lot more than anyone else. "Oi! Lazarus! You sure that spell's workin' mate!"

It's slobberin' time! The Minotaurs charge the 1st Militia and begin to tuck in. The Red Hand head off towards the 2nd Militia to join the Blackshields in the assault.

Grunk makes a pig's ear of his manoeuvres and the Hunters get in a muddle by the puddle.

Bork's Blackshields close on the 2nd Militia and Ragnir begins to contemplate personally entering the fray.

Nom Nom Nom Nom Nom. The 1st Militia are wiped out by the berserk Minotaurs, not a single survivor makes it off the field of battle.

The adventurers kill the last of the stubborn Darksouls, giving Ragnir something to chew on.

The adventurers are unable to quite complete a charge against the vulnerable Ragnir in their turn and the 2nd's shooting once again patters harmlessly off the armour of the Blackshields. Join us in Part Four to discover our heroes fate.

WHFB3 Battle Report #2. The Well of Madness. Part Two.

Ragnir the Fated takes the first turn as he seeks to crush the Men of Cleggs Ham.

Ragnir's left whole battle-line lurches forwards.

Two of Mayor Cleggson's body guard are skewered by crude Orc arrows as Grunk's Hunters open fire.

Ragnir then orders reserve moves to close the distance, the left flank begins to manoeuvre to allow the brutal Minotaurs room to find the flesh they crave.

The heroes advance! they decide to stay together and attempt to crush Ragnir's right flank with their combined might rather than disperse amongst the Mayor's forces. The rest of the army says put to allow the heroes time to wreak havoc against the dangerous foe.

The shooting of the 2nd Militia fails to cause any casualties, with their reserve moves the heroes close the distance between them and the Darksouls further.

Ragnir's forces continue the advance, except for the Hunters who stand still to steady their aim.

North of the road the Darksouls angle towards Saul and his doughty comrades, on the road itself the Blackshields march directly at the 2nd Militia with Ragnir urging them on. 

Reserve moves enable the Raiders to set their battle-lines. They can scent their prey now.

The Minotaurs have a clear run at the enemy now, their nostrils flare and their red eyes gleam with hatred.

The Darksouls try to narrow the adventurers options with careful positioning.

Uncaring of strategy, the adventurers race at the Darksouls as fast as they can. These accursed traitors must be made to pay for their crimes.

Mayor Cleggson finally orders one of his regiments forward, the Bretonnian mercenaries! Though unhappy at being pushed out in front they have no choice to obey. Their task is to break through the Beastmen and threaten the Minotaur's rear.

The Red Hand raise Ragnir's Skull Totem high and bray defiantly at the approaching mercenaries.

The 2nd Militia finally cause some casualties with their bows, two of the Blackshields keel over clutching at the arrow shafts penetrating their bodies.

The Bretonnians jeer back. "Eeyore! Eeyore!" (there was some player banter at this stage...)

The mercenaries are able to get close to the Red Hand with a reserve move.

At the same time, Toin Deepwater joins Saul and Fingers in facing the Darksouls. Lazarus attempts to cast Dispirit on the Darksouls but cannot stop the power from slipping through his grasp as the turncoats shrug off the effects.

Join us once more as battle is joined in Part Three of, The Well of Madness!