Monday, 29 November 2021

Battle Report: The Vampyr Of The Riding

 Last weekend, I had the privilege and pleasure of playing one of the most enjoyable games of Warhammer Fantasy Battle I've ever played. 

And I have played quite a few good games of Warhammer, so let me assure you of the quality of what I experienced last week. 

"Playing with yourself again, are we?' wonders the ancient reader, familiar with events long ago on this blog. 

Thanks for asking - but no. This exchange involved a real, actual human opponent that, well, wasn't me

There are a few reasons for the superlative experience, I think:

  1. I felt the desperate rush to paint something in a way I've not experienced since my Warhammer infused childhood. 
  2. The desperation caused me to look again at figures I had in my collection that had not yet been stripped, or were semi-painted, or, well, anywhere close to allowing me to do something I haven't done for a while. Thus I realised that a large proportion of the dwarves in my collection were still waiting to be stripped down, but were actually in quite good condition. Salvageable condition.  Quickly salvageable - achievable within about a week or so. 
  3. ...which created a whole new possibility, the results of which you will read about shortly
  4. The chap with whom I had played has not, for various reasons, had very many or good experiences with any versions of Warhammer, but had a jib squarely cut in the oldhammer pattern. I submit to the reader that this was very fertile ground.
  5. I had to formulate both forces as a result of owning all the figures and also being the more experienced player. Long have I pondered how capable the 4th edition of Warhammer would be if tackled responsibly, and this was a very, very rich opportunity to explore that. 
  6. Having played The Battle At The East Gate of Karak Eight Peaks at Bring Out Your Lead with the formidable Gillson brothers, I was still on a high, because that was another of the most enjoyable games of Warhammer I've experienced in a very long time. I wanted to play some more 4th edition.
  7. The chap that I played against has previously visited me to play 3rd edition. For a new starter, 3rd edition is a tough prospect, and he found the detail distracting. 4th edition felt like it would serve well in this scenario. 

Now it has been a long time since I've crafted enough narrative to enrich a battle report. The few games I've been able to play have all been rushed and boundaried by unfair and ridiculous constraints, which mean they've not received the love (or the player engagement) they deserved. I had entered this game expecting the same thing, and although I had formulated some of the narrative (enough to shape some of the force selection), it was only after the event that I realised the thing deserved more, because it was so good. 

Which leads us to the game itself. As all games should, we'll begin with a prologue...

***

The Striganie people of Cruel Sylvania, called also in ancient times the Fennone, have a long habit of opening the stories told of and by their people with a time one hundred and one years in the past. Be the matter last week, last year or last decade; it occured one hundred and one years ago. 

And so it is with this story so faithfully retold to me by that redoubtable people. It settles me to say the story, starting as they do with this curious endearment of theirs.

For one hundred years ago and one, a peace had settled on The Auld Ryding. In that time, it was known simply as The Riding, and contained within its borders the villages of Shoodthorpe (referred to by some as Stoodthorpe), Averridge and Mayby. Modern day cartographers will tell you that the village of Stoodhof must necessarily be - or be found upon - the remains of Stoodthorpe, and indeed, the same for Maylhof with long forgotten Mayby. 

The Auld Ryding nuzzles like a hound at his master's feet into the roots of the Black Mountains, in the northern shadow of the peaks that boundary the freezing flows of the Black Water Lake.

Should it ever be that you conduct your business in lonely Zhufbar, or indeed travel west from that place to warmer Imperial climes of Einsamholtz, Averheim or even far away Nuln, you may very well find yourself taking your mutton at the Inn of the Green King in Averridge as you pass by.

Now it came to pass that the peace was shattered: there fell a great tragedy upon the Roogslaugh family, who resided at their family estate of Hill House: the great house burned down, and with it, all of its once noble occupants. 

The folk of The Riding claim the house was put to the torch by an angry crowd from Shoodthorpe, for the house was profane in the eyes of all good and holy men. In that house was practiced necromancie, and daemonologie, and other acts of malice and wrongdoing. 

Still others claim that the house was consumed by daemons, come to collect the souls of Count Roogslaugh and his kin that were long over-due.

Yet the Striganie make a third claim, by which they swear, that the house in fact was set on fire by the youngest son of the Count: Daniel Roogslaugh. In their telling, young Daniel desired one thing above all others in life:

To be a woman. 

Being as yet unlearned in the ways of his family's spellcraft, he beseeched his father, his mother, his brothers and sisters, uncles, aunts and any of the servants with the heart to listen to entreat whatever dark gods and powers with whom they kept appointments to grant him this one desire - but to no avail. 

Full of shame, his father and his brothers beat the boy within an inch of his life and ejected him from the house, bidding him never to return. Young Daniel was compelled to live a scoundrels life, reduced to eating worms and beetles and whatever gruel the pigs of Shoodthorpe could not reach in their troughs. 

Full of rage and spite, Daniel survived and grew strong in his adversity. There came a travelling circus to Shoodthorpe who took in the boy, where he learned the skills of acting, and powder, and disguise. In the years that followed, he succumbed to his craven appetite for all things feminine: consuming costly fashion, spreading innane gossip and fainting as the occasion saw fit. He also abandoned the Roogslough name, setting on Danielle Le Roux, or has he became known: Danni.

At the height of his new performing career, it came to pass that Danni beguiled and fascinated a wealthy theatre goer. The gentleman, whose name was Andru Wwoydlebber (of the West Hochland Wwoydlebbers) was also a fearsome vampyr, known in society only as The Bantam of the Opera, on account of the cockerel mask he donned at such events. He pledged his love for Danni and on the night of their wedding, bestowed upon Danni the Kiss Everlasting. Too late did Wwoydlebber perceive the truth: he had not made sure that the girl was pure, as directed by the ancient wisdom of the Tone Loc. Nay, declared the vampyr: he was not about to play around with no Osca Myewina (a derogatory term the Striganie declined to illuminate) and thrashed Danni within an inch of his life before expelling him into the night in his wrath.

Long did Danni wander, developing erudition in the way of the vampyr. Finally, the master of his dark power, he returned to Hill House to exact his revenge on his former family. Terrible was his vengeance that night; not a creature made a sound in all The Riding, lest they drew the ire of the avenging vampyr in all his terrible fury.

Yet, even with his dying breath, the old Count Roogslough pronounced a curse upon Danni: paralysed shall he be, as unto stone, until one hundred years and one had passed. At once, Danni was turned to stone and there stood in the burning ruins of his family home. 

In the time that followed, many grave robbers and their ilk visited the ruin of Hill House, prospecting for whatever wealth there remained. In a daring display of bravado, once such character cleaned up the statue that Danni had become, and, struck by the look of anguish on the statue's face, was this able to sell it to the village council of Averridge as a statue of the Martyr Morga, Our Lady of Sigmar Distressed, for no less than one hundred pieces of silver. The statue was placed in the market square, and there dwelt until the passing of one fateful Hexenstag.

And so it was that late on that evening of Hexenstag, when a single cloud interrupted the full light of Mannsleib, that the curse was finally broken, and the young vampyr, possessed with the hunger of one hundred and one years of waiting, came to his senses. Immediately, he locked eyes with the rotund (some cruel folk had been known to say 'porcine') Lady Weller, gazing vacantly out of her parlour window. With unnatural power and grace, Danni leapt up to her window, compelling her with his daemonic charm to allow him to enter, whereupon she yielded to his most base desires: the waxing of his upper lip and the immediate trimming of his split ends. This done, the two discussed the fashions of the modern, conscientious  lady, before he drained her of every drop of blood her formidable form could muster and fled with her wardrobe. 

Beset with sorrow, Sir Weller demanded the village constabulary immediately bring to justice the wicked vampyr. Their leader, the brave Captain Prangle, knew a little of vampyrs and realised he and his men would be quickly outclassed by such a vicious beast of the night as the one that had so brutally murdered the good lady. To this end, he secured the services of the Thunderbuckle clan - merchant hill dwarves that had been looking to expand into the area. 

There came also a renowned wizard of the Grey order: Elrich Lang, who specialised uniquely in the hunting of vampyrs and the consumption of alcohol, preferring especially the heady ciders of the southern Empire. Having heard of the plight of the village of Averridge whilst on route to the Shrine of Gadd (on account of the legend of that places brew house), he immediately volunteered to join the company of men and dwarves, to seek out and destroy The Vampyr of The Riding.

***

 Location

An ancient map of The Riding:


 Note that the right hand side of the map is, in fact, south. This map:

 

 

...better shows both the position of The Riding in the Empire, as well as its true orientation (the top of the map is north).

***

Forces

So remember when I spoke about being responsible with the rules? Well, in my opinion, one of the greatest contributors to the horror of 4th edition was the irresponsible use of lists and the delegation of the players' abilities to have fun down to the rule books and army lists. 

I love (LOVE!) the early army books from 4th edition because they have the right amount of passion and none of the marketing finesse (as in, power creep...) that the later editions would introduce. 

In this case, I was able to achieve what I wanted within the bounds of the army books, but this is strictly coincidence, as opposed to my being boundaried by what the books offered. There were some differences to what might have happened in 4th edition way back when:

  • I did not use points to determine the forces. I went with a looks-and-feels-right approach. 
  • Whilst I don't think characters should buy magic items directly (random draw or pay for random draw), having no points basically just meant I would randomise the magic items. 
  • The player could determine which item was best suited to which character (sometimes, I'd advocate the character has what the character has, but this felt right this time). 
  • I opted not to use the Chaos Gift cards (so no Eternal Labour...), even though I was really aching to. I didn't want Matt's 4th edition experience to have his chaos characters forced off the table before he could apply himself to the situation. I did use spells and magic items from that set, however. 

 

***

 

The Undead

The Undead. Clickening will embiggen.

 

CHARACTERS

 

Danni Le Roux - Vampire Lord

Items:

  • Blessed Sword (Grants WS 10. Yeah, I know.)

Spells:

  • Raise the Dead 
  • Vanhels Dans Macabre


Captain Vorador - Wight Champion

Items:

  • Wight Blade (1 W = 1d3 W)
  • Heavy Armour

 

Lord Helke - Wight Champion

Items:

  • Wight Blade (1 W = 1d3 W)
  • Heavy Armour

 

Mihartiskaphut - Mummy Tomb Lord

Items:

  • Manticore
  • Dragonhelm (2+ save against fire attacks)

 

Scuttlebotch - Chaos Hero

Items:
  • Mark of Nurgle (+1 Toughnesss)
  • Tormentor Sword (Surviving victims are subject to Stupidity)
  • Potion of Chaos
  • Heavy Armour 

 

Livvissspot the Insidious - Sorcerer

Items:

  • Mark of Slaanesh
  • Dispel Magic Scroll

Spells: 

  • Cacaphonic Choir

 

TROOPS


The Old Barrowmen of Stoodthorpe - 20 Zombies

Items:

  • Evil disposition and pathetic moaning 

 

The 1st Companie of Averridge - 19 Skeletons

Led by Captain Vorador

Items:

  • Banner
  • Musician
  • Spears
  • Shields
  • Light Armour


The Reapers of Farie Tor - 19 Skeletons

Led by Lord Helke

Items:

  • Banner
  • Musician
  • Two Handed Weapons
  • Light Armour 

 

The Hateful Eight - 8 Chaos Warriors

Items:

  • Banner
  • Two Handed Weapons
  • Heavy Armour

 

The Blessed Few - 8 Plaguebearers of Nurgle

Items:

  • Plague Swords (1 W = instant death)
  • Cloud of Flies
  • Daemon Saving Throw

Spells:

  • Pillar of Putrefaction (bit of a lemon for these chaps...)

 

***

 

The Dwarves

Dwarves. And Halflings. And the brave constables of Averridge.


CHARACTERS


Hesior Thunderbuckle - Dwarf Lord

Items:

  • Hand Weapon
    • Master Rune of Flight (throw weapon up to 12")
    • Rune of Cleaving (+1S)
    • Rune of Parrying (Enemy automatically misses one attack)
  • Heavy Armour 
    • Master Rune of Adamant (+2 Sv)
    • Rune of Fortitude (+1T)
  • Talisman
    • Master Rune of Spite (4+ Save, if saved, wound is rebounded on enemy)

 

Bofel The Wise - Rune Lord

Items:

  • Hand Weapon
    • Master Rune of Swiftness (Always attacks first)
  • Heavy Armour 
    • Rune of Resistance (Reroll failed armour save on unmodified 4+)
    • Rune of Stone (+1 Sv)
  • Talisman
    • Rune of the Furnace (Immune to fire based damage)

 

Tuvith Thunderbuckle - Dwarf Hero

Items:

  • Hand Weapon
    • Rune of Might (Double strength if enemy toughness greater than his)
  • Crossbow
  • Light Armour 
    • Rune of Stone (+1 Sv)

 

Thrassuid Gravelhood - Battle Standard Bearer

Items:

  • Hand Weapon
  • Shield
  • Heavy Armour
  • Battle Standard
    • Master Rune of Stromni Readbeard (+1 Combat resolution for all friendly units within 12") 

 

Josef Bugman - Dwarf Hero

  • Hand Weapon
    • Rune of Cleaving (+1 S)
    • Rune of Fury (+1 A)
  • Crossbow
  • Shield
  • Light Armour 
    • Rune of Resistance (Reroll failed armour save on unmodified 4+)
  • Bugman's Tankard (Recover 1 W per drink, 3 uses per game)

 

'Owd' Tom Thyksson - Champion

Items:

  • Hand Weapon
  • Two-Handed Weapon 
  • Crossbow
  • Shield
  • Light Armour

 

Captain Roland Prangle - General of the Empire

Items:

  • Blade of Leaping Copper (+1 A)
  • Golden Helm of Atrazar (2+ Sv)

Spells:

  • Raise the Dead 
  • Vanhels Dans Macabre

 

Elrich Lang - Master Wizard of the Grey Order

Items:

  • Destroy Magic Scroll

Spells:

  • The Crown of Taidron
  • Bridge of Shadows
  • Radiance of Ptolos

 

TROOPS


The Thunderbuckle Household Guard - 11 Hammerers

Led by Hesior Thunderbuckle

Items:

  • Banner
  • Musician
  • Two Handed Weapons
  • Hand Weapons
  • Shields
  • Heavy Armour

 

The Grand Companie of The Long Beard - 13 Longbeards

Led by Thrassuid Gravelhood

Items:

  • Musician
  • Hand Weapons
  • Shields
  • Heavy Armour

 

The 7th Thunderbuckle Light Brigade - 9 Dwarf Warriors

Led by Bofel The Wise

Items:

  • Banner
  • Musician
  • Hand Weapons
  • Shields
  • Light Armour

 

Tuvith's Scouting Party - 4 Dwarf Warriors

Led by Thuvith Thunderbuckle

Items:

  • Musician
  • Hand Weapons
  • Crossbows
  • Light Armour

 

Bugman's Dwarf Rangers - 8 Dwarf Warriors

Led by Josef Bugman

Accompanied by 'Owd' Tom Thyksson

Items:

  • Banner
  • Musician
  • Hand Weapons
  • Two-Handed weapons
  • Crossbows
  • Shields
  • Light Armour

 

The Averridge 1st Company of the Constabulary - 29 Imperial Halberdiers

Led by Captain Roland Prangle

Items:

  • Banner
  • Halberds
  • Shields
  • Light Armour

 

WAR MACHINES

 

Big Jessie - Cannon 

Items:

  • Halfling Crew

 

***

 

The next post will cover the battle itself.

***

GAME NAVIGATOR

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Turn 1
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6 comments:

  1. Some very evocative maps. Fine looking armies on the table. Nice work revisiting a old edition and creating some balanced forces. I'm looking forward to reading more about the battle.

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  2. Holy smokes he's back! Can't wait for the battle!!!!

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  3. Thank you that prologue was really enjoyable! I must nick it for a game.

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  4. Great to see you blogging again! I had feared I'd just not been checking my reading list but doesn't look like I've missed too much - I shall enjoy catching up! Love the narrative you've created as only you can!

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  5. The return of the Big G! Great post sir. Looking forward to the next installment.

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  6. Awesome stuff, can't wait to read the Battle Report itself.

    Feel free to tell me to shut up but shouldn't the Plague Bearers have two spells?

    I've never been referred to as "formidable" before, that's a new one I have to say.

    ReplyDelete