Author Topic: [Battle report] Loyalty - Firstborn vs. Firstborn  (Read 3736 times)

Offline Horned Owl

  • Sr. Member
  • ***
  • Posts: 368
  • Karma: +15/-0
  • Hoot!
[Battle report] Loyalty - Firstborn vs. Firstborn
« on: September 19, 2011, 05:08:08 PM »
Night had fallen on the city of Thya. It had come with high winds, chasing ragged stormclouds across the sky. Heavy rainfalls had quenched most of the blazes, leaving only a ruddy glow where buildings had been torched and refused to go out entirely. The flagstones were slick with rain and ash and, occasionally, blood.

Save for the few fires still flickering feebly, the darkness was complete. The citizens had drawn iron shutters across their windows and boarded up their doors, and no one dared light a candle while there was still violence in the streets. A Firstborn house could be turned into a fortress at a moment´s notice. Decades of persecution and slavery by the other races had given the First Race a deeply ingrained sense of insecurity – and so every house was a bastion of paranoia, soothing the uneasy Firstborn mind with the thickness of its walls and the narrowness of its windows.

The same, by implication, also held true for the strict discipline of a city´s soldiers and citizenry. Fulfilling his duty made the Firstborn knight a bulwark against the hostile world. Breach of discipline, even a minor transgression, was akin to a crack in the wall – it shattered that fragile feeling of safety, and let the fears come flooding in. Punishments were harsh, and mercy neither expected nor given.

And so, while nominally free, the Firstborn locked themselves up in a cage of stone and duty and obedience, stronger and tighter than any other race could have devised for their slaves. At least, that was what one of Sander´s acquaintances had said, an Untamed warrior from the far North. And though the sentiment was tainted by the usual Wildlands dweller´s scorn for their soft city kin, Sander knew it to hold more than a grain of truth.

Sander´s vocation gave him an unusual amount of time to wax philosophical, as much of his work consisted of waiting patiently for something to happen. Having fitted iron climbing claws to his gloved hands, the Nightwalker had worked his way up the wall of the west granary, and now was perched somewhat awkwardly in the shadow of a drainage spout. Rain still pattered off the shingles and gurgled in the leaden gutter rails. Occasionally, a drop found its way into his armour despite the overhanging edge of the roof, and startled him. His breath was misty: the rain had leeched all the summer´s warmth from the air. But Sander was as comfortable as anyone could be – this was where he belonged, nestling thirty feet above the ground like a spider in the dark.

Far below him, in the streets, soldiers formed up. The rain dripped off ranks and ranks of heavy shields, broad-bladed spears and bulky iron armour. Sander craned his neck to read their insignia: the Fifteenth Cohort of the city´s Iron Guard. That in itself was bad – the Fifteenth was renegade, one of the rebel cohorts that had proclaimed their loyalty to the disgraced Prince Lammon – but it meant that Sander´s foresight had paid off. His head filled with numbers of enemy troops, armament, division of ranks, probable routes the cohort would take. This kind of knowledge was vital to his masters, the Judges of the Seven Towers, who now orchestrated the city´s defense. It would allow them to deny the enemy the routes of approach, taking them at unawares, defeating them piecemeal. It was a deadly game of chess they played on the grid of the city´s wards; but for the efforts of the Nightwalkers, it would be a game played blind.

That said, up to now the enemy had been showing remarkable knowledge of the Judges´ moves. As far as Sander knew, no Nightwalker had defected to the renegades – they had been selected for training because of their devotion to the cause of the One King in the first place, hadn´t they? – but the fact that the enemy had that kind of intelligence troubled him. If they had spies in the Loyalist cohorts, how did they get word from them across the closely watched bridges?

The barking of orders below brought his mind back to the present: the Fifteenth had dressed their ranks now. Their shields overlapped like the scales of a bizarre pangolin. The Guardsmen shouldered their spears and began marching. This meant that Sander had better be moving too, or his information would reach his masters too late to do any good. Sidling up the side of the waterspout, he gained the edge of the roof. Pulling himself up – no mean feat for a man dressed from top to toe in heavy iron armour – he crouched, scanning the nearby roofs for an easy route.

Wait! What was that? Something had moved. To an untrained eye, it would probably have gone unnoticed, but Sander caught it in the corner of his eye. He froze instantly, pressing himself against the shingled roof. His breath seemed unnaturally loud in his helmet. He waited – waited –

There it was again. A dark form, flitting across the roof on all fours with all the unnatural quickness of a ghost. Sander thought he had seen a billowing cloak, but gainst the dark and roiling sky he could not be sure. His left hand, almost unconsciously, slid a throwing dirk from its oiled scabbard. Then he started creeping forward, inch by inch.

Suddenly, the shape loomed up in front of him. Sander had not seen it coming. He was thrown backwards, desperately groping for purchase on the wet and steeply angled roof, and started to slide in an avalanche of loose shingles. His adversary scuttled down as well, pushing off the roof and landing on his chest. It did not weigh much, like a child (or a desiccated body), but it possessed a terrible, wiry strength. Bulbous eyes like polished black orbs, shining with malice, stared into his own as the creature brought its hand up. A pair of wicked hooks gleamed.

Sander groped for his sword, knowing it was too late, as the stalking creature brought the weapon down. Then all was silence. Blood drops mingled with the rain, falling down on the cobbled street thirty feet below.



This was to be a game of Firstborn versus Firstborn. The background fluff told of a rebellion in the city of Thya when the One King´s Judges deposed the ruling Prince – for reasons unknown, but of course rumours made the round that he was in league with the Devout. His personal cohort of Iron Guard refused to lay down their arms and rebelled. Now the Judges and loyal elements of the Guard fought a dogged struggle for control of the city´s streets.

Both sides would have to spend half of their points on Iron Guard, as those were the main troops stationed in the city. Supporting them would be single warbands of "auxilia", either knights or crossbowmen. The rebels would have access to mounted knights and axemen, while the loyalists would be sporting Judges or Nightwalkers. In addition, the rebels could take Shadow Stalkers from the Devout list (which, by the way, proves some of the rumours to be true).

The battle took place on a series of bridges and ledges, spanning a maze of alleys and narrow streets. The Iron Guard, while somewhat unwieldy, would certainly come into their own in this kind of terrain. The key would be knowing when to order them to form the shield wall. The supporting troops would get to outflank or snipe at the Guardsmen – their maneuverability would be the key to an otherwise evenly matched game.

"How was I supposed to know he was an unarmed man? His back was to me."

Offline Cirith

  • Full Member
  • **
  • Posts: 109
  • Karma: +4/-0
  • StygianBeach
Re: [Battle report] Loyalty - Firstborn vs. Firstborn
« Reply #1 on: September 20, 2011, 01:18:38 AM »
I am looking forward to reading this.
« Last Edit: September 20, 2011, 08:41:58 AM by Cirith »
People willing to trade their freedom for security deserve neither and will lose both.

Offline Manic _Miner

  • Member Emeritus
  • *****
  • Posts: 1552
  • Karma: +56/-1
    • Four A miniatures
Re: [Battle report] Loyalty - Firstborn vs. Firstborn
« Reply #2 on: September 22, 2011, 12:49:57 PM »
 Great story telling.You have really set the scene.

Offline Horned Owl

  • Sr. Member
  • ***
  • Posts: 368
  • Karma: +15/-0
  • Hoot!
Re: [Battle report] Loyalty - Firstborn vs. Firstborn
« Reply #3 on: September 23, 2011, 06:44:51 AM »
Thanks! Ill try to keep it coming  ;)


The Traitors: Fifteenth Cohort, Iron Guard

Warband: Iron Guard
4 Guardsmen
1 Leader
1 Standard Bearer

Warband: Iron Guard

4 Guardsmen
1 Leader
1 Standard Bearer

Warband: Iron Guard
4 Guardsmen
1 Leader

Warband: Iron Guard
4 Guardsmen
1 Leader

Shadow Stalker

Mounted Axe

Mounted Axe

Mounted Axe

Mounted Axe

Warband: Crossbowmen
4 Crossbowmen
1 Leader

Warband: Crossbowmen
4 Crossbowmen
1 Leader


The traitors – Marius´ force – took their mandatory complement of Iron Guard, which consisted of four warbands. Only two of those carried a standard. At least half their opponents would be Iron Guard, too, and their erstwhile brothers in arms were immune to fear. The same, without saying, went for the Judges. In addition, Marius planned on deploying his Guard in a tight block. So he deemed multiple banners were not a necessity.

Supporting this solid wall of shields and spear points were two small bands of crossbowmen, and four horsemen seconded from the deposed Prince´s mounted guard, armed with two-handed cavalry axes. This small and mobile cadre would (hopefully) be able to outflank the Loyalists, and either exploit gaps in the line or pounce on an unwary unit that strayed too far from their brothers.

The last addition was a Shadow Stalker. Maybe it was there due to some unspeakable pact of Prince Lammon´s? Or did it pursue an errand on its own? Maybe its dark masters had decided to support the rebels without their knowledge – sure that doing so would undermine and weaken the One King´s grip on this outlying area of his kingdom. In any case, its presence gave the whole insurrection a sinister touch. The Judges would probably nod sagely. And renew their zeal.



The Loyalists: Eighth Cohort, Iron Guard

Warband: Iron Guard
4 Guardsmen
1 Leader
1 Standard bearer

Warband: Iron Guard
4 Guardsmen
1 Leader
1 Standard bearer

Warband: Iron Guard

4 Guardsmen
1 Leader

Warband: Iron Guard
4 Guardsmen
1 Leader

Warband: Macemen Knights
4 Macemen
1 Leader
1 Greatmacamen
1 Standard bearer

Warband: Macemen Knights
4 Macemen
1 Leader
1 Greatmaceman
1 Standard bearer

Warband: Macemen Knights

4 Macemen
1 Leader
1 Greatmaceman
1 Standard bearer

Warband: Crossbowmen
6 Crossbowmen
1 Leader

Judge

Judge

Nightwalker



My own Loyalist force had nearly the same Iron Guard complement as Marius´, and for similar reasons. I planned on a pincer movement with two blocks of Guardsmen. Since the Guard would get very slow once they had formed their shield wall, I supported them with small and manoeuverable bands of auxilia, armed with maces. A judge would accompany each of the pincers, making sure that morale held, and pitching in when necessary.

Mindful of the traitorous Iron Guard´s near invulnerability to direct fire (and wishing that longbowmen had been on the list of eligible troops), I chose a rather thin complement of crossbowmen, mainly to snipe at the traitors´ auxilia. Maybe I could get the crossbows behind Marius´ Guardto fire at their unprotected backs, but in the light of Marius´ tactical aptitude I somehow doubted it.

Last went a Nightwalker, mainly for harassment value. If I could use him to distract some of the traitors, he would have done his part, as I did not expect him to do much damage.


As the rain beat down relentlessly, the forces closed ranks and marched towards each other. There were none of the usual taunts and catcalls; a grim respect was evident in the soldiers´ bearing. Those had been their battle-brothers, had marched by their side; and though they fought on different sides now, they were ready to accord their opponents all due honour. And in their hearts there beat a dark pride in their rivals; for if a warrior´s merit was gauged by the worth of his enemy, today they would measure themselves against the best.
"How was I supposed to know he was an unarmed man? His back was to me."

Offline Manic _Miner

  • Member Emeritus
  • *****
  • Posts: 1552
  • Karma: +56/-1
    • Four A miniatures
Re: [Battle report] Loyalty - Firstborn vs. Firstborn
« Reply #4 on: September 23, 2011, 11:15:46 AM »
 I really hope to see some pictures to go with this fight.

 The story really gives you a sense of it all.

Offline Horned Owl

  • Sr. Member
  • ***
  • Posts: 368
  • Karma: +15/-0
  • Hoot!
Re: [Battle report] Loyalty - Firstborn vs. Firstborn
« Reply #5 on: September 23, 2011, 12:09:04 PM »
Marius took some pictures with his mobile to help me with the reconstruction of the battle for this report, but the terrain was pretty improvised with some stacks of books and cardboard pieces, and we were using counters. If I posted them you´d probably be disappointed... since we´re both DMs and storytellers, most of the graphic action was in our heads  :)
"How was I supposed to know he was an unarmed man? His back was to me."

Offline Horned Owl

  • Sr. Member
  • ***
  • Posts: 368
  • Karma: +15/-0
  • Hoot!
Re: [Battle report] Loyalty - Firstborn vs. Firstborn
« Reply #6 on: September 23, 2011, 12:09:44 PM »
I´ll try and draw some sketches of the action, how´s that?
"How was I supposed to know he was an unarmed man? His back was to me."

Offline Manic _Miner

  • Member Emeritus
  • *****
  • Posts: 1552
  • Karma: +56/-1
    • Four A miniatures
Re: [Battle report] Loyalty - Firstborn vs. Firstborn
« Reply #7 on: September 23, 2011, 11:35:32 PM »
 Drawings would be really cool to see.

 I really must try and get something done with my Chronopia miniatures.

Offline Horned Owl

  • Sr. Member
  • ***
  • Posts: 368
  • Karma: +15/-0
  • Hoot!
Re: [Battle report] Loyalty - Firstborn vs. Firstborn
« Reply #8 on: September 24, 2011, 05:42:50 AM »
Used to paint miniatures as well. I stopped twelve years ago – new girlfriend, moving into a new home together, and I realised there would not be enough time to pursue both sides of the hobby. So I dropped painting and continued gaming... but I must say that playing with a set of counters has its positive sides. Since they´re inexpensive and quickly made, one can experiment with a lot of different army layouts and scenarios.
"How was I supposed to know he was an unarmed man? His back was to me."

Offline Horned Owl

  • Sr. Member
  • ***
  • Posts: 368
  • Karma: +15/-0
  • Hoot!
Re: [Battle report] Loyalty - Firstborn vs. Firstborn
« Reply #9 on: September 26, 2011, 04:22:18 AM »
Turn 1 - 3

The gray curtain of rain rolled back to reveal the marching soldiers. On the traitors´ side, the Iron Guard stood like a rigid wall of steel, two warbands in front, and two slightly behind and to the sides. Far on my left (the traitors´ right), the crossbowmen carefully picked their way across the rubble of a ruined building. The iron-shod hooves of the Mounted Axe clicked on the rain-slick flagstones as they closed immediately behind the shield wall and surveyed their enemy grimly.

The Loyalists had deployed all their warbands from the Iron Guard on the right. They had shouldered their warshields and loosened their formation to be able to negotiate the winding alleys quickly. Behind them followed the cowled judges, their axes loose in their gauntleted hands. On the far right, the crossbowmen double-timed around the block to keep up with their comrades in arms, taking cover on a redoubted bridge high above the battle line.

The other flank was left to the three warbands of macemen – quite a weak anvil to smash the hammer of the Iron Guard against. The Judges had sent them there to act as bait, either to draw the traitors´ Guard towards the left or to strike at their backs if they engaged the Loyalist spears. As they advanced, the traitors´ crossbows moved up to get a good bead on them.

Silently, the hidden Stalker flitted from shadow to shadow, crossing the line of shields unnoticed, and readied itself to strike at the Guards´ unprotected backs once they engaged the enemy line. One of the Judges turned sharply. In the depths of his hood, sharp eyes glittered. Axe ready, he crept toward the shadows. He knew something was there. He could not make anything out against the backdrop of soot-covered gray stone, but he waited for it to make its move. His axe would make sure that move would be its last.

The Nightwalker followed the macemen, stalking silently towards the enemy crossbows.


Turn 4

Within charge range of the traitors, the Loyalist Guard closed their ranks. The rims of twenty-two shields grated together. Twenty-two spears clanged into place on the iron rests. The tension mounted until it was a palpable presence in the air. The traitors were ready and chomping at the bit. Only two steps separated the two lines of steel. Then their leader barked an order, and instead of charging, the traitors presented their spears to salute their opponents. (Marius actually spent an action per soldier on this.)

The Loyalist crossbowmen, who had already brought their crossbows to bear on the enemy line, looked at their leader, whose impassive face did not betray any emotion.  His sword was out and aslant his line of men, holding them motionless. It did not waver as he looked down on the battle line. No bows sang. Below them, the Judge started to stalk up the bridge towards them, turning his cowled head this way and that, seemingly following something.

The horses were feeling the tension, too. The mounted axemen reined them in sharply as they shifted uneasily on the wet cobblestones.





Turn 5

The Loyalists also clashed their spears against their shields in salute of their enemy, then readied themselves. Above them, the leader of the crossbowmen kissed his sword, then raised it high and brought it down. Six crossbowmen had been waiting eagerly for the signal. A hail of steel quarrels struck sparks from the traitors´ shields. Then the lines crashed. Two horsemen flanked the Loyalists, their axes flashing. A Guardsman went down, clutching the stump of his arm. The second Judge intercepted the other rider´s blow. Two strikes from his Truthbringer axe severed the horse´s forelegs, then sent the horseman´s head rolling along the rain-slick street. Both lines pushed against each other, blocking and striking, spear points clanging on shields. Some found their marks. Guardsmen fell on both sides.

The traitors´ crossbows loosed at the macemen, who sprinted across the open ground towards the fray. Three macemen fell as their backs sprouted leather-fletched bolts. Two horsemen gallopped out behind the Guardsmen´s back to meet the knights. One of the crossbowmen suddenly slumped, clutching at a thin iron dirk that had implanted itself in his neck. Other dirks pinged off his comrades´ helmets, causing them to duck and curse.

On the other side, the Loyalist crossbows suddenly found themselves under attack. The first they knew was when their leader was thrown backwards, his throat a mass of blood. The creature ducked and weaved between the soldiers, thrusting iron claws into the belly of the leader´s aide. Then it crouched, hissing, facing down the circle of men who dropped their crossbows and drew their swords.


Turn 6

The mounted axe crashed into the macemen. Their cavalry axes flashed, killing knights with long, whirling strokes, but they finally went down under a press of attackers. Iron maces beat the proud warhorses down, pummeled the riders into the ground. Almost without slowing, the bloodied knights ran on. A few quarrels slashed the air, their tips screeching off the wet stone walls, but the macemen were unharmed.

One of the traitors´ crossbowmen pointed at the ruined building´s edge. A hail of bolts peppered the wall. One pinged off an iron helm. The dazed Nightwalker staggered from his hiding place, drawing his blackened blade and hacking wildly at the leader, who parried the stroke with his own straightsword.

On the bridge, the stalking fiend uttered a frightening sound, somewhere between a gurgle and a choked laugh, and launched itself once more at its enemies. It slashed a crossbowman, punched its iron claws into the visor of another. Then suddenly its head seemed to explode, and it slumped, oozing gray matter and black blood. The Judge grimly cleaned his axe on its cloak and rested his foot on the hideous cadaver meaningfully. The soldiers, who had been on the verge of running away, froze in their tracks. For a second, no one moved. Then they hurriedly picked up their crossbows, turned around, and started to reload with shaking fingers. There was something like soft laughter from the deep hood as the Judge turned away.

When the soldiers leaned over the bridge´s parapet, they immediately spotted one of the horsemen who spurred his horse at the second Judge. Before he could reach the gaunt, cowled figure, four bolts struck his horse, and he went down, coming to rest in a puddle of rain that quickly went cloudy with blood. The Judge had not moved. Now he turned his gaze on the opposing Guard. Stepping on the dying man, he turned aside a spear, hacked the head off the shaft of another, and launched himself at the line of warshields. The axe sheared cleanly through a helmeted head. He bashed the second Guardsman down with his shoulder, kicked the shield aside, and brought his axe down a second time. Then he stopped and looked down. A spear had pierced his side. As he watched, the blade was turned in the wound and withdrawn. Cold with fury, blood streaming from his wounded belly, the Judge took a step back.


Turn 7

Meanwhile, the Iron Guard had laid into their brothers. The lines dwindled as soldiers fell. The ground was slick and tacky with rain and blood. To slip or stumble meant instant death. Slowly, the traitors seemed to gain the upper hand. The Loyalists held their ground bravely, but one by one, they died as the traitors pressed their advantage. Then the macemen were there. Looking up at the frightening iron banners, even striking at the unprotected backs seemed a daunting prospect. Some slowed visibly, but one warband crashed into the rear of the traitors´ line without breaking stride. Maces rose and fell, beating out a hellish peal on shields and helmets. The traitors´ banner swayed and fell.

In the ruins, the Nightwalker and the crossbowmen´s leader circled each other, their blades out and probing for an opening. The Nightwalker parried a quick thrust, but then the leader moved in, pinning the black sword with his own. He struck out with his armoured elbow, right under the helmet´s chin-guard. With a gurgling sound, the assassin fell. The other crossbowmen sent another hail at the backs of the macemen, but the quarrels fell short. Grimly, the bloodied leader rearranged his men for a last desperate dash.

Under the watchful gaze of the Judge, the Loyalist crossbowmen on the bridge were inspired to impressive feats of marksmanship. Three Iron Guardsmen fell under their relentless hail of bolts, one of them clutching the second banner with nerveless hands.


Turn 8

The traitors´ crossbowmen walked into the square, calmly firing their crossbows into the backs of those bands of macemen that had hesitated in fear. Two men went down, and the bloodied remains of the two warbands broke and fled. The crossbows´ leader nodded grimly. This was more to his liking.

At the battle line, maces and spears did their bloody work. The Judge, pressing forward despite his wound, killed a Guardsman, but slipped on his second attack and sprawled on the blood-slick ground. His opponent pinned the axe with his iron-shod boot, then brought the bottom edge of his shield down on the Judge´s throat. When he looked up, he was alone – all his brothers lay dead and dying around him. A wall of spear-points closed in on him.


Turn 9

More maces fell in the cobbled square under the withering hail of crossbow bolts. They turned around and ducked behind their round shields, trying to find cover. When the barrage stopped, only two knights rose again. Around them lay shields, maces, bundles of checkered cloaks – the remnants of their slain brothers. They exchanged a quick look, then fled into the alleys.

The tattered remains of the Loyalist Guard closed ranks again. Shields forward, they formed an iron wall. The remaining renegade feinted and thrust, his spear striking upward through a gap in the shields. One Guardsman went down, coughing blood. With a last defiant cry of "Lammon!", the traitor fell on top of the slain Judge as his enemies marched forward and spears pierced him.

Facing seven Guardsmen, a band of crossbowmen and a Judge, the remaining traitors decided discretion was the better part of valor. They slung their crossbows and ducked back into the ruins.

Many valiant men lay broken and white-faced in the square. They stared up at the leaden sky with sightless eyes, the rain washing the cold blood from their wounds. The battle was over, but it had cost a heavy price. On the bridge´s parapet, the Judge turned away and sighed. The crossbows parted uneasily to let him pass.

"How was I supposed to know he was an unarmed man? His back was to me."

Offline Manic _Miner

  • Member Emeritus
  • *****
  • Posts: 1552
  • Karma: +56/-1
    • Four A miniatures
Re: [Battle report] Loyalty - Firstborn vs. Firstborn
« Reply #10 on: September 26, 2011, 10:03:35 AM »
 Great battle report.You really capture the feel of it with your story telling skills.

Offline Cirith

  • Full Member
  • **
  • Posts: 109
  • Karma: +4/-0
  • StygianBeach
Re: [Battle report] Loyalty - Firstborn vs. Firstborn
« Reply #11 on: September 26, 2011, 11:14:07 AM »
Great story writing. I really enjoyed reading that. The touch of Devout gave the whole report an extra bit of feeling.

Were you using the 1st edition rules for the Shield Wall?
People willing to trade their freedom for security deserve neither and will lose both.

Offline Horned Owl

  • Sr. Member
  • ***
  • Posts: 368
  • Karma: +15/-0
  • Hoot!
Re: [Battle report] Loyalty - Firstborn vs. Firstborn
« Reply #12 on: September 27, 2011, 01:16:05 PM »
Yep. Still consider 1st edition (marginally) the better set. Most people in my vicinity play 1st.
"How was I supposed to know he was an unarmed man? His back was to me."

Offline Cirith

  • Full Member
  • **
  • Posts: 109
  • Karma: +4/-0
  • StygianBeach
Re: [Battle report] Loyalty - Firstborn vs. Firstborn
« Reply #13 on: September 27, 2011, 11:18:25 PM »
Yep. Still consider 1st edition (marginally) the better set. Most people in my vicinity play 1st.

In 1st edition the Shield Wall maintenance cost is too high IMO. I think 2nd ed handles the Shield Wall better.
People willing to trade their freedom for security deserve neither and will lose both.

Offline Horned Owl

  • Sr. Member
  • ***
  • Posts: 368
  • Karma: +15/-0
  • Hoot!
Re: [Battle report] Loyalty - Firstborn vs. Firstborn
« Reply #14 on: September 28, 2011, 06:38:07 AM »
On the other hand, it makes the unit near impervious to missile fire, so the limited mobility is probably a fair trade off. Once you´re in CC, you´ll drop the wall anyway.
"How was I supposed to know he was an unarmed man? His back was to me."