More skirmish combat and definite shrinkage, after the jump.
The snow had been falling for a day when the farmer stumbled into the hall, frozen blood smeared across his face and furs. Delirious, he spoke of raiders on his farm: of beasts with horns on their faces who towered over a man, of murder, and rape, and death. Æswylla listened to the report, trying hard to mask her frustration. Goat-man raiders had slain her husband during similar circumstances last year, ambushing him while he rode out to investigate the slaughter of livestock on a similar farm. She had led the Duguth against the band last time and avenged him, throwing down his slayer and driving Steelwind, her husband's sword, through his throat. The dead Gabrax's head adorned the wall of their drinking hall, along with similar hunting trophies. Those had not been giants, merely standing a head higher than a man, but fear often lent exaggeration to such stories. Still...
She turned to Hereweald, the Wiglere next to her. She wasn't sure whether the feral taint of her people ran in his veins, but was a beast in his bed play, and more importantly had a respectful relationship with the pack that was nominally under her protection. "Hereweald, I ask you to call forth the pack. We will drive these beast men from our lands, and gain weregild for the losses this good farmer has suffered, whether it be through recompense or their hides." The bearded shaman nodded once, finished his ale horn, and stood to depart.
"I shall do as I am bid, m'lady," he said. "How large should the pack be for this hunt?"
She thought for a moment. "Four should be sufficient," she proclaimed. "I shall call my spears, and we shall pursue this hunt together."This 499 gold Encounter will take place between Angelcynn and Fomoraic. Our participants for this combat are as follows:
For the Angelcynn:
Æswylla, a Thegn, armed with a Bow, a Guthelm and Guthbyrne (88 gold)
commanding 7 Duguth, equipped with Byrnes, and with a full command (168 gold)
Hereweald, a Wiglere (76 gold)
commanding 4 Werwulfas, equipped with Byrnes (164 gold)
Candraan, a Warlock of Baalor, (87 gold)
commanding 2 Sronax, equipped with Light Armor (194 gold)
also commanding 3 Tarvax, equipped with Light armor (213 gold)
I played this game late at night, and against myself, so any rule inconsistencies are purely down to me not knowing what I was doing (or having drunk enough beer to not care). Even without the tactical disadvantage of not knowing what comes next, it should still do a good job illustrating how the game plays out.
Since Mierce's Werwulf models are not yet finished, I used some Rackham Wolfen to fill in for them.
The Fomoraic started deployment by dropping his Sronax in his right corner, while the Angelcynn placed their Duguth in the middle of the field, joined by the Thegn. The Fomoraic deployed his Tarvax adjacent to the Sronax, while the Angelcynn deployed their Werwulfas on the right side of their deployment zone. The two Invokers went in between the two units.
The Angelcynn halted their march when even Æswylla could smell the blood in the air. A tall outcropping of rock separated them from their quarry, so they could smell those they hunted, but not see them. Another scent pervaded the snowy air; a musky odor that she had not smelled before. One of the Werwulfas sniffed the air, and pulled its lips back over its teeth in a silent snarl. Hereweald interpreted the glance, and turned to his Thegn. "They do not think we fight Gabrax, lady," he said. "This scent is closer to the cow-men they have been known to travel with. There is some other scent as well, but the pack do not understand it.""Cow men?" she responded. "I look forward to the beef we shall all enjoy the rest of this winter. Duguth, you are with me along the left side. Hereweald, have the Werwulfas flank around to the right of the hill." Her commands issued, she turned and began leading the Duguth to glory.The Angelcynn win the Authority test, and go first. They began with activating the Werwulfas who moved up along the right side of the hill. The Fomoraic commander countered by moving the Tarvax up against the hill, blocking line of sight for either unit to engage the other.
The Duguth move up, and Sronax then both moved up, followed by the invokers, who followed the Sronax and Duguth units. The Warlock then changed his Move order.
As she rounded the hill, Æswylla found that her enemies were not cow-men at all, and were definitely not Gabrax. Instead, two massive bipeds stood before her, horns jutting from their horselike noses. They bore massive clubs wrapped with spikes. The scale of them was daunting, but a Thegn cannot show fear in front of her men. It was cold, bitterly cold. She hoped any shivering she did could be attributed to the weather, rather than to fear.
Behind the massive humanoids, she saw something she did not expect: a man, clad in heavy plate mail, walking confidently behind the things. She wondered what his presence portended, and more importantly, how he could command such large monsters to do his will, for they were clearly acting in deference to him. She turned to Hereweald. "Hold them where they are, and we shall bring them down for you," she commanded, gesturing to the humanoids.The Angelcynn rolled a 01 for their Initiative test, and again went first. The Duguth moved sideways a bit, and the Sronax responded by moving up as well to stare at them. The Wiglere moved up to support the Duguth and Invoked Tanglethorn on the Sronax, boosting the Focus range by 4. Five Invoke dice went through, and only two were avoided. The Sronax took 13 damage (putting their Wounded Warrior at 40 Constitution), and better, the Sronax cannot charge next turn. The Wiglere took 7 damage as the Price of casting, dropping his Constitution to 25.
The Fomoraic responded by activating his Warlock, who moved up and Invoked Shardlings on the Duguth. 5 Invoke dice succeeded, and only 2 were avoided. The Duguth take 17 damage, slaying one and putting 5 damage on the Wounded Warrior. The Warlock takes 4 damage from the base Price of the Invocation, dropping his Constitution to 28. He then issues an Order to the Sronox, who pass their Authority test to accept it.
Æswylla's lips parted as she felt the battle lust come on her. Hereweald had done exactly as expected, and his thorns had grown up around the large humanoids and slowed them enough that they would only be able to take her charge. She would have to reward him for that later, once this was done. On the hill, she could see the Werwulf pack preparing to close with the cow-men. Perhaps she and Hereweald could spend the evening on one of their pelts, if the wulfas did not mangle them too badly. She threw back her head and howled, both in celebration and homage to the wolf blood that bound her people together.
On top of the hill, the Werwulfas heard her howl and picked it up, fangs bared, swords gleaming in their hands. The hunt was finishing, battle was joined, and blood would be spilled.The Angelcynn won the Initiative test again, and activated the Werwulfas unit, who charged the Tarvax. 11 of their sword blows hit, but all were Parried. Their Claw attacks were more successful, with 4 strikes and only 2 parried, doing 10 damage to Tarvax. The Tarvax then performed Attack Move, to get back into combat, and hit back. Their broadswords struck for 6 hits, 2 of which got through, doing 23 damage to the Werwulfas and leaving 2 Constitution on the Wounded Warrior.
Finally, the Angelcynn player activated his Wiglere, who performed a Move to get out of the Warlock's sight, and then performed a Recover, barely passing his Temper test with an 82, but regaining 27 Constitution with some lucky 9's.
Æswylla was frustrated. Backed by her Duguth she had charged the bipeds, who were wrapped in thorns and completely helpless to act. Their spears had not been able to penetrate the shaggy hide, and Steelwind had only grazed one. Worse, the armored man was going after Hereweald, and she had no idea how the duel of magic fared. She'd already seen one Duguth, a warrior she'd known since she was a child, die to the shards of ice the human had produced. She hoped Hereald's magic would be up to the task of handling him. She heard the snarling and bellows from the top of the hill, but could not risk a glance up there to see how her pack fared. Before her, the humanoids bellowed as they ripped free of the thorns, and they snorted heavily as they lifted their heavy clubs. "Fight!" she screamed, though she was unsure if she was commanding her Duguth, taunting her opponents, or trying to inspire herself.In what is becoming a tradition in my games, the Fomoraic go first after losing the Initiative roll for the first three turns.
Warlock activates, and goes after Wiglere with Shardlings again. 3 dice succeed in the Invoke, and 1 is Evaded. However, the Warlock goes insane with 9's on his Damage rolls, and ends up with 40 damage to the Wiglere. The Warlock takes another Warlock takes another 4 for the Price, and has 22 Constitution left.
It was cold, bone-numbingly cold. Æswylla could feel the gooseprickles on her skin, in spite of the fact that she was sweating from combat. She'd heard what she assumed was Hereald's death scream behind her, preceded by the noise of ice cracking and slamming into a soft object. Atop the hill, she could hear triumphant bellows and roars, and far less howling than she'd expect. Around her, the bodies of her kinsmen littered the ground. Her sword was slick with blood, but her armor was more slick with the blood of those she'd led into battle. The beasts swung their blades, and another Duguth screamed as his arm was severed at the bicep. He glanced down at the limb, and his blood spurted across the muzzle of the beast that had amputated it. His face went white, and he fell to the ground and did not move. The beast licked the blood from its snout, and its eyes met Æswylla's. She screamed, then: a scream of rage, and anger, and hatred. Steelwind danced in her hands, and slashed deep into the beast's thighs. Warm blood washed over her hands, and the creature stumbled back, blinking its beady eyes in confusion. It had been enjoying the slaughter; now she would enjoy slaughtering it. She was a trained warrior of the Angelcynn, and though she might stand alone, she would make her death one worthy of a song.The Fomoraic, jubilant from their success in the previous hour, won the Initiative roll. They activated Tarvax, who performed an Attack Move to get one warrior back into into combat with the Werwulf. Six of their Strike dice succeeded, but the Werewulf rolled a few 9's and Parried 9 of them, taking 6 damage and having 18 Constitution remaining. The Werwulf switched to a two-handed hold on his sword and Struck, but the Tarvax parried the blow.
The Sronax swung back on the Duguth, Struck with two clubs and a gore, the Duguth failed to parry, but the Sronax whiffed the damage rolls, doing 10 points and leaving the Duguth with 1 Constitution left.
Finally, the Fomoraic activated their Warlock, who attempted to Invoke Frozen Blood into the combat. He rolled a 0 and 1, and failed to Invoke. He paid the Price, and was left with 14 Constitution.
Time seemed to slow as Æswylla entered the battle rage. Steelwind felt like an extension of her arm, and the cold that had seemed so debilitating earlier had faded. The beast she was facing pulled back its arm for another blow, but she ducked and plunged her blade into the beast's groin, feeling the wash of blood that she knew meant she had severed its lifeblood. The blood gushed out, and the beast tried to bellow as its leg gave and it fell. She plunged Steelwind into it's eye, and placed a foot on its head to withdraw the blade before turning to survey the battlefield. One of her werwulfas was holding off the cow-men, howling a challenge at them from atop the hill. Her Wolfborn deflected a blow with his spear and plunged it into the beast's chest. She noticed a large gash above his eye, and the blood was making it difficult for him to see his opponent, but he fought on. The armored human was out of view; she wondered if Hereald had managed to bring him down as well. All was not lost! She roared a challenge at the beast before her and brandished Steelwind. For Mierce, she would fight, and these invaders would fertilize its soil with their bodies!The Fomoraic won the Initiative test, and activated Tarvax. The unengaged model used an Attack move to get into the Blind Arc of the Werwulf, and they rolled to Strike. 7 connected from the front, and 4 from the rear. The Werwulf parried 5 of the attacks, but the remainder did 72 damage, enough to slay him thrice over.
Behind her, though, the Warlock advanced into her Blind arc and unleashed another round of Shardlings, boosting its power by 6. He succeeded with 8 Invoke dice, and while she Evaded 4, the remainder dealt 48 damage, slaying the Thegn and leaving the Warlock victorious, but with 4 Constitution.
The cold returned to Æswylla's skin as she heard the death whimper of the last Werwulf. She set off a flurry of blows, breaching the guard of the beast before her and drawing blood from a pair of wounds and slowing its attacks. Her Wolfborn drove his spear accurately at the creature's throat, but at teh last moment it brought the handle of its club up and parried the blow harmlessly above its head. With a bellow, it lowered its horn, and impaled her Wolfborn on it, then casually tossed its head to send the body flying. Letting a roar, it swung its club at her, connecting with her side in a glancing blow. She felt a rib crack, but gritted her teeth and fought on. The cold seemed to get worse, and suddenly she was aware that something wet was running down her back. Something bit into her shoulder, and the cold of it stung hard enough to make her catch her breath. A dozen more punctures bit into her back, and she glanced down at her chest in horror to see a crystalline protrusion coming out of it. She dropped to her knees, then fell backwards against the earth. The human in armor appeared in her view, looming heavily above her. The beast she had been fighting grumbled something unintelligible, and the man smiled. "By all means, she is yours," he answered the beast in her own language. "Another conquest for us to lay claim to." Darkness began to fill her vision, and she embraced it as the cold took its toll.