War - between two forces well-matched for evil - is soon to ensue...
(Steve Jackson, The Trolltooth Wars. 1989)
Fast forward twenty six years and the dramatic events that unfold in what has to be one of my favourite fantasy novels of all time have finally made it to the table top!
Illustration - Russ Nicholson
Long have I muttered about playing out the action described in The Trolltooth Wars with my good friend Warlord Paul and we finally got the ball rolling in style on the first day of BOYL 2015.
Chapter 1 The Rain of Death
|"Goblins! Goblins!" A voice rang out through the darkness like an alarm bell, shattering the stillness of the night. "We are under attack! Take guard! Goblins! Ambush!" (Steve Jackson, The Trolltooth Wars. 1989)|
|The Strongarm caravan realised their folly too late as rabid Hill Goblins flung themselves from the surrounding crags of the Trolltooth Pass!|
|The thirty eight Strongarm mercenaries were hopelessly outnumbered but still they readied their weapons and fought to overcome the shock of the ambush.|
|Above them the rocks teemed with more Hill Goblins...|
|The first screaming wave of Hill Goblins crash down in the ill-prepared mercenaries.|
|Zharradan Marr's Legionary horsemen have little room to maneuver and their lances are next to useless in the confusion.|
|More Hill Goblins arrive to join the fray (Nik Dixon arrived with reinforcements!)|
|Things look grim as Strongarms and Legionaries drop like flies...|
|Soon the caravans themselves come under attack and what little hope of escape may have lingered begins to wane...|
|The noose tightens for the Humans...|
|The beleagured Strongarms barely noticed the flight of their erstwhile Paymaster as the last few survivors were cut down.|
|Seeing his prize in danger of getting away, Foulblade spurs his panicking mount into pursuit...|
|Illustration - Russ Nicholson, the Trolltooth Wars 1989|
"Chief! Master! See! Look this!" A young Goblin came running up to the wagon, grunting excitedly and clutching something in his hand. The clanking of his scimitar against his armour startled the drawhorse, and the wagon lurched forward, sending Foulblade and his sergeant sprawling. Both Goblins were awakened by the jolt. They picked themselves up and scowled at the youngster.
The panting Goblin stopped beside the wagon and held out his hand. "Find this!" he spluttered. "Round neck human! More on others! See!" Hanging from his clenched fist was a leather thong. As his fingers slowly uncurled, the two Goblins gasped as with a single voice.
"No! Not pos'ble!" stammered Orcleaver. "Gods' eyes, NO!" But the evidence was there before them. They fell silent as they realised what they had done. And they shuddered at the possible consequences. For, lying in the Goblin's dirty palm, was a medallion of dull metal with two figures - the number "85" - cast into it.
(Steve Jackson, The Trolltooth Wars, 1989)
And so the Hill Goblins of Balthus Dire realise they have inadvertently destroyed a caravan belonging to the powerful sorcerer, Zharradan Marr, and defended by the soldiers of his legions - marked out by the medallion which bears their number.
The game was great fun to play and the Orc's Drift inspired mechanic that Warlord Paul had in place meant that I could take plenty of satisfaction in taking as many Hill goblins with my doomed Strongarms as was possible - the number of Hill Goblin casualties would affect the number of/strength of the Goblin Tribes who could turn up to the final battle in the last scenario.
Edit - I forgot to mention yesterday/how our scenario differed slightly to the book. Obviously in the book Zharradan Marr finds out about the ambush on his caravan because Donnag Kannu managed to escape the clutches of Foulblade by cutting his horses from the wagon he was driving and galloping off into the night. Kannu unfortunately met a sticky end in our game so we'll have to assume that the news makes it way to the spectral sorcerer in some other fashion. Perhaps a wounded legionary made it out of the pass in the darkness. Perhaps Marr had the caravan under surveillance through magical means and was notified by some enchanted carrion crow he had in his service. Either way Zharradan Marr is not a very happy Undead Half Elf now and Foulblade has every reason to feel somewhat nervous about the consequences of his actions!
So what's next?
Well we need to play out the small scene where the Night Shadow attacks Foulblade's camp and ends up entangling Orcleaver - should be an interesting little game with a very low model count!
After that it'll be Thugruff's revenge where the boot will most definitely be on the other foot as Zharradan Marr's Legionaries get to do a bit of massacring of their own.
This means I'll be putting together a load of Mantic Zombies to represent the Soulless Ones - Zharradan Marr's Undead troops, as well as modelling the Muties, which should be gruesome fun!
I'm well on the way to converting a model to represent Krravaak, the Rhinoman - interestingly I settled on the same mini Paul used for the mounted version of Foulblade!