Sunday 4 November 2018

Night of the Living Lead 2018

Sit down and mark ye well. Here follows a brief description of the ridiculous fashions of these distracted times . A tale of a world turned upside down. A tale of King-makers and Bastards, of trials and treason. Brother against brother, families divided and the land of Little Albion all in a kerfuffle.

Unleash the Poodles of War!

Last weekend's Night of the Living Lead game was the latest in a series that our tireless GM, Paul, has been organising for us for some time now - us being a disparate group of ne'er-do'wells scattered across the country but all sharing a love for old skool adventures in the misty and mysterious realm of Albion and the ability to get to Wargames Foundry for a day's gaming.

A lovely map of Little Albion produced by Paul that references the games we've played since 2013

Back in 2017 we played the Second Battle of Onwoot - a game so epic it inspired our resident pen and ink pusher, Mathew Street, to commemorate it in this marvellous piece!

The Gathering of Dragons by Mathew Street. Kind of reminds me of another famous artist's work but can't quite put my finger on it... ;)
It's great to see folks' photos and write-ups after a game but to have original artwork produced and of this calibre is something else - Bravo Mr Street! Oh and do check his new blog (News From Hell Before Breakfast) out too - great stuff!

So the narrative that led us to our latest game began last year with the Second Battle of Onwoot, played (and unreported on this blog - apologies!) last October. Warlord Paul's excellent background for the game gave us plenty to get our teeth in to.

The Second Battle of Onwoot.
Both the First and the Second Battles of Onwoot take place on the same day during the Albion Wars of the Florists, a conflict between rival noble Elven houses that so bewildered the ordinary people with its internecine politics that they resorted to assuming the floral war banners were somehow the cause of all the kerfuffle. The battles are fought near the wood elf village of Onwoot in Wootshire.
Two would-be elven princes clash with their massed armies for the right to call themselves Prince of Wootshire on Balm Satyrday (usually a sacred day for the elves of Albion involving the giving and receiving of fragrant oils and skin-friendly unguents with music and dancing in the evening). Redwood, the Earl of Woot, fights his cousin Prince Tentree in a bloody battle that lasts all day. Many thousands are killed, from proud elven knights to grubby human peasants. Both sides have also bought up as many mercenaries as will answer the call.
During the battle the forces of the house of Woot take advantage of prevailing winds to outrange their opponent’s bows. Redwood’s Captain of Archers, Lord Falconberg, is able to rain death on his foes for little loss in return. Though the following melee is bloody and protracted, the late arrival of a warband of Northmen (who subsequently declare for Woot) finally swings the battle in Redwood’s favour once and for all. Eventually, Redwood prevails and his rival Tentree is captured along with his retinue and a handful of survivors.
Tentree is a peaceful soul at heart, pious and unsuited for bloody dynastic wars. He also suffers bouts of insanity during which his wife, the sorceress Witch-hazel of Athel Loren, would rule in his stead. It is for these reasons his right to rule was challenged by the militant and ambitious Redwood in the first place.
As evening draws to a close, Redwood’s army is making camp while Tentree and his fellow prisoners are under guard awaiting their fate. Witch-hazel, unwilling to abandon her position of power and the royal claims of her son so lightly, arrives with a small entourage and uses her necromantic powers to raise the dead who still lay unburied upon the battlefield. At her call leering demons leap from the shadows and flapping monsters descend from their perches on the lonely heights. With darkness falling like a shroud, the Second Battle of Onwoot is ready to begin!
Sub-plots for small warbands:
Wilhelm Wavepike, the famous bard of St Ratford, is present to record the details of the action and commit them to a play which lauds the virtues of the victor (and denigrates the loser as a worthless and mis-shapen villain of course). He carries with him priceless first edition copies of some of his most famous works, ‘Confessions of a Milking-Troll Maid’ and ‘I, Balthus Dire’. Whoever manages to get a hold of these would be very rich indeed and set for life.
The local inn of Onwoot (The Belching Balrog) is a hangout for a society of rogue wizards known as ‘Re-Casters’. They dabble in forbidden alchemical processes and copy patented spells for their own nefarious purposes. It is entirely possible fate will drag them into the fray somehow, unmasking them will lead to a great reward while their aid could be the difference between victory or defeat.
The High Elf Health and Safety Executive accompanies Redwood’s army so that they might immediately begin to stamp his authority on the populace after his assured victory. There is no greater fear known to man or elf than that of this bureaucratic regulatory body. Killing them will garner a reputation worthy of legend but if they survive to inspect the Belching Balrog the sorrow of the people will be without end.
An unbridled infestation of badgers has caused catastrophic damage to the environment, there are miles of tunnels under both Onwoot and the field of battle. Anyone ridding the region of this terror will be richly rewarded, it may be possible to turn this situation into a military advantage in some way however…

My part in the battle was fairly small - a late arriving warband of Dark Elves treacherously attacking Redwood's lines from the rear! Photos are courtesy of Tom Reynolds.

It was left to others to fill in the more epic moments!

Impressive battle lines of Elves and assorted mercenaries face off.
A gathering of Dragons - both sides struggle for air superiority in a titanic dragon fight!

The outcome of the day was the capture of Tentree by my own Dark Elf mercenary captain, Calen Rauko, although his paymaster, Redwood fell to his death from the skies after learning not to bring a Griffin to a Dragon fight.

Next on the agenda was the Battle of the Bulbs - fought earlier this year some time in February as our Lead of Winter game, again hosted by Foundry. I'll let the ever eloquent Warlord Paul give you the outline for this game - 

The Battle of the Bulbs.

This battle takes place a few weeks after 2nd Onwoot (Night of the Living Lead 2017).

King Tentree the First and Second (of the House of Garrison) has been captured by his rivals, the House of Yewtree. Prince Orchard, the Duke of Yewtree, has emerged to replace his brother Redwood as the head of House Yewtree and declared himself ‘Lord Protector’; thereby effectively ruling Little Albion and reducing his prisoner Tentree to a mere puppet.

Calen Rauko, the elven mercenary who captured Tentree and handed him over to the House of Yewtree, is now Baron of Onwoot. Idreth the Bastard, the elven mercenary who fought so valiantly for Redwood at 2nd Onwoot is now Baron of Notsax (though apparently he’s still a bastard).

Since 2nd Onwoot, Orchard has made a great effort to stabilise the Kingdom by sending out diplomatic missions to all his neighbours. One such mission, to the dwarves of Castleside Hold, inadvertently leads to disaster. As far as the dwarves (who despise the subtleties of elven courts) are concerned Tentree is still King and a dangerously weak and soft-hearted one at that. It is worth noting that all elves are counted as weak and soft-hearted to a dwarf but special levels of contempt were accorded to Tentree and this made the dwarves very unhappy.

The circumstances under which the Lord High Thane of the Dwarves received the elven diplomats were extremely tense. When the elven diplomats unveiled their customary gift to the court, sacks of tulip bulbs which are considered to be a prized commodity in elven culture, tangible silence proclaimed the dwarves disgust at the perceived insult.

The diplomats were summarily expelled and the High Thane declared war on the house of Yewtree. He marched his army south-east into the Kingshills (hoping to launch a surprise attack on the City of Yewtree itself) even as Prince Orchard marched north through the hills towards Kingsham Abbey, ready to link up with forces from Newfort and besiege Castleside. Thanks to appalling weather conditions and low visibility, the dwarven army blunders into the elven army deep inside the Kingshills at a place called Peachy Bottom. Archery and gunpowder is adversely affected and early exchanges are confused and disjointed.

Eventually, despite the chaos, both commanders realise the situation and take steps to organise their forces. Orchard’s rearguard (a contingent of Yewtree archers) are trapped inside a ruined tower to the south of Peachy Bottom by the dwarven vanguard. The bulk of Orchard’s army (including all the bolt throwers) are camped at Peachy Bottom with the main part of the dwarven army a mere stones throw away. Both commanders are near Peachy Bottom as they desperately try to marshal their soldiers and launch an attack on their enemy. The elven vanguard is thundering back south under Lord Mulberry while the dwarven rearguard charges eastward, both hoping to arrive in time to affect the outcome of the battle.
I was unable to make the trek down to Newark for this one thanks to the vagaries of my wife's often unpredictable shift patterns. Reports from the battlefield were rather vague and contradictory as to whether it was an Elven or Dwarven victory... Photos once more from the nearest thing we have to an official photographer - Tom Reynolds!

The Elf and Dwarf battle lines clash!

Artillery roared...
Cavalry clashed...

and rearguards were beleagured!
It was a bloody battle for both sides by all accounts. The Dwarves were sorely pressed on both their flanks but held off their Elven foes in the centre. Their losses were grievous however, in no small part down to underhand Elven tactics like using big nasty Dragons and War Dancers! However, the Elven commander, Tentree was sorely wounded and left vulnerable to the political machinations of his own nobles. Considering their honour satisfied the Dwarves withdrew to lick their wounds whilst Tentree fled to the nearby Kingshill Keep to claim asylum from his murderous subordinates.

Which leads us to the Night of the Living Lead game we played last week...

The Siege of Kingshill Keep

With Tentree out of his grasp and holed up in a sympathiser's castle, Lord Protector Orchard now had his hands full of Elven nobles jostling for position in the resulting power vacuum. A stalemate ensued, with the various Elven commanders nervously eyeing their counterparts to see who'd make the first move on the throne. Of course Tentree was not forgotten and steps would have to be taken to deal with the wounded and marginalised Monarch one way or another...

The Wars of the Florists had been witness to many a strange scene already in their short and bloody history but there had been none stranger than that of the Siege of Kingshill Keep. With the Barons of Onwoot and Notsax vying with the House of Yewtree for control of the throne, mercenaries were needed to carry out their dirty work at Kingshill Keep. And so it came to pass that Dwarf and Greenskin, Dark Elf, Human and Chaotic stood side by side to lay siege to the beleagured Tentree. Each of course had their own very different intentions once the walls were breached...

Bakraz Drakenklad cast a critical eye across the battlements that stood resolutely before him. Not bad, he thought to himself, at least for whichever less vertically challenged race that had thrown them together. The proportions and rough craftsmanship looked Human but there was the odd, overly dramatic architectural flourish here and there that stunk of Elf. Various despondent looking Human levies shuffled about on the battlements trying to look menacing. Drakenklad looked beyond them to the gaudy looking folly that stood proud of the keep's defensive walls like a large, swollen, red... 

He shook his head at the sheer tastelessness of the monstrosity. Perhaps it was the jaunty angle with which the Leaning Tower of Morskols stood that offended him most, or was it the preponderance of ornate skulls and other frivolous devices that adorned nearly every nook and cranny? It was sure to be where he would find his foppish quarry - the pathetic, vastly over-rated and extremely mendacious bard, William Wavepike. The vile worm was sure to be quivering beneath his equally pathetic patron's wing, King Tentree. A King who hid from his own nobles - poor indeed, even for an Elf! A King without a Kingdom...

Drakenklad did not linger long on that thought, still smarting as he was from the shame of being ousted from his own Hold in Daggervale by an Undead horde. Mercenary captain was not as grand a title as Dwarf Lord but still, at least he was doing better than Tentree. He still had an army to command and a handsome reward should he manage to make the bard, Wavepike, pay for the terrible insults he had heaped on Dwarfkind in his miserable victory songs, commissioned to celebrate Elven "heroics" at the recent Battle of the Bulbs. His paymaster, a rather shady and hardline Dwarf going by the name of Stonewall Streetison, had been most explicit about exactly how he wanted the Human Bard to suffer for his crimes. Bakrad, not one for torture and atrocity, had put it all down to the Dwarf's frustration at not being able to be present on the battlefield himself after the Lord High Thane of the Dwarves had recalled his troops and signed a ceasefire after the Battle of the Bulbs. Bakraz also wondered if Stonewall's bitterness had anything to do with his clan's treatment at the hands of a band of Elven Wardancers at the battle...

A terrible cacophony on his left interrupted the Dwarf captain's musings. His nose wrinkled in disgust, both at the odour that accompanied the noise and at the prospect of sharing a flank with the large Goblinoid mercenary force that was the author of both. This was one part being a soldier of fortune that he wouldn't get used to - rubbing shoulders with scum and villainy of all kinds, including hereditary enemies.  He reminded his troops, in a stern voice, of the size of the paychest they would receive at the end of the day, in an attempt to quell the discontented mutterings that rose from his ranks. His eyes narrowed further as he caught the dull glint of the sun reflecting off Dark Elf steel in the distance as more mercenaries took to the field, encircling the castle like vultures round a sick cow. Yes, today would be a tricky one, potentially beset by enemies on all sides and no guarantee he would get to his quarry first...

The Dwarves form up ready to assault their section of the battlements.

It seems that Human levies are not the only defences the Keep has...

The Leaning Tower of Morskols also boasts a rooftop aviary, housing the Kingshill Royal Airforce...

A Dark Elf Hunting Party makes its approach on the castle.

A single cat stands poised on the battlements - what devilry could be in store here? Not sure it was quite worth the two or three turn's worth of Orc archery and stonethrower fire it took to hit... and then successfully wound it...

Slambo and his vile and shiny Chaotics make haste foe the ladders.

Dark Elf cavalry head for the breach in the castle wall while the Harpies and their pet Manticore take to the air - but not too high for fear of alerting the castle air defenses!

A motley bunch of ruffians and criminals begin battering at one of the castle gates, champing at the bit to get in there and begin slaughtering civilians.

With covering fire from the Thunderers and Crossbows, the Dwarf battleline trundles towards the walls.

Drakenklad leads his Clansmen in an assault on the battlements.

The Human spearmen are no match for Dwarven weaponskill.

The horde of Orcs and Goblins shambles forward, unleashing the combined firepower of their archers and artillery at the cat...

The Choatics pause to pose impressively on the parapet...

- only to be met with a withering barrage of crossbow bolts from the Dark Elf mercenaries defending them.

Bakraz's Dwarves send the Humans fleeing.

Meanwhile the Ironbreakers begin battering the castle gate before them as worrying numbers of Orcs and Goblins form a fairly orderly queue behind them.

The Dwarves pursue their foes down in to the Bailey as more Dwarf crossbowmen take their place on the battlements.

The Ironbreakers fail to make much impression on the gates - much to the amusement of the Goblinoids.

A vicious battle erupts as Dark Elf cavalry charge the Giant Cyclops guarding the breach.

Once more unto the breach dear friends - even though there's a bloody big monster there...

Human defenders fight stubbornly against the winged monstrosities before them.

Having cleared the wall of defenders, the Chaos Warriors pose once more to receive yet more punishing crossbow fire!

Casey's murderers make it through the gate and eye up the most vulnerable targets to butcher...

They immediately fall on a small child but find the Golem accompanying him a little more of a challenge! Many other defenceless civilians died to bring you this battle report...

The Dark Elf general finally slays the Cyclops after losing all his cavalry.

Dwarf Miners and Thunderers maneuver to reinforce their compatriots in the castle and protect their escape route from the Goblins illing around in their rear.

The Harpies and Manticore finally finish eating Humans.

Trolls join the Dwarf Crossbows on the battlements - much to their's and the Human defenders' surprise.

The Ironbreakers breach the gate.

Having survived crossbow fire from all directions, the Chaos Warriors are set on by a pack of slavering giant rats, enraged no doubt by the destruction of an entire section of the castle walls thanks to the Chaos Sorcerer's Raze spell.

Mercenaries converge on the Leaning Tower, Harpies being the first to reach the upper windows.

This however, triggers the take off of the tower's airforce! Various Demons, Harpies and a Manticore descend on the attackers, routing some newly arrived Dwarves who had negotiated the Giant Badger tunnels beneath the castle. 

Three of the said Demons confront Bakraz and his Clansmen.

Dwarven reinforcements race to keep ahead of the growing number of Gobinoids appearing on the battlements.

A lone figure steals away from the ranks of Bakraz's Dwarves and creeps towards the tower...

The short but lithe figure adeptly scaled the tower wall, pausing by the window. Hewde Morvihll, an accomplished Dwarf assassin, draws back his cloak and waits for the moment to strike at his target, Wilhelm Wavepike the bard unwittingly prances towards his doom. A knife in the back and Dwarf honour is once more satisfied.

Outside the keep the Goblins continue their encirclement.

Trigger fingers become a little twitchier...

Slambo and his gang, having finished stamping on rats, burst in to the ground floor of the tower and make short work of the civilians there.

Outside, the child murderers are set upon by Demons and Harpies - and still their struggle with the Golem grinds on.

A couple of floors up one of the Dark Elves' Harpies finds her mark - the Goblin Princess/diplomat, Princess Leer. The winged creature stares uncomprehendingly down the barrel of a flintlock pistol as the feisty Goblin announces, "You look kind of short for a Harpy..."

Outside Morvihl continues his ascent of the tower. Reaching the upper floors he is rewarded with another tempting target presenting his back to an open window - this time it is Tentree himself!

Having managed to restrain their pyro-maniacal Chaos Sorcerer from torching another floor of the tower with magical fireballs, Slambo and his gang burst in to valiantly "rescue" the Goblin Princess from the clutches of the Dark Elve's Harpy.

After a brief tussle in which both sides almost ended up with a piece of Goblin Princess, the Harpy manages to escape with its prey. Acting quickly the Chaos Sorcerer shoots the fleeing creature from the sky with a fireball. However as the Princess Leer tumbles from the heavens in a cascade of charred feathers, amazingly a second Harpy swoops in to catch her mid-flight.

Not intending to let his objective escape so easily the Chaos Sorcerer casts a flying spell upon himself and once more the poor Goblin maiden finds herself torn between two determined factions, although this time several hundred feet in the air. Princess Leer contemplates whether or not falling to her death might have been the preferable fate as she looks up at the leering countenance of her Sorcerous rescuer...

Having cleansed most of the tower with fire and then having cleansed the survivors with axes, Slambo and his gang find themselves nose to warty nose with a gang of frenzied Trolls. The results are not pretty for either side although at least the Troll's regenerative qualities means that some of their number are still breathing at the end of the encounter...

With the fork-tongued bard, Wavepike dead, Dwarf honour safisfied and the pathetic puppet, Tentree assassinated, all Bakraz's mercenary force has to do is bug out. His Second-in-Command's assessment of the situation, barely heard over the growing crescendo of Goblinoid warcries from without the Keep, does not comfort the Mercenary Captain... "Erm, Boss... I think we got a problem..." 


  1. You guys have an awesome thing happening! Inspiring and entertaining!!! I need to up My game for sure.

    1. Cheers bud - all thanks go to Paul, our GM, who cooks all these great games up. We just turn up and lark about!

  2. Nice write up Steve, great pictures too, the scenario wanted a few more back-stabbing opportunities though!

    1. Haha - yep, the siege was quite a polite affair. i'm surprised I was the one who did the dirty on Nik's Greenskins who looked like they were surrounding me. My last turn was spent fending off swarms of Goblins storming my siege tower after my Dwarves tried to blow a whole through their lines to escape!

  3. This Stonewall Streetisson sounds like a thoroughly decent chap. Small of stature, wide of vision, narrow of purpose, big of head, long of whiskers and huge of belly.
    Rumours in Little Albion suggest that Streetisson’s chosen method of death for Wavepike was for him to be played the Adele album until he nutted himself to death on the stone floor voluntarily to make the noise stop.
    As I have a slight connection to the Streetisson family I can confirm that the “Stonewall’s” real hatred of Wavepike was due to his lies about the Battle of the Bulbs.
    For twas not Arthursus Pantdragon at the centre of the dwarf line. Streetisson was with the Dux Bellendum at the far-right of the dwarf line, fighting a quite frankly silly number of chariots and dragons supported by Anders Atom (Tayles) the Taylor and his heavy dwarf pony cavalry.
    Said wardancer conflict came in the centre held by Johann Ratt-the-Cliffe. Indeed it was a contentious fight that threatened to spill over into the Carriage Court. “Lads let’s keep war where it belongs! On the tabletop!”
    One of the golden rules of Oldhammer was broken! If thee bring thine Wardancers to the table, also bring some knowledge of the Wardancer rules!
    Or Chris Howell. Whichever is easier.

    1. A fitting demise I'm sure but one long since outlawed by the Gin-fever Convention, one of the more surprisingly cogent and humane declarations to come from the UR(GE) - United Races (and Gin Enthusiasts). No wonder Bakraz blanched at carrying out the terrible punishment himself.

      I am saddened to hear of other Golden Rules being broken that black day but heartened to receive more reliable reports from the thick of the action. One can never quite trust the Elven spin on things...

      As for Streetison, I would have to agree that, despite his habitual belligerence, antagonistic manner (especially prevalent in his written missive within the Book of Face) and hardline Dwarf fundamentalism, he is indeed a very decent chap ;)