Wednesday, 17 July 2013

Chapter II
It had been a long day, the villages were few and far between this far north. The sun was not far off set, yet Lothar dare not strike camp here. They were entering the Chaos Wastes, there would be plenty of nights to come spent under the stars, not knowing what horrors lurked in the shadows, tonight Lothar planned to stay in the village he had been told lay not far ahead.
As they reached the crest of a hill, they saw it; ‘village’ had been pushing it a bit, maybe a dozen buildings clustered together on a rocky hillside, half of them no more than carcasses, burnt out and rotting. Yet it was all the shelter they could expect for a while.
Something caught Lothars eye, a glint of metal from the shadows of a ruin to his left. Without thinking, his hand rested on the hilt of his sword. An attack..? He was about to shout ahead to Khazeed when a blood curdling scream, a bestial war-cry echoed over the barren land.
It had begun.
X    W   X
The Road to Karstad
Two players controlled a Khorn warband each, as GM I took control of Lothar’s dwarfs.

Jordan’s Warband
Konrad, Level 10 Warrior
3 x Orcs
2 x Beastmen
4 x Humans
Mark’s Warband
Level 10 Warrior
2 x Chaos Dwarfs
4 x Humans
5 x Skaven
Lothar, Level 15 Hero
Grimbold, Level 10 Hero
Khazeed, Level 15 Wizard
4 x Clansmen
3 x Crossbowmen

Now as you may notice, this is weighted heavily in favour of the dwarfs, this wasn’t altogether intentional, not having played 3rd edition much, I really didn’t appreciate how good Khazeed would be. Anyway, its narrative, so it doesn’t need to be balanced.
Table Setup:
A road was mad long-ways down the middle of the table, lined most of the way with walls and hedges, a few other items of scenery were scattered about. One house was placed on one of the short edges, representing the start of the village.

The two players rolled off and the winner chose one of the long table edges and deployed their warband within 8” of the edge. The other player did likewise on the other side.
I randomly ordered the five dwarf units, except Lothar who was placed third. The first dwarf unit was then placed 2d6” in from one of the short table edges (the table edge that WASN’T the village), on the road. The second unit was then placed a further 2d6” along the road, the third unit (Lothar) another 2d6” along and so on, until they had all been deployed.
All units were placed facing forwards (away from the edge I had started from, towards the village)
As GM, my aim was to get Lothar to the village, ie off the short table edge towards which he was heading. If I did this neither warband won the scenario.
The two players were trying to capture Lothar. Once he had been taken to 0 wounds he would become captured by the model or unit that killed him. He could in turn be captured from that unit/model by beating them in combat. If any unit/model left the table while holding Lothar that warband would win the scenario.
X    W   X
Konrad roared, the blood running down his arms: victory was almost his. Lothar lay senseless on the floor, trampled into the mud. The battle now was not with the dwarfs, but with the other denizens of the Wastes. Konrad had not been alone in sensing the importance of Lothar, nor in wanting to offer him up to his god.
A man with a scarred face, his beard matted with mud and blood grabbed at Lothar and started to drag him away. Konrad raised his ax and brought it down on the man’s neck. Screaming and spurting blood over the prone dwarf he fell backwards, Konrad pushed on, hacking at the man again and again, the bloodlust of Khorne filling his veins. Everything else was drowned out as he worshiped his god in the only way he knew how.
Konrad’s rage was only broken when boom like a crack of thunder sounded at his feet, shards of rock flew into the air, cutting into him and forcing him backwards. A dwarf approached, unlike the others he was dark skinned and he held in his hand an orb of stone, glowing purple in the twilight.
Staggering, Konrad turned to face this new comer. The dwarf did not look like a warrior, yet on he came. Drawing a hammer from his belt the dwarf screamed something in a tongue Konrad didn’t recognise. The purple stone flashed and flickered, before Konrad knew it the dwarf was upon him, hammer blows raining down with unnatural force.
Blood ran down his face, it was his own, but Khorne didn’t mind, blood was blood. Konrad slumped to his knees. He had been beaten, but still Khorne had been appeased: Lothar was dead.
The dark dwarf grabbed his king by the collar and dragged him away. Konrad smiled, but as he did Lothar’s eyes twitched and opened. He looked straight at Konrad and both of them knew it wasn’t over yet.
X    W   X
The Sacking of Karstad
After the first battle we still had a couple of hours left ‘til kicking out time so we decided to plough straight on with the campaign. With Lothar injured and seeking refuge in the village, the two players decided they would wait for the morning then raid the village, hopefully capturing Lothar, but also killing as many others as they could in the name of Khorne.
The same forces as the previous battle, minus a few casualties on each side (and a few injuries), plus we decided five villagers would stand with the dwarfs in defence of their homes.

Jordan’s Warband
Konrad, Level 10 Warrior
3 x Orcs
2 x Beastmen
3 x Humans
Mark’s Warband
Level 10 Warrior
2 x Chaos Dwarfs
4 x Humans
4 x Skaven
Lothar, Level 15 Hero
Grimbold, Level 10 Hero
Khazeed, Level 15 Wizard
3 x Clansmen
2 x Crossbowmen
5 x Humans

Table Setup:

We set up the table as a village with one building, representing the tavern where Lothar was resting in the middle.


The dwarfs and villagers were set up in the village, with Lothar in the Tavern. The warbands decided to join together in the raid so they deployed together, anywhere with in 8” of any table edge. Lothar was unconscious at the beginning of the battle, every dwarf turn he rolled against WP, with a -3 modifier in first turn, -2 in second and so on when he passed he woke up.


Similar aims to the last battle, capture or kill Lothar, kill as many other people as possible. The two players banded together for this battle so technically they either both would win or both loose. But if Lothar were captured I’m sure there would have been some arguing over who actually held him.

X    W   X

Grimbold smiled: he knew it. The villagers had been sure the attack would come under the cover of night. With most enemies Grimbold would have agreed, but he knew the followers of Khorne, he knew how they thought. It wasn’t just the killing that appeased their foul god, it was the act of war itself. Grimbold had slept soundly that night, safe in the knowledge that no attack would come until daylight. And now, as the first light of dawn crept over the ravaged land, as the dwarfs stood ready for attack he saw them coming. He lifted his ale flask to his lips but it was empty. Oh well, he shrugged, throwing it into the dirt, he wouldn’t be needing that for a few hours, maybe a damn site longer. Behind him Kaldar sounded the warhorn, not that anyone needed telling what was about to happen, still the dull, slightly off key drone filled him with pride; pride of a hundred-thousand battles fought since the dawn of time; pride of a hundred-thousand more to come. Maybe he wasn’t so different from the enemy after all.

X    W   X

Konrad was ready this time. He saw the familiar glint of purple light coming from the tavern. A fraction of a second later he was showered with rocks, but it was going to take more than that to stop him this time.

He could feel power generated all around by the slaughter, they might only be on the very edge of the Wastes but Khorne was made strong here by the flow of blood. Yet there was another power, it was strange but Konrad recognised it, he had felt something similar once before, though he couldn’t remember where.

This new power was flooding in, a gate had been opened somewhere. As strong as Konrad had become, even with the aid of another warlord, he knew at that moment it wasn’t going to be enough. He wasn’t going to win today.

Around him his warband was being cut down, yet Konrad laughed. We wouldn’t win today, but he would win. No matter how strong the mountain, eventually time wore it down to dust, in the end Chaos would win, it was the way it had to be.

Suddenly a jolt sent him sprawling. He grasped at the ground trying to push himself up, but to no avail. He wasn’t being attacked from without this time, but from within. Everything slipped away, the noise of battle, the screaming of the dying, even the rage that had filled him for years.

X    W   X

Wulfred cradled her in his arms. His only daughter, dead.

The warband had been driven back, as they always were. But each time a little more of their lives were left destroyed. Homes burnt. Crops destroyed. Daughters killed.

‘We brought this on you,’ Lothar said to him in a heavy tone.

Wulfred shrugged. ‘If not you then another. There is no life to be made here, I should have seen that a long time ago.’

‘Even so…’ Lothar did not know how to finish that sentence. ‘You stood beside us, we owe you for that. If there is anything…’

‘There are two things,’ Wulfred said without thinking.

‘Name them.’

‘Firstly, help bury my daughter. The dead have a habit of not staying so round here. I don’t know if burying her will help stop that, but I must try.’

‘Of course. And the second thing..?’

‘Let me join you.’

‘We are heading into the very heart of the Wastes. None of us plan to return.’

‘I know,’ said Wulfred solemnly. ‘That is why I wish to go. There is nothing for me here now. I do not think you have seen the last of this warband. They will track you where ever you go. When they find you, I want to avenge my daughter.

Lothar said nothing, he just nodded.  

X    W   X

It was almost an hour before Konrad came round. When he did all was quiet, save the gentle crackle of a building on fire. There was not a living soul in sight, only the dead.

The dwarfs were stronger than he had ever expected them to be. Konrad had not come across magic like that for a long time, even here in the wastes where it flowed like rivers across the landscape. It had saved the dwarfs this time, yet it was just possible it would be the end of them.

There was always a price to be paid when you drew on that sort of power. If Konrad could only remember where he recognised it from…he smiled. There was an ancient place he had been to once, where daemons had been worshipped before man ever set foot in the world. This was where he had felt the power before. Well, magic like that worked both ways, it never served you not in the end. If they could use it, so could he…

Tuesday, 16 July 2013

Lothar the Lost is a character and background I have created for a Warhammer Fantasy 3rd Edition Realms of Chaos game/campaign.
If you don't know what Warhammer Fantasy 3rd Edition and/or Realms of Chaos are then I suggest you google them. I'm not going to go into detail here about the Oldhammer movement, maybe that can be a future post.
The first (possibly but hopefully not only) game in this narrative is due to take place tonight (Tuesday 16th July 2013) at Kingswinford, home of the Dudley Darklords. I will post details of the game as soon as possible.
Chapter I
The sky burst into virulent shades of green and yellow, so bright they forced Oldar to shades his eyes.
‘Please, my liege,’ Tibolt whined, ‘Come back inside.’
In the clouds shadows flitted to and thro, cyclopean creatures, flickering in and out of vision, Oldar suspected in and out of reality.
Tibolt held open the door off the balcony, ‘Majesty, the very air out here is enough to corrupt, we must retreat into the hold and prepare.’
‘Prepare for what?’ Olda asked with a sigh, but with a last glance back at the ruined and twisted landscape he went inside. As the door closed behind him there came a distant rumble; a mountain collapsed in a shower of molten rock.
‘Karak-Kol can not stand for much longer,’ Tibolt pleaded with his king. ‘It is your duty to protect your people.’
‘MY DUTY!’ Oldar screamed. ‘Do not DARE to tell me my duty!’
Tibolt flinched, retreating, but Oldar’s fury died as quickly as it had risen. He sunk, seemingly aged fifty years in that one outburst.
‘We were granted this land, generations ago. Why does it fall to me to loose it?’ the King sighed.
‘We do not choose the times in which we live, my liege,’ said Tibolt, ‘We only choose how we react to them. There is nothing any of us can do to save Karak-Kol now. But if we act quickly we can save our people.’

‘I know, I know. Oldar sat heavily on the golden throne and waved his hand, ‘Very well, prepare the people to march.’

‘They are prepared, your majesty. They await only your word.’
‘Then begin the march.’

‘My liege…’ Tibolt looked worried, ‘you must join us.’

Oldar nodded. ‘I will, just give me a minute.’
Reluctantly Tibolt left the king to his thoughts. Oldar wondered back onto the balcony. Below, at the very foot of the hold, three trolls argued over something. As they took it by a limb each Oldar realised it was a beastman, probably seven feet high, yet the twisted and vile trolls pulled it apart as if it were a chicken wing. The screams floated gently up to where he stood.
He had picnicked at that very spot, not many years before, when he had been courting his wife. Back then it had been a pleasant meadow. Admittedly cold in winter, and too stony to be of any use for agriculture. But in the summer it had bloomed with a hundred different flowers. Butterflies had flitted back and forth, those golden times seemed like they last for ever.
Now everything had been ripped asunder, forces beyond Oldar’s understanding had ripped apart the landscape. Everything was changed, consumed by the raw power of chaos, making a mockery of everything he and his forefathers had built here.
The first of the dwarfs were leaving. The main gates had swung open and a nervous line was winding its way southwards. From up here Oldar could see a creature, arms and eyes and tentacles mashed together in sickening mess of flesh and sinew. It seemed to sniff the air, then began a slow but purposeful shuffle toward the fleeing dwarfs.
   Some crossbow men saw it and took up positions along an old stone wall. They released a dozen or more quarrels into its foul body, but still it kept coming. More dwarfs came to their aid, axe heads gleaming green in the eerie light.
Eventually the monster was hacked apart, though still it twisted and writhed in a hundred pieces. Seven dwarfs lay dead, at least a score more were injured, and Oldar knew this would not be the last thing to attack them before they reached the safety of the World’s Edge Mountains.
Oldar turned to leave, he should be leading his people through this. Yet if he were going to abandon Karak-Kol there was something he must do first.
In a small anti-chamber off the throne room lay a cask. It contained the bones of his ancestors. Semi-mythologized dwarfs who had founded the great hold, who had walked with gods at the very beginning of time. He knelt before this cask and pledged an oath:
Where ever the fates lead his people one day the King of the Karakoli would return to the Black Hold and reclaim what was rightfully his.
X    W   X
What became of Karak-kol after King Oldor and the northern dwarfs left has fallen into myth and legend. It was subsumed into the Chaos Wastes; a land where the everyday laws of physics hold little sway. It is said that foul creatures beyond the ken of mortal minds stalk its vast and heavily gilded corridors. Many have headed north to seek out the lost treasures of this once mighty dwarven kingdom most were never seen again, those few who managed to return with their lives, if not with any riches, have by and large been driven from sanity by the horrors they witnessed.
Of the northern dwarves themselves, the Karakoli, more is recorded. The royal lineage of Oldar was continued through the generations, his heirs and their people living as guests in the other mighty holds, safe in the Worlds Edge Mountains.
Oldor himself played an important part in the early wars against Chaos. Though his followers were depleted after the destruction of their hold they were none the less a formidable force, already battle hardened by the horrors that had not yet reached their southern brethren.
It was Oldor’s great-grandson, Arbrect who stood side by side with Gotrek Starbreaker at the final siege of Tor Alessi, thus ending the centuries long War of Vengeance. Arbrect’s own grandson Korri is recorded for all time in a stone frieze at Karaz-a-Karak for his part in the Goblin Wars were he and a group of his loyal guard held off a force of green skins for three weeks even though there were outnumbered almost thirty to one.
Despite these glories, the life of a nomad does not by and large suit a dwarf. The Karakoli ever moved on, sometimes having stayed at a particular hold for a hundred years, sometimes only for a few months. Each time they did so, some of their number remained behind, tired of life on the road, wishing to make a new life in a permanent home. Many had settled and were unwilling to make their wives and children share their itinerant lives.
And so their numbers grew ever fewer, until only a few remained. The once mighty house of Oldor became a shadow of its former self, a mere memory of times gone by. Lothar, the last Rikarakol, was crowned king of less than fifty dwarfs. To all intents and purposes he was a mere noble, head of an ancient, but not overly powerful, family.
Most of his life was spent in court at Karaz-a-Karak, where he gained a reputation as wise and loyal, tirelessly working to protect dwarven interests in any way he could. And yet there was a sadness within him. To a dwarf his clan comes before all else, yet Lothar’s clan was dying. He was named the Lost, not just because of he had no hold, but because, to all intents and purposes, he had no people, and thus no real reason for being.
Khaazid, his loyal advisor, a dwarf from the Badlands, urged Lothar to take a wife, to continue the line, Lothar refused. He would be the last King of the Black Hold, he was going to make sure of that.
But it wasn’t quite as simple as that. Oldor had sworn that one day the dwarfs would return to Karak-Kol, and among the dwarfs an oath is not something to be taken lightly.
And so, when Lothar entered his two hundredth year he decided it was time to seek vengeance on the forces that befouled the seat of his clan. He had originally intended to travel alone, not wanting to doom any of his brethren to the fate he knew waited in the north. But the last of his loyal guard, mostly men as old as himself, would not hear of it. It would be a dishonour, they said, not to allow them to help him repay the grudge.
X    W   X
  Konrad lay back, full at last. Ogre was not the finest eating, but it was the first food he had had in days. The blood ran down his chin, matting the thick fur which covered his bestial face.
No moon shone down on the landscape around him, the stars were strange, no constellation he recognised. The only light came from a small fire he had lit, not that he really needed the heat, not anymore, but old habits died hard and once, before he had been changed, he would have been glad of its heat.
Figures ambled through the half-light, their evil countenances thankfully obscured by the night. More animal than human, Konrad should have been afraid. But he wasn’t afraid of anything anymore, something else had taken its place. He felt a fierce anger course through his veins, a bloodlust too immense to be mortal in origin. He had given himself to Chaos, to the unyielding anger of Khorne. And he had been accepted.
You didn’t spend long in the Chaos Wastes without learning to feel the ebb and flow of magic, the underlying power that transformed the very landscape here. And it was obvious to anyone that a large amount of this power flowed through Konrad. That is why others had started to follow him.
It was dangerous to be anywhere near Konrad, but it was far more dangerous to stand in his way. For a moment he thought of his brother, he felt pride at the destruction, yet he still had a tinge of shame, of regret; somewhere deep inside there was a part of him that remained human. He buried it, here on the wastes it was a weakness.
Slowly he drifted, not into sleep, he never slept anymore, but into a different level of consciousness. He was aware of the vast flowing streams of power around him. It flowed into this world and southwards, until it dried up, like a wave petering out on shore. Yet at it’s heart it surged with immeasurable power, if only it could find a way it had the potential to consume everything, to meld reality with the realms of nightmares.
But something was different. Somewhere, south of here, something approached. He felt the weight of events yet to happen, of destinies to be fulfilled. Whatever it was, if he wanted Khorne’s favour then he knew he had to intervene. Here was a chance to please his god, to attract his attention. This wasn’t always a good thing, but he was too far gone now to save himself. The only road lay forward, he needed to bury that part of him that was still human forever.
X    W   X
It was dark, only a slither of moon hung over them, not enough to light their way. But Khaazid had brought a lamp and slowly they made their way down the mountain side by its light.
In one of the halls of Karak-a-Karaz, even now a team of servants prepared a feast. A feast that was to be held tomorrow in Lothar’s honour. A feast they would have to hold without him.

Thorgrimm had insisted that Lothar should be honoured for finally heading out to set right the wrong that had been done to his clan countless centuries before. But this was not something Lothar wished to celebrate. It was something that needed to be done, but he knew it meant, not only the end of him, but also of his line. In keeping the Oath made by Oldar he was dooming himself and what remained of his people, proving the futility of the dwarven fight against Chaos.
And so had slipped away from Karak-a-Karaz under the cover of darkness. There was nothing brave in what he was doing, it was just what had to be done. He could see no prestige in celebrating the end of his line.
‘Lighten up, boss!’ said Grimbal, slapping his king on the back. ‘We’ve been running for two thousand years, that ain’t dwarven if you ask me. Now let’s go split some heads open!’
Lothar smiled. Maybe Grimbal was right, so what if they died, at least they would die as dwarfs. He took a swig of beer.