Wednesday 21 November 2012

The Annals of the Relic of Saint Pius

Chapter 1,Sorviodunum
Read stranger, the apocryphal words of Saint Neot the Lesser, servant of God and compiler of this, the Annals of the Relic of Saint Pius. It is a tale of Britons and Saxons, of Irish pirates and valiant knights. A song of holy relics and vile heathens, of the bravest of deeds and the most villainous of treacheries.

I should know, for I was there...

Flavius Constans, a man who fancied himself descended from a line of Roman Emperors, stared contemptuously down the slopes of Sorviodunum at the rabble gathering below. Sure, the combined Hiberno-Saxon host had driven him out of Venta of the Belgae– a centre his opponents were now calling Venta-chester, as if they thought he would let them stay. Sure, the barbarous hoards had forced him to seek shelter within the crumbling defences of Sorvidunum – but he had not gone down without a fight. Now, only two enemy warbands remained in any condition to continue the fight: Æthelwulf's band of Angles and a boat-load of Irish pirates led by the fearsome Irish prince, Dubh Fiach.

Behind Flavius, one of his spearmen chuckled quietly at some jest uttered by his fellows. The last of Venta’s stout-hearted militia sat around a collection of small fires, speaking quietly while they prepared themselves for the onslaught that would come at first light. Every man there knew that this, their last stand would be a bloody affair. The only real hope of the British cause was that Flavius’ distant cousin, the Magister Equitum of all the Britons would bring his mounted host to sweep away the opposition.

This is the first battle of a four game linear campaign featuring the competition between four warbands for the control of the territory of the Belgae, one of the minor princedoms in southern Britain that struggled to survive in the wake of the Roman withdrawal. For the purposes of the campaign, the warbands are fixed. In each battle the will return with a full complement of warriors regardless of the outcome of the previous games. The details of the four warbands are provided below, but this campaign could, of course, be run with different warbands or in an entirely different setting. 

The chapter title of each scenario is a clickable link which will take you to the 'after action report'.

Theme: Romano-British milites

Points: 599
Models: 17

Personalities: 169 (28%)
Morale check: 9

Warriors: 430 (72%)

Flavius Constans, the Penultimate Roman
Points: 103
Special rules: group fighter, heavy armour, leader

Calpurnius Draco
Points: 66
Special rules: fearless, leader, standard bearer

Pedyt (x10)
Points: 22
Special rules: shieldwall

Archer (x5)
Points: 42
Special rules: sharpshooter, shooter long

Theme: Romano-British Knights

Points: 597
Models: 7

Personalities: 175 (29%)
Morale check: 4

Warriors: 422 (71%)

Artorius, Magister Equitum
Points: 150
Special rules: combat master, dashing, heavy armour, hero, hero’s horse, long move, running blow

Saint Neot
Points: 25
Special rules: leader, slow

Companion (x3)
Points: 90
Special rules: dashing, heavy armour, long move, mounted, running blow

Companion Archer (x2)
Points: 76
Special rules: heavy armour, long move, mounted, shooter medium

Theme: Irish raiders

Points: 596
Models: 13

Personalities: 168 (28%)
Morale check: 7

Warriors: 428 (72%)

Dubh Fiach mac Eóghan of the Eóghanacht
Points: 90
Special rules: forester, savage, terror

Iseult the Raven
Points: 78
Special rules: assassin, forester, free disengage

Eóghanacht raider (x8)
Points: 43
Special rules: coward, forester, free disengage, savage

Wolfhound (x3)
Points: 28
Special rules: animal, berserk, savage

Theme: Anglo-Saxons

Points: 598
Models: 13

Personalities: 156 (26%)
Morale check: 7

Warriors: 442 (74%)

Æthelwulf the Boar
Points: 106
Special rules: heavy armour, leader, tough

Sigtrygg Silvertongue
Points: 50
Special rules: bard

Godgifu Wōdensdottir
Points: 66
Special rules: distract, long move, mounted

Anglian Champion
Points: 52
Special rules: fearless, shieldwall, shooter: short, standard bearer

Anglian Ceorl (x9)
Points: 36
Special rules: shieldwall, shooter: short

The battle of Sorviodunum is loosely based on the Battle of Badon scenario outlined in SAM p.40 except that the game is played with two 600 point warbands per side. The warbands, though allied, are treated separately and any benefits from special rules (such as quality bonuses caused by proximity to a leader) apply only to the warband containing the character with the special rule. All of one warband activates (until turnover) followed by their allies before handing over to either of the opposing warbands.

Defender 1:       Romano-British Milites of Venta Belgarum
Defender 2:       Arthur’s British Equites
Attackers:          Dubh Fiach's Irish Raiders
                        Æthelwulf's Angles

Defender 1 deploys in the village at the centre of the table. The two attacking warbands deploy anywhere on the table, no closer than two long move from any of the defender’s figures. As in the SAM Badon scenario, roll 1d6 at the start of each of the defender’s turns. Keep a running tally of the result. When the results total 12 or more, Defender 2’s warband may be deployed on the table within a short distance along a randomly determined table edge. The deployment of Defender 2’s warband constitutes its entire turn. Defender 1 may now activate their figures as normal.

Victory conditions: The game lasts for 8+1d6 turns. 1 Victory Point for every 50 points of killed opponents; 1 extra Victory Point for every enemy personality killed; 5 Victory Points for the player with the most points of figures within the village when the game ends.


The heroes of Sorviodunum gazed anxiously at the ring of standing stones before them. They had surged forth following their victory to this, the repository of the little toe of the left foot of Saint Pius the Significant, brought and hidden here two hundred years ago by Nikolaos of Antioch. The heroes’ pitiful allies had shadowed their every move and now skulked in the mist beyond the stone circle. The recovery of the holy relic would bestow great prestige on its new owner, not just with their followers, but with the backwards inhabitants of the land – the search for the saint’s toe would not go unhindered.

The second game of the linear campaign, this scenario is based on the Treasure Hunt scenario found in SAM p.25. In addition, a thick mist envelopes the battlefield conferring a -1 modifier on all shooting and on all morale rolls. In addition, shooting is limited to medium range. The mist clears as soon as any player rolls a double five or a double six during activation.

The treasure, when found, allows the warband which controls it to re-roll any or all dice for any quality check (be it for activation, morale or for any other reason) once per game. This bonus applies to this game and is carried forward into games 3 and 4 of the campaign by the victor of the previous game.

Defender:         Warband from Sorviodunum with the highest Victory Points
Attacker:           Ally of the warband from Sorviodunum with the highest Victory Points

Victory conditions: The game lasts for 6+1d6 turns.1 Victory Point per 50 points of killed opponents, plus 5 Victory Points for holding the relic at the end of the game.

Having dispatched their erstwhile allies, the holders of the toe of Saint Pius had enjoyed little of the expected prestige. Instead, they found themselves harried by their defeated foes from Sorviodunum, recovered now and seeking cold vengeance and slavering at the chance to get their thieving hands on a holy relic. So now, with the smoke of their home cooking fires drifting on the light westerly breeze, the holders of the toe just had to make it across one last stretch of wilderness to home, hearth, and a stout palisade.

The third game of the campaign follows the Hunt scenario found in SAM p. 35.

Defender:          Victor of the Dividing the Spoils
Attacker:            Loser of Sorviodunum 1

Victory conditions: Play continues until one player concedes or all models on one side have run away, fallen or are dead. Attacker: 1 Victory Point for every 50 points of enemy killed/fleeing. Defender: 1 Victory Point for every 50 points of model making it to the opposite table edge alive (but not fleeing). Play continues until one player concedes or all models on one side have run away, fallen or are dead.

Chapter 4, The Last Battle
Unrest reigns across the kingdom.

Rival warbands march across the hills while the country folk have fled their homes and taken shelter in the marshlands and the woods. Ten years have passed since Sorviodunum and the affair of the Holy Toe of St Pius. Victorious against their weaker foes, the proven and legitimate rulers of the land had demonstrated their worth and ruled well for three long glorious Summers.

That was before the Year of the Rains and the three Years of the Famine which followed close on its heels. In those dark days it was only rumours of the reappearance of an old enemy which filtered through to the prince’s court, brought by travelers, bards, priests and merchants. Then, as the prosperity of the land dimmed, the visitors grew fewer but the rumours continued. Women, children and livestock started to disappear and shadowy figures were seen crossing the fields in moonlight. The Prince of Venta’s prestige faltered as he failed to protect his people and the enemy grew ever bolder until now they show no hesitation at stalking the land in broad daylight.

Thus, the prince and his loyal warband saw no alternative but to hunt their enemy and pursue them back to the untamed wilds where they had been sheltering this last decade. With this, his last push, the Prince of Venta, the Holder of the Holy Toe, must destroy his opponent and restore order to the land, or die and be succeeded by whoever has the strength to take his place.

The fourth and final game of the campaign will decide which warband will permanently seize control of the lands around Venta. At least for the foreseeable future; until someone stronger or move cunning appears on the scene. The game is based on the Ride of the Gododdin scenario (SAM p.41) with the slight change that the set warbands should be used without the addition of a free bard.

Defender:          Victor of Ambush
Attacker:           Loser of Sorviodunum 2

Victory conditions: Play continues until one player concedes or all models on one side have run away, fallen or are dead. 3 Victory Points for killing an enemy personality or for each gruesome kill imposed on an opponent; 1 Victory Point for each member of own warband killed Gruesomely; 1 Victory Point every time an enemy fails a Morale test; -1 Victory Point every time member of own warband fails a Morale test.

The warband with the most victory points accrued in the course of the fourth game will win the campaign and be enshrined in the apocryphal annals of Saint Neot the Lesser for all time as the last legitimate ruler of Venta Belgarum.

Saturday 3 November 2012

The November Report

This week marked six months since we left the sun-drenched shores of my native Antipodes and landed up here on these mist shrouded isles at the edge of Europe. I do love it here and have no regrets about the move,  but there have certainly been some ups and downs since arriving.

To recap a little, we have been living at my in-law's house (down), for free (up). Wee Hotspur took his first real strolls only after arriving in Ulster (up) and is now competently feeding himself with a spoon (up).

Wee Hotspur inspecting (London)Derry's 1641 ordinance.

I didn't get the dream job straight away (definite down); and have instead have worked on some pretty average archaeology (down), some of which was actually really amazing (big up) but was so incompetently directed that the crew felt the need to start a mutiny which only ended with the direct involvement of the Minister for the Environment (a huge down topped with a bit of an 'up' cherry).

An editorial in the most recent CBA publication on the site in question

My wargaming supplies sent from Australia arrived in pieces (down) but I have used that to fix up a whole number of things that I wasn't quite happy with (turned it into an up). I have now re-finished my HotT army of Cheddar and have my Irregular Wars Spanish further along than they were when I left Sydney (up). I started and finished my SAM-in-10mm project (up), have raised another SBH warband (up) and made a stack of new scenery (up up up).

Now, as the nights and days get colder and my patience and tolerance for other people's houses is wearing perilously thin, I'm happy to announce that we are moving into our own place next week. Situated about 20 minutes outside of Belfast, it is a charming little detached house in the country (enormous up - couldn't be happier!).

...a very nice house in the country...

Academically I have had several articles accepted for publication, dealing with Macedonian-Paionian relations, and Roman client-kingdoms in what is now Turkey and Lebanon, as well as the manuscript of my third book accepted by the publishers (all big ups).

So what's in store for the near future?

As soon as the dust settles from the house move (and considering I'm working away in the mud during all my daylight hours that may be some time) I plan on doing a series of posts on Irregular Wars: Conflict at the World's End, illustrating battle recruitment and providing a couple of AARs detailing some of the features which make the game unique (and some might say, 'fun'). More play testing is required for the companion naval rules and for the ancients modification (eventually). I'd also like to run my SAM -in-10mm campaign, the 'Apocryphal Annals of Saint Neot the Lesser', a four game narrative chronicling the struggle for sovereignty over Venta Belgarum (Winchester) in the mid-fifth century. Insha'allah.

Lets all raise a glass to the prospects of the future!