The Jarnheim Campaign – Settlements

The largest settlement on the Jarnheim Peninsula, and perhaps the only one deserving to be called a city, is Gjallarborg. Located at the ford of the mighty river Elv, where the Sea Kings from the east first set foot and build their first longhouses. Here the sea-faring king Ivar, first convert to the new faith of the White God, and because of his faith banished from his ancestral lands built his new home. Using force of arms, guile, and trickery, Ivar wrested control of the fjords and low-lands from the previous occupants, the elves. The ensuing wars earned Ivar the nickname Elf-Slayer.

Ivar was a strong warrior, but a poor statesman, and his rule did not last for long (although his faith and the church that he established did). The sons of Ivar fell to squabbling over the succession of the throne, and thus the original clan was split, fully a third of them forced to leave Gjallarborg for lands unknown. What became of them, no one knows. The tales of the Sea Kings, now centuries past, are legend among the folk of Jarnheim.

What still remains is Gjallarborg, and the Sea-Throne, from where a succession of kings weak, and strong, warlike, and peaceful alike have ruled. These days the king is Erik Longfang, and true to his name, Erik is way past his prime. Known as the Old Man by his kinsmen and the common folk alike, he is much loved by most, but his time is coming to an end. Soon, whisper the doom-sayers. Not soon enough, whisper those with ambitions of rulership themselves.

Venturing outwards from Gjallarborg, there are villages, homesteads, and towns that dot the coastline east and west, growing smaller and wider apart the further one travels. The only other towns large enough to warrant mentioning are Hvergelmir, which is located about a week’s travel up the river Elv to the northwest from Gjallarborg; Utgard, which is three days north by boat, or two weeks by land; and Dimborg, which is about two weeks land travel to the west. All other settlements are smaller, and aren’t much worth mentioning.

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What’s up with role-playing games?

As many of the regular readers know, role-playing has been put on back-burner for me. It has been quite some time since I had a regular gaming group with weekly games, or since I got exited about anything new RPG related. Releases which would have had me in stitches a few years back just feel kind of meh and bland now. The adage “same shit, different package” goes for a lot of new games. For example, Pathfinder is just a rehash of D&D 3rd edition, and while I did spend a LOT of time with that game when Pathfinder first became all the rage, it just got old for me. Seen it, done it, more rules, more character options, and “builds” (God, I hate that word in this context.), more recycling of old ideas, just redone in a sleek, sanitized, manga-influenced package. And don’t even get me started on the currently prevalent “Dungeon Punk” look of most of the character art in BOTH Pathfinder and D&D 4th Edition.

In fact, the more time goes by, the more I feel the need to find something that seems real, and genuine. Something that has that certain spark of inventiveness, and has all of its rough edges unfiled. Thus, pretty much the only kind of gaming that has any draw for me, is old school, be it D&D related, Warhammer Fantasy Role-Play or BRP. Many of the older games didn’t stand the test of time, but the few that did… they just seems so much more real and interesting than anything that’s come out since.

Which brings me to the topic of the Old School Renaissance, or the OSR, which while concentrating on playing the older games, or simulacra ISN’T just a bunch of old fogies and has-beens rehashing old shit, or back room anachronisms hack’n slashing their way through 10′ by 10′ corridors filled with orcs in search of treasure. Quite the opposite, in fact: While building on a solid foundation of simple, time-tested rules systems and tradition, a lot of the actually new stuff coming out of the OSR is undiluted inspiration given form. If you don’t believe me, have a look at the stuff being put out by creative powerhouses such as James Raggi, Geoffrey McKinney, Matt Finch, or Daniel Proctor, or have a look the vibrant blogosphere, where people like Zak Sabbath, Jeff Rients, the guy who writes Planet Algol, and many others are creating brilliant, innovative and imaginative stuff for Old School role-playing on a regular basis.

Anyway, back to the original topic. What was it again?

Oh yes. This: 1) I don’t have a regular weekly game at the moment. 2) I’m not interested in any of the new games. 3) The OSR rocks my socks, and that’s what I want to play and/or referee. 4) Give me four players with the same interests, views, and time tables, so that I can get a game going.

Too much to ask? Probably.

Warriors of Chaos and Chaos Space Marines update

Time for a brief update.

The Sons of Northern Darkness, my Warriors of Chaos army is now up to a painted total of around 1400 points. I recently finished my second group of 30 Chaos Marauders. I still need 20 more for the army list I’m planning, but I think I’ll take a break from Marauders for a while, and make a Chaos War Shrine instead. I plan on using the Vampire Counts Corpse Cart as a basis for it, but will probably replace the zombies pulling it with either Warhounds or Chaos Knight horses.

The Red Corsairs, my Chaos Space Marines army is up to about 2400 points. The most recent additions are three more Plague Zombies, and a squad of Chosen Chaos Space Marines and their Rhino, converted from Space Marine Sniper Scouts, and an old Mk. I Rhino respectively. We played a staff mega-battle last week, with six players total with 2000 points each on the table. My side, consisting of my CSM, Teemu’s Space Wolves, and Ville’s Necrons, managed a narrow victory over the opponents: Mika’s Orks, Hese’s Orks, and Juho’s Deathwing. The game was a blast, and we’re already planning a sequel, with the same players and armies, except for Juho, who opted for Dark Eldar instead of Deathwing. Just for kicks, here’s some of the backstory we’ve managed:

The First Battle of Hagalund had been a victory for the combined forces of the Liberators, the Red Corsairs, and the undying army of the Deceiver. The massive Ork horde, and their very unlikely ally, the Deathwing Terminators, had suffered a crushing defeat.

The C’tan had been the mastermind who’s insidious whispers of genocidal Deathwing tyranny on one side, and hollow promises of vast wealth and loot on the other, was what had brought the Liberators and the Red Corsairs, sworn enemies, together. As usual, no one invited the Orks, but a world ripe for War, Plunder, and Mayhem is something no Ork can resist. And so they came… And there was War.

What became known as the First Battle of Hagalund soon escalated into a planet-wide conflict. Death Unending! Millions of Souls sent into the Warp, and into the waiting maw of the Star Gods! The Deceiver was indeed mightily pleased with the results of his sinister machinations…

The Liberators’ view

Although the Hagalund system is far from the Liberators’ common operational zone, The Captain couldn’t let the tyranny and terror of the Dark Angels’ selfish leadership go unanswered. Overlord intelligence also suggested that the 1st Company had been in possession of lethal vortex missiles, which are classed Alpha-level WMD’s in the Liberator codices. These in the hands of the barbaric greenskins also swarming the planet would surely end in sectorwide disaster. Pre-emptive action was needed.

So the mustered Task Force Knight Giant, led by Master Chief Ares, hero of the first Battle of Hagalund, was dispatched from the Liberators’ battle fortress. Their mission: Storm Hagalund and restore the hope of a free galaxy and bring down the hammer of justice on all.

“We’ve ran out of Justice, but here’s some MK4 Hellfire rounds for you instead!”

The Red Corsairs’ retort

‎”Tell me now Ares, have you not abandoned the worship of the False Emperor, as have we? Do you not travel the space-ways in search of fulfillment and purpose, as do we? Can you not see we are more alike than you care to admit? Come now. We have much to discuss. Let me liberate you of your regrettable misconceptions concerning Our Allies who dwell in the Immaterium. They have such sights to show you, if you’d only be willing to open your eyes.” -Nergal the Tempter

The Xenos are coming…

The Warp was filled with a roaring blaze as the remnants of the 1st Company’s Taskforce, along with wounded Grand Master Belial, returned to their Chapter’s Fortress Monastery empty-handed, but assured that no Fallen was on that accursed planet.

Meanwhile in the depths of Commoragh Kirarth Dawnblade, the Archon of the Obsidian Rose Kabal, smiled as he watched the planet through an arcane holographic device. In a few weeks the planet would be consumed by the flames of war. Millions would suffer, and the battlefields would be littered with bodies. Just the place for the Dark Eldar…

An errant thought crossed the Archon’s mind. His Kabal was strong, but they were greatly outnumbered by the Orks and the mon-keigh. The answer came to his mind almost immediately. Surely the Orks would be easy to manipulate. The Dark Eldar could easily outwit the brutish Greenskins.

Kirarth turned his head slightly as he heard one of his Trueborn approach him. It never hurt to check who approached, even though he was well-armed.

“My lord, the Kabalites are preparing for war. The Wych Cult of The Scarlet Lily is also joining us, as are many Hellions and Reavers. Even the divine Lelith Hesperax has expressed her interest in this campaign. When shall we make the cattle suffer in our hands?”

The Archon let a cold smile on his face as he shuddered with the pleasure of expectation. Just the thought of those souls ready to be harvested raised his heartbeat.

“Soon”, he whispered, “very soon”.

To cap things off, here’s some pictures from the first battle.

Tapiola RPG Night – An Obituary

Right, as some you already know, we’ve been running bi-weekly tabletop RPG’s at Tapiolan Pelikauppa since last August. This experiment has now drawn to a close. We managed a total of around 8-10 game sessions, two of them Warhammer Fantasy Role-Play, game mastered by myself, and the rest of them Lamentations of the Flame Princess: Weird Fantasy Role-Playing, refereed by James Raggi (who is also the author of said game). A brief summary follows:

* Attendance was regularly around four players. Usually the same four players. One of the set goals of the whole experiment was drawing new blood into the tabletop RPG hobby. Suffice to say, this goal was not met, as all of the players were already role-players to begin with.

* No volunteer game masters (besides Jim and myself) were forthcoming. Yes, I did get tentative interest out of three GM’s, but none of them actually delivered, due to time table constraints or lack of general interest.

* Role-playing as an in-store activity draws a certain kind of crowd. That is, the kind of crowd you’d never invite to your home game. There were some exceptions, but on a general principle the gaming group was of the kind that sucks the life out of the GM, and makes him want to never run a game again.

That’s about it in a nutshell. Tried it, didn’t work, time for something completely different. Probably not anytime soon, though.

Blood on the Snow

Yesterday the Sons of Northern Darkness marched to battle and were met by a co-worker’s Skaven army. Turned out we had time to play three games, so a little narrative was worked in. Here are the results:

Game 1: Battleline

On their journeys of conquest through the Chaos Wastes, The Sons of Northern Darkness had come upon a skittering horde of Skaven, who immediately opened fire with Warpfire magic, mortars and Plague Catapult. A handful of Chaos Marauders fell, their flesh melting off their bones. The whole Chaos army responded by marching forwards at full speed. The Infernal Gateway opened by the Chaos Sorcerer Abbath pulled half a dozen Clanrats into Hell, causing the unit to panic. More Marauders, Knights, and Warriors fell to the foul Skaven magic and the Clan Skryre war-engines, but nothing could stop the ferocious horde of northmen, as they crashed into the Skaven battlelines, crushing bodies, pulping heads, and tearing the rat-things limb from limb. It was all over for the Skaven, who broke and ran for the hills.

Summary: Skaven artillery and magic is strong. Anything that wounds without allowing a save is something a 1+ armour save 40 pts. model is wise to stay away from. My army seems to be doing what it’s supposed to be doing, that is, once all the units were in close combat, it was Good Night Gracie for the Skaven. Now I just need to figure out a way to get into melee faster…

Game 2: Blood and Glory

Abbath, emboldened by his success now made the critical mistake of joining his Chaos Warriors, as the whole army marched into what soon turned into a killing field. A direct hit from the Plague Catapult caused the Warriors to panic, and flee off the battlefield. Without their general, it took only the annihilation of the Chaos Knights to break the back of the Chaos army.

Summary: Playing a thousand point game meant my army had a breaking point of one. I have three units with banners, and a general e.g. a total fortitude of five. This meant that once my general and his unit had ran off the field on turn one (a leadership 8 roll with a re-roll!), all the Skaven had to do to win the game was direct all their magic and ranged attacks on my 5 strong unit of Chaos Knights. Not my favourite scenario…

Game 3: Dawn Attack

Having rallied his army during the night, Abbath was ready to face the Skaven on his own terms. As dawn broke, the thunder of hooves, the clang of swords on shields, and the bloodthirsty howls of berserkers signaled the Doom of the Skaven, who were too widely spaced to respond with sufficient alacrity. Tzeentchian fire tore into their ranks, axes clove skulls in twain, hell-bred destriers smashed bodies into a pulp, and the vile Skryre contraptions were torn apart with bloodied fingers. The Skaven were all slaughtered without mercy.

Summary: To crush your enemies, see them driven before you and to hear the lamentation of the women!

EDIT: Added some photos. Photoshopping courtesy of Dean Clayton.