PanzOrc Corpz Generals (Season One complete, lots of screenies)

Started by JasonPratt, January 06, 2015, 08:14:56 PM

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I would warn you not to click on this thread if you don't have the bandwidth/patience for a lot of screenies, but I already did it in the thread title, so...  :P

Comes now Season One of my next epic AAR project. I fraternally anticipate questions...


No, this is the initial FAQ. Sigh.


Ahem. PanzOrc Corpz. Generals.

That isn't the game title, the game is Fantasy Wars from 1C, which can be easily bought cheap (around $15 when not on sale) from various places including Steam and Gamersgate. I can't promise the English localization will be entirely up to snuff on some versions; my old box version seemed to be, if I recall correctly, but Steam has some missing interface rollover descriptions, and the English translation is a bit spotty. Voiceovers are generally competent if perhaps trying too hard sometimes.

My goal was to follow the storyline as closely as possible while upgrading some of the characterizations and introducing some new characters. Ugraum in the game is a bog-standard orc warboss, for example; I've made his intentions more complex.


The game engine is a 3D remake and update of the Fantasy General game system (though not its barebones plot, except in a spiritual-sequel sort-of way) from SSI many decades ago {cougholdcoughhack}; which was itself a variation of their own classic Panzer General engine.

But nowadays the original Panzer General is better known by its semi-official direct remake (with slight updates) Panzer Corps from Matrix/Slitherine.

So this game is Panzer General, or Panzer Corps. With orcs. PanzOrc Corpz Generals.


um... read and find out?


... ....... uh... no. {scribbling}

However, despite the engine not being tabletop turn based Warhammer at all (regular or 40K), it does look and play quite a lot like a different version of Warhammer tabletop.

In other words, this game from 2007ish is still the closest thing on the market to a Windows PC Warhammer tabletop game.


Yes. Yes they did.

And it is an entirely okay game, with lots of obviously lavished love in many places and, well, less so in others.

This is a different Panzer General game with orcs. (And straight high fantasy, not orks in space, great though that is.) And I'm just going to say it, objectively a much better one. So is its sequel, Elven Legacy, which adds another six campaigns. Total,nine campaigns, around $35.


I've finished the AAR up through roughly the halfway point of the game, five missions into each main campaign: there's a human 10 mission set, an orc 10 mission set, and an epilogue / grand finale elven 6 mission set (not the six whole campaigns of EL btw) which goes back and fills in some details about what has really been going on the whole time. But the elven can't be unlocked until the other two are done, and I didn't keep my old version of the game installed so I can't play it simultaneously. 5 and 5 gets the story to a good stopping place for Season One. But that's ten missions and a lot of turns and I want to be generous about showing off the system.


I may or may not. I've spent a ton of time (Steam says 99.5 hours already) setting up this narrative/snapshot AAR; it takes three or four times as long to play a mission this way, and I've been working on it for at least a month already, almost exclusive to playing other games.

That's part of the reason. Another reason I wanted to do the AAR at all was so I could play the game not from the perspective of the main characters per se (the human and orcan generals), but from the perspective of utter novice rookie characters, since the game allows the weakest units to level up and upgrade into various other things. At the halfway point of their campaigns, those characters have grown about as far as I can foresee them going within the limits of the game's story structure, which I can't change around too much within its constraints. This is also why I decided not to finish both campaigns and then go back and weave the elven mini-campaign chronologically into the other two: aside from taking another month to do (at my fastest possible pace), I can't get a similar story angle on the elves. But they're important to the overall plot.

Another reason is that if readers decide to go play the game, this way some of the (original) story is still there to unlock, so you won't be spoiled further. But on the other hand, this halfway point feels like where the writers start padding out the plot a bit to fill out the mission list.


Yes. But I'll add some [Gamenotes] along the way to explain out-of-character some of what's happening with the game as a game per se.
ICEBREAKER THESIS CHRONOLOGY! -- Victor Suvorov's Stalin Grand Strategy theory, in lots and lots of chronological order...
Dawn of Armageddon -- narrative AAR for Dawn of War: Soulstorm: Ultimate Apocalypse
Survive Harder! -- Two season narrative AAR, an Amazon Blood Bowl career.
PanzOrc Corpz Generals -- Fantasy Wars narrative AAR, half a combined campaign.
Khazâd du-bekâr! -- narrative dwarf AAR for LotR BfME2 RotWK campaign.
RobO Q Campaign Generator -- archived classic CMBB/CMAK tool!


What came before

"Noplease! Noplease!" Itchynose heard his mother sometimes at night in his dreams, begging something not to kill them. "Wego! Wegoback!" He didn't dream often; he didn't sleep long. Those who slept long died. "Girls! Girls! Mother! Nohurt! Please!" She was lying to save him and his sister both if she could, from the horrifying two-headed giant with four legs, two arms, and wings on its featureless face. Brightly colored like the land his mother was taking them back away from. Shining like the sky above in the light. It carried a spiral horn in one of its upper hands, longer than all the rest of its body. Its visible eyes looked at them with wariness and disdain, yet somehow not with hostility. It lightly pawed a heavy foreleg hoof on the ground, shod in shining steel. That one single hoof could have killed them all.

"Wegoback!" his mother babbled. "We notwanted, we know, we know! We follow father, looking for trees. Father gone, so we go. Wegoback now, there, there, we going, please!" His mother had told him of a land of trees to the east, trees and water, between them and the rising of the sun. They had gone, sneaking by night, hiding by day, to see if they could live quietly and better there.

They couldn't.

So she was taking them back, back to the wasteland, the living waking nightmare... where at least they were wanted a little.

Itchynose didn't remember much of when he and his sister had been born. When or where. Other than in the east.

And only in his dreams.

The thing had let them live. Because they were female apparently; but of no use to that thing, or to the other soft-skinned monkey creatures they protected. They had their own females and didn't need a goblin woman.

Goblins did. Goblins and orcs. Some women bred as quickly as they could; others built settlements, harvested food, whatever their talents especially gave.

The boys learned to fight, for food, supplies, to protect their village, their tribe. Orcs fought for fun as well. That didn't seem even human to Itchynose: goblins, as the "orcs" mockingly named them, never fought for fun, but because they had no other choice. Better to run if possible. But hunting did make some goblins a little good at fighting. And orcs fought each other so hard they usually didn't have time or energy, not even soldiers usually, to bother attacking goblins.


Not when goblins lived in numbers.

Still, they could barely keep those larger subhuman "orcs" from stupidly raiding for food, smashing for fun. Goblins lived miserable lives, women in often fruitless and hopeless labor, men in scrounging for food and giving what little protection they could, in return for taking whatever the women could give. Orc women fared no better, Itchynose knew, maybe worse.

Those like himself who could creep through the trees and the hills and the swamps, could live the best life. Whatever there was of it, here where the southern rivers flowed up to meet together before plodding irresistibly north to the sea.

But Itchynose dreamed of many more trees, more green, a sky more blue, and tall stone houses on hills, up in the sky.

East, between them and the sun.

Then came Ugraum Grableg to the village of Durzul.

He had punched enough of his fellow orcs in some village to the south, to get the survivors to give him a mob, with reinforcements at his request.

He had come north.

But not to raid.

Not exactly.
ICEBREAKER THESIS CHRONOLOGY! -- Victor Suvorov's Stalin Grand Strategy theory, in lots and lots of chronological order...
Dawn of Armageddon -- narrative AAR for Dawn of War: Soulstorm: Ultimate Apocalypse
Survive Harder! -- Two season narrative AAR, an Amazon Blood Bowl career.
PanzOrc Corpz Generals -- Fantasy Wars narrative AAR, half a combined campaign.
Khazâd du-bekâr! -- narrative dwarf AAR for LotR BfME2 RotWK campaign.
RobO Q Campaign Generator -- archived classic CMBB/CMAK tool!


Wait, you mean Fantasy Wars is an iteration of Fantasy General?  I kinda forgot about Fantasy Wars. I was meaning to pick it up years ago.



Ugraum held up a hand, clad in armor like brick, palm behind him, toward the mob. They stopped their advance, despite their evident lust for the goblin village now in sight.

Also now in sight, a gathering of goblin men, showing themselves in the grass, carrying simple spears, between the orcs and the village.

Itchynose wasn't among them. Itchynose wasn't stupid. He and other single scouts had warned the village of orcish approach, and for their service could hide with honor nearby, able to take whatever news to women fleeing or huddling in the tiny village as they chose.

His sister was there, and his aged mother. Some of his brothers waited in the path of these subhuman monsters, some of his cousins and uncles. Other sisters and cousins and nieces and aunts fled or huddled nearby. He didn't have many uncles. Men didn't live to be old in the Waste.

Ugraum approached the squad alone, walking up to where they waited beyond where a path forked to go round a hill.

"I want you to know," said Ugraum.

"I want you to know I have learned.

"You see this sword and its carvings? I know what they say. You see this shield and this armor? I made them myself from the hides of my foes.

"I learned, how to grow stronger.

"I learned why the monkeys are strong enough to live where there is food and water for all. Why they are strong enough to keep us here, fighting each other until we die.

"Why they, and not we, were strong enough to kill the demon Farrahk, long ago.

"I know my purpose in life now.

"To teach what I have learned, to my fellow humans.

"But not everyone will want to learn.

"The lessons will be hard. Hard to learn, hard to bear.

"Those who are willing to learn, will follow me into the east. To the land that is not a waste.

"Those who are not willing to learn, will die.

"I have come here to teach, or to kill. I am ready for both.

"For I have learned."

So saying he held out his sword, as heavy and old as stone.

"Will you be willing to learn? The choice of paths is yours."

They looked to the left and the right, at the paths around the hill, leading to our village.

"The path you walk," called Itchynose, walking out of the westward grass. "If it leads to the east, then I will follow you."

Ugraum eyed him. "You talk alone as you walk. Very brave. And you do not ask if this path will spare your village?"

"Your path to the east leads through my village. Through my family. Whether they live, or whether they die, I cannot change that. Neither can they. They can agree, or slow you down. We don't have the strength to stop you.

"But we can learn."

He nodded, "If you will." And eyed the goblin squad again.

"OI!" shouted an orc from the mob behind. "You said we was gonna go kill us some gobbies!"

"I fully expect we will. But you have not learned, yet: they can join us instead."

The orcs erupted. "They ain't orcs!" "They ain't even fit to eat!" "Maybe they're fit to cook for us!" "Goblins're good with pots and pans, yeh?" "Yeah! What're they s'posed to be? Pans orcs? -- the orcs that wash our pans!?"

Then Ugraum turned to return to them.

Not long later, Ugraum had fewer orcs in his mob.

"If I say so," he said as they cowered, "you will learn to wash their pans.

"For those who won't learn, will die.

"Who among you hasn't learned this yet?"

Some of them raised their hands, not having quite grasped his question; but Ugraum understood they meant no rebellion, and only sighed with a roll of his eyes as other orcs slapped them down and tried to explain that they had learned, learning was good --

"And who among you, in your mob, would stand to talk to my face, if you were only a skinny, little, panicky goblin?"

The surviving orcs hastened to reassure him they would never dream of doing such a thing.

He sighed, again, and shook his head. "You see what I have to work with," he said as he turned to address the goblins. "They will learn better, I promise. Or they will die. I also promise that.

"At least one of you is willing to learn to be better.

"For the sake of your village: will there be more?"

There were.
ICEBREAKER THESIS CHRONOLOGY! -- Victor Suvorov's Stalin Grand Strategy theory, in lots and lots of chronological order...
Dawn of Armageddon -- narrative AAR for Dawn of War: Soulstorm: Ultimate Apocalypse
Survive Harder! -- Two season narrative AAR, an Amazon Blood Bowl career.
PanzOrc Corpz Generals -- Fantasy Wars narrative AAR, half a combined campaign.
Khazâd du-bekâr! -- narrative dwarf AAR for LotR BfME2 RotWK campaign.
RobO Q Campaign Generator -- archived classic CMBB/CMAK tool!


Quote from: jomni on January 06, 2015, 08:31:58 PM
Wait, you mean Fantasy Wars is an iteration of Fantasy General?  I kinda forgot about Fantasy Wars. I was meaning to pick it up years ago.

It was originally intended to be a direct remake! -- but the devs lost the rights to the intellectual property, or maybe never got it secured in the first place. So they just took the rules, with their upgrades, and their new graphic engine and art, and wrote a whole new and much more detailed story. It isn't nearly as epic as fighting back to save the world from a demon by starting in the hind end of Australia ;) , but it's okay. Very warhammery.

I'll be talking about the similarities and differences in how the engine work, compared to FG, as I go along.
ICEBREAKER THESIS CHRONOLOGY! -- Victor Suvorov's Stalin Grand Strategy theory, in lots and lots of chronological order...
Dawn of Armageddon -- narrative AAR for Dawn of War: Soulstorm: Ultimate Apocalypse
Survive Harder! -- Two season narrative AAR, an Amazon Blood Bowl career.
PanzOrc Corpz Generals -- Fantasy Wars narrative AAR, half a combined campaign.
Khazâd du-bekâr! -- narrative dwarf AAR for LotR BfME2 RotWK campaign.
RobO Q Campaign Generator -- archived classic CMBB/CMAK tool!


Those screenshots, by the way, are all in-game, though a few are in-game cutscenes.
ICEBREAKER THESIS CHRONOLOGY! -- Victor Suvorov's Stalin Grand Strategy theory, in lots and lots of chronological order...
Dawn of Armageddon -- narrative AAR for Dawn of War: Soulstorm: Ultimate Apocalypse
Survive Harder! -- Two season narrative AAR, an Amazon Blood Bowl career.
PanzOrc Corpz Generals -- Fantasy Wars narrative AAR, half a combined campaign.
Khazâd du-bekâr! -- narrative dwarf AAR for LotR BfME2 RotWK campaign.
RobO Q Campaign Generator -- archived classic CMBB/CMAK tool!


Fall of 631 -- Goblinfall

"What is your name?"

He didn't answer Ugraum at first. He opened his mouth a few times and shut it again. But finally answered, "Itchynose."

"I won't ask why your people thought to call you that. I think you will earn a better name. I look forward to learning what it is." Ugraum stood not far behind his first goblin recruits, speaking with his first goblin lieutenant.

"Why are they behind us?" The goblin meant the orc mob.

"Because they still call you 'pans orcs'. I could order them to stop, but then I would have to kill them if they didn't; and even if they did, I would rather you earned them to stop of their own accord."

"And that is why we're in front of you."

"Partly. Also to help you learn one of your coming roles, in our corps."

"In our dead corpses...?!? You want us to loot the dead?"

[Gamenote: orcs start out as "mobs", goblins as "looters". Also, usually I should get an opportunity to position my troops on the field like in most Panzer Generalish mission starts, but for some reason all three campaigns deny that part for their first missions. Normally I would put the slower orcs farther ahead. Speed is important in any PGish game, this one included. So since I can't, I figured I ought to explain why.]

"No. We will be a living body. Perhaps I should slur the word so that it will sound different, and help avoid confusion of what I mean."


"Not the slurring I had in mind, but it will do. My orcs will like it better. Sounds tougher to them. Did you know that we ought to be called the Uru Kinder?"

"Never heard that before."

"Probably 'orc' was a derisive slur; perhaps even by goblins, our cousins. But it sounded tougher to my people eventually. So they used it to mock the people they defeated."

"...are you one of the Uru kin, then?"

"We all are.

"Tell me, do you think of those goblins over there as your kin?"

Itchynose spat.

"So, if they refuse to learn, and I swat them out of the way, you won't be upset?"

"Not hardly."

"They refused to learn," Ugraum said, when the 'pans orcs' caught up to him some minutes later.

"Don't make the same mistake they made."

Itchynose spat again. "Not hardly."

"Are you sure you aren't making it now?"

In reply to the goblins' panic, Ugraum added, "Try to stay in cover as you advance. They met me in grassland, rather than in the rough or on the hill. Not that it would have mattered against me. But, it might matter against whomever you yourselves will be fighting first. Or against who first attacks you, rather."

The goblins swallowed their panic, and loped forward a little more, staying to the left of the hill where the ground was rougher.

The orc mob ran up eagerly on Ugraum's right; he waved them on ahead, but they were soon out of breath and had to stop in the middle of the path on the other side of the hill, out in the open.

Ugraum sighed, but didn't complain.

The village of Azgor was built of trash -- like Durzul but bigger. Bigger compared to Durzul.

"Why," Ugraum asked as he passed his troops but paused to assess the situation, "is there a path leading to a withered tree?"

"It's haunted," Itchynose answered, trotting up nearby for orders on where to move his squad next, while they rested in the rocks of the rough.

"A path leading to a haunted tree? Who told you it was haunted?"

"They did. Those thieves from Azgor."

"I'm not surprised," he sighed. "Go learn better. Not too close, in case you are jumped by whatever might be waiting there," he chuckled, and waved up his 1st Orc Mob on his right again.

"Oi, boss! We wants to kill some gobbies, too!"

"I know. Go on, learn better."

They did.

"I see those 'gobbies' gave you as good as they got, hm?"

"...well, they didn't give us much!"

"I didn't expect any different, don't worry. But you, how many of you have raided goblin towns before?" Many of them eagerly raised their hands. "And how many of you still expected to overrun them easily, when you both have equal numbers but they have defensive strength built into their town?!" More eagerly raised their hands -- but then wondered if they had made a mistake when Ugraum shook his head and muttered under his breath.

Azgorian goblins, meanwhile, waited at the haunted tree.

"That tree! -- it wasn't haunted!" Itchynose reported back to Ugraum.

Ugraum checked a sigh. "I hope you followed instructions and so weren't ambushed."

"No, we pulled up short in the rocky ground the path was running through, just before the tree."

"Good. Good defensive ground for you, just like the trees are for them.

"Now attack them."


"You have enough sense to know the fight will be even at best. Good. I could probably throw them out tomorrow, for you to search the tree unharmed, but you will need the experience later. They will not. Not in this life."

Soon rough spears of clunky metal scrap were striking sparks against each other.

"We lost five. Them only four," the goblin squadleader reported back later.

"That may affect my plans. I was hoping you would be able to keep on fighting them, as my mob and I secured this village and looped -- "

"Oi, boss! A mob of orcs on th' hill over there, southwest!"

Ugraum snapped his head around. "That... was unexpected."

"They must be thinkin' of robbin' th' city that we's was thinkin' of robbin'!" the mob-boss snarled in disgust.

"Probably. They may not see us yet. Good eye," Ugraum admitted, with some reluctance. "I would have seen them, but was blocked by this copse of trees; you saw them despite your battle.

"You must stay there and fight alone," he instructed Itchynose. "Don't be destroyed, run away if you get too weak. But stay and fight as much as possible. By tomorrow we shall have claimed this town and extended our supply; I hope to be able to bring you some reinforcements."

"Fightin' for a tree. meh," the mob-boss muttered and stomped away to prepare for the morrow.

"This isn't about the glory," Ugraum began, for Itchynose, but...

"No matter, boss." Ugraum raised his brow at this impertinence, but the little goblin continued, "I understand.

"To be better than we are, we have to learn."

That afternoon, however, the goblins protecting Azgor ran out to strike at the weakened 'pans orcs'.

The goblins at the tree also quickly retaliated.

The poor 'pans orcs' were slaughtered.

But though forced to retreat...

" least we didn't break," reported Itchynose. "Boss. We couldn't stand but we didn't break."

"Against odds of almost 2 to 1. You could have been wiped out. They acted well in concert."

"Ha ha, the little boyz ran away!"

"They can call me 'general' now. You are only allowed to call me 'boss'. For now." The orc mob quieted in some confusion. "Unless you are referring to the goblins who repelled your attack and inflicted equal losses on you." Growls of embarrassment. "But they will defend much better now in rough countryside than in their little town. You will find them harder to kill than before, not easier.

"Take the tree that they have abandoned," Ugraum told his goblins. "Perhaps you will be able to heal your wounded there tomorrow. But be ready to defend yourselves again.

"Take the town," he told the mob.

"I will flank them from the north -- and take their lives."

"Us! Jus' take the town, without more fightin'?!"

"I fully expect you to fight some more, when those orcs who disappeared last night show up again. Possibly when the goblins try to retake their town. Be ready."

Itchynose's battered squad found fifty gold pieces hidden in and around the tree!

As the orcs and Ugraum marched into little Azgor, their chieftain Arra hobbled out to meet them.

"Half our menfolk ran away to fight instead of defending us," he observed in a tired and withered voice. "The other half were out hunting and have only just returned."

"Too late," Ugraum warned. "Those archers can pelt us if they want, but we will easily survive in here, and then run out tomorrow to kill them."

"Not too late to offer to join you, though, against those worthless traitors."

Ugraum laughed. "I admire those who can learn! I accept! Be ready tomorrow to fight; and be on watch today: more orcs, not my own, are running around."

"That," Arra said, "is what they were hunting. But they only found you. Too late, as you say."

"Watch them," the uru general warned the mob-boss as the old chief tottered away. "But let them stay outside. If they help you against an attack tonight, or at least don't shoot at you, we'll know for sure."

Then he ran out and charged into one of the Azgorian squads. From him they soon fled in terror, into the dead woods near the dead tree.

The other Azorgian squad soon made the mistake of attacking him; and just as soon fled in terrified defeat, bodies thrown high in the air by his great stone sword.

"Hm. Invigorating but tiring in its delay."

Despite being wrecked by Ugraum and broken, the goblins retreating into the trees attempted to strike at Itchynose's squad, fighting about at parity. This time the 'pans orcs' won; the other goblins quickly found a hill to set a defense while licking their wounds.

"Let them have their tree if they want," Ugraum instructed. "We are behind my schedule for the week. Come, take the town, and rest tomorrow if you can. Mob-boss; go scout that stone circle which Arra says is waiting up the path to the north."

"We're no creepin' scouts!"

"Do as I say, and learn better. Our new archer friends can come up behind you, allowing you to protect each other. Unless you're afraid to have them at your back...?"

The mob ran out at hearing that; but found the archers had already moved up and were shooting at something in the ring -- from a safe distance.

"Ghost wolves!" they called to the orcs, who laughed and ran on ahead of such superstitious cowards.

Fortunately, the wolves were only spectral instead -- able to be shot, or hit with a cleaver, echoes of the packs which hunted the woods, brought to a semblance of life by the protective magic bubbling through the circle.

Neither arrow nor cleaver killed many. But more than either separately could.

The mob pulled back a little to rest for another assault on the morrow; the archers hoped the wolves would attack the orcs and not run out and around to flank them to bite the goblins instead!

Ugraum told his orcs he spotted the enemy mob again on a nearby hill as he ran up to help protect one flank -- and to get the aid of the archers in defense should the mob attack, though he reckoned they probably couldn't see his 'corpz' advancing on the stone circle.

Itchynose couldn't quite make it to the town before night, and so chose to rest in some rough ground nearby, in case its goblin defenders tried to hit his 'pans orcs' again.

As expected, the spectral wolves indeed fanned out wide to hit the goblin archers from some nearby hills.

To their credit, the little archers actually drew short swords and counterattacked! The wolves, stunned by this courage, were unable to mangle the goblins: only three were wounded, none died!

[Gamenote: those wolves would have been even more surprised if this had been Fantasy General rather than early in a Fantasy Wars campaign: archers in the earlier game would have been allowed to get off an unanswered defense shot first, and then gone into melee. In FW, that's an ability which archers may earn later. I had forgotten the archers wouldn't be able to defensively pre-empt an attack like that yet; but much to my surprise they weren't completely slaughtered. Spectral wolves are a bit naff, as they say on the other side of the pond.]

"Ignore the wolves for now!" Ugraum said. "Archers, search the circle! Mob, run on toward Ashnar, through that path in the trees! Itchynose, tell your goblins to hold -- "

"You may need us in the final assault, general. If you are in such a rush, we won't have time to rest and then help you."

Ugraum paused, then agreed: "But stay hidden in that copse of trees along the road as you approach. You'll have better defense there than in the village anyway. We've taken what gold we can from it; maybe it will distract one of the groups in our rear and they will retake it rather than attacking us. Meanwhile..."

"...I shall lead the way past that mob!"

But Itchynose thought that Ugraum was looking dangerously tired, despite his impressive victory there near that hill.

And moreso after the mob repaid his assault with one of their own -- but they themselves ran away broken, actually seeking refuge from the goblin town they had been too afraid to try raiding!

"...tomorrow," Ugraum panted as he sent word to his scattered corpz, "...I shall drive the defenders out of that town. Be ready to take it."

"Oi, them gits're runnin' to little goblins to protect'em!" Ugraum's orc mob laughed and with a surprise attack from the fields between the woods, wiped them out -- roaring their victory afterward. "No mobby boyz ta help ya now, little gobbies!"

More quietly Ugraum's new archers abandoned the stone circle after another bitter struggle from a spectral wolf attack, and found some trees to hide in on the way to Ashnar.

Fortunately, only the spectral wolves felt compelled to return to their 'home'. The other wandering groups, battered by the lightning advance of Ugraum and his corpz, stayed too frightened to even retake the villages he had seized.

"Now, my corpz. I will reward you handsomely if you can take this town today, only one week since we started in this region." Ugraum stretched, well rested in the morning sun. "First, archers forward! Soften them up! And tell me if they have pulled in any archers themselves overnight."

They did. And they hadn't.


But despite Ugraum hurling goblin defenders in all directions, they stayed stubbornly rooted in their town.

"Mob! -- come around from the north and assault!"

Not many more goblins were killed, but after a tiring battle they couldn't resist fleeing outside their town.

But the mob was too tired to advance and take possession.

"Pans'ers!" cried the mob. "Come on then, take th' town!"

And they could. For they had not held back before.

And they did.

"Are you the hexer of this region?" Ugraum asked a little green-cloaked figure as the enemy goblins nearby capitulated.

"Yes, I am Sho-doon! I, uh... I have prepared you a present, over at the circle of stone! I can show you!"

"I already met and left behind your spectral wolves -- they were glad to see me leave. And I found your present already: this mummified hexer eye. Yes?"

"...oh. Oh, yes, that is exactly it! Now you can see what cannot be seen, and see it farther, too!"

"Hm. And you, my little mob of orcs. Do you see that we would not have come so far so quickly without your little 'pans' orcs? Did you see them fight outnumbered and live, throwing back enemy after enemy assault? Do you see them battered here but unbroken?


"And learn."
ICEBREAKER THESIS CHRONOLOGY! -- Victor Suvorov's Stalin Grand Strategy theory, in lots and lots of chronological order...
Dawn of Armageddon -- narrative AAR for Dawn of War: Soulstorm: Ultimate Apocalypse
Survive Harder! -- Two season narrative AAR, an Amazon Blood Bowl career.
PanzOrc Corpz Generals -- Fantasy Wars narrative AAR, half a combined campaign.
Khazâd du-bekâr! -- narrative dwarf AAR for LotR BfME2 RotWK campaign.
RobO Q Campaign Generator -- archived classic CMBB/CMAK tool!


631 Winter -- Discontent

"Your messenger said my goblin scouts returned, my general?"

"Yes, Lieutenant. My goblin scouts returned."

"...apologies, general, I meant no disrespect."

"I know. Though your kind, and mine, know little more than disrespect for anyone. Even the names that goblins grant in apparent honor are subtle insults. Grableg, for example."

"...I am sure... that is, I had heard it was due to how you tore some orcs apart for rebelling against your intention to recruit us. In that mob?"

"So I also heard. And not for pulling myself to power by making goblins drag me along?"

"I can't deny that's possibly true. You slew many goblins, my general, and we are just as resentful a people as orcs. But if I may say so, that seems like a meaning the orcs would want to give."

"I doubt they have the stomach or the wit, unfortunately." Ugraum smiled. "Let it be what it is: my dream is to grab my peoples by their legs and drag them into the future together. If they thank me later, they'll change the meaning or else the name. I don't believe that 'Itchynose' will ever have a better meaning." His first lieutenant shuffled at that. "But, I fully believe you will earn a new and better name someday. A name of true respect.

"Now, let us consider your goblins' reports -- whom I can be quite assured that you will not lead in some revolt."

"Why not?"

"Because, you are clearly more reflective than most of your people, and insist on your own responsibility. You will also insist on them growing to be more responsible.

"And that, in the end, is all I want for us, little maker."


"Cobbler, put more commonly. But even common cobblers make the world. And make history."

Itchynose deeply bowed, and stood aside as Ugraum signaled for the first of the scouts to enter. They had been told not to talk with one another yet, and were being watched by orcan guards outside the tent. Inside, only Itchynose had been allowed to hear and discuss their findings.

Afterward Ugraum declared: "Most of what they said was trash."

"Agreed. But they didn't know yet what to look for. Neither do I, to be honest, general."

"Perhaps I should have been more specific," the great orc mused. "I thought I would learn more by hearing unfiltered impressions from them without them trying to match what they thought I wanted. Still, I think I heard enough to decide."

"Where to attack the monkeys?"

"Those who hold the key in their hands. Yes. Here seems best to start our campaign along the line of their fortifications." He set a goblin-made tamp of cross swords on the nearby map.

"You mean by not attacking their fortifications, but their outposts."

"Of course. My new goblins have trained very well -- especially your 'pans orcs'! -- and even my orc mob now looks more like a proper squad than a mob, armed with steel weapons and armor with which to stab..." he meant to stab with their armor as well as their swords, "...but they are no match yet for soft monkeys; not in their hills of stone and bright steel shells."

"You could take us back to unify the Wastelands instead."

"And I may. I would rather our fellow humans follow us out of admiration for our deeds -- though I will compel by fear and death if I must.

"If I must, then let my little corpz of squads be salted even more.

"By the time we march to the marshes south of the northern shore, winter will be hard upon us. We will muster here, at Ghoshzar, where goblins will be glad to see us bringing them food to quell their biting hunger."

"Food from the monkeys, you mean."

"They have it. We can take it or else we can't. Isn't that how we have lived our lives? Isn't that how we better our lives? Isn't that what it means to insist on our rights? -- to ruin other lives for our gain?"


"Think on it. And gather our people to march."

The first squad of goblin archers had gathered another squad, and by the time they arrived at the end of the year the first had improved by teaching some basic competency to the others.

Itchynose's "pans orcs" had swollen so full of recruits that he thought it best to split them into to two more specialized groups. One had better armor and spears; Ugraum himself had trained them to defend their lives and so they had hardened a little under his blows.

The mob of orcs continued to mock them: "Lookit th' little orky-boyz, marchin' around in their pots an' pans!" But so long as Ugraum praised their improvements they tried to pay the taunts no mind.

Other goblins, faster runners and quieter in the woods with stones and slings, Itchynose had gathered for his own special training -- gathering a variant nickname, too, along the way: 'Pansy orcs', for they wore no armor and preferred to work in the grass under trees.

"Pansies," said Ugraum one night as the troop returned to camp from training along the marching path of the corpz, "are such tough little flowers, they even will bloom in the snow." That didn't stop the taunts; the orcs thought Ugraum agreed with their derision.

But Itchynose knew better. And so did his 'pansies'.
ICEBREAKER THESIS CHRONOLOGY! -- Victor Suvorov's Stalin Grand Strategy theory, in lots and lots of chronological order...
Dawn of Armageddon -- narrative AAR for Dawn of War: Soulstorm: Ultimate Apocalypse
Survive Harder! -- Two season narrative AAR, an Amazon Blood Bowl career.
PanzOrc Corpz Generals -- Fantasy Wars narrative AAR, half a combined campaign.
Khazâd du-bekâr! -- narrative dwarf AAR for LotR BfME2 RotWK campaign.
RobO Q Campaign Generator -- archived classic CMBB/CMAK tool!


The pansy squad was waiting outside the wretched scrap of Ghoshzar, when Ugraum's slower troops finished their march from a larger orcan village back in the south.

"That monkey fort is recent," Itchy reported after checking on his 'pans'. "Streidorf. They haven't bothered to bother the goblins here yet, regarding that orcan village off in the distance there to the west as more of a threat. That is where their own scouts go. But they avoid the cave down this path."

"We shall soon teach them the error of their fears," Ugraum promised. "And push them back out of Ur Kind land."

"Oh great master," Sho-doon whined, groveling as he approached from the litter on which he had been carried. "I have been tasting the sky!"

Ugraum stopped the orcan hooting at hearing that, with one raised hand. "That is why I brought you," he agreed. "And for other reasons."

"This good weather will only last three weeks. Then," he shuddered his withered old frame, "I wouldn't want to live outside."

"He knows what it means to live outside," the giant orc forestalled more laughter. "Be silent. Better yet, be swift: I want to find this region's main fortress and fell it in only ten days! Then, the local monkeys will flee, and we will have plenty of time to loot them clean and prepare for a nice, contented winter in the homes that they have built.

"That new little fort is unimportant. Sho-doon, guide most of our forces into the forest and then across the river: that new fort must be an extension, and the monkeys come from across the river, so I surmise the main fort will be there. This way, we can attack from their rear, cutting off their intrusions. If they have built a bridge, we can cross it back this way with much less resistance.

"Meanwhile, the pansies and I will go visit whatever may live in that cave," he grinned, and winked at Itchy.

"Be wary, O leader," Sho-doon warned in his tiny voice. "I feel madness and death in that cave!"

But when the pansies got there, watching from the rocks nearby, they saw nothing.

Ugraum couldn't reach the cave that day, so rested for the night on a hill behind the pansies, scouting out the land beyond in the light of the wintery sun.

"That farming town, down the road from the fort," he told Itchy that evening as the two shared information: "that will be an important first opportunity for us to learn."

"Learn what?"

"The key the monkeys hold in their hand. And also much loot, which will please our people more. But once we have cut off their hands, then we shall take their heart."

The following morning, the pansies carefully entered the cave. Unsurprisingly, they found that it had been recently claimed by a band of roaming orcs, currently absent. Itchynose found a carven axe, upon which animals' throats had been cut, resting upon a little wooden stand. Taking it for himself, he heard his scouts whistling: the occupants were returning!

Berserker orcs. Fresh from hunting the night before, out in the nearby mountains. And greatly unhappy to find great Ugraum calmly camping himself on a hillock nearby.

"Join me for breakfast, if you wish!" he invited.

The madmen, brains burned out by captured goblin hexers in their tribe, howled in reply and rage.

"Join me, or die?" Ugraum asked. "Then stone shall be your final meal."

They turned in fatal shock and surprise, as rocks slung out of the valley glen behind them: the pansies had crept around into position.

Five berserkers fell before Ugraum charged in among them to teach them the meaning of fear.

At first they pushed him back, withstanding his charge and encircling him.

At first.

Then they ran back to their hole, in shame and terror to hide.

"Leave them be; they have learned their lesson," chuckled Ugraum. And the following day he left them in their cave.

"I don't think our troops have quite crossed the river yet, or so say our couriers," Itchynose growled, fingering his brand new ancient axe.

"Annoying, but expected. Let us try taking that wooden fort ourselves, you and I, and your 'pansies', together, eh?"

Ugraum, having the longer legs, ran around and up from the south, slaughtering all but one of a group of archery hunters who had come back to the fort and were cleaning their meat at some workshops outside the walls. The final monkey, by some miracle, repeatedly parried the great stone sword of Ugraum at least three times! -- in admiration the orcan leader let him run away back into the woods.

[Gamenote: I was distracted by a kitten and didn't get a screenie for this; sorry...]

The pansies snuck up from the north meanwhile, and clambered to hang on the outer walls slinging stones down into the fortified settlement, wounding several spearmen.

Goaded thus, the militia mustered and ran out to spear the goblins -- only to meet a second hail of stones. At once the goblins bobbed and weaved in among the spears, slicing with their shorter swords, until the militia commander withdrew his men fearing a totally broken rout!

The next day Itchy's goblins hunted down the surviving archers whom the stalwart monkey had managed to drag back into the woods overnight to bind up their wounds for fighting again. Ugraum, however, entered the fort, threw out its defenders, and demanded the mayor bring out enough gold to convince him to leave them in peace: specifically the coin intended to hire more militia!

"The couriers and advance scouts say my goblin spears approach the leading fort in the area, general," Itchy reported that night, visiting Streidorf to send back supplies for his scouts who were camped in the woods nearby. "But that wing will still need a day or two more to gather before they can even get close to attacking the strong log walls."

"Rather more annoying and unexpected," growled their leader as he feasted near a fire, the monkeys huddling inside their homes. "Perhaps you and I should stay here and work on taking those farms ourselves. If so, I'll want a day of rest to recover -- and if those fools outside attack, so be it. You can finish them off. Unless I beat you to it!

"Meanwhile, you go on up to that forest near the farms, to their east, and see what can be seen. Perhaps they'll be fool enough to come out to attack you there instead!"

And that in a way was what happened: archers from behind the farms came forward with the report of the goblins; and taking up a better position, in the rough ground south of the farms, than in the grassland northward, they shot with impunity into the forest -- though only one goblin was wounded.

"You may have your town back for now," the orcan leader announced on the morrow. "But leave before I return; for when I do, I will be bringing many more orcs like myself and those goblins outside. And don't go hoping your fort across the river will help you. For they are being driven away as we speak! Heed my words: be gone."

So saying, rested though weakened slightly from eating moldy leaves in a stew -- sent to him on magical winds across the miles and the river by Sho-doon -- Ugraum went out to the archers guarding the farms...

...and showed them how much their resistance meant.

Itchy's troops snuck up to the windmill wheatfarms, through the forest nearby, and pelted the peasants pitchforking there, emphasizing that point.

"This is working perfectly -- almost boringly so!" the orcan leader exulted that night when Itchynose came to confer with him. "The monkeys don't really think we pose enough of a threat to send help from other towns, yet. That will change tomorrow -- but only if our main wing remembers to attack the rear of the fortifications. The part which is nearer the river is unimportant for our purposes."

So over Noinstein dawned the seventh day.

A day of discontent from the hills behind them.

Sho-doon went forward into the trees -- and stopped as he saw...

...a caravan of farmers mustering up outside, ready to return to their fields after bringing the harvest safely into the capitol of the region.

"Don't let them escape!" the aged little goblin keened. "They will call back the horses in steel!" And he spat an explosive dart, lofted by the chaos of his magic, down among them.

The 'pans orcs' darted in to hack and stab with their spears. The decimated farmers tried to flee, but archers ran across some swamps to nearby hills and finished them off. There would be no help for Noinstein.

The militia behind the heavy logs, however, easily shrugged off their own initial arrow volley. They would not be nearly so easy to beat.

Back at the Vainen farms, Ugraum finished off the archers who had recovered and reinforced in the rough there during the night; and with their slinging stones, the pansies drove the peasants away from the windmill area, advancing forward to loot it -- and to prepare to remove the militia next door.

Hunters and peasants from Hanmoor, however, ran up to help in Noinstein's defense against the main wing of Ugraum's corpz, dueling with the nearest goblin archers. Could that nut be cracked in only three more days?!

Unwisely, the Vanein militia had sortied out to spar with mighty Ugraum -- and had paid the price, retreating and pulling their wounded back inside the fences. As the 8th day dawned, Itchy distracted them with a shower of wounding rocks, before Ugraum plowed down their fences and scattered the men like leaves. Most still survived, but ran away in a broken rabble.

"Take their heart and defend it," Ugraum called. "I shall see what is happening at the capital fort!"

Hanmoor had more archers still inside, making any assault on the archers outside helping Noinstein (and supporting the nearby peasants as well) dubious. But with a carefully rolling wave, led once more by Sho-doon and his mighty explosive spitting, the archers in the copse between the village and the fort were mostly destroyed and driven away, leaving the peasants unsupported and easy prey for the Stabber Orcs now finally lumbering into the fray.

With Noinstein finally shorn, its siege could begin more properly on the morrow.

The goblin army, with orc support, hit the defenders hard that morning: a special explosive lofted first by Sho-doon, then dedicated volleys from both archery companies. The men inside it weathered the rain as well as they could, knowing what was following: the orc mob, now decked in red armor and shields and swords, assaulting from the north through support buildings outside the walls. They were met -- and turned back, much to the orcs' embarrassment. Later they would be told to learn from the monkeys, why a better defense saves lives and allows for long-term victories. To their credit they would learn this, and improve their armor accordingly.

At last on that day, the 'pans' attacked from the other direction, having moved up to base themselves in the glade of trees between Noinstein and Hanmoor. This still didn't drive out the monkeys, who had been specially trained to fight in cities and also to never break from fear. But so surrounded, they wouldn't be able to reinforce or even heal much overnight.

Itchynose rested his troops that day, back across the river in Vainen, but as the peasants nearby began to plot how to take back their homes with what remained of the local militia -- Ugraum roared out of the woods, murdering them all and taking possession of the windmill fields again. He had seen that he wouldn't likely be able to wend his way around to cross the bridge in time, thanks to an oncoming company of armored halberdiers backed with experienced bowmen.

"If our army can take the fort tomorrow, though," he reassured Itchynose that night as they feasted on their looted gains, "we will have rent their hand and their heart, just as I said, and then without support the monkeys will cluster around their saviors... and flee."

And so it happened just as he said. Despite the brave defense of the final defenders -- the last of whose unwounded spearmen held off all the orc mob by himself until they got tired and retreated, and almost held off the pans and their spears until collapsing from exhaustion! -- the looting horde took the capital fortress.

Peasants had also been dispatched from a farming enclave up the road to the north. When they arrived, they shook in terror to see what they had come upon:

... an Uru Kin horde, sweltering under the winter sun, holding and looting Noinstein.

They turned, and ran away.

Just as Ugraum predicted, the other remaining monkeys in the area quickly gathered around their far-more-armored rescuers, who took them safely away.

As the minor horde looted the region clean, Ugraum called his Stabber orcs to notice: "We couldn't have done this so quickly without those goblins, those 'pans' and 'pansies' whom you mock. Now you can take it all, and rest, and we will be on our way back south to our homes before the winter storm arrives."

His stabbers agreed only grudgingly.

"They held us back," Itchynose complained. "We could have finished more quickly, if we had brought only goblins!"

"They did their part, and bled and died as much as the pans. They should not mock you; don't you complain about them. Be better. Learn better."

"What I want to learn is how to cross rivers with ease," Itchynose mumbled. "And how to fight in monkey cities better."

"Those will be important skills," his general agreed. "We'll work on them as we go."

"I may be able to help a little now with that, Great Ugraum!" The goblin hexer crept into the shadow of the giant orc, holding forth a glowing blue orb. "This jewel was held in the capital fort! We killed them so fast, they couldn't get it away! I can teach your troops to use it to freeze the water nearby; not so much as a lake, but with it they can easily cross any river! -- or you yourself, if you prefer," he groveled.

"Well found, little friend." Sho-doon beamed in surprise at being so addressed. "I will gladly receive your gift. Thank you.

"And do you think you jaw may actually strike the floor, my other little friend?" Ugraum laughed. "How many orcs have ever said that to a goblin! -- but now I say it to two of you. You have been loyal and valiant. You bled with me in raiding the heart; and Sho-doon here, I heard, was actually assaulted by the capital spears! You tempted them out and into a trap, did you not, my clever friend?"

"Yes, yes! I knew that I had two archery squads at my back in support!" the hexer cackled and danced. "They never even got near me, though they tried!"

"I heard that some of them did, and yet you frightened them so badly that they couldn't bring themselves to even properly stab at you!" The withered old man simply writhed from being so praised by the great red orcan general. "Even the orcs will respect that I think.

"Yes," Ugraum concluded. "All our Uru Kin will hear of our deeds this week, and what we achieved. We will go back, and gather more to join our cause.

"And those who do not learn better..." he grimly grinned.
ICEBREAKER THESIS CHRONOLOGY! -- Victor Suvorov's Stalin Grand Strategy theory, in lots and lots of chronological order...
Dawn of Armageddon -- narrative AAR for Dawn of War: Soulstorm: Ultimate Apocalypse
Survive Harder! -- Two season narrative AAR, an Amazon Blood Bowl career.
PanzOrc Corpz Generals -- Fantasy Wars narrative AAR, half a combined campaign.
Khazâd du-bekâr! -- narrative dwarf AAR for LotR BfME2 RotWK campaign.
RobO Q Campaign Generator -- archived classic CMBB/CMAK tool!


Early 632 -- The Majority

"For many Uru Kin the choice is simple," Ugraum was saying. "They love war, and they love looting, and they hate monkeys, and we have done well at looting the monkeys with war. So they will join us.

"But not the majority."

Sho-doon sadly nodded. "They hate each other too much. And so will hate us, too."

"Or, they will be jealous," Itchy added. "Of goblins leading the way. Of Ugraum for succeeding. Leaders will want to loot us from our leader, in effect, so that they can loot the monkeys and gain the honor."

"There is no honor in looting the monkeys. And that," Ugraum declared, "is something they never have learned.

"So let us teach it to them."

"Here is where we will start. The Uru Kin to the west, though tougher, live in harsher lands, and so are fewer in number, without even any ideas about marching eastward to learn from the monkeys. Bringing them under my rule would be difficult and pointless, for now. Later they may join us of their own accord. If not, we will wipe them away and work on their lands ourselves."

"Why would anyone want to work on those lands?!" Itchynose snorted. Ugraum flicked a glare in his direction, but continued without any reprimand.

"I worry about your axe, little friend. It helps you fight in battle more fiercely, true, but at the cost of some defense. I don't want to lose you, or your pansies, if I can help it -- and certainly not to any careless brawling."

"...if you mean to take it away... I will concede. As well as I can."

"Well and wisely said!" Ugraum laughed. "But no, I was thinking rather of adding another squad of pans and pansies each; the pans, in their armor and spears, are naturally stronger on defense already, and I want the new squads to gain in experience fighting as much as possible.

"So move your leadership flag to your second squad of pans, and keep that axe. May you grow stronger with every strike!"

And so, having looped around to the west, deep in the winter desert, they came up from the barren south to the villages of Ghonk and Sharzulg... begin a march of consolidation northward.

"The goblins of the local villages join you without reservation, Great Ugraum!" exulted Sho-doon. "But others to the west do not believe the stories about you. They live in fear of trolls who come out of the caves across a canyon river at night to walk the land."

"Good, we know where the caverns will be at least," mused their leader as he studied a map hastily scribbled by their newest allies. "What about orc camps nearby?"

"To the north," pointed Itchy. "Berserkers, maddened by goblin hexcraft, and thrown out to die, yet they thrive when not in the winter..."

"The orcses make us do that," muttered the hexer.

"A practice I shall stop. Or control, if I can. If you have any good ideas about that, I mean," Ugraum added to the nervously irate little man. "And beyond?"

"A town of orcs who breed and ride on bulls! Across the river."

"Good, but the river presents a dilemma. Do I keep the freezing orb to use for myself, helping to cross the canyon river against the trolls? Or do I give it to someone in this line of advance to help secure the bridge?"

"You will be going westward, then?"

"Yes, Sho-doon. The trolls will need the firmest hand, and maybe the strongest sword..."

"May I suggest instead, general, you let me take the newest squads?" Itchynose bowed. "A full detachment of goblin scouts and archers and spears, and let me train them as we secure this flank. Lead our main army yourself, where you may help the most against the strongest threats, and then bank back around to the west and approach the cave of the trolls from behind. We will soften them up for you -- I learned today the spear-thrower cannon will surely be ready in time to fight with us! I will take that, with your permission. I even might say you should take both archery squads, to quicken your longer advance."

Ugraum nodded, "Then let it be so. But take Sho-doon with you. You may still need more long-distance support, and he can heal us wherever we are, with his leaves on the wind. Also, the mads may respond to his presence... poorly. And don't delay. To be ready for an invasion by the time of the earliest harvests, we need to bring in the majority of Uru Kin this season. That plan will be in jeopardy if we cannot take this region in only two weeks. Slowing our momentum will give our enemies on either side time to prepare against us. More than they already are."

Preliminary pansy scouts arrived in Sharzulg about this time, and said, "We saw monkey scouts in the distance, leaders! There may be a raiding band nearby!"

"Amazing. The effrontery and gall, to come out this far in the winter. They cannot be allowed to escape and bring word of what is happening here," Ugraum warned; and then left Sharzulg to catch up with the first advances he had instructed for the main army back in Ghonk.

[Gamenote: actually, I couldn't put all the troops I wanted over in Ghonk, so I had to put someone more than I wanted in Sharzulg instead, out at the edge of deployment. Storywise and tactically, Ugraum made the most sense, because he can run faster than anyone else right now, and so catch up eventually.]
ICEBREAKER THESIS CHRONOLOGY! -- Victor Suvorov's Stalin Grand Strategy theory, in lots and lots of chronological order...
Dawn of Armageddon -- narrative AAR for Dawn of War: Soulstorm: Ultimate Apocalypse
Survive Harder! -- Two season narrative AAR, an Amazon Blood Bowl career.
PanzOrc Corpz Generals -- Fantasy Wars narrative AAR, half a combined campaign.
Khazâd du-bekâr! -- narrative dwarf AAR for LotR BfME2 RotWK campaign.
RobO Q Campaign Generator -- archived classic CMBB/CMAK tool!


So began the first campaign of Itchynose.

The goblins manning the hurler [gamenote: sadly unanimated or even depicted], at their leader's signal, aimed for the scouts on the hill down the road; ratcheted back the monstrous hammer mounted over the weapon's frame; and then dropped it onto the forge-bellows; poofing a spear over hundreds of yards, to crash with a splintering smash into their midst.

"Scout that!" Itchy shouted. "Our old men shall spit on you in fatal derision! See!"

Sho-doon had been growling and muttering over being left behind, as he saw it; but on hearing this he cackled and charged ahead to loft an explosive ball of something into them, too. The monkey scouts retreated off the hill, toward the camp of their people.

"Not too far forward at once," Itchy warned. "They may have many bowmen out in the distance where we can't see. Let them dare to come to us. We have plenty of time, and none of you are very experienced fighters yet." So his pansies took the first of the range of hills nearby, close to where the monkey scouts had been, while the pans stayed on the road with their spears, supported by Sho-doon. Itchy was gambling that no one had clearly seen where the hurler had shot from, and didn't want to draw any more attention to it yet.

The following day, Itchynose ordered the careful strategy again: longrange bombardment, followed by Sho-doon's explosive recon. This time the monkey scouts routed completely away, dragging their survivors, despite having been reinforced the previous night by the hunting encampment. Sho-doon's sharp eyes told him at least one squad of archers waited behind the camp to support the spearhunters inside it.

"Still plenty of time," Itchy advise. "Let's take it slowly."

"Why not run up and drive off those hunters?" his sergeants insistently growled.

"We don't know yet if they have archery support as well. And no real way to find out yet, without our own scouts getting too close to the archers that we can see."

"But," said his pansy sergeant, "we do need to keep going as far as we can. Let me run up the road to the side of the hill. The archers cannot shoot that far, neither the ones we can see nor the ones which might possibly be there, too. Then we can see what is there around the town."

"And if they come forward to shoot you, you will have no protection!" Itchynose warned.

"They haven't tried that yet, and their scouts could surely see the unprotected hurler, as well as most of us, sir," the pans sergeant observed. "The worst that can happen is that the monkeys move up into a position that makes us easier to poke them apart. Some of us will be hurt and even die, whatever we do, if we continue. Let us do the job that you've been training us for. Sir."

Itchy relented.

Not only did his pansies confirm the existence of another supporting archery squad -- which helped to justify Itchynose's caution, as his sergeants had to agree, if a bit grudgingly -- but they crept forward, still out of the range of the enemy arrows, and stoned the final scouts to death!

The pans, learning this, also moved up to the southern bend of the path, still out of bowshot but readier to run up into a breach that might be created soon.

"We'll drive out those thieving invaders even sooner, now!" Itchynose promised, as he and the sergeants met that night, back on the hill with Sho-doon. "Please accept my apologies, for trying to shelter you as long as possible. Oh, wait, did the stinking monkeys UTTERLY MURDER OUR PANSY SCOUTS with multiple archery volleys and an advance by the spears from their camp!?"

The surviving pansy sergeant hung his head in shame; the pans sergeant didn't look any happier.

"Defense," Itchynose stressed. "Defense, defense, defense. We didn't have to be in a hurry. And now we are greatly weakened, while the monkeys have only slightly worsened their position.

"I don't treat goblins as garbage to be expended. But after all," he sighed, "this is my fault. I should have refused your suggestion. We will try to bring in some reinforcements for you as soon as possible, but this will slow our advance even worse than before -- for now we have fewer stones with which to drive the monkeys out!"

The third day dawned, with one of the monkey archery squads being pummeled in a crossfire by Sho-doon and the spear hurler.

Between them they completely destroyed the archers outside the encampment! Itchynose tried attacking the camp itself, but mainly only managed to wound some defending hunters.

This would leave all his goblins very much vulnerable to another concentrated counterattack, although the pansies had run away back to Sharzulg.

As it happened, the hunting archers ran out of the camp to take a hill and shoot at the spear hurler -- followed soon by the monkey militia! Yet the goblins had "cobbled" the machine quite strongly despite its appearance, and its crew briskly defended it from all the surrounding spears, even managing to kill a spearman or two.

Tiring out its assailants, the machine pulled back in good order that night, and moved back into the protection of the goblin village the following morning -- whence it threw spears in retort!

Sho-doon, by himself, ran into the camp, and attacked the militia from behind, weathering a shower of supporting arrows to do so. Not long afterward, Itchynose led his 'pans orcs' up into the hills where the archers had camped to free the road of goblins -- and slew them nearly all, driving them back eastward a little in a broken huddle!

The enemy archers did snipe a pansy or two from there, but only after reinforcements had already arrived that day: the 2nd "pansy orcs" were ready to fight again on the morrow!

The surprisingly tough monkey militia managed to survive again barely on day 5, though they had to retreat to the foothills of the mountain range to the south of the road between their encampment and the goblin village. Their friends among the archers were all wiped out by the wrath of the spear hurler, however.

It still took all of Itchy's men to hunt the stubbornly resilient spearhunters down at last the following day in the cold and wintery wastes.

"That was completely embarrassing," Itchy grumbled that night. "Most of a week, wasted. I hope Ugraum is doing better."

"I haven't felt a request from him for healing anyone, though I was too busy to help in any case," Sho-doon sighed. "But, great Axenose! Listen to what I heard from a monkey I caught in the camp! -- a wounded one, unable to fight. I made him talk, as only hexers can, hee hee hee!" he rubbed his hands and cackled. "They were here to hunt, but not hunting food, oh no! They had meant to hunt treasure, sir! Trollish treasure, washed down the river, down from their cave to the swamps."

"Rot," Itchy proclaimed, rubbing at his nose and wondering whether it might be shaped like an axe. "How could they possibly know that?"

"Goblins found it first! Hahahaha! Monkey hunters hunting saw them scurrying in from a distance to search the swamp, and saw them find it! Now the goblins have reinforced a monkeyman fortification in the swamp."

"That might explain why the goblins west of here didn't want to join great Ugraum," pondered the sergeant of the pans.

"Shall we go out and take it?" wondered the pansy sergeant.

"We would be murdered in those swamps whenever they counterattacked," Itchy shook his head. "But maybe we can spare some days of shooting them, driving them out long enough to go search the fort and see for ourselves. We need to gather together again, instead of being spread out so far anyway."

On the seventh day, Itchynose brought his goblins back together, near the swamp, where the spear thrower started seriously reducing the little spear defenders Sho-doon could see, but not yet reach himself with his tube.

"That is just as well," he confided to the goblin commander. "For I felt Ugraum asking for healing sent on the leaves. He will be weakened for a day, but better able to survive -- I hope!"

As Itchynose sent his pansies up ahead of his company, the dawn of the second week of his campaign, he learned to his grief that the goblin town ahead had been overrun -- by wild trolls!

"Doubtless looking for their lost treasure!" he ground his teeth in rage. "Which those imbeciles stopped guarding their people to find, and then to cower around!"

"Yooouuu! Yooooouuuu!! I SPIT IN YOUR DIRECTION!!!" Sho-doon screamed at the goblins in the swamp. And he did. And they died, and ran away.

"There shall be no survivors," decreed the goblin commander. "Slay them now, with justice from the sky!" And so the crew of the hurler rolled it up, and slew them all, all who remained.

And so it was named, "The Skyjustice Spear".

[Gamenote: I've checked and reposted the img code for the previous and next screenies several times. They just aren't loading occasionally for some unknown reason -- the code is good. Oh well.]

On Day 9, Itchynose dared to instruct his pansies and Sho-doon to go ahead and begin attacking the trolls in town, hoping that they would counter attack outside their defenses and so be a little more vulnerable, especially with Sho-doon supporting the pansies. The wizened goblin's keen senses detected more trolls nearby across the river -- including trained war trolls! A serious problem, though if they could be caught in the river, somewhat less of a problem. Itchy himself and his spearmen would be busy for a couple of days, slogging around in the swamp to find whatever the traitors had hidden.

As Itchy had predicted, the trolls tried to beat the pansies to death; but with Sho-doon's help they resisted, though with difficulty; and the trolls ran away, out of the goblin village, not even taking time to regenerate.

"Keep up the pressure!" Itchynose ordered by courier that night.

At dawn, the bruised and wounded pansies leapt into the village, having regained a little energy during the night, and ready to fight the trolls outside again.

Suddenly, HYENAS!

The pansies panicked, as well they might! -- but the goblins riding the hyenas explained, that they had been summoned for help by the villagers when the trolls attacked, and only had now arrived.

"Us, too!" the 'pansy orcs' wisely explained. "But we were too late; no one seems to have lived. Not too late for vengeance, though!"

"It is true," Sho-doon agreed as he approached. "Look at the scarring on those trolls, yonder! We serve Axenose the grim, himself a commander under Ugraum the great! Axenose sends his regards, and will soon arrive with a special gift, um, for you, as a sign of our good will toward all our fellow goblins! -- if they will join us."

"We shall see," the leader of the riders said. "First, we must drive off the WHOOAAH!" --

-- for out of the sky, justice had fallen among the stony creatures.

"That is the vengeance of Axenose," Sho-doon casually explained. "They will still be hard to finally kill, and we could certainly use as much help as you're willing to give. But please, don't interfere with us punishing these murderers." And so saying he spit a bomb of acid far over the heads of the riders, who ducked in amazement. As a troll FLEW BACKWARD TO DIE FROM THE FORCE OF THE BLAST!

Its surviving fellow retreated to where the body had fallen, picked it up to stand on its feet, and turned to face its foes. Whereupon its felled fellow fell again, to rise no more.

[Gamenote: that pretty much literally happened, by the way. You can see the DEAD TROLL flying off to where its surviving squad member retreated. I thought at first it had survived after all, because it was standing up afterward; but then it faded away.]

"Yeah!" the pansies distantly shouted... and threw a few rocks. And then ran back inside the village, just in case.

"We... uh... shall try not to get in the way," the riders promised. And then ran to the far side of the trolls, to drive them back toward the goblins protecting the town, so that the creatures might not quite escape. It didn't work, but they did wound a troll a little more.

Suddenly, giant mushrooms sprouted under the remaining troll, bursting in a caustic cloud around it as it choked and wheezed.

Sho-doon squinted, but said nothing, yet.

The trolls did try to attack the harrying hyenas, but were quickly repelled, sending them away -- to be promptly dispatched by the spear hurler first thing the next morning.

"Move along, move along quickly!" Itchynose demanded, as his pans left the swamp with their prize safely hidden away.

"But other goblin spears are coming out of the woods now..." sent the pansy sergeant by courier.

"Never mind, let them have their town back if they will leave us to scout the trolls and attack their village from a distance!" The squad of hyena riders rode up to find him at that time, and where the spears had been hurled from, too. Words and assurances were exchanged, and the riders rode on to find the troll king waiting in the village-cave, for want of a better term, across the river, along with three wild trolls.

And then, a ball of burning ice fell from the sky, engulfing the king, freezing him in place.

Sho-doon saw it fall but still kept silent.

He kept less silent when the troll king sent his minions across the canyon river to attack him in the forest!

Barely escaping with his life, the little goblin hexer then was surrounded by the goblin spears, who didn't understand that this armed company had come to save the village. Viciously spitting in all directions, Sho-doon fended them off, and they retreated away from the village for now as he crept away to heal or die -- into the forest from where he had fled the original troll attack!

Just in time to see the troll king himself climbing down into the canyon, too frozen to move out of it that day.

"Quickly!" Itchynose screamed. "Avenge our assaulted elder! The other trolls don't matter, slay the king while he is hampered in the river!"

Almost as if on cue, another blast of ice fell onto the king from out of the blue -- doing more than only slowing him down this time! He growled like crushing his own teeth to gravel with the pain, as the rushing water boiled with frost around him, ripping into his skin.

"What manner of commander are you?" shouted the rider leader, as Itchynose came forward to oversee the final assault, leaving behind his spears for now.

"...uh." The little goblin stared in awe and confusion. "One who takes advantage for the victory! Let justice fall from the sky and..."

...and up in the sky, a boat rowed up, hanging from a bloated bag above.

And threw justice down on the trollish marauder. Also, bombs.

"You... that..." the goblin riders could not believe their eyes. Neither could Itchynose exactly, though he could hear the goblin cheers from elsewhere in his company -- and in the airship now from nowhere.

"That," Itchynose said, pointing his finger, "is not what I meant. This is."

And lowly arcing over his head, just under the scrabbling goblin zeppelina as they frantically scooted aside -- flew a tree-sized pole, smashing the living daylights out of the troll.

He tried to flee, back into his caves on the other side of the river.

"YOU ARE NOT ALLOWED TO RUN AWAY!" Itchynose declared, raising his axe. "Sho-doon, my hexer, do you have enough strength for a final bout of vengeance?"

"," the poor little goblin wept, and limped away to relative safety. "I am sorry. I am so very sorry, great Axenose. I tried."

"I know," the leader comforted him. "We'll keep you safe among us. Those trolls will not get near us. We'll get him next time. I promise."

Only some of the mounted goblins survived the next assault of the wild troll bodyguards.

The troll king laughed all night in rage, as he regenerated completely. Then in the morning, he ran out of his village-cave, back into the mountains.

He didn't get far, before those poisonous mushrooms bloomed beneath his feet, causing him to gag and blister with sores -- reducing his ability to defend himself.

"Go!" shouted the goblin leader. "Begone, wretched king of running stone!" Signaling his newfound allies, anchored in the bombing blimp, he sent them after the crippled troll, and threw artillery, too. Broken and shatter, the troll king ran to the north even faster.

"Surely he will get away." "Truly a shame," the goblin riders said.

"I trust my main army to run him down; by now, they will have surely overcome whatever was on the other side of the river, and should be approaching him now from behind."

The goblin riders laughed. "Over there?! Aside from a monkey fort of stone, there are orcs who ride on bulls! And, perhaps even worse, a chief reigns among the mad orcs, a giant red berserker orc, cleverer than most of his mind-damaged peers -- and stronger, too! He lives in a castle of stone! What army could you have brought, who are only a goblin, such that... that..."

A bright red towering orc, with two four-flagged 'kon' on his back, ran up out of the mountain pass behind the village-cave, and chopped the troll king down.

"...that is Bersargar..." the riders said in amazement. Another, even larger and better armored orc ran up behind him, and praised him loudly for his victory, though too far away to be heard in the wintery wind across the rushing canyon water.

"My allies." Itchynose casually fingered his axe. "The troll chief is of no importance anymore."
ICEBREAKER THESIS CHRONOLOGY! -- Victor Suvorov's Stalin Grand Strategy theory, in lots and lots of chronological order...
Dawn of Armageddon -- narrative AAR for Dawn of War: Soulstorm: Ultimate Apocalypse
Survive Harder! -- Two season narrative AAR, an Amazon Blood Bowl career.
PanzOrc Corpz Generals -- Fantasy Wars narrative AAR, half a combined campaign.
Khazâd du-bekâr! -- narrative dwarf AAR for LotR BfME2 RotWK campaign.
RobO Q Campaign Generator -- archived classic CMBB/CMAK tool!


A few days later, Itchynose learned that the troll king had been captured and trained by mon-keys, explaining his intelligence and strange armor. He had escaped, and fought his way to be king over the trolls; a truly heroic tale.

And not quite brought to an end! -- the troll king survived, barely, only crippled unable to run anymore, and pled for the life of his people, offering their services if Ugraum would use them to war against the slug-like humanoids to the east.

Naturally, Ugraum agreed. And honored the king in front of his people, winning their hearts of stone.

"Soon we will be the majority!" Ugraum shouted over a victory feast, two days later; for he had completed this operation, as he called it, in plenty of time to keep his pressing advance while still consolidating his gains behind.

"And what," croaked an orcan voice, "will you do with their lives, O Ugraum?"

The rowdy celebration of orcs and goblins, somewhat together, parted as a yellowed ancient orc approached -- wearing the garb of a hexer.

Sho-doon, still recovering from his ordeal, weakly spat out a brew he had concocted. "He must be who helped us, O Great Ugraum! He... he is much stronger than I," the little old goblin admitted.

"Make way, minion," the creature snarled, sending one poor goblin who was frozen in fear into gibbering madness. "I am Ash-shoon." The goblin, unable to bear the mystical presence, fainted, never to rise again.

Ash-shoon trod him under and approached the banquet table.

"You," murmured Ugraum, "are better, though.

"My friend."
ICEBREAKER THESIS CHRONOLOGY! -- Victor Suvorov's Stalin Grand Strategy theory, in lots and lots of chronological order...
Dawn of Armageddon -- narrative AAR for Dawn of War: Soulstorm: Ultimate Apocalypse
Survive Harder! -- Two season narrative AAR, an Amazon Blood Bowl career.
PanzOrc Corpz Generals -- Fantasy Wars narrative AAR, half a combined campaign.
Khazâd du-bekâr! -- narrative dwarf AAR for LotR BfME2 RotWK campaign.
RobO Q Campaign Generator -- archived classic CMBB/CMAK tool!


Dammit, Jason.  You're almost making me want to get this game.  >:( 
"Like we need an excuse to drink to anything..." - Banzai_Cat
"I like to think of it not as an excuse but more like Pavlovian Response." - Sir Slash

"At our ages, they all look like jailbait." - mirth

"If we had lines here that would have crossed all of them. For the 1,077,986th time." - Gusington

"Government is so expensive that it should at least be entertaining." - airboy

"As long as there's bacon, everything will be all right." - Toonces


Stay strong. No new games for a while. :)

I originally wrote some sidenotes for Ugraum's half of the advance, but I decided not to include them. It's a lot easier (and relatively shorter) to focus on one part of a mission rather than on multiple parts; plus it gives a bit of dramatic tension to wonder just how the other side is doing. So I'll avoid taking snaps which might show it, or I'll do some ground-level peeks in that direction perhaps.

Which, in turn, is connected to one of my artistic goals: to get down in the weeds (and mushrooms and grass and flowers) from the perspective of the squads and heroes as much as possible, since the engine allows that. There's a ton of little artistic detail, and I admire the game artists hugely for thinking to put things in where no one probably would ever bother to look. I love to spend some time on each mission zooming around the map in corners that no 'piece' will probably ever visit, just to see the natural artistry that someone bothered to put there. Because no pieces ever do move there, it's hard to show that in screensnaps, but I try to pick some angles looking off in different directions at different heights and angles to give a little idea about them.

I'm not, however, happy with how a lot of the screenshots have turned out. There's a lot of important (not just trivial) detail-in-depth on the screen, whether zoomed down into the weeds or zoomed out to give a lay of the land and opposing forces, and that detail just doesn't show up well in 800w snaps.  :'( But that's also the only way to try to show the situation, too. (There's an overland map, but unlike other PGish games you can't see enough detail that way to 'play' the game. It has a lot of detail, but not the right kind for this purpose.)

Oh well. :) On with the show...
ICEBREAKER THESIS CHRONOLOGY! -- Victor Suvorov's Stalin Grand Strategy theory, in lots and lots of chronological order...
Dawn of Armageddon -- narrative AAR for Dawn of War: Soulstorm: Ultimate Apocalypse
Survive Harder! -- Two season narrative AAR, an Amazon Blood Bowl career.
PanzOrc Corpz Generals -- Fantasy Wars narrative AAR, half a combined campaign.
Khazâd du-bekâr! -- narrative dwarf AAR for LotR BfME2 RotWK campaign.
RobO Q Campaign Generator -- archived classic CMBB/CMAK tool!


632 Early Spring -- Something Happening

"And why are you looking at land from this railing my friend? -- ha!" Reed felt a clap of a boisterous hand on his back. He knew by now the spearman sergeant wasn't trying to be a bully, but... "See it rising and setting out there? Almost as if it's disconnected from the sea and ship and sky, all whirling together, whoops!" Reed tried to throw up again and failed. Maybe he ought to eat a little more, so that when he tried and succeeded he might then feel a little better? "Now don't feel bad, we've only just sailed down the coast by a couple of days, and soon we'll be on dry land again, for months or years at a time, who knows? This could have been much worse. And might yet be: you haven't seen the guts of men and goblin-kind. It doesn't smell this fresh..."

"Do you seriously have nothing better to do right now!?" Reed snapped at his superior. A mistake? -- any punishment couldn't be worse than this!

"Well, there's always another railing on the other side of the ship, you know." If that was a hint, Reed was prepared to take it, stumbling across the narrow deck of the trading ship. How could its deck be narrow when its hull bulged out below so far?!

"Hm, less to jostle about on this side." -- the sergeant had followed him over. "Visually I mean. Maybe you'll do better here." Reed didn't have to look to know he'd be clinically rubbing his chin in thought.

"If this is the better side, why didn't you say so sooner?" Reed gritted between his teeth. Did it help that he did feel marginally better, watching nothing but water bob on this side of the ship?

"Wanted to see if you'd figure out or stumble on the difference for yourself."

"I wanted to watch the land, in case there was something important over there. On the coast."

"The ship has lookouts for that; and soldiers with much more experience on the water. Either of whom would know better what signs they might see of trouble on the land. Still, good idea, at least in principle."

Just as the sergeant suggested, not long before noon the coastal ship turned its bluff nose south toward land. Reed steadily ignored it as long as he could; and felt genuine surprise when anchors briefly went down to hold the ship in place while rowmen deployed to pull the ship to the beach for disembarking.

Reed's squad of peasants in training mustered on deck from where they had clustered in various places alone or together, gathering up their rucksacks and forks -- with which, back in Sylent for months, they had been training not only in how to spear a foe, but also how to catch and disarm his weapon. Or its. Did goblins count as persons? Or orcs? Reed had never seen either before, which was one of several reasons he had answered the call of Captain Pfeil for new volunteers.

Sergeant Brim brought out his militia, too, proper spearmen, the best of the regular forces in Captain Pfeil's company. The best and the worst, sailing together; other squads were landing nearby with their kit and supplies, archery squads and javelin scouts with shorter spears meant for throwing or fighting in tangled woods. Hunters either way, irregular troops.

In good order, the two squads climbed down the netting and into the surf, to stumble up onto the shore. Even the militia took a minute or two to get their legs together, and didn't look overly happy yet. Bags of supplies were roped down, and ported onto the narrow edge of sand by sailors. Supporting men and women now were picking their way down the nets to claim and pack up their kit behind the relative safety of the somewhat-deployed fighting soldiers.

"Here you are at last," said Brim, to Reed while they waited. "This is what you signed up for. Though, like with the ship, you signed up for a lot you weren't expecting!" he laughed.

"Something more than hay. Somewhere I've never been before..." The former farmer nodded in satisfaction.

"And where's that?" muttered another peasant, looking around. "This doesn't look too different from my aunt's and uncle's houseland at the beach."

"This is the far northern coast of Derenhalle, of course! Don't tell me you've forgotten your briefing already, after a couple of days at sea! What!" snorted Brim, "did you think the trees would grow grass on their branches, and leaves grow out of the ground?!"

The more experienced soldiers in the militia chuckled at that; some of the peasant soldiers joined in, too, after a moment. "Nature does look a little different farther down the coast, but not so much till you get to the Wastes. Even then, it looks like a lot of rock and sand, scattered with some different kinds of trees. Not enough rain," Brim mused. "Here would look just as different if the weather shifted eastward a lot for a while."

"I'm glad for the grass, I promise, I promise!" Reed stomped his feet, gripping with his toes. His boots and socks were slung around his neck till needed, so that the water wouldn't foster rot.

Captain Pfeil came forward from where he had been: watching the hind supply-work being gathered, and paying the mate of the small flotilla the balance of their fee. And leading his horse to the grass, a fine white animal.

"All troops accounted for? Very well. Scouts forward, archers next. I don't recall a village here, so find us a place to camp. Spears will set a baseline here to retreat behind if necessary: we don't know how far the goblins have pushed yet in raiding."

Throughout the day a first encampment was scouted thus, and set, while the sailors with soldier help took on some local game and vegetables and potable water. Reed and the other peasants naturally ended up putting the camp together, mostly, along with their porters. But in fair return, they got first pick of bedding spots, essentially getting to camp in the camp where others would only visit -- or rally around and in, in a fight.

That evening, the scouts sent back news: the approach of probably-friendly civilians. A host of them. "That can't be good," Brim said, and the archery sergeants agreed. "Come here lad." He drew Reed aside. "Now, the other sergeants and I have long thought, and agreed, that you, in your group, were most likely to keep your group alive and in order. So we've asked and made our recommendation, and now you'll be sergeant, too, see? But don't get ideas. You answer to us. We've got the experience, see? You're like, an under-sergeant. Like an under-rower, yeah? But you've got potential. Just need salting a bit.

"Now, you delegate someone you think is the most responsible man to keep watch on the wagons, and then you come up with us, and let us listen to what these people say to the Captain. Some of us might give advice. You won't. You keep your mouth shut, unless it's so important that people might die RIGHT NOW! Got it?"

So they went forward a few minutes later, all the sergeants, Reed included, leaving their troops behind to sort into a defensive scheme as ordered.

The people looked harried. And grateful. "Thank heaven! -- and Saint Marcus!" they cried. A local mayor came forward.

"Are you Captain Derrek Pfeil? We've been waiting for you! Is... is this all you brought...?" the elder blanched and started to shake in fear.

"Before we turn tail and give up in trying to help you already," the Captain smiled and tried to sound reassuring, "tell us how bad it is."

"They overran our village, Harsefield, just down the road. The last we heard before they cut us off, the other towns in the region were being attacked as well, more or less together."

"And what of your soldiers? Where are they gathered now?"

"Who knows?! Most of them were called away this winter, down southwest across the river beyond the fortline. News of some goblin army there, surging into our settlements. Some came back, but not near enough, talking of some red monster orc and a sword of stone! We haven't seen him, but then this spring a wave of goblins crossed the river behind our forts. Apparently the north one fell?" the mayor guessed. "Noinstein?"

"And naturally during the winter, news confirming its fall did not arrive in time," the Captain folded his arms and looked at the countryside around.

"Some halberdiers and bowmen managed to bring back some towns of people, but they had not reached the fort or its nearby river town before they had to retreat. They were our best defense. It took the goblins a week or more to kill them all..." the mayor heaved a shuddering sigh.

"All right. Camp here with us tonight, and I will speak to the commodore of the little fleet behind us. Sylent's leaders will pay them to take you back to safety if necessary; until then you can stay on their ships, and help them resupply. We'll push on ahead with what we have. If we stop sending back couriers for... let's say three days, or if the goblins get past us, then the commodore will have his instructions already: leave us behind," and Reed distinctly heard his own throat dryly click at hearing Captain Pfeil, "and maybe then Sylent or else King Victor will send a larger force."

So the arrangements were made.

That night, Pfeil gathered the men together closer into the camp for protection, making his rounds between them to tell them the situation more fully. The squads of Reed and Brim were set on their watches close enough together for him to address them both -- while pickets looked away, off into the night.

"King Victor did not know things would be this bad," he told the men, "but then again we don't really know how bad they are. We are a decent company of troops to handle a push by goblins. I wouldn't have come here at all, if I hadn't hired and trained enough to repel enough goblins to overrun the area. We're just too late, at worst, that's all, the area's already overrun. If so, that's to our advantage in a way: the enemy will be dispersed and looting and celebrating, while we remain concentrated in our line of advance. We will push south, and after we've cut off their retreat, we'll swing west and see how much help the folks in Keilerstein really need, perhaps relieve a siege there: they are the largest stone town in the region, almost a fort itself.

"We are small enough that if we can't handle the situation by ourselves, we can still live off the land, moving around from place to place, until help arrives, spoiling and harassing our foes."

"Heh, the Sylent mercantiles will be perfectly glad to rent out more mercenaries to Victor to help!" Brim opined. "They hated paying your wages, once they realized that all the political talk in the north didn't mean that anyone really was going to try to take their city. Now they can use us for profit!"

"Which means we can profit more, too, of course," retorted the captain and shared a laugh with his sergeant. "But anyway, Victor will raise and send over troops of his own if he has to: we were just handy to quickly move. Whatever news we send, will be what Victor acts on.

"That doesn't mean that reinforcements will take forever to come!" he added, to quell any nerves. "As Brim said, the merchants will simply rent the king some other mercenary groups already camped in Sylent. We'll just have to keep our wits and feet and heads together a week here, at the worst.

"And if we can get the job done ourselves? Well, then we won't have to split any extra fees we'll be paid by grateful residents here for our services, hm?"

"Besides," his sergeant added, "the Captain carries a tube of fire, which he can launch into the sky and summon his friends, the wizards, in a crisis. Boom, the end!" Brim threw up his hands to easy laughter. "All right, Captain, thanks. We'll go back to our watches for the night."

"Why would Sylent bother hiring mercenaries at all, if there's no threat?" Reed asked Brim while everyone went back to doing much of nothing but keeping ready or napping.

"Because there was and is a threat, of course," Brim quietly answered. "King Stephan of Leranse, and whichever duke has got the most pull in Mirrinalia right now, both want the wealth of the Free Trade City, and everyone with a border there has been making appropriate noises to each other about just taking it. Or not everyone: King Victor himself, completing the border around the city, has been... suspiciously silent. Not agreeing but neither offering Sylent support, despite his strength."

"Wow., this help is also political, to raise support with Victor, then."

"Very good! We'll make a politician yet of you!" Brim laughed. "Then you can pay us well to be your bodyguards, and get our feet rubbed every night by serving girls!"

"Right. But then, why send Captain Pfeil? He seems very competent. You think so, too, right? A captain of third or second rank would be better to send for a recon in force, to see what's going on. In case there is trouble back in Sylent, right?"

"The trouble wouldn't be in Sylent so much as around and just over the sketchy borders of nearby towns. No one wants to get the Sylent academy wizards upset; but if a village or town decides to edge more solidly into a nation away from Sylent, then, hey, that's life.

"But you're right. Why not keep the best captain and give him more troops, multiple companies, a brigade of companies even, to dispatch and lead here and there, to shore up all those political realities out in the hinter?

"Because: he once was the Count of Talia. The youngest son, as such, of a powerful duke in Mirri. They don't have a king, things shifted around, he went on the run, and picked up a reputation of being able to do a lot with a little.

"The merchant council doesn't trust him politically, not for personal reasons. Keeping him at work, making them a profit, somewhere away from the city? A better idea, to them. Can't say they're wrong, either, in principle," Brim shrugged. "Though I don't really think he wants to take their city by force of arms, or carve out a kingdom in blood. Pfeil's political strength, is that he cares about common people. Really cares, too. Common people would suffer if he managed to launch a war.

"But common people have a way of influencing merchants, too. And merchant rulers. He knows what he's doing. Making friends with the wizards? Also a good idea.

"He'll take care of us, here. And that's all we need to care about right now. So get some sleep. Guts tomorrow, I expect."

Amazingly enough, Reed did sleep a few hours that night. And nothing happened.
ICEBREAKER THESIS CHRONOLOGY! -- Victor Suvorov's Stalin Grand Strategy theory, in lots and lots of chronological order...
Dawn of Armageddon -- narrative AAR for Dawn of War: Soulstorm: Ultimate Apocalypse
Survive Harder! -- Two season narrative AAR, an Amazon Blood Bowl career.
PanzOrc Corpz Generals -- Fantasy Wars narrative AAR, half a combined campaign.
Khazâd du-bekâr! -- narrative dwarf AAR for LotR BfME2 RotWK campaign.
RobO Q Campaign Generator -- archived classic CMBB/CMAK tool!